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and advanced to meet him on his returning from the victory, it is not asserted that his immediate ministers, the “ ten thousand thousand saints”a who attended him from the throne of God, did not pursue the enemy in their fall, and “ hang on their broken rear:” the contrary, indeed, seems to be implied when it is said that
“ Eternal wrath
When Satan therefore in the first book observes,
“ But see the angry victor bath recall'd
His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
and when Chaos, in the second, declares that
he saw as,
no contradiction is necessarily intimated.
But admitting that these accounts were irreconcileable with the fact, as it is related by Raphael, the difficulty would vanish when we considered the persons by whom the varying circumstances are mentioned. Could an accurate report of such an event be expected from a personification of Chaos, to
a Par. Lost, vi. 767.
whom the uproar and the tumult of a rout which “ incumbered him with ruin," and made him sensible of “ tenfold confusion," must have been the leading if not the sole object of regard? or from beings under the overwhelming astonishinent attributed to the rebels at this tremendous crisis of their fate, when“ ten thousand thunders infixed plagues in their souls,” when they were “ pursued with terrours and with furies,” and when their senses were so confounded that they lay for nine days in a state of complete oblivion on “ the fiery surge which received them falling from the precipice of heaven?” Their overthrow however is uniformly ascribed to the thunders of their adversary, with the of whose “ dire arms” they were till then unacquainted; and whose“ red right hand” had been exerted “ to plague them.” The coherency therefore of the fable in this wonderful poem must be allowed to be perfect; and as a cause of surprise, with reference to the particular situation of the author, to be exceeded only by an equal consistency discoverable in the Iliad ;-if in truth that mighty intellectual effort be as certainly the work of a blind, as it was of a single man.
• This is spoken with reference to some extravagances, though not perhaps absolute novelties of opinion, which have lately
Much has been said on the unequal flow of Milton's genius; and by some it has been represented as under the influence of particular seasons, while by others it has been regarded as the effect of immediate and positive inspiration. Philips declares that his uncle's poetic faculty was vivid only in the winter, and Toland assigns the spring as the season of its peculiar activity; while Richardson, with a proper respect to the ardent character of the author's mind, expresses a doubt whether such a work could be suffered for
any considerable period to stand absolutely still.
Philips, to whom his relation was accustomed to show the
poem in its progress, informs us that, in consequence of not having
been supported by a few German scholars. These learned men, who are endued with microscopic vision,
“ To inspect a mite, not comprehend the heaven," would wish us to believe that the Iliad was composed at different periods by different rhapsodists, and was not originally committed to writing. By any person capable of comprehending the full force of the internal evidence suggested by the Iliad, these fancies must be immediately rejected as utterly unworthy of attention.
• In one of his letters to his friend Deodati, Milton says that when he was engaged in any study, he was urged to prosecute it with his full vigour and application, and was impatient of interruption in his pursuit. “ Meum sic est ingenium, nulla ut mora, nulla quies, nulla fermè illius rei cura aut cogitatio distineat, quoad pervadam quo feror, et grandem aliquam studiorum meorum quasi periodum conficiam.” *
* P. W. vi. 114.
seen any verses for some time on the advance of summer, he requested to know the cause of what appeared to him to be extraordinary, and was told in reply by the poet, that “ his vein never flowed happily, but from the autumnal equinox to the vernal; and that what he attempted at other times was never to his satisfaction, though he courted his fancy ever so much.”d In opposition to this, and in support of his own opinion, Toland adduces the information given to him by a friend of Milton's and the testimony of the bard himself, who in his beautiful elegy on the arrival of spring speaks of this delightful season as renovating and invigorating his genius. While
On this passage from Philips Dr. Johnson, forced as he is to admit the unequal and uncertain Aow of the human imaginatin, insults over the weak fancies of Milton, and the still weaker credulity of his biographers. This, Dr. Johnson was at liberty to do:- but he goes rather too far when he charges Milton with holding an opinion, respecting the general decay and old age of Nature, which Milton has himself expressly contradicted. (See his Latin verses with the title of “ Naturam non pati senium.")
e I will insert the passage in question from Milton's beautiful clegy, with a translation of it by him to whose memory I have indulged myself by inscribing the present work. I had asked my · admirable son for a version of the entire elegy: but his diffidence had induced him to refuse wbat my acquaintance with his talents and taste had impelled me to request. Among bis papers bowever was found after his decease a considerable part of the translation, executed in such a manner as to make the circumstance of his not having completed it a subject of real regret. Though the
the former part of this evidence cannot be
last polishing touches of his pen are evidently wanting, I persuade myself that my readers will perceive sufficient beauty in the lines, which I submit to them, to justify me for thus bringing forward what the modesty and fine taste of the writer unquestionably dessined to oblivion.-I transcribe only that part of his translation which relates immediately to my subject : but what remains of the imperfect work is in a style of equal merit.
IN ADVENTUM VERIS.
In se perpetuo Tempus revolubile gyro
Jam revocat Zephyros vere tepente novos :
Jamque soluta gelu dulce virescit humus.
Ingeniumque mihi munere veris adest?
(Quis putet?) atque aliquod jam sibi poscit opus.
Et mihi Pyrenen somnia nocte ferunt:
Et furor, et sonitus me sacer intûs agit.
Implicitos crines :-Delius ipse venit.
Perque vagas nubes corpore libér eo.
Et mihi fana patent interiora Deûm:
Nec fugiunt oculos Tartara cæca meos.
Quid parit hæc rabies? quid sacer iste furor ?
Profuerint isto reddita dona modo.
Instituis modulos dum silet omne nemus.