1711 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Supplement to Milton's Il Penseroso.

Miscellaneous Poems by Several Hands, Particularly the D[uke]of W[harton], Sir Samuel Garth, Dean S[wift], Mr. John Hughes, Mr. Thomson, Mrs. C[hanler]. [James Ralph, ed.]

John Hughes


This undated poem was posthumously printed in 1729. Almost alone among his contemporaries, John Hughes was fascinated by Milton's companion poems, which he imitated several times in a variety of forms.

Thomas Warton speculates that the verses may date from about 1711, when Richard Steele and the composer Thomas Clayton requested that Hughes arrange Dryden's Alexander's Feast for performance at the York Buildings: "The two projectors, we may probably suppose, were busy in examining collections of published poetry for words to be set to music, for their concerts; and stumbled in their search on one or both of Milton's two poems. These they requested Hughes, an old and skilful practitioner in that sort of business, to alter and adapt for musical composition. What he had done for Dryden, he might be desired to do for Milton. This seems to be the history of Hughes's supplemental lines" in Milton, Poems upon Several Occasions (1790) 94n.

Henry John Todd: "Hughes was a frequent and professed writer of cantatas, masks, operas, odes, and songs for music.... What he had done for Dryden [adapting Alexander's Feast], he might be desired to do for Milton. This seems to be the history of Hughes supplemental lines" Works of Milton (1826) 5:146-47.

C. H. Timperley: "John Hughes, poet, dramatic author, and essayist, was born at Marlborough, in Wiltshire, January 29, 1677, and died at London, Feb. 17 1720. He was the author of Damascus, a tragedy, which long kept possession of the stage. Several papers in the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian, were written by him" Encyclopaedia of Literary and Typographical Anecdote (1842) 2:595n.



"Till old Experience do attain,
To something like prophetick Strain."
There let Time's creeping Winter shed,
His hoary Snow around my Head;
And while I feel by fast Degrees,
My Sluggard Blood wax chill, and freeze,
Let Thought unveil to my fixt Eye
The Scenes of deep Eternity,
Till Life dissolving at the View,
I wake, and find those Visions true.

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