Abbildungen der Seite

the edition has a distinction that cannot be claimed for any previous one, unless it be the folio of 1695 with Hume's Annotations. Newton was not yet Bishop of Bristol (to which dignity he attained in 1761), but only D.D. and the holder of a London living, to which he had been presented by Pulteney, Earl of Bath. It was on Lord Bath's recommendation, together with that of Dr. Zachary Pearce, then Bishop of Bangor, afterwards of Rochester (already mentioned as a defender of Milton's text against Bentley's proposed emendations), that Newton had undertaken a new edition of Paradise Lost. His design was, he says, to give such an edition as would be given of a classic author, i.e. with an accurate text and " cum notis variorum.” For the text, accordingly, he referred, he says, to the First and Second Editions, which alone can be called Milton's own. He followed these editions faithfully, with proper disregard of Bentley, and with only the ordinary allowances for changes of spelling and pointing, though here and there suggesting an emendation. The distinction of the edition, however, hardly lies in the text; in which respect some of the previous editions of Tonson, larger and smaller, had been very accurate. It lies rather in the numerous footnotes: many of them Newton's own; others collected from previous critics and commentators, such as Hume, Addison, Bentley, Pearce, and Richardson; and others supplied to Newton during the progress of the work by private friends, among whom he mentions Pearce again, Warburton, Dr. Heylin, and Mr. Thyer of the Manchester Library. The edition is, in fact, a "variorum" edition. Having been printed in very handsome form, partly at the Earl of Bath's expense, who also "generously contributed the copper-plates to beautify and adorn it," and to whom Newton dedicated it in terms of the highest eulogy, it came before the world with every advantage. The list of subscribers fills twelve pages, and is headed by the Prince and Princess of Wales. With the exception of the "copper-plates,"-of which the less said now the better,-Newton's edition of Paradise Lost in 1749, in two vols. large quarto, is still a handsome book in a library. It met with such success that Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes, and the rest of the poems, similarly edited and illustrated, were added in a separate quarto volume in 1752. The three volumes together, bearing date 1749-52, form Newton's first edition of Milton's Poetical Works.

The appearance of Newton's edition of Milton marks an epoch

not only in Milton editing, but also in Milton publishing. Although that edition came forth by arrangement with Tonson, and bore Tonson's name on the title-page, and although Newton's Life of Milton prefixed to it contained the distinct statement that the Tonson firm were still chief proprietors of the copyright of Paradise Lost, it is precisely from this period that we find the Tonson monopoly in Milton's Poems discontinued. The Tonson business, indeed, was carried on, still in the Strand, but finally in a house near Catherine Street, opposite to the former more famous house,--till as late as March 31, 1767, when it was brought to a close by the death of Jacob Tonson tertius, without issue. Nor, to the last, did Tonson cease to traffic in Milton. In addition to all the previous Tonson editions, and to Newton's new "variorum" edition, we find a republication of Tonson's "Fenton" edition of Paradise Lost in 1751, another edition of the same poem in 24m0 by Tonson in 1753, and three editions of the Poetical Works, in 1758, 1759, and 1760 respectively, beautifully printed at Birmingham by Baskerville, but for Tonson as publisher. But other publishers were now on the alert. Between 1750 and the death of Jacob Tonson tertius in 1767, there were three or four editions of Paradise Lost published in London by other houses than that of the Tonsons: the earliest being one in 12mo in 1751, "printed by R. Walker in the Little Old Bailey," and edited, with a selection of notes, by "John Marchant, Gent." During the same period there was a Glasgow edition of Paradise Lost (1750), and there were four Edinburgh editions of the Poetical Works collectively (1752, 1755, 1762 and 1767), and one new Dublin edition of the Poetical Works (1752). Dublin editions were not to be prevented; but why did not Tonson, claiming the copyright as late as 1761, try to make good his claim against the infringing London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow publishers? The likelihood is that, though he asserted his claim, he was afraid to try it at law. It was not, indeed, till some years after Jacob Tonson's death that a legal decision was given settling this and all similar questions. Action having been taken by the supposed holders of the copyright of Thomson's Seasons against Donaldson of Edinburgh for an edition of the Seasons in 1768 (two of the above-named Edinburgh editions of Milton's Poems had been published by this same Donaldson), it was decided in 1774, on appeal to the House of Lords, that the notion of a perpetual copyright in such books was a mere assumption, inasmuch as, whatever

right at common law an author or his assigns might have had in his books, that right had been taken away by the statute of Queen Anne, and all property of the kind was regulated by the terms of the statute. According to this decision, Thomson's Seasons had been public property since 1757, and, by application of the decision to Paradise Lost, that poem had been common property since 1731. It was probably a shrewd anticipation what the decision would be that had led Tonson to be content with the long monopoly in Milton which he and his firm had already enjoyed,-a monopoly of twenty years beyond what the statute had given,-and to acquiesce publicly in what he privately held to be infractions of his right. From 1774, at all events, the last vestige of the tradition of a perpetual copyright in books disappeared in Britain.

During the thirty-three years of the eighteenth century which had to run after the great name of Tonson had ceased from the bookselling world, i.e. from 1767 to 1800, there was an active competition among British publishers for the supply of the continued demand for Milton's Poems. Fourteen or fifteen new editions of Paradise Lost during this period are enumerated, and about as many new editions of the collective Poetical Works in different forms.1 Among these various editions we may note the following :—a folio edition of Paradise Lost in 1770, by Foulis of Glasgow; the edition of the Poetical Works in 1779, in 3 vols. small 8vo, with Life by Dr. Johnson, which formed part of Johnson's series of the English Poets; an edition of Paradise Lost, "illustrated with Texts of Scripture by John Gillies, D.D., one of the ministers of Glasgow," published in London in 1788; an edition of the first two Books of Paradise Lost, published at Bury St. Edmund's in 1792-3, by Capel Lofft, Esq., with the original spelling in part restored, and other peculiarities; and, finally, the magnificent edition of the Poetical Works in three folio volumes, with Life by William Hayley, and engravings from designs by Westall, published by Boydell and Nicol in 1794-7. But even this last superb book, being without notes, did not supersede Bishop Newton's "variorum" edition. Originally published in 1749-52, Newton's edition of the Poetical Works remained the standard library edition till the close of the century, and was reprinted no fewer than eight times, either in its first form of three vols. 4to, or in the form of 4

1 Lowndes's Bibliographer's Manual, by Bohn, Art. "Milton"; and List of Milton Editions in Todd, vol. iv. Edit. of 1852.

vols. 8vo. Use was also made of Newton's text and his notes in some of the smaller contemporary editions of Paradise Lost.

Through the first half of the present century the "variorum " edition of Milton's Poetical Works by the Rev. Henry John Todd (1763-1845) may be said to have superseded, for library purposes, Newton's and all others. The first edition was in 1801, in 6 vols. 8vo, the editor being then Rector of Allhallows, Lombard Street, London. There was a second edition in 1809, in 7 vols. ; a third in 1826, in 6 vols. ; and a fourth in 4 vols., in 1842,—at which time Todd was Archdeacon of Cleveland in Yorkshire. In Todd's editions are amassed, in almost confusing over-abundance, selections from the notes, criticisms, elucidations, and dissertations of the whole series of previous editors and commentators, together with a considerable quantity of fresh matter, historical and critical, by Todd himself. They retain the value due to great and miscellaneous accumulation of material actuated by conscientiousness and pious devotion to the subject; they ought always to be spoken of with respect; and whoever writes at large about Milton and his Poetry must use their stores, whether he makes sufficient acknowledgment or not. In 1831, or between Todd's third edition and his fourth, there had appeared Mr. Pickering's Aldine edition of Milton's Poetical Works, in 3 vols. 12m0, with Life by the Rev. John Mitford; which edition has been reprinted more than once. In 1835 appeared, in 6 vols. 8vo, the Poetical Works, edited, with Notes and a Life, by Sir Egerton Brydges; of which edition there have been reprints in one volume. In 1851 there was issued by Mr. Pickering an edition, in 8 volumes 8vo, of all the Works of Milton, both in prose and in verse, with the omission, however, of the Treatise on Christian Doctrine; to which edition was prefixed, in a revised form, the Life written for the Aldine edition of the Poems by the Rev. John Mitford. It is to be regretted that an edition so handsome to the eye should not have been more correct, and should be without those accompaniments of accurate dating, explanation of the circumstances of the several publications, and other historical elucidations, which are essential to a good edition of the complete works of a great writer. Among scores of other recent editions of Paradise Lost there ought to be special mention of Mr. Thomas Keightley's, included in his edition of Milton's Poetical Works, in 2 vols. 8vo, in 1859. Mr. Keightley took great pains

with the text, more especially with the punctuation, which he revised throughout according to a system of his own. He also gave a good selection of notes from the stores of Todd and other commentators, and added not a few independent notes and criticisms; while in his companion volume on the Life, Opinions, and Writings of Milton (1855) will be found a distinct "Introduction to Paradise Lost," containing much that readers of the poem in his Edition would do well to take along with them. In 1865 there was a London reprint, in one volume 8vo, of an American Edition of Milton's Poetical Works by Professor Charles Dexter Cleveland of Philadelphia. There were brief notes to Paradise Lost, as to the other poems, in this edition; but its chief peculiarity is an extensive verbal index to the poetry, founded upon Todd's Verbal Index, first published in his edition of 1809. Mr. R. C. Browne's edition of Milton's English Poems for the Clarendon Press Series, in two neat volumes, with excellent and scholarly notes to all the included poems, appeared in 1870; and in 1878, four years after the appearance of the first issue of the present edition of Milton's Poetical Works, there was published an edition in two volumes, also with notes to all the poems, by John Bradshaw, M. A., LL.D.



It was in 1639, just after Milton's return from his Italian tour, in his thirty-first year, that he first bethought himself seriously of some great literary work that should be more commensurate with his powers than any of the pieces he had yet written. To this he was partly moved, as he himself tells us, by the reception which some of those earlier pieces had met with among the Italian scholars and men of letters whose acquaintance he had made while abroad. "Perceiving," he says in his pamphlet entitled The Reason of Church Government, published in 1641, "that some trifles which I had in memory, com

[ocr errors]

posed at under twenty or thereabout, met with acceptance above "what was looked for, and other things which I had shifted in scarcity "of books and conveniences to patch up amongst them were received "with written encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow

« ZurückWeiter »