« AnteriorContinuar »
for a third degree. Those who secure
John Milton this are admitted to the highest literary class, from which the government makes
BY WILMER. all its appointments. Our author was eager to see the " little feet” of a Chi- LET not the reader of the GUARDIAN nese lady, who was just recovering from expect a learned critical dissertation, or the torturing process of their compreso a formal chapter of a history of English son. “At my request the doctor po- Literature, because we have placed the litely asked one of his fair friends to name of the second greatest poet of Engshow me one of her feet! He gravely land at the head of our article. We explained to her that the modest exhi- just finished reading a brief biography bition would be a great povelty to me. of him, by Professor Pattison of Oxford; She kindly banded me her shoe, which and we concluded that a statement of a was about two and a half inches in few facts, and a selection of some paslength and neatly embroidered. After sages, together with a few suggestions removing her very ornamental, but pe- furnished by the volume, would be worculiarly-shaped stocking, she proceeded thy a place in these pages. slowly to unwind the long, black band. Before proceeding to Milton, we have age with which her foot (or what re- a word or two to say of his biographer. mained of it) was tightly wound. The As Prof. Pattison is rector of Lincoln bandage was several yards in length, College, it is natural to suppose that he and under this were other colored strips. is a very learned man. But his learnWhen all were removed, the foot bad a ing does not interfere much with the ipwedge or stump-like appearance that al- terest of his parrative It is true he most destroyed its identity. The heel uses a good many big words, such aa was elongated, the instep highly arched, " subjectivity,” “epideictic,” “diatheand the great toe was very prominent. sis," "perfunctory," and some others The other toes were drawn in under the which could hardly be found in Webster. foot, and so tightly and perseveringly He also uses some Latin quotations, but compressed that the bones were absorbed, upon the whole, most persons can unand no vestige of the toes remained, but derstand him. Moreover, his style is four flat pieces of skin. Although the sprightly and attractive ; and he knows foot was so small that one's hand could | how to select those circumstances, and easily cover it, the ankle was propor- bring out those points wbich awaken tionally thickened, and the whole bad and retain the attention of the reader. an appearance far from beautiful. This Another observation to be made is that strange custom of " little feet” has pre-his is not a one-sided enthusiasm of advailed in China for centuries. The miration for the character and poetry of painful process of binding the feet com- | Milton. In this respect this book differs mences at six or seven years of age, much from Macaulay's celebrated essay when the child's foot is fully formed. on the same subject. The latter sees no The little girls present a pitiable sight defects, and can hardly find terms of as they are sometimes seen on the street, praise strong enough. But the English richly dressed and attended by a servant, Professor displays considerable coolness but bobbling slowly along, crippled for of judgment, and consequently is modlife by this unnatural and cruel fashion. erate and reserved. Sometimes, indeed, When the feet have been bound for he strikes us as being too cool; and several years the young woman is forced here and there we find traces of a rationto continue the habit, for the under side alism, which untits him to put the propof the foot is rendered so sensitive and er estimate upon Milton's poetry, as pinched that she cannot stand up when well as upon his religious views. The it is left unbound."
following passage tells us why he was
not among the number of those EnglishIf mercies humble you, and an in- men who came across the waters to atcreasing knowledge of the truth makes tend the recent Pan-Presbyterian-Counyou zealous and active, your soul is in a cil:" His dogmatic Calvinism, from healthy state : pride and inactivity are the effects of which his mind never rethe worst of diseases.
covered-a system which easily disposes
to a cypical abasement of our fellow-men girl. Love bas blinded, and will con-counted for something".." in produ tinue to blind, the wisest men to calcucing this repellent or unsympathetic at lations as easy and certain as these.”... titude in Milton.”
