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REMARKS ON BOOK in.
I Eaxxot admit this book to be inferior in poetieal merit to those whieh preeede it: the argumentative parts give a pleasing variety. The unfavourable opinion has arisen from a narrow view of the nature of poetry: from the theory of those who think that it ought to be eonfined to deseription and imagery. On the eontrary, the highest poetry eonsists more of spirit than of mattev. Matter is only good so far as it is imbned with spirit, or eauses spiritnal exaltation. Among the iunumerable grand deseriptions in Miiton, I do not believe there is one whieh stands uneouneeted with eomplex intelleetnal eonsiderations, and of whieh those eonsiderations do not form a leading part of the attraetion. The learned allusions may be too deep for the eommon reader; and so far the poet is above the reaeh of the multitude: but even then they ereate a eertain vagne stir in unprepared minds:—names indistinetly beard; visions dimly seen; eonstant reeognitions of 8eriptural passages, and saered names, awfully impressed on the memory from ehiidhood,— awaken the sensitive understanding with saered and mysterious movements.
We do not read Milton in the same light mood as we read any other poet: his is the imagination of a sublime instruetor: we give onr faith throngh duty, as well as wili. If our faney flags, we strain it, that we may apprehend: we know that there is something whieh our eoneeption ought to reaeh. There is not an idle word in any of the deiineations whieh the hard exhibits; nor is any pieture merely addressed to the senses. Everything therefore is invention;—arising from novelty or eomplexity of eombination: nothing is a mere refleetion from the mirror of the faney.
Miiton early broke loose from the narrow bounds of observation; and explored the traekless regions of air, and worlds of spirits,—the good and the had. There his pregnant imagination unbodied new states of existenee; and ont of Chaos drew form, and life, and all that is grand, and beautiful, and godlike: and yet he so mingled them up with materials from the globe in whieh we are plaeed, that it is an unpardonable error to say that "Paradise Lost" eontains little applieable to human interests. The human learning and wisdom eontained in every page are inexhaustible.
On this aeeount no other poem reqnires so many explanatory notes, drawn from all the most extensive stores of erudition.
Of elassieal literature, and of the Italian poets, Milton was a perfeet master; he often replenished his images and forms of expression from Homer and Virgil, and yet never was a servile borrowev. There is an added pleasure to what in itself is beantiful, from the happiness of his adaptations.
I do not donbt that what he wrote was from a eonjunetion of genins, learning, art, and labonr; bnt the grand sonree of all his poetieal eoneeptions and langnage was the 8eriptures. 8ir Egervon Rrydges.
God sitting on his throne sees 8atan flying towards this world, then newly ereated; shows him to the 8on, who sat at his right hand: foretells the sueeess of 8atan in perverting mankind: elears his own justiee and wisdom from all impntation, having ereated man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet deelares his purpose of graee towards him, in regard he fell not of his own maliee, as did 8atan, bnt by him sedueed. The 8on of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his graeious purpose towards man; bnt God again deelares, that graee eaunot be extended towards mau withont the satisfaetion of divine justiee; man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must die, unless some one ean be found suffieient to answer for bis offenee, and undergo bis punishment. The 8on of God freely offers himself a ransom for man; the Father aeeepts him, ordains his inearnation, pronounees bis exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; eommands all the angels to adore him; they obey, and, hymuing to their harps in full qnire, eelebrate the Father and the 8on. Meanwhile, 8atan alights upon the hare eonvex of this world's ontermost orb; where wandering he first finds a plaee, sinee ealled the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither; thenee eomes to the gate of heaven, deseribed aseending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow abont it; his passage thenee to the orb of the sun; he f,nds there Uriel, the regent of that orb; bnt first ehanges himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new ereation, and man whom God had plaeed here, inqnires of him the plaee of his habitation, and is direeted; alights first on Mount Niphates.
Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven first-born,
1. 1Iaii, holy Light) This eelebrated thou rather hear this address—dost thon eomplaint, with whieh'Miiton opens the deiight rather to be ealled pure ethereal third book, deserves all the praises whieh i stream t
have been given it.—Add,son. | 8. WJtose fountain. Job xxxviii. W.
7. Or hear'tt thou rather; 4e. Or dost i
Eseaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
10. Tbrongh the utter darkness of Hell, and the widdle dark ne"s of the great gulf between Hell and Heaven.
30. The jbnotry brnnk, brneatb. Headley lnot the Ameriean divinr l)1 who has done so mueh by his writings to eultivate the war-spirit, but1 the elegant and tasteful English poet and eritie, beautifully remarks, in a eritieism on Qnarter's poetry, that '' to ndx the waters of Jordan and Heiieon in the same eup, was re
served for the hand of Miiton: and f:r him, and him only, to find the hays . f Monnt Oiivet eqnally verdant with tho.-e of Parnassus/'
3e. Blisd Tl,amyrit. TbamyrU was a Tbrarian, and invented the Dorie moed or measure: Manmide t is Homer, to ealled from his father Maxm. Tiretiat and Phinens, the one a Thehan, the other a king of Areadia, lfamons biind hards of antiqnity.)
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High throned above all highth, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at onee to view.
About him all the sanetities of heaven eo
Stood thiek as stars, and from his sight reeeived
Beatitude past utteranee; on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only Son: on earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two 00
Of mankind, in the happy garden plaeed,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, uurivall'd love,
In blissful solitude: he then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there 70
Coasting the wall of heaven on this side night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet,
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd, without firmament, 70
Uneertain whieh, in oeean or in air,
Him God beholding from his prospeet high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake:—
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage so Transports our adversary? whom no bounds Preseribed, no bars of hell, nor all the ehains Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss Wide interrupt, ean hold: so bent ho seems On desperate revenge, that shall redound 80 Upon his own rebellious head. And now, Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way Not far off heaven, in the preeinets of light, Direetly towards the new-ereated world, And man there plaeed; with purpose to assay 00 If him by foree lie ean destroy, or, worse, By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert: For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And easily transgress the sole eommand, Solo pledge of his obedienee: so will fall, 05 He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault? Whoso but his own? Ingrato, he had of me All he eould have: I made him just and right, Suffwient to have stood, though free to fall, Sueh I ereated all the ethereal powers 100 And spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd: Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell, Not free, what proof eould they have given sineere Of true allegianee, eonstant faith, or love? Where only, what they needs must do, appear'd, 105 Not what they would: what praise eould they reeeive?
08. Just and right. l.,.-les. vii. 20.
AVhat pleasure I from sueh obedienee paid?
When will and reason, lreason also is ehoiee)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had served neeessity, 1M
Not me. They therefore, as to right belong'd,
So were ereated, nor ean justly aecuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate;
As if predestination over-ruled
Their will, disposed by absolute deeree il5
Or high foreknowledge: they themselves deereed
Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influenee on their fault,
Whieh had no less proved eertain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate, 120
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authours to themselves in all,
Both what they judge and what they ehoose; for so
I form'd them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must ehange 12s
Their nature, and revoke the high deeree,
Unehangeable, eternal, whieh ordain'd
Their freedom: they themselves ordain'd their fall,
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deeeived 130
By the other first: man therefore shall find graeo,
The other none: in merey and justiee both,
Through heaven and earth, so shall my glory exeel;
But merey first and last shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragranee fill'd W
0 Father, graeious was that word whwh elosed
108. Reason also isehoiee. "Many there be that eomplain of Divine Vrovidenes. for sufiering Adam to trausgress. Foolt'htongnea) When Gedgave him reason, l,e gave him freedom to ehoose; for rea
son is but ehoosing: he had been else a mere artifieial Adam)"—M,lton's Areopagitiea.
140. 8ubsismtially erpress'd. Heb. 1. 3 153. From thet fav. lien. Xviii. 25.