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the authors themselves! This original contract with Samuel Simmons the printer is dated April 27, 1667, and is in the hands of Mr. Tonfon the bookseller, as is likewise the manuscript of the first book copied fair for the press, with the Imprimatur by Thomas Tomkyns chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury: so that tho' 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 fame hand. The first édition 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 fort 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 a short advertisement of the printer to the reader concerning 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 adver: tisement 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 sheets were printing off. So that, notwith standing these variations, there was still only one impression 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 fame year he died. The second edition was printed in a 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 fake 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 right in the copy to his widow, and the 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 affign’d to few veral 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 ow ing that it was not better received at first? We con
ceive there were principally two reasons; the prejudices against the author on account of his prins ciples and party; and many no doubt were offended with the novelty of a poem that was not in rime, i 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 Nender fophiftry wherewith the author attacks it. And such a man as Bilhop Burnet maketh it a sort of objection to Milton, that he affected to write in blank verse without rime. And the same reason induced Dryden to turn the principal parts of Paradise Lost into rime in his Opera called the State of innocence and Fall of man; to tag his lines, as Milton himself expressed it, alluding to the fashion then of wearing tags of metal at the end of their ribbons. We are told indeed by Mr. Richardson, that Sir George Hungerford, an ancient member of parlament, told him, that Sir John Denham came into the House one morning with a sheet of Paradise Lost wet from the prefs in his hand; and being asked what he had there, said that he had part of the noblest
that ever 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 physician, who had heard the story often from Fleetwood Shephard himself,
that Sec Rymer's Tragedies of the last age confider'd. p. 143.
that the Earl, in company with Mr. Shephard, look ing about for books in Little Britain, accidentally met with Paradise Lost; and being furprised at some passages in dipping here and there, he bought it. The bookseller begged his Lordship to speak in its favor if he liked it, for the impreffion lay on his hands as waste paper, The Earl having read it fent 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 fecond 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 fubfcription. The Duke of Buckingham in his Essay on poetry prefers Taffo and Spenfer 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 thereabout Sir William Temple published the second part of his Miscellanies, and it may furprise any reader, that in his Effay on poetry he taketh no notice at all of Milton; nay he faith expressly that after Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser, he knoweth none of the Moderns who have made any achievements 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 names of that time, as the Earl of Dorset, Waller, Dryden, Dr. Aldrich, Mr. Atterbury, and among the rest Sir Roger Lestrange, tho' he had formerly written a piece intitled No blind guides &c againit Milton's Notes upon Dr. Griffith's sermon. There were two editions more in folio, one I think in 1692, the other in 1695 which was the fixth edition; for the poem was now so well received, that notwithstanding the price of it was four times greater than before, the sale increased double the number every year; as the bookseller, who should best know, has informed us in his dedication of the smaller editions to Lord Sommers. Since that time not only various editions have been printed, but also various notes and translations. The first person who wrote annotations upon Paradise Lost was P. H. or Patrick Hume, of whom we know nothing, unless his name may lead us to some knowledge of his country, but he has the merit of being the first (as I say), who wrote notes upon Paradise Lost, and his notes were printed at the end of the folio edition in 1695. Mr. Addison's Spectators upon the subject contributed not a little to establishing the character, and illustrating the beauties of the poem. In 1732 appeared Dr. Bentley’s new edition with notes : and the year following Dr. Pearce published his Review of the text, in which the chief of Dr. Bentley's emendations are considered, and several other emendaVOL. I.