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"Sir, I have expressly sent this my footboy to prevent your departure without som acknowledgement from me of the receipt of your obliging letter, having myself through som busines, I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I shall understand you fixed, I shall be glad, and diligent to entertain you with home-novelties; even for som fomentation of our friendship, too soon interrupted in the cradle.”
In 1667, Milton published in small quarto, pp. 842, without Preface or Introduction, "Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books by John Milton. Licensed and entered according to order. London, printed and are to be sold by Peter Parker under Creed Church near Aldgate; and by Robert Boulter at the Turks head in Bishopsgate street; and Matthias Walker, under St. Dunstans Church in Fleet Street, 1667."-This early title-page is extremely rare, and it is conjectured that a very partial sale only of the impression, with that original title, could have been effected. The copyright contract of Milton with the bookseller Simmons, who purchased the manuscript poem, is now in the possession of Mr. Pickering, publisher of the present edition. The following is a correct copy of this classical and invaluable relict.
"Mr. Milton's Agreement with Mr. Symons, for Paradise Lost. dated 27th April, 1667."
"These Presents made the 27th day of Aprill 1667, between John Milton, gent. of the one part, and Samuel Symons, printer, of the other part, wittness That the said John Milton in consideration of five pounds to him now paid by the said Samuel Symons, and other the consideracóns herein mentioned, hath given, granted and assigned, and by these puts doth give, grant and assign unto the said Sam Symons, his executors, and assignes, All that Booke, Copy, or Manuscript of a Poem intituled Paradise Lost, or by whatBoever other title or name the same is or shall be called or distinguished, now lately licensed to be printed, together with the full benefitt, profit, and advantage thereof, or weh shall or may arise thereby. And the said John Milton for him, his exrs and adm's, doth covenant wth the said Sam Symons, his ex and ass that he and they shall at all times hereafter have, hold and enjoy the same and all Impressions thereof accordingly, without the lett or hindrance of him the said John Milton, his exrs or asss, or any person or persons by his or their consent or privity And that he the
said John Milton, his exrs or admr or any other by his or their meanes or consent, shall not print or cause to be printed, or sell, dispose or publish the said book or manuscript, or any other book or manuscript of the same tenor or subject, without the consent of the said Sam Symons, his exrs or asss: In concideracon whereof the said Samell Symons for him, his exrs, and admrs doth covenant with the said John Milton, his exrs, and asss well and truly to pay unto the said John Milton, his exrs, and admrs the sum of five ounds of lawfull english money at the end of the first Impression, which the said Sam Symons, his exrs, or ass shall make and publish of the said copy or manuscript, which impression shall be accounted to be ended when thirteen hundred books of the said whole copy or manuscript imprinted, shall be sold and retailed off to particular reading customers. And shall also pay other five pounds, unto the said John Milton, or his ass at the end of the second impression, to be accounted as aforesaid, And five pounds more at the end of the third impression, to be in like manner accounted. And that the said three first impressions shall not exceed fifteen hundred books or volumes of the said whole copy, or inanuscript, a peice. And further, that he the said Samuel Symons, and his exrs, admrs, and asss shall be ready to make oath before a Master in Chancery concerning his or their knowledge and belief of or concerning the truth of the disposing and selling the said books by retail, as aforesaid, whereby the said Mr. Milton is too be entitled to his said money from time to time, upon every reasonable request in that behalf, or in default thereof shall pay the said five pounds agreed to be paid upon every impression, as aforesaid, as if the same were due, and for and in lieu thereof. In witness whereof, the said parties have to this writing indented, interchangeably sett their hands and seales the day and yeare first above written.
Sealed and delivered in? JOHN FISHER. the presence of us,
JOHN MILTON. (Seal).
BENJAMIN GREENE, servt to Mr. Milton.
A copy of the first edition, with Milton's autograph, is in the possession of the publisher: in the fly leaf is the following Latin verse, which may have been intended by the poet as a motto to new edition
Quantos tunc gemitus ipsi sibi, quantaq. nobis
Volnera, quas lacrymas peperere minoribu' nostris !
Fifteen hundred copies were probably printed of this first edition of Paradise Lost, but we have no correct account of the periods of sale. Several new title-pages have been noticed by different collect
ors and critics, as appended to the original sheets during the first three years of publication. The title generally known to the bibliomaniacs, as the third title-page-viz. "Paradise Lost. A Poem in ten books. The Author John Milton. London. Printed by S. Simmons, and are to be sold by T. Helder at the Angel in Little Brittain 1669," has prefixed to the original sheets several new pages containing the argument, remarks on the metre, and a list of errata, preceded by the following short address.-"The Printer to the Reader. Courteous Reader, There was no Argument at first intended to the book, but for the satisfaction of many that have desired it, I have procur'd it, and withall a reason of that which stumbled many others, why the Poem rimes not. S. Simmons."— This "reason," evidently from the above passage, was the composition of Milton, which indeed the bold and terse spirit of it would alone sufficiently prove: as it is seldom prefixed to the editions of the Poems, we now insert it, literally extracted from the edition of 1669.
