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other time, with more facility and with more fpirit, than during the heat and languor of Summer. Whenever the Poem was wrote, it was finished in 1605 ; and considering the difficulties which the author lay under, his unea lipess on account of the public affairs and his own, his age and infirmities. his gout and blindness, his not being in circumstances to maintain an amanuensis, but obliged to make use of any hand that came next to write his verses as he made them, it is really wonderful, that he should have the spirit to undertake such a work, and much more, that he should ever bring it to perfection. After the Poem was finished, ftill new difficulties retarded the publia cation of it. It was in danger of being suppressed through the malice or ignorance of the licenser, who 100k exception at fome passages, and particularly at that noble fimile, in the first book, of the fun in an eclipse, in which he fancied that he had discovered treason. It was with difficulty too that the author could sell the copy; and he fold it at last only for five pounds, but was to receive five pounds more after the sale of 1300 of the first impreslion, five pounds more after the sale of as many of the second impression, and five more after the sale of as many of the third ; and the number of each impression was not to exceed 1500. What a poor confideration was this for such an inestimable performance! and how much more do others get by the works of great authors than the authors themselves !: This original contract with Samuel Sim. mons the printer is dated April 27.1667, and is in the hands of Mr. Tonfon the bookseller. The first edition in ten books was printed in a sinall quarto, and, before it.could be disposed of, had three or more different title-pages of the years 1667, 1668, and 1669; and two years almost elapsed before 13c0 copies could be fold, or before the author was entitled to his second five pounds, for which his receipt, still in being, is dated April 26. 1669. This was probably all that he received; for he lived not to enjoy the benefits of the second edition, which was not published till 1674, in which year he died. The second edition
was printed in a small octavo, was corrected by the author himself, and the number of books was aog. mented from ten to twelve, with the addition of fome few verses; and this alteration was made wit'ı! great judgment, not for the sake of such a fancif: 1 beauty as resembling the number of books in the Æneid, but for the more regular disposition of the Poem, because the feventh and tenth books were be. fore too long, and are more fitly divided each in: a two. The ihird edition was published in 1978; a! ! it appears that Milton had left his remaining rigt. in the copy to his widow; and she agreed with Sim. mons the printer to accept eight pounds in full c? all demands. Her receipt for the money is dated Dec. 21. 1680. A little before this Simmons had core. nanted to assign the whole right of copy to Brabazon Aylmer the bookseller for twenty five pounds; and Aylmer afterwards fold it to old Jacob Tonfon at two different times; one half Aug. 17. 76.83, and the other half March 24. 1690. By the last allignment is appears, that the book was growing into repute, and rising in valuation. And to what perverseness couli it be owing, that it was not better received at first ? We conceive there were principally two reasons: the prejudices against the author on account of his principles and party; and many no doubt were offended with the novelty of a poem that was not in rhyine. Rhymer, 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 Loit, wliich some (says * he,) are pleased to call a poem, and wou!! affert rhyme against the slender sophilliy wherewit!ı the author attacks it. Such a man as Bishop Burnet maketh it a fort of objection to Milton, that he affected to write in blank verfe without rhyme. The fame reason induced Dryden to turn the principal parts of Paradise Lost into rhyme in his opera, called, The State of Innocence and Fall of Man; to tag his lines,
* See Rhymer's Tragedies of the last age considered, p. 143.
