Milton - PR3550 D77 1777 M2

1r 420 THE LIFE of MILTON. tisfaetion till the fpring begun ; and he lays farther that a judicious friend of Milton's informed him, that he could never compofe well but in fpring and autumn. But Mr. Richardfon cannot comprehend, that either of thefe accounts is exaftly true, or that a man with fuch a work in his head can fufpend it for fix months together, or only for one ; it may go on more (lowly, but it mull go on and this lay. ing it afide is contrary to that eagernefs to finifh what was begun, which he fays was his temper in his epiftle to Deodati dated Sept. 2. 1637. After all Mr. Philips, who had the Perufal of the poem from the beginning, by twenty or thirty verfes at a time, as it was compofedi and having not been fhown any for a confiderable while as the fum- mer came on, inquired of the author the reafon of it, could hardly be miftaken with regard to the time : and it is eafy to conceive, that the poem might go on much more (lowly in fummer than in other parts of the year ; for notwithflanding all that poets may fay of the pleafures of that feafon, I imagine moll perfons find by expe- rience, that they can compofe better at any other time, with more facility and with more fpirit, than during the heat and languor of fummer. Whenever the poem was wrote, it was finifhed in 1665, and as Elwood fays was fhown to him that fame year at St. Giles Chalfont, whither Milton had retired to avoid the plague, and it was lent to him to perufe it, and give his judgment of it : and confidering the diffi- culties which the author lay under, his uneafinefs on account of the public affairs and his own, his age and infirmities, his gout and blindnefs, his not being in circumftances to maintain an amanuenfis, but obliged to make ufe of any hand that came next to write his verfes as he made them, it is really wonderful, that he fhould have the fpirit to undertake fuch a work, and much more, that he fhould ever bring it to perfeEtion. And after the poem was finifhed, (till new difficulties retarded the publication of it. It was in danger of being fuppreffed thro' the malice or ignorance of the licenfer, who/ took exception at fame paffages, and particularly at that noble fimile, in the llrft book, of the fan, in an eclipfe, in which he fancied that he