‘A fugitive and cloistered virtue’Posted: Monday, November 3, 2008
Apropos of nothing but a defense of those elitist concepts of knowledge and learning, we present this timely passage from Milton’s Areopagitica.
As therefore the state of man now is, what wisdom can there be to choose, what continence to forbear without the knowledge of evil? He that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is the true warfaring Christian. I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity much rather: that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.
For another take on campaign-commentary-by-John-Milton, see Stanley Fish’s post about Paradise Regained and how the candidate’s two campaigns — one cool, collected, and “passive,” the other angry and whirling like a dervish to little effect — are mirrored in Milton’s writing.
(Thanks to KAC Attack for the link).