Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

But that the same forever more must stand,
A just decree by Heaven's divinest hand ;
Drawn up above, in Eden ratified,
With all the angels in the world beside,
And all the powers of firmament, and all
To this decree consented at thy call.
Heaven's dearest Babe, whose fame shall perish

never, Hath with his blood confirmed the same forever. ..

Adam no sooner had his judgments past
But God his mercy on his darling cast.
As one that never both of them forsakes
For one sole fault, but mild compassion takes,
Pities their want, and wails their foul abuse,
Tenders their good, admits a weak excuse ;-
Like to a father of a loving heart,
Loth with his son and daughter both to part,
Tho' much provoked by their folly mere
Still clothes them well, and makes them of good

cheer,-
So God above, whose love doth far surpass
The greatest love as yet that ever was,
For all their faults and foul enormous sins,
Yet clothes them warm, in well furred coats of

skins. ...

Now winged Time, God's speedy messenger,
A nimble hasty posting passenger,
That hard by stood, recording what was past,
Up to the skies his eyes i' th’ instant cast,
Spied Eve and Adam standing in the place,
Thus clothed both before th' Almighty's face,
When but commission from that sacred lip
He hath obtained, lets no advantage slip,
But mild and gently takes them by the hand,
Shows them the gate that to the East doth stand;
Leads them along, lamenting of their fall,
For all their cries sets them without the wall,
Bars up the door with such an iron lever
As none alive that once can enter ever.

Thus ends the version of the Paradise Lost. The remainder of the book is taken up with a description of the barriers to a return,-an elaba orate personification of the attributes of Justice, Mercy, and Love, who, with their appropriate surroundings, are set upon the eastern gate, “to keep the way of the tree of Life.”

Having now traced the story with some regularity, we will go back a little to quote from each work, a portion of the introduction to one of the Books, as showing strong mutual resemblance, and also as disclosing the spirit and motive which prompted both authors in their labors. Milton thus opens his Seventh Book:

Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
Following, above th’Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.
The meaning not the name I call ; for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st, but heavenly born,
Before the hills appeared, or fountain flowed,
Thou with eternal wisdom did'st converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her did'st play
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song up led by thee
Into the heaven of heavens, I have presumed
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring: with like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element.
Half yet remains unsung, but narrow bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere ;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged,
To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,
On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues :
In darkness and with dangers compressed round,
And solitude : yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples th east. Still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
At the beginning of the Ninth Book he says:-

I now must change
These notes to tragic
If answerable style I can obtain

Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation, unimplored,
And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse.

Here follows a corresponding introduction to one of Peyton's strophes :

Urania, sovereign of the Muses nine,
Inspire my thoughts with sacred work divine,-
Come down from heaven, within my temples rast,
Inflame my heart, and lodge within my breast.
Grant me the story of this world to sing,
The Glasse of Time upon the stage to bring, -
Be aye within me by thy powerful might,
Govern my pen, direct my speech aright,-
Even in the birth and infancy of Time
To the last age, season my holy rhyme.
0, lead me on, into my soul infuse
Divinest work and still be thou my Muse.
That all the world may wonder and behold
To see Time pass in ages manifold,
And that their wonder may produce this end
To live in love, their future lives to mend.
All-powerful God, when both by night and day
Incessantly my heart to thee did pray,
To ease my grief : and if it were thy will
To send me peace to walk up Sion's hill,
That in thy house where all thy saints do meet
My soul might sing, and offer odours sweet.
Instead of peace, which I desire in haste
Thou sent’st me down a lovely virgin chaste
Noble Urania, soberly attired, -
Which when I saw with joy I much admired ;
Finding a friend, copartner, thus to be
A fit companion in my misery.
Great God of Heaven, upon my bended knees,
Before that face which every action sees,
Let me but know what good I ever wrought,-
That Thou in mercy thus on me hast thought?
Or have I not offended much Thy will,
That Thou my heart dost with Urania fill!
Eternal God what shall I give Thee
For Thy great love and favor showed to me?

.

If all the world within my power did stand,
And all therein was sole at iny command
In thankfulness for all Thy mercies sweet
I'd all surrender, lay them at Thy feet !”

The child-like poetry of the older poet is here well set against the grand communings with spiritual things to which Milton was able to give expression.

We are well aware that the lines of Peyton show to much less advantage when placed beside the polished verse of Milton, than when read as an isolated work. Nor have we in these extracts done justice to the complete poem. We have selected those portions only which seemed to harmonize most fully with Milton. Many of the best passages are in the second division, which we have scarcely noticed, as it falls without our plan, unless the rapid view of coming events which the Angel shows to Adam, just before the final loss of Paradise, be compared with the more extended history of succeeding generations given by Peyton.

Before we began our task, when this curious book lay as a new and strange thing before us, we were strongly impressed, not only by the similarity of its plan to that of the Paradise Lost but by its own individuality,—the freshness and originality of its narrative. There are in the range of its contents lively pictures of men and manners, pathetic accounts of sufferings caused by religious bigotry; lessons of patience and long suffering useful for any and all times; lessons of loyalty peculiarly fitted for the poet's time; lessons in sound doctrine certainly needed in our time.

Nor is the dignity of the subject lowered by the faultiness of style manifest in the composition. The general character of this is rough: but it is often strong, and sometimes beautiful. We feel in reading it as we feel when meeting some old person whom nature has gifted with a solid and keen mind, which the experience of a

long and varied life has cut and sharpened to a brilliancy beyond our own elaborate polish. Toward such a one we have no spirit of faultfinding. Eccentricities of manner and homeliness of speech are forgotten in the usefulness of the truths enforced, and in the unconscious beauty of the thoughts expressed. Thus when we pore over the heavy lettering of these yellow pages, where, in most cases, the orthography is. obsolete, and in many instances, the words them selves have lost their significance, where occasional mistakes are corrected with the pen, per. haps in the author's own hand-where every rhetorical change is noted in the margin, and every source of information and allusion honestly referred to: when, transported by these associations, we go back to that period of English history, and English life, and remember how much this man found to contend against, not only in his individual experience, but also in the compar atively rude state of letters and poverty of books: when, to sum up all, we can see so clearly the elaborate development of a long cherished idea, painfully thought out into language, and committed to the world with somewhat more than an author's ambition and desire, with a deep appreciation of the nobleness of his theme, and a pious wish to promote God's glory,-we forget his faults and crudities, we admire his thought and its expression, we look upon him as a poet in the highest sense,

-a creator. And then we consider his youth, -only thirtyone when the work was accomplished, as a vignette on the title page informs us. Surely this was a good fight in those days, when Time moved rather after the manner of the “ Cycles of Cathay," than of the years of modern Europe.

This book should be reprinted. Its usefulness would be manifold. It would help to eluci. date history, and to show the development of language ; by contrast with the later and more perfect poem, it would demonstrate the vantage ground afforded by the large compass of scholar

« AnteriorContinuar »