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Paradise Regained may have been complete in manuscript before the publication of Paradise Lost. This we infer from an interesting passage in the Autobiography of the Quaker, Thomas Ellwood, in which he gives an account of the origin of Paradise Regained, and claims the credit of having suggested the subject to Milton. We have already seen (Introduction to Paradise Lost, pp. 52-53) how young Ellwood, visiting Milton, in 1665, at the cottage in ChalfontSt.-Giles, Buckinghamshire, where he was then residing to avoid the Great Plague in London, had a manuscript given him by the poet, with a request to read it at his leisure, and return it with his judgment thereon. On taking this manuscript home with him, Ellwood tells us, he found it to be Paradise Lost. He then proceeds as follows :“ After I had, with the best attention, read it through, I made him “another visit, and returned him his book, with due acknowledgment “ of the favour he had done me in communicating it to me. He “ asked how I liked it, and what I thought of it; which I modestly, “ but freely, told him : and, after some further discourse about it, I
pleasantly said to him, “Thou hast said much here of Paradise Lost ; “ but what hast thou to say of Paradise Found?' He made me no
answer, but sate some time in a muse, then brake off that discourse “ and fell upon another subject. After the Sickness was over, and "the city well cleansed and become safely habitable again, he returned
And when, afterwards, I went to wait on him there (which “ I seldom failed of doing, whenever my occasions drew me to
London), he showed me his second poem, called Paradise Regained,
" and in a pleasant tone said to me, “This is owing to you ; 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 perhaps 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. Accordingly, when Paradise Lost was published in the autumn of 1667, its sequel, though kept back, may have been ready.
If this is a right 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, and 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 on Milton's part with this delay that he did not put Paradise Regained into Simmons's hands, but had it printed in an independent manner. Conjoining with it Samson Agonistes, which he had also for some time had 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.
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 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. This was not the first of Starkey's dealings with Milton ; for the title-page
1 The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, Second Edition (1714), pp. 246, 247.
of Milton's Accedence Commend't Grammar, published in 1669, purports that, though that little book had been“printed for S. S.,”the copies were on sale at Starkey's shop. In the present case, however, while Starkey was the actual publisher, the printer, it seems, was a "J. M.” The inference drawn from this particular by so good an authority in such matters as the late Mr. Leigh Sotheby is worth attention. After quoting the title of the volume, as above, he 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.” The inference, however, is by no means necessary. The initials “ J. M.” are not uncommon; there was at least one known London printer of the day with those initials; and, as Milton's History of Britain, published in 1670, only a few months before his present volume, bears on its titlepage the words “Printed by J. M. for James Allestry,” the most reasonable supposition is that this London printer, after having been employed for the one publication by Allestry, was employed for the other by Starkey. In confirmation of this conclusion that the two new poems were not printed at Milton's expense, but in the ordinary trade way by the publisher, 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 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
1 Ramblings in the Elucidation of the Autograph of Milton, 1861, p. 83.
versâ, 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 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. 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 this. Appended to the volume is an advertisement, in four pages, of books printed for Starkey. They are chiefly medical and historical, ---but among them is an edition of Sir William Davenant's collected works.
Third editions, both of the Paradise Regained and of the Samson, 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,-iņ 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, and in the eighteenth century I count nine separate editions of Paradise Regained, Samson, and the Minor Poems (the most notable being Tonson's of 1713, Fenton's of 1725, and Tonson's of 1747), against thirty-five or thirty-six separate editions of Paradise Lost,—not reckoning the expressly collective editions appearing meanwhile of all the Poetical Works. Exceptional editions, I believe, were one of Paradise Regained by itself at Edinburgh in 1785, another at Alnwick in 1793, and another at London, in quarto, with variorum notes by Dunster,
I have found no case after 1688 of the re-association of the Paradise Regained and the Samson in an edition apart from the
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. 43-47), there are indeed several from the 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.