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mcmorials of his friendship or his vengeance? The gold of Spain, the steel of Sweden, the ten thousand sails of Holland, availed nothing against him. While every foreign state trembled at our arms, we sat secure from all assault. War, which often so strangely troubles both husbandry and commerce, never silenced the song of our reapers, or the sound of our looms. Justice was equally administered; God was freely worshipped.
"Now look at that which we have taken in exchange. With the restored king have come over to us vices of every sort, and most the basest and most shameful-lust, without love -servitude, without loyalty,-foulness of speech-dishonesty of dealing-grinning contempt of all things good and generous. The throne is surrounded by men whom the former Charles would have spurned from his footstool. The altar is served by slaves whose knees are supple to every being but God. Rhymers, whose books the hangman should burn, panders, actors, and buffoons, these drink a health and throw a main with the king; these have stars on their breasts and gold sticks in their hands; these shut out from his presence the best and bravest of those who bled for his house. Even so doth God visit those who know not how to value freedom. He gives them over to the tyranny which they have desired, "Iya παντες επαύρωνται βασιληος.”
Mr. Cowley seemed to me not to take much amiss what Mr. Milton had said touching that thankless court, which had indeed but poorly requited his own good service. He only said, therefore, "Another rebellion! Alas! alas! Mr. Milton. If there be no choice but between despotism and anarchy, I prefer despotism."
'Many men,” said Mr. Milton, “have floridly and ingeniously compared anarchy and despotism; but they who so amuse themselves do but look at separate parts of that which is truly one great whole. Each is the cause and the effect of the other;-the evils of either are the evils of both. Thus do states move on in the same eternal cycle, which, from the remotest point, brings them back again to the same sad starting-post: and till both those who govern and those who obey shall learn and mark this great truth, men can expect little through the future, as they have known little through the past, save vicissitude of extreme evils, alternately producing and produced.
"When will rulers learn, that where liberty is not, security and order can never be! We talk of absolute power, but all power hath limits, which, if not fixed by the moderation of the governors, will be fixed by the force of the governed. Sovereigns may send their opposers to dungeons; they may clear out a senatehouse with soldiers; they may enlist armies of spies; they may hang scores of the disaf "I will not," said Mr. Cowley, "dispute with fected in chains at every cross-road; but what you on this argument. But if it be as you say, power shall stand in that frightful time when how can you maintain that England hath been rebellion hath become a less evil than endurso greatly advantaged by the rebellion ?" ance? Who shall dissolve that terrible tribu"Understand me rightly, sir," said Mr. Mil-nal, which, in the hearts of the oppressed, "This nation is not given over to slavery denounces against the oppressor the doom of and vice. We tasted, indeed, the fruits of its wild justice? Who shall repeal the law of liberty before they had well ripened. Their flavour was harsh and bitter, and we turned from them with loathing to the sweeter poisons of servitude. This is but for a time. England is sleeping on the lap of Dalilah, traitorously chained, but not yet shorn of strength. Let the cry be once heard-the Philistines be upon thee; and at once that sleep will be broken, and those chains will be as flax in the fire. The great Parliament hath left behind it in our hearts and minds a hatred of tyrants, a just knowledge of our rights, a scorn of vain and deluding names; and that the revellers of Whitehall shall surely find. The sun is darkened, but it is only for a moment: it is but an eclipse; though ati birds of evil omen have begun to scream, and all ravenous beasts have gone forth to prey, thinking it to be midnight. Wo to them if they be abroad when the rays again shine forth.
"The king hath judged ill. Had he been wise he would have remembered that he owed his restoration only to confusions which had wearied us out, and made us eager for repose. He would have known that the folly and perfidy of a prince would restore to the good old cause many hearts which had been alienated thence by the turbulence of factions; for, if I know aught of history, or of the heart of man, he will soon learn that the last champion of the people was not destroyed when he murdered Vane, nor seduced when he beguiled Fairfax."
self-defence? What arms or discipline shall resist the strength of famine and despair? How often were the ancient Cæsars dragged from their golden palaces, stripped of their purple robes, mangled, stoned, defiled with filth, pierced with hooks, hurled into the Tiber! How often have the Eastern Sultans perished by the sabres of their own Janissaries, or the bow-strings of their own mutes! For no power which is not limited by laws can ever be protected by them. Small, therefore, is the wisdom of those who would fly to servitude as if it were a refuge from commotion; for anarchy is the sure consequence of tyranny. That governments may be safe, nations must be free. Their passions must have an outlet provided, lest they make one.
