The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Translations of the Italian, Latin and Greek Poems from the Columbia University Edition

By David Masson; John Milton | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION TO PARADISE REGAINED.

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, p. 15) 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 dis"course 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 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.

____________________
*
The History of the Life of Thomas Ellwood, Second Edition ( 1714), pp. 240, 247.

-283-

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The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Translations of the Italian, Latin and Greek Poems from the Columbia University Edition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface. v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Commendatory Verses, - Prefixed to the Second Edition 37
  • The Verse. 41
  • Paradise Regained. 281
  • Introduction To Paradise Regained. 283
  • Samson Agonistes. 341
  • Introduction To Samson Agonistes. 343
  • Of That Sort of Dramatic Poem Called Tragedy. 353
  • The Argument. 355
  • Samson Agonistes. 357
  • Introduction To the Minor Poems. 395
  • Poems: - English and Latin, With a Few in Italian and Greek. Composed at Several Times. 473
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