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rited fpeeches in the Paradife Loft. This may be "given as one proof out of many others, that if the "Paradife Regain'd is inferior, as indeed I think it "must be allowed to be, to the Paradise Loft, it can"not justly be imputed, as fome would have it, to "any decay of Milton's genius, but to his being "cramped down by a more barren and contracted "fubject."" The defcription of Athens and its "learning is extremely grand and beautiful. Mil
ton's mufe, as was before obferved, is too much "cramped down by the argumentative caft of his "fubject, but emerges upon every favourable occa"fion, and, like the fun from under a cloud, bursts ❝out into the fame bright vein of poetry, which "fhines out more frequently, though not more "ftrongly, in the Paradife Loft." Thyer.
"It may feem a little odd at first, that Milton fhould impute the recovery of paradise to this short "fcene of our Saviour's life upon earth, and not ra"ther extend it to his agony, crucifixion, &c.; but
the reafon no doubt was, that Paradife Regain'd by "our Saviour's refifting the temptations of Satan, "might be a better contrast to Paradife Loft by our "first parents too easily yielding to the fame feducing fpirit. Befides, he might very probably, and in"deed very reasonably, be apprehenfive, that a sub"ject fo extenfive as well as fublime, might be too "great a burden for his declining conftitution, and "a tafk too long for the fhort term of years he could "then hope for. Even in his Paradife Loft he ex"preffes his fears, leaft he had begun too late, and " left an age too late, or cold climate, or years, fhould "have damped his intended wing. And furely he had "much greater caufe to dread the fame now, and
be very cautious of lanching out too far." Thyer. "It is hard to fay, whether Milton's wrong no"tions in divinity led him to this defective plan, or "his fondness for the plan influenced thofe notions: "That is, Whether he indeed fuppofed the redemp❝tion of mankind (as he here reprefents it) was pro“cured by Chrift's triumph over the devil in the "wilderness;
"wilderness; or whether he thought, that the fcene "of the defert oppofed to that of paradife, and the "action of a temptation withstood to a temptation "fallen under, made Paradife Regain'd a more regu"lar fequel to Paradife Loft: Or, if neither this nor that, whether it was his being tired out with the "labour of compofing Paradife Loft, made him a"verfe to another work of length, (and then he "would never be at a lofs, for fanciful reafons to de. "termine him in the choice of his plan), is very un"certain. All that we can be fure of is, that the "plan is a very unhappy one, and defective even in "that narrow view of a fequel; for it affords the poet no opportunity of driving the devil back again to hell from his new conquefts in the air. In "the mean time nothing was easier than to have in"vented a good one, which fhould end with the refurrection, and comprise these four books, fome"what contracted, in an episode, for which only the fubject of them is fit." Warburton.
"All the poems that ever were written, muft yield, "even Paradife Loft muft yield to Regain'd in the grandeur of its clofe. Chrift ftands triumphant on "the pointed eminence. The demon falls with amazement and terrour, on this full proof of his being that very Son of God whofe thunder forced "him out of heaven. The bleffed angels receive new knowledge. They behold a fublime truth e"ftablifhed, which was a fecret to them at the beginning of the temptation; and the great difcovery gives a proper opening to their hymn on the victory of Chrift, and the defeat of the Tempter." Calton.
"Samfon Agonistes is written in the very fpirit of "the ancients, and equals, if not exceeds, any of "the most perfect tragedies which were ever exhibit"ed on the Athenian stage, when Greece was in its glory." Newton.
Bishop Atterbury had an intention of getting Mr. Pope to divide the Samfon Agonistes into acts and fcenes, and of having it acted by the King's scholars
at Westminster. The Bishop expreffes himself thus in a letter to Mr. Pope. "I hope you will not ut"terly forget what paffed in the coach about Samfon Agonistes. I fhall not prefs you as to time; but "fome time or other, I wish you would review, and polish that piece. If, upon a new perufal of it, (which I defire you to make), you think as I do, "that it is written in the very spirit of the ancients
it deferves your care, and is capable of being improved, with little trouble, into a perfect model " and standard of tragic poetry; - always allowing "for its being a story taken out of the Bible, which " is an objection, that, at this time of day, I know is not to be got over. Newton.
"L'Allegro and Il Penferofo are exquifitely beau"tiful in themselves; but appear much more beau"tiful, when they are confidered, as they were writ"ten, in contraft to each other. There is a great variety of pleafing images in each of them; and it "is remarkable, that the poet reprefents feveral of "the fame objects as exciting both mirth and melan"choly, and affecting us differently, according to the "different difpofitions and affections of the foul. "This is nature and experience." Newton.
