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Solote of the fallen Angels, the amours attributed by the poets and mythologists to the Heathen Gods, while it is replete with classick beauty, furnishes an excellent moral to those extravagant fi&tions: and his description of the little effect which the most powerful enticements can produce on the resolute mind of the virtuous, while it is heightened with many beautiful turns of language, is, in its general tenour, of the most superiour and dignified kind. Indeed all this part of his speech (from ver. 191. to ver. 225.) seems to breathe such a sincere and deep sense of the charms of real goodness, that we almost forget who is the speaker : at least we readily subscribe to what he had said of himself in the firft Book ;
" I have not loft
After such sentiments so expressed, it might have been thought difficult for the poet to return to his subject, by making the Arch-Fiend resume his attempts against the Divine Person, the commanding majesty of whose invincible virtue he had just been describing with such seemingly heart-felt admiration. This is managed with much address, by Satan's proposing to adopt such modes of temptation as are apt to prevail most, where the propensities are virtuous, and where the difpofition is amiable and generous : and, by the immediate return of the Tempter and his associates to the wilderness, the Poem advances towards the heighth of its argument.Our Saviour's passing the night is well de. scribed. The coming on of morn is a beautiful counterpart of “ night coming on in the defart," which so finely closed the preceding Bock. Our Lord's waking his viewing the country —and the description of the “ pleasant grove,” which is to be the scene of the banquetmare all set off with every grace that poetry can give. The appearance of Satan, varied from his first disguife, as he has now quite another part to act, is perfectly well imagined ; and his speech, referring to fcripture examples of persons miraculously fed in desart places, is truly artful and in character ; as is his second fycophantick address, where, having acknowledged our Lord's right to all created things, he adds,
- Behold, " Nature asham'd, or, better to express, " Troubled that thou should'it hunger, hath purvey'd « From all the elements her choiceft ftore, « To treat thee, as beseems, and, as her Lord, " With honour.”
The banquet (ver. 340.) comprises every thing that Roman luxury, Eastern magnificence, mythological fable, or poetick fancy, can supply ; and, if compared with similar descriptions in the Italian Poets, will be found much superior to them. In the concluding part of his invitation the virulence of the Arch-Fiend breaks out, as it were involuntarily, in a sarcastick allusion to the divine prohibition respecting the tree of knowledge ; but he immediately resumes his hypocritical servility, which much re. sembles his language in the ninth Book of the Paradise Loft, when, in his addresses to Eve, “persuasive rhetorick fleek'd his tongue." The three last lines are quite in this style ;
“ All these are Spirits of air, and woods, and springs, “ Thy gentle minifters, who come to pay
“ Thee homage, and acknowledge thee their Lord.” Our Lord's reply is truly sublime ;
" I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou,
" Array'd in glory, on my cup to attend.” This part of the Book in particular is so highly finished, that I could wish it had concluded, as it might well have done, with the vanishing of the banquet. The present conclusion, from its subject, required another style of poetry. It has little description, no machinery, and no mythological allusions to elevate and adorn it; but it is not without a sublimity of another kind. Satan's speech, in which he affails our Lord with the temptation of riches as the means of acquiring greatness, is in a noble tone of dramatick dialogue; and the reply of our Saviour, where he rejects the offer, contains a series of the finest moral precepts ex. pressed in that plain majestick language, which, in many parts of Didactick, Poetry, is the most becoming veftitus orationis. Still it
muft be acknowledged, that all this is much loft and obscured by the radiance and enriched descriptions of the preceding three hun. dred lines. These had been particularly relieved, and their beauty had been rendered more eminently conspicuous, from the studied equality and scriptural plainness of the exordium of this Book ; which has the effect described by Cicero to the subordinate and less fining parts of any writing, “ quò magis id, quod erit illuminatum, extare atque eminere videatur," De Orator. iii. 101. Ed. Prouft.-But the conclufion of this Book, though excellent in its kind, unfortunately, from its loco-position, appears to considerable disadvantage. Writers of Didactick Poetry, to fe. cure the continuance of their readers' attention, must be careful not only to diversify, but as much as poslīble gradually to elevate, their strain. Accordingly, they generally open their several divisions with their dryer precepts, proceed thence to more pleasing illustrations, and are particularly studious to clofe each Book with some description, or episode, of the most embellished and attractive kind.
