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Milton's writing upon grounds which were not unsuccessfully disputed, and were not held to be satisfactory by the late Mr. Sotheby in the volume which contains the result of his special research into the handwriting of Milton; Mr. Sotheby being hitherto the only man who has made the difficult subject of Milton's handwriting a special study. That the probabilities are very great indeed against the writing by any one else than Milton of a thoroughly Miltonic piece at the back of a printed leaf of Milton's first collection of his poems; this being done only two years after its first publication, before Milton's name had become a power. The improbability is enormously increased by the fact that this unknown second Milton must have had a name beginning with M. and a Christian name of which the initial, when faded and half obliterated, as it now is, bears, at least, a strong resemblance to a J. It is to be observed, too, that the denial of this letter to be a J, and declaration upon doubtful evidence of one small scratch that it must be a P, sets out from the presumption of a uniformity and freedom from occasional chance touches of the pen, which is not to be found in the known signatures of Milton, and is rare in the signature of any man. It is also not unworthy of notice that Mr. Bond finds in the line “ A vitall tincture still retain,” the word “still” to have been written over the word “yet.” This is a change more likely to have been made by an author copying his own lines than by a mere transcriber. And whoever may be the transcriber of this Epitaph, the author of it is John Milton.
August 4, 1868.