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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. Aixswortit,
Mr. Maclaunin, &c.
By WILLIAM LAUDER, A. M.
Quem penitet peccasse pane est innocens.
SENECA. Corpora magnanimo satis est prostrasse Leoni.
Pugna suum finem, quum jacet hostis, habet, Ovid. - - - Prætuli Clementiam Juris Rigori. -
Grotii Adanus. Esul.
First printed in the Year 1751.
OF this Pamphlet, Mr. Lauder gives the following account :
An ingenious gentleman (for whose ainazing abilities I had 6 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 66 alive.
“ With this expedient I then chearfully 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 sime time injurious to the pub“ lick. For, in place of acknowledgiig that such and such par“ ticular passages only were interpolated, he gave up the whole 66 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.
6 Though this letter, in many respects contajned not my sen« timents, 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 reseuing 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 friend“ ship to me on former occasions in conjunction with a reputa“ tion universally established for candour and integrity, left me ", little room to doubt it: though it is certainly a most prepos" terous 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 impli“ cit 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 charge of plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself con victed of forgery and a gross imposition on the publick, 8vo. 1754. p. 3. E.
REVEREND MR. DOUGLAS.
SIR, YANDOUR and tenderness are in any relation, V 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 toially 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 distinguislied by Italick characters.
PASSAGES interpolated in MASENIUS.
The word pandæmonium in the marginal notes of Book I. Essay, page 10.
CITATION VI. Essay, page 38.
CITATION VII. Essay, page 41.