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No. 339 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

About his Chariot numberless were pour
Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones,
And Virtues, winged Spirits, and Chariots wing’d,
From th’ Armoury of Gold, where stand of old
Myriads between two brazen Mountains lodg’d
Against a solemn Day, harness’d at hand;
Celestial Equipage! and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them Spirit liv’d,
Attendant on their Lord: Heavn open’d wide
Her ever-during Gates, Harmonious Sound!
On golden Hinges moving–

I have before taken notice of these Chariots of God, and of these Gates of Heaven; and shall here only add, that Homer gives us the same Idea of the latter, as opening of themselves; tho he afterwards takes off from it, by telling us, that the Hours first of all removed those prodigious Heaps of Clouds which lay as a Barrier before them.

I do not know any thing in the whole Poem more sublime than the Description which follows, where the Messiah is represented at the head of his Angels, as looking down into the Chaos, calming its Confusion, riding into the midst of it, and drawing the first Out-Line of the Creation.

On Heavenly Ground they stood, and from the Shore
They view’d the vast immeasurable Abyss,
Outrageous as a Sea, dark, wasteful, wild;
Up from the bottom turned by furious Winds
And surging Waves, as Mountains to assault
Heavens height, and with the Center mix the Pole.

Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, Peace!
Said then th’ Omnific Word, your Discord end:

Nor staid; but, on the Wings of Cherubim
Up-lifted, in Paternal Glory rode
Far into Chaos, and the World unborn;
For Chaos heard his Voice. Him all His Train
Follow’d in bright Procession, to behold
Creation, and the Wonders, of his Might.
Then staid the fervid Wheels, and in his Hand
He took the Golden Compasses, prepar’d
In Gods eternal Store, to circumscribe
This Universe, and all created Things:
One Foot he center’d, and the other turn’d
Round, through the vast Profundity obscure;
And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds,
This be thy just Circumference, O World!

The Thought of the Golden Compasses is conceived altogether in Homers Spirit, and is a very noble Incident in this wonderful Description. Homer, when he speaks of the Gods, ascribes to them several Arms and Instruments with the same greatness of Imagination. Let the Reader only peruse the Description of Minerva’s AEgis, or Buckler, in the Fifth Book, with her Spear, which would overturn whole Squadrons, and her Helmet, that was sufficient to cover an Army drawn out of an hundred Cities: The Golden Compasses in the above-mentioned Passage appear a very natural Instrument in the Hand of him, whom Plato somewhere calls the Divine Geometrician. As Poetry delights in cloathing abstracted Ideas in Allegories and sensible Images, we find a magnificent Description of the Creation form’d after the same manner in one of the Prophets, wherein he describes the Almighty Architect as measuring the Waters in the Hollow of his Hand, meting out the Heavens with his Span, comprehending the Dust of the Earth in a Measure, weighing the Mountains in Scales, and the Hills in a Balance. Another of them describing the Supreme Being in this great Work of Creation, represents him as laying the Foundations of the Earth, and stretching a Line upon it: And in another place as garnishing the Heavens, stretching out the North over the empty Place, and hanging the Earth upon nothing. This last noble Thought Milton has express’d in the following Verse:

And Earth self-ballanc’d on her Center hung.

The Beauties of Description in this Book lie so very thick, that it is impossible to enumerate them in this Paper. The Poet has employ’d on them the whole Energy of our Tongue. The several great Scenes of the Creation rise up to view one after another, in such a manner, that the Reader seems present at this wonderful Work, and to assist among the Choirs of Angels, who are the Spectators of it. How glorious is the Conclusion of the first Day.