that may at any time slip us back to the reformation in Scotland
or the settlement of New England
; when we consider, moreover, that Milton
's life overlapped the grand siecle
of French literature, with its irresistible temptations to digression and homily for a man of Mr. Masson
's temperament, we may be pardoned if a sigh of doubt and discouragement escape us. We envy the secular leisures of Methusaleh, and are thankful that his
biography at least (if written in the same longeval proportion) is irrecoverably lost to us. What a subject would that have been for a person of Mr.
's spacious predilections!
Even if he himself can count on patriarchal prorogations of existence, let him hang a print of the Countess
in his study to remind him of the ambushes which Fate lays for the toughest of us. For myself, I have not dared to climb a cherry-tree since I began to read his work.
Even with the promise of a speedy third volume before me, I feel by no means sure of living to see Mary Powell
back in her husband's house; for it is just at this crisis that Mr. Masson
, with the diabolical art of a practised serial writer, leaves us while he goes into an exhaustive account of the Westminster Assembly and the political and religious notions of the Massachusetts Puritans
One could not help thinking, after having got Milton
fairly through college, that he was never more mistaken in his life than when he wrote,
How soon hath Time, that subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
Or is it Mr. Masson
who has scotched Time
It is plain from the Preface to the second volume that Mr. Masson
himself has an uneasy consciousness that something is wrong, and that Milton
ought somehow to be more than a mere incident of his own biography.