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But drive far off the barbarous diffonance
ble him to foar to fuch highths, as no human genius ever reached before? 31.- and fit audience find, though few. He had Horace in
mind, Sat. I. X. 73.
―neque te ut miretur turba, labores, Contentus paucis lectoribus.
33. Of Bacchus and his revelers,] It is not improbable that the poet intended this as an oblique fatir upon the diffoluteness of Charles the fecond and his court; from whom he seems to apprehend the fate of Orpheus, a famous poet of Thrace, who tho' he is faid to have charm'd woods and rocks with his divine fongs, yet was torn to pieces by the Bacchanalian women on Rhodope a mountain of Thrace, nor could the Mufe Calliope his mother defend him. So fail not thou, who thee implores; nor was his with ineffectual, for the government fuffer'd him to live and die unmolested.
40.-hat ensued when Raphaël, &c.] Longinus has obferved, that there may be a loftinefs in fentiments, where there is no paffion, and brings inftances out of ancient The pathetic, as that great critic authors to fupport this his opinion. obferves, may animate and inflame the fublime, but is not effential to it. Accordingly, as he further remarks, we very often find that those who excel moft in ftirring up the paffions, very often want the talent of writing in the great and fublime manner, and fo on the contrary. Milton has fhown himself a mafter in both these ways of writing. The feventh book, which we are now entring upon, is an inftance of that fublime, which is not mixed and worked up with paffion. The author appears in a kind of compofed and fedate majefty; and tho' the fentiments do not give fo great an emotion, as thofe in the former book, they abound
Adam by dire example to beware
with as magnificent ideas. The fixth book, like a troubled ocean, reprefents greatness in confufion; the feventh affects the imagination like the ocean in a calm, and fills the mind of the reader, without producing in it any thing like tumult or agitation. The critic above mention'd, among the rules which he lays down for fucceeding in the fublime way of writing, propofes to his reader, that he fhould imitate the moft celebrated authors who have gone before him, and been engaged in works of the fame nature; as in particular, that if he writes on a poetical fubject, he fhould confider how Homer would have spoken on fuch an occafion. By this means one great genius often catches the
Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree,
If they tranfgrefs, and flight that fole command,
Of all taftes else to please their appetite,
Though wand'ring. He with his conforted Eve 50
And flame from another, and writes in his fpirit, without copying fervily after him. There are a thousand fhining paffages in Virgil, which have been lighted up by Homer. Milton, tho' his own natural strength of genius was capable of furnishing out a perfect work, has doubtless very much raifed and ennobled his conceptions, by fuch an imitation as that which Longinus has recommended. In this book, which gives us an account of the fix days works, the poet received very few affistances from Heathen writers, who were strangers to the wonders of creation. But as there are many glorious ftrokes of poetry upon this fubject in holy Writ, the author has numberlefs allufions to them through the whole
And war fo near the peace of God in bliss
whole course 'of this book. The great critic I have before mention'd, though an Heathen, has taken notice of the fublime manner in which the Lawgiver of the Jews has described the creation in the first chapter of Genefis; and there are many other paffages in Scripture which rife up to the fame majefty, where this fubject is touched upon. Milton has fhown his judgment very remarkably, in making ufe of fuch of these as were proper for his poem, and in duly qualifying those high frains of eastern poetry, which were fuited to readers, whofe imaginations were fet to a higher pitch than thofe of colder climates. Addifon.
47. If they tranfgrefs, &c.] We fhould obferve the connexion; Left
the like befall to Adam or his race, if they tranfgrefs, &c.
50. He with his conforted Eve] Conforted from Confort, Cum conforte tori, as Ovid says, Met. I. 319.
59.- Whence Adam foon repeal'd The doubts that in his heart arofe:] Dr. Bentley would read difpell'd: but if an alteration were neceffary, I fhould rather read repell'd, as in ver. 610. we have their counfels vain Thou haft repell'd. But in the fame fenfe as a law is faid to be repeal'd, when an end is put to all the force and effect of it; fo, when doubts are at an end, they may be faid to be repeal'd. Pearce. 69. Pro
Whofe liquid murmur heard new thirft excites,
Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, 70 Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal'd, Divine interpreter, by favor fent
Down from the empyréan to forewarn
Us timely' of what might elfe have been our lofs,
Of what we are. But fince thou haft vouchfaf'd 80
69. Proceeded thus &c.] The conftruction is, And led on with defire to know &c proceeded thus to ask bis beav'nly gueft.
70. Great things, &c.] Adam's fpeech to the Angel, wherein he defires an account of what had paffed within the regions of nature before the creation, is very great and folemn. The following lines, in which he tells him, that the day is not too far fpent for him to enter upon fuch a fubject, are exquifite in their kind.
And the great light of day yet
wants to run
Much of his race &c. Addifon.
72. Divine interpreter,] So Mercury is call'd in Virgil Interpres Divum, Æn. IV. 378.
79. ――― the end Of what we are.] The will of God is the end to which all we are; thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created, Rev. IV. 11.
88.—and this which yields or fills All space, the ambient air wide
interfus'd] Yields space to all bodies, and again fills up the deferted space fo as to be fubfervient to motion. Richardson. Ambient interfus'd
Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd.
interfus'd denotes the air not only furrounding the earth, but flowing into and fpun out betweeen all bodies; and is a fuller and finer notation of its liquid and spiritual texture, leaving no Vacuum in nature than that of Ovid,
Nec circumfufo pendebat in aere tellus. Met. I. 12. Hume.
And that can never be a juft exception against this time, which holds equally against all time. It must be refolved into the good will and pleafure of almighty God; but there is a farther reafon according to Milton's hypothefis, which is that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declar'd his pleasure to fupply their place by creating another world, and other creatures to dwell therein.
92. fo late to build] It is a queftion that has been often asked, Why God did not create the world fooner? but the fame queftion might be asked, if the world had been pleted, perfected, from Abfolutus created at any time, for ftill there (Latin.) were infinite ages before that time.
94. Abfolv'd,] Finish'd, com