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"Lust and the malice of Envy, and the groans of the
oppressed and the persecutions of the saints, and the cares "of Covetousness and the troubles of Ambition, and the "insolencies of traitors and the violences of rebels, and the 66 rage of anger and the uneasiness of impatience, and the "restlessness of unlawful desires; and by this time the "monsters and diseases will be numerous and intolerable, "when God's heavy hand shall press the sanies and the "intolerableness, the obliquity and the unreasonableness, "the amazement and the disorder, the smart and the sorrow, "the guilt and the punishment, out from all our sins, and
pour them into one chalice, and mingle them with an “infinite wrath, and make the wicked drink off all the vengeance, and force it down their unwilling throats "with the violence of devils and accursed spirits."
That this Tartarean drench displays the imagination rather than the discretion of the compounder; that, in short, this passage and others of the same kind are in a bad taste, few will deny at the present day. It would doubtless have more behoved the good bishop not to be wise beyond what is written, on a subject in which Eternity is opposed to Time, and a death threatened, not the negative, but the positive Opposite of Life; a subject, therefore, which must of necessity be indescribable to the human understanding in our present state. But I can neither find nor believe, that it ever occurred to any reader to ground on such passages a
charge against BISHOP TAYLOR's humanity, or goodness of heart. I was not a little surprized therefore to find, in the Pursuits of Literature and other works, so horrible a sentence passed on MILTON's moral character, for a passage in ́ his prose-writings, as nearly parallel to this of Taylor's as two passages can well be conceived to be. All his merits, as a poet, forsooth-all the glory of having written the PARADISE LOST, are light in the scale, nay, kick the beam, compared with the atrocious malignity of heart expressed in the offensive paragraph. I remembered, in general, that Milton had concluded one of his works on Reformation, written in the fervour of his youthful imagination, in a high poetic strain, that wanted metre only to become a lyrical poem. I remembered that in the former part he had formed to himself a perfect ideal of human virtue, a character of heroic, disinterested zeal and devotion for Truth, Religion, and public Liberty, in Act and in Suffering, in the day of Triumph and in the hour of Martyrdom. Such spirits, as more excellent than others, he describes as having a more excellent reward, and as distinguished by a transcendent glory and this reward and this glory he displays and particularizes with an energy and brilliance that announced the Paradise Lost as plainly, as ever the bright purple clouds in the east announced the coming of the Sun. Milton then passes to the gloomy contrast, to such men as from motives of selfish ambition and the lust
of personal aggrandizement should, against their own light, persecute truth and the true religion, and wilfully abuse the powers and gifts entrusted to them, to bring vice, blindness, misery and slavery, on their native country, on the very country that had trusted, enriched and honored them. Such beings, after that speedy and appropriate removal from their sphere of mischief which all good and humane men must of course desire, will, he takes for granted by parity of reason, meet with a punishment, an ignominy, and a retaliation, as much severer than other wicked men, as their guilt and its consequences were more enormous. His description of this imaginary punishment presents more distinct pictures to the fancy than the extract from Jeremy Taylor; but the thoughts in the latter are incomparably more exaggerated and horrific. All this I knew; but I neither remembered, nor by reference and careful re-perusal could discover, any other meaning, either in Milton or Taylor, but that good men will be rewarded, and the impenitent. wicked punished, in proportion to their dis positions and intentional acts in this life; and that if the punishment of the least wicked be fearful beyond conception, all words and descriptions must be so far true, that they must fall short of the punishment that awaits the transcendently wicked. Had Milton stated either his ideal of virtue, or of depravity, as an individual or individuals actually existing? Certainly not! Is his representation worded
historically, or only hypothetically? Assuredly the latter! Does he express it as his own wish, that after death they should suffer these tortures? or as a general consequence, deduced from reason and revelation, that such will be their fate? Again, the latter only! His wish is expressly confined to a speedy stop being put by Providence to their power of inflicting misery on others! But did he name or refer to any persons, living or dead? Milton daresay (for what will calumny not dare say?) that he had LAUD and STAFFORD in his mind, while writing of remorseless persecution, and the enslavement of a free country, from motives of selfish ambition. Now, what if a stern anti-prelatist should daresay, that in speaking of the insolencies of traitors and the violences of rebels, Bishop Taylor must have individualized in his mind, HAMDEN, HOLLIS, PYM, FAIRFAX, IRETON, and MILTON? And what if he should take the liberty of concluding, that in the afterdescription the Bishop was feeding and feasting his partyhatred, and with those individuals before the eyes of his imagination enjoying, trait by trait, horror after horror, the picture of their intolerable agonies? Yet this Bigot would have an equal right thus to criminate the one good and great man, as these men have to criminate the other. Milton has said, and I doubt not but that Taylor with equal truth could have said it, "that in his whole life he never spake against a man even that his skin should be grazed."
No! But the calumniators of
He asserted this when one of his opponents (either Bishop Hall or his nephew) had called upon the women and children in the streets to take up stones and stone him (Milton). It is known that Milton repeatedly used his interest to protect the royalists; but even at a time when all lies would have been meritorious against him, no charge was made, no story pretended, that he had ever directly or indirectly engaged or assisted in their persecution. Oh! methinks there are other and far better feelings, which should be acquired by the perusal of our great elder writers. When I have before me on the same table, the works of Hammond and Baxter; when I reflect with what joy and dearness their blessed spirits are now loving each other: it seems a mournful thing that their names should be perverted to an occasion of bitterness among us, who are enjoying that happy mean which the human TOO-MUCH on both sides was perhaps necessary to produce. "The tangle of delusions which stifled and distorted the growing tree of our wellbeing have been torn away; the parasite-weeds that fed on its very roots have been plucked up with a salutary violence. To us there remain only quiet duties, the constant care, the gradual improvement, the cautious unhazardous labours of the industrious though contented gardener to prune, to strengthen, to engraft, and one by one to remove from its leaves and fresh shoots the slug and the caterpillar. But far be it from us to undervalue with