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edition; for the poem was now so well received, that notwithstanding the price of it was four times greater than before, the sale increased double the number every year; as the bookseller, who should best know, has informed
us in his dedication of the smaller editions to Lord Som- mers. . Since that time not only various editions have been printed, but also various notes and translations. The first person who wrote annotations upon Paradise Lost was P. H. or Patrick Hume, of whom we know nothing, unless his name may lead us to some knowledge of his country, but he has the merit of being the first (as I say) who wrote notes upon Paradise Lost, and his notes were printed at the end of the folio edition in 1695. Mr. Addison's Spectators upon the subject contributed not a little to establishing the character, and illustrating the beau. ties of the poem. In 1732 appeared Dr. Bentley's new edition with notes: and the year following Dr. Pearce published his Review of the text, in which the chief of Dr. Bentley's emendations are considered, and several other emendations and observations are offered to the public. And the year after that Messieurs Richardson, father and son, published their Explanatory notes and remarks. The poem has also been translated into several languages, Latin, Italian, French, and Dutch; and proposals have been made for translating it into Greek. The Dutch translation is in blank verse, and printed at Harlem. The French have a translation by Mons. Duprè de St. Maur; but nothing showeth the weakness and imperfection of their language more, than that they have few or no good poetical versions of the greatest poets; they are forced to translate Homer, Virgil, and Milton into prose: and blank verse their language has not harmony and dignity enough to support; their tragedies, and many of their comedies are in rime. Rolli, the famous Italian-master here in England, made an Italian translation; and Mr. Richardson the son saw another at Florence
in manuscript by the learned Abbé Salvini, the same who translated Addison's Cato into Italian. One William Hog or Hogæus translated Paradise Lost, Paradise Regain'd, and Samson Agonistes into Latin verse in 1690; but this verfion is very unworthy of the originals. There is a better translation of the Paradise Lost by Mr. Thomas Power Fellow of Trinity College in Cambridge, the first book of which was printed in 1691, and the rest in manuscript is in the library of that College. The learned Dr. Trap has also published a translation into Latin verse; and the world is in expectation of another, that will surpass all the rest, by Mr. William Dobson of New College in Oxford. So that by one means or other Milton is now confidered as an English classic; and the Paradise Lost is generally esteemed the noblest and most sublime of modern poems, and equal at least to the best of the ancient; the honor of this country, and the envy and admiration of all other!
In 1670 he published his History of Britain, that part especially now called England. He began it above twenty years before, but was frequently interrupted by other avocations; and he designed to have brought it down to his own times, but stopped at the Norman conquest; for indeed he was not well able to pursue it any farther by reason of his blindness, and he was engaged in other more delightful studies; having a genius turned for poetry rather than history. When his History was printed, it was not printed perfect and entire; for the licenser expunged several passages, which reflecting upon the pride and superstition of the Monks in the Saxon times, were understood as a concealed satir upon the Bishops in Charles the second's reign. But the author himself gave a copy of his unlicenced papers to the Earl of Anglesea, who, as well as several of the nobility and gentry, conftantly visited him: and in 1681 a considerable passage which had been suppressed at the beginning of the third
book, was published, containing a character of the Long Parlament and Assembly of Divines in 1641, which was inserted in its proper place in the last edition of 1738. Bishop Kennet begins his Complete History of England with this work of Milton, as being the best draught, the clearest and most authentic account of those early times: and his stile is freer and easier than in most of his other works, more plain and simple, less figurative and metaphorical, and better suited to the nature of history, has enough of the Latin turn and idiom to give it an air of antiquity, and sometimes rises to a surprising dignity and majesty.
In 1670 likewise his Paradise Regain'd and Samson Agonistes were licenced together, but were not published till the year following. It is somewhat remarkable, that these two poems were not printed by Simmons, the same who printed the Paradise Lost, but by J. M. for one Starkey in Fleetstreet: and what could induce Milton to have recourse to another printer? was it because the former was not enough encouraged by the Sale of Paradise Lost to become a purchaser of the other copies? The first thought of Paradise Regain'd was owing to Elwood the quaker, as he himself relates the occasion in the history of his life. When Milton had lent him the manuscript of Paradise Lost at St. Giles Chalfont, as we said before, and he returned it, Milton asked him how he liked it, and what he thought of it: “ Which I modestly, but free“ ly told him, says Elwood; and after some further dif“ course about it, I pleasantly said to him, Thou hast " said much of Paradise Lost, but what hast thou to say " of Paradise Found? He made me no answer, but sat “ some time in a muse; then broke off that discourse, and “ fell upon another subject.” When Elwood afterwards waited upon him in London, Milton showed him his Pa
radise Regain'd, and in a pleasant tone said to him, “ This *" is owing to You, for You put it into my head by the " question You put me at Chalfont, which before I had
“ not thought of.” It is commonly reported, that Milton himself preferred this poem to the Paradise Lost; but all that we can assert upon good authority is, that he could not endure to hear this poem cried down so much as it was, in comparison with the other. For certainly it is very worthy of the author, and contrary to what Mr. Toland relates, Milton may be seen in Paradise Regain'd as well as in Paradise Lost; if it is inferior in poetry, I know not whether it is not superior in sentiment; if it is less descriptive, it is more argumentative; if it doth not sometimes rise so high, neither doth it ever sink so low; -and it has not met with the approbation it deserves, only 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 superstructure, as such little room and such scanty materials would allow. The great beauty of it is the contrast between the two characters of the Tempter and our Saviour, the artful fophistry and specious infinuations of the one refuted by the strong sense and manly eloquence of the other. This poem has also been translated into French together with some other pieces of Milton, Lycidas, L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, and the Ode on Christ's nativity: and in 1732 was printed a Critical Dissertation with notes upon Paradise Regain'd, pointing out the beauties of it, and written by Mr. Meadawcourt, Canon of Worcester: and the very learned and ingenious Mr. Jortin has added some observations upon this work at the end of his excellent Remarks upon Spenser, published in 1734: and indeed this poem of Milton, to be more admired, needs only to be better known. His Samson Agonistes is the only tragedy that he has finished, tho' he has sketched out the plans of several, and proposed the subjects of more, in his manuscript preserved in Trinity College library: and we may suppose that he was determined to the choice of this particular subject by the fimilitude
of his own circumstancs to those of Samson blind and among the Philistines. This I conceive to be the last of his poetical pieces; and it is written in the very spirit of the Ancients, and equals, if not exceeds, any of the most perfect tragedies, which were ever exhibited on the Athenian stage, when Greece was in its glory. As this work was never intended for the stage, the division in- to acts and scenes is omitted. Bishop Atterbury had an
intention of getting Mr. Pope to divide it into acts and scenes, and of having it acted by the King's Scholars at Westminster: but his commitment to the tower put an end to that design. It has since been brought upon the stage in the form of an Oratorio; and Mr. Handel's mufic is never employed to greater advantage, than when it is adapted to Milton's words. That great artist has done equal justice to our author's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, as if the same spirit possessed both masters, and as if the God of music and of verse was still one and the same.
There are also some other pieces of Milton, for he continued publishing to the last. In 1672 he published Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio ad Petri Rami methodum concinnata, an Institution of Logic after the method of Petrus Ramus; and the year following, a treatise of true Religion and the best means to prevent the growth of popery, which had greatly increased thro' the connivance of the King, and the more open encouragement of the Duke of York; and the same year his poems, which had been printed in 1645, were reprinted with the addition of several others. His familiar epistles and some academical exercises, Epistolarum familiarium Lib. I. et Prolufiones quædam Oratoriæ in Collegio Christi habitæ, were printed in 1674; as was also his translation out of Latin into English of the Poles Declaration concerning the election of their King John III, setting forth the virtues and merits of that prince. He wrote also a brief History of Muscovy, collected from the relations of several