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and Samson Agonistes.32 The former poem he showed to his friend Elwood. This,' said he, “is owing to you, for you put it into my head, by the questions you put to me at Chalfont, which otherwise, I had not thought of.' When it was accounted inferior to the Paradise Lost, Philips says,

• he could not hear with patience any such thing when related to him.' It appears to me, that these poems are so dissimilar in their structure and purpose, that no comparison can be usefully or justly instituted between them. That the Paradise Lost excels in variety of invention, in splendour of imagery, in magnificent thoughts and delineations, and in grandeur and sublimity of description, no doubt can be entertained; but the latter poem

is finished with equal care, and as perfect in another style. The reasoning clear, the argument close and weighty, the expression most select and chosen, the versification harmonious, differing in structure from that of the former poem, but admirably in unison with the subject. The language, as in the poetry of Lucretius, always moves closely with the argument, and waits attentively upon it; plain and simple, where plain sense and simple sentiments only were required ; while there are not wanting passages that, rising into the greatest beauty, and adorned with the richest fancy, it would be difficult to surpass even in Paradise Lost. There is a severe and noble beauty in the structure and expression of the dialogue, that has always appeared to me to have imbibed the spirit of the Grecian stage, as felt in the most perfect and finished of its productions ; where the boldest conceptions, and the most re

32 Langbaine observes, that Dryden has transferred several thoughts from Samson Agonistes to his Aarengzebe, see Dram. Poets, p. 157. 376.

fined beauties, are all seen in strict harmony with the progressive developement of the plan, all contributing to the necessary uniformity of impression, and all obedient to the control of the poetic mind that created them. That the name of this poem should differ so widely from its argument, and that Paradise should be regained by the temptation in the wilderness alone, I do not know, except from the peculiarity of Milton's religious opinions, how satisfactorily to explain.33 It is supposed that it was written while he was at Chalfont, though not published till five years after. Of the Samson Agonistes it must be observed, that the plot is not skilfully arranged, and that many of the lyrical measures are totally destitute of any intelligible rhythm, but it must ever be considered as one of the noblest dramas in our language. Its moral sentiment, its pathetic feeling, its noble and dignified thoughts, its wise and weighty maxims, its severe religious contemplations clothed in rich and select language, and adorned with metaphor and figure, give a surprising elevation to the whole. Warburton considered it as a perfect piece, and as an imitation of the antients, having, as it were, a certain gloominess intermixed with the sublime (the subject not very different, the fall of two heroes by a woman) which shows more serenely in his Paradise Lost.' It is creditable to the taste and judgment of Pope, that he did not adopt Atterpury's suggestion of reviewing and polishing this piece. Samson would have been twice shorn of

33 See Niceron Mém. des Hommes Ill. tom. x. p. ii. p. 110. It was the doctrine of Peter Lombard, and the old divines, that the immediate consequence of Christ's victory over the temptation in the wilderness, was the diminution of the spiritual power, and the previously allowed dominion of Satan on the earth.

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his locks, and sunk into a modern son of Israel ; and Pope would have failed on the same ground, where his Master Dryden had fallen before him.

To that multiplicity of attainments, and extent of comprehension (says Johnson), that entitled this great author to our veneration, may be added a kind of humble dignity which did not disdain the meanest service in literature. The epic poet, the controvertist, the politician having already descended to accommodate children with a book of rudiments, now in the last year of his life, composed a book of logic for the instruction of students in philosophy: and published • Artis Logicæ plenior institutio ad Petri Rami Methodum Concinnata,' of this book there was a second edition called for in the following year: it has never been translated, and is the only production of Milton, that I confess I have never had the leisure or the curiosity to read.

In 1673 his “Treatise of true Religion, Heresie, Schism, Toleration, and what best means may be used against the growth of Popery,' was published. His principle of toleration is agreement in the sufficiency of scripture: and he extends it to all who profess to derive their opinions from the sacred writings. The Papists appealing to other testimonies are not to be tolerated, for though they plead conscience, we have no warrant, he says, to regard conscience, which is not founded on scripture.' He considers a diligent perusal of the Bible as the best preservative against the error of the Popish church, and he warns men of all professions, the countryman, the tradesman, the lawyer, the physician, the statesman not to excuse themselves by their much business from the studious reading of the Bible. The object of Milton in this treatise was to form a

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• general Protestant union' against the church of Rome, which he calls the common adversary,' not by any compromise of the peculiar tenets of the Protestant sects, but by a liberal, and comprehensive toleration grounded on the principle of making the Bible the rule of faith. 'Error, he says, is not heresy,' and he determines nothing to be heresy, but a wilful alienation from, or addition to the scriptures. God, he says, will assuredly pardon all sincere inquiries after truth, though mistaken in some points of doctrine; and speaking of the founders, or reviewers of such opinions in past times, he adds, that God having made no man infallible, hath pardoned their involuntary errors. Such, in the closing evening of his life, were the last thoughts of a pious, a learned, and a powerful mind, on a question connected with the preservation of true religion ; a century and a half has closed, since this work was written against the worst of superstitions, and the heaviest of God's judgments, Popery, and it has lately been republished by a most eminent and learned Prelate, to exhibit the solidity of its arguments, and to prove the unimpeachable piety of the author.

In 1673, the same year in which the above named treatise appeared, Milton reprinted his juvenile poems, with additions, and some few corrections, accompanied with the Tractate on Education. That his Latin poems were not received with greater applause by the foreign scholars, has always been matter of astonishment to me. If some mistakes in quantity shocked the learning of Salmasius, or offended the taste of Heinsius, 34


34 T. Warton says that N. Heinsius had no taste in poetry. I differ decidedly from this opinion, from an intimate acquaintance with his works. 1 affirm that there never was

we must recollect that they are but few and un-
important, while they are well compensated by a
vigour of expression, a beauty of allusion, a fer-
tility of imagery, and a truly poetical conception.
Though Milton has formed his taste on the best
models, and drawn his language from the purest
sources, his poems are not faded transcripts, or
slavish imitations of the ancients.35 I know not
where the scholars of the continent could have
gone for more beautiful specimens of modern
poetry than his First Elegy, and the Address to
his Father; and has Lucretius himself ever clothed
the bare and meagre form of metaphysical specu-
lations in a robe of greater brilliancy, or adorned
it with more dazzling jewels of poetry than in
the following lines? who, that reads the argu-
ment, could have anticipated the change it under-
went as it passed through the poet's mind.

Dicite, sacrorum præsides nemorum deæ,
Tuque, o noveni perbeata numinis
Memoria mater, quæque in immenso procul
Antro recumbis otiosa Æternitas,
Monumenta servans, et ratas leges Jovis,

a commentator on the Latin poets of finer taste or happier skill. Bentley over and over again calls him 'elegantissimus.' • Solertissimo ingenio-et critica et poetica laude nobilis.' Burman Pierson (that admirable scholar), Wakefield, and others bear the strongest testimony to his taste and skill. De Puy says, 'Heinsius delicatulas veneres, et lepores cum singulari virtute et doctrina conjunxit.' v. Puteani Vitam, p. 140, 4to. His Latin poems are elegant and correct, but very inferior to Milton's in fertility of invention, and poetical feeling.

35 The poets of Great Britain who have excelled in the composition of Latin verse might be thus arranged : Buchanan, Milton, T. May, Gray; and in the second order, Addison, V. Bourne, and Anstey. Cowley possessed a facility of versification, but his poetry is neither classical in its conception, por correct in its execution.

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