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as the best means of securing to himself his promised inheritance, the throne of David. Our Lord, in reply, scarcely notices the arguments which Satan had been urging to him; and only takes occasion, from the description which had been given of the splendour and magnificence of Rome, to arraign the superlatively extravagant luxury of the Romans, and briefly to sum up those vices and misconducts then rapidly advancing to their height, which soon brought on the decline, and in the end effectuated the fall, of the Roman power. The next object which our author had in view, in his proposed display of heathen excellence, was a scene of a different, but no less intoxicating kind; Athens, in all its pride of literature and philosophy: but he seems to have been well aware that an immediate transition, from the view of Roine to that of Athens, must have diminished the effect of each. The intermediate space he has finely occupied. Our Lord, unnioved by the splendid scene displayed to captivate him, and having only been led by it to notice the vices and corruptions of the heathen world, in the conclusion of his speech marks the vanity of all earthly power, by referring to his own future kingdom, as that which by supernatural means should destroy “all monarchies besides throughout the world."
The fiend hereupon, urged by the viole of his desperation to an indiscretion which he had not before showed, endeavours to enhance the value of his offers, by declaring that the only terms, on which he would bestow them, were those of our Lord's falling down and worshipping him. To this our Saviour answers in a speech of marked abhorrence blended with contempt. This draws from Satan a reply of as much art, and as tinely written, as any in the poem; in which he endeavours, by an artful justification of himself, to repair the indiscretion of his blasphemous proposal, and to soften the effect of it on our blessed Lord, so far at least ag to be enabled to resume the process of his enterprise. The transition, (line 212,) to his new ground of temptation is peculiarly happy: baving given up all prospect of working upon our Lord by the incitements of ambition, he now compliments him on his predilection for wisdom, and his early display of superior knowledge; and recommends it to him, for the purpose of accomplishing his professed design of reforming and converting mankind, to cultivate the literature and philosophy, for which the most polished part of the heathen world, and Greece in particular, was so eminent. This leads to his view of Athens; which is given, with singular effect, after the preceding dialogue; where the blasphemous rage of the tempter, and the art with which he endeavours to recover it, serve, by the variety of the subject and the interesting nature of the circumstance, materially to relieve the preceding and ensuing descriptions. The tempter, resuming his usual plausibility of language, now becomes the hierophant of the scene, which he describes, as he shows it, with so much accuracy, that we discern every object distinctly before us.
The general view of Athens, with its most celebrated buildings and places of learned resort, is beautiful and original; and the description of its musicians, poets, orators, and philosophers is given with the hand of a master, and with all the fond affection of an enthusiast in Greek literature. Our Lord's reply is no less admirable ; particularly where he displays the fallacy of the heathen philosophy, and points out the errors of its most admired sects, with the greatest acuteness of argument, and at the same time in a poble strain of poetry. His contrasting the poetry and policy of the Hebrews with those of the Greeks, on the ground of what had been advanced by some learned men in this respect, is highly consistent with the argument of this poem; and is so far from originating in that fanaticism, with which some of his ablest commentators have chosen to brand our author, that it serves duly to counterbalance bis preceding
* Possibly not without a glance of the poet at the manners of the English court at that time.
éloge on heathen literature. The next speech of the tempter, (line 368,) is one of those master-pieces of plain composition, for which Milton is 80 eminent: the sufferings of our blessed Lord are therein foretold with an energetic brevity, that, on such subjects, has an effect superior to the most flowery and decorated language. The dialogue here ceases for a short time. The poet, in his own person, now describes, (line 394, &c.,) our Lord's being conveyed by Satan back to the wilderness, the storm which the tempter there raises, the tremendous night which our Lord passes, and the beautiful morning by which it is succeeded. How exquisitely sublime and beautiful is all this !-Yet this is the poem, from which the ardent admirers of Milton's other works turn, as from a cold, uninteresting composition, the produce of his dotage, of a palsied hand, no longer able to hold the pencil of poetry! The dialogue which ensues, is worthy of this book, and carries on the subject in the best manner to its conclud. ing temptation. The last speech of Satan is particularly deserving our notice. The fiend, now "swoln with rage" at the repeated failure of his attacks, breaks out into a language of gross insult; professing to doubt whether our Lord, whom he had before frequently addressed as the Son of God, is in any way entitled to that appellation. From this wantonly blasphemous obloquy he still recovers himself, and offers, with his usual art, a qualification of what he had last said, and a justification of his persisting in farther attempts on the Divine Person, by