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(Extracted from Dr. Newton's Octavo Edition of 1773.]
IThath been recommended to me by some great persons, as well as by several
friends, to complete the edition of Milton's Poetical Works: for though the Paradise Lost be the flower of epic poesy, and the noblest effort. of genius, yet bere are other poems which are no less excellent in their kind, and if they have not that sublimity and majesty, are at least equally beautifuland pleasing to the imagination. And the same method that was taken in the publication of the Paradise Lost, is pursued in this edition of the Paradise Reguin'd and other Poems, to exhibit the true and geguine text according to Milton's own editions. Of the Paradise Regain'd and Samson Agonistes there was only one edition in Milton's life-time, in the year 1671; and this we have made our standard, correeting only what the Author bimself would have corrected. Dr. Bentley pronounces it to be without faults, but there is a largetable of errata at the end, which instead of being emended, bèvé rather been augmentedin the following editions, and turre never corrected in any edition that I have seen before the present. Of the other Poems there were twoeditions in Milton's life-time, the first in 1645, before be was blind, and the other with some additions in 1673.
Of the Mask there was likewise an edition published by Mr. Henry Lawes in 1637: and of the Mask and several other poems there are extant copies in Milton's own hand writing, preserved in the library of Trinity College in Cambridge : and all these copies and editions have been carefully. collated and compared together. The Manuscript, indeed, hath been of singular service in rectifying several passages, and especially in the Sonnets, some of which were not printed till many years after Milton's death, and evere then printed imperfect and deficient both in sense and metre, but are now, by the help of the Manuscript, re
stored to their just harmony and original perfe£tion. The Latin poems I cannot say are equal to several of
bis English compositions : but yet they are not without their merit; they are not a cento, like most of the modern Latin poetry; there is spirit, invention, and other marks and tokens of a rising genius ; for it should be considered, that the greater part of them were written while the Author was under twenty. They are printed correctly, according to his own editions in 1645 and 1673.
I who ere while the happy Garden sung,
Thou Spi'rit who ledst this glorious eremite
15 And unrecorded left through many an age, Worthy to have not remain’d so long unsung.
Now had the great Proclamer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cry'd Repentance, and Heav'n's kingdom nigh at hand To all baptis’d: to his great baptism flock'd With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd
35 Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted Man, to whom Such high' attest was giv'n, a white survey'd With wonder, then with envy fraught and rage Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air To council summons all his mighty peers,
40 Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involvid, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst With looks 'aghast and sad he thus bespake :
O ancient Pow'rs of Air and this wide world, For much inore willingly I mention Air, 45 This our old conquest, than remember Hell, Our hated habitation; well
know How many ages, as the years of men, This universe we have possessid, and rul'd In manner at our will th' affairs of Earth, 50 Since Adam and his facil consort Eve Lost Paradise deceiv'd by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
60 Broken be not intended all our power To be infring'd, our freedom and our being, In this fair empire won of Earth and Air; For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed Destin'd to this, is late of woman born : His birth to our just fear gave no small cause, But his growth now to youth's full flower, displayAll virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve [ing Things highest, greatest, multiplies my fear. Before him a great prophet, to proclame 70 His coming, is sent harbinger, who all Invites, and in the consecrated stream: Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so Purified to receive him pure, or rather To do him honour as their king; all come, 75 And he himself among them was baptiz'd, Not thence to be more pure, but to receive' The testimony of Heav'n, that who he is Thenceforth the nations may not doubt; I saw The prophet do him reverence, on him rising 80 Out of the water, Heav'n above the clouds Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head