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tire harassed and overburdened, and look else- a general, or perches on a standard ; but Fame where for recreation; we desert our master, and Victory can do no more. To give them any and seek for companions.
real employment, or ascribe to them any mateAnother inconvenience of Milton's design is, ' rial agency, is to make them allegorical no longthat it requires the description of what cannot er, but to shock the mind by ascribing effects to be described, the agency of spirits. He saw nonentity. In the “ Prometheus” of Æschylus, that immateriality supplied no images, and that we see Violence and Strength, and in the “ Alhe could not show angels acting but by instru- cestis” of Euripides, we see Death, brought ments of action : he therefore invested them upon the stage, all as active persons of the drawith form and matter. This, being necessary, ma; but no precedents can justify absurdity. was therefore defensible; and he should have se Milton's allegory of Sin and Death is uncured the consistency of his system, by keeping doubtedly faulty. Sin is indeed the mother of immateriality out of sight, and enticing his read- Death, and may be allowed to be the portress of er to drop it from his thoughts. But he has un- hell; but when they stop the journey of Satan, happily perplexed his poetry with his philoso- a journey described as real, and when Death ofphy. His infernal and celestial powers are fers him battle, the allegory is broken. That sometimes pure spirit, and sometimes animated Sin and Death should have shown the way to body. When Satan walks with his lance upon hell, might have been allowed; but they cannot the burning marl, he has a body; when, in his facilitate the passage by building a bridge, bepassage between hell and the new world, he is in cause the difficulty of Satan's passage is dedanger of sinking in the vacuity, and is support- scribed as real and sensible, and the bridge ought ed by a gust of rising vapours, he has a body; to be only figurative. The hell assigned to the when he animates the toad, he seems to be mere rebellious spirits is described as not less local spirit, that can penetrate matter at pleasure; than the residence of man. It is placed in some when he starts up in his own shape, he has at least distant part of space, separated from the regions a determined form; and when he is brought be- of harmony and order, by a chaotic waste and fore Gabriel, he has a spear and a shield, which an unoccupied vacuity ; but Sin and Death he had the power of hiding in the toad, though worked up a mole of aggravated soil, cemented the arms of the contending angels are evidently with asphaltus ; a work too bulky for ideal armaterial.
chitects. The vulgar inhabitants of Pandæmonium, This unskilful allegory appears to me one of being incorporeal spirits, are at large, though with the greatest faults of the poem ; and to this out number, in a limited space: yet in the battle, there was no temptation but the Author's opinwhen they were overwhelmed by mountains, ion of its beauty. their armour hurt them, crushed in upon their To the conduct of the narrative some objecsubstance, now grown gross by sinning. This like- tions may be made. Satan is with great expec wise happened to the uncorrupted angels, who tation brought before Gabriel in paradise, and is were overthrown the sooner for their arms, for suffered to go away unmolested. The creation unarmed they mtght easily as spirits have evaded by of man is represented as the consequence of the contraction or remove. Even as spirits they are vacuity left in heaven by the expulsion of the hardly spiritual ; for contraction and remove are rebels; yet Satan mentions it as a report rife in images of matter ; but if they could have escaped heaven before his departure. without their armour, they might have escaped To find sentiments for the state of innocence from it, and left only the empty cover to be bat- was very difficult; and something of anticipatered. Uriel, when he rides on a sunbeam, is tion, perhaps, is now and then discovered. material; Satan is material, when he is afraid Adam's discourse of dreams seems not to be the of the prowess of Adam.
speculation of a new-created being. I know not The confusion of spirit and matter which per- whether bis answer to the angel's reproof for vades the whole narration of the war of heaven, curiosity does not want something of propriety; fills it with incongruity; and the book in which it is the speech of a man acquainted with many it is related is, I believe, the favourite of chil- other men. Some philosophical notions, espedren, and gradually neglected as knowledge is cially when the philosophy is false, might have increased.
