"Plainly Partial": The Liberal Areopagitica William Kolbrener ELH, VoL 60, No.1 (Spring, 1993),57-78.

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In considering the "spiritual architecture" of an England overflowing with "schismatics and sectaries," Milton in the Areopagitica compares the "great reformation" of a nation to the building of Solomon's temple:
And when every stone is laid artfully together, it cannot be united into a continuity, it can but be contiguous in this world.'

There may be "many dissections in the quarry," many "schisms" and differences "among men ... ere the house of God can be built," Milton writes. But he continues, paradoxically, "the perfection consists in this": "Out of the many moderate varieties and brotherly dissimilitudes ... arises the goodly and graceful symmetry that commends the whole pile and structure" (A, 744). Out of the contiguity and particularity intrinsic to the fallen world, Milton perceives at least the possibility of "continuity," a "perfection" organizing and ordering difference. Milton's temple trope, like the totality about which T. W. Adorno writes in his Aesthetic Theory, preserves particulars even "in their diffuse, divergent and contradictory condition." For Adorno, the demand for "unity" does not merely assimilate particularity, but it also, crucially, preserves "the individual moment." Within the context of Adorno's negative dialectics, as in Milton's Areopagitica, the concrete maintains its own integrity, though it also reveals "the ever-elusive entirety in itself ... in line with a pre-established disharmony rather than a pre-established harmony.'? As Edward Tayler writes, by both stressing "juxtaposition" and moving "toward identity," Milton's temple trope balances the tensions of "differences" maintained "in agreement."3 Milton's reformed England, therefore, establishes its "goodly and graceful symmetry" through "brotherly dissimilitudes," at once mediating and preserving the differences it must acknowledge. Unmediated particularity - the experience of an untranscendable "contiguity" -remains for Milton, as for Thomas Hobbes, a synecdoche for civil war, where the lack of any form of mediation - "no knowledge of the face of the earth, no account of time, no arts, no letters" -drives opposing forces "in mutual opposition to nothing." For Hobbes, "a disunited multitude" is shunned in the way that Hegel was to shun "bad infinity"; difference is only recognized-not to say legitimatedELH 60 (1993) 57-78 © 1993 by The Johns Hopkins University Press


"given him. 728). They threaten. unless the "many cunning resemblances" between them are "discerned.. johnson. indeed. Milton's own self-constitution as one who wishes to "promote" his "country's liberty" (A. to act." lay beneath the veneer of metaphysical wit. "could be the name" for that which all of Milton's "various political strategies . Through the Leviathan's authority. Individuality." as David Quint writes. thus only exist for Hobbes when the "commonwealth" -a "plurality of voices" in "one will" -confers subjectivity." to transform into that "discontinuous multitude" (A. though peremptory. he hath the use of so much power and strength conferred on him. he is able to form the wills of them all.. 5 Although Hobbes's statist politics differ drastically from the civic republicanism of Areopagitica." Though "Hobbes. in Hiram Haydn's phrase." nevertheless for both Hobbes and Milton." The private "Actor. the subject's ability to "personate. The most significant aspect of Johnson's notorious formulation of the poetics of Cowley and his school-"the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together" -may well be the adverbial phrase. In Johnson's formulation." Johnson's celebrated. 718) occurs only within the context of the public realm where individual agency is at once independent and mediated. individual differences." upon its constituents. however.insofar as it is capable of assimilation through public mediation." and "Authority" can only come into being with the Commonwealth. The notion. what he describes as "contiguities. have been reluctant or unwilling to seek such "cunning resemblances"." thus asserting that heterogeneity. converge to resist. "by every particular man in the commonwealth." "Author. many of these critics currently find themselves amidst a mass of undifferentiated particularity. the individual is understood only in relation to the constraints imposed by varying forms of public mediation. discussion of" discordia concors" in his "Life of Cowley" transforms the world view of the metaphysicals into a quaint and antiquated trope. "By violence" their "slender conceits" created only "dissimilar images. For Hobbes. the oppositions that constitute "discordia concors" were already understood as fundamentally 58 The Liberal Areopagitica ." are like "the confused seeds" imposed upon Psyche in Areopagitica. that . that the seventeenth century saw "the ultimate desertion of the universal for the particular" through "the decentralizing individuation of the nominalist" continues to persist as part of historiographical tradition that dates back at least to Dr. to represent himself' is at once the precondition and result of the Leviathan's accession to power... "exility of particulars. Most contemporary critics of Milton. and hence agency. a "persona." writes Hobbes. For Milton.

" which Raymond Williams points to in his Keywords. the "bold speculators free. "Our ancient history is the possession of the liberal. more or less. Eliot's "dissociation of sensibility. nevertheless." E." Milton's texts may be a part of that "extraordinary social and political history" that "parallels the development of the modern . literary historiography still reflects the dualism so often attributed to Burckhardt-that between Renaissance autonomy and feudal obligation."l1 While over half a century ago. as Butterfield writes. so we could add.different and opposed . Indeed. "organizes the whole course of centuries upon what is really a directing principle of progress. Walzer's is an example of Whig optimism. from traditional controls" who overthrew "the old patterns ofpassivity and acquiescence. and not Milton himself. and for Milton. equipped with a more complex manifestation of the same historiographical paradigm. often retain a similar period scheme: under the guise of categories such as "social collectivity" (against which an emergent marketplace individualism is William Kolbrener 59 . literary critics persist in abiding by historiographical narratives that alternatively extol or deplore. Freeman remarked in his 1870 The Growth of the English Constitution:" And. the dualism of the universal and particular had ossified into an irreconcilable opposition."laboured particularities" ."8 But it is Milton's critics.."? For Johnson and the eighteenth century. is our literary history."12 By contrast." ofwhich Milton is the repressed and canonically effaced agent. as Williams observes "stresses a distinction from others. to Indeed.. Individual. the historiographical assumptions in T. Milton is often located as the central figure in this historiographical narrative. that" Individual originally meant indivisible" is of particular relevance. individual difference could only come into being as an aspect of similarity-contiguity and continuity emerge at once.only to be joined together "by violence. as one of. for the metaphysical poets. S. who shared many of their tendencies. the emergence of the modern individual in the seventeenth century. The "paradox. in Michael Walzer's words. Although the Burckhardtian conception of the Renaissance as the "age of the discovery of man the individual" has undergone considerable critique in the works of contemporary critics. is a pessimistic version of the same Whig narrative. In contrast. from the original meaning. which. Marxists. Butterfield's Whig Interpretation of History warned against the moralizing triumphalism of Whig history." while indivisible "implies a necessary connection. who represent the endpoint of that history. assume as given. but. A.

