« ForrigeFortsett »
EVERAL English poets have written good
prose, but Milton's alone has preserved any considerable power. Even his would have been forgotten but for its relation to his poetry. Much of his poetry was directly or indirectly affected by his interest in public affairs, and his prose works are the explicit expression of that interest. Many indeed of his arguments, and some of his conclusions, are such as can now have small hold on the minds of men. It is a certain spirit breathing through these pamphlets, and their style when it fitly expresses this spirit, that can still interest us; and thus may be justified the extraction of characteristic passages from what were of course intended in the first place to be persuasive chains of reasoning. Passages of imaginative eloquence are as subordinate to the argument in Milton as in Demosthenes, though they affect us very differently in the two writers, because, apart from his somewhat ineffective efforts to influence the changes proceeding in the state, Milton was primarily and ultimately a poet.
He turned from poetry to write pamphlets on political and ecclesiastical matters because he lived