[Milton-L] London

Francesca Gomes daRimini at netzero.com
Sat Jul 9 01:19:07 EDT 2005


 

While I admire Carol's moral fervor in both this and her other posts, I
cannot agree with her sense of Milton as "a citizen of the world,"
"vehemently and vociferously" crying out "against evil and injustice
wherever he saw it," because Milton only cried out against the evils and
injustices committed against English Protestants. If you did not belong to
Milton's preferred group, he was less concerned.  As Mary C. Fenton shows in
"Milton's View of Ireland: Reform, Reduction, and Nationalist Polity,"
Milton Studies 44 (2005), 203-29 (the volume also contains the articles by
Stanley Fish, Joseph Wittreich, and Barbara Lewalski on "Why Milton
Matters"), if you are Irish and Catholic, then you are beyond the pale, and
your cause is not worthy of any consideration. By 1651, his views about the
Irish "had congealed instead into succinct vituperation" (218). Remember
also that Milton argued for pre-publication freedom for everyone other than
Catholics.

But wouldn't that support all three parts of the previous statement (Milton
as "a citizen of the world," "vehemently and vociferously" crying out
"against evil and injustice wherever he saw it")?  He was concerned with
international injustice (i.e. the slaughter of the Waldensians), he was
vehement about it, and one can still make the case that he cried out against
evil where he saw it.  Milton was extremely anti-Catholic in a reactionary
way, precisely because he saw the Catholic Church, specifically, as being
evil itself.  The fact that his lack of sympathy for the Catholic people
makes him seem less than heroic (in this instance) aside, his sympathy was
not limited to one group.  

 

In addition, "pre-publication freedom for everyone other than Catholics" is
not the same as "pre-publication freedom only for English Protestants and no
one else."

 

On the other hand, I do not think that Milton would have advocated
human/earthly vengeance.  I think Sonnet XVIII makes it pretty clear that he
saw that as exclusively God's province.  

 

-FG

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