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“ reprinting them should meet with little or no suc
The assertion of this learned and amiable writer, that Milton had not imitated these poets, is not to be understood in a strict and literal sense ; for assuredly there are passages in some of them that Milton may be fairly supposed to have copied, though his obligations to these Latin poets are very far from being considerable ; and had they been infinitely greater, the inference drawn by the malevolent reviler of Milton would still have been preposterously severe.
The detected slanderer was soon overwhelmed with the utter contempt he deserved; but, contemptible as he was, the memory of his offences and of his punishment ought to be preserved, not so much for the honour of Milton, as for the general interest of literature, that if the world can produce a second Lauder, he may not hope for impunity.
Part of his subsequent history is related in the following words by Dr. Douglas :
“ Grown desperate by his disappointment, this very
inan, whom but a little before we have seen as abject « in the confession of his forgeries, as he had been bold " in the contrivance of them, with an inconsstence,
equalled only by his impudence, renewed his attack
upon the author of the Paradise Lost; and in a “pamphlet, published for that purpose, acquainted the "s world, that the true reason which had excited him to
contrive his forgery was, because Milton had attacked " the character of Charles , the First, by interpolating
Pamela's prayer from the Arcadia, in an edition of the “ Eicon Bafilike z:: hoping, no doubt, by this curious s key to his conduct, to be received into favour, if not by " the friends of truth, at least by the idolaters of the royal 6 martyrşthe zeal of this wild party-man againft Milton
having at the same time extended itself against his « biographer, the very learned Dr. Birch, for no other
reasohi but because he was fo:candid, as to express his “difbelief of a tradition unsupported by evidence.'? ::: 1 Werel it requisite to givelnew, force to the many proofs of that malignant prejudice against Milton in a late writer, which I have had too frequent occasion to examine and regrety: such force might be drawn from the words juft i cited from DrórDouglas.::That; gentleman here informs rus, that: Lauder, directed' his intemperate zeal against Dr. Birch, for rejecting the ill-fupported storý that represented Milton astı'ám impoftor, concerned-iņ forging the remarkable prayer of the king., Yet John, fon ungenerously laboured to fix this fufpicion of dishonefty on the great character whose life; he delineated, by insinuating that Dr. Birch believed the very story, which Lauder reviled him for having candidly rejected. Is it not too evident from this circumstance, that Lauder's intemperate hatred of Milton had in some degree infected his noble coadjutor? though he very juftly discarded } ,
that impostor, when convicted of forgery, after writing for him a fupplicatory confession of his fraud, for which he was afterwards censured by the half-frantic offender, who, finding that it procured him no favour from the public, declared it infinitely: too general and too abject for the occafion.
The malevolence of Johnson towards the great poet has been represented as a mere fi&tion of party rage, acrimoniously seviling an illuftrious biographer : but intead of being an injurious fi&ion of that evil spirit; it is a reality universally felt, and sincerely lamented by those lovers of literature, who, being exempt from all party rage themselves, would willingly annihilate the influence of that insidious foe to truth and justice in the republic of letters. It should afford us an antidote against the poison of party rage in all literary discussions, to obferve, that by indulging it, a very ktrong and a very devout mind was hurried into the want of clear moral perception, and of true Chriftian charity, in describing the conduct, and in scrutinizing the motives, of Milton. It seems as if the good angel of this extraordinary poet had determined that his poetical renown fhould pafs (like his virtue and his genius) through trials most wonderfully adapted to give it luftre; and hence (as imagination at least may please itself in supposing) hence might such enemies be combined against him, as the world, perhaps, never saw before in a similar confederacy. A base artificer of falsehood, and a magnanimous teacher of
'moral philosophy, united in a wild endeavour to diminish his reputation; but, like the raih assailants of Jupiter, in the fables of paganism, they only confirmed the preeminence they attacked with preposterous temerity. The philosopher, indeed, made an honourable retreat ; and no candid mind will severely censure him for an illstarred alliance, which, however clouded by prejudice, he might originally form in compassion to indigence, and which he certainly ended by rejection of impofture.
The miserable Lauder was punished by events so calamitous, that even those admirers of Milton, who are most offended by the enormity of the fraud, must wish that penitence and amendment had secured to this unhappy being, who seems to have possessed considerable scholarship, a milder destiny. Finding himself unable to struggle with public odium in this country, he sought an asylum in the West Indies, and there died, an indigent outcast, and a memorable example, how dangerous it is to incur the indignation of mankind, by base devices to blast the reputation of departed genius.-May his wretched catastrophe preserve the literary world from being dishonoured again by artifice fo detestable !
I have said, that the collection he published of Latin poets is entitled to some regard as a literary curiosity : and it may here be proper to enumerate the authors comprized in that collection. The first volume contains the Poemata Sacra of Andrew Ramsay, from a copy printed at Edinburgh, 1633 ; and the Adamus Exul of Grotius,
1 i 2
from the edition of the Hagué, i601. In the fecond volume we have the Sarcotis of Mafenius, from the edir tion of Cologne, 1644, omitting the 4th and 5th books, which may be found in a copy of the Sarcotis printed at Paris, 'by Barbou, 1771: the first book of Dæmonomachia, a poem by Odoricus Valmarana, printed at Vienna, in 25 books, :1627 :i Paradisus Jacobi Catsui, a celebrated Dutch poet--the Paradise of Catfius is a spirited and graceful epithalamium on the nuptials of Adam and Eve, originally written in the native language of the author; this Latin version of it was executed by the learned Barlæus, and first printed in 1643 : Bellum Angelicum, Auctore Frederico Taubmanno; a poem, confisting of two books, and a fragment of a third, originally printed in 1604.
Lauder, in publishing this collection of curious Latin verse, has occasionally seasoned it with remarks of his own, both in Latin and English--the tenor of them has a great tendency to confirm the apology, with which Johnson excused the implicit and hasty credit that he gave to the gross forgeries of the impostor: “ He thought “ the man too frantic to be fraudulent:”. The language used by Lauder, in the publication I am speaking of, Thews indeed that the contemptuous abhorrence, which this unhappy scholar had conceived of Milton, really bordered upon insanity. Without pointing to any particuJar instances of plagiarism, he bestows on the poet the extraordinary title of the arch' felon ; and inserts a singu