"From Milton's filence it might perhaps be suspected, that the Bishop was under some sort of confinement, were it not that on the 7th of February, we find him at full liberty, attending the King's funeral at Windsor, and standing ready with a Common-prayer-book to read the burial-office over the royal corple *

But what is beyond a thousand furmises, accumulated by Wagstaffe and others, to prove Milton's first publishing this prayer as selected by King Charles, for his own use, is the dead filence of Bp. Juxon from this period to the time of his death. If his timidity during the Interregnum prevailed with him to conceal the forgery, his fears must be at * Biographia Britannica, Juxon, Rem. [C]



an end at the Restoration. The prayer

had been published as King Charles's | over and over during that interval; Milį ton’s reproach was equally and repeatedly

made public. Yet this worthy Bishop fuffers this prayer to be published in a collection of King Charles's works in the year 1662, without giving the least hint of the forgery, imputed afterwards to Milton and Bradshar.

Let Dr. Johnson then make what he can of the adaptation of this prayer to the case of King Charles; but let not his splenetic prejudice against Milton associate him with such a driveling crew, fuch a despicable groupe of knights of the post, as would persuade the world that Milton wanted the aid of such pitiful forgeries as they themselves occafionally practised to support the noblest of all employments, the defence of public liberty against tyrants and oppreffors.

The Doctor's account of Milton's difpute with Salmafius we shall pass by, and leave his criticisms on some Latin expreffions on either fide to those who have not forgotten a trade, which, in fome degree or other, is, or should be, original to every good writer, namely, the trade of a Grammarian. No man has exercised this trade with more emolument than Dr. Johnson, would he allow us to say, that in his political pámphlets “ the rights of nations and kings fink “ into a laborious folicitude for the

ini. * choice

* choice of ivords and modes of expref“ fion.”

Milton's answer to Salmafius was much read, and it is no difparagement to his arguments that they appeared bad to a aman of Hobbes's principles, or paradoxical in Dr. Johnson's ideas *: : ;

But, however, the Doctor thought hiinself obliged to account for this de pravity of taste in the numerous readers of Milten's defense, which he does in this way: ..

pes, . “Paradox,” says our Biographer,"res commended by fpirit and elegance,

easily gains attention; and he who told *** every man that he was equal to his “ King, could hardly want an: au"dience *.”!.,...; is sinds # Life, p. 56, ia'. Sodo





· The paradox then is that every man is equal to his King. But where has Milton told this? or is it to Dr. Johnson's misapprehension of Milton's state of the case, or to his propensity to calumniate, that we owe this false and rancorous in. sinuation ?

That every man is not equal, but superior, to his Tyrant, is a proposition which has been demonstrated over and over, before Milton was born ; and if Milton espoused it, and made it better. understood by a notorious, example, he ferved his generation in a most material article of their social happiness. The next generation had the spirit and good sense to profit by his doctrine; and by virtue of it drove their Tyrant into an ignominious exile,


[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »