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EARL OF BATH.
ILTON himself prefixed no Dedication to the PARADISE LOST; for he designed it, not for a single patron, but for the wife and learned of all ages. However feveral of the later editions have been infcribed to Lord Sommers, as a great admirer and encourager of this work: and indeed fuch a poem fhould be addreffed only to the most worthy, to Lord Sommers, or One like Him a judge and patron of arts, and illuftrious both in the commonwealth of men and the commonwealth of letters.
But this edition hath a peculiar right and title to Your Lordship's patronage and protection, as it was undertaken chiefly at Your defire, and in fome measure carried on at Your expense *, Your Lordship having generously contributed the copper plates to beautify and adorn it: and at the same time Your Lordship was willing to give fome encouragement to the art of designing here in England; for it is greatly to be lamented, when we can produce models in poetry fuperior to any or all the nations in Europe, that we fhould be deficient and inferior to feveral of them in the fifter art of painting.
Milton was ever a favorite poet with Your Lordship. You confidered him always as a claffic author in English, and were defirous to have him published as fuch; and though
This is faid of the First Edition in Quarto.
though I cannot pretend to inftruct Your Lordship to understand him better, or admire him more; yet if I can make him more generally understood, and confequently more justly admired, Your Lordship's purpofe and mine will be fufficiently answered. Your Lordship's tafte has never been queftioned; and I fhould dread Your great abilities, if I did not love more Your candor and good-nature: and no wonder that You have fo much a finer tafte than other great men, as You are fo much a finer writer, and if I may be allowed to mention it, in poetry as well as in profe. For the ftate has not wholly ingroffed Your time and attention; at proper feafons and intervals You have alfo facrificed to the Mules. Your writings in other kinds are very well known to the world, have long been in
every body's hands, and read with universal delight and admiration: but Your verfes are made only for the amusement of Your leisure hours, and the entertainment of Your friends; and it is not easy for others, who have not had the pleafure of feeing fome of them, to conceive the fpirit, and eafe, and elegance, and happiness, with which they are written. They, who remember the pieces by Lord Dorset, may have the beft notion of them.
And if I may prefume to know any thing of the spirit or mind of Milton by a diligent perufal of his works, he would be pleased with the offering of any of his writings to Your Lordship, for the fake of thofe principles of liberty which You have always profeffed. He would have rejoiced