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From fome caufe, of course too trifling to be known to us, probably from the numerous fluctuations of his fortune, Milton seems to have been extremely unfettled in his choice of a refidence. Soon after his marriage he lodged with Millington, the famous book auctioneer, a man of remarkable elocution, wit, sense, and modesty. Richardson fays, that Millington was accustomed to lead his venerable inmate by the hand, when he walked the streets; the person who acquainted Richardson with this fact, had often met Milton abroad with his conductor and hoft. He again removed to a small house in Artillery Walk, leading to Bunhill-fields, which, Philips fays, was his last stage in this world, but it was of many years continuance, more perhaps than he had had in any other place befides.
Milton having now wholly loft his fight, he depended for his studies on the affiftance of others: and Dr. Paget recommended Elwood the Quaker, who would every afternoon read to him fome Latin author. The plague had now begun to rage in London, and his young friend, Elwood, found a shelter for him at Chalfont in Buckinghamshire. "It was on a vifit at this place, that after some common difcourfes, fays Elwood, had paffed between us, he called for a MS. of his, which, being brought, he delivered to me, bidding me take it home with me, and read it at my leifure: and when I had so done, return it to him with my judgment thereupon. When I came
66 See an engraving of his house in Dunster's edition of Paradife Regained, and an account in Todd's Life of Milton, p. 272, and in Mr. Jeffe's Favourite Haunts, p. 62. I saw it last year, the Porch has been removed. Much of the interior remains as in Milton's time. It is in
habited by a tailor. Elwood calls it a pretty box. Milton is supposed to have refided there from the fummer of 1665, to the March or April of the following year. It appears that the plague reached even Chalfont, as may be seen by the Register in 1665.
home, and fet myself to read it, I found that it was that excellent Poem, which he entitled Paradife Loft." From this account it appears that Paradife Loft was complete in 1665, and Aubrey reprefents it as finished about three years after the king's restoration. Milton defcribes himfelf as long choofing and beginning late the subject of his Poem, and when that was selected, it was at firft wrought into a dramatic form, like fome of the ancient mysteries. There were two plans of the tragedy, both of which are preferved among the manufcripts in Trinity College, Cambridge; and which were printed, I believe, for the firft time in Dr. Birch's Narrative of the Poet's Life.67 Such were the early and imperfect rudiments of Paradife Loft; the flender materials which he poffeffed in the ftory, and the fplendid superstructure which he raised upon it, may remind us of the paffage, in which he has thrown over the fimple language of the ancient prophets, a magnificent defcription of his own creation.68 Ifaiah had faid, "that Lucifer fate upon the mount of the congregation, on the fides of the north." The key-note was ftruck on the chords of the Hebrew lyre, and Milton inftantly built up a palace for the fallen angel, equal in brilliancy and splendour to the castles of Romance. He piled up its pinnacles from diamond quarries; and hewed its towers out of rocks of gold.
"At length into the limits of the north
The palace of great Lucifer, fo call
That fructure in the dialect of men
67 See p. xlviii. to p. lv. for an account of the Plans of the Tragedies from the Scripture, as from the British History and Saxon Chronicles. 68 See T. Warton's Milton, p. 238.
Interpreted; which not long after he
How small the spark that could kindle into a poetical flame in Milton's mind! how quick the apprehenfion that seized the flightest hint! and how rich and fertile the genius to improve what it possessed! Callimachus had (Hymn. Del. 292) mentioned three Hyperborean nymphs, who sent fruits to Apollo in Delos. The word "Hyperborean" was fufficient. Inftantly Milton converts them into British goddeffes, and clothes them in a Pictish drefs; Selden had mentioned that Apollo was worshipped in Britain, Milton on those hints joins them to the Druids:
"Hinc quoties fefto cingunt altaria cantu
v. Manfus, ver. 45. What extent of time was paffed in the compofition of this great work is not with exactness known. Mr. Capel Lofft thinks that Milton began this poem in his forty-eighth year, and finished it in his fifty-feventh. Philips fays that he had the perusal of it from the very beginning, for fome years, in parcels of ten, twenty, or thirty verses at a time; and that his vein never happily flowed but from the autumnal equinox to the vernal, fo
v. Preface to Lofft's Milton, p. xxviii. The Aubrey Letters (vol. iii. p. 447). "His verse began at the autumnal equinoctial, and ceased at the vernal, or thereabouts (I believe about May); and this was four or five years of his doing it. He began about two years before the king came in, and finished about three years after the king's restoration."
that in all the years he was about the poem, he may be said to have spent about half his time therein. Toland imagines that Philips was mistaken with regard to the time, fince Milton declared in his Latin elegy that his poetic talent returned with the spring.
