« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
THOMAS LORD ERSKINE.'
MILTON, the least perhaps of all authors,
stands in need of a Patron. But a great part of your Lordship’s life has been spent in upholding the same manly and enlightened principles of freedom, which pervade the Prose Writings of the greatest of our Poets. Your Lordship’s own eloquence is marked by the same rapidity, fire, and splendour, which cha
racterize what may be called the forensic productions of Milton, and which now appear complete in English for the first time. From the sympathy of genius, you cannot withhold your admiration of the author. There is no one, to whom I can, with more propriety, inscribe this edition of his works.
I am, my Lord,
Most obedient humble Servant,
Bristol, Oct. 30, 1809.
· THE idea of this publication might probably not have been conceived, but for a hint by the reviewer of the late edition of Milton's Prose Works in the Annual. The precise words I cannot quote, as I have not the review by me, and as it is long since I read them ; but the idea sug
gested was, to convert the prose works also of our - great poet into a popular classic, by selecting his best pieces, that is, his political writings, and giving extracts from the rest, and to print the whole in a smaller and cheaper form. Finding it adviseable, from indisposition, to retire for a while to the country, and desirous of reading with attention the prose works of Milton, which I had not done before, but in part, I recollected also the hint I have alluded to, and resolved to proceed upon it.
The chief of Milton's prose works may be referred to three general divisions, according as they relate, 1. To Ecclesiastical Law; 2. To Matrimonial Law ; 3. To the Tenure of the
Magistrate. Two short pieces only, in the present collection are not strictly referable to either of these divisions: these are, Of Education, and Areopagitica. All the pieces which come under either of the above general heads, respectively, I have thought it most commodious to arrange together, whatever the dates either of their composition or publication ; so that they will now be read in saccession, as so many books of the same treatise.
The theological pieces, and those on divorce, have been considerably abridged ; Areopagitica a little; and Iconoclastes a good deal: the other pieces are entire; and the whole of the second volume is without any abridgment whatever. This volume contains the entire controversy of Milton with Salmasius and Morus, or More ; a controversy, which, (to use Milton's own words) made “ All Europe ring from side to side." Of * the quantity rejected from the pieces in the first volume I have spoken more particularly in the introduction,
In a few instances, I have given an abstract of a page or two, to preserve the connection; and have, now and then, inserted an adverb, or conjunction, to connect passages distant in plaće. All such abstracts and insertions will be found enclosed in brackets.
On my beginning to arrange these productions