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And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old ;
Elsewhere he exclaims in not less pathetic strains:
“ If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
* higher argument
How lofty must have been the intelligence of Milton, which could sustain this intercourse face to face with God, and the wonderful beings he has created! No man ever displayed a more sober and at the same time a more delicate genius. “It was,” says Hume,“ during a state of poverty, blindness, disgrace, danger, and old age, that Milton composed his wonderful poem, which not only surpassed all the performances of his cotemporaries, but all the compositions which had flowed from his pen during the vigour of his age and the height of his prosperity.” We actually distinguish in this poem, through the ardour of youthful years, the maturity of age and the gravity of misfortune; this imparts to “ Paradise Lost" an extraordinary fascination of old age and youth, of restlessness and peace, of sadness and joy, of reason and love.
BETWEEN THE MEN AND EVENTS OF
THE ENGLISH AND
OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONS.
WERE we, on quitting Milton, to hasten, without any transition, to the writers who flourished under the last two Stuarts, we should fall from a greater height than the angels of “ Paradise Lost,” who were hurled from heaven to an immeasurable depth. We have, however, to take a retrospect of the revolution from which the poet had emerged, and to compare it with our own revolution : by bestowing some further consideration on the age of Milton, we shall insensibly descend to the reigns of Charles and of James. We feel riveted, as it were, to those days of 1649, remarkable for their affinity with our own time; we shall see, by the comparison of men and events, that our revolutionary days maintain over those of the English republic and Protectorship a signal, though too often a fatal, superiority.
The French revolution was surpassed in litera