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meet in Council. His Speech in this Book is every way [where] suitable to so depraved a Character. How proper is that Reflection, of their being unable to taste the Happiness of Heaven were they actually there, in the Mouth of one, who while he was in Heaven, is said to have had his Mind dazled with the outward Pomps and Glories of the Place, and to have been more intent on the Riches of the Pavement, than on the Beatifick Vision. I shall also leave the Reader to judge how agreeable the following Sentiments are to the same Character.

-This deep world

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Of Darkness do we dread? How oft amidst
Thick cloud and dark doth Heai''ns all-ruling Sire
Chuse to reside, his Glory unobscured,
And with the Majesty of darkness round
Covers his Throne; from whence deep thunders roar
Mustring their rage, andHeatfn resembles Nell?
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please? This des art Soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, Gems and Gold;
Nor want we Skill or Art, from whence to raise
Magnificence; and what can Heazs n shew more?

Beelzebub, who is reckon'd the second in Dignity that fell, and is in the First Book, the second that awakens out of the Trance, and confers with Satan upon the situation of their Affairs, maintains his Rank in the Book now before us. There is a wondersul Majesty described in his rising up to speak. He acts as a kind of Moderator between the two opposite Parties, and proposes a third Undertaking, which the whole Assembly gives into. The Motionhe makes of^detaching one of their Body in search of a new World is grounded upon a Project devised by Satan, and cursorily proposed by him in the following Lines of the first Book.

Space may produce new Worlds, whereof so rife
There went a fame in Heav'n, that he e'er long

Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation, whom his choice regard
Should savour equal to the Sons of Heaven:
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere:
For this infernal Pit shall never hold
Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' Abyss
Long under Darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full Counsel must mature:

It is on this Project that Beelzebub grounds his Proposal.

What is we find

Some easier enterprize? There is a place

{If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n

Err not) another World, the happy Seat

Of some new Race call'd Man, about this time

To be created like to us, though less

In power and excellence, but favoured more

Of him who rules above; so was his Will

Fronounc'd among the Gods, and by an oath,

That shook Heav'ns whole circumference, confirm'd.

The Reader may observe how just it was, not to omit in the First Book the Project upon which the whole Poem turns: As also that the Prince of the fall'n Angels was the only proper Person to give it Birth, and that the next to him in Dignity was the fittest to second and support it

There is besides, I think, something wondersully beautisul, and very apt to affect the Reader's Imagination, in this ancient Prophecy or Report in Heaven, concerning the Creation of Man. Nothing could shew more the Dignity of the Species, than this Tradition which ran of them before their Existence. They are represented to have been the Talk of Heaven, before they were created. Virgil, in compliment to the Roman Common-Wealth, makes the Heroes of it appear in their State of Pre-existence; But Milton does a far greater Honour to Mankind in general, as he gives us a Glimpse of them even before they are in Being.

The rising of this great Assembly is described in a very Sublime and Poetical manner.

Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of Thunder heard remote

The Diversions of the fallen Angels, with the particular Account of their Place of Habitation, are described with great Pregnancy of Thought, and Copiousness of Invention. The Diversions are every way suitable to Beings who had nothing left them but Strength and Knowledge misapplied. Such are their Contentions at the Race, and in Feats of Arms, with their Entertainment in the following Lines.

Others with vast Typhæan Rage more fell
Rend up both Rocks and Hills, and ride the Air
In Whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar.

Their Mustek is employed in celebrating their own criminal Exploits, and their Discourse in sounding the unfathomable Depths of Fate, Free-will, and Foreknowledge.

The several Circumstances in the Description of Hell areveryfinelyimagined; as the four Rivers which disgorge themselves into the Sea of Fire, the Extreams of Cold and Heat, and the River of Oblivion. The monstrous Animals producedin that infernal World are represented by a single Line, which gives us a more horrid Idea of them, than a much longer Description would have done.

-Nature breeds,

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
Than Fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
Gorgons, and Hydra's, and Chimera's dire.

This Episode of the fallen Spirits, and their Place of Habitation, comes in very happily to unbend the Mind of the Reader from its Attention to the Debate. An ordinary Poet would indeed have spun out so many Circumstances to a great Length, and by that means have weakned, instead of illustrated, the principal Fable.

The Flight of Satan to the Gates of Hell is finely imaged.

I have already declared my Opinion of the Allegory concerning Sin and Death, which is however a very finished Piece in its kind, when it is not considered as a Part of an Epic Poem. The Genealogy of the several Persons is contrived with great Delicacy. Sin is the Daughter of Satan, and Death the Offspring of Sin. The incestuous Mixture between Sin and Death produces those Monsters and Hell-hounds which from time to time enter into their Mother, and tear the Bowels of her who gave them Birth. These are the Terrors of an evil Conscience, and the proper Fruits of Sin, which naturally rise from the Apprehensions of Death. This last beautisul Moral is, I think, clearly intimated in the Speech of Sin, where complaining of this her dreadsul Issue, she adds,

Before mine eyes in opposition sits,
Grim Death thy Son and foe, who sets them on.
And me his Parent would full soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involv'd

I need not mention to the Reader the beautisul Circumstance in the last Part of this Quotation. He will likewise observe how naturally the three Persons concerned in this Allegory are tempted by one common Interest to enter into a Confederacy together, and how properly Sin is made the Portress of Hell, and the only Being that can open the Gates to that World of Tortures.

The descriptive Part of this Allegory is likewise very strong, and sull of Sublime Ideas. The Figure of Death, [the Regal Crown upon his Head,] his Menace to Satan, his advancing to the Combat, the Outcry at his Birth, are Circumstances too noble to be past over in Silence, and extreamly suitable to this King of Terrors. I need not mention the Justness of Thought which is observed in the Generation of these


several Symbolical Persons; that Sin was produced upon the first Revolt of Satan, that Death appeared soon after he was cast into Hell, and that the Terrors of Conscience were conceived at the Gate of this Place of Torments. The Description of the Gates is very poetical, as the opening of them is sull of Milton's Spirit.

On a sudden open fly

With impetuous recoil and jarring sound
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Harsh Thunder, that the lowest bottom shook
Of Erebus. She open'd, but to shut
Excels d her Power; the Gates wide open stood,
That with extended wings a banner'd Host
Under spread Ensigns marching might pass through
With Horse and Chariots rank'd in loose array;
So wide they slood, and like a furnace mouth
Cast forth redoundingfmoak and ruddy flame.

In Satan's Voyage through the Chaos there are several Imaginary Persons described,as residing in that immense Waste of Matter. This may perhaps be conformable to the Taste of those Criticks who are pleased with nothing in a Poet which has not Life and Manners ascribed to it; but for my own part, I am pleased most with those Passages in this Description which carry in them a greater Measure of Probability, and are such as might possibly have happened. Of this kind is his first mounting in the Smoak that rises from the infernal Pit: his falling into a Cloud of Nitre, and the like combustible Materials, that by their Explosion still hurried him forward in his Voyage; his springing upward like a Pyramid of Fire, with his laborious Passage through that Confusion of Elements, which the Poet calls

The Womb of Nature and perhaps her Grave.

The Glimmering Light which shot into the Chaos from the utmost Verge of the Creation, with the distant Discovery of the Earth that hung close by the Moon, are wondersully beautisul and poetical.

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