been better omitted. The angel, in a compariAfter the operation of immaterial agents son, speaks of timorous deer, before deer were yet which cannot be explained, may be considered timorous, and before Adam could understand the that of allegorical persons which have no real comparison. existence. To exalt causes into agents, to invest Dryden remarks, that Milton has some flats abstract ideas with form, and animate them with among his elevations. This is only to say that activity, has always been the right of poetry. all the parts are not equal. In every work one But such airy beings are, for the most part, suf- part must be for the sake of others ; a palace fered only to do their natural office, and retire. must have passages; a poem must have transiThus Fame tells a tale, and Victory hovers over tions. It is no more to be required that wit
should always be blazing, than that the sun | racter, nor the combinations of concurring, or should always stand at noon. In a great work the perplexity of contending, passions. He had there is a vicissitude of luminous and opaque read inuch, and knew what books could teach ; parts, as there is in the world a succession of day but had mingled little in the world, and was deand night. Milton, when he has expatiated in ficient in the knowledge which experience must the sky, may be allowed sometimes to revisit confer.
for what other author ever soared so Through all his greater works there prevails high, or sustained his flight so long ?
a uniform peculiarity of diction, a mode and Milton, being well versed in the Italian poets, cast of expression which bears little resemblance appears to have borrowed often from them; and, to that of any former writer; and which is so as every man catches something from his com- far removed from common use, that an unpanions, his desire of imitating Ariosto’s levity learned reader, when he first opens his book, has disgraced his work with the “ Paradise of finds himself surprised by a new language. Fools ;” a fiction not in itself ill-imagined, but This novelty has been, by those who can find too ludicrous for its place.
nothing wrong in Milton, imputed to his laboHis play on words, in which he delights too rious endeavours after words suitable to the often; his equivocations, which Bentley endea- grandeur of his ideas. “ Our language,” says vours to defend by the example of the ancients ; Addison, “sunk under him.” But the truth his unnecessary and ungraceful use of terms of is, that, both in prose and verse, he had formed art, it is not necessary to mention, because they his style by a perverse and pedantic principle. are easily remarked, and generally censured ; and He was desirous to use English words with a at last bear so little proportion to the whole, foreign idiom. This in all bis prose is discothat they scarcely deserve the attention of a vered and condemned ; for there judgment opecritic.
rates freely, neither softened by the beauty, nor Such are the faults of that wonderful per- awed by the dignity, of his thoughts; but such formance, “ Paradise Lost;" which he who can is the power of his poetry, that his call is obeyed put in balance with its beauties must be con without resistance, the reader feels himself in sidered not as nice but as dull, as less to be cen-captivity to a higher and a nobler mind, and cri. sured for want of candour, than pitied for want | ticism sinks in admiration. of sensibility.
Milton's style was not modified by his subOf “ Paradise Regained," the general judg- ject; what is shown with greater extent in ment seems now to be right, that it is in many “ Paradise Lost,” may be found in “ Comus.” parts elegant, and every where instructive. It One source of his peculiarity was his familiarity was not to be supposed that the writer of “ Pa- with the Tuscan poets; the disposition of his radise Lost" could ever write without great ef- words, is, I think, frequently Italian; perhaps fusions of fancy; and exalted precepts of wis- sometimes combined with other tongues. dom. The basis of “ Paradise Regained” is Of him, at last, may be said what Jonson says narrow; a dialogue without action can never of Spenser, that “ he wrote no language," but please like a union of the narrative and dra- has formed what Butler calls a “ Babylonish matic powers. Had this poem been written not dialect," in itself harsh and barbarous, but made by Milton, but by some imitator, it would have by exalted genius and extensive learning the claimed and received universal praise.
vehicle of so much instruction and so much pleaIf “ Paradise Regained” has been too much sure, that, like other lovers, we find grace in its depreciated, “ Sampson Agonistes” has in re- deformity. quital been too much admired. It could only Whatever be the faults of his diction, he canbe by long prejudice, and the bigotry of learning, not want the praise of copiousness and variety : that Milton could prefer the ancient tragedies, he was master of his language in its full extent; with their incumbrance of a chorus, to the ex- and has selected the melodious words with such hibitions of the French and English stages; and diligence, that from his book alone the art of it is only by a blind confidence in the reputation English poetry might be learned. of Milton, that a drama can be praised in which After his diction, something must be said of the intermediate parts have neither cause nor his versification." “ The measure,” he says, “ is consequence, neither hasten nor retard the ca
the English heroic verse without rhyme.' Of tastrophe.
this mode he had many examples among the In this tragedy are, however, many particu- Italians, and some in his own country. The lar beauties, many just sentiments, and strik- Earl of Surrey is said to have translated one of ing lines ; but it wants that power of attracting Virgil's books without rhyme ;* and, beside our the attention which a well-connected plan pro- tragedies, a few short poems had appeared in duces.
Milton would not have excelled in dramatic writing ; he knew human nature only in the * The Earl of Surrey translated two books of Vir gross, and had never studied the shades of cha- gil without rhyme, the second and the fourth.–J. B.
blank verse, particularly one tendil.g to recon- style; has neither the easiness of prose, nor the cile the nation to Raleigh's wild attempt upon melody of numbers, and therefore tires by long Guiana, and probably written by Raleigh him-, continuance. Of the Italian writers without self. These petty performances cannot be sup- rhyme, whom Milton alleges as precedents, not posed to have much influenced Milton, who one is popular; what reason could urge in its more probably took his hint from Trissino's defence has been confuted by the ear. Italia Liberata ; and, finding blank verse easier But, whatever be the advantages of rhyme, I than rhyme, was desirous of suading him- cannot prevail on myself to wish that Milton self that it is better.
had been a rhymer; for I cannot wish his work “ Rhyme,” he says, and says truly, “is no to be other than it is; yet, like other heroes, he is necessary adjunct of true poetry.” But, per- to be admired rather than imitated. He that haps, of poetry, as a mental operation, metre or thinks himself capable of astonishing may write music is no necessary adjunct : it is however by blank verse : but those that hope only to please the music of metre that poetry has been discri- must condescend to rhyme. minated in all languages; and, in languages me The highest praise of genius is original invenlodiously constructed with a due proportion of tion. Milton cannot be said to have contrived long and short syllables, metre is sufficient. "But the structure of an epic poem, and therefore one language cannot communicate its rules to owes reverence to that vigour and amplitude of another; where metre is scanty and imperfect, mind to which all generations must be indebted some help is necessary. The music of the Eng- for the art of poetical narration, for the texture lish heroic lines strikes the ear so faintly, that of the fable, the variation of incidents, the init is easily lost, unless all the syllables of every terposition of dialogue, and all the stratagems line co-operate together; this co-operation can that surprise and enchain attention. But, of all be only obtained by the preservation of every the borrowers from Homer, Milton is perhaps verse unmingled with another as a distinct sys- the least indebted. He was naturally a thinker tem of sounds; and this distinctness is obtained for himself, confident of his own abilities, and and preserved by the artifice of rhyme. The disdainful of help or hinderance: he did not revariety of pauses, so much boasted by the lovers fuse admission to the thoughts or images of his of blank verse, changes the measures of an Eng-predecessors, but he did not seek them. From lish poet to the periods of a declaimer; and there his contemporaries he neither courted nor reare only a few skilful and happy readers of Mil-ceived support; there is in his writings nothing ton, who enable their audience to perceive where by which the pride of other authors might be the lines-end or begin. “Blank verse," said an in- gratified, or favour gained, no exchange of genious critic, "seems to be verse only to the eye. praise, nor solicitation of support. His great
Poetry may subsist without rhyme, but Eng- works were performed under discountenance, lish poetry will not often please; nor can rhyme and in blindness; but difficulties vanished at his ever be safely spared but where the subject is touch; he was born for whatever is arduous ; able to support itself. Blank verse makes some and his work is not the greatest of heroic poems, approach to that which is called the lapidary only because it is not the first.
Of the great Author of “ Hudibras” there is a | Strensham, in Worcestershire, according to his life prefixed to the later editions of his poem, by biographer, in 1612. This account Dr. Nash an unknown writer, and therefore disputable finds confirmed by register. He was chrisauthority; and some account is incidentally given tened February 14. by Wood, who confesses the uncertainty of his His father's condition is variously represented. own narrative: more however than they knew Wood mentions him as competently wealthy; cannot now be learned, and nothing remains but but Mr. Longueville, the son of Butler's printo compare and copy them.
cipal friend, says he was an honest farmer with
some small estate, who made a shift to educate SAMUEL BUTLER was born in the parish of his son at the grammar-school of Worcester,
under Mr. Henry Bright,* from whose care he his, were shown to Dr. Nash, at Earl's removed for a short time to Cambridge; but, Croomb; but, when he inquired for them some for want of money, was never made a member years afterwards, he found them destroyed, to of any college. Wood leaves us rather doubtful stop windows, and owns that they hardly dewhether he went to Cambridge or Oxford; but served a better fate. at last makes him pass six or seven years at He was afterwards admitted into the family Cambridge, without knowing in what hall or of the Countess of Kent, where he had the use of college ; yet it can hardly be imagined that he a library; and so much recommended himself lived so long in either university but as belong- to Selden, that he was often employed by him ing to one house or another; and it is still less in literary business. Selden, as is well known, likely that he could have so long inhabited a was steward to the Countess, and is supposed to place of learning with so little distinction as to have gained much of his wealth by managing leave his residence uncertain. Dr. Nash has her estate. discovered that his father was owner of a house In what character Butler was admitted into and a little land, worth about eight pounds a that lady's service, how long he continued in it, year still called Butler's tenement.
