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pression. The third edition was published in 1678, and his widow agreed with Simmons the printer to receive eight pounds as her right, and gave him a general release, dated April 29, 1681. Simmons covenanted to transfer the right for twentyfive pounds to Brabazen Aylmer, a bookseller, and Aylmer sold to Jacob Tonson half of it, August 17, 1683, and the other half March 24, 1690, at a price considerably advanced.

The sale, Johnson says, will justify the public: the call for books in Milton's age was not great. The nation had been satisfied from 1623 to 1664 with only two editions of the works of Shakespeare, which probably together did not make a thousand copies.19 The sale of thirteen hundred copies in two years was an uncommon example of the prevalence of genius. Yet the demand did not immediately increase, for in eleven years only three thousand were sold: but the reputation and price of the copy still advanced; 'till the revolution put an end to the secrecy of love, and Paradise Lost broke into open view with sufficient security of kind reception.

Though the poem of Milton was above 20 the age

p. 109. Concerning the plagiarisms of Callender (who published the first book of Milton, 1750) from the Commentary of Patrick Hume, 1695, see Blackwood's Mag. No. xxiv. p. 659. 19 Johnson, however, should have remembered that large impressions of Shakespeare's Plays were always attainable, in a separate and more commodious form, in 4to.

20 The poets, contemporary with Milton, were Waller, Suckling, Crashaw, Denham, Lovelace, Cowley, Brome, Sherborne, Fanshaw, Davenant, besides those of inferior note. "Never any poet left a greater reputation behind him, than Mr. Cowley, while Milton remained obscure, and known but to few, but your grace knows very well that the great reputation of Cowley did not continue half a century, and that Milton's is now on the pinnacle of the temple of fame." Dennis's Letters Familiar, &c. p. 207.

on which it was bestowed (for such greatness of invention, such harmony of numbers, and such majesty of style had not then been seen united); yet admirers among men of learning and genius it undoubtedly had. Andrew Marvell and Barrow, the physician," wrote some manly and spirited verses in its praise. Dryden's lines of commendation are known to all; 22 and praise in other books by authors of lower fame, has been discovered by the diligence of the commentators. 1688,28 the handsome folio edition was published under the patronage of Lord Somers, and with the assistance of Atterbury 24 and Dryden; in 1682, it was translated into Dutch, and into Latin in 1685, and ten years after, it appeared with a very curious and learned commentary by Patrick Hume. I shall here take the opportunity of men


21 The following couplet in Marvell has wonderfully puzzled the commentators:

'I too transported by the mode offend,

And while I meant to praise thee, must commend.'

See Lofft's Milton, p. xlvi. lii. where 'most commend,' 'miscommend,' but commend,' are offered; whereas the sense is perfectly clear. 'While I meant to praise thee, must commend; i. e. must, for the sake of the rhyme, use the word commend,' instead of 'praise,' which is the word I should otherwise have used. Even Bentley, in a MS. note in my copy, has erased 'must,' and written 'most.'

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22 Dryden owned to Dennis, 'that when he adapted his state of innocence from Milton, he knew not half the extent of Milton's excellence.' v. Dennis's Letters, Moral and Critical, 1721, p. 75.

23 See Todd's Life, p. 198-202: there were five hundred and thirty subscribers. See a list of the most eminent of them in Lofft's Milton, p. xlix.

24 Atterbury said, 'that he prepared the edition of Milton, usually called Lord 'Somers's-from a MS. note of his in an edition of Milton out of the library of Warburton.' v. Atterbury's Works, iv. p. 164.

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tioning the volumes published by Lauder, Auctorum Miltono facem prælucentium;' and of remarking (after having perused the poems which they contain) that little doubt can be entertained, but that Milton was acquainted with the Adamus Exsul of Grotius, and probably with the poetry of Ramsay and Masenius. Those who are curious on the subject may compare the poems of Ramsay with the description of the creation in the seventh book, and the drama of Grotius with the temptation in the ninth; and, if familiar with the language of Milton, they will find some resemblances; but the charge of plagiarism was unjust, and indeed absurd. Milton's immense reading extended over the whole field of literature, and in every direction; and it required all his learning, collected by painful study during the best years of his life, long deposited in his memory, and remoulded by his genius, to build up his immortal poem. Where is there an extensive work of established reputation to be found, that is not evidently the result of long study, and assiduous labours? Let us consider that his materials were a few verses in Genesis, and that the rest is created by his own imagination, supplied by industrious and select reading.' Thus the tributary stores from poets of every age and country were poured into his mind; and they were always returned with augmented beauty and lustre.25 We may say of him, as a Roman critic said of Virgil; 'et

