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HE Tenth Book of Paradise Zo/? has a greater variety of Persons in it than any other in the whole Poem. The Author upon the winding up of his Aćtion intro- * duces 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 Aćt of 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 Aćtion places them. I shall therefore consider 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 Paradise are described as returning to Heaven upon the Fallof Man, in order to approve their Vigilance; their Arrival, their manner of Reception, with the Sorrow which appeared in themselves, and in those Spirits who are said to Rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner, are very finely laid together in the following Lines.
t This motto was changed in second edition for the one below it.
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.
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 woven 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,
Which alludes to that Passage in Scripture so wonderfully Poetical, and terrifying to the Imagination. And I looked, and behold, a pale Horse, and his Mame 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 fickness, and with the beasis of the earth. Under this first head of Celestial Persons we must likewise take notice of the Command which the Angels received, to produce [the] several Changes in Nature, and fully the 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 conceived with that sublime Imagination which was so peculiar to this great Author.