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'deal with a man whom no tie could bind, a man who made and broke promises with equal facility, a man whose honour had been a hundred times pawned-and never redeemed.
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 hesitates; he evades; at last he bargains to give his assent, for five subsidies. The bill receives his solemn assent. The subsidies are voted. Put 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.
accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in the morning! It is to such considerations as these, together with his Vandyke dress, his handsome face, and his peaked beard, that he owes, we verily believe, most of his popularity with the present generation.
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.
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 op
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 un-pressive powers said to have been exercised 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.
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.
The enemies of the parliament, indeed, rare
These arguments are so obvious that it may seem superfluous to dwell upon them. But those who have observed how much the events The advocates of Charles, like the advocates of that time are misrepresented and misunderof other malefactors against whom overwhelm- stood, will not blame us for stating the case ing evidence is produced, generally decline all simply. It is a case of which the simplest controversy about the facts, and content them-statement is the strongest. selves with calling testimony to character. He had so many private virtues! And had James ly choose to take issue on the great points of 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 coronation 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 valuable consideration, promised to obBere them-and we are informed that he was
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, enriched by the public plunder, taking possession of the hospitable firesides and hereditary trees of the old gentry; boys smashing the beautifu windows of cathedrals; Quakers riding nakeċ 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 crouch 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 participa tion in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterwards re vealed 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 always be proportioned to the ferocity and ignorance of the people: and the ferocity and ignorance of the people will be proportioned to the oppression and degradation under which they have been accustomed to live. Thus it was in our civil war. The rulers in the church and state reaped only that which they had sown. They had prohibited free discussionthey 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. The retribution was just and natural. If they suffered from popular ignorance, it was because they had themselves taken away the key of knowledge. If they were assailed with blind fury, it was because they had exacted an equally blind submission.
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 indulge without restraint in such a rare and expensive luxury, nothing is to be seen but intoxication. Soon, however, plenty teaches discretion; and after wine has been for a few months their daily fare, they become more temperate than they had ever been in their own country. In the same manner the final and permanent fruits of liberty are wisdom, moderation, and mercy. Its immediate effects are often atrocious crimes, conflicting errors, scepticism on points the most clear, dogmatism on points the most mysterious. It is just at this crisis that its enemies love to exhibit it. They pull down the scaffolding from the half-finished edifice; they point to the flying dust, the falling bricks, the comfortless rooms, the frightful irregularity of the whole appearance; and then ask in scorn where the promised splendour and comfort are to be found? If such miserable sophisms were to prevail, there would never be a good house or a good government in the world.
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
There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces-and that cure is freedom! When a prisoner leaves his cell, he cannot bear the light of day; he is unable to discriminate colours, or recognise faces. But the remedy is not to remand him into his dungeon, but to accustom him to the rays of the sun. The blaze of truth and liberty may 2: first dazzle and bewilder nations which
But let them gaze on, and they will soon be able to bear it. In a few years men learn to reason. The extreme violence of opinion subsides. Hostile theorics correct each other. The scattered elements of truth cease to conflict, and begin to coalesce. And at length a system of 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 to 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.
Therefore it is that we decidedly approve of the conduct of Milton and the other wise and good men who, in spite of much that was ridiculous and hateful in the conduct of their associates, stood firmly by the cause of public liberty. We are not aware that the poet has been charged with personal participation in any of the blamable excesses of that time. The favourite topic of his enemies is the line of conduct which he pursued with regard to the execution of the king. Of that celebrated proceeding we by no means approve. Still we must say, in justice to the many eminent persons who concurred in it, and in justice more particularly to the eminent person who defended it, that nothing can be more absurd than the imputations which, for the last hun dred and sixty years, it has been the fashion to cast upon the regicides. We have throughout abstained from appealing to first principleswe will not appeal to them now. We recur again to the parallel case of the Revolution. What essential distinction can be drawn botween the execution of the father and the
* Orlando Furioso, Canto 43
