Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/207

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Lauder
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copy of his edition of Johnston, and a letter acquainting him with the controversy with Love. But Pope did not reply, and in 1742 he published in the third book of the 'Dunciad' a couplet (ll. 111–12), in which he unfavourably contrasted Johnston's literary merits with Milton's. On Pope's action Lauder placed an exaggerated importance. To 'Mr. Pope's blasting the credit of Johnston's paraphrase' he attributed the pecuniary failure of his work and an annual loss of 20l. to 30l. (An Apology for Mr. Lauder, p. 22). He further asserted that he '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' (Letter to Dr. Douglas, 1751, p. 13). He took a somewhat subtle revenge by recklessly traducing the memory of the 'better poet' (Milton).

In 1742, armed with recommendations from Patrick Cuming, professor of church history at Edinburgh, and from Colin Maclaurin [q.v.], he applied for the rectorship of Dundee grammar school, but was once again rejected. Bitterly disappointed, he soon made his way to London with a view to maintaining himself by literary work. Early in 1747 Lauder startled the learned world by publishing an article in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for January, in which he showed that Milton's 'Paradise Lost' was largely constructed of plagiaristic paraphrases of a Latin poem entitled 'Sarcotis,' by Jacobus Masenius (1654). He followed up his attack in four succeeding papers (pp. 82, 189, 285, 363). By long quotations from Grotius's 'Adamus Exsul' and Andrew Ramsay's 'Poemata Sacra' (1633) he went far to prove, if his quotations merited reliance, that Milton was a very liberal and a very literal borrower. Richard Richardson ventured to contest Lauder's conclusions on general grounds in a letter to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for April 1747, and before the year was out Richardson published 'Zoilomastix, or a Vindication of Milton from all the invidious charges of Mr. William Lauder,' London, 1747. But Lauder was not defeated. He pursued his alleged investigations, and in August issued proposals for printing by subscription Grotius's 'Adamus Exsul,' 'with an English version and notes, and the lines imitated from it by Milton subjoined.' Cave, who consented to receive subscriptions, probably introduced Lauder to Dr. Johnson, who wrote the prospectus of the undertaking (cf. Gent. Mag. 1747, p. 404; Nichols, Lit. Illustrations, iv. 430–2). But Lauder suspended his labours on this publication in order to complete an expanded version of his essays in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' which appeared at the close of 1749 under the title of 'An Essay on Milton's Use and Imitation of the Moderns in his "Paradise Lost,"' London, 1750. Milton's line, 'Things unattempted yet in prose or rhime,' was printed as a motto on the title-page. With Dr. Johnson's consent the little essay that formed the prospectus of Lauder's promised edition of 'Adamus Exsul' was employed as the preface, and Johnson also appended a postscript appealing to the benevolent public for 'the relief of Mrs. Elizabeth Foster,' Milton's granddaughter. In this curious volume Lauder quotes from eighteen poets, chiefly modern writers of Latin verse, and pretends to prove Milton's extensive debt to all of them. From Taubmann's 'Bellum Angelicum' (1604) and Caspar Staphorstius's 'Triumphus Pacis' he alleges that Milton translated some of his noblest lines. Public excitement was aroused, and, in order to take full advantage of it, Lauder announced (3 July 1750) proposals for printing the little-known works whence his quotations were drawn, under the title 'Delectus Auctorum Sacrorum Miltono facem prælucentium.' But suspicion was soon expressed as to the accuracy of Lauder's quotations. Warburton wrote to Hurd, immediately after the publication of the work, 'I have just read the most silly and knavish book I ever saw' (Nichols, Lit. Illustrations, ii. 177). Richard Richardson first showed, in a letter sent to the 'Gentleman's Magazine' in January 1749–50 (but not published till December 1750), that the crucial passages which Lauder placed to the credit of Masenius and Staphorstius were absent from all accessible editions of their works, and had been interpolated by Lauder from William Hog's Latin verse rendering of 'Paradise Lost.' John Bowle [q.v.] also detected the fraud. In the spring of 1750 John Douglas [q.v.], afterwards bishop of Salisbury, came independently, and more decisively, to the same conclusion, and in 'Milton vindicated from the Charge of Plagiarism … in a Letter to the Earl of Bath,' proved beyond all doubt that Lauder had garbled nearly all his quotations, and had wilfully inserted in them extracts from the Latin version of the 'Paradise Lost.' Lauder did not at once perceive the consequences certain to follow Douglas's attack. Cave, the publisher of the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' wrote on 27 Oct. 1750: 'I have procured a Latin Comus [also by Hog] for Lauder, of which I suppose he makes great account' (Nichols, Lit. Anecdotes, v. 43). Dr. Johnson, whose reputation was involved, soon, however, obtained from Lauder a confession of his guilt, and Lauder readily consented to put his name