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Wav'd over by that flaming brand, the gate
643. Wav'd over by that flom- Direxere acies: non jam certamine ing brand,] Milton had called it agresti,
Stipitibus duris agitur, sudibuste a sword before, xi. 120.
præustis ; --and of a sword the fame;
Sed ferro ancipiti decernitur.
Virg. Æn. vii. 523. and xii. 63.
648. They hand in hand, with The brandish'd sword of God before
wand'ring steps and slow, them blaz'd.
Through Eden took their soliand brand here does not signify tary way.] what we commonly mean by it, If I might presume to offer at but a sword, as it is used in the smallest alteration in this Spenser, Faery Queen, b. i. divine work, I should think the cant. iii, st. 3.
poem would end better with the
foregoing passage, than with the With thrilling point of deadly iron
two verses here quoted. These brand.
two verses, though they have And again, b. v. cant. ix. st. 9. their beauty, fall very much Which steely brand-Chrysaor it was
below the foregoing passage, height,
and renew in the mind of the Chrysaor, that all other swords ex- reader that anguish which was celled.
pretty well laid by that conAnd again, b. v. cant. ix. st. 30.
sideration. And so Fairfax likewise uses the The world was all before them, word in his translation of Tasso,
where to choose cant. vii. st. 72. and in several
Their place of rest, and Providence
their guide. other places. And we meet also
Addison, with the word in so late a performance as Mr. Pope's transla. This distich contradicts the tion of the Iliad, b. v. ver. 105. poet's own scheme; nor is the Brando in Italian too signifies a diction unexceptionable. Bentsword. And the reason of this ley. denomination Junius derives It has been said by another from hence, because men fought gentleman, (who seems well quawith burnt stakes and fire- lified to give a judgment in the brands, before arms were in- case,) that considering the moral vented.
and chief design of this poeni,
Terror is the last passion to be tics, some being for rejecting, left upon the mind of the reader. others for altering, and others Essay on Pope's Odyssey, part ii. again for transposing them: but
the propriety of the two lines, The main objection which Dr. and the design of the author, are Bentley makes is, that this dis- fully explained and vindicated tich contradicts the poet's own in the excellent note of Dr. scheme. To support this charge, Pearce. And certainly there is he has referred us to half a dozen no more necessity that an epic places of this twelfth book, poem should conclude happily, where Adam and Eve are spoken than there is that a tragedy of, as having joy, peace, and con- should conclude unhappily: solation, &c; and from thence There are instances of several he concludes, that this distich tragedies ending happily; and ought not to dismiss our first with as good reason an epic parents in anguish, and the poem may terminate fortunately reader in melancholy. But the or unfortunately, as the nature joy, peace, and consolation spoken of the subject requires : and the of in those passages are repre. subject of Paradise Lost plainly sented always as arising in our requires something of a sorrow. first parents from a view of some ful parting, and was intended future good, chiefly of the Mes- no doubt for terror as well as siah. The thought of leaving pity, to inspire us with the fear Paradise (notwithstanding any of God as well as with commiother comfort that they had) seration of man. All therefore was all along a sorrowful one to that we shall add is, to desire the them. Upon this account Eve reader to observe the beauty of fell asleep wearied with sorrow and the numbers, the heavy dragging distress of heart, ver. 613. Both of the first line, which cannot Adam and Eve lingered at their be pronounced but slowly, and quitting Paradise, ver. 638, and with several pauses, they dropped some natural tears on that occasion, ver. 645. In this
They | hand in hand, / with wand'r.
ing steps | and slow, | view the archangel, ver. 603, recommends to our first parents and then the quicker flow of the that they should live unanimous, last verse with only the usual though sud with cause for evils pause in the middle, pust. And for a plainer proof that the scheme of the poem was
Through Eden took their solitary
way; to dismiss them not without sorrow, the poet in xi. 117. puts as if our parents had moved these words into God's mouth, heavily at first, being loath to as his instruction to Michael, leave their delightful Paradise,
and afterwards mended their So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace.
pace, when they were at a little Pearce.
