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INTRODUCTION TO PARADISE LOST.

INTRODUCTION:

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL, BIOGRAPHICAL, AND EXPOSITORY.

IT

First and Subsequent Editions of the Poem.

T 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-quite a young man, but already the author of one or two books or pamphlets. 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 tomb-stone as having been "Ecclesia Anglicana contra Schismaticos assertor eximius." * A manuscript by a man of Milton's political and ecclesiastical * Wood's Athenæ, by Bliss, iii. 1046--1048.

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antecedents could hardly, one would think, have fallen into the hands of a more unpropitious examiner. It is accordingly stated that Tomkyns hesitated about giving the licence, and took exception to some passages in the poem-particularly to that (Book I. vv. 594-599) where it is said of Satan, in his diminished brightness after his fall, that he still appeared

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as when the Sun, new-risen,

Looks through the horizontal misty air

Shorn of his beams, or from behind a cloud,

In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs."

At length, however, Mr. Tomkyns was satisfied. There still exists the first book of the actual manuscript which had been submitted to him. It is a fairly-written copy, in a light, not inelegant, but rather characterless hand of the period of course, not that of Milton himself, who had been for fourteen years totally blind. It consists of eighteen leaves of small quarto, stitched together; and on the inside of the first leaf, or cover, is the following official licence to print in Tomkyns's hand :

Imprimatur:

Tho. Tomkyns, Rmo. in Christo Patri ac Domino, Dno. Gilberto, divinâ Providentiâ Archiepiscopo Cantuariensi, à sacris domesticis.

The other books of the manuscript having received a similar certificate, or this certificate on the MS. of the first book sufficing for all, the copy was ready for publication by any printer or bookseller to whom Milton might consign it. Having already had many dealings with London printers and booksellers, Milton

* Toland's Life of Milton, prefixed to Edition of Milton's Prose Works, 1698; pp. 40, 41.

+ The manuscript is described, and a facsimile of a portion of it is given, in Mr. Samuel Leigh Sotheby's Ramblings in Elucidation of the Autograph of Milton, 1861; pp. 196, 197. It is, or was then, in the possession of William Baker, Esq., of Bayfordsbury, Hertfordshire, to whom it had descended, with other relics of interest, in consequence of the marriage of an ancestor with Mary, the eldest daughter of the second Jacob Tonson, of the famous publishing family of the Tonsons. Bishop Newton, in his Life of Milton, 1749, mentions the manuscript as then in possession of the third Jacob Tonson, who was brother of the said Mary. How it came to be in the Tonson family at all will appear in the course of this Introduction.

may have had several to whom he could go; but the one whom he favoured in this case, or who favoured him, was a certain Samuel Simmons, having his shop "next door to the Golden Lion in Aldersgate Street.” * The date of the transaction between Simmons and Milton is April 27, 1667. On that day an agreement was signed between them as follows:

THESE PRESENTS, made the 27th day of Aprill, 1667, between John Milton, gent., of the one parte, and Samuel Symons, printer, of the other parte, Wittness That the said John Milton, in consideration of five pounds to him now paid by the said Sam". Symons, and other the considerations herein mentioned, Hath given, granted, and assigned, and by these presents doth give, grant, and assigne unto the said Sam11. Symons, his executors and assignes, All that Booke, Copy, or Manuscript, of a Poem intituled Paradise Lost, or by whatsoever other title or name the same is or shalbe called or distinguished, now lately Licensed to be printed, Together with the full benefitt, profitt, and advantage thereof, or which shall or may arise thereby : And the said John Milton, for him, his executors and administrators, doth covenant with the said Sam Symons, his executors and assignes, That hee and they shall at all tymes hereafter have, hold, and enjoy the same and all Impressions thereof accordingly, without the lett or hinderance of him the said John Milton, his executors or assignes, or any person or persons by his or their consent or privitie, And that he the said Jo: Milton, his executors or administrators, or any other by his or their meanes or consent, shall not print or cause to be printed, or sell, dispose, or publish the said Booke or Manuscript, or any other Booke or Manuscript of the same tenor or subject, without the consent of the said Sam". Symons, his executors or assignes: In Consideration whereof the said Sam". Symons, for him, his executors and administrators, doth covenant with the said John Milton, his executors and assignes, well and truly to pay unto the said John Milton, his executors and administrators, the sum of five pounds of lawfull English money at the end of the first Impression which he the said Sam11. Symons, his executors or assignes, shall make and publish of the said Copy or manuscript; Which Impression shalbe accounted to be ended when thirteene hundred Books of the said whole Copy or Manuscript imprinted shalbe sold and retaild off to particular reading Customers: And shall also pay other five pounds unto the said Mr. Milton, or his assignes, at the end of the second Impression, to be accounted as aforesaid, And five pounds more at the end of the third Impression, to be in like manner accounted: And that the said three first Impressions shall not exceed fifteene hundred Books or volumes of the said whole Copy or

* He was probably the son, or other near relative, and successor, of a Matthew Simmons, printer, who had occupied the same premises in 1649, and had then printed Milton's Elkovoкλάσтηs. Milton had resided for a good many years— i.e. from 1640 to 1648, and again from 1661 to 1664—in Aldersgate Street or its vicinity; and he probably knew the "Golden Lion" and Simmons's shop well. There is still a "Golden Lion Court" in Aldersgate Street, with one or two houses near it that have stood since Milton's time.

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