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Agonistes, or even of the sonnets and the odes. That Milton, under the burden of his blindness, withdrew himself more and more from the distractions of the visible world into the splendour of the empyrean, and the excess of light which his natural eyes could not have absorbed, is true enough. But the radiance of his celestial visions did not prevent him from describing the earthly sounds with which he was still familiar, or the earthly sights which had faded from his gaze. Some of his noblest lines, such as
Wielded at will that fierce democracy, are in Paradise Regained, which he wrote at the close of his glorious
We cannot test Milton by circumstances, and say that at this or that point he lost or gained any particular gift or power. We can only say that, having that within which passeth show, he triumphed over all obstacles, as he husbanded all resources, and multiplied all opportunities, until calamity became almost a blessing by the inward glory which it shed upon every corner of that mighty mind. Milton never disguised from himself the magnitude of his loss. Rather did he contrast it with the dazzling splendour of the rays which poured into the recesses of his soul, and lightened the inward eye which is the bliss of solitude. No wonder that Wordsworth loved Milton. They both gloried in the quintessence of poesy, the sixth sense of the beatific vision, and Milton held that to write poetry, a man's life must be a poem. He did not believe in practising poetry by fits and starts, but in the complete harmony of the creative imagination with the created imagery. By this harmony he thought that all difficulties could be overcome, and the desired result be achieved.
Such then was Milton's preparation for the work of his life. Such, we might rather say, was Milton's life of preparation for his work. He trusted nothing to chance. He did not borrow a hint here, and a simile there, leaving time to bring them together, or association to connect them, as it would. He himself disposed of his materials in the act of collecting them, and lived the part instead of playing it. He did not seek to distinguish betweezi subject and object, between poet and poem. What he wrote he had lived, and what he lived he was to write. Not otherwise could he have achieved the noble task to which all his powers were directed and devoted. Not otherwise could he have surpassed Spenser, and rivalled Shakespeare, in the minds and memories of Englishmen. There is no especial secret of poetry like Milton's, nor any explanation of it which does not also explain Milton himself. His knowledge of music was profound, unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries. But the science of harmony would never have taught him to pour forth the melodious verse which floods L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. He was so eager for learning that he mastered every branch of it which was then in vogue. Yet he remained as vigorous in his native energy as if he had never inquired what constituted poetry, or how it differed from prose. Here is the
astonishing faculty of Milton. What impeded and restricted other men refreshed and strengthened him. As he wrote himself :
He who reads
Deep-versed in books, and shallow in himself. Mindful of that danger, Milton, even when he could read for himself, was careful not to read merely for reading's sake, but to assimilate and combine all the material he found in books with
every impulse that he derived from Nature and from life. In that way he became a great scholar as well as a great poet, and also a citizen of the world, acquainted with the various movements of States, the changes of men and things, the ebb and flow of sublunary affairs, the masterpieces of thought and action, the systole and diastole of the earth’s diurnal and annual vicissitudes. The discussions in Paradise Lost have been compared with debates in the Long Parliament. But Milton is parliamentary, when he is so, only in form. The loftiness of the ideas, like the stateliness of the diction, is beyond the sphere or compass of any human model. Milton, in short, cannot be likened to any example drawn from his circumstances or career. unapproachable splendour preserves him from any such cheap and easy formula of flattering disparagement. These parallels may be useful in assisting us to clear up our own notions of Milton. They cannot account for Milton himself. They are as barren as the trick of calling him a typical Puritan. They leave out of sight all the distinctive attributes of his extraordinary genius, such as its aloofness, its magnificence, its peculiar interpretation of familiar things, its audacious ascent beyond the barriers of time and space in order to scale the ramparts of the unearthly Paradise. Examine Milton as We will, the essence escapes, not indeed the perception, but the analysis of the critic, because it consists of those ultimate particles or atoms which cannot be analysed any further. It is not the critic's fault. He must do his best, and he may do much, to point out the less obvious merits of Milton. But beyond that he cannot go. Until he can define the infinite, and limit the laws of God, he must confess that in Milton there are tracts of inexplicable sublimity and incalculable grandeur. It does not diminish the enjoyment of Milton's work that we cannot weigh and measure what we enjoy. Rather does it increase the privilege of conversing with that rare spirit that it raises us above the level of metes and bounds, taking us across the borderland of the supernatural, and bringing us face to face with the mysteries of essential truth. Here and there we may light upon fragments of an organised development. But for the most part we have to admit that simple admiration is the truest wisdom, and in trying to understand more than is possible we only enjoy less than is within our grasp.
INHERITANCE AND SOCIOLOGY
During the last few years, while physical science has undergone rapid changes, biology has developed in a manner less striking perhaps, but even more charged with significance for the future welfare of the human race.
The problems of inheritance in animals and plants, hitherto left chiefly to the cattle-breeder and the gardener, at last have been illumined by conceptions which enable naturalists to study systematically the complicated phenomena involved. A working hypothesis has been found which, at all events, has proved sufficient to co-ordinate and make intelligible a mass of observations in which no order was to be seen.
It is always dangerous to apply too soon the results of the laboratory to the problems of practical life. A great part of the art of successful scientific experiment consists in simplifying the problems, so that direct and definite questions are asked of nature in each experiment. To know what experiment to make is usually the chief difficulty ; it is comparatively easy to carry it through when once properly planned. Hence it is that, in the earlier stages of the scientific development of a subject, the arts of practical life are in advance of scientific knowledge—the complex conditions of practice are not understood, and it is necessary to rely on the empirical knowledge acquired by experience.