and why he left it, is, like the other incidents Wood has his information from his brother, of his life, utterly unknown. whose narrative placed him at Cambridge, in The vicissitudes of his condition placed him opposition to that of his neighbours, which sent afterwards in the family of Şir Samuel Luke, him to Oxford. The brother seems the best one of Cromwell's officers. Here he observed authority, till, by confessing his inability to tell so much of the character of the sectaries, that he his hall or college, he gives reason to suspect is said to have written or begun his poem at that he was resolved to bestow on him an aca this time; and it is likely that such a design demical education; but durst not name a college, would be formed in a place where he saw the for fear of detection.
principies and practices of the rebels, audacious He was, for some time, according to the and undisguised in the confidence of success. author of his life, clerk to Mr. Jefferys, of At length the King returned, and the time Earl's Croomb, in Worcestershire, an eminent came in which loyalty hoped for its reward. justice of the peace. In his service he had not Butler, however, was only made secretary to only leisure for study, but for recreation ; his the Earl of Carbury, president of the principal. amusements were music and painting: and the ity of Wales ; who conferred on him the reward of his pencil was the friendship of the stewardship of Ludlow Castle, when the Court celebrated Cooper. Some pictures, said to be of the Marches was revived.
In this part of his life, he married Mrs. Herbert, a gentlewoman of a good family, and
lived, says Wood, upon her fortune, having * These are the words of the author of the short account of Butler prefixed to “Hudibras,” which Dr. studied the common law, but never practised it. Johnson, notwithstanding what he says above, seems
A fortune she had, says his biographer, but it to have supposed was written by Mr. Longueville, was lost by bad securities. the father ; but the contrary is to be inferred from a In 1663 was published the first part, containsubsequent passage, wherein the author laments that ing three cantos, of the poem of " Hudibras," he had neither such an acquaintance vor interest which, as Prior relates, was made known at with Mr. Longueville, as to procure for him the gold court, by the taste and influence of the Earl of en remains of Butler there mentioned. He was pro
Dorset. When it was known, it was necessarbably led into the mistake by a note in the Biog. Brit. p. 1077, signifying that the son of this gentleman was
ily admired : the King quoted, the courtiers living in 1736.
studied, and the whole party of the royalists apOf this friend and generous patron of Butler, Mr. plauded it. Every eye watched for the golden William Longueville, I find an account, written by a
shower which was to fall upon the Author, person who was well acquainted with him, to this who certainly was not without his part in the effect; viz. that he was a conveyancing lawyer, and general expectation. a bencher of the Inner Temple, and had raised him
In 1664 the second part appeared ; the curiself from a low beginning to very great eminence in osity of the nation was rekindled, and the that profession; that he was eloquent and learned, writer was again praised and elated. But of spotless integrity; that he supported an aged father who had ruined his fortunes by extravagance, praise was his whole reward.
“ Clarendon,” and by his industry and application re-edified a
gave him reason to hope for ruined family; that be supported Butler, who, but | places and employments of value and credit;' for him, must literally have starved ; and received but no such advantages did he ever obtain. It from him, as a recompence, the papers called his
is reported that the King once gave him three “ Remains.” Life of the Lord-keeper Guilford, p. 289.-These have since been given to the public by I find no proof.
hundred guineas; but of this temporary bounty Mr. Thyer, of Manchester; and the originals are now in the bands of the Rev. Dr. Farmer, master of Ema
Wood relates that he was secretary to Villiers, nuel College, Cambridge.-H.
duke of Buckingham, when he was chancellor
of Cambridge: this is doubted by the other | vent-garden.* Dr. Simon Patrick read the ser-writer, who yet allows the Duke to have been vice. his frequent benefactor. That both these ac Granger was informed by Dr. Pearce, who counts are false there is reason to suspect, from named for his authority Mr. Lowndes of the a story told by Packe, in his account of the Life Treasury, that Butler had a yearly pension of of Wycherley; and from some verses which a hundred pounds. This is contradicted by all Mr. Thyer has published in the Author's Re- tradition, by the complaints of Oldham, and by mains.
