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of his release will surely come. But Satan is forth their blood on scaffolds. That hateful a creature of another sphere. The might of proscription, facetiously termed the Act of In. his intellectual nature is victorious over the ex-demnity and Oblivion, had set a mark on the tremity of pain. Amidst agonies which cannot poor, blind, deserted poet, and held him up by be conceived without horror, he deliberates, name to the hatred of a profligate court and resolves, and even exults. Against the sword an inconstant people! Venal and licentious of Michael, against the thunder of Jehovah, scribblers, with just sufficient talent to clothe against the flaming lake and the marl burning the thoughts of a pander in the style of a bell. with solid fire, against the prospect of an eter- man, were now the favourite writers of the nity of unintermittent misery, his spirit bears sovereign and the public. It was a loathsome up unbroken, resting on its own innate ener- herd-which could be compared to nothing so gies, requiring no support from any thing ex- fitly as to the rabble of Comus, grotesque monternal, nor even from hope itself! sters, half bestial, half human, dropping with wine, bloated with gluttony, and reeling in obscene dances. Amidst these his Muse was placed, like the chaste lady of the Masque, lofty, spotless, and serene-to be chatted at, and pointed at, and grinned at, by the whole rabble of Satyrs and Goblins. If ever despondency and asperity could be excused in any man, it might have been excused in Milton. But the strength of his mind overcame every calamity. Neither blindness, nor gout, nor age, nor penury, nor domestic afflictions, nor political disappointments, nor abuse, nor proscription, nor neglect, had power to disturu his sedate and majestic patience. His spirits do not seem to have been high, but they were singularly equable. His temper was serious, perhaps stern; but it was a temper which no sufferings could render sullen or fretful. Such as it was, when, on the eve of great events, he returned from his travels, in the prime of health and manly beauty, loaded with literary distinc tions and glowing with patriotic hopes, such it continued to be-when, after having experienced every calamity which is incident to our nature, old, poor, sightless, and disgraced, he retired to his hovel to die!
To return for a moment to the parallel which we have been attempting to draw between Milton and Dante, we would add, that the poetry of these great men has in a considerable degree taken its character from their moral qualities. They are not egotists. They rarely obtrude their idiosyncrasies on their readers. They have nothing in common with those modern beggars for fame, who extort a pittance from the compassion of the inexperienced, by exposing the nakedness and sores of their minds. Yet it would be difficult to name two writers whose works have been more completely, though undesign-ily, coloured by their personal feelings.
The character of Milton was peculiarly distinguished by loftiness of thought; that of Dante by intensity of feeling. In every line of the Divine Comedy we discern the asperity which is produced by pride struggling with nisery. There is perhaps no work in the world so deeply and uniformly sorrowful. The melancholy of Dante was no fantastic caprice. It was not, as far as at this distance of time can be judged, the effect of external circumstances. It was from within. Neither love nor glory, neither the conflicts of the earth nor the hope of heaven could dispel it. It twined every consolation and every pleasure into its own nature. It resembled that noxious Sardinian soil of which the intense bitterness is said to have been perceptible even in its honey. His mind was, in the noble language of the Hebrew poet, "a land of darkness, as darkness itself, and where the light was as darkness!" The gloom of his character discolours all the passions of men and all the face of nature, and tinges with its own livid hue the flowers of Paradise and the glories of the Eternal Throne! All the portraits of him are singularly characteristic. No person can look on the features, noble even to ruggedness, the dark furrows of the cheek, the haggard and woful stare of the eye, the sullen and contemp-quiet tuous curve of the lip, and doubt that they belonged to a man too proud and too sensitive to be happy.
