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the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go. We do not, we repeat, approve of the execu. into the water till he had learnt to swim! If tion of Charles ; not because the constitution exmen are to wait for liberty till they become wise empts the king from responsibility, for we know and good in slavery, they may indeed wait for that all such maxims, however excellent, have ever.
their exceptions; nor because we feel any peculiar Therefore it is said that we decidedly approve interest in his character, for we think that his of the conduct of Milton and the other wise and sentence describes him with perfect justice as good men who, in spite of much that was ridi. "a tyrant, a traitor, a murderer, and a public culous and hateful in the conduct of their asso-enemy;" but because we are convinced that the ciates, stood firmly by the cause of public measure was most injurious to the cause of free. liberty. We are not aware that the poet has dom. He whom it removed was a captive and a been charged with personal participation in any hostage. His heir, to whom the allegiance of of the blamable excesses of that time. The every Royalist was instantly transferred, was at favourite topic of his enemies is the line of con. large. The Presbyterians could never have been luct which he pursued with regard to the exe perfectly reconciled to the father. They had not cution of the king. Of that celebrated proceed. such a rooted enmity to the son. The great ing we by no means approve. Still we must say, body of the people, also, contemplated that proin justice to the many eminent persons who con. | ceeding with feelings which, however unreason. curred in it, and in justice more particularly to | able, no government could safely venture to the eminent person who defended it, that nothing | outrage. can be more absurd than the imputations which, | But though we think the conduct of the regi. for the last hundred and sixty years, it has been cides blamable, that of Milton appears to us in the fashion to cast upon the regicides. We have a very different light. The deed was done. It throughout abstained from appealing to first could not be undone. The evil was incurred, principles; we will not appeal to them now. and the object was to render it as small as posWe recur again to the parallel case of the Re sible. We censure the chiefs of the army for not volution. What essential distinction can be yielding to the popular opinion, but we cannot drawn between the execution of the father and censure Milton for wishing to change that the deposition of the son? What constitutional opinion. The very feeling which would have maxim is there which applies to the former and restrained us from committing the act would not to the latter? The king can do no wrong. have led us, after it had been committed, to If so, James was as innocent as Charles could defend it against the ravings of servility and suhave been. The minister only ought to be re perstition. For the sake of public liberty we sponsible for the acts of the sovereign. If so, wish that the thing had not been done while why not impeach Jeffries and retain James ? the people disapproved of it. But, for the sake The person of a king is sacred. Was the person of public liberty, we should also have wished of James considered sacred at the Boyne? To the people to approve of it when it was done. discharge cannon against an army in which a If anything more were wanting to the justificaking is known to be posted is to approach pretty tion of Milton, the book of Salmasius would furnear to regicide. Charles, too, it should always nish it. That miserable performance is now with be remembered, was put to death by men who justice considered only as a beacon to word. had been exasperated by the hostilities of several catchers who wish to become statesmen. The years, and who had never been bound to him by celebrity of the man who refuted it, the “ Æneæ any other tie than that which was common to magni dextra," gives it all its fame with the prethem with all their fellow-citizens. Those who sent generation. In that age the state of things drove James from his throne, who seduced his was different. It was not then fully understood army, who alienated his friends, who first im- how vast an interval separates the mere classical prisoned him in his palace and then turned him | scholar from the political philosopher. Nor can out of it, who broke in upon his very slumbers it be doubted that a treatise which, bearing the by imperious messages, who pursued him with name of so eminent a critic, attacked the fundafire and sword from one part of the empire to mental principles of all free governments must, another, who hanged, drew, and quartered his if suffered to remain unanswered, bave proadherents, and attainted his innocent heir, were duced a most pernicious effect on the public his nephew and his two daughters! When we mind. reflect on all these things, we are at a loss to We wish to add a few words relative to anconceive how the same persons who, on the 5th other subject on which the enemies of Milton of November thank God for wonderfully con- delight to dwell—his conduct during the adminis. ducting His servant, King William, and for mak- | tration of the Protector. That an enthusiastic ing all opposition fall before him until he became votary of liberty should accept office under a our king and governor, can, on the 30th of Janu military usurper seems, no doubt, at first sight, ary, contrive to be afraid that the blood of the extraordinary. But all the circumstances in royal martyr may be visited on themselves and which the country was then placed were extratheir children.
