« PreviousContinue »
In counterview within the gates, that now
reader who knows the strength when they are terrified, he inof the English tongue, will be troduces the persons of Flight amazed to think how the poet and Fear, who, he tells us, are could find such apt words and inseparable companions.
Inphrases to describe the actions stead of saying that the time of those two imaginary persons, was come when Apollo ought and particularly in that part to have received his recomwhere Death is exhibited as pense, he tells us, that the Hours forming a bridge over the chaos; brought him his reward. Instead a work suitable to the genius of of describing the effects which Milton. Since the subject I am Minerva's Ægis produced in batupon, gives me an opportunity tle, he tells us, that the brims of of speaking more at large of it were encompassed by Terror, such shadowy and imaginary Rout, Discord, Fury, Pursuit, persons as may be introduced Massacre, and Death. In the into heroic poems, I shall beg same figure of speaking, he releave to explain myself in a presents Victory as following matter which is curious in its Diomedes; Discord as the mos kind, and which none of the ther of funerals and mourning; critics have treated of. It is Venus as dressed by the Graces ; certain Homer and Virgil are Bellona as wearing Terror and full of imaginary persons, who consternation like a garment. are very beautiful in poetry, I might give several other inwhen they are just shewn, with- 'stances out of Homer, as well out being engaged in any series as a great many out of Virgil. of action. Homer indeed re Milton has likewise very often presents Sleep as a person, and
made use of the same way of ascribes a short part to him in speaking, as where he tells us his Iliad; but we must consider that Victory sat on the right that though we now regard such hand of the Messiah when he a person as entirely shadowy marched forth against the rebel and unsubstantial, the heathens angels; that at the rising of the made statues of him, placed him
sun the Hours unbarred the gates in their temples, and looked of light; that Discord was the upon him as a real deity. When daughter of Sin. Of the same Homer makes use of other such nature are those expressions, allegorical persons, it is only in where describing the singing of short expressions, which convey the nightingale, he adds, Silence an ordinary thought to the mind was pleased, and
the Mesin the most pleasing manner, siah's bidding peace to the Chaos, and may be rather looked upon Confusion heard his voice. I as poetical phrases than allego- might add innumerable instances rical descriptions. Instead of of our poet's writing in this telling us that men naturally fly beautiful figure. It is plain that
Far into Chaos, since the fiend pass'd through,
these I have mentioned, in which in a flash of lightning: she might persons of an imaginary nature have tainted the atmosphere are introduced, are such short with her breath; the very glarallegories as are not designed to ing of her eyes might have scatbe taken in the literal sense, tered infection. But I believe but only to convey particular every reader will think, that in circumstances to the reader after such sublime writings the menan unusual and entertaining tioning of her as it is done in manner. But when such per- Scripture, has something in it sons are introduced as principal more just, as well as great, than actors, and engaged in a series all th the most fanciful poet of adventures, they take too could have bestowed upon her much upon them, and are by no in the richness of his imaginameans proper for an heroic poem, tion. Addison. which ought to appear credible I have been informed, that in its principal parts. I cannot there has lately been published forbear therefore thinking that in High Dutch a Critical Dissera Sin and Deuth are as improper tation on the marvellous in poeagents in a work of this nature, try, and its connexion with the as Strength and Necessity in one probable, in a defence of Milof the tragedies of Æschylus, ton's Paradise Lost against sevewho represented those two per- ral objections of Monsieur Volsons nailing down Prometheus to taire and other critics, wherein a rock, for which he has been likewise the characters and acjustly censured by the greatest tions of Sin and Death are vine critics. I do not know any ima- dicated in answer to Mr. Addiginary person made use of in a It is hoped that some skila more sublime manner of think- ful hand or other will translate ing than that in one of the pro- this piece for the benefit of the phets, who describing God as English reader. Milton may descending from heaven, and rather be justified for introducvisiting the sins of mankind, ing such imaginary beings as adds that dreadful circumstance, Sin and Death, because a great Before him went the Pestilence. part of his poem lies in the inviIt is certain this imaginary per- sible world, and such fictitious son might have been described beings may better have a place in all her purple spots. The there; and the actions of Sin Fever might have marched before and Death are at least as probaher, Pain might have stood at ble as those ascribed to the good her right hand, Phrenzy on her or evil angels.
