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Andreini wrote a long allegorical drama on Paradise, and we know that the fancy of Milton first began to play with the subject according to that peculiar form of composition. Lancetta treated it also in the shape of a dramatic allegory; but said, at the same time, under the character of Moses, that the subject might form an incomparable epic poem; and Milton, quitting his own hasty sketches of alle gorical dramas, accomplished a work which answers to that intimation4."
The following analysis of this drama has been made by Mr. Hayley:
Act I. Scene 1. "God commemorates his creation of the heavens, the earth, and the water-determines to make man-gives him vital spirit, and admonishes him to revere his Maker, and live innocent.
Raphael, Michael, Gabriel, and Angels. Raphael praises the works of God-the other angels follow his example, particularly in regard to Man.
Scene 3. "God and Adam. God gives Paradise to Adam to hold as a fief— forbids him to touch the apple-Adam promises obedience.
Scene 4. "Adam acknowledges the beneficence of God, and retires to repose in the shade.
Act II. Scene 1. "God and Adam. God resolves to form a companion for Adam, and does so while Adam is sleeping-he then awakes Adam, and, presenting to him his new associate, blesses them both; then leaves them, recommending obedience to his commands.
Scene 2. "Adam and Eve. Adam receives Eve as his wife-praises her, and entreats her to join with him in revering and obeying God- she promises sub. mission to his will, and entreats his instruction-he tells her the prohibition, and enlarges on the beauties of Paradise-on his speaking of flocks, she desires to see them, and he departs to show her the various animals.
Scene 3. "Lucifer, Belial, Satan. Lucifer laments his expulsion from Hea. ven, and meditates revenge against Man-the other demons relate the cause of their expulsion, and stimulate Lucifer to the revenge he meditates-he resolves to employ the Serpent.
Scene 4. "The Serpent, Eve, Lucifer. The Serpent questions Eve-derides her fear and obedience-tempts her to taste the apple-she expresses her eagerness to do so the Serpent exults in the prospect of her perdition-Lucifer (who seems to remain as a separate person from the Serpent) expresses also his exultation, and steps aside to listen to a dialogue between Adam and Eve.
Scene 5. "Eve, Adam. Eve declares her resolution to taste the apple, and present it to her husband-she tastes it, and expresses unusual hope and animation -she says the serpent has not deceived her-she feels no sign of death, and presents the fruit to her husband-he reproves her--she persists in pressing him to eat-he complies-declares the fruit sweet, but begins to tremble at his own nakedness he repents, and expresses his remorse and terrour-he proposes a form a covering of leaves-they retire to hide themselves in foliage.
4 Conjectures on the Origin of Paradise Lost, at the end of the Life of Milton, 2d edit. 1796, p. 364, &c.
Act III. Scene 1. "Lucifer, Belial, Satan. Lucifer exults in his success, and the other Demons applaud him.
Scene 2. "Raphael, Michael, Gabriel. These good spirits lament the fall, and retire with awe on the appearance of God.
Scene 3. God, Eve, Adam. God calls on Adam-he appears and laments his nakedness-God interrogates him concerning the tree-he confesses his offence, and accuses Eve-she blames the Serpent-God pronounces his malediction and sends them from his presence.
Scene 4. "Raphael, Eve, and Adam. Raphael bids them depart from Paradise-Adam laments his destiny-Raphael persists in driving them rather harshly from the garden-Adam begs that his innocent children may not suffer for the fault of their mother-Raphael replies, that not only his children, but all his race must suffer, and continues to drive them from the garden-Adam obeys-Eve laments, but soon comforts Adam-he at length departs, animating himself with the idea, that to an intrepid heart every region is a home.
Scene 5. "A Cherub, moralizing on the creation and fall of Adam, concludes the third and last Act."
Mr. Walker, in his Historical Memoir on Italian Tragedy, has enlarged this analysis with some specimens of the author's style and manner, together with a fac simile of the quaint table, exhibiting the morale esposatione of the work. From the same ingenious and entertaining volume we learn that, as Lancetta denominates himself Benacense, it is presumed he was a native of that part of the riviera of Salò, on the lago di Garda, which is called Tosolano, and whose. inhabitants are styled Benacenses, from Benacus, the ancient name of the lake. He was, he modestly declares, neither a poet nor an orator,-poeta non son' io, ne oratore,—but I am willing to believe he was a good man, and that it was rather his virtues than his talents which recommended him to the accomplished family of Gonzaga, of which he seems to have been a protégé. Such is the deep obscurity in, which this author is buried, that the most sedulous inquiry has not led to the discovery of any authentic notices concerning him. His drama is slightly mentioned by Allacci, who supposes it to be his only production"."
Mr. Hayley adds, to his remarks on the dramas of Andreini and Lancetta, that Milton was probably familiar with an Italian poem, little known in England, and formed expressly on the conflict of the apostate spirits; the Angeleida del Sig. Erasmo di Valvasone, Venet. 1590. Dr. Warton was of the same opinion. See the note on Par. Lost. B. v. 689. And Mr. Hayley has cited the verses, in which the Italian poet assigns to the infernal powers the invention of artillery. With this pocm, I think, the mind of Milton could not but be affected. It begins :
Io canterò del ciel l'antica guerra,
Per cui sola il principio, et l'uso nacque,
5 Hist. Mem. Appendix, p. xlviii-lvi.
Hist. Mem. p. 172.
