Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

steer

[ocr errors]

threw itself at the feet of a young inca- Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not pable and treacherous libertine. The Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate one

jot glorious leaders of the Puritan faith

Of heart or hope ; but still bear up and were condemned, executed, cut down alive from the gallows, quartered amidst Right onward. What supports me, dost thor

ask? insults; others, whom death had saved

The conscience, friend, to have lozt them from the hangman, were dug up and overplied exposed on the gibbet; others, exiles In liberty's defence, my noble task; in foreign lands, lived, threatened and Of which all Europe rings from side to side. attacked by royalist bullies; others

This thought might lead me through the

world's vain mask again, more unfortunate, had sold their

Content though blind, had I Do the cause for money and titles, and sat amid guide." . the executioners of their former friends. That thought was indeed his guide ; he The most pious and austere citizens of

was “armed in himself,” and that England filled the prisons, or wandered "breastplate of diamond” + which had about in poverty and shame; and gross protected him in his prime against the vice, impudently seated on the throne, wounds in battle, protected him in his rallied around it a herd of unbridled old age against the temptations and lusts and sensualities. Milton himself doubts of defeat and adversity. had been constrained to hide ; his books had been burned by the hand of the

IV. hangman; even after the general act of indemnity he was imprisoned; when Milton lived in a small house in Lonset at liberty, he lived in the expecta- don, or in the country, at Horton, in tion of being assassinated, for private Buckinghamshire, published his Histofanaticism might seize the weapon re- ry of Britain, his Logic, a Treatise on linquished by public revenge. Other True Religion and Heresy, meditated smaller misfortunes came to aggravate his great Treatise on Christian Doctrine. by their stings the great wounds which Of all consolations, work is the most afflicted him. Confiscations, a bank- fortifying and the most healthy, because ruptcy, finally, the great fire of London, it solaces a man not by bringing him had robbed him of three-fourths of his ease, but by requiring him to exert fortune ;* his daughters neither esteem- himself. Every morning he had a chaped nor respected him; he sold his ter of the Bible read to him in Hebrew, books, knowing that his family could and remained for some time in silence, not profit by them after his death ; and grave, in order to meditate on what he amidst so many private and public mis- had neard. He never went to a place eries, he continued calm. Instead of of worship. Independent in religion repudiating what he had done, he glo as in all else, he was sufficient to him. ried in it: instead of being cast down, self ; finding in no sect the marks of he increased in firmness. He says, in the true church, he prayed to God alone, his 22d sonnet:

without needing others' help. He stud. Cyriack, this three years day these eyes,

ied till mid-day; then, after an hour's though clear,

exercise, he played the organ or the bass To outward view, of blemish or of spot, violin. Then he resumed his studies Bereft of sight, their seeing have forgot ; Nor to their idle orbs doth day appear

till six, and in the even'ng enjoyed the Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout thc society of his friends. When any ons

came to visit him, he was usually

found in a room hung with old grees * A scrivener caused him to lose £2000. A the Restoration he was refused payment of hangings, seated in an arm-chair, and 42000 which he had put into the Excise Office, dressed neatly in black; his complex and deprived of an estate of 2.50 a year, bought ion was pale, says one of his visitors, by him from the property of the Chapter of but not sallow, his hands and feet Westminster. His house in Bread Street was burnt in the great fire. When he died he is

were gouty; his hair, of a light brown said to have left about £1500 in money (equiva- was parted in the midst and fell in long lent to about 65000 now), besides household curls; his eyes, gray and clear, showed goods. [I am indebted to the inindness of Professor Masson for the collation of this * Milton's Porticou Works, Mitford, i. Som Note.--Tr.)

net xxii.

Italian Sonntek.

year,

no sign of blindness. He had been very | artists' tool, whose square brows and beautiful in his youth, and his English steady eyes stand out in stariling prom. cheeks, once delicate as a young girl's, inence against a dark oak fanel. We retained their color almost to the end. compare them to modern countenances, His face, we are told, was pleasing ; his in which the delicate and complex fea straight and manly gait bore witness tures seem to quiver at the varied con to intrepidity and courage. Something tact of hardly begun sensations and ir: great and proud breathes out yet from numerable ideas. We try to imagine all his portraits ; and certainly few men the heavy classical education, the phys have done so much honor to their kind. ical exercises, the rude treatment, the Thus went out this noble life, like a rare ideas, the imposed dogmas, which setting sun, bright and calm. Amid so formerly occupied, oppressed, fortified, many trials, a pure and lofty joy, alto and hardened the young; and we might gether worthy of him, had been grant- fancy ourselves looking at an anatomy ed to him: the poet, buried under the of megatheria and mastodons, recon Puritan, had reappeared, more sublime structed by Cuvier. than ever, to give to Christianity its The race of living men is changed. second Homer. The dazzling dreams Our mind fails us now-a-days at the of his youth and the reminiscences of idea of this greatness and this barbar his ripe age were found in him, side by ism ; but we discover that the barbarby side with Calvinistic dogmas and ism was then the cause of the greatness/ the visions of Saint John, to create the As in other times we might have seen, Protestant epic of damnation and grace; in the primitive slime and among the and the vastness of primitive horizons, colossal ferns, ponderous monsters the flames of the infernal dungeon, the slowly wind their scaly backs, and tear splendors of the celestial court, opened the flesh from one another's sides with to the inner eye of the soul unknown their misshapen talons ; so now, at a regions beyond the sights which the distance, from the height of our calm eyes of the flesh had lost.

