P  R  E  F  A  C  E,

By  Dr.   B  E  N  T  L  E  Y.

[1] 'Tis but common Justice, to let the Purchaser know what he is to expect in this new Edition of Paradise Lost.

[2] Our celebrated Author, when he compos'd this Poem, being obnoxious to the Government, poor, friendless, and what is worst of all, blind with a Gutta Serena, could only dictate his Verses to be writ by another. Whence it necessarily follows, That any Errors in Spelling, Pointing, nay even in whole Words of a like or near Sound in Pronunciation, are not to be charg'd upon the Poet, but on the Amanuensis.

[3] The Faults therefore in Orthography, Distinction by Points, and Capital Letters, all which swarm in the prior Editions, are here very carefully, and it's hop'd, judiciously corrected: though no mention is made in the Notes of that little but useful Improvement.

[4] Our Poet, in thousands of Places, melts down the Vowel at the end of a Word, if the following Word begins with a Vowel. This Poetical Liberty he took from the Greeks and Latins: but he followed not the former, who strike the Vowels quite out of the Text; but the latter, who retain them in the Line, though they are absorp'd in the Speaking; as,

Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens:

Which in the Greek way would be writ this;

Monstr' horrend' inform' ingens.

[5] In this Invention our Poet has shewn both his Judgment and Resolution; who durst do Right against Custom, having no body to precede him, nor any yet to follow him. By this, he in some measure amended the Hollowness and Emptiness of our English Verses, which in Cases of Nouns, and Moods and Tenses of Verbs must cram in of, to, from, &c. and have, will, may, &c. where Greek and Latin only change the last Syllable, as numeri, numero; legit, leget, legat: which generally makes one Latin Verse aequiponderant to two English: as, let any one try in a Translation of this in Virgil.

   Tuque ô, cui prima frementem
Fudit equum magno Tellus percussa tridenti.

But then this Excellency in Milton's Verse brought one Inconvenience with it, That his Numbers seem embarass'd to such Readers, as know not, or not readily know, where such Elision of Vowels is to take place. To remedy which, through this whole Edition such Vowels are mark'd by an Apostrophe; as II. 1021.

So He with difficulty' and labour hard
Mov'd on, with difficulty' and labour He.

As also, where he gives a Tone to some Words, different from the present Use; those are mark'd here with an Accent, as Aspéct, Obdúrate, Féalty &c.

[6] These small Improvements will be found in the present Text, which challenges to be the Truest and Correctest that has yet appear'd: not ONE Word being alter'd in it; but all the Conjectures, that attempt a Restoration of the Genuine Milton, cast into the Margin, and explain'd in the Notes. So that every Reader has his free Choice, whether he will accept or reject what is here offer'd him; and this without the least Disgust or Discontentment in the Offerer.

[7] But more Calamities, than are yet mention'd, have happen'd to our Poem: for the Friend or Acquaintance, whoever he was, to whom Milton committed his Copy and the Overseeing of the Press, did so vilely execute that Trust, that Paradise under his Ignorance and Audaciousness may be said to be twice lost. A poor Bookseller, then living near Aldersgate, purchas'd our Author's Copy for ten Pounds, and (if a Second Edition) follow'd) for five Pounds more: as appears by the original Bond, yet in being. This Bookseller, and that Acquaintance who seems to have been the sole Corrector of the Press, brought forth their First Edition, polluted with such monstrous Faults, as are beyond Example in any other printed Book. Such as among many Hundreds are these following:

Book Line    
I. 91 Into what pit for To what depth
  259 Not built No Butt
  590 Gesture Stature
  662 Understood Underhand
II. 352 An Oath A Nod
  517 Alchymie Orichalc
  683 Front Form
  801 Vex Hem
III. 96 Faithless Hapless
  131 First Fraud
  534 And his Eye As his Eyes
  664 Favour, him Favourite
IV. 293 Severe Serene
  555 Ev'n Heav'n
  879 Transgressions Transcursions
  945 Distances Discipline
V. 172 Thy greater Creator
  173 Eternal Diurnal
  215 Embraces Branches
  711 Eye He
VI. 162 Destruction Instruction
  332 Nectarous Ichorous
  356 Ensigns Onset
  513 Subtle Art Sooty Chark
VII. 15 Thy temp'ring Thee tempting
  160 Chang'd Chain'd
  363 Longitude Long Career
  451 Fowl Soul
VIII. 158 Light Nought
  417 In degree Indigent
  559 Loveliest Forehead
  591 Is judicious Unlibidinous
IX. 5 Venial Mensal
  318 Domestic Pathetic
  458 Angelic Adamic
  815 Forbidder safe Forbidder's Eye
X. 329 Rose Rode
  647 To the Ages Out of Ashes
  728 Eat or drink Act or think
  805 Dust Just
XI. 51 Gross Dross
  212 Fear Film
  276 Tender Tending
  299 Wound Stound
XII. 53 Spirit Speech
  177 Fill Foul
  554 End Extent
  601 For Come.

[8] But these Typographical Faults, occasion'd by the Negligence of this Acquaintance, (if all may be imputed to That, and not several wilfully made) were not the worst Blemishes brought upon our Poem. For, this suppos'd Friend, (call'd in these Notes the Editor) knowing Milton's bad Circumstances, who, VII.26,

Was faln on evil days and evil tongues,
Darkness and with Dangers compass'd round

thought he had a fit Opportunity to foist into the Book several of his own Verses, without the blind Poet's Discovery. This Trick has been too frequently plaid; but especially in Works publish'd after an Author's Death. And poor Milton in that Condition, with Three-score Years Weight upon his Shoulders, might be reckoned more than half Dead. See Instances of such spurious Verses; which the Poet, had he known of them, vel furcâ ejecisset, would have thrown out with a fork; I. 197, 251, 306, 357, 486, 575, 580, 717, 763. II. 530, 609, 635, 659, 670, 1019, 1023. III. 35, 381, 444,535, 574, 597. IV. 250, 256, 267, 294, 323, 499, 705, 714, 983. V. 261, 269, 285, 378, 395, 415, 458, 648. VI. 574, 826. VII. 391, 463, 481, 490. VIII. 24, 575, 628. IX. 15, 77, 167, 386, 439, 504, 522, 1058. X. 16, 524, 559, 578, 731, 818, 840. XI. 8, 130, 387.

[9] And yet a further Misfortune befell this noble Poem, which must be laid to the Author's Charge, though he may fairly plead Not Guilty; and had he had his Eye-sight, he would have prevented all Complaints. There are some Inconsistencies in the System and Plan of his Poem, for want of his Revisal of the Whole before its Publication. These are all first discover'd in this Edition; as I. 39, 170, 326. II. 78, 456, 969, 997, 1001, 1052. III. 556. IV. 177, 381. V. 176, 200. VI. 55. X. 601. But though the Printer's Faults are corrigible by retrieving the Poet's own Words, not from a Manuscript, (for none exists) but by Sagacity, and happy Conjecture: and though the Editor's Interpolations are detected by their own Silliness and Unfitness; and easily cured by printing them in the Italic Letter, and inclosing them between two Hooks; yet Milton's own Slips and Inadvertencies cannot be redress'd without a Change both of the Words and Sense. Such Changes are here suggested, but not obtruded, to the Reader: they are generally in this Stil; It M A Y be adjusted thus; Among several ways of Change this M A Y be one. And if any Person will substitute better, he will deserve every Reader's Thanks: though, it's hoped, even These will not be found absurd, or disagreeing from the Miltonian Character:

     Sunt & mihi carmina; me quoque dicunt
Vatem pastores: sed non ego credulus illis.

[10] Upon the View of what has here been said, such Reflexions, as these following, must necessarily arise in an attentive Reader.

[11] First, he'll be thoroughly convinc'd, That the Proof-sheets of the First Edition were never read to Milton: who, unless he was as deaf as blind, could not possibly let pass such gross and palpable Faults. Nay, the Edition, when publish'd, was never read to him in seven Years time. The First came out in 1667, and a Second in 1674; in which all the Faults of the Former are continued, with the Addition of some New ones.

