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perhaps obfervable. They clofe alfo with a fimilar fentiment to his invocation of the fame affiftance in his Paradife Regained, B. i. 11.
"As thou art wont, my prompted fong, elfe mute."
VII. The latest obfervation refpecting the origin of Paradife Loft, which has been fubmitted to the publick, is contained in Mr. Dunfter's "Confiderations on Milton's early reading, and the prima ftamina of Paradife Loft," 1800. The object of thefe "Confiderations" is to prove that Milton became, at a very early period of his life, enamoured of Joshua Sylvefter's tranflation of the French poet, Du Bartas. Lauder had afferted long fince that Milton was indebted to Sylvefter's tranflation for "numberlefs fine thoughts, befides his low trick of playing upon words, and his frequent use of technical terms. From him," he adds, "Milton has borrowed many elegant phrafes, and fingle words, which were thought to be peculiar to him, or rather coined by him; fuch as palpable darkness, and a thoufand others." Lauder has alfo faid, that Phillips, Milton's nephew, every where, in his Theatrum Poetarum, either wholly paffes over in filence fuch authors as Milton was moft obliged to, or, if he chances to mention them, does it in the most flight and fuperficial manner imaginable: Du Bartas alone excepted." But Sylvefter is alfo highly commended, in this work for his tranflation. Mr. Hayley well obferves, in apology, for other omiffions of Phillips, "which are too frequent to be confidered as accidental, that he probably chofe
not to enumerate various poems relating to Angels, to Adam, and to Paradife, left ignorance and malice fhould abfurdly confider the mere exiftence of fuch poetry as a derogation from the glory of Milton."
Lauder adds, that there is "a commentary on this work, called A Summary of Du Bartas, a book full of prodigious learning, and many curious obfervations on all arts and fciences; from whence Milton has derived a multiplicity of fine hints, fcattered up and down his poem, especially in philofophy and theology." This book was printed in folio, in 1621; and is recommended, in the titlepage, as "fitt for the learned to refresh their memories, and for younger ftudents to abbreviate and further theire studies." From this pretended garden of fweets I can collect no nofegay. It cannot indeed be fuppofed that Milton, when he wrote the Paradife Loft, was fo imperfectly acquainted with the purer fources of knowledge, as to be indebted to fuch a volume.
That Milton, however, had read the tranflation of Du Bartas, has been admitted by his warmeft admirers, Dr. Farmer, Mr. Bowle, Mr. Warton, and Mr. Headley. A flight remark, which the editor of thefe volumes long fince ventured to make, in the Gentleman's Magazine, refpecting Milton's acquaintance with the poetry of Sylvester,
f See November 1796, p. 900. See alfo Mr. Dunster's Confiderations &c. p. 3. I take this opportunity of adding that Dr. Farmer's remark occurs in a Note on the "married calm of states," in Troilus and Cretfida. See Steevcus's Shakspeare, edit. 1793. vol. xi. p. 254.
attracted the notice of the author of the Confiderations &c. just mentioned; and appears to have stimulated his defire to know more of the forgotten bard. Mr. Dunfter, therefore, having procured an edition of Sylvefter's Du Bartas, drew up his ingenious volume; and, with no less elegance of language than liberality of opinion, pointed out the tafte and judgement of Milton in availing himfelf of particular paffages in that book. With honourable affection for the fame of Milton, he obferves, that "nothing can be further from my intention than to infinuate that Milton was a plagiarist or fervile imitator; but I conceive that, having read these facred poems of very high merit, at the immediate age when his own mind was just beginning to teem with poetry, he retained numberlefs thoughts, paffages, and expreffions therein, fo deeply in his mind, that they hung inherently on his imagination, and became as it were naturalized there. Hence many of them were afterwards infenfibly transfufed into his own compofitions." Sylvefter's Du Bartas was alfo a popular book when Milton began to write poetry; it was published in the very street in which Milton's father then lived; Sylvester was certainly, as was probably Humphry
I may obferve that the folio edition of Spenfer's Faerie Queene, and of his other poems, in 1611, came from the prefs of Humphry Lownes; the date at the end of the Faerie Queene is, however, 1612.
In 1611 alfo Humphry Lownes printed the fecond edition of the little volume, from which I fhall prefently have occafion to make an extract or two, entitled "Stafford's Niobe: or his age of teares. A Treatife no leffe profitable and comfortable then the times damnable, &c." 12mo.
Lownes the printer of the book, puritanically inclined; Milton's family, profeffing the fame religious opinions, would powerfully recommend to the young student the perufal of this work: By fuch inferences, added to the preceding remark, the reader is led to acknowledge the fuccefsful manner, in which Mr. Dunfter has accomplished his defign; namely, to fhow Milton's " early acquaintance with, and predilection for, Sylvefter's Du Bartas." I am perfuaded, however, that Milton must have fometimes clofed the volume with extreme difguft; and that he then fought gratification in the ftrains of his kindred poets, of Spenfer, and of Shakspeare; or of those, whose style was not barbarous like Sylvefter's, the enticing Drummond, the learned and affecting Drayton, and feveral other bards of that period; as may be gathered from expreffions even in his earliest performances. But, to refume Mr. Dunster's obfervation refpecting the origin of Paradife Loft: Sylvefter's Du Bartas "contains, indeed, more material prima ftamina of the Paradife Loft, than, as I believe, any other book whatever: and my hypothefis is, that it pofitively laid the firft ftone of that 'monumentum ære perennius.' That Arthur for a time predominated in Milton's mind over his, at length preferred, facred fubject, was probably owing to the advice of Manfo, and the track of reading into which he had then got. How far the Adamo of Andreini, or the Scena Tragica d'Adamo
h See the Notes on his Tranflations of the 114th and 136th Pfalms.
et Eca of Lancetta, as pointed out by Mr. Hayley;