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observer, had reached a point at which he and others like him could openly assist. The Long Parliament had met, and all pens and tongues outside of Parliament were summoned to help in the great discussions which were going on within its walls. Milton, whose sympathies from his youth upwards had been strongly with the popular cause, laid aside his poetic schemes, and plunged into the political controversy as a prose pamphleteer. We now know that it was as a poet that Milton had begun life, and that, when he was thirty-two years old, he had already done enough to entitle him to fame among his countrymen as an English poet. But the fact is that he had not then won this fame in England, and that, save by the few that had chanced to read Comus and Lycidas, and to identify him as the author, he was first heard of by his countrymen in the character of a pamphleteer of extreme opinions. He became known to most of them first as the author, in particular, of five prose pamphlets which came out in rapid succession, in the years 1641 and 1642, advocating the complete abolition of Episcopacy, and a radical reconstruction of the Church of England. Nor had he leisure, after this first outburst of prose polemics, to revert to the occupations which might reveal him in his other character. He was still residing in Aldersgate Street when the Civil War broke out (Aug. 1642); and, besides experiencing the anxiety and confusion which the war brought upon all the country, and especially on London, he soon had troubles of a more private nature. It was in the summer of 1643 that he brought home to the house in Aldersgate Street his first wife, Mary Powell, a young lady of a Royalist family near Oxford. It was a hasty and unhappy union; for, after remaining with him some weeks, the young bride went on a visit to her father's house, and refused to return. The effect of this chagrin and indignity on Milton's mind was characteristic and peculiar. It led him to a reconsideration of all existing theories of the marriage-institution, and to a resolution to fling into the mind of England, already agitated with controversies enough, a controversy of vital interest to himself, but for which, or for his demonstrations of its relevancy to the other questions of the time, his countrymen were not prepared. This was a controversy as to the proper terms of the marriage-relation and the rights of Divorce. He raised it in an extraordinary pamphlet on the Doctrine and
Discipline of Divorce, speedily followed by three further pamphlets on the same subject; in addition to which, not forgetting the progress of other public questions more to the taste of the great body of his countrymen, he published, in the course of the year 1644, a small tract on Reform in the System of Education, and his noble Areopagitica, or Defence of the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing. It is probable that his farther public prosecution of the Divorce Controversy was arrested by the return of his wife, and his reconciliation with her (1645). This event, together with the increase of his pupils, and the necessity of accommodating under his roof some of his wife's relations, as well as his own father, who had for some time lived with him, caused him to remove to a larger house. Accordingly, towards the end of 1645, he removed from Aldersgate Street to a house in Barbican, a street in the same neighbourhood.
Six years of public strife and private trouble had thus elapsed since Milton's return from Italy, full of bright dreams of a life of poetic accomplishment. The dreams were yet unfulfilled. He was known in London and in England chiefly as a vehement prose-pamphleteer, of the extreme party in Church and State, and even outgoing that party in some tremendous opinions of his own. Any recollection anywhere of his Comus and Lycidas was probably obliterated by the fiercer impress of his new reputation. Yet, though obliged by public and private reasons to defer his schemes of purely poetic activity, Milton had not ceased to cultivate the gentler Muse in brief occasional moments. During those six years he had added at least a few scraps of verse to his former store. The following is a list of them :—
I. LATIN :
"EPITAPHIUM DAMONIS :" a Latin Pastoral (among the Sylvæ) on the death of the dearest friend of his youth, Charles Diodati, the son of an Italian physician settled in London. The death had occurred during Milton's absence in Italy, and the particulars were not known to him till his return to England. 1639.
Hexameter lines, entitled "Philosophus ad regem quendam," &c. (among the Sylvæ).
Looking at these small additions, in so long a period as six years, to his manuscript stock of poems, and seeing that it might still be some time before he could redeem his promise of more extensive poetic achievement, it seems to have occurred to Milton that he might at least give to the world in the meantime, and with his name attached, such pieces as he had. Probably, at a time when men were thinking of him chiefly as an anti-Episcopal pamphleteer and eloquent advocate of extreme opinions in Church and State, it was not indifferent to him that it should be known that he had not all his life been addicted to this kind of work, and did not even now regard it as the most natural and congenial to him. At all events, in the autumn of 1645, just about the time of Milton's removal from the house in Aldersgate Street to that in Barbican, steps were taken for the publication of his collected poems. The agent in this interesting event was not any of the publishers of his prose pamphlets, but a certain Humphrey Moseley, then the most active publisher in London of poetry, old plays, and works of pure fancy. He had recently published a collection of the poems of Edmund Waller; and, having found that speculation successful, and being a man of superior taste, he had applied to Milton to furnish him with matter for a similar volume. We have Moseley's own word for the fact that it was at his request that Milton agreed to the publication.
