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LENOX LIBRARA NEW YORK

Printed by A. Strahan, New-Street-Square, London.

PRE FACE*

TO

AN ESSAY ON MILTON'S USE AND IMITATION OF

THE MODERNS IN HIS PARADISE LOST.

[First published in the Year MDCCL.]

IT
T is now more than half a century since the

PARADISE Lost, having broke through the clouds with which the unpopularity of the author, for a time, obscured it, has attracted the general admiration of mankind; who have endeavoured to compensate the errour of their first neglect, by lavish praises and boundless veneration. There seems to have arisen a contest, among men of genius and literature, who should most advance its honour, or best distinguish its beauties. Some have revised

*" It is to be hoped, nay, it is expected, that the elegant and “ nervous writer, whose judicious sentiments, and inimitable stile

points out the author of Lauder's Preface and Postscript, will “ no longer allow one to plume himself with his feathers, who

appears so little to have deserved his assistance; an assistance “ which I am persuaded would never have been communicated, “ had there been the least suspicion of those facts which I have “ been the instrument of conveying to the world in these sheets.' - Milton vindicated from the charge of plagiarism brought against him by Mr. Lauder, and Lauder himself convicted of several forgeries and gross impositions on the publick. By John Douglas, M.A. Rector of Eaton Constantine, Salop, 8vo. 1751, p.77. VOL. VIII.

B.

editions, others have published commentaries, and all have endeavoured to make their particular studies, in some degree subservient to this general emulation.

Among the inquiries to which this ardour of criticism has naturally given occasion, none is more obscure in itself, or more worthy of rational curiosity, than a retrospection of the progress of this mighty genius, in the construction of his work; a view of the fabrick gradually rising, perhaps from small beginnings, till its foundation rests in the centre, and its turrets sparkle in the skies; to trace back the structure, through all its varieties, to the simplicity of its first plan; to find what was first projected, whence the scheme was taken, how it was improved, by what assistance it was executed, and from · what stores the materials were collected, whether its founder dug them from the quarries of nature, or demolished other buildings to embellish his own.

This inquiry has been, indeed, not wholly neg. lected, nor, perhaps, prosecuted with the care and diligence that it deserves. Several criticks have offered their conjectures; but none have much endeavoured to enforce or ascertain them. * Mr. VolTAIRE tells us, without proof, that the first hint of PARADISE Lost was taken from a farce called ADAMO, written by a player; +DR. PEARCE, that it was derived from an Italian tragedy, called Il Pa

* Essay upon the Civil Wars of France, and also Epick Poetry of the European Nations, from Homer down to Milton, 8vo. 1727, p. 103. E.

the

+ Preface to a Review of the Text of the Twelve Books of Milton's Paradise Lost, in which the chief of Dr. Bentley's Emendations are considered, 8vo. 1733. E.

upon

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