[Milton-L] A.E. Housman Misquoted on John Milton

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 6 15:07:15 EDT 2011

Fellow Milton enthusiasts might find interesting a misquote in a recent column 
by Bogdan Kipling:
"And malt does more than Milton can; To justify God's will to man."
I've blogged on this to point out that Housman wrote "ways," not "will":
But I added a query:
Housman himself was paraphrasing Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost 1.26, which 
expresses Milton's desire to "justifie the wayes of God to men." I suspect that 
Milton would not have entirely liked the expression "justifie the will of God to 
men," for God's ways are not reducible to 'Will' alone, in Milton's thought, but 
include -- as that which informs His Will -- "Divine Reason," for Milton's God 
is a fully rational rather than arbitrarily willful deity.
>I'd be interested, by the way, in the views of others on this point, which might 
>prove to be a contested one, though I don't recall any scholarly debate over the 
>subjunctive question as to why Milton didn't seek to "justifie the will of God 
>to men."
What do others think. Did Milton perhaps choose "wayes" over "will" for the 
reason that I've speculated . . . or is this subjunctive query pointless?
Jeffery Hodges
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