Sony, as of November 22, has now sold 30.2 million units of the PlayStation 4. By comparison, total sales of the Xbox One are somewhere between 15 and 18 million (Microsoft hasn't released an exact figure since last year).

With over 30 million units sold since it first went on sale in November 2013, the Sony press release declares that "PS4 [has the] fastest and strongest growth in PlayStation hardware history." The PS4 isn't the fastest selling console of all time, though: the Nintendo Wii, which sold around 45 million units in its first two years, still retains that accolade.


We have seen that the dominating idea of Milton's life was 
his resolve to write a great poem great in theme, in style, in 
attainment. To this purpose was he dedicated as a boy: as 
Hannibal was dedicated, at the altar of patriotism, to the cause 
of his country's revenge, or Pitt to a life of political ambition. 
Milton's works particularly his letters and prose pamphlets 
enable us to trace the growth of the idea which was shaping his 
intellectual destinies ; and as every poet is best interpreted by 
his own words, Milton shall speak for himself. 

Two of the earliest indications of his cherished plan are 
the Vacation Exercise and the second Sonnet. The Exercise 
commences with an invocation (not without significance, as we 
shall see) to his "native language," to assist him in giving 
utterance to the teeming thoughts that knock at the portal of 
his lips, fain to find an issue thence. The bent of these thoughts 
is towards the loftiest themes. Might he choose for himself, he 
would select some "grave subject": 

" Such where the deep transported mind may soar 
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door 
Look in, and see each blissful deity. 

Then sing of secret things that came to pass 
When beldam Nature in her cradle was." 

But recognising soon that such matters are inappropriate to 
the occasion a College festivity he arrests the flight of his 
muse with a grave descende ccelo, and declines on a lower range 
of subject, more fitting to the social scene and the audience. 
This Exercise was composed in 1628, in Milton's twentieth year, 
or, according to his method of dating, anno cEtatis xix. It is 
important as revealing firstly, the poet's consciousness of the 
divine impulse within, for which poetry is the natural outlet ; 
secondly, the elevation of theme with which that poetry must 
deal. A boy in years, he would like to handle the highest 
'arguments,' challenging thereby comparison with the sacri 

P. L. (, 


vates of inspired verse, the elect few whose poetic appeal is to 
the whole world. A vision of Heaven itself must be unrolled 
before his steadfast eagle-gaze : he will win a knowledge of the 
causes of things such as even Vergil, his master, modestly 
disclaimed. Little wonder, therefore, that, filled with these 
ambitions, Milton did not shrink, only two years later (1629 30), 
from attempting to sound the deepest mysteries of Christianity 
the Nativity and the Passion of Christ ; howbeit, sensible of his 
immaturity, he left his poem on the latter subject unfinished 1 . 

The Sonnet to which reference has been made deserves 
quotation at length : 

" How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, 

Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year ! 

My hasting days fly on with full career, 

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. 
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth, 

That I to manhood am arrived so near ; 

And inward ripeness doth much less appear, 

That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th. 
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow, 

It shall be still in strictest measure even 

To that same lot, however mean or high, 
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven ; 

All is, if I have grace to use it so, 

As ever in my great Task- Master's eye." 

Mr Mark Pattison justly calls these lines "an inseparable 
part of Milton's biography" : they bring out so clearly the poet's 
solemn devotion to his self-selected task, and his determination 
not to essay the execution of that task until the time of complete 
"inward ripeness" has arrived. The Sonnet was one of the last 
poems composed by Milton during his residence at Cambridg-e. 

1 A passage in the sixth Elegy shows that the Nativity Ode (a 
prelude in some respects to Paradise Lost] was begun on Christmas 
morning, 1629. The Passion may have been composed for the following 
Easter; it breaks off with the notice "This Subject the Author 
finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and nothing 
satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished." Evidently Milton 
was minded to recur to both subjects ; see later. 


The date is 1631. From 1632 to 1638 was a period of almost 
unbroken self-preparation, such as the Sonnet foreshadows. Of 
the intensity of his application to literature a letter written in 
1637 (the exact day being Sept. 7, 1637) enables us to judge. 

" It is my way," he says to Carlo Diodati, in excuse for 
remissness as a correspondent, " to suffer no impediment, no 
love of ease, no avocation whatever, to chill the ardour, to break 
the continuity, or divert the completion of my literary pursuits. 
From this and no other reasons it often happens that I do not 
readily employ my pen in any gratuitous exertions 1 ." But these 
exertions were not sufficient : the probation must last longer. In 
the same month, on the 23rd, he writes to the same friend, who 
had made enquiry as to his occupations and plans : " I am sure 
that you wish me to gratify your curiosity, and to let you know 
what I have been doing, or am meditating to do. Hear me, my 
Diodati, and suffer me for a moment to speak without blushing 
in a more lofty strain. Do you ask what I am meditating ? By 
the help of Heaven, an immortality of fame. But what am 
I doing? TTTpo(f)v5)j I am letting my wings grow and preparing 
to fly; but my Pegasus has not yet feathers enough to soar 
aloft in the fields of air 2 ." Four years later we find a similar 
admission " I have neither yet completed to my mind the full 
circle of my private studies... 3 ." 

This last sentence was written in 1640 (or 1641). Meanwhile 
his resolution had been confirmed by the friendly and flattering 
encouragement of Italian savants a stimulus which he records 
in an oft-cited passage 4 : 

"In the private academies 5 of Italy, whither I was favoured 

1 P. W. in. 492. 2 P m IIL 5> 

3 P. W. n. 47 6. 

4 The Reason of Church Government, P. W. 11. 477, 478 ; a few 
lines have been quoted in the Life of Milton. A passage similar to the 
concluding sentence might be quoted from the pamphlet Animadversions, 
published the same year (1641) as the Church Government-, see P. IV. 
in. 72. 

5 He refers to literary societies or clubs, of which there were several 
at Florence, e.g. the Delia Crusca, the Svogliati, etc. 

