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

Which alludes to that Passage in Scripture, so wonderfully poetical, and terrifying to the Imagination. And I look’d, and behold a pale Horse, and his Name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him: and Power was given unto them over the fourth Part of the Earth, to kill with Sword, and with Hunger, and with Sickness, and with the Beasts of the Earth. [1] Under this first Head of Celestial Persons we must likewise take notice of the Command which the Angels receiv’d, to produce the several Changes in Nature, and sully the Beauty of the Creation. Accordingly they are represented as infecting the Stars and Planets with malignant Influences, weakning the Light of the Sun, bringing down the Winter into the milder Regions of Nature, planting Winds and Storms in several Quarters of the Sky, storing the Clouds with Thunder, and in short, perverting the Whole Frame of the Universe to the Condition of its criminal Inhabitants. As this is a noble Incident in the Poem, the following Lines, in which we see the Angels heaving up the Earth, and placing it in a different Posture to the Sun from what it had before the Fall of Man, is conceived with that sublime Imagination which was so peculiar to this great Author.
Some say he bid his Angels turn ascanse
The Poles of Earth twice ten Degrees and more
From the Suns Axle; they with Labour push’d
Oblique the Centrick Globe–

We are in the second place to consider the Infernal Agents under the view which Milton has given us of them in this Book. It is observed by those who would set forth the Greatness of Virgil’s Plan, that he conducts his Reader thro all the Parts of the Earth which were discover’d in his time. Asia, Africk, and Europe are the several Scenes of his Fable. The Plan of Milton’s Poem is of an infinitely greater Extent, and fills the Mind with many more astonishing Circumstances. Satan, having surrounded the Earth seven times, departs at length from Paradise. We then see him steering his Course among the Constellations, and after having traversed the whole Creation, pursuing his Voyage thro the Chaos, and entring into his own Infernal Dominions.

His first appearance in the Assembly of fallen Angels, is work’d up with Circumstances which give a delightful Surprize to the Reader; but there is no Incident in the whole Poem which does this more than the Transformation of the whole Audience, that follows the Account their Leader gives them of his Expedition. The gradual Change of Satan himself is describ’d after Ovid’s manner, and may vie with any of those celebrated Transformations which are look’d upon as the most beautiful Parts in that Poets Works. Milton never fails of improving his own Hints, and bestowing the last finishing Touches to every Incident which is admitted into his Poem. The unexpected Hiss which rises in this Episode, the Dimensions and Bulk of Satan so much superior to those of the Infernal Spirits who lay under the same Transformation, with the annual Change which they are supposed to suffer, are Instances of this kind. The Beauty of the Diction is very remarkable in this whole Episode, as I have observed in the sixth Paper of these Remarks the great Judgment with which it was contrived.

The Parts of Adam and Eve, or the human Persons, come next under our Consideration. Milton’s Art is no where more shewn than in his conducting the Parts of these our first Parents. The Representation he gives of them, without falsifying the Story, is wonderfully contriv’d to influence the Reader with Pity and Compassion towards them. Tho Adam involves the whole Species in Misery, his Crime proceeds from a Weakness which every Man is inclined to pardon and commiserate, as it seems rather the Frailty of Human Nature, than of the Person who offended. Every one is apt to excuse a Fault which he himself might have fallen into. It was the Excess of Love for Eve, that ruin’d Adam, and his Posterity. I need not add, that the Author is justify’d in this Particular by many of the Fathers, and the most orthodox Writers. Milton has by this means filled a great part of his Poem with that kind of Writing which the French Criticks call the Tender, and which is in a particular manner engaging to all sorts of Readers.