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for you put it into my head by the question you put to me at Chalfont, which before I had not thought of.»» The inference from this passage may certainly be that the poem was at least begun in the cottage at Chalfont St. Giles (say in the winter of 1665-6), and that, if not finished there, it was finished in Milton's house in Artillery Walk, shortly after his return to town in 1666. When Paradise Lost, therefore, was published in the autumn of 1667, its sequel, though kept back, was ready.
According to this calculation, the poem remained in manuscript for about four years. It was not published till 1671, when Paradise Lost had been in circulation for four years, arid when the first edition of that poem must have been nearly, if not quite, exhausted,—for that edition was restricted to 1500 copies at the utmost, and Milton's receipt for the second five pounds, due, by agreement, on the sale of 1300 of these copies, bears date April 26, 1669. But, for some reason or other, Simmons, the publisher of Paradise Lost, was delaying a second edition of that poem, - which did not appear till 1674 It may have been owing to dissatisfaction with this delay on Milton's part that he did not put Paradise Regained into Simmons's hands, but had it printed (as appears) on his own account. Conjoining with it Samson Agonistes, which he had also had for some time by him, or had just composed, he issued the two poems in a small octavo volume of 220 pages, with this general title-page— “ Paradise Regain'd. A Poem. In IV. Books. To which is added Samson Agonistes. The Author John Milton. London, Printed by J. M. for John Starkey at the Mitre in Fleetstreet, near Temple Bar. MDCLXXI.” There is no separate title-page to Paradise Regained; which commences on the next leaf after this general title, and extends to p. 112 of the volume. Then there is a separate title - leaf to Samson Agonistes ; which poem, occupying the rest of the volume, is separately paged. On the last leaf of the whole volume are two sets of Errata, entitled “Errata in the former Poem” and “Errata in the latter Poem."
Not Samuel Simmons of the Golden Lion in Aldersgate
1 The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, second edition (1914), pp. 246, 247.
Street, the publisher of Paradise Lost, it will be seen, but John Starkey, of the Mitre in Fleet Street, was the publisher of the new volume. He was, however, the publisher only, or agent for the printer “J. M.” Such, at all events, is the inference of so good an authority in such matters as the late Mr. Leigh Sotheby, who, after quoting the title of the volume, as above, adds : “ It is interesting here to notice that the initials of Milton occur in the imprint as the printer of the volume. Such was frequently the case when a work was printed solely at the expense of the author.”] In connexion with which observation we may here note the entry of the volume in the books of the Stationers' Company :
Septemb. 10, 1670: Mr. John Starkey entered for his copie, under the hands of Mr. Tho. Tomkyns and Mr. Warden Roper, a copie or Booke Intituled Paradise regain'd, A Poem in 4 Bookes. The Author John Milton. To which is added Samson Agonistes, a drammadic [sic] Poem, by the same Author.
The volume itself furnishes an additional item of information. On the page opposite the general title-page at the beginning is this brief imprint, “ Licensed, July 2, 1670,” —from which it appears that the necessary licence had been obtained by Milton from the censor Tomkyns. Apparently Tomkyns gave this licence more easily than he had given that for Paradise Lost.
The volume containing the first editions of Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes is handsome enough in appearance, — the paper thicker than that of the first edition of Paradise Lost, and the type more distinct and more widely spaced. But the printing, especially the pointing, is not nearly so accurate. Within the first few pages one finds commas where there should be full stops or colons, and vice versa, and becomes aware that the person or persons who assisted Milton in seeing the volume through the press cannot have been so careful as those who performed the like duty for the former poem, — where, though the pointing is not our modern pointing, it rarely conflicts with the sense.