ordinary. The ambition of Oliver was of no
vulgar kind. He never seems to have coveted joyed in a greater degree. Never had the na. despotic power. He at first fought sincerely and tional honour been better upheld abroad, or the manfully for the Parliament, and never deserted seat of justice better filled at home. And it was it till it had deserted its duty. If he dissolved rarely that any opposition, which stopped short it by force, it was not till he found that the few of open rebellion, provoked the resentment of members who remained, after so many deaths, the liberal and magnanimous usurper. The inbecessions, and expulsions, were desirous to ap- stitutions which he had established, as set down propriate to themselves a power which they held in the Instrument of Government, and the inly in trust, and to inflict upon England the Humble Petition and Advice, were excellent. curse of a Venetian oligarchy. But even when | His practice, it is true, too often departed from thus placed by violence at the head of affairs, | the theory of these institutions. But, had he he did not assume unlimited power. He gave lived a few years longer, it is probable that his the country a constitution far more perfect than | institutions wou!" have survived him, and that any which had at that time been known in the his arbitrary practice would have died with him. world. He reformed the representative system His power had not been consecrated by ancient in a manner which has extorted praise even from prejudices. It was upheld only by his great perLord Clarendon. For himself he demanded, in. sonal qualities. Little, therefore, was to be deed, the first place in the Commonwealth, but dreaded from a second protector, unless he were with powers scarcely so great as those of a Dutch also a second Oliver Cromwell. The events which stadtholder or an American president. He gave followed his decease are the most complete vindi. the Parliament a voice in
cation of those who exerted themselves to upministers, and left to it the whole legislative hold his authority; for his death dissolved the authority-not even reserving to himself a veto | whole frame of society. The army rose against on its enactments. And he did not require that the Parliament, the different corps of the army the chief magistracy should be hereditary in his against each other. Sect raved against sect. family. Thus far, we think, if the circumstances Party plotted against party. The Presbyteriof the time, and the opportunities which he had ans, in their eagerness to be revenged on the of age randising himself, be fairly considered, Independents, sacrificed their own liberty, and he will not lose by comparison with Washing deserted all their old principles. Without castton or Bolivar. Ilad his moderation been met ing one glance on the past, or requiring one by coi responding moderation, there is no reason stipulation for the future, they threw down their to think that he would have overstepped the line freedom at the feet of the most frivolous and which he had traced for himself. But when he heartless of tyrants. found that his l'arliaments questioned the au | Then came those days, never to be recalled thority under wbich they met, and that he was without a blush-the days of servitude without in danger of being deprived of the restricted loyalty, and sensuality without love, of dwarfish power which was absolutely necessary to his talents and gigantic vices, the paradise of cold personal safety, then it must be acknowledged hearts and narrow minds, the golden age of the he adopted a more arbitrary policy.
coward, the bigot, and the slave. The king Yot, thongh we believe that the intentions of cringed to his rival that he might trample on Cromwell were at first honest, though we be- his people, sunk into a viceroy of France, and lieve that he was driven from the noble course pocketed, with complacent infamy, her degrad. which he had marked out for himself by the ing insults and her more degrading gold. The almost irresistible force of circumstances, though caresses of harlots and the jests of buffoons regu. we a on with all me
lated the measures of a government which had ties, the ability and energy of his splendid ad | just ability enough to deceive and just religion ministration, we are not pleading for arbitrary enough to persecute. The principles of liberty and lawless power, even in his hands. We know were the scoff of every grinning courtier, and that a good constitution is infinitely better than the Anathema Maranatha of every fawning dean. the best despiot. But we suspect that, at the In every high place worship was paid to Charles time of which we speak, the violence of religious and James—Belial and Moloch; and England and political enmities rendered a stable and propitiated those obscene and cruel idols with happy settlement next to impossible. The choice the blood of her best and bravest children. lay, not between Cromwell and liberty, but be Crime succeeded to crime, and disgrace to distween Cromwell and the Stuarts. That Milton grace, till the race accursed of God and man was chose well no man can doubt who fairly com- a second time driven forth, to wander on the pares the events of the Protectorate with those face of the earth, and to be a by word and a of the thirty years which succeeded it-the shaking of the head to the nations. darkest and most disgraceful in the English Most of the remarks which we have hitherto annals. Cromwell was evidently laying, though made on the public character of Milton apply to in an irregular manner, the foundations of an him only as one of a large body. We shall pro
