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attracting notice by advertisements were then very few; the means of proclaiming the publication of new books have been produced by that general literature which now pervades the nation through all its ranks."

In answer to what Johnson has advanced, let us ask in his own words, "Has the case been truly stated?" The century that was satisfied with but two editions of Shakspeare in forty-one years, called for three of Paradise Lost in ten, and three of Prince Arthur in two. "That Prince Arthur found readers," says Johnson, "is certain; for in two years it had three editions; a very uncommon instance of favourable reception, at a time when literary curiosity was yet confined to particular classes of the nation." But it was no uncommon instance, for the same age demanded edition after edition of Cowley, of Waller, of Flatman, and of Sprat. There was no paucity of readers: the sale of Paradise Lost was slow because it was not to the taste of the times: our very plays were in rhyme; and the public looked with wonder on Shakspeare when improved by Shadwell, Ravenscroft, and Tate. Dryden, who wrote when Cowley was in the full blaze of his reputation, and Milton neglected and unknown, lived long enough to see and tell of a distinct change in public opinion, and Milton stand where Cowley had stood.

That the sale of thirteen hundred copies of a three-shilling book in two years was an uncommon example of the prevalence of genius, Mr. Wordsworth was among the first to disprove. Yet so difficult is it to eradicate an error insinuatingly advanced by a popular author, that Jolinson's overthrown statement has been printed without contradiction in every edition of his Lives, and has found an additional stronghold for its perpetuity in the Works of Lord Byron. "Milton's politics kept him down," says Byron; "but the epigram of Dryden, and the very sale of his work, in proportion to the less reading time of its publication, prove him to have been honoured by his contemporaries.”

But Blackmore, who wrote when literary curiosity was yet confined, if we may believe Johnson, to particular classes of the nation, has told us in an acknowledged work that Paradise Lost lay many years unspoken of and entirely disregarded. No better testimony could possibly be wished for; and as the passage has hitherto passed without extract or allusion, we shall quote it at length "It must be acknowledged," says Sir Richard Blackmore," that till about forty years ago Great Britain was barren of critical learning, though fertile in excellent writers; and in particular had so little taste for epic Poetry, and were so unacquainted with the essential properties and peculiar beauties of it, that Paradise Lost, an admirable work of that kind, published by Mr. Milton, the great ornament of his age and country, lay many years unspoken of and entirely disregarded, till at

* Works, vol. v. p. 15.

length it happened that some persons of greater delicacy and judgment found out the merit of that excellent' poem, and by communicating their sentiments to their friends, propagated the esteem of the author, who soon acquired universal applause †."

To strengthen Blackmore in a position which is the very reverse of Johnson, there are other authorities and circumstances, less curious, it is true, but still of interest. "Never any poet," writes Dennis, "left a greater reputation behind him than Mr. Cowley, while Milton remained oband known but to fewt." "When Milton first published his famous poem," Swift writes to Sir Charles Wogan," the first edition was long going off; few either read, liked, or understood it, and it gained ground merely by its merit.”


But it had other assistance: "It was your lordship's encouraging," writes Hughes to Lord Somers," a beautiful edition of Paradise Lost that first brought that incomparable poem to be generally known and esteemed §." This was in 1688; and such, if we may judge the present by the past, was then the influence of Lord Somers, that in a dedication of Swift's Tale of a Tub to the same great man, the bookseller says with ill-concealed satisfaction and in a very grateful strain, "Your Lordship's name on the front, in capital letters, will at any time get off one edition." Whatever Somers did, the poem had made no great way till Philips published his Splendid Shilling, Addison his translation from Virgil, and his delightful papers in The Spectator, that seem to have written it into reputation.

