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Perhaps I have spoken too much of one who was necessarily a stranger to most of your readers. But I could not bear that he should pass away and nothing be said to tell the world how much went with him. And the Dial, which he always read, and in whose aims he felt a deep interest, though not always approving its methods, seems not an improper place, nor this a wholly unsuitable occasion, for thus much to be said concerning GEORGE KEATS. With much regard yours,

Roston, March 13, 1843.

J. F. C.


The genius of Milton, more particularly in respect to its span in immensity, calculated him by a sort of birthright for such an argument as the Paradise Lost. He had an exquisite passion for what is properly, in the sense of ease and pleasure, poetical luxury; and with that it appears to me he would fain have been content, if he could, so doing, preserve his self-respect and feel of duty performed; but there was working in him, as it were, that same sort of thing which operates in the great world to the end of a prophecy's being accomplished. Therefore he devoted himself rather to the ardors than the pleasures of song, solacing himself at intervals with cups of old wine; and those are, with some exceptions, the finest parts of the poem. With some exceptions; for the spirit of mounting and adventure can never be unfruitful nor unrewarded. Had he not broken through the clouds which envelope so deliciously the Elysian fields of verse, and committed himself to the Extreme, we should never have seen Satan as described,

"But his face

Deep scars of thunder had entrenched." &c.

There is a greatness which the Paradise Lost possesses over every other Poem, the magnitude of contrast, and that is softened by the contrast being ungrotesque to a

degree. Heaven moves on like music throughout. Hell is also peopled with angels; it also moves on like music, not grating and harsh, but like a grand accompaniment in the bass to Heaven.

There is always a great charm in the openings of great Poems, particularly where the action begins, as that of Dante's Hell. Of Hamlet, the first step must be heroic and full of power; and nothing can be more impressive and shaded than the commencement of the action here.

"Round he throws his baleful eyes

That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride and stedfast hate;
At once, as far as angels ken, he views

The dismal situation, waste and wild;
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round

As one great furnace, flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible

Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell; hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever burning sulphur unconsumed;
Such place eternal justice had prepared
For those rebellious, here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set

As far removed from God, and light of heaven,
As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.
O how unlike the place from whence they fell!
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmed
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns; and weltering by his side
One next himself in power and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine, and named

Par. Lost, Book I. ll. 56-81.

"To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven."

Book I. l. 321.

There is a cool pleasure in the very sound of vale. The English word is of the happiest chance. Milton has put vales in Heaven and Hell with the very utter àffection and yearning of a great Poet. It is a sort of

Delphic abstraction, a beautiful thing made more beautiful by being reflected and put in a mist. The next mention of vale is one of the most pathetic in the whole range of poetry.

"Others more mild
Retreated in a silent valley, sing,
With notes angelical to many a harp
Their own heroic deeds and hopeless fall
By doom of battle! and complain that fate
Free virtue should inthrall to force or chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony
(What could it less when spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience."

Book II. 1. 547.

How much of the charm is in the word valley.

The light and shade, the sort of black brightness, the ebon diamonding, the ethiop immortality, the sorrow, the pain, the sad sweet melody, the Phalanges of spirits so depressed as to be" uplifted beyond hope," the short mitigation of misery, the thousand melancholies and magnificencies of the following lines leave no room for anything to be said thereon but "so it is."

"That proud honor claimed
Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall,
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurled
The imperial ensign, which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds;
At which the universal host upsent

A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air
With orient colors waving; with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appeared, and serried shields in thick array,
Of depth immeasurable; anon they move
In perfect phalanx, to the Dorian mood
Of flutes, and soft recorders; such as raised
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and instead of rage

Deliberate valor breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and suage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fear, and sorrow, and pain
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they
Breathing united force, with fixed thought-
Moved on in silence to soft pipes, that charmed
Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil; and now
Advanced in view, they stand, a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with ordered spear and shield,
Awaiting what command their mighty chief
Had to impose."

Book I. ll. 534-567.

How noble and collected an indignation against Kings, line 595, Book 1st. His very wishing should have had power to pluck that feeble animal Charles from his bloody throne. The evil days had come to him; he hit the new system of things a mighty mental blow; the exertion must have had, or is yet to have some sequences.


The management of this poem is Apollonian. first "throws round his baleful eyes," then awakes his legions, he consults, he sets forward on his voyage, and just as he is getting to the end of it we see the Great God and our first Parent, and that same Satan all brought in one vision; we have the invocation to light before we mount to heaven, we breathe more freely, we feel the great author's consolations coming thick upon him at a time when he complains most, we are getting ripe for diversity, the immediate topic of the Poem opens with a grand Perspective of all concerned.

Book IV. A friend of mine says this book has the finest opening of any; the point of time is gigantically critical, the wax is melted, the seal about to be applied, and Milton breaks out,

"O for that warning voice," &c.

There is, moreover, an opportunity for a grandeur of Tenderness. The opportunity is not lost. Nothing can be higher, nothing so more than Delphic.


There are two specimens of a very extraordinary beauty in the Paradise Lost; they are of a nature, so far as I have read, unexampled elsewhere; they are entirely distinct from the brief pathos of Dante, and they are not to be found even in Shakspeare. These are, according to the great prerogative of Poetry, better described in themselves than by a volume. The one is in line 266, Book IV.

"Not that fair field

Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis

Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world."

The other is that ending "nor could the Muse defend her son."

"But drive far off the barbarous dissonance

Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race

Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard,
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamor drowned
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her Son."

These appear exclusively Miltonic, without the shadow of another mind ancient or modern.

Book VI. 1. 58. Reluctant with its original and modern meaning combined and woven together, with all its shades of signification has a powerful effect.

Milton in many instances pursues his imagination to the utmost, he is "sagacious of his Quarry," he sees beauty on the wing, pounces upon it, and gorges it to the producing his essential verse. "So from the root springs lighter the green stalk.”

But in no instance is this sort of perseverance more exemplified, than in what may be called his stationing or statuary. He is not content with simple description, he must station; thus here we not only see how the birds

"With clang despised the ground," but we see them "Under a cloud in prospect." So we see Adam "Fair indeed and tall," "under a plantain," and so we see Satan" Disfigured" "on the Assyrian Mount."

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