deposition of the son? What constitutional had not been done, while the people dis maxim is there, which applies to the former approved of it. But, for the sake of public and not to the latter? The king can do no liberty, we should also have wished the people wrong. If so, James was as innocent as to approve of it when it was done. If any Charles could have been. The minister only thing more were wanting to the justification ought to be responsible for the acts of the of Milton, the book of Salmasius would furnish sovereign. If so, why not impeach Jeffries it. That miserable performance is now with and retain James? The person of a king is justice considered only as a beacon to wordsacred. Was the person of James considered catchers who wish to become statesmen. The sacred at the Boyne? To discharge cannon celebrity of the man who refuted it, the "Æneæ against an army in which a king is known to magni dextra," gives it all its fame with the be posted, is to approach pretty near to regi- present generation. In that age the state of cide. Charles too, it should always be re- things was different. It was not then fully membered, was put to death by men who had understood how vast an interval separates the been exasperated by the hostilities of several mere classical scholar from the political philoyears, and who had never been bound to him sopher. Nor can it be doubted, that a treatise by any other tie than that which was common which, bearing the name of so eminent a to them with all their fellow-citizens. Those critic, attacked the fundamental principles of who drove James from his throne, who seduced all free governments, must, if suffered to rehis army, who alienated his friends, who first main unanswered, have produced a most perimprisoned him in his palace, and then turned nicious effect on the public mind. him out of it, who broke in upon his very slumbers by imperious messages, who pursued him with fire and sword from one part of the empire to another, who hanged, drew, and quartered his adherents, and attainted his innocent heir, were his nephew and his two daughters! When we reflect on all these things, we are at a loss to conceive how the same persons who, on the fifth of November, thank God for wonderfully conducting his servant King William, and for making all opposition fall before him until he became our King and Governor, can, on the thirtieth of January, contrive to be afraid that the blood of the Royal Martyr may be visited on themselves and their shildren.
We wish to add a few words relative to another subject on which the enemies of Milton delight to dwell-his conduct during the administration of the Protector. That an enthusiastic votary of liberty should accept office under a military usurper, seems, no doubt, at first sight, extraordinary. But all the circumstances in which the country was then placed were extraordinary. The ambition of Oliver was of no vulgar kind. He never seems to have coveted despotic power. He at first fought sincerely and manfully for the parlia ment, and never deserted it, till it had deserted its duty. If he dissolved it by force, it was not till he found that the few members, who remained after so many deaths, secessions, and expulsions, were desirous to appropriate to themselves a power which they held only in trust, and to inflict upon England the curse of a Venetian oligarchy. But even when thus placed by violence at the head of affairs, he did not assume unlimited power. He gave the country a constitution far more
We do not, we repeat, approve of the execution of Charles; not because the constitution exempts the king from responsibility, for we know that all such maxims, however excellent, have their exceptions; nor because we feel any peculiar interest in his character, for we think that his sentence describes him with perfect justice as a "tyrant, a traitor, a mur-perfect than any which had at that time been derer, and a public enemy;" but because we are convinced that the measure was most injurious to the cause of freedom. He whom it removed was a captive and a hostage. His heir, to whom the allegiance of every royalist was instantly transferred, was at large. The Presbyterians could never have been perfectly reconciled to the father. They had no such rooted enmity to the son. The great body of the people, also, contemplated that proceeding with feelings which, however unreasonable, no government could safely venture to outrage.
But, though we think the conduct of the regicides blamable, that of Milton appears to us in a very different light. The deed was done. It could not be undone. The evil was incurred; and the object was to render it as small as possible. We censure the chiefs of the army for not yielding to the popular opinion but we cannot censure Milton for wishing to change that opinion. The very feeling, which would have restrained us from committing the act, would have led us, after it had been committed, to defend it against the ravings of servility and superstition. For the Jake of public liberty, we wish that the thing
known in the world. He reformed the representative system in a manner which has extorted praise even from Lord Clarendon. For himself, he demanded indeed the first place in the commonwealth; but with powers scarcely so great as those of a Dutch stadtholder, or an American president. He gave the parliament a voice in the appointment of ministers, and left to it the whole legislative authority-not even reserving to himself a veto on its enactments. And he did not require that the chief magistracy should be hereditary in his family. Thus far, we think, if the circumstances of the time, and the opportunities which he had of aggrandizing himself, be fairly considered, he will not lose by comparison with Washington or Bolivar. Had his moderation been met by corresponding moderation, there is no reason to think that he would have overstepped the line which he had traced for himself. But when he found that his parliaments questioned the authority under which they met, and that he was in danger of being deprived of the restrict ed power which was absolutely necessary to his personal safety, then, it must be acknowledged. he adopted a more arbitrary policy.
those obscene and cruel idols with the blood of her best and bravest children. Crime succeeded to crime, and disgrace to disgrace, till the race, accursed of God and man, was a second time driven forth, to wander on the face of the earth, and to be a by-word and a shaking of the head to the nations.
