[Milton-L] Half-Marathon

John Hale john.hale at stonebow.otago.ac.nz
Sun Apr 15 17:35:11 EDT 2007

A colleague from Religious Studies supplied these passages which relate to
Paradise regained IV. 330 and the whole sentence.  Is any of this new?

"Here's the extract from Darwin's autobiography:

About this time [1837–39] I took much delight in Wordsworth's and
Coleridge's poetry; and can boast that I read the 'Excursion' twice
through. Formerly Milton's 'Paradise Lost' had been my chief favourite,
and in my excursions during the voyage of the "Beagle", when I could take
only a single volume, I always chose Milton.
Charles Darwin, Autobiography (London: Collins, 1958), 85.

Incidentally, I have found this quote attributed to Isaac Newton (I don't
have its source), but it may itself be an allusion to Milton.

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have
been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself now and
then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. (Isaac Newton)

The similar story about St Augustine seems to have been a medieval legend.
I've found this version on a website.

St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (354-430 AD), was once
walking along the seashore, meditating on the unfathomable mystery of the
Holy Trinity. A boy was using a shell to pour seawater into a little hole.
When Augustine asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I am emptying the
sea into this hole." Thus did Augustine understand that man would never
penetrate to the depths of the mystery of God.

John Hale

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