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accompaniment. Besides the text of the poem, but separately paged, so that it might stand apart, and form a folio volume by itself, there was an elaborate commentary, consisting of no fewer than 321 folio pages of Annotations, under this title, “Annotations on Milton's “ Paradise Lost : wherein the texts of Sacred Writ relating to the “ Poem are quoted; the parallel places and imitations of the most “excellent Homer and Virgil cited and compared; all the obscure “ parts rendered in phrases more familiar ; the old and obsolete “ words, with their originals, explain'd and made easy to the Eng“ lish reader. By P. H. Pilotointms.” The “P. H.” who thus led the way, so largely, carefully, and laboriously, in the work of commentating Milton, and from whom all subsequent commentators have borrowed, and often with too little acknowledgment, is ascertained to have been Patrick Home or Hume, a Scotsman, of whom nothing more is known than that, at the time of the publication, he was settled as a schoolmaster somewhere near London. Tonson, one supposes, had found him out, and either set him on the work, or accepted the work from him, already done privately as a labour of love. 1
After we pass into the Eighteenth Century, editions of the Paradise Lost, either separately or as a part of the “Poetical Works,” begin to abound. A common statement, indeed, is that it was Addison's celebrated series of criticisms on Paradise Lost (begun in No. 267 of the Spectator, Jan. 5, 1711-12, and concluded in No. 369, May 3, 1712) that first awoke people to Milton's greatness as a poet, and that till then he had been neglected. The statement will not bear investigation, and is in fact one of those sheepish repetitions of
i It is really a pity that more is not known of this modest and meritorious “P. H.,” who wrote so elaborate a commentary on Paradise Lost only twentyone years after Milton's death. Richardson, noticing him in 1734 (Explanatory Notes, p. cxvii.), says, “ I have been told this was Philip Humes”; Paterson, a subsequent commentator on Milton (1744), calls him “a very learned and judicious gentleman of North Britain, . . . Peter Home"; Bishop Newton, in 1749, first gives him his right name of Patrick Hume. Later writers, confusing persons, have made him Sir Patrick Hume. My authority for his having been a schoolmaster near London is Mr. David Laing of Edinburgh, in a paper in the Archeologia Scotica (vol. iii. pp. 83-91). I may add that among the graduates of the University of Edinburgh about 1680 there are more than one Patricius Home or Patricius Hume. The older Scottish spelling of the name was Home ; but the pronunciation, even with this spelling, was, and still is in some families, Hume.
any inaccurate assertion once strongly made of which Literary History presents so many other examples. Not only had six editions of the Paradise Lost been published before the close of the seventeenth century,—three of them splendid folio editions, and one of them with a vast commentary which was in itself a tribute to the extraordinary renown of the poem; not only, before or shortly after Milton's death, had there been such public expressions of admiration for the poem, by Dryden and others, as were equivalent to a recognition of it as one of the sublimest works of English genius; not only, as we have just seen, had one poor man laboured on a Latin paraphrase of it, that foreign nations might have some notion of its splendours; but since the year 1688 Dryden's emphatic, if not very discriminating lines, above-cited as having been printed by way of motto under Milton's portrait in Tonson's edition of that year, had been a familiar stock quotation. Even before those lines were written the habit of comparing Milton with Homer and Virgil, and of wondering whether the highest greatness might not be claimed for the Englishman, had been fully formed. Addison's criticisms, therefore, were only a contribution to a reputation already traditional. Before they appeared, three new editions of the Poetical Works, including Paradise Lost, and forming the seventh, eighth, and ninth editions of that poem, had been published by the enterprising Tonson: to wit, an edition in royal 8vo, in 2 vols., in 1705; another 8vo edition, in 2 vols., in 1707; and a very pretty and correct pocket-edition, in 2 vols. 18mo, in 1711.
When these were issued, Tonson was no longer in his first shop, the Judge's Head in Chancery Lane, but in a shop at Gray's Inn Gate, to which he had removed about 1697, in consequence of the death of his elder brother Richard, also a bookseller, who had occupied that shop, and whose son Jacob was thenceforward associated in business with his uncle as Jacob Tonson junior or secundus. It is likely enough that Addison's criticisms, widely read as they were, may have helped the flagging sale of the remaining copies of the three editions of Milton which had been issued by the Tonsons, uncle and nephew, from this shop, and which were, in any case, handier than Tonson's folio editions that had preceded them. But even this we do not know for certain ; and a perverse person, founding on bibliopolic evidence merely, might even argue that Addison's papers, so far from giving an impulse to the popularity of Milton, actually checked for a while the demand for him. For it was not till
eight years after the publication of the above-mentioned ninth or small pocket-edition of Milton in 1711,— which was the current edition when Addison's papers appeared, -that the Tonsons found it advisable to bring out another edition. They had meanwhile (about 1712) removed to that house in the Strand, opposite Catherine Street, -called the Shakespeare's Head, from the sign they had adopted for it,—which continued for about half a century to be known to all London as the shop of the Tonsons. Here, in 1719, they tried a 12mo illustrated edition of Paradise Lost by itself. In 1720 this was followed by a splendidly-printed 4to edition of the Poetical Works collectively, in two volumes, known as “Tickell's Edition," from the share the poet Tickell had in it, and including a reprint of Addison's criticisms on Paradise Lost. It was published by subscription, and has a list of more than 300 subscribers prefixed to it. Again, in 1721, there was a fresh 12mo edition of the Poetical Works in 2 vols., also with Addison's critique; and in 1725 there was published an 8vo edition of Paradise Lost by itself, known as “Fenton's Edition," from its containing a Life of Milton by the poet Elijah Fenton. There were subsequent “Fenton ” editions (so called for the same reason) of the Poetical Works as a whole in 1727 and 1730, each in 2 vols. 8vo. These, which may be called the fourteenth and fifteenth Editions of Paradise Lost, were, with one exception, the last editions in which Jacob Tonson the eldest, and Jacob Tonson secundus, had any concern. Old Tonson died March 18, 1735-6, at the age of about eighty, a very wealthy man, and with estates in different parts of England. He had ceased for a considerable time before his death to take any active share in the business, leaving it to be managed by his nephew. To his nephew also, being himself childless, he had intended to leave the bulk of his property, including the celebrated Kit-Cat portraits,-a collection of portraits of forty-three noblemen and men of letters of strong Hanoverian sentiments, who formed the Kit-Cat Club. Tonson, who was secretary to the club, had had the portraits, including his own, painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, and hung up in a room in his villa at Barn-Elms in Surrey. But the nephew, who had himself acquired a large fortune, predeceased his uncle by a few months (November 1735), leaving three sons and three daughters, all amply provided for, and the two elder sons especially, Jacob and Richard, heirs of his business. The elder of these two, accordingly, Jacob Tonson tertius, having become
also chief legatee of his grand-uncle, was, from 1736 onwards, the head of the Tonson firm.