"the extreme individualism of the Puritan Left Wing" and "finally became a Protestant Church of one. ambivalence towards oppositions. individualism. it may be useful to understand Milton from a perspective that includes critics as diverse as Bloom and Kendrick (remembering. that Milton's works are "produced by a Protestantism pressed into the service of an historically specific form of individualism"."20 Yet even within 60 The Liberal Areopagitica . while for Harold Bloom. 14For Catherine Belsey. as Mary Nyquist does. 700)." Milton criticism continues to be governed by these antinomies and. dominated by a paradigm of individualism (one which may be said to have developed simultaneously with liberal discourses of the individual) wholly foreign to Milton's thought. as J. while Sensabaugh's 1952 That Grand Whig Milton stands as a testimony to the paradigm's endurance. C. that Whig and Marxist historiographers dovetail at a certain point}. a sect unto himself. reviving the romantic celebration of Milton the Individual.. before asserting.. Pocock does." "Milton carried within himself. the autonomy promised in Areopagitica is never completely fulfilled and never can be."17 No doubt." we ought to recall the Milton who enjoins these spirits "by the skill of wise conducting to become uniform in virtue" (DD. moreover. as Thomson did."!" Christopher Kendrick similarly emphasizes the "central autonomy of Milton's . Catherine Belsey's recent designation of Areopagitica as "one of the founding and canonical texts of modern liberalism" is in consonance with an entire tradition that found in the tract. the autonomy established in Milton's texts is total. we attend exclusively to the Milton who calls in Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce for the independence of "every mind and spirit . the old periodization with its attendant antinomies reappears. John Toland -whose Milton "thought constraint of any sort to be the utmost misery" -may have inaugurated the paradigm. that is. We may then find Milton's texts capable of sustaining.posited). therefore. created each so different each from other. it may be worthwhile to locate that individualism within the discursive contexts from which it emanated." declaring him to be "the poet and ideologue of emergent capitalism." Before. an "admirable defense of the best of human rights. if not producing.." the agent of the "general disintegration offeudal ties." However." writes Bloom. which the bifurcating tendencies of Milton scholarship have long since hypostatized into irreconcilable extremes. A. before situating Milton's individualism within the context of the classical Liberal and Marxist historiographical schemes..

" He "could never cross the chasm."23 In similar fashion." For Hill. however." White." White observes. "From some passages in the early part of this oration. "as an oracle to all young gentleman in England" -there were those for whom the rhetoric of Areopagitica roused suspicion. 24 In John Illo's 1965 article. and thus never pursued. entirely outside of the liberal tradition. that there were topics on which Milton conceived Discussion ought not to take an unrestrained course. "he would have lain claim to a larger measure of freedom. he finds Milton wanting: "He was not prepared to trust the spirit in all men". the parliamentary reformer and 1819 editor of the tract. which Milton's stubborn prejudices (alternately construed by Hill as "class interest" and "respect for social hierarchy") prevent him from pursuing. "The Misreading of Milton." Hill writes." This" rationali ty. then Milton would have articulated "a complete theory of religious freedom. is rejected as a species of false consciousness: "Milton is not necessarily the worse for his class limitations. rife with contradictions only to be resolved through history. as for BarkerMilton becomes the avatar of a partial liberalism: the failed or. however. From Hill's perspective." Thus-for Hill." Hill laments." "In a more enlightened era. is quick to apologize for the Milton who."22 In this century. expressed some reservations about Milton's commitment to toleration. the proto-liberal." what others would call the "logic of capital. history follows a logical trajectory. especially the Areopagitica. "the higher rationality of democracy. was able to "develop principles highly liberal" for his "times. he claims. Milton's thought. at best." White argues." provokes Hill to wonder "why Milton could not let go of his hold on God." though. In Illo's explicit William Kolbrener 61 . for example.the Whig tradition that held up Milton -as Sensabaugh would have it. laments Milton's failure to articulate a truly liberal program: if it were not for the" single fundamental condition" that men "believe in scripture. "which separated him from a man like Winstanley. 21Even T. appropriating Milton in the interest of constitutional reform." Barker observes. he was "blind" to. Christopher Hill asserts that Milton's theology was "fundamentally individualist" in its emphasis on the powers of "the individual conscience." White's ambivalences and Barker's and Hill's reluctant condemnations are articulated from a liberal perspective that locates Milton. in his magisterial Milton and the Puritan Dilemma. Holt White. some of Milton's critics began to lose their confidence in the tolerationist Milton. like Barker. "incurious Readers might be led to conclude hastily. Arthur Barker. "but he lacks the Digger emphasis on human love.

f" But the two Milton's . Macpherson has called. in its very formthe five-part structure of the classical deliberative oration . places the Areopagitica within the context of an emergent republicanism. inclusive.are merely flip sides of one another. 26Yet Illo's affiliation of Areopagitica with "the revolutionary intolerance" of"Che Cuevera" is no more true than Dr.he is not operating within a liberal paradigm. Illo asserts." It was the romantics.argues implicitly for the creation of a diffused.cold-war rhetoric. 718). the liberal Illo perceives only a totalitarian argument. while the Areopagitica. 725)-and attempts to enlarge the discursive horizons of his own Commonwealth. the public sphere-and its available forms of mediation -is expanded." is dismissed as a "militant and exclusivist revolutionary pamphlet. deeply considered.Restoration and Romantic judgments of Milton conspire in the same mis-reading. both emphasizing the increased tendency towards "individuation" and particularization in the seventeenth century. B. Yet when Milton invokes Euripides on his frontispiece"This is true Liberty when free born men / Having to advise the public may speak free" (A. what C. Milton argues implicitly for the superiority of the classical city states-of "wisest commonwealths" (A. and corporate authority. reliant as it is upon the language of classical humanism."27 In a critical history where liberty and authority (a corollary of the Johnsonian opposition between the particular and the universal) are viewed as irreconcilable opposites." Contemporary scholars continue to read Milton and the seventeenth century through the matrix of negative liberty and. venerating in him the same supposed unrestrained tolerance for which Johnson had censured him. "possessive individualism". Milton's London is compared to "Petrograd in 1919 and Havana in 1965" and the Areopagitica."25 Illo's polemical analysis does illuminate how post. From Illo's explicitly liberal perspective any synthesis of private and public spheres seems impossible (or authoritarian).:" Such a corporate authority. who "reinforced the image of a libertarian Milton. Milton is classed alternatively as the voice of individual liberty or of an authoritarian intolerance. Yet this alternative strain of political thought remains largely inaccessible to critics who find their views on literary history corroborated 62 The Liberal Areopagitica .the liberal and the authoritarian . not "liberal or libertarian even in its time. Johnson's contention that the Areopagitica provided "unbound liberty" for "every skeptick" to "teach his follies. 717) . Rather. when Milton argues for the confluence of these spheres. When "complaints" may be "freely heard. and speedily reformed" (A.