C 2 


to resort, perceiving that some trifles 1 which I had in memory, 
composed at under twenty or thereabout, (for the manner is, 
that every one must give some proof of his wit and reading 
there,) met with acceptance above what was looked for ; and 
other things 2 , 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 
on men of this side the Alps ; I began thus far to assent both 
to them and divers of my friends here at home, and not less to 
an inward prompting which now grew daily upon me, that by 
labour and intense study (which I take to be my portion in this 
life), joined with the strong propensity of nature, I might perhaps 
leave something so written to aftertimes, as they should not 
willingly let it die." 

It was during this Italian journey (1638 39) that Milton 
first gave a hint of the particular direction in which this ambition 
was setting : at least we are vouchsafed a glimpse of the possible 
subject-matter of the contemplated poem, and there is that on 
which may be built conjecture as to its style. He had enjoyed 
at Naples the hospitality of the then famous writer Giovanni 
Battista Manso, whose courteous reception the young English 
traveller, ut ne ingratutn se ostenderet^ acknowledged in the piece 
of Latin hexameters afterwards printed in his Sylv(z under the 
title Mansus. In the course of the poem Milton definitely speaks 
of the remote legends of British history more especially, the 
Arthurian legend as the theme which he might some day treat. 
" May I," he says, "find such a friend 3 as Manso," 

1 i.e. Latin pieces; the Elegies, as well as some of the poems 
included in his Sylva, were written before he was twenty-one. 

2 Among the Latin poems which date from his Italian journey are 
the lines Ad Sahillum, a few of the Epigrams, and Mansus. Perhaps, 
too, the "other things" comprehended those essays in Italian verse 
which he had the courage to read before a Florentine audience, and 
they the indulgence to praise. 

3 i.e. a friend who would pay honour to him as Manso had paid 
honour to the poet Marini. Manso had helped in the erection of a 
monument to Marini at Naples ; and Milton alludes to this at the 
beginning of the poem. From Manso he would hear about Tasso. 


" Siquando 1 indigenas revoeabo in car/nina reges, 
Artururnque etiani sub terris bella moventem, 
Aut dicam invictce sociali feeders mensce 
Mngnaniiiios heroas, et (O modo spiritus adsif) 
Frangam Saxonicas Britonum sub Marie phalanges ! " 

This was in 1638. In the next year, after his return to 
England, he recurs to the project in the Epitapkium Damonis 
(162 71), his account being far more detailed : 

"Ipse"* 1 ego Dardanias Riitupina per aquora puppes 
Dicam, et Pandrasidos regnum vetus Inogenitz, 
Brennumque Arviragumque duccs, priscumqu? Belinum, 
Et tandem Armoricos Britonum sub lege colonos ; 
Turn gravidam Arturo fatali fraude logernen; 
Mendaces vultus, assumptaque Gorlois anna, 
Merlini dolus. O, mihi turn si vita supersit, 
Tu procul annosa pendebis, fistula, pinu, 
Multum oblita mihi, aut patriis mutata Camccnis 
Brittonicum strides ! " 

Here, as before, he first glances at the stories which date 
from the very dawn of British myth and romance, and then 

1 "If ever I shall revive in verse our native kings, and Arthur 
levying war in the world below ; or tell of the heroic company of 
the resistless Table Round, and be the inspiration mine ! break the 
Saxon bands neath the might of British chivalry" (Mansus, 80 84). 
His Common-place Book has a quaint reference to " Arturs round 

