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we must allow that he has preserved the unity of action, and bas finished his catastrophe with inimitable pathos and effect; and we must also allow that the exuberance of his geniur has protracted the action much longer than was consistent with the laws of epic poetry, or the reader's patience. Had the Paradise Lost been comprised in six books instead of twenty-four, no poem, antient or modern, could have been brought into competition with it.

If I thus presume to censure the plan and arrangement of this extraordinary poem, do it justice in a point of view where I cannot apprehend opposition. It is a Thesaurus of poetical beauties. The thoughts, the figures, the language, the verse, are unrivalled. Dryden and Gray, I might perhaps add Pope, have profited largely from the happy combinations, and the bold application of language to be found in this poem. Even Shakspeare himself seldom dared to deviate from the universal idiom ; but Milton taught us the full force of the English language ; he even enriched it. His poems would furnish a vocabulary copious enough for every purpose of rhetorical or poetical composition. His imagination was so active, bis knowledge was so unbounded, that: every line is replete with curious information, with striking sentiment, or with poetical fancy. At the same time he draws a picture as no other man could have drawn it-Not to speak of his delineation of Satan, and the other cha. racters in the infernal regions ; not to instance the soft and tender description of the state of our first parents ; can any thing equal the pathos and beauty of that passage which relates. their expulsion from Paradise ?

Whatever may be his faults, great is the praise of that man, to whom even the fastidiousness of criticism must assign the laurelled crown as the first lyric, and the first epic poet, of perhaps the most exalted nation in science and in literature on the face of the earth.

I cannot help observing, that the whole fabric of Paradise Lost, except the mere naked narrative of the Fall, is founded upon the most slender authority, imaginable, two or three short, obscure, and ill-understood passages, chiefly in the Epistle of St. Jude ; and yet it forms at present a part of our popular theology. Our grandsires, and even perhaps many grave Doc.. tors of Divinity, would exclaim against the ima

piety of that man who would dare to question a syllable of the authenticity of all that he has related, of the war in heaven, of the state of the rebellious spirits, &c. &c. This is a new proof of the preponderancy of Milton's genius, as well as of his popularity.

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LETTER XXXII.

On the Uses of Classical Learning.

MY DEAR JOHN, I cannot better close a correspondence which has had so much reference to the classical writers, than by a short view of the uses and advantages of classical learning. The substance of what I shall advance on this subject was published some years ago in one of the volumes of the Memoirs of the Manchester Philosophical and Literary Society; but as that work is, I believe, out of print, and not likely to be reprinted, you will not be sorry to see what were then my sentiments on this important topic.

The study of ancient languages, the Greek and Latin at least, and of what are usually termed the classical authors in those languages, has, for some centuries, constituted a branch of liberal education, in every refined nation in this quarter of the globe. It appears, indeed, no more than a just tribute to the labours of antiquity, that posterity should not ungratefully consign them to unmerited oblivion ;, nor even content itself with contemplating that imperfect copy of their features, which a translation exhibits. It is a curiosity natural to the human mind, a becoming pride, to wish as intimate an acquaintance as possible with the illustrious dead; to hold, in a manner, a friendly conversation with them, in their own language, and in their own peculiar style.

If these, however, were the only reasons for the cultivation of classical literature, though they might interest the philosopher, and the man of taste, still we could not in justice al. low them that universal cogency, which is necessary to sanction a general practice.' There must be other motives to warrant the bardship, which is imposed on almost every well-born youth, of consuming in severe study several of the most gay and delightful years of life, and of encountering hardships, which nothing but an object of some importance can justify.

Without wishing to appear a lover of paradox, I cannot dissemble that I do not in my own mind allow much force to the maxim which insists on the absolute necessity of classi

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