Among the various beauties, which adorn this truly divine Poem, the most distinguishable and captivating feature of excellence is the character of Christ. This is so finely drawn, that we can scarcely forbear applying to it the language of Quintilian, respecting the Olympian Jupiter of the famous fculptor Phidias; “ cujus pulchritudo adjeciffe aliquid etiam receptæ religioni videatur, adeò majeftas operis Deum æquavit.” L. xii. C. 10. It is observed by Mr. Hayley, that as in the Paradise Lost the poet seems to emulate the sublimity of Moses and the Prophets, it appears to have been his wish in the Paradise Regained to copy the sweetness and simplicity of the Evangelifts.”—The great object of this second Poem seems indeed to be the exemplification of true Evangelical Virtue, in the person and sentiments of our Blessed Lord. From the beginning of the Third Book to ver. 363 of the next, practical Christianity, thus personified, is contrafted with the boasted pretensions of the Heathen world, in its zenith of power, splendour, civilization, and knowledge ; the several claims of which are fully stated, with much ornament of language and poetick decoration. After an exordium of flattering commendation addressed to our Lord, the Tempter opens his progresive display of Heathen excellence with an eulogy on Glory (ver. 25.), which is so intrinsically beautiful, that it may be questioned whether any Roman orator or poet ever so eloquently and concisely defended the ambition of heroism: The judgement of the Author may also be noticed (ver. 31 &c.) in the selection of his heroes, two of whom, Alexander and Scipio, he has before introduced (B. ii. 196, 199,) as examples of continency and self. denial :-In short, the first speech of Satan opens the cause, for which he pleads, with all the art becoming his character.-In our Lord's reply, the falfe glory of worldly fame is stated with energetick briefness, and is opposed by the true glory of obedi. ence to the Divine commands. The usual modes of acquiring glory in the Heathen world, and the intolerable vanity and pride with which it was claimed and enjoyed, are next most forcibly depicted ; and are finely contrasted with those means of acquiring honour and reputation, which are innocent and beneficial :
“ But, if there be in glory aught of good,
“ By patience, temperance." These lines are marked with that peculiar species of beauty, which diftinguishes Virgil's description of the amiable heroes of benevolence and peace, whom he places in Elysium, together with his blameless warriours, the virtuous defenders of their country, Æn. vi. 660-665.
In the conclusion of the speech an heroical character of another kind is opposed to the warlike heroes of antiquity ;-one who, though a Heathen, surpassed them all in true wisdom and true fortitude. Such indeed was the character of Socrates, such his reliance on Divine Providence and his resignation thereto, that he feems to have imbibed his sentiments from a source - above the famed Caftalian spring ;” and while his demeanour eminently displays the peaceable, patient, Christian-like virtues, his language often approaches nearer than could be imagined, to that of the holy penmen,-" Eu Tautn ew pinov," says he, “ Tauty yavegte." " Epictet. AIATPIB. L. i. C. 29.—– The artful sophistry of the Tempter's further defence of glory, and our Lord's majestically plain confutation of his arguments in the clear explanation given of the true ground on which glory and honour are due to the great Creator of all things, and required by him, are both ado mirable.------ The rest of the Dialogue is well supported ; and it is wound up, with the best effect, in the concluding speech, where Satan offers a vindicatory explanation of his conduct, in which the dignity of the Arch-angel, (for, though “ ruined,” the Satan of Milton seldom“ appears less than an Arch-angel,") is happily combined with the infinuating art and “ fleeked tongue"! of this grand Deceiver. The first nineteen lines are peculiarly illustrative of this double character: The transition that follows to the immediate Temptation then going on, and which paves the way for the ensuing change of scene, is managed with the happieft address. The poet now quits mere Dialogue for that “ union of the narrative and dramatick powers," which Dr. Johnson, speaking of this Poem, observes " must ever be more pleasing than a dialogue without action.”-The description of the
specular mount," where our Lord is placed to view at once the whole Parthian empire, at the same time that it is truly poetical, is so accurately given, that we are enabled to ascertain the exact part of Mount Taurus, which the poet had in his mind. The geographical scene, from ver. 268 to 292, is delineated with a precision that brings each place immediately before our eyes; and, as Dr. Newton remarks, far surpasses the prospect of the kingdoms of the world from " the mount of vision," in the eleventh Book of the Paradise Loft. The military expedition of the Parthians, from ver. 300 to 336, is a picture in the boldest and moft masterly ftyle. It is so perfectly unique in its kind, that I know not where in Poetry, ancient or modern, to go for any thing mate. rially refembling it. The fifteenth Book of Taffo's Ferufalem, &c. (where the two Christian Knights, who are sent in fearch of Rinaldo, see a great part of the habitable world, and are shown a numerous camp of their enemies,) does not appear to have fur. nished a fingle idea to our Author, either in his geographical, or his military, scene. - The speech of Satan, (ver. 346.) profefsing the purpose why he showed all this to Jesus, judiciously reverts to the immediate subject of the Temptation ; and, by urging our Lord to avail himself of the Parthian power, that he might gain possession of David's throne, and free his countrymen from the Roman yoke, it applies to those patriotick feelings