art, an end and not a means.
Of his political work he has himself told us, ‘I should not choose this manner of writing, wherein, knowing myself inferior to myself (led by the genial power of nature to another task), I have the use, as I may account, but of my left hand.’
has given an excellent analysis of these writings, selecting with great judgment the salient passages, which have an air of blank-verse thinly disguised as prose, like some of the corrupted passages of Shakespeare
We are particularly thankful to him for his extracts from the pamphlets written against Milton
, especially for such as contain criticisms on his style.
It is not a little interesting to see the most stately of poets reproached for his use of vulgarisms and low words.
We seem to get a glimpse of the schooling of his ‘choiceful sense’ to that nicety which could not be content till it had made his native tongue ‘search all her coffers round.’
One cannot help thinking also that his practice in prose, especially in the long involutions of Latin periods, helped him to give that variety of pause and that majestic harmony to his blank-verse which have made it so unapproachably his own. Landor
, who, like Milton
, seems to have thought in Latin, has caught somewhat more than others of the dignity of his gait, but without his length of stride.
, at his finest, has perhaps approached it, but with how long an interval!
has not seldom attained to its serene equanimity, but never emulates its pomp.
has caught something of its large utterance, but altogether fails of its nervous severity of phrase.
's muse (that moved with such graceful ease in slippers) becomes stiff when (in his translation of Homer
) she buckles on her feet the cothurnus of Milton
grows tumid wherever he assays the grandiosity of his model.
It is instructive to get any glimpse of the slow processes by which Milton