« PrejšnjaNaprej »
any of the authors whose names I have mentioned, I shall not now be very diligent to inquire, for I had no particular pleasure in subverting the reputation of Milton, which I had myself once endeavoured to exaltk; and of which, the foundation had always remained untouched by me, had not my credit and my interest been blasted, or thought to be blasted, by the shade which it cast from its boundless elevation.
About ten years ago, I published an edition of Dr. Johnston's translation of the Psalms, and having procured from the general assembly of the church of Scotland, a recommendation of its use to the lower classes of
grammar schools, into which I had begun to introduce it, though not without much controversy and opposition, I thought it likely that I should, by annual publications, improve my little fortune, and be enabled to support myself in freedom from the miseries of indigence. But Mr. Pope, in his malevolence to Mr. Benson, who had distinguished himself by his fondness for the same version, destroyed all my hopes by a distich, in which he places Johnston in a contemptuous comparison with the author of Paradise Lost'.
From this time, all my praises of Johnston became ridi
Virorum maximus—Joannes Miltonus—Poeta celeberrimus--non Angliæ modo, soli natalis, verum generis humani ornamentum-cujus eximius liber, Anglicanis versibus conscriptus, vulgo Paradisus amissus, immortalis illud ingenii monumentum, cum ipsa fere æternitate perennaturum est opus !--Hujus memoriam Anglorum primus, post tantum, proh dolor! ab tanti excessu poetæ intervallum, statua eleganti in loco celeberrimo, cænobio Westmonasteriensi, posita, regum, principum, antistitum, illustriumque Angliæ virorum cæmeterio, vir ornatissimus, Gulielmus Benson prosecutus est.
Poetarum Scotorum Musa Sacræ, in prafatione, Edinb. 1739. A character, as high and honourable as ever was bestowed upon him by the most sanguine of his admirers! and as this was my cool and sincere opinion of that wonderful man formerly, so I declare it to be the same still, and ever will be, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary, occasioned merely by passion and resentment; which appear, however, by the Postscript to the Essay, to be so far from extending to the posterity of Milton, that I recommend his only remaining descendant, in the warmest terms, to the public.
! On two unequal crutches propp'd het came;
Milton's on this, on that one Johnston's name. Dunciad, Book IV. + Benson.] This man endeavoured to raise himself to fame, by erecting monuments, striking coins, and procuring translations of Milton; and afterwards
culous, and I was censured, with great freedom, for forcing upon the schools an author whom Mr. Pope had mentioned only as a foil to a better poet. On this occasion, it was natural not to be pleased, and my resentment seeking to discharge itself somewhere, was unhappily directed against Milton. I resolved to attack his fame, and found some passages in cursory reading, which gave me hopes of stigmatizing him as a plagiary. The farther I carried my search, the more eager I grew for the discovery; and the more my hypothesis was opposed, the more I was heated with rage. The consequence of my blind passion, I need not relate; it has, by your detection, become apparent to mankind. Nor do I mention this provocation, as adequate to the fury which I have shown, but as a cause of anger, less shameful and reproachful than fractious malice, personal envy, or national jealousy.
But for the violation of truth, I offer no excuse, because I well know, that nothing can excuse it. Nor will I aggravate my crime, by disingennous palliations. I confess it, I repent it, and resolve, that my first offence shall be my last. More I cannot perform, and more, therefore, cannot be required. I entreat the pardon of all men, whom I have by any means induced to support, to countenance, or patronise my frauds, of which, I think myself obliged to declare, that not one of my friends was conscious. I hope to deserve, by better conduct, and more useful undertakings, that patronage which I have obtained from the most illustrious and venerable names by misrepresentation and delusion, and to appear hereafter in such by a great passion for Arthur Johnston, a Scots physician's version of the Psalms, of which he printed many fine editions. Notes on the Dunciad.
No fewer than six different editions of that useful and valuable book, two in quarto, two in octavo, and two in a lesser form, now lie, like lumber, in the hand of Mr. Vaillant, bookseller, the effects of Mr. Pope's ill-natured criticism.
