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gantly drest; that whereas the paths of honesty and good life appear now rugged and difficult, though they be indeed easy and pleasant, they will then appear to all men both easy and pleasant, though they were rugged and difficult indeed.
"The thing which 1 had to say, and those intentions, which have lived within me ever since I could conceive myself any thing worth to my country, I return to crave excuse that urgent reason hath pluckt from me by an abortive and fore-dated discovery; and the accomplishment of them lies not but in a power above man's to promise; but that none hath by more studious ways en-r deavoured, and with more unwearied spirit that none shall, that I dare almost aver of myself, as far as life and free leisure will extend. Neither do I think it shame to covenant with any knowing reader, that for Home few years yet I may go on trust with him toward the payment of what I am now indebted, as being a work not to be raised from the heat of youth, or the vapours of wine, like that which flows at waste from the pen of some vulgar amourist, or the trencher fury of a rhyming parasite; nor to be obtained by the invocation of dame memory and her siren daughters; but by devout prayer to that eternal spirit, who can enrich with all utterance and knowledge, and sends out his Seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar to touch and purify the lips of whom he pleases; to this must be added industrious and select reading, steady observation, insight into all seemly and generous arts and affairs; till which in some measure be compassed at mine own peril and cost I refuse not to sustain this expectation from as many as are not loth to hazard so much credulity upon the best pledges that I can give them. Although it nothing. content me to have disclosed thus much before-hand; but that I trust hereby to make it manifest with what small willingness I endure to interrupt the pursuit of no less hopes than these, and leave a calm and pleasing solitariness, fed with chearful and confident thoughts, to embark in a troubled sea of noise and hoarse dis* putes, put from beholding the bright countenance of truth, in the quiet and still air of delightful studies."
Mr. Warton, who has cited the last sentence of this very interesting passage, as a proof that Milton, then engaged in controversy, sighed for his more congenial pursuits, laments, "that the vigorous portion of his life, that those years in which imagination is on the wing, were unworthily and unprofitably wasted on temporary topics." Many lovers of poetry will sympathise with this amiable writer in his regret; but others may still entertain very different sensations on the subject. Allowing for a moment that the controversial writings of Milton deserve to be neglected and forgotten, reasons may be found to rejoice, rather than lament, that he exerted his faculties in composing them. The occupation, however, it might suspend his poetical enterprizes, cherished the ardour and energy of his mind, and, above all, confirmed in him that well founded and upright self-esteem, to which we are principallv indebted for his sublimest production. The works I allude to were, in his own estimation, indispensable and meritorious; had he not written them, as he frankly informs us, " he would have heard within himself, ail his life after, of discourage and reproach." Nothing, perhaps, but this retrospect on a life passed, as his own conscience assured him in the faithful discharge of arduous and irk* some duties, could have afforded to the declining days of Milton that confident vigor of mind, that intense and inextinguishable fire of imagination, which gave existence and perfection to his Paradise Lost.
He appears to have thought with a celebrated ancient, that perfect morality is necessary to the perfection of genius; and that sublimity in composition may be expected only from the man, who has attained the sublime in the steady practice of virtue.
These noble and animating ideas seem to have had great influence on his conduct very early in life; for in speaking of the studies and sentiments of his youth, he says,—I was confirmed in this opinion,