Зображення сторінки

just previously, in his Defensio secunda Populi Anglicani, eulogised the letter for its peculiar elegance : “ Abeuntem, vir clarissimus Henricus Woottonus : qui ad Venetos orator Jacobi regis diu fuerat, et votis et præceptis eunti peregre sane utilissimis, eleganti epistolæ perscriptis, amicissime prosecuutus est." *

These omissions may, however, have been expedient from circumstances now unknown, and might indeed have originated in the generous and delicate motive of Milton's reluctance to publish the connexion of his early friends with a person of his then unpopular and republican character.

In 1674, the second edition of Paradise Lost was published in twelve books, and in the title-page is stated to be " Revised and augmented by the same Author.” In this edition first appeared the commendatory verses by Dr. Samuel Barrow and Andrew Marvel, which immediately follow the title-page; after which is inserted the short note on blank verse, and the argument preceding each book, instead of all the arguments continuously, as in the first edition before mentioned. In the new subdivision and increase of the books of 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 new distribution of the poem he added the following verses to the beginning of those books, which are now the eighth and twelfth :

Book viji. V. 1.
“ The angel ended, and in Adam's ear,

So charming left his voice, that he a while
Thought him still speaking; still stood fixed to hear:

Then, as new wak’d, thus gratefully reply’d.” The latter part of the verse was taken from the line in the first edition :

“ To whom thus Adam gratefully reply'd.”

* The Letter was restored to its proper place by Tonson, in his edition of Milton, 1705. It appears in the third edition of the Reliquia Wottoniana, p. 342. London. 1672, 8vo.; but not in the edit. 1657. We propose, in an early number, to give an elaborate article on the literary character and works of Sir Henry Wotton, whose patronage of literature and elegant accomplishments are by no means generally known or appreciated. This is the English Embassador who wrote the unpalatable but true definition of a Diplomatist in the German album—“ Legatus est vir bonus peregre missus ad mentiendum Reipublicæ causa,” which Walton' says Wotton would have interpreted, “An Ambassador is an honest man, sent to lie abroad for the good of his country."

Book xii. V. 1.
“ As one who in his journey bates at noon,

Though bent on speed: so here th' arch-angel paus'd,
Betwixt the world destroyed, and world restor'd;
If Adam aught perhaps might interpose:
Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes.”

Some few additions were also made to the Poem, the notice of which will interest the critical reader.

Book v. V. 637.
“ They eat, they drink, and with refection sweet

Are fill'd, before th' all-bounteous king,” &c. were thus enlarged in the second edition :

They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet
Quaff immortality, and joy, (secure
Of surfeit, where full measure only bounds
Excess) before th' all-bounteous king," &c.

Book xi. V. 484. after,
“ Intestine stone, and ulcer, cholic-pangs,

these three verses vere added :

“Dæmoniac phrenzy, moaping melancholy,
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy;
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence."

And ver. 551, of the same book (which was originally thus:

Of rend'ring up. Michael to him reply'd) received this addition :

“Of rendring up, and patiently attend

My dissolution. Michael reply'd." This edition was the last poetical publication during the life-time of Milton. The third edition of Paradise Lost is stated in the title-page to be “ revised and augmented” by the author, but as it was not published till 1678, four years after his death, it must of course be regarded as a posthumous edition : we possess copies of both editions, but we cannot say that we have entirely collated them; we have partially, and so far the latter in every respect is verbatim et literatim the same text and punctuation as the former, occasionally varying however in orthography. Indeed, being printed evidently with

the same types, exactly the same size and quality of paper, and typographically alike, it has been considered and asserted that the third edition is merely a new title-page to the sheets of the second : we are however confident, that they are distinct editions and reprints.

It is well known that the pecuniary advantages derived by Milton from his poetical works bore no comparison to their value, and no proportion to their celebrity. From this fact, very errone ous inferences, derogatory to the literary repute of Milton, have been drawn. It is worthy of remark, that we have very few recorded instances of authors receiving, at that early dawn of English literature, any pecuniary remuneration whatever. There was not then that multitude of readers who now devour the novels of the “Great Unknown,” and the poetry of the Lake school. The art and mystery of book-craft was then unknown: broad margins, and all the meretricious incitements of Mr. Dibdin, were unpractised, and indeed undiscovered. There were no periodical or critical publications, to introduce and spread abroad the merits of good works or young authors. There was no London Magazine, no Mr.Colburn, with his Monthly Magazine, to practise the art of a literary accoucheur ; authors did not review their own books, or publishers pay critics for that useful purpose. No daily journals existed wherein to advertise and nurse the new-born offspring of the Muses. No "mailcoach copy” could come from or go to the “ modern Athens.” No trade-dinners in Aldersgate Street tempted the bibliopolists, over turtle and champaigne, to “ subscribe” copies before publication. No tall sheets fell beneath the hammer of a “Mr. Tegg, or within the pocket-reach of the apprentice and mechanic. The “second edition” of a work could not then be run off,” before the public had a chance of discovering the production to be downright trash. Sterling genius and learning alone found their way, slowly but surely, along the thorny paths of literary fame. Merit alone could bestow immortal life on the old English author: no biographical dictionaries preserved the memory of a bad writer, or caused curiosity to search the pages of worthless publications. Mr. Heber and the Roxburgh Club, Oldys and Sir Egerton Brydges, were unborn : few public libraries were formed, and comparatively few readers, and yet fewer purchasers, encouraged the political economy of literature. The times of the Commonwealth were also peculiarly inauspicious and discouraging to a writer of poetical fiction, more especially to a writer deeply involved and marked with the spirit of party. The sad realities of those disturbed times engrossed the feelings of all classes of society, and allowed men's minds but little taste or leisure for works of the imagination and classical pursuits.