That is. was immensely hampered in its development by the omnipresence of Aristotelian and civic humanist values.:" In his ongoing response to Macpherson.' a paradigm for capitalist man as :::. acquires currency and public authority merely through its articulation. in Milton's tract.5 Indeed. contra Macpherson. it is the relation between the "private orator" and the "Commonwealth" that preserves and insures "the utmost bound of civil liberty. Milton. For the thesis that the seventeenth century saw the emergence of an individual as "essentially the proprietor of his own person and capacities" owing "nothing to society" renders the presence of civic republican discourses-with their implied equation between public and private spheres-virtually invisible. having withdrawn to Horton to pursue a life "wholly dedicated to studious labours. which distinguishes between "freedom and authority. . individuality and sovereignty. they were heeded not only "in their own country.in the work of professional historians like Macpherson. "that as a 'bourgeois ideology. fashioning himself as the ideal civic humanist. ." If ever these men "had aught in public to admonish the state. the "stranger" and "private orator" who offered "counsel" to the Rhodians becomes-along with Isocrates-the model of "old and elegant humanity" who Milton seeks to "imitate" (A.oon politikon." Thus Dion Prusaeus.:" Pocock's recognition of the contingency of Whig and Marxist histories." demands the "honor done . "33 Although Pocock agrees with Macpherson that the liberal individual acquires his role "in the possession." Milton argues. 719). 3. 719). that the "prudent spirit" of Lords and Commons "acknowledges and obeys William Kolbrener 63 . A. As he insists. C. allows the civic humanism of the period-including the idiosyncratic republicanism of Milton's Areopagitica-to come into focus. "32 We have found. Pocock has challenged the adequacy of an historiographical model in which bourgeois individualism and "market relations" are determined to be "deeply embedded in the seventeenthcentury foundations. The very fact. however. private and public" emerges-and still only haltingly-in the eighteenth century. Pocock writes." but "cities and seignories heard them gladly and with great respect" (A. that the conception of negative liberty." and not through the "right to govern. J. however. conveyance and administration of things." he affirms. private utterance (as that of Isocrates who "from his private house wrote that discourse" to the Athenian parliament). the relationship between the private and public is primary. which insist upon the bifurcation of "private and public" in the seventeenth century. to men who professed the study of wisdom and eloquence" in the days of the "parliament of Athens.

more voices (more than. a specific political intervention to "advance the public good.barring the interference of some "patriarchal licenser" (A." enacts by entering the realm of "controversy and new invention" (A." In 1644. 744)-a utopian civic republic where all voices are "heard. for example." for those "who wish and promote their country's liberty" (A. 718). the very publication of the tract of Areopagitica. but all the Lord's people. Milton finds the Lords and Commons "superior" to those "wisest commonwealths" of old. those who write what "they foresee may advance the public good" . 741). So Milton acknowledges the performative aspect of his own argument: "I now manifest by the very sound of this which I shall utter." but "openly by writing". because.36 The printing press enables Milton to envision a civic contextinformed by a prophetic spirit-where he can imagine "not only our seventy elders [a reference to the Jewish Sanhedrin]. small enough into parties and partitions. though into branches. Indeed." who protested against the spread of prophesy in the Israelite camp. "the whole discourse proposed will be a certain testimony. (A. to "parties and partitions" 64 The Liberal Areopagitica ." the Areopagitica. Milton warns against their premonitions: The adversary again applauds and waits the hour. that of the lone Isocrates) can be "heard speaking. 717). 718). 744)17 Milton argues that the proliferation of prophesy does not lead. When they have branched themselves out. 745) the very argument that it proposes. affirms Milton's argument. 735)-will not find themselves "wanting such access" on account of their "private condition" (A. "as the applauders of our differences" contend." Though some may be jealous of this prophecy of the multitude as was Joshua. that we are already in good part arrived" (A. 719) testifies to the superiority of the modernization of the classical paradigm. "young in goodness.the voice of reason from what quarter so ever it be heard speaking" (A. Milton is not forced to skulk "privily from house to house. with its translation of the classical epigram printed on its cover (for all to read)." Milton openly proclaims the superiority of printing: for "writing is more public than preaching" and "more easy to refutation" (A. 741). with the advent of the printing press. then will be our time. Once "proposed. Although Jesus justified himself when he "preached in public. out of which we all grow. are become prophets" (A. As Milton writes. Indeed. And thus. he can "publish to the world what his opinion is" and "what his reasons" (A. Fool! he sees not the firm root. saith he.

despite the apparent attack on those who would countenance restraint. And the hoped for emergence of a nation of prophets does not lead to an autonomous private sphere... 732) Yet here. 733)-permits "debate. does appear to abhor the consequences of the inference that if "we think to regulate printing. 727)." "gentle meetings and gentle dismissions" in "liberal and frequent audience" (A. what presumed? (A. For he concludes: These things will be and must be. how least enticing." and who have been trusted with the "gift of reason. 38 Milton. Who shall regulate all the mixed conversation? . emphasis added) "Impunity and remissness. enabled through the printing press and the expansion of the classically defined public sphere. "are the bane of a commonwealth." each left to exercise "his own leading capacity. that no gesture. or deportment be taught our youth . but to the emergence ofand voluntary adherence to-communally defined behavioral norms. as the result of the dissolution of the connection between political and religious discourses. therefore. he again seems to remark on the undesirability of such restraint: There must be licensing dancers.39The reasoned debate of the prophetic multitude. 733). Those who know the "virtue" of "temperance. we must regulate all recreations and pastimes" (A. however.. but how they shall be least hurtful. Who shall still appoint what shall be discoursed. herein consists the grave and governing wisdom of a state. "God commits" such men to their own "managing." The "great art" of the commonwealth. (A. Milton is merely commenting upon the inefficacyoflicensing.. does not lead to the libertarian cultivation of a thoroughly privatized realm ("lest" Milton be "condemned" of "introducing license" [A. following Macpherson.("corruption" in the lexicon of civic republicanism). 732. 720]). motion. 732). Indeed when he delineates the ramifications that follow upon the licensing of printing. thereby to rectify manners. to be his William Kolbrener 65 . Persuasion-the prerogative of those given the "freedom to choose" (A. but to "unity of spirit" (A. 747). lies in discerning when "the law is to bid restraint and punishment. 748)." and when "persuasion only is to work" (A. what Christopher Kendrick describes.. Our garments also should be referred to the licensing of some more sober workmasters." can thus live "without particular law or prescription" (A. to see them cut into a less wanton garb. ." Milton asserts.

"42 By contrast. where Milton commits what Bloom calls the "astonishing mistake" of bringing the Palmer to accompany Guyon into the Spenserian Cave of Mammon (A. but also the dangers incurred through the self-reliance of those acting without guidance. but some of them left of it until the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses. when he himself tabled the Jews from heaven. (A. in this representation. registers.own chooser. and the "superiority" of the Christian republic is underscored.. Hughes claims that Milton's account of the biblical narrative "lays stress on the abundance of the supply" (A. 728-29). and it bred worms. that orner which was every man's daily portion of manna." they are "sufficient. hoard their daily measure so as to have an abundant supply for the following day. 727) of manna. This omission should perhaps be recalled as a balance to that other episode of "mis-reading" in Areopagitica. Milton's omission tends to emphasize the reasoned temperance of the Israelite multitude while obscuring their need for divine guidance that comes through Moses's "wroth" -not to mention the direct intervention of God who brings disease to their hoarded manna. 727) For the Israelites. "the danger" implicit in Milton's "self-reliant posture. but it also occludes the intemperance of the Israelites who. and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. in the representation of Exodus 16. is computed to have been more than might have well sufficed the heartiest feeder thrice as many meals. governed only by exhortation" (A.. Milton's ambivalence towards the rationality of classical republican precedents begins to be evidenced." though the effaced authority of the prophetic mediator is registered even in its omission. 41The presence of the Palmer as mediator in Areopagitica. the figure of mediation is re66 The Liberal Areopagitica . as John Guillory suggests. 727). against the directive of Moses. Indeed. who Milton holds as a paradigm." In this "capacity. In the often discussed Miltonic rendering of the Spenserian episode." comparable to the Israelites to whom God dispensed a daily portion of manna: And therefore. it does that. Thus Exodus 16: 20. In Milton's representation of the Spenserian text. Milton not only effaces the "wroth" of the prophetic mediator. there is no necessity for "law" or "compulsion" in "things . Yet Milton's representation of Exodus 16 is misleading in presuming the sufficiencyand "temperance" of the Israelite multitude." The diffuse and public mediation of the "Jews" is "sufficient. "true temperance under the person of Guyon" is realized only through the accompaniment of the mis-remembered Palmer.

