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No. 357 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 357
Saturday, April 19, 1712. Addison.
[Quis talia fando

Temperet a lachrymis?

Virg.] [1]

The Tenth Book of Paradise Lost has a greater variety of Persons in it than any other in the whole Poem. The Author upon the winding up of his Action introduces all those who had any Concern in it, and shews with great Beauty the Influence which it had upon each of them. It is like the last Act of a well-written Tragedy, in which all who had a part in it are generally drawn up before the Audience, and represented under those Circumstances in which the Determination of the Action places them.

I shall therefore consider this Book under four Heads, in relation to the Celestial, the Infernal, the Human, and the Imaginary Persons, who have their respective Parts allotted in it.

To begin with the Celestial Persons: The Guardian Angels of Paradise are described as returning to Heaven upon the Fall of Man, in order to approve their Vigilance; their Arrival, their Manner of Reception, with the Sorrow which appear’d in themselves, and in those Spirits who are said to Rejoice at the Conversion of a Sinner, are very finely laid together in the following Lines.

Up into Heaven from Paradise in haste
Th’ Angelick Guards ascended, mute and sad
For Man; for of his State by this they knew:
Much wondering how the subtle Fiend had stoln
Entrance unseen. Soon as th’ unwelcome News
From Earth arriv’d at Heaven-Gate, displeased
All were who heard: dim Sadness did not spare
That time Celestial Visages; yet mixt
With Pity, violated not their Bliss.
About the new-arriv’d, in multitudes
Th’ Ethereal People ran, to hear and know
How all befel: They tow’rds the Throne supreme
Accountable made haste to make appear
With righteous Plea, their utmost vigilance,
And easily approved; when the Most High
Eternal Father, from his secret cloud,
Amidst in thunder utter’d thus his voice.

The same Divine Person, who in the foregoing Parts of this Poem interceded for our first Parents before their Fall, overthrew the Rebel Angels, and created the World, is now represented as descending to Paradise, and pronouncing Sentence upon the three Offenders. The Cool of the Evening, being a Circumstance with which Holy Writ introduces this great Scene, it is poetically described by our Author, who has also kept religiously to the Form of Words, in which the three several Sentences were passed upon Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. He has rather chosen to neglect the Numerousness of his Verse, than to deviate from those Speeches which are recorded on this great occasion. The Guilt and Confusion of our first Parents standing naked before their Judge, is touched with great Beauty. Upon the Arrival of Sin and Death into the Works of the Creation, the Almighty is again introduced as speaking to his Angels that surrounded him.
See! with what heat these Dogs of Hell advance,
To waste and havock yonder World, which I
So fair and good created; etc.

The following Passage is formed upon that glorious Image in Holy Writ, which compares the Voice of an innumerable Host of Angels, uttering Hallelujahs, to the Voice of mighty Thunderings, or of many Waters.
He ended, and the Heavenly Audience loud
Sung Hallelujah, as the sound of Seas,
Through Multitude that sung: Just are thy Ways,
Righteous are thy Decrees in all thy Works,
Who can extenuate thee?–

Tho the Author in the whole Course of his Poem, and particularly in the Book we are now examining, has infinite Allusions to Places of Scripture, I have only taken notice in my Remarks of such as are of a Poetical Nature, and which are woven with great Beauty into the Body of this Fable. Of this kind is that Passage in the present Book, where describing Sin and Death as marching thro the Works of Nature he adds,
–Behind her Death
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
On his pale Horse–