« VorigeDoorgaan »
often observed, with a secret admi- beauty in these very digressions that ration, that the longest reflection I would not wish them out of his in the Æneid is in that passage of poem. the tenth book, where Turnus is. I have, in a former paper, fperepresented as dressing himself in ken of the characters of Milton's the spoils of Pallas, whom he had Paradise Loft, and declared my fain. Virgil here lets his fable stand opinion, as to the allegorical perAtill for the sake of the following fons who are introduced in it. remark. « How is the mind of If we look into the sentiments, I “ man ignorant of futurity, and think they are sometimes defective “ unable to bear prosperous for- under thė following heads; Firft, " tune with moderation ? The time as there are several of them too s will come when Turnus shall much pointed, and some that de« wish that he had left the body of generate even into punns. Of this “ Pallas untouched, and curse the last kind, I am afraid is that in the “ day on which he dressed himself first book, where speaking of the « in these spoils.” As the great pigmies, he calls them event of the Æneid, and the death
the small infantry of Turnus, whom Æneas flew, because he saw him adorned with the
Warr'd on by cranes spoils of Pallas, turns upon this in- Another blemish that appears in cident, Virgil went out of his way some of his thoughts, is his freto make this reflection upon it, quent allusion to heathen fables, without which so small a circum- which are not certainly of a piece stance might possibly have sipped with the divine subject, of which out of his reader's memory. "Lu- he treats. I do not find fault with can, who was an injudicious poet, these allusions, where the poet himlets drop his story very frequently self represents them as fabulous, as for the sake of his unnecessary di- he does in some places, but where gressions, or his diverticula, as Sca- he mentions them as truths and liger calls them. If he gives us an matters of fact. The limits of my account of the prodigies which pre- paper will not give me leave to be ceded the civil war, he declames particular in inftances of this kind: upon the occasion, and shows how The reader will easily remark them much happier it would be for man, in his perusal of the poem. if he did not feel his evil fortune Athird fault in his sentiments, before it comes to pass, and suffer is an unnecessary oftentation of not only by its real weight, but by learning, which likewise occurs the apprehenfion of it. Milton's very frequently. It is certain, that complaint of his blindness, his pa- both Homer and Virgil were manegyric on marriage, his reflections fters of all the learning of their on Adam and Eve's going naked, times, but it shows itself in their of the Angels eating, and several works, after an indirect and conother passages in his poem, are cealed manner. Milton seems amliable to the same exception, tho'bitious of letting us know, by his I must confess there is so great a excursions on free-will and pre
destination, and his many glances of it, and that Aristotle himself has upon hiftory, astronomy, geogra- given it a place in his Rhetoric a. phy, and the like, as well as by mong the beauties of that art. But the terms and phrases he sometimes as it is in itself poor and triding, it makes use of, that he was ac- is I think at present universally quainted with the whole circle of exploded by all the masters of poa arts and sciences.
lite writing. If, in the last place, we consider. The last fault which I shall take the language of this great poet, we notice of in Milton's ftile, is the muft allow what I have hinted in a frequent use of what the learned former paper, that it is often too call technical words, or terms of much labored, and sometimes ob- art. It is one of the great beauties scured by old words, transpositions, of poetry, to make hard things inand foreign idioms. Seneca's ob- telligible, and to deliver what is jection to the stile of a great au- abstruse of itself in such easy lanthor, Riget ejus oratio, nihil in ea guage as may be understood by orplacidum, nihil lene, is what many dinary readers : Besides that the critics make to Milton: As I can- knowledge of a poet should rather not wholly refute it, so I have al- seem born with him, or inspired, ready apologized for it in another than drawn from books and systems. paper; to which I may further add, I have often wondered, how Mr. that Milton's sentiments and ideas Dryden could translate a passage were so wonderfully sublime, that out of Virgil, after the following it would have been impossible for manner, . him to have represented them in Tack to the larboard, and stand their full strength and beauty, with
off to sea, out having recourse to these foreign
Veer star-board sea and land. affiftances. Our language sunk under him, and was unequal to that Milton makes ufe of larboard in the greatness of soul, which furnished fame manner. When he is upon him with such glorious conceptions. building, he mentions Doric pillars,
A second fault in his language pilasters, cornice, freeze, architrave. is, that he often affects a kind of When he talks of heavenly bodies, jingle in his words, as in the fol- you meet with ecliptic, and eccenlowing passages, and many others : tric, , the trepidation, stars dropping That brought into this world a
from the zenith, rays culminating
from the equator. To which might world of woe. - Begirt ch'almighty throne
be added many instances of the
like kind in several other arts and Befeeching or befieging This tempted our attempt
sciences. At one slight bound high over-leapt
I shall in my next papers give
Pe an account of the many particular all bound.
beauties in Milton, which would I know there are figures for this have been too long to insert under kind of speech, that some of the those general heads I have algreatest Ancients have been guilty ready treated of, and with which
I intend to conclude this piece of parts of the luminous body abovecriticism.
mentioned, there are some which
glow more intensely, and dart a I HAVE seen in the works of stronger light than others; so, nota modern philosopher, a map of withstanding I have already fhown the spots in the fun. My last pa- Milton's poem to be very beautiper of the faults and blemishes in ful in general, I shall now proceed Milton's Paradise Loft, may be con- to take notice of such beauties as fidered as a piece of the same na. appear to me more exquisite than ture. To pursue the allusion : As the rest. it is observed, that among the bright
This first book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac'd: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of Heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action pass'd over, the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ'd here, not in the center (for Heaven and Earth may be suppos’d as yet not made, certainly not yet accurs'd) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunder-struck and astonish’d, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him; they confer of their miserable falí. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; They rise, their numbers, array of battel, their chief leaders nam'd, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in Heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determin thereon he refers to a full council. What his aflociates thence attempt. Pandemonium the palace Calesuada anapa of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the deep:
swa The infernal peers there fit in council.