Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

serve 1

[ocr errors]

God, the chief part is taken by the Receive thy new possessor ; one who bring devil. The ridiculous devil of the

A mind not to be changed by place or time.

The mind is its own place, and in itself middle-age, a horned enchanter, a dirty

Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven jester, a petty and mischievous ape, What matter where, if I be still the same, band-leader to a rabble of old women,

And what I should be ; all but less than he

Whom thunder hath made greater? Her has become a giant and a hero. Like

at least a conquered and banished Cromwell, We shall be free; the Almighty hath nor he remains admired and obeyed by built thuse whom he has drawn into the Here for his envy, will not drive us hence :

Here we may reign securc ; and in my abyss. If he continues master, it is

choice because he deserves it; firmer, more To reign is worth ambition, thougla in bell : enterprising, more scheming than the Better to reign in hell, than rest, it is always from him that deep heaven." * counsels, unlooked-for resources, cour- | This sombre heroism, this harsh obsti ageous deeds, proceed. It was he who nacy, this biting irony, these proud invented “deep-throated engines stiff arms which clasp grief as a mis disgorging, : chained thunderbolts, tress, this concentration of invincible and hail of iron globes,” and won the courage which, cast on its own re second day's victory; he who in hell sources, finds every thing in itself, this roused his dejected troops, and plan- power of passion and sway over pas ned the ruin of man; he who, passing sion,the guarded gates and the boundless

“ The unconquerable will, chaos, amid so many dangers, and And study of revenge, immortal hate, across so many obstacles, made man And

courage never to submit or yield,

and what is else not to be overcome, revolt against God, and gained for hell the whole posterity of the new-born. are features proper to the English Though defeated, he prevails, since he character and to English literature, has won from the monarch on high the and you will find them later on in third part of his angels, and almost all Byron's Lara and Conrad. che sons of his Adam. Though wound- Around the fallen angel, as within ed, he triumphs, for the thunder which him, all is great. Dante's hell is but a smote his head left his heart invincible. hall of tortures, whose cells, one below Though feebler in force, he remains another, descend to the deepest wells. superior in nobility, since he prefers Milton's hell is vast and vague. suffering independence to happy ser

• A dungeon horrible on all sides round vility, and welcomes his defeat and his

As one great furuace flamed, yet from those torments as a glory, a liberty, and a flames joy. These are the proud and sombre No light, but rather darkness visible political passions of the constant

Served only to discover sights of woe,

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades. 1... though oppressed Puritans; Milton had felt them in the vicissitudes of war,

Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual and the emigrants who had taken refuge amongst the wild beasts and sav. Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm ages of America, found them strong land and energetic in the depths of their

Thaw not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems

Of ancient pile.” § bearts

The angels gather, innumerable les * Is this the region, this the soil, the clime, gions :

Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat
That we must change for heaven ? this

“ As when heaven s fire
mournful gloom

Hath scathed the forest oaks or mountain For that celestias light? Be it so, since he,

pines, Who now is Sovran, can dispose and bid

Witla singed top their stately growth, thong What shall be right: farthest from him is bare, best,

Stands on the blasted heath.” | Whom reason has equal'd, force hath made Milton needs the grand and infinite

supreme Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, * Paradise Lost, book i. 1. 243-263. Where joy for ever dwells! Hail, horrours ; 1 Ibid. I. 106-109.

Ibid. l. 616 hail,

$ Ibid. book ii. l. 587-591. Infernal world, and thou, profoundest hell, Ibid. book i. 1. 618-615

storms

he lavishes them. His eyes are only Hence the sublimity of his scenery: content in limitless space, and he pro- If I did not fear the paradox, I should duces colossal figures to fill it. Such say that this scenery was a school of is Satan wallowing on the surges of the virtue. Spenser is a smooth glass, livid sea :

which fills us with calm images. Shak“ In bulk as huge : : . as: that sea-beast speare is a burning mirror, which overLeviathan, which God of all his works

powers us, repeatedly, with multiplied Created hugest that swim the ocean stream:

and dazzling visions. The one dis. Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam, T), pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff,

