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culture by a theory which shivers at a breath, which is imposingly relative as to administrative forms and one particular nation, yet assumes to be ideal, when ideals are allusions,-is to convince us that the new faith, in the hands of its exponent, is a miserable make-shift, in its purely political aspects, afraid of its own methods, half conscience-stricken at its own negations, and perishing by what is little less than logical, unheroic suicide. We have not a word to say against the immense impetus Strauss has given to scientific theology, to rational criticism, to a legitimate collation of the Gospels—we willingly recognize the debt we owe him in these respects—but when he begins the work of re-construction on his own account, when he turns from Christian Society to political Constitutionalism, disintegrating the first, but lifting hands of adoration to the second, we are compelled to use expressions which seem harsh and ungenerous, and to adopt a style of arguinent which appears to combine unfair hostility with mocking impertinence, when neither the one nor the other is intended.
Theologians who do not believe in theology, and philosophers who philosophize in order to show the impossibility of philosophy, are usually intensely political. Logically, they cannot be otherwise. Human beings cannot all be working out, or watching others work out, the problem of man's physical origin. They have bread to win, competence to gain, and commonplace lives to live. They are affected by political stagnation, reaction, or progress. There is, or should be, always some thing to inspire and cheer them. A bad tax abolished, or a good one imposed, a change of government which gives them new power or higher responsibility, a programme which assists them in rising mentally or materially, is a matter of profound importance. What, for them, is man's evolution from the animal if they are to remain only a little higher; beasts of burden with the fine consciousness the beasts of the field do not possess ? This upward progress from feeble sentience to noble will and
moral yearning, is as nothing, if it is to be arrested, by outward self-imposed restrictions, ere it is half complete ; if men are to remain, in the mass, but superior members of that “immense world of musings and dumb sorrows" whence the race has been developed. Heaven has gone, with its immortality. Is earth also to go, with its possible compensations ? Even so, says Strauss. The animal has become man that the major part of man may remain animal. Submission and activity, according to “the idea of its kind," is the best for each class. Existing political forms must be accepted as final Animals struggle for existence, and develope new types. Individual man, perchance, may rise from one grade to another, by the help of natural endowment. Nations may war against each other for better boundaries. But there is a limit to political evolution - it must, or should, stop at Monarchy. To attempt modification, or expect it, as the result of slowly-moving forces, is to run counter to nature, or what he says is “divinely ordained,” to pray for wings instead of using our arms. Protected by the State, the citizen owes it corresponding allegiance. But, somehow, the State becomes more than the reaction of the whole upon its parts. It may not be altered ; it is something diviner than religion. A republic, we are warned,“would be finis Brilanniæ,"— that is, when a virtual republic becomes a nominal one, by the consent of the majority of its citizens, all power and glory would have departed. But, surely, their departure would precede registration, as the idea or the necessity would precede accomplishment. Political death would take place before the act of burial. And if national character determines constitutional machinery, the machinery in its turn must follow any transformation of character. The doctrine of the relativity of government means this, or it has no meaning, except as pure historical scholasticism.
Strauss's whole argument demands what he is so unwilling to concedeimmense political change. The con
tinued existence of the Christian Church is admitted by him to be “an open question,” and he warns us, and his friends, in his introduction, that " for a new constructive organization (not of a Church, but, after the latter's ultimate decay, a fresh co-ordination of the ideal elements in the life of nations) the times seem to us not yet ripe?” What is to ripen them ? Decay in the Church, without corresponding changes in secular authority and constitution ? The conflict between Rome and Berlin is significant, and may be the beginning of the end. Other forces are wondrously active. The human stream, ruddy with corpuscles, circulates into new channels. New States are rising up, like new continents, from the abyss. Old ones are suffering encroachment, submersion, and, occasionally, re-elevation. Industrial centres may shift themselves. In some instances, under man's own in fluence, climate may change. Solar
phenomena may disturb our most cunning calculations. But will the political history of the future be a mere fitful recrudescence ? Has the doctrine of evolution come to this, that it robs man of any future whatever, divine or earthly, that shall be better than the present? If so, we welcome any illusion, any set of illusions, that will give us a pleasant dream. The descent of man may be solved, but the solution will end in a blank. A religion that “ gives us working men, heaven, and nothing else," was rejected by a burly, fibrous democrat, in Felix Holt ; but a philosophy that gives man neither heaven nor anything else in the future worth living for, and capable of stirring the heart's pulses, will be scornfully and justly rejected by all, without any distinction of class. Strauss, the politician, will have extinguished Strauss, the philosopher.
