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The high reputation of Dr. Parr for learning and for talents cannot acquire a line of additional elevation from my panegyric; and when I aífirm that his virtues as a man are equal to his merits as a scholar and a writer, I say only what his friends know to be true and what his enemies have not the confidence to deny. I speak of him on this occasion only to gratify myself, and he must pardon my justifiable vanity-for
“ Nec Phæbo gratior ulla
Before I conclude, I must profess my thankfulness to the Reverend Doctor Disney, of the Hyde, for his very obliging communication of the fine drawing, which has supplied my work with its valuable frontispiece; and to the Reverend Mr. Matthews, Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, for the kindness with which he has enabled me to gratify the curiosity of my readers with a most curious fac-simile of Milton's hand-writing.
The drawing by Cipriani, from which my
frontispiece is engraved, is of a bust, in the possession of Dr. Disney, which was modelled from my author immediately after he had completed his “ Defence of the People of England ;” and the fac-simile is of the writing of that great man, in a volume of his poems, published in 1645, which he presented to Rouse, the librarian of the Bodleian, and which is now preserved in that grand repository of the literature of
MAY 11, 1809.
THE FIRST EDITION.
More than two years have now elapsed since the Editors of the prose works of Milton favoured me with an application for the life of the author. With the diffidence, proper to my conscious mediocrity of talents, but with the alacrity, inspired by the wish of illustrating a great and an injured character, I undertook, and soon sketched the rough draught of a large portion of the work. Unacquainted with the general progress of the publication, with which my biography was to be connected, I already looked forward to its early appearance, when it pleased the Almighty to visit me with an affliction of so much power as to oppress all my faculties, and, during a heavy interval of many successive months, to render me incapable of the slightest mental exertion. From this half
animated state I was at length roused by a sense of the duty which I owed to my engagements, and by the fear of having injured, with the consequences of my weakness, those interests which I had bound myself by promise to promote.
On the completion, however, of my work, I discovered, and not without some satisfaction, that my life of Milton was yet to wait for its associate volumes from the
consequently that I had contracted no obligations for indulgence either to the editors or the public. Of all the parties, indeed, engaged in the transaction I alone seemed to have experienced any essential change of situation in the interval between the expected and the actual period of the publication. Eighteen months ago I felt an interest in the scene around me of which I must never again hope to be sensible; and my pen, which now moves only in obedience to duty, was then quickened by the influences of fame. Eighteen months ago, like the man who visited the Rosicrusian tomb, I was surrounded with brilliant light: