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"The civil wars in England for a long time deprived Milton of the leisure necessary to execute his great design. He seems to have been born with a strong passion for liberty. This sentiment prevented him from uniting with any of the sects whose ambition it was to rule over his country. Neither would he submit to the yoke of any human opinion, and there was no church that could boast of reckoning Milton among its members. But he did not observe this neutrality in the civil wars between the king and his parliament. He was one of the bitterest enemies of the unfortunate king Charles the First. He also became a favorite of Cromwell's, and by a fatality not uncommon, this zealous republican became the tool of a tyrant. He was secretary to Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell and to the Parliament which continued till the time of the Restoration. The English made use of his pen to justify the death of their king and to reply to a book which Charles the Second had caused to be written by Saumaise on the subject of that tragic event. Never was there a better cause, and never one worse pleaded on both sides. Saumaise wrote like a pedant on the death of the king on the scaffold, on the royal family wandering over Europe, and even concerning all the kings of Europe who were concerned in this quarrel. Milton, like a poor declaimer, advocated the cause of a victorious people, who boasted of having condemned their Prince according to law. The memory of this remarkable revolution will never be effaced from the minds of man; whereas the works of Saumaise and Milton on this subject, have already been buried in oblivion. Milton, whom the English at the present day look upon as a divine poet, was certainly a very indifferent prose writer.

"Milton was fifty-two years old at the restoration. He was included in the amnesty that Charles the Second signed in favor of the enemies of his father, but he was named in the same amnesty and declared incapable of holding any office under the government. He then began his epic poem at an age when Virgil had finished his. Searcely, however, had he set himself to the work, when he was deprived of his sight. He found himself poor, deserted, and blind, but he was not discouraged. He took nine years to compose his Paradise Lost. He had at that time but little reputation; the wits of the court of Charles the Second, either knew him not, or esteemed him not. It is not a matter of surprise that the former secretary of Crom

well, grown old in solitude, blind and poor should be unknown or disregarded in a court, which, after the austerity of the government of the Protector, had adopted all the gallantry of the court of Lewis the Fourteenth, and when only effeminate poetry was relished, such as the voluptuousness of Waller, the satires of the Earl of Rochester, and the wit of Cowley.

"An unquestionable proof that he had but little reputation, is found in the fact that he had great difficulty in finding a bookseller to publish his Paradise Lost.' The very name was unfortunate, for every thing that had any reference to religion was out of fashion. At last Thompson gave him thirty dollars for his work, which has since brought to his heirs more than a hundred thousand. And this publisher was still so much afraid of making a bad bargain, that he stipulated that only half of these, fifteen dollars, should be paid, if there was not sufficient encouragement for a second edition of the poem, '| which second edition Milton had never the consolation to see. He remained poor and obscure, and his name is added to the list of genius persecuted by fortune.

"Paradise Lost' was then neglected in London, and Milton died still in the faith that it would one day acquire renown. At length Lord Sommers and Dr. Atterbury, since bishop of Rochester, were desirous that England might boast of one epic poem. They persuaded the heirs of Thompson to get out a fine edition of 'Paradise Lost.' Their approbation influenced many othAfterwards Mr. Addison wrote a formal treatise to prove that this poem equalled those of Homer and Virgil. The English began to persuade themselves that this was true, and the reputation of Milton was established.


"Milton may have imitated many parts of the great number of Latin poets, who in all ages have written on the same subject, such as the 'Adamas exul,' or Adam exiled, by Grotius, another by an author named Mazenius, and others unknown to the common reader. He might have borrowed from Tasso his description of hell, the character of Satan, the council of devils. But such imitation is not plagiarism; it │ is, to use the words of Boileau, wrestling with the original; it is enriching one's language with the beauties of others; it is nourishing genius and promoting its growth by the genius of others; it is following the example of Virgil who imitated Homer. The contest between Milton and Tasso must have been, however, unequal, for the English language cannot attain to the

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harmony of Italian verse. Nevertheless Milton has been very happy in imitating the most beautiful passages. It is true that what in Tasso is merely an episode, or digression from the poem, is with Milton the main subject. It is no less true that without the picture of the loves of Adam and Eve as well as those of the Renaud and Amadis of Tasso, the devils of both the poets would have met with very little success.

"I think that there are two causes why the 'Paradise Lost' will always succeed; the first is the interest which the reader takes in two innocent and happy beings, who have been seduced and rendered miserable by a powerful and envious being; and the other is the beauty of the details.