Whatever was the number of copies printed, it sufficed the demand during the rest of Milton's life, and for six
1 Ramblings in the Elucidation of 'the Autograph of: Milton, 1861, p. 3
years beyond. When he died in 1674, there was a second edition of the Paradise Lost, to be followed by a third in 1678 ; but it was not till 1680 that there was a second edition of the Paradise Regained and Samson. It was brought out by the same publisher, Starkey, and is of inferior appearance and getting-up to the first, — the size still small octavo, but the type closer, so as to reduce the number of pages to 132. The title-pages remain the same; but the two poems are now paged continuously, and not separately. There seems to have been no particular care in revising for the press, for errors noted in the list of errata in the former edition remain uncorrected in the text of
Third editions, both of the Paradise Regained and of the Sanson, appeared in folio in 1688, sold, either together or separately, by a new publisher,-- Randal Taylor; and these are commonly found bound up with the fourth or folio edition of Paradise Lost, published by another bookseller in the same year. From this time forward, in fact, the connexion between Paradise Regained and Samson, originally accidental, is not kept up, save for mere convenience in publication. The tendency was to editions of all Milton's poetical works collectively,-in which editions it was natural to put Paradise Lost first, then Paradise Regained, then Samson Agonistes, and after these the Minor Poems. The greater demand for Paradise Lost, however, making it convenient to divide the Poetical Works in publication, two methods of doing so presented themselves. On the one hand, there was an obvious propriety, if the Poems were to be divided at all, in detaching Paradise Regained from Samson and the rest, and attaching it to Paradise Lost ; and, accordingly, there are instances of such conjoint editions of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, apart from the other poems, in 1692, 1775, and 1776. But a more convenient plan, mechanically, inasmuch as it divided the Poems collectively into two portions of nearly equal bulk, was to let Paradise Lost stand by itself in one or more volumes, and throw Paradise Regained, Samson, and the Minor Poems together into a separate issue in one or more volumes,—the two sets combinable or not into a collective edition. This plan, first adopted by Tonson, in 1695, has prevailed since.
There is not the least reason for doubting Ellwood's statement as to the way in which the subject of Paradise Regained was suggested to Milton. There is no such evidence as in the case of Paradise Lost of long meditation of the subject previous to the actual composition of the poem. Among Milton's jottings, in 1640-1, of subjects for dramas or other poems (see Introduction to Paradise Lost, pp. 16, 18) there are indeed several from New Testament History. There is a somewhat detailed scheme of a drama, to be called Baptistes, on the subject of the death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod. There are also seven notes of subjects from the Life of Christ, the first entitled Christus Patiens, accompanied by a few words which show that, under that title, Milton had an idea of a drama on the scene of the Agony in the Garden ; the others entered simply as follows: “ Christ Born,” “ Herod Massacring, or Rachel Weeping (Matt. ii.)," “ Christ Bound,” “ Christ Crucified," " Christ Risen,” and “ Lazarus (John xi. )" But not one of those eight subjects, thought of in Milton's early manhood, it will be seen, corresponds with the precise subject of Paradise Regained, executed when he was verging on sixty. The subject of that poem is expressly and exclusively the temptation of Christ by the Devil in the Wilderness, after his baptism by John, as related in Matt. iv. I-11, Mark i. 12, 13, and Luke iv. 1-13. Commentators on the Poem, indeed, have remarked it as somewhat strange that Milton should have given so general a title as “ Paradise Regained” to a poem representing only this particular passage of the Gospel History. For the subject of the Poem is thus announced in the opening lines :
“I, who erewhile the Happy Garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
And Eden raised in the waste Wilderness."
life upon earth, and not rather extend it to his Agony, Crucifixion, etc. But the reason, no doubt, was that Paradise regained by our Saviour's resisting the temptations of Satan might be a better contrast to Paradise lost by our first parents too easily yielding to the same seducing Spirit.” This remark is perfectly just; but it receives elucidation and point from Ellwood's story of the way in which the poem came into existence.
The young Quaker's observation, “Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost; but what hast thou to say of Paradise Found ?” had stirred something in Milton's mind. He made no answer, but “sate some time in a muse,” and then talked of something else. But an idea had flashed upon him,—the idea of a sequel to Paradise Lost, to be called Paradise Regained. Had he not, in Paradise Losi itself, assumed the possibility of such a sequel ? Thus, even in the opening lines of the poem, defining its scope :
“Or Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree whose mortal taste
Sing, Heavenly Muse.” Here he had actually limited beforehand the horizon of the poem on which he was engaged. He had limited it by the. perception of a new event in the distance, retrieving the catastrophe he was about to sing.1 Might not that new event also be made the theme of a poem ?- This idea once in Milton's mind, there is no difficulty in seeing how the story of Paradise Regained, as conceived by him, should have concentrated itself in the single passage of the Gospel History known as the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness, rather than diffused itself through the entire range of Christ's ministry and passion. The second poem must correspond with the first, - must presuppose it, and be the artistic antithesis to it. Now, what had been the theme of the first poem? The temptation of the first of
1 It occurs to me as not impossible that Milton, having finished Paradise Regained in manuscript before Paradise Lost was printed, may have touched into the text of Paradise Lost here and there such occult pre-advertisements of its successor as that in the opening lines.