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He held also were deposited, reside."* that when the people would not elect such a council, it was the duty of any man who had the power to benefit his country, by declaring this to be his mind, and calling in the aid of the army to assist in the prosecution thereof. With such views, we do not see how he could have felt any very great scruple, under any circumstances, in continuing to adhere to the service of Cromwell after he became Protector. There can be no doubt that he regarded Oliver as the best man of his age. In his sonnet to the Protector, he expressly styles him, "Cromwell, our chief of men;" and in the apostrophe addressed to him in the "Defensio Secunda," he tells him, speaking of his elevation as Protector, "such power is thy due, thou liberator of thy country, author of her freedom, her guardian also and conservator." Why, then, should not he who desired to see England governed by her best men, consent to the supremacy of one whose superiority to all others was in his view unquestionable-of one whose services to his country threw those of all others into the shade of one who had alone showed himself competent to guide the vessel of the state through the storms and breakers amidst which it had been cast?
In ecclesiastical matters, Milton was wholly at one with the predominant party in the Commonwealth. He was the strenuous adHe desired vocate of liberty of conscience.
to see all sects on a footing of perfect equal-
*Ready Way to establish a Free Commonwealth,
See Letter to General Monk, vol. ii. p. 108.
the Liturgy of the Church of England, he had
It would be interesting to know in what light Milton was regarded by the great and good men whose names have come down to us as the religious leaders of that time. One would like to know what Owen thought of him; or Baxter, or Howe, or Godwin; all of whom must have known him, and been in the habit of meeting him at Whitehall. One can easily believe that with some of these men he had little sympathy; but between such a mind as that of Howe and such a mind as that of Milton, there must have been much that was congenial. But no trace remains of the intercourse of any of these parties with him; no indication of their judgment of him.
It would be impossible, we think, to infer from any portion of their or his published writings, either that they had read any of Milton's books, or that he had read any of theirs. The distance between him and them is, to all appearance, as great as if they and he had lived in different ages, and written in different tongues.
It is not easy to account for this. Perhaps Milton, in his fierce dislike of priests, was not disposed to have intercourse with any who sustained, however meekly and holily, the sacred profession. Perhaps his open neglect of forms of worship, and the public institutions of religion, led those good men to re
* Eiconoclastes, c. 16. Works, vol. i.
John Milton: his Life and Times, Religious and Political Opinions, &c. By Joseph Ivimey. Lond. 1833. 8vo.
gard him with suspicion, to shun his society, and to neglect his books. Perhaps they hardly deemed him altogether of sound mind, and thought the less they had to do with him and his crotchets the better. And it may be, that Milton was really what of late it has been confidently asserted he was, in heart an Arian; in which case, men such as those we have named would have shrunk from him with horror.
We state this latter suggestion as resting on an assumption which, at the best, is doubtful. The only direct evidence that Milton was imbued with the sentiments of the Arians, is supplied by his long-lost System of Divinity, recently brought to light and published, with a translation, by the Bishop of Winchester. But this evidence is greatly invalidated by the following circumstances: 1. Whilst in some passages of this work Milton speaks like an Arian, in others he uses language entirely incompatible with the Arian system. 2. There is no evidence to show that this work was the production of Milton's maturer years; so that, for aught that appears, it may contain only the crude conceptions of his earlier years. 3. There is no evidence to show that Milton ever wrote this work as one continuous composition, at any time. 4. there is abundant evidence to show that he was in the habit, during the course of his life, of compiling opinions on theology from the writings of foreign divines, whose words he quoted; so that, for aught we can tell, this treatise may be merely a compilation of opinions, many of which are naturally discordant, and which Milton may have cited for various reasons, and not always because he held the views expressed; and, 5. The MS. of this work is obviously incomplete, in many places it is interlined, and many slips containing additional matter, are pasted on the margin; so that what it would have become, had Milton prepared it for the press, we cannot say. It seems, therefore, hardly fair to the memory of the poet, to build on such a work any very serious charge against his orthodoxy; more especially as that charge is contradicted by express declarations contained in the works he himself published during his lifetime.* At
*In the Iconoclastes, he speaks of "the infections of Arian and Palagian heresies." (W. i. 483.) Comp. Par. Lost, iii. 138; Ode on Christ's Nativity'; Of Reformation in England, book ii. (Works, vol. ii., p. 417,) &c.
any rate, we may reasonably doubt whether it was to this he owed his manifest estrangement from the great evangelical sectaries of his day.
