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T hath been recommended to me by fome great perfons, as well as by several friends, to complete the edition of Milton's poetical works: for tho' the Paradise Loft be the flower of epic poefy, and the noblest effort of genius; yet here are other poems which are no less excellent in their kind, and if they have not that fublimity and majefty, are at least equally beautiful and pleafing to the imagination. And the fame method that was taken in the publication of the Paradise Loft, is pursued in this edition of the Paradise Regain'd and other poems, firft to exhibit the true and genuin text according to Milton's own editions, and then to illuftrate it with notes critical and explanatory of various authors. Of the Paradise Regain'd and Samfon Agonistes there was only one edition in Milton's life-time, in the year 1671; and this we have made our standard, correcting only what the author himself would have corrected. Dr. Bentley pronounces it to be without faults, but there is a large table of Errata at the end, which instead of being emended have rather been augmented in the following editions, and were never corrected in any edition that I have seen before the prefent. Of the other poems there were two editions in Milton's lifetime, the first in 1645 before he was blind, and the other with some additions in 1673. Of the Mafk there was likewise an edition publish'd by Mr. Henry Lawes in 1637: and of the Mask and feveral other poems there are extant copies in Milton's own hand writing, preferved in the library of Trinity College in Cambridge: and all these copies and editions have
been carefully collated and compared together, the differences and variations are noted, and even the poet's corrections and alterations in his Manufcript are specified for the fatisfaction of the curious critical reader. The Manufcript indeed hath been of fingu lar service in rectifying feveral paffages, and especially in the Sonnets, fome of which were not printed till many years after Milton's death, and were then printed imperfect and deficient both in sense and meter, but are now by the help of the Manufcript restored to their juft harmony and original perfection. From the Manufcript too we have given the plan of Paradife Loft, as Milton first designed it, in the form of a tragedy, and likewise the subjects which he had sketched out for other tragedies, whether with an intention ever to finish them or not we cannot be certain. They were printed before in the Historical and Critical Life of Milton prefixed to his profe works by the learned and ingenious Mr. Birch, who is continually adding fomething new to the stock of learning: but it was judged proper to reprint them from the Manufcript in this edition, as they bear a nearer relation to the author's poetical works.
The notes, as upon the Paradife Loft, so likewise upon the Paradife Regain'd and other poems, are of various authors and of various kinds: but thefe, excepting only a few, were never printed before, and have therefore novelty to recommend them, as well as fome names of the first rank and greateft eminence in the republic of letters. The truth of my affertion will be fully justify'd by mentioning only the names of Mr. Warburton and Mr. Jortin, who while they
are employ'd in writing the most learned and elabo rate defenses of religion, yet find leifure to cultivate the politer arts, and to promote and improve both in themselves and others a claffical taste of the finest authors: and whatever may be the fuccefs, I can never repent of having engaged in this undertaking, which hath given me fo many convincing proofs of their friendship and kindness, and at the fame time hath happily conjoined (what perhaps might never else have been joined together) my ftudies and my name with theirs. I am equally obliged too to Mr. Thyer for the continuation of his friendly affiftance; and the reader will find the fame good fenfe, and learning, and ingenuity in thefe, as in his former remarks upon the Paradife Loft. And now he hath gone thro' Milton's poetical works, I hope he will do the fame juftice to another of our greatest English poets, and gratify the public with a complete edition of Spenfer's works, or at least with his equally learned equally elegant obfervations upon them. I would not be understood by this to difparage in the least Mr. Upton's intended edition, or Mr. Sympfon's, whoismy friend, and hath kindly affifted me in this edition, as well as in that of the Paradise Loft. Mr. Upton is certainly a man of great learning, and fo likewife is Mr. Sympfon, and particularly well read in our old English authors, as appears from his fhare in the late excellent edition of Beaumont's and Fletcher's works: but I know no man, who hath a juster and more delicate taste of the beauties of an author than Mr. Thyer, or is a greater master of the Italian language and Italian poetry, which in Spenfer's time was the study
and delight of all the men of letters, and Spenfer himfelf hath borrowed more from that fource than from almost any other, and fometimes hath tranflated two or three stanza's together. Mr. Richardfon likewise hath continued his good offices, and communicated his comment upon Lycidas and his marginal notes and obfervations upon the other poems, together with fine head of Milton done by his father after a drawing of Cooper: and both the Richardfons father and fon deferve the thanks of all lovers of the fifter arts, for their inftructive effays on painting, as well as for feveral ingenious remarks on Milton. I had the honor of all these for my affociates and affiftants before, but I have been farther ftrengthen'd by fome new recruits, which were the more unexpected, as they were fent me from gentlemen, with whom I never had the pleasure of a perfonal acquaintance. The reverend Mr. Meadowcourt, Canon of Worcester, in 1732 published a Critical Differtation with notes upon the Paradife Regain'd, a fecond edition of which was printed in 1748; and he likewise transmitted to me a fheet of his manufcript remarks, wherein he hath happily explained a moft difficult paffage in Lycidas better than any man had done before him. The reverend Mr. Calton of Marton in Lincolnshire hath contributed much more to my affiftance: he favor'd me with a long correfpondence; and I am at a loss which to commend moft, his candor as a friend, or his penetration and learning as a critic and divine. Befides all these helps I have pickt out fome grain from among the chaff of Mr. Peck's remarks, and have gleaned up every thing which I thought might