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In the snmming up of this inimitable criticism npon an inimitable production, Dr. Johnson evinces an equal degree of judgment and candour; we therefore adopt it with singular pleasure and satisfaction.

« The highest praise of genius is original invention. Milton cannot be said to have contrived the structure of an epic poem, and therefore owes reverence to that vi. gour and amplitude of mind to which all generations must be indebted for the art of poetical narration, for the texture of the fable, the variation of incidents, the interposition of dialogue, and all the stratagems that surprise and enchain attention. But of all borrowers from Homer, Milton is perhaps the last indebted. He was naturally a thinker for bimself, confident of his own abilities, and disdainful of help or hindrance: he did not refuse admission to the thoughts or images of his predecessors; but he did not seek them. From his contemporaries he neither courted nor received support: there is in his writings nothing by which the pride of other authors can be gratified or favour gained; no exchange of praise nor solicitation of support. His great works were performed under discountenance, and in blindness; but difficulties vanished at his touch; he was born for whatever is ardnous; and his work is not the greatest of heroic poems, only because it is not the first. »

lu sul finire questa inimitabile critica sopra un'inimitabile produzione, il D. Johnson manifesta pari gradu di senuo e candore ; noi però l'adottiamo con singolare piacere e satifazione.

« L'altissima lode di genio è originale invenzione. Miltou non può dirsi aver inventato la struttura del poema epico, e però deve riverenza a quella vigoria e vaslità di mente a cui ogni generazione fia debitrice per l'arte della poetica narrazione; per l'orditura della favola, la variazione delle circostanze, l'inframessa del dialogo, e tutte le stratagemme che sorprendono e vincolano l'attenzione. Ma di tutti gli imitatori di Omero, Milton è forse il men che gli debba. Egli fu naturalmente pensatore di per se, confidente di sue proprie virtù, e sdegnoso di aiuto o d'impaccio. Non ricusa dar luogo a' pensieri ed imagini de' suoi predecessori; ma già non li procaccia. Da suoi contemporanei nè muendicò nè ricevè sostegno: nulla v'è ne' suoi scritti da cui l'orgoglio di altri autori possa essere blandito, o guadagnato il favore; non lode accattala nè grazia sollecitata. Le sue grandi opere si venian compiendo nella ritiratezza e nella cecità. Ma sparirono le difficoltà al suo tocco; ei nacque per tutto ciò che è arduo; e l'opera sua non è la più grande de' poemi eroici sol perchè non è la prima.

(1) Legge stabilita da Cuglielmo il Conquistatore che al tocco della cam

pana, ognuno dovea spegnere il fuoco c le candele e andare a dormire.

A

GENERAL CRITIQUE

UPON THE

PARADISE LOST

BY JOSEPH ADDISSON, ESQUIRE

Cedite, Romani scriptores; cedite, Graii!

Properl.

THERE is not any thing in nature more irksome than general discourses, expecially when they turn chiefly upon words; for this reason I shall wave that discussion which was advanced some years since: Whether Milton's Paradise Lost may be called an heroic poein? Those who will not give it that title, may call it (if they please) a divine poem. It will be sufficient to its perfection if it possess

all the beauties of the highest kind of poetry; and those who allege it is not an heroic poem, advance no more to the diminution of its excellence, than if they should say, Adam is not Æneas, nor Eve Helen.

I shall therefore examine it by the rules of epic poetry, and see whether it falls short of the Iliad or Æneid in the beauties which are essential to that kind of writing. The first thing to be considered in an epic poem is the fable, which is perfect or imperfect, according as the action it relates is more or less so. This action should

CRITICA GENERALE

SUL

PARADISO PERDUTO

DI GIUSEPPE ADDISSON

GENTILUOMO

Cedite Romani scriptores , cedite Graii!

Propert.

Nulla v'è in natura più iucrescioso che i ragiona menti generali segnatamente quando versano per lo più su di sole parole ; però io ometterò la questione recata in campo pochi anni fa, se il Paradiso perduto di Milton possa chiamarsi poema eroico. Chi non vuol chiamarlo a quel nome, lo chiami, se gli piace, poema divino. Basterà alla sua perfezione se ei possegga le bellezze tutte del più sublime genere di poesia; e coloro che lo negano un poema eroico, nulla più profittano a scemare i suoi pregi che se dicessero che Adamo non è Epea, ed. Eva 'non è Elena.

Lo esaminerò dunque colle norme dell'epica poesia, e vedrò se ceda all' Iliade o all'Eneide nelle bellezze che sono essenziali a quella maniera di scrivere. La prima cosa a considerarsi in un poema epico è l' argomento, il quale è più o meno perfetto, secondo che l'azione narratavi lo è più o meno anch'essa. Quest'a

have three qualifications. First, is should he but one action; Secoudly, it should be an entire action: and, thirdly, it should be a great action. To consider the action of the Iliad, Æneid, and Paradise Lost, in these three several lights: Homer, to preserve the unity of his action, comes to the point at once, as Horace has observed: had hie gone up to Leda's egg, or begun much later even, at the rape of Helen, or the investing of Troy, it is manifest that the story of the poem would have been a series of several actions. He, therefore, opens his poem with the discord of his princes, and artfully interweaves, in the several succeeding parts, an account of every thing material wbich relates to them, or that had passed before this fatal dissension. After the same manner Æneas makes his first appearance in the Tyrrhene seas, and within sight of Italy, because the action proposed to be celebraled was that of settling himself in Latium : but, because it was necessary inform the reader, what had happened to him in the taking of Troy, and in the preceding parts of his voyage, Virgil makes his hero relate it by way of episode, in the second and third books of the Æneid; the contents of which come before those of the first book in the course of the story; though, for the preservation of this unity of action, they follow it in the disposition of the poem. Milton, in imitation of these two great poets, commences his Paradise Lost with an infer, nal council plotting the fall of man, which is the action he proposed to celebrate; and as for those great actions, the battle of the angels, and the creation of the world, (which preceded in point of time, and which, in my opinion, would have entirely destroyed the unity of bis principal action, had he related them in the same order that they happened,) he introduced them in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books, by way of episode to this sublime poem.

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