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hall. But it is the poet's refinement upon this thought, which I most admire, and which is, indeed, very noble in itself. For he tells us, that, notwithstanding the vulgar, among the fallen spirits, contracted their forms, those of the first rank and dignity still preserved their natural dimensions. Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms Reduc’d their shapes immense, and were at large, Though without number, still amidst the hall Of that infernal court. But far within, And in their own dimensions like themselves, The great seraphic iords and cherubim, In close recess and secret conclave sat, A thousand demi-gods on golden seats, Frequent and full The character of Mammon, and the description of the Pan. daemonium, are full of beauties. There are several other strokes in the first book wonderfully poetical, and instances of that sublime genius so peculiar to the author. Such is the description of Azazel's stature, and of the infernal standard which he unfurls; as also of that ghastly light, by which the fiends appear to one another in their place of torments. The seat of desolation, void of light, Save what the glimm'ring of those livid flames Casts pale and dreadful— The shout of the whole host of fallen angels when drawn up in battle array:
The universal host up sent
The review which the leader makes of his infernal army:
He thro' the armed files
The whole battalion views their order due, Their visages and stature as of gods; Their number last he sums, and now his heart Distends with pride, and hard'ning in his strength Glories The flash of light which appeared upon the drawing of their swords:
He spake: and to confirm his words out flew
The sudden production of the Pandæmonium :
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
The artificial illuminations made in it:
—From th’ arch'd roof,
There are also several noble similes and allusions in the first book of Paradise Lost. And here I must observe, that when Milton alludes either to things or persons, he never quits his simile till it rises to some very great idea, which is often foreign to the occasion that gave birth to it. The resemblance does not, perhaps, last above a line or two, but the poet runs on with the hint, till he has raised out of it some glorious image or sentiment, proper to inflame the mind of the reader, and to give it that sublime kind of entertainment, which is suitable to the nature of an heroic poem. Those who are acquainted with Homer's and Wir gil's way of writing, cannot but be pleased with this kind of structure in Milton's similitudes. I am the more particular on this head, because ignorant readers, who have formed their taste upon the quaint similes, and little turns of wit, which are so much in vogue among modern poets, cannot relish these beauties which are of a much higher nature, and are therefore apt to censure Milton's comparisons, in which they do not see any surprising points of likeness. Monsieur Perrault was a man of this vitiated relish, and for that very reason has endeavoured to turn into ridicule several of Homer's similitudes, which he calls Comparaisons a longue queue, “Long-tailed comparisons.' I shall conclude this paper on the first book of Milton with the answer which Monsieur Boileau makes to Perrault on this occasion.’ “Comparisons (says he) in odes, and epic poems, are not introduced only to illustrate and embellish the discourse, but to amuse and relax the mind of the reader, by frequently disengaging him from too painful an attention to the principal subject, and by leading him into other agreeable images. Homer (says he) excelled in this particular, whose comparisons abound with such images of nature as are proper to relieve and diversify his subjects. He continually instructs the reader, and makes him take notice, even in objects which are every day before our eyes, of such circumstances as we should not otherwise have observed.” To this he adds, as a maxim universally acknowledged, “that it is not necessary in poetry for the points of the comparison to correspond with one another exactly, but that a general resemblance is sufficient, and that too much nicety in this particular savours of the rhetorician and epigrammatist.” In short, if we look into the conduct of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, as the great fable is the soul of each poem, so, to give their works an agreeable variety, their episodes are so many short fables, and their similes so many short episodes; to which
you may add, if you please, that their metaphors are so many short similes. If the reader considers the comparisons in the first book of Milton, of the sun in an eclipse, of the sleeping leviathan, of the bees swarming about the hive, of the fairy dance, in the view wherein I have placed them, he will easily discover the great beauties that are in each of those passages.
Ye realms, yet unreveal'd to hunman sight,
Ye gods who rule the regions of the night,
Ye gliding ghosts, permit me to relate
The mystic wonders of your silent state.
DEYDEN. I HAVE before observed in general, that the persons whom
Milton introduces into his poem, always discover such sentiments and behaviour, as are in a peculiar manner conformable to their respective characters. Every circumstance in their speeches and actions, is with great justness and delicacy adapted to the persons who speak and act. As the poet very much excels in this consistency of his characters, I shall beg leave to consider several passages of the second book in this light. That superior greatness and mock majesty, which is ascribed to the prince of the fallen angels, is admirably preserved in the beginning of this book. His opening and closing the debate; his taking on him. self that great enterprise at the thought of which the whole
infernal assembly trembled; his encountering the hideous phan- .
tom who guarded the gates of hell, and appeared to him in all his terrors; are instances of that proud and daring mind which
could not brook submission even to omnipotence.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
. The same boldness and intrepidity of behaviour discovers itself in the several adventures which he meets with during his passage through the regions of unformed matter, and particularly in his address to those tremendous powers who are described as presiding over it. The part of Moloch is likewise in all its circumstances full of that fire and fury which distinguish this spirit from the rest of the fallen angels. He is described in the first book as be: smeared with the blood of human sacrifices, and delighted with the tears of parents and the cries of children. In the second book he is marked out as the fiercest spirit that fought in heaven: and if we consider the figure which he makes in the sixth book, where the battle of the angels is described, we find it every way answerable to the same furious enraged character.
——— Where the might of Gabriel fought,
It may be worth while to observe, that Milton has represented this violent impetuous spirit, who is hurried on by such pre