But whatever may have been the defects or errors of Milton's theological creed, it is impossible to refuse him the honor due to a life of the sincerest piety and the most dignified virtue. No man ever lived under a more abiding sense of responsibility. No man ever strove more faithfully to use time and talent "as ever in the great Taskmaster's eye." No man so richly endowed was ever less ready to trust in his own powers, or more prompt to own his dependence on "that eternal and propitial throne, where nothing is readier than grace and refuge to the distresses of mortal suppliants." His morality was of the loftiest order. He possessed a self-control which, in one susceptible of such vehement emotions, was marvelous. No one ever saw him indulging in those propensities which overcloud the mind and pollute the heart. No youthful excesses, no revelries or debaucheries of maturer years, treasured up for him a suffering and remorseful old age. From his youth up, he was temperate in all things, as became one who had consecrated himself to a life-struggle against vice, and error, and darknesss, in all its forms. He had started with the conviction "that he who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem; that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honorable, est things;" and from this he never swerved. His life was indeed a true poem; or it might be compared to an anthem on his own favorite organ-high-toned, solemn, and majestic. We may regret, that with all this stately elevation and severe purity of character, there was not mingled more of the sweetness and gentleness that ought to mark the Christian. But perfection was not the privilege of Milton, any more than of other men. enough for his eulogy to say, that with a genius such as has never been surpassed, and with attainments which have seldom been equaled, he combined the loftiest devotion, the most inflexible integrity, and the most severe self-command. He stands before us as the type of PURITANISM, in its noblest development, retaining all its stern virtue and passionate devotion, but without its coarseness, its intolerance, or its stoicism.
From Blackwood's Magazine.
Mémoires d'Outre Tombe. Par M. le VICOMTE DE CHATEAUBRIAND. 4 vols. Paris, 1846-9.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, when skillfully and judi- | ciously done, is one of the most delightful species of composition of which literature can boast. There is a strong desire in every intelligent and well-informed mind to be made acquainted with the private thoughts, and secret motives of action, of those who have filled the world with their renown. We long to learn their early history, to be made acquainted with their first aspirations-to learn how they became so great as they afterward turned out. Perhaps literature has sustained no greater loss than that of the memoirs which Hannibal wrote of his life and campaigns. From the few fragments of his sayings which Roman admiration or terror has preserved, his reach of thought and statesman-like sagacity would appear to have been equal to his military talents. Cæsar's Commentaries have always been admired; but there is some doubts whether they really were written by the dictator; and, supposing they were, they relate almost entirely to military movements and public events, without giving much insight into private character. It is that which we desire in autobiography: we hope to find in it a window by which we may look into a great man's mind. Plutarch's Lives owe their vast and enduring popularity to the insight into private character which the innumerable anecdotes he has
collected, of the heroes and statesmen of antiquity, afford.
