페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

a

onvenience to Simmons in his circumstances at the time. Not impossibly, owever, more was involved than this in so much tossing about of the book vithin so short a period. May not Simmons have been a little timid about is venture in publishing a book by the notorious Milton, whose attacks on the Church and defences of the execution of Charles I. were still fresh in the nemory of all, and some of whose pamphlets had been publicly burnt by the angman after the Restoration ? May not his entering the book at Stationers' Hall simply as "a Poem in Ten Books by J. M.” have been a caution on his bart; and, though, in the first issues, he had ventured on the name “John Milton” in full, may he not have found or thought it advisable, for a subsequent circulation in some quarters, to have copies with only the milder “J. M.” upon them?

In any case, the first edition of Paradise Lost was a most creditably printed book. It is, as has been mentioned, a small quarto-of 342 pages in such copies as are without the “ Argument" and other preliminary matter, and of 356 pages in the copies that have this addition, But the pages are not numbered-only the lines by tens along the margin in each Book. In one or two places there is an error in the numbering of the lines, arising from miscounting. The text in each page is enclosed within lines-single lines at the inner margin and bottom, but double lines at the top for the run ng title and the number of the Book, and along the outer margin columnwise for the numbering of the lines. Very great care must have been bestowed on the reading of the proofs, either by Milton himself, or by some competent person who had undertaken to see the book through the press for him. It seems likely that Milton himself

caused page after page to be read over slowly to him, and occasionally even the - words to be spelt out. There are, at all events, certain systematic peculiarities of spelling and punctuation which it seems most reasonable to attribute to Milton's own instructions. Altogether, for a book printed in such circumistances, it is wonderfully accurate; and, in all the particulars of type, paper,

and general getting-up, the first appearance of Paradise Lost must have been ; rather attractive than otherwise to book-buyers of that day.

The selling-price of the volume was three shillings, which is perhaps as if : a similar book now were published at about 1os. 6. From the retail sale of

1,300 copies, therefore, the sum that would come in to Simmons, if we make an allowance for trade-deductions at about the modern rate, would be something under 1401. Out of this had to be paid the expenses of printing, &c., 1 and the sum agreed upon with the author; and the balance would be Sim. mons's profit. On the whole, though he cannot have made anything extraordinary by the transaction, it must have been sufficiently remunerative. For, by the 26th of April 1669, or after the poem had been published a little over eighteen months, the stipulated impression of 1, 300 copies had been exhausted.

The proof exists in the shape of Milton's receipt (signed for him by another di

hand) for the additional Five Pounds due to him on that contingency:

4

April 26, 1669. Received then of Samuel Simmons five pounds, being the Second five pounds to be paid mentioned in the Covenant. I say recd. by me.

JOHN Milton. Witness, Edmund Upton.

Thus, by the month of April 1669, Milton had received in all Ten Pounds for his Paradise Lost. This was all that he was to receive for it in his life. For, contrary to what might have been expected after a sale of the first edition in eighteen months, there was no second edition for five years more, or till 1674. Either the book was out of print for these five years, or what demand for it there continued to be was supplied out of the surplus of 200 copies which, for some reason or other, Simmons had been authorized to print beyond the 1,300. But in 1674—the last year of Milton's life -a second edition did appear, with the following title:

“Paradise Lost. A Poem in Twelve Books. The Author John Milton. The Second Edition Revised and Augınented by the same Author. London, Printed by S. Sinimons next door to the Golden Lion in Aldersgate-street, 1674."

a

This edition is in small octavo, with the pages numbered, but with no mar. ginal numbering of the lines-the pages of the text as numbered being 333. There are prefixed two sets of commendatory verses—the one in Latin signed S. B., M.D.," and written by a certain Samuel Barrow, a physician and a private friend of Milton ; the other in English, signed “A. 11.," and written by Andrew Marvel. But the most important difference between this and the previous edition is that, whereas the poem had been arranged in Ten Books in the first, it is here arranged in Twelve. This is accomplished by dividing wha: had formerly been the two longest Books of the poem-Books VII. and X. into two Books each. There is a corresponding division in the “. Arguments of these Books ; and the “Arguments," instead of being given in a body at the beginning, are prefixed to the Books to which they severally apply. To smooth over the breaks made by the division of the two Books, the three new lines were added which now form the beginning of Book VIII. and the five that begin Book XII.; and there are one or two other slight additions or alterations, also dictated by Milton, in the course of the text, besides a few verbal variations, such as would arise in reprinting. On the whole the Second Edition, though very correct, is not so nice-looking a book as the First.

