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published, called Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Life of Milton ; to which are added Milton's Tractate of Education, and Areopagitica. In this lą. boured tract we are told, “There is one perform"ance ascribed to the pen of the Doctor,
where the prostitution is of so singular a na "ture, that it would be difficult to select an " adequate motive for it out of the mountain, "ous heap of conjectural causes of human
passions or human caprice. It is the speech of the late unhappy Dr. William Dodd, when “ he was about to hear the sentence of the law
pronounced upon him, in consequence of an “ indictment for forgery, The voice of the " publick has given the honour of manufaotur
ing this speech to Dr. Johnson; and the style "and configuration of the speech itself confirm "the imputition. But it is hardly possible to "divine what could be bis inative for accept“ing the office. A man, to express the precise
state of mind of another, about to be des“ tined to an ignominious death for a capital “crime, should, one would imagine, have some
consciousness, that he himself had incurred « some guilt of the same kind. In all the* schools of sophistry is there to be found so vile an argument? In the purlieus of Grub-street is there such another mouthful of dirt ? in the whole quiver of Malice is there so envenomed a shaft ?
After this it is to be hoped, that a certain class of men will talk no more of Johnson's malignity. The last apology for Milton_is, that he acted according to his principlesBug
Johnson thought those principles detestable; pernicious to the constitution in Church and State, destructive of the peace of society, and hostile to the great fabric of civil policy, which the wisdom of ages has taught every Briton to revere, to love, and cherish. He reckoned Milton in that class of men, whom the Roman historian says, when they want, by a sudden convulsion, to overturn the government, they roar and clamour for liberty; if they succeed, they destroy liberty itself. * Ut imperium evertant, Libertatem præferunt; si perverterint, libertatem ipsam aggredientur. Such were the sentiments of Dr. Johnson; and it may be asked, in the language of Bolingbroke, “ Are these sentiments, which any man, who “ is born a Briton, in any circumstances, “ in any situation, ought to be ashamed or “afraid to avow ?” Johnson has done ample justice to Milton's poetry: the Criticism on Paradise Lost is a sublime composition. Had he thought the author as good and pious a citizen as Dr. Watts, he would have been ready, notwithstanding his non-conformity, to do equal honour to the memory of the man.
It is now time to close this Essay, which the author fears has been drawn too much into length. In the progress of the work, feeble as it may be, he thought himself performing the last human office to the memory of a friend, whom he loved, esteemed, and honoured.
His saltem accumulem donis, et fungar inani
The author of these Memoirs has been anxious to give the features of the man, and the true character of the author. He has not suffered the hand of partiality to colour his excellencies with too much warmth; nor has he endeavoured to throw his singularities too much into the shade. Dr. Johnson's failings may well be forgiven for the sake of his virtues. His defects were spots in the sun. His piety, his kind affections, and the goodness of his heart, present an example worthy of imitation. His works still remain a monument of genius and of learning. Had he written nothing but what is contained in this edition, the quantity shews a life spent in study and meditation. If to this we added the labour of his Dictionary and other various productions, it may be fairly allowed, as he used to say of himself, that he has written his share. In the volumes here presented to the Publick, the reader will find a perpetual source of pleasure and instruction. With due precautions authors may learn to grace their style with elegance, harmony, and precision; they may be taught to think with vigour and perspicuity; and, to crown the whole, by a diligent attention to these books, all may advance in virtue.