Milton, John

Milton, John

among the brightest glories of the rich and varied literature of England, one of the four master-singers of the English Helicon, has taken rank with Homer and Virgil and Dante. Dryden's eulogy was well-merited, though too epigrammatic. In splendor of conception and in majesty of language, he is without a peer. Gray recognizes in him no inferiority to Shakespeare. John Wilson, a graceful poet himself and an appreciative critic, concludes that England had produced but one perfect poem, and that that poem Milton's Paradise Lost. Poetry, however, was not the exclusive occupation of Milton's life. He was also a laborious and prolific writer of prose, and was long-engaged in religious polemics and political controversy His wreath of immortality was woven of poetic flowers but his distinction in his own day was more largely due to his writings as a publicist and theological disputant Milton is even more remarkable in the phases and circumstances of his life than in the brilliancy of his genius. His mature years coincided with that turbulent period when civil dudgeon first grew high, and passed into the turmoil and strife which constitute at once the shame and the glory of English history. The evening glories of the Elizabethan age lingered along the horizon at the commencement of his career; the serener but fainter radiance of the aera of queen Anne was prognosticated before his death. In the wide interval, one name of eminent renown in literature stretches its single and unbroken line of light across the darkened heavens. That name is the name of John Milton. His birth was amid the glories that had ennobled the reign of the maiden queen; he gathered strength for the stern and shifting duties of life throughout the reign of James; he illustrated the early rule of Charles I by strains that seemed echoes from the fairy land behind he dignified the times of civil warfare and theological contention by prose compositions which occasionally united the grand cathedral harmonies of Hooker with the yet unanticipated magnificence of Burke. In poverty and depression, and blindness and age, he sought consolation from his music on that sacred harp, whose melting and piercing melodies no hand could ever awaken but his own. In character, and in the vicissitudes of his career, he was the true representative of the struggle which fills the seventeenth century. He bridges over the vast abyss between Shakespeare and Dryden, and marks the changing phases of the revolution in Church and State. Hence the consideration of his works can scarcely be severed from the notice of his life, which divides itself into four sharply-defined and well-contrasted periods.

I. Period 1608-1629. — Infancy, and education till he attains his majority, from the fifth year of James I to the fifth year of Charles I.

II. Period 1629-1639. — Completion of education at the university, in retirement and by foreign travel. From his majority to his return from the Continent.

III. Period 1639-1660. — Participation in the turmoil of the times. Active and public life.

IV. Period 1660-1674. — Milton's age, and blindness and seclusion. Production of his great poems.

Milton's Life and Works.

I. Period 1608-1629. — John Milton, the illustrious son of obscure but reputable parents, was born at the sign of "the Spread Eagle," in Bread Street, in the parish of All-hallows, London, on the 9th of December, 1608. His father, of the same name, was a scrivener, who had been disinherited by his Roman Catholic parents for adopting the Protestant faith. His exertions in pursuit of a livelihood had secured comfort, if not wealth, and had not repressed his tastes for literature and art. Thus may be explained the conjunction of Puritan principles, of romantic fancies, of chivalrous sentiments, of literary and artistic sensibilities, so strangely, and not always congruously, exhibited in the poetry of his son.

That son received the tenderest care and the most sedulous instruction from his hopeful and appreciative sire. He was of frail constitution, and was, in consequence, educated at first at home. From his instructor — the eminent scholar and zealous Puritan, Thomas Young — he imbibed his taste for poetry, as he gratefully acknowledged. At the age of thirteen he was sent to St. Paul's School, London, and after two years was transferred to Christ Church, Cambridge, where he remained, with some interruptions, over eight years. He carried with him to college great proficiency in the classic tongues, and had added to them an acquaintance with Hebrew, French, and Italian, and some skill in music and fencing. These liberal pursuits he continued to prosecute at the university with unusual diligence and with admirable results. Indications of his progress are supplied by his Latin and English poems, by notices in his polemical writings, and by his college exercises, which Mr. Masson has reclaimed from oblivion. From these sources we learn that he was exceedingly handsome, though of slight frame and moderate stature, and was skilled in all manly exercises. He is said to have been called "the lady of his college," not less for the purity of his character than for his delicate beauty.