True it is, we must add, that it had been called by Dryden in 1674, when its author was but newly in his grave, "one of the greatest, most noble, and most sublime poems, which either the age or nation has produced |;" that The State of Innocence was suggested by it; that Dryden, the most popular of living poets, and the great critic of our nation, had repeatedly published his high

approval, and, better still, had turned his glorious
epigram in its praise; nay more, that the Earl of
Roscommon, who was dead in 1684, had written in
Milton's measure and manner T¶. Yet Johnson
would have us believe that its admirers did not
dare to publish their opinions! But all were not
of his way of thinking; and Rymer, who was in
poetry what his name would denote, could speak
of it in 1678, as "that Paradise Lost of Milton's,
which some are pleased to call a poem **;"
Prior and Montague, of its author, in 1687, as "a

" and

+ Essays, 8vo. 1716.
Familiar Letters.

§ Spenser's Works, 12mo. 1715. Dedication.
Pr. Works by Malone, vol. ii. p. 397. In another
place (vol. ii. p. 403), he puts Milton on the same footing
with Homer, Virgil, and Tasso. This was in 1675.
See page 280 of this volume.
**Letter to Fleetwood Shepherd on the Tragedies of the
Last Age, p. 143.

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rough unhewn fellow, that a man must sweat to read him *."

This was the general feeling of the age; and the truth is, as Sir Walter Scott has observed †, that the coldness with which Milton's mighty epic was received upon the first publication, is traceable to the character of its author, so obnoxious for his share in the government of Cromwell, to the turn of the language, so different from that of the age, and the seriousness of a subject so discordant with its lively frivolities. A Christian poem, that should have found its greatest admirers and received its warmest advancement from the Established Church, met there with open and avowed opposition. Milton, hateful as he was to the churchmen for the violence of his political tenets,

*The Hind and the Panther Tranversed, &c. Bayes says after quoting a liquid line, "I writ this line for the ladies, I hate such a rough unhewn fellow as Milton," &c. t Misc. Pr. Works, vol. i. p. 141.

Was the daughter of Sir William Kingsmill of Sidmonton in the county of Southampton, maid of honour to the duchess of York, and wife to Heneage earl of Winchelsea. A collection of her poems was printed in 1713; several still remain unpublished.


encountered in the whole collected body of established clergy, that dislike which Sprat when Dean of Westminster professed to feel at the mention of his name,-a name too odious, as he said, to be engraven on the walls of a Christian church. What the clergy should have read, honoured, and encouraged for their cloth, if not for their conscience' sake, was left in the same disregarded state by the laity, who did not profess or wish for once to be wiser than those whose duty it was to direct their minds to good and holy books, and Milton worked his way against every obstacle slowly but surely. No poem ever appeared in an age less fitted or less inclined to read, like, or understand it than did Paradise Lost .



A NOCTURNAL REVERIE. In such a night, when every louder wind Is to its distant cavern safe confined; And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings, And lonely Philomel still waking sings; Or from some tree, famed for the owl's delight, She, hollowing clear, directs the wanderer right: In such a night, when passing clouds give place, Or thinly vail the heavens' mysterious face; When in some river, overhung with green, The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen; When freshen'd grass now bears itself upright, And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite, Whence springs the woodbine, and the bramble-rose, And where the sleepy cowslip shelter'd grows; Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes, Yet chequers still with red the dusky brakes; When scatter'd glow-worms, but in twilight fine, Show trivial beauties watch their hour to shine; Whilst Salisb'ry stands the test of every light, In perfect charms and perfect virtue bright: When odours which declined repelling day, Through temperate air uninterrupted stray; When darken'd groves their softest shadows wear, And falling waters we distinctly hear;

Yet Mr. Hallam is inclined to think that the sale was great for the time, and adds, "I have some few doubts, whether Paradise Lost, published eleven years since, would have met with a greater demand."-Lit. Hist. vol. iv. p. 427.

"It is remarkable," says Wordsworth, " that excepting the Nocturnal Reverie, and a passage or two in the Windsor Forest of Pope, the poetry of the period intervening between the publication of Paradise Lost and The Seasons does not contain a single new image of external nature."