" The experience of the "acute and distinct Arminius. the figure of mediation-understood as an obstacle to "virtue" -is surreptitiously smuggled out. In Milton's "mis-readings" of these two episodes. 727)... In Areopagitica.quired and surreptitiously smuggled in. Maurice Kelly has pointed out that Milton's representation of Arminius is inconsistent with the rest of the argument of the tract. 730).. except a teacher guide. thus the "faithful guidance" of the House of Commons is always in some sense limited for Milton by "the strong assistance of God our deliverer" (A. not to be 'understood without a guide'" (A. "there lay inseparably an el- William Kolbrener 67 . and that the argument of Areopagitica-stripped of its Arminian implications . to forewarn. are ." As Pocock observes." expressed by the seventeenth century Reformers. and earthly criticism. which make the reasoned guidance of even the House of Commons problematic. we begin to see the dialectic of Areopagitica."would be an empty one." "perverted merely by the perusing of a nameless discourse written at Delft" (A. The most notable case of such ambivalence occurs as Milton asserts his own pedagogic authority against the power of state authority: "And how can a man teach with authority. rational. characteristically acceptsand the tract em bodies . explicitly contradicts Milton's earlier assertion that to "a discreet and judicious reader" (not "acute and distinct"?) "bad books" serve "to discover. 735). whether false or true. whenas all he teaches. that Milton by this time had "at least tacitly accepted the Arminian position on free will". The correlate of Milton's ambivalence towards figures of mediation in Areopagitica is an ambivalence towards free choice-figured powerfully in Milton's representation of the "perverted Arrninius. while he rejects Arminian authority. while."43 Milton.Arminian doctrine. One of the central paradoxes of the tract lies in the ambivalence towards figures of mediation in Areopagitica: Milton simultaneously argues for the independence of reasoned temperance (for which the paradigm is the Israelites in the desert) and for the necessity of mediation (for which Spenser's Palmer is the paradigm). and to illustrate" (A. all he delivers. for trial can purify only those who have freedom of choice. to confute. even as forms of mediation are asserted. by contrast. behind "all the acute. For Milton. such conviction manifests itselfin epistemological considerations. how Milton will at once assert that "evil doctrine not with books can propagate. 718).. in the biblical episode. which is the life of teaching. how can he be a doctor in his book as he ought to be . 730). they seem to be subverted." is under "the correction of his patriarchal licenser" (A." and that all "tractates.

727])." will be a "certain testimony. . 741).. Thus Milton claims that Areopagitica. his syntax reveals the tenuous nature of the authority he is assuming."45 The "antinomian element" expressed in Areopagitica leads to a revaluation and refinement of the classical paradigm. Thus." As "testimony. 731). and its ultimate inaccessibility.. . 719). it would become a "trophy"). when Milton praises his parliamentary audience. truth lies in admitting error (errors which "known. "she opens herself faster than the pace of method and discourse can overtake her" (A." however.ement of apocalyptic and antinomian conviction. 731). and how the tract. He who "thinks we are to pitch our tents here. but it is part of the continual process of "still closing up truth to truth" (A. his "whole discourse proposed. judgment . For Milton. gets a free hand. the argument-as the verbis also progressive." the Lords and Commons (as all forms of "state prudence") are susceptible to error: "This I know. which because of the nature of discourse itself (the darkness of the "mortal glass"). how68 The Liberal Areopagitica . 726). and the ideal Miltonic mediator is left to foreground the recognition of error. and collated are of main assistance towards the speedy attainment of what is truest" [A. if not a trophy" to all "who wish and promote their country's liberty" (A. and therefore susceptible to continual revision. that man by this very opinion declares that he is yet far short of truth" (A. "may be mistaken" (A. The revisionary character of truth. Areopagitica cannot stand in for the "public good" (were it to do so. read. 718)." Milton's tract attains authority as a public utterance aiming "to advance the public good. "and have attained the utmost prospect of reformation that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can show us . At once "clear already" and set in the past. Jerome's "Lenten dream. Milton asserts the contingency of Areopagitica... is a recurrent theme in Areopagitica. 749). "by being clear already while thus much hath been explaining" (A.. When Milton complains in the midst of his discourse that he has "almost" been "prevented" by his own argument. 736)." writes Milton." For like the "acute and distinct Arminius. For when "Truth . "Governors." he writes. At once a "trophy. must be perpetual. like St. he praises them precisely for their ability to recognize their own errors: their "uprightness of . This is not to suggest. The rhetorical strategy of Areopagitica is to effect just this foregrounding. how even its pedagogy is susceptible of revision. that errors in a good government and in a bad are almost equally incident" (A." is "plainly partial" (A. 742)-a process.. not wont to be partial" "renders" them as "willing to repeal any act" of their "own setting forth" "as any set forth" by their "predecessors" (A." Milton explains.

in Fish's lexicon. the Miltonic model of virtue as John Peter Rumrich has asserted."49That is. is not Bunyan's Christian "fleeing with his hand over his ears crying Life. 742]). Miltonic "representation is the mimesis that ultimately negates." Rather. that the "incompleteness" that characterizes historical discourse "must be at once lamented sic and protected. Without such negation. and how to be wished. were such an obedient unanimity as this." where private utterance claims to offer a definitive embodiment of the "public good. always acknowledging its own inadequacy. as Marshall Grossman relates. always "plainly partial. nor is it cause-as Stanley Fish would have it-for despair. Life." and that its efficacy as a specific political intervention is intended to be negligible. it is the condition of discourse. Milton writes. to its total "self-consuming. that Areopagitica is entirely "self-consuming. "difference" is only to be "protected" as a pointer to "that bliss" which "awaits us. Of such "dead congealment. Eternal Life." Indeed in Fish's work (as I have suggested in note 28). In foregrounding the limitations of its own local claims. not to mention its specific political content. The "incompleteness that characterizes historical discourse" does not lead to its total abandonment-or."48 For the lamenting Fish. there is the "dead congealment" of a "rigid external formality" (A. and warns that the "impurity of difference must not be denied or lamented but embraced. Areopagitica may insist upon its own particularity (and its mere shadowing of the "immortal feature ofloveliness and perfection" [A. however. Especially in his early work." Milton writes sarcastically: How goodly. he has moved slightly away from the extremity of his earlier position." In Fish's more recent work on Areopagitica." Nonetheless. however. what a fine conformity would it starch us all into. is neither a concession. there is the sense that Milton's rational discourse. William Kolbrener 69 . 747)." He goes on to say. there is a tendency to empty Miltonic discourse of its particularity.ever. This. writing of Paradise Lost. though such preservation is stipulated upon the recognition of the contingency of mundane authority (upon its ultimate negation). Milton's sense of "bliss" is in a far more complex relation with the historically particular "public good" than Fish's argument permits."so "Mundane contingency" -whether it manifests itself in the form of the doctrines of the perverse Arminius or the "Orders" of Parliament-must be preserved. points towards a non-discursive truth only achieved through faith. yet preserves the experience of mundane contingency.

leads naturally to an evaluation of the discourses of Areopagitica as "authoritarian." and the "outward union of cold and neutral and inwardly divided minds" (A." the text eventually clamps down. renders the re- 70 The Liberal Areopagitica . writing from within the long and complicated historiographical tradition outlined above. paradoxically. reason. and thus neither it. which celebrates the "difference and dissemination" that "mobilize meaning. 55 The pursuit of difference. in fact "coercive. like the assumptions of many earlier commentators. "the fiercest rent and disunion of all" (A. "54 For Belsey." and the failure "to keep truth separated from truth." may itself have its affinities with liberal politics. so long as they refuse a monopoly over the "public good. more inclusive humanism." because it "leaves the existing framework of values essentially unchallenged. "53 Though Belsey concedes there may be a moment where Areopagitica "begins to glimpse a broader. as David Quint notes. "not to fall from their liberty into a worship of the state and its workings. like the implicit argument of Areopagitica. or rather indifferences" to such an "outward union. nor its instrument. so characteristic of a liberal politics unable to commit itself to any notion of publicly constituted authority. 742). as any January could freeze together. Yet Catherine Belsey. (A. and the "boundaries of liberal tolerance" are "marked off and policed. with Illo. finds Milton's "acknowledgement of pluralism" insufficient.">' The Christian commonwealth is "superior" to the classical republic precisely because "access" to the "public good" is not limited to the parliamentary body. The process of assimilating "neighboring differences." for Milton is. 740) The "public good" in Areopagitica is as evasive as its constituents. perhaps surprisingly. is likely to become an idol. and they are praised so long as they evidence their desire "not to be partial"that is.Doubtless a staunch and solid piece of framework. the champion of the "open society"). the notion that public and private are reciprocally defining-that private utterance exists only in relation to public context-is necessarily limiting (a notion she shares." The closing of the Second Defense. enjoins its readers. "Lords and Commons" make up part of that constituency. Yet Belsey's post-structuralist Marxism. 52 The flow of public discourse and the "unity of spirit" guaranteed by Areopagitica is presupposed upon a difference that insures that the social totality-at once always present yet negated in individual utterance-will not materialize into an iconic "solid piece of framework." where Milton acknowledges that truth may be "plural."?" Belsey's apparent romanticism of a seemingly unmediated subject. 747).

DD. trans. 7 See Samuel Johnson. I wish to express my gratitude to the participants in the Renaissance Doctoral Seminar at Columbia University-particularly Edward Tayler. "David's Census: Milton's politics and Paradise Regained. W. It is just this particularity (the "contiguity" which. 1982). The "many dissections made in the quarry and in the timber. E." though leading to the construction of Solomon' stemple. 100. 125. it was "impossible to assert even the most radical liberty without asserting some conception of authority at the same time. radical liberty and public authority are simultaneously asserted. Lerhardt. 2 See T. Aesthetic Theory. The Counter Renaissance (New York: Scribners. I do not mean to suggest that the civic republicanism. as Pocock has written. 207. John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose (New York: Macmillan. 142-43. the language of civic republicanism. 4 See Thomas Hobbes. 1967): "When wit is used precisely . 1985). 6 Hiram Haydn. Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. ed. For more on the "restricted sense of wit. and Ready and Easy Way. Gretal Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. it usually refers to the power of seeing resemblances in things apparently unlike (or really) unlike and is therefore subordinated to the more admirable William Kolbrener 71 . and Dan Vitkus-for their responses to this piece. Adorno. all citations of Milton's poetry and prose are from Merritt Y. for Milton. C. 132. Johnson: Prose and Poetry ed. 1967). Michael Oakeshott (New York: Collier Books. that the arguments that Areopagitica either promotes an unrestrained and individualistic liberty or an authoritarian and transumptive intolerance are both projections of the liberal imagination. see the introductory essay to Edward Tayler's Literary Criticism of Seventeenth-Century England (New York: Alfred A.publican discourse of Milton's Areopagitica inaccessible. James Shapiro. 1979). B. which transformed into the despairing elitism of The Ready and Easy Way. 203-4. the conception of agency that emerges in the tract is at once constrained by. Mona Wilson (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. trans."? For in the seventeenth century. for the Milton of Areopagitica. Press. somehow manage to retain their independent particularity." in Remembering Milton. A.. Ashton (New York: Continuum. 744. I would suggest. 744). Unopf."58 Indeed. 799. 1950)." emerging (with Hobbes) in the 1650s. lowe special thanks to David Kastan for his critique of successive drafts of this essay. 144. REW. 3 Edward Tayler. 5 David Quint. ed. Mary Nyquist and Margaret Ferguson (New York: Methuen. Columbia University NOTES 1 Unless otherwise indicated. Press. 24. Jean Howard.. Milton's Poetry: Its Development in Time (Pittsburgh: Duquesne Univ. ed. 1983). 1984). is to be emulated. Leviathan. and constructed through." which "commends the whole pile and structure" (A. 13-14. always adumbrates "continuity") that guarantees the "goodly and graceful symmetry. however. 1987). Hughes. hereafter cited parenthetically in the text and abbreviated as follows: Areopagitica. and Negative Dialectics.

" is thus distinguishable and superior to wit. A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (New York: Cambridge Univ.' " in Uses of History: Marxism. Aers finds Marxist histories resembling their conservative antecedents in their depiction of the middle ages: "the basic picture is still of a static homogeneous collective in which there simply could not be any self-conscious concern with individual identity or subjectivity" (24). " Cited by Dustin Griffin. 8 Raymond Williams. 1976). Francis Barker et al. 1879). " 'Cultural poetics' versus 'cultural materialism. 76-100. see Mary Ann Hadzinowicz's "Politics of Paradise Lost. W.. ed. The dualisms that characterize Milton criticism-most notably the splitting of critics into "satanic" and "angelic" camps-are products. The Subject of Tragedy (New York: Methuen. 3. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (New York: Oxford Univ.proposes a coercive "authoritarianism" present even in liberalism." 72 The Liberal Areopagitica . (Manchester: Manchester Univ.. For Locke. but a condition of dependent membership . 101. in the height of the Whig ascendancy. ed. 12 Herbert Butterfield. 15 Belsey's nuanced historiographical argument-which suggests the influence of Habermas's work on the emergence ofthe bourgeois public sphere . Harrington and Ludlow "greatly contributed to beget in the minds of men ." Literature and History 2 (1991): 20-32. wit becomes affiliated with fancy." English Literary Renaissance 16 (1986): 13-43. 133.. the illusion of self-authorship held out by liberalism is presupposed upon the emergence ofthe "unified. 1987).. 310. Press.. 1981). Worden confirms that these editions "were to be among the most central and widely read texts of eighteenth century Whig doctrine in England" (54). similarly testifies to the emergence of a Whig Milton: "In 1737. 13 In his "Reflections on Current Histories of the Subject. Zwicker (Berkeley: Univ. To Belsey. knowing. wherein can be found the least difference. 1931). of the antithesis between feudal collectivity and renaissance individualism which persists in contemporary accounts of literary history. in the body politic which is the king's body in its social form").''' 9 J. David Aers describes the "particularity dematerializing and idealist versions of medieval culture and society" implicit in contemporary histories of the subject. For a further critique of recent Marxist histories of the subject and their "nostalgia" for a "restored univocality of the sign. in separating carefully one from another." in Politics of Discourse. For observations on Milton's place in this history. 11 Michael Walzer.. 31). Toland himself understood that his editions of Milton. and autonomous human being. that faculty which may lead one to be "misled by Similitude" and "by affinity to take one thing for another" (cited in Tayler. Press. Taking the work of Francis Barker as his starting-point. the bust of Milton penetrated Westminster" (217). 225: "A good deal of emphasis has been given to Milton's individualism. Regaining Paradise: Milton and the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge Univ. Mark Pattison. poetic and social" (96). but Milton himself uses the word "individual" to signify aggregation not segregation. an ardent love of liberty. 1985). Ideas. Milton (London: MacMillan. 1952). Revolution of the Saints (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press. to mean non-dividual as in the phrase 'united as one individual Soule. Press. Burrow.power of discerning differences" (30). and an extreme aversion to arbitrary power" (cited by Blair Worden in his introduction to Edmund Ludlow's A Voyce from the Watch Tower [London: Royal Historical Society. 1978]. see Jean Howard's ''The New Historicism in Renaissance Studies. 54). 1991). I would argue. The Whig Interpretation of History (New York:Norton. 1986). 16. as Locke writes in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. and rightly given by students ofhis political thought. (which asserts that "pre-bourgeois subjection does not properly involve subjectivity at all. Press. "lies . The faculty of judgment. postmodernism and the Renaissance. 8. of California Press. 10 For an account of this critique. see Howard Felperin. Kevin Sharpe and Stephen N.

