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No. 345 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 345
Saturday, April 5, 1712. Addison.
Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius altae

Deerat adhuc, et quod dominari in coetera posset,

Natus homo est.

Ov. Met.

The Accounts which Raphael gives of the Battel of Angels, and the Creation of the World, have in them those Qualifications which the Criticks judge requisite to an Episode. They are nearly related to the principal Action, and have a just Connexion with the Fable.

The eighth Book opens with a beautiful Description of the Impression which this Discourse of the Archangel made on our first Parent[s]. Adam afterwards, by a very natural Curiosity, enquires concerning the Motions of those Celestial Bodies which make the most glorious Appearance among the six days Works. The Poet here, with a great deal of Art, represents Eve as withdrawing from this part of their Conversation, to Amusements more suitable to her Sex. He well knew, that the Episode in this Book, which is filled with Adams Account of his Passion and Esteem for Eve, would have been improper for her hearing, and has therefore devised very just and beautiful Reasons for her Retiring.

So spake our Sire, and by his Countenance seem’d
Entring on studious Thoughts abstruse: which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestick, from her Seat,
And Grace, that won who saw to wish her Stay,
Rose; and went forth among her Fruits and Flowers
To visit how they prosper’d, Bud and Bloom,
Her Nursery: they at her coming sprung,
And touch’d by her fair Tendance gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such Discourse
Delighted, or not capable her Ear
Of what was high: Such Pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole Auditress;
Her Husband the Relater she preferr’d
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather: he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful Digressions, and solve high Dispute
With conjugal Caresses; from his Lip
Not Words alone pleas’d her. O when meet now
Such Pairs, in Love and mutual Honour join’d!

The Angels returning a doubtful Answer to Adams Enquiries, was not only proper for the Moral Reason which the Poet assigns, but because it would have been highly absurd to have given the Sanction of an Archangel to any particular System of Philosophy. The chief Points in the Ptolemaick and Copernican Hypothesis are described with great Conciseness and Perspicuity, and at the same time dressed in very pleasing and poetical Images.

Adam, to detain the Angel, enters afterwards upon his own History, and relates to him the Circumstances in which he found himself upon his Creation; as also his Conversation with his Maker, and his first meeting with Eve. There is no part of the Poem more apt to raise the Attention of the Reader, than this Discourse of our great Ancestor; as nothing can be more surprizing and delightful to us, than to hear the Sentiments that arose in the first Man while he was yet new and fresh from the Hands of his Creator. The Poet has interwoven every thing which is delivered upon this Subject in Holy Writ with so many beautiful Imaginations of his own, that nothing can be conceived more just and natural than this whole Episode. As our Author knew this Subject could not but be agreeable to his Reader, he would not throw it into the Relation of the six days Works, but reserved it for a distinct Episode, that he might have an opportunity of expatiating upon it more at large. Before I enter on this part of the Poem, I cannot but take notice of two shining Passages in the Dialogue between Adam and the Angel. The first is that wherein our Ancestor gives an Account of the pleasure he took in conversing with him, which contains a very noble Moral.