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MILTON's prose works are perhaps not read, at the present day, to the extent demanded by their great and varied merits, among which may be named their uncompromising advocacy of whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report; their eloquent assertion of the inalienable rights of men to a wholesome exercise of their intellectual faculties, the right to determine for themselves, with all the aids they can command, what is truth and what is error; the right freely to communicate their honest thoughts from one to another, rights which constitute the only sure and lasting foundation of individual, civil, political, and religious liberty; the ever-conscious sentiment which they exhibit, on the part of the poet, of an entire dependence upon 'that Eternal Spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar, to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases'; the ever-present consciousness they exhibit of that stewardship which every man as a probationer of immortality must render an account, according to the full measure of the talents with which he has been intrusted-of the sacred obligation, incumbent upon every one, of acting throughout the details of life, private or public, trivial or momentous, 'as ever in his great TaskMaster's eye.'

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Some of his poetical works are extensively 'studied' in the schools, and a style study of some of his prose works is made in departments of rhetoric; but his prose works cannot be said to be much read in the best sense of the word,- that is,


with all the faculties alert upon the subject-matter as of prime importance, with an openness of heart, and with an accompanying interest in the general loftiness of their diction; in short, as every one should train himself to read any great author, with the fullest loyalty to the author - by which is not meant that all his thoughts and opinions and beliefs are to be accepted, but that what they really are be adequately, or ad modum recipientis, apprehended; in other words, loyalty to an author means that the most favorable attitude possible for each and every reader be taken for the reception of his meaning and spirit.


Mark Pattison, in his life of Milton, in the 'English Men of Letters,' while fully recognizing the grand features of the prose works as monuments of the English language, notwithstanding what he calls their 'asyntactic disorder,' undervalues, or rather does not value at all, Milton's services to the cause of political and religious liberty as a polemic prose writer, and considers it a thing to be much regretted that he engaged' at all in the great contest for political, religious, and other forms of liberty. This seems to be the one unacceptable feature of his very able life of the poet. 'But for the Restoration,' he says, 'and the overthrow of the Puritans, we should never have had the great Puritan epic.' Professor Goldwin Smith, in his article in the New York Nation on Pattison's 'Milton,' remarks: 'Looking upon the life of Milton the politician merely as a sad and ignominious interlude in the life of Milton the poet, Mr. Pattison cannot be expected to entertain the idea that the poem is in any sense the work of the politician. Yet we cannot help thinking that the tension and elevation which Milton's nature had undergone in the mighty struggle, together with the heroic dedication of his faculties to the most serious objects, must have had not a little to do both with the final choice of his subject and with the

tone of his poem. "The great Puritan epic" could hardly have been written by any one but a militant Puritan.'


Dr. Richard Garnett, in his 'Life of Milton,' pp. 68, 69, takes substantially the same view as does Professor Smith: "To regret with Pattison that Milton should, at this crisis of the State, have turned aside from poetry to controversy, is to regret that "Paradise Lost" should exist. Such a work could not have proceeded from one indifferent to the public weal. . . . It is sheer literary fanaticism to speak with Pattison of "the prostitution of genius to political party." Milton is as much the idealist in his prose as in his verse; and although in his pamphlets he sides entirely with one of the two great parties in the State, it is not as its instrument, but as its prophet and monitor.'

Milton was writing prose when, Mr. Pattison thinks, he should have been writing poetry, 'and that most ephemeral and valueless kind of prose, pamphlets, extempore articles on the topics of the day. He poured out reams of them, in simple unconsciousness that they had no influence whatever on the current of events.'

But they certainly had an influence, and a very great influence, on the current of events not many years after. The restoration of Charles II. did not mean that the work of Puritanism was undone, and that Milton's pamphlets were to be of no effect. It was in a large measure due to that work and to those pamphlets that in a few years—fourteen only after Milton's death — the constitutional basis of the monarchy underwent a quite radical change for the better, a change which would have been a solace to Milton, if he could have lived to see it; and he could then have justly felt that he had contributed to the change. He would have been but eighty years old, if he had lived till the revolution of 1688.

A man constituted as Milton was could not have kept him


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