1776 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

James Beattie, in "On Classical Learning" Essays (1776) 739.



The style of his numbers has not often been imitated with success. It is not merely the want of rhyme, nor the diversified position of pauses, nor the drawing out of the sense from one line to another; far less is it it the mixture of antiquated words and strange idioms, that constitutes the charm of Milton's versification; though many of his imitators, when they copy him in these or in some of these respects, think they have acquitted themselves very well. But one must study the best Classic authors with as much critical skill as Milton did, before one can pretend to rival him in the art of harmonious writing.