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edge that the tone of their minds was often in-icated into valor, defending without love, dejured by straining after things too high for stroying without hatred. There was a freemortal reach: and we know that, in spite of dom in their subserviency, a nobleness in their their hatred of Popery, they too often fell into very degradation. The sentiment of individthe worst vices of that bad system, intoler- ual independence was strong within them. ance and extravagant austerity, that they had They were indeed misled, but by no base or their anchorites and their crusades, their selfish motive. Compassion and romantic Dunstans and their De Monforts, their Domi- honor, the prejudices of childhood, and the nics and their Escobars. Yet, when all cir- venerable names of history, threw over them cumstances are taken into consideration, we a spell potent as that of Duessa; and like the do not hesitate to pronounce them a brave, a Red-Cross Knight, they thought that they wise, an honest, and an useful body.
were doing battle for an injured beauty, while The Puritans espoused the cause of civil they defended a false and loathsome sorceress. liberty mainly because it was the cause of re- In truth they scarcely entered at all into the ligion. There was another party, by no merits of the political question. It was not means numerous, but distinguished by learn- for a treacherous king or an intolerant church ing and ability, which acted with them on that they fought, but for the old banner very different principles. We speak of those which had waved in so many battles over the whom Cromwell was accustomed to call the heads of their fathers, and for the altars at Heathens, men who were, in the phraseology which they had received the hands of their of that time, doubting Thomases or careless brides. Though nothing could be more erroGallios with regard to religious subjects, but neous than their political opinions, they pospassionate worshippers of freedom. Heated sessed, in a far greater degree than their adby the study of ancient literature, they set up versaries, those qualities which are the grace their country as their idol, and proposed to of private life. With many of the vices of themselves the heroes of Plutarch as their ex- the Round Table, they had also many of its amples. They seem to have burne some re- virtues, courtesy, generosity, veracity, tendersemblance to the Brissotines of the French ness, and respect for women. They had far Revolution. But it is not very easy to draw more both of profound and of polite learning the line of distinction between them and their than the Puritans. Their manners were more devout associates, whose tone and manner engaging, their tempers more amiable, their they sometimes found it convenient to affect, tastes more elegant, and their households and sometimes, it is probable, imperceptibly more cheerful. adopted.
Milton did not strictly belong to any of the We now come to the Royalists. We shall classes which we have described. He was attempt to speak of them, as we have spoken not a Puritan. He was not a freethinker. of their antagonists, with perfect candor. He was not a Royalist. In his character the We shall not charge upon a whole party the noblest qualities of every party were combined profligacy and baseness of the horse-boys. in harmonious union. From the Parliament gamblers and bravoes, whom the hope of li- and from the Court, from the conventical and cense and plunder attracted from all the dens from the Gothic cloister, from the gloomy and of Whitefriars to the standard of Charles, and sepulchral circles of the Roundheads, and who disgraced their associates by excesses from the Christmas revel of the hospitable which, under the stricter discipline of the Cavalier, his nature selected and drew to itParliamentry armies, were never tolerated. self whatever was great and good, while it reWe will select a more favorable specimen. jected all the base and pernicious ingredients Thinking as we do that the cause of the King by which those finer elements were defiled. was the cause of bigotry and tyranny, we yet Like the Puritans, he lived cannot refrain from looking with compla
“As ever in his great task-master's eye." cency on the character of the honest old cavaliers. We feel a national pride in comparing Like them, he kept his mind continually fixed them with the instruments which the despots on an Almighty Judge and an eternal reward. of other countries are compelled to employ, And hence he acquired their contempt of exwith the mutes who throng their ante cham- ternal circumstances, their fortitude, their bers, and the Janissaries who mount guard at tranquillity, their inflexible resolution. But their gates. Our royalist countrymen were not the coolest skeptic or the most profane not heartless, dangling courtiers, bowing at scoffer was more perfectly free from the conevery step, and simpering at every word. tagion of their frantic delusions, their savage They were not mere machines for destruction, manners, their ludicrous jargon, their scorn dressed up in uniforms caned into skill, intox- of science, and their aversion to pleasure.