1984) warns: "We must be able to show how the inclinations towards social. 4-5. the "central event" in Areopagitica is the "creation of a literary subject that registers . 18 Pocock in his "The Myth of John Locke and the Obsession with Liberalism. .. of Chicago Press. the full weight of a specific personal and historical juncture" (51). Power (New York: Basil Blackwell. Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff (New York: Cambridge Univ." Papers read at a Clark Library Seminar (Los Angeles: Univ. Gender. . and the consecutive English Revolutions of the 1640s and 1688" is undeniably whiggish. John Milton and the English Revolution (Totowa. 1986)." in Re-membering Milton (note 5)." Wealth and Virtue. Press. of Nebraska Press. religious. of California Press. Modern Critical Views: John Milton (New York: Chelsea House. (which includes Thomson's 1738 introduction to the tract). 114-15. 1988). T. 1985): marxists are "so obsessed with their hostility to a Lockean modern or bourgeoise liberalism that they can see nothing on the stage of history but the arrival and triumph of their antagonist" (240). In his "prefatory remarks" to the 1819 (R. Milton and the Postmodern (Lincoln: Univ. 1980). David Little. 16 Harold Bloom.. John Milton: Language. White's edition includes a collection of "Commendatory Testimonies" of which Warton' s. 4. George W. is "to dismantle the legacy offeudalism and forge with that inheritance a new bourgeois tradition" (204). reveals a remarkable formal similarity with later explicitly atheistic or agnostic rationalisms. "Cambridge Paradigms and Scottish Philosophers. 55-64 and 157--62. Milton: A Study in Ideology and Form (New York: Methuen. a certain irony in calling Belsey a Whig (her disdain for the liberal subject is unapologetic). the bourgeoisie takes over the culture entirely" (202) and that "indeed. Herman Rapaport.seeking a "political system which guarantees freedom of choice. 1986). Andrew Milner makes a similar case. Press. Whiting contended that "the considered judgment of unprejudiced students of Milton" would have to conclude with the eighteenth-century critic John Upton in favor of the toleration permitted by con- William Kolbrener 73 .. and decisive vindication of the Liberty of the Press that has yet appeared" -is typical (cxxiii-cxxxiii and cxxvii). 100: Milton's "rationalistic individualism . 21 Sensabaugh (note 20). ed. and economic regimentation .. Hunter: London) edition of Areopagitica. comprehensive. In 1932. 78. He puts the point polemically elsewhere. NJ: Barnes & Noble. see Sensabaugh.. can and did live side by side with inclinations in the opposite direction-towards vigorous voluntary action in Church and world to the glory of God" (222-23). 19 Mary Nyquist. The "aim of Milton's poetic oeuvre.2. 1952). conclusive. 197. Milton contributed even to "the first phases of the attempted Whig revolution through Charles Blount's A Just Vindication of Learning in 1679 and William Denton's An Apology for the Liberty of the Press in 1681. That Grand Whig Milton (Stanford: Stanford Univ.. two unlike but unmistakable adaptations of Areopagitica" (53). Religion. Order and Law: A Study in PreRevolutionary England (Chicago: Univ. 22 See White (note 20). For Kendrick. "The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity. 1983)."The Areopagitica .. though an interpretation of history which finds evidence of the predominance ofliberal discourses "in the seventeenth century with the emergence of the individual . For these and other Whig appropriations. Milton was a capitalist" (170). suggests that "classical and socialist critics converge-and nearly unite-in perpetuating a distortion of history which consists in vastly exaggerating the role of liberalism (or of possessive individualism or of bourgeois ideology)" (17).. Holt White observes that "succeeding advocates for the Freedom of Printing have copied not unfrequently as well as largely from this Oration" (lvii). without doubt. 1981). is the most close. argues that "in the political texts of Milton. As Sensabaugh observes. 20 Catherine Belsey." There would be. 17 Christopher Kendrick." Similarly. Against the paradigm that sees Milton as part of the trajectory that leads inevitably to secular individualism. 201." Rapaport continues.

