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Christopher under Canvass.
SCENE II.- The Van. TIME- Midnight.
may be to persuade anybody to believe as the foundation of a philosophy an absurdity, or self-contradictory proposition, " That you believe to be true, that which you know to be false." There the fact is; and without it you build your house in the air-off the ground. Soften it-explain it
. Say that you know for one moment, and in the next know the contrary. Say that you lean to belief-that it is an impression, half-formed—imperfect belief—a state of mind that has partaken of the nature of belief—that it is an impression resembling belief-operating partial effects of belief. But unquestionably, no man, woman, or child has read a romance of Scott or Bulwer or Dickens, without seeing their actions and sufferings with his soul, in a way that, if his soul be honest, and can simply tell its own suffering, must by it be described as a sort of momentary belief. What are the grief, the tears, the joy, the hope, the fear, the love, the admiration, and half-worship—the vexation, the hate
, the indignation, the scorn, the gratitude, yea, and the thirst of revenge—if the pageant floats by, and stirs actually to belief? The supposition is an impossibility, and the theory lies on our side, and not on Johnson's, who has nothing for him but a whim of rationalism. I take novels, because in them it is a common proof, though this species be the less noble. But take Epos from the beginning. Take Tragedy-take Comedy-and what is, was, or will it be, but a half-unsubstantial image of reality, waited upon by a half-sobstantial image of belief, the fainter echo of airy barps? My drift is
, that our entire affection, passion-choose your word—attended with pleasure and pain of heart and imagination—the love, the hate in either
, 'are tle sustaining, actuating soul of the belief. Evidence, that as the passion thrills, the belief wases, and that
NORTH. May the bond of Unity lying at the heart of the Paradise Lost, be said to be the following Ethical Dogma ?
" The Good of the created rational Intelligence subsists in the conscious consent of his Will, with the holy Will of the Creator."
His Good :-i. e. his innocence and original happiness, whilst these last :bis virtue and regained happiness, if he attain virtue and regain happiness:these and the full excellence of his intellectual and natural powersIt is Ethical, and more than Ethical.
NORTH. The Innocence and Fall of the Rebel Angels :— The Bliss and Loyalty of the Upright:-(Consider Abdiel :) The Innocence and Fall and Restoration of Man :-are various Illustrations of this great Dogma. The Restoration, as respects Man himself:—and far more eminently as respects the person of the Uncreated Restorer.
Clear as mud.
This central Thought, radiating in every direction to the circumference, cannot be regarded as a theological notion, coldly selected for learned poetical treatment. The various and wonderful shaping-out, the pervading, animating, actuating, soul-like influence and operation ;-direct us to understand that in the Mind of Milton, through his day of life, a vital self-consciousness bound this Truth to his innermost being :-that he loved this Truth ;--- lived in and by this Truth. Wherefore the Poem springs from his Mind, by a
I see in Imagination a power which I can express to my own satisfaction by two terms, of which you, Seward, sometimes look as if you refused me the use, disabling me from defining for you. For myself
, I see “ Passion moulding or influencing Intellectual Forms." As the language stands bitherto, I do not see my way of getting out of the two terms. You want, on the lowest steps, a very elementary description—something far below the Poetsomething as yet far short of the sublime, the beautiful, and the wonderful
. Tell me some one who has felt fear, or anger, or love, or hate-how these have affected for him the objects of simple apprehension or of conception ; of sight, for instance-of sound? Has anything through his fear seemed largerthrough his bate wickeder, than it is? For that differencing of an object by a passion, I know no name but Imagination. It is the transformation of a reality; that seems to me to be the ground of what we more loftily apprehend under the name Imagination.
The great differences in the different psychological states and facts arising out of the different passions or passionate moments
, are various
, endless. Such influences from pleasure and pain, from loves of some sort,
TALBOYS. Four great aspects of Composition, or Four chief moods of Poetry appear in the Paradise Lost. 1. The Sublime of disturbed Powers in the infernal Agents :- fallen and, ere they fall, warring. 2. Heaven in humanity: while Adam and Eve are
yet sinless." -A celestial Arcadia. The purer Golden Age. 3. Man, Earthly: when they have eaten.
“ I now must change Those notes to TRAGIC." 4. Heaven;
;-extended, wheresoever the good Angels go. These Four greatly dissimilar aspects are each amply displayed :mand much as they differ, are wonderfully reconciled.
SEWARD, Milton sets before our eyes in utmost opposition, God and Satan-i. e. Good and Evil, namely—Good, as Holiness and Bliss inseparably united in God—Evil, as Wickedness and Misery united inseparably in Satan.