"The French laughed when they were told that the English had produced an epic poem, the subject of which was the devil fighting with God and a snake persuading a woman to eat an apple; they thought it impossible from such materials to make any thing above a farce. I was the first who made the French acquainted with certain passages from Milton and Shakspeare. M. du Pré of St. Maur, gave a prose translation of this singular poem. The French were astonished to find in a subject which appeared so barren, such richness of imagination. They admired the majestic features in which the poet had painted the Deity, and the still more brilliant character with which he had invested Satan. They read with great delight the description of the garden of Eden and the innocent loves of Adam and Eve. And here it is to be remarked that in all other poems love is esteemed a weakness, but in Milton it is a virtue. Milton with a chaste hand has known how to raise that veil with which others have concealed the delights of this passion; he transports the reader to that garden of pleasure; he seems to make him participate in its pure joys; he does not rise above human nature, but only above corrupt human nature, and as there is no example of such love by any other poet, so there is nowhere else such a poem.

"But all judicious critics, of which there are many in France, concur in the opinion that the devil is too prominent, he speaks too often and too long, on the same subject. While they admire many sublime ideas, they judge that some are overstrained, and that the author has become puerile in endeavoring to make them appear grand. They condemn as weak the idea of Satan building a chamber of the Gothic order in the midst of hell, with columns of brass and

splendid gold capitals, wherein to address the devils, to whom he had just before conveniently spoken in the open air. And to complete the absurdity, the big devils who would have taken up too much room in this infernal parliament are transformed into pigmies that every one may sit at his ease without being crowded.


"After the dissolving of the council Satan prepares to go out from the abyss. He finds death at the door who disputes his egress. They are on the point of coming to blows, when Sin, a monster of the female sex, out of whom come dragons, interposes between them. Stop! O my father,' says she to the devil; 'stop! O my son,' says she to death. And who are you,' replies the devil, who call me your father?' 'I am sin,' replied the monster, 'I was your progeny when you were in heaven. I came out of the left side of your head; you then became in love with me; we cohabited together; when you rebelled I seduced many of the cherubim from their allegiance; when war was waged in heaven, we were expelled together. In hell I brought forth this monster that you see; he is your son and mine. Scarcely was he born than he violated his mother, and is the father of all these children that you see who pass in and out of my body and prey upon my entrails.'

"After this disgusting and hideous description, Sin opens for Satan the gates of hell. He leaves the devils on the banks of Phlegethon, the Styx and Lethe; some play on the harp; some wrestle in the lists; some dispute on the subject of grace and predestination. Satan in the mean time pursues his journey in imaginary space. He falls into vacuum and would still be falling, if a cloud had not borne him aloft again. He arrives in the regions of Chaos, he passes through the paradise of fools, (that is a part which cannot be translated in French), he finds in this paradise, indulgences, beads, cowls and scapularies of monks.

"Such are some of the fancies which every sensible reader will condemn, and the poem must in other parts have great beauties, to ensure its being read, in spite of this accumulation of disgusting folly.

"The war between the good and evil angels has appeared to critics, a digression where the sublime is merged in the extravagant. The marvellous itself ought to have some show of prudence; it should have an air of probability, and be treated with taste. Judicious critics have found in this instance neither truth, probability, nor reason. They have considered it a great

want of taste, that Milton should have taken such pains to describe the character of Raphael, Michael, Abdiel, Uriel, Moloch, Nisroch and Astoroth, all imaginary beings, of whom the reader can form no conception, and in whom he can take no interest. When Homer speaks of his gods, he characterizes them by their attributes, which are known; but the Christian reader is disposed to smile when one seeks to become acquainted with Nisroch, Moloch and Abdiel. Homer has been reproached for his long and useless harangues and the jests of his heroes. How then can we pass over unnoticed the harangues and bantering of the angels and devils during the war in heaven. These same critics have maintained that Milton disregarded the probable in placing cannon in the army of Satan, and in having put swords in the hands of invulnerable spirits; for in one instance when a certain angel cuts in twain a certain devil, the two halves of the devil are in a moment re-united.

"It was no doubt these great faults that induced Mr. Dryden to say in his preface to the Eneid, that Milton was little better than Chapelain and Le Moine. But the inimitable beauties of Milton caused the same Dryden to say, that nature had formed Milton out of the souls of Homer and Virgil. This is not the first time that the same work has received contradictory judgments. In approaching Versailles on the side of the court, you see a mean looking building with seven windows in front, and every thing in the worst taste imaginable. When it is viewed from the side of the gardens, we be hold an immense palace whose beauties redeem it from these defects.

"When I lived in London, I had the boldness to compose in English a short essay on epic poetry, in which I took the liberty to say that good French judges would not fail to remark all the defects of which I have spoken. What I predicted has come to pass, and critics in that country have decided, as far as a translation would warrant, that 'Paradise Lost' is a work rather remarkable than natural, abounding more in imagination than in grace, in boldness than in choice, whose subject is altogether ideal, and seems not to be made for man."

