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n F Man's first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
· Brought 1. Of Mans first disobedience, &c.] numbers consists chiefly in the pause Milton has proposed the subject of being so artfully varied, that it falls his poem in the following verses. upon a different syllable in almoft Thele lines are perhaps as plain, every line, as it may easily be perfimple, and unadorned as any of the ceived by diftinguishing the verfes whole poem, in which particular thus ; the author has conformed himself
Of Man's firft disobedience, 1 and to the example of Homer and the
the fruit precept of Horace. His invoca
Of that forbidden tree, whose tion to a work, which turns in a
mortal taste great measure upon the creation of
Brought death into the world, and the world, is very properly made to the Muse who inspired Moses in
all our woe,
With loss of Eden, still one greater those books from whence our au
Man thor drew his subject, and to the Holy Spirit who is therein repre-.
Restore us, I and regain the bliss.
ful seat, sented as operating after a particular manner in the first production
Sing heav'nly Muse, of nature. This whole exordium Mr. Pope, in a letter to Mr. Walsh rises very happily into noble lan- containing some critical observa. guage and sentiment, as I think tions on English versification, re. the transition to the fable is exqui- marks that in any smooth English fitely beautiful and natural. Addison. verse of ten syllables, there is na
Besides the plainness and fimpli- turally a pause at the fourth, fifth, city of these lines, there is a far- or fixth fyllable, and upon the juther beauty in the variety of the dicious change and management of numbers, which of themselves these depends the variety of verfi. charm every reader without any fication. But Milton varies the sublimity of thought or pomp of pause according to the sense, and expression: and this variety of the varies it through all the ten fyllables, by which means he is a
and in the air master of greater harmony than Made horrid circles; | two broad any other English poet: and he is suns their shields VI. 305. continually varying the pause, and fcarce ever suffers it to reft upon Upon the fixth, the same syllable in more than two,
His ftature reach'd the ky, , and and seldom in so many as two,
on his crest IV.988. verses together. Here it is upon Girt with omnipotence, | with ra. the first syllable of the verse,
diance crown'd. VII. 194. - others on the grass Upon the seventh, Couch'd, I and now fill'd with pa- Majestic though in ruin: fage he fture gazing fat. IV. 351.
stood II. 305. :- such as in their souls infix'd Birds on the branches warbling;l Plagues ; | they astonish'd all re- all things (mild VIII. 265. fittance loft. VI. 838.
Upon the eighth Upon the second,
Hung on his shoulders like the these to their nests
moon, , whose orb I. 287.. Were flunk, | all but the wakeful A fairer person loft not Heav'n;) nightingale IV.602.
he feein'd II. 11a. - Down thither prone in fight He speeds, and through the vast Upon the ninth, ethereal ky V. 267. Jehovah thundring out of Sion, I
thron'd Upon the third,
- Between the Cherubim I. 386. what in me is dark And bush with frizled hair im. Illumin, | what is low raise and plicit: I latt support; I. 23.
Rose as in dance the stately trees, as the wakeful bird
VII. 323. Sings darkling, | and in shadiest
And here upon the end, covert hid III. 39.
thou that day Upon the fourth,
Thy Father's dreadful thunder on he led his radiant files, didst not spare ! III. 393. Dazling the moon; | these to the Attended with ten thousand thou. bow'r direct IV. 798.
fand saints ! VI. 767. at his right hand victory And sometimes to give the greater Sat eagle-wing'd; | beside him variety to the verse, there are two hung his bow, VI. 763.
or more pauses in the same line: as Upon the fifth,
- on the ground bears, tigers, ounces, pards, Outstretch'd he lay, ( on the cold Gambol'd before them ; | th'un ground, and oft
wieldy elephant IV. 345. Curs'd his creation X. 854.
And swims, or finks, or wades' of two short syllables vu, as in
or creeps, I or flies: 1 II. 950. v. 64. Exhaufted, spiritless, | afflicted, I Sery'd only to discover fights of fall’n. I VI. 852.
woe. But besides this variety of the Sometimes the Dactyle or foot of pauses, there are other excellencies one long and two short fyllables in Milton's versification. The Eng. - Uw as in v. at lifh heroic verse approaches nearest to the lambic of the Ancients. of Hurld headlong flaming from the which it wants only a foot; but
thērēal ky. then it is to be measur'd by the tone Sometimes the Anapæft or foot of and accent, as well as by the time two short and one long syllable and quantity. An Iambic foot is oua, as in v. 87. one short and one long syllable ^, Myriads though bright! If he and fix such feet constitute an Iambic verse: but the Ancients feldom
whom mutual league made use of the pure Iambic, espe. Sometimes the Tribrachus or food cially in works of any considerable of three short syllables uuu, as length, but oftner of the mix'd in v. 709. Iambic, that is with a proper in. To măny a row of pipes the found. termixture of other measures; and, board breathes. of these perhaps Milton has express'd as happy a variety as any And sometimes there is variety of poet whatever, or indeed as the na- these measures in the same verse, ture of a verse will admit, that con- and feldom or never the fame meafists only of five feet, and ten fyl- Lures
ten lyl. fures in two verses together. And lables for the most part. Sometimes these changes are not only rung for he gives us almost pure lambics, as the sake of the greater variety, but in I. 314.
are so contriv'd as to make the He callid ro loud, that all thë höl, sound more expreslive of the sense. low deep
And this is another great art of ver
fification, the adapting of the very Of Hell resoúnded.
sounds, as 'well as words, to the Sometimes he intermixes the Tro. subject matter, the stile of sound, chee or foot of one long and one as Mr. Pope calls it: and in this short fyllable , as in v. 49. Milton is excellent as in all the Who durft defy th' Omnipotent to reft, and we shall give several in
stances of it in the course of these arms.
remarks. · So that he has abunSometimes the Spondee or foot of dantly exemplified in his own two long syllables , as in v. 21. practice the rules laid down by Dove-like sauft brooding on the himself in his preface, his verhifivaft abyss. .
cation having all the requisites of
true musical delight, which as he Sometimes the Pyrrichius or foot says comfifts only in apt numbers, fie