MASSON'S LIFE OF MILTON.1
PROFESSOR Masson's remarkable work
-remarkable alike for its ability and the unwearied industry of the author, as well as for its importance as an exhaustive treatment of a magnificent subject is making progress. True, the present volume seems to cover but little of the ground which yet remains to be traversed in connection with the poet, but the original intention of the biographer must not be forgotten ; which was to give Milton's life in its relation to all the more notable phenomena of the period of British history in wbich it was cast-embracing its politics, its literature, and its ecclesiastical changes. Such a task may well appear stupendous, but Mr. Masson still exhibits the same devotion and assiduity in the continua tion of his magnum opus which was manifested on a perusal of the first volume. To all apprehension it will yet take some two or three volumes to complete the work; but if the hand do not lose its cunning, no one will regret the fact, or have to complain of a waning interest in the undertaking. The time occupied in the third volume deals with but six years of Milton's life, but those six years are not only important as regards the poet, but are amongst the most remarkable years in English his tory. They are the years in which was fought the greatest constitutional battle which this kingdom has ever known ; and Mr. Masson needs no other justification than this for his elaborate treatment of them. All new facts which can be brought to light, and every fresh revivification of old ones, whencesoever they come, will be welcomed by the student, in their relation to this vitally
interesting period. Notwithstanding the brilliant passages in which Macaulay has dealt with the great struggle of King versus People in the seventeenth century, and notwithstanding the calm philosophic spirit which Hallam has brought to bear upon it, we feel that there is nothing in the volume now under consideration of which we would willingly be deprived.
The scope of the whole work, respecting which it will be à propos to say something here, is prodigious, and the method of the historian of the broadest and most comprehensive character. Remembering the basis upon which the Life was commenced, it cannot be matter of surprise that Mr. Masson's labours should prove to be of a more gigantic description than was originally expected. And yet we challenge any critic to say what portion of the three volumes already published could have been spared, or sensibly diminished, if justice was to be done to the great theme in all its aspects. A less conscientious or less painstaking biographer might have hurried rapidly over scenes which Mr. Masson has carefully elaborated; but the result would have been this—that we should still have been compelled to look elsewhere for that wide and full combination of history and biography which was completely wanting till the appearance of this work. The world wants in connection with Milton-much more even than it does in connection with Shakspeare—a written record that is "not for an age but for all time.” Had Milton been a private individual, a much more restricted biography would have been sufficient; but the fact remains that not only did he play a most con. spicuous part in the social and political history of his country, but that even his poetry bore the impress of the stirring times in which he lived. Mr.
1 «The Life of John Milton : narrated in connection with the Political, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of his Time." By David Masson, M.A., LL.D. Vol. iii. London: Macmillan and Co.
Masson has amply and conscientiously an exhaustive statement respecting Engdemonstrated this point. It may be lish Presbyterianism and English Indeassumed without fear of contradiction pendency, showing unwearied research that had this work appeared under a on the part of the compiler. For the more general title (which in strict ac- fulness with which these subjects alone cordance with its sweep it perhaps de- are treated, this portion of the work is serves) it would have been welcomed as most invaluable. The biographical part a piece of history worthy to take rank of the volume brings us down to the with almost any other great historical period of Milton's marriage, after havefforts of recent generations. There is ing recapitulated his pamphlets against naturally some difficulty in the nomen- Episcopacy, and detailed their arguclature of such an undertaking as this. ments, the summary of these literary Whether we regard it as a biography of effusions being accompanied by copious Milton, as a political history of his time, and necessary extracts from the pamphor as a history of its literature, it is lets theniselves. The history proper equally full, important, and worthy of deals with the Scottish Presbyterian consideration. The survey of English Revolt, the sitting of the Long Parlialiterature to be found in the first ment, and the meeting of the Westvolume is not only one of the most ad- minster Assembly. Such is a very brief mirable pieces of writing of its kind statement of what has been accomplished which we have, but of the highest value in the first two volumes, and it is imas regards fact and criticism. Begin- possible to see how, having once set ning with a review of the works of Ben himself to the task of dealing with his Jonson, we are led down through the subject in the broadest possible manner Elizabethan dramatists, the Spenserian as the only one befitting its dignity, school of poetry, the metaphysical and Mr. Masson could have receded or rereligious writers, the pulpit celebrities trenched in any degree. and others, till we come to the days of Having arrived, however, at the close Clarendon, and the brilliant clique of of this third volume, at a natural restinghis period. Then, regarding the volume stage, both in national and