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

I cannot conclude this Book upon the Creation, without mentioning a Poem which has lately appeared under that Title. [8] The Work was undertaken with so good an Intention, and is executed with so great a Mastery, that it deserves to be looked upon as one of the most useful and noble Productions in our English Verse. The Reader cannot but be pleased to find the Depths of Philosophy enlivened with all the Charms of Poetry, and to see so great a Strength of Reason, amidst so beautiful a Redundancy of the Imagination. The Author has shewn us that Design in all the Works of Nature, which necessarily leads us to the Knowledge of its first Cause. In short, he has illustrated, by numberless and incontestable Instances, that Divine Wisdom, which the Son of Sirach has so nobly ascribed to the Supreme Being in his Formation of the World, when he tells us, that He created her, and saw her, and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his Works.


[Footnote 1: [Ovid.]]

[Footnote 2: On the Sublime, Sec. 8.]

[Footnote 3: Sec.14.]

[Footnote 4: Longinus, Sec. 9:

“So likewise the Jewish legislator, no ordinary person, having conceived a just idea of the power of God, has nobly expressed it in the beginning of his law. And God said,–What? Let there be Light, and there was Light. Let the Earth be, and the Earth was.” ]

[Footnote 5: [looks like]:–]

[Footnote 6: Zechariah vi. i. ]

[Footnote 7: this]

[Footnote 8: Sir Richard Blackmore’s Creation appeared in 1712. Besides this praise of it from Addison, its religious character caused Dr. Johnson to say that if Blackmore

had written nothing else it would have transmitted him to posterity among the first favourites of the English muse.

But even with the help of all his epics it has failed to secure him any such place in the estimation of posterity. This work is not an epic, but described on its title page as a Philosophical Poem, Demonstrating the Existence and Providence of a God. It argues in blank verse, in the first two of its seven books, the existence of a Deity from evidences of design in the structure and qualities of earth and sea, in the celestial bodies and the air; in the next three books it argues against objections raised by Atheists, Atomists, and Fatalists; in the sixth book proceeds with evidences of design, taking the structure of man’s body for its theme; and in the next, which is the last book, treats in the same way of the Instincts of Animals and of the Faculties and Operations of the Soul. This is the manner of the Poem:

The Sea does next demand our View; and there
No less the Marks of perfect skill appear.
When first the Atoms to the Congress came,
And by their Concourse form’d the mighty Frame,
What did the Liquid to th’ Assembly call
To give their Aid to form the ponderous Ball?
First, tell us, why did any come? next, why
In such a disproportion to the Dry!
Why were the Moist in Number so outdone,
That to a Thousand Dry, they are but one,

It is hardly a mark of perfect skill that there are five or six thousand of such dry lines in Blackmore’s poem, and not even one that should lead a critic to speak in the same breath of Blackmore and Milton.]