Hence it was, that though he wrote the Paradise Lost at a time of life when images of beauty and tenderness are in general beginning to fade, even from those minds in which they have not been effaced by anxiety and disappointment, he adorned it with all that is most lovely and delightful in the physical and in the moral world. Neither Theocritus nor Ariosto had a finer or a more healthful sense of the pleasantness of external objects, or loved better to luxuriale amidst sunbeams and flowers, the songs of nightin gales, the juice of summer fruits, and the coolness of shady fountains. His conception of love unites all the voluptuousness of the Oriental harem, and all the gallantry of the chivalric tournament, with all the pure and affection of an English fireside. His poetry reminds us of the miracles of Alpine scenery. Nooks and dells, beautiful as fairy land, are embosomed in its most rugged and gigantic elevations. The roses and myrtles bloom unchilled on the verge of the avalanche.
Milton was, like Dante, a statesman and a lover; and, like Dante, he had been unfortunate in ambition and in love. He had survived his health and his sight, the comforts of his home and the prosperity of his party. Of the great men, by whom he had been distinguished at his entrance into life, some had been taken away from the evil to come; some their nature. They have no epigrammatic had carried into foreign climates their un-point. There is none of the ingenuity of Fili conquerable hatred of oppression; some were caji in the thought, none of the hard and bril pining in dungeons; and some had poured liant enamel of Petrarch in the style They
Traces, indeed, of the peculiar character of Milton may be found in all his works; but it is most strongly displayed in the Sonnets. Those remarkable poems have been under valued by critics, who have not understood
are simple but majestic records of the feelings is good; but it breaks off at the most interest of the poet; as little tricked out for the public ing crisis of the struggle. The performance eye as his diary would have been. A victory, of Ludlow is very foolish and violent; and an expected attack upon the city, a momentary most of the later writers who have espoused fit of depression or exultation, a jest thrown the same cause, Oldmixon, for instance, and out against one of his books, a dream, which Catherine Macaulay, have, to say the least, for a short time restored to him that beautiful been more distinguished by zeal than either face over which the grave had closed forever, by candour or by skill. On the other side are led him to musings which, without effort, the most authoritative and the most popular shaped themselves into verse. The unity of historical works in our language, that of Clasentiment and severity of style, which charac- rendon, and that of Hume. The former is not terize these little pieces, remind us of the only ably written and full of valuable informaGreek Anthology; or perhaps still more of the tion, but has also an air of dignity and sinCollects of the English Liturgy-the noble cerity which makes even the prejudices and poem on the Massacres of Piedmont is strictly errors with which it abounds respectable. à collect in verse. Hume, from whose fascinating narrative the great mass of the reading public are still contented to take their opinions, hated religion so much, that he hated liberty for having been allied with religion—and has pleaded the cause of tyranny with the dexterity of an advocate, while affecting the impartiality of a judge.
The public conduct of Milton must be approved or condemned, according as the resistance of the people to Charles I. shall appear to be justifiable or criminal. We shall therefore make no apology for dedicating a few pages to the discussion of that interesting and most important question. We shall not argue it on general grounds, we shall not recur to those primary principles from which the claim of any government to the obedience of its subjects is to be deduced; it is a vantageground to which we are entitled; but we will relinquish it. We are, on this point, so confident of superiority, that we have no objection to imitate the ostentatious generosity of those ancient knights, who vowed to joust without helmet or shield against all enemies, and to give their antagonist the advantage of sun and wind. We will take the naked, constitutional question. We confidently affirm, that every reason, which can be urged in favour of the Revolution of 1688, may be urged with at least equal force in favour of what is called the great rebellion.
In one respect only, we think, can the warmest admirers of Charles venture to say that he was a better sovereign than his son. He was not, in name and profession, a papist; we say in name and profession, because both Charles himself and his miserable creature, Laud, while they abjured the innocent badges of popery, retained all its worst vices, a complete subjection of reason to authority, a weak preference of form to substance, a childish passion for mummeries, an idolatrous veneration for the priestly character, and, above all, a stupid and ferocious intolerance. This, how
The Sonnets are more or less striking, according as the occasions which gave birth to them are more or less interesting. But they are, almost without exception, dignified by a sobriety and greatness of mind to which we know not where to look for a parallel. It would indeed be scarcely safe to draw any decided inferences, as to the character of a writer, from passages directly egotistical. But the qualities which we have ascribed to Milton, though perhaps most strongly marked in those parts of his works which treat of his personal feelings, are distinguishable in every page, and impart to all his writings, prose and poetry, English, Latin, and Italian, a strong family likeness.