When I was at Naples, I went with Signor Manso, a gentleman of excellent parts and breeding, who had been the intimate friend of that famous poet Torquato Tasso, to see the burning mountain Vesuvius. I wondered how the peasants could venture to dwell so fearlessly and cheerfully on its sides, when the lava was flowing from its summit, but Manso smiled, and told me that when the fire descends freely they retreat before it without haste or fear. They can tell how fast it will move, and how far; and they know, moreover, that though it may work some little damage, it will soon cover the fields over which it hath passed with rich vineyards and sweet flowers. But when flames are pent up in the mountain, then it is
that they have reason to fear; then it is that the earth sinks and the sea swells; then cities are swallowed up, and their place knoweth them no more. So it is in politics: where the people are most closely restrained, there it gives the greatest shocks to peace and order; therefore would I say to all kings, let your demagogues lead crowds, lest they lead armies; let them bluster, lest they massacre; a little turbulence is, as it were, the rainbow of the state; it shows indeed that there is a passing shower, but it is a pledge that there shall be no deluge."
"This is true," said Mr. Cowley: "yet these admonitions are not less needful to subjects than to sovereigns."
'Surely," said Mr. Milton, "and, that I may end this long debate with a few words in which we shall both agree, I hold that as freedom is the only safeguard of governments, so are order and moderation generally necessary to preserve freedom. Even the vainest opinions of men are not to be outraged by those who propose to themselves the nappiness of men for their end, and who must work with the passions of men for their means. The blind reverence for things ancient is indeed so foolish that it might make a wise man laugh, if it were not also sometimes so mischievous that it would rather make a good man weep. Yet, since it may not be wholly cured, it must be discreetly indulged, and therefore those who would amend evil laws should consider rather how much it
may be safe to spare, than how much it may be possible to change. Have you not heard that men who have been shut up for many years in dungeons shrink if they see the light, and fall down if their irons be struck off. And, so, when nations have long been in the house of bondage, the chains which have crippled them are necessary to support them, the darkness which hath weakened their sight is necessary to preserve it. Therefore release them not too rashly, lest they curse their freedom and pine for their prison.
"I think, indeed, that the renowned Parliament of which we have talked so much did show, until it became subject to the soldiers, a singular and admirable moderation, in such times scarcely to be hoped, and most worthy to be an example to all that shall come after. But on this argument I have said enough; and I will therefore only pray to Almighty God that those who shall, in future times, stand forth in defence of our liberties, as well civil as religious, may adorn the good cause by mercy, prudence, and soberness, to the glory of his name and the happiness and honour of the English people."
And so ended that discourse; and not long after we were set on shore again at the Temple Gardens, and there parted company: and the same evening I took notes of what had been said, which I have here more fully set down, from regard both to the fame of the men, and the importance of the subject-matter.
ON MITFORD'S HISTORY OF GREECE.
THIS is a book which enjoys a great and increasing popularity; but, while it has attracted a considerable share of the public attention, it has been little noticed by the critics. Mr. Mitford has almost succeeded in mounting, unperceived by those whose office it is to watch such aspirants, to a high place among historians. He has taken a seat on the dais without being challenged by a single seneschal. To oppose the progress of his fame is now almost a hopeless enterprise. Had he been reviewed with candid severity, when he had published only his first volume, his work would either have deserved its reputation, or would never have obtained it. "Then," as Indra says of Kehama, "then was the time to strike." The time was neglected; and the consequence is, that Mr. Mitford, like Kehama, has laid his victorious hand on the literary Amreeta, and seems about to taste the precious elixir of immortality. I shall venture to emulate the courage of the honest Glendoveer
He saw the Amreeta in Kehama's hand,
Stung him, and he resolved to seize the cup
being unlike the rest of the world. Every child has heard of Linnæus, therefore Mr. Mitford calls him Linné; Rousseau is known all over Europe as Jean Jacques, therefore Mr. Mitford bestows on him the strange appellation of John James.