2 "I will tell of the Trojan fleet sailing our southern seas, and the 
ancient realm of Imogen, Pandrasus' daughter, and of Brennus, Arvi- 
ragus, and Belinus old, and the Armoric settlers subject to British laws. 
Then will I sing of logerne, fatally pregnant with Arthur how Uther 
feigned the features and assumed the armour of Gorlois, through 
Merlin's craft. And you, my pastoral pipe, an life be lent me, shall 
hang on some sere pine, forgotten of me; or changed to native notes 
shall shrill forth British strains." In the first lines he alludes to the 
legend of Brutus and the Trojans landing in England. Riitupina=. 
Kentish. The story of Arthur's birth at which he glances is referred to 
in the Idylls of the King. The general drift of the last verses is that he 
will give up Latin for English verse ; strides is a future, from strido (cf. 
<neid entirely="" autobiographical.="" shows="" why="" em-="" barked="" such="" controversies,="" how="" much="" cost="" so,="" hopes="" returning="" poetry,="" view="" poet's="" mission="" capacity="" discharge="" mission.="" prose="" works="" contain="" nothing="" valuable="" these="" ten="" pages="" self-="" criticism.="" xxxi="" abroad,="" perhaps="" attain="" that,="" content="" british="" islands="" world."="" here="" clear="" announce-="" ment="" ambition="" take="" rank="" great="" poet.="" note="" struck="" patriotism.="" produce="" shall="" set="" english="" level="" favoured="" italian,="" give="" countrymen="" cause="" proud="" "dear="" dear="" land,="" her="" reputation="" through="" world="" ."="" us="" indeed="" appear="" strange="" should="" have="" thought="" worth="" while="" emphasise="" now="" considered="" self-evident="" necessity="" :="" poet,="" serious="" conception="" office="" duty,="" dream="" employing="" any="" other="" language="" ?="" we="" remember="" days="" empire="" classics="" unquestioned="" scholarship="" accorded="" higher="" dignity="" long="" poems="" still="" custom="" honoured="" observance="" whoso="" sought="" appeal="" "laureate="" fraternity"="" scholars="" men="" letters,="" in-="" dependently="" race="" naturally="" turn="" lingua="" franca="" learned.="" at="" rate,="" less="" known="" either="" french="" placed="" poet="" disadvantage,="" far="" concerned="" acceptance="" foreign="" lands="" when="" determined="" rely="" patrice="" camcence,="" foresaw="" circumscribe="" audience,="" rest="" applause="" countrymen.="" again,="" lines="" epitaphium="" some="" grounds="" surmise="" proposed="" form="" poem.="" historic="" events="" epitomised="" passage="" too="" separated="" time,="" devoid="" internal="" coherence="" connection,="" admit="" dramatic="" treatment.="" evi-="" dently="" contemplated="" narrative="" one="" drunk="" deep="" classical="" spirit="" scarce="" meant="" aught="" else="" epic.="" thus="" implied="" sentences="" govern-="" richard="" 1l="" i.="" 57,="" 58.="" xxx11="" mentj="" represent="" considering="" whether="" attempt="" epic="" whereof="" two="" homer,="" virgil="" tasso,="" are="" diffuse,="" job="" brief="" model...="" constitutions,="" wherein="" sophocles="" euripides="" reign,="" doctrinal="" exemplary="" nation="" 'dramatic'="" introduces="" fresh="" phase;="" first="" period="" history="" lost,="" rather="" finally="" took="" shape="" closes="" epita-="" phium="" (1639),="" amiss="" summarise="" impressions="" deduced="" up="" from="" various="" passages="" quoted="" milton.="" seen,="" then,="" milton's="" early="" resolve="" ambitious="" scope="" self-preparation="" en-="" couragement="" received="" italy="" friends="" home="" announcement="" 1638,="" repeated="" 1639,="" discovered="" suitable="" fable="" especially,="" coming="" passing="" arthur="" formal="" farewell="" verse,="" favour="" tongue;="" desire="" win="" recognition="" vates="" selection="" style.="" respect="" chronology="" reached="" year="" 1639="" 40.="" extends="" 1640="" 1642.="" see="" lost="" written="" about="" 1642="" after="" 1642,="" till="" 1658,="" hear="" no="" poem="" proof="" temporarily="" abandoned="" under="" stress="" politics.="" therefore="" regarded="" ulterior="" limit="" period.="" not,="" think,="" fanciful="" consider="" entered="" stage="" 1640,="" because="" between="" plans="" underwent="" change="" character="" altered.="" shown="" decided="" bias="" discarded="" mention="" king="" arthur.="" hint="" led="" drop="" lain="" increasing="" re-="" publicanism.="" treated="" ii.="" 47="" 8,="" 479.="" xxxiii="" unfavourable="" standpoint.="" him,="" our="" age,="" type="" kingly="" grandeur="" gone="" sore="" grain="" future="" apologist="" regicide="" exercise="" powers="" creating="" royal="" figure="" shed="" lustre="" monarchy,="" measure="" plead="" institution="" detested="" heartily="" .="" only="" royalist="" retold="" story,="" making="" illustrate="" divine="" right="" kings,"="" embodying="" blameless="" monarch="" cavalier="" charles="" fluenced="" discovering,="" fuller="" research,="" mythical="" legend.="" remarks="" britain.="" intense="" earnestness="" build="" mainly="" fiction.="" may,="" subject,="" finds="" place="" list="" hundred="" possible="" subjects="" secondly,="" period,="" 42,="" dates="" alteration="" design="" work.="" hitherto="" tendency="" towards="" form:="" (1640="" 1641)="" find="" preferring="" dramatic.="" imitate="" transplant="" soil="" lofty="" grave="" tragedians="" greece="" question="" answered="" affirmative.="" continued="" opening="" drama,="" possibly="" trilogy="" dramas,="" cast="" particular="" manner,="" observed="" presently.="" transference="" inclinations="" "dramatic="" style="" appears="" date="" 1641.="" manifested="" mss.="" trinity="" college.="" present="" library="" college,="" erection="" begun="" during="" mastership="" isaac="" barrow,="" completed,="" earliest="" benefactors="" former="" member="" trinity,="" sir="" henry="" newton="" puckering.="" gifts="" thin="" ms.="" volume="" fifty-four="" pages,="" served="" common-place="" book.="" came="" into="" possession="" puckering="" known.="" contemporary="" notes="" l.="" xu.="" 24,="" 36.="" xxxiv="" with,="" junior="" to,="" admirers="" visited="" closing="" years="" life,="" discharged="" amanuensis="" family="" connection="" means="" passed="" hands.="" if="" obscure,="" contains="" autograph,="" other,="" unidentified="" handwritings="" original="" drafts="" several="" notably="" arcades,="" lycidas="" camus,="" together="" sonnets.="" random="" collection="" scattered="" papers="" bound="" death="" exists="" (apart="" sumptuous="" investiture)="" exactly="" same="" knew="" used="" centuries="" half="" agone.="" important="" order="" and,="" consequence,="" contents,="" index="" poems.="" 1631,="" sheets="" paper="" stitched="" then="" worked="" little="" volume,="" page="" page,="" inserting="" pieces="" they="" written.="" cover="" 16="" 1658:="" earlier="" marked="" sonnet,="" last="" series="" methought="" saw."="" more-="" way="" light="" entries="" direct="" bearing="" notes,="" himself="" (probably="" 1641),="" occupying="" seven="" manuscript,="" seemed="" suitable,="" varying="" degrees="" appropriate-="" ness,="" very="" concise="" jottings="" down,="" three="" words,="" him.="" others="" detailed="" salient="" features="" episode="" selected,="" sketch="" method="" treating="" them="" added.="" few="" instances="" sketches="" filled="" minuteness="" care:="" 'economy'="" arrangement="" action="" traced="" point.="" but,="" apart,="" done="" cases="" dozen,="" most.="" rule,="" source="" whence="" material="" drawn="" indicated.="" themselves,="" numbering="" hundred,="" fall,="" rough="" classification,="" headings="" scriptural="" xxxv="" *="" '="" drew="" chronicles="" prior="" norman="" conquest.="" numerous="" class="" sixty-two="" derived="" bible,="" testament="" claims="" fifty-four.="" illustrated="" quotation="" typical="" examples="" abram="" egypt.="" josuah="" gibeon.="" josu.="" 10.="" jonathan="" rescu'd="" sam.="" 14.="" saul="" gilboa="" -28.="" 31.="" gideon="" idoloclastes="" jud.="" 6.="" 7.="" abimelech="" usurper.="" 9.="" samaria="" liberata="" 2="" reg.="" asa="" ^ethiopes.="" chron.="" deposing="" mother,="" burning="" idol.="" new="" testa-="" christ="" crucifi'd="" risen.="" lazarus="" joan.="" christus="" patiens="" scene="" y="" e="" garden="" beginning="" fr5="" comming="" thither="" judas="" betraies="" &="" officers="" lead="" away="" message="" chorus,="" agony="" receav="" noble="" expressions="" thirty-three.="" assigned="" scotch="" stories="" brittish="" north="" parts.="" macbeth="" conspicuous.="" practically="" grouped="" thirty-three,="" combined="" remark-="" able="" does="" include="" arthurian="" legend,="" title="" obvious="" allusion="" tasso's="" gerusalemme="" liberata.="" attitude="" indirectly="" historian="" read="" before="" academy="" recently="" (nov.="" 25,="" 1908)="" professor="" frith="" treatment="" interest="" legendary="" anecdotic="" side="" revealed.="" appeared="" books="" earlier,="" certain="" episodes,="" space="" devoted="" them,="" often="" explained="" inclusion="" suggested="" tragedies.'="" xxxvi="" exercised="" powerful="" fascination="" brevity,="" compared="" subjects,="" suggests="" preference="" sacred="" story="" fall="" assumes="" prominent="" place.="" friend="" glancing="" 1641="" conjectured,="" tolerable="" certainty,="" where="" fall.="" four="" refer="" stand="" head="" themes.="" least="" intention="" treat="" patent.="" mere="" enumerations="" dramatis="" persona="" run="" seen="" longer="" simply="" expansion="" persons="" michael.="" moses="" heavenly="" love="" justice="" 8="" mercie="" wisdome="" chorus="" angels="" lucifer="" hesperus="" evening="" staire="" dam="" l="" serpent="" ^ho*="" eve="" |="" conscience="" adam="" labour="" \="" 4="" sicknesse="" discontent="" \-="" mutes="" ignorance="" f="" faith="" feare="" hope="" charity="" neither="" introduced="" title.="" wrote="" michael,"="" list,="" substituted="" moses."="" 3="" epithet="" divine,="" qualifying="" justice,="" inserted="" crossed="" again.="" "wisdome"="" added="" death,="" deleted="" it,="" (inutce="" persona,="" characters="" without="" speaking).="" xxxvii="" lists="" underneath="" stands="" sketch,="" tragedy="" shown,="" division="" acts="" observed.="" here,="" too,="" meet="" scheme="" follows="" irpoxoyifei="" recounting="" assum'd="" true="" bodie,="" corrupts="" god="" mount="" declares="" like="" enoch="" eliah,="" besides="" purity="" pi="" certaine="" pure="" winds,="" dues,="" clouds="" preserve="" corruption="" horts="" sight="" god,="" tells="" cannot="" se="" state="" innocence="" thire="" sin="" ^j="" v="" debating="" become="" man="" wisdomej="" sing="" hymne="" act="" 2.="" starre="" mariage="" song="" 5="" describe="" paradice="" 3.="" contriving="" adams="" ruine="" feares="" relates="" lucifers="" rebellion="" 6="" 4.="" adam)="" -="" .,="" fallen="" j="" cites="" gods="" examination="" 7="" bewails="" good="" ada="" hath="" margin="" frayed="" here.="" they,="" i.e.="" imaginary="" audience="" whom="" prologue="" addressed.="" cf.="" commencement="" comus.="" begins.="" vii.="" 253="" 60,="" note.="" 711.="" bks.="" vi.="" x.="" 97="" et="" stq.="" whome="" gives="" names="" likewise="" winter,="" heat="" tempest="" &c="" xxxv111="" eve,="" driven="" presented="" angel="" greife="" hatred="" envie="" warre="" famine="" pestilence="" enterd=""> comfort him and Istruct him 
Chorus breifly concludes 

