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But this edition hath a peculiar right and title to Your Lordship’s patronage and protection, as it was undertaken chiefly at Your desire, and in some measure carried on at Your expense*, Your Lordship having generously contributed the copper platęs 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 laimented, when we can produce models in poetry superior to any or all the nations in Europe, that we should be deficient and inferior to several of them in the sister art of painting. : Milton was ever a favorite poet with Your Lordship. You confidered him always as a classic author in English, and were desirous to have him published as such : and * This is said of the First Edition in Quarto. though
though I cannot pretend to instruct Your Lordship to understand him better, or admire him more ; yet if I can make him more generally understood, and consequently more juftly admired, Your Lordship’s purpose and mine will be sufficiently anfwered. Your Lordship's taste has never been questioned ; and I should dread Your great abilities, if I did not love more Your candor and good-nature : and no wonder that You have so much a finer taste than other great men, as You are so much a finer writer, and if I may be allowed to mention it, in poetry as well as in prose. For the the state has not wholly engroffed Your time and attention ; at proper seasons and intervals You have also sacrificed to the Muses. 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 verses 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 seeing some of them, to conceive the spirit, and ease, and elegance and happiness, with which they are written. They, who remember the pieces by Lord Dorset, may have the best notion of them.
And if I may presume 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 sake of those principles of liberty which You have always professed. He would have rejoiced
in Your long, and glorious struggle in the cause of liberty, in the cause of Your country: and if all the good effects have not followed from it, which might have been expected, though it may not become me to say where the blame ought to be laid, yet it cannot misbecome me to say that it ought by no means to be laid, as it has been upon Your Lordship. It is not my business to give any offense, and I intend none. I abhor defamation, and I scorn as much to flatter Your Lordship or any man. But it may be said, I hope without offense, I am sure without flattery, that it is in Your Lordship’s power to set all these transactions in a clear light, and You have fufficient materials by You for this purpose, and have often been solicited by Your freinds to do it: but Your Lordship’s - A 4
answer always was, that you would leave it to Time and Truth to vindicate Your cha"racter. And the event has succeeded according to Your Lordship’s wisdom and forefight; prejudice is dying away; truth is gaining ground daily; and the more the truth is understood, the more it redounds to Your Lordship’s honor: and Your enemies themselves, and those who not knowing Your purposes will not allow You to have acted a wise, must yet be forced to acknowledge that You acted a most disinterested part. For it is very well known, that you were even courted to accept the place of the greatest power and confidence; or if You had foreseen any difficulty of maintaining Yourself in power, as that is a slippery and uncertain situation, You might have secured Yourself in the pos