Had Mr. Mitford undertaken a history of any other country than Greece, this propensity would have rendered his work useless and absurd. His occasional remarks on the affairs of ancient Rome and modern Europe are full of errors; but he writes of times, with respect to which almost every other writer has been in the wrong, and, therefore, by resolutely deviating from his predecessors, he is often in the right.
Almost all the modern historians of Greece have shown the grossest ignorance of the most obvious phenomena of human nature. In their representations the generals and statesmen of antiquity are absolutely divested of all individuality. They are personifications; they are passions, talents, opinions, virtues, vices, but not men. Inconsistency is a thing of which these writers have no notion. That a man may have been liberal in his youth and avaricious in his age, cruel to one enemy and merciful to another, is to them utterly incon
In plain words, I shall offer a few considera-ceivable. If the facts be undeniable, they suptions, which may tend to reduce an overpraised writer to his proper level.
The principal characteristic of this historian, the origin of his excellencies and his defects, is a love of singularity. He has no notion of going with a multitude to do either good or evil. An exploded opinion, or an unpopular person, has an irresistible charm for him. The same perverseness may be traced in his diction. His style would never have been elegant, but it might at least have been manly and perspicuous; and nothing but the most elaborate care could possibly have made it so bad as it is. It is distinguished by harsh phrases, strange collocations, occasional solecisms, frequent obscurity, and, above all, by a peculiar oddity, which can no more be described than it can be overlooked. Nor is this all. Mr. Mitford piques himself on spelling better than any of his neighbours; and this not only in ancient names, which he mangles in defiance both of custom and of reason, but in the most ordinary words of the English language. It is, in itself, a matter perfectly indifferent whether we call a foreigner by the name which he bears in his own language, or by that which corresponds to it in ours; whether we say Lorenzo de Medici, or Lawrence de Medici, Jean Chauvin, or John Calvin. In such cases, established usage is considered as law by all writers except Mr. Mitford. If he were always consistent with himself, he might be excused for sometimes disagreeing with his neighbours; but he proceeds on no principle but that of
pose some strange and deep design, in order to explain what, as every one who has observed his own mind knows, needs no explanation at all. This is a mode of writing very acceptable to the multitude, who have always been accustomed to make gods and demons out of men very little better or worse than themselves; but it appears contemptible to all who have watched the changes of human character-to all who have observed the influence of time, of circumstances, and of associates, on mankind—to all who have seen a hero in the gout, a democrat in the church, a pedant in love, or a philosopher in liquor. This practice of painting in nothing but black and white is unpardonable even in the drama. It is the great fault of Alfieri; and how much it injures the effect of his compositions will be obvious to every one who will compare his Rosmunda with the Lady Macbeth of Shakspeare. The one is a wicked woman; the other is a fiend. Her only feeling is hatred; all her words are curses. We are at once shocked and fatigued by the spectacle of such raving cruelty, excited by no provocation, repeatedly changing its object, and constant in nothing but in its inextinguishable thirst for blood.
In history this error is far more disgraceful Indeed, there is no fault which so completely ruins a narrative in the opinion of a judicious reader. We know that the line of demarcation between good and bad men is so faintly marked as often to elude the most careful investigation of those who have the best opportunities for
judging. Public men, above all, are surrounded with so many temptations and difficulties, that some doubt must almost always hang over their real dispositions and intentions. The lives of Pym, Cromwell, Monk, Clarendon, Marlborough, Burnet, Walpole, are well known to us. We are acquainted with their actions, their speeches, their writings; we have abundance of letters and well-authenticated anecdotes relating to them: yet what candid man will venture very positively to say which of them were honest and which of them were dishonest men. It appears easier to pronounce decidedly upon the great characters of antiquity, not because we have greater means of discovering truth, but simply because we have less means of detecting error. The modern historians of Greece have forgotten this. Their heroes and villains are as consistent in all their sayings and doings as the cardinal virtues and the deadly sins in an allegory. We should as soon expect a good action from Giant Slay-good in Bunyan as from Dionysius; and a crime of Epaminondas would seem as incongruous as a faux-pas of the grave and comely damsel, called Discretion, who answered the bell at the door of the house Beautiful.
