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Loredano was the founder of the Accademia degli Incogniti. His houfe at Venice was the conftant refort of learned men. Gaddi, an Italian friend whom Milton names, and who has celebrated the foundation of the academy, would hardly fail to introduce the young Englishman to the founder of it, if by no other means he had become known to him.
Italy then, will probably be thought to have confirmed, if not to have excited, the defign of Milton to fing "Man's difobedience, and the
mortal taste of the forbidden fruit."
Yet a very learned and interefting writer has queftioned the propriety of afcribing fuch honour to Italy." If we are to refer Milton's work, fays Mr. Turner, "to any other fuggeftion than to his own piety and to the Scriptures, there seems much more reafon to give the honour to our venerable Cedmon, than to the heterogeneous comedy of Andreini, which there is no proof that Milton ever read, and the beginning of which could only difguft his correct tafie. Indeed, if we recollect our old myfteries on the fame fubjects, there appears ftill lefs occafion to go to Italy in fearch of that which we may find at home." Whether the reader will fubfcribe entirely to this opinion, I greatly doubt; but I am certain he will be highly gratified by the extracts drawn with taste and ingenuity, by Mr. Turner, from the venerable Anglo-Saxon poetical narration. "Various fpe
P See Jacobi Gaddi Adlocutiones, et Elogia &c. Florentiæ, 1636. 4to, p. 38.
Hift. of the Anglo-Saxons, 2d edit. 4to. 1807. Preface, and Vol. ii. 309, feq.
culations," he obferves, "have been made on the fources to which Milton has been indebted for the fubject of his great poem. The extracts, cited from our Cedmon, fhew that this ancient poet has anticipated fomewhat of the Miltonick character and agency of Satan. It is alfo remarkable that both Cedmon and Milton begin their poems with ftating the fall of Satan, and his expulfion from Heaven. Cedmon's paraphrafe was printed by Junius, who lived much in England in 1655. Milton is faid by Aubrey to have begun his Paradife Loft two years before the restoration, or in 1658. It is prefumed to have been finished in 1665, and its firft edition appeared in 1667. As our immortal poet wrote the hiftory of the Anglo-Saxon times, and in that quotes a Saxon document, the Saxon Chronicle, we may believe him to have been interested by such an important part of their literature as Cedmon's paraphrafe, which, though printed at Amfterdam, muft, from the connections of Junius, who had the MSS. from Archbishop Ufher, have been much known in England. Cedmon's poem is, in the first part, a Paradife Loft, in rude miniature. It contains the fall of the angels, the creation, the temptation of Eve, and the expulfion from Paradife. In its firft topick, the fall of the angels, it exhibits much of a Miltonick fpirit; and if it were clear that our illuftrious bard had been familiar with Saxon, we should be induced to think that he owed fomething to the paraphrafe of Cedmon. No one at least can read Cedmon without feeling the idea intruding upon his mind. As the fubject is curious,
I shall make no apology for very copious extracts from Cedmon, tranflated as literally as poffible:
"On the Fall of the Angels.
they obeyed his domination with virtues.
"To us it is much right
They were very happy;
There was not to him ever be- except right and truth,
nor origin made;
nor now end cometh.
But he will be always powerful over heaven's stools',
in high majesty,
truth-faft and very strenuous, Ruler of the bofoms of the sky!
Then were they fet
wide and ample,
began firft to frame,
bright blifs was their great to weave and wake.
The glory-faft thegns
praised the King:
before the Ruler of the angels,
for pride divided them in error.
the glory-faft place,
the majefty of their hofts,
To him there grief happened,
envy, and pride;
that this ill counfel
they faid willingly praife
to their Life-Lord;
Then he words faid,
I use the term in the original, becaufe fuch expreffions as have any allufion to ancient manners should always be preserved.
Then was God angry,
a work of retribution,
for the exiles to abide,
When he it ready knew
and extenfive cold,
with fmoke and red flame,
grim against God gathered to
to them was grim retribution
They had provoked accu- from the stations of glory
Them the hope deceived, after the Governor,
vile against their Maker,
Their loftinefs of mind departed,
the high King of Heaven,
and his anger wreaked
He had a stern mind,
He deprived of their country his adverfaries,
the faithless hoft.
They faid, that they the king- The Governor fent the hated army with fierce mind would poffefs, on a long journey, and fo eafily might. with mourning speech. To them was glory lost, their threats broken, their majefty curtailed, ftained in fplendor; they in exile afterwards preffed on their black way.
the proud race of angels from
They needed not loud to laugh;
but they in Hell's torments weary remained, and knew
fad and forry:
they endured fulphur,
"But that part of Cedmon which is the most original product of his own fancy, is his account of Satan's hoftility. To us, the Paradife Loft of Milton has made this fubject peculiarly interefting; and as it will be curious to fee how an old Saxon poet has previously treated it, we shall give another copious extract. Some of the touches bring to mind a few of Milton's conceptions. But in Cedmon the finest thoughts are abruptly introduced, and very roughly and imperfectly expreffed. In Milton the fame ideas are detailed in all the majefty of his diction, and are fully displayed with that vigour of intellect in which he has no fuperior.
"The univerfal Ruler had
of the angelic race, through his hand-power, the holy Lord!
a fortress established.
in his mind's thought;
he let him rule fo much;
the highest in heaven's king
To them he well trufted that they his fervice
would do his will.
was his fruit in heaven,
For this he gave them under- which to him came
from the Lord of Hofts;
he had made him
and with his hands made them. that he was like
The Holy Lord
the brilliant stars.
had ftationed them
Praife ought he
One he had fo ftrongly made,
to have made to his Lord;