66 THE VERSE."
"The Measure is English Heroic Verse without Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac't indeed since by the use of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Custom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have exprest them. Not without cause, therefore, some both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime note, have rejected Rime both in longer and shorter Works, as have also, long since, our best English Tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious eares, triveal and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt Numbers, fit quantity of Syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one Verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoyded by the learned Ancients both in Poetry and all good Oratory. This neglect then of Rime, so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar Readers, that it rather is to be esteem'd an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover'd to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing."
In this brief and modest Introduction, was the great English Epic first made known to the public, as the vessel of discovery slowly weighs anchor and proudly sails from her native port to
circumnavigate the earth. Posterity was the pole-star in which Milton's ambition and expectations implicitly and solely trusted.
A critical and careful collation of the copies of Paradise Lost, under these title-pages of different dates, will discover several variations in punctuation, orthography, and paging, and sometimes a change of words of one syllable. These alterations were probably made in the course of the press work, which may have been stopped for new revised proofs, and to insert amendments occurring to the poet in the progress of the work through the press. His blindness preventing his visual correction of the proof-sheets might occasion repeated readings to him, and some sheets may have been cancelled.
In 1671, Milton again appeared before the public as a Poet in "Paradise Regain'd, a Poem in iv Books, to which is added Samson Agonistes. The author John Milton. London, Printed by J. M. for John Starkey at the Mitre in Fleet Street, near Temple Bar, MDCLXXI." Paradise Regained was published in the simple and unpretending form of Paradise Lost, without preface or argument. On the fly-leaf of this original octavo edition is printed
Licensed, July 2. 1670."-Samson Agonistes is preceded by the Argument, the Dramatis Personæ, and an Introduction of three pages on Tragedy.
Although in this Introduction to the present edition, a notice only of the original editions in the lifetime of Milton is intended. yet a passage in the singular autobiography of Thomas Ellwood the Quaker, under the date of 1665, is so interesting and little known, that its extract cannot fail to be acceptable. Ellwood had been an old pupil of Milton's, and occasionally reader to him. The follow ing is the passage referred to:
"Some little time before I went to Alesbury prison, I was desired by my quondam Master Milton, to take an house for him, in the neighborhood where I dwelt, that he might go out of the city, for the safety of himself and his family, the pestilence then growing hot in London. I took a pretty box for him in Giles-Chalfont, a mile from me; of which I gave him notice: and intended to have waited on him, and seen him well settled in it; but was prevented by that imprisonment.
"But now being released, and returned home, I soɔn made a visit to him, to welcome him into the country.
"After some common discourse had passed between us, he called for a manuscript of his; which being brought he delivered it to me, bidding me take it home with me, and read it at my leisure, and when I had so done, return it to him, with my judgment thereupon
"When I came home, and had set myself to read it, I found it was that excellent poem, which he entitled Paradise Lost. After I had, with the best attention, read it through, I made him another visit and returned him his book, with due acknowledgment of the favour he had done me, in communicating it to me. He asked me how I liked it, and what I thought of it; which I modestly but freely told him: and after some further discourse about it, I pleasantly said to him, Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost; but what hast thou to say of Paradise Found? He made me no answer, but sate some time in a muse: then brake off that discourse and fell upon another subject.
"After the sickness was over, and the city was cleansed and become safely habitable again, he returned thither. And when afterwards I went to wait on him there (which I seldom failed of doing, whenever my occasions drew me to London) he shewed me his second Poem, called Paradise Regained; 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. But from this digression I return to the family I then lived in."
In 1673, a second edition, in small octavo, of the Minor Poems was published-"Poems, &c. upon several occasions by Mr. John Milton. Both English and Latin, &c. composed at several times. With a small Tractate of Education to Mr. Hartlib. London. Printed for Tho. Dring at the White Lion next Chancery Lane End, in Fleet Street. 1673." To the English poems in this edition were first added,-I. Ode on the Death of a Fair Infant. II. At a Vacation Exercise in the College. III. On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament. IV. Horace to Fyrrha. V. Nine Sonnets. VI. All the English Psalms.-To the Latin Poems: I. Apologus de Rustico et Hero. II. Ad Joannem Rousium.-The epistle from Sir Henry Wootton is omitted.
In 1674, Paradise Lost was republished in twelve books-"The second edition, Revised & Augmented by the same Author. London, Printed by S. Simmons, &c. 1674," small octavo. A portrait by Dolle was prefixed to this edition, in which also first appeared the commendatory verses of Barrow and Marvel.
In the new subdivision and increase of the books in this second edition of Paradise Lost, Milton divided the seventh and tenth books into two each, the length of the original seventh and tenth books probably suggesting a pause in the narration. On this Lew distribution of the Poem, he added the following verses to the beginning of those books which are now the eighth and twelfth.