One of these editions in quarto, illustrated with an interpretation and notes, after the manner of the classic authors in usum Delphini, was, by the worthy editor, anno 1741, inscribed to his Royal Highness Prince George, as a proper book for his instruction in principles of piety, as well as knowledge of the Latin tongue, when he should arrive at due maturity of age. To restore this book to credit was the cause that induced me to engage in this disagreeable controversy, rather than any design to depreciate the just reputation of Milton.
TESTIMONIES CONCERNING MR. LAUDER. 283
a character, as shall give you no reason to regret that your name is frequently mentioned with that of,
WILLIAM LAUDER. December 20, 1750.
TESTIMONIES CONCERNING MR. LAUDER.
Edinb. May 22, 1734. These are certifying, that Mr. William Lauder past his course at this university, to the general satisfaction of these masters, under whom he studied. That he has applied himself particularly to the study of humanity ever since. That for several years past, he has taught with success, students in the humanity class, who were recommended to him by the professor thereof. And lastly, has taught that class itself, during the indisposition, and since the death of its late professor: and, therefore, is, in our opinion, a fit person to teach humanity in any school or college whatever.
J. GOWDIE, S. 8.T. P.
m So the Latin tongue is called in Scotland, from the Latin phrase, classis humaniorum literarum, the class or form where that language is taught.
A Letter from the Reverend Mr. Patrick Cuming, one of the
Ministers of Edinburgh, and Regius Professor of Church History in the University there, to the Reverend Mr. Blair, Rector of the Grammar school at Dundee.
Upon a public advertisement in the newspapers, of the vacancy of a master's place in your school, Mr. William Lauder, a friend of mine, proposes to set up for a candidate, and goes over for that purpose.
He has long taught the Latin with great approbation in this place, and given such proofs of his mastery in that language, that the best judges do, upon all occasions, recommend him as one who is qualified in the best manner. He has taught young boys and young gentlemen, with great success; nor did I ever hear of any complaint of him from either parents or children. I beg leave to recommend him to you as my friend; what friendship you show him, I will look upon as a very great act of friendship to me, of which he and I will retain the most grateful sense, if he is so happy as to be preferred. I persuade myself, you will find him ready at all times to be advised by you, as I have found him. Indeed if justice had been done him, he should long ago hare been advanced for his merit. I ever am,
PATRICK CUMING. Edin. Nov. 13, 1742.
A Letter from Mr. Mac-Laurin, late Professor of Mathematicks
in the University of Edinburgh, to the Reverend Mr. George Blair, Rector of the Grammar school at Dundee.
THOUGH acquainted, I take the liberty of giving you this trouble, from the desire I have always had to see Mr. Lauder provided in a manner suited to his talent. I know him to have made uncommon progress in classical learning, to have taught it with success, and never heard there could be any complaint against his method of teaching. I am, indeed, a stranger to the reasons of his want of success on former occasions. But after conversing with him, I have ground to hope, that he will be always advised by you, for whom he professes great esteem, and will be useful under you. I am,
COLIN MAC-LAURIN. College of Edinburgh, Nov. 30, 1742.
A Letter from the Authors of the Universal History, to Mr.
London, August 12th, 1741. LEARNED SIR,
WHEN we so gladly took the first opportunity of reviving the memory and merit of your incomparable Johnston, in the first volume of our Universal History, our chief aim was to excite some generous Mecenas to favour the world with a new edition of a poem which we had long since beheld with no small concern, buried, as it were, by some unaccountable fatality, into an almost total oblivion ; whilst others of that kind, none of them superior, many vastly inferior to it, rode, unjustly, as we thought, triumphant over his silent grave. And it is with great satisfaction that we have seen our endeavours so happily crowned in the edition you soon after gave of it at Edinburgh, in your learned and judicious vindication of your excellent author, and more particularly by the just deference which your learned and pious convocation has been pleased to pay to that admirable version.
We have had since then, the pleasure to see your worthy example followed here, in the several beautiful