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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY

GIFT OF
MRS. WALTER S. BARKER

FEBRUARY 25, 1931

COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND CO.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ilEDITOR'S NOTE

The text here given follows in general the edition of 1645 for the poems covered | by that edition, that of 1667 for Paradise Lost, that of 1671 for Paradise Rei gained and Samson Agonistes. Occasional readings from the other early editions

have been preferred. In the matter of spelling and capitalization a compromise has been attempted between complete modernization and complete adherence to the originals. Generally speaking, the old spelling has been retained where the frequency of its occurrence entitled it to the rank of usage, or where it may be judged to have some special value in the verse.

In regard to the prose translations of the Latin poems a word may be prefaced. With the verse translations of Cowper, Strutt, and Masson already in existence, the chief justification of a prose rendering is naturally to be looked for in its literalness. The present translator has nevertheless taken occasional liberties with the original, in order to make clear, without resort to notes, the allusive passages. Here and there, also, an epithet has been omitted, or an unimportant phrase suppressed, in order to avoid a cumbersome effect in the prose.

The dates attached to each poem are in some cases certain, in others conjectural. An attempt has been made to justify the assumption of dates only in the few cases where the usual and accepted chronology has been departed from. In the English poems, the chronological order of arrangement has been followed, except in the case of the Nativity Ode, which has been given a more conspicuous position than it is chronologically entitled to, and in the case of two or three short poems of the Horton period, transposed for mechanical reasons. In the Latin poems, the arrangement made by Milton has been preserved ; but several short pieces of minor interest, and three bits of Greek verse, have been transferred to the Appendix.

Much of the matter usually given in notes has been incorporated in the introdactions and headnotes. The notes proper have been made as brief and as strictly explanatory as possible. No notes have been furnished for the Latin poems, as an effort has been made in the prose renderings to meet all important difficulties of interpretation.

Milton has been so much written about that it is next to impossible for an editor ; to acknowledge specifically the aid which he has received from his predecessors in · the field. No editor or biographer, however, can well omit mentioning his indebt

edness to the researches of Professor Masson, though to do so is to be guilty of abviousness.

The portrait which fronts the title-page is that known as the Onslow portrait, from its having belonged to Speaker Onslow, but it has disappeared since the sale of Lord Onslow's pictures in 1828. It had originally belonged to Milton's widow. This photogravure is after Vertue’s engraving made in 1731 from the portrait then in Speaker Onslow's possession. The vignette on the title-page represents the “pretty box” which Ellwood found for the poet in the village of Chalfont St. Giles, during the prevalence of the Plague of 1665.

W. V. M. New York, February 13, 1899.

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