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While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells,
THE measure is English heroic verse without T rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse; in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame meter ; grac'd indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have express’d them. Not without cause therefore fome both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and Thorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned Ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be efteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.
By Mr. ADDISON..
Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Graii.
THERE is nothing in nature Paradise Loft, in these three seve.
1 more irksome than general ral lights. Homer to preserve the discoùrses, especially when they unity of his action hastens into the turn chiefly upon words. For this midit of things, as Horace has obreason I fall wave the discussion of served : Had he gone up to Leda's that point which was started some egg, or begun much later, even at years since, Whether Milton's Pa- the rape of Helen, or the investing radise Lost may be called an Heroic of Troy, it is manifest that the Poem? Those who will not give story of the poem would have been it that title, may call it (if they a series of several actions. Ho please) a Divine Poem. It will be therefore opens his poem with the sufficient to its perfection, if it has discord of his princes, and artfully in it all the beauties of the highest interweaves, in the several suckind of poetry; and as for those ceeding parts of it, an account of who allege it is not an heroic every thing material which relates poem, they advance no more to to them, and had passed before this the diminution of it, than if they fatal dissension. After the same Thould say Adam is not Æneas, nor manner, Æneas makes his first ap. Eve Helen.
pearance in the Tyrrhene seas, and I shall therefore examin it by within fight of Italy, because the the rules of epic poetry, and see action proposed to be celebrated whether it falls short of the Iliad was that of his settling himself in or Æneid, in the beauties which Latium. But because it was necefare essential to that kind of writing. Yary for the reader to know what The first thing to be consider'd in had happened to him in the taking an epic poem, is the fable, which of Troy, and in the preceding is perfect or imperfect, according parts of his voyage, Virgil makes as the action which it relates is his hero relate it by way of episode more or less so. This action should in the second and third books of have three qualifications in it. First, the Æneid : the contents of both It should be but One action. Se- which books come before those of condly, It hould be an Entire ac- the first book in the thred of the tion; and Thirdly, It should be a story, tho' for preserving of this Great action. To consider the unity of action, they follow it in the action of the Iliad, Æneid, and disposition of the poem. Milton, in imitation of these two great like art in his poem on the fall of poets, opens his Paradise Loft with Man, has related the fall of those an infernal council plotting the fall Angels who are his professed eneof Man, which is the action he mies. Beside the many other beauproposed to celebrate ; and as for ties in such an episode, its run. thole great actions, the battle of ning parallel with the great action the Angels, and the creation of the of the poem, hinders it from breakworld, (which preceded in point ing the unity so much as another of time, and which, in my opinion, episode would have done, that had would have entirely destroyed the not so great an affinity with the unity of his principal action, had principal subject. In short, this is he related them in the same order the same kind of beauty which the that they happened) he cast them critics admire in the Spanish Fryar, into the fifth, fixth and seventh or the Double Discovery, where books, by way of episode to this the two different plots look like noble poem.
counterparts and copies of one ano. Ariftotle himself allows, that ther. Homer has nothing to boast of as The second qualification required to the unity of his fable, tho' at in the action of an epic poem is, the same time that great critic and that it should be an entire action : philosopher endevors to palliate An action is entire when it is comthis imperfection in the Greek poet plete in all its parts; or as Aristotle by imputing it in some measure to describes it, when it consists of a the very nature of an epic poem. beginning, a middle, and an end. Some have been of opinion, that Nothing should go before it, be inthe Æneid also labors in this parti- termix'd with it, or follow after it, cular, and has episodes which may that is not related to it. As on the be looked upon as excrescencies contrary, no single step should be rather than as parts of the action. omitted in that just and regular proOn the contrary, the poem, which gress which it must be supposed to we have now under our considera- take from its original to its contion, hath no other episodes than summation. Thus we see the anger such as naturally arise from the of Achilles in its birth, its contisubject, and yet is filled with such nuance, and effects; and Æneas's a multitude of astonishing inci- settlement in Italy, carried on dents, that it gives us at the same through all the oppositions in his time a pleasure of the greatest va- way to it both by sea and land. riety, and of the greatest fimpli. The action in Milton excels (I city; uniform in its nature, tho' think) both the former in this pardiverfified in the execution.
ticular; we see it contrived in Hell, I must observe also, that, as Vir- executed upon Earth, and punished gil in the poem which was defigned by Heaven. The parts of it are to celebrate the original of the Ro, told in the most distinct manner, man empire, has described the birth and grow out of one another in the of its great rival, the Carthaginian most natural order. common-wealth: Milton, with the
The The third qualification of an a 'much greater than could have epic poem is its greatness. The been formed upon any Pagar anger of Achilles was of such con- system. sequence, that it embroiled the But Aristotle, by the greatness of kings of Greece, destroyed the he- the action, does not only mean that roes of Asia, and engaged all the it should be great in its nature, but Gods in factions. Æneas's settle- also in its duration; or in other ment in Italy produced the Cæsars, words, that it should have a due and gave birth to the Roman length in it, as well as what wò empire. Milton's subject was still properly call greatness. The just greater than either of the former; measure of this kind of magnitude, it does not determin the fate of he explains by the following fimilisingle persons or nations, but of a tude. An animal, no bigger than whole species. The united Powers a mite, cannot appear perfect to of Hell are joined together for the the eye, because the fight takes it destruction of mankind, which they in at once, and has only a confused effected in part, and would have idea of the whole, and not a diftin& completed, had not Omnipotence idea of all its parts; If on the conitself interposed. The principal trary you should suppose an ani. actors are Man in his greatest per- mal of ten thousand furlongs in fection, and Woman in her highest length, the eye would be so filled beauty. Their enemies are the with a single part of it, that it fallen Angels: The Mesliah their could not give the mind an idea of friend, and the Almighty their pro- the whole. What these animals tector. In short, every thing that are to the eye, a very short or a is great in the whole circle of be- very long action would be to the ing, whether within the verge of memory. The first would be, as it nature, or out of it, has a proper were, loft and swallowed up by it, part assigned it in this admirable and the other difficult to be conpoem.
tained in it. Homer and Virgil In poetry, as in architecture, not have shown their principal art in only the whole, but the principal this particular; the action of the members, and every part of them, Iliad, and that of the Æneid, were should be great. I will not pre- in themselves exceeding fhort, but sume to say, that the book of games are so beautifully extended and diin the Æneid, or that in the Iliad, versified by the invention of epi. are not of this nature, nor to re- sodes, and the machinery of Gods, prehend Virgil's fimile of the top, with the like poetical ornaments, and many other of the same kind that they make up an agreeable in the Iliad, as liable to any cen- story sufficient to employ the mesure in this particular ; but I think mory without overcharging it. Mil. we may fay, without derogating ton's action is enriched with such a from those wonderful performances, variety of circumstances, that I have that there is an indisputable and taken as much pleasure in reading unquestioned magnificence in every the contents of his books, as in the part of Paradise Loft, and indeed best invented story I ever met with.