Before the deaths of Jacob Tonson the eldest, and his nephew, the second of the name, there was one edition of Paradise Lost, not yet mentioned, which, though bearing the name of Tonson on its title-page, differed so signally from all the previous editions of the poem as to be calculated to upset and ruin them. Its title in full was as follows :—“Milton's Paradise Lost. A New Edition. By Richard Bentley, D.D. London: Printed for Jacob Tonson; and for John Poulson ; and for J. Darby, A. Butterworth, and F. Clay, in Trust for Richard, James, and Bethel Wellington, 1732." This is Bentley's famous edition. It is a large quarto, of more than 400 pages, expensively printed, and with two portraits of Milton, engraved by Vertue. It deserves more than a passing notice.
Bentley's edition of Paradise Lost is, indeed, one of the curiosities of literature. The great scholar, while yielding to no one in his admiration of the poem and of its author, found many things in the received text of the poem which jarred on his own notions of grammatical correctness, of metrical fitness, of rhetorical good taste, and even of poetical and intellectual truth. He had a theory to account for this. Instead of remembering that the mode of thought, the style, and the musical art of Milton's age were by no means those of Bentley's, and that, even if the general change in these respects had been less considerable, it might happen that a Milton was often carried into trains of thought and raptures of expression which a Bentley could not reduce to rule or precedent, he boldly resorted to the conclusion that whatever was un-Bentleian in the poem, or nearly all that was so, was corrupt. “Our celebrated author when he com
pos’d this poem,” he says in his preface, “being obnoxious to the “ Government, poor, friendless, and what is worst of all, blind with a
1 Authorities for statements in this paragraph are Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual by Bohn, Art. “ Milton,” Todd's List of Editions at the end of his edition of Milton's Poetical Works, vol. iv. Edit. of 1852, Nichols's Literary Anecdotes, i. 292—299, and Cunningham's Handbook of London, p. 209. It is interesting to know that in Kneller's portrait of old Jacob Tonson, lately, with the rest of the Kit-Cat collection, in possession of Mr. Baker of Bayfordsbury, Herts,—the publisher is represented in a gown and cap, and holding in his right hand a volume lettered “Paradise Lost.” He had a reverence for the book of which he had published so many editions.
- now or
“ Gutta Serena, could only dictate his Verses to be writ by another. “Whence it necessarily follows, That any errors in Spelling, Pointing,
nay even of whole Words of a like or near Sound in Pronunciation,
are not to be charg'd upon the Poet, but on the Amanuensis.” With such errors, Bentley thought, the text, as printed in all previous editions, positively swarmed; and he professed to point them out, and to give in the margin in each case his conjecture of what Milton really did dictate or mean to dictate. But not only had the amanuensis, or the amanuenses, of Milton been in fault. “The “ Friend or Acquaintance, whoever he was, to whom Milton com“ mitted his Copy and the Overseeing of the Press, did so vilely
execute that Trust, that Paradise under his Ignorance and Auda“ciousness may be said to be twice lost.” By the carelessness of this supposed Editor and of the printer Simmons, the First Edition, Bentley maintained, had been brought forth "polluted with such “monstrous Faults, as are beyond Example in any other printed “ Book.” In all such cases,—which occur by hundreds,—Bentley also offers the conjectural emendation or restoration. But worse and worse. Not only was Milton's editing friend grossly careless and ignorant; he was a scoundrel. “This suppos'd Friend,” says Bentley, “knowing Milton's bad Circumstances, thought he had a fit “ Opportunity to foist into the Book several of his own Verses, with“out the blind Poet's Discovery." Instances of this are abundant, according to Bentley. He cites sixty-six in his Preface as specimens ; and he brackets each, as it occurs in the text, for rejection and execration. Add, lastly, such occasional "slips and inadvertencies” as Milton himself could not but have fallen into, in so long and learned a poem, by reason of his blindness,—which slips and inadvertencies Bentley also detects, but with greater diffidence as to the suggested amendments, and some notion will be formed of the havoc that would be made in the text of Milton by accepting Bentley's editorship. Only by looking into Bentley's edition, however, can adequate idea be obtained of its utter monstrousness. It is perhaps the most interesting example in our literature of a powerful mind applying itself admiringly to the product of a great mind of another class and of a diviner age, but feeling itself at every moment perturbed by some turn of thought, some phrase, some rhythm, out of the range of its own habits, and then, in strange unconsciousness of its own limitation, or of the lapse and flow of a nation's mind in such matters,