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gination, like Homer, and to produce, at the same time, a much happier effect on the mind. Ilas he fucceeded in this glorious idea ? Assuredly he has : -to please is the end of poetry. Homer pleases perhaps more universally than Milton; but the pleasure that the English poet excites, is more exquisite in its nature, and superior in its effect. An eminent painter of France used to say, that in read. ing Homer he felt his nerves dilated, and he seem, ed to increase in ftature. Such an ideal effect as Homer, in this example, produced on the body, Milton produces in the spirit. To a reader who thoroughly relishes the two poems on Paradise, his heart appears to be purified, in proportion to the pleasure he derives from the poet, and his mind ta become angelic. Such a taste for Milton is rare, and the reason why it is so is this : To form it completely, a reader must poffefs, in fome degree, what was superlatively possessed by the poet, a mixture of two different species of enthusiasm, the
poe. tical and the religious. To relish Homer, it is suf ficient to have a paffion for excellent verse ; but the reader of Milton, who is only a lover of the Muses, loses half, and certainly the best half, of that transcendent delight which the poems of this divine enthusiast are capable of imparting. A devo. tional taste is as requisite for the full enjoyment of Milton as a taste for poetry; and this remark will fufficiently explain the inconsistency so striking in the sentiments of many distinguished writers, who have repeatedly spoken on the great English poet--particularly that inconsistency, which I partly pro
mised to explain in the judgments of Dryden and Voltaire. These very different men had both a pasfion for verse, and both strongly felt the poetical powers of Milton : but Dryden perhaps had not much, and Voltaire had certainly not a particle, of Milton's religious enthusiasm ; hence, instead of being impressed with the sanctity of his subject, they sometimes glanced upon it in a ludicrous point of view.
Hence they sometimes speak of him as the very prince of poets, and sometimes as a misguided genius, who has failed to obtain the rank he afpired to in the poetical world. But neither the caprices of conceit, nor the cold austerity of reason, can reduce the glory of this pre-eminent bard.—It was in an hour propitious to his renown, that he relinquished Arthur and Merlin for Adam and the Angels; and he might say on the occasion, in the words of his admired Petrarch:
Io benedico il luogo, il tempo, e l'hora
I bless the spot, the season, and the hour,
To say that his poem wants human interest, is only to prove, that he who finds that defect wants the proper sensibility of man. A work that difplays at full length, and in the strongest light, the delicious tranquillity of innocence, the tormenting turbulence of guilt, and the consolatory satisfaction of repentance, has surely abundance of attraction to
awaken sympathy. The images and sentiments that belong to these varying situations are so suited to our mortal existence, that they cannot cease to interest, while human nature endures. The human heart, indeed, may be too much depraved, and the human mind may be too licentious, or too gloomy, to have a perfect relish for Milton; but, in honour of his poetry, we may observe, that it has a peculiar tendency to delight and to meliorate those characters, in which the seeds of taste and piety have been happily fown by nature. In proportion as the admiration of mankind shall grow more and more valuable from the progressive increase of intelligence, of virtue, and of religion, this incomparable poet will be more affectionately Atudied, and more universally admired.