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SECTION III, SCHEME AND MEANING OF THE POEM,
SECTION IV. ON THE QUESTION OF Milton'S INDEBTEDNESS IN
THE POEM TO PARTICULAR MODERN AUTHORS.
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL AND EXPOSITORY
FIRST AND SUBSEQUENT EDITIONS OF THE POEM
It was possibly just before the Great Fire of London in September 1666, and it certainly cannot have been very long after that event, when Milton, then residing in Artillery Walk, Bunhill Fields, had the manuscript of his Paradise Lost ready to receive the official licence necessary for its publication. The duty of licensing such books was then vested by law in the Archbishop of Canterbury, who performed it through his chaplains. The Archbishop of Canterbury at that time (1663–1677) was Dr. Gilbert Sheldon; and the chaplain to whom it fell to examine the manuscript of Paradise Lost was the Rev. Thomas Tomkyns, M.A. of Oxford, then incumbent of St. Mary Aldermary, London, and afterwards Rector of Lambeth, Chancellor of the Cathedral Church of Exeter, and D.D. He was the Archbishop's domestic chaplain, and a great favourite of his, and, though but a young man, was already the author of one or two books or pamphlets. The nature of his opinions may be guessed from the fact that his first publication, printed in the year of the Restoration, had been entitled “The Rebel's Plea Examined; or, Mr. Baxter's Judgment concerning the Late War.” A subsequent publication of his, penned not long after he had examined Paradise Lost, was entitled “The Inconveniencies of Toleration”; and, when he died in 1675, still young, he was described on his tombstone as having been “ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ contra Schismaticos assertor eximius.”l A
1 Wood's Athenæ, by Bliss, iii. 1046—1048.