“He was too soon undeceived. His The great poet's first employment dream of married happiness barely lastwas that of a school-teacher. He estab- ed out the honey-moon. He found lished an institution in his own house, that he had mated himself to a clud of did bis own work, and threw his whole earth, who not only was pot now, but soul into it. This is evident from his had rot the capacity of becoming, a belp“ Tractate ” on Education, which as a meet for him. With Milton, as with contribution to pedagogical literature is the whole Calvinistic and Puritan Euof great value at the present day. But rope, woman was a creature of an ipmore than this; he was not satisfied with ferior and subordinate class. Man was the geographies of that day. He went the first cause of God's creation, and to work to write one. He labored hard, woman was there to minister to this poand his biographer says if his undertak- ble being."...." But however keenly ing had been completed it would have he felt and regretted the precipitancy proved to be one “of overwhelming which had yoked him for life to a mute magnitude.” Further, his boys did not and spiritless mate, the breach did not have the right kind of dictionaries. This come from his side. The girl herself want must be likewise supplied. The conceived an equal repugnance to the following is the language of Prof. Pat- husband she bad thoughtlessly accepted, tison on this subject :-" The acknow- probably on the strength of his good ledged metaphor of Pegasus harnessed looks, which was all of Milton she was to a luggage trolley wil recur to us capable of appreciating. A young bride, when we think of the author of L’Alle- taken suddenly from the freedom of a gro setting himself to compile a Latin jovial and undisciplined home, rendered lexicon. If there is any literary drud- more lax by civil confusion and easy ingery more mechanical than another, it tercourse with the officers of the royalis generally supposed to be that of ist garrison, and committed to the sole making a dictionary. Nor bad he ta- society of a stranger, and that stranger ken to this industry as a resource in age, possessing the rights of a husband, and when the genial flow of invention had expecting much from all who lived with dried up, and original composition had him, may not uppaturally have been ceased to be in his power. The three seized with panic terror, and wished herfolio volumes of MS, which Milton left self home again." .... “Mary Milton were the work of his youth; it was a went to Forest Hill (her parents' home) work which the loss of eyesight of ne. in July, but on the understanding that cessity put an end to.”
she was to come back at Michaelmas. Milton had three wives. Between When the appointed time came she did himself and the first there was no con- not appear. Milton wrote for her to geniality. Domestic misery was the come. No answer. Several other letresult. And as it would seem from ters met the same fate. At last he diswhat our author says, the woman was patched a foot-messenger to Forest Hill not alone to blame.“ The biographer, desiring her return. The messenger acquainted with the event, has no diffi- came back only to report tbat he had culty in predicting it, and in saying at been dismissed with some sort of conthis point in his story that Milton might tempt."...“If Milton bad hasted too have known better than, with his puri- eagerly to light the nuptial torch, he tanical connections, to have taken to l had been equally ardent in his calculawife a daughter of a cavalier bouse, to tions of the domestic happineas upon have brought her from a roystering which he was to enter. His poet's bome, frequented by the dissolute offi- imagination had invested a dull and cers of the Oxford garrison, to the spare common girl with rare attributes, moral diet and philosophical retirement of a and intellectual, and had pictured for recluse student, and to have looked for him the state of matrimony as an earthly sympathy and response for his specula- Paradise, in which he was to be secure tions from an uneducated and frivolous of a response of affection showing itself in a communion of intelligent interests and capable woman. ..... There is no In proportion to the brilliancy of his evidence that his wife rendered bim any ideal anticipation was the fury of de- literary assistance. Perhaps as she spair which came upon him when he looked so thoroughly to his material found out his mistake.” But misfor-comfirt, her function was held, by tacit tunes in various forms fell upon his agreement, to end there." father-in-law's family. At all events a Notwithstanding Milton's ups and reconciliation was found desirable. "A downs in matrimonial life, certain it is conspiracy of the friends of both parties that English literature, much less any contrived to introduce Mary Powell other literature, furnishes no conception (her maiden name) into a house where of woman as exalted as the one presentMilton often visited in St. Martin's-le- ed in the following passage to be found Grand. She was secreted in an adjoining at the end of the eighth Book of Pararoom, on an occasion when Milton was dise Lost:known to be coming, and he was sur
When I approach prised by seeing her suddenly brought
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems in, throw herself on her knees and ask
| And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say to be forgiven. The poor young thing, Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best. now two years older and wiser, but s'ill All higher knowledge in her presence falls only nineteen, pleaded, truly or falsely, Degraded; wisdom a discourse with her that her mother had been all along the
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows.
Authority and reason on her wait, chief promoter of her frowardness. Mil
As one intended first, not after made ton with a noble leonine clemency which Occasionally : and to consummate all, became him, cared not for excuses for Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat the past. It was enough that she was | Build in her loveliest, and create an awe come back, and was willing to live with | About her, as a guard angelic placed. him as his wife. He received her at Professor Pattison remarks, however, once, and not only her, but on the sur-that “in the bringing up of his daughrender of Oxford, in June, 1646, and ters, he puts his owo typical woman enthe sequestration of Forest Hill, took tirely on one side.".... “He did not the whole family of Powells, including allow them to learn any language, saying the mother-in-law, whose influence with with a gibe that one tongue was enough her daughter might even again trouble for a woman. They were not sent to his peace.” ... Milton probably abated any school, but had some sort of tea hing bis exactious on the point of companion. at home from a mistress. But in order ship, and learned to be content with her to make thein useful in reading to him, acquiescence in the duties of a wife. In their father was at the pains to train July, 1646, she became a mother, and them to read aloud in five or six lanbore in all four children. Of these, guages, of none of which they understood three, all daughters, lived to grow up. one word. When we think of the time Mary Milton herself died in giving birth and labor which must have been expendto her fourth child in the summer of ed to teach then to do this, it must 1652. She was only twenty six, and had occur to us that a little more labor been married to Milton nine years." would have sufficed to teach them so
Four years after the death of his first much of one or two of the languages as wife, Milton married Catherine Wood would have made their reading a source stock, of whom very little is knowo. of interest and improvement to themShe died fifteen months after their mar selves. This Milton refused to do. The riage.
consequence was, as might have been Five years later, after he had lost his expected, the occupation became so irisight, he consulted his judicious friend some to them that they rebelled against aud medical advirer, Dr. Paget," on the it. In the case of one of them, Mary, subject of a third marriage. Poget who was like her mother in person, and recommended a relative of his own, took after her in other respecis, this resElizabeth Mioshull. Milton called her tiveness passed into open revolt. She first Betty. “During the re naining eleven resisted, then neglected, and finally came years of his life the poet was surrounded to hate her father. When someone by the thoughtful at entions of an active spoke in her presence of her father's
approaching marriage she said, 'that Professor Pattison bas very little to was no news to hear of his wedding; but say in regard to the piety of Milton. if she could bear of his death, that was He informs us, however, that “there something. She combined with Anne, grew up in him, in the last period of his the eldest daughter to counsel his maid- life, a secret sympathy with the mode of servant to cheat him in bis marketinge. thinking, which came to characterize They sold his books without bis koow-the Quaker sect." Whatever may have ledge. "They made nothing of de- been the external form which it assumed, serting him,' he was often heard to there can be no doubt as to his religious complain. They continued to live with earnestness and sincerity. In his celehim five or six years after his marriage brated “ Tractate" or Theory of EducaBut at last the situation became intoler- tion he gives as a definition of the true able to both parties, and they were sont end of learning “to repair the ruin of out to learn embroidery in gold or silver, our first parents by regaining to know as a means of obtaining their livelihood.” God aright.” Toe rector of Lincoln
Most of what has hitherto been said College ears that “here we have the has to do with Milton's external sur. theological Milton, and what he took on roundings. A man's babits tell much in from the current language of his age." regard to his inner life and character. Not only bas this definition never been Much is contained in the following par- improved upon, in spite of libraries of agraph from the biography :
treatises on education which have ap. "On cold days he would walk for peared since Milton's day; but all definihours-three or four hours at a tiine liiuns of the legitimate aim of culture are in his garden. A garden was a sine qua false in proportion as they differ from it. non, and he took rare to have one to ev- Milton as a poet was fully conscious ery house he lived in. His habit. in early of the solemnity and diguity of his life, had been to study late into the night. calling. Witness the following extracts After he lost his sight he changed from his writiogs in reference to tbis his hours, and retired to rest at pine. point. "And long it was not after, In summer he rose at four, in winter at when I was confirmeil in this opinion, five, and began the day with having the that he who would not be frustrate of Hebrew Scriptures read to him. Then his hope to write well bereafter io lauilhe contemplated. At seven bis man able things, ought himself to be a true came to bim again, and then read to poem, that is a composition and pattern him and wrote till dinner. The writing of the best and honorablest things, pot was as much as the reading. Then he presuming to sing bigh praises of heroic took exercise, either walking in the men or famous cities, unless he have in garden, or swinging in a machine. His himself the experience and the practice only recreation, besides conversation, of all that which is praiseworthy." was music. He played the organ, and “Neither do I think it shame to covenant the bass viol; the organ most. Some with any knowing reader ibat for some times he would sing himself or get his few years yet I may go on trust toward wife to sing, though she had, he said, the payment of what I am now indebted, no ear, yet a good voice. Then he went as being not a work to be raised from up to his study to be read to till six. the best of youth, or the vapors of wine, After six his friends were admitted to like that which flows at waste from the visit him, and would sit with him till pen of some vulgar amorist, or the eight. At eight he went down to supper, trencher fury of some rhyming parasite, usually olives or some light thing. He nor to be obtained by the invocation of was very abstemious in his diet, having Dame Memory and her Siren daughters, to contend with a gouty diathesis. He but by devout prayer to that Eternal was not fastidious in his choice of meats, Spirit who can enrich with all utterance but content with anything that was in and all knowledge, and sends out His season, or easy to be procured After serapbim with the hallowed fire of bis supping thus sparingly, he smoked a pipe altar to touch and purify the life of of tobacco, drank a glass of water, and whom He pleases.” “ Poetical powers then retired to bed. He was sparing in are the inspired gift of God rarely his use of wipe."
