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derived in the main from Greek or Latin, which were unusual at the time and which nowadays, if we noticed them at all, we should term poetic. Some of them were probably not taken from Milton, but were merely of the kind that his usage had sanctioned. However it was, the employment of these uncommon words by so conservative a writer as Pope shows how appreciably Milton was enlarging the poetic vocabulary.

While the bard who "lisp'd in numbers" was still a child of twelve or thirteen he composed four thousand lines of an epic on the puissant Alcander, prince of Rhodes. "There was Milton's style," he told Spence, "in one part" of this poem; but, as the remaining parts were modelled upon Spenser, Cowley, Homer, and others, the work was presumably rimed and was affected by Paradise Lost only in subject-matter, diction, phrasing, and possibly "machinery."1 This juvenile performance, which was later destroyed, is of no great significance except as showing at how early an age Pope began to admire Milton. Nor can much stress be laid upon Atterbury's plan (to which his imprisonment put an end) of having Pope adapt Samson Agonistes for the stage. There is, however, another of Pope's unfinished projects that deserves more attention than it has yet received. This work, undertaken when its author was at the height of his powers, was, like the boyish piece, to have been an epic. It was to deal with Brutus, the mythical founder of Britain, and was, he told Spence, "more than half" done because "all exactly planned." Yet only these few lines seem to have been composed, and until recently even these were lost:

The Patient Chief, who lab'ring long arriv'd

On Britain's coast and brought with fav'ring Gods
Arts Arms & Honour to her Ancient sons:

Daughter of Memory! from Time

Recall; and me wth Britains Glory fird,

Me far from meaner Care or meaner Song,
Snatch to the Holy Hill of spotless Bay,

My Countrys Poet, to record her Fame
Say first wt Cause? that Pow'r h


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This blank verse is not specially Miltonic. There are some inversions, to be sure, particularly in the first, fifth, and sixth lines; but

1 See Spence's Anecdotes, 24-5, 276-9, and Ruffhead's Life of Pope (1769), 25–7. 2 We are told that it was to have been divided into acts and scenes and presented by the king's scholars at Westminster. See Atterbury's letter referring to an earlier conversation (Pope's Works, ix. 49, June 15, 1722), and Newton's Paradise Lost (2d ed., 1750), vol. i, p. lxii.

* Discovered by E. D. Snyder and quoted with variant readings in his note on "Pope's Blank Verse Epic," Journal of English and Germanic Philology, xviii. 583.

the passage is too brief to admit of any certainty regarding such points (about which Pope himself was doubtless far from clear) as the prosody, diction, and style of the work and their probable indebtedness to Milton. But was an unrimed epic written early in the eighteenth century by a poet who had already made extensive use of Paradise Lost likely to have escaped such indebtedness, particularly when, in direct violation of Boileau's dictum, its author had taken for his "machinery" not pagan gods but the Almighty and the good and bad angels of the Puritan work? If, therefore, the deformed, sickly body could have retained its equally deformed though resolute spirit for a few years more, 'much less than ten' would have been enough, he told Spence, - we might have had the supreme tribute from the leader of the Augustans to the last of the Elizabethans.1


In view of the surprising extent of the influence Milton exerted on Pope, one turns expectantly back to Dryden, but only to find a totally different state of affairs. Dryden's admiration for Paradise Lost was frequently and generously expressed, but it had slight effect upon his work. He never wrote an unrimed poem, and he borrowed but a phrase or two from Milton; yet he did what has never been attempted since, he turned the loftiest of epics into a spectacular play. It was this undertaking that led to the meeting between the last of the giants of the Renaissance, old, blind, and "fallen on evil days," and the brilliant and highly successful leader of the new literary school. To Dryden's request for permission to make a rimed drama of the epic Milton replied, "It seems you have a mind to Tagg my Points, and you have my Leave to Tagg 'em." 4

1 Before the appearance of Mr. Snyder's article our knowledge of Pope's plan came from two sources, Spence's Anecdotes (pp. 288-9, from a conversation with Pope in 1743), and Ruffhead's Life (1769, pp. 409-23), which was compiled from the poet's own papers now in the British Museum. This projected epic gives interest to Percival Stockdale's story (Memoirs, 1809, ii. 44) that, when Pope was asked why he had not made a blank-verse translation of Homer, he replied that "he could translate it more easily into rhyme." Had he experimented with blank verse? The passages in The Seasons which have been attributed to him are probably Lyttelton's (see G. C. Macaulay in the Athenaeum, Oct. 1, 1904, p. 446, and in James Thomson, 1908, pp. 243–4). 2 See above, p. 14 and n. 1.

* Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatick Poets (Oxford, 1691, p. 157) points out the similarity of these lines to a passage in Samson Agonistes:

Unmoved she stood, and deaf to all my prayers,

As seas and winds to sinking mariners.

But seas grow calm, and winds are reconciled

(Aureng-Zebe, act i, in Works, Scott-Saintsbury ed., v. 212; cf. Samson, 960–62). The seventh line of Veni, Creator Spiritus, “O source of uncreated light” (ib. xi. 193), recalls the opening of the third book of Paradise Lost.

♦ See my note in The Review (later The Weekly Review), New York, June 14, 1919.

The result of the tagging, The State of Innocence and Fall of Man, an Opera (1677), is a very curious production, such a line as

O Prince, O Chief of many throned powers,

for example, appearing as

Prince of the thrones, who in the fields of light.1

Great condensation was necessary on Dryden's part, since he crowded into his five brief acts considerable new as well as much of the old conversation, besides all the important happenings of the epic. In consequence the great Vallombrosa simile is reduced to

Our troops, like scattered leaves in autumn, lie.2

The sophistication, the conventionality of expression, the "points" and antitheses of which the bewigged Restoration wits were fond, characterize the inhabitants of Dryden's hell and of his Eden. The fallen angels, for instance, in leaving the lake of fire,

Shake off their slumber first, and next their fear;3

Eve replies to Adam's wooing,

Some restraining thought, I know not why,
Tells me, you long should beg, I long deny;


while Adam, assuring her that he expects to live "still desiring" what he still possesses (her love), declares that at their union "roses unbid"

Flew from their stalks, to strew [the] nuptial bower

And fishes leaped above the streams, the passing pomp to view.

Such grotesque features are obvious enough and have been noticed by most readers, with the result that admirers of Dryden have been at a loss to explain how that appreciative and skilful artist came to make such a feeble and absurd adaptation of a great work. The difficulty has been increased by the plausible remark of Sir Walter Scott, whose comment prefixed to the standard edition of the play has been read more often than the work itself: "The costume of our first parents, had there been no other objection, must have excluded the State of Innocence from the stage, and accordingly it was certainly never intended for representation." Yet, in view of the prominence which Dryden gives to scenery and mechanical devices,

1 Acti (Works, v. 126; cf. P. L., i. 128).
2 Ib. (cf. P. L., i. 302–3).

3 Ib. 127.

Act ii, scene ii (ib. 140). 5 Act iii (ib. 142–3).

• Ib. 95.


it will be clear that the situation is exactly the reverse of what Scott thought it, and that Milton's 'tagged verses' really serve as little more than a frame-work for an elaborate musical spectacle. With Dryden the action and verse are subordinated to mechanical contrivances, and many of the lines may have no other function than to carry the story and gain time for the scene-shifters. But either no one cared to spend the large sum necessary to stage the piece, or possibly Milton's political activities were not yet forgotten; at any rate, it was never given. It it had been, the honor which fell to Addison of being the popularizer of England's greatest poem might, though in less measure, have been Dryden's.

We have now followed the influence of Paradise Lost up to 1726. We have found several rimed poems, notably those of Blackmore, which employ the supernatural machinery of the epic; some others, like those of Pope, which take words and phrases from it; and approximately one hundred and fifty-five pieces in blank verse, all but about sixty-six of which make use of its style. For an age that delighted in imitation and held an exalted opinion of Milton, this is