NORTH. The Poem represents the necessary eternal War irreconcilable of the Two-throughout the Creation of God-namely, first in Heaven the abode of Angels-next upon Earth the abode of Men.
SEWARD. The Poem represents in Heaven and upon Earth, God as the willing infitite Communicator of Good :-as, in Heaven and upon Earth the perpetual Victor over Evil.
And Evil—in Heaven and upon Earth as necessarily Self-Destructive : videlicet, in this visible shape : that from God's Heaven and from God's Earth all reason-gifted Doers of Evil—that is, all doers of moral Evil-are cast out into perdition.
VOL. LXXII.-20. CCCCXLII.
and from bates of some sort, take effect for us in all the objects with which we have intercourse. They make what it is to us. They make man what he is to us. They are the life of our souls. They are given to all human spirits.
SEWARD. We have, all of us, clean forgotten Milton.
NORTH. The Poet himself has declared in the outset the purpose of his Poem. It is to establish in the mind of his readers the belief in the Two great Truths :—That the Universe is under the government of Eternal and Omnipotent Wisdom :—and that this Government, as far as it regards Mankind, is holy, just, and merciful. This essential truth, infinitely the most important that can be entertained, since it comprehends all our good, all our evil—all happiness, all misery-temporal-eternal;-all the destinies and conditions of the human race;-was worthy the taking-in-hand of such a Teacher. This truth He might have illustrated, from any part of human history ;-and with great power and evidence from a great many parts—both for obedience and for disobedience-in the case of individuals and of communities.
But He found one part of human history, where this truth shines out in its utmost strength-namely, where the Obedience and Disobedience are those of two individuals, and, at the same time, of all Mankind;—and where the illustration of the truth is beyond all comparison convincing, since the conjunction of the Happiness and the Obedience is here promulgated—since the Happiness and the Obedience are here formally bound together, the Disobedience and the Misery-by the promising and the menacing voice of the Almighty.—The Disobedience takes effect;—and first creates human misery.
Milton took then this instance, preferable to all others, because above all others it emblazons, as if in characters written by the finger of Heaven, the Truth which he would teach ;-notwithstanding the stupendous difficulties of the attempt into which he plunged;-committing himself, as He thus did, to unfolding before mortal gaze the Courts of Heaven;—to divulging for mortal ears colloquies held upon the celestial everlasting Throne;—to delineating the War of Creatures (i. e. the Angels) against the Creator, &c. &c.
Observe, moreover, that, although Man's Obedience and Fall from Obedience is the theme undertaken, yet the Truth undertaken has other illustration, in the Poem, and reaches into higher Orders of Being. For instance, in the Order of Angels, there occurs twofold illustration-namely,
1. By the Opposition presented of unfallen and fallen Angels.
2. And, amongst the rebellious Angels themselves, by the unspeakable contrast exhibited of their first happy and their second unhappy state ;their sinless glory and their horrible punishment.
Far higher yet,-immeasurably higher,-in the divine Messiah, the Obedience is the grace, the glory, and the happiness of his Being !
God is the Creator and Upholder-Satan, the Destroyer. God is the rightful Monarch of the Universe, unassailably seated on his everlasting Throne. Satan ever attempts Usurpation, and is ever baffled.
Pride is the inward Self-exaltation of a Creature. Observe that Exaltation is proper raising from a lower degree held to a higher degree, not before held. God is eternally the Highest;-a state which precludes the idea, strictly spoken, of Exaltation.
Therefore, to Satan, as proud, is opposed the Self-humiliation of the Sonwhom God thereupon exalts.
Pride, in Satan, considered as undue Self-exaltation, stands (when we follow out the opposition in which he stands to God) opposed to due, legitimate, rightful height, or Supremacy, Sovereignty. Satanic Pride is undue selfexaltation, at the height, in the Creature.
But this, in the Creature, is a self-enthroning, a self-idolising, a selfdeifying.
The Creature depends upon the Creator. The Creature is bound to the Creator by a million of distinct relations.
If you ask for One Relation, that shall contain all the others, it is this One,
Dependency. That is to say, that, so long as you own your dependency, so long is there no true relation that you can deny. But, if you deny your dependency, therewith and therein you deny all your other true relations. The first motion towards (i. e. in the direction of- e. relating to) God, of pride in the prond Creature, is the denial of dependency. Satan denies his dependency. Both in the Past-for he denies his Creation, and avers that he had never heard such a thing mentioned. And in the Present, by renouncing his allegiance, opening war, &c. He denies the Creature's continual derivation from the Creator, when he says, (as if in the Future,) "our own right hand shall teach us highest deeds."
NORTH. If it should appear necessary to vindicate expressly and at length_the character which has been affirmed as one main character of the Paradise Lost, namely, that it is an Ethico-didactic Poem, the proofs offer themselves to the hand more thickly than that they can easily be all gathered. They are Implicit and Explicit
. The Implicit or inferential Proofs — Proofs involved in the tenor of the displayed History, and which are by reflection to be drawn out and unfolded--are of several kinds, and, in each, of the highest description.
Thus, the Main Action of the Poem, or the Fall of Man, teaches us that the Goodness and Happiness of the Creature subsists in the inviolable conformity of his Will to the holy Will of the Creator. Thus again :-The great Action is inductive to this Main Action—that is to say, The Fall of the Angels, which, by an easily-springing sequence of Moral Causes and Effects, brings on the Temptation, and, too easily, the Seduction of Man—as loudly inculcates the same sublime and all-comprehending Ethical Truth. And thus again :-That Third highest Action, which is incorporated into the Main action ---The Redemption of Man-provided, in the Counsel of God, as remedial to the fatal Catastrophe of the Fall, and, according to the reverently-daring representation of the Poet, as undertaken in Heaven even ere the need that asks for it has befallen in Paradise upon Earth-this awful Mystery of the Divine interposing Grace irresistibly preaches the same solemn doctrine. Hell, and Earth, and Heaven proclaim with One Voice :-" Cleave, Oh Child of dust and Heir of Immortality, cleave and cling inwardly, by thy love-by thine obedience, outwardly-to the all-wise and all-righteous Will, which has called the Worlds and their Inhabitants into Being, and has imposed upon the worlds, and upon those which inhabit them, its bountiful and upholding Laws !–O cleave and immovably cling to that holy and gracious Will, which the Angels forsook and they fell !—which Man deserted, and He fell !-which the Son of Man fulfilled, and He lifted up fallen and lost, but now restored Man to the peace of God upon this Earth, and to the bosom of God in Heaven."
SEWARD. Such, explicitly worded, is the admonishment, grave and high, which continually peals amidst the majestic and profound harmonies of this consecrated Poem--the admonishment the most loudly, the most distinctly heard.
TALBOYS. Milton represents inordinate Pride, or the temper, in excess, of inward selfexaltation, as the chief element in the personal character of Satan; yet the great Archangel has maintained his Obedience to the Almighty King. The opinion of wrong done to himself, of an imposed humiliation in another's exaltation exasperating his haughty self-idolatry, first rouses him into active disloyalty and rebellion, and to the desire and endeavour of dispossessing the Monarch of Heaven, and reigning in his stead. The open outward war which Satan is represented as waging with sensible weapons and armoury, with innumerable spirits banded in confederacy upon his part--the setting up his own throne in the north--the march across heaven--the attempt, such as it is described, at invading the very throne of Omnipotence--amongst other lights in which they may be contemplated, may be contemplated in this light, namely, that the Outward expresses, depictures the Inward.
The proud Apostate Spirit, in conceiving offence and displeasure at God's rule and ordinance, has already within his own mind rebelled against Godhe has made his own Mind the field of an impious war.- We must conceive within his mind a sovereign throne erected, whereupon,-so long as He remained obedient, loyal, good,-the rightful Monarch sate, in undisputed supremacy.-From that Throne within his mind, as soon as Satan rebels, in will, God is dispossessed :—and on that internal usurped Throne the rebel now sits ;-in imagination, his own King, and his own God. That which outwardly he attempts, and in which outwardly he must fail:—that inwardly he has attempted-and in that-attempting it-inwardly He must succeed.
A Spirit created good and great has voluntarily foregone its native inborn goodness, and, in consequence, involuntarily foregoes its native inborn greatness. There is in the Universe but one fountain of all that is holy, divine, good, amiable or pure.—This left, we drink troubled waters. No one can tell the alliances of wrong with wrong. Truth, justice, good-will-alone are magnanimous. He who has been shown at the highest of self-power,
of intellectual strength-of empire over spirits of their willing idolatry, which extols him equal to the Highest in Heaven, -He is gradually brought down low, lower, lowest—by voluntary and imposed humiliation :-selfincarna in bestial slime-turned into a monstrous serpent on his belly prone, and hissing amongst hissing. Has Milton in painting the fallen Archangel changed his hand, and checked his pride? He has delineated for our admiration ; he has delineated for our scorn-for our pity, also.
One meaning pervades the delineation. The pride which alienates Satan from God, alienates him at last from himself.—He is wicked, and the ways of wickedness are crooked and creeping. The haughtiest of spirits in seeking to revenge his just punishment stoops to the lowest abasement. A great lesson is written on the front of this great revolution. A mind has let go of its only stronghold, and it slips lower and lower. We have seen a Spirit exalted in the favour of the Creator ;-high in rank, strong in power, rich in gifts, radiant with glory, seated in bliss ;-and the same cast down into misery and into dishonour. The Cause is, that he has deserted Obedience and Love.
This is not a picture removed to a distance from us, to be looked at with wonder. It is a lesson for each of us.
Can we not imagine the Poet himself telling us this?
Can we not raise our thoughts, to fancy Milton drawing the moral of his astonishing picture?
“You are Spirits," he might say to us—" the creation of the same hand. Heavenly gifts are yours, and heavenly. favours; and notwithstanding the fall of man, gleams, vestiges are yours of heavenly glory. To you the same choice is offered of adhering, or of separating yourselves. In you is the same ground of temptation, the same difficulty of adhering, a misunderstood self-love. You too are tempted to enthrone self upon the usurped throne of the divine legislator. To obey the law of right-to follow out the law of love, is only difficult because we feel, in every instance of being called upon so to do, that we are called upon to make some sacrifice of ourselves. It is an error-a mistaken feeling. We are called upon to sacrifice not ourselves, but a present inclination, which self suggests. Make the sacrifice-obey, fulfil the law that makes the claim upon you, and you will find that you have relinquished a fallacious, for a real good. Follow the false inclination, and you will find that instead of enthroning yourselves in the despite of Heaven's King, you have begun to descend steps of endless descent.-Be warned by terrible example."
We sce of mankind some that are lifted up in power and exalted by their native powers-mighty minds holding ascendancy over other minds—Kings
-Conquerors-Philosophers—sitting upon the thrones of the Earth, or upon intellectual tbrones. To them there is the same hazard. There is the same inward solicitation of pride — the same impulse to self-idolatry. They would usurp-would extend power. Adversaries of God and Man-and knowing themselves for such-the madness of Ambition seizes upon their hearts, and on they go. They seek Exaltation—they find abasement. The false aggrandisement which they have laboured to acquire may or may not be wrested from them. But assuredly the inward abasement will hold on its appointed way.
Their end is high, but their means will be low. Ambition disjoined from good is divorced from true greatness. The consciousness of right aims alone sustains the genuine self-respect of the mind, struggling its way through the obstacles which the strife of human affairs presents. One law-one principle -one rule of action-takes dominion of the spirit which has surrendered itself to the allurement of a selfish ambition :-It has One Motto--one war-cry" “ To succeed !"_The character of the means can no longer be a reason for declining them-and the proudest of Men stoop the lowest.
SEWARD. If we read the History of humankind, we see this in the slaves to the lust of earthly empire :-in the slaves to the lust of renown. They suffer a double change from the higher and better nature given them. They have hardened themselves against shame. They harden themselves too against pity.-What does the misery which he strews in his path trouble the famous conqueror ?–His chariot-wheels crush under them the gardens of bumanity-He rides over human heads.--And what does it concern him who uses the high gifts of intelligence not for extending the useful domains of human knowledge,—but for aggrandising his own name—what does it concern him though, to plant his proud reputation, and multiply the train of bis adherents, he must pall down heavenward hopes, in millions of human hearts ? --that he must wither in them the flowers of the affections ?-that he must crush the sacred virtues, which repose upon received belief ?—The hero of Infidelity recoils as little from these consequences of his fame as the hero of a thousand battle-fields.
There is withal a Pride, which, whilst dwelling with the mind, is rebellion. There is a Pride of the Creature, which reluctantly acknowledges, which refuses to acknowledge, benefits derived from the Creator.
Yes; self-contradictory as the mood of mind seems, there is a temper in man, which may be certainly recognised, that throws off the obligation of gratitude and the belief of dependence. Thus, the feeling of Pride in intellectual talents implies that he who is in this way proud, views his talents, in a measure, as originally his own. He refers them to himself, and not beyond. If he looked at them as given, there would be an end of Pride, which would give way to the sense of heavy responsibility.
What a great passage in Milton is that descriptive of
Upon a day of the heavenly year the Almighty Father, upon his Holy Mount, before the assembled Angels, manifests the Son-proclaims the Son, the head over all Principalities and Powers, and requires to be paid him accordingly the homage and obedience of the whole angelical host. The whole angelical Host pay, as required, their homage. But not all gladly and sincerely. One of the highest Archangels—if not the highest - whose heavenly name is heard no more—but upon Earth and in Hell he is called Satan and Lucifer-envies and revolts in heart at this new vicegerency. He intends rebellion :-beguiles the next Angel in authority under him, and with him, pretending a command from the celestial King, withdraws the legions who are bound in service to his hierarchal standard into the northern quarter of Heaven. With such precision does Milton dare to imagine, even in the