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sit down to indite a clever, sparkling, telling article, one in which, Milton's character and Milton's fame, should be subordinate objects to those of reviving the interest of a declining periodical, and making talk about the promising talent of the writer. The spirit of Milton was upon him, and possessed him, and he writes as one constrained to do so by thoughts too fervid, intense, and expansive, to be restrained. He speaks as a priest under the immediate influence of the god at whose altar he was ministering. So should genius be honoured.
There are none of the littlenesses of political party in this critique. He does not turn aside to have some dexterous fencing with the swordsmen of this or that faction. He does not pretend to bolster up great principles by petty considerations and special pleadings. There is no looking at the cause, the universal cause, of liberty, with an eye to parliamentary tactics. Dr. Channing sends back to us from across the Atlantic a faithful echo of those heart-stirring sounds with which "all Europe rang from side to side," and which ought, unmixt with the meaner watch-words of parties, to be reverberated from shore to shore and from age to age, till their influence corresponds with the broad universality of their truth.
Dr. Channing is a republican; not merely by living under a republican form of government, but by clear conviction and strong affection. He thoroughly understands the true theory, practice, and tendency of republicanism. He perceives its real difference from despotism ; for all governments are despotic or republican; its difference not only in form but in essence, not only in mode but in principle. He values it because it conducts man towards that self-government in which consists the perfection of his nature. Such are the men to speak freely and truly about Milton. Others come shackled to the subject. Their royalism, or their whiggism, or their toryism, lays them under a previous necessity for using the language of compromise or apology. They can only put forth a Jesuit's edition of Milton. Theirs is only,
• The liberty of ordinary politicians, which protects men's outward rights, and removes restraints to the pursuit of property and outward good ;' but which falls
• Very short of that for which Milton lived and was ready to die. The tyranny which he hated most was that which broke the intellectual and moral power of the community. The worst feature of the institutions which he assailed was that they fettered the mind. He felt within himself that the human mind had a principle of perpetual growth, that it was essentially diffusive and made for progress, and he wished every chain broken that it might run the race of truth and virtue with increasing ardour and success.'-p. 152.
That a perfectly qualified critic on Milton should be a theologian not a professional but a philosophical theologian, was not less requisite before the discovery of his posthumous work than it has been since obviously rendered by that occurrence. Religion contributed most largely to his mind and character. It had a prevailing and pervading influence over them. It was the breath of life to his intellect. And we may say of his theology what we have already said of Dr. Channing's, that it was peculiarly his own. It defies sectarian definitions. Even in youth he would not "subscribe slave” to a church, and the flow of his thoughts in maturity and age certainly did not bear him towards narrower notions of Christian liberty. Those who care nothing about theology, can scarcely be said to care any thing about Milton. He is beyond the pale of their comprehension. But how few there are who, while they can appreciate the extent of his acquisitions, the beauties of his poetry, and the loftiness of his political principles, can also estimate the purity of his devotion, the freedom of his inquiries, the worth of his researches, and the amazing extent to which his criticisms and speculations anticipated the light and labour of succeeding generations.
Dr. Channing marvellously blends his fitness in this particular with that strong perception of the great, the good, and the beautiful, which is the essential requisite for poetical criticism. He is himself a poet; a creator of bright worlds, peopled with men who are as gods. He has himself explored the paths which lead to the fountain of tears, and to the sparkling waters of immortal life. He may never have made a verse in his life, but he knows the flavour of the true Hippocrene. When he tells us why a description is beautiful, we feel that he has first perceived and enjoyed its beauty. And his taste is especially for those images of power and of tenderness which so abound in Milton. Of these he has a deep feeling by which they are instantly appreciated, and which guides him to their true analysis, He has an instinct for these high qualities of the highest kind of poetry, as unerring as that fine tact by which Mr. Hazlitt, the first of our critics upon works of art, feels where a master's hand has touched the canvass, traces the original conception and mental prototype of the painting, and enshrines it in a rich and appropriate frame-work of poetical associations.
Dr. Channing is completely unrivalled in his display of the moral grandeur of Milton. And this is, after all, the noblest tribute. Nor does he, as a less skilful or a less benevolent critic might have done, depreciate mankind to exalt his hero. The fact of the existence of such a man is to him a pledge of the progress of humanity.
"" We believe," he says, " that the sublime intelligence of Milton was imparted, not for his own sake only, but to awaken kindred virtue and greatness in other souls. Far from regarding him as standing alone and unapproachable, we believe that he is an illustration of what all who are true to their nature will become in the progress of their being; and we have held him forth not to excite an ineffectual ad. miration but to stir up our own and other's breasts to an exhilarating pursuit of high and ever-growing attainments of intellect and virtue."
And with this excellent practical application, we must .conclude the long concio ad cleros et ad populum of which Dr. Channing furnished us with the text.
Art. XV. - Cloudesley. A Tale. By the Author of 'Caleb Williams."
