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A Letter To The Reverend Mr. Douglas,occasioned By His Vindication Of Milton
by [?]

To which are subjoined several curious original letters from the authors of the Universal History, Mr. Ainsworth, Mr. Mac-Laurin, etc.


Quem paenitet peccasse pene est innocens.

Corpora magnanimo satis est prostrasse Leoni:
Pugna suum finem, quum jacet hostis, habet.


Praetuli clementiam
Juris rigori
GROTII Adamus Exul.



Dr. Johnson no sooner discovered the iniquitous conduct and designs of Lauder, than he compelled him to confess and recant, in the following letter to the reverend Mr. Douglas, which he drew up for him: but scarcely had Lauder exhibited this sign of contrition, when he addressed an apology to the archbishop of Canterbury, soliciting his patronage for an edition of the very poets whose works he had so misapplied, and concluding his address in the following spirit: “As for the interpolations for which I am so highly blamed, when passion is subsided, and the minds of men can patiently attend to truth, I promise amply to replace them with passages equivalent in value, that are genuine, that the public may be convinced that it was rather passion and resentment, than a penury of evidence, the twentieth part of which has not yet been produced, that obliged me to make use of them.” This did not satiate his malice: in 1752, he published the first volume of the proposed edition of the Latin poets, and in 1753, a second, accompanied with notes, both Latin and English, in a style of acrimonious scurrility, indicative almost of insanity. In 1754, he brought forward a pamphlet, entitled, King Charles vindicated from the charge of plagiarism, brought against him by Milton, and Milton himself convicted of forgery and gross imposition on the public. 8vo. In this work he exhausts every epithet of abuse, and utterly disclaims every statement made in his apology. It was reviewed, probably by Johnson, in the Gent. Mag. 1754, p. 97.–Ed.



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 publicly 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.