Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

duces, has employed Michael in the Expulsion of our first Parents from Paradise. The Arch-angel on this occasion neither appears in his proper Shape, nor in that samiliar manner with which Raphael the sociable Spirit entertained the Father of Mankind before the Fall. His Person, his Port and Behaviour, are suitable to a Spirit of the highest Rank, and exquisitely describ'd in the following Passage.

Th' Archangel soon drew nigh

Not in his shape Celestial; but as man
Clad to meet man; over his lucid arms
A military vest ofpurple flow'd
Livelier than Melibæan, or the grain
Of Sarra, worn by Kings and Heroes old
In time of truce; Iris had dipt the Woofs:
His starry helm, unbuckled, shew'd him prime
In Manhood where Youth ended; by his side
As in a glistring Zodiack hung the Sword,
Satan'j dire dread, and in his hand the Spear.
Adam bow'd low; he kingly from his state
Inclined not, but his coming thus declar'd.

Eve's Complaint upon hearing that she was to be removed from the Garden of Paradise is wondersully beautisul. The Sentiments are not only proper to the Subject, but have something in them particularly soft and womanish.

Musi I then leave thee, Paradise 1 thus leave
T7iee, native Soil, these happy walks and sliades,
Fit haunt of Gods 1 Where I had hoped to spend
Quiet though sad the respite of that day
That must be mortal to us both. Osiow'rs
That never will in other Climate grow,
My early visitation, and my last
At Even, which I bred up with tender hand
From the first opening bud, and gave you names,
Who nowstiall rear you to the Sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from th' ambrosialfount 1
Thee lastly, Nuptial bowre, by me adorn'd

With what to fight or smell was sweet; from tlue
How shall Ipart, and whither wander down
Into a lower world, to this objcure
And wild, how shall we breath in other air
Less pure, accustom'd to immortal fruits 1

Adam's Speech abounds with Thoughts which are equally moving, but of a more Masculine and elevated Turn. Nothing can be conceived more Sublime and Poetical, than the following Passage in it:

This most afflicts me, that departing hence

As from his face I shall be hid, deprived

His bleffed Count nance; here I couldfrequent,

With worship, place by place where he vouchsafed

Presence divine, and to my Sons relate;

On this mount he appear'd, under this tree

Stood visible, among these Pines his voice

I heard, here with him at this fountain talk'd:

So many grateful Altars I would rear

Of graffie turf, and pile up every Stone

Of lustre from the brook, in memory,

Or monument to ages, and thereon

Offer sweet smelling Gums andfruits andslowers:

In yonder nether world where stiall I seek

His bright appearances, or footsteps trace 1

For though I sled him angry, yet recalFd

To life prolong'd and promised race, I now

Gladly behold though but his utmost Skirts

Of Glory, andfar off his Steps adore.

The Angel afterwards leads Adam to the highest Mount of Paradise, and lays before him a whole Hemisphere, as a proper Stage for those Visions which were to be represented on it. I have before observed how the Plan of Milton's Poem is in many Particulars greater than that of the Iliad or Æneid. Virgil's Hero, in the last of these Poems, is entertained with a sight of all those who are to descend from him; but tho' that Episode is justly admired as one of the noblest Designs in the whole Æneid, every one must allow that this of Milton is of a much higher Nature. Adam's Vision is not confined to any particular Tribe of Mankind, but extends to the whole Species.

In this great Review, which Adam takes of all his Sons and Daughters, the first Objects he is presented with exhibit to him the Story of Cain and Abel, which is drawn together with much Closeness and Propriety of Expression. That Curiosity and natural Horror which arises in Adam at the Sight of the first dying Man is touched with great beauty.

