arrived at that classicism which sets him apart from, if not above, all our other poets.
In gathering up the impressions made upon us by Mr. Masson
's work as a whole, we are inclined rather to regret his copiousness for his own sake than for ours.
The several parts, though disproportionate, are valuable, his research has been conscientious, and he has given us better means of understanding Milton
's time than we possessed before.
But how is it about Milton
himself Here was a chance, it seems to me, for a fine bit of portrait-painting.
There is hardly a more stately figure in literary history than Milton
's, no life in some of its aspects more tragical, except Dante
's. In both these great poets, more than in any others, the character of the men makes part of the singular impressiveness of what they wrote and of its vitality with after times.
In them the man somehow overtops the author.
The works of both are full of autobiographical confidences.
was forced to become a party by himself.
He stands out in marked and solitary individuality, apart from the great movement of the Civil War
, apart from the supine acquiescence of the Restoration, a self-opinionated, unforgiving, and unforgetting man. Very much alive he certainly was in his day. Has Mr. Masson
made him alive to us again?
I fear not. At the same time, while we cannot praise either the style or the method of Mr. Masson
's work, we cannot refuse to be grateful for it. It is not so much a book for the ordinary reader of biography as for the student, and will be more likely to find its place on the library-shelf than the centre-table.
It does not in any sense belong to light literature, but demands all the muscle of the trained and vigorous reader.
‘Truly, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is Milton
's life it is naught.’