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* college in Cambridge ; and all these copies and e. * ditions have been carefully collated and compared “ together.
The manuscript hath been of lin: gular service in rectifying several passages, and e, “ fpecially in the sonnets; some of which were not “ printed till many years after Milton's death, and
were then printed imperfect and deficient both in « sense and metre; but are now, by the help of the “ manuscript, restored to their juft harmony and ori.
There are several peculiarities in Milton's poetry; such as elifion of vowels at the end of words, con. traction or abhreviation of fyllables, and pronouncing the fame word with a different accent in different places. Dr. Newton has taken care to distinguish these peculiarities; and in regard we have adopted them, it is neceffary to inform the reader how these distinctions are made:
As to the elifions and abbreviations, Newton says, in a note on lin. 39. book 1. of Paradise Loft,
To set himself in glory' above his peers, " Besides the other methods which MILTON has em
ployed to diversify and improve his numbers, he “ takes the same liberties as Shakespeare, and others
of our old poets, and, in imitation of the Greeks, 6 and Latins, often cuts off the vowel at the end of “ a word, when the next word begins with a vowel ; “ though he does not, like the Greeks, wholly drop " the vowel, but still retains it in writing, like the “ Latins. Another liberty that he takes likewise for " the greater improvement and variety of his versifi“ cation, is pronouncing the same word, sometimes “ as: two syllables, and sometimes as only one syllable
or two short ones. . We have frequent instances in
Spirit, ruin, riot, reason, highest, and several other 6 words. But then these excellencies in Milton's 56. verse are attended with this inconvenience, that his 66. numbers seem imbarrasled to such, readers as know " not, or know not readily, where such elision or ab“ breviation of vowels is to take place; and there
" fore, for their fakes, we have taken care through « out this edition to mark such vowels as are to be
cut off, and such as are to be contracted and ab. "breviated, thus,"
And as to the different way of pronouncing the. same word, he says, in a note on lin. 209. book 1. of Paradise Loft,
So stretch'd out huge in length the ar'ch-fiend lay, “ The tone is upon the first fyllable in this line, the *s ar'ch.fiend lay; whereas it was upon the last syllable se of the word in verse 156. th arch fiend reply'd; a
liberty that Milton sometimes takes to pronounce vs the same word with a different accent in different
places. We have marked such words as are to be. pronounced with an accent different from the coinmon use."
Such being the general plan of Newton's edition of our author's poems, we have literally followed his corrected text, though we have taken care to compare it with that of other editions. We have likewise, paid the greatest regard to his pointing, which is generally that of MILTON himself, though we faw no good reason to follow it implicitly in every particular,
As to the orthography, Newton retained feveral peculiarities of his author, which had been dit. carded in former editions, and likewise introduced fome of his own. But we have rejected all such pe: culiarities, preferring the orthography now almost universally established : And we are countenanced in our method of spelling, in most words, by the authority of Mr. Johnson's excellent dictionary of the English language.
This ingenious gentleman obferves, that, in the time of Charles I. there was a very prevalent inclination to change the orthography; as appears, among other books, in such editions of the works of Milton as were published by himself. He afterwards adds, - We have fince had no general reformers: But some
ingenious men have endeavoured to deserve well of so their country, by writing honor and labor for honour
s* and labour, red for read in the préter-tense, fais for
says, repete for repeat, explane for explain, or de. " clame for declaim. Of these it may be said, that
as they have done no good; they have done little “ harm; both because they have innovated little, s and because few. have followed them."
In Milton's poems there are to be found many an. tiquated and obsolete words, and several words invented by himself. As these words may occafion some inconvenience to unlearned readers, and to such as are not well versed in the writings of the ancient English poets, of whom Milton is said to have been a great imitator; for their fakes therefore we have annexed to the second volume a copious glossary, ex. plaining füch words ; which glossary has been chiefly raken from Dr. Newton's notes, and Mr. Johnson's. dictionary.
A few notes are put at the bottom of several poems and sonnets in the second volume, which are chiefly taken or abridged from Newton.
