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Still hae a stake

I'm wae to think upo' yon den,
Ev'n for your sake!

I need not say that these thoughts, which are here dilated, were in such a company only rapidly suggested, Our kind host smiled, and with a courteous compliment observed, that the defence was too good for the cause. My voice faltered a little, for I was somewhat agitated; though not so much on my own account as for the uneasiness that so kind and friendly a man would feel from the thought that he had been the occasion of distressing me. At length I brought out these words: "I must now confess, sir, that I am the author of that poem. It was written some years ago. I do not attempt to justify my past self, young as I then was; but as little as I would now write a similar poem, so far was I even then from imagining, that the lines would be taken as more or less than a ort of fancy. At all events, if I know my own heart, there was never a moment in my existence in which I should have been more ready, had Mr. Pitt's person been in hazard, to interpose my own body, and defended his life at the risk of my own."

I have prefaced the poem with this anecdote, because to have printed it without any remark might well have been understood as implying an unconditional approbation on my part, and this after many years' consideration. But if it be asked why I re-published it at all, I answer, that the poem had been attributed at different times to different other persons; and what I had dared beget, I thought it neither manly nor honorable not to dare father. From the same motives I should have published perfect copies of two poems, the one entitled The Devil's Thoughts,* and the other, The Two round Spaces on the Tomb-Stone, but that the first three stanzas of the former, which were worth all the rest of the poem, and the best stanza of the remainder, were written by a friend of deserved celebrity; and because there are passages in both, which might have given offence to the religious feelings of certain readers. I myself indeed see no reason why vulgar superstitions and absurd conceptions that deform the pure faith of a Christian, should possess a greater immunity from ridicule than sto

* See p. 306.

ries of witches, or the fables of Greece and Rome. But there are those who deem it profaneness and irreverence to call an ape an ape, if it but wear a monk's cowl on its head; and I would rather reason with this weakness than offend it.

The passage from Jeremy Taylor to which I referred, is found in his second Sermon on Christ's Advent to Judgment; which is likewise the second in his year's course of sermons. Among many remarkable passages of the same character in those discourses, I have selected this as the most so: "But when this Lion of the tribe of Judah shall appear, then Justice shall strike, and Mercy shall not hold her hands; she shall strike sore strokes, and Pity shall not break the blow. As there are treasures of good things, so hath God a treasure of wrath and fury, and scourges and scorpions; and then shall be produced the shame of lust and the malice of envy, and the groans of the oppressed, and the persecutions of the saints, and the cares of covetousness and the troubles of ambition, and the insolence of traitors, and the violence of rebels, and the rage of anger, and the uneasiness of impatience, and the restlessness of unlawful desires; and by this time the monsters and diseases will be numerous and intolerable, when God's heavy hand shall press the sanies and the intolerableness, the obliquity and the unreasonableness, the amazement and the disorder, the smart and the sorrow, the guilt and the punishment, out from all our sins, and pour them into one chalice, and mingle them with an infinite wrath, and make the wicked drink off all the vengeance, and force it down their unwilling throats with the violence of devils and accursed spirits."

That this Tartarean drench displays the imagination rather than the discretion of the compounder; that, in short, this passage and others of the same kind are in a bad taste, few will deny at the present day. It would, doubtless, have more behoved the good bishop not to be wise beyond what is written on a subject in which Eternity is opposed to Time, and a death threatened, not the Negative, but the positive Opposite of Life; a subject, therefore, which must of necessity be indescribable to the human understanding in our present state. But I can neither find nor believe, that it ever occurred to any reader to ground ou

have been meritorious against him, no charge was made, no story pretended, that he had ever directly or indirectly engaged or assisted in their persecution. Oh! methinks there are other and far better feelings, which should be acquired by the perusal of our great elder writers. When I have before me on the same table, the works of Hammond and Baxter; when I reflect with what joy and dearness their blessed spirits are now loving each other; it seems a mournful thing that their names should be perverted to an occasion of bitterness among us, who are enjoying that happy mean which the human too-much on both sides was perhaps necessary to produce. The tangle of delusions which stifled and distorted the growing tree of our wellbeing has been torn away; the parasite weeds that fed on its very roots have been plucked up with a salutary violence. To us there remain only quiet duties, the constant care, the gradual improvement, the cautious unhazardous labors of the industrious though contented gardener-to prune, to strengthen, to engraft, and one by one to remove from its leaves and fresh shoots the slug and the caterpillar. But far be it from us to undervalue with light and senseless detraction the conscientious hardihood of our predecessors, or even to condemn in them that vehemence, to which the blessings it won for us leave us now neither temptation nor pretext. We ante-date the feelings, in order to criminate the authors of our present liberty, light, and toleration.”*