His public conduct was such as was to be expected from a man of a spirit so high, and an intellect so powerful. He lived at one of he most memorable eras in the history of manand; at the very crisis of the great conflict etween Oromasdes and Arimanes-liberty ⚫nd despotism, reason and prejudice. That great battle was fought for no single generation, for no single land. The destinies of the human race were staked on the same cast with the freedom of the English people. Then were first proclaimed those mighty principles, which have since worked their way into the depths of the American forests, which have roused Greece from the slavery and degradation of two thousand years, and which, from one end of Europe to the other, have kindled an unquenchable fire in the hearts of the oppressed, and loosed the knees of the oppressors with a strange and unwonted fear!
Of those principles, then struggling for their infant existence, Milton was the most devoted and eloquent literary champion. We need not say how much we admire his public conduct. But we cannot disguise from ourselves, that a large portion of countrymen still think it unjustifiable. The civil war, indeed, has been more discussed, and is less under-ever, we waive. We will concede that Charles stood, than any event in English history. The was a good protestant; but we say that his Roundheads laboured under the disadvantage protestantism does not make the slightest disof which the lion in the fable complained so tinction between his case and that of James. bitterly. Though they were the conquerors, The principles of the Revolution have often their enemies were the painters. As a body, been grossly misrepresented, and never more they had done their utmost to decry and ruin than in the course of the present year. There literature; and literature was even with them, is a certain class of men, who, while they as, in the long run, it always is with its ene- profess to hold in reverence the great names mics. The best book, on their side of the and great actions of former times, never look question, is the charming memoir of Mrs. at them for any other purpose than in order to fluchinson. May's History of the Parliament | find in them some excuse for existing abuse.
in every venerable precedent, & ey pass by catholics from the crown, because they thought what is essential, and take only what is acci- them likely to be tyrants. The ground on dental: they keep out of sight what is benefi- which they, in their famous resolution, de cial, and hold up to public imitation all that is clared the throne vacant, was this, "that defective. If, in any part of any great exam- James had broken the fundamental laws of the ple, there be any thing unsound, these flesh-flies kingdom." Every man, therefore, who apdetect it with an unerring instinct, and dart proves of the Revolution of 1688, must hold upon it with a ravenous delight. They cannot that the breach of fundamental laws on the part of always prevent the advocates of a good mea-the sovereign justifies resistance. The question sure from compassing their end; but they feel, | then is this: Had Charles I. broken the fundawith their prototype, that mental laws of England?
"Their labours must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil."
No person can answer in the negative, unless he refuses credit, not merely to all the accusations brought against Charles by his de-opponents, but to the narratives of the warmest royalists, and to the confessions of the king himself. If there be any historian of any party who has related the events of that reign, the conduct of Charles, from his accession to the meeting of the Long Parliament, had been a continued course of oppression and treachery. Let those who applaud the Revolution and condemn the rebellion, mention one act of James II., to which a parallel is not to be found in the history of his father. Let them lay their fingers on a single article in the Declaration of Right, presented by the two Houses to William and Mary, which Charles is not acknowledged to have violated. He had, according to the testimony of his own friends, usurped the functions of the legislature, raised taxes without the consent of parliament, and quartered troops on the people in the most illegal and vexatious manner. Not a single session of parliament had passed without some unconsti tional attack on the freedom of debate. The right of petition was grossly violated. Arbi trary judgments, exorbitant fines, and unwarranted imprisonments, were grievances of daily and hourly occurrence. If these things do not justify resistance, the Revolution was treason; if they do, the Great Rebellion was laudable.
