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fence upon a protestant as upon a popisi bigot. For example, in the article of truth, it is just as credible, that Sir Chriftopher Milton adhered to the party of Charles I. in obedience to the laws of his country, as that his brother John rés volted from the piety and faith of his father.
On another hand, that Dr. Johnson was as much scandalized at the impiety of Milton's political sentiments, as Father Anthony was at his heretical pravity, cannot be doubted. Perhaps too the Doctor had his superiors to please, as well as the priest; and they ought to do him the justice to acknowledge, that he hath done his duty in characterizing Milton, with a petulance and malignity K 4
that would not have misbecome the fuperstitious bigotry of a monk in a cloyster, · The Doctor, in speculating upon Dryden's perversion to popery, and (as one of the Reviewers of his prefaces expresles. it) « attempting ingeniously to extenu“ ate it,” concludes that, Enquiries into the heart are not for man.
No truly, not when Dryden's apoftacy is to be extenuated; but when poor Milton's fins are to be ingeniously aggravated, no Spanish Inquifitor more sharp-fighted to discern the devil playing his pranks in the heart of the poor culprit, or more ready to conduct him to an auto de fe.
In Dryden's case, the presumption is, that “a comprehensive is likewise an
“ elevated soul, and that whoever is wise, • is likewise honest.” But if it is natural to hope this, why not hope it of Milton as well as of Dryden? Where is the competent impartial judge who will admit, that Milton's soul was less comprehenfive or less elevated than the soul of Dryden?
But what occafion for all this grimace in accounting for Dryden's transition from what he did or did not profess to the church of Rome? Dr. Johnson ought to have been satisfied with Dryden's own account in his tale of the Hind and the Panther ; tie rather, as he there seems to have verified by experience Dr. Johnson's maxim, that “ he that is of no “ church can have no religion.” He frankly confesses, that having no steady principle of religion in his youth, or even in his maturer years, he finally ser up his rest in the church of Rome: and indeed if the essentials of religion consist in the trappings of a church, he could not have made a better choice*.
Dryden was reprehensible even to infamy for his owir vices, and the licentious encouragement he gave in his writings to those of others. But lie wrote an antirepublican poem called Abfalom and Achitophel; and Dr. Johnson, a man of high pretentions to moral character, calls
fio both proponined muno religioarillas, P. 73 Min
* Bp. Burnet, speaking of Dryden's converfon, says, “ If his grace and his wit improve 6 both proportionably, we shall hardly find that " he hath gained much by the change he has 6 made, from having no religion to chuse one of o the worst." Reply to Mr. Varillas, p. 139.'
hiin a wise and an honest man. Milton was a man of the chastest manners, both in his conversation and his writings. But he wrote Iconoclastes, and in the same Dr. Johnson's esteem was both a knave and a fool.
The church of Rome substitutes orthodoxy for every virtue under heaven. And loyalty among the high Royalists canonizes every rascal and profligate with a full and plenary absolution. These are, it is true, among the vilest and meanest partialities of the despotic faction; and Dr. Johnson, conscious of his merit in other departments, should blush, and be humbled, to be found in the list of such miserables.