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tion, and technical skill in versification. He is the master of the grand manner. If the adjective sublime dare be applied to any piece of literature, to what portion can it more fittingly be applied than to the first four books of Paradise Lost? In reading them we feel “like pigmies transported to a world of giants.”

3. Its Style. - In harmony with the sublimity of thought and imagery is the sustained elevation of style. Style, we say, is the man, and Milton is of the race of prophets who dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. With a mind enriched by the study of the great classics of antiquity, with years of training in poetic composition, with a soul that dwelt apart, he brought to the creation of Paradise Lost a training that expressed itself in a sustained elevation of style. The style is not perfect, for its involved sentence structure betrays the Latinism of the classic scholar, but neither is it lacking in surprising directness; the majesty of its sonorous diction is varied by passages whose charming simplicity has the freshness of the dew of Eden.

Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. - In 1671 these two poems were published. Paradise Regained was finished in 1666. There is a story to the effect that Ellwood the Quaker asked Milton, “ Thou hast said much here of Paradise lost, but what hast thou to say of Paradise found?” When the plague was over, Milton came back to London and showed Ellwood Paradise Regained. In this poem we have the old story of the conflict between good and evil. It is a theme common to all the great works of literature, modern and ancient. Here it is figured in the conflict between Christ and Satan, as related in the story of the temptation of Christ in the New Testament. Milton himself is said to have preferred Paradise Regained to Paradise Lost, but the public has never agreed with that preference.

Samson Agonistes is in the form of a drama, but as its preface declares, "never intended to the stage.” Its dignity, austerity, and Greek simplicity of diction have been much admired. The chief interest in the poem is its revelation of the mind of the old bard as he nears the end of his days. He, like Samson, is blind, deserted, surrounded by his carousing enemies,

but like Samson he is of good courage, believing in the ultimate triumph of righteousness. Professor Seeley calls the drama, "the thundering reverberation of a mighty spirit struck by the plectrum of disappointment.”

References
Books:

Life and Times of Milton. Masson.
Milton. PATTISON.
Milton. BROOKE.
In the Days of Milton. JENKS.
The Life of John Milton. SYM MONS.
Milton (Macaulay's Essays). MACAULAY.

Magazines:

England's Debt to Milton. Liv. Age, vol. 223, p. 845.
The Milton Manuscripts at Trinity. GOSSE. Atl., vol. 85, p. 586.
Milton. Liv. Age, vol. 258, p. 368.
The Many-sided Milton. Peck. Cosmop., vol. 46, p. 157.
Milton after 300 Years. Nation, vol. 87, p. 542.
Milton. GORDON. Atl., vol. 103, p. 8.
Milton and Modern Men. DE MONTMORENCY. Contemp., vol. 94, p. 693.
Tercentenary of John Milton. Law. Fortn., vol. 90, p. 947.
Milton as an Educator. BROOKS. N. Eng. M., vol. 8, p. 385.
A French Critic on Milton. Liv. Age, vol. 132, p. 579.
The Idealism of Milton. DoWDEN. Liv. Age, vol. 112, p. 408.

CHAPTER V

Dryden

second class of writers; great as a critic and satirist and poet, he falls short of the supreme gift which enables the seer to reveal a world of beauty and goodness to humanity. When Dryden was born Shakspere had been dead for fifteen years, and Ben Jonson had six years yet to live; Milton had yet to write L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, while Paradise Lost was far in the future. So closely is the life of Dryden linked with the greatest names in English literature, and yet how remote in spirit and temper seem Dryden and his age from the age and men of the Elizabethan period! He belongs to his successors, to Swift, to Addison, to Pope — men who were younger respectively by thirty-six, forty-one, and fifty-seven years. He belongs to an age of religious and political trickery and turmoil, to a time when society was artificial and corrupt and literature was characterized by vigor and common-sense rather than by sweetness and imagination. Dryden himself had a robust nature; had his delicacy and refinement of taste equalled his intellectual sturdiness, his writings would have a charm which they often lack.

Dr. Johnson, whose Life of Dryden has many admirable qualities, in summing up Dryden's general service to the English language, wrote:

What was said of Rome, adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor to English poetry embellished by Dryden: Lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit. (He found it brick and left it marble.)”

He has also been called the lock by which the waters of English poetry were let down from the mountains of Shakspere and Milton to the plain of Pope. As critic, dramatist, satirist, poet,

and master of prose, he holds deservedly a high place in the history of English literature.

The Beginnings. - Concerning the details of Dryden's life, especially those personalia which make interesting the childhood and youth of a distinguished man, we know very little. We know that he was born on or about the ninth of August, 1631, in the rectory belonging to his maternal grandfather, at Aldwinkle All Saints, a village in Northamptonshire. Erasmus Dryden, the father, was the third son of a baronet; his mother, Mary Pickering, was the daughter of Rev. Henry Pickering. Dryden, therefore, was well-born, belonging to that class of English society whose heads of families were squires and rectors. His ancestors on both sides had been partisans of the Puritan cause, which may account for Dryden's first poetic zeal for Cromwell.

He attended Westminster School in London, where he came under the direction of a famous disciplinarian, Dr. Busby, and in 1650, at the age of nineteen, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he received his bachelor's degree in 1654, but there is a probability that he remained there for three more years. It is curious that he never refers to his university in terms of affectionate regard; he even goes so far as to praise its great rival at the expense of his own:

Oxford to him a dearer name shall be
Than his own mother university;
Thebes did his green unknowing youth engage,

He chooses Athens in his riper age.” It was in 1654 that his father died, leaving two-thirds of the Blakesley estates to his son John, the other third to revert to him on the death of the mother. The estate comprised about two hundred acres, and the income from the rents, which in an age when rents were rising Dryden generously allowed to remain stationary, amounted to £60 a year. It is estimated that Dryden's share had a purchasing power equal to about $1000 in the money

of today.

Marriage. — After leaving the university in 1657 he took up

his residence in London. At first he probably lived with his first publisher, Herringman, with whom he was connected until 1679, when Jacob Tonson became his publisher. On the first of December, 1663, he married Lady Hastings Howard, Sir Robert's sister, and daughter of the Earl of Berkshire. There is a tradition that Lady Hastings was neither as good nor as attractive as she should have been and that the marriage was not a happy one. Sir Walter Scott thinks that Dryden's writings contain matrimonial references which indicate “an inward consciousness of domestic misery," but Saintsbury believes that Scott has overstated, for the evidence of mutual unhappines is almost nil. It is possible that Dryden himself was wanting in those qualities which make for domestic tranquillity. In the absence of any direct information, it may be well to assume that his married life was not an unhappy one. One might infer that his alliance with the distinguished Howard family furthered his fortunes, but the evidence indicates that he won his way without any favors from his noble kinsmen.

Poetic Beginnings. — The earliest literary production that has come down to us is a poem on the death of Lord Hastings, a fellow pupil while Dryden was at Westminster. A little later he contributed some verses of a religious nature to a volume gotten up by his friend, John Hoddesdon. The critics in general, including Lowell, consider the two poems inferior and lacking in promise, one reviewer going so far as to say that at this time Dryden had “no ear for verse, no command of poetic diction, no sense of poetic taste.” But Saintsbury thinks these productions show “considerable literary faculty, a remarkable feeling after poetic style.” The truth seems to be that these early productions were neither better nor worse than the early writings of other poets whose powers matured slowly. There is one conceit in the first poem that is a striking illustration of bad taste in poetry —

“Was there no milder way but the small-pox,
The very filthiness of Pandora's box?

J

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