We cannot free the lady that sits here
Hating tyranny with a perfect hatred, he had should think for themselves as well as tax nevertheless all the estimable and ornamental themselves, and should be emancipated from qualities which were almost entirely monop- the dominion of prejudice as well as from that Olized by the party of the tyrant. There was of Charles. He knew that those who, with none who had a stronger sense of the value the best intentions, overlooked these schemes of literature, a finer relish for every elegant of reform, and contented themselves with amusement, or a more chivalrous delicacy of pulling down the King and in prisoning the honor and love. Though his opinions were malignants, acted like the heedless brothers democratic, his tastes and his associations in his own poem, who, in their eagerness to were such as harmonize best with monarchy disperse the train of the sorcerer, neglected and aristocracy. He was under the influence the means of liberating the captive. They of all the feelings by which the gallant Cava- thought only of conquering when they should liers were misled. But of those feelings he have thought of disenchanting. was the master and not the slave. Like the
"Oh, he mistook! Ye should have snatched his wand hero of Homer, he enjoyed all the pleasures
And bound him fast. Without the rod reversed, of fascination; but he was not fascinated. And backward mutters of dissevering power, He listened to the song of the Syrens; yet he
Bound in strong fetters fixed and motionless." glided by without being seduced to their fatal shore. He tasted the cup of Circe; but he To reverse the rod, to spell the charm backbore about him a sure antidote against the ef-ward, to break the ties which bound a stupefects of its bewitching sweetness. The allu-fied people to the seat of enchantment, was sions which captivated his imagination never the noble aim of Milton. To this all his public impaired his reasoning powers. The states- conduct was directed. For this he joined the man was proof against the splendor, the so- Presbyterians; for this he forsook them. He lemnity, and the romance which enchanted fought their perilous battle; but he turned the poet. Any person who will contrast the away with disdain from their insolent trisentiments expressed in his treatises on Prel- umph. He saw that they, like those whom acy with the exquisite lines on ecclesiastical they had vanquished, were hostile to the libarchitecture and music in the Penseroso, lerty of thought. He therefore joined the Inwhich was published about the same time, dependents, and called upon Cromwell to will understand our meaning. This is an in- break the secular chain, and to save free conconsistency which, more than any thing else, science from the paw of the Presbyterian wolf. raises his character in our estimation, because / With a view to the same great object, he atit shows how many private tastes and feelingstacked the licensing system, in that sublime he sacrificed, in order to do what he consid-treatise which every statesman should wear ered his duty to mankind. It is the very as a sign upon his hand and as frontlets bestruggle of the noble Othello. His heart re-tween his eyes. His attacks were, in general, lents: but his hand is firm. He does nought directed less against particular abuses than in hate, but all in honor. He kisses the beau- against those deeply-seated errors on which tiful deceiver before he destroys her.
almost all abuses are founded, the servile worThat from which the public character of ship of eminent men and the irrational dread Milton derives its great and peculiar splendor, of innovation. still remains to be mentioned. If he exerted That he might shake the foundations of himself to overthrow a forsworn king and a these debasing sentiments more effectually, persecuting bierarchy, he exerted himself in he always selected for himself the boldest conjunction with others. But the glory of literary services. He never came up in the the battle which he fought for the species of rear when the outworks had been carried and freedom which is the most valuable, and the breach entered. He pressed into the forwhich was then the least understood, the lorn hope. At the beginning of the changes, freedom of the human mind, is all his own. he wrote with incomparable energy and eloThousands and tens of thousands among his quence against the bishops. But, when his contemporaries raised their voices against opinion seemed likely to prevail, he passed Ship-money and the Star-chamber. But there on to other subjects, and abandoned prelacy were few indeed who discerned the more fear- to the crowd of writers who now hastened to ful evils of moral and intellectual slavery, and insult a falling party. There is no more hazthe benefits which would result from the lib- ardous enterprise than that of bearing the erty of the press and the unfettered exercise torch of truth into those dark and infected of private judgment. These were the objects recesses in which no light has ever shone. which Milton justly conceived to be the most But it was the choice and the pleasure of Milimportant. He was desirous that the people ton to penetrate the noisome vapors, and to brave the terrible explosion. Those who his eyes, rolling in vain to find the day; that most disapprove of his opinions must respect we are reading in the lines of his noble counthe hardihood with which he maintained tenance the proud and mournful history of them. He, in general, left to others the credit his glory and his affliction. We image to our. of expounding and defending the popular selves the breathless silence in which we parts of his religious and political creed. He should listen to his slightest word, the passiontook his own stand upon those which the ate veneration with which we should kneel great body of his countrymen reprobated as to kiss his hand and weep upon it, the earnestcriminal, or derided as paradoxical. He stood ness with which we should endeavor to conup for divorce and regicide. He attacked the sole him, if indeed such a spirit could need prevailing systems of education. His radiant consolation, for the neglect of an age unworand beneficent career resembled that of the thy of his talents and his virtues, the eagergod of light and fertility.
ness with which we should contest with his
daughters, or with his Quaker friend Elwood, “Nitor in adversum; nec me,qui cætera, vincit Impetus, et rapido contrarius evehor orbi."
