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and privations. We trace the workings of his heroic spirit; and we see the sublime picture of lofty virtue and splendid genius “struggling with the storms of fate."

The temperament of poetry is heat and exhalation: it throws out flashes, of which labour and art cannot supply scintillæ. Its warmth and tone communicate its contagion to others. Whatever there is of artificial and mechanical attempt to produce this effect on others, fails, and ends in nothing. It is like dead air, whence we draw no healthful breath.

No one can write with the powers of a poet except when he is in a state of excitement. All must be centred within him :-there the fire must burn and blaze. He must see with the mental eye, and pore, and believe. Language will accompany this state of spiritualism without being searched for. If the thought does not predominate over the expression, it is not only charmless, but weak and faulty:

Cold as the snow upon Canadian hills,

It wakes no spark within, but chills the heart.

The spell comes from the imagination :— - there can be no warmth in literary composition where there is no imagination.

The force and brightness of the fire is in proportion to the richness and abundance of the fuel applied to it. Milton applied all invention, all wisdom, all learning, and all knowledge.

Perhaps we must bring to the reading of

Milton much greatness of spirit, a strong and unsophisticated fancy-much erudition, and much power of thought, to enable us thoroughly to taste and admire him. In this he differs from Shakspeare, who is equally fitted for the people, and for the most radiant and most cultivated minds. One can scarcely deny that this is a superiority in Shakspeare: Milton could not have been what he was without the aid of intense study; but as Milton could not have done what Shakspeare did, so Shakspeare could not have done what Milton did. To have produced Samson Agonistes' would have been utterly beyond Shakspeare's reach: Shakspeare, however, would have given more variety of characters, and richness and contrast of incidents: he would have drawn Dalilah more inviting, and Samson more tender his language would have been more flowing-more vernacular; and if not so sublime, more beautiful: it would have sunk with less consideration, and more immediately into people's hearts. Samson Agonistes' is for study, and not to be lightly perused. But let no scholar-let no magnanimous-souled being, who understands the English language, and has any tincture of education, omit to read it, and muse upon it again and again, and lay it up in the treasured stores of his memory: it will exercise and improve all his intellectual faculties, and elevate his heart:-it has at once novelty, truth, and wisdom. He may learn by it lessons for the great affairs of life, enlarge his comprehension, and fortify his bosom.

He may be taught that sublimity and strength of language lie not in glitter or floweriness;-that strength is naked, and boldness of conception can support itself.



I HAVE thus given my opinion distinctively of Milton's epic, dramatic, and lyrical genius. I have done it sincerely, without exaggeration, and, after a habit of considering the subject for many years, with an earnest desire to form a right judgment.

To praise upon mere authority can answer no good purpose; the repetition of false praise will add to its nauseousness: but there can be no certainty of merit, unless we strictly establish principles which shall become a test to it. The endless diversity of capricious opinion puts every thing afloat: we can trust to nothing but the concurrence of all ages and all nations. If, therefore, we find that what was laid down by Aristotle has received the sanction of posterity under all changes of manners and varieties of countries, reason enjoins us to rely upon it as truth: I take, therefore, Aristotle's four requisites of good poetry to be undeniable. By these rules Milton must ever stand where he has been placed-at the head

of his art, if art it may be called. But the extraordinary thing is, that he has no second in this combination of merits,—that he stands alone!

There are those whom this will offend; but it is the stern truth. If fable, in the sense in which Aristotle uses it, is a necessary essential, the conclusion is incontrovertible.

Of all the fifty-two poets whose Lives have been written by Johnson, and of whom not less than seventeen are mere versifiers, and several of them mediocre versifiers,-Dryden and Pope.. stand, in common estimation, next to Milton. But however I may sin against the popular opinion, I persevere in saying that they are deficient in this first essential, to which I have alluded: I assert that they have no poetical invention. Pope's Rape of the Lock' will scarcely be objected to me; nor Dryden's Fables,' which are all borrowed.

Sir William Temple's observation of the rarity of poetical genius, so often cited, is thus verified. Single qualities may not be uncommon; it is the union of all the essentials which so seldom occurs. Milton had them all; and each in the most eminent degree. Pope may be said to have had the last three Dryden wanted the first, and, perhaps, the third.

So far as poetry is to be considered not only the voice of pleasure but the voice of wisdom, whatever fiction is contrary to probability, is not only not praiseworthy, but culpable. It justly brings poetry into contempt, and gives it the

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