25 Natalis Donadæi Poema Heroicum de Bello Christi. Messanæ, 1614. Ven. 1616. Hoc vidit procul dubio in Italia Miltonus, nihil ex poesi sumturus, at aliquid ex argumento, præsertim libri secundi in poema magnum ubi loquitur Satanas, sequentium in alterum.' v. W. S. Landori Poemata, p. 199. There is a Latin translation of a Tragedy of Beza's, by T. Iacomotus, called 'Abram from Morea, or

judicio transferendi et modo imitandi consecutus est, ut quod apud illum legerimus alienum, aut illius esse malimus, aut melius hic quam ubi natum est, sonare miremur.' 26


An anecdote had long been current, which originally came from Richardson, that Sir John Denham came into the House of Commons with a sheet of Paradise Lost, wet from the press, in his hand, and being asked what it was, replied,' Part of the noblest poem that was ever written in any age or language.' Such is the facility with which anecdotes that amuse or surprise, pass current from mouth to mouth, that they need but a slender foundation to ensure belief. On examination, it was discovered that Denham was never in Parliament; and consequently the whole story is an ingenious fiction. I shall conclude my remarks on the publication of the poem, by mentioning that in an original edition, belonging to some gentleman who communicated the fact to the public, some rhyming lines were written apparently by a female hand, with these words at the conclusion, dictated by J. M. Mr. Todd

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Isaac Redeemed,' A. D. 1597, which Milton is supposed to have seen. v. Hollis's Memoirs, p. 528.

26 v. Macrobii Saturn. lib. vi. c. 1.

27 I possess a curious book, called a New Version of Paradise Lost, or Milton paraphrased, in which the measure and versification are corrected and harmonized, the obscurities elucidated, and the faults removed, by a gentleman of Oxford (Mr. Green), in 1706. It is one of the most ludicrously absurd books that I ever read. He says that he has introduced a novelty in this version, by bracing those lines that read best together, in imitation of the triplets in rhyme. His notes are not less curious than the text. My copy belonged to some person as eccentric as the author, as appears by his MSS. notes in the margin. He has had the book lettered-" Milton travestied surely."

withholds his decision as to their authenticity, chiefly on account of the rhyme; but Doctor Symmons, a less cautious critic, has no doubt of their being the production of Milton. The subject is Daybreak,' and a short extract will be sufficient to enable the admirers of Milton to form their opinion.

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'Whose pale-faced Regent, Cynthia, paler grows,
To see herself pursued by conquering foes,
Yet daring stays behind to guard the rear
Of her black armies, whither without fear
They may retreat, till her alternate course
Bring her about again with rallied force.
Hark! how the Lion's terror loud proclaims
The gladsome tidings of day's gentle beams,
And, long kept silence, breaking, rudely wakes

The feather'd train, which soon their concert makes,' &c.27

Three years after Paradise Lost was given to the world, Milton published the History of England,28 comprising the tale of Geoffrey of Monmouth, continued only as far as the Norman invasion. The first copies were mutilated by the licenser, who expunged all the passages that reflected on the conduct of the long parliament, and

27 See Todd's Life, first ed. p. 91, for some lines called Lavinia walking in a frosty morning, p. 104; for a sonnet written at Chalfont, which the critics are willing to attribute to Milton. The epigram in Fenton's collection must have come from a very different inkstand. (Extempore on a Faggot, p. 286.)

28 Milton, in his History of England, seems to have used Spenser's Chronicle of the British Kings, as a kind of clue to direct him through so dark and perplexed a subject. He plainly copies Spenser's order and disposition, whom he quotes; and almost transcribes from him the story of Lear, of much however as the difference between prose and verse will admit. Milton's history is an admirable comment on this part of Spenser, which is taken from the first part of Hardyng's Chronicle. v. Warton on Spenser, ii. p. 242.

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