Macaulay's Essay on Milton

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Page xlvii - Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine ; Or what (though rare) of later age Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage. But, O, sad virgin, that thy power Might raise Musaeus from his bower ! Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing "Such notes as, warbled to the string, Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, And made hell grant what love did seek...
Page xlvii - Far from all resort of mirth, Save the cricket on the hearth, Or the bellman's drowsy charm, To bless the doors from nightly harm. Or let my lamp, at midnight hour, Be seen in some high lonely tower, Where I may oft outwatch the Bear...
Page 70 - Then came those days, never to be recalled without a blush, the days of servitude without loyalty and sensuality without love, of dwarfish talents and gigantic vices, the paradise of cold hearts and narrow minds, the Golden Age of the coward, the bigot, and the slave.
Page 72 - ... stage were most licentious. They were not men of letters; they were, as a body, unpopular; they could not defend themselves ; and the public would not take them under its protection. They were therefore abandoned, without reserve, to the tender mercies of the satirists and dramatists. The ostentatious simplicity of their dress, their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff posture, their long graces, their Hebrew names, the Scriptural phrases which they introduced on every occasion, their...
Page 74 - Their palaces were houses not made with hands ; their diadems, crowns of glory which shall never fade away. On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt : for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand.
Page 74 - Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute. To know Him, to serve Him, to enjoy Him, was with them the great end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on His intolerable brightness, and...
Page 87 - We are transported a hundred and fifty years back. We can almost fancy that we are visiting him in his small lodging ; that we see him sitting at the old organ beneath the faded green hangings ; that we can catch the quick twinkle of his eyes, rolling in vain to find the day ; that we are reading in the lines of his noble countenance the proud and mournful history of his glory and his affliction.
Page xv - Then were first proclaimed those mighty principles which have since worked their way into the depths of the American forests, which have roused Greece from the slavery and degradation of two thousand years, and which, from one end of Europe to the other, have kindled an unquenchable fire in the hearts of the oppressed, and loosed the knees of the oppressors with an unwonted fear.
Page 10 - But language, the machine of the poet, is best fitted for his purpose in its rudest state. Nations, like individuals, first perceive, and then abstract. They advance from particular images to general terms. Hence the vocabulary of an enlightened society is philosophical, that of a half-civilized people is poetical.
Page 86 - It is to be regretted that the prose writings of Milton should, in our time, be so little read. As compositions, they deserve the attention of every man who wishes to become acquainted with the full power of the English language. They abound with passages compared with which the finest declamations of Burke sink into insignificance. They are a perfect field of cloth of gold. The style is stiff with gorgeous embroidery. Not even in the earlier books of the Paradise Lost...

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