By the mid-eighteenth century, Milton had become not only his country's preeminent poet but England's "ideal of public virtue … a personal example of individual integrity and purity of motive, divorced from circumstances" (Griffin 20- 21). This exaltation of Milton tended to distance, if not oppose, the revolutionary Puritan poet-tamed, refined, and defined by the Hanoverian-Whig ascendancy-to the greatest poet of the era, the Catholic, "Tory," Augustan, Alexander Pope. On the other hand, Pope, who kept Milton's portrait in his bedroom, owned a bust of the poet (given to him by the Prince of Wales), and became "more widely acquainted with the complete body of Milton's poems than any other man of his time" (Havens 15), recognized his profound affinity with Milton's church and party of one. Certainly, Milton in many ways was for Pope as suitable and congenial a model of the poet as Horace, Juvenal, Persius, or Donne: Milton's sage and serious estimate of the poet's vocation, his profound classicism, his fascination with the pastoral paradise, his apocalyptic optimism, his attempt to fulfill his concept of national poet by writing epics, his desire to justify the ways of God to men (working from the clear text of scripture, as opposed to Pope's text of nature), his physical disability, and his awareness of himself as a genius at odds with the contemporary educational establishment.



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