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“Illi, cujus animi dotes corporisque sensus ad admirationem commovent, et per ipsam motum cuique auferunt; cujus opera ad plausus horantur, sed venustate vocem laudatoribus adimunt.
“ Cui in memoria totus orbis ; in intellectu sapientia; in voluntate ardor gloriæ ; in ore eloquentia; harmonicos cælestium sphærarum sonitus astronomia duce audienti; characteres mirabilium naturæ per quos Dei magnitudo describitur magistra philosophia legenti; antiquitatum latebras, vetustatis excidia, eruditionis ambages, comite assidua autorum lectione,
Exquirenti, restauranti, percurrenti.
At cur nitor in arduum ? “ Illi in cujus virtutibus evulgandis ora Famæ non sufficiant, nec hominum stupor in laudandis satis est, reverentiæ et amoris ergo hoc ejus meritis debitum admirationis tributum offert Carolus Datus, Patricius Florentinus,
TANTO HOMINI SERVUS, TANTÆ VIRTUTIS AMATOR."
In 1667, Milton published in small quarto, without preface or introduction, “ Paradise Lost.” The copy-right contract of the Poet with the bookseller Simmons, who purchased the manuscript poem, is now in the possession of Mr. Pickering, who we believe obtained it through the representatives of the Tonson family. As this classical and interesting relic has for a century and half eluded the research of the biographer and bibliographer, we insert it, correctly copied from the original: “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, witness That the said John Milton in consideration of five pounds to him now paid by the said Samuel Symons, and other the consideracons herein mentioned, hath given, granted, and assigned, and by these prats doth give, grant and assign unto the said Sam“ Symonds, his executors and assignes, All that Booke, Copy, or Manu. script of a Poem intituled Paradise Lost, or by whatsoever other title or name the same is or shall be called or distinguished, now lately licensed to be printed, together wth the full benefitt, profit, and advantage thereof, or whch shall or may arise thereby. And the said John Milton for him, his ex" and adm", 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 Jolin Milton, his ex" or ass', or any person or persons by his or their consent or privity. And that he the said John Milton, his ex" or adm" 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 exưs or asss: in consideracon whereof the said Same Symons for him, his ex”, and adm" doth covenant with the said John Milton, his ex" and ass well and truly to pay unto the said John Milton, his ex" and adm" the sum of five pounds of lawful english money at the end of the first impression, which the said Sam" Symons, his ex", or ads 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 book 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 manuscript, a peice. And further, that he the said Samuel Symons, and his ex”, adm", and ass 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 to 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.
John Milton. (Seal.) Sealed and delivered in John Fisher. the presence of us, Benjamin Greene, servito Mr. Milton."
The original title-page of 1677 is extremely rare, and it is conjectured that a very partial sale only of the impression with that title-page was effected. In the two following years we find the same sheets or edition with other titles of varying dates, and with the imprint of different booksellers and venders. We have noticed five distinct title-pages to the first edition, the dates of which are recorded before this article. To the third title-page, in 1668, the address of the Printer to the Reader, and the arguments of each book, were added ; and it would appear from the increased number of booksellers, (of Westminster, Temple Bar, and the City) that the more rapid sale of the edition was the immediate cause and object of the new titles.
“ 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.
6 S. Sinimons.”
} Benjahish Greene, serv* to Mr. Milton..
Then follows the “reason,” evidently “ procured” from Milton.
" 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, bindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, then 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 to 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."
Fifteen hundred copies were probably printed of this first edition of Paradise Lost, but we have no correct accountof the periods of sale. A critical and careful collation of the copies, under these title-pages of different dates, will discover several variations in punctuation, orthography, and parsing, and sometimes à change of words of one syllable. These alterations were probably made in the course of the press-work, which might have been stopped for revision and the insertion of 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. Indeed, we have seen a copy of the fifth title-page (1669), in which the two last leaves of the poem had been evidently reprinted.
From some of the copies of this last title, which we have noticed as wanting the subsequent address of the Printer to the Reader, and from the fact of the arguments being reprinted, it is a fair presumption that the whole impression was ultimately sold, and that these last copies were the remnant sheets, which also met with a ready sale.
In 1671, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes wete first published. This noble and comparatively neglected Epic appeared in the same simple and unpretending form as Paradise Lost, without preface or argument. On the fly-leaf appears the profane imprimatur of the Political Censor, “Lic censed, July 2. 1670." Samson Agonistes has a separate title and paging -- "Samson Agonistes, A Dramatic Poem. The author John Milton :" in the title-page is the following Greek motto:
Τραγωδια μιμησις πραξεως σπουδαιας, &c. TRAGEDIA EST IMITATIO ACTIONIS SERIÆ, ETC. MISERICORDIAM ET METUM PERFICIENS TALIUM AFFECTUUM LUSTRATIONEM.
Aristot. Poet. cap. 6." ,
Then follows the brief and beautiful introductory essay:
“ OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM
WHICH IS CALLED TRAGEDY. “ Tragedy, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, or terrour, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion : for so in physic things of melancholic hue and quality are used against melancholy, sour against sour, salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the text of Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33; and Paræus commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole book as a tragedy, into acts distinguished each by a chorus of heavenly harpings and song between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have laboured not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, than before of his attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæsar also had begun his Ajax ; but, unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinished. Seneca the philosopher is by some thought the author of those tragedies (at least the best of them) that go under that name.
Gregory Nazianzen, a father of the church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a tragedy, which is entitled Christ Suffering. This is mentioned to vindicate tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common interludes; happen, ing through the poets errour of intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath been counted absurd ; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an epistle; in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much before hand may be
epistled ; that chorus is here introduced after the Greek manner, not ancient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the ancients and Italians are rather followed, as of much more authority and fame.The measure of verse used in the chorus is of all sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe or Epod, which were a kind of stanzas framed only for the music, then used with the chorus that sung: not essential to the poem, and therefore not material; or being divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be called Allæostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
“It suffices if the whole drama be found not produced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and uniformity, and that commonly called the plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such economy or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum ; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic poets unequalled yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write tragedy. The circumscription of time, wherein the whole drama begins and ends, is according to ancient rule, and best example, within the space of twenty-four hours."
In a former article, on the autobiography of Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker, we have extracted the interesting anecdote concerning the origin and titling of Paradise Regained, which appears to owe its existence to the literary suggestion of that singular and amiable member of the Society of Friends.*
In 1673, the second edition, in small octavo, of the Minor Poems was published, and under the name of a different publisher, “Thomas Dring.” To the English poems in this edition were first added-1. Ode on the Death of a Fair Infant. 2. At, a Vacation Exercise in the College. 3. On the New Forcers of Conscience under the Long Parliament. 4. Horace to Pyrrha. 5. Nine Sonnets. 6. All the English Psalms. - To the Latin Poems — 1. Apologus de Rustico et Hero. 2. Ad Joannem Rousium. In this edition, printed under the author's own inspection, the dedication to Lord Bridgewater, prefixed by Lawes to the first edition of Comus, and reprinted in the Minor Poems of 1645, is omitted, although the earl was then living. This omission has been attributed to Milton's stern political principles, which were unwilling to own his early connexions with a family conspicuous for loyalty and in high court-favour with Charles II. The epistle from Sir Henry Wootton is also suppressed, the reason of which is involved in considerable obscurity, and is more especially singular, since Milton
See Retrospective Review, vol. xiii. p. 133. .