Yet, though we believe that the intentions | vernment, which had just ability enough to of Cromwell were at first honest, though we deceive, and just religion enough to persecute. believe that he was driven from the noble The principles of liberty were the scoff of every course which he had marked out for himself grinning courtier, and the Anathema Maranaby the almost irresistible force of circum- tha of every fawning dean. In every high stances, though we admire, in common with place, worship was paid to Charles and James all men of all parties, the ability and energy-Belial and Moloch; and England propitiated of his splendid administration, we are not pleading for arbitrary and lawless power, even in his hands. We know that a good constitution is infinitely better than the best despot. But we suspect, that, at the time of which we speak, the violence of religious and political enmities rendered a stable and happy settlement next to impossible. The choice lay, not between Cromwell and liberty, but between Cromwell and the Stuarts. That Milton chose well, no man can doubt, who fairly compares the events of the protectorate with those of the thirty years which succeeded it-the darkest and most disgraceful in the English annals. Cromwell was evidently laying, though in an irregular manner, the foundations of an admirable system. Never before had religious liberty and the freedom of discussion been enjoyed in a greater degree. Never had the national honour been better upheld abroad, or the seat of justice better filled at home. And it was rarely that any opposition, which stopped short of open rebellion, provoked the resentment of the liberal and magnanimous usurper. The institutions which he had established, as set down in the Instrument of Government, and the Humble Petition and Advice, were excellent. His practice, it is true, too often departed from the theory of these institutions. But, had he lived a few years longer, it is probable that his institutions would have survived him, and that his arbitrary practice would have died with him. His power had not been consecrated by any ancient prejudices. It was upheld only by his great personal qualities. Little, therefore, was to be dreaded from a second Protector, unless he were also a second Oliver Cromwell. The events which followed his decease are the most complete vindication of those who exerted themselves to uphold his authority. For his death dissolved the whole frame of society. The army rose against the Parliament, the different corps of the army against each other. Sect raved against sect. Party plotted against party. The Presbyterians, in their eagerness to be revenged on the Independents, sacrificed their own liberty, and deserted all their old principles. Without casting one glance on the past, or requiring one stipulation for the future, they threw down their freedom at the feet of the most frivolous and heartless of tyrants.
Most of the remarks which we have hitherto made on the public character of Milton, apply to him only as one of a large body. We shall proceed to notice some of the peculiarities which distinguished him from his contemporaries. And, for that purpose, it is necessary to take a short survey of the parties into which the political world was at that time divided. We must premise, that our observations are intended to apply only to those who adhered, from a sincere preference, to one or to the other side. At a period of public commotion, every faction, like an Oriental army, is attended by a crowd of camp followers, a useless and heartless rabble, who prowl round its line of march in the hope of picking up something under its protection, but desert it in the day of battle, and often join to exterminate it after a defeat. England, at the time of which we are treating, abounded with such fickle and selfish politicians, who transferred their support to every government as it rose,-who kissed the hand of the king in 1640, and spit in his face in 1649,-who shouted with equal glee when Cromwell was inaugurated in Westminster Hall, and when he was dug up to be hanged at Tyburn-who dined on calves' heads or on broiled rumps, and cut down oak branches or stuck them up as circumstances altered, without the slightest shame or repugnance. These we leave out of the account. We take our estimate of parties from those who really deserved to be called partisans.
We would speak first of the Puritans, the most remarkable body of men, perhaps, which the world has ever produced. The odious and ridiculous parts of their character lie on the surface. He that runs may read them; nor have there been wanting attentive and malicious observers to point them out. For many years after the Restoration, they were the theme of unmeasured invective and derision. They were exposed to the utmost licentiousness of the press and of the stage, at the time when the press and the stage were most licentious. Then came those days, never to be recalled They were not men of letters; they were, as a without a blush-the days of servitude without body, unpopular; they could not defend themloyalty, and sensuality without love, of dwarf- selves; and the public would not take them ish talents and gigantic vices, the paradise of under its protection. They were therefore cold hearts and narrow minds, the golden age abandoned, without reserve, to the tender merof the coward, the bigot, and the slave. The cies of the satirists and dramatists. The king cringed to his rival that he might trample ostentatious simplicity of their dress, their on his people, sunk into a viceroy of France, sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff pos and pocketed, with complacent infamy, her ture, their long graces, their Hebrew names degrading insults and her more degrading the Scriptural phrases which they introduced gold. The caresses of harlots and the jests on every occasion, their contempt of human of buffoons regulated the measures of a go-learning, their detestation of polite amuse
ments, were indeed fair game for the laughers. | with hands: their diadems crowns of glory But it is not from the laughers alone that the philosophy of history is to be learnt. And he who approaches this subject should carefully guard against the influence of that potent ridicule, which has already misled so many excellent writers.