But, it is said, why not adopt milder mea sures? Why, after the king had consented to so many reforms, and renounced so many op pressive prerogatives, did the parliament continue to rise in their demands, at the risk of provoking a civil war? The ship-money had been given up. The star-chamber had been abolished. Provision had been made for the frequent convocation and secure deliberation of parliaments. Why not pursue an end confessedly good, by peaceable and regular means? We recur again to the analogy of the Revolution. Why was James driven from the throne! Why was he not retained upon conditions He too had offered to call a free parliament, and to submit to its decision all the matters in dispute. Yet we praise our forefathers, who preferred a revolution, a disputed succession, a dynasty of strangers, twenty years of foreign and intestine war, a standing army, and a national debt, to the rule, however restricted, of a tried and proved tyrant. The Long Parlia ment acted on the same principle, and is enti. tled to the same praise. They could not trust the king. He had no doubt passed salutary laws. But what assurance had they that he would not break them? He had renounced oppres sive prerogatives. But where was the security that he would not resume them? They had t
To the blessings which England has rived from the Revolution these people are utterly insensible. The expulsion of a tyrant, the solemn recognition of popular rights, liberty, security, toleration, all go for nothing with them. One sect there was, which, from unfortunate temporary causes, it was thought necessary to keep under close restraint. One part of the empire there was so unhappily circumstanced, that at that time its misery was necessary to our happiness, and its slavery to our freedom! These are the parts of the Revolution which the politicians of whom we speak love to contemplate, and which seem to them, not indeed to vindicate, but in some degree to palliate the good which it has produced. Talk to them of Naples, of Spain, or of South America. They stand forth, zealots for the octrine of Divine Right, which has now come back to us, like a thief from transportation, under the alias of Legitimacy. But mention the miseries of Ireland! Then William is a hero. Then Somers and Shrewsbury are great Then the Revolution is a glorious era! The very same persons, who, in this country, never omit an opportunity of reviving every wretched Jacobite slander respecting the whigs of that period, have no sooner crossed St. George's channel, than they begin to fill their bumpers to the glorious and immortal memory. They may truly boast that they look not at men but measures. So that evil be done, they care not who does it-the arbitrary Charles or the liberal William, Ferdinand the catholic or Frederick the protestant! On such occasions their deadliest opponents may reckon upon their candid construction. The bold assertions of these people have of late impressed a large portion of the public with an opinion that James II. was expelled simply because he was a catholic, and that the Revolution was essentially a protestant revolution.
But this certainly was not the case. Nor can any person, who has acquired more knowledge of the history of those times than is to be found in Goldsmith's Abridgment, believe that, if James had held his own religious opinions without wishing to make proselytes; or if, wishing even to make proselytes, he had contented himself with exerting only his cons... tional influence for that purpose, the Prince of Orange would ever have been invited over. Our ancestors, we suppose, knew their own meaning. And, if we may believe them, their hostility was primarily not to popery, but to tyranny. They did not drive out a tyrant because he was a catholic; but they excluded
deal with a man whom no tie could bind, a man | accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in who made and broke promises with equal faci- the morning! It is to such considerations as lity, a man whose honour had been a hundred these, together with his Vandyke dress, his times pawned-and never redeemed. handsome face, and his peaked beard, that he owes, we verily believe, most of his popularity with the present generation.
Here, indeed, the Long Parliament stands on still stronger ground than the Convention of 1688 No action of James can be compared for wickedness and impudence to the conduct of Charles with respect to the Petition of Right. The lords and commons present him with a bill in which the constitutional limits of his power are marked out. He hesicates; he evades; at last he bargains to give his assent, for five subsidies. The bill receives his solemn assent. The subsidies are voted. But no sooner is the tyrant relieved, than he returns at once to all the arbitrary measures which he had bound himself to abandon, and violates all the clauses of the very act which he had been paid to pass.
For ourselves, we own that we do not understand the common phrase—a good man, but a bad king. We can as easily conceive a good man and an unnatural father, or a good man and a treacherous friend. We cannot, in estimating the character of an individual, leave out of our consideration his conduct in the most important of all human relations. And if in that relation we find him to have been selfish, cruel, and deceitful, we shall take the liberty to call him a bad man, in spite of all his temperance at table, and all his regularity at chapel.