"Fallor? an et nobis redeunt in carmina vires
A friend of Milton's alfo informed Toland that Milton could never compose well but in the spring and autumn. He then poured out with great ease and fluency his unpremeditated verses. Dr. Johnson says, that there are no other internal notes of the time when the poem was written but the mention of the lofs of his fight in the beginning of the third book, and of the return of the King in the introduction to the seventh.
Some difficulty was experienced in obtaining a license;" and objections were made to particular paffages, especially to the fimile of the fun eclipfed in the first book. But it was at length granted, and he fold his copy to Samuel Simmons, April 27, 1667, for an immediate payment of five pounds, with a stipulation to receive five pounds more when thirteen hundred of the first edition should be fold. Again five pounds after the fale of the fame number of the second edition, and another five pounds after the same
70 Birch's Life, p. lvi.
71 Mr. Tomkins, chaplain to Archbishop Sheldon, was licenser. The office of licenser, abolished by Cromwell, was restored by act of parliament in 1662. The prefs was placed, with reference to its different productions, under the judges, the officers of state, and the archbishop of Canterbury. Poetry fell within the province of the latter. v. Symmons's Life, p. 521. Mr. C. Lofft fays, "That no manuscript of the Paradife Loft has been discovered, except that of the first book copied for the prefs, with the imprimatur of the archbishop's chaplain, but where this is to be seen is not mentioned." See Lofft's Pref. to Milton, p. i. and Newton's Pref. p. liv. See Pope's Letters, ed. Warton, vol. viii. p. 116; "I long to fee the original Manuscript of Milton," &c.
fale of the third. None of the three editions were to be extended beyond fifteen hundred copies. The first edition was of the poem in ten books, in fmall quarto, which were advertised plainly and neatly bound, at the price of three fhillings. The titles were varied, paffing into other publishers' hands, in order to circulate the edition, in 1667, 1668, 1669. Of these there were no less than five. An advertisement and the arguments of the books were omitted in fome copies, and inferted in others; and from variations in the text, it would appear that the latter sheets of the work were twice printed, and fingle pages were cancelled and reprinted.
The fale gave him in two years a right to his fecond payment; for which the receipt was figned April 26, 1669. The second edition was not given till 1674, and was printed in small octavo, and the number of books was increased to twelve, by a divifion of the seventh and twelfth, with the introduction of a few connecting lines. He did not live 73 to receive the payment ftipulated for
72 See Introduction to Pickering's edition, p. xii. and Todd's Life, (firft ed.) p. 190, for an account of the variations in the poem and titles. Mr. Lofft observes that 1667 was a great year in the annals of our hiftory; for not only was Paradise Lost published, but there was a "Statute paffed for the employment of poor prifoners," and a "great step made in the art of dreffing wool," p. xxiv. of the effect of thefe different circumstances towards establishing the name and character which Britain holds among the nations, it is difficult to form an idea of any degree of proportionate extent; an adequate is impoffible. It opens a vaft arena in the boundless space of human perfectibility. v. Remarks by Tench Coxe. "These clustering radiations of moral light may unite mankind to the intelligence of other fyftems unnumbered and unimagined;" which circumstance, if it come to pafs, will open new markets for the wool trade, and be of great advantage to the publishers of Paradise Loft.
Go thy ways, Capel, the flower and quinteffence of all editors.""
73 For an account of the editions, fee C. Lofft's Preface, p. xxxv. lxi. and Todd's Life, p. 189-217. The number of lines in Paradife Loft amount to 10,565. Dr. Symmons fays that Milton lived to receive the