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a majesty in the conduct of thought, and a music in the majesty which fills it with solemn beauty, — belong one and all to the style ; and it gains its highest influence on us, and fulfils the ultimate need of a grand style in being the easy and necessary expression of the very character and nature of the
The preparation of this little volume has been a continual joy, and the labor bestowed has daily brought its own exceeding great reward. Step by step, as the view was nearer, the poem has grown grander, and Milton's genius has seemed more angelic. May this slight contribution lead at least a few others to love more warmly this kingliest of English souls, and to study more intelligently and more reverently this loftiest work of the human imagination.
GIRLS' High School, BOSTON,
October 1, 1879.
* Brooke's Milton Primer, pp. 83, 84. Compare this with the fine passage on Milton's style and method in Lowell's Among My Books, 2d series, pp. 284–299. As to Milton's character, see the essays in J. R. Seeley's Roman Imperialism, etc. For many interesting and suggestive remarks on the poem, see Himes's Study of Paradise Lost (Lippincott, 1878).
DEDICATION . . . . . . .
[From the Introduction to Masson's Milton's Poetical Works.]
PARADISE Lost is an epic. But it is not, like the Iliad or the Æneid, a national epic ; nor is it an epic after any other of the known types. It is an epic of the whole human species — an epic of our entire planet, or indeed of the entire astronomical universe. The title of the poem, though perhaps the best that could have been chosen, hardly indicates beforehand the full extent of the theme. Nor are the opening lines sufficiently descriptive of what is to follow. According to them, the song is to be
“Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
With loss of Eden.” This is a true description, for the whole story bears on this point. But it is the vast comprehension of the story, both in space and time, as leading to this point, that makes it unique among epics, and entitles Milton to speak of it as involving
“Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.” It is, in short, a poetical representation, on the authority of hints from the Book of Genesis and other parts of the Bible, of the historical connection between Human Time and Aboriginal or Eternal Infinity, or between our created World and the immeasurable and inconceivable Universe of Pre-human Existence. So far as our World is concerned, the poem starts from that moment when our newly-created Earth, with all the newly-created starry depths about it, had as yet but two human beings upon it. These consequently are, on this side of the pre-supposed Infinite Eternity, the main per. sons of the epic. But we are carried back into this pre-supposed