But have I now seen death, is this the way
J must return to native dust 1 O Sight
Of terrour foul and ugly to behold,
Horrid to think, how horrible to feel I

The second Vision sets before him the Image of Death in a great Variety of Appearances. The Angel, to give him a General Idea of those Effects, which his Guilt had brought upon his Posterity, places before him a large Hospital, or Lazar-house, fill'd with Persons lying under all kinds of Mortal Diseases. How finely has the Poet told us that the sick Persons languished under Lingring and Incurable Distempers by an apt and Judicious use of such Imaginary Beings, as those I mentioned in my last Saturday's Paper.

Dire was the toffng, deep the Groans, Despair
Tended the Sick, bufie from Couch to Couch;
And over them triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delay'd to strike, though oft invoked
With vows as their chief good andsinal hope.

The Passion which likewise rises in Adam on this Occasion is very natural.

Sight so deform what Heart of rock could long
Dry-ey'd behold 1 Adam could not, but wept,
Tfid not of Woman born; Compassion quell'd
His best of Man, and gave him up to tears.

The Discourse between the Angel and Adam which follows, abounds with noble Morals.

As there is nothing more delightsul in Poetry, than a Contrast and Opposition of Incidents, the Author, after this melancholy prospect of Death and Sickness, raises up a Scene of Mirth, Love and Jollity. The secret Pleasure that steals into Adam's Heart, as he is intent upon this Vision, is imagined with great Delicacy. I must not omit the Description of the loose Female troupe, who seduced the Sons of God as they are call'd in Scripture.

For that fair female troupe thou saw'ft that feem'd
Of Goddeffes so Blithe, so Smooth, so Gay,
Yet empty of all good wherein consists
Womans domesiick honour and chief praise;
Bred only and compleated to the taste
Of' luslful appetence, to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troule the tongue, and roul the Eye.
To these that sober race of Men, whose lives
Religious titled them the Sons of God,
Shall yield up all their vertue, all their fame
Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles

Of those fair Atheists

The next Vision is of a quite contrary Nature, and filled with the Horrours of War. Adam, at the sight of it, melts into Tears, and breaks out in that passionate Speech;

O what are these

Deaths ministers not Men, who thus deal death Inhumanly to Men, and multiply Ten thousand fold the Sin of him who slew His Brother: for of whom such Maffacre Make they but of their Brethren, mm of men 1 Milton, to keep up an agreeable variety in his Visions, after having raised in the Mind of his Reader the several Ideas of Terror which are conformable to the Description of War, passes on to those foster Images of Triumphs and Festivals, in that Vision of Lewdness and Luxury, which ushers in the Flood.

As it is visible, that the Poet had his Eye upon Ovid's account of the universal Deluge, the Reader may observe with how much Judgment he has avoided every thing that is redundant or puerile in the Latin Poet. We do not here see the VVolf swimming among the Sheep, nor any of those wanton Imaginations which Seneca has found sault with, as unbecoming this great Catastrophe of Nature. If our Poet has imitated that Verse in which Ovid tells us, that there was nothing but Sea, and that this Sea had no Shoar to it, he has not set the Thought in such a light as to incur the Censure which Criticks have pasted upon it. The latter part of that Verse in Ovid is idle and superfluous; but just and beautisul in Milton.

Jamque mare 6f tellus nullum discrimen habebant, JVilnisipontus erat, deerant quoque littoraponto. Ovid.

Sea cover'd Sea,

Sea without Shoar Milton.

In Milton the former part of the Description does not forestall the latter. How much more great and solemn on this occasion is that which follows in our Ænglish Poet,

And in their palaces

Where luxury late reign'd, Sea Monsters whelp'd
And Stabl'd

than that in Ovid, where we are told, that the Sea Calfs lay in those places where the Goats were used to browze? The Reader may find several other Parallel Passages in the Latin and English Description of the Deluge, wherein our Poet has visibly the Advantage. The Sky's being over-charged with Clouds, the descending of the Rains, the rising of the Seas, and the appearance of the Rainbow, are such Descriptions as every one must take notice of. The Circumstance relating to Paradise is so finely imagined and suitable to the Opinions of many learned Authors, that I cannot forbear giving it a place in this Paper.

« PoprzedniaDalej »