of corruption. It sometimes might lead them machines for destruction dressed up in ani10 parsue unwise ends, but never to choose un- forms, caned into skill, intoxicated into valour, wise means. They went through the world defending without love, destroying without like Sir Artegale's iron man Talus with his hatred. There was a freedom in their subser. flail, crushing and trampling down oppressors, viency, a nobleness in their very degradation. mingling with human beings, but having nei. The sentiment of individual independence was ther part nor lot in human infirmities; insensi- strong within them. They were indeed misble to fatigue, to pleasure, and to pain ; not to led, but by no base or selfish motive. Combe pierced by any weapon, not to be withstood passion and romantic honour, the prejudices by any barrier.

of childhood, and the venerable names of his. Such we believe to have been the character tory, threw over them a spell potent as that of of the Puritans. We perceive the absurdity of Duessa; and, like the Red-Cross Knight, they their manners. We dislike the sullen gloom thought that they were doing battle for an inof their domestic habits. We acknowledge jured beauty, while they defended a false and that the tone of their minds was often injured loathsome sorceress. In truth, they scarcely by straining after things 100 high for mortal entered at all into the merits of the political reach. And we know that, in spite of their question. It was not for a treacherous king hatred of Popery, they too often fell into the or an intolerant church that they fought; but worst vices of that bad system, intolerance and for the old banner which had 'waved in su extravagant austerity—that they had their an- many battles over the heads of their fathers, chorites and their crusades, their Dunstans and and for the altars at which they had received their De Montforts, their Dominics and their the hands of their brides. Though nothing Escobars. Yet when all circumstances are could be more erroneous than their political taken into consideration, we do not hesitate to opinions, they possessed, in a far greater depronounce them a brave, a wise, an honest, and gree than their adversaries, those qualities e useful body.

which are the grace of private life. With The Puritans esponsed the cause of civil many of the vices of the Round Table, they überty, mainly because it was the cause of re- had also many of its virtues, courtesy, gené. igion. There was another party, by no means rosity, veracity, tenderness, and respect for woaumerous, but distinguished by learning and man. They had far more both of profound and ability, which co-operated with them on very of polite learning than the Puritans. Their different principles. We speak of those whom manners were more engaging, their tempers Cromwell was accustomed to call the Heathens, more amiable, their tastes more elegant, and men who were, in the phraseology of that time, their households more cheerful. doubtirg Thomases or careless Gallios with Milton did not strictly belong to any of the regard to religious subjects, but passionate classes which we have described. He was not worshippers of freedom. Heated by the study a Puritan. He was not a Freeininker. He of ancient literature, they set up their country was not a Cavalier. In his character the noas their idol, and proposed to themselves the blest qualities of every party were combined heroes of Plutarch as their examples. They in harmonious union. From the parliament seem to have borne some resemblance to the and from the court, from the conventicle and Brissotines of the French Revolution. But it from the Gothic cloister, from the gloomy and is not very easy to draw the line of distinction sepulchral circles of the Roundheads and from between them and their devout associates, the Christmas revel of the hospitable Cavalier, whose tone and manner they sometimes found his nature selected and drew to itself whatever it convenient to affect, and sometimes, it is was great and good, while it rejected all the probable, imperceptibly adopted.

base and pernicious ingredients by which those We now come io the Royalists. We shall fine elements were defiled. Like the Puritans, attempt to speak of them, as we have spoken he lived of their antagonists, with perfect candour. We