distance. At least this is the
idea that the numbers convey : These two last verses have occa- and as many volumes might be sioned much trouble to the cri- composed upon the structure of Milton's verses, and the collo- ticular, but for the more just cation of his words, as Erythræus and regular disposition of this and other critics have written great work. Those who have upon Virgil. We have taken read Bossuet, and many of the notice of several beauties of this critics who have written since kind in the course of these re- his time, will not pardon me if I marks, and particularly of the do not find out the particular varying of the pauses, which is moral which is inculcated in the life and soul of all versifica- Paradise Lost. Though I can tion in all languages. It is this by no means think, with the chiefly which makes Virgil's last mentioned French author, verse better than Ovid's, and that an epic writer first of all Milton's superior to any other pitches upon a certain moral, as English poet's: and it is for the ground-work and foundation want of this chiefly that the of his poem, and afterwards finds French heroic verse has never, out a story to it: I am however and can never, come up to the of opinion, that no just heroic English. There is no variety poem ever was or can be made, of numbers, but the same pause from whence one great moral is preserved exactly in the same may not be deduced. That place in every line for ten or ten which reigns in Milton, is the thousand lines together: and most universal and most useful such a perpetual repetition of that can be imagined ; it is in the same pause, such an eternal short this, That obedience to the sameness of verse, must make will of God makes men happy, any poetry tedious, and either and that disobedience makes them offend the ear of the reader, or miserable. This is visibly the lull him asleep: and this in the moral of the principal fable, opinion of several French writers which turns upon Adam and themselves. There can be no Eve, who continued in Paradise, good poetry without music, and while they kept the command there can be no music without that was given them, and were variety
driven out of it as soon as they
had transgressed. This is like The number of books in Para- wise the moral of the principal dise Lost is equal to those of the episode, which shows us how an Æneid. Our author in his first innumerable multitude of angels edition had divided his poem fell from their state of bliss, and into ten books, but afterwards were cast into hell upon their broke the seventh and the tenth disobedience. Besides this great each of them into two different moral, which may be looked books, by the help of some small upon as the soul of the fable, additions. This second division there are an infinity of under was made with great judgment, morals, which are to be drawn as any one may see, who will be from the several parts of the at the pains of examining it. It poem, and which make this was not done for the sake of work more useful and instrucsuch a chimerical beauty as that tive than any other poem in any of resembling Virgil in this par- language. Those who have cri
ticised on the Odyssey, the Iliad, only to prove that the poem is and Æneid, have taken a great beautiful in general, but to point deal of pains to fix the number out its particular beauties, and to of months and days contained in determine wherein they consist. the action of each of those poems. I have endeavoured to show how If any one thinks it worth his
some passages are beautiful by while to examine this particular being sublime, others by being in Milton, he will find that from soft, others by being natural; Adam's first appearance in the which of them are recommended fourth book, to his expulsion by the passion, which by the from Paradise in the twelfth, the moral, which by the sentiment, author reckons ten days. As and which by the expression. for that part of the action which I have likewise endeavoured to is described in the three first show how the genius of the poet books, as it does not pass within shines by a happy invention, a the regions of nature, I have distant allusion, or a judicious before observed that it is not imitation ; how he has copied subject to any calculations of or improved Homer or Virgil, time. I have now finished my and raised his own imaginations observations on a work, which by the use which he has made does an honour to the English of several poetical passages in nation. I have taken a general Scripture. I might have inview of it under these four heads, serted also several passages of the fable, the characters, the sen- Tasso, which our author has timents, and the language, and imitated; but as I do not look made each of them the subject upon Tasso to be a sufficient of a particular paper. I have in voucher, I would not perplex the next place spoken of the my reader with such quotations, censures which our author may as might do more honour to the incur under each of these heads, Italian than the English poet. which I have confined to two In short, I have endeavoured to papers, though I might have particularize those innumerable enlarged the number, if I had kinds of beauty, which it would been disposed to dwell on so be tedious to recapitulate, but ungrateful a subject. I believe which are essential to poetry, however that the severest reader and which may be met with in will not find any little fault in the works of this eat author. heroic poetry, which this author Had I thought at my first enhas fallen into, that does not gaging in this design, that it come under one of those heads, would have led me to so great among which I have distributed a length, I believe I should his several blemishes. After hav- never have entered upon it; ing thus treated at large of Para- but the kind reception which dise Lost, I could not think it it has met with among those sufficient to have celebrated this whose judgments I have a value poem in the whole, without de- for, as well as the uncommon scending to particulars. I have demands which my bookseller therefore bestowed a paper upon tells me have been made for each book, and endeavoured not these particular discourses, give me no reason to repent of the row a compass, would admit. pains I have been at in com- It is the same ocean, but not posing them. Addison.
at its highest tide; it is now
ebbing and retreating. It is the And thus have we finished same sun, but not in its full our collections and remarks on blaze of meridian glory; it now this divine poem.
The reader shines with a gentler ray as it is probably may have observed, setting. Throughout the whole, that these two last books fall the author appears to have been short of the sublimity and ma- a most critical reader, and a jesty of the rest: and so like- most passionate admirer, of wise do the two last books of holy Scripture. He is inthe Iliad, and for the same rea- debted to Scripture infinitely son, because the subject is of a more than to Homer and Virdifferent kind from that of the gil, and all other books what- foregoing ones. The subject of ever. Not only his principal
these two last books of the Pa- fable, but all his episodes are radise Lost is history rather founded upon Scripture. The than poetry. However, we may Scripture hath not only furstill discover the same great nished him with the noblest genius, and there are intermixed hints, raised his thoughts, and as many ornaments and graces fired his imagination, but hath of poetry, as the nature of the also very much enriched his subject, and the author's fidelity language, given a certain soand strict attachment to the lemnity and majesty to his dictruth of Scripture history, and tion, and supplied him with the reduction of so many and many of his choicest happiest such various events into so nar. expressions.