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voyage through the chaos, and entering into his own infernal dominions. His first appearance in the assembly of fallen angels is worked up with circumstances which give a delightful surprise to the reader: but there is no incident in the whole poem which does this more than the transformation of the whole audience, that follows the account their leader gives them of his expedition. The gradual change of Satan himself is described after Ovid's manner, and may vie with any of those celebrated transformations which are looked upon as the most beautiful parts in that poet's works. Milton never fails of improving his own hints, and bestowing the last finishing touches in every incident which is admitted into this poem. The unexpected hiss which arises in this episode, the dimensions and bulk of Satan, so much superior to those of the infernal spirits who lay under the same transformation, with the annual change which they are supposed to suffer, are instances of this kind. The beauty of the diction is very remarkable in this whole episode, as I have observed in the sixth part of these remarks the great judgment with which it was contrived. The parts of Adam and Eve, or the human persons, come next under our consideration. Milton's art is nowhere more shown than in his conducting the parts of these our first parents. The representation he gives of them, without falsifying the story, is wonderfully contrived to influence the reader with pity and compassion towards them. Though Adam involves the whole species in misery, his crime proceeds from a weakness which every man is inclined to pardon and commiserate, as it seems rather the frailty of human nature than of the person who offended. Every one is apt to excuse a fault which he himself might have fallen into. It was the excess of love for Eve that ruined Adam and his posterity. I need not add, that the author is justified in this particular by many of the fathers and the most orthodox writers. Milton has by this means filled a great part of his poem with that kind of writing which the French critics call the tender, and which is in a particular manner engaging to all sorts of readers.
Adam and Eve, in the book we are now considering, are likewise drawn with such sentiments as do not only interest the reader in their afflictions, but raise in him the most melting passions of humanity and commiseration. When Adam sees the several changes of nature produced about him, he appears in a disorder of mind suitable to one who had forfeited both his innocence and his happiness ; he is filled with horror, remorse, despair; in the anguish of his heart he expostulates with his Creator for having given him an unasked existence :
“ Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
He immediately after recovers from his presumption, owns his doom to be just, and begs that the death which is threatened him may be inflicted on him:
With cruel expectationThis whole speech is full of the like emotion, and varied with all those sentiments which we may suppose natural to a mind so broken and disturbed. I must not omit that generous concern which our first father shows in it for his posterity, and which is so proper to affect the reader:
Hide me from the face
My own deservings ; but this will not serve;
-In me all
But all corrupt?Who can afterwards behold the father of mankind extended upon the earth, uttering his midnight complaints, bewailing his existence, and wishing for death, without sympathising with him in his distress?
« Thus Adam to himself lamented loud
Through the still night; not now (as ere man fell)
The part of Eve in this book is no less passionate, and apt to sway the reader in her favour. She is represented with great tenderness as approaching Adam, but is spurned from him with a spirit of upbraiding and indignation, conformable to the nature of man, whose passions had now gained the dominion over him. The following passage, wherein she is described as renewing her addresses to him, with the whole speech that follows it, have something in them exquisitely moving and pathetic:
“ He added not, and from her turn’d: but Eve
Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,
Forsake me not thus, Adam! Witness, Heaven,
Unhappily deceived Thy suppliant
Adam's reconcilement to her is worked up in the same spirit of tenderness. Eve afterwards proposes to her husband, in the blindness of her despair, that, to prevent their guilt from descending upon posterity, they should endeavour to live childless; or, if that could not be done, they should seek their own deaths by violent methods. As those sentiments naturally engage the reader to regard the mother of mankind with more than ordinary commiseration, they likewise contain a very fine moral. The resolution of dying to end our miseries does not show such a degree of magnanimity as a resolution to bear them, and submit to the dispensations of Providence. Our author has therefore, with great delicacy, represented Eve as entertaining this thought, and Adam as disapproving it.
We are, in the last place, to consider the imaginary persons, or Death and Sin, who act a large part in this book. Such beautiful extended allegories are certainly some of the finest compositions of genius; but, as I have before observed, are not agreeable to the nature of a heroic poem. This of Sin and Death is very exquisite in its kind, if not considered as a part of such a work. The truths contained in it are so clear and open, that I shall not lose time in explaining them; but shall only observe, that a reader, who knows the strength of the English tongue, will be amazed to think how the poet could find such apt words and phrases to describe the actions of those two imaginary persons, and particularly in that part where Death is exhibited as forming a bridge over the chaos; a work suitable to the genius of Milton.
Since the subject I am upon gives me an opportunity of speaking more at large of such shadowy and imaginary persons as may be introduced into heroic poems, I shall beg leave to explain myself in a matter which is curious in its kind, and which none of the critics have treated of. It is certain Homer and Virgil are full of imaginary persons, who are very beautiful in poetry when they are just shown, without being engaged in any series of action. Homer indeed represents Sleep as a person, and ascribes a short part to him in his Iliad; but we must consider, that though we now regard such a person as entirely shadowy and unsubstantial, the heathens made statues of him, placed him in their temples, and looked upon him as a real deity. When Homer makes use of other such allegorical persons, it is only in short expressions, which convey an ordinary thought to the mind in the most pleasing manner, and may rather be looked upon as poetical phrases than allegorical descriptions. Instead of telling us that men naturally fly when they are terrified, he introduces the persons of Flight and Fear, who, he tells us, are inseparable companions. Instead of saying that the time was come when Apollo ought to have received his recompense, he tells us, that the Hours brought him his reward. Instead of describing the effects which Minerva's aegis produced in battle, he tells us that the brims of it were encompassed by Terror, Rout, Discord, Fury, Pursuit, Massacre, and Death. In the same figure of speaking, he represents Victory as following Diomedes; Discord as the mother of funerals and mourning; Venus as dressed by the Graces; Bellona as wearing Terror and Consternation like a garment. I might give several other instances out of Homer, as well as a great many out of Virgil. Milton has likewise very often made use of the same way of speaking, as where he tells us, that Victory sat on the right hand of the Messiah when he marched forth against the rebel angels; that at the rising of the sun the Hours unbarred the gates of light; that Discord was the daughter of Sin. Of the same nature are those expressions where, describing the singing of the nightingale, he adds, “Silence was pleased : ” and upon the Messiah's bidding peace to the chaos, “Confusion heard his voice.” I might add innumerable instances of our poet's writing in this beautiful figure. It is plain that these I have mentioned, in which persons of an imaginary