[Milton-L] question about writer who justified Milton'sblindness

Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at gmail.com
Thu Feb 14 08:41:27 EST 2013


Salwa,

Thank you.  Interesting and worth some thought.  However, I initially
failed to see what this would have to do with *Milton's* writings on
Divorce, which argue for divorce based on incompatibility *for men*.  But
the ridicule based on Milton's "help meet" arguments makes the case more
persuasive.  The reading might work better if (and it's a fairly big "if")
the *Censure *author read Milton's Eve as liberated (however which way)
from anti-feminist exegesis.

Best,

Brendan


On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 9:00 PM, Salwa Khoddam <skhoddam at cox.net> wrote:

> **
> Brendan,
>
> "he is so much an enemy to usual practices, that I believe when he is
> condemned to travel to *Tyburn* in a Cart, he will petition for the
> favour to be the first man that ever was driven thither in a *Wheel-barrow
> *” (2-3). The author here pokes fun at Milton’s writings on divorce as
> well as his recent *Readie and Easie Way*."
> What came to mind is an incident from Chretien de Troyes's* Lancelot ou
> le Chavalier a la charette,* which describes Lancelot* *riding in a cart
> to get to the castle in a hurry to liberate Guenevere. It was beneath his
> kightly status to do so, and he was despised by everyone for this
> action, even by Guenevere herself (for a while)-- though he almost lost his
> life to free her. Perhaps there's some allusion to this story in the
> passage about Milton??
> Best,
> Salwa
>
>
> Salwa Khoddam PhD
> Professor of English Emerita
> Oklahoma City University
> skhoddam at cox.net
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Brendan Prawdzik <brendanprawdzik at gmail.com>
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, February 13, 2013 2:30 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] question about writer who justified
> Milton'sblindness
>
> Lyman Gin,
>
> I don't know the answer about the later female author, though I sure am
> interested to know!  Here's are two relevant paragraphs on this early
> Restoration motif from my currently-being-reworked book project, with
> notes.  Remember: still very crude!
>
> Best,
>
> Brendan
>
>
>
>           Samson, lamenting that he is “dark in light expos’d/ To daily
>> fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong” (75-76), gives voice to the utter
>> vulnerability experienced by Milton during the turbulent months surrounding
>> the Restoration. Milton had remained in hiding, “like a soldier listening
>> to strange noises in the dark,” as Charles II was welcomed by raucous
>> crowds. He found himself fallen upon “evil tongues,” “in darkness, and with
>> dangers compast round,” not only threatened by the prospects of execution
>> and assassination, whether in hiding or as a prisoner in the Tower between
>> October and December, but also repeatedly pilloried in the press, so
>> commonly ridiculed for his blindness that “Blind Milton” became an enduring
>> epitaph.i <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote1sym> Though of course Milton
>> could not read these printed attacks himself, his friends and protectors
>> likely furnished him news pertaining to his precarious situation. Edward
>> Phillips, in his *Life of Milton*, notes that his uncle “prepared for
>> the Press an answer” to one such attack which, as J. Milton French
>> suggests, may have been written by Robert Dunkin shortly before the
>> Restoration. “Whether by the disswasion of Friends,” writes Phillips, “as
>> thinking him a Fellow not worth his notice, or for whatever cause I know
>> not, this Answer was never publisht.” (However, as French notes, little is
>> known about Milton’s reply or the specific attack to which he was
>> responding, which may have been written any time between 1660 and 1674.)
>> ii
>> <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote2sym>
>
>
> i <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote1anc> Parker, 568; *PL*, 7.26-27.
> ii <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote2anc> The Phillips quote is from French, *Life
> Records*. See 4.293-94.
>
>
>>           Language of authorship and publication scattered throughout *Samson
>> Agonistes* invites us to read Samson’s “shameful garrulity” (491) as a
>> parodic exaggeration of Milton’s prolificacy as a polemicist during the
>> turbulent 1640s and 50s and as the author of the self-consciously ambitious
>> scriptural epic: “I Gods counsel have not kept,” Samson admits, “his holy
>> secret/ Presumptuously have publish’d, impiously … ” (497-98). Milton
>> himself had become an example, as opportunists identified his blindness as
>> fit punishment for a foolishly bold and loose tongue.i<#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote1sym>In ten of the annual issues of Poor Robin’s
>> *Almanack* published between 1664 and 1677, “Blind Milton” could be
>> found among entries for other cautionary figures like Tantalus and the
>> Wandering Jew.ii <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote2sym> Satirists attributed
>> his blindness to his most notorious writings, particularly the *Defenses*and
>> *Eikonoklastes*. *The Picture of the Good Old Cause*, a broadside
>> including “Several Examples of Gods Judgements on some Eminent Engagers
>> against Kingly Government,” presents him among other regicides stricken by
>> divine justice: “*Milton* that writ two Books against the King, and *
>> Salmasius* his Defense of Kings, struck totally blind, he being not much
>> above 40. yeares old.” John Heydon warns that Milton, “beginning to write
>> an Answer” to Charles I’s *Eikon Basilike* “was at the second word, by
>> the power of God strucken blind.”iii <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote3sym>The anonymous
