Obrazy na stronie

Ornaments, is as fine a part as any in the whole Poem: The more the Reader examines the justness and delicacy of its Sentiments, the more he will find himself pleased with it . The Poet has wonderfully preserved the Character of Majesty and Condescention in the Creator, and at the same time that of Humility and Adoration in the Creature, as particularly in those beautisul Lines.

Thus I presumptuous; and the Vifton bright,
As with a smile more brightned, thus replfd. &c.

I with leave of speech implor'd

And humble deprecation thus reply'd, Let not my Words offend thee, Heav'nly power, My maker, be propitious while I speak &c. Adam then proceeds to give an account of his second Sleep, and of the Dream in which he beheld the Formation of£ve. The new Passion that was awakened in him at the sight of her is touched very finely. Under his forming hands a Creature grew, Manlike, but different Sex ; so lovely fair, That what feem'dfair in all the World seem'd now Mean, or in her summ'd up, in her contain'd, And in her looks; which from that time infus'd Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before, And into all things from her air inspir'd The spirit of Love and amorous delight. Adam's Distress upon losing sight of this beautiful Phantom, with his Exclamations of Joy and Gratitude at the Discovery of a real Creature, who resembled the Apparition which had been presented to him in his Dream; the Approaches he makes to her, and his manner of Courtship, are all laid together in a most exquisite Propriety os Sentiments.

Tho' this part of the Poem is work'd up with grea' Warmth and Spirit, the Love, which is described in it is every way suitable to a State of Innocence. If th« Reader compares the Description which Adam hen gives of his leading Eve to the Nuptial Bower, witl that which Mr. Dryden has made on the fame Occa- j sion in a Scene of nis Fall of Man, he will be sensible I of the great Care wEIcF Milton took to avoid all I Thoughts on so delicate a Subject, that might be offensive to Religion or Good-manners. The Sentiments are chaste, but not cold, and convey to the Mind Ideas of the most transporting Passion, and of the greatest Purity. What a noble Mixture of Rapture and Innocence has the Author joined together, in the Reflection which Adam makes on the Pleasures of Love, compared to those of Sense.

Thus have I told thee all my State, and brought
My Story to the Sum of earthly bliss
Which I enjoy, and must confess to find
In all things else delight indeed, but such
As us'd or not, works in the mind no change,
JVbr vehement desire; these delicacies
I mean of taste, fight, smell, Jierbs, fruits andflowers.
Walks, and the melody of Birds; but here
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here paffion first Ifelt,
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superiour and unmov'd, here only weak
Against the Charm of beauties powerfull glance.
Or nature fail'd in me, and left some part
Not fir oofenough such objecl to sustain,
Or from my fide subdutling, took perhaps
More than enough; at least on her bestow'd
Too much of ornament, in outward sliew
Elaborate, of inward less exatl.

When I approach

Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself compleat, so well to know
If er own, that what she wills to do or fay,
Seems wisest, virtuoufest, difcreetest, best:
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded: Wisdom in discourse with her
looses difcountenandd, and like folly skews;
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and nobleness their Seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard Angelick plac'd.

These Sentiments of Love, in our first Parent, gave the Angel such an Insight into Humane Nature, that he seems apprehensive of the Evils which might befall the Species in general, as well as Adam in particular, from the Excess of this Passion. He therefore fortifies him against it by timely Admonitions; which very artsully prepare the Mind of the Reader for the Occurrences of the next Book, where the Weakness of which Adam here gives such distant discoveries, brings about that satal Event which is the Subject of the Poem. His Discourse, which follows the gentle Rebuke he receiv'd from the Angel, shews that his Love, however violent it might appear, was still founded in Reason, and consequently not improper for Paradise.

Neither her outside form so fair, nor ought
In procreation common to all kinds
{Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem)
So much delights me as those graceful ails,
Those thousand decencies that daily slow
From all her words and atlions mixt with love
Andsweet compliance, which declare unfeign'd
Union of mind, or in us both one Soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair.

Adam's Speech, at parting with the Angel, has in it a Deserence and Gratitude agreeable to an Inferioi Nature, and at the same time a certain Dignity and Greatness, suitable to the Father of Mankind in his State of Innocence.


In te omnis domus inclinata recumUt. Virg.

{ On thee the Fortunes of our House depend.}

Saturday, April 12. 1712.


[F we look into the three great Heroic Poems which have appear'd in the World, we may observe that they are built upon very slight Foundations. Homer lived near 300 Years after the Trojan War, and, as the Writing of History was not then in use among the Greeks, we may very well suppose, that the Tradition of Achilles and Ulyffes had brought down but very few Particulars to his Knowledge, tho' there is no question but he has wrought into his two Poems such of their remarkable Adventures as were still talked of among his Contemporaries.

The Story of Æneas, on which Virgil founded his Poem, was likewise very bare of Circumstances, and by that means afforded him an Opportunity of embellishing it with Fiction, and giving a sull Range to his own Invention. We find, however, that he has interwoven, in the course of his Fable, the principal Particulars, which were generally believed among the Romans, of Æneas his Voyage and Settlement in Italy.

The Reader may find an Abridgment of the whole Story, as collected out of the Ancient Historians, and as it was received among the Romans, in Dionyfius Halicarnaffeus.

Since none of the Criticks have considered Virgil's Fable, with relation to this History of Æneas, it may not, perhaps, be amiss to examine it in this Light, so sar as regards my present Purpose. Whoever looks into the Abridgment abovementioned, will find that the Character of Æneas is filled with Piety to the Gods, and a superstitious Observation of Prodigies, Oracles, and Predictions. Virgil has not only preserved this Character in the Person of Æneas, but has given a place in his Poem to those particular Prophecies which he found recorded of him in History and Tradition. The Poet took the matters of Fact as they came down to him, and circumstanced them after his own manner, to make them appear the more natural, agreeable or surprising. I believe very many Readers have been shocked at that ludicrous Prophecy, which one of the Harpyes pronounces to the Trojans in the Third Book, namely, that before they had built their Intended City, they should be reduced by Hunger to eat their very Tables. But, when they heard that this was one of the Circumstances that had been transmitted to the Romans in the History of Æneas, they will think the Poet did very well in taking notice of it. The Historian abovementioned, acquaints us that a Prophetess had foretold Æneas, that he should take his Voyage Westward, till his Companions should eat their Tables, and that accordingly, upon his landing in Italy, as they were eating their Flesh upon Cakes of Bread, for want of other Conveniences, they afterwards sed on the Cakes themselves, upon which one of the Company said merrily, 'We are eating our Tables.' They immediately took the Hint, says the Historian, and concluded the Prophecy to be fulfilled. As Virgil did not think it proper to omit so material a Particular in the History of Æneas, it may be worth while to consider with how much Judgment he has qualified it, and taken off every thing that might have appeared improper for a Passage in an Heroic Poem. The Prophetess who foretells it is an hungry Harpy, as the Person who discovers it is young Ascanius.

« PoprzedniaDalej »