as Milton himself expressed it, alluding to the fashion then of wearing tags of metal at the end of their ri. bands. We are told indeed by Mr. Richardson, that Sir George Hungerford, an ancient member of parliament, told him, that Sir John Denham came into the House one morning with a sheet of Paradise Lost wet from the press in his hand; and being asked what he had there, said, that he had part of the nobleft poein 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 looking about for books in Little Britain, accidentally met with Paradise Lor; and being surprised at some paffages in dipping here and there, bought it. The bookseller begged his Lordship to speak in its favour, if he liked it, for the impreffion lay on his hands as waste paper. The Earl having read it, sent it to Dryden; who in a fhort time returned it with this anfwer, “ This man cuts us all out, and the ancients 100.". Dryden's epigram upon Milton is well known; and so are the Latin verses by Dr. Barrow, and the English ones by Andrew Marvel, Esq; which are usu. ally prefixed to the Paradise Lost, and were published with the second edition. But fill the poem was not generally known and esteemed, nor met with the de. ferved applause, till after the folio edition in 1688. The Duke of Buckingam, in his Efay on Poetry, prefers Taffo and Spenser to Milton; and it is related in the life of the witty Earl of Rochester, that he had no notion of a better peet than Cowley. And it may turprise any reader, that Sir William Temple, in his EfTay on Poetry, published in 1686, or thereabout, takes no notice at all of Milton; nay, he expressly faith, that after Ariosto, Tasso, and Spenser, he knoweth none of the moderns who have made any achievements in he. roic 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 encouTaged 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 are some of the most emi. rent names of that time; and amongst the rest Sir Roger L'Estrange, though he had formerly written a piece, entitled, No blind guides, &c. against Milton's notes on Dr. Griffith's sermon. There were two ediations more in folio; one in 1692, the other in 1995, which was the fixth: For the poem was now so well received, that, notwithstanding the price of it was four times greater than before, the fate increased dou. ble the number every year, as we find from the dedication of the smaller editions to Lord Sommers. Since that time not only various editions have been printed, but also various notes and translations. Patrick Hume, a Scotsman, was the first who wrote annotations upon Paradise Loft; and his notes were printed at the end of the folio edition in 1695. Mr. Addison's Specta. tors upon the subject contributed not a little to esta blishing 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, the present Bishop of Bangor, published his review of the text, in which the chief of Dr. Bentley's emenda. tions are confidered, and several other emendations" and observations are offered to the public. And the year after that Meff. Richardson, father and son, published their explanatory notes and remarks. The poem' has also been translated into several languages, Latin Italian, French, and Dutch; and proposals have been made for translating it into Greek. The Dutch tranflation is in blank verse, and printed at Harlem. The French have a translation by M. Dupré de St. Maur: but nothing showeth the weakness and imperfection of their language more than that they have few or no good poetical versions of the greatest poets; they are forced to translate Homer, Virgil, and Milton, into profe; and blank verse their language has not harmony and dignity enough to support; their tragedies, and many of their comedies, are in rhyme. Rolli, the famous Italian master in England, made an Italian
translation; and Mr. Richardson the son faw another at Florence in manuscript, by the learned Abbé Salvini, who translated Addison's Cato into Italian. . One William Hog or Hogæus translated Paradise Lost, Paradise Regain'd, and Samson Agonistes, into Latin verse, in 1690; but his version is very unworthy of the originals. There is a better translation of the Paradise Lost by Mr. Thomas Power, fellow of Trinitycollege, Cambridge, the first book of which was printed in 1691, and the rest in manuscript is in the library of that college. The learned Dr. Trap has also pu. blished a translation into Latin verse; and the world is in expectation of another, that will surpass all the rest, by Mr. William Dobson of New-college, Oxford. So that, by one means or other, Milton is now confi. dered as an English classic; and the Paradise Loft is generally esteemed the noblest and most sublime of modern poems, and equal at least to the best of the ancient; the honour of this country, and the envy and admiration of all others !
In 1670 Milton published his History of Britain, that part especially now called England. He began ir above twenty years before, but was frequently interrupted by other avocations; and he designed to have brought it down to his own times, but stopt at the Norman conqueft; for indeed he was not well able to pursue it
any further by reason of his blindness, and he was engaged in other more delightful studies, having a genius turned for poetry rather than history. Bishop Kennet begins his complete history of England with this work of Milton, as being the best draught, the clearest and most authentic account of those early times; and his style is freer and easier than in most of his other works, more plain and simple, less figurative and metaphorical, and better suiced to the nature of history, has enough of the Latin turn and idiom to give it an air of antiquity, and sometimes rises to a surpising dignity and majesty.
In 1670 his Paradise Regain'd and Samson Agonistes were licensed together, but were not published till the year following. The first thought of Paradise Regain'd