Along with his extensive acquirements, Milton bore with him to Cambridge the germs of all his future tastes, the beginnings of all his future accomplishments. In his boyhood he had been "smit with the love of sacred song." Aubrey states that he was a poet at ten years of age. The love of the Muse grew strong with his growth. His devotion to his native tongue was early displayed. He soon aspired to the production of a poem which "future ages would not willingly let die." He was already consecrating himself to his high vocation, and disciplining his young genius with patient diligence. In this calm and industrious tenor of life, Milton ripened to his majority.

II. Period 1629-1639. — On the 8th of December, 1629, Milton was twenty-one years of age. On the Christmasday ensuing he produced that magnificent choral song, The Ode on the Nativity. Admirable and exquisite as it is in itself, it is amazing as the composition of a young man who had just assumed the toga virilis, and was in the midst of his college career. Its remarkable merit may be best appreciated by comparing it with the nearly contemporaneous poems of George Herbert, Ben Jonson, and Vaughan on the same subject. The ode is equally remarkable for its startling indication at so early a period of the characteristics of his grandest works. The lyric movement of thought and expression, the intricate melody and skill of the metre, the strength and propriety of the epithets, the concentration and point of the language, the harmonies of sound, the dexterous accumulation of suggested names, the solemnity and reverential awe of the whole utterance, are anticipations of his final glories. Grand as is this choral hymn, Milton felt that his powers of song were not sufficiently matured to sustain the yet vague splendor of his conceptions. The Ode on the Passion — the companion-piece to the Ode on the Nativity — was never completed. "This subject the author finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished." These two odes are the first outlines of the Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The self-censure, patience, diligence, and humility of Milton are as notable as his lordly tone and conscious power. Three years later, just before leaving Cambridge, he laments that "my late spring no bud nor blossom shew'th;" but adds,

"It shall be still in strictest measure even To that same lot, however mean or high To which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven."

Milton was designed for the Church, and had been trained in all secular and theological learning for that holy office. The depression of the Puritans under the stern domination of Laud closed the prospect to the young candidate. He waited long and patiently, in doubt and hope; but in 1632 withdrew from Cambridge, having taken both his degrees. He left the university with credit and honor, and retired to the grateful seclusion of his father's villa at Horton — not far from Eton and Windsor. Here he remained for five years, spending the sunny summer-time of his life in multifarious study. He plunged into the mysteries of Hebrew lore, familiarized himself with the best lessons of history and carefully perused the whole series of the Greek and Latin authors, from Homer to Ducas and Phranza.

It was during the earlier half of his residence at Horton that Milton produced his L'Allegro and II Penseroso, and his two masques, the Arcades and Comus. These poems were not composed for the noisy public, but as relaxations from study, which embodied the shifting lights and shadows of his life at Horton. They are photographs of the scenery that surrounded his retreat, lighted up by the bright glow of his changing moods. They reveal also the character and ingredients of the ambrosia on which his mind had feasted from boyhood, and betray the flowers from which the honey was distilled. The subjects, the contrasts, the metre, and many of the thoughts, phrases, and rhymes, are imitated from the poetical "Abstract of Melancholy" prefixed by Burton to his quaint Anatomy of Melancholy. Other obligations are due to the exquisite "Song on Melancholy" in Beaumont and Fletcher's Nice Valar. The same royal seizure, which ennobles what it appropriates, and which is declared by Longinus to be no theft, signalizes all of Milton's compositions. It is his manner. It is his genius. He claims the spoils of learning as his own. He made the triumphs of others the stepping-stones of his fame. To the year 1634 we probably owe the Arcades; to it we certainly owe the more splendid Comus. Both were written under circumstances which are curiously illustrative. of the social, political, and theological condition of the times, and of the great controversy in respect to dramatic performances. The Arcades is a much slenderer performance than the Comus, but possesses the same general characteristics: purity, grace, fancy, melody, learning, and gorgeous expression. The Comus is an almost perfect gem. It is as distinctly unique in its charms as Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Its authorship was not avowed. It was published by Henry Lawes, in 1637, to escape the constant importunities for copies of the manuscript. In this year the plague raged with great violence, and many notable deaths occurred. On the 3d of April Milton's mother died; on the 6th of August Ben Jonson expired; on the 10th Edward King, of Christ Church, was lost at sea on his way to Ireland.