The following curious documents are literally copied from the originals now in the possession of a gentleman of distinguished literary character; they are Milton's second receipt for Paradise Lost, the third receipt of his wife, and her final discharge to Simmons, the purchaser of the copy-right.

April 26th, 1669. “Rec'd then of Samuel Simmons five pounds, being the Second five pounds to be paid—mentioned in the Covenant. I say rec'd. by me. Witness-Edmund

JOHN MILTON.” Upton. “I do hereby acknowledge to have received of Samuel Symonds, Citizen and Stationer of London, the Sum of Eight pounds : which is in full payment for all my right, title, or interest, which I have or ever had in the Coppy of a Poem Intitled Paradise Lost in Twelve Books in 8vo-By John Milton, Gent. my late husband. Witness my hand this 21st day of December, 1680.

ELIZABETH MILTON.” Witness-William Yopp,

Ann Yopp. “Know all men by these presents that I Elizabeth Milton of London, Widdow, late wife of John Milton of London Gent : deceased have remissed released and for ever quitt claimed And by these presents doe remise release & for ever quitt clayme unto Samuel Symonds of London, Printer,- his heirs Exect" and Administrators All and all manner of Accon and Accons Cause and Causes of Accon Suites Bills Bonds writinges obligatorie Debts dues duties Accompts Summe and Sumes of money Judgment Executions Extents Quarrells either in Law or Equity Controversies and demands—And all & every other matter cause and thing whatsoever which against the said Samuel Symonds-ever had and which I my heires Executors or Administrators shall or may have clayme & challenge or demand for or by reason or means of any matters cause or thing whatsoever from the beginning of the World unto the day of these presents. In witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand and seale the twenty ninth day of April in the thirty third Year of the Reigne of our Soveraign Lord Charles by the grace of God of England Scotland ffrance and Ireland King defender of the ffaith and Anno Dni. 1681. Sealed and delivered in the presence of

Jos. Leigh
Wm. Wilkins."

Under all the eventful circumstances of the times, it is indeed surprising that Milton enjoyed the literary notoriety and reputation in the degree which numerous facts sufficiently prove. We are the more solicitous, to clear up the vulgar error of the apathy. of the contemporary age to the merits of Milton, because the same erroneous view has been hastily taken up by

many of his modern critics and biographers. Milton's early proficiency when at St. Paul's school, and in his University years, is particularly stated in the sketch of his life by his earliest and most faithful biographer, his nephew, Edward Philips.* He is there stated to have been "loved and admired by the whole University, particularly by the fellows and most ingenious persons of his house.” His peculiar intimacy and friendship also with Mr. King, the subject of his elegant regret in Lycidas, is an honourable testimony to his early character. The literary celebrity of Comus, we have already noticed, and which Lawes first published because “ the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my severall friends satisfaction.” The letter of Sir Henry Wotton is a further attestation of his early distinguished character. Mr. Todd has also given ground of belief that the Mr. H. noticed in that letter as the “ learned friend” of Milton, was the “ever-memorable” John Hales ; a friendship, indeed, of no ordinary import. In his foreign travels Philips records that "he was soon taken notice of by the most learned and ingenious of the nobility and the grand wits of Florence.” The names of the most celebrated foreign literati are then recorded amongst his early admirers. Their admiration is further testified by the poetical addresses to him, and in the interesting and elegant correspondence, preserved in the general collections of his works. At the period of the Restoration, when sequestered from his office of Latin Secretary, Philips mentions that "he was frequently visited by persons of quality, &c.; by all foreigners of note, who could not part out of this city without giving a visit to a person so eminent.” On his distinguished literary character in a political point of view, we do not here dilate, though in that respect he was preeminent at home and abroad. But after the return of Charles II. when a strict concealment, and, as it is reported, a sham funeral, became necessary for the preservation of his life, he published all his poetical works, with the exception of the edition of the minor poems in 1645. This is a remarkable fact, and one greatly overlooked, and more singular under the circumstance of his prose pieces being condemned and studiously collected for the hands of the common hangman! Thus did this sublime genius, under the disadvantages of “poverty, blindness, disgrace, and old age,” maintain unbroken his fortitude and dignity of mind, his trust and confidence in posterity. To the honour of the age, however, the age of a profligate monarch, a corrupt court, and a depraved public taste-there were many high-minded and accomplished persons, who held intercourse with the great poet. In his retirement at Bunhill

* Prefixed to Milton's Letters of State. 12mo. A. D. 1694.

« НазадПродовжити »