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In respect to the language and versification, fewer liberties have been taken than will be found in Milton, and none which are not found in him. Some phrases and sentiments may appear to have been borrowed, which have run from my pen without my knowing whence they came: others indeed I have knowingly imitated, as Virgil and Milton have done before me,. from the best authors of antiquity.
The annotations are principally confined to historical proofs of the sentiments delivered by the characters introduced in the body of the work, and in judging of these characters, the upright critick will not overlook the vindication. He will reflect too that the opinions expressed are not always those of the poet; it is sufficient for me that I have no where voluntarily transgressed the bounds of historick record.
The imagery is, for the most part, the same as Milton's, and as peace and liberty are to be ranked among the best blessings of man, they naturally suggest the idea of being odious to the enemy of man.
I now dismiss my work with the consoling reflection that I have endeavoured to inculcate
the best lessons of morality and virtue: that my endeavours will be crowned with success, would be vanity to expect; but if I fail, I shall fail in the greatest of undertakings, where success is uncommon, and the attempt pardonable.
June 1, 1809.
ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.
Invocation. Subject proposed-the restoration of Liberty. Grief of Satan, and his speech to the Infernal Angels assembled in Pandemonium. Omen, and consequent indignation of Satan, who upbraids Moloch and other potentates of Hell. Fury of Moloch, appeased by Beelzebub. Moloch advises war. Second speech of Satan, laying open the plan of the campaign, his various deeds in America, and a portion of the history of the war. Mammon's speech, explaining his success among the hirelings of Britain, but deploring his incapability of corrupting Lord Chatham and the patriots. Other omens. Array of the infernal host, and their departure for York-town in Virginia. Satan follows in his car.
ALMIGHTY BEING! who on the human mind
Line 14. Or, if the infernal-That Providence, in its dispensations of human affairs, frequently admitted of the agency of evil spirits, stands recorded in various passages of sacred history; among others in 1 Kings xxii. 20, where Ahab, the son and successor of Omri, was persuaded to go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead, by a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets; which spirit was permitted by the Lord not only to persuade him, but to prevail also. It is re