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full mastery of his own. He would have wanted little help from books , even if he had retained the power of perusing them. » The progress he made in this admirable composition must have been remarked by those with whom he lived in habits of intimacy; for when he had treasured up in his memory as many lines at it could retain, he was under the necessity of employing whatever friend might be casually with him, to commit them to paper not having , for part of the time, a regular amanuensis. This laid the foundation for many remarks and reports. Mr. Philips, who had perasul of the manuscript for some years previous to its publication, observes, that his poetic vein never happily flowed but from the autumnal equinox to the vernal ; and that whatever he attempted at other times was never to his satisfaction, though he courted his fancy ever so much ; so that, in all the years le was about this poem, he may be said to have spent but half his time thereon.

Richardson, who seems to have been very particular in his inquiries into the peculiarities of Milton, relates, that he would sometimes lie awake whole nights, but not a verse could he make; and on a sudden his poetical faculty would rush upon him with irresistible impetuosity, and his daughter was immediately called to secure his ideas. At other times he would dictate perhaps forty lines in succession, and then reduce them to half the number. It appears, from his own account, that he composed great part of his poem in the pight and morning , seasons when the mind is free from the ordinary occupations of life; and that he poured out with great fluency his « unpremeditated verse. » Upon this Dr. Johnson observes, that versification, free, like his , from the distress of rhyme,

dagnata l'ultima perfezione della sua nativa.-Poco bisogno avrebbe avuto di libri ancorchè avesse ritenuta la facoltà di leggerli.

· Il progresso da lui fatto in questo ammirabile componimento dovette essere notato da coloro co’quali egli usò come amici famigliarissimi; poichè quando avea arricchita la sua memoria di quanti più versi putea ritenere, era costretto di adoperare un qualche amico che a caso fosse con lui per iscriverli in carta , non avendo a cagione del tempo regolare amanuense. Ciò posto si ha il fondamento di molte osservazioni e relazioni. Il sig. Philips che lesse il manoscritto qualche anni innanzi al pubblicarsi, nota che questa vena poetica non fluiva mai felicemente tranne dall' equinozio di autunno a quello di primavera; e che quanto egli tentava in altri tempi non lo soddisfaceva mai, benchè sollecitasse sempre del pari la sua fantasia; così che di tutti gli anni che egli fu attorno a questo poema, debba dirsi che solo ve ne occupò la metà.

Richardson che pare sia stato assai minuto nelle sue disquisizioni sulle particolarità di Milton, riferisce che

egli talora giacea molte notti insonni ma non gli veniva fatto di comporre neanco un verso; e tutto all'improvviso versava sopra di lui la sua facoltà poetica con tale un impeto irresistibile che sua figlia era tostamente chiamata ad assicurarne le idee. Altra volta avrebbe forse dettate quaranta linee successive; e allora riducevane a metà il numero, • Dal suo proprio calcolo ap: parisce che egli compose gran parte del suo poema la notte e la mattina, tempi ne' quali lo spirito è libero e sciolto dalle volgari occupazioni della vita ; e che con facile vena versava il suo « non meditato carme. » Su questo argomento avverte il D. Johnson che un verseggiare libero come questo dalle pasfoie della rinia, in

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must, by a work so long, be made prompt and habitual; and when his thoughts were once adjusted the words would come at his command.

The incomparable work of « Paradise Lost, » was finished in 1665, at Chalfont, in Bucks, where the author had retired from the plague, which raged at that time in London. Mr. Elwood, a quaker, and friend of Milton, havin perused the copy, said to him, « Thou hast said a great deal upon « Paradise Lost; » what hast thou to say upon « Paradise Found? » a circumstance that induced the author to undertake his poem of « Paradise Regained. »

