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To the FIRST EDITION with NOTES.
Lost published in England with notes, it may be deemed incumbent on the Editor to give his reasons for the present publication, and for his choice of the netes fubjoined.
His principal motive for publishing this poem with explanatory and critical Notes, was, to put it in the power of those who are not versant in claffical learning, to understand and relish the beauties of the noblest and happiest effort' of human genius that ever appeared; and, by this ineans, to render it, if poffible, more universally known and admired.
Among innumerable beauties that shine in his Works, this prince of English poets has been charged with a few faults * ; fuch as, an inordinate oftentation of learning, a studied obfcurity of diction, and a frequent use of foreign phrases and technical words. To remove the difficulties arising to the reader from thefe defects, and to render this divine poem perspicuous throughout, as well as ta illustrate and display its more evident and apparent beauties, is the intention of the present Editor in the notes fubjoined.
More fully to attain this end, the annexed notes are of three several kinds. Those of the learned French commentator are entirely explanatory of those frequent allupons to' ancient history and fable, and of that extensive variety of learning and science which are met with in this poem. Those of the English gentlemen are mostly critical, tending to illustrate the sense of difficult pasages, to remark the peculiarities of Aple, to dis
• See Addison's Criticism upon Paradise Loft.
[iv] play the beauties of language and sentiment, and to point out the Poet's imitations of other authors, ancient and modern. A third kind, not the least curious, are employed in marking such pasages in his divine poem, as are thought to allude to anecdotes of MILTON's own life, or to circumstances of the times wherein he flourished.---Minute and verbal criticisms the publisher chose altogether to omit.
The notes of the English commentators, among whom are names of the greatest eminence in the republick of letters, are here aligned to their particular authors : those of the French one are without that distinction.
The Editor fhall conclude with an extract from the fourth article of the present State of the Republick of Letters for 1735; the Writer of which apoftrophises our Poet in the following spirited manner :
"O MILTON! thou haft employed all thy vaft treasure of ability, wit, and learning i all the propriety, beauty, and energy of words our language was capable of: all the sweetness and harmony of numbers ; all the fire, sublimity, and majesy of imagination peculiar to thyself, added to what could be supplied by those who have most excelled in that angelical faculty ; all the firmness, force, and dignity of mind thy piety and virtue excited in thee, or rewarded thee with; and together with all tkefe, a genius perfectly poetical, and that regulated by a most solid judgment : all these thou haft confecrated to produce a poem, more inftrumental than any other buman composition, to calm and purify the mind, and exalt it to a ftate of tranquillity and felicity the utmost mortality is capable of."
LONDON, Mar, 15.
ROM a family and town of his name in Oxford
born at London in the year 1508. The publisher * of his works in prose, (on whose veracity fome part of this narrative must entirely depend), dates his birth two years earlier than this : But contradicting himself afterwards in his own computation, I reduce it to the time that Monsieur Bayle hath alligüed; and for the same reason which prevailed with him to assign it. His father John Milton, by profeffion a scrivener, lived in a reputable manner on a competent eftate, entirely his own acquisition, having been early ditinherited by his parents for renouncing the communion of the church of Rome, to which they were zealously devoted. By his wife Sarah Caston he had likewise one daughter, oamed Anna, and another son Christopher, whoin he trained to the practice of the common law, who, in the great rebellion, adhered to the royal cause; and in the reign of King James II. by too easy a compliance with the doctrines of the court, both religious and civil, he attained to the dignity of being made a judge of the common pleas; of which he died divested, not long after the Revolution.
But John, the subject of the present essay, was the favourite of his father's hopes ; who, to cultivate the great genius which early displayed itself, was at the expence of a domestick tutor ; whose care and capacity
* Mr. Toland.
An. cesat., 12. his pupil hath gratefully celebrated in am
excellent Latin elegy *. At his initiation, he is said to have applied himself to letters with fuch indefatigable industry, that he rarely was prevailed with to quit his studies before midnight ; which not only made him frequently subject to severe pains in his head, but likewise occafioned that weakness in his
eyes which terminated in a total privation of sight. From a domestick education he was removed to St. Paul's school, to complete his acquaintance with the claflicks under An. ætat. 15.
the care of. Dr. Gill; and after a short
stay there, was transplanted to Christ's College in Cambridge, where he diftinguished himself in all kinds of academical exercises. Of this fociety he continued a member till he commenced master of arts ;
and then, leaving the univerfity, he reAno ætat. 23. turned to his father, who had quitted the town, and lived at Horton in Buckinghamshire, where he pursued his studies with unparalleled affiduity and success.
After some years spent in this studious retirement, his mother died; and then he prevailed with his father to gratify an inclination he had long entertained of seeing foreign countries.
Sir Henry An. ætat. 30. Wotion, at that time provost of Eaton College, gave
him a letter of advice for the direction of his travels; but, by not observing an excellent maxim in it t, he incurred great danger, by disputing against the fuperftition of the church of Rome, within the verge of the Vatican. Having employed his curiosity about two years I in France and Italy, on the news of a civil war breaking out in England, he returned, without taking a survey of Greece and Sicily, as, at his fet
* See the fourth in his collection of poems.
Et jam bis viridi furgebat culmus arifi,