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EARL OF BAT H.
ILTON himself prefixed no De
dication to the PARADISE LOST; for he designed it, not for a single patron, but for the wise and learned of all ages. However several of the later editions have been inscribed to Lord Sommers, as a great admirer and encourager of this work: and indeed such a poem should be addressed only to the most worthy, to Lord Sommers, or One like Him a judge and patron of arts, and illustrious both in the commonwealth of men and the commonwealth of letters. A 2
But this edition hath a peculiar right and title to Your Lordship’s patronage and protection, as it was undertaken chiefly at Your desire, and in some measure carried on at Your expense *, Your Lordship having generously contributed the copper plates to beautify and adorn it: and at the same time Your Lordship was willing to give some encouragement to the art of designing here in England; for it is greatly to be lamented, when we can produce models in poetry superior to any or all the nations in Europe, that we should be deficient and inferior to several of them in the fifter art of painting
Milton was ever a favorite poet with Your Lordship. You considered him always as a classic author in English, and were desirous to have him published as such: and This is said of the First Edition in Quarto,
though I cannot pretend to instruct Your Lordship to understand him better, or admire him more; yet if I can make him more generally understood, and consequently more justly admired, Your Lordship's purpose and mine will be sufficiently answered. Your Lordship’s taste has never been queftioned; and I should dread Your great abilities, if I did not love more Your candor and good-nature: and no wonder that You have so much a finer taste than other great men, as You are so much a finer writer, and if I may be allowed to mention it, in poetry as well as in prose. For the ftate has not wholly ingrossed Your time and attention; at proper seasons and intervals You have also sacrificed to the Muses. Your writings in other kinds are very well known to the world, have long been in
every body's hands, and read with universal delight and admiration: but Your verses are made only for the amusement of Your leisure hours, and the entertainment of Your friends; and it is not easy for others, who have not had the pleafure of seeing some of them, to conceive the spirit, and ease, and elegance, and happiness, with which they are written. They, who remember the pieces by Lord Dorset, may have the beft notion of them.
And if I may presume to know any thing of the spirit or mind of Milton by a diligent perusal of his works, he would be pleased with the offering of any of his writings to Your Lordship, for the fake of those principles of liberty which You have always professed. He would have rejoiced