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Adam by dire example to beware

Apoftafy, by what befel in Heaven

To those apoftates, left the like befall
In Paradife to Adam or his race,

Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree,

If they tranfgrefs, and flight that fole command,
So eafily obey'd amid the choice

Of all taftes elfe to please their appetite,


Though wand'ring. He with his conforted Eve 50
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd
With admiration and deep mufe, to hear

Of things fo high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heaven,

with as magnificent ideas. The fixth book, like a troubled ocean, reprefents greatness in confufion; the feventh affects the imagination like the ocean in a calm, and fills the mind of the reader, without producing in it any thing like tumult or agitation. The critic above mention'd, among the rules which he lays down for fucceeding in the fublime way of writing, propofes to his reader, that he fhould imitate the moft celebrated authors who have gone before him, and been engaged in works of the fame nature; as in particular, that if he writes on a poetical fubject, he fhould confider how Homer would have spoken on fuch an occafion. By this means one great genius often catches the


flame from another, and writes in
his fpirit, without copying fervily
after him. There are a thousand
thining paffages in Virgil, which
have been lighted up by Homer.
Milton, tho' his own natural ftrength
of genius was capable of furnishing
out a perfect work, has doubtless
very much raised and ennobled his
conceptions, by fuch an imitation as
that which Longinus has recom-
mended. In this book, which gives
us an account of the fix days works,
the poet received few affiftances
from Heathen writers, who were
strangers to the wonders of creation.
But as there are many glorious
ftrokes of poetry upon this subject
in holy Writ, the author has num-
berlefs allufions to them through the


And war fo near the peace of God in bliss
With fuch confufion: but the evil foon
Driv'n back redounded as a flood on thofe
From whom it fprung, impoffible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam foon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose: and now
Led on, yet finless, with defire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
Of Heav'n and Earth confpicuous firft began,
When, and whereof created, for what cause,
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory, as one whose drouth
Yet fcarce allay'd ftill eyes the current stream,

whole course of this book. The
great critic I have before mention'd,
though an Heathen, has taken no-
tice of the fublime manner in which
the Lawgiver of the Jews has de-
fcribed the creation in the first chap-
ter of Genesis; and there are many
other paffages in Scripture which
rife up to the fame majefty, where
this fubject is touched upon. Milton
has fhown his judgment very re-
markably, in making ufe of fuch of
these as were proper for his poem,
and in duly qualifying thofe high
frains of eastern poetry, which were
fuited to readers, whofe imagina-
tions were fet to a higher pitch than
those of colder climates. Addifon.

47. If they tranfgrefs, &c.] We fhould obferve the connexion; Left



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the like befall to Adam or his race, if they tranfgrefs, &c.

50:- He with his conforted Eve] Conforted from Confort, Cum conforte tori, as Ovid says, Met. I. 319.

59.- Whence Adam foon repeal'd The doubts that in his heart arofe:] Dr. Bentley would read difpell'd: but if an alteration were neceffary, I fhould rather read repell'd, as in ver. 610. we have their counfels vain Thou haft repell'd. But in the fame fenfe as a law is faid to be repeal'd, when an end is put to all the force and effect of it; fo, when doubts are at an end, they may be faid to be repeal'd.

69. Pro-

Whofe liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly gueft.

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, 70 Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal'd, Divine interpreter, by favor fent

Down from the empyréan to forewarn


Us timely' of what might elfe have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to th' infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with folemn purpose to observe
Immutably his fovran will, the end

Of what we are. But fince thou haft vouchfaf'd 80
Gently for our instruction to impart

69. Proceeded thus &c.] The conftruction is, And led on with defire to know &c proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly guest.

70. Great things, &c.] Adam's Speech to the Angel, wherein he defires an account of what had paf fed within the regions of nature before the creation, is very great and folemn. The following lines, in which he tells him, that the day is not too far spent for him to enter upon fuch a fubje&t, are exquisite in their kind.

And the great light of day yet

wants to run

Much of his race &c. Addison.

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Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom feem'd,

Deign to defcend now lower, and relate
What may no lefs perhaps avail us known,
How first began this Heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this florid earth, what caufe
Mov'd the Creator in his holy reft
Through all eternity fo late to build

In Chaos, and the work begun, how foon
Abfolv'd, if unforbid thou may'ft unfold
What we, not to explore the fccrets ask

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Met. I. 12. Hume.

92. fo late to build] It is a queftion that has been often asked, Why God did not create the world fooner? but the fame question might


95 Of

And that can never be a juft exception against this time, which holds equally against all time. It must be refolved into the good will and pleafure of almighty God; but there is a farther reafon according to Milton's hypothefis, which is that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declar'd his pleafure to fupply their place by creating another world, and other creatures to dwell therein.

94. Abfolv'd,] Finish'd, com

be asked, if the world had been pleted, perfected, from Abfolutus created at any time, for ftill there (Latin.) Richardfon. were infinite ages before that time.

98. And

To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing, fuch commiffion from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy defire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath fupprefs'd in night,
To none communicable in Earth or Heaven :
Enough is left befides to fearch and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temp❜rance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain;
Oppreffes elfe with furfeit, and foon turns


Wisdom the creation of the world, are very ture ufe of this term, to which, I

juft and beautiful. Addifon.

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make no doubt, Milton alluded.
Thus they provoked him to anger with
their own inventions, Pfal. CVI. 29.
And went a whoring with their own
inventions, ver. 38. The two fol-
lowing lines are almost a litteral
tranflation of these two in Horace.
Od. III. XXIX. 29.

Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Caliginofa nocte premit Deus.


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