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to write a poem on the subject of Adam, the first man By his sympathy with all nature; by the proportion of his powers; by great knowledge, and by religion, he would reascend to the height from which our nature is supposed to have descended. From a just knowledge of what man should be, he described what he was. He beheld him as he walked in Eden. And the soul of this divine creature is excellent as his form. The tone of his thought and passion is as healthful, as even, and as vigorous, as befits the new and perfect model of a race of gods.
The perception we have attributed to Milton, of a purer ideal of humanity, modifies his poetic genius. The man is paramount to the poet. His fancy is never transcendent, extravagant; but, as Bacon's imagination was said to be 'the noblest that ever contented itself to minister to the understanding,' so Milton's ministers to the character. Milton's sublimest song, bursting into heaven with its peals of melodious thunder, is the voice of Milton still. Indeed, throughout his poems, one may see under a thin veil, the opinions, the feelings, even the incidents of the poet's life, still reappearing.
The most affecting passages in Paradise Lost are personal allusions; and, when we are fairly in Eden, Adam and Milton are often difficult to be separated. The genius and office of Milton were to ascend by the aids of his learning and his religion by an equal perception, that is, of the past and the future — to a higher insight and more lively delineation of the heroic life of man. This was his poem; whereof all his indignant pamphlets and all his soaring verses are only single cantos or detached stanzas.
FROM THE PREFACE TO THE 1815 EDITION OF HIS POEMS.
THE grand storehouses of enthusiastic and meditative imagination, as contradistinguished from human and dramatic imagination, are the prophetic and lyrical parts of the Holy Scriptures, and the works of Milton; to which I cannot forbear to add those of Spenser, I select these writers in preference to those of ancient Greece and Rome, because the anthropomorphism of the Pagan religion subjected the minds of the greatest poets in those countries too much to the bondage of definite form; from which the Hebrews were preserved by their abhorrence of idolatry. This abhorrence was almost as strong in our great epic Poet, both from circumstances of his life, and from the constitution of his mind. However indued the surface might be with classical literature, he was a Hebrew in soul; and all things tended in him toward the sublime.
SONNET ON MILTON.
MILTON! thou should'st be living at this hour;
Of stagnant waters; altar, sword, and pen,
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
V. CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE.
1608, Dec. 9. Born in Lon- 1608. John Smith, True Relation.
1609 (æt. 1).
1611 (æt. 3).
1616 (æt. 8).
The Pilgrims settle in
Authorized Version of the
1624 (æt. 16). Paraphrases of
1629 (æt. 21). On the Morning of Christ's Nativity. 1631 (æt. 23). Sonnet i.
1625, Mar. 27 (æt. 17). Accession of Charles I.
1629, Jan. (æt. 21). Degree 1629 (æt. 21). Dissolution of Parliament. of B.A.
1636 (æt. 28). Harvard College founded. Providence founded by Roger Wil
1637 (æt. 29). Trial of Hampden. Death of Ben Jonson.
1633 (æt. 25). William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury.
1639 (æt. 31). Epitaphium 1639, Aug. (æt. 31). Returns
1640 (æt. 32). Removes to 1640, Nov. 3-1660, Mar. 16 (æt. 32-52). London. Cited as a
1643-1645 (æt. 35-37). Di- 1643, May (æt. 35). Marries
1644 (æt. 36). Tract on Edu
1642 (æt. 34). Civil War begins. Battle of Edgehill.
1644, July 2 (æt. 36). Battle of Marston Moor.
1645 (æt. 37). First edition 1645-1647 (æt. 37-39). Keeps 1645, June 14 (æt. 37). Battle of Naseby. of Minor Poems. school in the Barbican.
1646 (æt. 38). Charles surrenders to the Scots.
1647 (æt. 39). Jeremy Taylor, Liberty of Prophesying.
1649, Mar. (æt. 41). Ap- |1649 (æt. 41), Jan. 30. pointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues (Latin Secretary).
Rump Parliament. Council of State.
1651 (æt. 43). Battle of Worcester.
1652 (æt. 44). Becomes blind. m. vie
1653, Dec. 16- 1658, Sept. 3 (æt. 46-50). Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector.
1654 (æt. 46). Defensio Secunda.
1658 (æt. 50). Sonnet xxiii (last).
1656 marring Kathrine 1658, Sept. 3 (æt. 50). Death of Oliver
Paradise Lost begun.
Sept. 3-1659, May 25. Richard Cromwell Lord Protector.