The death of Mrs. Milton broke up the family retreat at Horton, and Milton made preparations for foreign travel. He was meditating a great poem — an epic on the Round Table, or on the story of the Trojan Brutus. "Do you ask what I am meditating?" says he, in a letter to Deodati. "By the help of Heaven, an immortality of fame! But what am I doing? I am letting my wings grow, and preparing to fly, but my Pegasus has not yet feathers enough to soar aloft in the fields of air." One more poem — the last song of his young and fresh life-preceded his going abroad. The admirers of "Rare Ben" honored his memory by a volume of epicedia, or funeral eulogies, entitled Jonson Virbius. The scholars of Cambridge proposed a similar tribute to the ghost of Edward King. To this collection Milton contributed that finest of elegies, the Lycidas. It is the echo of the pastoral music of the ancient Greeks, and recalls the plaintive strains of Bion, while adopting the metrical forms of the Italian canzoni.

Not long after this Milton set out on his Continental tour. Northern Europe was closed against him by the Thirty-Years' War, which was ravaging the whole of Germany. France was writhing beneath the tyranny of Richelieu, who was consolidating the monarchy at home, and strangling the supremacy of the House of Austria abroad. Milton crossed over to Paris, where he formed the acquaintance of Grotius; proceeded to Lyons, and, descending the Rhone, reached Marseilles. Thence he followed the littorale to Nice. From Nice he went to Genoa, and to Florence, in which city, the centre of Italian culture, he was welcomed with the highest distinction, and was elected a member of the Florentine academies. While at Florence he visited "the starry Galileo," now seventy-five years of age, at his pleasant villa of Arcetri, in the neighborhood. Continuing his journey he reached Rome, spending two months there "in viewing the antiquities," and listening to Leonora Baroni, the Jenny Lind of those days — who seems to have touched his heart, and to whom he addressed three Latin epigrams. He next proceeded to Naples, where he was hospitably entertained by Manso, marquis di Villa, the friend of Tasso. Everywhere he was received with honor, admiration, and the interchange of complimentary verses.

Milton had proposed to extend his travels to Sicily and Greece, but was not permitted to anticipate lord Byron in a poetic pilgrimage to the land of Helicon and Parnassus, and of the Vale of Tempe. He was recalled from Naples by the political agitations at home, and the dull murmurs of approaching civil war. On his homeward journey he was met by intelligence of the death of his friend, Charles Deodati, whereupon he wrote the Epitaphium Damonii — the Latin counterpart of the Lycidas. From this it is evident that he was still revolving an epic on the Brut d'Angleterre or the Morte d'Arthur. But he deserted the fountains of Hippocrene, and for twenty-one years devoted himself to polemics, politics, and prose.

III. Period 1649-1660. Milton as a Polemic, Theologian, Politician, and Prose-write. — On his return to England, Milton undertook the education of his two nephews, John and Edward Phillips, He was induced to receive other boys also, and accordingly took a large house in Aldersgate Street, and opened a school. Out of his academical employments sprung his Tractate on Education, his Accidence commenced

