Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/111

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97
NEW LIGHTS ON MILTON

compromising hostility to the prelates by whom he was 'church-outed,' and unconditional adherence to their most determined opponents.

This suggests the problem discussed by previous critics—the diversion of Milton's energies from poetry to politics. Pattison gave the uncompromising view of the pure scholar. Milton's pamphlets, he says, now serve only as 'a record of the prostitution of genius to political party. They never did any good to the cause.' The man who was meditating the erection of an enduring monument was unfortunately distracted into 'the most ephemeral of all hackwork.' He was writing, in his own phrase, 'to catch the worthless approbation of an inconstant, irrational, and image-doting rabble.' This sweeping condemnation is pleasantly characteristic of the critic; and, moreover, expresses what most readers feel. If we were able to exchange all the prose pamphlets for another Comus or a 'Christmas Hymn,' the modern world would certainly be the gainer. Professor Raleigh answers the complaint as Dr. Garnett has done. No 'dainty shy poet-scholar,' he urges, could have given us anything half as good as Paradise Lost. Milton's purpose even in poetry was essentially patriotic. He would not, he