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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 circula. tion 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 1,500 copies at the utmost, and Milton's receipt for the second five pounds, due, by agree. ment, on the sale of 1,300 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 Milton 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 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 7. M. for John Starkey at “the Mitre in Flectstreet, 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. 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 versá, and becomes aware that the person or persons who assisted Milton in seeing the volume through the press cannot have been so
Ramblings in the Elucidation of the Autograph of Milton, 1861, p. 83.
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
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 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 this.
Third editions, both of the Paradise Regained and of the Samson, appeared in folio in 1688, sold, either together or separately, by a new publisherRandal 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, p. 11), 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. 1-11, 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
On which passage, and on the Poem generally, a commentator (Thyer), representing a general feeling, makes this remark: “It may seem a little odd that “ Milton should impute the recovery of Paradise to this short scene of our “ Saviour's life upon earth, and not rather extend it to His Agony, Crucifixion,
&c. But the reason, no doubt, was that Paradise regained by our Saviour's resisting the temptation 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.
Only by firmly remembering that it was as a sequel to Paradise Lost that Paradise Regained grew into shape in Milton's mind, will the second poem be rightly understood. The commentators, indeed, as they have sought the “ origin of Paradise Lost,” or hints for its origin, in all sorts of previous poems, Italian, Latin, and Dutch, on the same subject (see our Introduction to the Poem), have, though less laboriously, searched for previous poems from which Milton may have taken hints for his Paradise Regained. Todd, in his preliminary observations entitled “Origin of Paradise Regained,” refers to the following pieces as possibly in Milton's recollection while he was writing the Poem, - Bale's Brefe Comedy or Enterlude concernynge the Temptacyon of our Lorde and Saver Jesus Christ by Sathan in the Desart (1538); Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victorie and Triumph (1611), a poem in four parts, the second of which, entitled
Christ's Triumph on Earth,” describes the Temptation ; also La Humanità del Figlivolo di Dio, a poem in ten books, by Theofilo Folengo of Mantua (1533); La Vita et Passione di Christo, a poem by Antonio Cornozano (1518); and one or two other Italian poems cited at random for their titles and not from knowledge. The only one of these references worth much is that to Giles Fletcher's religious poem. Giles Fletcher (died 1623), and his brother Phineas Fletcher, who outlived him more than twenty-five years, were among the truest poets in the interval between Spenser and Milton, and the highest in that ideal or Spenserian faculty which Milton possessed and admired. He must have known the works of both brothers well, and not least the really fine poem of Giles Fletcher to which Todd refers. But recollection of it can have had no effect on the scheme of his own Paradise Regained. That was determined simply by the poet's own meditations on those passages of the Evangelists which narrate the Temptation in the Wilderness, - especially the eleven verses in Matt. iv. and the thirteen in Luke iv.—with a view to construct therefrom an
imagination of the whole scene, which, while it should be true to the scriptural text, should fit as a sequel to Paradise Lost. The result was the poem as we now have it-a poem in which the brief scriptural narrative of the Temptation is expanded into four books, and yet the additions and filling-in are consistent with the texts which have suggested them.
So distinctly is Paradise Regained a sequel to Paradise Lost that acquaintance with Paradise Lost is all but presupposed in the reader ere he begins the shorter poem. Such acquaintance, indeed, is not absolutely necessary; but it conduces to a more exact understanding of the total meaning of the poem, and of not a few individual passages in it. Indeed, even that diagram of Universal Space or physical Infinitude which was before the poet's mind, as we have seen, throughout Paradise Lost (see our Introduction to that Poem), is still present to his mind, though more dimly, in Paradise Regained.
The result of Satan's triumph in Paradise Lost, it is to be remembered, was that he and his crew of Fallen Anytis had succeeded in adding the “orbicular World” of Man, i.e. the whole Starry Universe with the Earth at its centre, to that infernal Empire of Hell to which they had been driven down on their expulsion from Heaven or the Empyrean. At the close of the real action of the great epic this is what we find Satan and Sin congratulating themselves upon (Book X. 350-409)—that Man's World has now been wrested from the Empire of Heaven above, and annexed to that of Hell beneath. An inter-communication has been established between Hell and Man's World, and it is hinted that thenceforward the Fallen Angels will not dwell so much in their main dark dominion of Hell as in the more lightsome World overhead, to which access is now easy. Distributing themselves through this World, they will rule its spheres and its elements; but more especially will they congregate in the Air round the central Earth, so as to intermingle with human affairs continually and exercise their diabolic functions on the successive generations of men. They-originally Angels in the Empyreal Heaven, then doomed spirits in Hell—will now be the “ Powers of the Air,” round about the Earth, and the Gods of Man's World. So they anticipate, and, over and over again throughout the poem, we are reminded that their anticipation has been fulfilled. What is the theory throughout Paradise Lost but that the gods of all the heathen mythologies, worshipped by all the nations, are the Fallen Angels who, in their new condition as Demons of Man's World and Powers of the Air, have so blinded and drugged the perceptions and imaginations of men as to be accepted as divinities?
