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March of Mitza

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The first object of poetry is to please, and that poem which does not obviously please, the which does not flatter the ear and make its immediate appeal to the imagination or the heart, has imperfectly accomplished its object, and must not hope for any extensive controll over the popular mind. In a composition, in which the charm and fascination proper to poetry are generally prevalent, criticism may explain the causes of those effects which are delightful to us; and may establish or extend the fame of the author: but to a poem, of which the beauties are so coy and retreating as to require to be anxiously sought and forcibly dragged into light, the services which the friendliness of criticism can render are very unimportant. It is in vain to tell us that we ought to be, if we are not pleased; and, if our understandings can be brought into subjection by the critic, our fancies, revolting from his authority, will assert their freedom, and, turning from the praised work, will seek their peculiar luxuries wherever they may be found.

On the fate of the Paradise Regained the voice of the public, which on a question of poetic excellence cannot for any long time be erroneous, has irrevocably decided. Not to object to the impropriety of the title, which would certainly be more consistent

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with a work on the death and the resurrection of our blessed Lord, the extreme narrowness of the plan of the poem, the small frage it has bee proportion of it which is assigned to action and pathetic di and the large part which is given to disputa-qually exalted tions and didactic dialogue, its paucity of characters and of poetic imagery, and, lastly, its general deficiency in the charm of numbers must for ever preclude it from any extended range of popularity. It may be liked and applauded by those who are resolute to like and are hardy to applaud: but to the great body of the readers of poetry, let the critics amuse themselves with their exertions as they please, it will always be "caviare.” It is embellished, however, with several exquisite passages, and it certainly shows, in some of its finer parts, the still existing author of the Paradise Lost.

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On the merits of the "Samson Agonistes"

8 Shakespere, in Hamlet.

Aywiorys. (Agonistes) Certator; Qui certat gymnica certamina. Athleta-Pugil. (Step. Thes.)-A contender in those public games of Greece, which were peculiarly called Aywves (Agones); and given with admirable propriety to Samson, as the hero of this drama, the catastrophe of which results from the exhibition of his strength in the public games of the Philistines. It is strange that this most obvious meaning of the title should have escaped Dr. Newton. "Samson Agonistes-that is," he says, "Samson an actor, Samson being represented in a play!!" Dr. N. has perversely adopted the second, and least strictly proper sense assigned by Stephens to Aywiring that of histrio,

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there has fortunately been no important contrariety of opinion. By the universal suffrage it has been pronounced a manly, noble, and pathetic drama, the progeny of a mind equally exalted, sensitive and poetic. Its delineation of character, though not various, is discriminate and true; its sentiments are uniformly weighty and dignified; its diction is severe, exquisite, and sublime; and over the whole is thrown an awful and majestic gloom, which subdues at the same time that it elevates the imagination.

With reference, however, either to its conduct or to its execution, it cannot be considered as a faultless piece. On the subject of its conduct, I must concur with Dr. Johnson in thinking that it is destitute of a just poetic middle;-that the action of the drama is suspended during some of its intermediate scenes, which might be amputated without any injury to the fable. In the inferior department of execution, the author seems to have been betrayed into error by his desire of imitating the choral measures of the Greeks. He perceived that the masters of the Grecian theatre united in their choruses verses of all descriptions, either without any rule, or without any which modern critics

actor scenicus. This is admitted without any remark or correction into the last edition of Milton's works by Mr. Todd.

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with a work on the death and the resurrection of our blessed Lord, the extreme narrowness of the plan of the poem, the small proportion of it which is assigned to action and the large part which is given to disputations and didactic dialogue, its paucity of characters and of poetic imagery, and, lastly, its general deficiency in the charm of numbers must for ever preclude it from any extended range of popularity. It may be liked and applauded by those who are resolute to like and are hardy to applaud: but to the great body of the readers of poetry, let the critics amuse themselves with their exertions as they please, it will always be "caviare.” It is embellished, however, with several exquisite passages, and it certainly shows, in some of its finer parts, the still existing author of the Paradise Lost.

On the merits of the "Samson Agonistes"

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8 Shakespere, in Hamlet.

Aywviorys. (Agonistes) Certator; Qui certat gymnica certamina. Athleta-Pugil. (Step. Thes.)-A contender in those public games of Greece, which were peculiarly called Aywves (Agones); and given with admirable propriety to Samson, as the hero of this drama, the catastrophe of which results from the exhibition of his strength in the public games of the Philistines. It is strange that this most obvious meaning of the title should have escaped Dr. Newton. "Samson Agonistes-that is," he says, "Samson an actor, Samson being represented in a play!!" Dr. N. has perversely adopted the second, and least strictly proper sense assigned by Stephens to Aywviols that of histrio,

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With reference, however, either to its conduct or to its execution, it cannot be considered as a faultless piece. On the subject of its conduct, I must concur with Dr. Johnson in thinking that it is destitute of a just poetic middle; that the action of the drama is suspended during some of its intermediate scenes, which might be amputated without any injury to the fable. In the inferior department of execution, the author seems to have been betrayed into error by his desire of imitating the choral measures of the Greeks. He perceived that the masters of the Grecian theatre united in their choruses verses of all descriptions, either without any rule, or without any which modern critics

actor scenicus. This is admitted without any remark or correction into the last edition of Milton's works by Mr. Todd.

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