and morning, I suppofe before his mind was disturbed with common business ; and that he poured out with great fluency his unpremeditated verse. Versification, free, like his, from the distresses of rhyme, must, by a work so long, be made prompt and habitual ; and, when his thoughts were once adjusted, the words would come at his command.

At what particular times of his life the parts of his work were written, cannot often be known. The beginning of the third book thews that he had lost his fight; and the Introduction to the seventh, that the return of the King had clouded him with discounteDance; and that he was offended by the licentious feltivity of the Restoration. There are no other internal notes of tiine. Milton, being now cleared from all effects of his disloyalty, had nothing required from him but the common duty of living in quiet, to be rewarded with the common right of protection; but this, which, when he sculked from the approach of his King was perhaps more than he hoped, seems not to have satisfied hiin; for no sooner is he safe, than he finds himself in danger, fallen on evil days and evil tongues, and with darkness and with danger compass’d round. This darkness, had his eyes been better employed, had undoubtedly deserved compassion : but to add the mention of danger was ungrateful and unjuít.

He was fallen indeed on evil days; the time was come in which regicides could no longer boast their wickedness. But of evil tongves for Milton to complain, required impudence at least equal to his other powers ; Milton, whose warmest advocates must allow, that he never spared any asperity of reproach or brutality of infolence.


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But the charge itself seems to be false ; for it would e pouso be hard to recollect any reproach cast upon him, either fed fed serious or ludicrous, through the whole' remaining rhyme, s part of his life. He pursued his studies or his amusend babini ments, without persecution, inoluitation, or insult. , the wed Such is the reverence paid to great abilities, however

misused : they who contemplated in Milton the scholar fe the mou and the wit, were contented to forget the reviler of pe knon

his King.

When the plague (1665) raged in London, Milton ferente

, took refuge at Chalfont in Bucks; where Elwood, who n with d had taken the house for him, first saw a complete copy the licentie of Paradise Loft, ånd, having perused it, said to him,

“ Thou hast said a great deal upon Paradise Lost; what “ hast thou to say upon Paradise found ?

Next year, when the danger of infection had ceased, he returned to Bunhill-fields, and designed the publication of his poem. A license was recessary, and he could expect no great kindness from a chaplain of the archbishop of Canterbury. He seems, however, to have been treated with tenderness; for though objections were made to particular passages, and among them to the fimile of the sun eclipsed in the first book, yet the license was granted ; and he fold his copy, April 27, 1667, to Samuel Simmons, for an immediate payment of five pounds, with a ftipulation to receive five pounds more when thirteen hundred should be fold of the first edition: and again, five pounds after the sale of the saine number of the second edition : and another five pounds after the same sale of the third. None of the three editions were to be extended beyond fifteen hundred copies. K 2


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The first edition was ten books, in a small quarto. The titles were varied from year to year; and an advertisement and the arguments of the books were omitted in some copies, and inserted in others.

The fale gave him in two years a right to his second payment, for which the receipt was signed April 26, 1669. The second edition was not given till 1674; it was printed in small octavo ; and the number of books was increased to twelve, by a divifion of the seventh and twelfth; and some other small improvements were made. The third edition was published in 1678 ; and the widow, to whom the copy was then to devolve, sold all her claims to Simmons for eight pounds, according to her receipt given Dec. 21, 1680, Simmons had already agreed to transfer the whole right to Brabazon Aylmer for twenty-five pounds; and Aylmer sold to Jacob Tonson half, August 17, 1683, half, March 24, 1690, at a price considerably enlarged. In the history of Paradise Loft a deduction thus minute will rather gratify than fatigue.

The flow sale and tardy reputation of this poem have been always mentioned as evidences of neglected merit, and of the uncertainty of literary fame; and enquiries have been made, and conjectures offered, about the causes of its long obscurity and late reception. But has the case been truly stated ? Have not lamentation and wonder been lavished on an eyil chat was

Dever felt?

That in the reigns of Charles and James the Paradise Loft received no publick acclamations is readily confessed. Wit and literature were on the side of the Court : and who that folicited favour or fashion would venture to praise the defender of the regicides? All


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, in all that he himself could think his due, from evil tongues year; a

in evil days, was that reverential filence which was f the band generously preserved. But it cannot be inferred that din other his poem was not read, or not, however unwillingly, right to


The sale, if it be considered, will justify the pubt givene

lick. Those who have no power to judge of past times
but by their own, should always doubt their conclu-

sions. The call for books was not in Milton's age er imell

what it is in the present. To read was not then a geLon was

neral amusement; neither traders, nor often gentle

men, thought themselves disgraced by ignorance. immons

The women had not then aspired to literature, nor en Dec. 21.

was every house supplied with a closet of knowledge. ansfer the

Those, indeed, who professed learning, were not less

learned than at any other time; but of that middle race -fre pound

of students who read for pleasure or accomplishment, August 11

and who buy the numerous products of modern typo

graphy, the number was then comparatively small. Lift a dead

To prove the paucity of readers, it may be sufficiatigue .

ent to remark, that the nation had been sarisfied

from 1623 to 1664, that is, forty-one years, with negkeels

only two editions of the works of Shakspeare, which
probably did nos together make one thousand copies.

The sale of thirteen hundred copies in two years, in
opposition to so much recent enmity, and to a style of
versification new to all and disgusting to many, was an
uncommon example of the prevalence of genius. The
demand did not immediately increase; for many more
readers than were supplied at first the nation did not
afford. Only three thousand were sold in eleven years ;
for it forced its way without affistance : its admirers
did not dare to publish their opinion; and the oppor,



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O N. tunities now given of attracting notice by advertise. ments were then very few; the means of proclaiming the publication of new books have been produced by that general literature which now pervades the nation through all its ranks.

But the reputation and price of the copy still ad. vanced, till the Revolution put an end to the secrecy of love, and Puradise Lost broke into open view with fufficient security of kind reception.

Fancy can hardly forbear to conjecture with what temper Milton surveyed the filent progress of his work, and marked its reputation stealing its way in a kind of subterraneous current through fear and filence.

I cannot but conceive him calm and confident, little disappointed, not at all dejected, relying on his own merit with steady consciousness, and waiting, without impatience, the vicissitudes of opinion, and the impartiality of a future generation,

In the mean time he continued his studies, and supplied the want of fight by a very odd expedient, of whichi Philips gives the following account :

Mr, Philips tells us, “ that though our author had “ daily about him one or other to read, fome persons “ of man's estate, who, of their own accord, greedily “ catched at the opportunity of being his readers, that “ they might as well reap the benefit of what they read " to him, as oblige him by the benefit of their read

ing; and others of younger years were sent by their

parents to the fame end: yet excusing only the “ eldest daughter, by reason of her bodily infirmity, ^ and difficult utterance of speech, (which, to say “ truth, I doubt was the principal cause of excusing “ her), the other two were condemned to the per


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