Milton: With an Introduction and Notes (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Milton: With an Introduction and Notes

Johnson's Lives of the Poets were issued between 1779 and 1781. His original undertaking was merely to furnish short biographical prefaces to an edition of the poets from Cowley downwards, which in 1777 certain booksellers contemplated publishing. The task was one, says Macaulay (biography of Johnson), for which he was pie-eminently qualified. His knowledge of the literary history of England since the Restoration was unrivalled, That knowledge he had derived partly from books, and partly from sources which had long been closed; from old Grub Street traditions; from the talk of forgotten poetasters and pamphleteers who had long been lying in parish vaults; from the recollections of such men as Gilbert Walmesley, who had conversed with the wits of Button; Cibber, who had mutilated the plays of two generations of dramatists; Orrery, who had been ad mitted to the society of Swift° and Savage, who had dered services of no very honourable kind to Pope.

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