This error was partly the cause and partly the effect of the high estimation in which the later ancient writers have been held by modern scholars. Those French and English authors who have treated of the affairs of Greece have generally turned with contempt from the simple and natural narrations of Thucydides and Xenophon to the extravagant representations of Plutarch, Diodorus, Curtius, and other romancers of the same class,-men who described military operations without ever having handled a sword, and applied to the seditions of little republics speculations formed by observation on an empire which covered half the known world. Of liberty they knew nothing. It was to them a great mystery,-a superhuman enjoyment. They ranted about liberty and patriotism, from the same cause which leads monks to talk more ardently than other men about love and women. A wise man values political liberty, because it secures the persons and the possessions of citizens; because it tends to prevent the extravagance of rulers and the corruption of judges; because it gives birth to useful sciences and elegant arts; because it excites the industry and increases the comforts of all classes of society. These theorists imagined that it possessed something eternally and intrinsically good, distinct from the blessings which it generally produced. They considered it, not as a means, but as an end; an end to be attained at any cost. Their favourite heroes are those who have sacrificed, for the mere name of freedom, the prosperity-the security -the justice-from which freedom derives its value.
There is another remarkable characteristic these writers, in which their modern worshippers have carefully imitated them,-a great fondness for good stories. The most established facts, dates, and characters are never suffered to come into competition with a splendid saying or a romantic exploit. The early historians have left us natural and simple deVOL. III.--54
scriptions of the great events which they wit nessed, and the great men with whom they associated. When we read the account which Plutarch and Rollin have given of the same period, we scarcely know our old acquaintance again; we are utterly confounded by the melodramatic effect of the narration and the sublime coxcombry of the characters.
These are the principal errors into which the predecessors of Mr. Mitford have fallen; and from most of these he is free. His faults are of a completely different description. It is to be hoped that the students of history may now be saved, like Dorax in Dryden's play, by swallowing two conflicting poisons, each of which may serve as an antidote to the other.
The first and most important difference between Mr. Mitford and those who have preceded him, is in his narration. Here the advantage lies, for the most part, on his side. His principle is to follow the contemporary historians, to look with doubt on all statements which are not in some degree confirmed by them, and absolutely to reject all which are contradicted by them. While he retains the guidance of some writer in whom he can place confidence, he goes on excellently. When he loses it, he falls to the level, or perhaps below the level of the writers whom he so much despises: he is as absurd as they, and very much duller. It is really amusing to observe how he proceeds with his narration, when he has no better authority than poor Diodorus. He is compelled to relate something; yet he believes nothing. He accompanies every fact with a long statement of objections. His account of the administration of Dionysius is in no sense a history. It ought to be entitled"Historic doubts as to certain events alleged to have taken place in Sicily."
This skepticism, however, like that of some great legal characters almost as skeptical as himself, vanishes whenever his political par tialities interfere. He is a vehement admirer of tyranny and oligarchy, and considers no evidence as feeble which can be brought for. ward in favour of those forms of government. Democracy he hates with a perfect hatred, a hatred which, in the first volume of his history, appears only in his epistles and reflections, but which, in those parts where he has less reverence for his guides, and can venture to take his own way, completely distorts even his narration.
In taking up these opinions, I have no doubt that Mr. Mitford was influenced by the same love of singularity which led him to spell island without an s, and to place two dots over the last letter of idea. In truth, preceding historians have erred so monstrously on the other side, that even the worst parts of Mr. Mitford's book may be useful as a corrective. For a young gentleman who talks much about his country, tyrannicide, and Epaminondas, this work, diluted in a sufficient quantity of Rollin and Barthelemi, may be a very useful remedy.
The errors of both parties arise from an ignorance or a neglect of the fundamental principles of political science. The writers on one side imagine popular government to b
always a blessing; Mr. Mitford omits no opportunity of assuring us that it is always a curse. The fact is, that a good government, like a good coat, is that which fits the body for which it is designed. A man who, upon abstract principles, pronounces a constitution to be good, without an exact knowledge of the people who are to be governed by it, judges as absurdly as a tailor who should measure the Belvidere Apollo for the clothes of all his cusJomers. The demagogues who wished to see Portugal a republic, and the wise critics who revile the Virginians for not having instituted a peerage, appear equally ridiculous to all men of sense and candour.
That is the best government which desires to make the people happy, and knows how to make them happy. Neither the inclination nor the knowledge will suffice alone, and it is difficult to find them together.
