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ries of public virtue have seldom fucceeded in the management of dominion, and in politics it has long been a prevailing creed to believe, that government is 'like gold, and must not be fashioned for extensive use without the alloy of corruption. But I mean not to burthen you, my lively friend, with political reflections, or with a long dissertation on the great mass of Milton's profe ; you, whose studies are fo various and extensive; are sufficiently familiar with those fingular compositions; and I am not a little
gratified in the assurance that you think as I do, both of their blemishes and their beauties, and approve the use that I have made of them in
my endeavours to elucidate the life and character of their author. Much as we respected the clafsical erudition and the taste of
lamented brother, I am confident that we can neither of us subscribe to the censure he has passed on the Latin stile of Milton, who, to my apprehension, is often most admirably eloquent in that language, and particularly so in the passage I have cited from his character of Bradshaw; a character in which I have known very acrimonious enemies to the name of the inàn commended
very candidly acknowledge the eloquence of the eulogist. Some rigorous idolaters of the unhappy race of Stuart may yet censure me even for this dispassionate revival of such a character ; but
' you, my liberal friend to the freedom of literary discussion, you will suggest to me, that the minds of our countrymen in general aspire to Roman magnanimity, in rendering justice to great qualities in men, who were occasionally the objects of public deteftation, and you join with me in admiring that example of such magnanimity, to which I particularly allude. Nothing is more, honourable to ancient Rome, than her generosity in allowing a statue of Hannibal to be raised and admired within the walls of the very city, which it was the ambition of his life to distress and destroy.
In emulation of that spirit, which delights to honour the excellencies of an illustrious antagonist, I have endeavoured to preserve in my own mind, and to express on every proper occasion, my unshaken regard for the rare faculties and virtues of a late extraordinary biographer, whom it has been my lot to encounter continually as a very bitter, and sometimes, I
think, an insidious enemy to the great poet,
“ A sword so great, that it was only fit
now it prompts us to exclaim, in the words of an angry Roman:
" Nec bellua tetrior ulla eft
I have felt, I confess, these different emotions of resentment in perusing the various farcasms of the austere critic against the object of my poetical idolatry, but I have tried, and I hope with some success, to correct the animosity they must naturally excite, by turning to the inore temperate works of that very copious and admirable writer, particularly to his exquisite paper in the Rambler (N° 54) on the deaths
and afperity of literary men. It is hardly poffible, I think, to read the paper I have mention
I ed without losing, for some time at least, all sensations of displeasure towards the eloquent, the tender moralist, and reflecting, with a sort of friendly satisfaction, that, as long as the language of England exists, the name of JOHNSON will remain, and deserve to remain,
Magnum et memorabile nomen.
As long as eloquence and morality are objects of public regard, we must revere that great mental physician, who has given to us all, infirm mortals as the best of us are, such admirable prescriptions for the regimen of mind, and we should rather speak in sorrow than in anger, when we are forced to recollect, that, like other this
, physicians, however able and perfect in theory, he failed to correct the infirmity of his own morbid spirit. You, my dear Warton, whoman opposite temperament has made a critic of more airy, and cheerful complexion, you are one of the best witnesses that I could possibly produce, if I had any
my ideas of Johnson's malevolent prejudices against Milton are not the offsprings of a fancy equally
occasion to prove
cerity in saying, that I wish to acquit Johnson of malevolence in every article where my reason will allow me to do so. I have been under the painful necessity of displaying continually, in the following work, the various examples of his severity to Milton. Nothing is more apt to excite our spleen than a stroke of injustice against an author whoin we love and revere ; but I should be sorry to find myself infected by the acrimony which I was obliged to display, and I should be equally sorry to run into an opposite failing, and to indulge a spirit of obloquy, like Mrs. Candour, in the School for Scandal, with all the grimaces of affected good
I have spoken, therefore, my own feelings, without bitterness and without timidity. I cannot say that I speak of Johnson“ fine ira “ et studio,” as Tacitus faid of other great men (very differently great!) for, in truth, I feel towards the same object those two opposite sources of prejudice and partiality: as a critical biographer of the poets he often excites my transient indignation ; but as an eloquent teacher of morality he fills me with more lasting reverence and affection.