>> * Censure of the Rota upon Mr Miltons Book*, a satire detailing a
>> fictitious meeting of James Harrington’s Rota club with members ridiculing
>> Milton’s writings, derides him for authoring unpersuasive and seldom-read
>> tracts, and notes that, meanwhile, “you have scribled your eyes out.”iv<#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote4sym>Events had finally placed Milton upon the stage of print where he had
>> exposed Hall as a fool two decades earlier. Though Milton was, to the
>> surprise of many, spared execution, his humiliations reached a zenith on
>> August 13, 1660, when the newly restored King issued a proclamation
>> ordering all copies of the *First Defense* and *Eikonoklastes* rounded
>> up and “publickly burned by the common Hangman.”v
>> <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote5sym>
>
>
>
>> <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote5sym>i <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote1anc> For
>> discussion of secrecy and publication in *SA*, see Haskin, 173-77. One
>> anonymous pamphlet details, among suggestions for disposing the remains of
>> regicide John Lord Hewson, a plan to take Hewson’s “one good eye … out of
>> his Head, and bestow it upon blind *Milton*, that it may still be worn
>> as an Ornament in a knaves countenance” (*London Prentices*, 6). The
>> anonymous author of *Character of the Rump* writes that Milton “is
>> [Parliament’s] Goos-quill Champion, who had need of *A Help meet* to
>> establish any thing, for he has a Ramshead, and is good only at Batteries,
>> an old Heretick both in Religion and Manners, that by his will would shake
>> off his Governours as he doth his Wives, foure in a Fourtnight, the
>> Sun-beams of his scandalous papers against the late Kings book, is the
>> Parent that begot his late new Commonwealth, and, because he like a
>> Parasite as he is, by flattering the then tyrannical power, hath run
>> himself into the bryers, the man will be angry if the rest of the Nation
>> will not bear him company, and suffer themselves to be decoyed into the
>> same condition; he is so much an enemy to usual practices, that I believe
>> when he is condemned to travel to *Tyburn* in a Cart, he will petition
>> for the favour to be the first man that ever was driven thither in a *
>> Wheel-barrow*” (2-3). The author here pokes fun at Milton’s writings on
>> divorce as well as his recent *Readie and Easie Way*.
>> ii <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote2anc> Poor Robin, *An Almanack*, no
>> pagination. See French, *Life Records*, 4.351-52, and “Ridiculed.”
>> iii <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote3anc> *Picture of the Good Old Cause*,
>> broadside; Heydon, *Idea of Law Charactered*, fols. N4v-N5.
>> iv <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote4anc> *Censure of the Rota*, 4.
>> v <#13cd6a5bb6a6060b_sdendnote5anc> Charles II, *A Proclamation*, 2. See
>> French, *Life Records*, 334, 338, and Knoppers (42-66) for an account of
>> the gruesome theater of punishments following the restoration of the
>> monarchy.
>>
>>
> On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM, cbartonphd1 at verizon.net <
> cbartonphd1 at verizon.net> wrote:
>
>> I don't have my library to hand, but I think you will find that it was
>> Morus (Alexander More) who made those claims.  You are perhaps remembering
>> Milton's excoriation of Morus' wife in response.
>>
>> Sent from my Virgin Mobile phone
>>
>>  ----- Reply message -----
>> From: "Duran, Angelica A" <duran0 at purdue.edu>
>> To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>> Subject: [Milton-L] question about writer who justified Milton's blindness
>> Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 2:49 pm
>>
>>
>>  Dear LH,
>>
>> If you are looking for a literary representation of that claim, I too
>> would be interested in knowing it. If multiple epistolary claims will do,
>> see the entries indexed as "Milton, John" subcategory "blind" in volume 5
>> of French's *The Life Records of John Milton. *New Brunswic: Rutgers UP,
>> 1958. It has some downright abusive comments that Milton's contemporary
>> detractors had to say about his blindness as just desserts.
>>
>> My best to you.
>>
>>  Adios,
>> Angelica Duran
>> Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
>> Director, Religious Studies
>> Purdue University
>> 500 Oval Drive - Heavilon Hall
>> West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
>> U.S.A.
>> (765) 496-3957
>> <duran0 at purdue.edu>
>> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/complit/directory/?personid=80>
>> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/>
>>
>>
>>  From: <Hong>, Lyman Gin <lhong at elcamino.edu>
>> Reply-To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>> Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:43 AM
>> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>> Subject: [Milton-L] question about writer who justified Milton's
>> blindness
>>
>>   Hello,****
>>
>> ****
>>
>> I’m trying to track down a quotation, and am seeking people whose
>> knowledge and memory are superior to mine.****
>>
>> ****
>>
>> The question: I recall that there was a writer (female) who argued that
>> Milton’s blindness was brought on by his wicked political views and
>> positions on divorce.  Any help with the name or reference would be much
>> appreciated.  LH****
>>
>> ****
>>
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>
>
>
> --
>
> Assistant Professor
> Dept. Literature and Languages
> Christian Brothers University
>
> work: (901) 321-3367
> cell: (510) 684-8211
>
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-- 

Assistant Professor
Dept. Literature and Languages
Christian Brothers University

work: (901) 321-3367
cell: (510) 684-8211
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