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By Mr. DOD D.
W H ILE all read and all admire
VV Milton, it is confessed that few understand him; few, at least, of the common Readers : More learned ones frequently find themselves at a Loss, so unbounded is he in his Knowledge ; so universal in his Allusions to the whole Round of Science. To elucidate his Difficulties, able and ingenious Men have applied their beft Efforts, and that with desirable Success. But as their Annotations are often large, and often critical, they perplex the common Reader, interrupt the Attention, and are
too voluminous for the Pocket, which the smaller Editions of Milton's Worksso agreeably fill. It was therefore proposed to the Writer of this Preface, some time since, by a Gentleman deservedly of the first Character in the learned World, to compile a short and comprehensive Explanation of the difficult Words and Passages in Milton's poetical Works, digested in Alphabetical Order ; which might serve to the common Reader, instead of more diffuse Comments ; and might be to all a portable and familiar Attendant upon this inimitable Author.
Pleafed with the Proposal, he readily embraced it : But other and more necessary Avocations preventing his Completion of the Design, he commended it to the Gentleman who hath now executed it, and, as it appears, with good Judgment and Propriety.
The Explanation of mere Words are generally taken from Mr. Johnson's very useful Dictionary, and that in reference only to the Sense wherein Milton applies them :
For the rest, he hath used, with all Freedom, the Comments and Notes of those Writers, who have dedicated their Time to the pleafing Employ of explaining the Works of this Prince of English Poets; in particular he confeffes himself obliged to the excellent Edition of this Author, which the Care and Elegance of Dr. Newton hath presented to the Public. No Lover of Milton would want this Edition ; and no Lover of Milton can withold his Thanks from that learned and ingenious Editor. .
• He hath ftudied Brevity as much as poffible in these explanatory Notes; yet, he hopes, not so much as to become obscure : It would have been extremely easy to have enlarged the Work, by frequent Quotations, and long Details of particular Stories : But he wished to avoid this, as the Notes are intended always to accompany the Author.--And the rather, as it was judged proper to affix Mr. Addison's inimitable Critique to the Work ; by which Means it is rendered, in fome Measure perfect. Mr. Addison's Pa
pers will give the Reader a true Taste for Milton, and open to his View the several Graces and Beauties of his Paradise Lost : The explanatory Notes will serve to remove the particular Difficulties in the Text, and enable the Reader to understand perfectly the Beauties which are offered to his Attention.--I must just obferve, that these Notes refer not to the Paradise Lost only, but to all Milton's poetical Works.
There was heretofore an Attempt made to explain Milton in the Way of a Dictionary: But it was injudicious in the Mechod, and tedious in the Compilation. The present Work can fall under nei. ther of these Cenfures: And as it is at once short, clear, and fully published with the best Design, and subservient to a very valuable End, we doubt not, that the Public -will receive it favourably. I must take the Liberty to recommend it. especially to Parents, and those who have the Care of Youth.; if they are desirous that their Children and Trusts should be acquainted with
the Graces of the British Homer, they will do well to put this little Work into their Hands; and thereby give them an Opportunity to understand what they read. The fair Sex in particular will receive great Advantages from it; and with the fair Sex that Milton can never fail to be a Favourite, who hath so pleasingly described the Happiness of conjugal Affection, “ Perpetual Fountain of domestic Sweets."
I have nothing more to add, than that having perused the Work, I have received great Pleasure from it; and can recommend it with much satisfaction. While I am defired to say on the Part of our Compiler, that had he been less obscure, or had the Work been more worthy, he should not long have hesitated under whose Patronage to publish it: the learned Editor above mentioned having so good a right to it.