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Sublime thoughts are no where to be found in fuch plenty, nor perhaps fo well decorated, as in the facred books of the Old and New Teftament.-The Almighty's decking himself with light as with a garment, Spreading out the heavens like a curtain, making the clouds his chariot, and riding upon the wings of the wind, are thoughts amazingly majestic.
Homer alfo abounds with thefe ftrains of fublimity. The paffages wherein he defcribes Jupiter fhaking the heavens with a nod, and Neptune enraged at the deftruction of the Grecians, are nobly conceived, but they fall fhort of the preceding.
He spoke, and awful bends his fable brows,
Mean time the monarch of the watry main
The thought with which he has defcribed the fpeed of the celeftial courfers is altogether as magnificent. He difdains all comparifons drawn from the wind, hail, whirlwinds and torrents, which he had before apply'd to express the swiftnels and impetuofity of his combatants, and to give us an idea of the rapidity of these immortal horses, he measures their ftrokes, as Longinus obferves, by the whole breadth of the horizon.
Far as a fhepherd from fome point on high
Milton's Paradife Loft is replete with thefe fublime thoughts; among which, the feveral defcriptions he has given us of Satan are admirably adapted to raise terror in the imagination of the reader.
Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate,
With head up-lift above the wave, and eyes
His fpear, to equal which the tallest pine
And in another place:
-he, above the reft
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
As Homer has described Discord, and Virgil Fame, with their feet standing upon the earth, and their heads extended above the clouds, Milton, in imitation of them, has thus defcribed Satan;
-On th' other fide, Satan alarm'd,
His ftature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
The breaking up of this infernal affembly is alfo well defcribed.
Their rifing all at once was as the found
Of thunder heard remote
The following speech of Satan to the Sun is very beautiful, and, as Mr. Addison obferves, has fome tranfient touches of remorfe and felf-accufation.
O thou that, with furpaffing glory crown'd,
We cannot leave Milton, without pointing out other pafages that are as fublime as those we have already quoted : for fuch are his undrawn chariots that inove by instinct; his everlasting gates of heaven, that felf-open'd wide on golden hinges moving; and the Meffiah attended by angels, looking down into Chaos, calming its confufion, and drawing the first out-lines of the creation; which is thus happily described.
On heav'nly ground they ftood, and from the fhore
Far into Chaos, and the world unborn;
This univerfe, and all created things:
The defcription he has given us of the angel Raphael is Jikewife nobly conceived, and finely delineated.
-Six wings he wore, to shade
His lineaments divine; the pair that clad
Girt like a ftarry zone his waift, and round
There is fomething fingularly fublime and beautiful in the following paffage, tranfcribed from a poem, entituled, The Omnifcience of the divine Being, by Mr. Smart.
When Philomela, ere the cold domain
Of crippled winter 'gins t' advance, prepares
E'er afcertains her courfe, nor buoy, nor beacon.
Of man's vaft genius, and the foaring foul!
He meafur'd in the hollow of his hand
He comprehended with a span, and weigh'd
It would here be unpardonable to pass over all thofe fublime and animated defcriptions we have of the Morning; which the writers of heroic and tragic poetry have labour'd fo much to heighten and variegate, that one would think they had exerted their utmost skill and genius, to see who could render that feason the moft endearing.
Homer leads the way, and by a beautiful and well-conceived fiction, describes the morning as a goddess arrayed in a faffron robe, flying in the air, and with her rofy fingers unbarring the gates of light. She leaves the bed of Tithon her lover, arises from the fea in a golden throne to usher in the fun, or in a chariot drawn by celestial horfes, bearing with her the day, and is preceded by a ftar, which is her harbinger, and gives signal of her approach.
Virgil follows Homer, and never lofes fight of him, as will appear by the following descriptions.
Aurora now had left her faffron bed,
And beams of early light the Heav'ns o'erspread.
The morn began from Ida to display
Her rofy cheeks, and phosphor led the day.
And now the rofy morn began to rise,
And wav'd her faffron ftreamer thro' the skies.
Now rofe the ruddy morn from Tithon's bed,
The morn enfuing from the mountain's height
Toffo had moft probably Homer or Virgil in view when he wrote the following lines: