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a painter must find it most difficult to equal the felicity of the poet is, the delineation of his apoftate angels. Here, perhaps, poetry has some important advantage over her sister art; and even poetry herself is : considered by aufterer critics as unequal to the task. Johnson regarded -the book of Paradise Loft, which describes the war of Heaven, as fit to be “ the favourite of children.”—Imagination itfelf may be depreciated, by the austerity of logic, as a childish faculty, but those who love even its excelles may be allowed to exult in its delights. No reader truly poetical ever perused the fixth book of Milton without enjoying a kind of tranfport, which a stern logician might indeed condemn, but which he might also think it more defirable to share. I doubt not but while. Milton was revolving his subject in his mind, he often heard from critical acquaintance such remarks as might have induced him, had his imagination been less energetic, to relinquish the angels as intractable beings, ill suited to the sphere of poetry. But if his glowing spirit was ever damped for a moment by suggestions of this nature, he was probably re-animated and encouraged by recollecting his respectable old acquaintance, the poets of Italy. He had not only seen the infernal powers occasionally delineated with great majesty and effect in the Jerusalem of Tallo, and Marini's 50

Slaughter of the Innocents,” but he was probably acquainted with an Italian poem, little known in England, and formed expressly on the conflict of the apostate fpirits. The work I allude to is, the Angeleida

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of Erasmo Valvasone, printed at Venice, in 1590. This poet was of a noble family in the Venetian republic ; as his health was delicate, he devoted himself to retired study, and cultivated the Muses in his castle of Valvasone. His works are various, and one of his early compositions was honoured by the applause of Tasso. His Angeleida consists of three cantos on the War of Heaven, and is singularly terminated by a sonnet, addressed to the triumphant Archangel Michael. Several passages in Valvasone, induce me to think that Milton was familiar with his work. - I will only transcribe the verses, in which the Italian poet assigns to the infernal powers the invention of artillery:

Di falnitro, e di zolfo oscura polve
Chiude altro in ferro cavo; e poi la tocca
Dietro col foco, e in foco la risolve :
Onde fragoso tuon subito scocca :
Scocca e lampeggia, e una palla volve,
Al cui scontro ogni duro arde e trabocca :
Crud' è 'l faetta, ch' imitar s'attenta
L'arme che 'l sommo Dio dal Cielo aventa.

L'Angelo rio, quando a concorrer forse
Di saper, di bellezza, e di possanza
Con l'eterno fattor, perche s'accorse
Quell' arme non aver, ch' ogni arme avanza,

L'empio

L'empio ordigno a compor l'animo torse,
Che ferir puo del folgore a sembianza :
E con questo a' di nostri horrido in terra
Tiranno, arma di folgori ogni guerra.

Valvasone acknowledges, in his preface, that he had been censured for having Spoken fo materially (ragionato cosi materialmente) of angels, who are only fpirit. But he defends himself very ably on this point, and mentions with gratitude two excellent critical discourses, written in his vindication by Giovanni Ralli and Ottavio Menini ;--- there is a third also, according to Quadrio, by Scipione di Manzano, under the name of Olimpo Marcucci, printed at Venice, in 4to, 1594. They all bestow great praise on the author whom they vindicate, wiso appears to have been a very amiable man, and a poet of confiderable powers, though he possessed not the sublimity and the refinement of Milton or Tasso. In his general ideas of poetry he resembled them both; and in his mode of expressing himself, in the preface to his Angeleida, he reminds me very strongly of those passages in the profe works of Milton, where he speaks on the hallowed magnificence of the art. They both considered sacred subjects as peculiarly proper for verse ; an idea condemned by Johnson, who sympathised as little with Milton in his poetic as in his political principles. It was by entertaining ideas of poetry, directly contrary to those of his critic, that Milton rendered him

felf,

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Nor can

felf, in true dignity, the first poet of the world.
we think that dignity in any degree impaired, by dif..
covering that many hints might be suggested to him by
various poets, in different languages, who had seized either
a part or the whole of his subject before him.” On the con-
trary, the more of these we can discover, and the more
we compare them with the English bard, the more reason
we shall find to exult in the pre-eminence of his poetical
powers. Tasso, in his critical discourses, inculcates a very
just maxim concerning the originality of epic poets, which
is very applicable to Milton.--" Nuovo sarà il poema, in
"cui nuova fara la testura de' nodi, nuove le folutioni,
« nuovi gli episodi; che per entro vi sono trapofti, quan-

tunque la materia fosse notissima, e dagli altri prima trat“tata: perche la novita del poema fi considera piuttosto " alla forma, che alla materia.”

This great writer illustrates his position, that the novelty of a poem is to be estimated more from its form than its subject, by the example of Alamanni, an epic poet of Italy, who lost the praise he might otherwise have acquired, by copying too fondly, under modern names, the incidents of Homer. - Milton is of all authors un. doubtedly one of the most original, both in thought and expression : the language of his greater works is evidently borrowed from no model, but it seems to have great conformity with the precepts which Taffo has delivered in the discourses I have just cited, for the formation of

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an epic style. Yet in criticism, as in politics, Milton was undoubtedly

“ Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri.”

He thought on every topic for himself; juftly remarking, that “to neglect rules and follow nature, in them " that know art and use judgment, is no transgression, but

an enriching of art.” This excellent maxim insured to him the exercise and the independence of his own elevated mind. There is frequent allusion to the works of antiquity in Milton, yet no poet, perhaps, who revered the ancients with such affectionate enthusiasm, has copied them so little. This was partly owing to the creative opulence of his own genius, and partly to his having fixed on a subject so different from those of Homer and Virgil, that he may be said to have accomplished a revolution in poetry, and to have purified and extended the empire of the epic muse. One of the chief motives that induced his imagination to defert its early favourite Arthur, and attach itself to our first parents, is partly explained in those admirable verses of the ninth book, where the poet mentions the choice of his own subject, contrasted with those of his illustrious predecessors :

Argument
Not less, but more heroic, than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued

Thrice

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