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FRANCIS, DUKE OF BRIDGEWATER,
TO WHOSE KINDNESS THESE VOLUMES
OWE CONSIDERABLE IMPORTANCE,
AND THE EDITOR OF THEM
THE MOST HEART-FELT OBLIGATION,
THIS EDITION OF
MILTON'S POETICAL WORKS
IS GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED.
THIS edition of the Poetical Works of Milton, accompanied with notes of various authors, is the third which I have presented to the publick; and, to the preceding, other illustrations are now added. An account of the Life and Writings of the Poet, brief indeed, and with no other pretension than that of being drawn from authentick sources, accompanied the former editions. To the present some of that account is prefixed, greatly augmented with original documents illustrating the private and publick character of Milton, which have long been hidden amidst other literary curiosities, and till now have never been published. Of these important materials further information shall here be given.
In his Majesty's State-Paper Office they are preserved; and my knowledge of them, in the
first instance, I owe to the friendly communication of Mr. Evans, bookseller, in PallMall. It occurred some time since to the deputy keeper of the State-Papers, Robert Le'mon, Esq., that as the official life of Milton was known only as to the fact of his having been Latin secretary to the Council of State during the Usurpation, an investigation of the Orders of that Council might discover new facts relating to the secretary. His searches were repaid with ample success. And his extracts from the Council-Books were transmitted to me, with the kind approbation of the Right Hon. Mr. Secretary Peel, early in 1825. These Books, from which so much curious information is derived, contain the daily transactions of the Executive Government in England from February 1648-9 to September 1658, in uninterrupted succession; and are particularly valuable from the dissolution of the Long Parliament in 1653 to the death of Cromwell, as, during the greater part of that period, the Council of State combined the executive and legislative functions of government; and these Order Books, Mr. Lemon adds, are the authentick but hitherto unknown records of their proceedings. But besides these, in the same Office there exist other documents, entitled Royalists' Composi