This draft of the tragedy, which occurs on page 35 of the 
MS., is not deleted ; but Milton was still dissatisfied, and later 
on, page 40, we come to a fourth, and concluding, scheme 
which reads thus : 

Adam unparadiz'd 3 

The angel Gabriel, either descending or entering 4 , shewing since 
this globe was created, his frequency as much on earth, as in heavn, 
describes Paradise, next the Chorus shewing the reason of his 5 comming 
to keep his watch in Paradise after Lucifers rebellion by command from 
god, & withall expressing his desire to see, & know more concerning 
this excellent new creature man. the angel Gabriel as by his name 

1 Cf. bks. xi xn. 2 See X. 651, note. 

3 Underneath was written, and crossed out, an alternative title 
Adams Banishment. 

4 Cf. Comus, "The Attendant Spirit descends or enters" (adinit. ). 

5 his^ i.e. the chorus's ; he makes the chorus now a singular, now a 
plural, noun. 


signifying a prince of power tracing 1 paradise with a more free office 
passes by the station of y e chorus & desired by them relates what he 
knew of man as the creation of Eve with thire love, & manage, after 
this Lucifer appeares after his overthrow, bemoans himself, seeks 
revenge on man the Chorus prepare resistance at his first approach 
at last after discourse of enmity on either side he departs wherat the 
chorus sings of the battell, & victorie in heavn against him & his 
accomplices, as before after the first act 2 was sung a hymn of the 
creation, heer 3 again may appear Lucifer relating, & insulting in what 
he had don to the destruction of man. man next & Eve having by this 
time bin seduc't by the serpent appeares confusedly cover'd with 
leaves conscience in a shape accuses him, Justice cites him to the place 
whither Jehova call'd for him in the mean while the chorus entertains 4 
the stage, & his [sic] inform'd by some angel the manner of his fall heer 3 
the chorus bewailes Adams fall. Adam then & Eve returne accuse one 
another but especially Adam layes the blame to his wife, is stubborn in 
his offence Justice appeares reason 5 with him convinces him the 3 chorus 
admonisheth Adam, & bids him beware by Luciters example of 
impenitence the Angel is sent to banish them out of paradise but before 
causes to passe before his eyes in shapes a mask of all the evills 6 of this 
life & world he is humbl'd relents, dispaires. at last appeares Mercy 
comforts him promises the Messiah, then calls in faith, hope, & charity, 
instructs him he repents gives god the glory, submitts to his penalty 
the chorus breifly concludes, compare this with the former draught. 

" It appears plain," says Todd, " that Milton intended to have 
marked the division of the Acts in this sketch, as well as in 
the preceding. Peck has divided them ; and closes the first Act 
with Adam and Eve's love." The other Acts may be supposed 
to conclude at the following points : Act 2 at " sung a hymn of 
the creation"; Act 3 at "inform'd... the manner of his fall"; 
Act 4 at "bids him beware... impenitence" ; Act 5 at "the chorus 
breifly concludes." 

