Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

ments on the legal rights of the subject;: many (perhaps the most of which were to be justified by the necessity of the times, and the malignant attempts of those who laboured to restore that wicked. race of despotic rulers, the individuals of which had uniformly professed an utter enmity to the claims of a free people, and had acted accordingly, in perfect conformity to Dr. Johnson's political creed., On another hand, be it observed, that: in those State-letters, latinized by Milton, which remain, and in those particularly written in the name of the Protector Oliver, the stricteft attention is paid to the dignity and importance of the British nation, to the protection of trade, and the Protestant religion, by spi

of

rited'expostulations with foreign powers on any infraction of former treaties, in a style of steady determination, of which there have been few examples in subsequent times. A certain sign in what efteem the British government was held" at that period by all the other powers Europe. And as this was the only province in which Milton acted under that government which Dr. Johnson calls an usurpation, let his services be compared with those performed by Dr. Johnson for his present patrons ;, and let the constitutional subject of the British enzpire: judge which of them better deserves the appellation of a traitor to public liberty, or have more righteously earned the honey of a penfion.

The real usurper is the wicked ruler over a poor people, by whatever means the power falls into his hands. And whenever it happens that the imperium ad op, timuni quemque a minus bono transfertur, the subject is or should be too much in-, terested in the fact to consider any character of the rejected ruler but his vicious ambition, the violence and injustice of his counsels, and the flagitious acts by which they were executed.

These petulant reflections of the Doctor on Milton, might, many of them, easily be answered by recrimination; we have often wondered, in running over this new narrative, that the consciousness of the historian's heart did not difable his hand for recording several things

to

to the reproach of Milton, which rebound with double force on his own no-, torious conduct. Has he always believed that the government of the House of Hanover was less an usurpation than that of Oliver Cromwell? Having tasted the honey of a pension for writing ministerial pamphlets, would he feel no regret in, returning once more to hunger and philosophy?

The Doctor perhaps will tell us, that he is in no danger of starving, even. though his pension should be suspended: to-morrow. Be it fo ; and, by what kind of proof will he shew that Milton had no means of earning his bread but his political employment ?

Milton however made the experiment which happily Dr. Johnson has not; and that too after the Restoration; and resisted the temptations of court-favour, and the folicitations of his wife to accept of it, with a magnanimity which would do him honour with any man but the au-thor of the new narrative.

Milton's reason for rejecting this offer was, that “ his wish was to live and die " an honest man." But, says the Doctor,

« If he considered the Latin Secretary as exercising any of the powers of government, he that had shared au

thority, either with the parliament or 65 Cromwell, might have forborn to talk

very loudly of his honefty,” p. 91.

The

« VorigeDoorgaan »