For more than ten years, the people had seen the rights, which were theirs by a double claim, by immemorial inheritance and by recent purchase, infringed by the perfidious king who had recognised them. At length circumstances compelled Charles to summon another parliament; another chance was given them for liberty. Were they to throw it away as they had thrown away the former? Were they again to be cozened by le Roi le veut? Were they again to advance their money on pledges, which had been forfeited over and over again? Were they to lay a second Petition of Right at the foot of the throne, to grant another lavish aid in exchange for another meaning ceremony, and then take their departure, till, after ten years' more of fraud and oppression, their prince should again require a supply, and again repay it with a perjury? They were compelled to choose whether they would trust a tyrant or conquer him. We think that they chose wisely and nobly.
The advocates of Charles, like the advocates of other malefactors against whom overwhelming evidence is produced, generally decline all controversy about the facts, and content themselves with calling testimony to character. He had so many private virtues! And had James II. no private virtues? Was even Oliver Cromwell, his bitterest enemies themselves being judges, destitute of private virtues? And what, after all, are the virtues ascribed to Charles? A religious zeal, not more sincere than that of his son, and fully as weak and narrow-minded, and a few of the ordinary household decencies, which half the tombstones in England claim for those who lie beneath them. A good father! A good husband! --Ample apologies indeed for fifteen years of persecution, tyranny, and falsehood.
We charge him with having broken his ronation oath-and we are told that he kept his marriage-vow! We accuse him of having given up his people to the merciless inflictions of the most hot-headed and hard-hearted of prelates and the defence is, that he took his little son on his knee and kissed him! We censure him for having violated the articles of the Petition of Right, after having, for good and valuate consideration, promised to observe them—and we are informed that he was
We cannot refrain from adding a few words respecting a topic on which the defenders of Charles are fond of dwelling. If, they say, he governed his people ill, he at least governed them after the example of his predecessors. If he violated their privileges, it was because those privileges had not been accurately defined. No act of oppression has ever been imputed to him which has not a parallel in the annals of the Tudors. This point Hume has laboured with an art which is as discreditable in an historical work as it would be admirable in a forensic address. The answer is short, clear, and decisive. Charles had assented to the Petition of Right. He had renounced the opun-pressive powers said to have been exercised by his predecessors, and he had renounced them for money. He was not entitled to set up his antiquated claims against his own recent release.
These arguments are so obvious that it may seem superfluous to dwell upon them. But those who have observed how much the events of that time are misrepresented and misunderstood, will not blame us for stating the case simply. It is a case of which the simplest statement is the strongest.
The enemies of the parliament, indeed, rarely choose to take issue on the great points of the question. They content themselves with exposing some of the crimes and follies of which public commotions necessarily gave birth. They bewail the unmerited fate of Strafford. They execrate the lawless violence of the army. They laugh at the scriptural names of the preachers. Major-generals fleec ing their districts; soldiers revelling on the spoils of a ruined peasantry; upstarts, enrich ed by the public plunder, taking possession of the hospitable firesides and hereditary trees of the old gentry; boys smashing the beautifu co-windows of cathedrals; Quakers riding nakeć through the market-place; Fifth-monarchymen shouting for King Jesus; agitators lecturing from the tops of tubs on the fate of Agag;-all these, they tell us, were the offspring of the Great Rebellion. Be it so.
We are not careful to answer in this matter. These charges, were they infinitely more important, would not alter our opinion of an event, which alone has made us to differ from the slaves who cronch beneath the scep
tres of Brandenburg and Braganza. Many evils, no doubt, were produced by the civil war. They were the price of our liberty. Has the acquisition been worth the sacrifice? It is the nature of the devil of tyranny to tear and rend the body which he leaves. Are the miseries of continued possession less horrible than the struggles of the tremendous exorcism?
form of a foul and poisonous snake. Those who injured her during the period of her disguise, were forever excluded from participation in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterwards revealed herself in the beautiful and celestial form which was natural to her, accompanied their steps, granted all their wishes, filled their houses with wealth, made them happy in love, and victorious in war. Such a spirit is Liberty. At times she takes the form of a hateful reptile. She grovels, she hisses, she stings. But wo to those who in disgust shall venture to crush her! And happy are those who, having dared to receive her in her degraded and frightful shape, shall at length be rewarded by her in the time of her beauty and her glory.
