In the mean while, till I am provoked to such Hostilities, I shall from time to time endeavour to do Justice to those who have distinguished themselves in the politer Parts of Learning, and to point out such Beauties in their Works as may have escaped the Observation of others.
As the first Place among our English Poets is due to Milton; and as I have drawn more Quotations out of him than from any other, I shall enter into a regular Criticism upon his Paradise Lost, which I shall publish every Saturday till I have given my Thoughts upon that Poem. I shall not however presume to impose upon others my own particular Judgment on this Author, but only deliver it as my private Opinion. Criticism is of a very large Extent, and every particular Master in this Art has his favourite Passages in an Author, which do not equally strike the best Judges. It will be sufficient for me if I discover many Beauties or Imperfections which others have not attended to, and I should be very glad to see any of our eminent Writers publish their Discoveries on the same Subject. In short, I would always be understood to write my Papers of Criticism in the Spirit which Horace has expressed in those two famous Lines;
—Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum,
If you have made any better Remarks of
your own, communicate them
with Candour; if not, make use of these I present you with.
[Footnote 1: [not to]]
[Footnote 2: [Aptness in them]]
[Footnote 3: [Fifteen images in waxwork, prepared for a procession on the 17th November, Queen Elizabeth’s birthday, had been seized under a Secretary of State’s warrant. Swift says, in his Journal to Stella, that the devil which was to have waited on the Pope was saved from burning because it was thought to resemble the Lord Treasurer.]
[Footnote 4: The Royal Society was incorporated in 1663 as the Royal Society of London for promoting Natural Knowledge. In the same year there was an abortive insurrection in the North against the infamy of Charles II.’s government.]
[Footnote 5: [Reasons]]
* * * * *
No. 263. Tuesday, January 1, 1712. Steele.