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 ‘I modestly but freely told him what I thought’ of Paradise Lost! What he told him remains a mystery. One would like to know more precisely what the first critical reader of that song ‘of Man's first disobedience’ thought of it. Fancy the young Quaker and blind Milton sitting, some pleasant afternoon of the autumn of that old year, in ‘the pretty box’ at Chalfont, the soft wind through the open window lifting the thin hair of the glorious old Poet! Backslidden England, plague-smitten, and accursed with her faithless Church and libertine King, knows little of poor ‘Master Milton,’ and takes small note of his Puritanic verse-making. Alone, with his humble friend, he sits there, conning over that poem which, he fondly hoped, the world, which had grown all dark and strange to the author, ‘would not willingly let die.’ The suggestion in respect to Paradise Found to which, as we have seen, ‘he made no answer, but sat some time in a muse,’ seems not to have been lost; for, ‘after the sickness was over,’ continues Ellwood, ‘and the city well cleansed, and become safely habitable again, he returned thither; and when afterwards I waited on him there, which I seldom failed of doing whenever my occasions drew me to London, he showed me his second poem, called Paradise Gained; and, in a pleasant tone, said to me, “ This is owing to you, for you put it into my head by the question you put to me at Chalfont, which before I had not thought of.” ’ Golden days were these for the young Latin reader, even if it be true, as we suspect, that he
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