Thomas Berger (Cambridge: MIT Press. Gadamer writes. the University of Colorado invited Leo Miller to "deliver a full hour plenary address on "'John Milton and the American Constitution.." Prose Studies 11 (1988): 3-23.stitutional monarchism: had Milton "known the sobriety." will the "Poet's own words . 26 Hans George Gadamer. 74 The Liberal Areopagitica . only by their own "Sagacity. are reciprocally defining (really identical) where in the "bourgeois public sphere. be retrieved." See Habermas." Milton Quarterly 12 [1987]: 123). and Johnson (note 7). while Bentley's Milton would have been horrified (had he only known) by the blundering interpolations of his editor and amanuensis. Both express the same confidence that." The London Chronicle 163 [1932]: 385). and he "read recent newspaper items which report current departures from these principles on university. he would never have been an enemy to such a church and such a king" ("The Politics of Milton's Apostate Angels. who Fish claims to have introduced in defiance of his colleagues. still insisting that the "real" Areopagitica is "Illibertarian. in Bentley's words." and postulate Milton as transcendent and omniscient. 29 I do not intend to invoke Habermas's "bourgeois public sphere. Bentley's (see Milton's Paradise Lost. of Toronto Press. catalogues recent "tolerationist" and "libertarian" readings of Milton. It "is precisely my method to find tension and discontinuities. our liberties." "public authority" is "consolidated into a palpable object confronting those who" are "merely subject to it.' " Proclaiming Milton "as a poet of struggle for freedom." Both Enlightenment and Romantic historiographies insist upon the binary between freedom and obligation. and federal levels" ("Colorado World Affairs Conference Dedicated to Milton." in Re-membering Milton (note 5). was still advertising the "coming attractions" for a Milton criticism based upon "the transformation of Milton from a poet of democratic liberalism to a prophet of revolutionary absolutism. Gary Saul Morson (Stanford: Stanford Univ." a "political document of repression" (21). Milton and the Puritan Dilemma (Toronto: Univ. basking in the clear and unambiguous light of providential knowledge." Both express horror of the particular. 27 Illo (note 25). 55. both require that "reason and authority are abstract antitheses" (242). "shares the presupposition of the enlightenment and only reverses the evaluation of it. 24 Christopher Hill. 'Paradise Lost. 1986). and decency of our laws. Fish's Milton bears a remarkable resemblance to Dr. and our constitution ascertained . More recently. Press. 823. a2v): the Milton of Surprised by Sin is annoyed by the blundering interpretations of the reader. offers a similar analysis of a romantic historiography reliant upon the Enlightenment categories that precede it: romanticism. "The Misreading of Milton. ed. as I argue below. 25 John Illo. 41.. 30 See Ernest Sirluck's Introduction to Complete Prose Works of John Milton." in Literature and History.' 1942-1982. 1986). Fish's absolutist Milton maintains the liberal antithesis between freedom and authority-only his emphasis is different. "where others before me had found only the steady unfolding of a classical liberal vision" (248). 1989)." which presupposes a separation of private from public realms. Illo's more recent "Areopagiticas Mythic and Real. 28 In 1986. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. 244. ed. state. ed. 244. Richard Bentley [London. Yet the absolutist Milton. Milton and the English Revolution (New York: Penguin. and happy Conjecture. what Bentley calls the "miscellaneous. "Transmuting the Lump. 1732]. Stanley Fish.. ed." Fish writes. the toleration. 18. 1942).. has its own genealogical ties to liberalism. 1978). 23 See Arthur Barker." Fish continues to fashion himself as a critic in opposition to the liberal vision of Milton in his more recent "Driving from the Letter: Truth and Indeterminacy in Milton's Areopagitica. Truth and Method (New York: Continuum. Milton's notion of public and private." Miller cited "specific provisions in the American Constitution which embody Miltonic principles"." Columbia University Forum 8 (1965): 4041. the dichotomy prevails.

See also Zera S. 33 Cited in Pocock's most extensive treatments of the emergence of classical republicanism in the seventeenth century. and Hermeneutics in Milton's Prose. I am indebted to David Norbrook whose insights into the relationship between Areopagitica and the discourses of civic republicanism are evidenced throughout this essay. Such a strategy may be linked to the Aristotelian distinction (Rhetoric 3. 884). as Butterfield (note 12) points out." History and Imagination. 1963)." Pocock recognizes the tendency of his own work "to abridge" and to drift into "the figures of metahistory" (Virtue. Hugh-Lloyd Jones (London: Duckworth. see Wesley Trimpi's Muses of One Mind (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Ruth Nevo's The Dial of Virtue (Princeton: Princeton Univ. W. Both attitudes. evidenced in Kendrick (note 17). 270. and History (New York: Cambridge Univ. Pocock himself has written (The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law [New York: Cambridge Univ. 35 With its attention to "ideal and hypostatized modes of speech. That the prophetic powers of the king's party may have been more acute than his own became. see as well his Virtue. as J. include Tory Whiggism. 8. Wolfe. Burrow (note 9) has remarked "there is an innate Whiggishness in stories as such" (298). 1979). 14 is also present in Francis Barker's The Tremulous Private Body (New York: Methuen. Press. appropriate to the more circumscribed realm of the legal courts or private readings. 133-35. and impious" (REW. is the discourse that Isocrates held in highest esteem) requires "voice. 36 Although Milton is obviously arguing for the superiority of the printing press.Don M." he argues. Pocock insists. he often shifts the rhetoric of his tract as if to assert that his discourse would be "heard" in public debate. are "equally 'Whig. Possessive Individualism (New York: Oxford Univ. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton Univ. 263." sometimes a "loud one." Politics Poetics. 8 vols. 44. To explicitly adapt its style to prospective listeners. B. for Milton in 1660. 34 Pocock. 1643-5.12) between types of discourse and their respective styles. Fink's earlier The Classical Republicans (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Barker argues that Milton's tract founds itself on the separation "between the public arena of the state apparatus and another domain of William Kolbrener 75 . David Loewenstein and James Grantham Turner (New York: Cambridge Univ. 31 C. (New Haven: Yale Univ. 1990). "is precisely the art of abridgement" (102) then Pocock's work suffers from a deficiency intrinsic to all history writing. Above all. Press. Press." In contrast. 1984). hypocritical.' " The "varieties of Whiggism. 1986). 1982). 1981). the nation will "verifie all the bitter predictions of our triumphing enemies. 1959). in this regard. Milton shifts from admonishing his "adversaries" to enjoining the remnant of "chosen patriots. but also the "complacent traditionalism. and Blair Worden's "Classical Republicanism and the Puritan Revolution. 1975). Press. viii-Ix) on what he calls "the varieties of Whiggism. The public style of deliberative oratory that deals with matters of importance to the entire community (and which. 32 Macpherson (note 31)." By "relapsing. For an analysis of Areopagitica in its republican context. hereafter abbreviated CPW.170. 1962). not surprisingly. requires a written form. 46~1. If the art of the historian.2." which include not only "the complacent progressivism. 38 The influence of Macpherson's historiographical perspective. 40. 188-200. Virtue (note 33). ed. Macpherson. who will now think they wisely discerned and justly censured both us and all our actions as rash. forensic or epideictic oratory. ed. Commerce. a horrible reality. Milton's deliberative ends place Areopagitica in a public context. Press. 37 In The Ready and Easy Way." therefore." which Butterfield "admired" in his later work. Press. Press. and not readers. 1987]. For the distinction between oratorical styles. Press. is to save the tract from associations with the more private-and less universal ends-of the other two modes of oratory. rebellious. Press." which Butterfield (note 12) anatomized. 32). All historical narratives are contingent (Macpherson's and Pocock's alike). see Nigel Smith's more recent "Areopagitica: Voicing Contexts.

