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And drop down clouds of flowers ? Did'st not thou bow
Thine easy ear unto the plowman's vow;

Long might he look, and look, and long in vain,

Might load his harvest in an empty wain,
And beat the woods to find the poor oak's hungry grain.
The effect of the address of Justice is given with great
sublimity :

She ended, and the heavenly Hicrarchies
Burning in zeal, thickly imbranded were:
Like to an army that alarum cries,
And every one shakes his ydreaded spear,
And the Almighty's self, as he would tear

The carth, and her firm basis quite in sunder,

Flam'd all in just revenge, and mighty thunder, Heaven stole itself from earth by clouds that moisten dunder. The awful grandeur of celestial indignation seems to lift itself up in the majesty of these lines. The sudden preparation of the heavenly warriors, the clangor of arms and the uprising of the Deity himself, are splendid images, which are known to the reader of Paradise Lost not to have escaped the notice of Milton. The pause at the beginning of the stanza is a note of solemn preparation.

The reappearance of Mercy in the midst of darkness and tumult is very picturesque ; her face soon glimmers through, and paints the clouds with beauty

As when the cheerful sun, elamping wide,
Glads all the world with his uprising ray,
And woo's the widow'd earth afresh to pride,
And paints her bosom with the flow'ry May,
His silent sister steals him quite away:

Wrapt in a sable cloud from mortal eyes

The hasty stars at noon begin to rise,
And headlong to his early roost the sparrow flies.

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But soon as he again deshadow'd is,
Restoring the blind world his blemish d sight,
As though another day were newly his,
The cozen d birds busily take their flight,
and wonder at the shortness of the night.

So Mercy once again herself displays,

Out from her sister's cloud, and open lay's
Those sunshine looks whose beams wouid dim a thousand days.

The poct then describes the charms of Mercy in verses sparkling as the "discoloured plumes" of the graces that attend upon her. His "gelden phrases flie" in a stream of “choicest rhetorie."

The gentleness of Mercy is contrasted with the haggard wretchedness of Repentance:

Deeply, alas, impassioned she stool,
To see a flaming brand toss d up from hell,
Bciling her heart in her own lustful blood,
That oft for torment slie would loudly yell;
Now she would sighing sit, and now she fell

Crouching upon the ground in sacklotlı trust,

Early and late she pray'd, and fast she must,
And all ber hair hung full of ashes and of dust.
The reader may remember the picture of Remorse in
the introduction to the Mirrour for Magistrates :-

And first within the porch and jaws of hell,
Sat deep remorse of conscience, all besprent
With tears; and to herself oft would she tell

Her wretchedness Fletcher wanted the energy of Sackville's iron pen. The impersonations of Dread, Revenge, Misery, and Death, placed by that writer in the Porch of Hell, have never been surpassed. They stand out in the ghastly reality of life, and fill the mind with a solemn visionary terror.

When Mercy beheld the wretched form of Repentance sitting in “a dark valley" she sent to comfort her one of her loveliest attendants, "smiling Eirene *

That a garland wears
Of gilded olive on her fairer hairs.
There is one exquisite line in the 82nd stanza, in allu-
sion to the shepherds at the nativity :-

And them to guide unto their Master's home,

A star comes dancing up the orient.
The first canto concludes thus :

Bring, bring, ye Graces, all your silver flaskets,
Painted with every choicest flower that grows,
That I may soon unflower your fragrant baskets,
To strew the field with odours where he goes,
Let whatsoe'er he treads on be a rose.

So down she let her eyelids fall, to shine

Upon the rivers of bright Palestine. So beautifully does the poet strew with flowers the path of the infant Jesus.

The second canto, Christ's Victorie on Earth, opens with the temptation of our Saviour in the wilderness, The fanciful prettiness of Fletcher contrasts_upleasingly with the calm and dignified narrative of Milton, who, without departing from the text of Scripture, where it is said, Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, has invested it with a poetical character. Fletcher's picture of our Saviour upon "a grassy hillock laid," with “woody primroses befreckled," does not impress us like Milton's description of Him, who the "better to converse with solitude," entered the

bordering desert wild,
And with dark shades and rocks environ'd round,

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pursued "his holy meditations." The silence of the desert dwells around us!

In the representation of our Lord's personal appearance Fletcher has manifested a still greater absence of judgment; it is principally formed from the Canticles, and in a style of fantastical colouring, peculiarly displeasing in a sacred poem. The author might, however, have pleaded the prevalent taste of the age in extenuation. Two nights the Saviour has passed in "the silent wilderness," making "the ground his bed, and his moist pillow grass," when he discovers afar off an old palmer, "come footing slowly," who entreats him to bless his lowly roof with his presence. Milton concurred with Fletcher in concealing the Prince of Darkness under the form of an aged man. This similitude appears to have been generally adopted. In La Vita et Passione di Christo, published at Venice in 1518, a wooden cut is prefixed to the Temptation, in which Satan is represented as an old •man with a long beard, offering bread to our Lord. In Vischer's cuts to the Bible, as noticed by Thyer, the teinpter is an aged man, and Mr. Dunster has pointed out the same circumstance in the painting of the Temptation by Salvator Rosa*.

They wander along together until they arrive at a dismal abode, the Cave of Despair

E'er long they came near to a baleful bower,
Much like the mouth of that infernal cave,
That gaping stood, all comers to devour,
Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave
That still for carrion carcases doth crave.

The ground no herbs but venomous did bear,

Nor ragged trees did leave; but every where
Dead bones and skulls were cast, and bodies hanged were.

* See Todd's Works of Milton, V. 4, preliminary observations, p. 18.


Upon the roof the bird of sorrow sat,
Elonging joyful day with her sad note,
And thro' the shady air the tluttering bat
Did wave her leather sails, and blindly float,
While with her wings the fatal screech-owl smote

Th' unblessed house ; there, on a craggy stone,

Celeno hung, and made his direful moan,
And all about the inurdered ghosts did shrick and groan.
Like cloudy moonshine in some shadowy grove,
Such was the light in which Despair did dwell;
But he himself with night for darkness strove.
His black uncombed locks dishevell'd fell
About his face; thro' which, as brands of hell

Sunk in his skull, his starry eyes did glow,

That made him deadly look, their glimpse did show
Like cockatrices' eyes that sparks of poison throw.
His clothes were ragged clouts, with thorns pinn'd fast ;
And as he musing lay, to stony fright
A thousand wild Chimeras would him cast :
As when a fearful dream in midst of night
Skips to the brain and phansies to the sight

Some winged fury, straight the hasty foot,

Eager to fly, cannot pluck up its root :
The voice dies in the tongue, and mouth gapes without boot.
Now he would dream that he from Heaven fell,
And then would snatch the air afraid to fall;
And now he thought he sinking was to Hell,
And then would grasp the earth, and now his stall
Him seemed Hell, and then he out would craul :

And ever as he crept would squint aside,

Lest him, perhaps, some fury had espied,
And then, alas ! he should in chains for ever bide!
The most material features of this description, remarks
Mr. Headley *, are taken from Spenser's Fairy Queen,
lib. i., canto 9, st. 33, 36. This, he adds, is a curious

Select Specimens, vol. i. p. 81.


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