Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ment, Defence of Smectymnus, and others.

Dr. Johnson will hardly deny that these patriotic pieces vapoured beyond the environs of Milton's boarding-school, even perhaps to the warmest scene of action, the Commons' House of Parliament: nor can we think he will (except in a fit of merriment) call them small performances, with respect to their effects; as he himself must know by experience the service that political pamphlets do to the faction their authors adhere to, when seasonably published. The merit of the faction, or of the author, is out of the question. We believe it will not be disputed, that Milton was as valuable a writer to the party he

espoused,

[ocr errors]

espoused, as Dr. Johnson is to the present administration, though not (at the time referred to) bought with a price. The Doctor says, “ This is a part

of * his life from which all his biographers ** seem inclined to shrink. They are un

willing that Milton thould be degrad"ed to a school-master; but since it can“ not be denied that he taught boys, one “ finds out that he taught for nothing ; " and another, that his motive was only “ zeal for the propagation of learning; "and all tell what they do not know to “ be true, only to excuse an act which no < wise man will consider as in itself difso

graceful. His father was alive, his, " allowance ivas not ample, and he sup

[merged small][ocr errors]

plied its deficiences by an honest and “ useful employment."

This is said with more confidence than the Doctor's carelessness in consulting Milton's Biographers will justify. Philips is not one and another; and he is the only original from whom those who have apologised for Milton's employment in teach. ing youth have copied.

Whether Toland knew the particulars of Milton's motives, must be left to God and his own conscience; but to say that « Milton had no fordid or mercenary “ purposes” will not imply that he taught for nothing.

Milton's friends are obliged to Dr. Johnson for doing credit to his supposed occupation of a schoolmaster; but To

land had done it before him, whose remarks would hardly have been seconded in the new narrative, if the author had not had some fellow-feeling of the reproach of Milton's adversaries; a circuinstance that gave us some especial wonder that the Doctor should be so much ashamed of the whipping story retailed from Aubrey. Concerning this

of Milton's Life, Mr. John Philips must, out of all comparison, be the most authentic historian: He was Milton's pupil from the beginning; and they who attend to the series of facts in his account will perceive how much Dr. Johnson's speculations on va. grant inatiention, Nuggish indifference, and absurd misapprehension, introduced by way of confuting those facts, might have been fpared.

part

6. We are told,” says the new narrative, " that in the art of education he per« formed wonders ; and a formidable lift " is given of the authors Greek and 66 Latin that were read in Aldersgate

street by youth between ten and fifteen “ or fixteen years of age,” And then follows the wife observation, that “

body can be taught fafter than he can

no

66 learn *.*

But who were these youth ? Even his sister's two fons, (perhaps only one of them, the younger); as appears by what Philips says after he had specified the formidable lift.

* New Narrative, p. 27.

" Now

« VorigeDoorgaan »