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simile, in the first book, of the sun in an eclipse, in which he fancied that he had discovered treason. It was with difficulty too that the author could sell the copy; and he sold it at last only for five pounds, but was to receive five pounds more after the sale of 1300 of the first impression, and five pounds more after the sale of as many of the second impression, and five more after the sale of as many of the third, and the number of each impression was not to exceed 1500, What a poor consideration was this for such an inestimable performance ! and how much more do others get by the works of great authors, than the authors themselves! This original contract with Samuel Simmons the printer is dated April 27, 1667, and was in the hands of the late Mr. Tonson the bookseller, as was likewise the manuscript of the first book copied fair for the press, with the imprimateur by Thomas Tomkyns, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury: so that though Milton was forced to make use of different hands to write his verses from time to time as he had occasion, yet we may suppose that the copy for the press was written all, or at least each book, by the same hand. The first edition in ten books was printed in a small quarto ; and before it could be disposed of, had three or more different title-pages of the years 1667, 1668, and 1669. The first sort was without the name of Simmons the printer, and began with the poem immediately following the title-page, without any argument, or preface, or table of errata ; to others was prefixed B
short advertisement of the printer to the reader comcerning the argument and the reason why the poem rimes not; and then followed the argument of the several books, and the preface concerning the kind of verse, and the table of errata : others again had the argument and the preface, and the table of errata, without that short advertisement of the printer to the reader: and this was all the difference between them, except now and then of a point or a letter, which were altered as the shects were printing off. So that, notwithstanding these variations, there was still only one impressioni in quarto; and two years almost elapsed, before 1300 copies could be sold, or Before the author was intitled to his second five pounds, for which his receipt is still in being, and is dated April 26, 1669. And this was probably all that he received; for he lived not to enjoy the benefits of the second edition, which was not published till the year 1674, and that same year he died. The second edition was printed in small octavo, and was corrected by the author himself, and the number of books was augmented from ten to twelve, with the addition of some few verses: and this alteration was made with great judgment, not for the sake of such a fanciful beauty as resembling the number of books in the Æneid, but for the more regular disposition of the poem, because the seventh and tenth books were before too long, and are more fitly divided each into two. The third edition was published in 1678, and it appears that Milton had left his remaining iight in
the copy to his widow, and she agreed with Simmons the printer to accept eight pounds in full of all demands, and her receipt for the money is dated December 21, 1680. But a little before this, Simmons had covenanted to assign the whole right of copy to Brabazon Aylmer the bookseller for twenty-five pounds;
and Aylmer afterwards sold it to old Jacob Tonson at two different times, one half on the 17th of August 1683, and the other half on the 24th of March 1690, with a considerable advance of the price: and except one fourth of it, which has been assigned to several persons, his family have enjoyed the right of copy ever since. By the last assignment it appears that the book was growing into repute, and rising in valuation; and to what perverseness could it be owing that it was not better received at first? We conceive there were principally two reasons; the prejudices against the author on account of his principles and party; and many no doubt were offended with the novelty of a poem that was not in rime. Rymer, who was a redoubted critic in those days, would not so much as allow it to be a poem on this account; and declared war against Milton as well as against Shakespear; and threatened that he would write reflections upon the Paradise Lost, which some (says he *) are pleased to call a poem, and would assert rime against the slender sophistry wherewith
* See Rymer's Tragedies of the lazt Age considered, p. 143.
the author attacks it. And such a man as Bishop Burnet maketh it a sort of objection to Milton, thjät he affected to write in blank verse without rime. And the saine reason induced Dryden to turn the principal parts of Paradise Lost into rime in his Opera called the State of Innocence and Fall of Nan; to tag his lines, as Milton himselfexpressed it, alluding to the fashion then of wearing tags of metal at the end of their ribbons. We are told indeed hy Mr. Richardson, that Sir George Hungerford, an ancient member of parliament, told him, that Sir John Denhain came into the house one morning with a sheet of Paradise Lost wet from the press in his hand; and heing asked what he had there, said that he had part of the noblest poem that cver was written in any language or in any age. However it is certain, that the book was unknown till about two years after, when the Earl of Dorset produced it; as Mr. Richardson was informed by Dr. Tancred Robinson the 'ysician, who had heard the story often from Fleetwood Shephard himself, that the Earl in company with Mr. Shephard, looking about for books in Little Britain, accidentally met with Paradise Lost; and being surprised at some passages in dipping here and there, he bought it. The bookseller begged his Lordship to speak in its favour if he liked it, for the impression lay on his hands as waste paper.
The Earl having read it, sent it to Dryden, who in a short time returned it with this answer: " This
man cuts us all out and the ancients too:" Dryden's epigram upon Milton is too well known to be repeated; and those Latin verses by Dr. Barrow the physician, and the English ones by Andrew Marvel, Esq. usually prefixed to the Paradise Lost, were written before the second edition, and were published with it. But still the poem was not generally known and esteemed, nor met with the deserved applause, till after the edition in folio, which was published in 1688 by subscription.
The Duke of Buckingham in his Essay on Poetry prefers Tasso and Spenser to Milton: and it is related in the life of the witty Earl of Rochester, that he had no notion of a better poet than Cowley.
In 1686, or thereahout, Sir William Temple published the second part of his Miscellanies, and it may surprise any reader, that in his Essay on Poetry he taketh no notice at all of Milton; nay he saith expressly, that after Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser, he knoweth none of the moderns who have made any atchievements in heroic poetry worth recording. And what can we think, that he had not read or heard of the Paradise Lost, or that the author's politics had prejudiced him against his poetry? It was happy that all great men were not of his mind. The bookseller was advised and encouraged to undertake the folio edition by Mr. Sommers, afterwards Lord Sommers, who not only subscribed himself, but was zealous in promoting the subscription: and in the list of subscribers we find some of the most eminent