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terary veteran, whose applause is so justly dear to me. I have additional inducements in recollecting your animated and enlightened regard for the glory of Milton. It is pleasing to address a sympathetic friend on a subject that interests the fancy and the heart. I remember, with peculiar gratification, the liberality and frankness, with which you lamented to me the extreme severity of the late Mr. Warton, in describing the controversial writings of Milton. I honour the rare integrity of your mind, my candid friend, which took the part of injured genius and probity against the prejudices of a brother, eminent as a scholar, and entitled also, in many points of view, to your love and admiration. I sympathize with you most cordially in regretting the severity to which I allude, so little to be expected from the general temper of the critic, and from that affectionate spirit, with which he had vindicated the poetry of Milton from the misrepresentations of cold and callous austerity. But Mr. Warton had fallen into a mistake, which has betrayed other welldisposed minds into an unreasonable abhorrence of Milton's prose ; I mean the mistake of regarding it as having a tendency to subvert our existing government. Can any man juftly think it has such a tendency, who recollecis that no government, similar to that which the Revolution established for England, existed when Milton wrote. His impassioned yet disinterested ardour for reformation was
excited excited by those gross abuses of power, which that new settlement of the state very happily corrected.
Your learned and good-natured brother, my dear friend, was not the only man of learning and good-nature, who indulged a prejudice, that to us appears very extravagant, to give it the gentlest appellation. A literary Paladine (if I may borrow from romance a title of diftinction to honour a very powerful historian) even Gibbon himself, whom we both admired and loved for his literary and for his social accomplishments, surpassed, I think, on this topic, the severity of Mr. Warton, and held it hardly compatible with the duty of a good citizen to re-publish, in the present times, the prose of Milton, as he apprehended it might be productive of public evil. For my own part, although I sincerely respected the highly cultivated mind that harboured this apprehension, yet the apprehension itself appeared to me somewhat similar to the fear of Falstaff, when he says, “I am afraid of this “ gunpowder Percy, though he be dead.” As the prose of Milton had a reference to the distracted period in which it arose, its arguments, if they could by any means be pointed against our existing government, are surely as incapable of inflicting a wound, as completely dead for all the purposes of hoftility, as the noble Percy is represented, when he excites the ludicrous terror of Sir John: but while I presume to describe the prose of Milton as
inanimate inanimate in one point of view, let me have the justice to add, that it frequently breathes fo warm a spirit of genuine eloquence and philanthropy, that I am persuaded the prophecy of its great author concerning it will be gradually accomplished; its defects and its merits will be more temperately and justly estimated in a future age than they have hitherto been. The prejudices so recently entertained against it, by the two eminent writers I have mentioned, were entertained at a period when a very extraordinary panic possessed and overclouded many of the most elevated and enlightened minds of this kingdoma period when a retired student could hardly amuse himfelf with perusing the nervous republican writers of the last century, without being suspected of framing deadly machinations against the monarchs of the present day ; and when the principles of a Jacobin were very blindly imputed to a truly English writer of acknowledged genius, and of the purest reputation, who is, perhaps, of all men living, the most perfectly blameless in his sentiments of government, morality, and religion. But, happily for the credit of our national understanding, and our national courage, the panic to which I allude has speedily passed away, and a man of letters may now, I presume, as fafely and irreproachably peruse or reprint the great republican writers of England, as he might translate or elucidate the political visions of Plato, a writer whom Milton passionately
admired, admired, and to whom he bore, I think, in many points, a very striking resemblance. Perhaps they both possessed too large a portion of fancy and enthufiasm to make good practical statesmen ; the visionaries of public virtue have feldom succeeded in the management of dominion, and in politics it has long been a prevailing creed to believe, that goverment 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 prose ; you, whose studies are so various and extensive, are fufficiently familiar with those singular 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 classical erudition and the taste of your lamented brother, I am confident that we can neither of us subscribe to the censure he has passed on the Latin style 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 man 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 detestation, 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 fpirit, 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, whose memory I have fervently wished to rescue from indignity and detraction. The asperity of Johnson towards Milton has oftex struck the fond admirers of the poet in various points of view; in one moment it excites laughter, in another indignation; now it reminds us of the weapon of Goliah as described by Cowley;
“ A sword so great, that it was only fit