and merciful deposit, and not renew for us the bores of a former generation as if we had not enough of our own. But if he cannot forbear that unwise inquisitiveness, we may fairly complain when he insists on taking us along with him in the processes of his investigation, instead of giving us the sifted results in their bearing on the life and character of his subject, whether for help or hindrance.
We are blinded with the dust of old papers ransacked by Mr. Masson
to find out that they have no relation whatever to his hero.
He had been wise if he had kept constantly in view what Milton
himself says of those who gathered up personal traditions concerning the Apostles: ‘With less fervency was studied what Saint Paul
or Saint John
had written than was listened to one that could say, “Here he taught, here he stood, this was his stature, and thus he went habited; and 0, happy this house that harbored him, and that cold stone whereon he rested, this village where he wrought such a miracle.” . . . . Thus while all their thoughts were poured out upon circumstances and the gazing after such men as had sat at table with the Apostles, . . . . by this means they lost their time and truanted on the fundamental grounds of saving knowledge, as was seen shortly in their writings.’
has so poured out his mind upon circumstances
, that his work reminds us of Allston
's picture of Elijah in the Wilderness
, where a good deal of research at last enables us to guess at the prophet absconded like a conundrum in the landscape where the very ravens could scarce have found him out, except by divine commission.
The figure of Milton
becomes but a speck on the enormous canvas crowded with the scenery through which he may by any possibility be conjectured to have passed.
I will cite a single example of the desperate straits to which Mr. Masson
is reduced in order to hitch Milton
on to his own biography.