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Of Brutus, Dardan chief, my song shall be,
In one of his controversial works, published in 1641, Milton informs us what poetical ideas were then fluctuating in his mind; particularly “ what king or knight be“ fore the Conquest might be chosen, in whom to lay the “ pattern of a christian hero.” This project, of delineating in a hero a model of christian perfection, was suggested to the English poet, not only by the example, but by the precepts, of Tasso, as they are delivered in his critical difcourses. The epic designs of Milton were suspended, we know, for many years, by very different pursuits; and when he escaped from “ the troubled sea of noise and hoarse
dispute to the quiet and still air of delightful studies,” Arthur had so far ceased to be his favourite, that he probably exclaimed, in the words of Taffo :
Taccia Artù quei suoi
Arthur no more thy errant knights rehearse,
For Adam now reigned in his fancy, not immediately as the subject of an epic poem, but as a capital personage in the plan of a dramatic composition, that instead of being formed on the narrow ground of Grotius, in his Adamus Exul, allowed a wider range to the fancy, and included allegorical characters, like the Adamo of Andreini.
This composition, first printed at Milan, in 1613, and again in 1617, resembles the mysteries of our early stage; and is denominated in Italian, Rappresentatione, a name which the writers of Italy apply to dramas founded on the scripture.-Dr. Pearce has faid, in the preface to his review of Milton's text, that he was informed an Italian tragedy existed, entitled Il Paradiso Perfo, Paradise Lost; but, in a very extensive research, I can discover no such performance. There is indeed another Italian drama on the subject, which I have not seen, entitled Adamo. Caduto, tragedia sacra; but this was not printed until 1647, some years after the return of our poet from the continent *. It seems very probable that Milton, in his col
* For the benefit of commentators on our such Italian compositions, as may possibly have divine bard, let me here insert a brief list of afforded him some useful hints :
lection of Italian books, had brought the Adamo of Andreini to England ; and that the perusa} of an author, wild indeed, and abounding in grotesque extravagance, yet now and then shining with pure and united fancy and devotion, first gave a new bias to the imagination of the English poet, or, to use the expressive phrase of Voltaire, first revealed to him the hidden majesty of the fubjet. The apostate angels of Andreini, though sometimes hideously and absurdly disgusting, yet occasionally sparkle with such fire as might awaken the emulation of Milton.
I shall not attempt to produce parallel passages from the two poets, because the chief idea that I mean to inculcate is, not that Milton tamely copied the Adamo of Andreini, but that his fancy caught fire from that spirited, though irregular and fantastic, compofition-that it proved in his ardent and fertile mind the seed of Paradise Lost;this is matter of mere conjecture, whose probability can
1. Adamo Caduto, tragedia sacra, di Serafino The poets of Italy were certainly favourites della Salandra. Cozenza, 1647. Oetavo. with Milton; and perhaps his Sampson Ago
2. La Battaglia Celeste tra Michele e Luci- nistes was founded on a sacred drama of that fero, di Antonio Alfani, Palermitano. Palermo, country, La Rappresentatione di Sansone, per 1568. Quarto.
Aleflandro Roselli. Siena, 1616. Quarto.--3. Dell Adamo di Giovanni Soranzo, i due There is probably considerable poetical merit primi libri. Genova 1604. Duodecimo. in this piece, as I find two subsequent editions
These little known productions on the sub- of it recorded in the historians of Italian literaject of Milton are not to be found in the royal ture; yet I am unable to say whether Milton library, nor in the princely collection of Lord is indebted to it or not, as I have never been Spencer, who posteffes that remarkable rarity fo fortunate as to find a copy of Roselli's of Italian literature, the Theseida of Boccacio; composition. Yet the mention of it here and whose liberal pation for books is ennobled may be useful to future editors of the English by his politeness and beneficence to men of
only be felt in examining the Adamo-to the lovers of Milton it may prove a source of amusing speculation.
And as the original work of Andreini is feldom to be found, it
may be pleasing to the reader, both of English and Italian, to see in these pages a brief analysis of his drama; with a short selection from a few of the most remarkable scenes.
ACT I. SCENE I. Chorus of Angels, singing the glory of God. After their hymn, which serves as a prologue, God the
Father, Angels, Adam and Eve.-God calls to Lucifer, and bids him survey with confusion the wonders of his power.--He creates Adam and Eve—their delight and gratitude.
SCENE 2. Lucifer, arising from hell-he expresses his enmity against God, the good Angels, and Man.
SCENE 3. Lucifer, Satan, and Beelzebub. Lucifer excites his affociates to the destruction of Man, and calls other Demons from the abyss to conspire for that purpose.
SCENES 4, 5, and 6. Lucifer, summoning seven distinct Spirits, commissions them to act under the character of the seven mortal Sins, with the following names :
ACT II. SCENE I. The Angels, to the number of fifteen, separately sing the grandeur of God, and his munificence to Man.
SCENE 2. Adam and Eve, with Lurcone and Guliar watching unseen.-Adam and Eve express their devotion to God so fervently, that the evil Spirits, though invisible, are put to Aight by their prayer.
SCENE 3. The Serpent, Satan, Spirits. - The Serpent, or Lucifer, announces his design of circumventing Woman.