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who with such strong hands and dauntless hearts, wrought out for us our political salvation. Possessing them, we might have said, that we should have known more of one of the greatest of men, and have been admitted into the presence-chamber of his every-day soul.-We should have had his opinions on the cardinal points of human and divine controversy, and have heard him, who in immortal accents dictated the “Paradise Lost," debate, and reason, and argue, as an orator, and a politician! Believing, with Coleridge, that poetry is the blossom and fragrancy of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language,—and that no man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher—we should certainly, reasoning from verse to prose, à priori, have said, that such a mind as Milton's, so sober and yet so fiery, so full and yet so strong, so replete with wisdom and so stored with learning, with such a mastery in the execution of all its movements, must, if roused and excited, and roused and excited it would undoubtedly be by any theme or cause in which the rights of man or the honour of God were concerned, have been equally splendid in any undertaking; and that even in the very different forms of prose and verse, or controversy and poetry, his efforts would be distinguished by the identical attributes of power and beauty ;-that the image and superscription upon each would be the same;—that with very little variation where it was possible, (for no one understood decorum better than Milton,) the very same terms in which a critic of his poetry would speak of that, especially of his didactic poetry, would be applicable to his prose; that probably the mannerism of the one would mark the other, and that there would be so striking a resemblance and analogy between them, that you might safely assert that the author of the one must be the author of the other. We should learn from one of his exquisite sonnets, that the utter loss of sight followed, and that he knew that it would follow, his exertions in composing a “Defence of the People of England” against Salmasius.

“overply'd
In Liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side."

How anxious should we have been to have examined and pored over that production, which the world had obtained from the magnanimous poet at such a price ! If such had been our anticipations and regrets, what would be our rapture, to have rescued a fraginent from the grasp of time, and have unrolled it?

That were indeed a bursting forth
Of genius from the dust!

In the teeth of these imaginary regrets, the fact is indisputable, that these works of John Milton (and in this respect they share the same fate with those of Jeremy Taylor and others of the same age, and of equal merit) are by the vast majority of his countrymen comparatively neglected--that tens of thousands of readers, and diligent ones too, in modern novelties, have never heard of Milton as aught else than as one of the powers of song. How is it that the world will do justice, (nominally at least,) to the minstrel, and not to the man,—thrill with his poetry, and neglect his prose? Is it sheer ignorance, or is it neglect? If the latter, there is not an equal instance of unworthy neglect on record. It is ultimately traceable to the elevated character of the writings themselves. John Milton was a teacher, and this world does not like to be taught. His “ fit audience," in the world, will always be “few.” The world's taste is but the handmaid and servant of a sterner and stronger power, whose empire lies in the passions of the depraved heart ; which, while unrenewed, never can and never will cease to treat both the highest poetry and the divinest philosophy with mingled hatred and contempt. The world will still slay the prophet, and then piously build his sepulchre. Whether they who profess to be the patrons of Christian literature, have joined the world in this good work, is another and a wider question.

It may not be amiss to advert to some accidental circumstances which may account for, though they cannot justify, the very general indifference with which these and similar works have been treated. We shall not allude to the ponderous and expensive form in which they have hitherto appeared: an impediment however of no mean importance.

Now that the prejudices against the regicides, under which opprobrious term are included all who bore part against King Charles I. in what is yet termed the “Great Rebellion," are wearing away, they need not be classed among the obstacles referred to. The principles of civil and religious liberty, which Milton and his compatriots contended for, have become part and parcel of the law of the land. The people feel, that the British Constitution, by the Revolution of 1688, is based upon the fragment of the Rebellion, and that the doctrines of the one are settled by the other. Tyranny, absolute-Charles the 1sttyranny, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is impossible. A few shadows and semblances of it may remain—but spectres are out of date

the sun is on the orient wave, Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave!

