Milton - PR3550 D77 1777 M2

THE LIFE of MILTON. 419 logne, made loon after his return to England upon the death ofhis friend and fchoolfellow Deodati, he propofed the fame defign and the fame fubjeet, and declared his ambition of writing fomething in his native language, which might render his name illuftrious in thefe iflands, though he thould be obfcure and inglorious to the reft of the world. And in other parts of his 'works, after he had engaged in the controverfies of the times, he Hill promifed to produce fume noble poem or other at a fitter feafon ; but it doth not appear that he had then determined upon the fubje&, and King Arthur had another fate, being referved for the pen of Sir Richard Blackmore. The fill hint of Paradife Loft is fad to have been taken from an Italian tragedy, and it is certain that he &II defigned it a tragedy himfelf, and there are feveral plans of it in the form of a tragedy fill to be feen in the author's own manufcript preferved in the library of Trinity College Cambridge. And it is probable that he did not barely &etch out the plans, but alto wrote fume parts of the drama itfelf. His nephew Philips informs us, that fome of the verfes at the be- ginning of Satan's fpeech, addrelfed to the fun in the fourth book, were Chown to him and fume others as defigned for the beginning of the tragedy, feveral years before the poem was begun : and many other paffloges might be produced, which plainly appear to have been originally intended for the fcene, and are not fo properly of the epic, as of the tragic !train. It was not till after he was difengaged from the Salmafian controverfy, which ended in 1655, that he began to moli the Paradife Loft in its prefent form ; but after the Reftoration, when he was difrnifred from public bufinefs, and freed from contro- verfy of every kind, he profecuted the work with clofer application. Mr. Philips relates a very remarkable circumftance in the corn- pofure of this poem, which he Pays he had reafon to remember, as it was told him by Milton himfelf, that his vein never happily flowed but from the autumnal equinox to the vernal, and that what he at.. tempted at other times was not to his fatisfadion, tho' he courted his fancy never fo much. Mr. Toland imagines that Philips might be miftaken as to the time, becaufe our author, in his Latin elegy, writ- ten in his twentieth year, upon the approach of the fpring, feemeth to fay juft the contrary, as if he could not make any verfes to his fa- tirsfaaiost