Four years sufficed to exhaust the Second Edition ; and in 1678 (i.e. four years after Milton's death) a Third Edition appeared with this title: "Paradise Lost. A Poem in Tivelve Books. The Author John Milton. The Third Edition. Revised and Augmented by the same Author. London, Printed by S. Simmons, next door to the Golden Lion in Aldersgate Street, 1678.” This edition is in small octavo, and in other respects the same as its predecessor, save that there are a few verbal variations in the printing. It is of no independent value—the Second Edition being the last that could have been supervised by Milton himself. From the appearance of a third edition in 1678, however, it is to be inferred that by that time the second of those impressions of 1,300 copies which had to be accounted for to the author was sold off (implying perhaps a total circulation up to that time of 3,000 copies), and that, consequently, had the author been alive, he would have been then entitled to his third sum of Five Pounds, as by the agreement. Milton being dead, the sum was due to his widow. Whether, however, on account of disputes which existed between the widow and Milton's three daughters by his first wife as to the inheritance of his property (disputes which were the subject of a law-suit in 1674-5), or for other reasons, Simmons was in no hurry to pay the third Five Pounds. It was not till the end of 1680 1hat he settled with the widow, i

a

and then in a manner of which the following receipt given by her is a record :

I do hereby acknowledge to have received of Samuel Symonds, Cittizen and Stationer of London, the Sum of Eight pounds : which is in full payment for all my right, Title, or Interest, which I have, or ever had in the Coppy of a Poem Intitled Paradise Lost in Twelve Bookes in 8vo. By John Milton, Gent., my late husband. Witness my hand this 21st day of December, 1880.

ELIZABETH MILTON. Witness, William Yapp.

Ann Yapp.

That is to say, Simmons, owing the widow Five Pounds, due since 1678, and in prospect of soon owing her other Five Pounds on the current impression of the Poem, preferred, or consented, to compound for the Ten by a payment of Eight in December 1680. The total sum which he could in any case have been called upon to pay for Paradise Lost by his original agreement was 201. (for the agreement did not look beyond three impressions of 1,300 copies each); and the total sum which he did pay was 18). If he thus got off zi. it was probably to oblige the widow, who may have been anxious to realize all she could of her late husband's property at once before leaving town. There is, indeed, a subsequent document from which it would appear as if Simmons feared having farther trouble from the widow. It is a document, dated April 29, 1681, by which she formally releases Samuel Simmons, his heirs, executors, and administrators for ever, from “all and all manner of action and actions,

cause and causes of action, suits, bills, bonds, writings obligatory, debts, “ dues, duties, accounts, sum and sums of moneys, judgments, executions,

extents, quarrels either in law or equity, controversies and demands, and all “ and every other matter, cause, and thing whatsoever, which against the said “ Samuel Simmons” she ever had, or which she, her heirs, executors, or administrators should or might have " by reason or means of any matter, cause,

or thing whatsoever, from the beginning of the world unto the day of thece presents.' About the most comprehensive release possible !

From 1680, accordingly, neither Milton's widow, nor his daughters, had any share or interest whatever in the sale of Paradise Lost. The sole property in it was vested in the printer Simmons. Nor did he keep it long. Shortly after his last agreement with the vidow he transferred his entire interest in the poem to another bookseller, Brabazon Aylmer, for twenty-five pounds. But on the 17th of August, 1683, Aylmer sold half of his right at a considerably advanced price to the famous bookseller, Jacob Tonson, who had begun business in 1677, and was already introducing a new era in the book-trade by his dealings with Dryden and others; and in March, 1690, Tonson bought the other half of the copyright. What are called the fourth, fifth, and sixth editions, accordingly, were all issued by Tonson. The fourth was issued in 1688, in folio, with a portrait by White, and other illustrations, and a list of more than 500 subscribers, including the most eminent persons of the day—some copies including Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes

, and having the general title of Milton's Poetical Works. The fifth appeared in 1692, also in folio; and with Paradise Regained appended. The sixth was published in 1695, also in large folio and with illustrations, both separately, and also bound up with ali the rest of the poems under the general title of “The Poetical Works of Mr. John Milton.” " This edition was accompanied by what is in reality the first

66

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

commentary on the poem, and also one of the best. It consists of no fewer than 321 folio pages of Annotations, under this title, “Annotations on Milton's " Paradise Lost: wherein the texts of Sacred Writ relating to the Poem are

quoted; the parallel places and imitations of the most excellent Homer and “ Virgil cited and compared; all the obscure parts rendered in phrases more

familiar; the old and obsolete words, with their originals, explain'd and " made easy to the English reader. By P. H., QIAOTOLÓTMs.” The “P. H." who thus led the way, so largely, carefully, and laboriously, in the work of commentating Milton, was Patrick Hume, a Scotsman, of whom nothing more has been ascertained than that he was then settled as a schoolmaster some. where near London.

