« EelmineJätka »
ABOVE a multitude of prose writers and poets during the stormy times of Charles I. and the Protector, towers the majestic form of Milton. Where are the contemporaries of that genius, the Cowleys, the Wallers, the Denhams, the Sucklings, the Marvels, the Crashaws, the Lovelaces, the Davenants, the Withers, the Habingtons, the Herberts, the Carews, the Stanleys? What French reader ever heard of any of these names, excepting two or three! The "Spirit of Christianity" has done justice to the "Paradise Lost." I had to retract some of my opinions respecting Shakspeare and Dante; but I have no reparation to make to him whose poem was the occasion of this work on English literature; I have therefore merely to
explain the motives of an admiration, which a closer examination of his master-piece served only to heighten. Being obliged to pause at beauties which I was striving to transfuse into our language, I learned to appreciate them better, at the same time that I despaired of rendering them with all the force with which I felt them.
Milton was no more; he was unknown; his genius, rising like a spirit from the tomb, came to inquire the cause of this ignorance. People gazed upon it in astonishment; they asked if the author of twelve thousand forgotten verses was really immortal. The majestic and dazzling vision first made them cast down their eyes; presently, they fell prostrate and adored it They then set about inquiring who this secretary of Cromwell's, this pamphleteer champion of regicide, detested by some, despised by others, really was. Bayle commenced by searching after facts touching the person and look of Milton; that look was bold, and not inferior in majesty to the look of a king.
A malediction rested on the respectable family of Milton, which had been stripped of its property during the civil wars of the Red and White Roses. Milton's father was a Protestant, his grandfather a Catholic: the latter disinherited his son. The curse of the grandfather, overleaping one generation, alighted on the head of the grandson.
Milton's father settled in London, where he