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Afia, and engaged all the Gods in factions. Eneas's fettlement in Italy produced the Cæfars, and gave birth to the Roman empire. Milton's fubject was ftill greater than either of the former; it does not determine the fate of fingle perfons or nations, bus of a whole Species. The united powers of Hell are joined together for the destruction of mankind, which they effected in part, and would have completed, had not Omnipotence itself interpofed. The principal actors are Man in his greateft perfection, and Woman in her higheft beauty. Their enemies are the fallen Angels: The Meffiah their friend, and the Almighty their protector. In fhort, every thing that is great in the whole circle of being, whether within the verge of nature, or out of it, has a proper part affigned it in this admirable poem.

In poetry, as in architecture, not only the whole, but the principal members, and every part of them, fhould be great. I will not prefume to fay, that the book of games in the Æneid, or that in the Iliad, are not of this nature; nor to reprehend Virgil's fimile of the top, and many others of the fame kind in the Iliad, as liable to any cenfure in this particular; but think we may fay, without derogating from those wonderful performances, that there is an indifputable and unqueftioned magnificence in every part of Paradife Loft, and indeed a much greater than could have been formed upon any Pagan fyftem.

But Ariftotle, by the greatnefs of the action, does not only mean that it ould be great in its nature, but

alfo in its duration; or in other words, that it fhould have a due length in it, as well as what we properly call greatness. The juft measure of this kind of magnitude, he explains by the following fimilitude. An animal, no bigger than a mite, cannot appear perfect to the eye, because the fight takes it in at once, and has only a confufed idea of the whole, and not a diftinét idea of all its parts; Ifon the contrary you fhould fuppofe an animal of ten thoufand furlongs in length, the eye would be fo filled with a fingle part of it, that it could not give the mind an idea of the whole. What these animals are to the eye, a very fhort or a very long action would be to the memory. The firit would be, as it were, loft and swallowed up by it, and the other difficult to be contained in it. Homer and Virgil have shown their principal art in this particular; the action of the Iliad, and that of the Eneid, were in themselves exceeding fhort, bat are fo beautifully extended and diverfified by the invention of epifodes, and the machinery of Gods, with the like poetical ornaments, that they make up an agreeable ftory fuficient to employ the memory without overcharging it. Milton's action is enriched with fuch a variety of circumftances, that I have taken as much pleafure in reading the contents of his books, as in the beft invented story I ever met with. It is poffible, that the traditions, on which the Iliad and Æneid were built, had more circumftances in them than the hiftory of the fall of Man, as it is related in Scripture. Befides it was easier for Homer and Virgil to dafh the truth with fiction.

as they were in no danger of offending the religion of their country by it. But as for Milton, he had not only a very few circumftances upon which to raise his poem, but was alfo obliged to proceed with the greatest caution in every thing that he added out of his own invention. And, indeed, notwithstanding all the restraints he was under, he has filled his ftory with fo many furprifing incidents, which bear fo clofe analogy with what is delivered in holy Writ, that it is capable of pleafing the moft delicate reader, without giving offenfe to the moft fcrupulous.

The modern critics have collected from feveral hints in the Iliad and neid the space of time, which is taken up by the action of each of those poems; but as a great part of Milton's ftory was tranfacted in regions that lie out of the reach of the fun and the fphere of day, it is impoffible to gratify the reader with fuch a calculation, which indeed would be more curious than inftructive; none of the critics, either ancient or modern, having laid down rules to circumfcribe the action of an epic poem within any determined number of years, days, or hours.

Homer has excelled all the heroic poets that ever wrote, in the multitude and variety of his characters. Every God that is admitted into his poem, acts a part which would have been fuitable to no other Deity. His princes are as much diinguished by their manners as by their dominions; and even those among them, whose characters feem wholly made up of courage, differ from one another as to the particular kinds of courage in which they excel. In short, there is fcarce a fpeech or action in the Iliad, which the reader may not afcribe to the person that speaks or acts, without feeing his name at the head of it.

