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100 ] utility precludes all examination, and he expects his fcandalous chronicle should be licensed and received upon his own bare word.
“ For Milton to complain of evil « tongues," says the Doctor, “ required “ impudence at least equal to his other “ powers; Milton, whose warmest ad“ vocates must allow, that he never “ spared any asperity of reproach, or bru“ tality of insolence.”
Milton wrote in a public contest for public liberty: and he generally in that contest was upon the defensive. The afperity of his reproaches seldom exceeded the asperity of the wickedness upon which those reproaches were bestowed.
101 ] Brutality is a word of an ill found, and required some instances to justify, the imputation of it. When these are given, we will readily join issue in the trial, whether Milton or his adversaries were the more brutal or more infolent. They who would reduce mankind to a brutal flavery, under the despotism of a lawless tyrant, forfeit all claim to the rationality of human beings; and no tongue can be called evil for giving them their proper appellation.
Neither Dr. Johnson nor we can pretend, at this distance of time, to assign the precise causes of Milton's complaint. Evil tongues are common in all times; our histories inform us, that the times of Charles II. were not good. Milton per
haps is not unhappy in being out of the reach of the present times; but whether he is, even in the present times, out of the reach of evil tongues, let the readers of the new narrative candidly judge.
Impudence is an attribute with which our Biographer hath qualified Milton more than once; and it seems to have shocked the modesty of Dr. Johnson that a blemish of that kind fhould deform the character of his hero.
Parcius ista, good Doctor! Novimus et qui te- But Churchill and Kenrick are no more, and the Doctor may easily annihilate their authority by writing new narratives of what they were.
There is however, it seems, one of Milton's prose-tracts, in which the Doc
tor finds no impudence; it is his treatise of True Religion, heresy, schism, toleration, and the best means to prevent the growth of popery.
“ This little tract,” says he, “is mo“ destly written, with respectful mention “ of the Church of England and the “ thirty-nine articles.”
True, so far as the Church of England declares against Popery. But, unhappily for this respect, Milton brings these declarations in reproof of the church's practice; and most ably confutes the pretence of the Church of England, “ that she only enjoins things in“ different.” And even this he calls persecution.
“ If it be asked,” says Milton, “how “ far it should be tolerated ? I answer, “ doubtless equally, as being all Protesa “ tants; that is, on all occafions to give « account of their faith, either by. ar“ guing, preaching in their several af“ semblies, public writing, and the free“ dom of printing.”
If such toleration should have its free course, unrestrained by canons, subscriptions, and uniformity-acts, unallured by temporal emoluments, and unterrified by temporal censures, there must of course be an end of the civil Establishment of the Church of England; which is here as effectually condemned, as it is in those former tracts of the author's in which he is so seyere on prelatical usur