Monsieur Voltaire then goes on to speak of the difficulties that lie in the way of epic poetry among the French, and makes some remarks on the character of the French nation, for which they have had but little credit. He says:

"The taste for geometry which in our time has superseded that of the belles lettres, is an

other hindrance to our poetry. Our nation, esteemed by strangers as so light, and who judge us by a few fops, is in fact, of all people the most sober and serious when they take the pen in hand. Method is the prevailing character of our writers. Truth is the object, history is preferred to romance. Nobody now reads the Celias and Astreas. If a few novels now and then appear to amuse frivolous youth, men of learning disregard them. Our taste admits not the fancies of epic poetry. He who should employ the gods of the pagans or the saints of the calendar, would be equally laughed at. Juno and Venus must remain with the Greeks and Romans. St. Genevieve and St. Denis have no business out of the legends. The horns and tail of the devil are at the best subjects for raillery; they are no longer above contempt.

"The Italians manage to get along with saints; and the English have conferred great reputation on the devil, but what they consider sublimity we look upon as extravagance and absurdity. I remember twelve years ago when I spoke to Monsieur Malzieux on the subject of my Henriade; he said, 'you are undertaking a │ work for which the French have no taste, they | have no head for epic poetry.' And then he added, 'if you were to write as well as Monsieurs Racine and Despreaulos, it is a chance whether it would be read." "

Monsieur Voltaire concludes his essay by saying, "It is in conformity to the spirit of the age that I have chosen for my poem a real instead of a fabulous hero; actual battles instead of chimerical warfare. I have employed no fiction that was not an actual illustration of a truth. I can say nothing more on the subject, than that | of which enlightened critics are aware. It is for the 'Henriade' to speak in its own defence, and for time alone to disarm envy."

Thus far writes M. Voltaire. In closing this communication I would only remark, that the judgment of Monsieur Malzieux, the friend to whom he submitted his intention of writing the Henriade, was wrong in its decision. That poem has been read and received the highest consideration from the French nation, and not from them only, for every one conversant with the French language, in all countries, has hailed it as a master-piece of epic composition.


Milwaukie, Wis.

GOOD men are earth's angels, ministering to the afflicted childen of humanity.


Joy to the heart which confidently trusts
In God our Father's kind, unceasing care,
Whose changeless love it never more distrusts,
But feels His joyous presence every where.


Joy to that heart! because it fainteth not,
When adverse cares press hard upon the soul;
Whatever woes may come, whate'er our lot,
We know that God the tempest can control.

Happy are they who see in life's deep ills

A God employed that chastens for our good; Who know the hand that chastens, also heals, And ever feel deep cause for gratitude.

O envy not the poverty of soul Veiled in the splendor which the world bestows;

But learn that riches never can console

The heart, which bitter anguish overflows.

Joy to the heart that humbly worships Him,

In spirit-breathings, free, without control, And feels His presence in the twilight dim,

Or midnight deep, when startling thunders roll. We know His voice from man's, and follow Him Rejoicing through the storms that chequer life, Him, who will save his people from their sins, In whom, we know, we have eternal life.


Webster, Mich.

[We publish with great pleasure the following contribution from our old friend B. B. BOWEN, who, though known as a blind brother, sees a great many things much better than millions who can use the sunlight. He sends this essay with the remark that he feels an affection for the Repository, specially because herein was published his first composition for the public eye. That composition was a story of the Blind, and it was re-published in an Edinburgh journal as a something remarkable in the literature of the Blind. The following shows the growth of our friend's mind, and it will be read with great pleasure. ED.]



LIFE has its ultimate secret, its great and final purpose to which all things are subordinate. VOL. XX.


If therefore, we study the laws of the universe, or analyze the independent action of men, we shall find both referring to a common end. The toils and sufferings of mankind sufficiently attest with what earnestness they have labored, consciously or not, to solve the great riddle of existence. The history of the world is a mournful record of this sad truth. But if it teaches us no other lesson, it at least shadows forth a sublime and glorious destiny. How then is it possible for an earnest soul to discover that sublime purpose, that hidden truth, which is the complete and final answer to all our yearnings and aspirations? It is of but little consequence whether we examine the history of the race, or interrogate the individual, the reply, if it be pursued with faithfulness, is ever the same. Most men prefer the broader field of investigation; the universe with its magnificence attracts the senses; there is something genial and inviting in the earth and skies. Long before the soul can make itself heard, the intellect through the medium of the senses, is curiously speculating upon the material wonders by which we are surrounded. And thus it happens, (and thus it must ever be, till man becomes wiser,) that the outward, transient, perishable, becomes investigated and known, while the workings of the hidden power, the mysterious influence that gives to all things significance, is a marvel and a terror. And thus, a smiling landscape, or a gorgeous sunset fills the beholder with a delight unspeakable. But if he closes his senses, and contemplates himself, he is appalled by his ignorance, and weeps, because, though at home, he is a stranger.

