Page images
PDF
EPUB

another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learn’d ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be efteem'd an example fet, the first in English, of antient liberty, recover'd to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.

THE

ARGU M E N

T S.

TIL ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK. THE first book proposes first in brief the whole

1 subject, man's disobedience, and the loss there upon of Paradise wherein he was plac't: 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 driv'n out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action past over, the poem haftes into the midft of things, presenting Satan with his angels now fall’n into hell, described here, not in the center (for heav'n and earth may be fuppos’d as yet not made, certainly not yet accurft) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd Chaos : here Satan with his angels lying on the burning lake; thunderstruck and astonisht, after a certain fpace recovers, as from confufion, calls up 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 famo 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 ada joining, to these Satan directs his speech; comforts them with hopes yet of regaining heav'n, but tells them lastly of a new world, and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophesie, or report. m

heaven ; for that angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of this prophesie,' and what to determine thereon he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandaemonium the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the deep : the infernal peers there fit in council,

THE ARGUMINT OF THE SECOND BOOK.

'THE consultation begun, Satan debates whether a

nother battle be to be hazarded for the recovery of heaven : some advise it, others dissuade : a third proposal is preferr'd, mentioned before by Satan, to search the truth of that prophesie or tradition in heav'n concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferior to themselves, about this time to be created : their doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search : Satan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honoured and applauded. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till Satan returns. He passes on his journey to hell gates, finds them shut, and who fat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulph between hell and heav'n ; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the power of that place, to the fight of this new world which he fought.

THE ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK. C od fitting on his throne fees Satan flying to

I wards this world, then newly created ; Thews him to the son who sat at his right hand; foretells the fuccess of Satan in perverting. mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created man free and able enough to have withstood his tempter ; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he felt not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduc't. The son of God renders praises to his father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards man ; but God"again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards man without the satisfaction of divine justice ; man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to god-head, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must dye, unless some one can be found fufficient to answer for his cffence, and undergo his punishment. The son of God freely offers himself a ransom for man: the father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the angels to adore him; they obey, and hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the father and the fon. Mean while Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandring he first finds a place fince called the lymbo of vanity ; what persons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of heaven, describ'd ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it : his passage thence to the orb of the fun; he finds there Uriel-the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new cre. ation and man whom God had plaç't here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed ; alights first on mount Niphates.

THE ARGUMENT OF THE FOURTH BOOK.

CATAN now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place

where he must now attempt the bold enterprize which he undertook alone against God and man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many paffions, fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and fituation is described, overleaps the bounds, fits in the Mape of a cormorant on the tree of life, as highest in the garden to look about him. The garden describ'd ; Satan's first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse, thence ga. thers that the tree of knowledge was forbidden them to eat of, under penalty of death ; and thereon intends to found his temptation, by seducing them to transgress: then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Mean while Uriel descending on a sun-beam warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil spirit had escap'd the deep, and past at noon by his sphere in the Thape of a good angel down to Paradiso, discovered after by his furious gesture in the mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their reft : their bower describ’d; their even

« PreviousContinue »