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throughout these volumes of the proper poetic orthography; or the indiscriminate and unsystematic excision of the è, in the inflected tenses and the perfect participle of the verb. By this inconsiderate conduct of the Editor much mischief has been done; and if a page of his Milton were to be read according to the invariable rules of English pronunciation, the ear would be frequently outraged with barbarous sounds, occasioned by the erroneous shortening of the penultimate vowel, or the equally erroneous hardening of the penultimate consonant, when it happened to be c, or g. In the following lines for instance“ If thou beest he: but O! how fallen! how chang'd From him, who in the happy realms of light,
Cloth'd with transcendent brightness, didst outshine, &c." the g in “ chang’d” is hard as in clang or rang, and the o in cloth'd is short as in clot or plot.-- In these lines however the Editor has deviated from his usual practice by leaving the e of the inflexion in “ beest” and “ fallen," in the latter of which words it happens to be of very immaterial consequence. It is strange that a principle of poetic orthography which is so obvious, and has more than once been publicly explained, should yet not be followed: but if the editors of our poets are inflexibly bent on retaining their
mumpsimus, the evil is irremediable, and their perverse fancies must be indulged at the expence of principle and consistency. Mr. Todd in this instance is not more blameable than the multitude of his brother-editors; and I only lament that he should be involved in their common error.
As an editor of our great poet, he is certainly entitled to praise from the public; and he seems also to be a most estimable, candid and amiable man. He is indeed, if such a thing can be, too good-natured and benevolent; and his eulogy is lavished with so indiscriminate a hand as to be depreciated considerably in its currency. By his sentence, almost every writer on his subjectis excellent and admirable: in his pages Hayley is animated and--interesting and acute. My share of attention from him, though not of a size to oppress me with obligation, is sufficiently ample; and fully adequate to my claims. On some occasions, the Editor and I do not seem to understand each other. With the opportunity of correcting my error if he had made me sensible of it, I have suffered the note, (p. 372,) on the Bishop' of Landaff's crimination of Milton, to remain, in all its words, syllables, and letters, as it
1 See Todd's Life of Milton, 2d ed. p. 78, 79, 80.
was; and if it should not refute the worthy Prelate's 30th of January charge against my author, it will stand as the record of my own confused apprehension.
With respect to Mr. Warton's insufficiency as a critic, my opinion is formed on too large an acquaintance with that gentleman's productions ever to be retracted. When I censure him for his attack upon Pope, it is not the substance but the manner of the annotator's remark which excites my reprehension. I require not to be told that Pope gleaned poetic expression from every page in which it was to be found: but I may be allowed to resent a charge brought against the great bard of Twickenham for pilfering from an old poet, because he thought he could pilfer without being exposed to detection. Pope borrowed poetic phraseology from many of our old poets: but he borrowed it from Dryden, who was in every person's hand, more largely than from all our old poets together. He was too affluent and powerful to pilfer or to be in dread of detection : but, like his master, Dryden, before him, he took by the right of genius whatever he could appropriate to his own purposes; and the seizure was made under the full eye of the sun. If, during the life
m Id. p. 163.
time of the dreaded satirist Mr. Warton had expressed himself in the language which I have reprehended, it is probable that he would have obtained a place among the divers in Fleet-ditch; and instead of the muse, in whose arms his admirers now fancy that he reposes, would have been a successful rival of Smedley's, and strained to the oozy bosom of a mud-nymph. Mr. Warton's treatment of others is unquestionably not such as to make him the subject of any peculiar lenity. Tickell and Elijah Fenton, each of them in talents and general respectability of character at least his equal, experience his severity on innumerable occasions, and are always certain, whenever they occur to him, of being felled by his uninerciful buffets. He frequently supplies, as I have acknowledged, very
useful information: but in criticism he is uniformly unfortunate; and if every note of his, in which opinion and critical remark are hazarded, were to be erased from this variorum edition of Milton's poetry, the work would be improved by the circumstance. But with Mr. Todd and his literary community, the late Laureat is one of Apollo's assessors on the forked hill: and there let him remain for me,
and be the oracle of those who may chuso
to resort to him for inspiration, and gratefully to fumigate him with incense.
Of Mr. Todd, let me repeat that my opinion is highly favourable. His notes are commonly distinguished by their good sense; and his adduction of similar passages and expressions, though not always important, is generally successful and brought from rather an extensive circle of reading. As a commentator on Milton he occupies, after Patrick Hume, Pearce, and Newton, the very first place: and I wish that he had been satisfied with these three learned and ingenious men as his associates, and had rejected the trash which has been imposed on his facility by the gentlemen who write with ease, to mitigate the pains and penalties of idleness, or to indulge, in the only way open to them, the vanily of authorship.