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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 commu-
tion-Papers. They comprehend, Mr. Lemon says, two distinct series; the first consisting of petitions of Royalists to the Commissioners for Sequestration, of the orders of those Commissioners respecting the sequestration of Estates, of the reports of their subordinate officers, and of the correspondence with sub-commissioners and other agents in every part of the kingdom; The second series exhibits the original particulars of property and estates, for which Royalists were permitted to compound on the payment of a fine. These papers are peculiarly valuable in illustrating the family history, as well as the various property of individuals, throughout the kingdom, during the time of the Great Rebellion. Of these, by the continued industry and accurate attention of Mr. Lemon, no less than one hundred and sixty-seven folio volumes had been recovered and arranged, when (in 1825 also) he transmitted to me from this invaluable collection the sequestration-papers relating to Mr. Powell, the father of Milton's first wife, in which Milton himself is particularly concerned; and to Sir Christopher Milton, the brother of the poet. Other papers and letters, from the same Office, alike unknown till now, and of the greatest service to the biography of Milton, have since, at various times, been sent to me
by this gentleman; empowered as he was at all times so to do, from the very first exertion. of his kindness, by the permission of Mr. Secretary Peel; to whom, and to Mr. Under-Secretary Hobhouse, I acknowledge the greatest obligations, as well as to Mr. Lemon; and to whose friendly and condescending instrumentality the publick is indebted for what is now told of the poet, of his family, and of some of his works, which never was before in print. What has been thus liberally supplied, might indeed by others have been arranged with elegance, and illustrated with taste; but not with greater fidelity than the following pages exhibit. This with other anecdotes relating to the history of Milton's friends, of his works, and of his times, will plead for attention to an unadorned narration. A fac-simile of the poet's hand-writing is also given from one of the documents in the State-Paper Office; and to the biography I have now added, as Hayley did to his Life of Milton, an Inquiry into the Origin of Paradise Lost.
I will now repeat the substance of the preface my former editions of the Poetical Works, in which an account is given of those criticks and annotators, whose observations had been selected
by Dr. Newton; and of those, with whose subsequent remarks the present volumes are enriched.
The first annotator on the poet was Patrick Hume, a Scotchman. He published, in 1695, a copious commentary on the Paradise Lost; to which some of his successors in the same province," Mr. Warton says, apprehending no danger of detection from a work rarely inspected, and too pedantick and cumbersome to attract many readers, have been often amply indebted, without even the most distant hint of acknowledgement." His illustrations in these volumes will be rarely found uninteresting. To him succeeded the elegant Addison, by whose "blandishments of gentleness and facility, Milton has been made an universal favourite, with whom readers of every class think it necessary to be acquainted." His essays on the Paradise Lost are here printed as a Preliminary Dissertation; the remarks on each particular book not being detached from the general observations on the Poem, because the author himself was desirous that the reader should not
a Preface to his edition of Milton's Smaller Poems.
Dr. Johnson's Life of Addison.