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man acquainted with many other men. Some philosophical notions, especially when the philosophy is false, might have been better omitted. The angel, in a comparison, speaks of timorous deer, before deer were yet timorous, and before Adam could understand the comparison
Dryden remarks, that Milton has some fats among his elevations. This is only to fay, that all the parts are not equal. In every work, one part must be for the sake of others; a palace must have påflages; a poem must have transitions. It is no more to be required that wit should always be blazing, than that the sun should always stand at noon. In a great work there is a viciffitude of luminous and opaque parts, as there is in the world a fuccession of day and night. Milton, when he has expatiated in the sky, may be allowed sometimes to revisit earth; for what other author ever foared so high, or fustained his flight so long?
Milton, being well versed in the Italian poets, appears to have borrowed often from them; and, as every man catches fomething
from his companions, his desire of imitating Ariosto's levity has disgraced his work with the Paradise of Fools; a fiction not in itself ill-imagined, but too ludicrous for its place.
His play on words, in which he delights too often ; his equivocations, which Bentley endeavours to defend by the example of the ancients; his unnecessary and ungraceful use of terms of art; it is not necessary to mention, becaufe they are easily remarked, and generally censured, and at last bear so little proportion to the whole, that they scarcely deserve the attention of a critick.
Such are the faults of that wonderful performance Paradise Lost; which he who can put in balance with its beauties must be considered not as nice but as dull, as lefs to be censured for want of candour, than pitied for want of sensibility.
Of Paradise Regained, the general judge ment seems now to be right, that it is in many parts elegant, and every-where instructive. It was not to be supposed that the wrie ter of Paradise Lost could ever write without
great effusions of fancy, and exalted precepts of wisdom. The basis of Paradise Regained is narrow; a dialogue without action can never please like an union of the narrative and dramatic powers. Had this poem been written not by Milton, but by some imitator, it would have claimed and received universal praise.
If Paradise Regained has been too much depreciated, Sampson Agonistes has in requital been too much admired. It could only be by long prejudice, and the bigotry of learning, that Milton could prefer the ancient tragedies, with their encumbrance of a chorus, to the exhibitions of the French and English stages; and it is only by a blind confidence in the reputation of Milton, that a drama can be praised in which the intermediate parts have neither cause nor consequence, neither haften nor retard the catastrophe.
In this tragedy are however many particular beauties, many just sentiments and striking lines ; but it wants that power
of attracting the attention which a well-connected plan produces,
Milton would not have excelled in dramatick' writing; he knew human nature only in the grofs, and had never studied the shades of character, nor the combinations of concurring, or the perplexity of contending passions. He had read much, and knew what books could teach; but had mingled little in the world, and was deficient in the knowledge which experience must confer.
·. Through all his greater works there prevails ano uniform peculiarity of Diction, a mode and cast of expression which bears little resemblance to that of any former writer, and which is so far removed from common use, that an unlearned reader, when he first opens his book, finds himself surprised by a new language.
This novelty has been, by those who can find nothing wrong in Milton, imputed to his laborious endeavours after words suitable to the grandeur of his ideas.' Our language, says -Addison, funk under him. But the truth 1, that, both in prose and verse, he had formed his style by a perverse and pedantick VOL. I.
principle. He was desirous to use English words with a foreign idiom. This in all his prose is discovered and condemned; for there judgment operates freely, neither foftened by the beauty, nor awed by the dignity of his thoughts; but fuch is the power of his poetry, that his call is obeyed without refiftance, the reader feels himfelf in captivity to a higher and a nobler mind, and criticism finks in ad, miration.
Milton's style was not modified by his subject: what is shown with greater extent in Paradise Lost, may be foạnd in Cornus. One fource of his peculiarity was his familiarity with the Tuscan poets : the disposition of his words is, I think, frequently Italian ; per. haps sometimes combined with other tongues Of him, at last, may be said what Jonson fays of Spense in that be wrote no language, but has formed what Butler calls a Babylonijh Diale&t, in itself harsh and barbarous, but made by exalted genius, and extensive learning, the vehicle of so much instruction and so much pleasure, that, like other lovers, we find grace in its deformity.