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and agreeable light, from the collection and arrangement of the various little incidental sketches which the hand of Milton has itself drawn of his early passions and pursuits. In some of the Latin poems, especially, the spirit of the author breaks beautifu and mildly forth. But if Johnson was unfitted to pronounce a judgment upon Milton, by reason of his political prejudices, Hayley was equally unable to do him justice, from the want of any corresponding grandeur or majesty of thought. He was an elegant and facile versifier, but the admirer of Miss Seward could offer little homage worthy of acceptance by the blind singer of the Fall of Man. The reflections and criticisins of Hayley fell like dry autumn leaves upon the mighty rushing stream of Milton's poetry. We must not, however, omit to acknowledge our obligations to Hayley for his ingenious remarks upon the Adamo of Andreini and other dramas of a similar character, although we are by no means prepared to agree with some of Milton's biographers, in supposing him acquainted with every obscure versifier from the beginning of the world. We are glad to find Mr. Mitford rejecting these vain hypotheses. We remember to have seen it somewhere affirmed, that Homer discovered the Iliad and Odyssey in an Egyptian temple; and arguments, almost tantamount to this, have been advanced to deprive Milton of any claim to original invention.

Few of our readers are ignorant of the interesting translations made by Cowper from the Latin poems of Milton. A life of the poet from the pen of the author of the Task would, we think, have been a treasure. Not because we are disposed to agree with his enthusiastic friend, that "the minds of Milton and Cowper were most truly congenial," but because we are quite assured that the biography would have been written in a spirit of universal tenderness and kindlyness of heart, which must have rendered it especially precious. Most men address themselves to the composition of the memoir of a great individual under the influence of some favourite passion, or still more seductive and injurious prejudice or opinion; theirs is, of course, the only true and pure Catholicism either in religion or in politics, and in exact proportion as the subject of the history may dissent from this or that creed, or agree with this or that policy, he is pronounced a Christian or a heretic, a patriot or a revolutionist, an angel or an apostate. But in William Cowper these hateful and sickening animosities found no resting-place. Those whom he loved, "he did love indeed," but those whom he disliked, were rather affectionately avoided than bitterly remembered. His gentle and Christian feelings would have blunted rather than reedged the fiery sword, which is ever and anon flashing out in the

hand of the controversial Milton. In the translation of the Latin and Italian poems, many traces of this charitableness are discovered. "The poems on the subject of the gunpowder treason," he says, "I have not translated, both because the matter of them is unpleasant, and because they are written with an asperity, which, however it might be warranted in Milton's day, would be extremely unseasonable now." And in a letter to Mr. Johnson, he expresses sentiments equally conciliatory. It was not until after much painful anxiety that Cowper could nerve his mind to the task of superintending, or rather illustrating, a new edition of Milton. And when he had formed his resolution, he set about his task with fear and much trembling, and was perhaps only tempted to the undertaking by the length of the period allotted for its completion. Hayley suggested to his friend the expediency of converting the notes which he had collected into a few dissertations upon the poet himself, and Cowper acknowledged the propriety of the advice. But the rapidly increasing infirmities of his beloved friend Mrs. Unwin, and his own declining health, appear to have prevented the accomplishment of his design. The string of the bow was broken, and the arrows were gone from the quiver. In a letter to Hayley upon the subject of Milton, he says, " after writing and obliterating six lines, in the composition of which I spent an hour, I was obliged to relinquish the attempt." Hayley expressed his belief that Cowper had actually finished two dissertations, but concluded, after an unsuccessful search, that they had disappeared in the confusion of his papers.

Todd's Life of Milton is rendered valuable by the laboriously collected information which it contains. He offers the account of the poet's life, to borrow his own words, " with the utmost deference," assuring the reader, however, that the materials "are drawn from authentic sources," The memoir was undertaken, moreover, principally with a view of weaving in some new anecdotes relating to Milton's friends, his works, and the times in which he lived. So much humility is rarely, at least in our day, the companion of so much merit. Mr. Todd would, perhaps, have been more popular, had he been less bountiful in the use of his large stores of antiquarian knowledge, which tend rather to crush the delicate beauties of poetry, than to invest them with any alluring and comely ornaments. But learning does not very frequently employ taste as her scribe; and her manuscripts, which if written in a fairer hand would have been received into every house, are consequently not seldom confined to the solitude of the studious scholar. The elegance of Heyne has certainly gone as far towards perpetuating his reputation as his scholarship.

After Todd we may mention Symmons, in whom Milton found a champion willing and ardent to avenge the puritan upon his enemy Johnson. It may be affirmed of Symmons, that he surpassed Johnson in the fury of his political animosities and the intemperate spirit of his partizanship. He descants upon Milton's love of liberty with the tone and energy of a leader of the great unwashed haranguing the ten thousand of the Birmingham democracy. In the estimation of Symmons, the Paradise Lost would have been a far less beautiful composition if the author had been a tory. In the preface to the life of the worthy doctor he glories to profess himself a whig, and declares that truth, religious, moral, and political, is alone what he professes to pursue, and if, he continues, he fancied this prime object of his regard to be by the side of the mufti, or the grand lama, of the wild demagogues of Athens, or the ferocious tribunes of Rome, he is ready to recognize and embrace her. We believe this is the orthodox creed of a political Quixote. Why any man should glory in belonging to any individual sect or party, or why he is to turn renegado merely because he fancies he sees truth by the side of the mufti, we are willing to acknowledge our inability to assign any reason. Truth abideth in a region inaccessible to the feet of the bigoted of either party, and even in her hourly ministrations in the public streets of our cities, and in the turmoil and misery of this actual life, she is to be seen only by eyes which have been purged by a divine influence from the mist spread over them. By the genuine christian and the honest patriot alone is her presence recognised in the calmness and ambrosial beauty of the atmosphere which surrounds her.

