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No. 333 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

The following Lines in that glorious Commission which is given the Messiah to extirpate the Host of Rebel Angels, is drawn from a Sublime Passage in the Psalms.

Go then thou Mightiest in thy Fathers Might!
Ascend my Chariot, guide the rapid Wheels
That shake Heavns Basis; bring forth all my War,
My Bow, my Thunder, my Almighty Arms,
Gird on thy Sword on thy puissant Thigh.

The Reader will easily discover many other Strokes of the same nature.

There is no question but Milton had heated his Imagination with the Fight of the Gods in Homer, before he enter’d upon this Engagement of the Angels. Homer there gives us a Scene of Men, Heroes, and Gods, mix’d together in Battel. Mars animates the contending Armies, and lifts up his Voice in such a manner, that it is heard distinctly amidst all the Shouts and Confusion of the Fight. Jupiter at the same time Thunders over their Heads; while Neptune raises such a Tempest, that the whole Field of Battel and all the Tops of the Mountains shake about them. The Poet tells us, that Pluto himself, whose Habitation was in the very Center of the Earth, was so affrighted at the Shock, that he leapt from his Throne. Homer afterwards describes Vulcan as pouring down a Storm of Fire upon the River Xanthus, and Minerva as throwing a Rock at Mars; who, he tells us, cover’d seven Acres in his Fall.

As Homer has introduced into his Battel of the Gods every thing that is great and terrible in Nature, Milton has filled his Fight of good and bad Angels with all the like Circumstances of Horrour. The Shout of Armies, the Rattling of Brazen Chariots, the Hurling of Rocks and Mountains, the Earthquake, the Fire, the Thunder, are all of them employ’d to lift up the Readers Imagination, and give him a suitable Idea of so great an Action. With what Art has the Poet represented the whole Body of the Earth trembling, even before it was created.

All Heaven resounded, and had Earth been then,
All Earth had to its Center shook–

In how sublime and just a manner does he afterwards describe the whole Heaven shaking under the Wheels of the Messiahs Chariot, with that Exception to the Throne of God?

–Under his burning Wheels
The stedfast Empyrean shook throughout,
All but the Throne it self of God–

Notwithstanding the Messiah appears clothed with so much Terrour and Majesty, the Poet has still found means to make his Readers conceive an Idea of him, beyond what he himself was able to describe.

Yet half his Strength he put not forth, but checkt
His Thunder in mid Volley; for he meant
Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven.

In a Word, Milton’s Genius, which was so great in it self, and so strengthened by all the helps of Learning, appears in this Book every way equal to his Subject, which was the most Sublime that could enter into the Thoughts of a Poet. As he knew all the Arts of affecting the Mind, [he knew it was necessary to give [3]] it certain Resting-places and Opportunities of recovering it self from time to time: He has [therefore] with great Address interspersed several Speeches, Reflections, Similitudes, and the like Reliefs to diversify his Narration, and ease the Attention of [the [4]] Reader, that he might come fresh to his great Action, and by such a Contrast of Ideas, have a more lively taste of the nobler Parts of his Description.


[Footnote 1: [is]]

[Footnote 2: [an]]

[Footnote 3: had he not given]

[Footnote 4: his]