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languish in distress. It is yet in the power of a great people, to reward the poet whose name they boast, and from their alliance to whose genius, they claim some kind of superiority to every other nation of the earth; that poet, whose works may possibly be read when every other monument of British greatness shall be obliterated; to reward him-not with pictures, or with medals, which, if he sees, he sees with contempt, but-with tokens of gratitude, which he, perhaps, may even now consider as not unworthy the regard of an immortal spirit. And surely, to those, who refuse their names to no other scheme of expense, it will not be unwelcome, that a subscription is proposed, for relieving, in the languor of age, the pains of disease, and the contempt of poverty, the granddaughter of the author of “ Paradise Lost.” Nor can it be questioned, that if I, who have been marked out A$the Zoilus of Milton, think this regard due to his posterity, the design will be warmly seconded by those, whose lives have been employed, in discovering his excellencies, and extending his reputation.
For the Relief of
are taken in by
REVEREND MR. DOUGLAS,
OCCASIONED BY HIS
VINDICATION OF MILTON.
TO WHICH ARE SUBJOINED
SEVERAL CURIOUS ORIGINAL LETTERS
From the Authors of the UNIVERSAL HISTORY, Mr. AINSWORTH,
Mr. MacLAURIN, &c.
BY WILLIAM LAUDER, A. M.
Quem penitet peccasse pæne est innocens.
GROTII Adamus Exul.
ST PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1751.
Of this Pamphlet, Mr. Lauder gives the following account: “ An ingenious gentleman (for whose amazing abilities I had conceived the highest veneration, and in whose candour and friendship I reposed the most implicit and unlimited confidence) advised me to make an unreserved disclosure of all the lines I had interpolated against Milton, with this view, chiefly, that no future criticks might ever have an opportunity of valuing themselves upon small discoveries of a few lines, which would serve to revive my error, and keep the controversy eternally alive.
“ With this expedient I then cheerfully complied, when that gentleman wrote for me the letter that was published in my name to Mr. Douglas, in which he committed one error that proved fatal to me, and at the same time injurious to the publick. For, in place of acknowledging that such and such particular passages only were interpolated, he gave up the whole Essay against Milton as delusion and misrepresentation, and thereby imposed more grievously on the publick than I had done, and that too in terms much more submissive and abject than the nature of the offence required.
“ Though this letter in many respects contained not my sentiments, as plainly appears from the contradictory Postscript subjoined to it; yet such was my infatuation at that time, and implicit confidence in my friend, that I suffered it to be printed in my name, though I was previously informed by one of the greatest men of the age of its hurtful tendency, which I have since fully experienced to my cost.
“That the gentleman meant to serve me, and was really of opinion that the method he proposed might probably prove effectual for rescuing me from the odium of the publick, and in some measure restoring my character to the honour it had lost, I was then disposed to believe. His repeated acts of friendship to me on former occasions in conjunction with a reputation universally established for candour and integrity, left me little room to doubt it: though it is certainly a most preposterous method for a criminal, in order to obtain pardon for one act of felony, to confess himself guilty of a thousand. However, I cannot but condemn myself for placing so implicit a confidence in the judgment of any man, how great or good soever, as to suffer his mistakes to be given to the publick as my opinion." King Charles vindicated from the churge of plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself convicted of forgery and a gross imposition on the publick. 8vo. 1754.
REVEREND MR. DOUGLAS.
SIR, CANDOUR and tenderness are in any relation, and on all occasions, eminently amiable; but when they are found in an adversary, and found so prevalent as to overpower that zeal which his cause excites, and that heat which naturally increases in the prosecution of argument, and which may be in a great measure justified by the love of truth, they certainly appear with particular advantages ; and it is impossible not to envy those who possess the friendship of him, whom it is even some degree of good fortune to have known as an enemy.
I will not so far dissemble my weakness, or my fault, as not to confess that my wish was to have passed undetected; but since it has been my fortune to fail in my original design, to have the supposititious passages which I have inserted in my quotations made known to the world, and the shade which began to gather on the splendour of Milton totally dispersed, I cannot but count it an alleviation of my pain, that I have been defeated by a man who knows how to use advantages with so much moderation, and can enjoy the honour of conquest without the insolence of triumph.
It was one of the maxims of the Spartans, not to press upon a flying army, and therefore their enemies were always ready to quit the field, because they knew the danger was only in opposing. The civility with which you have thought proper to treat me, when you had incontestable superiority, has inclined me to make your victory complete, without any further struggle, and not only publickly to acknowledge the truth of the charge which you have hitherto advanced, but to confess, without the least dissimulation, subterfuge, or concealment, every other interpolation I have made in those authors, which you have not yet had opportunity to examine.
On the sincerity and punctuality of this confession I am willing to depend for all the future regard of mankind, and cannot but indulge some hopes, that they whom my offence has alienated from me, may by this instance of ingenuity and repentance, be propitiated and reconciled. Whatever be the event, I shall at least have done all that can be done in reparation of my former injuries to Milton, to truth, and to mankind, and entreat that those who shall continue implacable, will examine their own hearts, whether they have not committed equal crimes without equal proofs of sorrow, or equal acts of atonement.*
* The interpolations are distinguishcd by Italick characters.