It is in regard to the first Act that this fourth draft, which 

1 passing through ; cf. Comus, 423. 

2 i.e. in the third draft. 

3 Each of these sentences was an after-thought, added below or in 
the margin. 

1 occupies. & i-e. reasons ; or ' to reason.' 

6 See xi. 47793. note. 


Milton bids us "compare with the former," marks a distinct 
advance. Milton made Moses the speaker of the prologue in 
the third draft because so much of the subject-matter of 
Paradise Lost is drawn from the Mosaic books of the Old 
Testament. But the appearance of a descendant of Adam, 
even in a prologue, where much latitude is allowed by con- 
vention, seems an awkward prelude to scenes coincident with 
Adam's own creation. It is far more natural that, before the 
subject of man's fall is touched upon at all, we should be told 
who man is, and that this first mention of him should come 
from the supernatural beings who had, or might have, witnessed 
the actual creation of the universe and its inhabitants. The 
explanation, too, why Moses is able to assume his natural body 
is very forced. And altogether this fourth draft exhibits more 
of drama, less of spectacle, than its predecessor. 

With regard to the subject, therefore, thus much is clear : 
as early as 1641 2 Milton has manifested an unmistakeable 
preference for the story of the lost Paradise, and the evidence 
of the Trinity MSS. coincides with the testimony of Aubrey and 
Phillips, who say that the poet did, about 1642, commence the 
composition of a drama on this theme of which drama the 
opening verses of Paradise Lost, book IV. (Satan's address to 
the sun), formed the exordium. It is, I think, by no means 
improbable that some other portions of the epic are really 
fragments of this unfinished work. Milton may have written 
two or three hundred lines, have kept them in his desk, and 
then, years afterward, when the project was resumed, have made 
use of them where opportunity offered. Had the poem, however, 
been completed in accordance with his original conception we 
should have had a tragedy, not an epic. 

Of this there is abundant proof. The third and fourth 
sketches, as has been observed, are dramatic. On the first 
page of these entries, besides those lists of dramatis persona 
which we have treated as the first and second sketches, stand 
the words "other Tragedies," followed by the enumeration of 
several feasible subjects. The list of British subjects is 
prefaced with the heading "British Trag." (i.e. tragedies). 


Wherever Milton has outlined the treatment of any of the 
Scriptural themes a tragedy is clearly indicated. Twice, indeed, 
another form is mentioned the pastoral, and probably a 
dramatic pastoral was intended 1 . These, however, are ex- 
ceptions, serving to emphasise his leaning towards tragedy. 

But what sort of tragedy ? I think we may fairly conclude 
that, if carried out on the lines laid down in the fourth sketch, 
Adam unparadiz'd would have borne a very marked resem- 
blance to Samson Agonistes : it would have conformed, in the 
main, to the same type that, namely, of the ancient Greek 
drama. With the romantic stage of the Elizabethans Milton 
appears to have felt little sympathy 2 : else he would scarce have 
written // Penseroso, 101, 102. Nor do I believe that his 
youthful enthusiasm for Shakespeare remained unmodified 3 : 
certainly, the condemnation of one important aspect of Shake- 
spearian tragedy in the preface to Samson Agonistes is too plain 
to be misinterpreted. So had Milton been minded to dramatise 
the story of Macbeth we have marked its presence in the list 
of Scottish subjects his Macbeth would have differed toto ccelo 
from Shakespeare's. In the same way, his tragedy of Paradise 
Lost would have been wholly un-Shakespearian, wholly un- 
Elizabethan. Nor would it have had any affinity to the drama 
of Milton's contemporaries 4 , those belated Elizabethans bungling 
with exhausted materials and forms that had lost all vitality. 
Tragedy for Milton could mean but one thing the tragic stage 
of the Greeks, the " dramatic constitutions " of Sophocles and 
Euripides : and when we examine these sketches of Paradise 

1 These are the two entries in the MS. : " Theristria. a Pastoral out 
of Ruth " ; and " the sheepshearers in Carmel a Pastoral, i Sam. 25." 
There is but one glance at the epical style ; in the list of " British Trag." 
after mentioning an episode in the life of King Alfred appropriate to 
dramatic handling, he adds "A Heroicall Poem may be founded 
somwhere in Alfreds reigne. especially at his issuing out of Edelingsey 
on the Danes, whose actions are wel like those of Ulysses." 

2 See Appendix to Samson Agonistes. 

3 See note on V Allegro, 133, 134. 

4 In the treatise On Education, 1644, he speaks of "our common 
rhymers and play-writers" as "despicable creatures," P. W. III. 474. 

P. L. d 


Lost we find in them the familiar features of Athenian drama 
certain signs eloquent of the source on which the poet has 

Let us, for example, glance at the draft of Adam unparadiz* d. 
Milton has kept the 'unities' of place and time. The scene 
does not change ; it is set in some part of Eden, and everything 
represented before the eyes of the audience occurs at the same 
spot. But whoso regards the unity of place must suffer a 
portion of the action to happen off the stage not enacted in 
the presence of the audience (as in a modern play where the 
scene changes), but reported. In Samson Agonistes Milton 
employs the traditional device of the Greek tragedians he 
relates the catastrophe by the mouth of a messenger. So here : 
the temptation by the serpent is not represented on the scene : 
it is described partly by Lucifer, "relating, and insulting in 
what he had don to the destruction of man"; partly by an angel 
who informs the Chorus of the manner of the fall. Again, the 
unity of time is observed. The time over which the action of a 
tragedy might extend, according to the usual practice of the 
Greek dramatists, was twenty-four hours. In Samson Agonistes 
the action begins at sunrise and ends at noon, thus occupying 
seven or eight hours. In Adam unparaditfd the action would 
certainly not exceed the customary twenty-four hours. Again a 
Chorus is introduced (sure sign of classical influence), and not 
only introduced, but handled exactly as Milton, following his 
Greek models, has handled it in Samson Agonistes : that is to 
say, closely identified with the action of the tragedy, even as 
Aristotle recommends that it should be. Further, in the fourth 
scheme the division into acts is carefully avoided an advance 
this on the third scheme. Similarly, in Samson Agonistes 
Milton avoids splitting up the play into scenes and acts, calling 
attention to the fact in his preface. Proofs 1 of Milton's 

1 Thus, apart from P. L., the Scriptural themes whereof the fullest 
sketches are given, are three tragedies severally entitled " Abram from 
Morea, or Isack redeemed Baptistes" (i.e. on the subject of John the 
Baptist and Herod) and "Sodom Burning." In each two unities 
(time and place) are kept, and a Chorus used. In " Isack redeemed" the 


classical bias might be multiplied from these Milton MSS. ; 
and personally I have no doubt that when he began the tragedy 
of which Aubrey and Phillips speak, he meant to revive in 
English the methods and style of his favourite Greek poets. 
But the scheme soon had to be abandoned ; and not till a 
quarter of a century later was it executed in Samson Agonistcs\ 
With Milton as with Dante the greatest came last after long 
delay : the life's work of each marked the life's close : and, 
the work done, release soon came to each, though to Dante 
sooner 2 . 