“As ever in his great Taskmaster's eye.' shall not charge upon a whole party the profiligacy and baseness of the horseboys, gamblers, Like them, he kept his mind continually fixed and bravoes, whom the hope of license and on an Almighty Judge and an eternal reward. plander attracted from all the dens of White And hence he acquired their contempt of ex. friars to the standard of Charles, and who dis- ternal circumstances, their fortitude, their graced their associates by excesses which, tranquillity, their inflexible resolution. But nnder the stricter discipline of the Parliament- not the coolest sceptic or the most profane ary armies, were never tolerated. We will scoffer was more perfectly free from the conselect a more favourable specimen. Thinking, tagion of their frantic delusions, their savage as we do, that the cause of the king was the manners, their ludicrous jargon, their scorn oi cause of bigotry and tyranny, we yet cannot science, and their aversion to pleasure. Hating refrain from looking with complacency on the tyranny with a perfect hatred, he had nevercharacter of the honest old Cavaliers. 'We feel theless all the estimable and ornamental qualia national pride in comparing them with the ties, which were almost entirely monopolized instruments which the despots of other coun- by the party of the tyrant. There was none tries are compelled to employ, with the mutes who had a stronger sense of the value of litewho throng their antechambers, and the Janis. rature, a finer relish for every elegant amusesaries who mount guard at their gaies. Our ment, or a more chivalrous delicacy of honour royalist countrymen were not heartless, dan- and love. Though his opinions were demo gling courtiers, bowing at every step, and sim-cratic, his tastes and his associates were such naring at -verv word. They were not merel as harmonize best with monarchy and aristus

VOL. 1.-3

cracy. He was nnder the influence of all the Presbyterians—for this he forsook them. Ho feelings by which the gallant cavaliers were fought their perilous battle; but he turned misled. But of those feelings he was the mas. away with disdain from their insolent triuinph. ter and not the slave. Like the hero of Homer, He saw that they, like those whom they had he enjoyed all the pleasures of fascination; vanquished, were hostile to the liberty of but he was not fascinated. He listened to the thought. He therefore joined the Independents, song of the Sirens; yet he glided by without and called upon Cromwell to break the secular being seduced to their fatal shore. He tasted chain, and to save free conscience from the the cup of Circe; but he bore about him a sure paw of the Presbyterian wolf. With a view antidote against the effects of its bewitching to the same great object, he attacked the sweetness. The illusions which captivated licensing system in that sublime treatise which his imagination never impaired his reasoning every statesman should wear as a sign upon powers. The statesman was a proof against his hand, and as frontleis between his eyes ihe splendour, the solemnily, and the romance His attacks were, in general, directed less which enchanted the poet. Any person who against particular abuses than against those will contrast the sentiments expressed in his deeply-seated errors on which almost all abuses Treatises on Prelacy, with the exquisite lines are founded, the servile worship of eminent on ecclesiastical architecture and music in the men and the irrational dread of innovation. Penseroso, which were published about the That he might shake the foundations of same time, will understand our meaning. these debasing sentiments more effectually, he This is an inconsistency which, more than any always selected for himself the boldest literary thing else, raises his character in our estima- services. He never came up to the rear when tion; because it shows how many private the outworks had been carried and the breach tastes and feelings he sacrificed, in order to do entered. He pressed into the forlorn hope. what he considered his duty to mankind. It is At the beginning of the changes, he wrote with the very struggle of the noble Othello. His incomparable energy and eloquence against heart relents; but his hand is firm. He does the bishops. But, when his opinion seemed naught in hate, but all in honour. He kisses likely to prevail, he passed on to other subthe beautiful deceiver before he destroys her. jects, and abandoned prelacy to the crowd of

That from which the public character of writers who now hastened to insult a falling Milton derives its great and peculiar splendour party. There is no more hazardous enterprise still remains to be mentioned. If he excrted than that of hearing the torch of truth into himself to overthrow a foresworn king and a those dark and infected recesses in which no persecuting hierarchy, he exerted himself in light has ever shone. But it was the choice conjunction with others. But the glory of the and the pleasure of Milton to penetrate the battle, which he fought for that species of free noisome vapours and to brave the terrible ex dom which is the most valuable, and which plosion. Those who most disapprove of his was then the least understood, the freedom of opinions must respect the hardihood with the human mind, is all his own. Thousands which he maintained them. Hc, in general, and tens of thousands among his contempora- left to others the credit of expounding and deries raised their voices against ship-money fending the popular parts of his religious and and the star-chamber. But there were few in- political creed. He took his own stand upon deed who discerned the more fearful evils of those which the great body of his countrymen moral and intellectual slavery, and the bene- reprobated as criminal, or derided as para fits which would result from the liberty of the doxical. He stood up for divorce and regicide. press and the un'fettered exercise of private He ridiculed the Eikon. He attacked the prejudgment. These were the objects which Mil-vailing systems of education. His radiant and ton justly conceived to be the most important beneficent career resembled that of the god of He was desirous that the people should think light and fertility, for toemselves as well as tax themselves, and "Nitor in adversum ; nec me, qui cætera, vincit be emancipated from the dominion of preju Impetus, et rapido contrarius evebor orbi." dice as well as from that of Charles. He It is to be regretted that the prose writings knew that those who, with the best intentions, of Milton should, in our time, be so little read. overlooked these schemes of reform, and con- As compositions, they deserve the attention of tented themselves with pulling down the king every man who wishes to become acquainted and imprisoning the malignants, acted like the with the full power of the English language. heedless brothers in his own poem, who, in They abound with passages compared with their eagerness to disperse the train of the sor- which she finest declamations of Burke sink into cerer, neglected the means of liberating the insignificance. They are a perfect field of cloth captive. They thought only of conquering of gold. The style is stiff, with gorgeous emwhen they should have thought of disenchani-broidery. Not even in the earlier books of the ing.

Paradise Lost has he ever risen higher than in "Oh, yo mistook! You should have snatched the wand! those parts of his controversial works in which

Without the rod reversed, And backward mutters of dissevering power,

his feelings, excited by conflict, find a vent in We cannot free the lady that sits here

bursts of devotional and lyric rapture. It is. Bound in strong fetters fixed and motionless." to borrow his own majestic language, “a

To reverse the rod, to spell the charm back- sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and harping ward, to break the ties which bound a stupe- symphonies.”+ led people to the seat of enchantment, was the

• Sonnet to Cromwell. noble aim of Milton. To this all his ublic

+ The Reason of Church Government urged agalom conduct was directed. For this he joined the Prelacy, Book 11.

We had intended to look more closely at| These are perhaps foolish feelings. Yet we their performances, to analyze the peculiari- cannot be ashan.ed of them; nor shall we be ties of their diction, to dwell at some length sorry if what we have written shall in any deon the sublime wisdom of the Areopagitica, gree excite them in other minds. We are not and the nervous rhetoric of the Iconoclast, and much in the habit of idolizing either the living to point out some of those magnificent pas. or the dead. And we' think that there is no sages which occur in the Treatise of Reforma- more certain indication of a weak and ill-regution and the Animadversions on the Remon-lated intellect than that propensity which, for strant. But the length to which our remarks want of a better name, we will venture to hare already extended renders this impossible. christen Boswellism. But there are a few cha

We must conclude. And yet we can scarce-racters which have stood the closest scrutiny ly tear ourselves away from the subject. The and the severest tests, which have been tried days immediately following the publication of in the furnace and have proved pure, which this relic of Milton appear to be peculiarly set have been weighed in the balance and have apart and consecrated to his memory. And not been found wanting, which have been dewe shall scarcely be censured if, on this his clared sterling by the general consent of man- , festival, we be found lingering near his shrine, kind, and which are visibly stamped with the how worthless soever may be the offering image and superscription of the Most High. which we bring to it. While this book lies These great men we trust that we know how on our table, we seem to be contemporaries to prize; and of these was Milton. The sight of the great poet. We are transported a hun- of his books, the sound of his name, are redred and fifty years back. We can almost freshing to us. His thoughts resemble those fancy that we are visiting him in his small celestial fruits and flowers which the Virgin lodging; that we see him sitting at the old or- Martyr of Massinger sent down from the gargan beneath the faded green hangings; that dens of Paradise to the earth, distinguished we can catch the quick twinkle of his eyes, from the productions of other soils, not only rolling in vain to find the day; that we are by their superior bloom and sweetness, but by reading in the lines of his noble countenance their miraculous efficacy to invigorate and to the proud and mournful history of his glory heal. They are powerful, not only to delight, and his affliction! We image to ourselves the but to elevate and purify. Nor do we envy breathless silence, in which we should listen the man who can study either the life or the to his slightest word; the passionate venera- writings of the great Poet and Patriot without tion with which we should kneel to kiss his aspiring to emulate, not indeed the sublime hand and weep upon it; the earnestness with works with which his genius has enriched our which we should endeavour to console him, if literature, but the zeal with which he laboured indeed such a spirit could need consolation, for for the public good, the fortitude with which the neglect of an age unworthy of his talents he endured every private calamity, the lofty and his virtues; the eagerness with which we disdain with which he looked down on temptashould contest with his daughters, or with his tion and dangers, the deadly hatred which he Quaker friend, Elwood, the privilege of read. bore to bigots and tyrants, and the faith which ing Homer to him, or of taking down the im- he so sternly kept with his country and with mortal accents which Aowed from his lips. his fame.



