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 professed an utter enmity to the claiins 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 spin

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

rited expoftulations with foreign powers on any infraction of former treaties, in a style of steady determination, of which there have been few examples in subfequent times. A certain fign in what efteem the British government was held" at that period by all the other powers of Europe. And as this was the only province 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 publica liberty, or have more righteously earned the horiey of a pension.


The real ufurper is the wicked ruler , over a poor people, by whatever means the power falls into his hands. And whenever it happens that the imperium ad op-, timum quemque a minus bono transfertur, the subject is or should be too much in terested in the fact to consider any character of the rejected ruler but his vicious ambition, the violence and injustice of his counsels, and the flagitious acts by which they were executed..

These petulant reflections of the Doctor on Milton, might, many of them, easily be answered by recrimination; we have often wondered, in running over this new narrative, that the consciousness of the historian’s heart did not disable his hand for recording several things

to the reproach of Milton, which rebound with double force on his own no-, torious conduct. Has he always believed that the government of the House of Hanover was less an usurpation than that of Oliver Cromwell? Having tasted the honey of a pension for writing ministerial pamphlets, would he feel no regret in, returning once more to hunger and philofophy?..

The Doctor perhaps will tell us, that he is in, no danger of starving, even though his pension should be suspended: to-morrow. Be it so; and. by what kind . of proof will he shew that Milton had no means of earning his bread but his political employment ?


[ocr errors]


Milton however made the experiment which happily Dr. Johnson has not; and that too after the Restoration; and re-fisted the temptations of court-favour, and the folicitations of his wife to accept of it, with a magnanimity which would do him honour with any man but the au-thor of the new narrative.

Milton's reason for rejecting this offer was, that “ his wish was to live and die 6 an honest man.” But, says the Doctor, “ If he confidered the Latin Secre“ tary as exercising any of the powers of “ government, he that had shared au" thority, either with the parliament or

Cromwell, might have forborn to talk very loudly of his honesty," p. 91.


« VorigeDoorgaan »