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Hence different passions more or less infiame,
Brumoy says, Pascal from his infancy felt himself a geometrician; and Vandyke, in like manner, was a painter. Shakspeare, who of all poets had the deepest insight into human nature, was aware of a prevailing bias in the operations of every mind. By him we are told, “ Masterless passion sways us to the mood of what “ it likes or Touths.
It remains to enquire, whether in the lives before us the characters are partial, and too often drawn with malignity of misrepresentation. To prove this it is alleged, that Johnson has misrepresented the circumstances relative to the translation of the first Iliad, and malis ciously ascribed that performance to Addison, instead of Tickell, with too much reliance on the testimony of Pope, taken from the account in the papers left by Mr. Spence. For a refutation of the fallacy imputed to Addison, we are referred to a note in the Biographia Bria tannica, written by the late Judge Blackstone, who, it is said, examined the whole matter with accuracy, and found that the first regular statement of the accusation against Addison was published by Ruffhead, in his Life of Pope, from the materials which he received from Dr. Warburton. But, with all due deference to the learned Judge, whose talents deserve all praise, this account is by no means accurate.
Sir Richard Steele, in a dedication of the Comedy of the Drummer to Mr. Congreve, gave the first insight into that business. He says, in a stile of anger and resentment, “ If " that gentleman (Mr. Tickell) thinks himself “injured, I will allow I have wronged him “ upon this issue, that (if the reputed transla“tor of the first book of Homer shall please “to give us another book) there shall appear "another good judge in poetry, besides Mr. “ Alexander Pope, who shall like it.”. The authority of Steele outweighs all opinions founded on vain conjecture, and, indeed, seems to be decisive, since we do not find that Tickell, though warmly pressed, thought proper to vindicate himself. · But the grand proof of Johnson's malignity is the manner in which he has treated the character and conduct of Milton. To énforce this charge has wearied sophistry, and exhausted the invention of a party. What they cannot deny, they palliate; what they cannot prove, they say is probable. But why all this rage against Dr. Johnson? Addison, before him, had said of Milton :
And had not Johnson an equal right to avow bis sentiments ! Do his enemies claim a privilege to abuse whatever is valuable to Englishmen, either in Church or State? and must the liberty of UNLICENSED PRINTING be denied to the friends of the British constitution?
It is unnecessary to pursue the argument through all its artifices, since, dismantled of ornament and seducing language, the plain truth may be stated in a narrow compass. Johnson knew that Milton was a republican; he says, “ an acrimonious and surly republican, o for which it is not known that he gave any “ better reason, than that a popular govern“ ment was the most frugal; for, the trappings “ of a monarchy would set up an ordinary “ commonwealth.” Johnson knew that Milton talked aloud “ of the danger of RE-ADMITTING “ KINGSHIP in this nation;" and when Milton adds, " that a commonwealth was commended, “ or rather ENJOINED, by our Saviour himself, “ to all Christians, not without a remarkable “ disallowance, and the brand of Gentilism “ UPON KINGSHIP," Johnson thought him no better than a wild enthusiast. He knew as well as Milton, “that the happiness of a nation “ must needs be firmest and certainest in a full “ ånd free council of their own electing, where “ no single person, but reason only, sways;" but the example of all the republics, recorded in the annals of mankind, gave him no room to hope that REASON only would be heard. He knew that the republican form of government, having little or no complication, and no consonance of parts by a nice mechanism forming a regular whole, was too simple to be beautiful even in theory. In practice it, perhaps, never existed. In its most flourishing state, at Athens, Rome, and Carthage, it was a constant scene of tumult and commotion. From the mischiefs of a wild democracy, the progress has ever been to the dominion of an aristocracy; and the word aristocracy fatally includes the boldest and most turbulent citizens, who rise by their crimes, and call themselves the best men in the state. By intrigue, by cabal, and faction, a pernicious oligarchy is sure to succeed, and end at last in the tyranny of a single ruler. Tacitus, the great master of political wisdom, saw, under the mixed authority of king, nobles, and people, a better form of government than Milton's boasted republic; and what Tacitus admired in theory, but despaired of enjoying, Johnson saw established in this country. He knew that it had been overturned by the rage of frantic men; but he knew that, after the iron rod of Cromwell's usurpation, the constitution was once more restored to its first principles, Monarchy was established, and this country was regenerated. It was regenerated a second time at the Revolution : the rights of men were then defined, and the blessings of good order and civil liberty have been ever since diffused through the whole community...
The peace and happiness of society were what Dr. Johnson had at heart. He knew that Milton called his defence of the Regicides a defence of the people of England, but, however glossed and varnished, he thought it an apology for murder. Had the men, who, under a show of liberty, brought their king to the scaffold, proved by their subsequent conduct, that the public good inspired their actions, the end might have given some sanction to the means; but usurpation and slavery followed, Milton undertook the office of secretary under the despotic power of Cromwell, offering the incense of adulation to his master, with the titles of Director of public Councils, the Leader of unconquered Armies, the Father of his Country. Milton declared, at the same time, that nothing is more pleasing to God, or more agreeable to reason, than that the highest mind should have the sovercign power. In this strain of servile flattery Milton gives us the right divine of tyrants. But it seems, in the same piece, be exhorts Cromwell “ not to desert those great “ principles of liberty which he had professed “ to espouse; for, it would be a grievous enor“ mity, if, after having successfully opposed " tyranny, he should himself act the part of ą “ tyrant, and betray the cause that he had “ defended,” This desertion of every honest principle the advocate for liberty lived to see. Cromwell acted the tyrant; and, with vile hy, pocrisy, told the people, that he had consulted the Lord, and the Lord would have it so. Milton took an under part in the tragedy. Did that become the defender of the people of England ? Brutus saw his country enslaved; he struck the blow for freedom, and he died with honour in the cause. Had he lived to be a secretary under Tiberius, what would now be said of his memory?