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No. 363 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

No. 363
Saturday, April 26, 1712. Addison.
‘–Crudelis ubique

Luctus, ubique pavor, et plurima Mortis



Milton has shewn a wonderful Art in describing that variety of Passions which arise in our first Parents upon the Breach of the Commandment that had been given them. We see them gradually passing from the Triumph of their Guilt thro Remorse, Shame, Despair, Contrition, Prayer, and Hope, to a perfect and compleat Repentance. At the end of the tenth Book they are represented as prostrating themselves upon the Ground, and watering the Earth with their Tears: To which the Poet joins this beautiful Circumstance, that they offerd up their penitential Prayers, on the very Place where their Judge appeared to them when he pronounced their Sentence.
–They forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judg’d them, prostrate fell
Before him Reverent, and both confess’d
Humbly their Faults, and Pardon begg’d, with Tears
Watering the Ground–

[There is a Beauty of the same kind in a Tragedy of Sophocles, where OEdipus, after having put out his own Eyes, instead of breaking his Neck from the Palace-Battlements (which furnishes so elegant an Entertainment for our English Audience) desires that he may be conducted to Mount Cithoeron, in order to end his Life in that very Place where he was exposed in his Infancy, and where he should then have died, had the Will of his Parents been executed.]

As the Author never fails to give a poetical Turn to his Sentiments, he describes in the Beginning of this Book the Acceptance which these their Prayers met with, in a short Allegory, formd upon that beautiful Passage in holy Writ: And another Angel came and stood at the Altar, having a golden Censer; and there was given unto him much Incense, that he should offer it with the Prayers of all Saints upon the Golden Altar, which was before the Throne: And the Smoak of the Incense which came with the Prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God.
–To Heavn their Prayers
Flew up, nor miss’d the Way, by envious Winds
Blown vagabond or frustrate: in they passd
Dimensionless through heavnly Doors, then clad
With Incense, where the Golden Altar fumed,
By their great Intercessor, came in sight
Before the Father’s Throne–

We have the same Thought expressed a second time in the Intercession of the Messiah, which is conceived in very Emphatick Sentiments and Expressions.

Among the Poetical Parts of Scripture, which Milton has so finely wrought into this Part of his Narration, I must not omit that wherein Ezekiel speaking of the Angels who appeared to him in a Vision, adds, that every one had four Faces, and that their whole Bodies, and their Backs, and their Hands, and their Wings, were full of Eyes round about.
–The Cohort bright
Of watchful Cherubims, four Faces each
Had like a double Janus, all their Shape
Spangled with Eyes–

The Assembling of all the Angels of Heaven to hear the solemn Decree passed upon Man, is represented in very lively Ideas. The Almighty is here describd as remembring Mercy in the midst of Judgment, and commanding Michael to deliver his Message in the mildest Terms, lest the Spirit of Man, which was already broken with the Sense of his Guilt and Misery, should fail before him.
–Yet lest they faint
At the sad Sentence rigorously urg’d,
For I behold them softned, and with Tears
Bewailing their Excess, all Terror hide,

The Conference of Adam and Eve is full of moving Sentiments. Upon their going abroad after the melancholy Night which they had passed together, they discover the Lion and the Eagle pursuing each of them their Prey towards the Eastern Gates of Paradise. There is a double Beauty in this Incident, not only as it presents great and just Omens, which are always agreeable in Poetry, but as it expresses that Enmity which was now produced in the Animal Creation. The Poet to shew the like Changes in Nature, as well as to grace his Fable with a noble Prodigy, represents the Sun in an Eclipse. This particular Incident has likewise a fine Effect upon the Imagination of the Reader, in regard to what follows; for at the same time that the Sun is under an Eclipse, a bright Cloud descends in the Western Quarter of the Heavens, filled with an Host of Angels, and more luminous than the Sun it self. The whole Theatre of Nature is darkned, that this glorious Machine may appear in all its Lustre and Magnificence.
–Why in the East
Darkness ere Days mid-course, and morning Light
More orient in that Western Cloud that draws
O’er the blue Firmament a radiant White,
And slow descends, with something Heavnly fraught?
He err’d not, for by this the heavenly Bands
Down from a Sky of Jasper lighted now
In Paradise, and on a Hill made halt;
A glorious Apparition–