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We may likewise observe with how much Art the Poet has varied several Characters of the Persons that speak in his infernal Assembly. On the contrary, how has he represented the whole Godhead exerting it self towards Man in its sull Benevolence under the Three-fold Distinction of a Creator, a Redeemer and a Comforter!

Nor must we omit the Person of Raphael, who amidst his Tenderness and Friendship for Man, shews such a Dignity and Condescention in all his Speech and Behaviour, as are suitable to a Superior Nature. [The Angels are indeed as much diversified in Milton, and distinguished by their proper Parts, as the Gods are in Homer or Virgil. The Readerwill find nothing ascribed to Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, or Raphael, which is not in a particular manner suitable to their respective Characters.]

There is another Circumstance in the principal Actors of the Iliad and Æneid, which gives a particular [peculiar] Beauty to those two Poems, and was therefore contrived with very great Judgment. I mean the Authors having chosen for their Heroes Persons who were so nearly related to the People for whom they wrote. Achilles was a Greek, and Æneas the remote Founder of Rome. By this means their Countrymen (whom they principally proposed to themselves for their Readers) were particularly attentive to all the parts of their Story, and sympathized with their Heroes in all their Adventures. A Roman could not but rejoice in the Escapes, Successes and Victories of Æneas,smd be grieved at any Defeats, Misfortunes, or Difappointments that befel him; as a Greek must have had the fame regard for Achilles. And it is plain, that each of those Poems have lost this great Advantage, among those Readers to whom their Heroes are as Strangers, or indifferent Persons.

Milton's Poem is admirable in this respect, since it is impossible for any of its Readers, whatever Nation, Country or People he may belong to, not to be related to the Persons who are the principal Actors in it; but what is still infinitely more to its Advantage, the principal Actors in this Poem are not only our BE RELATED TO ITS INTENDED READERS. 2J

Progenitors, but our Representatives. We have an actual Interest in every thing they do, and no less than our utmost Happiness or * Misery* is concerned, and lies at Stake in all their Behaviour.

I shall subjoyn as a Corollary to the foregoing Remark, an admirable Observation out of Aristotle, which hath been very much misrepresented in the Quotations of some Modern Criticks. 'If a Man of perfect 'and consummate Virtue falls into a Misfortune, it 'raises our Pity, but not our Terror, because we do 'not fear that it may be our own Case, who do 'not resemble the Suffering Person. But as that great Philosopher adds, 'If we fee a Man of Virtues mixt 'with Infirmities, fall into any Misfortune, it does not 'only raise our Pity but our Terror; because we are afraid 'that the like Misfortunes may happen to our selves, 'who resemble the Character of the Suffering Person.

I shall take another Opportunity to observe, that a Person of an absolute and consummate Virtue should never be introduced in Tragedy, and shall only remark in this Place, that this [the foregoing] Observation oiAriftotle, tho' it maybe true in other Occasions, does not hold in this; because in the present Case, though the Persons who fall into Misfortune are of the most perfect and consummate Virtue, it is not to be considered as what may possibly be, but what actually is our own Cafe; since we are embark'd with them on the fame Bottom, and must be Partakers of their Happiness or Misery.

In this, and some other very few Instances, Aristotle's Rules for Epic Poetry (which he had drawn from his Reflections upon Homer) cannot be supposed to quadrate exactly with the Heroic Poems which have been made since his Time; as it is plain his Rules would have been still more perfect, cou'd he have perused the Æneid which was made some hundred Years after his Death.

In my next Ishall go through other parts of Milton's Poem; and hope that what I/hall there advance, as well as what I have already written, will not only ferve as a Comment upon Milton, but upon Aristotle.

The SPECTATOR.

Redderepersonœ scit convenientia cuique. Hor {He knows what best befits each Char after.}

Saturday January 19. 1712.

E have already taken a general Survey of the Fable and Characters in Miltonh Paradise Lost: The Parts which remain to be consider'd, according to Aristottts Method, are the Sentiments and the Language. Before I enter upon the first of these, I must advertise my Reader, that it is my Design as soon as I have finished my general Reflections on these four several Heads, to give particular Instances out of the Poem which is now before us of Beauties and Impersections which may be observed under each of them, as also of such other Particulars as may not properly fall under any of them. This I thought fit to premise, that the Reader may not judge too hastily of this Piece of Criticism, or look upon it as Imperfect, before he has seen the whole Extent of it.

