ePub 版
[ocr errors]


1832 and 1851. The Rev. JOHN MITFORD, first in the Aldine Edition of Milton's Poetical Works, in three volumes, with Life and Notes, published by Pickering, and again in the Life and Notes prefixed to Pickering's eight-volume edition of the Poetical and Prose Works.

1835. SIR EGERTON BRYDGES : in his edition of the Poetical Works, with Notes and Life, in six volumes.

1840. J. PRENDEVILLE, B.A., in an edition of Paradise Lost, with Notes and Life.

1843. The Rev. DR. J. R. MAJOR : in an edition for schools, with Notes.

1853. CHARLES DEXTER CLEVELAND : in an edition of the Poetical Works at Philadelphia, U.S.; re-issued in London in 1865. See Introd. to P. L. II. p. 40.

1855 and 1859. THOMAS KEIGHTLEY : first in his volume entitled Life, Opinions, and Writings of Milton, and then in his edition of the Poetical Works in two volumes. See Introd. to P. L. II. pp. 39, 40.

1870. R. C. BROWNE, M.A. : in his edition of the English Poems of Milton, with Life, Introduction, and Notes, in two neat volumes of the Clarendon Press Series.

1871. JOHN M. Ross, M.A.: in a selection of Milton's Poetry, with Life and Notes, for use in schools.

To comments on Milton's Poems, or on passages in them, to be found dispersed among the writings of English and Scottish critics of the last and the present century, from Kames, Monboddo, and Blair, to Coleridge, Landor, De Quincey, and others yet more recent, it is needless here to make more than a general reference.l

On the vast accumulation of notes represented by the foregoing COD vectus, and the extent to which they have been consulted and used by the present editor, the following remarks may be necessary :

I. A very large proportion of the notes, repeated, with or

1 Since the first issue of the present Library Edition of Milton's Poetical Works in 1874 there have been various publications of Miltonic commentary or criticism. The most comprehensive of these is an edition of the Poetical Works in two volumes, with Notes Explanatory and Philological, in 1878, by John Bradshaw, M.A., LL.D., of Trinity College, Dublin ; but I would also mention specially The Lycidas and Epitaphium Damonis of Milton, edited, with Notes and Introduction, by C. S. Jerram, M.A., Trin. Coll. Oxon. (1874), and the same scholar's edition of Paradise Regained (1877).

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

without variation of expression, by editor after editor, is such as any editor would inevitably make for himself who should address himself to his task with any proper degree of attention. Unusual words or constructions have to be pointed out; passages of difficult meaning have to be unravelled ; texts of Scripture that were in the poet's mind have to be discovered and cited; his numerous mythological, geographical, and historical allusions have to be explained, wherever they pass the boạnds of the knowledge that may be taken for granted in every ordinary reader; the learning of which the poems are so full has to be elucidated for the majority of readers by production of information which they cannot be supposed to have directly at hand. Now, in such a process, every painstaking editor, even if he should go through the process absolutely for himself, will necessarily stop, in most instances, at the very lines and passages at which previous commentators have stopped ; and, in his notes on these lines and passages, suggested by his own study of the text, or prepared by consultation of dictionaries, concordances, and other works of reference, he will necessarily say very much the same things that have been said at the same places by previous commentators. A glance or two into any of the more copious commentaries on Paradise Lost will verify this remark. No commentator on that epic has surpassed the first one,-Patrick Hume, pulmonons-in the industry with which he traversed the whole ground, and offered explanations, according to his lights, of all that seemed to require explanation; and, though there have been acuter and finer critics of the Poem since, a great part of the body of the notes that fill all the chief editions of Paradise Lost may be regarded as a kind of common property, appertaining, so far as the intrinsic matter is concerned, to no editor in particular, but rather to that very business and tradition of Milton editorship which Hume began. The notes of previous commentators on any of Milton's Poems are, in short, in many cases, mere indications to a new editor of the points at which annotation is desirable; and he may either give, within quotation marks, a selection of such notes as he likes best, retaining the words of the particular commentators who furnished them, or try to reexpress the essence of all the previous comments, so as to omit nothing of value, adding touches of his own, and perhaps by the very mode of expression adapting old information to modern needs and tastes. This last has been, on the whole, the plan adopted in

the notes for the present Edition. Seldom, by merely quoting the notes of a previous commentator, or even several such notes by different commentators, could I feel that I did justice to the passage, or to the total commentation that had been bestowed upon it; and I have generally preferred, therefore, to digest all that seemed to me of value, sometimes condensing, sometimes expanding, and always adding where I thought there might be increased precision or emphasis. It has been my principle, however, consistently with this plan, to recognise as constantly and minutely as I could the duty of ascribing to preceding commentators all that belongs to them. Wherever a comment has seemed to me peculiarly good or happy, I have cited it or quoted it verbatim, in connexion with the commentator's name ; and in no case have I consciously suppressed the name of a previous commentator while appropriating any observation of his to which, on any ground whatsoever, I thought credit could be attached. I hope, indeed, it will be found that I have erred by excess and scrupulosity of acknowledgment, rather than by the opposite.

