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tions are hazarded; not a few are wildly licentious. But applying himself to Par. Lost, as he evidently did, with a mind intent on opportunities to substitute his own capricious readings, it surprised me that it should have escaped him, in the Poet's description of the verge which enclosed Eden, to propose mound for mould :
“ God had thrown
This is then that same “ verdurous wall of Para, “ dise" which he had previously described in this Book :
“ So on he fares, and to the border comes
Years ago, I had minuted this emendation on the margin, and now on consulting different Editions to see if this correction had not, from the exigency of the sentence, presented itself to any one before me, I find that Fenton silently printed mound (p. 96. Duodo 1725. Tonson.) in the text of his Edition ; on no further authority than his own persuasion of its propriety. But this reading however specious only affords another instance of the hazard inseparable from conjectural emendation ; as will perhaps appear by the sụcceeding extract from Harrison's Description of England, prefixed to Holingshed's Chronicle. Of Windsor : “ After “ him [Edward III] diverse of his successours “ have bestowed exceeding charges upon the same, “ which notwithstanding are farre surmounted by “ the Queenes majestie now living, who hath ap"pointed large summes of monie to be emploied
upon the ornature and alteration of the mould, “ according to the forme of building used in our « daies." I. 196.
By garden-mould, therefore, may we not conclude the Poet meant a sort of Terrace-walk, or much the same as Whitelock called mount-walks ? who on dismantling the Fort at Phillis Court says, he " threw in the breast works on two sides, and " made two even mount walks, the one on the side “ next to the Thames, the other on the North “ side.” Memorials ; p. 220. ed. 1732.
In alleviation of Bentley's failure, it ought to be remarked that the task was imposed on this preeminent Scholar in his declining years, from a quarter where to request is to command. He made this with justice his exculpation in his concluding comment: “ If I might presume, says an “ jngenious and celebrated writer [Addison), to " offer at the smallest alteration in this divine “ work; if to make one small alteration appeared “ to be so presumptuous; what censure must I
expect to incur, who have presumed to make so many?
But Jacta est alea ; et non injussa
« Πάρ' έμοιγε και άλλοι,
His allusion is, I apprehend, not understood by a great majority of Readers. The non injussa cecini, and this application to himself of Agamemnon's boast, corroborates the late Dr. Lort's anecdote, that it was at the instance of Queen Caroline that Bentley took on him the office of Commentator on Paradise Lost.
(Referred to in p. 81.)
Dionysius-had little need of such trash to spend his time on.] This Sicilian Sovereign made the Attic the Dialect of his Court, and corresponded with the Sages of Greece, or drew them round him, with much the same sort of predilection that Frederic of Prussia indulged toward the Es. prits forts of Paris, and the French Language. Plato's reception by the Tyrant of Syracuse, and his bickerings with him and his successour, form a counterpart to the heartless and hollow intimacy between the Prussian Monarch and Voltaire.
Our Authour reprehends the Grecian Philosopher sharply for recommending the writings of Aristophanes. I am apt to attribute this to a momentary forgetfulness; since the estimation they had obtained could not have altogether escaped his fond attentions to the History and Literature of the Greeks. The encomiastic Epigram which is attributed to Plato, furnishes a clue to the cause of his own extreme fondness for these Comedies :
Αι Χάριτες τέμενος τι λαβείν όπερ ουχί πεσείται,
“ The Graces, in quest of an imperishable shrine “ for themselves, found the Mind of Aristo
And the place at the Banquet assigned to the Dramatic Poet, as one of the superiour Guests, by the favoured Disciple of Socrates, decisively indicates the high rank in letters which he had attained among his countrymen.
One motive then with the Teacher of the Academy to make him desirous that his royal Scholar should read these Dramas, was to give him a knowlege of the master-pieces of Attic composition. MILTON must have overlooked their classical popularity. Why else before in this Tract should he have asserted that a “scurrilous vehemence"
” was all that St. Chrysostom could learn by baving these Plays nightly in hand ? or, why have we here a repetition of his censured in a tone too which shows he considered them merely as buffoonery;
“ trash” unworthy “ to spend time on.” Widely different was the judgment of Dionysius Halicarnassensis. He thought them deserving the regard of the Statesman and of the Philosopher. 'H oé γε κωμωδία ότι πολιτεύεται έν τούς δράμασι, και φιλοσοφεί, η των περί τον Κρατίνον, και 'Αριστοφάνην, και Εύπολιν, τι δει xou réveiv; “ What need is there also to mention,
λέγειν και “ that Comedy, such as that of Cratinus, Aristo.
phanes, and Eupolis, gives us lessons on Govern“ment, and philosophizes in its Plays ?” Texm Pojmofixa; p. 157. Lipsiæ. 1804. Neither is our Authour's condemnatory opinion less at variance with the delight Cicero took in a successful imitation of the Aristophanic manner; who writes to his Brother Quintus, “ Dedit mihi epistolam “ legendam tuam, quam paulo antè acceperat,
Aristophaneo modo, valde meherculè et suavem, “ et gravem : quâ sum admodum delectatus." Ad Frat. lib. 3. Epist. 1. Again; in his Treatise de Officiis, he tells his Son Marcus, “ Duplex omnino “ est jocandi genus: unum illiberale, petulans,
flagitiosum, obscenum; alterum elegans, urba
num, ingeniosum, facetum. Quo genere non “ modo Plautus noster, et Atticorum antiqua, “ Comedia, sed etiam philosophorum Socraticorum " libri reférti sunt. L. 1. c. 29. MILTON was, I apprehend, incited to this hasty and undistinguishing reprobation of these plays alike by their libertinism, and by the scandals cast in the Nepahan on the Grecian Oracle of moral Wisdom.