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"The venom of this remark happens to be too weak to do any mischief. Casuists of all sects and complexions have donie justice to the honesty of men who adhered to their principles and persuasions, though they might judge wreng in the choice of them.
He goes on, “ And if he thought the « office ministerial only, he certainly “ might have honestly retained it under « the King." Not quite fo certainly. But Milton's and Dr. Johnson's notions of honesty are so widely different, that we cannot admit the Doctor to estimate Milton's honesty by his own scale. In the end, however, he questions the fact.
“ But this tale has too little evidence s to deserve a disquisition : large offers
56 and sturdy rejections are among the *** most common topicks of falsehood.”
That is, in plain unaffected English, .“ No man could ever reject a large of:66 fer, though on conditions ever so re“ pugnant to his professed principles.” But the Doctor is but an individual, and his experience from his own particular case will not be admitted as the standard of other men's integrity; and yet this is · the only reason he gives for rejecting this anecdote, so honourable to Milton.
Milton's attachment to Cromwell was evidently founded on different considerations. The narrowness of the Presby. -terians in their notions of Liberty, and
particularly of religious liberty, had ap· peared upon many occasions. He more
than hints, in his Areopagitica, their inclination to govern by the episcopal and oppressive maxims of the Stuart race. He saw and abhorred their attempts to Shackle the faith of Protestants and Christians in the bonds of systems, confessions, tests, and subscriptions.
Cromwell's plan was of a more generous complexion; and Milton's Sonnet *, addressed to him, was evidently a compliment founded on the expectation that he would lay the ground-work of a free toleration in matters of religion, without which he faw (what Dr. Johnson never will fee) that civil liberty can never be established upon its proper basis. Milton's adherence to Cromwell, therefore, was founded on the most liberal views"; and while there was a prospect of realizing the idea, was certainly irreprchenfible.
* To 0, CROMWELL. CROMWELL, our Chief of Men, that through a Noi of war only, but distractions rude, (crowd, (Guided by Faith and matchless Fortitude) To Peace and Truth thy glorious way hast plow'd, And fought Gob's battles, and his works pursu'd, While Darwent streams with blood of Scots imAnd Dunbar field resound thy praises loud, (bru’d, And Worcester's laureat wreath. Yet much reTo conquer ftill: Peace has her vitories [mains No less than those of War. New foes 'arise, Threat’ning to bind our Souls in secular chains : Help us to fave free conscience from the paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.
Dr. Johnson however, in spite of every presumption to the contrary, will have Milton's agency in political matters to have been considered as of great importance,
“ When a treaty,” says the Doctor, 5 with Sweden was artfully suspended, “ the delay was publicly imputed to Mr.
“ Milton's indisposition; and the Swedish :' “ agent was provoked to express his
“ wonder, that only one man in Eng6 land could write Latin, and that man 66 blind."
But Whitelock, who was a principal hand in negotiating this treaty, instead of pleading Milton's indisposition for the delay, only says, “the employment of “ Mr. Milton” (to translate the treaty) « was excused to him” [the Swedish ambaffador] “ because several other servants
of the council, fit for thať employ. .“ment, were then absent.” Here then * Milton's Life, p.68. ' .