whom he had been so constantly foiled. These are the masterly discriminating touches, with which the poet has admirably drawn the character of the tempter: the general colouring is that of plausible hypocrisy, through which, when elicited by the sudden irritation of defeat, his diabolical malignity frequently flashes out, and displays itself with singular effect. We now come to the catastrophe of the poem. The tempter conveys our blessed Lord to the temple at Jerusalem, where the description of the holy city and of the temple is pleasingly drawn. Satan has now little to say, he brings the question to a decisive point, in which any persuasion of rhetorical language on his part can be of no avail; he therefore speaks in his own undisguised person and character, and his language accordingly is that of scornful insult. The result of the trial is given with the utmost brevity; and its consequences are admirably painted. The despair and fall of Satan, with its successive illustrations, (line 562 to line 580,) have all the boldness of Salvator Rosa; while the angels supporting our Lord," as on a floating couch, through the blithe air,” is a sweetly pleasing and highly finished picture from the pencil of Guido. The refreshment ministered to our Lord by the angels is an intended and striking contrast to the luxurious banquet with which he had been tempted in the preceding part of the poem. The angelic hymn, which concludes the book, is at once poetical and scriptural: we may justly apply to it, and to this whole poem, an observation, which Fuller, in his “Worthies of Essex,” first applied to Quarles; and which the ingenious Mr. Headley, in the “Biographical Sketches,” prefixed to his “Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry," has transferred to the only poet to whom it is truly appropriate :-" To mix the waters of Jordan and Helicon in the same cup, was reserved for the hand of Milton; and for him, and him only, to find the bays of Mount Olivet equally verdant with those of Parnassus." It may farther be observed, that Milton is himself an eminent instance of one of his own observations in his “Tractate of Education;" having practically demonstrated, what he invites the juvenile student in poetry theoretically to learn ;="what religious, what glorious, and magnificent use might be made of poetry."-DUNSTER.
Milton had already executed one extensive divine poem, peculiarly distinguished by richness and sublimity of description. In framing a second, he naturally wished to vary its effect,—to make it rich in moral sentiment, and sublime in its mode of unfolding the highest wisdom that man can learn: for this purpose it was necessary to keep all the ornamen. tal parts of the poem in due subordination to the precept. This delicate and difficult point is accomplished with such felicity, they are blended together with such exquisite harmony and mutual aid, that, instead of arraigning the plan, we might rather doubt if any possible change could improve it. Assuredly there is no poem of an epic form, where the sublimest moral is so forcibly and so abundantly united to poetical delight. The splendour of the poet does not blaze indeed so intensely as in his larger productions: here he resembles the Apollo of Ovid, softening his glory in speaking to his son, and avoiding to dazzle the fancy that he may descend into the heart. To censure the Paradise Regained because it does not more resemble the Paradise Lost, is hardly less absurd than it would be to condemn the Moon for not being a Sun, instead of admiring the two different luminaries, and feeling that both the greater and the less are equally the work of the same divine and inimitable power.HAYLEY.
“Paradise Regained,” could it have possibly been introduced into the “Paradise Lost” as an Episodical Vision, would have been thought not inferior in power to any other part of the poem, except the first two books; and in exquisite simplicity and gentle dignity, equal to any thing in it all. But the title suggested a large plan, which the poem did not realize. Its name was ambitious, itself was short and unpretending, and it seemed to come to an abrupt and unartistic close. It avoided the grand subjects of Christ's Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Advent, any or all of which the title was broad enough to have included. It should have been called Christ's Temptation, a Poem. It was not, in short, a proper pendant to the “Paradise Lost.” The one was the huge Orion or Great Bear, covering a half of the heavens; the other, the small toar-twinkling Pleiades. Hence it was a disappointment at first, and has nover since received its due meed of praise. And yet, if comparatively a fragment, what a true, shapely, beautiful fragment it is! Its power so quiet, its elegance so unconscious, its costume of language so Grecian, its general tone so scripturally simple, while its occasional speeches and descriptions are so gorgeous, and so faultless ! The views from the Mountain, the storm in the Wilderness, the dreams of Christ when he was an hungered, so exquisitely true to his waking cbaracter
“ Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood,
Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse”-il. 266) are in the Poet's very highest style, and one or two of them, indeed, have a gloss of perfection about them, as well as an ease and freedom of touch rarely to be found in his larger poem. In the “Paradise Lost," he is a giant tossing mountains to heaven with far-seen struggle, and in evident trial of strength. In the “Paradise Regained,” he is a giant gently putting his foot on a rock, and leaving a mark inimitablo, indelible, visible to all after time.-GILFILLAN.