Valvasone's description of the triumphant 'angels in B. iii. is particularly interest. ing. The poem concludes with an animated sonnet to the Archangel Michael, preceded by the four following lines:
Cosi disse Michele, & da le pure
All' Arcangelo Michele.
La gran tua gloria, e 'l mio deuoto affetto,
Gli porta pio del sempiterno Duce,
Mr. Hayley seems to think also, that Milton may be sometimes traced in the Strage de gli Innocenti of Marino. The late Mr. Bowle appears to have entertained a similar notion. See also Mr. Warton's note In Mansum, ver. 11. A few passages are accordingly cited, from this poem, in the Notes on Paradise Lost, It was first published at Venice in 1633; and consists of four books: 1. Sospetto d'Herode: 2. Consiglio de Satrapi: 3. Essecutione della Strage: 4. Il Limbo. Milton has been thought indebted likewise to Crashaw', the translator of the first of these books. I will select a few passages, therefore, from this version, which seem to have afforded some countenance to the opinion. Sospetto d'Herode,stanza, 5. Description of Satan. Crashaw's Poems, edit. 1648, p. 59.
Ah wretch! what bootes thee to cast back thy eyes,
Renders thee double to thy present woes;
If Hell must mourne, Heaven sure shall sympathize:
And yet whose force feare I? have I so lost
Myselfe? my strength too with my innocence ?
A borrowed being, make thy bold defence:
Come thy Creator too; what though it cost
Heaven saw us struggle once; as brave a fight
Thus spoke the impatient prince, and made a pause:
What thy Alecto, what these hands, can doe,
With him below: here thou art Lord alone
That Crashaw and Milton should concur in similar sentiments and expressions, when Marino dictates to both, can be a matter of little surprise. But, when we compare the passages in Milton which may be considered as harmonizing with these in Crashaw, we shall not hesitate to declare that, in bold and glowing phraseology, as well as in beautiful and expressive numbers, the palm,due to the improvement of the original, belongs to the former. Nor shall we forget the hints from Eschylus and Dante, which Milton finely interweaves in the character of his Prince of darkness. Milton, no doubt, had read Crashaw's translation; as he had read the translations also of Ariosto and Tasso by Harington and Fairfax; to various
passages in which he has, in like manner, added new graces resulting from his own imagination and judgment. There are also a few resemblances in Crashaw's poetry to passages in Milton, which I have noticed in their respective places. Crashaw, I may add, is entitled to the merit of suggesting the combination and form of several happy phrases to Pope. Of a poet, thus distinguished, I take this opportunity to subjoin a few particulars from the unpublished manuscript of his fellow-collegian, Dr. John Bargrave. "When I went first of my 4 times to Rome, there were there 4 revolters to the Roman Church that had binn fellowes of Peterhouse in Cambridge with myselfe. The name of one of them was Mr. R. Crashaw, whoe was of the Seguita (as their tearme is), that is, an attendant, or one of the followers of Cardinall Palotta, for which he had a salary of crownes by the month, (as the custome is,) but no dyet. Mr. Crashaw infinitely commended his Cardinall, but complayned extreamly of the wickedness of those of his reti nue, of which he, having his Cardinall's care, complayned to him; vpon which the Italians fell so farr owt with him, that the Cardinall, to secure his life, was faine to putt him from his service; and, procuring him some smale imploy at the Lady's of Loretto, whither he went in pilgrimage in summer time, and ourheating him selfe dyed in few weeks after he came thither; and it was doubtfull whether he were not poysoned "."—
Mr. Hayley notices the existence also of the following pieces relating to Milton's subject:
I. Adamo Caduto, tragedia sacra, di Serafino della Salandria. Cozenzo, 1647. 8vo.
II. La Battagalia Celeste tra Michele e Lucifero, di Antonio Alfani, Palermitano. Palermo, 1568. 4to.
III, Del Adamo di Giovanni Soranzo, Genova, 1604. 12mo.
They had however, escaped the researches of Mr. Hayley. Signor Signorelli, the learned and elegant correspondent of Mr. Walker on subjects connected with his Memoir on Italian Tragedy 9, published in 1799, had not then seen them. Whether Milton had perused them, must therefore be a matter of future inquiry. Mr. Walker, to whom the reader is indebted for the curious Note on the dialogue between Satan and Michael, Par. Lost, B. vi. 292, &c. observes that all the com. mentators pass over the obligations of Milton to the Gerusalemme Distrutta of Marino. From the seventh canto, which is all that is printed1, and which is subjoined to two small editions of the Strage de gli Innocenti in his possession, Mr. Walker has made a few extracts; and I have cited those relating to the com. passionate countenance of Christ, and to the glorious description of God, in the Notes on B. iii. 140, 380. See also the note on B. xi. 406.
Mr. Hayley further notices the probable attention of Milton to Tasso's 2 Le Set
After the restoration of Charles II. Dr. Bargrave became prebendary of Canterbury, to the library of which cathedral he gave many books and other curiosities. See a further account of this MS. in the note on Christina, queen of Sweden, in Todd's Milton, Vol. VI. p. 270. 9 See the Hist. Mem. Appendix, p. 33.
1 Ibid. p. 36.
2 Dr. Warton mentions only the edition of Viterbo, in 1607. There had been an earlier edition thus entitled, I due primi Giorni del Mondo Creato, Poesia sacra. Jater, Le sette Giornate, &c. Ult. impress, ricorretta. Venet, 1637.
Venet. 1600, 4to. And a