We have the happiness to live under a limited monarchy, with republican institutions-a mild aristocracy, a temperate but powerful democracy. But to whom are we indebted for these blessings ? Extremes meet. When men are secure they are ungrateful; and when they enjoy those rights for which their ancestors fought, they forget the peril and toil of the achievement. We must also remember that multitudes in this country are too busy with the present, to bestow much attention on the past or future, whether near or less remote. This is the case with many, too many, who are not destitute of liberal curiosity, or incapable of relishing the pleasures of taste, and cherishing the liveliest emotions of gratitude to their benefactors. They cannot, while under the perpetual pressure of the inexorable daily duties or pleasures of life, be either affected or attracted by any thing else.— These are causes which have been, and will always be, in action, and unless jealously watched, will dwarf us into a nation of pigmy“ toutos cosmites.”

We shall find too, in the literary injustice with which these works have been treated, and in the influence which the parties chargeable with it, have exercised over the public mind, another extrinsic cause of the neglect that has been poured upon them. The critics of Milton have hitherto confined, with one or two exceptions, their labours to his poetry,-a quarry which they have not yet exhausted. And as they seldom hare entered very deeply into the art itself, employing, as it must, in its evolution the language of real life, or prose, many, instead of being led by the one down to the other, are apt to conclude, that surpassing excellence in the higher department of literature is incompatible with success in the lower; overlooking or forgetting the well-known fact, that the best writers in prose have ever been the poets; that energy of thought or common sense is a characteristic of all genius; and that universality is the prerogative of the highest. Milton's moral and intellectual character has, for a long while, been tacitly placed under the guardianship of his most bitter antagonists. It unfortunately happens that the most popular of his biographers is his most malignant traducer. Dr. Johnson's treatment of Milton is, in every possible point of view, bad;

“ Unmanly, ignominious, infamous !"

The poetry is beyond the reach, though within the scope, of his "mighty malice;” and his meagre and contemptuous references in the life of their author, to his Prose Works, are as discreditable to his taste and insight as a philosopher, as his creed is disgraceful to him as an English politician. With an eye for no beauty, an ear for no music, a heart for no ecstasies, a soul in no unison with the sympathies of humanity, Dr. Johnson was fitly doomed to be the giant drudge of the Della Cruscan school; a thunderer, and yet his own Cyclops, whose task it was to forge the bolts of destruction, and whose glory to hurl them. Who that (and what numbers !) have formed their estimate of these Prose Works from his account of them, would have any idea of their real merits? If his report be fair and true, well might we exclaim with Manoah in the Samson Agonistes,

Oh! miserable change! Is this the man,
That invincible Samson, far renowned,
The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength
Equivalent to angels walked their streets,
None offering fight; who, single combatant,
Duell’d their armies, ranked in proud array,
Himself an army: now unequal match
To save himself against a coward armed
At one spear's length!

Johnson's life of Milton is a most disingenuous production. It is the trail of a serpent over all Milton's works. Nothing escaped the fang of detraction. Nothing in purity of manners and magnanimity of conduct, nothing in the sanctity of the bard, in the noble works, and yet nobler life, of the man, could shield his immeasurable superior from cowardly and almost savage malignity. He has treated his very ashes with indignity. He made himself merry with the mighty dead. He trampled, upon his memory and his grave. And who can deny that the traducer knew full well, that the heart of his countryman, then mouldering in the dust of death, had ever beaten high with the sublimest emotions of love to his country and to his God, and that the then powerless hand of our mightiest minstrel, could not be convicted of having ever penned a line which did not equally attest the purity of his motives and the splendour of his genius. But Johnson's misrepresentations and calumnies, and that heartless faction of which he was certainly an eminent representative, have had their day : and inconceivably injurious though they have been to the honour of John Milton, sure we are that the time is fast approaching, yea now is, when the man as well as the poet shall be redeemed from obloquy-not by any interpretation of his opinions however honest, or estimate of his character however correct, nor even by the panegyric of his admirers however eloquent (and some of surpassing merit have lately been pronounced); but the great achievement shall be won by himself, and by himself alone. With his own strong axe shall he hew down, not merely his adversaries, but their errors. Let him but be heard. The charges against him are in all hands; here, in this one volume, is to be found their triumphant, but neglected, refutation.

