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“perly have contented myself with the “ addition of a few notes to Mr. Fen“ton's elegant Abridgement; but that a “new narrative was thought necessary to “the uniformity of this edition *.”
The uniformity of editions is commonly the bookseller's care, and the necessity of such uniformity generally arises from the taste of the public; of which, among the number of names exhibited in the title-pages of these volumes, there must be many competent judges. It would be a pity however that a conformity to this taste should engage Dr. Johnson in writing this Life, to go beyond what would more properly have contented himself; the least intimation from the
* Life of Milton, p.1.
Biographer of the impropriety of a new narrative would, we are perfuaded, have made the undertakers of the edition contented with the Doctor's plan.
He might not indeed have found the i means to introduce certain particulars, which embellifh his new narrative, into his notes on Mr. Fenton's abridgement, in which there is a vein of candor that does the writer more honour than the ingenuity of his performance; not to mention the different judgment, from that of Dr. Johnson, formed by Mr. Fenton, on some of Milton's poetical pieces.
We therefore believe this new narrative was calculated rather for Dr. Johnfon's private contentment than the necefGties of the edition.
A few instances will serve to thew the probability of this surmise.
All the writers of Milton's Life before, Dr. Johnson speak of the esteem with which Milton was honoured by his fellow-members of Christ's College at Cambridge. Milton values himself upon, it at a time when the under-workers of the royalists, who sent different accounts to the defenders of Salmasius abroad, might have effectually confuted him, Let us now observe the contrast.
“Of the exercises which the rules of « the university required, some were “ published by him in his matuser * years. They had been undoubtedly “ applauded, for they were such as few | 6 can perform ; yet there is reason to
66 suspect, that he was regarded in his
This filly tale is taken from Warton's “ Life and Remains of Dean Bathurst,”. and retailed by Warton from some manuscripts of Aubrey the antiquarian in the Ashmolean Museum, whose anile credulity has disabled him from being a writer of any authority. In what manner, and with what circumstances, this corporal
* Milton's Life, p. 7, 8.
correction was inflicted in either univerfity, we are not informed. Warton's words are, that “ Milton was actually “ whipped by Dr. Thomas Bainbrigge, “ Master of Christ's College, while he “ was at Cambridge.” Dr. Johnson calls it a public indignity, which is an improvement upon Aubrey, and renders the fact still more improbable. There is no specification of the offence, or of the time of the correction; and we may presume, that when this wholesoine fevesity was most in vogue in either university, the head of a college would hardly make himself fo ridiculous as to condescend to execute the office of a parish-beadle *.
There * We have been informed, that the manner