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[273] wearisome reading, and going through them is like a long sea-voyage whose monotony is more than compensated for the moment by a stripe of phosphorescence heaping before you in a drift of star-sown snow, coiling away behind in winking disks of silver, as if the conscious element were giving out all the moonlight it had garnered in its loyal depths since first it gazed upon its pallid regent. Which, being interpreted, means that his prose is of value because it is Milton's, because it sometimes exhibits in an inferior degree the qualities of his verse, and not for its power of thought, of reasoning, or of statement. It is valuable, where it is best, for its inspiring quality, like the fervencies of a Hebrew prophet. The English translation of the Bible had to a very great degree Judaized, not the English mind, but the Puritan temper. Those fierce enthusiasts could more easily find elbow-room for their consciences in an ideal Israel than in a practical England. It was convenient to see Amalek or Philistia in the men who met them in the field, and one unintelligible horn or other of the Beast in their theological opponents. The spiritual provincialism of the Jewish race found something congenial in the English mind. Their national egotism quintessentialized in the prophets was especially sympathetic with the personal egotism of Milton. It was only as an inspired and irresponsible person that he could live on decent terms with his own self-confident individuality. There is an intolerant egotism which identifies itself with omnipotence,1 and whose sublimity is its apology; there is an intolerable egotism which subordinates the sun to the watch in its own fob. Milton's was of the former kind, and accordingly the


For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal.

P. R. IV. 131-133.

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