It is not generally known, that in the Dictionary Dr. Johnson takes a few examples of meanings of words from two only of these Prose Works, (the Tract on Education and the Areopagitica,) both of which do not occupy many pages of this edition, while the rest, teeming with illustrations equally interesting and appropriate, are not, we believe, once appealed to. In the Inaugural Discourse delivered by Henry Brougham, Esq. on being installed Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, is it not remarkable, that, when upon the very topic of eloquence, and that the eloquence of the English masters, and when urgently advising his young auditory to meditate on their beauties, there is not the slightest allusion to John Milton by name. “Addison,” says Brougham, (this cannot be an enumeration of all the favourites ?)“ may have been pure and elegant; Dryden airy and nervous; Taylor witty and fanciful (!!); Hooker weighty and various ;” but the young disciple hears not once mentioned the name of John Milton, whose writings are most

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deeply imbued with the spirit of that literature, to promote the study of which was the main object of this very discourse. Milton's profound acquaintance with the Greek authors, was equalled only by his enthusiastic admiration of them. The following testimony, taken from the first letter to Leonard Philara, the Athenian, might surely have given additional weight to the authority of the Lord Rector. To the writings of those illustrious men which your city has produced, in the perusal of which I have been occupied from my youth, it is with pleasure I confess that I am indebted for all my proficiency in literature.”

This is literary injustice. We cannot but regret that the illustrious individual we refer to, who has given an impulse to the mind of his age, favoured not his numerous disciples, and more numerous admirers, with a criticism

upon

the Areopagitica ” of the greatest “ schoolmaster” the world ever produced !

Certain parties in the state, who cannot endure any appeal to the criteria of experience, have set up a cry, "The wisdom of our ancestors!” The formidable phrase holds principally in politics, (and in this point of view it is a dangerous one, but like a parasitical weed it has begun to clasp round the literature of our forefathers, and should be rooted up. We are firm believers in the capabilities of moderns, and credit not the notion of necessary degeneracy; yet we must profess, that we hold in profoundest veneration that aggregate of communities which we call the past. The spirit of the vaunting cry we have referred to, would throw the world back into chaos. As far as individual minds are concerned, it would extinguish the divinest intellects that were ever enshrined in the form of man. Being the offspring of our fathers, we come into their stead. Why not avail ourselves of our advantages? Why not profit by our noblest inheritance? If we must suffer from the folly, why not make use of the wisdom, of our ancestors ? Englishmen, above all nations, may exclaiin, “What have we, that we have not received ?" What a treasure of moral and political wealth is there not laid up for us in the archives of the past! Even novelty itself is the effect of antiquity. We come into no new world ! We are cast into the ancient mould of things! Man springs from man, and age from age; therefore all the past bears upon the present, and we cannot understand thoroughly that which is, or is to be, without also knowing that which has been. Knowledge leans upon experience, and experience leans upon the past !

But it is not our intention to renew the foolish fight which obtained last century, between the ancients and the moderns. There is another party in the state who are perhaps the parents of the noxious phrase we have referred to, and should have been first noticed. These take it for granted, that the wisdom of our ancestors is that which is most like their own; and no wonder that they have brought it into contempt. Such admirers of the wisdom of our ancestors, may not meet with it here. True wisdom knows nothing of the terms ancient or modern, and her spheres are not so inharmoniously adjusted as to produce confusion, or come into collision. But within her magic circles of the past, rise up the awful spirits, “whose words are oracles for mankind, whose love embraces all countries, and whose voice sounds through all ages!"

