The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/Addendum


In vol. XIV, p. 9, a note from Dr. Warton has been cited, which it may not be improper to controvert. To pass over an allusion to Milton's prose writings in vol. XVI, p. 182; he twice mentions "Paradise Lost" with commendation; vol. V, p. 251, and vol. XI, p. 439; but, what is still more to the purpose, in the late excellent edition of Milton's "Poetical Works," by the Rev. H. J. Todd, vol. II, p. 157, a note is given from the margin of Swift's copy of "Paradise Lost;" which having excited my curiosity, I have been favoured with the following extract of a letter addressed to Mr. Todd from J. C. Walker, esq., well known to the literary world by his Historical Memoir on Italian Tragedy, and several other ingenious publications: "I had once in my possession a book which might be of great use to you, a copy of the Paradise Lost, with marginal notes in the handwriting of the celebrated dean Swift, for the use of Mrs. Johnson and her friend Mrs. Dingley. But this book, which belonged to the late Mr. John Whiteway (whose name appears in Swift's will), is, I fear, lost, nor can I find an exact transcript which I made of these notes. It is true these notes were rather explanatory than critical; they served to justify Dr. Johnson's assertion, "that Stella had not much literature."

By the remarks already printed on bishop Burnet’s preface to the "History of the Reformation," vol. X. p. 308; on Gibbs's Psalms," vol. XVI, p. 359; and on "Mackay's Characters, vol. XVIII, p. 218; some idea may be formed of the value of his marginal notes. And it may not be unacceptable to the curious to be informed that in the library of the marquis of Lansdown is preserved the dean's copy of Herbert's History of Henry VIII, (which, it appears in vol. I, p. 24, he had in 1696-7 been reading with attention); and also his copy of bishop Burnet's "History of the Reformation."