Gibbon's autobiography is the most perfect account of an eminent man's life, from his own hand, which exists in any language. Independent of the interest which naturally belongs to it as the record of the studies, and the picture of the growth of the mind of the greatest historian of modern times, it possesses a peculiar charm from the simplicity
with which it is written, and the judgment it displays, conspicuous alike in what is revealed and what is withheld in the narrative. It steers the middle channel so difficult to find, so invaluable when found, between ridiculous vanity on the one side, and affected modesty on the other. We see, from many passages in it, that the author was fully aware of the vast contribution he had made to literature, and the firm basis on which he had built hist colossal fame. But he had good sense enough to see, that those great qualities were never so likely to impress the reader as when only cautiously alluded to by the author. He knew that vanity and ostentation never fail to make the character in which they predominate ridiculous-if excessive, contemptible; and that, although the world would thankfully receive all the details, how minute soever, connected with his immortal work, they would not take off his hands any symptom of his own entertaining the opinion of it which all others have formed. It is the consummate judgment with which Gibbon has given enough of the details connected with the preparation of his works to be interesting, and not enough to be ridiculous, which constitutes the great charm, and has occasioned the marked success, of his autobiography. There are few passages in the English language English language so popular as the wellknown ones in which he has recounted the first conception, and final completion of his history, which, as models of the kind, as well as passages of exquisite beauty, we cannot refuse ourselves the pleasure of transcribing, the more especially as they will set off, by way of contrast, the faults in some parallel passages attempted by Chateaubriand and Lamartine.
"At the distance of twenty-five years, I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the Eternal City. After a sleepless night, I trod with a lofty step the ruins of the Forum. Each memorable spot-where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Cæsar fell-was at once present to my eyes; and several days of intoxication were lost, or enjoyed, before I could descend to a cool and minute investigation. It was at Rome, on the 15th October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing this Decline and Fall of the city first started to my mind. But my original plan was circumscribed to the decay of the city, rather than of the empire; and though my reading and reflections began to point toward that object, some years elapsed, and several avocations intervened, before I was seriously engaged in the execution of that laborious work."-Life, p. 198, 8vo edition.
would be contrasted with its subsequent triumphant success. Amidst his many great and good qualities, there is none for which Sir Walter Scott was more admirable than the unaffected simplicity and good sense of his character, which led him to continue through life utterly unspotted by vanity, and unchanged by an amount of adulation from the most fascinating quarters, which would probably have turned the head of any other man. Among the many causes of regret which the world has for the catastrophes which overshadowed his latter years, it is not the least that it prevented the completion of that autobiography with which Mr. Lockhart has commenced his Life. His simplicity of character, and the vast number of eminent men with whom he was intimate, as well as the merit of that fragment itself, leave no room for doubt that he would have
Again, the well-known description of the made a most charming memoir, if he had
conclusion of his labors :
"I have presumed to mark the moment of conception: I shall now commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on recovery of my freedom, and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion; and that, whatever might be the future fate of my History, the life of the historian must be short and precarious."-Life, p. 255, 8vo edition.
Hume's account of his own life is a model of perspicuity, modesty, and good sense; but it is so brief that it scarcely can be called a biography. It is not fifty pages long. The wary Scotch author was well aware how vanity in such compositions defeats its own object he had too much good sense to let it appear in his pages. Perhaps, however, the existence of such a feeling in the recesses of his breast may be detected in the prominent manner in which he brings forward the discouragement he experienced when the first volume of his history was published, and the extremely limited sale it met with for some time after its first appearance. He knew well how these humble beginnings
lived to complete it.
This observation does not detract in the slightest degree from the credit justly due to Mr. Lockhart, for his admirable Life of his illustrious father-in-law: on the contrary, it forms its highest encomium. The charm of that work is mainly owing to its being so imbued with the spirit of the subject, that it may almost be regarded as an autobiography.
Continental writers of note have, more than English ones, fallen into that error which is of all others the most fatal in autobiography-inordinate vanity. At the head of all the delinquents of this class we must place Rousseau, whose celebrated Confessions contain a revelation of folly so extreme, vanity so excessive, and baseness so disgraceful, that it would pass for incredible if not proved by the book itself, which is to be found in every library. Not content with affirming, when past fifty, that there was no woman of fashion of whom he might not have made the conquest if he chose to set about it,* he thought fit to entertain the world with all the private details of his life, which the greater prudence of his most indiscreet biographers would have consigned to oblivion. No one who wishes to discredit the Genevese philosopher, need seek in the works of others for the grounds of doing so. Enough is to be found in his own to consign him to eternal execration and contempt. He has told us equally in detail, and with the same air of infantine simplicity, how he committed a theft
* "Il y a peu des femmes, meme dans le haut rang, dont je n'eusse fait la conquete si je l'avais enterprise."-Biographie Universelle, xxxix. 136.
