Milton

john, edition, life, miltons, poems, english, poet, editions, prose and paradise

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6

From the portraits and descriptions of Mil ton it may be gathered that he was somewhat short and well made, with light hair and clear cut features. He was stately in his manners, dressed neatly, was temperate and methodical in his habits, which were those of the student rather than of the artist, although he kept up his music to the end of his life. He was on pleasant terms with a small group of friends, and was accessible to foreigners of distinction. He took regular exercise and indulged in an occasional pipe. i Perhaps his only striking ec centricity— for n such an age of confusion his religious and political radicalism should not ex cite surprise — was his adoption of the notion that his creative genius worked freely only from the "Autumnal Equinoctial to the Vernal?' It is at least fairly certain that his poetical powers were not so distinguished for affluence as for felicity and strength. When he was in the mood for composing (in his latter years) he seems to have stored up passages in his memory and to have dictated them by batches of 20 and 30 lines to any chance amanuensis he could secure.

Milton's position in English literature, as settled by popular consent, would seem to be not far below Shakespeare and well above all other authors. He has had and has adverse critics, however, while a few persons would place him at least on an equality with Shake speare in greatness. As a conscious poet artist he has not been clearly surpassed in the litera ture of the world; he is doubtless the consum mate master of the sublime; and he has few equals as a writer of erudite and sonorous prose. As an exponent of idealism in conduct he is almost as memorable as he is in his function of poet; as an inspired and inspiring patriot of liberal mold he is practically unparalleled. In total range of appeal as poet, scholar, patriot and man his closest students are seldom willing to admit his inferiority to any other mortal.

The titles and dates of the main works pub lished by Milton during his life have already been given. To these should be added. as posthumous publications, a surreptitious collec tion of 'Letters of State) (1676, translated by Phillips, 1694) ; 'A Brief History of Moscovia) (1682), and 'T. Miltoni Angh de Doctrina Christiana Libri duo posthumi' (edited by Sumner, 1825). This treatise on 'Christian Doctrine,' the manuscript of which went through curious adventures, gives formal justi fication to the idea that Milton developed a sort of semi-Arianism, traces of which have been discerned in 'Paradise Lost.' Milton's 'Com monplace Book,) edited in 1876 and 1877 (for the Camden Society), seems to include nothing original. The manuscript now in the library of Truuty College, Cambridge, which contains the lists of subjects for a long poem and copies of several early poems, including and 'Lycidas,) was published in facsimile in 1899. Several productions have been attributed to Milton on but slight grounds, the latest being a romance in Latin, 'Nova Solyrna Libri Sex' (1648), resuscitated by the Rev. Walter Begl and translated and published by him in 1902. The real author appears to have been Samuel Gott. See AREOPAGITICA ; COMUS ; IL PENSE ROSO; L'ALLEGRO; LYCIDAS ; PARADISE LOST; PARADISE REGAINED; SAMSON AGONISTES.

Bibliography.—Among the most important editions of Milton's poetical works are those of Newton (1749-52), Todd (1801, 1809) Sir Eger ton Brydges (1835), R. C. Browne (1870, 1901, the English Poems), Masson (1874, 1877, 1882). Bradshaw (1892— the New Aldine), W. V. Moody (1899), H. C. Beeching (1900), and W. Aldis Wright (1903). The Aldine edition of 1832, with a life by John Mitford, should also be mentioned, as well as Bentley's curious edi tion of 'Paradise Lost) (1732), and Thomas Warton's excellent edition of the so-called Minor Poems (1785, 1791). Editions of sepa

rate poems, especially for school purposcs, are very numerous. Of the prose works the follow ing editions may be noted:— Of John Toland (1698), T. Birch (1738), T. Birch and R. Bar ron (1753), C. Symmons (1806), It Fletcher (1833), R. VV. Griswold (1847), J. A. St. John (Bohn's Standard Library, 5 vols., 1848-53, in cluding the

The standard biography of Milton is the monumental work of Professor Masson (6 vols., 1859-80). Most of the editions mentioned above contain memoirs, which in some cases are very elaborate, e.g., that by Mitford in the edition of 1851. Of the early memoirs, that by Milton s nephew, Edward Phillips, was prefixed to his translation of the Letters of State (1694), and that by Toland to his edition of the prose works (1698). Later lives are by Thomas Keightley (1855), Alfred Stern and Seine Zeit,' 1877-79), Mark Pattison (1879, in the English Men of Letters), Stopford Brooke (1879, in Classical Writers), and Richard Garnett (1890, in Great Writers, with a bibliography). Dr. Johnson's famous life in the 'Lives ofthe Poets' influenced public opinion against Milton until the tables were somewhat turned by Ma caway's enthusiastic essay in the Edinburgh Review (1825). The number of essays and monographs and books dealing with special topics connected with Milton's life and works is, of course, very large, e.g., (Milton's Prosody' (1893, 1901), by the poet Robert Bridges, Ed mundson's (Milton and Vondel) (1885) ; Spaeth's (Milton's Knowledge of Music' (1913) ; Myers' (Relations of Latin and Eng lish during the Age of Milton' (1913), and Bailey's (Milton and Jakob Boehme' 1914). Important critical discussions of moderate length may be found in the collected works of Matthew Arnold, Walter Bagehot, the elder William E. Channing, S. T. Coleridge, De Quincey, Emerson, Lowell and Macaulay. To these critics may be added Augustine Birrell, Edward Dowden, Edmund Scherer and Sir Leslie Stephen. Special volumes dealing with the poet are Hiram Corson's (Introduction to the Works of Milton> (1899), W. P. Trent's 'John Milton: a Short Study of his Life and Works' • Walter Raleigh's (Milton> (1900) ; Alden Sampson's (1913), and Thompson's (Essays on Milton> (1914). The chief histories of English litera ture, such as Taine's and that by Garnett and Gosse, as well as Saintsbury's (Elizabethan Literature,' and the (Cambridge History of English Literature,' should also be consulted. An excellent edition of Johnson's life, the merits of which should not be underrated, is now provided in Dr. Birkbeck Hill's edition of the

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6