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Jius Cæfar and the Moor; which infolence his muse, like the other assassins of Cæsar, severely revenged on herself *, -and not long after her triumph, became her own executioner. Nor is it unworthy our observation, that though perhaps no one of our English poets hath excited so many admirers to imitate his manner, yet I think never any was known to afpire to emulation : even the late ingenious Mr. Philips, who, in the colours of style, came the nearest of all the copiers to resemble the great original, made bis diftant advances with a filial reverence; and restrained his ambition within the fame bounds which Lucretius prescribed to his own imitation.

Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem

Quod Te imitari aveo : quid enim contendat hirunde Cycnis ? And now, perhaps it may pass for fiction, what with great veracity 1 affirm to be fact, that Milton, after having, with much difficulty, prevailed to have this divine poem licensed for the press, could sell the copy for no more than fifteen pounds; the payment of which valuable confideration, depended on the sale of three numerous impressions. So unreasonably may personal prejudice affect the most excellent performances.

About two years after, † together An. atat. 63. with Samson Agonistes, (a tragedy not unworthy the Grecian stage, when Athens was in her glory), he published Paradise Regain'd. But, Oh! what a falling off was there !..Of which I will say no more, than that there is scarcely a more 'remarkable inftance of the frailty of human reason, than our author gave, in preferring this poem to Paradise Loft; nor a more instructive caution to the best writers, to be very diffident in deciding the merit of their own productions.

And thus having attended him to the fixty-fixth year of his age, as closely as fuch imperfect lights as men of letters and retirement usually leave to guide

en

* Vide Edgar. i + They were licensed July 2. 1670; but not printed before the

year ensuing.

quiry would allow, it now only remains An, atat. of to be recorded, that in the year 1674, the gout put a period to his life, at Bunhill near London ; from whence his body was conveyed to St. Giles's church by Cripplegate, where it lies interred in the Chancel ; but neither has nor wants a monument to perpetuate his memory.

In his youth he is said to have been extremely handsome: The colour of his hair was a light brown; the symmetry of his features exact, enlivened with an an greeable air, and a beautiful mixture of fair and ruddy ; which occasioned the Marquis of Villa to give his epigram the same turn of thought, * which Gregory, archdeacon of Rome, had employed above a thousand years before, in praising the amiable complexions of some English youths, before their convertion to Christianity. His ftature + (as we find it measured by himself) did not exceed the middle fize; neither too lean, nor corpulent : His limbs well proportioned, nervous, and active; serviceable in all respects to his exercising the sword, in which he much delighted ; and wanting neither skill nor courage to resent an affront from men of the most athletick constitutions. In his diet he was abHemious ; not delicate in the choice of his dishes; and Itrong liquors of all kinds were his aversion. Being too fadly convinced how much his health had suffered by night-ftudies in his younger years, he used to go early (feldom later than nine) to reft, and rofe commonly before five in the morning. It is reported, (and there is a passage in one of his Latin elegies to countenance the tradition), that his fancy made the happiett flights iz the spring : But one of his nephews used to deliver it as Milton's own observation, that his invention was in its highest perfection from September to the vernal equinox. However it was, the great inequalities to be found in his composures, are incontestable proofs, that, in some seasons, he was but one of the people. When

* Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas fic,

Non Anglus, verum hercle angelus ipse fores.
+ Defenfio fecunda, p. 87. fol.
Vol. I.

B

&c

&c blindness restrained him from other exercises, he had a machine to swing in for the prefervation of his health ; and diverted himself in his chamber with playing on an organ. His deportment was erect, open, affable ; his conversation easy, cheerful, instructive ; his wit on all occasions at command, facetious, grave, or satirical, as the subject required. His judgment, when disengaged from religious and political speculations, was just and penetrating ; his apprehenfion quick; his memory te. nacious of what he read; his reading only not so extenfive as his genius, for that was universal. And having treasured

up

fuch immense store of science, perhaps the faculties of his soul grew more vigorous after he was deprived of fight; and his imagination, (naturally sublime, and enlarged by reading romances, * of which he was much enamoured in his youth), when it was whol. ly abstracted from material objects, was more at liberty to make such amazing excursions into the ideal world, when, in composing his divine work, he was tempted

to range

Beyond the visible diurnal

sphere. With so many accomplishments, not to have had fome faults and misfortunes to be laid in the balance with the fame and felicity of writing Paradise Loft, would have been too great a portion for humanity..

ELIJAH FENTON.

His Apology for Smeltymnuus, p. 177. fol.

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T

HE measure is English heroick verse without

rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin ; rhyme being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off- wretched matter, and lame' metre ; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom ; but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things o. therwise, and, for the most part, worse than else they would have expreffed them. Not without caufe, therefore, fome, both Italian and Spanish poets, of prime note, have rejected rhyme, both in longer and shorter works, as have also long fince our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial, and of no true musical delight ; which consists only in apt Qumbers, fit quantity of fyllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verfe into another, not in the jingling found of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example fet, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroick poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming.

THIS first book proposes, first, in brief, the whole futa ject, man's disobedience, 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 bis fide many legions of angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of heaven with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action pased over, the poem haftes 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, fitliet called Chaos. Here Satan,

with his angels, lying on the burning lake, thunderftruck 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 afterwards 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 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.

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