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The diversions of the fallen angels, with the particular account of their place of habitation, are described with great pregnancy of thought, and copiousness of invention. The diversions are every way suitable to beings who had nothing left them but strength and knowledge misapplied. Such are their contentions at the race, and in feats of arms, with their entertainment in the following lines.
Others with vast Typhaean rage more fell
In whirlwind, hell scarce holds the wild uproar. Their music is employed in celebrating their own criminal exploits, and their discourse in sounding the unfathomable depths of fate, free-will, and foreknowledge.
The several circumstances in the description of hell are finely imagined ; as the four rivers which disgorge themselves into the sea of fire, the extremes of cold and heat, and the river of oblivion. The monstrous animals produced in that infernal world are represented by a single line, which gives us a more horrid idea of them, than a much longer description would have done.
Gorgons and hydras, and chimeras dire. This episode of the fallen spirits, and their place of habitation, comes in very happily to unbend the mind of the reader from its attention to the debate. An ordinary poet would indeed have spun out so many circumstances to a great length, and by that means have weakened, instead of illustrated the principal fable.
The flight of Satan to the gates of hell is finely imagined.
I have already declared my opinion of the allegory concerning Sin and Death, which is however a very finished piece in its kind, when it is not considered as a part of an epic poem. The genealogy of the several persons is contrived with great delicacy. Sin is the daughter of Satan, and Death the offspring of Sin. The incestuous mixture between Sin and Death produces those monsters and hell-hounds which, -from time to time, enter into their mother, and tear the bowels of her who gave them birth. These are the terrors of an evil conscience, and the proper fruits of sin, which naturally rise from the apprehension of death. This last beautiful moral is, I think, clearly intimated in the speech of Sin, where complaining of this her dreadful issue, she adds,
Before mine eyes in opposition sits
His end with mine involv'd
I need not mention to the reader the beautiful circumstance in the last part of this quotation. He will likewise observe how naturally the three persons concerned in this allegory are tempted by one common interest to enter into a confederacy together, and how properly Sin is made the portress of hell, and the only being that can open the gates to that world of torture.
The descriptive part of this allegory is likewise very strong, and full of sublime ideas. The figure of Death, the regal crown upon his head, his menace of Satan, his advancing to the combat, the outcry at his birth, are circumstances too noble to be past over in silence, and extremely suitable to this king of terrors. I need not mention the justness of thought which is observed in the generation of these several symbolical persons ; that Sin was produced upon the first revolt of Satan, that Death appeared soon after he
was cast into hell, and that the terrors of conscience were conceived at the gate of this place of torments. The description of the gates is very poetical, as the opening of them is full of Milton's spirit.
..................... On a sudden open fy
Cast forth redounding smoke aud ruddy flame. In Satan's voyage through the Chaos there are several imaginary persons described, as residing in that immense waste of matter. This may perhaps be conformable to the taste of those critics who are pleased with nothing in a poet which has not life and manners ascribed to it; but for my own part, I am pleased most with those passages in this description which carry in them a greater measure of probability, and are such as might possibly have happened. Of this kind is his first mounting in the smoke that rises from the infernal pit, his falling into a cloud of nitre, and the like combustible materials, that by their explosion still hurried him forward in his voyage ; his springing upward like a pyramid of fire, with his laborious passage through that confusion of elements which the poet calls
The womb of nature, and perhaps her grave. The glimmering light which shot into the Chaos from the utmost verge of the creation, with the distant discovery of the earth that hung close by the moon, are wonderfully beautiful and poetical. L
I AM a certain young woman that love a certain young man very heartily : and my father and mother were for it a great while, but now they say I can do better, but I think I cannot. They bid me not love him, and I cannot unlove him. What must • I do? Speak quickly.
February 19, 1712. DEAR SPEC,
• I HAVE loved a lady entirely for this year and half, though for a great part of the time, which 'has contributed not a little to my pain, I have been debarred the liberty of conversing with her. The grounds of our difference was this ; that when we had enquired into each other's circumstances, we 6 found that at our first setting out into the world, we should owe five hundred pounds more than her • fortune would pay off. My estate is seven hundred 'pounds a year, besides the benefit of tin mines. Now, dear Spec, upon this state of the case, and the lady's positive declaration that there is still no other objection, I beg you will not fail to insert " this, with your opinion, as soon as possible, whether this ought to be esteemed a just cause or im. pediment why we should not be joined, and you will for ever oblige • Yours sincerely,
( DICK LOVESICK.' · P. S. Sir, if I marry this lady by the assistance of 'your opinion, you may expect a favour for it.'
* MR. SPECTATOR,
(I HAVE the misfortune to be one of those unhappy men who are distinguished by the name of discarded lovers; but I am the less mortified at 'my disgrace, because the young lady is one of those • creatures who set up for negligence of men, are • forsooth the most rigidly virtuous in the world, and ' yet their nicety will permit them, at the command • of parents, to go to bed to the most utter stranger • that can be proposed to them. As to me myself, I 6 was introduced by the father of my mistress; but • find I owe my being at first received to a compa• rison of my estate with that of a former lover, and
that I am now in like manner turned off, to give ( way to an humble servant still richer than I am. " What makes this treatment the more extravagant
is, that the young lady is in the management of • this way of fraud, and obeys her father's orders on these occasions without any manner of reluctance, but does it with the same air that one of your men • of the world would signify the necessity of affairs • for turning another out of office. When I came
hone last night, I found this letter from my ( mistress.
6 I HOPE you will not think it is any manner 6 of disrespect to your person or merit, that the in66 tended nuptials between us are interrupted. My “ father says he has a much better offer for me than
you can make, and has ordered me to break off “ the treaty between us. If it had proceeded, I should 6 have behaved myself with all suitable regard to
you, but as it is, I beg we may be strangers for the “ future. Adieu.