Grammar, and his posthumous work On Christian Doctrine, which lay unknown till 1825. (It was edited by the present incumbent of the episcopal chair of Winchester [bishop Sumer]; a translation has also been published.) The first expounded his views on education, which resembled those of Roger Ascham and of John Lyly. The second was a practical exemplification of his method for the use of his school. The third was an expansion and systematization of the religious instructions given by him to his pupils. It has a much higher significance. It presents Milton's peculiar and utterly heterodox theology which is thoroughly Arian, and in a great measure materialistic. It was the theological preparation for the Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and is their best commentary. Indeed, it is impossible to understand the esoteric meaning of those great poems, to estimate their spirit, or to appreciate many of their details, without the continuous illustration afforded by this long-lost treatise in prose. "His active imagination and impetuous spirit," it has been well said, "mingle too strongly with his theology, and in several particulars corrupt it; but though, like Locke, he sometimes mistakes the sense of Scripture, no man had a higher opinion of its supreme authority, or held more firmly its most vital truths. His name cannot be classed with modern Unitarians." In 1641 Milton reappeared as a writer before the public with his first prose work, Of Reformation in England, "to prove that the Church of England still stood in need of reformation." He continued the subject in four other works, replying to bishop Hall and archbishop Usher in a short essay, Of Prelatical Episcopacy, and in a more elaborate response, entitled The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. It is in this latter work that Milton commences the remarkable series of autobiographical sketches whence so much of our information in regard to his tastes, studies, habits, sentiments, principles, and occupations is gathered. Bishop Hall and archbishop Usher had aroused other assailants. Chief among such attacks in that pamphleteering day was a pamphlet designated Smnectymnuus, from the initials of its five authors — Stephen Marshal, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young, Matthew Newcomen, and William Spurston. To this attack bishop Hall replied in a Defence of the Remonstrance. Milton, who had assailed the original Remonstrance, and was the grateful pupil of Thomas Young, now brought out Animtadversions on the Remonstrants' Defence. A rejoinder from bishop Hall's son followed, to which Milton responded in 1642 by his celebrated Apology for Smectymnuus. These productions thus all hang together. Their object and interdependence are pointed out in the author's Second Defence for the People of England. In 1643, during the brief superiority of the Cavaliers, Milton, now in his thirty-fifth year, hastily married Mary Powell, a gay, thoughtless, pretty girl of seventeen "the daughter of Richard Powell, Esq., of Forrest Hill, near Shotover, Oxfordshire, an active royalist." The match was a singular and ill-assorted union. It was unhappy. It could scarcely have been otherwise. The fair malignant, in her young beauty, could not endure the gloomy yoke of her sedate Puritan husband. After the honeymoon was over, she visited her father, and remained all summer, heedless of the entreaties, remonstrances, and commands of her grim lord. He turned to his books, and to the examination of nice points of theological ethics. He studied the nature and obligations of marriage, and soon arrived at the foregone conclusion to divorce his recalcitrant bride. The result of his eager inquiries was The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, restored to the Good of both Sexes — published anonymously in 1644. Another fruit of his studies and experiences was his undisguised contempt for women. Before concluding his inquiries, he proceeded to the practice of his theory by paying his addresses to another fascinating young lady. Mrs. Milton, after a year's absence, sought a reconciliation entreated forgiveness on her knees, was pardoned, and returned to her repellent, home. She died in 1653, leaving three daughters, the only children of the poet, who grew up without culture or companionship. The husband, who took back the wife, did not put away his scandalous doctrine, which was earnestly denounced. He enforced it in three other works: The Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning Divorce; Tetrachordon; a consideration of his four chief texts of Scripture on the subject; and Colasterion, a bitter castigation of an illiterate and anonymous opponent. The Colasterion is Milton's solitary attempt at humor — and very questionable humor it is, except as ill-humor. In the same year with The Doctrine of Divorce appeared the Tractate on Education, addressed to "Master Samuel Hartlib,' and the noble Areopagitica, or Speech for the Liberty of unlicensed Printing. The Areopagitica is the finest of Milton's prose compositions in subject, treatment, spirit, and expression. It is the earliest of the grand English arguments for the liberty of the press. Written with the forms of Greek oratory, and in imitation of the orations of Isocrates, its stiff, stately, and sonorous periods roll on with involved Hellenistic phrase, but are distinguished by fervor of feeling, breadth and truth of conception, and radiant utterance. Leckey (Rationalism in Europe, 2:80) says, "The

Paradise Lost is, indeed, scarcely a more glorious monument of the genius of Milton than the Areopagitica."

Milton's prose style is not in general either good or attractive. It is not merely intricate and cumbrous, but it. is prolix, vagabond, and wearisome.. Its high reputation has been derived from the Areopagitica, and from rare bursts of rhetorical brilliancy in other writings. Only a small part of the prose works merits the eulogies bestowed upon the glorious "purple patches;" and even these are more worthy of admiration than of unrestricted praise.

On March 15, 1649 — six weeks after the execution of Charles I — Milton was appointed secretary for foreign tongues to the Council of State. He had probably gained the favor of the Republican authorities by his Tenure of Kings and Observations on the Articles of Peace in Ireland. He held the position till a short time before the Restoration; but the salary was reduced by nearly one half after 1655; and after 1652, when he became blind, the duties were discharged, first, by Philip Meadowes, and afterwards by Andrew Marvell. The appointment called him away from his preparations for his Arthurian epic, which was published towards the close of his life as a Historie of Britanie.

His first task under his political taskmasters was Eikonoclastes, in answer to the Icon Basilike the political testament ascribed to Charles I, and bequeathed by him on the scaffold to his people. Milton's reply is bold, defiant; breathing all the. exhilarating airs of sanguine freedom, but coarse, vituperative, passionate, and ungenerous. It was a suitable prelude for the Latin "Apologies for the People of England" (Defensio pro Populo Anglicano, Prima et Secunda), composed in 1651 and 1654 as a refutation of the celebrated scholar Salmasins. In his various "Letters of State" — extending from August 10, 1649, to May 15, 1659 — including the "Manifesto of the Lord Protector" in 1655, there are many lofty sentiments and sounding periods; but it would be scarcely fair to transfer to the secretary the praise for sagacious or audacious policy, which may belong exclusively to the Republican councillors, or to the great Republican sovereign. Cromwell was not a man to borrow his policy from a subordinate, and from a subordinate awed into unscrupulous homage by his resolute character.

