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THIS book is a result of a conviction forced upon me by an experience of many years as a teacher of literature, that we Anglo-Saxons do not honor Milton as we should do, that we too frequently misunderstand him and neglect him. He is rapidly passing — if, indeed, he has not already passed - into the class of authors whom we talk about oftener than we read. In view of this fact I have here ventured to tell over again the story of his life and achievements in the hope that I may win him more lovers and readers.

It may, of course, be deemed a presumptuous undertaking, for there is nothing new to say after Professor Masson's herculean labors, of which I have taken full advantage, and Mark Pattison and Dr. Garnett have covered the field admirably in their smaller volumes. But I have thought that the new book always has an advantage as a literary missioner, if I may use the phrase, through the very fact of its novelty, and I have also hoped that a somewhat unusual grouping and proportioning of the most important biographical and critical materials might arrest the attention of at least few of the many souls to whom Milton has become a name and nothing more. But perhaps I have trusted rather to the naturally contagious effects of an enthusiastic treatment of a poet who has inspired me with reverence since my earliest years.

If this hope fail me, I shall at least not repent of having paid a vain tribute to his memory, for popular neglect can never really dim the lustre of Milton's fame, nor can an injudicious panegyric hurt it, and it is always a spiritual advantage to a man to give utterance to a love and enthusiasm for a sublime character that have grown with his growth and strengthened with his strength.



January 9, 1899,

Hearty thanks are hereby given to Messrs. Longmans, Green, and Company for their kind permission to use in Chapters III., IV., and V. of Part II. considerable matter first employed in my edition of "L'Allegro" and other poems in their “English Classics,” edited by my friend, Professor George R. Carpenter, whose consent has also been granted. Much of the matter in Chapters VIII. and IX. of Part II. will be found in the Protestant Episcopal Review for April and May, 1899; while the first part is expanded from an article published in the Sewanee Review for January, 1897.


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