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favour of despotic power like a torrent, and left his adversaries nothing to reply, but the rhetoric of Billingsgate, from which Lauder, in the end of his pamphlet, intituled, “ King Charles I. vindi “cated, &c.” has collected a nosegay of the choicest flowers ; and pity it was, that he was too early to add his friend Johnson's character of Milton the proscwriter to the favoury bouquet.
When the Doctor found, on some late occasions, that his crude abuse and malicious criticisms would not bring down Milton to the degree of contempt with the public which he had assigned him in the scale of prose-writers; he fell upon an expedient which has sometimes suc
ceeded (in particular exigences. In one word, he determined to write his Life.
There are no men so excellent who have not some personal or casual defe& in their bodily frame, fome aukward peculiarity in their manners or conversation, fome fcandalous calumny tacked to their private hiftory, or some of those natural failings which distinguish human from angelic beings. . . On the other hand, few men are so totally abandoned and depraved as to have no reminants of grace and goodness, no intervals of sobriety, no touches of regret -for departed innocence, no sense of those generous paffions which aniinate the wise and good to praise-worthy actions, or no natural or acquired abilities to abate the resentment of the reputable public, and to atộne, in some degree, for their immoralities.
A man of genius, who has words and will to deprefs or raife fuch characters respectively, will consider little in his operations upon them, but the mórives and occasions which call for his present interference'; and the world who know the artificer will make it po wonder that the encomiaft and apologist of the profligate Richard Savage should employ his pen to satyrize and calumniate the virtuous John Milton... Pis:
6 The Life of Milton," says Dr.Johnfon, “ has been already written in fo “ inany forms, with such minute enqui6 ty, that I might perhaps more pro
" perly have contented myself with the « addition of a few notes to Mr. Fen« ton's elegant Abridgement; but that a “ new narrative was thought neceffary to "the uniformity of this edition *."
The uniformity of editions is com monly the bookseller's care, and the necellity of fuch-uniformity generally arifes from the taste of the public ; of which, among the number of names exhibited in the title-pages of these volumes, there must be many competent judges. It would be a pity, however that a conformity to this taste should engageDr. Johnfon in writing this Life, to-go beyond what would more properly have contented himself; the least intimation from the .* Life of Milton, p.1. .
Biographer of the impropriety of a nero narrative would, we are persuaded, have made the undertakers of the edition contented with the Doctor's plan. "
He might not indeed have found the means to introduce certain particulars, which embellifh his new narrative, into his notes on Mr. Fenton's abridgement, in which there is a vein of candor that does the writer more honour than the ingenuity of his performance; not to mention the different judgment, from that of Dr. Johnson, formed by. Mr. Fenton, on fome of Milton's poetical pieces.
We therefore believe this new narra. tive was calculated rather for Dr. Johnson's private contentment than the neceflities of the edition.