Homer does not only out-fhine all other pocts in the variety, but alfo in the novelty of his characters. He has introduced among his Grecian princes a perfon, who had lived in three ages of men, and converfed with Thefeus, Hercules, Poliphemus, and the first race of heroes. His principal actor is the fon of a Goddefs, not to mention the otspring of other Deities, who have likewife a place in his poem, and the venerable Trojan prince who was the father of 1o many kings and heroes. There is in thefe feveral characters of Homer, a certain dignity as well as novelty, which adapts them in

But of this more particularly a more peculiar manner to the nahereafter.

HAVING examined the action of Paradife Loft, let us in the next place confider the actors. This is Ariftotle's method of confidering, first the fable, and fecondly the manners, or as we generally call them in English, the table, and the characters.

ture of an heroic poem. Tho' at the fame time, to give them the greater variety, he has defcribed a Vulcan, that is a buffoon among his Gods, and a Therfites among his mortals.

Virgil falls infinitely fhort of Homer in the characters of his poem, both as to their variety and


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There are indeed several very natural incidents in the part of Afcanius; as that of Dido cannot be fufficiently admired. I do not fee any Thing new or particular in Turnus. Pallas and Evander are remote copies of Hector and Priam, as Laufus and Mezentius are almost parallels to Pallas and Evander. The characters of Nifus and Eurialus are beautiful, but common. We must not forget the parts of Sinon, Camilla, and fome few others, which are fine improvements on the Greek poet. In ihort, there is neither that variety nor novelty in the perfons of the Eneid, which we meet with in thofe of the Iliad.

If we look into the characters of Milton, we fhall find that he has introduced all the variety his fable was capable of receiving. The whole fpecies of mankind was in two perfons at the time to which the fubject of his poem is confined. We have, however, 'four diftinct characters in these two perfons. We fee Man and Woman in the highest innocence and perfection, and in the most abject ftate of guilt and infirmity. The two laft characters are, indeed, very common and obvious, but the two firft are not only more magnificent, but more new than any characters either in Virgil

or Homer, or indeed in the whole circle of nature.

Milton was so fenfible of this defect in the fubject of his poem, and of the few characters it would afford him, that he has brought into it two actors of a fhadowy and fictitious nature, in the perfons of Sin and Death, by which means he has wrought into the body of his fable a very beautiful and wellinvented allegory. But notwithftanding the fineness of this allegory may atone for it in fome meafure; I cannot think the perfons of fuch a chimerical existence are proper actors in an epic poem; because there is not that measure of probability annexed to them, which is requifite in writings of this kind, as I fhall fhew more at large hereafter.

Virgil has, indeed, admitted Fame as an actrefs in the Æneid, but the part fhe acts is very fhort, and none of the most admired circumftances in that divine work. We find in mock-heroic poems, particularly in the Difpenfary and the Lutrin, feveral allegorical perfons of this nature, which are very beautiful in thofe compofitions, and may, perhaps, be used as an argument, that the authors of them were of opinion, fuch characters might have a place in an epic work. For my own part, I fhould be glad the reader would think fo, for the fake of the poem I am now examining, and muft farther add, that if fuch empty unfubftantial beings may be ever made ufe of on this occafion, never were any more nicely imagined, and employed in more proper actions, than those of which I am now fpeaking.

Another principal actor in this


poem is the great enemy of mankind. The part of Ulyffes in Homer's Odyffey is very much admired by Ariftotle, as perplexing that fable with very agreeable plots and intricacies, not only by the many adventures in his voyage, and the fubtlety of his behaviour, but by the various concealments and difcoveries of his perfon in feveral parts of that poem. But the crafty being I have now mention'd, makes a much longer voyage than Ulyffes, puts in practice many more wiles and ftratagems, and hides himself under a greater variety of fhapes and appearances, all of which are feverally detected, to the great delight and furprize of the


We may likewife obferve with how much art the poet has varied feveral characters of the perfons that speak in his infernal affembly. On the contrary, how has he reprefented the whole Godhead exerting itself towards Man in its full benevolence under the three-fold diftinction of a Creator, a Redeemer, and a Comforter!