| bestowed ... in every nation, and are of power, beside the office of a pulpit, to the best thoughts and finest words of all imbreed and cherish in a great people ages. (Milton knew Homer by heart.) the seeds of virtue and public civility. It is the language of one who lives in the to allay the perturbation of the mind, companionship of the great and the and set the affections in right tune; to wise of past time. It is inevitable that celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns when such a one speaks, his tones, his the throne and equipage of God's al- accents, the melodies of his rhythm, the mighiness, and what He works, and what inner barmonies of his linked thoughts, He suffers to be wrought with bigh the grace of his allusive touch, should providence in His church; to sing victo escape the common ear. To follow rious agonies of martyrs and saints, the Milton one should at least have tasted deeds and triumphs of just and pious the same training through which he put nations, doing valiantly through faith bimself. Tu quoque dignum finge deo. against the enemies of Christ; to deplore The many cannot see it, and complain the general relapses of kingdoms from that the poet is too learned. They would justice and God's true worship.”
have Milton talk like Bunyan or WilAs regards the merits of Milton's po- liam Cobbett, whom they understand. etry, Professor Pattison is willing to Milton did attempt the demagogue look on both sides of the question. The in his pamphlets, only with the result great poet once took the ground that, of blemishing his fame, and degrading “pomp and ostentation of reading is bis genius. The best poetry is that admired among the vulgar; but in which calls upon us to rise to it, not matters of religion, he is learnedest who that which writes down to us." Whilst is plainest.” But his biographer thinks Professor Partison concedes that Parathat he does not adhere to this principle dise Lost has been more admired than consistently. “One drawback there was read, and that the poet's wish and exattendant upon the style chosen by pectation has been fulfilled that he Milton, viz. that it narrowly limited should find“ fit audience, though few," the circle of his readers ... of under- he insists upon it that this must be standing English there are many regarded as in part a tribute to his degrees; it requires some education to excellence,” for “ an appreciation of understand literary style at all. ... Milton is the last reward of consummate Confining ourselves only to the small part scholarship; and we may apply to him of our millions which we speak of as the what Quintillian has said of Cicero Ille se educated class—that is those whose profecisse sciat, cui Cicero valde placebit.* schooling is carried on beyond fuurteen years of age; it will be found that only a small fraction of the men, and a still
Gorman Hymn Writers. smaller fraction of the women, fully apprehend the meaning of words. This
BY THE EDITOR. is the case with what is written in the ordinary language of books. When we
The Germans are great lovers of song. pass from a style in which words have
They excel all other nations in the only their simple signification to a style writing of good hymns. And around of which the effect depends on the sug
their hearıhs and altars such singing is gestion of collateral association, we leave
beard as one finds nowhere else. Two behind even the majority of these few.
thousand years and more bave they This is what is meant by the standing been writing hymns. Some of the best charge against Milton, that he is too
early singers came from Switzerland. learned"
Two of the earliest specimens of German Still according to the Rector's view sacred poetry came from the teachers of
Louis the Milton is. next to Shakespeare. Eng. / the convent of St. Gall. land's greatest poet, and it behooves a
Pious used the first German hymn ever representative of Oxford to vindicate a
written, to teach them to the newly conwriter whom England has always point-verted Saxons. Down to the eleventh ed to with pride. “The style of Paradise or twelfth century the people took no Lost is then only the natural expression * He may know he is advanced who derives of a soul thus exquisitely nourished upon much pleasure from Cicero.