Besides as Milleft, and Death in her rear. She ton's subject necessarily admitted might have been introduced as so few real persons, he was in a gliding down from the tail of a manner obliged to supply that comet, or darted upon the earth defect by introducing imaginary
O son, why sit we here each other viewing
ones : and the characters of Sin 249. -Thou my shade &c.] and Death are perfectly agree. We sometimes find shude used able to the hints and sketches, much after the same manner in which are given. of them in the best classic authors. Hor. Scripture. The Scripture had Sat. ii. viii. 22. made persons of them before in several places; only the Scrip
-quos Mæcenas adduxerat umbras. ture has represented them as I may say in miniature, and he Epist. i. v. 28. has drawn them in their full
-locus est et pluribus umbris. length and proportions.
245. —whatever draws me on, But it has a farther propriety Or sympathy, or some connatu- and beauty in this place, as ral force]
Death seemed a shadow, ii. 669. The modern philosopher may and was the inseparable comperhaps take offence at this now panion as well as offspring of exploded notion, but every friend Sin. Shakespeare in the same to the Muses will, I doubt not, manner uses shadow as the Latins pardon it for the sake of that use umbra. 2 Hen. IV. act ii. fine strain of poetry, which it Poins to Prince Henry, has given the poet an opportunity of introducing in the fol I am your shadow, my Lord, I'll fol. lowing description. Thyer.
Inseparable must with me along :
250 For Death from Sin no pow'r can separate. But lest the difficulty of passing back Stay his return perhaps over this gulf Impassable, impervious, let us try Advent'rous work, yet to thy pow'r and mine Not unagreeable, to found a path Over this main from hell to that new world Where Satan now prevails, a monument Of merit high to all th’ infernal host, Easing their passage hence, for intercourse,
Whom thus the meagre shadow answer'd soon.
270 Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.
So saying, with delight he snuff’d the smell
260. --for intercourse, stinct here as a substantive, and Or transmigration, as their lot in other places as a participle, in shall lead.)
the same manner and in the Intercourse, passing frequently same sense as the Latins use backward and forward; transmie instinctus : but instances of his gration, quitting hell once for all using English words as Latin to inhabit the new creation; they words are innumerable. were uncertain which their lot 266. should be. Richardson.
263. By this new felt attrac- Nor mistake the way. A retion and instinct.] He uses in- markable expression.
The way. ]
Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock
273. -As when a flock
randi vim, si sic loqui possumus, Of ravenous fowl, &c.]
id pertinere putandum est. RiOf vultures particularly it is said dicule igitur Georgius Pictorius, by Pliny, that they will fly three
Hanc volucrem narrant luces tres days beforehand to places where nosse cadaver there are future carcases. Tri Venturum, olfactu tam viget hæc duo autem antea volare eos, ubi
Aldror, Ornith. lib. 2. cadavera futura sunt. Lib. x. c. 6. And (what probably gave I shall not undertake absolutely occasion to this similitude in to defend Milton's introducing a Milton) Lucan has described the fabulous story by way of simile; ravenous birds that followed the yet I think in this place it may Roman camps. and scented the be pardoned, since no other illusbattle of Pharsalia. vii. 831. tration could have been found so Jamque diu volucres civilia castra
pat to the present case.
280. His nostril wide into the Conveniunt
murky uir,] -nunquam se tanto vulture cælum
Ei patulis captavit naribus auras. Induit, aut plures presserunt aera
Virg. Georg. i. 376. pennæ.
Murky air, black tainted air. And to this let me add, what Spenser has mirksome air. Faery Mr. Thyer has quoted froin Queen, b. i. c. v. st. 28. Aldrovandus. Quod autem aliqui addunt, tam sagaciter odorari Through mirksi me air her ready way
she makes. vultures, ut biduo triduove, imo septenis, ut alii, diebus ante ea And the Glossary to Spenser exloca circumvolent, in quibus ca- plains mirksone by obscure, filthy. davera futura sunt, ineptè sanè í find Shakespeare too uses the ad odorandi facultatem refertur, word murky. Lady Macbeth cum eorum, quæ necdum sunt, says in her sleep, Hell is murky, cadaverum nullus odor esse possit. Sensus enim presentium 281. Sagacious] Quick of scent. est. Quare ad quandam augu- Sagire enim, sentire acute est ; VOL. II.