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its author £10. Kipling, for the “Female of the Species," was paid $25,000. “Paradise Lost” comprises twelve books, setting forth the rebellion of Satan and the rebel angels, their fall from Heaven, their plan to seduce God's creatures, Adam and Eve, the temptation, the fall, the punishment, the promise of redemption, and the banishment of Adam and Eve from Paradise. It bodies forth the Calvinistic theology; of this there is no need to speak; it is the thing in the poem of least value. But of the lofty ideality, the sustained level of exaltation, the wondrous sweep and power of imagination, the surpassing beauty of passage after passage, no notion can be conveyed. In rare instances another poet has reached such sublime heights; no other, not even the greatest of them all, Shakespeare, has ever equaled the sustained flight. Milton neither underestimated the grandeur and sublimity of his theme nor overestimated his own powers when he essayed the
“ adventurous song That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount. His genius was adequate to treat in fitting manner, without once belittling it, the most stupendous theme conceivable by the brain and soul of man. “Paradise Lost" is the great expression of a master spirit; Mlilton was Emerson's ideal scholar, “ Man thinking." He knew the best in the world's literatures; yet this vast learning never engulfed him, but served only to strengthen and enrich his own genius, dominant always. Of him Doctor Channing says truly, “ Never was there a more unconfined mind.” Not even Kit Marlowe ever conceived such towering, consummate passion as impels the Satan of Milton's creation,-such majesty of pride, such indomitable will:
What though the field be lost?
(Book I, 1. 105-108)
(Book I, 1. 251-257)
The present European war (1916) offers the nearest actual parallel since authentic history began for such tremendous conflict as Milton describes in Book 1,--such vast forces employed to work devastation and torture-read it and be convinced that “War is Hell.”
“ Him the Almighty Power Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky, With hideous ruin and combustion."
(Book I, 1. 44-47)
(Book I, 1. 61-65)
(Book I, 1. 232-239) But let us flee from the infernal world to Paradise,—a region as lovely as Hell is terrible-wonderful in two-fold degree when viewed as a creation of the same mind:
“But rather to tell how, if art could tell,
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
(Book IV, 1. 236-256)
Silence was pleased: now glowed the firmament
(Book IV, 1. 598-610) Four years after the publication of “Paradise Lost"
appeared “ Paradise Regained.” It is said to have been composed as the result of a train of thought suggested by a question of Milton's friend, Thomas Ellwood:“ Thou hast said much of ' Paradise Lost,' but what hast thou to say of ' Paradise Found '?” The poem is an expansion of the fourth chapter of the gospel according to Saint Matthew; the theme is Christ's temptation in the wilderness, and, through the confounding of Satan, the redemption of mankind. The poem comprises four books, in all but little more than two thousand lines. It is dignified and beautiful, but in no way equal in interest to “ Paradise Lost.” “Samson Agonistes” (the struggler), published the same year, 1671, is a dramatic poem after the Greek manner, in which Milton employs the Chorus, and therefore necessarily varies the verse form. The theme greatly attracted Milton—Samson, blind, shorn of his strength, exclaims in bitterness
“O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day! Although the poem is noticeably lacking in the superb figures so characteristic of Milton, the theme is nobly treated.
A word should be said as to Milton's power in versification. Note L'Allegro Il Penseroso.” In both poems, after the first ten lines, bidding dismissal in the one case to Melancholy, in the other to “ vain deluding Joys,” the tetrameter couplet is used throughout, but with what a difference! The same meter which in" L’Allegro ” floats like thistle-down:
Come, and trip it as you go
On the light, fantastic toe,” moves" sober, steadfast, and demure” through the verses of“ Il Penseroso.” Milton's blank verse is unrivalled for harmony and expres
As the marble was said to grow flexible under the hand
of Michael Angelo, Milton bends our rugged English and subdues it to his will, making it speak“ with many and wonderful voices.” Milton is serious, but never gloomy. The times in which he lived were too earnest and too eventful for gayety and sportiveness. But he is healthy-minded and vigorous; there is nothing morbid, -never is the native hue “sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.” The sonnet, that key with which Shakespeare unlocked his heart, in Milton's hand
-“ became a trumpet, whence he blew
Soul-animating strains-alas, too few!” Milton's last years were spent quietly at his home in London. Thither came many foreign visitors to pay their respects to the great scholar who had defeated Salmasius. He died November 8, 1674, and was buried at St. Giles, London. So was silenced forever that voice
_" whose sound was like the sea,
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What did Milton have in common with the greatest of the Elizabethans ? 2. Compare Milton's schooling with that of Shakespeare as we know it. 3. What was Milton's special source of inspiration ? 4. How does the spirit of “L'Allegro” and “Il Penseroso" differ from
that of his other works? How do you account for this? 5. What were the principal features of a “Masque"? In what great
English novel does a Masque play an important part? 6. Give an account of Milton's career after graduating from Cambridge,
laying special emphasis on the important political events of the period. 7. Would you have enjoyed having Milton as a school teacher? What do
you think of Milton as a man? 8. In what way does “ Paradise Lost” reflect the spirit of the age in which
it was written? 9. Name six poems known as Epics. 10. What are the essential qualities of “Paradise Lost”?
Suggested Readings.—Read “Il Penseroso,” “ L'Allegro,”..“ Comus," “Lycidas” without thought of critical annotation but with an honest intention of enjoyment,--also the first book of “ Paradise Lost.” Milton" by Sir Walter Raleigh is a valuable critical work. Macaulay's “Essay on Milton” contains a brilliant analysis of his politics and his poetry.
JOHN BUNYAN (1628–1688)
The Pilgrim's Progress is perhaps the only book about which, after the lapse of a hundred years, the educated minority has come over to the opinion of the common people.”—Macaulay.
The Spenser of the people.”—D’Israeli.
JOHN BUNYAN is one of the great souls of earth. He was born at Elstow, a small village of Bedfordshire. His origin was humble and his parents were poor. He had but slight schooling, and when seventeen joined the army. It is not known whether he fought on the side of the Royalists or of the Parliamentarians; he enlisted not from sympathy with either cause, but because of vexation with his father for bringing into the house an unwelcome stepmother. While still in his teens he married a girl as poor as himself, but“ godly person,” who had been reared in piety, and whose marriage dowry, two worn and well-thumbed religious books, served to quicken Bunyan in matters spiritual. His sensitive conscience thoroughly aroused, he never, throughout his life, lapsed into moral and spiritual indifference. In “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” published in 1666, he tells us minutely of his religious experiences. He was, of course, largely under the influences of Puritan thought and of Puritan moral standards; his powerful imagination, stimulated by a supersensitive conscience, magnified his youthful peccadilloes, which at the worst seem to have been mischievously ringing bells to rouse the neighborhood, dancing, or playing on the bowling green on Sunday, into crimes of great enormity. He became horror-struck at the recollection of his sins; he felt that for him there could be no hope of salvation. Again and again doubts assailed him; again and again the tempter urged him to abjure and to defy God; he struggled with the inner light of conscience as Jacob wrestled with the angel, and at last won the blessing, his soul's peace. In his own day Bunyan was thought of not as a writer, but as a