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I. OF THIS EDITION of MILtoN's PoEMS. II. of THE LIVEs OF MILTON.
THE editions of Milton's poetical works by Dr. Newton, afterwards Bishop of Bristol, which have long been held in general esteem, have been made the basis of much the greater part of the present publication. His prefaces are therefore subjoined; and the reader is referred to them for a full account of his design and authorities, and the assistance which he received from several of his contemporaries. It may be stated generally, that his purpose was to print the text of Milton with accuracy from the original editions, and to supply such a body of notes, critical and explanatory, from various commentators, as might meet the wishes, as far as possible, of all the different classes of his readers. And in his edition of the Paradise Lost, Dr. Newton is admitted to have been very successful in the attainment of this purpose. The Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, and Minor Poems,however, he published at a subsequent period, when his time was occupied with more serious pursuits; and his notes on these poems are neither so full nor so accurate as those on - a 4. the Paradise Lost. It was thought desirable, accordingly, that some additions should be made in the present work to this part of the commentary from the editions of Mr. Dunster and Mr. Warton, the principal annotators who followed Dr. Newton. . The Rev. Charles Dunster, who was formerly of Trinity College, Oxford, and died in 1816, Rector of Petworth in Sussex, published the Paradise Regained in 1795, with a very copious commentary, in which he incorporated most of Bishop Newton’s notes, with large additions of his own. His design however was similar to Dr. Newton's; but he appears to have been more familiar than his predecessor with the earlier English poets, and has often illustrated his author with much success from that quarter. Altogether he was a man of taste, and of considerable attainments in polite literature; but his notes are often extended to a very disproportionate length; and although many of them are introduced into the present publication, they have been in general compressed into a much smaller compass. Mr. Dunster received little assistance except from one individual, to whom he acknowledges the most extensive obligations; but the name of this friend, I believe, I am not at liberty to communicate to the public. In 1785 Milton's Juvenile Poems were edited by the Rev. T. Warton, whose merits are generally known, and of whose life and writings indeed an account was published in 1802, by Dr. Mant, the present Bishop of Down and Connor. Mr. Warton’s principal object was to illustrate these poems from Milton's other writings, from the older English poetry, and from the popu
lar superstitions and romances, with which Milton was familiar, but many of which are now forgotten. As this was a new line of criticism, and was first struck out, if I mistake not, by Warton himself in his Observations upon Spenser, his own account of it is extracted from his preface, and subjoined to those of Dr. Newton. Another part also of his preface is given, containing his observations on Milton's Latin poetry, which he was the first to illustrate with notes, and most of these notes are adopted in this edition. His arrangement too of the Latin poems has been followed instead of Dr. Newton's; and the Epigrams ix. x. and xi. are inserted from Warton’s edition, Dr. Newton having only given the last of them, which he introduced into the Life. The portion of Mr. Warton’s preface which has not been reprinted contains a lively attempt to sketch the gradual progress of Milton’s juvenile poems to celebrity, till “the school of Milton rose in emula“tion of the school of Pope:” but so many inaccuracies have been pointed out in his account by Mr. Todd and Mr. Godwin, that it did not appear deserving of republication. It appears upon the whole that these poems rose into repute at an earlier period than Mr. Warton supposed. To the proofs which Warton has adduced of Milton's familiarity with the works of Joshua Sylvester, the translator of Du Bartas, a few more might perhaps have been added, had I procured a copy of Dunster's Considerations on Milton's early reading, before the notes were printed. There was much more need of retrenchment, however, than of additional matter, in this part of the work; for although in many of his illus