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(So Sampfon grop'd the temple's posts in spight,) The world o'erwhelming to revenge his fight.
Yet as I read, ftill growing less severe, I lik'd his project, the fuccefs did fear; Through that wide field how he is way fhould find, O'er which lame Faith leads Understanding blind; Left he'd perplex the things he would explain, And what was easy he should render vain. Or if a work fo infinite he fpann'd, Jealous I was that fome lefs fkilful hand (Such as difquiet always what is well, And, by ill imitating, would excell,) Might hence prefume the whole creation's day To change in fcenes, and fhow it in a play. Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise My caufelefs, yet not impious, furmife. But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare Within thy labours to pretend a share. Thou haft not mifs'd one thought that could be fit, And all that was improper doft omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.
That majefty, which through thy work doth reign, Draws the devout, deterring the profane. And things divine thou treat'ft of in fuch state As them preferves, and thee, inviolate. At once delight and horrour on us feife, Thou fing'st with so much gravity and ease; And above human flight doft foar aloft With plume fo ftrong, fo equal, and fo foft. The bird, nam'd from that Paradise you fing, So never flags, but always keeps on wing.
Where couldft thou words of fuch a compafs find? Whence furnith fuch a vaft expence of mind? Juft Heaven thee, like Tirefias, to requite, Rewards with prophecy thy lofs of fight.
Well might'ft thou fcorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhime, of thy own sense secure; While the Town-Bays writes all the while and fpells, And, like a pack-horse, tires without his bells: Their fancies like our bufhy points appear; The poets tag them, we for fashion wear,
Ver. 42. expence of mind?] In fome modern editions of Milton, expence has here been converted into expanse. TODD.
Ver. 46. With tinkling rhime,] So, in Ben Jonfon's Mask, The Fortunate les, a queftion is afked refpecting Skogan, the jefter!
"But wrote he like a gentleman ?"
The answer is,
"In rime! fine tinckling rime! and flowand verfe!" Milton thus ridicules rhyme in calling it the" jingling found of like endings." TODD.
like our bushy points appear;
The poets tag them,] Richardfon fays, "I was the fashion in those days to wear much ribbon, which fome adorn'd with tags of metal at the end," Life of Milton, p. cxx. Points are said to have been metal hooks, fastened to the hose or breeches, which had no opening or buttons; and going into straps or eyes fixed to the doublet, to have thus kept the hofe from falling down. See Steevens's Shakspeare, edit. 1793, vol. iv. 27. And Minshew's Guide into Tongues, 1627. V. Point.
It is related by Aubrey, in his MS. Life of Milotn, that "John Dryden, Efq. Poet Laureat, who very much admired him, went to him to have leave to put his Paradise Loft into a Dramatick Poem. Milton received him very civilly, and told him he would give him leave to tagge his verses." MS. Ashmol, Mus, Oxford. TODD.
I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And, while I meant to praise thee, must commend.
Ver. 51. I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And, while I meant to praise thee, must commend.] This is the true reading. Fenton, in his edition of Paradife Loft in 1725, thought proper to transpose the rhymes; and he has been followed by Tonfon's editions of 1727, 1730, 1738, and 1746. The errour is adopted alfo in Vernor's edition of 1789, and in Wilkins's of 1794. A Dublin edition of 1748, and an Edinburgh edition of 1779, read the fame.
It has been ingeniously observed, that Marvell very artfully here shows us the inconvenience of rhyme, in telling us that he defigned to praise Milton, but now can do no more than commend him; because he is tied down by the rhyme, and only the worst of these two words will anfwer to offend. See Preface to “Sighs on the death of Queen Anne, in imitation of Milton, Lond. 1719," 8vo. p. xiv. TODD.
To Mr. John Milton, on his Poem entitled Paradife Loft*.
O THOU! the wonder of the prefent age, age immers'd in luxury and vice;
Thefe verfes by F. C. are prefixed to Milton's poetical works in the Edition of the English poets, 1779. They had before appeared in Fawkes and Woty's Poetical Calendar, 1763, vol. viii. 69. But we are not told who F. C. was. As I have not yet met with thefe verfes in any other publication, I may be permitted to offer a conjecture that Francis Cradock, a member of the Rota-Club to which Milton belonged, might be the author of them. See Wood's Ath. Ox. vol. ii. 591. TODD.
A race of triflers; who can relish nought
But the gay iffue of an idle brain:
How couldst thou hope to please this tinfel race?-
F. C. 1680.
Ver. 9. The expreffions, in this line, occur in one of Conftable's Sonnets. See vol. vi. p. 440 of this edition :
"The pen wherewith thou doft fo heauenly finge, "Made of a quill pluckt from an Angells winge." So, in Davies's Bien Venu, 1606.
"But poet's pens, pluckt from Archangels' wings." TODD
* THREE Poets, in three diftant ages born,
* This celebrated Epigram of Milton appears under the wellengraved head of the poet by R. White, prefixed to the folio edition of Paradife Loft in 1688. It has been thus published in many fucceeding editions of the fame poem. Dryden, I should add, is a fubfcriber to the edition of 1688. The obligations of Dryden to others, in refpect to the formation and turn of this epigram, are noticed in vol. vii. p. 162 of this edition. TODD.
From an Account of the greatest English Poets.
BUT MILTON next, with high and haughty ftalks,
Nor earth's wide fcene confine his hallow'd rage.
Shakes. Heaven's eternal throne with dire alarms,