[Milton-L] A Milton quote

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Mon Dec 1 08:27:03 EST 2008

As I mentioned yesterday, the whole passage can be found on p. 694 in Hughes.  I can also be found on page 890 in vol. 1 of the Yale Prose.


Louis Schwartz
Associate Professor of English
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Jameela Lares
Sent: Sunday, November 30, 2008 8:24 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] A Milton quote

But Carlyle got the quotation wrong.  What Milton actually said, in Apology against a Pamphlet . . . Smectymnuus (1642), is "He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter on laudable things ought himself to be a true poem."  (There's more to the citation.  Perhaps the student of mine who has Sterne and Kollmeier's concordance out from the library might be so kind as to post the page number in Yale Prose volume 1.)
Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The U. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
601 266-6214 ofc
601 266-5757 fax

>From jonnyangel <junkopardner at comcast.net>
Sent Sun 11/30/2008 2:48 AM
To John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Subject Re: [Milton-L] A Milton quote

That is from "The Life of Friedrich Schiller" by Thomas Carlyle.

Yet among these men are to be found the brightest specimens and the chief benefactors of mankind! It is they that keep awake the finer parts of our souls; that give us better aims than power or pleasure, and withstand the total sovereignty of Mammon in this earth. They are the vanguard in the march of mind; the intellectual Backwoodsmen, reclaiming from the idle wilderness new territories for the thought and the activity of their happier brethren. Pity that from all their conquests, so rich in benefit to others, themselves should reap so little! But it is vain to murmur. They are volunteers in this cause; they weighed the charms[54] of it against the perils: and they must abide the results of their decision, as all must. The hardships of the course they follow are formidable, but not all inevitable; and to such as pursue it rightly, it is not without its great rewards. If an author's life is more agitated and more painful than that of others, it may also be made more spirit-stirring and exalted: fortune may render him unhappy; it is only himself that can make him despicable. The history of genius has, in fact, its bright side as well as its dark. And if it is distressing to survey the misery, and what is worse, the debasement of so many gifted men, it is doubly cheering on the other hand to reflect on the few, who, amid the temptations and sorrows to which life in all its provinces and most in theirs is liable, have travelled through it in calm and virtuous majesty, and are now hallowed in our memories, not less for their conduct than their writings. Such men are the flower of this lower world: to such alone can the epithet of great be applied with its true emphasis. There is a congruity in their proceedings which one loves to contemplate: 'he who would write heroic poems, should make his whole life a heroic poem.'

So thought our Milton; and, what was more difficult, he acted so. To Milton, the moral king of authors, a heroic multitude, out of many ages and countries, might be joined; a 'cloud of witnesses,' that encompass the true literary man throughout his pilgrimage, inspiring him to lofty emulation, cheering his solitary thoughts with hope, teaching him to struggle, to endure, to conquer difficulties, or, in failure and heavy sufferings, to
'arm th' obdured breast
With stubborn patience as with triple steel.'



On 11/30/08 1:12 AM, "Nancy Charlton" <pastorale55 at yahoo.com> wrote:
"Dr Mardy's Quotes of the Week" just came in, and I find a Milton quotation in it:

 "Let him who would write heroic poems make his life a heroic poem."
          John Milton

I have no convenient way to find out where in Milton's oeuvre this is found. I find the idea intriguing though. Very Renaissance, echo of Jonson's poem where he dubs his son his best poem.

Nancy Charlton

. . . Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.  (Il Penseroso)

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