clmirable system. Never before had religious ceed to notice some of the peculiarities which liberty and the freedom of discussion been en. | distinguished him from his contemporaries. And,
for that purpose, it is necessary to take a short Those who roused the people to resistance, survey of the parties into which the political who directed their measures through a long series world was at that time divided. We must pre- of eventful years, who formed, out of the most mise that our observations are intended to apply unpromising materials, the finest army that only to those who adhered, from a sincere pre- Europe had ever seen, who trampled down king, ference, to one or to the other side. At a period Church, and aristocracy, who, in the short inter. of public commotion, every faction, like an Ori. vals of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the ental army, is attended by a crowd of camp fol- name of England terrible to every nation on the lowers, & useless and heartless rabble, who face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics. Most prowl round its line of march in the hope of of their absurdities were mere external badges, picking up something under its protection, but like the signs of freemasonry or the dresses of desert it in the day of battle, and often join to friars. We regret that these badges were not exterminate it after a defeat. England, at the more attractive. We regret that a body to time of which we are treating, abounded with wKose courage and talents mankind has owed such fickle and selfish politicians, who trans- | inestimable obligations had not the lofty eleferred their support to every government as it gance which distinguished some of the adherrose ; who kissed the hand of the king in 1640, ents of Charles I., or the easy good-breeding and spit in his face in 1649; who shouted with for which the court of Charles II. was celeequal glee when Cromwell was inaugurated in brated. But, if we must make our choice, we Westminster Hall, and when he was dug up to shall, like Bassanio in the play, turn from be hanged at Tyburn; who dined on calves' head the specious caskets which contain only the and on broiled rumps, and cut down oak-branches Death's head and the Fool's head, and fix our or stuck them up as circumstances altered, with choice on the plain leaden chest which conceals out the slightest shame or repugnance. These the treasure. we leave out of the account. We take our esti The Puritans were men whose minds had demate of parties from those who really deserved rived a peculiar character from the daily conto be called partisans.
templation of superior beings and eternal interWe would speak first of the Puritans, the ests. Not content with acknowledging, in most remarkable body of men, perhaps, which general terms, an overruling Providence, they the world has ever produced. The odious and habitually ascribed every event to the will of the ridiculous parts of their character lie on the Great Being, for whose power nothing was too surface. He that runs may read them; nor have vast, for whose inspection nothing was too there been wanting attentive and malicious ob minute. To know Him, to serve Him, to enjoy servers to point them out. For many years after Him, was with them the great end of existence. the Restoration they were the theme of unmea. They rejected with contempt the ceremonious sured invective and derision. They were ex homage which other sects substituted for the posed to the utmost licentiousness of the press pure worship of the soul. Instead of catching and of the stage, at the time when the press and occasional glimpses of the Deity through an the stage were most licentious. They were not obscuring veil, they aspired to gaze full on the men of letters; they were as a body unpopular; intolerable brightness, and to commune with they could not defend themselves; and the pub- Him face to face. Hence originated their conlic would not take them under its protection. tempt for terrestrial distinctions. The differThey were therefore abandoned without reserve, ence between the greatest and meanest of manto the tender mercies of the satirists and drama- kind seemed to vanish when compared with the tists. The ostentatious simplicity of their dress, boundless interval which separated the whole their sour aspect, their nasal twang, their stiff race from Him on whom their own eyes were posture, their long graces, their Hebrew names, constantly fixed. They recognised no title to the scriptural phrases which they introduced on superiority but His favour; and, confident of every occasion, their contempt of human learn that favour, they despised all the accomplishing, their detestation of polite amusements, were ments and all the dignities of the world. If indeed fair game for the laughers. But it is not they were unacquainted with the works of philofrom the laughers alone that the philosophy of sophers and poets, they were deeply read in the history is to be learnt. And he who approaches oracles of God. If their names were not found this subject should carefully guard against the in the registers of heralds, they felt assured influence of that potent ridicule which has already that they were recorded in the Book of Life. misled so many excellent writers.
If their steps were not accompanied by a splen
did train of menials, legions of ministering “ Ecco il fonte del riso, ed ecco il rio
angels had charge over them. Their palaces Che mortali perigli in se contiene ;
were houses not made with hands; their diaHor qui tener a fren nostro desio,
dems, crowns of glory which should never fade Ed esser cauti molto a noi conviene.".
away! On the rich and the eloquent, on nobles
and priests, they looked down with contempt, • Gerusalemme Liberata, xv. 57.
for they esteemed themselves rich in a more precious treasure and eloquent in a more sublime above the influence of danger and of corruption. language ; nobles by the right of an earlier crea- | It sometimes might lead them to pursue unwise tion, and priests by the imposition of a mightier ends, but never to choose unwise means. They hand. The very meanest of them was a being to went through the world like Sir Artegale's iron whose fate a mysterious and terrible importance man Talus with his flail, crushing and tramp belonged-on whose slightest action the spirits ling down oppressors, mingling with human of light and darkness looked with anxious in- beings, but having neither part nor lot in human terest, who had been destined, before heaven infirmities; insensible to fatigue, to pleasure, and earth were created, to enjoy a felicity which and to pain : not to be pierced by any weapon, should continue when heaven and earth should not to be withstood by any barrier. have passed away. Events which short-sighted | Such we believe to have been the character of politicians ascribed to earthly causes had been the Puritans. We perceive the absurdity of their ordained on his account. For his sake empires manners. We dislike the sullen gloom of their had risen, and flourished, and decayed. For his domestic habits. We acknowledge that the sake the Almighty had proclaimed His will by tone of their minds was often injured by strainthe pen of the evangelist and the harp of the ing after things too high for mortal reach ; and prophet. He had been wrested, by no common we know that, in spite of their hatred of Popery, deliverer from the grasp of no common foe. He they too often fell into the worst vices of that had been ransomed by the sweat of no vulgar | bad system, intolerance and extravagant aus. agony, by the blood of no earthly sacrifice. It terity, that they had their anchorites and their was for him that the sun had been darkened, that crusades, their Dunstans and their De Montforts, the rocks had been rent, that the dead had their Dominics and their Escobars. Yet, when arisen, that all Nature had shuddered at the all circumstances are taken into consideration, sufferings of her expiring God !
we do not hesitate to pronounce them a brave, a Thus the Puritan was made up of two different wise, an honest, and a useful body. mien, the one all self-abasement, penitence. The Puritans espoused the cause of civil gratitude, passion; the other proud, çalm, in- liberty mainly because it was the cause of reHexible, sagacious. He prostrated himself inligion. There was another party, by no means the dust before his Maker ; but he set his foot numerous, but distinguished by learning and on the neck of his king. In his devotional re- / ability, which co-operated with them on very tirement he prayed with convulsions, and groans, different principles. We speak of those whom and tears. He was half maddened by glorious Cromwell was accustomed to call the Heathens, or terrible illusions. He heard the lyres of men who were, in the phrascology of that time, angels or the tempting whispers of fiends. He doubting Thomases or careless Gallios with caught a gleam of the Beatific Vision, or woke regard to religious subjects, but passionate wor. screaming from dreams of everlasting fire. Like shippers of freedom. Heated by the study of Vane, he thought himself entrusted with the ancient literature, they set up their country as sceptre of the millennial year. Like Fleetwood, their idol, and proposed to themselves the heroes he cried in the bitterness of his soul that God of Plutarch as their examples. They seem to had hid His face from him. But, when he took have borne some resemblance to the Brissotines his seat in the council, or girt on his sword for of the French Revolution. But it is not very war, these tempestuous workings of the soul had easy to draw the line of distinction between left no perceptible trace behind them. People them and their devout associates, whose tone who saw nothing of the godly but their uncouth and manner they sometimes found it convenient visages, and heard nothing from them but their to affect, and sometimes, it is probable, impezgroans and their whining hymns, might laugh at ceptibly adopted. them. But those had little reason to laugh who We now come to the Royalists. We shall encountered them in the hall of debate, or in attempt to speak of them, as we have spoken of the field of battle. These fanatics brought to their antagonists, with perfect candour. We civil and military affairs a coolness of judgment shall not charge upon a whole party the proand an immutability of purpose which some fligacy and baseness of the horseboys, gamblers, writers have thought inconsistent with their re- and bravoes, whom the hope of licence and ligious zeal, but which were, in fact, the neces. plunder attracted from all the dens of Whitesary effects of it. The intensity of their feelings friars to the standard of Charles, and who dison one subject made them tranquil on every graced their associates by excesses which, under other. One overpowering sentiment had the stricter discipline of the Parliamentary jected to itself pity and hatred, ambition and armies, were never tolerated. We will select a fear. Death had lost its terrors, and pleasure more favourable specimen. Thinking, as we do, its charms. They had their smiles and their tears, that the cause of the king was the cause of their raptures and their sorrows, but not for bigotry and tyranny, we yet cannot refrain from the things of this world. Enthusiasm had made looking with complacency on the character of them stoics, had cleared their minds from every the honest old Cavaliers. We feel a national vulgar passion and prejudice, and raised them I pride in comparing them with the instruments
which the despots of other countries are com- ludicrous jargon, their scorn of science, and pelled to employ, with the mutes who throng their their aversion to pleasure. Hating tyranny antechambers, and the janissaries who mount with a perfect hatred, he had nevertheless all guard at their gates. Our Royalist countrymen the estimable and ornamental qualities which were not heartless, dangling courtiers, bowing were almost entirely monopolised by the party at every step and simpering at every word. of the tyrant. There was none who had a They were not mere machines for destruction stronger sense of the value of literature, a finer dressed up in uniforms, caned into skill, intoxi relish for every elegant amusement, or a more cated into valour, defending without love, de chivalrous delicacy of honour and love. Though stroying without hatred. There was a freedom his opinions were democratic, his tastes and his in their subserviency, a nobleness in their very associations were such as harmonise best with degradation. The sentiment of individual inde monarchy and aristocracy. He was under the pendence was strong within them. They were, influence of all the feelings by which the gallant indeed, misled, but by no base or selfish motive. Cavaliers were misled. But of those feelings he Compassion and romantic honour, the prejudices was the master and not the slave. Like the of childhood, and the venerable names of his hero of Homer, he enjoyed all the pleasure of tory, threw over them a spell potent as that of fascination; but he was not fascinated. He Duessa ; and, like the Red-Cross Knight, they listened to the song of the Sirens; yet he glided thought that they were doing battle for an injured by without being seduced to their fatal shore. beauty, while they defended a false and loath- He tasted the cup of Circe; but he bore about some sorceress. In truth, they scarcely entered him a sure antidote against the effects of its at all into the merits of the political question. bewitching sweetness. The illusions which capIt was not for a treacherous king or an intolerant tivated his imagination never impaired his Church that they fought; but for the old banner reasoning powers. The statesman was proof which had waved in so many battles over the against the splendour, the solemnity, and the heads of their fathers, and for the altars at which romance which enchanted the poet. Any person they had received the hands of their brides. who will contrast the sentiments expressed in Though nothing could be more erroneous than his treatises on prelacy with the exquisite their political opinions, they possessed, in a far lines on ecclesiastical architecture and music greater degree than their adversaries, those quali. | in the “Penseroso," which was published about ties which are the grace of private life. With the same time, will understand our meaning. many of the vices of the Round Table, they had This is an inconsistency which, more than any, also many of its virtues, courtesy, generosity, thing else, raises his character in our estimaveracity, tenderness and respect for women. tion : because it shows how many private tastes They had far more both of profound and of polite and feelings he sacrificed in order to do what he learning than the Puritans. Their manners considered his duty to mankind. It is the very were more engaging, their tempers more amiable, struggle of the noble Othello. His heart relents; their tastes more elegant, and their households but his hand is firm. He does naught in hate, more cheerful.
but all in honour. He kisses the beautiful Milton did not strictly belong to any of the deceiver before he destroys her. classes which we have described. He was not a | That from which the public character of Puritan. He was not a free-thinker. He was | Milton derives its great and peculiar splendour not a Cavalier. In his character the noblest still remains to be mentioned. If he exerted qualities of every party were combined in har. himself to overthrow a forsworn king and a monious union. From the Parliament and from persecuting hierarchy, he exerted himself in con. the Court, from the conventicle and from the junction with others. But the glory of the Gothic cloister, from the gloomy and sepulchral battle which he fought for that species of freecircles of the Roundheads, and from the | dom which is the most valuable, and which was Christmas revel of the hospitable Cavalier, his then the least understood, the freedom of the nature selected and drew to itself whatever was human mind, is all his own. Thousands and great and good, while it rejected all the base tens of thousands among his contemporaries and pernicious ingredients by which those finer raised their voices against ship-money and the elements were defiled. Like the Puritans, he lived Star Chamber. But there were few indeed who “As ever in his great task-master's eye.”
discerned the more fearful evils of moral and
intellectual slavery, and the benefits which Like them he kept his mind continually fixed would result from the liberty of the press and on an Almighty Judge and an eternal reward. the unfettered exercise of private judgment. And hence he acquired their contempt of ex These were the objects which Milton justly con. ternal circumstances, their fortitude, their tran ceived to be the most important. He was quillity, their inflexible resolution. But not the desirous that the people should think for them. coolest sceptic or the most profane scoffer was selves as well as tax themselves, and be emanci. more perfectly free from the contagion of their pated from the dominion of prejudice as well as frantic delusions, their savage manners, their from that of Charles. He knew that those