when in service as a lackey, and permitted | horrors of the 10th August.-"Je connais an innocent girl, his fellow-servant, to bear bien les grands, mais jene connais pas les the penalty of it; how he alternately drank petits." He drew the vices of the former the wine in his master's cellars, and made love from observation, he painted the virtues of to his wife; how he corrupted one female the latter from imagination. Hence the abbenefactress who had sheltered him in ex-surdity and unnatural character of many of tremity of want, and afterward made a boast his dramas, which, to the inhabitant of our of her disgrace; and abandoned a male ben-free country, who is familiar with the real efactor who fell down in a fit of apoplexy on working of popular institutions, renders them, the streets of Lyons, and left him lying on despite their genius, quite ridiculous. But, the pavement, deserted by the only friend in the delineation of what passed in his own whom he had in the world. The author of breast, he is open to no such reproach. His so many eloquent declamations against moth- picture of his own feelings is as forcible and ers neglecting their children, on his own ad- dramatic as that of any he has drawn in his mission, when in easy circumstances, and tragedies; and it is far more truthful, for it impelled by no necessity, consigned five of is taken from nature, not an imaginary world his natural children to a foundling hospital, of his own creation, having little resemblance with such precautions against their being to that we see around us. His character and known that he never did or could hear of life were singularly calculated to make such them again! Such was his vanity, that he a narrative interesting, for never was one thought the world would gladly feed on the more completely tossed about by vehement crumbs of this sort which fell from the table passions, and abounding with melodramatic of the man rich in genius. His grand theory incidents. Alternately dreaming over the was that the human mind is born innocent, most passionate attachments, and laboring of with dispositions only to good, and that all his own accord at Dante fourteen hours a the evils of society arise from the follies of day; at one time making love to an English education or the oppression of government. nobleman's wife, and fighting him in the Park, Judging from the picture he has presented of at another driving through France with fourhimself, albeit debased by no education but teen blood horses in harness; now stealing what he himself had afforded, we should say from the Pretender his queen, now striving his disposition was more corrupt than has to emulate Sophocles in the energy of his even been imagined by the most dark-minded picture of the passions, he was himself a livand bigoted Calvinist that ever existed. ing example of the intensity of those feelings which he has so powerfully portrayed in his dramas. It is this variety, joined to the simplicity and candor of the confessions, which constitutes the charm of this very remarkable autobiography. It could have been written by no one but himself; for an ordinary biographer would only have described the incidents of his life, none else could have painted the vehement passions, the ardent aspirations, from which they sprang.
Alfieri was probably as vain in reality as Rousseau; but he knew better how to conceal it. He had not the folly of supposing that he could entertain women by the boastful detail of his conquests over them. He judged wisely, and more like a man who had met with bonnes fortunes, that he would attain more effectually the object of interesting their feelings, by painting their conquests over him. He has done this so fully, so sincerely, and with such eloquence, that he has made one of the most powerful pieces of biography in any language. Its charm consists in the picture he has drawn, with equal truth and art, of a man of the most impetuous and ardent temperament, alternately impelled by the strongest passions which can agitate the breast-love and ambition. Born of a noble family, inheriting a great fortune, he exhibited an uncommon combination of patrician tastes and feelings with republican principles and aspirations. He was a democrat because he knew the great by whom he was surrounded, and did not know the humble who were removed to a distance. He said this himself, after witnessing at Paris the VOL. XVIII. NO. III.
From the sketches of Goethe's life which have been preserved, it is evident that, though probably not less vain than the French philosopher or the Italian poet, his vanity took a different direction from either of theirs. He was neither vain of his turpitudes, like Rousseau, nor of his passions, like Alfieri.
His self-love was of a more domestic kind; it partook more of the home-scenes of the Fatherland. No one will question the depth of Goethe's knowledge of the heart, or the sagacity of the light which his genius has thrown on the most profound feelings of human nature. But his private life partook of the domestic