II. A class of Notes in respect of which acknowledgment of the work of previous commentators is particularly due consists of those in which Milton's reminiscences of Greek and Latin authors, or of Italian authors, or of English authors preceding himself, or contemporary with himself, are traced and verified by actual quotations of the passages he had in his memory, or in which passages of his text where no such conscious borrowing on his part can be alleged are yet illustrated by the quotation of parallel passages from Greek, Latin, Italian, or English poets. Of the commentators known to me those who have done most in this style of annotation are Patrick Hume, Bentley, Bishop Newton and his coadjutors, Todd and his coadjutors, Mr. Keightley, and Mr. Browne; and, in citing, after them, parallel passages which Milton must have had in recollection, or which are interesting as coincidences with his text, I have tried, even in cases where the passages might be considered stockquotations familiar to all scholars, to ascribe each reference to the critic who first made it. On the whole, however, thinking that this style of annotation has been overdone, and that many of the socalled parallel passages cited by Hume, Newton, and Todd, are very far-fetched, and illustrate nothing specifically relating to Milton, but only a certain community of ideas and phraseology among all poets, I have put limits to my reproduction of matter of this kind. In cases of clear reminiscence, or of very close and interesting parallelism, I have generally quoted the parallel passage textually ; but, where the resemblance is more vague and general, or where the parallel passage is in a book easily accessible, I have contented myself (as in most citations of passages of the Bible) with a simple reference to the place. In not a few instances, I have added parallel or illustrative passages, more particularly from English authors, to those cited by previous editors.

III. In some editions, intended for scholastic use, there has been a multiplication of minute philological, and especially minute etymological, notes. Even in such editions I doubt the necessity or propriety of incessant and miscellaneous annotation of the merely etymological kind. In reading Milton, or any other English author, the student ought surely to have an English Dictionary beside him ; and why should he be saved the wholesome trouble of looking up any ordinary word about the derivation of which he may be uncertain ? Enough, at all events, in an edition like the present, if unusual words are duly noted, and also all peculiarly Miltonic grammatical forms and constructions. Care has been taken of this in the individual Notes; and an effort has been made to systematise the results in the General Essay on Milton's English and Versification.

IV. On the whole, more duty has remained for myself in the way of new annotation, both hermeneutical and exegetical, than I should have anticipated. Even in the particular of the detection of

. wrong readings that had crept into the text something has been gleaned by comparison of the later texts with those of Milton's own editions; while, in the larger matters of the interpretation of difficult passages and the full exposition of others in connexion with Milton's life and with his general philosophy, I found a great deal that had been missed or had been but imperfectly treated. Again and again, for example, in the Notes to Paradise Lost, I have had to illustrate afresh the significance of particular phrases and passages in connexion with that Miltonic Cosmology which I have already expounded so far, and in part expressed by diagram, in the Introduction to that Poem.




PSALM CXIV. :-Several of the phrases and rhymes in this Paraphrase have been traced, by Warton and others, to older poets, whom Milton is supposed to have read in his boyhood. It is enough to say that, like every one else, he inherited a traditional phraseology, and began with it. A favourite book in English households in the early part of the seventeenth century was Joshua Sylvester's Translation of The Divine Weeks and Works of the French poet Du Bartas ; and there is evidence that Milton, in his childhood, had revelled in this quaint, but really rich and poetical, book. The verse employed in the present Paraphrase is the verse of Sylvester's Du Bartas; and some of the rhymes—such as recoil, foil (lines 9, 10), mountains, fountains (13, 14), and crush, gush (17, 18)—were already Sylvester's.

Terah's faithful son: i.e. Abraham. See Gen. xi. 24–27. 3. “ Pharian": i.e. Egyptian. Unless this is an ill-formed adjective from Pharaoh,or from Pharan or Paran, the name of a part of the desert between Egypt and Palestine (Gen. xxi. 21, and i Kings xi. 18), it is from Pharos, the island in the Bay of Alexandria on the northern coast of Egypt, made to give its name, by extension, to Egypt itself.

But clearly Milton had Buchanan's translation of the Psalm before him :

Barbaraque invisæ linqueret arva Phari.” Indeed, in Buchanan Pharius is a common word for “ Egyptian.” Thus in Psalm CXXXVI., the next of Milton's paraphrasing, Buchanan has

“ Pharonem et Pharios submersit gurgite currus."


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« 上一頁繼續 »