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Under this dreadful pressure he feems inclined to seek relief, even by submission and supplication for mercy; but his dormant pride foon revives, and exerts itself in one of its most powerful modifications; in that, in fact, which produces half the moral evils of the world, viz. the dread of being despised by those on whose fuffrage we place a value, whether that estimation be made on just grounds or otherwise. Contempt is a puuishment even harder to be borne by a proud fpirit than pain; for “ contempt," as Aristotle obferves, “ implics hatred without fear *"

He seems again to make a faint effort against the depraved bias of his mind, when he reasons thus :

But say I could repent, &c. He, however, concludes like a confirmed Fatalift, that his pature cannot be changed. A fentiment that sometimes encourages the Sensualift, and fumetimes inspires the Fanatick; which some writers have the effrontery to support in publick, and which, it is to be feared, is too often employed in excuse for vice; at lcast, so far as it serves as a secret palliation. It will not be necessary to dwell at any length on the circumstances of the Temptation, in the ninth Book; it will be only necessary to remark how judiciously the Poet has managed, in making the Tempter excite, in a new created being of inferiour order, a love of knowledge. It had been before observed, by Addison, that Eve's Vision, in the fifth Book, was skilfully introduced, to prepare her mind for the full effects of Satan's Temptation.

As to the rest, the influence which the tempter obtains over the mind of Eve, is so far from being incredible, that, supposing a mere mortal in the situation of the serpent, he, in order to accomplish his designs, would begin with flattery; the self-complacency which that would probably produce, would easily be perceptible to the eye. In a foil fo prepared, Pride would quickly vegetate, nor would Envy fail to find a place there, particularly if conveyed in the vehicle of curiosity: this, operating with Ambition, might bring about all the natural consequences recorded in the narrative, fupposing the characters not exalted above the standard of humanity.

The foregoing observations on the character of Satan, are in fome degree applicable to his associates, as the first impulse came from him, and he may be faid to have given to them all a certain tincture of his own character: this similarity will cnable us to apply, in a certain fenfe to him, what we shall further remark with regard to them.

* Rhet. b. 2. c. 7.

The character of Moloch, in the second book, is remarkable for extravagance and fury. There are some traits in it which would lead one to conjecture that the poet had Jonson's Cethegus in his eye. However that may be, there appears a sublimity and spirit in his speech, which equals it with any thing in the poem. At first fight his sentiments appear very extravagant, as he seems to conclude that Omnipotence could be fubdued by pouer.

We indeed cannot easily conceive how in this case, aud in that of Satan, excess of passion may cloud the intellect of beings to much fuperiour to man. But, as observed before, Milton could only draw his ideas from human characters, and there, we know, transcendent superiority of parts, is by no nieans a security against the most extravagant absurdity of theory, to say nothing of practice. Of this the more immediate cause may be vanity, perhaps fome more malignant pallion. But the remote origin is pride, the fource of almost every malignant pallion *. To give an example of this, when Hume denied that we can have any knowledge of cause or effect, and by inference, none of the first cause, he had been led into this opinion tirit by literary vanity, but his pride would not allow him to recant or to confess a feeling of the ridicule with which he must have been ftung, by the fimple cafe put by Beattie, (in his Enlay on Truth) of a book being found on a table in an apartment where none hud access but himself, which he had not left there, and which, however, could not have grown there, i.e. come without a cause. It is hardly conceivable, , that fuch a man hould believe his own position. It is scarce dels extraordinary if he did not believe them, that he should venture to give currency to doctrines fo pernicious to fociety, at the risque at least of incurring guilt of a very deep dye. Yet so great was the pride of this man, that it must have been the fource of that factitious tirmness of character, which induced him to persevere in contriving to bestow on thefe opipions as much celebrity as possible, when he himself thuuld be

* The prayer in the Litany to keep us froin pride, enry, and uncharitablereis, is jufily and even philofophically arranged.

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mouldering in the dust. This is crrtainly carrying human criminality to the utmott degree of extravagance equal to that of Moloch, if Moloch could be supposed to represent an human character. The most itriking inttance of the predominance of pride and revenge in this vindiétive fpirit is, his enjoying the thought, that though reduced to this fide nothing, yet revenge, even a series of vindictive attempts, would be to him full coinpenfation.

In many of these characters, from the greatest to the more subordinate, the art of the poet appears conspicuous, in giving them extentive powers of ratiocination, and yet keeping them clear of any exprellions of compunction or remorse, or any approximation to that virtue which they had lost. This skill however seems most apparent in the character of Belial, who is described as in uct more graceful and humane; yet he is as far as the rest from expresing any sentiment which would entitle even him to compaflion, though he is not represented as equal to some of the others in malignity.

