« PreviousContinue »
sense of ded the merit of on the Sam
that his big Paradise Ld which on it the lofty ed
of the firs
pl in fact, with was an in:
short, in the instance before us, Johnson indulged, as his friends would persuade us to believe, the charitable propensities of his own heart, or availed himself of the
oppor: tunity to provide for the interests of his own character, the measure may be allowed to have been good, or to have been wise, but cannot be admitted, in opposition to the testimony of formidable facts, to have been demonstrative of his favourable disposition towards Milton.
If Johnson's conduct, as a critic on the poetic works of our great bard, be made the subject of our attention, we shall examine it in vain for the proof of that regard which it is said to exhibit for the reputation of the author of Paradise Lost. Let us recollect that the smaller poems of our illustrious writer were pronounced by Johnson to be
peculiar without excellence, and, if differing from the verses of others, differing for the worse:” that in Milton's latin poetry the critic saw nothing but what was inferior to the latin compositions of Cowley, and of May; that he made the Lycidas the object of his perverse censure, and affected to hold its admirers in contempt; that his applause of L’Allegro and Il Penseroso was formal
and jejune; that he detracted, as much as a sense of decency would permit him, from the merit of the Comus; that his strictures on the Samson Agonistes were severe; and that his high and splendid panegyric on the Paradise Lost was connected with a remark, which on its admission, would, at once, lay the lofty edifice of praise in the dust, and by proving that this glorious epic was destitute of the first great requisite of poetry, the power of pleasing, would demonstrate that, in fact, with all its imputed excellencies, it was an indifferent poem:- let us recollect all this, and then let the most candid among us seriously determine whether the critic be superior to the suspicion of wishing for an opportunity to blast the laurels of Milton."
* If we are desirous of positive and precise testimony respecting the existence, at the period in question, of malevolence to the fame of Milton in the breast of Johnson, we have only to turn to the 276th page of Sir John Hawkins's life of this author. " While the book” (Lauder's Essay) was in the press, the proof sheets were submitted to the inspection," says this biographer, “ of our club by a member of it who had an interest in its publication, and I could all along perceive that Johnson seemed to approve, not only of the design, but of the argument, and seemed to exult in a persuasion, that the reputation of Milton was likely to suffer by this discovery."--To this assertion made by a person immediately conversant with the fact, and not interested to misrepresent it-by a person, who
1: his apo
O mas fuis
great interests of his species. By a party among my contemporaries I am aware that this doubt will be strongly, and, perhaps, acrimoniously resented: but if a page, like mine, may hope to survive to a distant
age, I feel assured that, by the judgment of a generation remote from the prejudices of the present, I shall be absolved from the charge of wounding truth to gratify passion, even though I should assert that the delinquency of the libellous biographer is ill compensated by the merit of the monotonous and heavygaited morality of the sombre and dogmatic essayist.
T. Bensley, Printer,
506 note. Auger, 329.
IN DE X
ABBOTT, abp. 174.
Bacon, the sculptor, 501.
Barebone's parliament, 378.
resigns, 379, note.
Bargrave, Dr. 95 note.
Barkstead, Mr. 433 note.
a proof that neither tithes Barrow, Dr. 484.
Beaux of the puritan age, 162.
Benson, Mr. 502.
Bentley, Dr. 474 note.
Birch, Dr. 4, 46, 281 note, 340,
371, 394, 528. Aristotle, 283 note, 495.
Blackburn, archdeacon, 3. Army, its agitation after the death Blake, admiral, 396, 436. of Charles, 374.
Bonmatthei, 92, 93. ..conduct on the death of Bouquet, Mr. 556. Cromwell, 410.
Bourdeaux, the French ambassador, Arthur, king, 138 note, 150.
Boyle, Robert, 440.
BraiMaw, 245, 262, 264 note,
297, 547. Aubrey, 31, 155, 160, 482, 484,
.his character, 263, 267. 506 note.
.epitaph on him, 548. Auger, 329.
Bramhall, abp. 160 note, 341. Aylmer, Brabazon, 485.
Brutus, grandson of Æneas, fabu2 P
lous conqueror of Britain, 137 Commonwealth and monarchy con-
more humane than
Comnenus, Andronicus, 283 note.
Council of state, 261.
Cradock, Mr. 505.
Criticism cannot render dull poetry
Cromwell, 242, 245, 264 note, 498,
his character, 376,385,
the protestants of Pied
the Whole Duty of Man, 19.' 271 note.
foments the agitation of
made protector by it,
civil war in bis time him, 385.
his death, 409.
ment, 433 note.
Henry, 409 note.
remarks on his execu-
Dante, 223,470 note.
Davenant, bishop, 172.
Davis, Miss, 205.
saved by Milton, 428.
letter to, 71.
.account of him,
512 note, 515, 516, 527, 531
....2d elegy to, 163,
Desborough, 400 note, 410,
poem on his