With thoughts such as these I sat down one day, that I might contemplate more attentively the mystery of life, and discover, if such might be possible, that for which I had as yet yearned in vain. I said to myself, though my life has been humble, it still must have a meaning; and though, if I were removed from the world, or never had been, no one would miss me-no one would weep for me;-still was I not called into existence in vain. How then shall I begin? Shall I scan with carefulness the pages of the world's sad history written in tears and blood? Shall I seek for the meaning symbolized by the material creation; or attend to the workings of my own soul, and con the lesson taught by experience? What then is it I would know, since reason and faith alike teach that life has a meaning; that our joys and our sorrows, our mistakes and our achievements, point to an end of which

they are but the means; this result, this something to which all things are tending, is that I would know. In a word, I would comprehend the destiny of myself and my race.

I will not disguise to myself the difficulties that beset the investigation I propose. The impossibility of expressing thought and feeling through the medium of language; our ignorance or inability to distinguish between the permanent and transient, the ephemeral and the eternal. The universe with its multiplied forms of beauty and grandeur, is indeed a sublime expression of the hidden thoughts of the Deity. And so too ought our creations to be a true reflection of our inward life. But because of our darkness and ignorance, they are not; for it will be found of most men, that their being is better than their seeming. Hence it is that when we attempt to interpret our own heart by our actions, the result is a monstrous falsehood.

In attempting then to solve the problem of life, we are carefully to examine causes and results, and separate them from whatever is but the creation of our ignorance and prejudice. I will then, in the earnest endeavor to comprehend the meaning of my own life, reject whatever from helplessness or ignorance I have received from abroad. I will carefully consider every event, and assign to each its relative importance. I will recall each moment of joy and sorrow, and question them as to their meaning. And aided by no other light than that which streams forth from the soul, and actuated by no other love than the highest of all loves-the love of the truth, I will proceed to my self-imposed task.

There is something in the life of every one that gives to it its distinctive character. This is as true as that we each have a distinctive destiny. It may be indeed, that all are tending to the same result. Yet viewed as we are in our isolation and imperfection, we each have our separate aims. Thus in the world the soul is silenced and the senses absorb all our life, one man pursues wealth, another power, another fame. So when we are in a measure. freed from these phantoms, and begin to deal with realities, we find this idea of self, this individual tendency still plainly enough manifested.

Leaving these generalizations, I proceed at once to the main object of my inquiry, forgetting all else, considering only myself. it may be that what seems meaningless and disconnected, shall be but a part of a great and beautiful whole. There was a time when I was not.

It is however by no means easy to realize this; for when I read the history of past times, of the struggles and exploits of great and good menit seems as if I were there with them. And moreover there are times, silent contemplative moments, when the past and the present seem blended into one; and we feel or dream we al ways have been, linked as fully to the past expanse as to the future immensity. But having a thought which requires a poet to express it, let me commune with those early hours, that morning of existence when the pure soul first looked forth through the senses to survey its prisonhouse. What has memory to report of the Eden of my mundane existence? I find only a mourn ful record of one dark calamity. Yes-when the curious and speculative soul, viewing from the windows of the body its own bright creations of ineffable beauty, it was saddened and darkened forever. As the young flower, when it first opens its petals, is nipped by the frost, as a heart when full of love is crushed with sorrow, so were the days of my infancy. To look for the first time upon the human face all radiant with joy, to view for a moment the myriads of beautiful objects which the blessed sunlight revealed, to scan with a child's curiosity the tiny flowers and the distant stars, and then to have all veiled as with a dark pall forever, such was my fate! O, reader, could I tell you how many sorrowful hours, how many bitter tears, this first misfortune of my life has caused me,―could I tell you how often in my loneliness I have yearned and prayed, and agonized to see the beautiful in earth and sky, whatever might be your own sorrows, you would pity me. It is a common, but a delusive notion, that one depriv. ed of any great blessing before he has become capable of fully comprehending its uses, is not |¦ affected by its loss. And so it is expected that because I only possessed the power of vision for a short period of my existence, I should not regret being deprived of it. Any expression of feeling, therefore, of sorrow or regret on my part, is regarded as a kind of affectation. But the truth is, that any impression made upon the mind through the external senses, is never obliterated. The little child, when it first opens its eyes and gazes upon its mother's face, receives her image in his heart. And though the cold, stern hand of destiny should close his eyes forever, the memory of the moment when he saw that face, will go with him through life as a beautiful dream. Long after, when the mother's gentle voice and tender sympathy shall have

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