A common statement is that it was Addison's celebrated series of criticisms on Paradise Lost in the Spectator, during the years 1711 and 1712, that first awoke people to Milton's greatness as a poet, and that till then he had been neglected. The statement will not bear investigation. Not only had six editions of the Paradise Lost been published before the close of the seventeenth century--three of them splendid folio editions, and one of them with a commentary which was in itself a tribute to the extraordinary renown of the poem ; and not only before or shortly after Milton's death had there been such public expressions of admiration for the poem by Dryden and others as were equivalent to its recognition as one of the sublimest works of English genius ; but since the year 1688 these emphatic, if not very discriminating lines, of Dryden, printed by way of motto under Milton's portrait in Tonson's edition of that year, had been a familiar quotation in all men's mouths :

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

Even before these lines were written the habit of comparing Milton with Homer and Virgil, and of wondering whether the highest greatness might not be claimed for the Englishman, had been fully formed. Addison's criticisms, therefore, were only a contribution to a reputation already become traditional. Three new editions of the Paradise Lost, by itself or otherwise, had been published by Tonson before the appearance of these criticisms—to wit, in 1705, 1707, and 1711 ; after which Addison's criticisms may have given an impulse to the sale, visible in the rapid multiplication of subsequent editions.

The Tonson family had an undisturbed monopoly of these editions, and indeed of all Milton's poetry, till as late as the year 1750. Every one of the numerous editions, in different sizes and forms, published in Great Britain down to that year, bears the name of the Tonson firm on the title-page. This was owing to the state of opinion as to copyright in books. In Great Britain the understanding in the book-trade was that a publisher who had once acquired a book had a perpetual property in it. The understanding did not extend to Ireland; and accordingly there had been three Dublin editions of Paradise Lostin 1724, 1747, and 1748 respectively. But about 1750 the understanding broke down in Great Britain as well-being found inconsistent with the Copyriglit Act of Queen Anne, passed in 1709 ; and, accordingly, from 1750 onwards

no fewer ve find London and Edinburgh publishers venturing to put forth editions of

Milton's dilton to compete with those of the Tonsons. Not, however, till the death, Poem aren 1767, of Jacob Tonson tertius, the grand-nephew of the original Tonson, Omer and nd the last of the famous firm, was the long connexion of the name of ses more Conson with Milton's poetry broken, and the traffic in Milton's poems really ind anri hrown open. From that date to the present the number of editions of * P. H." Paradise Lost, and of Milton's other poems, by different publishers, and in work of lifferent fashions, is all but past reckoning. ing more

er some

seren.

[ocr errors]

II. ORIGIN OF THE POEM AND HISTORY OF ITS COMPOSITION, riticisms hat first A great deal has been written concerning “the origin ” of Paradise Lost. ad been Voltaire, in 1727, suggested that Milton had, while in Italy in 1638-9, seen had six

jerformed there a Scriptural drama, entitled Adamo, written by a certain

Giovanni Battista Andreini, and that, “piercing through the absurdity of the em with Performance to the hidden majesty of the subject,” he took from that ridi

the

culous trifle the first hint of the noblest work which the human imagination qe been las ever attempted.” The Andreini thus recalled to notice was the son of Chers as

in Italian actress, and was known in Italy and also in France as a writer of English

comedies and religious poems, and also of some defences of the drama. He inating

vas born in 1578, and, as he did not die till 1652, he may have been of some onson's

eputation in Italy as a living author at the time of Milton's visit. His Adamo, of which special mention is made, was published at Milan in 1613, again at Milan in 1617; and there was a third edition of it at Perugia in 1641. It is a Irama in Italian verse, in five Acts, representing the Fall of Man. Among the :haracters, besides Adam and Eve, are God the Father, the Archangel Michael, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, the Serpent, and various allegoric personages, such as the Seven Mortal Sins, the World, the Flesh, Famine, Despair, Death ; and there are also choruses of Seraphim, Cherubim, Angels, Phan

and Infernal Spirits. From specimens which have been given, it apa with pears that the play, though absurd enough on the whole to justify the way in

which Voltaire speaks of it, is not destitute of vivacity and other merits, and -ht not cisms,

that, if Milton did read it, or see it performed, he may have retained a pretty

The hint that Milton might have been indebted for the first idea of his poem been

to Andreini opened up one of those literary questions in which ferrets among Fit, in

old books and critics of more ingenuity than judgment delight to lose themselves. In various quarters hypotheses were started as to particular authors to

whom, in addition to Andreini, Milton might have been indebted for this or and

that in his Paradise Lost. The notorious William Lauder gave an impulse to of the

the question by his publications, from 1746 to 1755, openly accusing Milton of down

lagiarism ; and, though the controversy in the form in which Lauder had n the ra sed it ended with the exposure of his forgeries, the so-called “Inquiry into red a

the Origin of Paradise Lost” has continued to occupy to this day critics of a Ire very different stamp from Lauder, and writing in a very different spirit. The

result has been that some thirty authors have been cited, as entitled, along with Andreini or apart from him, to the credit of having probably or possibly con

tributed something to the conception, the plan, or the execution of Milton's cards great poem. Quite recently, for example, a claim has been advanced for the

cional. strong recollection of it.

en an

ons.

was

-ostproke

right

« 이전계속 »