personal in another light, what could be more events, it is our present purpose to note interesting than that portion of it which briefly what has been done in such ingives the record of Milton's own life : stalment. To those who may demur The story of his youth and college career that they are at times unable to trace is of the most deeply entertaining cha- the connection between the historical racter, and Mr. Masson shows us how, and biographical part of this work, the by the defeat of a project for bringing answer of Mr. Masson will, we think, up Milton to the Church, England was be tolerably conclusive. As we have probably saved from the loss of one of already in effect remarked, the relation her greatest poets. As to the biograpbi- of events in the national history to cal sketches in the volume, note how Milton may not always be apparent, carefully and minutely they are painted, but as he was very largely moulded by with not a scintillation of prejudice. the times in which he lived, we cannot Even Archbishop Laud-with whose accurately gauge his character without views Mr. Masson could never have the having a clear understanding of the slightest sympathy—is drawn with the social and political history of the utmost conscientiousness, the touches period. Besides, in the years when being most truthful, and the whole por- Milton had not come to the front as trait being executed without the slight- a public person-except in the way of est tinge of bitterness. The second helping on the triumph of the cause volume is written, too, with the same of the people and of progress by elaborateness and breadth of method as the publication of his powerful pamphthe first. Here we get, in addition to lets—the education of the man was the biography and the general history, silently going on ; the education, we
mean, in understanding and comprehending humanity, the human life which surrounded him, and in whose struggles it was impossible for him to maintain an eternal silence. Though we may not adequately perceive it, his connection with the important series of events which led to the death of King Charles must have been of a close and operative character.
It is in the brief space of time with which we have to deal, that the foundations were deeply laid for the ultimate recognition of the great principle of Liberty of Conscience. And in judgments of this time it would be well for those who charge the leaders of the Commonwealth with too great harshness, to remember that the struggle was a deadly one. Whatever opinion may be held as to the treatment accorded to King Charles, that circumstance is but a secondary matter and a consequence upon facts which are far greater in significance. It will not be denied that Prelacy was largely responsible for the vengeance which overtook the Royalists: in fact, had not Prelacy thrown in its entire weight with tyranny and in many respects led the way for it, the great encounter between Divine Right and Freedom might have been postponed for some generations. Come it must, at some time or other; there never was the slightest sign of an approximation towards agreement between the rival forces. Each step taken by the leaders on both sides widened the breach : the distinguished thinkers of the popular party made advances in toleration which but a few years before would have filled even themselves with astonishment; whilst the Prelatists and Royalists, alarmed at what they considered the progress of infidelity and the uprooting of the bases of society, entrenched themselves in arrogant positions, and showed in every movement a greater repugnance to treat with their opponents. The story is wonderfully interesting; it never loses its freshness. With all the gloom of the civil war there still remains a glory in connection with the great Revolution, which is one of
the noblest lights of England's history. The basis of the struggle was not a narrow one; it was no mere misrepresentation or misunderstanding; it was not found in a single isolated act of tyranny: it was a war between powers of great magnitude ; and if we ask now why the people succeeded, we find the answer in the fact that, in the long run, reason must always overcome prejudice. Something, also, is due to be said for the heroes who took part in the struggle. They were animated, as a whole, by no vulgar desire for personal aggrandizement; it is a splendid tribute to them to see many men of almost unexampled learning and parts banded together without a traitor or self-seeker amongst them- banded together, not alone to assert their own rights of conscience, but to establish within secured limits the principle of freedom for succeeding generations. At this distance we are able to perceive wherein lay the strength of the men of the Commonwealth. Their piety, for which they have often been taunted, was more liberal than piety too often is, and did not degenerate into persecution, imagining that it could not endure unless it established itself in fear and the subjection of all dissentients. Add to this their burning love of freedom and their directness of aim, a grand singleness of purpose, and there is little need to travel further in order to understand the phenomena of that most eventful political era.
The present volume opens with the Westininster Assembly in session, in July 1643. The Assembly was engaged in revising the Articles ; a business, however, suspended for a more momentous matter, viz., the passing of the Solemn League and Covenant. This was a document drawn up by Alexander Henderson, for the purpose of linking the Scottish and English nations in a permanent civil and religious alliance. It had some important issues : it purged the Assembly of persons inimical to reform, and brought assistance to the deliberations in the persons of the Scotch Commissioners. It was pot long before the great contest, Presbyterial