If it were possible that a people, brought up under an intolerant and arbitrary system, could subvert that system without acts of cruelty and folly, half the objections to despotic power would be removed. We should, in that case, be compelled to acknowledge that it at least produces no pernicious effects on the intellectual and moral character of a people. We deplore the outrages which accompany revolutions. But the more violent the outrages, the more assured we feel that a revolution was necessary. The violence of those outrages will There is only one cure for the evils which always be proportioned to the ferocity and ig-newly acquired freedom produces-and that norance of the people: and the ferocity and cure is freedom! When a prisoner leaves his ignorance of the people will be proportioned cell, he cannot bear the light of day; he is to the oppression and degradation under which unable to discriminate colours, or recognise they have been accustomed to live. Thus it faces. But the remedy is not to remand him was in our civil war. The rulers in the church into his dungeon, but to accustom him to the and state reaped only that which they had rays of the sun. The blaze of truth and liberty sown. They had prohibited free discussion- may 2: first dazzle and bewilder nations which they had done their best to keep the people un-have become half blind in the house of bondage acquainted with their duties and their rights. But let them gaze on, and they will soon be able The retribution was just and natural. If they to bear it. In a few years men learn to reason. suffered from popular ignorance, it was be- The extreme violence of opinion subsides. cause they had themselves taken away the key Hostile theories correct each other. The scatof knowledge. If they were assailed with blind tered elements of truth cease to conflict, and fury, it was because they had exacted an begin to coalesce. And at length a system of equally blind submission. justice and order is educed out of the chaos.
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free till they are fi. to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not tc go into the water till he had learnt to swim! If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
It is the character of such revolutions that we always see the worst of them at first. Till men have been for some time free, they know not how to use their freedom. The natives of wine countries are always sober. In climates 'where wine is a rarity, intemperance abounds. A newly liberated people may be compared to a northern army encamped on the Rhine or the Xeres. It is said that, when soldiers in such a situation first find themselves able to Therefore it is that we decidedly approve indulge without restraint in such a rare and of the conduct of Milton and the other wise expensive luxury, nothing is to be seen but in- and good men who, in spite of much that was toxication. Soon, however, plenty teaches dis- ridiculous and hateful in the conduct of their cretion; and after wine has been for a few associates, stood firmly by the cause of public months their daily fare, they become more liberty. We are not aware that the poet has temperate than they had ever been in their been charged with personal participation in own country. In the same manner the final any of the blamable excesses of that time. and permanent fruits of liberty are wisdom, The favourite topic of his enemies is the line moderation, and mercy. Its immediate effects of conduct which he pursued with regard to are often atrocious crimes, conflicting errors, the execution of the king. Of that celebrated scepticism on points the most clear, dogma-proceeding we by no means approve. Still tism on points the most mysterious. It is just we must say, in justice to the many eminent at this crisis that its enemies love to exhibit persons who concurred in it, and in justice it. They pull down the scaffolding from the more particularly to the eminent person who half-finished edifice; they point to the flying defended it, that nothing can be more absurd dust, the falling bricks, the comfortless rooms, than the imputations which, for the last hun the frightful irregularity of the whole appear- dred and sixty years, it has been the fashion to ance; and then ask in scorn where the pro- cast upon the regicides. We have throughout mised splendour and comfort are to be found? abstained from appealing to first principlesIf such miserable sophisms were to prevail, we will not appeal to them now. We recur there would never be a good house or a good again to the parallel case of the Revolution. government in the world. What essential distinction can be drawn be tween the execution of the father and the
Ariosto tells a pretty story of a fairy, who, by some mysterious law of her nature, was condemned to appear at certain seasons in the
* Orlando Furioso, Canto 43