When through the gloom more venerable shows Some ancient fabric, awful in repose;

While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale:
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing through th' adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace and lengthen'd shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear;
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village-walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their short-lived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures whilst tyrant man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,

And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charm'd,
Finding the elements of rage disarm'd,
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,

Joys in the inferior world and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain,

Till morning breaks, and all's confused again; Our cares, our toils, our clamours are renew'd, Or pleasures, seldom reach'd, again pursued.


*The Roman numerals refer to the Essay;-the Arabic figures, to the body of the Book.


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Robene and Makyne. Henrysone, 20.
Dowsabel. Drayton, 118.

On a Wedding. Sir J. Suckling, 181.
The Chronicle. Cowley, 234.
Colin's Complaint. Rowe, 334.
From the What-d'ye-call-it. Gay, 356.
Colin and Lucy. Tickell, 369.
Sally in our Alley. Carey, 453.
William and Margaret. Mallet, 464.
Sir Charles Bawden. Chatterton, 498.

May-Eve, or Kate of Aberdeen. Cunningham, 517.
Owen of Carron. Langhorne, 555.
Hosier's Ghost. Glover, 598.

BAMPFYLDE (John), Sonnets by, 639, 640.
Barbour (John), his Bruce, 17.
BARKLAY (Alexander), critical notice of, xlix.
Bateson's Madrigals, specimens from, 61.

Bath, public breakfast at, described. Anstey, 695-697.
Baucis and Philemon, a Tale.

Swift, 383.
BEATTIE (Dr. James), account of, 687.

Specimens of, 689-694.

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Cambyses's Army, destruction of. Darwin, 685.
Cambyses, Preston's Tragedy of, lviii.
Canace, death of. Lydgate, 15.
Canterbury Tales, Prologue to, 6.

Canzonet. Anon., 58.

Care, personification of. Tho. Sackville, 37.
CAREW (Thomas), notices of, lxxix, 153.
Specimens of, 154-157.

CAREY (Henry), Ballad by, 453.

CARTWRIGHT (William), notice of, lxxii, 183.

Specimens of, 183-185.

Castle of Indolence. Thomson, 403.

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Note upon, 238.

Line in imitated by Cowper, 675, note; his country-
loving spirit, 447.

COWPER (William), account of, 669-676.

Specimens of, 676-684.

Compared with Thomson, 402, 403.
His character of Thomson, 403, note.
I. H. Browne, 443, note.
Notes on Milton by, lxxx, lxxxi.
Of similes, lxxxvii, note.
Passage in his Homer, lxxxix, note.
CRASHAW (Richard), notice of, 198.

Specimen of his Poems, 198-200.
CRAWFURD (William), Songs by, 424.
Croker (J. W.), note on Dr. Young by, 387.

On the identity of Thales with Savage, 572.
Cromwell's Conspiracy, a Tragi-Comedy, extract from, 210.
Cuckoo, ode to. Logan, 604.
Cunningham (Allan), notes by, 345, 661, 663.

Life of Burns by, characterised, 643,
CUNNINGHAM (John), specimens of, 516.
Custom, influence of. Pomfret, 314.
Cymon and Iphigenia. Dryden, 310.

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DAVENANT (Sir William), notices of, lxxxiii, 239.
Specimens of Gondibert, 240-242.

Davie (Adam), an early English poet, notice of, xli.
DAVIES (Sir John), notice of, lxx, 100.
Specimen of his Poems, 100-102.
Critical remarks on them,
Davison's Rhapsody, specimen from, 58.
De Brunne. See MANNYNG.
DEKKER (Thomas), notice of, 160.

Specimens of his Poems, 160, 161.
DENHAM (Sir John), notice of, 242.

Specimens of his Poetry, 242-246.
Alterations in his Cooper's Hill, 244, note.
Influence of his numbers upon English versification,
Appendix A.

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