The literary character of the times may also be unfavourable to our undertaking.– This is an age of tracts, not of folios--fruitful in flowers, rather than in the forest-trees of literature, which perhaps it is the tendency of civilization to root up or to fell. The mind of the country is to be irrigated, some say regenerated, by a sort of periodical garden-engines. For this purpose the fountains of the great deep are “ broken up,” but not into; yet when we remember that there is now read a vast deal more than ever, we cannot despair of an attempt to popularize in this “multum in parvo" shape, the Prose Works of our great poet. Their intrinsic merits, their former celebrity, their author's fame, the daily agitation all along since their publication, of the very principles which he advocated, and which thousands yet deny, should have swept away the curse of the dust from these volumes long since, and, in " such a nation as this, not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit,"

or

should, in spite of popular ingratitude or fickleness, or the fire of the common hangman, the cavils and scandals or cobwebs of party criticism, have opened their immortal pages, and caused them to be known and read of all men, who are capable of relishing works of art, or of comprehending or realizing truths, for the forgetfulness or rejection of any one of which," whole nations sometimes fare the worse.”

Principles, whether political or religious, are always important. As far as the former are concerned, we doubt not that our undertaking will be as successful as it is opportune. The spirit of the age is favourable to the truths which John Milton taught. The tracts on Ecclesiastical Policy possess as much interest now as when they were first published. This “ schoolmaster” is abroad : and a whole people shall rejoice in his instructions, as they once tcok refuge in his defence. An oracular and prophetical voice, long silenced, is again heard, warning his enemies, and guiding and encouraging his friends and followers, never more to be abashed !

The life and character of John Milton are well known, and the great political events of his time, have of late received satisfactory and abundant illustration. Omitting, therefore, biographical and historical details, it shall be our object to present the reader with a brief and simple account of the contents of this volume. We shall observe in our examination the order of chronology. All the works, with the exception of the letters, and a few others, are controversial, and relate equally and entirely to civil and religious liberty. They embrace a period of about nineteen years,—the most eventful in our history. It will be interesting, to take up here that account of himself which an ungenerous adversary had wrung from him,—and to prefix to our review such parts of it, as may throw the light of his own opinion on his own performances.

In “ The Second Defence of the People of England,” translated from the Latin by Robert Fellows, A. M. Oxon. he is led in self-defence to “rescue his life from that species of obscurity, which is the associate of unprincipled depravity.”

“ This it will be necessary for me to do on more accounts than one: first, that so many good and learned men among the neighbouring nations, who read my works, may not be induced by this fellow's calumnies, to alter the favourable opinion which they have formed of me; but may be persuaded that I am not one who ever disgraced beauty of sentiment by deformity of conduct, or the maxims of a freeman by the actions of a slave; and that the whole tenour of my life has, by the grace of God, hitherto been unsullied by any enormity or crime. Next, that those illustrious worthies, who are the objects of my praise, may know that nothing could afflict me with more shame than to have any vices of mine diminish the force or lessen the value of my panegyric upon them; and lastly, that the people of England, whom fate, or duty, or their own virtues, have incited me to defend, may be convinced from the purity and integrity of my life, that my defence, if it do not redound to their honour, can never be considered as their disgrace. I will now mention who and whence I am. I was born at London, of an honest family; my father was distinguished by the undeviating integrity of his life; my mother by the esteem in which she was held, and the alms which she bestowed. My father destined me from a child to the pursuits of literature; and my appetite for knowledge was so voracious, that from twelve years of age I hardly ever left my studies, or went to bed before midnight. This primarily led to my loss of sight. My eyes were naturally weak, and I was subject to frequent headaches; which, however, could not chill the ardour of my curiosity, or retard the progress of my improvement. My father had me daily instructed in the grammar school, and by other masters at home. He then, after I had acquired a proficiency in various languages, and had made a considerable progress in philosophy, sent me to the University of Cambridge. Here I passed seven years in the usual course of instruction and study, with the approbation of the good, and without any stain upon my character, till I took the degree of master of arts.

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