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JOS E P H A D DISO N.
IN THREE VOLUMES
THE WHOLE OF THE "SPECTATOR," &c
NE W Y 0 Ꭱ Ꮶ :
No. 315.] Saturday, March 1, 1711-12. energy of expression, and in a clearer and
stronger light than I ever met with in any Nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus
other writer. As these points are dry in Inciderit
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 191.
themselves to the generality of readers, the Never presume to make a god appear
concise and clear manner in which he has But for a business worthy of a god.-- Roscommon."
treated them is very much to be admired, · HORACE advises a poet to consider tho- as is likewise that particular art which he roughly the nature and force of his genius. has made use of in the interspersing of all Milton seems to have known perfectly well those graces of poetry which the subject wherein his strength lay, and has therefore was capable of receiving. chosen a subject entirely conformable to The survey of the whole creation, and of those talents of which he was master. As every thing that is transacted in it, is a his genius was wonderfully turned to the prospect worthy of Omniscience, and as sublime, his subject is the noblest that much above that in which Virgil has drawn could have entered into the thoughts of his Jupiter, as the Christian idea of the Suman. Every thing that is truly great and preme Being is more rational and sublime astonishing has a place in it. The whole than that of the Heathens. The particusystem of the intellectual world; the chaos, | lar objects on which he is described to have and the creation: heaven, earth, and hell; cast his eye, are represented in the most enter into the constitution of his poem. beautiful and lively manner:
Having in the first and second books represented the infernal world with all its
Now had th' Almighty Father from above
(From the pure empyrean where he sits horrors, the thread of his fable naturally |
High thron'd above all height) bent down his eye, leads him into the opposite regions of bliss His own works and their works at once to view
About him all the sanctities of heaven and glory.
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd If Milton's majesty forsakes him any
Beatitude past utterance. On his right where, it is in those parts of his poem · The radiant image of his glory sat, where the divine persons are introduced
His only Son. On earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two as speakers. One may, I think, observe,
Of mankind, in the happy garden plac'd, that the author proceeds with a kind of fear Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love. and trembling, whilst he describes the sen
Uninterrupted joy, unrivali'd love,
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd timents of the Almighty. He dares not give Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there his imagination its full play, but chooses to Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night, confine himself to such thoughts as are
In the dun air sublime; and ready now drawn from the books of the most ortho.
To stoop with wearied wings and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd dox divines, and to such expressions as Firm land imbosom'd without firmament; may be met with in scripture. The beau
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high, ties, therefore, which we are apt to look
Wherein past, present, future he beholds, for in these speeches, are not of a poetical Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake. nature, nor so proper to fill the mind with sentiments of grandeur, as with thoughts Satan's approach to the confines of the of devotion. The passions which they are creation is finely imaged in the beginning designed to raise, are a divine love and re-of the speech which immediately follows. ligious fear. The particular beauty of the The effects of this speech in the blessed speeches in the third book, consists in that spirits, and in the divine person to whorn shortness and perspicuity of style, in which it was addressed, cannot but fill the mind the poet has couched the greatest mysteries of the reader with a secret pleasure and of Christianity, and drawn together, in a complacency: regular scheme, the whole dispensation of Providence with respect to man. He has
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd
All heav'n, and in the blessed spirits elect represented all the abstruse doctrines of
Sense of new joy ineffable diffus'd. . predestination, free-will and grace, as also Beyond compare the Son of God was seen the great points of incarnation and redemp
Most glorious; in him all his Fatlier słone,
Substantially express'd; and in his face tion, (which naturally grow up in a poem
Divine compassion visibly appear'd, that treats of the fall of man) with great | Love without end, and without measure grans."