Those who have attended to the practice of monly described would seem to import that he oar literary tribunal are well aware that, by was the Tempter, the Evil Principle, the dise means of certain legal fictions similar to those coverer of ambition and revenge, the original of Westminster Hall, we are frequently en- inventor of perjury; that, before the publicaabled to take cognisance of cases lying beyond tion of his fatal Prince, there had never been a the sphere of our original jurisdiction. We hypocrite, a tyrant, or a traitor, a simulated need hardly say, therefore, that, in the present virtue or a convenient crime. One writer instance, M. Périer is merely a Richard Roe gravely assures us, that' Maurice of Saxony that his name is used for the sole purpose of learned all his fraudulent policy from that ex bringing Machiavelli into court-and that he ecrable volume. Another remarks, that since will not be mentioned in any subsequent stage it was translated into Turkish, the Sultans of the proceedings.

have been more addicted than formerly to the We doubt whether any name in literary his custom of strangling their brothers. Our own tory be so generally odious as that of the man foolish Lord Lyttleton charges the poor Floren whose character and writings we now propose tine with the manifold treasons of the House to consider. The terms in which he is com- of Guise, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew

Several authors have hinted that the Gunpor Cupres compléter de Machiavel, traduites par J. v. der Plot is to be primarily attributed to his PERIER. Paris, 1825.

doctrines, and seem to think that his efligy

ought to be substituted for that of Guy Fawkes, covered—in his Comedies, designed for the in those processions by which the ingenuous entertainment of the multitude—in his Com. youth of England annaally commemorate the ments on Livy, intended for the perusal of che preservation of the Three Estates. The Church most enthusiastic patriots of Florence-in his of Rome has pronounced his works accursed History, inscribed to one of the most amiable things. Nor have our own countrymen been and estimable of the Popes in his Public backward in testifying their opinion of his Despatches—in his private Memoranda, the merits. Out of his surname they have coined same obliquity of moral principle for which an epithet for a knave-and out of his Chris- the Prince is so severely censured is more or tian name a synonyme for the Devil.*

less discernible. We doubt whether it would It is indeed scarcely possible for any person, be possible to find, in all the many volumes not well acquainted with the history and litera- of his compositions, a single expression indie ture of Italy, to read, without horror and cating that dissimulation and treachery had amazement, the celebrated treatise which has ever struck him as discreditable. brought so much obloquy on the name of Ma- After this it may seem ridiculous to say, that chiavelli. Such a display of wickedness, naked, we are acquainted with few writings which yet not ashamed, such cool, judicious, scientific exhibit so much elevation of sentiment, so atrocity, seem rather to belong to a fiend than pure and warm a zeal for the public good, or to the most depraved of men. Principles so just a view of the duties and rights of citi which the most hardened ruffian would zens, as those of Machiavelli. Yet so it is. scarcely hint to his most trusted accomplice, And even from the Prince itself we could select or avow, without the disguise of some palliat- many passages in support of this remark. To ing sophism, even to his own mind, are pro- a reader of our age and country this incon. fessed without the slightest circumlocution, sistency is, at first, perfectly bewildering. The and assumed as the fundamental axioms of all whole man seems to be an enigma-a gropolitical science.