tracts, the other disturbs us. Milton Deezing some island, oft, as seamen tell, raises our mind. The force of the ob With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,

jects which he describes passes into Moors by his side under the lee, while night

us ;

we become great by sympatry Lavests the sea, and wished morn delays."' *

with their greatness. Such is the effeá Spenser has discovered images just of his description of the Creation. The as fine, but he has not the tragic gravity calm and creative command of the which the idea of hell impresses on a Messiah leaves its trace in the heart Protestant. No poetic creation equals which listens to it, and we feel more in horror and grandeur the spectacle vigor and moral health at the sight of that greeted Satan on leaving his dun- this great work of wisdom and will : geon :

• At last appear

“On heavenly ground they stood ; and from

the shore Hell bounds, high-reaching to the horrid roof, And thrice threefold the gates; three folds

They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss were brass,

Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild, Three iron, three of adamantine rock,

Up from the bottom turn'd by furious winds Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, And surging waves, as mountains, to assault Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat

Heaven's highth, and with the centre mix the On either side a formidable shape;

pole. The one seem'd woman to the waist, and fair,

* Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, But ended foul in many a scaly fold

peace,' Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm'd

Said then the omnific Word: 'your discord With mortal sting: about her middle round

end I' A cry of hell hounds never ceasing bark'd

Let there be light, said God; and forthwith With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and

light

Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure, rung A hideous peal: yet, when they list, would

Sprung from the deep; and from her native creep, If aught disturb'd their noise, into her womb,

To journey through the aery gloom began, And kennel there; yet there still bark'd and

Sphered in a radiant cloud. howl'd

The earth was form'd; but in the womb as Within unseen. :,:• The other shape,

yet If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none

Of waters, embryon immature involved, Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb, Appear'd not: over all the face of earth Or substance might be call'd that shadow

Main ocean flow'd, not idle, but, with warm seem'd,

Prolific humour softening all her globe, For each seem'd either : black it stood as

Fermented the great mother to conceive, night,

Satiate with genial moisture, when God said, Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,

Be gather'd now, ye waters under heaven, And shook a dreadful dart; what seem'd his

Into one place, and let dry land appear.' head

Immediately the mountains huge appear The likeness of a kingly crown had on.

Emergent, and their broad bare backs up

heave Satan was now at hand, and from his scat The monster mcving onward came as fast,

Into the clouds, their tops ascend the sky: With horrid strides; hell trembled as he

So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low strode.

Down sunk a hollow botton broad and The undaunted fiend what this might be ad

deep, mired,

Capacious bed of waters: thither they, Admired, not fear'd." +

Hasted with glad precipitance, uprolla,

As drops on dust conglobing from the dry." * The heroic glow of the old soldier of the Civil Wars animates the infernal This is primitive scenery; immense battle; and if any one were to ask why bare seas and mountains, as Raphael Milton creates things greater than Sanzio outlines them in the background other men, I should answer, because of his biblical paintings. Milton em. be has a greater heart.

braces the general effects, and handles * Paradise Lost, book i. l. 196-208.

the whole as easily as his Jehovah. * Ibish book ü. h. 643-678

Ibidhor book vii. 310-nge.

east

nests,

ment

Let us quit superhuman and fanciful | life as a combatant, as a poet, with spectacles. A simple sunset equals courageous deeds and splendid drcanis them. Milton peoples it with solemn heroic and rude, chimerical and im. al'egories and regal figures, and the passioned, generous and calm, like sublime is born in the poet, as just every self-contained reasoner, likir before it was born from the subject:- every enthusiast, insensible to experi “ The sun, now fallen

ence and enamored of the beautiful. Arraying with reflected purple and gold Thrown by the chance of a revolution The clouds that on his western throne at into politics and theology, he demands tend:

for others the liberty which his power Now came still evening on, anc twilight gray ful reason requires, and strikes at the Had in her sober livery all things clad ; Silence accompanied, for beast and bird,

public fetters which impede his per. They to their grassy couch, these to their sonal energy. By the force of his in Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale; tellect, he is more capable than any She all night long her amorous descant sung;

one of accumulating science ; by the Silence was pleased: now glowed the firma force of his enthusiasm, he is more ca.

pable than any of experiencing hatred. With living sapphires : Hesperus, that led The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon, controversy with all the clumsiness and

Thus armed, he throws himself into Rising in clouded majesty, at length, Apparent, queen, unveiled her peerless light, barbarism of the time; but this proud And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw."* logic displays its arguments with a

The changes of the light become here marvellous breadth, and sustains its a religious procession of vague beings images with an unwonted majesty; who kill the soul with veneration. So this lofty imagination, after having sanctified, the poet prays. Standing spread over his prose an array of magby the “inmost bower” of Adam and nificent figures, carries him into a tor. Eve, he says :

rent of passion even to the height of

the sublime or excited odea sort of " Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true

archangel's song of adoration or venOf human offspring, sole propriety

geance. The chance of a throne pre. In Paradise of all things common else! served, then re-established, led him be. By thee adulterous lust was driven from men fore the revolution took place, into pa. Among the bestial herds to range by thee, Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,

gan and moral poetry, after the revoluRelations dear, and all the charities

tion into Christian and moral verse. In Of father, son, and brother, first were both he aims at the sublime, and in: known." +

spires admiration : because the subHe justifies it by the example of lime is the work of enthusiastic reason, saints and patriarchs. He immolates and admiration is the enthusiasm of reabefore it the bought smile” and son. In both, he arrives at his point “court-amours, mix'd dance, or wanton by the accumulation of splendors, by mask, or midnight ball, or serenate.'' | the sustained fulness of poetic song, by We are a thousand miles from Shak- the greatness of his allegories, the lofti: speare; and in this Protestant eulogy ness of his sentiments, the description of the family tie, of lawftl love, of of infinite objects and heroic emotions, domestic sweets,' of orderly piety and in the first, a lyrist and a philosopher, of home, we perceive a new literature with a wider poetic freedom, and the ud an altered time.

creator of a stronger poetic illusionų A strange great man, and a strange he produces almost perfect odes and spectacle ! He was born with the choruses. In the second, an epic instinct of noble things; and this in writer and a Protestant, enslaved by a 3tinct, strengthened in him by solitary strict theology, robbed of the style meditation, by accumulated knowledge which makes the supernatural visible, by stern logic, becomes changed into a deprived of the dramatic sensibility body of maxims and beliefs which no which creates varied and living souls, temptation could dissolve, and no re- he accumulates cold dissertations, verse shake.

Thus fortified, he passes transforms man and God into ortbodox • Paradise Lost, book iv. h 591-609

and vulgar machines, and only regains * Tbila h 780-737.

his genius in endowing Satan with his

source

[ocr errors]

republican soul, in multiplying grand willingly pagan, often immoral; such landscapes and collossal apparitions, in as it is exhibited by Ben Jonson, Beau. consecrating his poetry to the praise of mont, Fletcher, Shakspeare, Spenser, religion and duty

and the superb harvest of poets which Placed, as it happened, between two covered the ground for a space of fifty ages, he participates in their two char- years ; the other fortified by a practé acters, as a stream which, flowing be- cal religion, void of metaphysical inven tween two different soils, is tinged by tion, altogether political worshipping both their hues. A poet and a Protes rule, attached to measured, sensible, tant, he receives from the closing age useful, .narrow opinions, praising the the free poetic afflatus, and from the virtues of the family, armed and stiffen. opening age the severe political relig. ed by a rigid morality, driven into ion. He employed the one in the ser prose, raised to the highest degree of vice of the other, and displayed the old power, wealth, and liberty. In this inspiration in new subjects. In his sense, this style and these ideas are works we recognize two Englands : one monuments of history; they concen. impassioned for the beautiful, devoted trate, recall, or anticipate the past and to the emotions of an unshackled sensi- the future ; and in the limits of a single bility and the fancies of pure imagina work are found the events and the feel tion, with no law but the natural feel. ings of several centuries and of a whole ings, and no religion but natural belief ; | nation.

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »