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Loredano was the founder of the Accademia degli Incogniti. His house at Venice was the constant refort of learned men. Gaddi, an Italian friend whom Milton names, and who has P celebrated the foundation of the academy, would hardly fail to introduce the young Englishman to the founder of it, if hy no other means he had become known to him.
Italy then, will probably be thought to have confirmed, if not to have excited, the design of Milton to sing “ Man's disobedience, and the mortal taste of the forbidden fruit."
Yet a very learned and interesting writer has questioned the propriety of afcribing such honour to Italy.
“ If we are to refer Milton's work,” fays Mr. 9 Turner, " to any other suggestion than to his own piety and to the Scriptures, there seems much more reason to give the honour to our venerable Cedmon, than to the heterogeneous comedy of Andreini, which there is no proof that Milton ever read, and the beginning of which could only dilgust liis correct tafie. Indeed, if we recollect our old mysteries on the same fubjects, there appears still less occasion to go to Italy in fearch of that which we may find at home.” Whether the reader will subscribe entirely to this opinion, I greatly doubt; but I am certain'he will be highly gratified by the extracts drawn with taste and ingenuity, by Mr. Turner, from the venerable Anglo-Saxon poetical narration.
“ Various fpe
P See Jacobi Gaddii Aulocutiones, et Elogia &c. Florentie, 1636. 4to, p. 38.
9 Hift. of the Anglo-Saxons, 2d edit. 4to. 1807. Preface, and Vol. ii. 309, feq.
culations,” he observes, “ have been made on the sources to which Milton has been indebted for the subject of his great poem. The extracts, cited from our Cedmon, Thew that this ancient poet has anticipated somewhat of the Miltonick character and agency of Satan. It is also remarkable that both Cedmon and Milton begin their poems with stating the fall of Satan, and his expulsion from Heaven. Cedmon's paraphrase was printed by Junius, who lived much in England in 1655. Milton is said by Aubrey to have begun his Paradise Lost two years before the restoration, or in 1658. It is presumed to have been finished in 1665, and its first edition appeared in 1667. As our immortał poet wrote the history of the Anglo-Saxon times, and in that quotes a Saxon document, the Saxon Chronicle, we may believe him to have been interested by such an important part of their literature as Cedmon's paraphrase, which, though printed at Amsterdam, must, from the connections of Junius, who had the MSS. from Archbishop Ufber, have been much known in England. Cedmon's poem is, in the first part, a Paradise Lost, in rude miniature. It contains the fall of the angels, the creation, the temptation of Eve, and the expulsion from Paradise. In its first topick, the fall of the angels, it exhibits much of a Miltonick fpirit; and if it were clear that our illustrious bard had been familiar with Saxon, we should be induced to think that he owed something to the paraphrase of Cedmon. No one at least can read Cedmon without feeling the idea intruding upon his mind. As the subject is curious,
I shall make no apology for very copious extracts from Cedmon, translated as literally as possible :
« On the Fall of the Angels. " To us it is much right they obeyed his domination that we the Ruler of the firma- with virtues. ment,
They were very happy ; the Glory-King of Hofts, fins they knew not ; with words should praise, nor to frame crimes : with minds should love. but they in peace lived He is in power abundant, with their Eternal Elder. High Head of all creatures, Otherwise they began not Almighty Lord!
to rear in the sky, There was not to him ever be- except right and truth, ginning
before the Ruler of the angels, nor origin made;
for pride divided them in error. nor now end cometh.
They would not prolong Eternal Lord !
council for themselves! But he will be always powerful but they from felf-love over heaven's stools",
throw off God's. in high majesty,
They had much pride
the glory-fast place, wide and ample,
the majesty of their hosts, thro' God's power,
the wide and bright sky. for the children of glory, To him there grief happened, for the guardians of fpirits. envy, and pride; They had joy and splendor, to that angel's mind and their beginning-origin, that this ill counsel the hosts of angels;
began first to frame, bright bliss was their great to weave and wake. fruit.
Then he words said, The glory-fast thegns
darkened with iniquity, praised the King:
that he in the north part they said willingly praise a home and high seat to their Life-Lord;
of heaven's kingdom
s I use the term in the original, because such expressions as have any allusion to ancient manners fould always be preserved.
vile against their Maker, Then was God angry,
enjoy might. and with the host wrath Their loftinefs of mind departed, that he before esteemed
their pride was diminished. illustrious and glorious.
Then was he angry; He made for thofe perfidious he struck his enemies an exiled home,
with victory and power, a work of retribution,
with judgement and virtue, Hell's groans and hard hatreds. and took away joy: Our Lord commanded the pu- peace from his enemies, nishment-house
and all pleasure: for the exiles to abide,
Illustrious Lord! deep, joyless,
and his anger wreaked the rulers of spirits.
on the enemies greatly, When he it ready knew
in their own power with perpetual night foul, deprived of strength. sulphur including,
He had a stern mind, over it full fire
grimly provoked ; and extensive cold,
he seized in his wrath with smoke and red flame, on the limbs of his enemies, he commanded them over and them in pieces broke, the mansion, void of council, wrathful in mind. to increase the terror-punish- He deprived of their country ment,
his adversaries, They had provoked accu- from the stations of glory sation;
he made and cut off, grim against God gathered to- our Creator ! gether,
the proud race of angels from to them was grim retribution heav'n;
the faithless hoft. They said, that they the king- The Governor fent
the hated army
with fierce mind would poffefs, on a long journey, and so easily might.
with mourning speech. Them the hope deceived, To them was glory lost, after the Governor,
their threats broken, the high King of Heaven, their majesty curtailed, his hands upreared.
stained in fplendor; He pursued against the crowd; they in exile afterwards nor might the void of mind, prefled on their black way.
p. 1, 2.
They needed not loud to they endured sulphur, laugh;
covered with darkness, but they in Hell's torments a heavy recompense, weary remained, and knew because they had begun woe,
to fight against God. fad and sorry : “ But that part of Cedmon which is the most original product of his own fancy, is his account of Satan's hostility. To us, the Paradise Lost of Milton has made this subject peculiarly interesting; and as it will be curious to see how an old Saxon poet has previously treated it, we shall give another copious extract. Some of the touches bring to mind a few of Milton's conceptions. But in Cedmon the finest thoughts are abruptly introduced, and very roughly and imperfectly expressed. In Milton the same ideas are detailed in all the majesty of his diction, and are fully displayed with that vigour of intellect in which he has no superior.
“ The universal Ruler had fo mighty of the angelic race,
in his mind's thought; through his hand-power, he let him rule so much ; the holy Lord!
the highest in heaven's kinga fortress established.
dom; To them he well trusted
he had made him that they his service
fo fplendid; would follow,
so beautiful would do his will.
was his fruit in heaven, For this he gave them under- which to him came standing,
from the Lord of Hosts ; and with his hands made them that he was like The Holy Lord
the brilliant stars. had stationed them
Praise ought he fo happily
to have made to his Lord; One he had fo
he should have valued dear strongly made,
his joys in heaven;