Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton

By Edward S. Le Comte | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
PROSE TO PROSE

MILTON'S characteristic attitudes are presented in the same words again and again in his prose works. We learn in no uncertain terms what he is for and, especially, what he is against. 1 There is, first, his antiprelatical stand. Here, as elsewhere, he does not waste his darts. He makes them serve more than once.

Laud was wont to speak of "the beauty of holiness" and, such is the "tyranny of prelates" (III, 62, 69), vigorously implement his conviction that outward forms increased it. The Puritan opponent replied to this with a series of paradoxes. The Anglican Church looks well, but is sick. It has exterior ornamentation, but is foul inside. It is rich, but it is poor. We recall the headnote to "Lycidas" about "our corrupted clergy, then in their height." Looking back in 1649, the author of Eikonoklastes wrote that "imparity and church revenue" "corrupted and belepered all the clergy with a worse infection than Gehazi's" (V, 213). Milton has nothing but scorn for "outward formality" (III, 416; IV, 126; VI, 114; compare 261, "outward rigor and formality"), "outward conformity" (III, 3; IV, 348; VI, 167; X, 82). "The inward beauty and splendor of the Christian Church" (III, 191), "all corporeal resemblances of inward holiness and beauty are now past" (III, 246). Prelaty "nests itself in worldly honors" (III, 199), the clergy "admire and dote upon worldly riches and honors" (III, 273). The universal ambition is "fat" or "fattest bishopric (s)" (III, 162, 275, 342; V, 205). Here is the start of the trouble: "great riches and promotions to bishops" (III, 24), "great riches in the church" (III, 359). "Christ refused great riches" (III, 362). The Pope has "magnas opes" (VII, 202). The "slothful, the covetous and ambitious hopes of church promotions" (III, 275) connects with the nefarious motives of those who slander the commonwealth: "though done by some to covet-

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Yet Once More: Verbal and Psychological Pattern in Milton
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter I- Connections 3
  • Chapter II- Epic Reiteration 19
  • Chapter III- From Poem to Poem 48
  • Chapter IV- Prose to Prose 69
  • Chapter V- The Meeting of Prose and Poetry 82
  • Chapter VI- Latin Borrowings 103
  • Chapter VII- Women and Bishops 123
  • Chapter VIII- Parallels as Clues 142
  • Notes 153
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