Colburn and Bentley. 1830. 3 vols. Post 8vo. CLOUDESLEY, by the Author of Caleb Williams,” is a
combination of syllables well adapted to excite expectation. The reputation of Mr. Godwin's first able performance has thrown a light upon its successors, which though it has relieved them from utter darkness has not done much more. Caleb Williams was a chapter out of the human heart. The author's experience of the world, and his watching of his own emotions were felicitously combined in a lively and striking frame-work. He wrote down what he had seen and thought. His subsequent works have each been, in different styles, imitations of the first born. He deemed, because he had once been successful in exhibiting the interior workings of the human mechanism, that he was master of it, and could take it to pieces and set it up again. But he has shewn us that he understood his instrument as the itinerant player on the barrel-organ understands his: he can set it to a certain limited number of tunes. Mr. Godwin's organ, by nature, by accident and by education, which is but a series of accidents, was set to the tune of Caleb Williams; and St. Leon, Fleetwood, Mandeville, and Cloudesley are but very imperfect and often discordant variations of the same air. The staple of each is the writhings of a being under some complication of concealed feelings. Remorse chiefly: Remorse might be written as the title over the whole series of his writings. His long continued
and protracted productions may be considered as a sort of practical or mechanical illustration of the “ worm that never dies.”
Mr. Godwin has a fruitful, but not a vigorous imagination : he is copious, nay inexhaustible, but his offspring are feeble and sickly; he does not tear a passion to tatters, but he wears it to a shadow. He works his way through a long history of crime and suffering, like a mole in the dark and under-ground, and with a sleekiness of style and an assumed unconsciousness of
purpose that bears out the comparison. The smooth, measured and oily style of this author, which we have described by the term sleekiness, is a curious characteristic in works which dwell upon feelings of the most restless, and agitated kind. The thoughts burn, while the words are of honey. This is a touch of art that adds considerably to the effect of this author's compositions, and in none of the former novels is this distinction more marked than in Cloudesley: circumstances and feelings of the most energetic force are detailed with the calm of history. It might be, that a thousand years had passed over the heart of the autobiographer, while memory had left
minute trait of the events he relates as fresh and bright as the green of a spring church-yard. It is possible that this calm beauty of style which we have always remarked in this writer, may have been lately heightened by his habits of historical composition, to say nothing of the stealthy progress of age, which polishes a man's style as it does his brow. Cloudesley' is a tale of guilt and sorrow. An uncle
An uncle usurps the title and inheritance of
his orphan nephew, a posthumous infant. The fruits of his crime he enjoys only in outside show. His ingratitude to his noble and affectionate brother; his base injustice to the helpless child he was bound to protect; the incessant dread of detection and the threats of his accomplice; all combine to render the honours and wealth he has usurped gall and bitterness to the taste. He becomes a gloomy and suspicious solitary ; his children all die as they grow up, his faithful and affectionate wife follows them to the tomb, and he is left alone in wretchedness to brood over the vanity and emptiness of the things, for the sake of which he has sold himself. The stings of conscience are not blunted by hearing of the noble and generous character of the youth he has pushed from his right. Brought up in obscurity, though by means of the repentant accomplice of the crime placed in the way of all kinds of education and accomplishments, the boy turns out a model of talent, of love, and beauty. He has been bred in Italy, and grief at the death of his protector
whom he takes for his father, and other circumstances combined, have thrown him among characters of a dissolute description. His uncle, just prior to the death of his last child, his only son, for whom he had so waded in crime, has the misery of learning that he who ought to have been wearing his own coronet, has become mixed up with a troop of banditti. The horrorstruck and emaciated man arrives in Italy only in time to save his nephew from an ignominious death. The narrator of these circumstances is a nondescript person, whom the uncle employs to discover the retreat of his nephew, and to whom he discloses the whole of his own history and the secret punishment of his crimes, previous to engaging him on the mission. This person plays a very secondary part in the Drama, nevertheless he is an adumbration of Caleb Williams, and only wants the influence of similar events. Cloudesley is the name of the servant and confidant of the elder brother of the usurper,
and on occasion of his master's death in a duel in Austria, he joins with the uncle in putting aside all evidence of the existence of a forthcoming heir to the title and vast possessions of his benefactor, who has been obscurely married to a Greek lady, the daughter of Colocotroni, not the robbergeneral of the present day, but, as it seems, some Mainote patriot of other times. The character of this Cloudesley is the great effort of the work which thence takes its name. He is in the first instance a simple and unsuspecting English yeoman, full of benevolence and good will to all mankind : his confidence in a villain causes him to be thrown into prison ; an entire revolution in his character is the result, his blind trust becomes as blind a mistrust, he discovers that all mankind are selfish and deceitful, he becomes misanthropical, and in his heart declares war against the whole world. He is relieved from the distress in which he is involved, by the young nobleman, whom he afterwards serves in the campaigns carried on by Prince Eugene against the Turks, and whom after his death he so eminently disserves in the affairs of his child. The dogmas upon which he regulates his conduct are however simply dogmas, and though they influence his occasional actions, do not wholly affect the tenor of his life. Love and kindness, the original impulses of his heart, mix strangely with the baser maxims of conduct, which a false calculation has led him to rest upon. This inconsistency is a notable point in the character: it leads him to join in the destitution of the orphan, and afterwards to adopt and cherish, almost to worship, him; and when the noble qualities of the child reproduce in all its force the VOL. XI1.- Westminster Review,