Pure democracy, and pure democracy alone, satisfies the former condition of this great problem. That the governors may be solicitous only for the interests of the governed, it is necessary that the interests of the governors and the governed should be the same. This cannot be often the case where power is intrusted to one or to a few. The privileged part of the community will doubtless derive a certain degree of advantage from the general prosperity of the state; but they will derive a greater from oppression and exaction. The king will desire a useless war for his glory, or a parc-aux-cerfs for his pleasure. The nobles will demand monopolies and lettres-de-câchet. In proportion as the number of governors is increased the evil is diminished. There are fewer to contribute, and more to receive. The dividend which each can obtain of the public plunder becomes less and less tempting. But the interests of the subjects and the rulers never absolutely coincide till the subjects themselves become the rulers; that is, till the government be either immediately or mediately democratical.
But this is not enough. "Will without power," said the sagacious Casimir to Milor Beefington, "is like children playing at soldiers." The people will always be desirous to promote their own interests; but it may be doubted, whether, in any community, they were ever sufficiently educated to understand them. Even in this island, where the multitude have long been better informed than in any other part of Europe, the rights of the many have generally been asserted against themselves by the patriotism of the few. Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular. It may be well doubted, whether a liberal policy with regard to our commercial relations, would find any support from a Parliament elected by universal suffrage. The republicans on the other side of the Atlantic have recently adopted regulations, of which the consequences will, before long, show us,
"How nations sink, by darling schemes oppressed, When vengeance listens to the fool's request." The people are to be governed for their own good; and, that they may be governed for their own good, they must not be governed by their own ignorance. There are countries in which
it would be as absurd to establish popular governments, as to abolish all restraints in a school, or to untie all the strait-waistcoats in a mad-house.
Hence it may be concluded, that the happiest state of society is that in which supreme power resides in the whole body of a well-informed people. This is an imaginary, perhaps an unattainable state of things. Yet, in some measure, we may approximate to it; and he alone deserves the name of a great statesman, whose principle it is to extend the power of the people in proportion to the extent of their knowledge, and to give them every facility for obtaining such a degree of knowledge as may render it safe to trust them with absolute power. In the mean time, it is dangerous to praise or condemn constitutions in the abstract; since, from the despotism of St. Petersburgh to the democracy of Washington, there is scarcely a form of government which might not, at least in some hypothetical case, be the best possible.
If, however, there be any form of government which in all ages and nations has always been, and must always be pernicious, it is certainly that which Mr. Mitford, on his usual principle of being wiser than all the rest of the world, has taken under his especial patronage-pure oligarchy. This is closely and indeed inseparably connected with another of his eccentric tastes, a marked partiality for Lacedemon, and a dislike of Athens. Mr. Mitford's book has, I suspect, rendered these sentiment. in some degree popular; and I shall, therefore, examine them at some length.
The shades in the Athenian character strike the eye more rapidly than those in the Lacedæmonian; not because they are darker, but because they are on a brighter ground. The law of ostracism is an instance of this. Nothing can be conceived more odious than the practice of punishing a citizen, simply and professedly, for his eminence;-and nothing in the institutions of Athens is more frequently or more justly censured. Lacedæmon was free from this. And why? Lacedæmon did not need it. Oligarchy is an ostracism of itself,—an ostracism not occasional, but permanent,—not dubious, but certain. Her laws prevented the development of merit, instead of attacking its maturity. They did not cut down the plant in its high and palmy state, but cursed the soil with eternal sterility. In spite of the law of ostracism, Athens produced, within a hundred and fifty years, the greatest public men that ever existed. Whom had Sparta to ostracize! She produced, at most, four eminent men, Brasidas, Gylippus, Lysander, and Agesilaus. Of these, not one rose to distinction within her jurisdiction. It was only when they escaped from the region within which the influence of aristocracy withered every thing good and noble; it was only when they ceased to be Lacedæmonians that they became great men. Brasidas, among the cities of Thrace, was strictly a democratical leader, the favourite minister and general of the people. The same may be said of Gylippus, at Syracuse. Lysan der, in the Hellespont, and Agesilaus, in Asia, were liberated for a time from the hateful re straints imposed by the constitution of Lycur