43 See CPW 6:82. would argue that prudence and Providence are entirely co-terminous." in Machiavelli and Republicanism. see especially 13--28. 37-50. see Ernest Sirluck. Prudence. for why should I not say that the act of the better. and the emergence of a "new liberty. See also in this light Nyquist (note 19)." and thus creates "a more direct ideological control through subjectivity" (46). they will be found like reserv'd Manna. Milton. did also elect the King is also certain. the will of the "minority" who attempt to "preserve their freedom" stands in synecdochally for all the people of England: "Did the people you ask. in stead of being fit to use. Gisela Bock et al. 47) is also told with reference to eighteenth-century aesthetics in Terry Eagleton's The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Cambridge: Basil Blackwell." Harrington continues. nor Christ. we can see. find accounts of the emergence of "negative liberty" (Barker. 1990). One can. and Literary History (New York: Columbia Univ. I say it was the people. ed.. G. and John Guillory. "a questioning of the early humanist belief in the compatibility of skepticism and prudence. 41 For accounts of the "mis-reading" of Spenser. not Milton. ed. and that the people no less for that. Rhetoric. Writing ofIsraelite theocracy in his Art of Lawgiving. 194. 165. 46 In the conflict between rational critique and the epistemological uncertainty engendered by antinomian conviction. while God every morning raines down new expressions into our hearts. do violence to the commoners of the lower house. John Robertson. Not "God. J. Harrington asserts the identity of rational action and Divine Will: "That God elected the King in Israel is certain. A. "Milton: Political Beliefs and Polemical Methods. 627 and 652. see Pocock. Lewalski. 99-127.civil life. focusing on Paradise Last and the divorce tracts explores "the kind of female subjectivity required by a new economy's progressive sentimentalization of the private sphere" (120). 44 Harrington." which acts as "an effective support of the emergent pattern of domination" (Francis Barker. Works of James Harrington (note 44)." Modern Philology 48 (1950): 90-96. In The Ready and Easy Way. nor the Apostles. the "better part" shrinks into a "remnant. 42 Guillory (note 40). Her argument. in which resides the real power of the people was the act of the people?" (CPW 4:1." see Barbara K. and Nicholas Phillipson in Wealth and Virtue (note 18).. 457). Bloom (note 15). 882). and also the essays by Pocock. Press." Publications of the Modern Language Association 74 (1959): 96. Tayler (note 3). For more on the doctrine of the "better part. Press. rather to breed wormes and stink" (CPW 3:505). 1983). however. Press. Milton refers explicitly to the hoarded manna of the biblical episode. 135. the sound part of the Parliament. 1985). 45 Pocock. with Victoria Kahn. Poetic Authority: Spenser. for example." leading Milton to assert "that most voices ought not always to prevail where main matters are in question" (REW. 1977]. 26. see Blair Worden's "Milton's Republicanism and the Tyranny of Heaven. for a recent study of Milton's republicanism in the fifties. 47) outside of the Marxist tradition. and Skepticism in the Renaissance (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. (New York: Cambridge Univ. "ever instituted any government ecclesiastical or civil upon other principles than those only of human prudence" (The Political Works of James Harrington. 40 In Eikonoclastes. "Milton Revises the Fairie Queene. cognitive doubt and practical certainty" (53). 130-45. Pocock [New York: Cambridge Univ. 1659-1660. For the transition from a language of civic "virtue" to a language of civil "rights" (located after the Glorious Revolution of 1689). yet if they shall be hoarded up and enjoynd us. To justify Pride's Purge in the first Defence. putting some to Hight? ." Milton argues that even if such prayers were" Manna itself. 39 The contracting of this category parallels the trajectory of Milton's republicanism in the fifties. Virtue (note 33). The questioning of the humanist paradigm and the efficacy of prudential judgement is articulated by Milton with the greatest 76 The Liberal Areopagitica . Press. 1990). The story of the "encoding" of a new realm of subjectivity. Writing of the uniformity imposed by the liturgy of the "Commonpraier Book.

899). 1987). associates Stephen Greenblatt's "lyrical" description of "the energy of the market. 1985). Milton. with its emphasis on an "affirmation of authentic individuality. 247. 1967). 49 John Peter Rumrich. For Miltonfrom the early Of Reformation to the late prose-popery and superstition are synonymous with idolatry. of course. Milton. in the socially and discursively marginal.urgency in The Ready and Easy Way." Milton proclaims." Raritan 8 (1989). writing in a different context. Fish constructs a Milton for whom any political engagement is fruitless: in his "larger scheme.. Milton (note 20). fears that only an "arbitrary relativism" will follow from unmediated subjectivity: "Why should the intersection of rival collective wills not produce the random chaos of a log-jam" (51)?Anderson continues a debate begun in this century by Lukacs's controversial espousal of totality. emphasis added. Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut." Belsey's post-structuralist Marxism and her notion of subjectivity has much in common with the "postMarxism" articulated and defended by Mouffe and Laclau. and the emergence of "post-Marxism" has been enabled by what Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe have called "deconstructive logic of hegemony. 742). 190. 1980). See their Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (London: Verso. 78. 104. "the conviction that man can do nothing is accompanied by the conviction that Christ has taken it upon himself to do it all" (45). As I have argued throughout. French Philosophy of the Sixties. trans. the existing "framework of values" in Areopagitica is always beyond articulation.. In this tract of 1660. "Driving from the Letter" (note 28). Milton. the incongruity between republican and providentialist discourses in this later tract leads Blair Worden (note 39) to wonder "whether Milton can helpfully be called a republican at all" (227)." writes Norbrook.. Because idolatry defies the very principle-free circulationupon which Milton's commonwealth is founded. unmediated spontaneity" (106). limited in significant and notorious ways: "I mean not tolerated popery and open superstition. may" render the subject so completely dispersed as to be incapable of acting as any agent. 57 David Norbrook. 1990). 50 Marshall Grossmann. chooses the authority of prophesy. or if articulated. For Greenblatt and "other recent cultural theorists. it situates its adherents outsideindeed opposed to-the "public good. the confluence of republican and providential arguments-and the distinct forms of agency they imply-becomes impossible. 56 The Foucauldian pursuit of "difference." Fish writes. 1984).78. always provisional and demanding revision. S. 47 In his Surprised by Sin (New York: Macmillan. "Authors to Themselves": Milton and the Revelation of History (New York: Cambridge Univ.. least of all as an agent of change" (271). There is no "final object to knowledge" in Areopagitica. till her [Truth's] Master's Second Coming" (A." Milton writes. such as the undifferentiated bliss of carnival" (107). in what is not fully conscious. so itself should be extirpate" (A. "which as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies. of Massachusetts Press. we have "not yet found" all the limbs of "the mangled body of Osiris." Modern Philology 87 (1990): 262. Indeed. 747). be sought . Press.. Belsey's implicit attribution of essentialism to Milton in her suggestion that "truth" for him in "its singularity" is "the final object of a knowledge based on the exchange of views" (78) seems questionable to me for the same reasons. trace this mode of thought. The eventual dismantling of this totality. "nor ever shall do. "Uninventing Milton. 48 Stanley Fish. resistance "must . 51 Quint (note 5). at the close of The Ready and Easy Way." with a "politically ambivalent ." 53 See Belsey. Cattani (Amherst: Univ.." to Foucault "who through reference to Nietzsche and Heidegger denounced William Kolbrener 77 . Arguments within English Marxism (London: Verso. 52 Such "access" is. 141. as a more public authority is lost in the "epidemic madness" and "defection of a misguided and abused multitude" (REW. of Chicago Press. "Life and Death of Renaissance Man. 55 Belsey. Mary H." Jonathan Dollimore warns in his Radical Tragedy (Chicago: Univ. 54 Belsey. Perry Anderson.

heterogenous interests are nothing other than the law of the fittest" (22829). F. the tyranny of the normative of the universal in relation to the individual in his difference" (120)... however." write Ferry and Renaut. 58 Pocock. "everyone has the absolute right to heterogeneity (to difference) since .''' To Lyotard's assertion. 78 The Liberal Areopagitica . Lyotard: 'Consensus obtained through discussion? . Virtue (note 33). Ferry and Renaut add the following warning: "Merely left to themselves.. 54. That violates the heterogeneity of language games .the tyranny of identity in modernism. . For "the French philosophers of '68.... everyone agrees with J.

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