Fellow Traveling to ParadisenChristopher Hill: Milton and thenEnglish Revolution; Viking; NewnYork.nby Albert C. LabriolanJLong admired as one of the foremostnscholars of the causes and consequencesnof the English Revolution,nChristopher Hill has recently been attackednby other historians, notably J.H.nHexter, for alleged distortions of evidence,nbiased opinions and views, andnnarrow-minded interpretations of thenevents and personages of the period aboutnwhich he writes, seventeenth-centurynEngland. In their exchanges in the TimesnLiterary Supplement Hexter and Hill arenat times vitriolic. About the time of thesenexchanges, Hill also published in T.LS.na preview-essay of his long-planned booknon Milton. Coupled with his status asnhonored scholar in 1975 of the MiltonnSociety of America and his visit to thenUnited States in 1976 to teach a FolgernInstitute seminar in Milton and thenEnglish Revolution, the T.LS. controversynaroused the expectations of historiansnand Miltonists on both sides ofnthe Atlantic.nIf Hill’s past views on the EnglishnRevolution are controversial then hisninterpretation of the prose and poetry ofnthe foremost intellectual of the period,nJohn Milton, will evoke some protest.nConsistent with his past theories, mostnforcefully stated in The World TurnednUpside Down, Hill argues that in then1640’s England was in a state of radicalnferment, while numerous religious sectsnand political groups resisted and challengednthe intolerance and repression ofnLaudianism and the sovereignty of thenBritish monarchy. Called the popularnheretical culture or political underground,nthese radical groups, includingnDr. Labriola, Professor of English atnDuquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,nis the secretary of The MiltonnSociety of America.nBaptists, Levellers, Diggers, Seekers,nBehmenists, Socinians, Ranters, Muggletonians,nand Early Quakers, united tonform a virtual splinter coalition thatnprovided impetus for the overthrow ofnAnglicanism and the British monarchy.nIn this milieu of ferment and revolution,nwhich he more than any othernhistorian has sought to research andnexplain. Hill situates Milton, who allegedlynconducted a continuous dialogue withnthe radicals, from whom he derived somenof his theological, political, and socialnideas, with whom he sometimes differed,nand whom at times he tried to unite.nFrom Hill’s perspective Milton and thenradical groups with whom he is connectednmay be placed in a tradition of protestnthat dates back to the Middle Ages,ntraceable to the Lollards and to Wyclif,nHuss, and Zwingli. Because of censorshipnbefore the early 1640’s, some of thenseventeenth-century radical groups werenunable to disseminate their views innwriting or to communicate them innpublic. To circumvent the repressivenmeasures of censorship, an intolerantngovernment, and state religion, the radicalsnresorted to secret meetings in alehousesnand taverns. This poses somendifficulty, insurmountable in my judgment,nin explaining how Milton came toninteract with the radicals. Hill surmisesnthat Milton may have participated in alehousencabals, but there is little evidencento controvert the prevalent view thatnMilton dissociated himself from commonnmen and that he actively avoided thenuneducated.nUespite the length of Hill’s book,nmore than 500 pages, and its seemingnwealth of documentation, the essentialnthesis—that Milton conducted a continuousndialogue with the radicals—remainsnunsubstantiated. Corollariesnof this central thesis are likewisenunproved, so that the entire argument isnconjectural at best. To define the curvenof Milton’s political career. Hill constructsna tendentious intellectual biog­nnnraphy. Much of the material is alreadynwell-known. Beginning with thengrammar-school days at St. Paul’s, Hillnshows Milton’s admiration for so-callednradicals, like Alexander Gill, ThomasnYoung, and Charles Diodati, his closestnboyhood companion. At CambridgenMilton’s brashness is also evident in hisnconduct and in his academic exercises.nHis decision not to enter the ministry.n”Mr. Hill is the master historian of hisnchosen field.”n—American Historical Reviewnhis years of private study at Hammersmithnand Horton, the anti-clericalismnof Lycidas all combine to suggest a portraitnof a young radical whose Europeannjourney, association with the liberalnFlorentine cognoscenti, especially of thenSvogliati, and whose visits with suchnrebellious and revolutionary thinkers asnJean Diodati and Galileo, whom hengreatly admired, further delineate thisnportrait. Such background is provided tonmake Milton’s alleged interaction withnthe extremely radical splinter groups ofnthe 1640’s all the more plausible. Thisnview, however, does not distinguish betweennthe intellectual revolutionariesnwith whom he interacted, to whom henoften refers, and with whom he soughtnto establish affinity, and the undisciplinednand irresponsible radical groups whosenfragmentation, proliferation, and disunityneliminated the possibility of a stablengovernment.nIf, in fact, Milton’s independency andnhis ideas about society, politics, andnreligion were placed in a “great tradition,”none that can be inferred from his knownnreading, his extensive notes and countlessnallusions in his works, that traditionnwould begin with Graeco-Roman antiquity,nextend into the early history of thenChristian faith, and continue throughnthe writings of the Church Fathers andnlater commentators. The primacy of thennatural law was amply supported bynnumerous Church Fathers, and the rightn9nChronicles of Culturen