L'Allegro and Il Penferofo are certainly the best "of Milton's productions in rhyme; for the rhymes "in Lycidas are irregular. But yet we may ob"ferve, that feveral things are faid which would not "have been faid but only for the fake of the rhyme. "Mr. Pope, I have been informed, had remarked "feveral defects of the fame kind in these two poems; " and there may be fome truth and juftness in the "obfervation which Dryden has made in the dedica"tion of his Juvenal, that rhyme was not Milton's
talent; he had neither the ease of doing it, nor "the graces of it. But then it must be faid, that "he had talents for greater things; and there is "more harmony in his blank verfe, than in all the rhyming poetry in the world." Newton.
"In the Mafque Milton feems to have imitated Shakespear's manner more than in any other of his
"works; and it was very natural for a young au"thor preparing a piece for the ftage, to propose to "himself for a pattern the most celebrated master of "English dramatic poetry." Thyer.
"Milton has in the Mafque more profeffedly imi"tated the manner of Shakespear in his fairy fcenes, "than in any other of his works: And his poem is "much the better for it, not only for the beauty, variety, and novelty of his images, but for a "brighter vein of poetry, and an eafe and delicacy "of expreffion very fuperior to his natural manner." Warburton.
"In Lycidas there are more antiquated and obfo. "lete words, than in any other of Milton's poems : "Which I conceive to be owing partly to his judgment; for he might think them more ruftic, and "better adapted to the nature of paftoral poetry; "and partly to his imitating of Spenfer." Newton.
"The particular beauties of this charming pafto"ral, Lycidas, are too ftriking to need much defcant
ing upon: But what gives the greatest grace to "the whole, is that natural and agreeable wildness "and irregularity which runs quite through it; than "which nothing could be better fuited to exprefs the warm affection which Milton had for his friend, " and the extreme grief he was in for the lofs of him. "Grief,, which is eloquent, but not formal." Thyer.
As a detail of all. the encomiums on the feveral pieces of our author would make a large volume, we fhall conclude with prefenting to the reader Dr. Newton's laft note on the Paradife Loft, which well de ferves a place here.
"The reader" (fays he)" probably may have obferved, that the two laft books of Paradife Loft "fall fhort of the fublimity and majefty of the rest: "And: fo likewife do the two laft books of the Iliad; " and for the fame reafon, becaufe the fubject is of 44 a different kind from that of the foregoing ones. "The fubject of the two laft books of the Paradife "Loft is history rather than poetry. However, we may still discover the fame great genius; and there B 2
"are intermixed as many ornaments and graces of poetry, as the nature of the fubject, and the au"thor's fidelity and strict attachment to the truth of "fcripture-history, and the reduction of fo many and "fuch various events into fo narrow a compaís, "would admit. It is the fame ocean, but not at its It
highest tide; it is now ebbing and retreating. "is the fame fun, but not in its full blaze of meri. "dian glory; it now fhines with a gentler ray, as it. is fetting. Throughout the whole the author ap"" pears to have been a moft critical reader, and a moit. paffionate admirer of holy fcripture. He is in "debted to fcripture infinitely more than to Homer " and Virgil, and all other books whatever. Not "only his principal fable, but all his epifodes are "founded upon fcripture. The fcripture hath not "only furnished him with the nobleft hints, raised "his thoughts, and fired his imagination; but hath
alfo very much enriched his language, given a cer"tain folemnity and majesty to his diction, and fupplied him with many of his choiceft, happiest expreffions. Let men therefore learn from this in"tance to reverence thofe facred writings. If any "man can pretend to deride or despise them, it must "be faid of him at least, that he has a taste and ge"nius the most different from Milton's that can be
imagined. Whoever has any true taste and genius, "we are confident, will efteem this poem the best of "modern productions, and the fcriptures the best of "all ancient ones."
"The Life of the Author" (fays Dr. Newton) "it "is almoft become a custom to prefix to a new edi. "tion of his works; for when we admire the writer, we are curious alfo to know fomething of the man: "And the life of Milton is not barely a history of his "works, but is fo much the more interesting, as he "was more engaged in public affairs than poets u"fually are. And after telling us that accounts of his life have been wrote by fix different perfons, he adds, "I have not only read and compared these accounts together, and made the best extracts out