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Poetry, which rises in a great measure from his describing the Places where they were worshipped, by those beautisul marks of Rivers so frequent among the Ancient Poets. The Author had doubtless in this place Homer's Catalogue of Ships, and VirgiFs List of Warriors in his view. The Characters of Molcch and Belial prepare the Reader's Mind for their respective Speeches and Behaviour in the second and sixth Book. The Account of Thammuz is finely Romantick, and suitable to what we read among the Ancients of the Worship which was paid to that IdoL
\ t Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual Wound in Lebanon allur'd
The Reader will pardon me if I insert as a Note on this beautisul Passage, the Account given us by the late ingenious Mr. Maundrell of this Antient Piece of Worship, and probably the first Occasion of such a Superstition. 'We came to a sair large River .... 'doubtless the Antient River Adonis, so samous for the 'Idolatrous Rites peribrm'd here in Lamentation of 'Adonis. We had the Fortune to fee what may be 'supposed to be the Occasion of that Opinion which 'Lucian relates, concerning this River, viz. That this 'Stream, at certain Seasons of the Year, especially about
t This passage was added in the author's life-time, hut subsequent to the second edition. The eariiest issue with it in that I have seen, is Notes ujx* the Twelve Books of' Pa adise Lost.' London 1719. p. 43.
* the Feast of Adonis, is of a bloody Colour; which the
* Heathens looked upon as proceeding from a kind of 'Sympathy in the River for the Death of Adonis, who 'was killed by a wild Boar in the Mountains, out of 'which this Stream rises. Something like this we saw 'actually come to pass; for the Water was stain'd to 'a surprising redness; and, as we observed in Travelling, 'had discolour' d the Sea a great way into a reddish 'Hue, occasion'd doubtless by a fort of Minium, or 'red Earth, washed into the River by the violence of 'the Rain, and not by any stain from Adonis's Blood.'}
The Passage in the Catalogue, explaining the manner how Spirits transform themselves by Contraction, or Enlargement of their Dimensions, is introduced with great Judgement, to make way for several surprizing Accidents in the Sequel of the Poem. There follows one, at the very End of the First Book, which is what the French Critics call Marvellous, but at the same time probable by reason of the Passage last mentioned. As soon as the Insernal Palace is finished, we are told the Multitude and Rabble os Spirits immediately shrunk themselves into a small Compass, that there might be Room for such a numberless Assembly in this capacious Hall. But it is the Poet's Refinement upon this Thought, which I most admire, and which is indeed very noble in its self. For he tells us, that notwithstanding the vulgar, among the sallen Spirits, contracted their Forms, those of the first Rank and Dignity still preserved their natural Dimensions.
Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest Forms
The Character of Mammon, and the Description of the Pandœmonium, are sull of Beauties.
There are several other Strokes in the First Book wondersully poetical, and Instances of that Sublime Genius so peculiar to the Author. Such is the Description of Azazess Stature, and of the Insernal Standard, which he unsurls; and [as also] of that ghastly Light, by which the Fiends appear toone another in their Placeof Torments.
The Seat of Desolation, void of Light,
Save what the glimmering of those livid Flames
Casts pale and dreadful—
The Shout of the whole Host of sallen Angels when drawn up in Battle Array:
The Universal Host up sent
The Review, which the Leader makes of his Infernal Army:
He thrd the armed files
Darts his experienc'd eye, and soon traverse
The Flash of Light, which appeared upon the drawing of their Swords;
He spake; and to confirm his words outflew
The sudden Production of the Pandœmonium;
[Anon out of the Earth a Fabrick huge
-From the arched Roof
Pendent by subtle Magick, many a Row
There are also several noble Similes and Allusions in the first Book of Paradise Lost. And here I must observe, that when Milton alludes either to Things or Persons, he never quits his Simile till it rises to some very great Idea, which is often foreign to the Occasion which [that] gave Birth to it. The Resemblance does not, perhaps, last above a Line or two, but the Poet runs on with the Hint, till he has raised out of it some glorious Image or Sentiment, proper to inflame the Mind of the Reader, and to give it that sublime kind of Entertainment, which is suitable to the Nature of an Heroic Poem. Those, who are acquainted with Homer's and Virgiss way of Writing, cannot but be pleased with this kind of Structure in Milton's Similitudes. I am the more particular on this Head, because ignorant Readers, who have formed their Taste upon the quaint Similes, and little Turns of Wit, which are so much in Vogue among Modern Poets, cannot relish these Beauties which are of a much higher nature, and are therefore apt to censure Milton's Comparisons, in which they do not see any surprizing Points of likeness. Monsieur Perrault was a Man of this viciated Relish, and for that very Reason has endeavoured to turn into Ridicule several of Homer's Similitudes, which he calls Comparaisons a longue queue, Long-taild Comparisons. I shall conclude this Paper on the First Book of Milton with the Answer which Monsieur Boileau makes to Perrault on this Occasion; 'Com'parisons, says he, in Odes and Epic Poems are not 'introduced only to illustrate and embellish the Dil'course, but to amuse and relax the Mind of the 'Reader, by frequently disengaging him from too •painsul an Attention to the Principal Subject, and 'by leading him into other agreeable Images. Ho'mer, says he, excelled in this Particular, whose Com'parisons abound with such Images of Nature as are 'proper to relieve and diversifie his Subjects. He 'continually instructs the Reader, and makes him 'take notice, even in Objects which are every Day 'before our Eyes, of such Circumstances as we should 'not otherwise have observed. To this he adds, as a 'Maxim universally acknowledged, that it is not neces'sary in Poetry for the Points of the Comparison to 'correspond with one another exactly, but that a 'general Resemblance is sufficient, and that too much 'nicety in this Particular savours of the Rhetorician • and Epigrammatist.'
In short, if we look into the Conduct of Homer, Virgil and Milton, as the great Fable is the Soul of each Poem, so to give their Works an agreeable Variety, their Episodes are so many short Fables, and their Similes so many short Episodes; to which you may add, if you please, that their Metaphors are so many short Similes. If the Reader considers the Comparisons in the First Book of Milton, of the Sun in an Eclipse, of the Sleeping leviathan, of the Bees swarming about their Hive, of the Fairy Dance, in the view wherein I have here placed them, he will easily discover the great Beauties that are in each of thole Passages,