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print his miscellaneous poems and a new edition of 'Comus.' The title-page to this collection reads:
Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, Compos'd at several times. Printed by his true Copies. The Songs were set in Musick by Mr. Henry Lawes, Gentleman of the Kings Chappel, and one of His Maiesties Private Musick.
Cingite, ne vati noceat mala lingua futuro,
Virgil, Eclog. 7.
Printed and publish'd, according to Order. London, Printed by Ruth Raworth, for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at the signe of the Princes Arms in S. Pauls Church-yard, 1645.
Facing the title-page was the unlucky engraved portrait of Milton in his twenty-first year, which William Marshall, a very unequal artist, here shown at his worst, had apparently copied from a painting of the poet in his Cambridge days. Milton was now 37, but there was some appropriateness in choosing an early portrait. since most of the poems in the volume were early work. Unfortunately Marshall hardened the face till it looked like a grim gentleman of fifty, and Milton, as all the world knows, amused himself by letting the portrait go forth accompanied by a malicious Greek epigram which Marshall must have engraved in happy ignorance of its meaning. ̓Αμαθεὶ γεγράφθαι χειρὶ τήνδε μὲν εἰκόνα Φαίης τάχ ̓ ἂν, πρὸς εἶδος αὐτοφυὲς βλέπων. Τὸν δ ̓ ἐκτυπωτὸν οὐκ ἐπιγνόντες, φίλοι, Γελᾶτε φαύλου δυσμίμημα ζωγράφου.
So runs the Greek and, as an epigram in English can hardly dispense with rhyme, we may make shift to translate it :
Unskilled the hand that such a print could trace
The engraving is so distinctly below the average of Marshall's work that Milton may perhaps have imagined that the caricature was intentional-that Marshall, in fact, disagreed so much with his recently expressed views on divorce that he was aiding the evil tongues alluded to in the Virgilian quotation of the title-page, by drawing a most unpoetic face. If he entertained such a suspicion Milton's malice, otherwise a little unworthy, would be excusable enough. In any case, however, his wrath can hardly have extended to Humphrey Moseley, the publisher, who sent forth the book with this commendatory letter of his own:
THE STATIONER TO THE READER.
Ir is not any private respect of gain, Gentle Reader, for the slightest Pamphlet is nowadayes more vendible then the Works of learnedest men; but it is the love I have to our own Language that hath made me diligent to collect, and set forth such Peeces both in Prose and Vers, as may renew the wonted honour and esteem of our English tongue : and it's the worth of these both English and Latin Poems, not the flourish of any prefixed encomions that can invite thee to buy them, though these are not without the highest Commendations and Applause of the learnedst Academicks, both domestick and forrein: And amongst those of our own Countrey, the unparallel'd attestation of that renowned Provost of Eaton, SIR HENRY WOOTTON : I know not thy palat how it relishes such dainties, nor how harmonious thy soul is; perhaps more trivial Airs may please thee better. But howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that incouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men in their clear and courteous entertainment of MR. WALLER'S late choice Peeces, hath once more made me adventure into the World, presenting it with these ever-green, and not to be blasted Laurels. The Authors more peculiar excellency in these studies, was too well known to conceal his Papers, or to keep me from attempting to sollicit them from him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I shall deserve of the age by bringing into the Light as true
1 Printed in this edition after the dedication of Comus,' Vol. II., P. 155.
a Birth, as the Muses have brought forth since our famous SPENCER wrote; whose Poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated, as sweetly excell'd. Reader, if thou art Eagle-eied to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.
Thine to command,
Soon after 1645 English publishers began to print lists of their books, which they bound up at the end of their new ones as an advertisement. In 1653 Moseley issued a more extensive list than any previously published, and among its 140 entries that of Milton's Poems figures as the sixty-sixth. They were, therefore, still on sale eight years after their publication, though the fact that they come in one of the sections of the list printed only in small type, may show either that the stock at that date was not large enough to tempt the publisher to give them prominence, or else that the active share which Milton, since their first appearance, had taken in politics made Moseley despair of commending them to his patrons, who were probably mostly on the other side. However this may be, the good man deserves our gratitude for having given them to the world. Besides the Latin poems and the reprints of 'Comus' and 'Lycidas,' the volume contained nearly all Milton's minor poems, the exceptions being the Elegy on a Fair Infant dying of a Cough,' the eleventh and subsequent sonnets, the translation of Horace's Ode to Pyrrha, At a Vacation Exercise,' and the renderings of Psalms i-viii. and lxxx-lxxxviii. Of these the four political sonnets, on Fairfax, Cromwell, and Sir Henry Vane, and the second to Cyriack Skinner, were perforce withheld till 1695, after the Revolution; all the rest appeared in a second edition of the Poems, published
by Tho. Dring in 1673, together with Milton's 'Small Tractate of Education, to Mr. Hartlib.'
Twenty-two years elapsed after the appearance of the Poems of 1645 before Milton was in need of a publisher for a new volume of his poetry. On April 27th, 1667, he signed an agreement with Samuel Symons or Simmons, conveying to him his executors and assignes All that Booke, Copy, or Manuscript of a Poem intituled Paradise Lost,' in consideration of an immediate payment of Five Pounds, and three other payments of the like amount after the sale of a first, second, and third edition of 1300 copies each, to particular reading customers,' the printer being allowed to print an extra two hundred copies of each edition, apparently to allow for presentation, spoilt copies, and other wastage. In the agreement the poem is described as now lately Licensed to be printed,' and a manuscript copy of the first book, written out fair in a clerk's hand, has been preserved, bearing the 'Imprimatur' of 'Tho. Tomkyns,' domestic chaplain to Gilbert Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury, who acted as the Archbishop's deputy in licensing books. The preservation of this manuscript is fortunate as proving that, despite his blindness, Milton was able to secure exceptional accuracy in the printing of his poem, the manuscript differing from the printed text in little save a few minute points of spelling. In thus entirely supporting the printer it of course empties itself of much of its interest. Nevertheless, an attempted sale at Sotheby's on January 25th, 1904, showed that its owner valued it at no less than £5000, an estimate which, since no single book has ever fetched more than £10,000, seems to leave insufficient margin for the relative value of the ten times more interesting autograph manuscript at Trinity College,
Cambridge, of Comus,' 'Lycidas,' and the minor poems.
Not quite four months after the agreement had been signed, Paradise Lost' was registered at Stationers' Hall, on August 20th, 1667. Between registration and publication an indefinite interval might elapse, and we have no strict proof that the poem, though its earliest titlepage bears the date 1667, was not actually published in the border months of the two reckonings then in use, since any date before March 25th, 1668, belonged in popular account to 1667. But the practice of post-dating books, so as to make them seem new as long as possible, works in the opposite direction, and it was probably in the autumn of 1667 that the poem appeared, with the following title-page :
Paradise lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books. By John Milton. Licensed and Entred according to Order. London Printed, and are to be sold by Peter Parker under Creed Church neer Aldgate; And by Robert Boulter at the Turks Head in Bishopsgate-street; And Matthias Walker, under St. Dunstons Church in Fleet-street, 1667.
It will be observed that Samuel Symons or Simmons, the real printer and publisher of the book, does not here give his own name on the title-page. In registering the copyright he had indicated the author by initials (a Booke or Copie Intituled Paradise Lost, a Poem in Tenne bookes, by J. M.), and though initials in the seventeenth century were very lightly used, with no idea of concealment, we may fairly imagine that Simmons was alarmed lest Milton's political record should injure both the book and the publisher. It is probably to these fears, and the recovery from them, that we may ascribe the extraordinary succession of title-pages with which the first edition was issued. Before 1667 was out that which