Well, in Paradise Regained all this is assumed. It is assumed that for some thousands of years these “Powers of the Air,” alias Devils, alias gods of the Polytheistic Mythologies, have been in possession of Man's World, distributed some here, some there, according to their characters and faculties of mischief, but occasionally meeting in council somewhere in the element of Air or Mist. Satan is still their chief—the greatest in power and in ability, the leader in their councils, their governor, and the director of their common enterprises. He is no longer quite the same sublime spirit as in the Paradise Lost, in whom were to be discerned the majestic lineaments of the Archangel just ruined. The thousands of years he has spent since then in his self-selected function as the devil of our Earth,--no longer flying from star to star and through the grander regions of Universal Space, but winging about constantly close to our Earth, and meddling incessantly with all that is worst in merely terrestrial affairs, – have told upon his nature, and even upon his mien and bearing. He is a
meaner, shrewder spirit, both morally and physically less impressive. But he has not yet degenerated into the mere scoffing Mephistopheles of Goethe's great poem. He retains something of his former magnanimity, or at least of his power of understanding and appealing to the higher motives of thought and action. Whatever of really great invention or wisdom remains among the diabolic host in their diffusion through Man's World and its elements is still chiefly lodged in him. He it is, accordingly, who, in his vigilance as to what goes on on Earth, is the first to become aware of the advent of one who may possibly be that prophesied greater Man” who is to retrieve the consequences of Adam's fall
, end the diabolic influence in Man's World, and reconnect that World with Heaven. He it is who, as soon as he has made this discovery, summons the diabolic crew to consultation ; and the farther trial of Christ's virtue likewise devolves on him.
The greater portion of the first book of the Poem is preliminary to the real action. It describes the baptism of Christ, when about thirty years of age, and as yet obscure and unknown, by John at Bethabara on the Jordan, the recognition of him by John, the proclamation from Heaven of his Messiahship, the presence of Satan among those who hear this proclamation, and his alarm thereupon. A few days are then supposed to elapse, during which Christ remains in his lodging in Bethabara, the object now of much public regard, and with his first disciples gathering round him ; after which he is led by the Spirit into the wilderness, there to revolve his past life, and meditate on the ministry he is about to begin. It is after he has been already forty days in the Desert, and has begun to feel hunger, that the special action of the Poem opens (I. 303). It extends over three days. On the first day (the fortieth, it is to be supposed, of Christ's stay in the Wilderness,) we have Satan's presentation of himself to Christ in the guise of an old peasant, their first discourse, and the commencement of the Temptation in the manner in which it is related both in Matthew and in Luke-to wit, by the suggestion to Christ that he should prove his divinity by turning the stones around him into bread.
This part of the relation occupies the remainder of Book I., which ends with a description of the coming on of night in the Desert. In Book II. the relation is resumed -about half the Book being occupied with an episodic account of the per plexity of Mary and the disciples by reason of Christ's mysterious absence, and an account also of a second council of the Evil Spirits to advise with Satan on his farther proceedings; but the remainder of the Book bringing us back to the Desert, where Satan, early in the second day, renews the temptation. This second day's temptation is the most protracted and laborious, and the account of it extends from Book II. through the whole of Book III. and over two-thirds of Book IV. It is here that Milton has allowed his imagination the largest liberty in expanding the brief hints of the scriptural texts. Both in Matthew and in Luke the acts of the Temptation are represented as three. There is the Temptation of the Bread, or the appeal to Christ's hunger, which is put first by both Evangelists: there is the Temptation of the Vision of the Kingdoms of the Earth from a mountain-top, or the appeal to Christ's ambition—which Luke puts second in order, but Matthew last; and there is the Temptation on the pinnacle of the Temple, or, as it may be called, the appeal to vanity-which Matthew puts second, but Luke last. Milton, assigning a separate day to each act of the Temptation, follows Luke's order rather than Matthew's in the last two acts, and devotes the second day to the appeal to Christ's ambition. But he adds a variety of circumstances. He begins