the reproaches of Dryden; and I am afraid will “ Mr. Wycherley,” says Packe, “had always never be confirmed. laid hold of an opportunity which offered of re About sixty years afterwards, Mr. Barber, a presenting to the Duke of Buckingham how printer, mayor of London, and a friend to Butwell Mr. Bútler had deserved of the royal ler's principles, bestowed on him a monument family, by writing his inimitable · Hudibras ;' in Westminster Abbey, thus inscribed : and that it was a reproach to the court, that a
M. S. person of his loyalty and wit should suffer in
SAMUELIS BUTLERI, obscurity, and under the wants he did. The
Qui Strenshamiæ in agro Vigorn, nat. 1612,' Duke always seemed to hearken to him with
obiit Lond. 1630. attention enough; and after some time under
Vir doctus imprimis, acer, integer; took to recommend his pretensions to his Majes
Operibus Ingenii, non item præmiis, foelix ty. Mr. Wycherley, in hopes to keep him Satyrici apud nos Carminis Artifex egregius steady to his word, obtained of his Grace to Quo simulatæ Religionis Larvam detraxit, name a day, when he might introduce that Et Perduellium scelera liberrime exagitavit; modest and unfortunate poet to his new patron.
Scriptorum in suo genere, Primus et Postremus.
Ne, cui vivo deerant ferè omnia, At last an appointment was made, and the place
Deesset etiam mortuo Tumulus, of meeting was agreed to be the Roebuck. Mr.
Hoc tandem posito marmore, curavit Butler and his friend attended accordingly; the JOHANNES BARBER, Civis Londinensis, 1721. Duke joined them; but, as the devil would have it, the door of the room where they sat was After his death were published three small open, and his Grace, who had seated himself volumes of his posthumous works: I know not near it, observing a pimp of his acquaintance by whom collected, or by what authority ascer(the creature too was a knight) trip by with a tained ;t and, lately, two volumes more have brace of ladies, immediately quitted his engage- been printed by Mr. Thyer, of Manchester, inment to follow another kind of business, at dubitably genuine. From none of these pieces which he was more ready than in doing good can his life be traced, or his character discoveroffices to men of desert, though no one was bet- ed. Some verses, in the last collection, show ter qualified than be, both in regard to his for him to have been among those who ridiculed the tune and understanding, to protect them; and institution of the Royal Society, of which the from that time to the day of his death, poor enemies were for some time very numerous and Butler never found the least effect of his pro- very acrimonious, for what reason it is hard to mise!”
conceive, since the philosophers professed not to Such is the story. The verses are written advance doctrines, but to produce facts; and the with a degree of acrimony, such as neglect and most zealous enemy of innovation must admit disappointment might naturally excite; and the gradual progress of experience, however he such as it would be hard to imagine Butler ca- may oppose hypothetical temerity. pable of expressing against a man who had any In this mist of obscurity passed the life of claim to his gratitude.
Butler, a man whose name can only perish with Notwithstanding this discouragement and his language. The mode and place of his eduneglect, he still prosecuted his design; and in cation are unknown; the events of his life are 1678 published a third part, which still leaves variously related; and all that can be told with the poem imperfect and abrupt. How much certainty is, that he was poor. more he originally intended, or with what events The poem of “ Hudibras” is one of those the action was to be concluded, it is vain to con- compositions of which a nation may justly jecture. Nor can it be thought strange that he boast; as the images which it exhibits are do. should stop here, however unexpectedly. To write without reward is sufficiently unpleasing. * In a note in the “ Biographia ́Britannica," p. He had now arrived at an age when he might 1075, he is said, on the authority of the younger Mr. think it proper to be in jest no longer, and per- Longueville, to have lived for some years in Rosehaps his health might now begin to fail.
street, Covent-garden, and also that he died there ; He died in 1680; and Mr. Longueville, hav- the latter of these particulars is rendered highly ing unsuccessfully solicited a subscription for probable, by his being interred in the cemetery of
that parish.-H. his interment in Westminster Abbey, buried
+ They were collected into one, and published in him at his own cost in the churchyard of Co- 12mo. 1732.-H.