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To compile a history from various authors, when they can only be consulted by other eyes, is not easy, nor possible, but with more skilful and attentive help than can be commonly obtained ; and it was probably the difficulty of consulting and comparing that stopped Milton's narrative at the Conquest ; a period at which affairs were not yet very intricate, nor authors very numerous.
For the subject of his epic poem, after much deliberation, long chusing, and beginning late, he fixes upon Paradise Lost ; a design so comprehensive, that it could be justified only by success. He had once designed to celebrate King Arthur, as he hints in his verses to Mansus; but Arthur was reserved, says Fenton, to another destiny *.
It appears, by some sketches of poetical projects left in manuscript, and to be seen in a lie brary + at Cambridge, that he had digested his thoughts on this subject into one of those wild dramas which were anciently called Mysterics : and Philips had seen what he terms part of a tragedy, beginning with the first ten lines of Satan's address to the Sun. These mysteries consist of Moses.
preface above-mentioned, and a large part of the Title of the
Cambridge Dictionary,' have been incorporated and printed with the subsequent editions of Littleton's Dictionary,' till that of 1735. Vid. Biogr. Brit. 2985, in not. So that, for aught that appears to the contrary, Philips was the last possessor of Milton's MS, H : * Id est, to be the subject of an heroic poem, written by Sir Richard Blackmore. H.
4 Trinity College. R.
allegorical persons; such as Justice, Mercy, Faith. Of the tragedy or mystery of Paradise Lost there are two plans : The Persons.
The Persons. Michael. Chorus of Angels. Divine Justice, Wisdom, Heavenly Love..
Heavenly Love, Lucifer.
The Evening Star, Hese Adam,) with the perus. Eve, Serpent. Chorus of Angels. Conscience.
Conscienee. Discontént, Mutes. Labour, Ignorance,
Sickness, with others;
The Persons. Moses, agonoyisen, recounting how he assumed his true body; that it corrupts not, because it is
if he fall.
with God in the mount; declares the like with Enoch and Elijah ; besides the purity of the place, that certain pure winds, dews, and clouds, preserve it from corruption; whence exhorts to the sight of God; tells they cannot see Adam in the state of innocence, by reason of their sin.
i debating what should become of man, Wisdom, Chorus of Angels singing a hymn of the Creation.
АСТ 11. Heavenly Love. Evening Star. Chorus sing the marriage-song, and describe Paradise. .
ACT 111. Lucifer contriving Adam's ruin. Chorus fears for Adam, and relates Lucifer's re
bellion and fall.
Conscience cites them to God's examination.
- -- - presented by an angel wish
Labour, Grief, Hatred, Envy, War, Fa-) . mine, Pestilence, Sickness, Discon- Mutes,
tent, Ignorance, Fear, Death; } To whom he gives their names. Likewise Win
ter, Heat, Tempest, &c.
Such was his first design, which could have produced only an allegory, or mystery. The following sketch seems to have attained more maturity.
Adam unparadised : The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering; shewing, since this globe was created, his frequency as much on earth as in heaven; describes Paradise. Next, the Chorus, shewing the reason of his coming to keep his watch in Paradise, after Lucifer's rebellion, by command from God; and withal expressing his desire to see and know more concerning this excellent new creature, man. The angel Gabriel, as by his name signifying a prince of power, tracing Paradise with a more free office, passes by the station of the Chorus, and, desired by them, relates what he knew of man ; as the creation of Eve, with their love and marriage. After this, Lucifer appears ; after his over. throw bemoans himself, seeks revenge'. on man, The Chorus prepare resistance at his first approach. At last, after discourse of enmity on either side, he departs; whereat the Chorus sings of the battle and victory in heaven, against him and his accomplices ; as before, after the first act, was sung a hymn of the creation. Here again may appear Lucifer, relating and insulting in what he had done to the destruction of man. Man next, and Eve having by this time been seduced by the Serpent, appears confusedly covered with leaves. Con. science, in a shape, accuses him ; Justice cites him to the place whither Jehovah called for him. In the mean while, the Chorus entertains the stage, and is informed by some angel the manner of the fall. Here the Chorus bewails Adam's fall; Adam then and Eve return; accuse one another ; but especially Adam lays the blame to his wife ; is stub. born in his offence. Justice appears, reasons with him, convinces him. The Chorus admonishes Adam, and bids him beware Lucifer's example of impenitence. The angel is sent to banish them out of Paradise ; but before causes to pass before his eyes, in shapes, a mask of all the evils of this life and world. He is humbled, relents, despairs ; at last appears Mercy, comforts him, promises the Messiah; then calls in Faith, Hope, and Charity; instructs him; he repents, gives God the glory, submits to his penalty, The Chorus briefly concludes. Compare this with the former draught.