Obrazy na stronie


major rerum mihi nascitur ordo. Virg.

{A larger Scene os Atlion is display'd. Dryden.}

Saturday, March 15, 1712.

E were told in the foregoing Book how the Evil Spirit practised upon Eve as she lay asleep, in order to inspire her with Thoughts of Vanity, Pride and Ambition. The Author, who shews a wondersul Art throughout his whole Poem, in preparing the Reader for the several Occurrences that arise in it, founds upon the above-mentioned Circumstance the first, part of the Fifth Book. Adam upon his awaking, finds Eve still asleep, with an unusual Discomposure in her Looks. The Posture in which he regards her, is described with a wondersul Tenderness [not to be expressed*]!, as the Whisper with which he awakens her, is the softest that ever was conveyed to a Lover's Ears

His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve
With Treffes discompos'd and glowing cheek
As through unquiet rest: he on his side
Leaning half 'rais'd, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamour'd, and beheld
Beauty, which whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar Graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus or Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus. Awake
My fairest, my efpous'd, my latest found,
fleav'ns last best gift, my ever new delight,
Awake, the morning shines, and the fresh field

f See Errata, at the end of No. 369, in the original issue.


Calls us, we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tended plants, how blows the Citron Grove,
What drops the Myrrhe, and what the balmie Reed,
How Nature paints her colours, how the Bee
Sits on the bloom, extracting liquid sweet.
Such whifpring wak'd her, but with slartled Eye,
On Adam, whom embracing thus shespake.

O Sole in whom my thoughts find all repoje,
My Glory, my perfection, glad I fee
Thy face, and morn return'd

I cannot but take notice that Milton, in his Conferences between Adam and Eve, had his Eye very frequently upon the Book of Canticles^ in which there is a noble Spirit of Eastern Poetry, and very often not unlike what we meet with in Homer, who is generally placed near the Age of Solomon. I think there is no question but the Poet in the preceding Speech remembred those two Passages which are spoken on the like occasion, and fill'd with the same pleasing Images of Nature.

My belovedspake, andsaid unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away; For lo, the winter is past, tlie rain is over and gone; the Flowers appear on the tarth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the Voice of the Turtle is heard in our Land. The Fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the Vines with the tender Vape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, 'and come away.

Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the Field; let us get up early to the Vineyards, let us fee if the Vine flourish, whether the tender Grape appear, and the Pomegranates bud forth.

His preferring the Garden of Eden to that

Where the Sapient King

Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian Spouse,

shews that the Poet had this delightsul Scene in his Mind.

Eve's Dream is sull of those high Conceits engendrin^ Pride, which we are told the Devil endeavoured to instil into her. Of this kind is that part of it where she sancies her self awaken'd by Adam in the following beautisul Lines,

Whyfleep'st thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,
The cool, the silent, save where silence yields
To the night-warbling bird, that now awake
Tunessweetest his Love-labour'd song; now reigns
Full orb'd the moon, and with more pleasing light
Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain
If none regard; Heartn wakes with all his eyes,
Whom to behold but thee, Natures desire,
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
Attratled by thy beauty still to gaze.

An injudicious Poet would have made Adam talk through the whole Work, in such Sentiments as this [these]. But Flattery and Falfhood are not the Courtship of Milton's Adam, and cou'd not be heard by Eve in her State of Innocence, excepting only in a Dream produced on purpose to taint her Imagination. Other vain Sentiments of the same kind in this relation of her Dream, will be obvious to every Reader. Tho' the Catastrophe of the Poem is finely presaged on this occasion, the Particulars of it are so artsully shadow'd, that they do not anticipate the Story which follows in the Ninth Book. I shall only add, that tho' the Vision it self is founded upon Truth, the Circumstances of it are sull of that Wildness and Inconsistency which are natural to a Dream. Adam, conformable to his superior Character for Wisdom, instructs and comforts Eve upon this occasion.

So cheat3d he his fair Spouse, andshe was cheat'd,
But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wiped them with her hair;
Two other precious drops that ready stood,
Each in their chrystal fluice, he e'er they felt

Kiftd as the gracious Signs of fweet remorfe
And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended.

The Morning Hymn is written in Imitation of one of those Pfalms^ where, in the Overflowings of his Gratitude and Praise, the Pfalmist calls not only upon the Angels, but upon the most conspicuous parts of the inanimate Creation, to join with him in extolling their Common Maker. Invocations of this Nature fill the Mind with glorious Ideas of God's Works, and awaken that Divine Enthusiasm, which is so natural to Devotion. But if this calling upon the dead parts of Nature, is at all times a proper kind of Worship, it was in a particular manner suitable to our first Parents, who had the Creation fresh upon their Minds, and had not seen the various Dispenfations of Providence, nor consequently could be acquainted with those many Topicks of Praise which might afford matter to the Devotions of their Posterity. I need not remark that* [the] beautisul Spirit of Poetry which runs through this whole Hymn, nor the Holiness of that Resolution wim which it concludes.

Having already mentioned those Speeches which are assigned to the Persons in this Poem, I proceed to the Description which the Poet gives us* of Raphael. His Departure from before the Throne, and his Flight thro' the Quires [Choirs] of Angels, is finely imaged. As Milton every where fills his Poem with Circumstances that are marvellous and astonishing, he describes the Gate of Heaven as framed after such a manner, that it open'd of it self upon the approach of the Angel who was to pass through it .

'till at the gate

Of Heai>n arriv'd, the gate felf-open'd wide,
On golden Hinges turning, as by work
Divine the Sovereign Architecl had franid.

The Poet here seems to have regarded two or three Passages in the eighteenth Iliad, as that in particular where, speaking of Vulcan, Homer says, that he had made Twenty Tripodes, running on Golden Wheels, which, upon Occasion, might go of themselves to the Assembly of the Gods, and, when there was no more use for them, return again after the same manner. Scaliger has rallied Homer very severely upon this Point, as Mons. Dacier has endeavoured to desend it. I will not pretend to determine, whether in this Particular of Hovter, the Marvellous does not lose sight of the Probable. As the miraculous Workmanship of Milton's Gates is not so extraordinary as this of the Tripodes, so I am perswaded he would not have mentioned it, had not he been supported in it by a Passage in the Scripture, which speaks of Wheels in Heaven that had Lise in them, and moved of themselves, or flood still, in Conformity with the Cherubims, whom they accompanied.

There is no question but Milton had this Circumstance in his Thoughts, because in the following Book he describes the Chariot of the Meffah with living Wheels, according to the Plan in Ezekiel's Vision.

Forth rush'd with whirlwindfound

The Chariot of Paternal Deity,

Flashing thick slames, wheel within wheel undrawn,

It self insiincl with Spirit

I question not but Boffu, and the two Daciers, who are for vindicating every thing that is censured in Homer, by something Parallel in Holy Writ, would have been very well pleased had they thought of confronting Vulcan's Tripodes with EzekieTs Wheels.

Raphael's Descent to the Earth, with the Figure of his Person, is represented in very lively Colours. Several of the French, Italian, and English Poets have given a loose to their Imaginations in the Description of Angels: But I do not remember to have met with any, so finely drawn and so conformable to the Notions which are given of them in Scripture, as this in Milton. After having set him forth in all his Heavenly Plumage,

« PoprzedniaDalej »