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The speeches of these two first lovers flow equally from passion and sincerity. The professions they make to one another are full of warmth, but at the same time founded on truth: in a word, they are the gallantries of Paradise.
-When Adam, first of men
'Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,
But let us ever praise Him, and extol
His bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers;
Like consort to thyself canst no where find,' &c.
The remaining part of Eve's speech, in which she gives an account of herself upon her first creation, and the manner in which she was brought to Adam, is, I think, as beautiful a passage as any in Milton, or perhaps in any other poet whatsoever. These passages are all worked off with so much art, that they are capable of pleasing the most delicate reader, without offending the most
That day I oft remember, when from sleep, &c.
A poet of less judgment and invention than this great author, would have found it very difficult to have filled these tender parts of the poem with sentiments proper for a state of innocence;
to have described the warmth of love, and the professions of it, without artifice or hyperbole; to have made the man speak the most endearing things, without descending from his natural dignity, and the woman receiving them without departing from the modesty of her character; in a word, to adjust the prerogatives of wisdom and beauty, and make each appear to the other in its proper force and loveliness. This mutual subordination of the two sexes is wonderfully kept up in the whole poem, as particularly in the speech of Eve I have before mentioned, and upon the conclusion of it in the following lines.
So spake our gen'ral mother, and with eyes
The poet adds, that the devil turned away with envy at the sight of so much happiness.
We have another view of our first parents in their evening discourses, which is full of pleasing images and sentiments suitable to their condition and characters. The speech of Eve, in particular, is dressed up in such a soft and natural turn of words and sentiments, as can not be sufficiently admired.
I shall close my reflections upon this book, with observing the masterly transition which the poet makes to their evening worship in the fol lowing lines.
Thus at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood,
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heav'n,
Most of the modern heroic poets have imitated the ancients in beginning a speech, without premising that the person said thus or thus: but as it is easy to imitate the ancients in the omission of two or three words, it requires judgment to do it in such a manner as they shall not be missed, and that the speech may begin naturally without them. There is a fine instance of this kind out of Homer in the twenty-third chapter of Longinus.
No. 322. MONDAY, MARCH 10.
-Ad humum mærore gravi deducit et angit. HOR.
Ir is often said, after a man has heard a story with extraordinary circumstances, it is a very good one if it be true: but as for the following relation, I should be glad were I sure it were false. It is told with such simplicity; and there are so many artless touches of distress in it, that I fear it comes too much from the heart.
'SOME years ago it happened that I lived in the same house with a young gentleman of merit; with whose good qualities I was so much taken, as to make it my endeavour to show as many as I was able in myself. Familiar converse improved general civilities into an unfeigned passion on both sides. He watched an opportunity to declare himself to me; and I who could not expect a man of so great an estate as his, received his addresses in such terms as gave him no reason to believe I was displeased with them, though I did nothing to make him think me more easy than was decent. His father was a very hard worldly man, and proud; so that there was no reason to believe he would easily be brought to think there was any thing in any woman's person or charac ter that could balance the disadvantage of an unequal fortune. In the meantime, the son continued his application to me, and omitted no occasion of demonstrating the most disinterested passion imaginable to me; and, in plain direct terms, offered to marry me privately, and keep it so until he should be so happy as to gain his father's approbation, or become possessed of his estate. I passionately loved him, and you will believe I did not deny such a one what was my interest also to grant. However, I was not so young as not to take the precaution of carrying with me a faithful servant, who had been also my mother's maid, to be present at the ceremony. When that was over, I demanded a certificate, signed by the minister, my husband, and the servant I just now spoke of. After our nuptials, we conversed together very familiarly in the same
house; but the restraints we were generally under, and the interviews we had being stolen and interrupted, made our behaviour to each other have rather the impatient fondness which is visible in lovers, than the regular and gratified affection which is to be observed in man and wife. This observation made the father very anxious for his son, and press him to a match he had in his eye for him. To relieve my husband from this importunity, and conceal the secret of our marriage, which I had reason to know would not be long in my power in town, it was resolved that I should retire into a remote place in the country, and converse, under feigned names, by letter. We long continued this way of commerce; and I, with my needle, a few books, and reading over and over my husband's letters, passed my time in a resigned expectation of better days. Be pleased to take notice, that within four months after I left my husband I was delivered of a daughter, who died within a few hours after her birth. This accident, and the retired manner of life I led, gave criminal hopes to a neighbouring brute of a country gentleman, whose folly was the source of all my affliction. This rustic is one of those rich clowns who supply the want of all manner of breeding by the neglect of it, and with noisy mirth, half-understanding, and ample fortune, force themselves upon persons and things, without any sense of time or place. The poor ignorant people where I lay concealed, and now passed for a widow, wondered I could be so shy and strange, as they called it, to the 'squire; and were bribed by him to admit him whenever he thought fit. I happened to be sitting in a little parlour