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and the Younger finds how fine it is to be a philosopher.
Then descends the Spirit in form of a shepherd; and the brother, instead of being in haste to ask his help, praises his singing, and enquires his business in that place. It is remarkable, that at this interview the brother is taken with a short fit of rhyming. The Spirit relates that the Lady is in the power of Comus; the brother moralisęs. again ; and the Spirit makes a long narration, of no use because it is false, and therefore unsuitable to a good Being. Dit
In all these parts, the language is poetical, and the sentiments are generous; but there is something wanting to allure attention.
The dispute between the Lady and Comus is the most animated and affecting fcene of the drama, and wants nothing but a brisker reciprocation of objections and replies to invite attention, and detain it.
The songs are vigorous, and full of imagery; but they are harsh in their diction, and not very mufical in their numbers.
Throughout the whole, the figures are too bold, and the language too luxuriant for dialogue. It is a drama in the epic stile, inelegantly splendid, and tedioufly instructive.
The Sonnets were written in different parts of Milton's life, upon different occasions. They deserve not any particu
lar criticism ; for of the best it can only be faid, that they are not bad ; and perhaps only the eighth and the twentyfirst are truly entitled to this slender commendation. The fabrick of a fons net, however adapted to the Italian language, has never fucceeded in ours, which, having greater variety of termin nation, requires the rhymes to be often changed
Those little pieces may be dispatched without much anxiety; a greater work calls for greater care. I am now to examine Paradise Loft ; a poem, which, considered with respect to design, may claim the first place, and with respect to performance the second
ainong the productions of the human mind.
By the general consent of criticks, the first praise of genius is due to the writer of an epick poem, as it requires an assemblage of all the powers which are fingly fufficient for other compofitions. Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination to the help of reason. Epick poetry undertakes to teach the most important truths by the most pleasing precepts, and therefore relates some great event in the most affecting manner. History must supply the writer with the rudiments of narration, which he must improve and exalt by a nobler art, animate by dramatick energy, and diverfify by retrospection and anticipation ; morality must teach him the exact bounds, and different shades, of vice and virtue : from policy, and the practice of life, he has to learn the discrimi. nations of character, and the tendency of the passions, either single or combined'; and physiology must supply him with illustrations and images. To put these materials to poetical use, is required an imagination capable of painting nature, and realizing fiction. Nor is he yet a poet till he has attained the whole extension of his language, distinguished all the delicacies of phrase, and all the colours of words, and learned to adjust their different sounds to all the varieties of metrical modulation.