« ПредишнаНапред »
Milton's allegory of Sin and Death is undoubtedly faulty. Sin is indeed the mother of Death, and may be allowed to be the portress of hell; but when they stop the journey of Satan, a journey described as real, and when Death offers him battle, the allegory is broken. That Sin and Death should have shewn the way to hell might have been allowed ; but they cannot facilitate the passage by building a bridge, because the difficulty of Satan's passage is described as real and sensible, and the bridge ought to be only figurative. The hell assigned to the rebellious spirits is described as not less local than the residence of man. It is placed in some distant part of space, feparated from the regions of harmony
and order by a chaotick waste and an unoccupied vacuity; but Sin and Death worked up a mole of aggregated foil, cemented with asphaltus ; a work too bulky for ideal architects.
This unskilful allegory appears to me one of the greatest faults of the pocm; and to this there was no temptation, but the author's opinion of its beauty.
To the conduct of the narrative some objections may be made. Satan is with great expectation brought before Gabriel in Paradise, and is suffered to go away unmolested. The creation of man is represented as the consequence of the vacuity left in heaven by the expulfion of the rebeis, yet Satan mentions it as a sport ri e in kcaten bi fore his departure.
To find sentiments for the state of innocence, was very difficult; and something of anticipation perhaps is now and then discovered. Adam's discourse of dreams seems not to be the speculation of a new-created being. I know not whether his answer to the angel's reproof for curiosity does not want something of propriety : it is the speech of a man acquainted with many other men. Soine philosophical notions, especially when the philosophy is false, might have been better omitted. The angel, in a comparison, speaks of timorous deer, before deer were yet timorous, and before Adam could understand the comparison.
Dryden remarks, that Milton has some flats among his elevations. This is only to say that all the parts are not equal. In every work one part must be for the fake of others; a palace must have parsages; a poem must have transitions. It is no more to be required that wit should always be blazing, than that the sun should always stand at noon. In a great work there is a vicissitude of luminous and opaque parts, as there is in the world a succession of day and night. Milton, when he has expatiated in the tky, may be allowed sometimes to revisit earth; for what other author ever foared so high, or sustained his flight so long?
Milton, being well versed in the Italian poets, appears to have borrowed often from them; and, as every man learns something from his companions, his defire of imitating Ariosto's levity has disgraced his work with the Paradise of Fools; a fiction not in itself ill-imagined, but too ludicrous for its place. · His play on words, in which he dea lights too often; his equivocations which Bentley endeavours to defend by the example of the ancients; his unnecessary and ungraceful use of terms of art, it is not necessary to mention, because they are easily remarked, and generally censured, and at last bear so little proportion to the whole, that they scarcely deserve the attention of a critick.