Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13.

It must be conceded that these are half-views of half-men.  The world still wants its poet-priest, a reconciler, who shall not trifle, with Shakspeare the player, nor shall grope in graves, with Swedenborg the mourner; but who shall see, speak, and act, with equal inspiration.  For knowledge will brighten the sunshine; right is more beautiful than private affection; and love is compatible with universal wisdom.

JOHN MILTON:  POET AND PATRIOT.[4]

1608-1674.

BY THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY.

Toward the close of the year 1823, Mr. Lemon, deputy keeper of the state-papers, in the course of his researches among the presses of his office, met with a large Latin manuscript.  With it were found corrected copies of the foreign despatches written by Milton while he filled the office of secretary, and several papers relating to the Popish Trials and the Rye-house Plot.  The whole was wrapped up in an envelope, subscribed To Mr. Skinner, Merchant.  On examination, the large manuscript proved to be the long lost essay on the doctrines of Christianity, which, according to Wood and Toland, Milton finished after the Restoration, and deposited with Cyriac Skinner.  Skinner, it is well known, held the same political opinions with his illustrious friend.  It is therefore probable, as Mr. Lemon conjectures, that he may have fallen under the suspicions of the Government during that persecution of the Whigs which followed the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament, and that, in consequence of a general seizure of his papers, this work may have been brought to the office in which it has been found.  But whatever the adventures of the manuscript may have been, no doubt can exist that it is a genuine relic of the great poet....

[Footnote 4:  Joannis Miltoni, Angli, de Doctrina Christiana libri duo posthumi.  A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, compiled from the Holy Scriptures alone.  By JOHN MILTON, translated from the Original by Charles R. Sumner, M.A., etc., etc.:  1825.  From the Edinburgh Review, August, 1825; slightly abridged.]

The book itself will not add much to the fame of Milton....  Were it far more orthodox or far more heretical than it is, it would not much edify or corrupt the present generation.  The men of our time are not to be converted or perverted by quartos.  A few more days, and this essay will follow the Defensio Populi to the dust and silence of the upper shelf.  The name of its author, and the remarkable circumstances attending its publication, will secure to it a certain degree of attention.  For a month or two it will occupy a few minutes of chat in every drawing-room, and a few columns in every magazine; and it will then, to borrow the elegant language of the play-bills, be withdrawn, to make room for the forthcoming novelties.

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 13 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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