The Sentiments in an [all] Epic Poem are the Thoughts and Behaviour which the Author ascribes to the Persons whom he introduces, and are just when they are conformable to the Characters of the several Persons. The Sentiments have likewise a relation to Things as well as Persons, and are then persect when they are such as are adapted to the Subject. If in either of these Cases the Poet argues, or explains, magnifies or diminishes, raises Love or Hatred, Pity or Terror, or any other Passion, we ought to consider whether the Sentiments he makes use of are proper for these [their] Ends. Homer is censured by the Criticks for THE SENTIMENTS MUST BE BOTH NATURAL AND SUBLIME. 2J

[graphic]

his Desect as to this Particular in several parts of the Iliad and Odyffey, tho' at the same time those who have treated this great Poet with Candour, have attributed this Desect to the Times in which he lived. It was the sault of the Age, and not of Homer, if there wants that Delicacy in some of his Sentiments, which appears in the Works of Men of a much inserior Genius. Besides, if there are Blemishes in any particular Thoughts, there is an infinite Beauty in the greatest part of them. In short, if there are many Poets who wou'd not have sallen into the mea[n]ness of some of his Sentiments, there are none who cou'd have rise[n] up to the Greatness of others. Virgil has excelled all others in the Propriety of his Sentiments. Milton shines likewise very much in this Particular: Nor must we omit one Consideration which adds to his Honour and Reputation. Homer and Virgil introduced Persons whose Characters are commonly known among Men, and such as are to be met with either in History, or in ordinary Conversation. Milton's Characters, most of them, lie out of Nature, and were to be formed purely by his own Invention. It shews a greater Genius in Shake/pear to have drawn his Calyban, than his Hotspur or Julius Cæsar: The one was to be supplied out of his own Imagination, whereas the other might have been formed upon Tradition, History and Observation. It was much easier therefore for Homer to find proper Sentiments for an Assembly of Grecian Generals, than for Milton to diversifie his Insernal Council with proper Characters, and inspire them with a variety of Sentiments. The Loves of Dido and Æneas are only Copies of what has pasted between other Persons. Adam and Eve, before the Fall, are a different Species from that of Mankind, who are descended from them; and none but a Poet of the most unbounded Invention, and the most exquisite Judgment, cou'd have filled their Conversation and Behaviour with such Beautisul Circumstances during their State of Innocence.

Nor is it sufficient for an Epic Poem to be filled with such Thoughts as are Natural, unless it abound also with such as are Sublime. Virgil in this Particular salls short of Homer. He has not indeed so many Thoughts that are Low and Vulgar; but at the same 'time has not so many Thoughts that are Sublime and Noble. The truth of it is, Virgil seldom rises into very astonishing Sentiments, where he is not fired by the Iliad. He every where charms and pleases us by the force of his own Genius; but seldom elevates and transports us where he does not fetch his Hints from Homer.

Milton's chief Talent, and indeed his distinguishing Excellence, lies in the Sublimity of his Thoughts. There are others of the Moderns who rival him in every other part of Poetry; but in the greatness of his Sentiments he triumphs over all the Poets both Modern and Ancient, Homer only excepted. It is impossible for the Imagination of Man to distend it self with greater Ideas, than those which he has laid together in his first, [second,] and sixth* [tenth] Book[sl. The seventh, which describes the Creation of the World, is likewise wondersully Sublime, tho' not so apt to stir up Emotion in the Mind of the Reader, nor consequently so persect in the Epic way of Writing, because it is filled with less Action. Let the Reader compare what Longinus has observed on several Passages of Homer, and he will find Parallels for most of them in the Paradise Lost.

From what has been said we may inser, that as there are two kinds of Sentiments, the Natural and the Sublime, which are always to be pursued in an Heroic Poem, there are also two kinds of Thoughts which are caresully to be avoided. The first are such as are affected and unnatural; the second such as are mean and vulgar. As for the first kind of Thoughts we meet with little or nothing that is like them in Virgil: He has none of those little Points and Puerilities tiiat are so often to be met with in Ovid, none of the

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