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DR. NEWTON's OCTAVO EDITION OF 1773.
Ir hath been recommended to me by some great persons, as well as by several friends, to complete the edition of Milton's Poetical Words: for though the Paradise Lost be the flower of epic poesy, 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 sublimity and majesty, are at least equally beautiful and 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 Regained and other poems, to exhibit the true and genuine text according to Milton's own editions. Of the Paradise Regained and Samson 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. Bently pronounces it to be without faults, but there is a large table of errata at the end, which, instead of being amended, have rather been augmented in the following editions, and were never corrected in any edition that I have seen before the present. Of the other poems there were two editions in Milton's
MILTON. VOL. III.
life-time, the first in 1645, before he was blind, and the others 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 were then printed imperfect and deficient both in sense and metre, but are now, by the help of the Manuscript, restored to their just harmony and original perfection.
The Latin poems I cannot say are equal to several of his 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 accordingly to his own editions in 1645 and 1673.
WHO ere while the happy Garden sung,
By one Man's firm obedience fully try'd
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious eremite Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence By proof th' undoubted Son of God, inspire, 11 As thou art wont, my prompted song else mute, And bear through height, or depth of Nature's bounds
With prosp'rous wing full summ'd, to tell of deeds
And unrecorded left through many an age,
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd
O ancient pow'rs of Air, and this wide world, For much more willingly I mention Air, This our old conquest, than remember Hell, Our hated habitation; well ye know How many ages, as the years of men, This universe we have possess'd, and rul'd In manner at our will th' affairs of Earth, Since Adam and his facil consort Eve Lost Paradise deceiv'd by me, though since