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VERY extraordinary attempt having been lately made to undermine and destroy the re

putation of Milton as a poet, it may be proper for the sake of truth, and for the sake of a favorite author, to give a short history of it, here in the conclusion of this work. Soon after I had published my proposals for printing a new edition of the Paradise Loft with notes of various authors, Mr. William Lauder, a Scotchman, came to me, exclaming horribly of John Milton, and inveighing most bitterly against him for the worst and greatest of all plagiaries; he could prove that he had borrowed the lubstance of whole books together, and there was scarcely a single thought or sentiment in his poem which he had not stolen from some author or other, notwithstanding his vain pretence to things unattempted yet in prose or rhime. And then in confirmation of his charge he recited a long roll of Scotch, German, and Dutch poets, and affirmed that he had brought the books along with him which were his vouchers, and appealed particularly to Ramsay a Scotch Divine, and to Masenius a German Jesuit: but upon producing his authors he could not find Masenius, he had dropt the book some where or other in the way, and expressed much surprise and concern for the loss of it; Ramsay he left with me, and my opinion of Milton's imitations of that author I have given in a note on IX. 513

well that Milton was an universal scholar, as famous for his great reading as for the extent of his genius ; and I thought it not improbable, that Mr. Lauder, having the good forVOL. II.


I knew very


tune to meet with these German and Dutch poems, might have traced out there some of his imitations and allusions, which had escaped the researches of others : and it was my advice to him then, and as often as I had opportunities of seeing him afterwards, that if he had really made such notable discoveries as he boasted, he would do well to communicate them to the public; an ingenious countryman of his had published an Esay upon Milton's ́imitations of the Ancients, and he would equally deserve the thanks of the learned world by writing an Esay upon Milton's imitations of the Moderns : but at the same time I recommended to him a little more modesty and decency, and urged all the arguments I could to perfuade him to treat Milton's name with more respect, and not to write of him with the same acrimony and rancor with which he spoke of him; it would weaken his cause instead of strengthning it, and would hurt himself more than Milton in the opinion of all candid readers. He began with publishing some specimens of his work in a monthly pamphlet intitled the Gentleman's Magazine : and I was sorry to find that he had no better regarded my advice in his manner of writing; for his papers were much in the same strain and spirit as his conversation, his assertions strong, and his proofs weak. However to do him justice, several of the quotations which he had made from the Adamus Exul, a tragedy of the famous Hugo Grotius, I thought so exactly parallel to several passages in the Paradise Loft, that I readily adopted them, and inserted them without scruple in my notes, csteeming it no reproach to Milton, but rather a commendation of his taste and judgment, to have ga


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ther'd so many of the choicest flowers in the gardens of others, and to have transplanted them with innprovements into his own. At length, after I had published my first edition of the Paradise Lost, came forth Mr. Lauder's Elay on Milton's use and imitation of the Moderns : but except the quotations from Grotius, which I had already inserted in my firft edi. tion, I found in Mr. Lauder's authors not above half a dozen passages, which I thought worth transferring into my second edition; not but he had produced more passages somewhat resembling others in Milton; but when a fimilitude of thought or expression, of fentiment or description, occurs in Scripture and we will say in Staphorstius, in Virgil and perhaps in Alexander Ross, in Ariosto and perhaps in Taubmannus, I should rather conclude that Milton had borrowed from the former whom he is certainly known to have read, than from the latter whom it is very

uncertain whether he had ever read or not. We know that he had often drawn, and delighted to draw from the pure fountain; and why then Thould we believe that he chose rather to drink of the stream after it was polluted by the trash and filth of others ? We know that he had thoroughly studied, and was perfectly acquainted with the graces and beauties of the great originals; and why then should we think that he was only the servile copyer of perhaps a

of perhaps a bad copy, which perhaps he had never seen? This was all the use that I could possibly make of Mr. Lauder's Ejay, and the most favorable opinion that I could entertain of him and his performance, admitting all that he had alleged to be true and genuin, was that the malice of his charge was much greater than the validity

of his proofs: but what now if he shall be found to have fuborned false evidence in support of his accufation, and instead of convicting Milton of plagiarism, to have fixed an eternal brand of forgery upon himself? It was certainly very artful in Mr. Lauder to derive so many of his authorities from books, which are so little known, and copies of which are so very scarce, that the principal of them cannot be found in the best and greatest libraries; and this stratagem had a double use, for at the same time that it served to display his uncommon reading, it was also the means of his eluding the search of the most curious of his readers. I should myself have examined his authorities, if I could have procured the books; but for want of them I took it for granted, and thought I might fafely take it for granted, that the passages which he had quoted from such and such authors were really in those authors; and could not have harboured a fufpiçion, that a man of any learning and ingenuity, for the sake of defaming the venerable dead, could have been guilty of such monstrous forgeries, as have since been proved upon him, and as he himself indeed has confessed. For a learned and ingenious Gentleman being at Oxford the last summer had the curiosity to search in the Bodleian library for some of thefe German and Dutch poets, who according to Mr. Lauder held out the lighted torch to Milton: and after searching in vain for Masenius and the Adamus Exul of Ģrotius, he was so fortunate as to find the same edition, as Mr. Lauder had quoted, of Staphorstius's Latin poem intitled Triumphus pacis on the conclusion of the peace between the States of Holland and the Commonwealth of England in 1655. It appears to


be a prolix as well as a wretched dull compofition, and such as could not possibly have afforded any afsistance to Milton: and it being one of Mr. Lauder's artifices in his quotations never to refer to particular places or pages for the better direction of his readers, the Gentleman had the trouble of turning over the whole poem,

and of examining page after page, before he could find the passages which Mr. Lauder had quoted: and upon comparing his quotations with the printed copy he discovered to his surprise that Mr. Lauder had taken the liberty of omitting and inserting lines at pleasure, to make out a likeness; and particularly that the eight lines on marriage (which I have cited in the note on IV.753. and which are all that I have cited from Staphorstius, as indeed they are all that bear a ý strong resemblance to Milton) have no existence in Staphorstius, but were interpolated by Mr. Lauder; and well indeed might they bear a strong resemblance to Milton, Mr. Lauder having had the aflurance to transcribe them word for word from the Latin translation of the Paradise Lost by Hog or Hogæus printed in 1690. This discovery incited the Gentleman to make farther researches, and farther researches produced more discoveries, which the Gentleman has fairly laid before the world in an excellent pamphlet lately published and intitled Milton vindicated from the charge of plagiarism brought against him by Mr. Lauder, and Lauder himself convisted of several forgeries and gross impositions on the public. In a letter humbly addressed to the Right Honorable the Earl of Bath. By John Douglas M. A. Rector of Eton Constantine, Sclop. Printed for A. Millar in the Strand. Such a vindication of Milton must


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