the privilege of reading Homer to him, or of
taking down the immortal accents which It is to be regretted that the prose writings flowed from his lips. of Milton should, in our time, be so little read. These are perhaps foolish feelings. Yet we As compositions, they deserve the attention cannot be ashamed of them; nor shall we be of every man who wishes to become ac- sorry if what we have written shall in any quainted with the full power of the English degree excite them in other minds. We are language. They abound with passages com- not much in the habit of idolizing either the pared with which the finest declamations of living or the dead. And we think that there Burke sink into insignificance. They are a is no more certain indication of a weak and perfect field of cloth of gold. The style is ill-regulated intellect than that propensity stiff with gorgeous embroidery. Not even in which, for want of a better name, we will the earlier books of the Paradise Lost has the venture to christen Boswellism. But there great poet ever risen higher than in those are a few characters which have stood the parts of his controversial works in which his closest scrutiny and the severest tests, which feelings, excited by conflict, find a vent in have been tried in the furnace and have bursts of devotional and lyric rapture. It is, proved pure, which have been weighed in the to borrow his own majestic language, “a balance and have not been found wanting, seven-fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping which have been declared sterling by the symphonies."
general consent of mankind, and which are We had intended to look more closely at visibly stamped with the image and superthese performances, to analyze the peculiari-scription of the Most High. These great men ties of the diction, to dwell at some length on we trust that we know how to prize; and of the sublime wisdom of the Areopagitica and these was Milton. The sight of his books, the the nervous rhetoric of the Iconoclast, and to sound of his name, are pleasant to us. His point out some of those magnificent passages thoughts resemble those celestial fruits and which occur in the Treatise of Reformation, flowers which the Virgin Martyr of Massinand the Animadversions on the Remonstrant. ger sent down from the gardens of Paradise But the length to which our remarks have to the earth and which were distinguished already extended renders this impossible from the productions of other soils, not only
We must conclude.' And yet we can by superior bloom and sweetness, but by mi. scarcely tear ourselves away from the subject. raculous efficacy to invigorate and to heal. The days immediately following the publica- They are powerful, not only to delight, but to tion of this relic of Milton appear to be pe elevate and purify. Nor do we envy the man culiarly set apart, and consecrated to his who can study either the life or the writings memory. And we shall scarcely be censured of the great poet and patriot, without aspiring if, on this his festival, we be found lingering to emulate, not indeed the sublime works near his shrine, how worthless soever may be with which his genius has enriched our literathe offering which we bring to it. While ture, but the zeal with which he labored for this book lies on our table, we seem to be con- the public good, the fortitude with which he temporaries of the writer. We are trans- endured every private calamity, the lofty ported a hundred and fifty years back. We disdain with which he looked down on tempcan almost fancy that we are visiting him in tations and dangers, the deadly hatred which his small lodging; that we see him sitting at he bore to bigots and tyrants, and the faith the old organ beneath the faded green hang- which he so sternly kept with his country ings; that we can catch the quick twinkle of and with his fame.
tribe or caste, who derived their authority To the beloved and deplored memory of her who was the from inheritance or conquest, who, at all inspirer, and in part the author, of all that is best in my writ- events, did not hold it at the pleasure of the ings the friend and wife whose exalted sense of truth and right was my strongest incitement, and whose approbation governed, and whose supremacy men did not was my chief reward- I dedicate this volume. Like all that I venture, perhaps did not desire, to contest, have written for many years, it belongs as much to her as to whatever precautions might be taken against me; but the work as it stands has had, in a very insufficient degree, the inestimable advantage of her revision; some of "US Oppressive exercise. Their power was rethe most important portions having been reserved for a more garded as necessary, but also as highly dancaretul reexamination, which they are now never destined
gerous; as a weapon which they would atto receive. Were I but capable of interpreting to the world
tempt to use against their subjects, no less one half the great thoughts and noble feelings which are buried in her grave, I should be the medium of a greater ben than against external enemies. To prevent efit to it, than is ever likely to arise from anything that I can the weaker members of the community from write, unprompted and unassisted by her all but unrivalled
being preyed upon by innumerable vultures, wisdom.
it was needful that there should be an animal
of prey stronger than the rest, commissioned CHAPTER I.
to keep them down. But as the king of the vultures would be no less bent upon preying
on the flock than any of the minor harpies, it INTRODUCTORY.
was indispensable to be in a perpetual attitude · The subject of this Essay is not the so-called of defence against his beak and claws. The Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed aim, therefore, of patriots was to set limits to to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical the power which the ruler should be suffered Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the to exercise over the community; and this nature and limits of the power which can be limitation was what they meant by liberty. legitimately exercised by society over the in- It was attempted in two ways. First, by obdividual. A question seldom stated, and taining a recognition of certain immunities, hardly ever discussed, in general terms, but called political liberties or rights, which it which profoundly influences the practical was to be regarded as a breach of duty in the controversies of the age by its latent presence, ruler to infringe, and which if he did infringe, and is likely soon to make itself recognized specific resistance, or general rebellion, was as the vital question of the future. It is so held to be justifiable. A second, and generfar from being new, that, in a certain sense, it ally a later expedient, was the establishment has divided mankind, almost from the re- of constitutional checks, by which the conmotest ages; but in the stage of progress into sent of the community, or of a body of some which the more civilized portions of the spe- sort, supposed to represent its interests, was cies have now entered, it presents itself under made a necessary condition to some of the new conditions, and requires a different and more important acts of the governing power. more fundamental treatment.
