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Sir John Denman, a man distinguished as a soldier, a senator, and a poet, entered the House of Commons with a proof sheet of Milton's work, wet from the press, and exclaimed, “This is part of the noblest poem that ever was written in any language or in any age;" and Dryden's exclamation on first seeing it was no less pithy—“This man cuts us all out, and the ancients too!"

With the close of his great life-work, we may end this biographical sketch. Ere the first edition of his poem had been sold, he was numbered with the mighty dead. “With a dissolution so easy that it was unperceived by the persons in his bed-chamber, he closed a life, clouded indeed by uncommon and various calami. ties, yet ennobled by the constant exercise of such rare endowments, as render his name, perhaps, the very first in that radiant and comprehensive list, of which England, the most fertile of countries in the produce of mental power, has reason to be proud."

His funeral was attended by "all his learned and great friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the vulgar." His place of burial is in the church of St. GDes's, Cripplegate, and there England's noblest poet was committed to the dust, calm in the Christian's sure and certain hope of a blessed immortality.




Tais first book proposes, first in brief, the whole sub

ject, man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed. Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into hell, describ. ed here, not in the centre, for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed; but in a place of atter darkness, fitliest call. ed Chaos: here Satan, with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded: they rise; their numbers, array of battle, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech. comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of crea

be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven: for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandæmonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal Peers there sit in council.

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of chaos: or if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the

Wast present, and with mighy wings outspread
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And madest it pregnant: what in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first, for Heaven hides nothing from thy

view, Nor the deep tract of hell; say first, what cause Moved our grand parents, in that happy state, Favour'd of Heaven so highly, to fall off From their Creator, and transgress his will

For one restraint, lords of the world besides ?
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal serpent: he it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind; what time his pride
Had cast him out from heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels; by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equal'd the Most High,
If he opposed ; and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God
Raised impious war in heaven and battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and

To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquish'd rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded though immortal: but his doom
Reserved him to more wrath; for now the

thought Both of lost happiness and lasting pain Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes, That witness'd huge affliction and dismay, Mix'd with obdurate pride and steadfast hate. At once, as far as angels ken, he views The dismal situation waste and wild: A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, As one great furnace, flamed; yet from those

flames No light, but rather darkness visible Served only to discover sights of woe, Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace And rest can never dwell; hope never comes,

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