Shedd on Milton

“If there ever was a man in whom the aesthetic was in complete subjection to the intellectual and moral, without being in the least suppressed or mutilated by them, that man was Milton. If there ever was a human intellect so entirely master of itself, of such a severe type, that all its processes seem to have been the pure issue of discipline and law, it was the intellect of Milton…Returning then to the intellectual character of Milton, let me advise you to study that character until you see that the strict, and philosophically severe theory of the Beautiful and of Art lies under the whole of it. Milton had no affinities for excessive sensuous Beauty. He was no voluptuary in any sense. So far as the sense was concerned he was abstemious as an ascetic, and so far as . the soul was concerned he knew no such thing as luxury. He devoted himself to poetry, an Art which, glorious as it is, yet has tendencies that need counteraction, which tempts to Arcadian and indulgent views of human life and human character, and which, as literary history shows, has too often been the medium through which dreamy and uncontrolled natures have communicated themselves to the world. But as a poet, he constructed with all the truth of Science and all the purity of Religion. The poetic Art, as it appears in Milton, is spiritual and spiritualizing” (W.G.T. Shedd, Literary Essays).