Nor muft we omit the perfon of Raphael, who, amidst his tendernefs and friendship for Man, fhows fuch a dignity and condefcenfion in all his fpeech and behaviour, as are fuitable to a fuperior nature. The Angels are indeed as much diver fified in Milton, and diftinguished by their proper parts, as the Gods are in Homer or Virgil. The reader will find nothing afcribed to Uriel, Gabriel, Michael, or Raphael, which is not in a particular manner fuitable to their refpective characters.

There is another circumftance in the principal actors of the Iliad and

Eneid, which gives a peculiar beauty to thofe two poems, and was therefore contrived with very great judgment. I mean the authors having chofen for their heroes perfons who were fo nearly related to the people for whom they wrote. Achilles was a Greek, and Eneas the remote founder of Rome. By this means their countrymen (whom they principally propofed to themselves for their readers) were particularly attentive to all the parts of their ftory, and fympathized with their heroes in all their adventures. A Roman could not but rejoice in the efcapes, fucceffes, and victories of Eneas, and be grieved at any defeats, misfortunes, or difappointments that befel him; as a Greek muft have had the fame regard for Achilles. And it is plain, that each of thofe poems have loft this great advantage, among thofe readers to whom their heroes are as ftrangers, or indifferent perfons.

Milton's poem is admirable in this refpect, fince it is impoffible for any of its readers, whatever nation, country or people he may belong to, not to be related to the perfons who are the principal actors in it; but what is ftill infinitely more to its advantage, the principal actors in this poem are not only our progenitors, but our reprefentatives. We have an actual intereft in every thing they do, and no lefs than our utmoft happiness is concerned, and lies at ftake in all their behaviour.

I fhall fubjoin a sa corollary to the foregoing remark, an admirable obfervation out of Ariftotle, which hath been very much misreprefented in the quotations of fome mo


dern critics. If a man of perfect and confummate virtue falls into a misfortune, it raises our pity, ⚫ but not our terror, because we do ⚫ not fear that it may be our own cafe, who do not refemble the fuffering perfon.' But as that great philofopher adds, If we fee a man of virtue, mixt with infirmities, fall into any misfor• tune, it does not only raise our pity but our terror; because we are afraid that the like misfortunes may happen to ourselves, who refemble the character of the fuffering perfon.'

I shall only remark in this place, that the foregoing obfervation of Ariftotle, tho' it may be true in other occafions, does not hold in this; because in the prefent cafe, though the perfons who fall into misfortune are of the moft perfect and confummate virtue, it is not to be confider'd as what may poffibly be, but what actually is our own cafe; fince we are embark'd with them on the fame bottom, and must be partakers of their happiness or mifery.

In this, and fome other very few inftances, Ariftotle's rules for epic poetry (which he had drawn from his reflections upon Homer) cannot be fuppofed to fquare exactly with the heroic poems which have been made fince his time; fince it is evident to every impartial judge his rules would still have been more perfect, could he have perufed the Eneid, which was made fome hundred years after his death.

In my next, I fhall go through other parts of Milton's poem; and hope that what I fhall there advance, as well as what I have alteady written, will not only ferve

as a comment upon Milton, but upon Ariftotle.

WE have already taken a general furvey of the fable and characters in Milton's Paradife Loft: The parts which remain to be confider'd, according to Ariftotle's method, are the fentiments and the language. Before I enter upon the firft of thefe, I muft advertise my reader, that it is my defign as foon as I have finished my general reflections on thefe four feveral heads, to give particular inftances out of the poem now before us of beauties and imperfections which may be obferved under each of them, as alfo of fuch other particulars, as may not properly fall under any of them. This I thought fit to premife, that the reader may not judge too haftily of this piece of criticifm, or look upon it as imperfect, before he has feen the whole extent of it.

The fentiments in an epic poem are the thoughts and behaviour which the author afcribes to the perfons whom he introduces, and are just when they are conformable to the characters of the feveral perfons. The fentiments have likewife a relation to things as well as perfons, and are th n perfect when they are fuch as are adapted to the fubject. If in either of these cases the poet endevors to argue or explain, to magnify or diminish, to raise love or hatred, pity or terror, or any other paffion, we ought to confider whether the fentiments he makes ufe of are proper for thofe ends. Homer is cenfured by the critics for his defect as to this particular in feveral parts of the Iliad and Odyffey, tho' at the fame

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