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The part of Moloch is likewise in all its circumstances full of that fire and fury which distinguish this spirit from the rest of the fallen angels. He is described in the first book as besmeared with the blood of human sacrifices, and delighted with the tears of parents and the cries of children. In the second book he is marked out as the fiercest spirit that fought in heaven; and if we consider the figure which he makes in the sixth book, where the battle of the angels is described, we find it every way answerable to the same furious enraged character.

-Where the might of Gabriel fought,

And with fierce ensigns pierc'd the deep array
Of Moloch, furious king, who him defy'd,
And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound
Threaten'd, nor from the Holy One of heav'n
Refrain'd his tongue blasphemous; but anon
Down cloven to the waste, with shatter'd arms
And uncouth pain fled bellowing-

It may be worth while to observe, that Milton has represented this violent impetuous spirit, who is hurried on by such precipitate passions, as the first that rises in that assembly, to give his opinion upon their present posture of affairs. Accordingly he declares himself abruptly for war, and appears incensed at his companions, for losing so much time as even to deliberate upon it. All his sentiments are rash, audacious, and desperate. Such is that of arming themselves with tortures, and turning their punishments upon him who inflicted them.

No, let us rather chuse,

Arm'd with hell-flames and fury, all at once
O'er heav'n's high tow'rs to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms

Against the tort'rer; when to meet the noise

Of his Almighty engine he shall hear
Infernal thunder, and for lightning see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his angels; and his throne itself
Mixt with Tartarean sulphur, and strange fire,
His own invented torments

His preferring annihilation to shame or misery, is also highly suitable to his character; as the comfort he draws from their disturbing the peace of Heaven, that if it be not victory, it is revenge, is a sentiment truly diabolical, and becoming the bitterness of this implacable spirit.

Belial is described in the first book, as the idol of the lewd and luxurious. He is in the second book, pursuant to that description, characterised as timorous and slothful; and if we look into the sixth book, we find him celebrated in the battle of angels for nothing but that scoffing speech which he makes to Satan, on their supposed advantage over the enemy. As his appearance is uniform, and of a piece, in these three several views, we find his sentiments in the infernal assembly every way conformable to his character. Such are his apprehensions of a second battle, his horrors of annihilation, his preferring to be miserable rather than not to be. I need not observe, that the contrast of thought in this speech, and that which precedes it, gives an agreeable variety to the debate.

Mammon's character is so fully drawn in the first book, that the poet adds nothing to it in the second. We were before told, that he was the first who taught mankind to ransack the earth for gold and silver, and that he was the architect of Pandæmonium, or the infernal palace, where the evil spirits were to meet in council. His speech in this book is every way suitable to so depraved a character. How proper is that reflection, of their being unable to taste the happiness of Heaven, were they actually there, in the mouth of one, who, while he was in Heaven, is said to have had his mind dazzled with the outward pomps and glories of the place, and to have been more intent on the riches of the pavement, than on the beatific vision. I shall also leave the reader to judge how agreeable the following sentiments are to the same character.

-This deep world

Of darkness do we dread? How oft amidst

Thick clouds and dark doth Heav'u's all-ruling Sire
Chuse to reside, his glory unobscur'd,

And with the majesty of darkness round

Covers his throne; from whence deep thunders roar
Must'ring their rage, and Heav'n resembles Hell!
As he our darkness, cannot we his light
Imitate when we please? This desert soil
Wants not her hidden lustre, gems and gold;
Nor want we skill or art, from whence to raise
Magnificence; and what can Heav'n shew more?

Beelzebub, who is reckoned the second in dignity that fell, and is in the first book the second that awakens out of the trance, and confers with Satan upon the situation of their affairs, maintains his rank in the book now before us. There is a wonderful majesty described in his rising up to speak. He acts as a kind of moderator between the two opposite parties, and proposes a third undertaking, which the whole assembly gives into. The motion he makes of detaching one of their body in search of a new world, is grounded upon a project devised by Satan, and cursorily proposed by him in the following lines of the first book.

Space may produce new worlds, whereof so rife
There went a fame in Heav'n, that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant

A generation, whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the sons of Heav'n:
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first irruption, thither or elsewhere:
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial spirits in bondage, nor th' abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts

Full council must mature.

It is on this project that Beelzebub grounds his proposal.

-What if we find

Some easier enterprize? There is a place,
(If ancient and prophetic fame in Heav'n
Err not,) another world, the happy seat

Of some new race call'd MAN, about this time
To be created like to us, though less

In power and excellence, but favor'd more
Of him who rules above; so was his will
Pronounc'd among the gods, and by an oath,

That shook Heav'n's whole circumference, confirm'd.

The reader may observe how just it was, not to omit in the first book the project upon which the whole poem turns: as also that the prince of the fallen angels was the only proper person to give it birth, and that the next to him in dignity was the fittest to support it.

There is besides, I think, something wonderfully beautiful, and very apt to affect the reader's imagination, in this ancient prophecy or report in Heaven concerning the creation of man. Nothing could shew more the dignity of the species, than this tradition which ran of them before their existence. They are represented to have been the talk of Heaven before they were created. Virgil, in compliment to the Roman commonwealth, makes the heroes of it appear in their state of pre-existence; but Milton does a far greater honour to mankind in general, as he gives us á glimpse of them even before they are in being.

The rising of this great assembly is described in a very sublime and poetical manner.

Their rising all at once was as the sound
Of thunder heard remote-

The diversions of the fallen angels, with the particular account of their place of habitation, are described with great pregnancy of thought, and copiousness of invention. The diversions are every way suitable to beings who had nothing left them but strength and knowledge misapplied. Such are their contentions at the race, and in feats of arms, with their entertainment in the following lines,

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Others with vast Typhean rage more fell,

Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air

In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar.

Their music is employed in celebrating their own criminal exploits, and their discourse in sounding the unfathomable depths of fate, free-will, and foreknowledge.

The several circumstances in the description of hell are finely imagined; as the four rivers which disgorge themselves into the sea of fire, the extremes of cold and heat, and the river of oblivion. The monstrous animals produced in that infernal world are represented by a single line, which gives a more horrid idea of them, than a much longer description would have done.

-Nature breeds,

Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, unutterable, and worse

Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceiv'd,
Gorgons, and hydras, and chimeras dire.

This episode of the fallen spirits, and their place of habitation, comes in very happily to unbend the mind of the reader from its attention to the debate. An ordinary poet would indeed have spun out so many circumstances to a great length, and by that means have weakened, instead of illustrated, the principal fable.

The flight of Satan to the gates of hell is finely imagined.

I have already declared my opinion of the allegory concerning Sin and Death, which is however a very finished piece in its kind, when it is not considered as a part of an epic poem. The genealogy of the several persons is contrived with great delicacy. Sin is the daughter of Satan, and Death the offspring of Sin. The incestuous mixture between Sin and Death produces those monsters and hellhounds which from time to time enter into their mother, and tear the bowels of her who gave them

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