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Milton in Holland

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Milton is called "famous for his works of prose and poetry", and his thoughts and expressions are said to have something of the majesty to be found in the ancients. His style, however, is oldfashioned and rude ("vieux et barbare").

The Milton of the Divorce Tracts was not forgotten. As late as 1710 we read in the Acta Eruditorium of a book in which Milton's theories are refuted, and the author, who had made a literary voyage abroad, memorizes that Milton is notorious among the English for his repuditation of his sixth wife!

J. le Clerc appears to have known and appreciated Milton's Paradise Lost. In the review of the French translation of the Spectator (1714) referréd to above, he says: "On ne pourroit néanmoins pas traduire en Francois les Poësies Angloises, qui se trouvent en divers endroits, tirées de Poëtes qui avoient déja paru, & quelquefois avec de petites remarques, comme sur le Paradise Perdu de Milton; ou qui n'avoient jamais été imprimées. II n'est pas possible den faire paroitre la beauté, teil qu'elle est en elle même, ni en prose, ra en vers: que Fon puisse souffrir, en une autre Longue." i Himself perfectly acquainted with the English language, he perhaps feit better than any of his contemporaries how much of the essential charm of Paradise Lost was bound to be lost in any translation. Yet it is strange that after all he did not do more to draw the attention of the Dutch to the great English epic. Did better acquaintance with Milton's religious ideas make this friend of van Limborch cautious not to compromise himself by championing the EngUsh heretic?

In a review of the French translation of Steele's Bibliothèque des Dames (Amsterdam, 1716) in the Journal Literaire of 1717 we are again reminded of MUton's hatred of women. The extravagant opinion of Milton, "that author otherwise so grave and wise", is quoted in full: "Elles ne sont toutes que des Fantömes vains d'une vertu solide, elles ne sont toutes qu'une cöte que la nature a (sic) mal tournee; Ha pourquoi le sage Createur, qui ne peupla le Ciel Empyrée que d'esprits maxcuüns, créa-t-il enfin cette nouveauté sur la terre, eet agréable poison de la Nature? que ne fit-il la même chose sur la terre que dans le Ciel? Pourquoi ne la remplit-il pas d'hommes sans y joindre les Femmes? ou que ne trouva-t-il une autre voye, pour la propagation du Genre Humain." 2

1 Bibliothèque Ancienne et Moderne, I, p. 386-7. The italics are mine —

2 Journal Literaire, IX, p. 71.