The third period in the genesis of Paradise Lost dates from 
1658. In that year, according to Aubrey, Milton began the 
poem as we know it. By then he had gone back to the epic 
style. He was still Secretary, but his duties were very light, 
and allowed him to devote himself to poetry. At the Restoration 
he was in danger, for some time, of his life, and was imprisoned 
for a few months. But in spite of this interruption, and of his 
blindness 3 , the epic was finished about 1663. The history of 

incident of the sacrifice is reported, and the description of the character 
of the hero Abraham as Milton meant to depict him is simply a 
paraphrase on Aristotle's definition of the ideal tragic hero. Most of 
the other subjects have a title such as the Greek tragedians employed 
e.g. " Elias Polemistes," "Elisseus Hydrochoos," "Zedechiah j/eore- 

1 The point is important because it disposes of the notion that 
Milton borrowed the idea of writing a tragedy on the classical model 
from the play of Samson by the Dutch poet Vondel. 

2 "There is at once similarity and difference in the causes which 
made each postpone the execution of his undertaking till a comparatively 
late period in his life ; and a curious parallel may be observed in the 
length of time between the first conception and the completion of their 
monumental works, as well as in the period that elapsed between the 
end of their labours and their death." (Courthope.) 

3 According to Edward Phillips, Milton dictated the poem to any 
one who chanced to be present and was willing to act as amanuensis; 
afterwards Phillips would go over the MS., correcting errors, under his 
uncle's direction. The original transcript submitted to the Licenser is 
extant, and is one of the many literary treasures that have gone to 


each of his longer poems shows that he was exceedingly careful 
in revising his works loth to let them go forth to the world till 
all that was possible had been done to achieve perfection 1 . It is 
Aubrey's statement that Paradise Lost was completed in 1663 ; 
while Milton's friend Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker, describes 
in a famous passage of his Autobiography, how in 1665 the poet 
placed a manuscript in his hands " bidding me take it home 
with me and read it at my leisure, and, when I had so done, 
return it to him with my judgment thereupon. When I came 
home, and had set myself to read it, I found it was that ex- 
cellent poem which he intituled Paradise Lost" Ellwood's 
account may be reconciled with Aubrey's on the reasonable 
supposition that the interval between 1663 and 1665 was spent 
in revision. Still, some delay in publishing the poem ensued. 
On the outbreak of the Plague in 1665 Milton had left London, 
retiring to Chalfont in Buckinghamshire, where Ellwood had 
rented a cottage for him. He returned in the next year, 1666 ; 
but again there was delay this time through the great Fire 
of London which disorganised business. . Not till 1667 did 
Paradise Lost appear in print. The agreement (now in the 
possession of the British Museum) drawn up between Milton 
and his publisher by which he received an immediate payment 
of ^5, and retained certain rights over the future sale of the 
book is dated April 27, 1667. The date on which Paradise 
Lost was entered in the Stationers' Register is August 20, 1667. 
No doubt, copies were in circulation in the autumn of this year. 

America. It "passed from the possession of the first printer of the 
poem, Samuel Simmons, to Jacob Tonson [the publisher], and thence 
to his collateral descendants, remaining in the same family... until 
1904," when it was bought by an American collector. (From an 
article in The Athenaum on " Miltoniana in America.") 

1 "When we look at his earlier manuscripts, with all their erasures 
and corrections, we may well wonder what the Paradise Lost would have 
been if he had been able to give it the final touches of a faultless and 
fastidious hand. When we think of it composed in darkness, preserved 
in memory, dictated in fragments, it may well seem to us the most 
astonishing of all the products of high genius guided by unconquerable 
will" (J. W. Mackail). 


The system of licensing publications, against which Milton 
had protested so vehemently in his Areopagitica, had been revived 
by the Press Act of 1662 and was now strongly enforced. " By 
that act," says Dr Masson, " the duty of licensing books of general 
literature had been assigned to the Secretaries of State, the 
Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London ; but it 
was exceptional for any of those dignitaries to perform the duty 
in person. It was chiefly performed for them by a staff of under- 
licencers, paid by fees. 37 Five or six of his chaplains acted so for 
the Archbishop ; and according to tradition one of them, to 
whom Paradise Lost was submitted, hesitated to give his im- 
primatur on account of the lines in the first book about eclipses 
perplexing monarchs with fear of change (i. 594 99). Milton 
must have remembered grimly the bitter gibes in his pamphlets, 
e.g. in the A nimadversions (1641) against "monkish prohibitions, 
and expurgatorious indexes," and "proud Imprimaturs not to be 
obtained without the shallow surview, but not shallow hand of 
some mercenary, narrow-souled, and illiterate chaplain." The 
wheel had come full circle with a vengeance. 

