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ftate of blifs, and were caft into Hell upon their difobedience. Befides this great moral, which may be looked upon as the foul of the fable, there are an infinity of under morals which are to be drawn from the feveral parts of the Poem; and which makes this work more useful, and inftructive, than any other poem in any language.
Those who have criticised on the Odyssey, the Iliad, and Æneid, have taken a great deal of pains to fix the number of months and days contained in the action of each of thofe poems. If any one thinks it worth his while to examine this particular in Milton, he will find that, from Adam's first appearance in the fourth book, to his expulfion from Paradife in the twelfth, the author reckons ten days. As for that part of the action which is defcribed in the three first books, as it does not pafs within the regions of nature, I have before obferved that it is not fubject to any calculations of time.
I have now finished my obfervations on a work, which does an honour to the English nation. I have taken a general view of it under these four heads, the FABLE, the CHARACTERS, the SEN
h he will find &c.] See a minute account of the action, before, in the Note, p. 32.
1 the fable, the characters, the fentiments, and the LANGUAGE.] There is yet a beauty in Milton's LANGUAGE, of which little notice has been taken by Mr. Addifon; and of which (although thefe ornaments are more frequent in his earlier poems) there are
TIMENTS, and the LANGUAGE. I have, in the next place, spoken of the cenfures which our author may incur under each of these heads; of which I might have enlarged the number, if I
many examples in the Paradife Loft: I mean his compound epithets; fuch as "fey-tin&tur'd grain,"—" fable-vefted Night,”— "heaven-warning champions,-"night-warbling bird,”—“ lovelabour'd fong, &c." See many more in Peck's Memoirs of Milton, 1740, pp. 117, &c. Mr. Addifon cites only "bell-doom'd." See before, p. 55.
It may not be improper to add a few remarks refpecting these combinations of words. They abound in our elder poetry, and are often remarkably fignificant and happy. Spenfer and Shakfpeare afford many beautiful inftances. In Sylvefter's Du Bartas, there is fcarcely a page in which a compound epithet may not be found. Dr. Warton has cenfured this immoderate use of them in Sylvefter. Yet there are many epithets of great merit in this voluminous author; and with which Milton appears to have been pleased; fuch as "love-darting eyn,"-" flowerymantled earth," "fmooth-fliding floods, &c." Browne, in his Britannia's Paftorals, elegantly calls the Morning " lilly-handed :” Other decorations of this kind may be found in his poems. Drayton feems to have been particularly fond of compounds; for, in his fifty-third Sonnet alone, there occur the "filver-fanded fhore," the "near-dropping showers," the "myrrhe-breathing zephyr," and the "dew-impearled flowers." From Hall's Satires, from the poetry of Daniel, Drummond, Wither, and Crafhaw, many compounds of fine effect might be extracted. Compound epithets indeed were fo much in fashion, in the be ginning of the feventeenth century, that they were often admitted into profe. Thus in Stafford's Niobe, or His Age of Teares, 1611, p. 9, speaking of immodeft women, "whatfoeuer their luft-darting eyes fhall feize vpon:" Again, speaking of a lady's mouth," thofe lippes, the purple porters to that corall-paued palace," p. 122; an epithet, which Milton has differently ap plied in Comus, v. 886. Many more inftances might be given.
had been difpofed to dwell on fo ungrateful a fubject. I believe, however, that the feverest reader will not find any little fault in heroick poetry, which this author has fallen into, that does not come under one of thofe heads among which I have diftributed his feveral blemishes.
After having thus treated at large of Paradise Loft, I could not think it fufficient to have celebrated this Poem in the whole, without defcending to particulars. I have, therefore, endeavoured not only to prove that the Poem is beautiful in general, but to point out its particular beauties, and to determine wherein they confist. I have endeavoured to show how fome paffages are beautiful by being fublime, others by being foft, others by being natural; which of them are recommended by the paffion, which by the moral, which by the fentiment, and which by the expreffion. I have likewife endeavoured to fhow how the genius of the poet fhines by a happy invention, a distant allufion, or a judicious imitation; how he has copied or improved Homer or Virgil, and raises his own imaginations by the use which he has made of several poetical paffages in Scripture. I might have inferted also feveral paffages of Taffo, which our author has imitated; but, as I do not look upon Taffo to be a fufficient voucher, I would not perplex my reader with fuch quotations, as might do Q
more honour to the Italian than the English poet. In short, I have endeavoured to particularize those innumerable kinds of beauty, which it would be tedious to recapitulate, but which are effential to poetry; and which may be met with in the works of this great author *. ADDISON.
The preceding criticifm may be found in the following eighteen Papers, in The Spectator, viz. Nos. 267, 273, 279, 285, 291, 297, 303, 309, 315, 321, 327, 333, 339, 345, 35, 357, 363, and 369. I have here formed them into a Preliminary Difcourfe; to which I add, from the 86th, 88th, goth, 92d, and 94th Papers in The Rambler, (which feem to have been intended by Dr. Johnfon as a Supplement to Mr. Addison's illuf tration of the FABLE, the CHARACTERS, the SENTIMENTS, and the LANGUAGE,) a criticism on the VERSIFICATION. See p. 197.
Į venture to remark, that two paffages of uncommon beauty and excellence have escaped the notice of Mr. Addison: I mean the speech of Satan in the ninth book, ver. 99, &c. which ex. hibits perhaps the finest traits of character in the whole Poem; and the defcription of the fame Infernal Being, in the tenth book, after Eve has been feduced, changing his fhape to obferve the fequel; flying when he beholds the Son of God defcend to judge our first parents; returning afterwards, and listening to their fad difcourfe; and thence gathering his own doom.
DR. JOHNSON'S REMARKS
VERSIFICATION OF MILTON.
"Legitimúmque fonum digitis callemus et aure." Hor. Art. Poet. v. 274.
"The fecret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand; and various-meafur'd verfe."
ONE of the ancients has obferved, that the burthen of government is encreased upon princes by the virtues of their immediate predeceffours. It is, indeed, always dangerous to be placed in a ftate of unavoidable comparison with excellence; and the danger is ftill greater when that excellence is confecrated by death, when envy and interest
a Dr. Warton is justly surprised, that Pope should notice two great mafters of VERSIFICATION,Waller and Dryden, and yet omit the name of Milton. "What! did Milton contribute nothing to the harmony and extent of our language?-Surely his verfes vary, and refound as much, and difplay as much majefty and energy, as any that can be found in Dryden," See Essay on Pope, vol. ii, P. 351, edit. 1782.
I fhall enlarge thefe remarks of Dr. Johnfon by occafionally introducing other opinions refpecting MILTON'S VERSIFICA TION; together with various proofs, that the poet's "skill in harmony was not less than his invention or his learning."