1 The frequent and detailed stage directions indicate many changes of scene, and, in the opportunity they afford for producing striking effects through costly mechanical contrivances, recall the elaborate masques of the period, upon one of which £2400 was expended. Here are some of the directions: "Betwixt the first Act and the second, while the Chiefs sit in the palace, may be expressed the sports of the Devils; as flights, and dancing in grotesque figures: And a song, expressing the change of their condition" (end of act i, ib. 133). —"Raphael descends to Adam, in a cloud. . . . They ascend to soft music, and a song is sung. The Scene changes, and represents, above, a Sun gloriously rising and moving orbicularly. . . . A black Cloud comes whirling from the adverse part of the Heavens, bearing Lucifer in it; at his nearer approach the body of the Sun is darkened" (act ii, scene i, ib. 133, 136). — “A Night-piece of a pleasant Bower: Adam and Eve asleep in it. A Vision, where a tree rises loaden with fruits; four Spirits rise with it, and draw a canopy out of the tree; other Spirits dance about the tree in deformed shapes" (act iii, ib. 146-7). — “The Cloud descends with six Angels in it, and when it is near the ground, breaks, and on each side discovers six more" (act iv, ib. 151). "The Scene shifts, and discovers deaths of several sorts. A Battle at Land, and a Naval Fight. . . . Here a Heaven descends, full of Angels and blessed Spirits, with soft Music, a Song and Chorus” (act v, ib. 175–6).

Intended stage presentation is also indicated by the attention which Dryden gives to music, dancing, and songs, and by his plan of omitting the transformation — impossible in the theater - which Lucifer makes in his appearance before meeting Uriel (see P. L., iii. 634-44; Dryden's Lucifer simply puts on "a smooth, submissive face," act ii, scene i, ib. 136). Furthermore, in the State of Innocence it is not, as in the Bible and in Milton, the serpent who tempts Eve, since in the theater this idea would be hard to carry out and probably ludicrous; it is Lucifer in his own shape. The "costume" of our first parents, which to Scott presented an insurmountable difficulty, could easily have been managed, as it has been to-day in moving pictures of the story. Clearly, Dryden did not intend the characters to appear in puris naturalibus,for, besides having them exhibit no consciousness of nudity after the fall, he introduces into a vision in the third act a woman who is "habited like Eve."

not extensive borrowing. Besides, although we have encountered a number of eminent writers in this survey, we have found very few Miltonic poems with which even scholars are familiar, and, except for the Splendid Shilling and Cyder, none that appear to have attracted much of any attention even in their own day. Thomson, for example, refers to Cyder as the first poem after Paradise Lost to discard rime.1 Furthermore, few of these early followers of Milton exhibit whole-hearted allegiance to his measure. Their productions seem as a rule to have been experiments, and not entirely satisfactory ones at that, for they were seldom repeated more than once or twice. Writers like Dennis or the editors of the British Apollo, who return frequently to the new meter, appear to have done so to avoid the trouble of riming.

It was not the hostility of the Augustans to blank verse in the abstract that stood in the way, for we have seen that even Pope used the measure and that most of his friends were favorably inclined towards it. To what, then, was the neglect due? To the poems, themselves which Milton's followers wrote. These almost without exception lack inspiration and interest of any kind. Most of them are translations, hollow panegyrics, religious moralizings, or burlesques, and their verse, usually colorless and dull, falls either into unrimed couplets or into sheer prose. We find them unreadable and leave them unread, and there is every indication that the contemporaries of Pope and Addison did the same. In point of expression they are at their best when their subjects are most exalted, that is, when farthest from ordinary life; for the ablest verse is to be found in translations of the classics, and in pieces like Prae-existence and the Last Day, which have practically the same subject-matter as Paradise Lost. The Splendid Shilling, to be sure, had shown how effectively Milton's style and diction might be employed for humorous purposes; but this knowledge was of little account, for most writers had even less occasion to use the burlesque than the epic. Up to 1726 Cyder afforded almost the only instance of the serious treatment of an unpretentious topic in blank verse; and yet, though its success might be expected to have inspired imitation, it seems in the first seventeen years after its publication to have influenced only two pieces, one an attack upon it and the other a parody. That is, no one appears to have been willing to follow Philips in using blank

1 Autumn, 645-7. At the end of the century even so good a scholar as Thomas Warton was ignorant not only of Philips's predecessors but of his contemporaries and immediate successors; for he tells us in his edition of Milton's minor poems (1785, p. x) that blank verse "after its revival by Philips had been long neglected."

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