In the opinion of Symmons,.the Memoir of Johnson is a biographical libel; and Hayley, for his impertinence in presuming to suppose his friend Cowper's Version of Milton's Latin Poems superior to the doctor's, is rarely mentioned in any terms save of obloquy and reproof. But not contented with setting forth Hayley's want of judgment, he hints very intelligibly at certain improvements which his (Dr. Symmons's) Translation had suggested to Hayley, and which the poet of Eartham did not hesitate to communicate to the version of Cowper. Certain it is, that the doctor's Translation appeared about two years before Cowper's, with the exception of the specimens published in Hayley's Life of Milton, and if we add to this the inferiority of the author of the Task, in a poetical sense, to the author of the present Life of Milton, the solution of the question will be very easy! William Cowper was one of the most placable of God's creatures, and yet of a truth this Life of Symmons would have awakened his anger somewhat! Dr. Symmons, it has been seen, is no admirer of

Dr. Johnson, but while sheering at his politics, he manifests no indisposition to take as much as possible of his style and manner. The Rambler's Iron Mace, which was so accursed a weapon when employed with all the giant strength of its owner in dealing destruction upon the head of a martyr-whig, becomes a consecrated instrument when performing a like friendly office upon the head of a tory. But Symmons's mace is a counterfeit. He is no more like Johnson, the very construction of whose sentences he sedulously imitates, than a certain creature, more particularly mentioned in one of Æsop's fables, to the nobler animal which it sought to resemble. Dr. Symmons bears about the same proportion (mentally) to Samuel Johnson as the traveller who sits on the nose of Jain Boromeo does to that gigantic statue.

We know not any accomplishment more difficult of attainment than a graceful and gently flowing style, and yet few things appear easier to the hasty and unphilosophical inquirer. Of course, the importance of the acquirement is far greater in some cases than in others. The novelist may, in some measure, atone for the errors of his style by the vigour and freshness of his characters, and the poet, by the warm and beautiful colours of his fancy; for, in a novel we do not so much regard the manner as the matter; we think rather what Corporal Trim says, than how he says it; and in the poem it is rather the thought than the expression which engages our admiration. But in a biographer the style is every thing, next to industry and honesty it is the endowment most imperatively demanded. Ordinary writers are like ordinary women, they cannot afford to be plain and simple; as it is true beauty only in a woman which needs no adornment, so in an author it is true genius alone which permits the use of a quiet and unpretending style. These remarks are suggested to us by Dr. Symmons's Life of Milton. He imitates Johnson, and, like most of the tribe, succeeds in copying all the defects and few of the beauties: he finds the language of his master rushing along in a full and sometimes magnificent torrent, and concludes immediately, that nothing can be good which is not great. Accordingly, in his Life of Milton, he seems continually talking at the pitch of his voice; few things are said as they ought to be said, but the simplest and most self-obvious circumstance is announced like an eastern satrap, with a flourish of trumpets--one or two instances will suffice. The doctor wishes to say that it is uncertain at what period the idea of the Paradise Lost was conceived in the mind of Milton, and he expresses it thus: "It is uncertain in what happy moment he determined on assigning to the Paradise Lost the honour of being his chief work, and of placing this divine theme upon the summit of the Roman mount.”—p. 527, NO. XXIII.—JULY, 1832.


And again, the hours when the poet's genius flowed with the greatest freedom are "luminous moments," glowing" with efficacious splendour."-p. 546. And in another place we are represented as having gained by Milton's controversial writings "the spectacle of a magnificent mind in a new course of action, throwing its roaring fulness over a strange country," &c.

We are actuated by no motive save that of honourable criticism in these observations: Dr. Symmons's Life of Milton is a work of considerable pretension, and characterised throughout by a most polemical spirit. To say that Dr. Symmons is a man of talent and a scholar, is only to say that these qualifications ought to have been more carefully employed. The terms in which he speaks of his son and daughter, unhappily removed from him in the spring of life, prove the author to be an amiable and affectionate parent; we wish the language which he applies to his political and literary opponents would enable us to add to this the merit of being an able and impartial biographer.

These irregular and cursory remarks have brought us to Mr. Mitford's Memoir, of which he informs us the works of Toland, together with those of Philips and Wood, have formed the basis.

"After being indebted to them for the necessary facts," observes the writer, "and for occasional expressions, the remainder of the narrative has been the result of my own inquiries, and formed from the conclusions of my own judgment. To the poetry of Milton, from my earliest youth down to the commencing autumn of my life, I have ever looked with a reverence and a love not easily to be surpassed; for the sentiments adopted and avowed by him on the great and complicated questions of civil liberty and political rights I have, as becomes my situation, and is suitable to the habits of my mind, expressed myself with that temperance of opinion and moderation of language, which can alone expect to conciliate attention or to demand respect."

When we read these introductory remarks we confess we augured well of the following pages, and our augury has been accomplished. It has been frequently said, (and with how much truth!) that a great book is a great evil, but with respect to the present Memoir, we are inclined to reverse the protest. If Mr. Mitford's Life of the Poet had been longer it would have been better; although we cannot say that he has entirely omitted to notice any interesting circumstance in Milton's history, it may, nevertheless, be objected, that many things which demanded patient investigation are passed over in too rapid a manner. These defects evidently arise not from the inability or negligence of the editor, but from the confined limits allotted to him.

It is neither necessary nor expedient to enter into an elaborate analysis of the Life of Milton. He was educated, it is well

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