What has been observed of the skill of Homer in diversifying the principle of courage, according to the characters of his feveral warriours, seems equally true of the management of Milton, with refpe&t to pride and envy, the reigning vices of his pandemonian heroes. We can, for instance, ealily suppose the contradiction of Belial to Moloch to have been meant as a secret gratification of those passions in the former, particularly as he turns the ferocious warriour into ridicule, a talent which he exerts on another occasion *. He is described as a sensualiit, with many epicurean lineaments of character, particularly in his predilection for indolence, or the absence of pain. His opinions are supported with great plausibility. His abhorrence of non-existence, fecms copied from that dread of death, exhibited by some of that fect of old +. In all his character there appears a species of pufillanimity, yet it is remarkable how careful the poet is to keep this perfectly clear from any infusion of tenderness or fympathy; it is no less remarkble, that, of all men in the world, funfualists have lefs of that fellow-feeling than any other description of men; in other words, they are the most

Book vi.
+ See verses attributed to Mecznas in Seneca's Epifiles.


selfish of all mankind; witness the ruin they bring on their own families, and that of others, without any visible compunction. In some instances also, like Belial, such characters exhibit a very extraordinary fophistical acuteness; this too is natural, for it is au habit they must have acquired in devifing palliations for their hateful enormitics. Two remarkable portraitures of this fort occur in Shadwell's play of the Libertine Destroyed, and in the character of Pandarus in Chaucer's Troilus and Creflida.

In the character of Mammon, it would have been highly improper to have introduced those elevated sentiments, where grandeur and depravity are so conspicuously united, as they appear in the speeches of his affociates. This combination would have been incongruous to the natural train of ideas in one who was accustomed to admire the riches of heavens parement, trodden gold. From him who is described as the least erected Spirit that fell from heaven, we could not expect those ardent excursions of fancy, which we meet with from others in the course of the debate, and which fill the mind with a mixture of delight and horrour. In Mammon, therefore, we contemplate the passions of the infernals, cnvy and revenge in all their native deformity, without any rhetorical decorations, except in one instance, which seems better adapted to the style of Belial:

This deep world
Of darkness do we dread ? how oft amidst
Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling fire
Choose to refide, his glory unobscurd,
And with the majesty of darkness round
Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar

Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell. But in the course of his argument, he makes a supposition that shows the depravity of these fallen fpirits in a very striking light:

Suppose he thould relent,
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection ; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Strict laws impos'd, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his Godhead ling
Forc'd Halleluiabs; while he lordly fits

Our envied Sovran, and his altar breathes
Ambrofial odours and ambrofial flowers,
Our servile offerings ? This must be our talk
In Heaven, this our delight; how wearifome
Eternity fo fpent, in worship paid

To whom we hate! It is remarkable that he exhibits in his speech an opinion which has since made no small figure in fome noted fyftems of morality, viz. that utility is the standard of every thing laudable. This has been carried so far by Aristotle, Hume, and others, that every accomplishment, mental and bodily, has been dignified by the name of VIRTUE, and consequently, if what we now from old prejudice denominate crimes, such as adultery, fraud, &c. can be in any way subfervient to publick utility, they become duties, or at least are not deserying of either punishment or cenfure !

The character of Beelzebub is distinguished from the rest by more extensive views, and more deliberate wickedness. In malignity he resembles his master, but his mind is less ardent. In his first speech, his fagacity had at once perceived that their misery was irremediable.

On this topick he expatiates here, and enforces his opinion from the character under which he represents the Supreme Being. Him he defcribes as powerful, vindi&tive, and arbitrary. He apraigns, by implication, the justice of the Deity, yet without expreffing any regard to that attribute; for he represents the Sovereign of the Universe, as acting on a system which he himself would have adopted in a like fituation.

As the poet's ideas are drawn ab intimis recefibus mentis, we are here naturally led to observe the gradations by which the mind is led to judge of others by itself. Sympathy was bestowed upon us, that by our own, we should judge of the feelings of others, that we might be taught, not only by precept, but by fentiment, to rejoice with those that rejoice, and ta weep with those that weep. But as Pope observes of the RULING PASSION, this also may be perverted, and often produces the most baneful confequences, when this happens ; as ofteu is the case with the most precious gifts of nature. It would detain us too long to account for this, or to show by what degrees

* i.e. to itapute its own vices to others.

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