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sellers, who saw the violence of Lauder and were unable to appreciate his powers, this apology might very well be received; but it certainly came with an ill grace from the mouth of Johnson, who had been connected with the impostor, as it is highly probable, for more than two years, and who could not, on any supposition, be a stranger to the acuteness of his intellect, or the malice of his heart. In this exigency, however, it was requisite for Johnson to be active in disavowing his association with falsehood; and accordingly he wrote for Lauder a letter of penitence and confession, and induced him to address it, as his own, 'to Mr. Douglas. The fate of this ill-starred letter seems to have been singularly unfortunate. It failed to satisfy the public, and, while it hurt the feelings, it promoted none of the purposes of Lauder: by Lauder, indeed, it was subsequently disowned, with some intimation of doubt respecting the good faith of his officious friend, on whom he professes to have reposed with the most perfect confidence.
The cause of Lauder's hostility to Milton, as it is assigned in this publication, is of a nature too curious to be suppressed. Lauder, as it seems, had edited, for the use of schools,
a translation of the psalms, into latin verse, by Arthur Johnston, a Scotch physician; and had pleased himself with the prospect of an income from an annual edition of the work: but his hopes of profit had been intercepted by a wicked couplet "of Pope's in the Dunciad, which had thrown the Scutch translator into contempt, and had consequently checked the sale of his production. “ I had no particular pleasure,” (says Lauder, or rather Johnson for him,)“ in subverting the reputation of Milton, which I had myself once endeavoured to exalt, and of which the foundation had always remained untouched by me had not my credit and my interest been blasted, or thought to be blasted by the shade, which it cast from its boundless elevation.” Then follows the story which I have related, and which the letter-writer thus concludes: 66 On this occasion it was natural not to be pleased; and my resentment,
* Speaking of Benson, the poet says,
“ On two unequal crutches propp'd he came,
Milton's on this — on that one Johnston's name."
The unprincipled Lauder assigned afterwards other reasons for his conduct: but he seems principally to have been actuated by a wish of calling the public attention to those obscure latin poets of which he was then meditating an edition.
seeking to discharge itself somewhere, was unhappily directed against Milton!!!”
The contrition, which Lauder had been made to express in this letter, was soon discovered to be altogether fictitious. In 1754 he published another malignant pamphlet, in which he shows that his former design was not dropped; and threatens to “ reinforce the charge of plagiarism against the English poet, and to fix it upon him, by irrefragable conviction, in the face of the whole world.”This new publication was intitled, King Charles vindicated from the charge of plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself convicted of forgery and a gross imposition on the public;" and its object was to prove that Milton, for the purpose of bringing discredit on the Icon Basilike, had interpolated this supposed production of royal authorship with Pamela's
prayer from the Arcadia of Sidney. Though this unspecious falsehood was afterwards deemed of sufficient consequence to be revived, with a notable and hardy contempt of truth, by the great literary patron of Lauder, it was now unable to obtain that degree of regard which was requisite to render it of any use to its author; and, failing in this attempt to conci
liate the protection of the high royalist party, he was compelled to retire before the popular resentment to the West Indies, where he is reported to have perished under the oppression of penury and contempt. The fate of his coadjutor was far more, prosperous
evidently the dema and unifo something
Ille crucem tulit-hic diadema.-
While he illustrious more pru lead him ing easy grandchil for her bo a versifica to the
Johnson survived the disgrace of his infamous alliance to enjoy the opportunity of attempting, with much deeper, though not more effectual wounds, the impassible reputation of Milton.
To vindicate him from the imputation, to which he became exposed by his intercourse with Lauder, it has been urged by Johnson's friends that the zeal with which he espoused the necessities of Milton's descendant, Mrs. Foster, and the praise which he has assigned to the great poet's muse place him above the suspicion of being actuated, in this instance of his conduct, by malice. I must be forgiven if I remark that this offer of vindication is both irrelevant and defective; irrelevant, as benevolence to the living, allowing it to be unalloyed with any base mixture of ostentation or interest, may unite, in perfect consistency, with enmity to
lignity ar writer's which it
the dead; defective, as the praise, to which the appeal has been so confidently made, is evidently penurious, reluctant, compelled by the demand of the critic's own character, and uniformly dashed and qualified with something of an opposite nature:
medio de fonte leporum
While he was depreciating the fame of the illustrious ancestor, Johnson could not act more prudently, or in a way more likely to lead him to his final object, than by acquiring easy credit as the friend of the distressed grandchild; and the prologue which he wrote for her benefit, and which is little more than a versification of what he had before attached to the pamphlet sullied with Lauder's malignity and forgeries, has fully answered the writer's purposes by the imputed liberality, which it has obtained for him, and the means with which it has thus supplied him of striking, during the repose of suspicion, the more pernicious blow. Avowed hostility generally defeats its own object; and the semblance of kindness has commonly been assumed by the efficient assassin for the perpetration of his design. Whether, in