This first edition of Paradise Lost raises curious points 1 of 
bibliography into which there is no need to enter here ; but we 
must note three things. The poem was divided into not 
twelve books but ten. In the earlier copies issued to the 
public there were no prose Arguments ; these (written, we may 
suppose, by Milton himself) were printed all together and 
inserted at the commencement of each of the later volumes of 

1 For example, no less than nine distinct title-pages of this edition 
have been traced. This means that, though the whole edition was 
printed in 1667, only a limited number of copies were bound up and 
issued in that year. The rest would be kept in stock, unbound, and 
published in instalments, as required. Hence new matter could be 
inserted (such as the prose Arguments)^ and in each instalment it would 
be just as easy to bind up a new title-page as to use the old one. Often 
the date had to be changed : and we find that two of these pages bear 
the year 1667; four, 1668 ; and three, 1669. Seven have Milton's 
name in full ; two, only his initials. Mr Leigh Sotheby collated them 
carefully in his book on Milton's autograph, pp. 81 84. 


this first edition an awkward arrangement changed in the 
second edition. Milton prefixed to the later copies the brief 
prefatory note on The Verse, explaining why he had used blank 
verse ; and it was preceded by the address of The Printer to the 
Reader. It seems that the number of copies printed in the first 
edition was 1500; and the statement of another payment made 
by the publisher to Milton on account of the sale of the book 
shows that by April 26, 1669, i.e. a year and a half after the date 
of publication, 1300 copies had been disposed of. 

In 1674 the second edition was issued with several changes. 
First, the epic (said to be 670 lines longer than the ^Eneid} 
was divided into twelve books, a more Vergilian number, by the 
subdivision of books VII. and X. Secondly, the prose Argu- 
ments were transferred from the beginning and prefixed to their 
respective books. Thirdly, a few changes were introduced into 
the text few of any great significance. It was to the second 
edition that the commendatory verses by Samuel Barrow and 
Andrew Marvell were prefixed. Four years later, 1678, came 
the third edition, and in 1688 the fourth. This last was the 
well-known folio published by Tonson ; Paradise Regained and 
Samson Agonistes were bound up with some copies of it, so that 
Milton's three great works were obtainable in a single volume. 
The first annotated edition of Paradise Lost was that edited by 
Patrick Hume in 1695, being the sixth reprint. And during 
the 1 8th century editions 1 were numerous. "Milton scholar- 
ship 2 ,'' it has been justly said, "was active throughout the whole 

There is, indeed, little (if any) ground for the view which one 
so frequently comes across that Paradise Lost met with scant 
appreciation, and that Milton was neglected by his contem- 

1 Pre-eminent among them is Bishop Newton's edition (1749). He 
was the first editor who took pains to secure accuracy of text, doing, 
on a smaller scale, for Milton what Theobald did for Shakespeare. 
His services too in the elucidation of certain aspects (notably the Scrip- 
tural) of Milton's learning have never been surpassed. 

2 See Professor Dowden's Tercentenary paper "Milton in the 
Eighteenth Century (1701 1750)." 


poraries, and without honour in his lifetime. To the general 
public epic poetry will never appeal, more especially if it be 
steeped in the classical feeling that pervades Paradise Lost ; 
but there must have been a goodly number of scholars and 
lettered readers to welcome the work else why these successive 
editions, appearing at no very lengthy intervals? One thing, 
doubtless, which prejudiced its popularity was the personal 
resentment of the Royalist classes at Milton's political actions. 
They could not forget his long identification with republicanism ; 
and there was much in the poem itself covert sneers and 
gibes which would repel many who were loyal to the Church 
and the Court. Further, the style of Paradise Lost was 
something very different from the prevailing tone of the 
literature then current and popular. Milton was the last of the 
Elizabethans, a lonely survival lingering on into days when 
French influence was beginning to dominate English taste. 
Even the metre of his poem must have sounded strange to ears 
familiarised to the crisp clearness and epigrammatic ring of the 
rhymed couplet 1 . Yet, in spite of these obstacles, many whose 
praise was worth the having were proud of Milton : they felt 
that he had done honour to his country. He was accorded that 
which he had sought so earnestly acceptance as a great 
national poet ; and it is pleasant to read how men of letters 
and social distinction would pay visits of respect to him, and 
how the white-winged Fame bore his name and reputation 
abroad, so that foreigners came to England for the especial 
purpose of seeing him. And their visits were the prelude of 
that foreign renown and influence from which he seemed to 
have cut himself off when he made his native tongue the 
medium of his great work. " Milton was the first English 
poet to inspire respect and win fame for our literature on the 
Continent, and to his poetry was due, to an extent that has not 
yet been fully recognised, the change which came over European 
ideas in the eighteenth century with regard to the nature and 
scope of the epic. Paradise Lost was the mainstay of those 

1 Cf. Marvell's "Commendatory Verses," 45 54. 


critics who dared to vindicate, in the face of French classicism, 
the rights of the imagination over the reason in poetry 1 ." 

There has been much discussion about the 'sources' of 
Paradise Lost, and writers well nigh as countless as Vallom- 
brosa's autumn leaves have been thrust forth from their 
obscurity to claim the honour of having 'inspired' (as the 
phrase is) the great epic. Most of these unconscious claimants 
were, like enough, unknown to Milton ; but some of them do 
seem to stand in a relation which demands recognition. 

I should place first the Latin tragedy Adamus Exul (1601), 
written in his youth by the great jurist Hugo Grotius after the 
model of Seneca. Apart from the question of actual resemblances 
to Paradise Lost, it might fairly be conjectured, if not assumed, 
that Milton read this tragedy. He knew Grotius personally and 
knew his works. Describing, in the Second Defence, his Italian 
tour in 1638, Milton mentions his stay in Paris and friendly 
reception by the English ambassador, and adds : " His lordship 
gave me a card of introduction to the learned Hugo Grotius, at 
that time ambassador from the Queen of Sweden to the French 
court; whose acquaintance I anxiously desired 2 ." He quotes the 
opinions of Grotius with high respect in his treatise on divorce 3 . 
The alternative titles of the fourth draft of Milton's own con- 
templated tragedy, viz. Adam unparadisfd and Adams Banish- 
ment, certainly recall the title Adamus Exul \ and it may be 

1 Professor J. G. Robertson, ''Milton's Fame on the Continent," 
a paper read before the British Academy, Dec. 10, 1908. 

Perhaps the strangest and most delightful evidence of Milton's 
acceptance among foreigners was Mr Maurice Baring's discovery of the 
popularity of Paradise Lost, in a prose translation, amongst the Russian 
peasantry and private soldiers : 

" The schoolmaster said that after all his experience the taste of the 
peasants in literature baffled him. ' They will not read modern stories,' 
he said. 'When I ask them why they like Paradise Lost they point to 
their heart and say, "It is near to the heart ; it speaks; you read, and 
a sweetness comes to you." ' 

2 P. W. i. 255- 

3 See chapters XVII., XVHI. of The Doctrine and Discipline. 


noted that this draft was sketched in that period (about 1641) 
of Milton's life to which his meeting with Grotius belongs. 
Of the likeness between Paradise Lost and the Adarmts Exut, 
and other works dealing with the same theme, it is impossible to 
say how much, if not all, is due to identity of subject and (what 
is no less important) identity of convention as to the machinery 
proper for its treatment. But I do not think that community of 
subject accounts entirely for the resemblances between Paradise 
Lost and Grotius's tragedy. The conception of Satan's character 
and motives unfolded in his long introductory speech in the 
Adatmis, the general idea of his escaping from Hell and sur- 
veying Eden, his invocation of the powers of evil (amongst them 
Chaos and Night) these things and some others, such as the 
Angel's narrative to Adam of the Creation, seem like far-off 
embryonic drawings of the splendours of the epic. It should be 
added that Grotius's other religious plays were known in England. 
A free rendering of his Christus Pattens into rhymed heroics 
was published in London in 1640 under the title Christ's Passion; 
while his tragedy Sophompaneas^ or Joseph, appeared in an 
English version in 1650. And a sidelight may be thrown not 
merely on the contemporary estimate of Grotius by the ex- 
ceptionally eulogistic mention of his works in the Theatrum 
Poetarum (1675) of Milton's nephew Edward Phillips. The 
Theatrum is commonly supposed to reflect in some degree 
Milton's own views 1 and it is significant therefore to find 
Grotius described as one "whose equal in fame for Wit & 
Learning, Christendom of late Ages hath rarely produc'd, 
particularly of so happy a Genius in Poetry, that had his Annals, 

1 See v. 177, 673, notes. Other touches in the Theatrum of 
Mil tonic interest are the accounts of Spenser and Sylvester, and the 
praise of Henry Lawes in the notice of Waller. One may conjecture, 
too, that the obscure Erycus Puteanus would not have had his niche 
but for Comus. The Theatrum includes also Andreini but not Vondel. 
Phillips's account of Milton himself is admirably discreet : and he 
expressly terms Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained " Heroic Poems." 
The relations between uncle and nephew were more than ordinarily 


his Book De Veritate Christiana Religionis...&K& other his 
extolled works in Prose, never come to Light, his extant and 
universally approved Latin Poems, had been sufficient to gain 
him a Living Name." 

It is an easy transition from the Adamus Exulto the Adamo 
of the Italian poet Giovanni Battista Andreini (15781652), a 
Florentine, which is said to owe something to Grotius's tragedy. 
Voltaire, in his Essai s ur la Podsie Epique written in 1727, related 
that Milton during his residence at Florence saw "a comedy 

called Adamo^ The subject of the play was the Fall of Man: 

the actors, the Devils, the Angels, Adam, Eve, the Serpent, 

Death, and the Seven Mortal Sins Milton pierced through 

the absurdity of that performance to the hidden majesty of the 
subject ; which, being altogether unfit for the stage, yet might be, 
for the genius of Milton, and his only, the foundation of an epick 
poem." What authority he had for this legend Voltaire does not 
say. It is not alluded to by any of Milton's contemporary bio- 
graphers. It may have been a mere invention by some ill-wisher 
of the poet, a piece of malicious gossip circulated out of political 
spite against the great champion of republicanism. But the 
authenticity of the story is not perhaps very important, for inde- 
pendently there seems to be evidence in the Adamo itself that 
Milton was acquainted with it even before his visit to Italy. One 
cannot read the scene of the Adamo (v. 5) in which the World, 
personified, tempts Eve with all its pomps and vanities, without 
being reminded of the scene in Comus of the temptation of the 
Lady. And, as with the Adamus Exul, some of the coincidences 
of incident and treatment between the Adamo and Paradise 
Lost, or Milton's early dramatic sketches of the action, seem to 
constitute a residuum of resemblance after full allowance has 

1 It had been printed in 1613 (Milan), and again in 1617. The 
title-page of the first edition describes the work as " L' Adamo, Sacra 
Rapresentatione." It is more " a hybrid between a miracle play and an 
opera" (Courthope) than a "comedy." A translation by Cowper and 
Hayley was printed in their edition of Milton ; and it is in this 
translation that the work is known to me. The fact that Cowper took 
the Adamo theory seriously is significant. 


been made for the influence of practical identity of theme. 
Thus the list of characters in the Adamo has abstractions like 
the World, Famine, Labour, Despair, Death : and the ap- 
pearance of these and kindred evils of life to Adam and Eve 
(Act iv., scenes 6 and 7) recalls the early drafts of the scheme of 
Paradise Lost and also the vision shown to Adam in the 
eleventh (477 99) book of the poem. Andreini makes Michael 
drive Adam and Eve out of Paradise and depicts a final struggle 
between Michael and Lucifer. Andreini's representation of the 
Serpent's temptation of Eve has been thought to have left some 
impression on the parallel scene in Paradise Lost. After the 
Fall Lucifer summons the spirits of air and fire, earth and water 
a counterpart to Paradise Regained, II. 115 et seq. And occasion- 
ally a verbal similarity arrests as where Lucifer says (iv. 2, end) 

" Let us remain in hell ! 
Since there is more content 
To live in liberty, tho' all condemn'd, 
Than, as his vassals, blest 1 " 

(" Pot, ch? I maggior contento 
viver in liberta tutti dainnati^ 
che sudditi foafi"); 
and inveighs (iv. 2) : 

" Ahi luce, ahi luce odiata ! " 
or where the Angels describe Man (n. i) : 

"For contemplation of his Maker form'd 71 
("Per contemplar del suo gran Fabro il merto"}. 

1 See I. 263, note ; but of course the idea was not peculiar to any 
writer. So tradition, literary or theological, may explain the following 
similarity, which is at least an interesting illustration of P. L. v. 688, 
699. Andreini makes Lucifer (i. 3) address his followers : 
"I am that Spirit, I, who for your sake 
Collecting dauntless courage, to the north 
Led you far distant from the senseless will 
Of him  

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