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This first book proposes, first in brief, the whole fub

ject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac'd: Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his 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 pass’d over, the poem hastes into the midst of things, prefenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into Hell, describ’d here, not in the center (for Heaven and Earth

may be suppos’d as yet not made, certainly not yet accurs’d) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunder-struck and aftonish’d, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls


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 battel, their chief leaders nam’d, 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 determin thereon he refers to a full council. What his affociates thence attempt. Pandemonium the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the deep : The infernal peers there fit in council.

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all our woe,

F Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Brought 1. Of Mans firA disobedience, &c.] numbers confifts chiefly in the pause Milton has proposed the subject of being so artfully varied, that it falls his poem in the following verses. upon a different fyllable in almost These lines are perhaps as plain, every line, as it may easily be perfimple, and unadorned as any of the ceived by diftinguishing the verses whole poem, in which particular thus; the author has conformed himself

Of Man's first disobedience, and to the example of Homer and the

the fruit precept of Horace. His invoca

Of that forbidden tree, / whose tion to a work, which turns in a

mortal taste great measure upon the creation of the world, is very properly made Brought death into the world, and to the Muse who inspired Moses in

With loss of Eden, Itill one greater those books from whence our au

Man thor drew his subject, and to the Holy Spirit who is therein repre

Restore us, and regain the bliss

ful seat, sented as operating after a particu- Sing heav'nly Muse, lar manner in the first production of nature. This whole exordium Mr. Pope, in a letter to Mr. Walsh rises very happily into noble lan- containing fome critical observaguage and sentiment, as I think tions on English versification, re. the transition to the fable is exqui- marks that in any smooth English Hitely beautiful and natural. Addison. verse of ten syllables, there is na

Besides the plainness and fimpli. turally a pause at the fourth, fifth, city of these lines, there is a far- or fixth fyllable, and upon the juther beauty in the variety of the dicious change and management of numbers, which of themselves these depends the variety of versicharm every reader without any fication. But Milton varies the sublimity of thought or pomp of pause according to the sense, and expression: and this variety of the varies it through all the ten fyl


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