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PARADISE REGAINED seems to have been complete in manuscript before the publication of Paradise Lost. This we infer from an interesting passage in the Autobiography of the Quaker, Thomas Ellwood, in which he gives an account of the origin of Paradise Regained, and claims the credit of having suggested the subject to Milton. We have already seen (Introduction to Paradise Lost, pp. 53, 54,) how young Ellwood, visiting Milton, in 1665, at the cottage in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, where he was then residing to avoid the Great Plague in London, had a manuscript given him by the poet, with a request to read it at his leisure, and return it with his judgment thereon. On taking this manuscript home with him, Ellwood tells us, he found it to be Paradise Lost. He then proceeds as follows:—“ After I had, "with the best attention, read it through, I made him another "visit, and returned him his book, with due acknowledgment of "the favour he had done me in communicating it to me. He "asked how I liked it, and what I thought of it; which I modestly, “but freely, told him : and, after some further discourse about it, "I pleasantly said to him, 'Thou hast said much here of Paradise "Lost; but what hast thou to say of Paradise Found?' He “made me no answer, but sate some time in a muse, then brake "off that discourse and fell upon another subject. After the "sickness was over, and the city well cleansed and become safely "habitable again, he returned thither. And when, afterwards, I "went to wait on him there (which I seldom failed of doing, "whenever my occasions drew me to London), he showed me his "second poem, called Paradise Regained, and in a pleasant tone 34 VOL. II.
"said to me, 'This is owing to you; for you put it into my head "by the question you put to me at Chalfont, which before I "had not thought of.'"* The inference from this passage may certainly be that the poem was at least begun in the cottage at Chalfont St. Giles (say in the winter of 1665-6), and that, if not finished there, it was finished in Milton's house in Artillery Walk, shortly after his return to town in 1666. When Paradise Lost, therefore, was published in the autumn of 1667, its sequel, though kept back, was ready.
According to this calculation, the poem remained in manuscript for about four years. It was not published till 1671, when Paradise Lost had been in circulation for four years, and when the first edition of that poem must have been nearly, if not quite, exhausted -for that edition was restricted to 1,500 copies at the utmost, and Milton's receipt for the second five pounds, due, by agreement, on the sale of 1,300 of these copies, bears date April 26, 1669. But, for some reason or other, Simmons, the publisher of Paradise Lost, was delaying a second edition of that poem-which did not appear till 1674. It may have been owing to dissatisfaction with this delay on Milton's part that he did not put Paradise Regained into Simmons's hands, but had it printed (as appears) on his own account. Conjoining with it Samson Agonistes, which he also had for some time by him, or had just composed, he issued the two poems in a small octavo volume of 220 pages, with this general title-page-" Paradise Regain'd. A Poem. In IV. Books. "To which is added Samson Agonistes. The Author John Milton. "London, Printed by J. M. for John Starkey at the Mitre in "Fleetstreet, near Temple Bar. MDCLXXI.” There is no separate title-page to Paradise Regained; which commences on the next leaf after this general title, and extends to p. 112 of the volume. Then there is a separate title-leaf to Samson Agonistes; which poem, occupying the rest of the volume, is separately paged. On the last leaf of the whole volume are two sets of Errata, entitled "Errata in the former Poem" and "Errata in the latter Poem."
Not Samuel Simmons of the Golden Lion in Aldersgate Street, the publisher of Paradise Lost, it will be seen, but John Starkey, of * The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, Second Edition (1714), pp. 246, 247.