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both in thought and expression, graces his AREOPAGITICA. There is in it nothing imperative, nothing criminatory not a page is disfigured by asperity of sentiment, or even harshness of diction Where his argument exacted from him animadversion in the exposure of their inconsistency, and of the intriguing practices to which the enemies to an open Press had recourse to afford some ostensible pretence for this parliamentary revival of the Star-chamber's Imprimatur, he introduced it obliquely. The little is equally indirect, that there is of reproof or reproach of personal assailants; some of whom, after he had been their solicited and very valuable assistant against mitred Episcopacy, were recently transformed into his persecutors.
Isocrates, said Philip of Macedon, in a well chosen and significant metaphor, fences with a foil-Demosthenes fights with a sword. To Demosthenes, therefore, the Antagonist of Salmasius and his coadjutors recurred for aid, when their exacerbations had sharpened the edge of debate to a keen encounter, and, heated with emotion at the outrages which he and the popular Party had endured, he d
gave free vent to his ebullitions of resentment. It may be too freely, though he was repelling clamorous and foul invective against himself and his Compatriots. Yet it is not for us who contemplate with Epicurean calmness the tempestuous commotion of passions and interests, public and private, in which the part MILTON bore among the Master-spirits of the age was of no ordinary kind; it is not, I say, for us to be forward to exclaim, would that he had given these Calumniators their rebuke in terms of less vehemence! True it is, that had he done so, he would better have consulted his own dignity, as well as that of the Cause which he maintained; but in reality it is matter for regret rather than for surprise, that such scurrilous upbraidings, such envenomed maledictions, should have chafed him, and that he at times talked the imbittered language which anger dictates*.
Toland relates of him, that he "studied "Plautus the better to rail at Salmasius."
* Take the following by way of specimen of the gross scandals heaped on him. It is by P. du Moulin, who made his court by it, and was afterward appointed one of the
(Vindicius Liberius, &c. p. 8.) The correctness of this assertion is greatly to be questioned, if we were to understand by it any thing further than that he looked over the colloquies of altercation in that Comedian as a nomenclature, whence he could cull out a competent stock of opprobious epithets in Chaplains to Charles II., and Prebendary of Canterbury. In impurissimum Nebulonem Johannem MILTONUM Parricidarum et Parricidii Advocatum.
"Talem modo patiêre Salmasi manum,
"Quem prensat incassum ultio, nuspiam invenit.
"Insultet urso simia, musca milvio,
"Sacrum scarabæi concacent avem Jovi,
Ipsumque merdis inquinent albis Jovem," &c. &c.
Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum, ad
versus Parricidas Anglicanos; p. 179. Hage Comitum, 12mo. 1652.
What wonder, that in the fulness of his indignation he should have lashed the demerits of his adversaries with an unsparing
legitimate Latinity. That he furnished himself with his most formidable weapons of offence from a very different armoury could. be put beyond controversy.
No man (as Dryden has also observed) has more copiously translated Homer's Grecisms than the Authour of Paradise Lost, and of a like critical attention to his metrical modes a modern Writer has remarked, that none conversant with both Poets can read either without being reminded of the other. The breaks and pauses, which thus decided Cowper* to pronounce the varied versification of MILTON's "rhyme-unfettered" verse to be Homeric collocations, are not, I think, more apparent than that when about to vin-dicate the Commonwealth's-men he shaped his course and regulated his method after the great Prototypes of Eloquence; the first in rank as the first in order of time. To write as they would have spoken or composed in corresponding situations was his anxious am
* And see a remarkable instance confirmatory of this opinion in Auditor Benson's Letters concerning Poetical Translations and Virgil's and MILTON's Arts of Verse, p. 47. Svo, 1739.-Bentley said that MILTON had Homer by heart.
bition. Sir Philip Sydney* had declared his dislike to the literal copyists of phrases and figures from Demosthenes and Tully, suggesting that a free and liberal plan of Imitation which would preserve their characteristics and complexion should be attempted: that which he had in idea and in wish, MILTON was the earliest among us to reduce into practice. For, while engaged on the AREOPAGITICA and the Defensiones, he set before him the eloquence of classic erudition, and reflected its image as in a faithful mirrour. Not quite so avowedly in the latter instances as in the first; neither, as in Samson Agonistes, taking the entire design; and in no piece following the turns of thought, or of phrase, or the structure of sentence, with a servile or pedantic adherence. Without treading often in the footsteps of his guides, he pressed forward after them in the same track;
"And when he would like them appear
"Their garb but not their cloaths did wear."
The fashion and texture the same, though of a different material. Imitative counterparts
* Defence of Poesie.