In the composition of the Defence for the People of England Milton's sight gave way. As early as 1644 it had been seriously impaired by much study, frequent vigils, and constant writing. He became totally blind in 1652. He was warned by his physicians to abstain from literary labor. He refused to spare his eyes by the renunciation of what he conceived to be a high patriotic duty. He studied and wrote for his party and country till "the drop serene" totally darkened his vision. The assertion of his lofty resolve is imbedded in his Second Defence for the People of England, and a touching account of the advancing stages of his blindness is given in a letter to a Greek friend, which is much less known than his pathetic allusions to his great privation in the Paradise Lost, the Samson Agonistes, and two of his sonnets.

Shut out from the light of day, cut off from the direct pursuit of his official duties, denied personal communion with his books, the companions of his solitary hours, Milton's thoughts were turned inwards, employed on poetic visions, and fed with the treasures of his vast memory. During the long years of darkness and enforced leisure, he gradually conceived and moulded and commenced his Paradise Lost. When Cromwell died, confusion and anarchy returned, and the hope or fear of the restoration of the Stuart line occupied the public expectation. The blind seer then resumed his political labors, endeavored to preserve or to improve the recent order in the Church, and to uphold the late scheme of government, in several small publications. His ideas of religious and civil freedom tolerated only views consonant in spirit With his own; and would have sought to perpetuate English freedom and republicanism by rendering the remnant of the Long Parliament a close, permanent, and self-renewing oligarchy.' His urgent clamors awoke no echo. His voice was too faint, too wild, too foreign to the necessities of the country and the time, and to the wisdom of sober statesmanship, to meet with any acceptance. Fairfax and Monk insured Charles II's return to his ancestral throne. Milton's political life was ended. All his hopes, all his dreams; all his cherished plans, were turned to dust and ashes. Poor, forlorn, outlawed, helpless, but not wholly dejected, he entered an the last period of his life in difficulty and danger and distress.

IV. Period 1660-1674. — The closing years of Milton's life offer little biographical detail. He was blind, in want, helpless; shunning the world, and shunned by it. Vane and other leaders of the lately dominant faction perished on the scaffold; others were outlawed or exiled. Milton was threatened with the like fate in consequence of his prompt and virulent denunciation of his slaughtered monarch. He was spared, tradition says, through the intercession of Sir William Davenant. He was compelled to remain in hiding. His second wife, nee Woodcock, had died in 1659, within a year of her marriage. He took a third in 1665, Elizabeth Marshal, daughter of Sir Edward Marshal, of Cheshire. She must have been a young bride, as she survived her husband more than fifty years. Of his second and third wives, of his daughters in their young womanhood, of his domestic life, of his intercourse with his still remaining friends, scarcely anything is heard at this period. Andrew Marvell and a few other intimates still consoled his loneliness and obscurity with their fervent attachment. Dryden, in the flush of his young and garish reputation, did reverence to him; but the desolate poet disappears from public gaze, and communes with his thoughts, his memories, and his God. "Forgetting the world, and of the world forgot," he worked out his immortal fame. Content with "audience fit, though few," he created those wondrous poems, which were the sublimated essence of his life and learning and labors-his own undying glory, and the pride of the English tongue.

When Milton retired from the plague in London, in 1665, to the house which Elwood, the Quaker, had presented to him, at Chalfont, in Buckinghamshire, he exhibited to his friends the MS. of Paradise Lost. It may have been unfinished. It was sold, April 27,1667, to Samuel Simmons, of London, for £5 down, and £5 on each of three future contingencies. Only two payments were made, whence it is inferred that less than 2800 copies were disposed of in the seven years preceding his death. This poem- was the crowning labor of the poet's life. It had engaged his thoughts as early as 1654, and had occupied his solitary meditations during the ensuing years. It had been completed amid the boisterous license, and obscene dissonance, and reckless debauchery of the Restoration. He had poured into it all the wealth of learning and reflection and observation, and experience gathered in a studious, thoughtful, and full life crystallizing into radiant gems the rich materials he employed. Like his own Pandemonium,

"Out of the earth a fahric huge Rose like an exhalation, with the sound Of dulcet symphonies, and voices sweet."

