« PreviousContinue »
Prefatory Remarks, by the Present Editor
Cursory Observations, by the Present
Editor, on the Invention of Printing. lxxxiii
Preface to the Edition in 1772......
A List of the Editions of the AREOPA-
GITICA, known to the Editor, which
have been published separately from
MILTON begins a letter to a learned Athenian with informing him, that from boyhood he had been devoutly attached to the study ⚫ of every circumstance connected with Greece, and above all with Athens*. That this was not a cold nor barren admiration of Grecian laws and usages is proved by the eagerness which he manifested to transplant them into his native country. Warmed with this fair idea, and as a step toward realizing it, he availed himself of an opportunity to submit to the ruling authorities, whether they should not refine our own high tides and "solemn festivals," so as to render them instrumental to purposes of general improvement, and one mean for conveying instruction to the public. This refinement was to have for its model the Panathenæa, and other stated celebrations among the
* "Cum sim à pueritia totius Græci nominis, tuarúmque in primis Athenarum cultor," &c. Leonardo Philara.
Greeks. He had learnt the memorable efficacy with which Panegyries, or festal conventions of the citizens, had co-operated with their popular form of Government on the ingenious and illuminated inhabitants of Attica in the formation of the Athenian character; he therefore allowed to his fancy somewhat more than an imaginary range, when he intimated a wish to occupy by festive observances of a similar description the anniversary intervals our ancestors gave up to pleasurable relaxation, and thus to turn their festivities and diversions to moral advantage. It was in the exordial Section to the second Book on Church Government, that he pointed out to those who then guided the public councels this course for the improvement of the occasion which offered itself.
Since all his Biographers have either overlooked or disregarded this intellectual feature, I will extract the entire passage. We gain from it an insight of the curious plans for national amelioration to which he at one time resigned his imagination: "Because "the Spirit of Man cannot demean itself lively in this body without some recreating