[12] If any one fancy this Persona of an Editor to be a mere Fantom, a Fiction, an Artifice to skreen Milton himself; let him consider these four and sole Changes made in the second Edition, I. 505. V. 638. XI. 485, 551. These are prov'd here in the Notes, every one of them to be manifestly for the worse. And whoever allows them to be worse, and yet will contend that they are the Poet's own, betrays his Ill Judgment, as well as Ill Nature. But now if the Editor durst insert his Forgeries, even in the second Edition, when the Poem and its Author had slowly grown to a vast Reputation; what durst he not do in the First, under the Poet's Poverty, Infamy, and an universal Odium from the Royal and triumphant Party? Add to this a farther Confirmation; That when Milton afterwards publish'd his Paradise Regain'd and Samson Agonistes; that Edition is without Faults; because He was then in high Credit, and had chang'd his old Printer and Supervisor.

[13] There's another Reflexion, which the Reader must needs make. What a wonderful Performance, will he say, was this Paradise Lost? that under all these Disadvantages could gradually arise and soar to a national Applause and Admiration? How many Thousands would depress and vilify the Poem, out of Hatred and Detestation of the Poet; who they thought deserv'd Hanging on a Gibbet? What native, unextinguishable Beauty must be impress'd and instincted through the Whole, which the Defoedation of so many Parts by a bad Printer and a worse Editor could not hinder from shining forth? It seems to have been in the Condition of Terence's beautiful Virgin, who in spite of Neglect, Sorrow, and beggarly Habit, did yet appear so very Amiable:

     Virgo pulchra: &, quo magis diceres,
Nihil aderat adjumenti ad pulchritudinem:
Capillus passus, nudus pes, ipsa horrida,
Lacrima, vestitus turpis: ut, ni  V I S   B O N I
In ipsa inesset Forma, hæc Formam extinguerent.

But I wonder not so much at the Poem it self, though worthy of all Wonder; as that the Author could so abstract his Thoughts from his own Troubles, as to be able to make it; that confin'd in a narrow and to Him a dark Chamber, surrounded with Cares and Fears, he could spatiate at large through the Compass of the whole Universe, and through all Heaven beyond it; could survey all Periods of Time from before the Creation to the Consummation of all Things. This Theory, no doubt, was a great Solace to him in his Affliction; but it shews in him a greater Strength of Spirit, that made him capable of such a Solace. And it would almost seem to me to be peculiar to Him; had not Experience by others taught me, That there is that Power in the Human Mind, supported with Innocence and Conscia virtus; that can make it quite shake off all outward Uneasiness, and involve it self secure and pleas'd in its own Integrity and Entertainment.

[14] Nor can the Reader miss another Reflexion; How it could happen, that for above 60 Years time this Poem with such miserable Deformity by the Press, and not seldom flat Nonsense, could pass upon the whole Nation for a perfect, absolute, faultless Composition: The best Pens in the Kingdom contending in its Praises, as eclipsing all modern Essays whatever; and rivaling, if not excelling, both Homer and Virgil. And it's likely, he'll resolve it into This Cause; That its Readers first accede to it, possess'd with Awe and Veneration from its universal Esteem; and have been deterr'd by That from trusting to their Judgments; and even in Places displeasing rather suspecting their own Capacity, than that any thing in the Book could possibly be amiss. Who durst oppose the universal Vogue? and risque his own Character, while he labour'd to exalt Milton's? I wonder rather, that it's done even now. Had these very Notes, been written forty Years ago; it would then have been Prudence to have suppress'd them, for fear of injuring one's rising Fortune. But now when Seventy Years jamdudum memorem monuerunt, and spoke loudly in my Ears,

Mitte leves spes & certamina divitiarum;

I made the Notes extempore, and put them to the Press as soon as made; without any Apprehension of growing leaner by Censures, or plumper by Commendations.