tesque assemblage of incongruous qualities-It is not strange that ordinary readers should selfishness and generosity, cruelty and benevoregard the author of such a book as the most lence, craft and simplicity, abject villany and depraved and shameless of human beings. romantic heroism. One sentence is such as a Wise men, however, have always been in- veteran diplomatist would scarcely write in clined to look with great suspicion on the an. cipher for the direction of his most confidengels and demons of the multitude; and in the tial spy: the next seems to be extracted from present instance, several circumstances have a theme composed by an ardent schoolboy on led even superficial observers to question the the death of Leonidas. An act of dexterous justice of the vulgar decision. It is notorious perfidy, and an act of patriotic self-devotion, that Machiavelli was, through life, a zealous call forth the same kind and the same degree republican. In the same year in which he of respectful admiration. The moral sensi composed his manual of Kingcraft, he suffered bility of the writer seems at once to be imprisonment and torture in the cause of morbidly obtuse and morbidly acute. Two public liberty. It seems inconceivable that characters altogether dissimilar are united in the martyr of freedom should have design- him. They are not merely joined, but inter edly acted as the apostle of tyranny. Several woven. They are the warp and the woof of eminent writers have, therefore, endeavoured his mind; and their combination, like that of to detect, in this unfortunate performance, the variegated threads in shot silk, gives to the some concealed meaning more consistent with whole texture a glancing and ever-changing the character and conduct of the author than appearance. The explanation might have that which appears at the first glance. been easy, if he had been a very weak or a

One hypothesis is, that Machiavelli intended very affected man. But he was evidently nei10 practice on the young Lorenzo de Medici a ther the one nor the other. His works prove fraud, similar to that which Sunderland is said beyond all contradiction, that his understand to have employed against our James the ing was strong, his laste pure, and his sense Second,—thai he urged his pupil to violent and of the ridiculous exquisitely keen. perfidious measures, as the surest means of This is strangemand yet the strangest is beaccelerating the moment of deliverance and hind. There is no reason whatever to think, revenge. Another supposition, which Lord that those amongst whom he lived saw any Bacon seems to countenance, is, that the treathing shocking or incongruous in his writingi tise was merely a piece of grave irony, in Abundant proofs remain of the high estimation tended to warn nations against the arts of in which both his works and his person were ambitious men. It would be easy to show that held by the most respectable among his con. neither of these solutions is consistent with temporaries. Clement the Seventh patronised many passages in the Prince itself. But the the publication of those very books which the most decisive refutation is that which is fur council of Trent, in the following generation. nished by the other works of Machiavelli. In pronounced unfit for the perusal of Christians, all the writings which he gave to the public, Some members of the democratical party cenand in all those which the research of editors sured the secretary for dedicating the Prince to a has, in the course of three centuries, dis- patron who bore the unpopular name of Medici.

But to those immoral doctrines, which have Nick Machiavel had ne'er a trick,

since called forth such severe reprehensions, Tho' he gave his name to our Old Nick. Hudibres, Part III. Conto I.

no exception appears to have been taken. The But, we believe, there is a schism on this subject among cry against them was first raised beyond the

Alps-and seems to have been heard with

the antiquariee.

amazement in Italy. The earliest assailant, as been to substitute a moral for a political servi far as we are aware, was a countryman of our tude, to exalt the Popes at the expense of the own, Cardinal Pole. The author of the Anti- Cæsars. Happily the public mind of Italy had Machiavelli was a French Protestant long contained the seeds of free opinions,

It is, therefore, in the state of moral feeling which were now rapidly developed by the geamong the Italians of those times, that we nial influence of free institutions. The people must seek for the real explanation of what of that country had observed the whole ma. seems most mysterious in the life and writings chinery of the church, its saints and its miraof this remarkable man. As this is a subject eles, its lofty pretensions and its splendid cerewhich suggests many interesting considera- monial, its worthless blessings and its harmless tions, Soth political and metaphysical, we shall curses, too long and too closely to be duped. inake no apology for discussing it at some They stood behind the scenes on which others length.

were gazing with childish awe and interest During the gloomy and disastrous centuries They witnessed the arrangement of the pul which followed the downfall of the Roman Em-leys, and the manufacture of the thunders, pire, Italy had preserved, in a far greater de- They saw the natural faces and heard the nagree than any other part of Western Europe, tural voices of the actors. Distant nations the traces of ancient civilization. The night looked on the Pope as the vicegerent of the which descended upon her was the night of an Almighty, the oracle of the All-wise, the um arctic summer :-the dawn began to reappear pire from whose decisions, in the disputes before the last reflection of the preceding san- either of theologians or of kings, no Christian set had faded from the horizon. It was in the ought to appeal. The Italians were acquaint time of the French Merovingians, and of the ed with all the follies of his youth, and with Saxon Heptarchy, that ignorance and ferocity all the dishonest arts by which he had attained seemed to have done their worst. Yet even power. They knew how often he had em then the Neapolitan provinces, recognising the ployed the keys of the church to release him authority of the Eastern Empire, preserved self from the most sacred engagements, and its something of Eastern knowledge and refine- wealth to pamper his mistresses and nephews. ment. Rome, protected by the sacred charac- The doctrines and rites of the established reter of its Pontiffs, enjoyed at least comparative ligion they treated with decent reverence. But security and repose.' Even in those regions though they still called themselves Catholics, where the sanguinary Lombards had fixed they had ceased to be Papists. Those spiritual their monarchy, there was incomparably more arms which carried terror into the palaces and of wealth, of information, of physical comfort, camps of the proudest sovereigns excited only and of social order, than could be found in their contempi. When Alexander commanded Gaul, Britain, or Germany.

our Henry the Second to submit to the lash That which most distinguished Italy from before the tomb of a rebellious subject, he was the neighbouring countries was the importance himself an exile. The Romans, apprehending which the population of the towns, from a very that he entertained designs against their liberearly period, began to acquire. Some cities ties, had driven him from their city; and, founded in wild and remote situations, by fu- though he solemnly promised to confine him. gitives who had escaped from the rage of the self for the future to his spiritual functions, barbarians, preserved their freedom by their they still refused to re-admit him. obscurity, till they became able to preserve it In every other part of Europe, a large and by their power. Others seemed to have re- powerful privileged class trampled on the peolained, under all the changing dynasties of ple and defied the government. But in the invaders, under Odoacer and Theodoric, Narses most flourishing parts of Italy the feudal no. and Alboin, the municipal institutions which bles were reduced to comparative insignifihad been conferred on them by the liberal cance. In some districts they took shelter policy of the Great Republic. In provinces under the protection of the powerful commonwhich the central government was too feeble wealths which they were unable to oppose, either to protect or to oppress, these institu- and gradually sunk into the mass of burghers. tions first acquired stability and vigour. The In others they possessed great influence; but citizens, defended by their walls and governed it was an influence widely different from that by their own magistrates and their own by- which was exercised by the chieftains of the laws, enjoyed a considerable share of republi- Transalpine kingdoms. They were tiot petcan independence. Thus a strong democratic ty princes, but eminent citizens. Instead spirit was called into action. The Carlovingian of strengthening their fastnesses among the sovereigns were too imbecile to subdue it. mountains, they embellished their places in The generous policy of Otho encouraged it. the market-place. The state of society in the It might perhaps have been suppressed by a Neapolitan dominions, and in some parts of close coalition between the Church and the the Ecclesiastical State, more nearly resembled Empire. It was fostered and invigorated by that which existed in the great monarchies of their disputes. In the twelfth century it Europe. But the governments of Lombardy attained its full vigour, and, after a long and and Tuscany, through all their revolutions, doubtful conflict, it triumphed over the abili- preserved a different character. A people, ties and courage of the Swabian Princes. when assembled in a town, is far more formi.

The assistance of the ecclesiastical power dable to its rulers than when dispersed over a had greatly coutributed to the success of the wide extent of country. The most arbitrary Guelis. That success would, however, have of the Cæsars found it necessary to feed and been a doubtful good, if its only effect had divert the inhabitants of their unwieldy capi

« VorigeDoorgaan »