If ever two great men might seem, during their whole lives, to have moved in direct opposition, though neither of them has at any time introduced the name of the other, Milton and Jeremy Taylor were they. The former commenced his career by attacking the Church-Liturgy and all set forms of prayer. The latter, but far more successfully, by defending both. Milton's next work was then against the Prelacy and the then existing Church-GovernmentTaylor's in vindication and support of them. Milton became more and more a stern republican, or rather an advocate for that religious and moral aristocracy, which in his day was called republicanism, and which, even more than royalism itself, is the direct antipode of modern jacobinism. Taylor, as more and more sceptical concerning the

*The Friend, p. 54 (See vol. i. p. 82, 3d ed.).

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careful re-perusal could discover, any other meaning, either in Milton or Taylor, but that good men will be rewarded, and the impenitent wicked punished, in proportion to their dispositions and intentional acts in this life; and that if the punishment of the least wicked be fearful beyond conception, all words and descriptions must be so far true, that they must fall short of the punishment that awaits the transcendently wicked: Had Milton stated either his ideal of virtue, or of depravity, as an individual or individuals actually existing ? Certainly not. Is this representation worded historically, or only hypothetically? Assuredly the latter. Does he express it as his own wish, that after death they should suffer these tortures? or as a general consequence, deduced from reason and revelation, that such will be their fate? Again, the latter only. His wish is expressly confined to a speedy stop being put by Providence to their power of inflicting misery on others. But did he name or refer to any persons living or dead? No. But the calumniators of Milton dare say (for what will calumny not dare say?) that he had Laud and Strafford in his mind, while writing of remorseless persecution, and the enslavement of a free country, from motives of selfish ambition. Now, what if a stern anti-prelatist should dare say, that in speaking of the insolencies of traitors and the violence of rebels, Bishop Taylor must have individualized in his mind Hampden, Hollis, Pym, Fairfax, Ireton, and Milton ? And what if he should take the liberty of concluding, that, in the after description, the Bishop was feeding and feasting his party-hatred, and with those individuals before the eyes of his imagination enjoying, trait by trait, horror after horror, the picture of their intolerable agonies? Yet this bigot would have an equal right thus to criminate the one good and great man, as these men have to criminate the other. Milton has said, and I doubt not but that Taylor with equal truth could have said it," that in his whole life he never spake against a man even that his skin should be grazed." He asserted this when one of his opponents (either Bishop Hall or his nephew) had called upon the women and children in the streets to take up stones and stone him (Milton). It is known that Milton repeatedly used his interest to protect the royalists; but even at a time when all lies would

have been meritorious against him, no charge was made, no story pretended, that he had ever directly or indirectly engaged or assisted in their persecution. Oh! methinks there are other and far better feelings, which should be acquired by the perusal of our great elder writers. When I have before me on the same table, the works of Hammond and Baxter; when I reflect with what joy and dearness their blessed spirits are now loving each other; it seems a mournful thing that their names should be perverted to an occasion of bitterness among us, who are enjoying that happy mean which the human too-much on both sides was perhaps necessary to produce. "The tangle of delusions which stifled and distorted the growing tree of our wellbeing has been torn away; the parasite weeds that fed on its very roots have been plucked up with a salutary violence. To us there remain only quiet duties, the constant care, the gradual improvement, the cautious unhazardous labors of the industrious though contented gardener—to prune, to strengthen, to engraft, and one by one to remove from its leaves and fresh shoots the slug and the caterpillar. But far be it from us to undervalue with light and senseless detraction the conscientious hardihood of our predecessors, or even to condemn in them that vehemence, to which the blessings it won for us leave us now neither temptation nor pretext. We ante-date the feelings, in order to criminate the authors of our present liberty, light, and toleration."*

If ever two great men might seem, during their whole lives, to have moved in direct opposition, though neither of them has at any time introduced the name of the other, Milton and Jeremy Taylor were they. The former commenced his career by attacking the Church-Liturgy and all set forms of prayer. The latter, but far more successfully, by defending both. Milton's next work was then against the Prelacy and the then existing Church-GovernmentTaylor's in vindication and support of them. Milton became more and more a stern republican, or rather an advocate for that religious and moral aristocracy, which in his day was called republicanism, and which, even more than royalism itself, is the direct antipode of modern jacobinism. Taylor, as more and more sceptical concerning the

*The Friend, p. 54 (See vol. i. p. 82, 3d ed.).

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