Mr. Addison's Spectators upon the Paradise Lost, are said to have contributed greatly to the reputation of the poem; and they are generally much esteemed: Dr. Newton tells us, that it was recommended to him to print them entire, as they had been formerly add ed to some editions. Accordingly this gentleman has prefixed those papers which treat of the poem in general, in the form of a preliminary discourse; and those which are written upon each book separately, he has inserted under each book, and interwoven in their proper places. But, as we suppose most of our readers are possessed of the Spectator, and consequently of those much esteemed papers of Mr. Addison's, we refer them to his quotations, when necessary to elucidate the criticisms; and do not, like former editors, prefix them to the Paradise Lost, preferable to the Life of our admired author.
Yet it may be no disagreeable entertainment to the seader, to be presented with a few of the many criti: cisms and encomiums passed upon Milton's poems by sen of distinguished character among the critics.
" Three poets in three diftant ages born,
" Every greatly amiable muse « Of elder ages in thy Milton met. “ His was the treasure of two thousand years, “ Seldom indulg'd to man; a god-like mind, « Unlimited, and various, as his theme;
Astonishing as Chaos; as the blooin “ Of blowing Eden fair; soft as the talk “ Of our grand parents, and as heaven sublime."
“. Though the Paradise Last be the flower of epic
poesy, yet the other poems are no less excellent in “ their kind; and if they have not that sublimity and " majesty, are at least equally beautiful, and pleasing " to the imagination.” Newton.
“ It is commonly reported, that Milton himself "preferred Paradise Regain'd to the Paradise Loft. “« But all that we can assert upon good authority, is, " that he could not endure to hear the former cried “ down so much as it was, in comparison with the " latter. For certainly it is very worthy of the au" thor; and, contrary to what Mr. Toland relates, $« Milton may be seen in Paradise Regain’d as well as ' in Paradise Loft, If it is inferior in poetry, I know
not whether it is not superior in fentiment; if it is « less descriptive, it is more argumentative ; if it “ doth not fometimes rise fo high, neither doth it ea “ ver fink so low ; and it has not met with the ap
probation it deserves, ozly because it has not been « more read and considered. His subject indeed is ” confined, and he has a narrow foundation to build upon;
but he has raised as noble a superstructura, as such little room and such scanty materials would
* 'allow. The great beauty of it is the contrak be* tween the two characters of the Tempter and our * Saviour, the artful fophiftry and specious infinua.' stions of the one refuted by the strong fense and "manly eloquence of the other. And indeed this
poem, to be more admired, needs only to be bets ter known," Newton.
“ Milton's Paradise Regain'd has not met with the
approbation that it deserves. It has not the har.' “mony of numbers, the fublimity of thought, and * the beauties of di&tion, which are in Paradise Loft. “ It is composed in a lower and lefs striking style, a « ftyle fuited to the subject. Artful fophiftry, false " reafoning, fet off in the moft fpecious manner, and " refuted by the Son of God with strong unaffected " eloquence, is the peculiar excellence of this poem."
Jortin. “ The greatest, and indeed justelt objection to Pa"radise Regain'd, is the narrownefs of its plan, which * being confined to that single scene of our Saviour's * life on earth, his temptation in the desert, has too “ much fameness in it, too much of the reasoning and “ too little of the descriptive part ; a defe&t most cer
tainly in an epic poem, which ought to consist of a
proper and happy mixture of the instructive and the " delightful. Milton was himself, no doubt, fenfi* ble of this imperfection, and has therefore very ju
diciously contrived and introduced all the little di
greslions that could with any sort of propriety con"s nect with his subject, in order to relieve and refresh o the reader's attention. The conversation betwixt " Andrew and Simon, upon the misling our Saviour " so long, with the virgin's reflections on the same
occasion, and the council of the devils how best to " attack their enemy, are instances of this fort, and « both very happily executed in their respective ways. . " The language of the former is not glaring and im
paffioned, but cool and unaffected, corresponding “ most exactly
to the humble pious character of the speakers. That of the latter is full of energy and " majesty, and not a whit inferior to their most spi