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' HE Tenth Book of Paradise Losl has a ,, , greater variety of Persons in it than any . other in the whole Poem. The Author fay, upon the winding up of his Action introduces all those who had any Concern in it, and shews with great Beauty the influence which it had upon each of them. It is like the last Act os a well written Tragedy, in which all who had a part in it are generally drawn up before the Audience, and represented under those Circumstances in which the determination of the Action places them.
I shall therefore confider this Book under four Heads, in relation to the Celestial, the Infernal, the Human, and the Imaginary Persons, who have their respective Parts allotted in it.
To begin with the Celestial Persons: The Guardian Angels of Paradzse are described as returning to Heaven upon the Fa1lofMan,in orderto approve theirVigilance ; their Arrival, their manner of Reception, with the Sorrow which appeared in themselves, and in those Spirits who are said to Rejoice at the Converfion of a Sinner, are very finely laid together in the following Lines.
Up into Heav'n from Paradise in hasle
T h' angelick guards ascended, mute and sad
For man, for of hisslate by this they knew
Much wond'ring how the subtle fiend had sloln
1' This mouo was changed in second edition for the one below it.
The same Divine Person who in the foregoing parts of this Poem interceded for our first Parents before their Fall, overthrew the rebel Angels, and created the World, is now represented as descending to Paradzse, and pronouncing Sentence upon the three Offenders. The cool of the Evening, being a Circumstance with which Holy Writ introduces this great Scene, it is , Poetically described by our Author, who has also kept religioufly to the form of Words, in which the three several Sentences were passed upon Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. He has rather chosen to negledt the numerousness of his Verse, than to deviate from those Speeches which are recorded on this great occafion, The Guilt and Confufion of our first Parents standing naked before their ]udge, is touch'd with great Beauty. Upon the Arrival of Sin and Death into the Works of the Creation, the Almighty is again introduced as speaking to his Angels that surrounded him.
The following Passage is formed upon that glorious Image in Holy Writ which compares the Voice of an innumerable Host of Angels, uttering Hallelujahs, to the Voice of mighty Thunderings, or of many Waters.
He ended, and the Heav'nly A udience loud
Sung Hallelujah, as the sound of Seas,
Through multitude that sung: are thy ways,
Though the Author in the whole course of his Poem, and particularly in the Book we are now examining, has infinite Allusions to places of Scripture, I have only taken notice in my Remarks of such as are of a Poetical Nature, and which are wovcn with great Beauty into the Body of his [this] Fable. Of this kind is that Passage in the present Book, where describing Sin [and Death] as marching through the Works of Nature, he adds, '
Behind her Death
Which alludes to that Passage in Scripture so wonderfully Poetical, and terrifying to the Imagination. And I looked, and behold, a pale Lforse, and his Name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him: and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with ficknesr, and with the beasls (yf the earth. Under this first head os'Celestial Persons we must likewise take notice of the Command which the Angels received, to produce [the] several Changes in Nature, and sully vthe Beauty of the Creation. Accordingly they are represented as infecting the Stars and Planets with malignant Influences, weakning the Light of the Sun, bringing down the Winter into the milder Regions of Nature, planting Winds and Storms in several Quarters of the Sky, storing the Clouds with Thunder, and in short, perverting the whole frame of the Universe to the condition of its Criminal inhabitants. As this is a noble Incident in the Poem, the following Lines, in which we see the Angels heaving up the Earth, and
placing it in a different posture to the Sun from what it had before the Fall of Man,is conceivedwith that sublime Imagination which was so peculiar to this great Author.
We are in the second place to confider the Infernal Agents under the View which slsilton has given us of them in this Book. It is observed by those who would set forth the Greatness of Virgil's Plan, that he conducts his Reader thro' all the Parts of the Earth which were discover'd in his time. Afia, Africk and Europe are the several Scenes of his Fable. The Plan of 11Iilton's Poem is of an infinitely greater extent, and fills the Mind with many more astonishing Circumstances. Satan, having surrounded the Earth seven times, departs at length from Paradifl. We afterwards [then] see him steering his Course among the Constellations, and after having traversed the whole Creation, pursuing his Voyage through theyChao.r, and entering into his own Infernal Dominions.
His first appearance in the Assembly of Fallen Angels is work'd up with Circumstances which give a delightful Surprize to the Reader; but there is no Incident in the whole Poem which does this more than the Transformation of the whole Audience, that follows the account their Leader gives them of his Expedition. The gradual change of Satan himself is described after Ovid's manner, and may vie with any of those celebrated Transformations which are looked upon as the most beautiful parts in that Poet's Works. slsilton never fails of improving his own Hints, and bestowing the last finishing Touches to every Incident which is admitted into his Poem. The unexpected Hiss which rises in this Episode, the Dimenfions and Bulk of Satan so much fuperior to those of the Infernal Spirits who lay under the same Transformation, with the