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Vir. Pope's Milton of Bentley's edition, whereiñ Mr. Pope had all along with his own hand set some mark of approbation, rectè, benè, pulchrè &c, in the margin over-against such emendations of the Doctor's, as seemed to him just and reasonable. It was a satisfaction to see what so great a genius thought particularly of that edition, and he appears throughout the whole to have been a very candid reader, and to have approved of more than really merits apa probation. Mr. Richardson the father has said in his preface, that his son had a very copious collection of fine passages out of ancient and modern authors, by which Milton had profited; and this collection, which is written in the margin and between the lines of Mr. Hume's annotations, Mr. Richardson the son has put into my hands. Some little use I have made of it; and it might have been of greater service, and have faved me some trouble, if I had not then almost completed this work. Mr. Thyer, the Librarian at Manchester, I have not the pleasure of knowing personally, but by his writings I am convinced that he must be a man of great learning, and as great humanity. It was late before I was informed that he had written
the Paradise Lost, but he was very ready to communicate them, and for the greater dispatch sent me his interleav'd Milton, wherein his remarks were written : but unluckily for him, for me, and for the public, the book thro' the negligence of the carrier was dropt upon the road, and cannot since be found. Mr. Thyer however hath had the goodness to endevor to repair the lofs to me and to the public by writing what he could reco!lect, and sending me a sheet or two full
of remarķs almost every post for several weeks tow gether : and tho' several of them came too late to be inserted into the body of the work, yet they will be found in the * Appendix, which is made for the sake of them principally. It is unneceffary to say any thing in their commendation; they will sufficiently recommend themselves. Some other arsistance too I have received from persons, whose names are unknown, and others, whose names I am not at liberty to mention : but I hope the Speaker of the House of Commons will pardon my ambition to have it known, that he has been pleased to suggest some useful hints and observations, when I have been admitted to the honour of his conversation.
As the notes are of various authors, so they are of various kinds, critical and explanatory; some to correct the errors of former editions, to discuss the various readings, and to establish the true genuin text of Milton; some to illustrate the sense and meaning, to point out the beauties and defects of sentiment and character, and to commend or censure the conduct of the poem ; some to remark the peculiarities of stile and language, to clear the syntax, and to explain the uncommon words, or common words used in an uncommon signification ; some to consider and examine the numbers, and to display our author's great arts of versification, the variety of the pauses, and the adaptness of the found to the sense; fome to thew his imitations and allusions to other authors, whether sacred or profane, ancient or modern. We might have been much larger and
* In this edition they are inserted in their proper places.
more copious under each of these heads, and especially under the last : but I would not produce every thing that hath any similitude and resemblance, but only such paffages as we may suppose the author really alluded to, and had in mind at the time of writing. It was once my intention to prefix fome essays to this work, 'one upon Milton's stile, another upon his versification, a third upon his imitations &c; but upon more mature deliberation I concluded that the same things would have a better effect in the form of short notes, when the particular passages referred to came immediately under confideration, and the context lay before the reader. There would have been more of the pomp and oftentation of criticism in the former, but I conceive there is more real use and advantage in the latter. It is the great fault of commentators, that they are apt to be tilent or at most very concise where there is any difficulty, and to be very prolix and tedious where there is none : but it is hoped that the contrary method has been taken here; and tho' more may be said than is requisite for critics and scholars, yet it may be no more than is necessary or proper for other readers of Milton. For these notes are intended for general use, and if they are received with general approbation, that will be sufficient. I can hardly expect that any body should approve them all, and I may be certain that no body can condemn them all.
The life of the author it is almost become a cu. stom to prefix to a new edition of his works į for when we admire the writer, we are curious also to know something of the man : and the life of Milton
is not barely a history of his works, but is so much the more interesting, as he was more engaged in public affairs than poets usually are. And it has happened that more accounts have been written of his life, than of almost any author's, particularly by Antony Wood in his Faiti Oxonienses, by our author's nephew Mr. Edward Philips before the English translation of Milton's State-letters printed in 1664, by Mr. Toland before the edition of our author's profe works in three volumes folio printed in 1698, by Monsieur Bayle in his Historical and Critical Dictionary, by Mr. Fenton before the edition of our author's poctical works printed in 1725, by Mr. Richardson in the preface to his Explanatory Notes and Remarks upon Milton's Paradise Lost, and by the reverend and ingenious Mr. Thomas Birch in the General Dictionary, and more largely before the edition of our author's prose works in two volumes folio printed in 1738. And I have not only read and compared thefe accounts together, and made the best extracts out of them which I possibly could; but have also collected some other particulars from Milton's own works as well as from other authors, and from credible tradition as well as from written testimonies: and all these, like so many different threds, I have woven into one piece, and formed into a continued narration, of which, whether it affords more or less satisfaction and entertaioment than former accounts, the reader must judge and determin: but it has been my Nudy and endevor, as in the notes to comprise the flower of all other notes, so in the life to include the substance of all former lives, and with improvements and additions.
In the conclusion are added copious indexes, one of the principal matters, and another of the words. The man, who is at the pains of making indexes, is really to be pitied; but of their great utility there is no need to say any thing, when several persons, who pass in the world for profound scholars, know little more of books than title pages and indexes, but never catch the spirit of an author, which is sure always to evaporate or die in such hands. The former of these indexes, if not drawn up by Mr. Tickell, was I think first inserted in his
edition of Milton's poetical works printed in 1720; and for the latter, which was much more laborious, it was composed at the desire and encouragement of Mr. Auditor Benson by Mr. Cruden, who hath also published a very useful Concordance to the Bible. .