To the first of these modes of limitation, the The struggle between Liberty and Author- ruling power, in most European countries, ity is the most conspicuous feature in the was compelled, more or less, to submit. It portions of history with which we are earliest was not so with the second; and, to attain familiar, particularly in that of Greece, Rome, this, or when already in some degree possessed, and England. But in old times this contest to attain it more completely, became everywas between subjects, or some classes of sub- where the principal object of the lovers of jects, and the Government. By liberty, was liberty. And so long as mankind were conmeant protection against the tyranny of the tent to combat one enemy by another, and political rulers. The rulers were conceived to be ruled by a master, on condition of (except in some of the popular governments being guaranteed more or less efficaciously of Greece) as in a necessarily antagonistic po- against his tyranny, they did not carry their sition to the people whom they ruled. They aspirations beyond this point. consisted of a governing One, or a governing! A time, however, came, in the progress of
human affairs, when men ceased to think it aan usurping few, and which, in any case, benecessity of nature that their governors longed, not to the permanent working of popushould be an independent power, opposed in lar institutions, but toa sudden and convulsive interest to themselves. It appeared to them outbreak against monarchical and aristocratic much better that the various magistrates of despotism. In time, however, a democratic the State should be their tenants or delegates, republic came to occupy a large portion of revocable at their pleasure. In that way the earth's surface, and made itself felt as one alone, it seemed, they could have complete of the most powerful members of the commusecurity that the powers of government would nity of nations; and elective and responsible never be abused to their disadvantage. By government became subject to the observadegrees this new demand for elective and tions and criticisms which wait upon a great temporary rulers became the prominent ob- existing fact. It was now perceived that ject of the exertions of the popular party, such phrases as 'self-government,' and 'the wherever any such party existed; and super- power of the people over themselves,' do not seded, to a considerable extent, the previous express the true state of the case. The peo efforts to limit the power of rulers. As the ple'who exercise the power are not always struggle proceeded for making the ruling the same people with those over whom it is power emanate from the periodical choice of exercised; and the 'self-government' spoken the ruled, some persons began to think that of is not the government of each by himself, too much importance had been attached to the but of each by all the rest. T'he will of the limitation of the power itself. That (it might people, moreover, practically means the will seem) was a resource against rulers whose in- of the most numerous or the most active part terests were habitually opposed to those of the of the people; the majority, or those who people. What was now wanted was, that the succeed in making themselves accepted as rulers should be identified with the people; the majority; the people, consequently, may that their interest and will should be the in- desire to oppress a part of their number; and terest and will of the nation. The nation did precautions are as much needed against this not need to be protected against its own will. as against any other abuse of power. The There was no fear of its tyrannizing over it- limitation, therefore, of the power of governself. Let the rulers be effectually responsible ment over individuals loses none of its imto it, promptly removable by it, and it couldportance when the holders of power are regafford to trust them with power of which it ularly accountable to the community, that is, could itself dictate the use to be made. Their to the strongest party therein. This view of power was but the nation's own power, con- things, recommending itself equally to the centrated, and in a form convenient for exer- intelligence of thinkers and to the inclination cise. This mode of thought, or rather per- of those important classes in European society haps of feeling, was common among the last to whose real or supposed interests democracy generation of European liberalism, in the is adverse, has had no difficulty in establishContinental.section of which it still apparently ing itself; and in political speculations · the predominates. Those who admit any limit to tyranny of the majority' is now generally inwhat a government may do, except in the cluded among the evils against which society case of such governments as they think requires to be on its guard. ought not to exist, stand out as brilliant ex- Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the ceptions among the political thinkers of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly held Continent. A similar tone of sentiment might in dread, chiefly as operating through tbe acts by this time have been prevalent in our own of the public authorities. But reflecting percountry, if the circumstances which for a sons perceived that when society is itself the time encouraged it, had continued unaltered. tyrant-society collectively, over the separate - But, in political and philosophical theories, individuals who compose it-its means of as well as in persons, success discloses faults tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts and infirmities which failure might have con- which it may do by the hands of its political cealed from observation. The notion, that functionaries. Society can and does execute the people have no need to limit their power its own mandates: and if it issues wrong over themselves, might seem axiomatic, when mandates instead of right, or any manpopular government was a thing only dreamed dates at ail in things with which it ought about, or read of as having existed at some not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny distant period of the past. Neither was that more formidable than many kinds of politnotion necessarily disturbed by such tempo-ical oppression since, though not usually uprary aberrations as those of the French Revo- held by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewlution, the worst of which were the work of er means of escape, penetrating much more