"Ecco il fonte del riso, ed ecco il rio
which should never fade away! On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles and priests, they looked down with contempt: for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure, and eloquent in a more sublime language, nobles by the right of an earlier creation, and priests by the imposition of a mightier hand. The very meanest of them was a being to whose fate a mysterious and terrible import.
spirits of light and darkness locked with anxious interest-who had been destined, before heaven and earth were created, to enjoy and earth should have passed away. Events a felicity which should continue when heaven which short-sighted politicians ascribed to earthly causes had been ordained on his acflourished, and decayed. For his sake the For his sake empires had risen, and Almighty had proclaimed his will by the pen of the evangelist and the harp of the prophet. from the grasp of no common foe. He had He had been rescued by no common deliverer been ransomed by the sweat of no vulgar It was for him that the sun had been darkened, agony, by the blood of no earthly sacritice. that the rocks had been rent, that the dead had arisen, that all nature had shuddered at the sufferings of her expiring God!
Those who roused the people to resistance-ance belonged-on whose slightest actions the who directed their measures through a long series of eventful years-who formed, out of the most unpromising materials, the finest army that Europe had ever seen-who trampled down King, Church, and Aristocracywho, in the short intervals of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the name of England terrible to every nation on the face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics. Most of their absurdities were mere external badges, like the signs of freemasonry or the dresses of friars. We regret that these badges were not more attractive. We regret that a body, to whose courage and talents mankind has owed inestimable obligations, had not the lofty elegance which distinguished some of the adherents of Charles I., or the easy good breeding for which the court of Charles II. was celebrated. But, if we must make our choice, we shall, like Bassanio in the play, turn from the specious caskets which contain only the Death's head and the Fool's head, and fix our choice on the plain leaden chest which conceals the treasure: The Puritans were men whose minds had
derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation of superior beings and external interests. Not con'ent with acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Providence, they habitually ascribed every event to the will of the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too vast, for whose inspection nothing was too minute To know him, to serve him, to enjoy him, was with them the great end of existence. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious homage which other sects substituted for the pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching occasional glimpses of the Deity through an obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on the intolerable brightness, and to commune with him face to face. Hence originated their contempt for terrestrial distinctions. The difference between the greatest and meanest of mankind seemed to vanish, when compared with the boundless interval which separated the whole race from him on whom their own eyes were constantly fixed. They recognised no title to superiority but his favour; and, confident of that favour, they despised all the accomplishments and all the dignities of the world. If they were unacquainted with the works of philosophers and poets, they were deeply read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds, they felt assured that they were recorded in the Book of Life. If their steps were not accompanied by a splendid train of menials, legions of ministering angels had charge over Their palaces were houses not made
✦ Gorusalemme Liberata, xv. 57.
Thus the Puritan was made up of two different men, the one all self-abasement, penitence, gratitude, passion; the other proud, calm, inthe dust before his Maker; but he set his foot flexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself in on the neck of his king. In his devotional re
tirement, he prayed with convulsions, and groans, and tears. He was half maddened by lyres of angels or the tempting whispers of glorious or terrible illusions. He heard the fiends. He caught a gleam of the Beatific Vision, or woke screaming from dreams of everlasting fire. Like Vane, he thought himself intrusted with the sceptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, he cried in the bitterhim. But when he took his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had left no perceptible trace behind them. People who visages, and heard nothing from them but their saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth at them. But those had little reason to laugh, groans and their whining hymns, might laugh who encountered them in the hall of debate or in the field of battle. These fanatics brought to civil and military affairs a coolness of judg ment and an immutability of purpose which their religious zeal, but which were in fact the some writers have thought inconsistent with necessary effects of it. The intensity of their feelings on one subject made them tranquil on every other. One overpowering sentiment had and fear. Death had lost its terrors and plea subjected to itself pity and hatred, ambition their tears, their raptures and their sorrows, sure its charms. They had their smiles and but not for the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made them stoics, had cleared their minds from every vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them above the influence of danger and
ness of his soul that God had hid his face from