When the infection had ceased in London, our author left his country residence, and in 1667 sold the copy of his poem to Samuel Simmons, for the small sum of five pounds in hand, five pounds more when thirteen hundred copies should be sold of the first edition, and the same sum for the second and third editions at the time of their publication. The three editions were to be limited to fifteen hundred copies each. Pursuant to this agreement, Milton received in all fifteen pounds; and his widow, to whom the copy was to devolve, sold all her claim for eight. Such was the first reception of a work that stands in a rank of pre-eminence to all the efforts in the English language; and can boast equality with, if not superiority to, the productions of those much admired bards of the ancient , Homer and

Virgil. )

Many inquiries have been made, and conjectures offered, respecting the slow progress of this unparalleled poem, both in sale and reputation. That it was not received with universal approbation in the reign of Charles II. and his brother James II. may be justly imputed to political prejudice. The courtiers, who indulged in the sunshine of the favour of the monarchis, could not

opera così lunga doveva essere divenuto pronto e naturale; e quando egli una volta aveva ordinati i suoi pensieri, le parole doveano giù scorrere a sua voglia.

L'impareggiabile lavoro del = Paradiso Perduto = fu compito nel 1665, a Chalfout in Bucks, dove l'aul'autore erasi ritirato per la peste che a que' dì imperversava in Londra. Il sig. Elwood, quaquero e amico di Milton lettane la copia gli disse: « Tu hai dette gran dovizie sul paradiso perduto; quante hai tu a dirne sul paradiso trovato? › Circostanza che indusse l'autore a imprendere il suo poema del paradiso riacquistalo.

Come cessò la pestilenza in Londra , il nostro autore lasciò la sua patria residenza, e nel 1667 vendè il manoscritto del suo poema a Samuele Simmons per la poca somma di cinque lire sterline contanti, più cinque quando sarebbono state vendute mille e trecento copie della prima edizione, e la medesima somma per la seconda e per la terza edizione al tempo di loro pubblicazione. Le tre edizioni erano limitate a mille cinquecento caduna. Continuandosi in questi patti, Milton riceve in tutto quindici lire sterline; e la sua vedova a cui fu devoluto il manoscritto, vende ogni suo diritto per otto. Tal fu il primo accoglimento di un'opera che sta in ordine di preminenza a tutti gli sforzi della lingua inglese, e può vantarsi eguale , se non superiore, alle produzioni di quei cosi maravigliati poeti degli antichi Omero e Virgilio.

Furono fatte molte disanime e poste conghietture rispetto al lento propagarsi di questo inarrivabile poema, e nella vendita e nella stima. Che ei non fu accolto con universale approvazione nel regno di Carlo II, e suo fratello Giacomo II. debbe essere attribuito a politici pregiudizi. I cortigiani che concedeansi agli splendori della grazia di que' monarchi, non poteano per

be supposed to have patronized a man who had eserted such superior talents to effect the downfal of monarchy, end shake the pillars of priestcraft. Besides, in those days, reading had not become a general amusement; and very few, indeed, but persons of the first rank, had attained to a degree of erudition competent to judge the merits of so learned and sublime a work. The professors of literature were as learned as those of any other time; but there were very few persons of the middle class who read for amusement or instruction, in comparison with the numerous readers of the various productions of the present age. These we apprehend are very cogent reasons for the tardy progress of this great work at that time; and to enforce them it may be observed, that when the glorious Revolution took place, and liberty and learning triumplied over despotism and ignorance, the excellencies of « Paradise Lost, » blazed in their meridian lustre, and the reputation and sale of it proportionally advanced.

After the publication of « Paradise Lost, » the author continued the pursuit of his studies, and supplied the want of sight by the very odd expedient, his making daughters read to him; but he excused his eldest, in consequence of her bodily infirmity, and difficult utterance of speech; the two others were condemned to the performance of reading and exactly pronouncing all the languages of whatever book he should think proper to peruse, viz, the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin, the Italian, Spanish, and French; all which to be confined to read, without understanding one word, might be supposed a trial of patience beyond endurance. Yet it was endured by both for a long-time; thought he irksomeness of this employment could not be always concealed, but sometimes broke out into expressions of uneasiness.

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