civilization, we see the battles of the

theologians, who, armed with syllo V.

gisms, bristling with texts, covered one I have before me the formidable vol. another with filth, and labored to de ume in which some time after Milton's

vour each other. death, his prose works were collected.*

Milton fought in the front rank, preordained to barbarism and greatness

Х What a book! The chairs creak when you place it upon them, and a man who by his individual nature and the manhad turned its leaves over for an hour, ners of the time, capable of displaying would have less pain in his head than in high prominence the logic, style, and in his arm. As the book, so were the life which trims men into shape: the

spirit of his age. It is drawing-room men; from the mere outsides we might society of ladies, the lack of serious ingather some notion of the controversialists and thrologians whose doctrines terests, idleness, vanity, security, are they contain. Yet we must conclude needed to bring men to elegance, urban that the author was eminently learned, desire to please, the fear to become

ity, fine and light humor, to teach the digant, travelled, philosophic, and a wearisome, a perfect clearness, a Snishman of the world for his age. We hir's involuntarily of the portraits of tions and delicate tact, a taste for suit

ed precision, the art of gradual transi he theologians of those days, severe able images, continual ease, and choice aczı engraved on metal by the hard diversity. Seek nothing like this in

*3 euls. folio, 1697-8. The titles of Mil Milton. The old scholastic system ton's nief writings in prose are these :-0. was not far off ; it still weigned on Reformation in England; The Reason of those who were destroying it. Under Church Government urged against Prelatz: this

secular armor discussion proceeded Animadversions upon the Remonstrants' De fence ; Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce ; pedanticaily, with measured steps. Tetr z hor don; Tractate Education; Areopagitica ; Tenure of Kings and Maris thesis ; and Milton writes, in large

The first ching was to propound a terates ; Eikonoklastes; History of Britain ; Defence of the People of Englanch

characters, at the head of his Treating

on Dizorce, “that indisposition, unfit- | apostle, can catch nothing ; see what ness, or contrariety of mind, arising you can catch with Simon Magus ; foi from a cause in nature unchangeable, all his hooks and fishing implements hindering, and ever likely to hinder he bequeathed among you.” Here a the main benefits of conjugal society, great savage laugh would break out. which are solace and peace, is a greater The spectators saw a charm in this way reason of divorce than natural frigidity, of insinuating that his adversary was especially if there be no children, and simoniacal. A little before, the latter that there be mutual consent.” And says : “Tell me, is this liturgy good or then follow, legion after legion, the evil ?" Answer: It is evil: repair disciplined army of the arguments. the acheloian horn of your dilemma, Battalion after battalion they pass by, how you can, against the next push numbered very distinctly. There is a The doctors wondered at tne fino dozen of them together, each with its mythological simile, and rejoiced to see title in clear characters, and the little the adversary so neatly compared to brigade of subdivisions which it com- an ox, a beaten ox, a pagan ox, On mands. Sacred texts hold the post of the next page the Remonstrant said, honor. Every word of them is dis- by way of a spiritual and mocking recussed, the substantive after the adjec- proach: "Truly, brethren, you have tive, the verb after the substantive, the not well taken the heighth of the pole." preposition after the verb; interpreta- Answer: "No marvel; there be many tions, authorities, illustrations, are sum- more that do not take well the height moned up, and ranged between pali- of your pole, but will take better the sades of new divisions. And yet there declination of your altitude.” Three is a lack of order, the question is not quips of the same savor follow one upon reduced to a single idea ; we cannot the other; all this looked pretty. Elsesee our way; proofs succeed proofs where, Salmasius exclaiming “that the without logical sequence ; we are rather sun itself never beheld a more outragetired out than convinced. We remem- ous action " than the murder of the king, ber that the author speaks to Oxford Milton cleverly answers, “The sun has men, lay or cleric, trained in pretended beheld many things that blind Bernard discussions, capable of obstinate atten- never saw. But we are content you tion, accustomed to digest indigestible should mention the sun over and over. books. They are at home in this And it will be a piece of prudence in thorny thicket of scholastic brambles; you so to do. For though our wickedthey beat a path through, somewhat at ness does not require it, the coldness hazard, hardened against the hurts of the defence that you are making which repulse us, and not having the does." The marvellous heaviness of smallest idea of the daylight which we these conceits betrays minds yet enrequire everywhere now.

tangled in the swaddling-clothes of With such ponderous reasoners, you learning. The Reformation was the must not look for wit. Wit is the inauguration of free thought, but oniy nimbleness of victorious reason; here, the inauguration. Criticism was yet because every thing is powerful, all is unborn; authority, still presses with a heavy. When Milton wishes to joke, full half of its weight upon the freest ke looks like one of Cromwell's pike- and boldest minds. Milton, to prove men, who, entering a room to dance, that it was lawful to put a king to shou d fall upon the floor, and that death, quotes Orestes, the laws of with the extra weight of his armor. Publicola, and the death of Nero. His Few things could be more stupid than History of Britain is a farrago of all his Animadversions upon the Remon- the traditions and fables. Under strants' Defence. At the end of an argu- every circumstance he adduces a text ment his adversary concludes with this of Scripture for proof; his boldness specimen of theological wit: “In the consists in showing himself a bold meanwhile see, brethren, how you have grammarian, a valorous commentator with Simon fished all night, and caught He is blindly Protestant as others were nothing.” And Milton boastfully re

* A Defence of the People of England, Mis plies : “ If we, fishing with Simon the ford, vi. 21.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Windly Catholic. He leaves in its trated rancor and a fierce obstinacy bondage the higher reason, the mother The bishops and the king then suf of principles ; Ře has but emancipated fered for eleven years of despotism. a subordinate reason, an interpreter of Each man recalled the banishments, cexts. Like the vast half shapeless confiscations, punishments, the law creatures, the birth of early times, he violated systematically and relentlessis yet but half man and half mud. ly, the liberty of the subject attacked

Can we expect urbanity here? Ur- by a well-laid plot, Episcopa itlolatry banity is the elegant dignity which imposed on Christian consciences, the answers insult by calm irony, and re- faithful preachers driven into the wilde spects man whilst piercing a dogma. of America, or given up to the execu Milton coarsely knocks his adversary tioner and the stocks.* Such ren in slown. A bristling pedant, born from iscences arising, in powerful minds a Greek lexicon and a Syriac grammar, stamped them with inexpiable hatred, Salmasius had disgorged upon the and the writings of Milton bear witness English people a vocabulary of insults and a folio of quotations. Milton re

# ICOP vi. 367, one of thése sorrows and

from Neal's History the Puri plies to him in the same style ; calling tams, ü; him a buffoon, a mountebank, “ pro- the reader can judge of the intensity of the

complaints. By the greatness of the outrage fessor triobolaris," a hired pedant, a hatred : nobody, a rogue, a heartless being, a “ The humble petition of (Dr.) Alexander wretch, an idiot, sacrilegious, a slave Leighton, Prisoner in the Fleet,-Humbly

Sheweth, worthy of rods and a pitchfork. A “ That on Feh. 17, 1630, he was apprehended dictionary of big Latin words passed coming from. sermon by a high commission wa:: between them. “You, who know so

rant, and dragged asong the street with bille and many tongues, who read so many Newgate being sent for, clapt him in irons, and

staves to London-house. That thc saoler of books, who write so much about carried him with a strong power into a loath. them, you are yet but an ass.” Find some and ruinoudog has full of rats and ing the epithet good, he repeats and mice, and that had no light but wie grate, sanctifies it. “Oh most drivelling of rain beat in upon him, having no tauding, nor

and the roof being uncovered, the snow and asses, you come ridden by a woman, place to make a fire, but the ruins of an old with the cured heads of bishops whom smoaky chimney. In this woeful place he was you had wounded, a little image of the shut u: for fifteen weeks, nuoody being suffered great beast of the Apocalypse ?” He

to come near him, tüi at length his wife only

was admitted. That the fourth day after his ends by calling him savage beast, apos- commitment the persuivant, with a mighty mul. tate and devil.

“ Doubt not that you titude, came to his house to search for jesuits are reserved for the same end as Judas, books, and used his wife in such a barbarous

and in human manner as he is ashamed to ex. and that, driven by despair rather than press; that they rided every person and place, repentance, self-disgusted, you must holding a pistol to the breast of a child of five one day hang yourself, and like your years old, threatening to kill him if he did not rival, burst asunder in your belly." *

discover the tooks: that they broke pen

chests, presses, boxes, and carried away every, We fancy we are listening to the bel- thing, even household stuff, apparel, arms, and lowing of two bulls.

other things; that at the end of fifteen weeks They had all a bull's ferocity. Mil- he was served with a subpoena, on an in. n was a good hater. He fought with formation laid against him by Sir Robert

Heath, attorney-general, whose dealing with bis pen, as the Ironsides with the him was full of cruelty and deceit; but he was sword, inch by inch, with a concen- then sick, and, in the opinion of four physicians

thought to be poisoned, because all his hair and Mitford, vi. 250.

