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L E T T E R
Reverend MR. DOUGLAS
By his V INDICATION of MILTON,
To which are subjoined,
Several curious original Letters from the Authors of the UNI
VERSAL HISTORY, Mr. AINSWORTH, Mr. MACLAURIN, &c.
By WILLIAM LAUDER, A. M.
Quem penitet peccafle pæne eft innocens,
GROT11 Adamus Exul.
OF this pamphlet Mr. Lauder gives the following account: " An ingenious gentleman (for whose amazing abilities I had con“ceived the highest veneration, and in whose candour and friend“ hip I reposed the most implicit and unlimited confidence) ad6 vised 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 them
small discoveries of a few lines, which would serve to “ revive ny error, and keep the controversy eternally 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 same time injurious to the publick. “ For, in place of ackowledging that such and such particular
passages only were interpolated, he gave up the whole Essay against Milion 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 na.
ture of the offence required.
* Though this letter, in many respects, contained not my sen- . “timents, as plainly appears from the contradictory Poitfcript
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 coft.
“ That the gentleman meant to serve me, and was really of s opinion that the method he proposed might probably prove ef“ fectual for rescuing me from the odium of the publick, and in 6 some measure restoring my character to the honour it had loft, “ I was then disposed to believe. His repeated acts of friendship
to me on former occasions in conjunction with a reputation unia “ verfally established for candour and integrity, left me little “ room to doubt it: though it is certainly a most preposterous " 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 implicit 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 convicted of forgery and a gross in position on the public, 8vo. 1751. p. 3. E.
SIR, CANDOU R 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 over-power 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 impoffible 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 orignal 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 conqueft 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 diffimulation, subterfuge, or concealment, every other interpolation I have made in those authors, which you have not yet had opportunity to examine.
On the fincerity and punctuality of this confeffion, I am willing to depend for all the future regard of mankind, and cannot but indulge fome 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
repa. ration 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 distinguished by Italick characters,
Passages interpolated in MASENIUS.
The word pandemonium in the marginal notes of Book I. Effay, page 10.
CITATION VI. Effay, page 38.
CitatION VII. Essay, page 41.