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of angels and of män; of angels good and evil; of man in his innocent and finful state.
Among the angels, the virtue of Raphael is mild and placid, of easy condescension and free communication; that of Michael is regal and lofty, and, as may seem, attentive to the dignity of his own nature. Abdiel and Gabriel appear occasionally, and act as every incident requires ; the solitary fidelity of Abdiel is very amiably painted.
Of the evil angels the characters are more diversified. To Satan, as Addison observes, such sentiments are given as suit the most exalted and most depraved being: Milton has been censured by Clarke*, for the impiety which fometimes breaks from Satan's mouth. For there are thoughts, as he justly remarks, which no observation of character can justify, because no good man would willingly permit them to pass, however transiently, through his own mind. To make Satan speak as a rebel, without any such expressions as might taint the reader's imagination, was indeed
* Author of the 56 Essay on Study:" Dr. J. Vol. I,
one of the great difficulties in Milton's un-, dertaking, and I cannot but think that he has extricated himself with great happiness. There is in Satan's speeches little that can give pain to a pious ear. The language of rebellion cannot be the same with that of obedience. The malignity of Satan foams in haughtiness and obstinacy; but his expressions are commonly general, and no otherwise offünsive than as they are wicked.
The other chiefs of the celestial rebellion are very judiciously discriminated in the first and second books'; and the ferocious character of Moloch appears, both in the battle and the council with exact consistency.
To Adam and to Eve are given, during their innocence, such sentiments as innocence can generate and utter. Their love is pure benevolence and mutual veneration; their repasts are without luxury, and their dili. gence without toil. Their addreffes to their Maker have little more than the voice of admiration and gratitude. Fruition left them nothing to ask; and Innocence left them nothing to fear.
But with guilt enter distrust and discord, mutual accusation, and stubborn felf-defence; they regard each other with alienated minds, and dread their Creator as the avenger of their transgression. At last they seek thelter in his inercy, soften to repentance, and mult in supplication. Both before and after the Fall, the superiority of Adam is diligently sustained.
Of the probable and the marvellous, two parts of a vulgar epick poem, which inmerge the critick in deep .consideration, the Paran dise Lost requires little to be faid. It contains the history of a miracle, of Creation and Redemption; it displays the power and the mercy of the Supreme Being ; the probable therefore is marvellous, and the marvellous is probable. The substance of the narrative i3 truth; and as truth allows no choice, it is, like necessity, superior to rule. To the accidental or adventitious parts, as to every thing human, fome flight exceptions may be made. But the main fabrick is immovably supported.
It is justly remarked by Addison, that this poem has, by the nature of its subject, the advantage above all others, that it is universally and perpetually interesting. All mankind will, through all ages, bear the same relation to Adam and to Eve, and must partake of that good and evil which extend to themselves.
Of the machinery, so called from Oeds áno un xavõs, by which is meant the occa. fional interposition of supernatural power, another fertile topick of critical remarks, here is no room to speak, because every thing is done under the immediate and visible direction of Heaven; but the rule is so far observed, that no part of the action could have been accomplished by any other means.
Of episodes, I think there are only two, contained in Raphael's relation of the war in heaven, and Michael's prophetic account of the changes to happen in this world. Both are closely connected with the great action ; one was necessary to Adam as a warning, the other as a confolation.
To the compleatness or integrity of the design nothing can be objected; it has distinctly and clearly what Aristotle requires, a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is perhaps no poem, of the same length, from which fo little can be taken without apparent mutilation. Here are no funeral games, nor is there any long description of a thield. The short digressions at the beginning of the third, seventh, and ninth books, might doubtless be spared; but superfluities so beautiful, who would take away: or who does not wish that the author of the Iliad had gratified succeeding ages with a little knowledge of himself? Perhaps no passages are more frequently or more attentively read than those extrinsic paragraphs; and, since the end of poetry is pleasure, that cannot be un poetical with which all are pleased.
The questions, whether the action of the poem be strictly one, whether the poem can be properly termed heroick, and who is the hero, are raised by such readers as draw their principles of judgernent rather from books than from reason. Milton, though he inti