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by the breath of God, reflect in their countenances and forms, as well as minds, the intelligence, benignity, and happiness of their author. Their new existence has the freshness and peacefulness of the dewy morning. Their souls, unsated and untainted, find an innocent joy in the youthful creation, which spreads and smiles around them. Their mutual love is deep, for it is the love of young, unworn, unexhausted hearts, which meet in each other the only human objects on whom to pour forth the fulness of their affection; and still it is serene, for it is the love of happy beings, who know not suffering even by name, whose innocence excludes not only the tumults but the thought of jealousy and shame, who, 'imparadised in one another's arms,' scarce dream of futurity, so blessed is their present being. We will not say that we envy our first parents; for we feel that there may be higher happiness than theirs, a happiness won through struggle with inward and outward foes, the happiness of power and moral victory, the happiness of disinterested sacrifices and wide-spread love, the happiness of boundless hope, and of thoughts which wander through eternity.' Still, there are times, when the spirit, oppress'd with pain, worn with toil, tired of tumult, sick at the sight of guilt, wounded in its love, bafled in its hope, and trembling in its faith, almost longs for the wings of a dove, that it might fly away,' and take refuge amidst the shady bowers,' the 'vernal airs,' the roses without thorns,' the quiet, the beauty, the loveliness of Eden, It is the contrast of this deep peace of Paradise with the storms of life, which give to the fourth and fifth books of this poem a charm so irresistible, that not a few would sooner relinquish the two first books with all their sublimity, than part with these. It has sometimes been said that the English language has no good pastoral poetry. We would ask, in what age or country has the pastoral reed breathed such sweet strains as are borne to us on the odoriferous wings of gentle gales;' from Milton's Paradise ?
We should not fulfil our duty, were we not to say one word on what has been justly celebrated, the harmony of Milton's versification. His numbers have the prime charm of expressiveness. They vary with, and answer to, the depth, or tenderness, or sublimity, of his conceptions, and hold intimate alliance with the soul. Like Michael Angelo, in whose hands the marble was said to be flexible, he bends our language, which foreigners reproach with hardness, into whatever form the subject demands. All the treasures of sweet and solemn sounds are at his command. Words, harsh and discordant in the writings of less gifted men, flow through his poetry in a full stream of harmony. This power over language is not to be ascribed to Milton's musical ear. It belongs to the soul. It is a gift or exercise of genius, which has power to impress itself on whatever it touches, and finds or frames in sounds, motions and material forms, correspondences and harmonies with its own fervid thoughts and feelings.
We close our remarks on Milton's poetry with observing, that it is characterised by seriousness. Great andvarious as are its merits, it does not discover all the variety of genius which we find in Shakspeare, whose
imagination revelled equally in regions of mirth, beauty and terror, nor evoking spectres, now sporting with fairies, and now ascending the highest heaven of invention.' Milton was cast on times too solemn and eventful, was called to take part in transactions too perilous, and had too perpetual need of the presence of high thoughts and motives, to indulge himself in light and gay creations, even had his genius been more flexible and sportive. But Milton's poetry, though habitually serious, is always healthful, and bright, and vigorous. It has no gloom. He took no pleasure in drawing dark pictures of life; for he knew by experience, that there is a power in the soul to transmute calamity into an occasion and nutriment of moral power and triumphant virtue. We find nowhere in his writings that whining sensibility and exaggeration of morbid feeling, which makes so much of modern poetry effeminating. If he is not gay he is not spirit-broken, His L'Allegro proves that he understood thoroughly the bright and joyous aspects of nature; and in his Pensoroso, where he was tempted to accumulate images of gloom, we learn that the saddest views which he took of creation, are such as inspire only pensive musing or lofty contemplation.
Book I. ..
................ 271 | Book III.
285 - IV:...
To the Lady Margaret Ley ...... 425 | On his Blindness ...................... ib.
on my writing certain Treatises ib. | To Cyriack Skinner ............
Song on May Morning ...........446 | On Time ..... .............. ib.
- LXXX. .................... 465 ---- CXXXVI...................
Elegia Secunda ........................ 486 Elegia Sexta ............
The First Book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man's disobe. dience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed: then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan, with his angels, now fallen into hell, described, here, not in the centre (for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos : here Satan, with his angels, lying on the burning lake, thunder-struck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: they confer of their miserable fall : Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded. They rise; their numbers; array of battle; their chief leaders named according to the idols known afterward in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world, and a new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy, or report, in heaven; for, that angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.
OF man's first disobedience, and the fruit