From his college days he had contemplated the production of a great poem. In penury and wretchedness and scorn he achieved his ideal, after the lapse of a whole stormy generation. The currents of his life changed the course of his fancies. He renounced the charms of old romance to sing the songs of heaven, and "tell of things invisible to mortal sight." Milton selected for his subject the fall of man — a subject of universal interest — of special interest to all believers in the redemption — of more peculiar interest to the religious enthusiasts and reformers of the 17th century; and pre-eminently attractive to Milton from his peculiar idiosyncrasies. It was no new theme. In whole or in part it had been treated by Avitus in the 5th century; by Caedmon in the 6th; by Proba Falconia in the 10th; by Fra Giacomo, of Verona, in the 12th; by the mediaeval writers of miracle plays between the 11th and 16th; by Andreini in the 17th, and by other writers. To most of these predecessors Milton was indebted, without sacrificing his own essential originality, which stamps every page with the seal of his own majesty. He hesitated long before settling the form of the poem. His genius was distinctly lyrical, but the Ode on the Nativity had exhausted the compass of the lyric strain, and demonstrated its insufficiency. He tried a dramatic cast, and commenced the play with Satan's invocation to the sun in the fourth book. His own temperament, the personages, the scene, the action, the incidents, were all unsuited to the drama. He finally adopted the epic mould, without creating a true epic, for the lyric spirit and strong predominance of his own personality still remain. If Satan is his hero, Satan is a glorified though fallen image of Milton himself. The poem is singular, alone, unapproached, a work sui generis. As Wordsworth said of the poet's soul, the poem

"Was like a star, and dwelt apart, It had a voice whose sound was like the sea, Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free."

There is neither need nor room here for any criticism of this noble masterpiece. It is nearly perfect in subject, plan, impersonations, sentiments, moral aim, language, decoration, episodes, and rhythm. It is unequalled in grandeur, sublimity, verisimilitude of invention, and pathos. The blemishes indicated by Addison and other censors are less failures of the poet than .weaknesses of the theologian, as may be seen from his treatise De Doctrina Christiana. Even the blank verse, which was adopted by him on an erroneous theory, and would have failed utterly in feebler hands, becomes with him "the Dorian mood of flutes and soft recorders." All the lavish rhetoric of praise of Macaulay, in the sparkling essay which his matured judgment disapproved throughout, may be bestowed on the Paradise Lost.

Four years after the completion of this signal work, Milton brought forth his Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. The former was preferred by the poet to its greater predecessor, was its natural counterpart, and probably was designed in its opening lines. The author's partiality for this smaller work doubtless rested on theological caprices; but, as a work of art, it has striking excellences of its own. It is more quiet, more smooth, more uniform, and more symmetrical. Its radiance has a gentler glow than the fierce splendor of the more imposing poem. Its habitual depreciation may be due to the same cause which secured the parental preference — the mistake in determining the supreme moment of the Savior's life, as the subject of the tale. The temptation was more significant to Milton than the crucifixion. By the temptation Christ's divinity was earned; it was scarcely attested by the crucifixion, according to his views. The Sanson Agonistes is Greek in form and expression; Hebrew in conception and spirit; English and personal in aim. It is a martyr's death-song the agonizing wail of Milton's crushed, mangled, writhing, but triumphant soul; expostulating, like Job, with the Almighty and the Omniscient, who "Now hath cast me off as never known. And to those cruel enemies, Whom I by his appointment had provoked, Left me, with the irreparable loss Of sight, reserved alive to be repeated The subject of their cruelty and scorn. Nor am I in the list of them that hope; Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless; This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, No long petition: speedy death, The close of all my miseries, and the balm." The death invoked came soon. He sank rapidly under attacks of gout, which became both more frequent and more violent; yet in his paroxysms "he would be very cheerful, and sing." He expired placidly in his own house on Sunday, November 8, 1674, and the seer of things celestial was buried near his father, who had so sanguinely cherished his young genius. It would be presumptuous to close this concise notice of John Milton with any summary estimate of ours upon his character and genius. He may be admired by all he can be judged only by his peers. "It may be doubted," says Walter S. Landor, "whether the Creator ever created one altogether so great as Milton taking into one view at once his manly virtues, his superhuman genius, his zeal for truth, for true piety, true freedom, his eloquence in displaying it, his contempt of personal power, his glory and exultation in his country's." "Milton," says Macaulay, "did not strictly belong to any of the classes which we have described. He was not a Puritan. He was not a Freethinker. He was not a Cavalier. In his character the noblest qualities of every party were combined in harmonious union... We are not much in the habit of idolizing either the living or the dead; but there are a few characters which have stood the closest scrutiny and the severest tests, Which have been tried in the furnace and have proved pure, which have been declared sterling by the general consent of mankind, and which are visibly stamped with the image and superscription of the Most High. These great men we trust we know how to prize; and of these was Milton.... His thoughts are powerful not only to delight, but to elevate and purify. Nor do we envy the man who can study either the life or the writings of the great poet and patriot without aspiring to emulate, not indeed the sublime works with which his genius has enriched our literature, but the zeal with which he labored for the public good, the fortitude with which he endured every private calamity, the lofty disdain with which he looked down on temptation and dangers, the deadly hatred which he bore to bigots and tyrants, and the faith which he so sternly kept with his country and with his fame" (Essay on Milton).

