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may not Paradise Lost be doing this? Nay, and what though the relevancy of the poem to the present soul of the world should have been more impaired by the lapse of time and the change of ideas than we have admitted it to be, and much of the interest of it, as of all the other great poems of the world, should now be historical ? Even so what interest it possesses! What a portrait, what a study, of a great English mind of the seventeenth century it brings before us! “I wonder not so much at the poem itself, though worthy “of all wonder,” says Bentley in the preface to his Edition of the poem, “as “that the author could so abstract his thoughts from his own troubles as to “ be able to make it—that, confined in a narrow and to him a dark chamber, “surrounded with cares and fears, he could expatiate at large through the
compass of the whole Universe, and through all Heaven beyond it, and “could survey all. periods of time from before the creation to the consum“mation of all things. This theory, no doubt, was a great solace to him “in his affliction, but it shows in him a greater strength of spirit, that made “him capable of such a solace. And it would almost seem to me to be “peculiar to him, had not experience by others taught me that there is that
power in the human mind, supported with innocence and conscia virtus, “that can make it shake off all outward uneasiness and involve itself secure "and pleased in its own integrity and entertainment.” It is refreshing to be able to quote from the great scholar and critic words showing so deep an appreciation by him of the real significance of the poem which, as an edito! he mangled. Whatever the Paradise Lost is, it is, as Bentley here points ou: a monument of almost unexampled magnanimity.
PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION.
IN PARADISUM AMISSAM SUMMI POETÆ
Qui legis A missam Paradisum, grandia magni
Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis ? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum,
Et fata, et fines, continet iste liber. Intima panduntur inagni penetralia Mundi,
Scribitur et toto quicquid in Orbe latet ; Terræque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum,
Sulphureumque Erebi flammivomumque specus ; Quæque colunt terras, pontumque, et Tartara cæca,
Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli ;
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus;
In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Quæ canit, et quantâ prælia dira tubâ !
Et quæ cælestes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in ætheriis tollit se Lucifer armis,
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor ! Quantis et quam funestis concurritur iris,
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit !
Et non mortali desuper igne pluunt,
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ.
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Admistis flammis insonuere polo,
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis,
Et cassis dextris irrita tela cadunt;
Infernis certant condere se tenebris.
Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus : Hæc quicunque leget tantum cecinisse putabit Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.
S. B., M.D.
ON PARADISE LOST.
WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
Yet, as I read, soon growing less severe,
Or, if a work so infinite he spanned,
Pardon me, mighty Poet; nor despise
The majesty which through thy work doth reign Draws the devout, deterring the profane. And things divine thou treat’st of in such state As them preserves, and thee, inviolate. At once delight and horror on us seize ;