But, as scientific knowledge advances, it tends to overtake and"> pass empirical knowledge, which can accumulate only very slowly, and can rarely venture to formulate any broad generalisations. Eventually a new scientific theory illumines the arbitrary rules which have been found to hold, and, by showing the reasons for those rules, enables us to apply them with greater confidence where justified, and to limit them by the sure guide of an appreciation of their causes.
It seems that the time has come when the growth in our scientific knowledge of heredity allows the application of that knowledge to the art of breeding domestic aniinals and plants, and, perhaps, even the tentative use of the new principles to formulate the problems at issue in the study of heredity in mankind.
The greatest step in the science of heredity since the days of
Darwin has been made in recent years by the rediscovery and development of the forgotten work of Gregor Johann Mendel, Abbot of Brünn. Mendel was born in 1822 of Austro-Silesian parents. He was ordained priest, and subsequently studied natural science in Vienna. At Brünn he carried out a series of experiments, now become classical, on the growth of the eating pea, Pisum sativum. He published the results in the proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brünn, under the title Experiments in Plant Hybridisation. Unfortunately, Darwin never saw Mendel's paper, and no other of Mendel's contemporaries seems to have been capable of understanding the magnitude of his discovery. Mendel died in 1884, sixteen years before renewed attention to the problem of hybrids led to a general knowledge and appreciation of his work.
As a simple instance of the application of Mendelian principles to animals we may take the case of Andalusian fowls studied by Bateson and Punnett. These birds may be black, white, or blue. Both black and white are pure breeds; two black birds paired together produce only black posterity, and similarly the white birds, mated among themselves, give rise to white descendants. If, however, a white bird mates with a black one, the resultant chicks are blue. So far all seerns clear, and we are inclined to consider the blue character as a mixture of the white and the black. But, if the blue birds are mated among themselves, their offspring are not wholly blue. Half of a large number will on the average be blue, but the remaining half will be divided equally into white birds and black, which again mated among themselves show once more the phenomena described above.
White and black are Mendelian characters in Andalusian fowls. To explain the observed results we may suppose that something in the germ cells corresponds with these characters. Any one germ cell is pure 'white' or pure ' black.' When a white bird pairs with a black one, the resulting chick is blue, a colour which in this case represents the mixture. But of that chick's germ cells, half are pure 'black' and half are pure 'white.' Thus, when two blue birds mate, the results will follow the doctrine of chances, which shows that in half the cases a 'white' cell will meet a ' black ’one, giving a 'mixed' bird again, and in the other half the numbers will be divided equally between birds developed from the union of two 'white' cells and birds derived from two 'black'
In Andalusian fowls the mixed type is unlike either of the parents, bat, in other cases, it usually resembles one of them much more nearly than the other. One character is then said to be dominant and the other 'recessive.' Let us, for instance, consider the varieties of the common green pea, studied by Mendel himself. Mendel selected a number of differentiating characters, and investigated the inheritance of each character separately. In one series of experiments he dealt only
with the heights of the plants. Taking tall and dwarf varieties, he crossed them, and found that all the resulting seeds gave rise to tal plants. The tall character is dominant and the dwarf recessive But these hybrid tall plants when self-fertilised do not breed true Out of about a thousand plants of the third generation, almost exactly three-quarters were tall, but one-quarter were short. Next year the seeds of this generation were grown, and it was found that the dwar type bred true and remained fixed in future generations. But the plants of the tall kind differed among themselves. One-third yielded only tall offspring, while two-thirds gave plants divided into 'talls and dwarfs, in the old ratio of three to one. The one-third are pure dominants, breeding true to any number of generations, while the two-thirds are impure, giving seeds which develop into dominants and recessives in the ratio of three to one.
These results may be correlated with those obtained with the Andalusian fowls by noticing that the 'mixed' type here simulates one of the parents. Thus, besides the one-quarter of a large number of seedlings which are developed from the union of the two germ cells of like characters, and resemble truly the dominant parent, we must add the half which are formed from unlike germ cells. These hybrid plants assume an outward resemblance to the dominant parent not warranted by the mixed character of their own germ cells, which are divided among the two types in equal numbers.
In the next generation, the one-quarter breed true, while the two-quarters reveal their hybrid characters. The dominants of the former generation, then, are divided into pure and impure in th ratio of one to two.
Hitherto we have considered only single pairs of characters, case of the phenomenon called monohybridism. When the original parent differ in two pairs of characters, we have the more complex phenomen. of dihybridism. Mendel found that some separate characters wer transmitted independently of each other and obeyed the same law of inheritance as a single pair. Thus, in peas, tallness is dominan to shortness and a yellow colour in the seed to a green colour. If tall, yellow-seeded pea be crossed with a dwarf green-seeded one all the offspring are tall and yellow. But in the next generation w should expect, and should find, that of sixteen plants nine would b tall and yellow, three tall and green, three short and yellow, and on short and green. Mendelian principles again succeed in explainin the results.
Still more complicated phenomena have been examined an explained by interaction between two pairs of factors resulting i masked characters, which may reappear when the necessary compli mentary factor is reintroduced by inheritance from a suitable cros In this way the reversion to the ancestral wild type of certain cult vated plants and domestic animals has been elucidated.