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faith in religion to have been small; your character with posterity will dwindle into insignificance, by which a most destructive blow will be levelled against the happiness of mankind. The work which you have undertaken is of incalculable moment, which will thoroughly sift and expose every principle and sensation of your heart, which will fully display the vigour and genius of your character, which will evince whether you really possess those great qualities of piety, fidelity, justice, and self-denial, which made us believe that you were elevated by the special direction of the Deity to the highest pinnacle of power. At once wisely and discreetly to hold the sceptre over three powerful nations, to persuade people to relinquish inveterate and corrupt for new and more beneficial maxims and institutions, to penetrate into the remotest parts of the country, to have the mind present and operative in every quarter, to watch against surprise, to provide against danger, to reject the blandishments of pleasure and the pomp of power;—these are exertions, compared with which the labour of war is mere pastime; which will require every energy and employ every faculty that you possess; which demand a man supported from above, and almost instructed by immediate inspiration.”
I add to this some important queries, applicable to all times, addressed by the great politician to the people themselves. They will be read at this time with the deepest interest:
“ For who would vindicate your right of unrestrained suffrage, or of choosing what representatives you liked best, merely that you might elect the creatures of your own faction, whoever they might be, or him, however small might be his worth, who would give you the most lavish feasts, and enable you to drink to the greatest excess ? Thus not wisdom and authority, but turbulence and gluttony, would soon exalt the vilest miscreants from our taverns and our brothels, from our towns and villages, to the rank and dignity of senators. For, should the management of the republic be entrusted to persons to whom no one would willingly entrust the management of his private concerns; and the treasury of the state be left to the care of those who had lavished their own fortunes in an infamous prodigality? Should they have the charge of the public purse, which they would soon convert into a private, by their unprincipled peculations? Are they fit to be the legislators of a whole people who themselves know not what law, what reason, what right and wrong, what crooked and straight, what licit and illicit means? who think that all power consists in outrage, all dignity in the parade of insolence? who neglect every other consideration for the corrupt gratification of their friendships, or the prosecution of their resentments ? who disperse their own relations and creatures through the provinces, for the sake of levying taxes and confiscating goods ; men, for the greater part, the most profligate and vile, who buy up for themselves what they pretend to expose to sale, who thence collect an exorbitant mass of wealth, which they fraudulently divert from the public service; who thus spread their pillage through the country, and in a moment emerge from penury and rags to a state of splendour and of wealth? Who could endure such thievish servants, such vicegerents of their lords? Who could believe that the masters and the patrons of a banditti could be the proper guardians of liberty? or who would suppose that he should ever be made one hair more free by such a set of public functionaries, (though they might amount to five hundred elected in this manner from the counties and boroughs,) when among them who are the very guardians of liberty, and to whose custody it is committed, there must be so many, who know not either how to use or to enjoy liberty, who either understand the principles or merit the possession ?”
I now resume my remarks upon the poet's genius and acquirements. · Milton's knowledge of human nature was confined to general traits : he had not detected the minute foldings and smaller particularities, nor opened those secret movements of the passions, which familiarise us with private life. All was drawn with the enlarged eye of his own magnificent mind. In this respect he was utterly dissimilar to Shakspeare: he had none of the dramatist's playfulness and flexibility. Milton was always Milton, as Byron was always Byron: neither of them could transport himself into other characters. He spoke of others as an observer; not as. identified with them. It appears to me, that this individuality will be found to go through all Mil. ton's writings, and all the conduct of his life: he lived among a world of inferior beings, to whom his stern sublimity could not conform. This showed itself in the very outset of his career,-at college,—where he rebelled against academical discipline; and to this in a great degree may be attributed the vehement and relentless part he took against royalty, and also his separation from the sect with whom he commenced his warfare against the throne.
Villemaine, in his life of the poet in the · Biographie Universelle,' notices this inflexibility, and the unfitness for practical commerce with the world which it caused. . Yet hence arose many of the grand thoughts and gigantic images that adorned and exalted bis poetry : thus he never fell beneath his lofty sphere. Such is the view I take of him in his private character: my business is not to repeat what I find in other books, but to examine for myself. I do not undertake to bring together all which has been said already; on the contrary, much which has been said before seems to me to be on that account not necessary to be said again; I do not desire to supersede other biographers, but rather wish to be admitted among them. I have the hope of saying something which is not to be found elsewhere, and such as will gain the assent of others at least for its probability ; for I scorn to seek for novelty at the expense of truth.
All the facts of Milton's life have been labori. ously searched for, and brought forward already : opinions upon them are not yet exhausted : unfortunately too many biographers copy each other in this portion of their task: they are either incapable of thinking for themselves, or they do not venture it: they scarcely even vary the expressions. The effect of this is nausea to the purchaser of such books: the “decies repetita" is always repulsive. Perhaps it will be answered, that what had been before observed was just, and therefore required no alteration : if so, the public did not want the renewal of that of which it was in possession.
Johnson is a critic who has always been a favourite with English readers : his piquancy and severity please; but these, when applied to Milton, are by persons of imagination or taste read with distaste from their perverse and wilful malignity. They often show the vigour of the critic's intellect, and the ingenuity of his pointed language; but they are false or exaggerated in decision, and irreverent and harsh in language. The splendour of Milton's genius ought to have kept aloof such pedantic petulance. If such faults could have been justly imputed to him, still the author of Paradise Lost' should have been approached with awe, and commented on with the most decorous and profound respect. What right þad Johnson to attack and blacken the poet's moral character by imputing motives of passion and ill-humour to him, which he has