FIRST EDITION OF THE POEMS: 1645.
Under the date Oct. 6, 1645, this entry occurs in the books of the London Stationers' Company: "Mr. Moseley entered for his copie, under the hand of Sir Nath. Brent and both the Wardens, a booke called Poems in English and Latyn by Mr. John Milton, 6d." The meaning of the entry is that on that day Moseley registered the forthcoming volume as his copyright, showing Brent's licence for its publication, and the signatures
of the Wardens of the Company besides, and paying sixpence for the formality. The following is the complete title of the volume when it did appear :—
'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 King's Chappel, and one of His Majesties 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. Paul's Churchyard. 1645."
From a copy of this first edition of Milton's Poems among the King's Pamphlets in the British Museum, bearing a note of the precise day of its publication written on its title-page, I learn that the day was Jan. 2, 1645-6. Milton had then been some months in his new house in Barbican, where, besides his pupils, there were now domiciled with him his reconciled wife, his aged father (who, however, did not long survive this date), and several of his wife's relations. It was ten months since the last two of his Divorce pamphlets-the Tetrachordon and the Colasterion—had been issued; but the sound of them was still abroad in the world, and cries of execration against Milton on account of them were reaching him in his new home. Let the reader note the secret allusion to this in the motto from Virgil placed on the title-page of the volume of Poems. "Lest evil talk should injure the future poet," is the meaning of that motto, "surround his brow even now with some green thing." This corroborates what we have been saying as to Milton's probable purpose in then bringing out a collection of his early poems. These were not, he seems to say, the best in this kind that he hoped to give to the world; they were a promise only of the future; but, as tongues were busy about him on account of writings of his of a different order, and as the peculiar reputation of these writings might raise a preconception against him in another character in which he meant yet to come forth, he had hastened to prove, by this particular volume from Moseley's press, that he had already some claims in that character, dating from long before his less popular appearances in public politics.
The volume published by Moseley is a small, and rather neat, octavo of more than 200 pages. The English Poems come first and fill 120 pages; after which, with a separate title-page, and filling 88 pages, separately numbered, come the Latin Poems. The poems contained in the volume, whether in the English or the Latin portion, include, with two exceptions, all those which have been registered in our successive lists in this Introduction as written by Milton, at different periods, from his boyhood at St. Paul's School to the year 1645, in which the volume was published. The exceptions are the little elegy "On the death of a fair Infant dying of a Cough" (1626) and the curious little fragment, "At a Vacation Exercise in the College" (1628). It is to be supposed that these two English pieces, both belonging to the Cambridge period of Milton's life, were not then among Milton's papers, or that copies of them had been mislaid. But, these excepted, every other scrap mentioned in our lists was printed. Nay, Milton was careful to give his volume every chance of a good reception. Prefixed to the volume as a whole, and doubtless with Milton's sanction, was a very eulogistic preface by Moseley, entitled "The Stationer to the Reader" (see it at the beginning of the Minor Poems). Then, before Comus, which begins on p. 67 of the volume, there is a separate title-page, as if to call attention to its greater length and importance--besides which, Lawes's eulogistic dedication of this poem to Lord Brackley, in his separate edition of 1637, is reproduced, and the Poem is farther introduced by a copy, furnished by Milton, of Sir Henry Wotton's remarkable letter to him in 1638. Finally, prefixed to the Latin Poems in the volume, after the separate title-page which distinguishes them from the English portion, are copies of the commendatory verses, &c., with which Milton had been favoured when abroad by the distinguished foreigners who had seen some of these poems, or otherwise become acquainted with him. First we have Manso's elegiac Latin distich; then Salsilli's four Latin lines; then Selvaggi's Latin distich; then the long Italian ode by the Florentine poet, Francini; and, lastly, the Latin prose letter of Carlo Dati. The whole collection of testimonies is prefaced by a few Latin words from Milton's own pen, disclaiming the excessive praises there bestowed upon him, but saying that never