Against a Pamphlet
|This is a response to a pamphlet
(supposedly authored by Bishop Hall and his son) entitled A Modest Confutation of the
Animadversions. Essentially, Milton has been called out for the vicious invective of
his previous pamphlet, the Animadversions. An Apology is one of the lesser
pamphlets, but it does contain some valuable early autobiographical material.
- Milton "resolved . . . to stand on that side where [he] saw
both the plain authority of scripture leading and the reason of justice and equity
persuading . . . " in the debate over Church organization.
- "Rear and dull disposition, lukewarmness and sloth" are
equated with the "affected name of moderation"; "true and lively zeal"
is disparaged as "indiscretion, bitterness and choler . . ."
- Comparison of the "fame of his elder adversary" with the
"calculating" of Miltons "years" (youth).
- Miltons project is "to give a more true account of
[himself]" than was given in the Halls pamphlet.
- His best defense would have been silence, but Milton claims he is
defending the truth when defending himself: "I discerned his intent was . . . through
me to tender odious the truth which I had written."
- University "fellows" wanted Milton to stay.
- Miltons response to the "vomited out thence"
description of his university experience: the body keeps the worse while vomiting the
bettera weak argument at best.
- Mornings spent reading.
- Response to whoring charges (made sarcastically by the Halls): how
can a reader know that Hall is not speaking of himself and his own experience? (A
"takes one to know one" kind of argument.)
- The Confuter must know that "old cloaks, false beards,
night-walkers and salt lotion" are elements of a bordello from personal experience,
in order to be able to charge Milton of impropriety for such mentions in his Animadversions.
- Snide reference to sexual content in passages from Halls
earlier satire Mundus Alter et Idemindicative of Halls being a bordello
- Reading as moral preparation.
- Separation of art from the morality of the artist.
- He who would be a true poet (like Milton) must be of high moral
Arguments against A Modest Confutation:
- "lofty fables and romances"Arthurian/Ariosto
- Plato and Xenophon
- Bible/Christian religion
- Milton argues that he never could have been guilty of the things
he is accused of in A Modest Confutation, because of this moral education through
- "This tormentor of semicolons is as good at dismembering
and slitting sentences, as his grave Fathers the Prelates have been at stigmatizing and
- "Our inragd Confuter . . . like a recreant Jew calls
for stones"response to call for stoning of Milton in A Modest Confutation.
- "To be the Remonstrant is no better than to be a
Point by Point Refutations
- Violence done to a holy prelat? Milton writes that he did not
know it was a holy prelate, for "evil is written of those who would be
- "Prelaticall Pharisees" Contrast this to Bishop
Halls Pharisaisme and Christianity (1625).
- Defense of harsh language: Christ used it; Luther used it.
"There may be a sanctified bitterness agaist the enemies of truth."
- "If therefore the Remonstrant complain of libels, it is
because he feels them to be right aimed." Milton accuses Hall of never having
objected to ad hominem techniques before he found them aimed at him: "How long
is it simce he hath dis-relished libels?"
- "In what degree of enmity to Christ shall we place that
man then, who is so with him, as that it makes more against him, and so gathers with him,
that it scatters more from him?"
- Milton runs over his arguments againScripture vs. Tradition,
and anti-ceremony/anti-liturgy arguments.
Milton takes Hall to task for ducking his responsibility for, and
complicity with, the ex officio oaths: "that the Remonstrant cannot wash his
hands of all the cruelties exercised by the Prelates is past doubting."
- Milton takes Hall on for criticizing his "simile of a
Sleekstone," which, according to Hall, "shewes [Milton] can be as bold with a
Prelat as familiar with a Laundresse."
- Milton argues that the "lacivious promptnesse of his
[Halls] own fancy" shown in Halls early satires causes Hall to reach such
a conclusion. This is a "He must have a dirty mind" kind of argument.
- Milton takes on the contention (in AMC) that "a rich
Widow, or a lecture, or both, would content me [Milton]."
- "I think with them who both in prudence and elegance of
spirit would choose a virgin of mean fortunes honestly bred, before the wealthies
- Milton argues against Halls argument for
"expedience of set forms" in church services.
- He also argues against Halls assertion that Liturgy "is
the preserving of order, unity, and piety."
Milton argues against Halls defense of rewards for the
The Atheist Milton
(Ashgate Press, 2012)
|Basing his contention on
two different lines of argument, Michael Bryson posits that John
Milton–possibly the most famous 'Christian' poet in English literary
history–was, in fact, an atheist.
First, based on his association with Arian ideas (denial of the
doctrine of the Trinity), his argument for the de Deo theory of
creation (which puts him in line with the materialism of Spinoza and
Hobbes), and his Mortalist argument that the human soul dies with
the human body, Bryson argues that Milton was an atheist by the
commonly used definitions of the period. And second, as the poet who
takes a reader from the presence of an imperious, monarchical God in
Paradise Lost, to the internal-almost Gnostic-conception of God in
Paradise Regained, to the absence of any God whatsoever in Samson
Agonistes, Milton moves from a theist (with God) to something much
more recognizable as a modern atheist position (without God) in his
Among the author's goals in The Atheist Milton is to account
for tensions over the idea of God which, in Bryson's view, go all
the way back to Milton's earliest poetry. In this study, he argues
such tensions are central to Milton's poetry–and to any attempt to
understand that poetry on its own terms.
The Tyranny of Heaven
Milton's Rejection of God as King
(U. Delaware Press, 2004)
The Tyranny of Heaven argues for a new way of reading the figure of
Milton's God, contending that Milton rejects kings on earth and in heaven.
Though Milton portrays God as a king in Paradise Lost, he does this
neither to endorse kingship nor to recommend a monarchical model of deity.
Instead, he recommends the Son, who in Paradise Regained rejects
external rule as the model of politics and theology for Milton's "fit
audience though few." The portrait of God in Paradise Lost serves as
a scathing critique of the English people and its slow but steady
backsliding into the political habits of a nation long used to living under
the yoke of kingship, a nation that maintained throughout its brief period
of liberty the image of God as a heavenly king, and finally welcomed with
open arms the return of a human king.
Review of Tyranny of