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Mean, or in her fumm'd up, in her contain'd,
After receiving fome admonitions from the angel, Adam explains himself on the subject of his love for Eve, in order to prove that his paffion was founded on reason, and therefore, though violent, not improper for Paradise.
Neither her outfide form fo fair, nor ought
The force of Adam's love, which we have already been defcribing, is exemplify'd towards the latter end of the work in many beautiful paffages; and the difpute that arifes between our two first parents, proceeds, as Mr. Addison justly .obferves, from a difference of judgment, not of passion; it is managed with reafon, not with heat; and is fuch a difpute as we may fuppofe might have happened in Paradife, when man was happy and innocent. His parting with Eve is remarkably natural and affectionate.
Her long with ardent look his eye purfued
His impatience for her return, and his employment during her abfence, are moft beautifully expreffed.
-Adam the while
Waiting defirous her return, had wove
Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and new
But his affection is more particularly and emphatically expreffed in the fpeech he makes on feeing her irrecoverably loft.
-Some cursed fraud
Of enemy hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,
After this determination, Adam is reprefented as partaking of the forbidden fruit, the effects of which rash action are thus defcribed; though rather in the sublime than the agreeable.
-He fcrupled not to eat
Against his better knowledge, not deceiv'd,
Adam, whofe paffions had now gained the dominion over him, is reprefented as upbraiding Eve for the lofs of Paradife, whom he fpurns from him with indignation. This paffage, in which the renews her addreffes to him, is, in the opinion of the best judges, extremely pathetic and affecting.
He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve
Forfake me not thus, Adam! Witness heav'n
What love fincere and reverence in my heart
The complaint which Eve makes, on hearing that they were to be driven out of Paradife, is not only beautiful, but foft and fuitable to the fex.
Muft I then leave thee, Paradife? thus leave
how fhall we breathe in other air
The fpeech which Adam makes upon the fame occafion, is equally affecting, but is conceived and expreffed in a manner more elevated and mafculine: the following part of it especially.
This most afflicts me, that departing hence
His bleffed countenance; here I could frequent,
On this mount he appear'd, under this tree
Stood vifible, among these pines his voice
Offer sweet-smelling gums and fruits and flowers.
Agreeable and well conceived fictions have also a good effect either in profe or verfe, and always please readers of tafte and judgement. Pliny the younger, in order to engage Cornelius Tacitus to follow his example, and study even when hunting, tells him, that the exercife of the body exalts the mind; and that if he took his tablets with him, he would find that Minerva delighted as much in the forefts and mountains as Diana. A fiction prettily conceived, and in few words. A kin to this is the image (or fiction of a perfon) which Milton has given us in what he calls his fong of the May morning; which is extremely beautiful, efpecially that part of it defcribing May led in by the morning ftar, and throwing from her green lap the flowers of the feafon.
Now the bright morning ftar, day's harbinger,
But the agreeable often arifes from an oppofition, efpecially in thoughts which have two meanings; or when a perfon agitated by paffion affers and contradicts himself almoft in the fame breath, as in the fcene of Shakespear's
Romeo and Juliet, where fhe, to induce her lover to stay, cries,
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day:
But after a moment's reflection, fhe corrects herself, and replies,
It is, it is, hie hence, begone, away;
It is the lark that fings fo out of tune,
That figure which feems to deny what it advances, and in appearance contradicts itself, is, when properly applied, extremely elegant.
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never tafte of death but once. SHAKE.
But these thoughts are to be admitted with great caution and judgment; for the partition here between wit and nonfenfe is so very flender, that many writers have broken through it, and converted what they intended for a beauty into a blot, by presenting their readers not with a feeming contradiction, but a real one. Nor are we to fuppofe that a thought cannot be agreeable or beautiful, unless it glitters with ingenious conceits, or a play of words; for in fome cafes, beauty may confift in fimplicity alone, and be, in its place, like a plain pillar in fome building, the only proper, and therefore the best ornament. Befides, it is impoffible for a writer to be upon the fublime and the beautiful from one end of his piece to the other, nor will any fubject admit of it; fome things muft occur that require common thoughts and a common ftile; but if they did not, and it was poffible for a poet to keep up to the fame elevated ftrain, yet would he mifs of his aim, and rather difguft than please; for the mind would be deprived of the refreshment and recreation it takes in paffing from things that are excellent to those that are common, and of the delight which fprings from furprife; neither of which it can obtain, where all things appear with undiftinguished