Salmasius said of the skin came off ; that in the height of this sick. death of the king : “Horribilis nuntius aures ness the cruel sentence was passed upon him postias atroci vulnere, sed magis mentes per- mentioned in the year 1630, and executed Nov. Culit." Milton replied : “Profecto nuntius iste 26 following, when he received thirty-six stripes horribilis aut gladium multo longiorem eo quem upon his naked back with a threefold cord, his strinxit Petrus habuerit oportet, aut aures istæ hands being tied to a stake, and then stood alauritissimæ fuerint, quas tam longinquo vulnere most two hours in the pillory in the frost and perculerit.”

snow, before he was branded in the face, les “Oratorem tam insipidum et insulsum ut ne nose slit, and his ears cut off ; that after this ex lacrymis quidem ejus mica salis exiguissima he was carried by water to the Fleet, and shut rossit exprimi.'

up

in such a room that he was never well, and “ Salmasius nova quadam metamorphosi sal- after eight years was turned into the commou pacis factus est."

gaol.”

1

to a rancor which is now unknown, in Milton, displayed in his opinions The impression left by his Eikonoklas- and his style, the sources of his belief tes* is oppressive. Phrase by phrase, and his talent. This proud reason asharshly, bitterly, the king is refuted pired to unfold itself without shackles ; and accused to the last, without a min- it demanded that reason might unfold ute's respite of accusation, the accused itself without shackles. It claimed for being credited with not the slightest humanity what it coveted for itself, and good intention, the slightest excuse, championed every liberty in his every the least show of justice, the accuser work. From the first he attacked the never for an instant digressir.g : or corpulent bishops, scholastic upstarts, resting upon a general idea. 1: is a persecutors of free discussion, penhand to hand fight, where every word sioned tyrants of Christian conscience.* takes effect, prolonged, obstinate, with Above the clamor of the Protestant out dash and without weakness, full of Revolution, his voice was heard thuna harsh and fixed hostility, where the dering against tradition and obedience. only thought is how to wound most He sourly railed at the pedantic theola severely and to kill surely. Against gians, devoted worshippers of old texts, the bishops, who were alive and pow. who mistook a mouldy martyrology for erful, his hatred flowed more violently a solid argument, and answered a destill, and the fierceness of his enven-monstration with a quotation. He de omed mataphors hardly suffices to ex- clared that most of the Fathers were press it. Milton points to them“ baskturbulent and babbling intriguers, that ing in the sunny warmth of wealth and they were not worth more collectively promotion,” like a broed of foul rep- tian individually, that their councils tiles. “ The sour leaven of human tra. were but a pack of underhand intrigues ditions, mixed in one putrified mass and vain disputes; he rejected their with the poisonous dregs of hypocrisie authority and their example, and set in the hearts of Prelates, is the up logic as the only interpreter of serpent's egg that will hatch an anti- Scripture. A Puritan as against christ wheresoever, and ingender the bishops, an Independent as against same monster as big or little as the Presbyterians, he was always master of lump is which breeds him.” +

his thought and the inventor of his Só much coarseness and dulness own faith. No one better loved, pracwas as an outer breastplate, the mark tised, and praised the free and bold and the protection of the super-abun- use of reason.

He exercised it even dant force and life which coursed in rashly and scandalously. He revolted those athletic limbs and chests. Now. against custom, the illegitimate queen a-days, the mind being more refined of human belief, the born and relent. has become feebler; convictions, being less enemy of truth, raised his hand less stern, have become less strong. against marriage, and demanded diAttention, freed from the heavy scho- vorce in the case of incompatibility of lastic logic and scriptural tyranny, has temper. He declared that “error supbecome more inert. Belief and the ports custom, custom countenances will, dissolved by universal tolerance error; and these two between them, and by the thousand opposing shocks with the numerous and vulgar of multiplied ideas, have engendered train of their followers, an exact and refined style, an instru- cry down the industry of free reasonment of conöersation and pleasure, ing, under the terms of humor and in and have expelled the poetic and rude novation.” I He showed that truth style, a weapon of war and enthusiasm. “never comes into the world, but like If we have effaced ferocity and dul a bastard, to the ignominy of him that ness, we have diminished force and brought her forth; till Time, the midgreatness.

wife rather than the mother of truth, Force and greatness are manifested

* Of Reformation in England.

+ The loss of Cicero's works alorre, or those * An answer to the Eikon Basilike, a work of Livy, could not be repaired by all he Father on the king's side, and attributed to the king. of the church. + Of Reformation in England, 4to, 1641, p. Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Mit

ford, ül.

. . .

envy and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »