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judgement, to have qualified him to write like Milton, must have got the better of his imagination; a confinement of Shakespeare's powers not half so possible as that Dr. Johnson should turn Whig.
“Some may think,” says the Doctor, in this same poetical scale, “that I have
under-valued'thie character of Waller; 6 but, in my own opinion, I have rather
" with a laudable envy of rivalling, “ eclipsing, and excelling, all who ar“ tempted fublimity of fentiment and “ description.”
Could this be a hopeful attempt in so wretched a writer of profe? or does the critic propose to entertain his readers with a miracle, or only with a paradox? Immediately however the critic withdraws Milton from this fixed point of light, and places his fublimity of sentiment and description in contrast with Shakespeare's amiable variety ; and concludes, “ that “ Shakespeare could have wrote like “ Milton, but Milton could never have “ wrate like Shakespeare.”
Does not the Doctor here overturn his own metaphysical system? Shakespeare's
judgement, to have qualified him to write like Milton,, must have got the better of his imagination ; a confinement of Shakespeare's powers not half so possible as that Dr. Johnson should turn Whig.
“Some may think,” says the Doctor, in this same poetical scale, “that I have is under-valued'the character of Waller; « but, in my own opinion, I have rather « over-rated it." "
He has however made ample amends for this lenity in writing Waller’š life; and it is a very gentle censure páffed upon him by the Critical Reviewers *, « that the Doctor's remarks ôn some of “ our best poets, particularly Milton and “ Waller, whose political opinions by no !!!1! * For May, 1779.
“ means coincided with his own, may be « thought rather too severe.”
It was Waller's misfortune (a misfor-tune only in the scale of Dr. Johnson) to be born of a mother who was fifter to the illustrious patriot John Hampden, whom the Doctor calls the zealot of rebellion, by the same figure of speech which represents Christopher Milton, as taught by the law to adhere to king Charles, who was breaking the law every day by a thou-fand of those arbitrary acts and oppres.. fions which make up the description of a. tyrant.
It is not easy to determine which, in this character of Hampden, is the more conspicuous, the zeal of the loyalist, or the manners of the gentleman. The man
talks in one place of Milton's brutality. We could wish to have his definition of the term, that we may not injure him in the adoption of it to his own style.
But Milton only, for the present, is our client, and only Milton the prosewriter, who, in that character, muft ever be an eye-fore to men of Dr. Johnson's principles; principles that are at enmity with every patron of public liberty, and every pleader for the legal rights of Englishmen, which, in their origin, are neither more nor less than the natural rights of all mankind. . Milton, in contending for these against the tyrant of the day and his abettors, was serious, energetic, and irrefragable. He bore down all the filly sophisms in