Literature. — Miltonic bibliography is so extensive that it would be ridiculous to enumerate even the most important works. A general reference to Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, will answer a better purpose than any copious list presented here. It may then suffice to mention a few authorities of special interest for the assistance they afford for the appreciation of the poet and his labors. Masson, Life and Times of Milton, narrated in connection with the Political, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of his Time (Lond. 3 volumes, 8vo; 1859 sq.; still unfinished); Keightley, Account of the Life, Opinions, and Writings of John Milton (Land. 1855, 8vo); Brydges, The Poetical Works of John Milton (Lond. 1835, 6 volumes, 12mo); St. John, The Prose Work of John Milton (Lond. 5 volumes, 12mo); Prendergast, A Complete Concordance to the Poetical Works of John Milton (Madras, 1857-59): Hamilton, Origin of Papers illustrative of the Life of John Milton (Camden Society); Dunster, Considerations on Milton's Early Reading, and on the Prima Stannia of the Paradise Lost (Lond. 1800); Coleridge, Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton (Lond. 1857); Channing, Remarks on the Character and Genius of' Milton; De Quincey, Milton, in Theological Essay; Skeats, Hist. of the Free Churches of England, page 61; Perry, Ch. Hist. vol. ii; Tulloch, Puritan Leaders, ch. v; Hunter, Religious Thought in

England (see Index, volume 3); Hallam, Hist. of Lit. (Harper's edition). 2:375 sq.; Hume, Hist. of England, chapter 62; Kitto, Journal ofSac. Lit. i, 236 sq.; volume 23; Christian Examiner, 2:423 sq.; 3:29 sq.; volume 57; Retrospective Rev. 1825, volume 14; Emerson, in the North Amer. Rev. 82:388 sq.; Biblioth. Sac. 1859, page 857; 1860, page 1; Meth. Qu. Rev. 1859, page 495 sq.; North British Rev. May 1859; Edinb. Rev. April 1860; Lond. Qu. Rev. April 1872; Prescott, Biog, and Crit. Miscellanies; Bayne, Contemporary Rev. August 1873; Brit. Qu. Rev. January 1871, page 115; July 1872, page 127 sq.; July 1871, page 111 sq.; Presb. Qu. Rev. April 1872, art. 10; Catholic World, February 1, 1873. Those who desire to know how the English Homer is regarded by a nation whose taste and habits of thought differ most widely from the Anglo-Saxon race, may consult the article "Milton" in the Biographie Universelle, from the pen of the justly-celebrated French critic Villemain. He admits that Milton's picture of our first parents in Eden surpasses, in graceful and touching simplicity, anything to be: found in the creations of any other poet, ancient or modern, and that the human imagination has produced nothing more grand or more sublime than some portions of Paradise Lost. Comtare also the lately issued work on the History of English Literature by Taine (Lond. and N.Y. 1872, 2 volumes, 8vo); Geoffroy, Etudes sur les Pamphlets Politiqus et Reliyieux de Milton (Paris, 1848), and Revue Chretienne, 1869, page 19 sq. A revised edition of Milton's poetical works has been prepared under the editorship of Prof. David Masson, the able biographer of Milton, and a multifarious worker, which when published will no doubt be the standard edition of the poetical writings of John Milton. (G.F.H.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.