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- Milton's attachment to Cromwell has been imputed to him as a blot in his chara&ter long before it was taken up by Dr. Johnson; who, to give him his due, has made the most of it in a small compass.
“Milton,” says he, having tasted the “ honey of public employment, would “ not return to hunger and philosophy; “but, continuing to exercise his office “ under a manifest usurpation, betrayed " to his power that liberty which he had “ defended.". .
It is hardly necessary to apprize a reader of Milton's prose-works that his ideas of ufurpation and public liberty were very different from those of Dr. Johnson. In the Doctor's system of government pub Bic liberty is the fiće" grace of an berediC
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tary monarch, and limited in kind and degree, by his gracious will and pleafure; and consequently to controul his arbitrary acts by the interposition of good. and wholesoine laws is, a manifest usurpas sion upon his prerogative. Milton allotted to the people a confiderable and important share in political government, founded upon original ftipulations for the rights and privileges of free subjects; and called the monarch who should in fringe or encroach upon these, however qualified: by lineal sucoeffion, a tyrant and an usürper, and freely configned him to the vengeance of an injured peor ple. Upon: Johnson's plan, there can, be no such thing as public liberty. Upon Milton's, where the laws, are duly exe
euted, and the people protected in the peaceable and legal enjoyment of their lives, properties, and municipal rights and privileges, there can be no fuch thing as usurpation, in whose hands foever the executive power should be lodged. From this doctrine Milton never swerved; and in that noble apostrophe to Cromwell, in his Second Defense of the people of England, he spares not to remind him, what a wretch and a villain he would be, should he invade those liberties which his valour and magnanimity had restored. If, after this, Milton's employers deviated from his idea of their duty, be it remembered, that he was neither in their secrets, nor an instrument in their arbitrary acts or encroach
ments on the legal rights of the subject; many (perhaps the most) of which were to be justified by the necessity of the times, and the malignant attempts of those who laboured to restore that wicked, race of despotic rulers, the individuals of, which had uniformly profeffed an utter enmity to the claims of a free people, and had acted accordingly, in perfect conformity to Dr. Johnson's political creed. On another hand, be it observed, that in those State-letters, latinized by Mil. ton, which remain, and in those particularly written in the name of the Protector Oliver, the strictest attention is paid to the. dignity and importance of the British nation, to the protection of trade, and the Protestant religion, by spi-:
sited expoftulations with foreign powers on any infraction of former treaties, in a style of steady determination, of which there have been few examples in subse! quent times. "À certain fign in what esteem the British government was held at that period by all the other powers of Europe. And as this was the only pro-' vince in which Milton acted under that government which Dr. Johnson calls an usurpation, let his services be compared with those performed by Dr. Johnson for his present patrons; and let the consti-' tutional subject of the British empire judge which of them better deserves. the appellation of a traitor to public? liberty, or have more righteously 'earned the honey of a péndion.ucw::;:; bore