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describing the Supreme Being in this great work of creation, represents him as laying the foundations of the earth, and stretching a line upon it: and in another place as garnishing the heavens, stretching out the north over the empty place, and hanging the earth upon nothing. This last noble thought Milton has expressed in the following WerSe:

“And earth self-balanced on her centre hung.”

The beauties of description in this book lie so very thick, that it is impossible to enumerate them in this paper. The poet has employed on them the whole energy of our tongue. The several great scenes of the creation rise up to view one after another in such a manner, that the reader seems present at this wonderful work, and to assist among the choirs of angels, who are the spectators of it. How glorious is the conclusion of the first day !

Thus was the first day even and morn,
Nor pass'd uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial choirs, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld :

Birth-day of heaven and earth ! with joy and shout
The hollow universal orb they fill’d.”

We have the same elevation of thought in the third day,

when the mountains were brought forth and the deep was made :

“Immediately the mountains huge appear
Emergent, and their broad bare backs up-heave
Into the clouds, their tops ascend the sky:
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters

We have also the rising of the whole vegetable world described in this day's work, which is filled with all the graces that other poets have lavished on their description of the spring, and leads the reader's imagination into a theatre equally surprising and beautiful.

The several glories of the heavens make their appearance on the fourth day:

“First in his east the glorious lamp was seen,
Regent of day, and all the horizon round
Invested with bright rays, jocund to run
His longitude thro' heaven’s high road; the gray
Dawn, and the Pleiades, before him danced,
Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon,
But opposite in level’d west was set
His mirror, with full face borrowing her light
From him, for other light she needed none
In that aspect, and still that distance keeps
Till night; then in the east her turn she shines,
Revolved on heaven's great axle, and her reign
With thousand lesser lights dividual holds,
With thousand thousand stars, that then appear'd
Spangling the hemisphere—.”

One would wonder how the poet could be so concise in his description of the six days' works, as to comprehend them within the bounds of an episode, and at the same time so particular as to give us a lively idea of them. This is still more remarkable in his account of the fifth and sixth days, in which he has drawn out to our view the whole animal creation, from the reptile to the behemoth. As the lion and the leviathan are two of the noblest productions in the world of living creatures, the reader will find a most exquisite spirit of poetry in the account which our author gives us of them. The sixth day concludes with the formation of man, upon which the angel takes occasion, as he did after the battle in heaven, to remind Adam of his obedience, which was the principal design of this visit.

The poet afterwards represents the Messiah returning into heaven, and taking a survey of his great work. There is something inexpressibly sublime in this part of the poem, where the author describes the great period of time, filled with so many glorious circumstances, when the heavens and earth were finished; when the Messiah ascended up in triumph through the everlasting gates; when he looked down with pleasure upon his new creation; when every part of nature seemed to rejoice in its existence; when the morning-stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.

“So even and morn accomplish’d the sixth day:
Yet not till the Creator, from his work

Desisting, tho' unwearied, up return'd,
Up to the heaven of heavens, his high abode;
Thence to behold this new created world,
The addition of his empire, how it show'd
In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,
Answering His great idea. Up he rode,
Follow’d with acclamation and the sound
Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned
Angelic harmonies; the earth, the air
Resounded (thou remember'st, for thou heard'st);
The heavens and all the constellations rung,
The planets in their station listening stood,
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
* Open, ye everlasting gates '' they sung:
‘Open, ye heavens, your living doors let in
The great Creator from his work return’d
Magnificent, his six days’ work, a world !’”

I cannot conclude this book upon the creation, without mentioning a poem which has lately appeared under that title. The work was undertaken with so good an intention, and is executed with so great a mastery, that it deserves to be looked upon as one of the most useful and noble productions in our English verse. The reader cannot but be pleased to find the depths of philosophy enlivened with all the charms of poetry, and to see so great a strength of reason amidst so beautiful a redundancy of the imagination. The author has shown us that design in all the works of nature which necessarily leads us to the knowledge of its first cause. In short, he has illustrated, by numberless and incontestable instances, that divine wisdom which the son of Sirach has so nobly ascribed to the Supreme Being in his formation of the world, when he tell us, that “He created her, and saw her, and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his works.” ADDISON.


THE accounts which Raphael gives of the battle of angels, and the creation of the world, have in them those qualifications which the critics judge requisite to an episode. They are nearly related to the principal action, and have a just connection with the fable.

The eighth book opens with a beautiful description of the impression which this discourse of the archangel made on our first parents. Adam afterwards, by a very natural curiosity, inquires concerning the motions of those celestial bodies which make the most glorious appearance among the six days' work. The poet here, with a great deal of art, represents Eve as withdrawing from this part of their conversation to amusements more suitable to her sex. He well knew that the episode in this book, which is filled with Adam's account of his passion and esteem for Eve, would have been improper for her hearing, and has therefore devised very just and beautiful reasons for her retiring:

“So spake our sire, and by his countenance seem’d
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace, that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose; and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom,
Her nursery: they at her coming sprung,
And touch'd by her fair tendance gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high : such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferr'd
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather: he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses; from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. O when meet now
Such pairs in love and mutual honour join'd l’”

The angel's returning a doubtful answer to Adam's inquiries, was not only proper for the moral reason which the poet assigns, but because it would have been highly absurd to have given the sanction of an archangel to any particular system of philosophy. The chief points in the Ptolemaic and Copernican hypotheses are described with great conciseness and perspicuity, and at the same time dressed in very pleasing and poetical images.

Adam, to detain the angel, enters afterwards upon his own history, and relates to him the circumstances in which he found himself upon his creation; as also his conversation with his Maker, and his first meeting with Eve. There is no part of the poem more apt to raise the attention of the reader than this discourse of our great ancestor; as nothing can be more surprising and delightful to us than to hear the sentiments that arose in the first man, while he was yet new and fresh from the hands of his Creator. The poet has interwoven every thing which is delivered upon this subject in Holy Writ with so many beautiful imaginations of his own, that nothing can be conceived more just and natural than this whole episode. As our author knew this subject could not but be agreeable to his reader, he would not throw it into the relation of the six days' work, but reserved it for a distinct episode, that he might have an opportunity of expatiating upon it more at large. Before I enter on this part of the poem, I cannot but take notice of two shining passages in the dialogue between Adam and the angel. The first is that wherein our ancestor gives an account of the pleasure he took in conversing with him, which contains a very noble moral:

“For while I sit with thee I seem in heaven,
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree (pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both from labour) at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate and soon fill,
Tho' pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.”

The other I shall mention, is that in which the angel gives a reason why he should be glad to hear the story Adam was about to relate:

“For I that day was absent as befel,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion towards the gates of hell,
Squared in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work,
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mix'd.”

There is no question but our poet drew the image in what follows from that in Virgil's sixth book, where Æneas

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