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« means coincided with his own, may be “ thought rather too severe."
It was Waller's misfortune (a misfortune only in the scale of Dr. Johnson) to be born of a mother who was sister to the illustrious patriot John Hampden, whom the Doctor calls the zealot of rebellion, by the same figure of speech which represents Christopher Milton, as taught by the law to adhere to king Charles, who was breaking the law every day by a thoufand of those arbitrary acts and oppreffions which make up the defcription of a tyrant.
It is not easy to determine which, in this character of Hampden, is the more conspicuous, the zeal of the loyalist, or the manners of the gentleman. The man
21 ] talks in one place of Milton's brutality. We could wish to have his definition of the term, that we may not injure him in the adoption of it to his own style.
But Milton only, for the present, is our client, and only Milton the prosewriter, who, in that character, must ever be an eye-fore to men of Dr. Johnson's principles; principles that are at enmity with every patron of public liberty, and every pleader for the legal rights of Englishmen, which, in their origin, are neither more nor less than the natural rights of all mankind.
Milton, in contending for these against the tyrant of the day and his abettors, was serious, energetic, and irrefragable. He bore down all the filly sophisms in
C 3 favour
favour of despotic power like a torrenta and left his adversaries nothing to reply, but the rhetoric of Billingsgate, from which Lauder, in the end of his pamphlet, intituled, “ King Charles I. vindi*“ cated, &c.” has collected a nosegay of the choicest flowers; and pity it was, that he was too early to add his friend Johnson's character of Milton the prosewriter to the favoury bouquet.
When the Doctor found, on some late occasions, that his crude abuse and malicious criticisms would not bring down Milton to the degree of contempt with the public which he had assigned him in the scale of prose-writers ; he fell upon an expedient which has sometimes suc
ceeded in particular exigences. In one word, he determined to write his Life.
There are no men so excellent who have not fome personal or casual defect in their bodily frame, fome aukward peculiarity in their manners or conversation, some fcandalous calumny tacked to their private history, or fome of those natural failings which distinguish human from angelic beings.
On the other hand, few men are fo totally abandoned and depraved as to have no remnants of grace and goodness, 10 intervals of sobriety, no touches of regret for departed innocence, no sense of those generous passions which animate the wise and good to praise-worthy actions, or no natural or acquired abilities to abate
the resentment of the reputable public, and to atone, in some degree, for their immoralities.
A man of genius, who has words and will to depress or raise such characters respectively, will consider little in his operations upon them, but the motives and occasions which call for his present interference; and the world who know the artificer will make it no wonder that the encomiast and apologist of the profligate Richard Savage should employ his pen to satyrize and calumniate the virtuous John Milton.
56 The Life of Milton,” says Dr. Johnfon, “has been already written in so “ many forms, with such minute enqui“ ry, that I might perhaps more pro