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HEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,

In slender book his vast design unfold,
Mefliąh crown'd, God's reconcil'd decree,
Rebelling Angels, the forbidden tree,
Heav'n, Hell, Earth, Chaos, all; the argument
Held me a while misdoubting his intent,
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to fable and old song,
(So Sampson grop'd the temple's posts in spite)
The world o’erwhelming to revenge his fight.

Yet as I read, foon growing less severe,
I lik’d his project, the success did fear ;
Through that wide field how he his way should find,
O'er which lame faith leads understanding blind;
Left he perplex'd the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain. ·

Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And by ill imitating would excel)
Might hence presume the whole creation’s day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.


Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor defpise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labors to pretend a share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:

So that no room is here for writers left, | But to detect their ignorance or theft.

That majesty which through thy work doth reign, Draws the devout, deterring the profane. And things divine thou treat'st of in such state As them preserves, and thee, inviolate. At once delight and horror on us feise, Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease; And above human flight dost foar aloft With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft. The bird nam'd from that Paradise So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where couldst thou words of such a compass find? Whence furnish such a vast expense of mind? Just Heav'n thee like Tiresias to requite Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.

Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rime, of thy own sense secure; Yol. I.



you fing

While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells,
And like a pack-horse tires without his bells :
Their fancies like our bushy-points appear,
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear.
I too transported by the mode offend,
And while I meant to Praise thee must Commend.
Thy verse created like thy theme sublime,
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rime.




HE measure is English heroic verse without

rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of

poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame meter ; grac'd indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have express’d them. Not without cause therefore fome both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and fhorter works, as have also long since our best

English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned Ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime lo little is to be taken for a defect, though it may

seem fo perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example fet, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.

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Critique upon the PARADISE LOST.


Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Graii.


HERE is nothing in nature Paradise Lost, in these three seve

more irksome than general ral lights. Homer to preserve the discourses, especially when they unity

of his action haftens into the turn chiefly upon words. For this midit of things, as Horace has obreason I shall wave the discussion of served : Had he gone up to Leda's that point which was started some egg, or begun much later, even at years since, Whether Milton's Pa- the rape of Helen, or the investing radise Lost may be called an Heroic of Troy, it is manifest that the Poem! Those who will not give story of the poem would have been it that title, may call it (if they a series of several actions. He please) a Divine Poem. It will be therefore opens his poem with the fufficient to its perfection, if it has discord of his princes, and artfully in it all the beauties of the highest interweaves, in the several fuckind of poetry; and as for those ceeding parts of it, an account of who allege it is not an heroic every thing material which relates poem, they advance no more to to them, and had passed before this the diminution of it, than if they fatal dissension. After the same should say Adam is not Æneas, nor manner, Æneas makes his firlt apEve Helen.

pearance in the Tyrrhene feas, and I fall therefore examin it by within fight of Italy, because the the rules of epic poetry, and see action proposed to be celebrated whether it falls short of the Iliad was that of his settling himself in or Æneid, in the beauties which Latium. But because it was necefare essential to that kind of writing. fary for the reader to know what The first thing to be consider'd in had happened to him in the taking an epic poem, is the fable, which of Troy, and in the preceding is perfect or imperfect, according parts of his voyage, Virgil makes as the action which it relates is his hero relate it by way of episode more or less so. This action should in the second and third books of have three qualifications in it. First, the Æneid : the contents of both It should be but One action. Se- which books come before those of condly, It should be an Entire ac- the first book in the thred of the tion; and Thirdly, It should be a story, tho' for preserving of this Great action. To consider the unity of action, they follow it in the action of the Iliad, Æneid, and disposition of the poem. Milton,

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