Private Correspondence and Academic Exercises

Private Correspondence and Academic Exercises

Private Correspondence and Academic Exercises

Private Correspondence and Academic Exercises

Excerpt

In 1674, the year of Milton's death, Brabazon Aylmer, a printer of Cornhill, sought permission of the authorities to publish the public and private correspondence of Milton. To the private correspondence there was no objection, but the public correspondence consisted of letters of State, composed by Milton on behalf of the Cromwellian government for despatch to the various courts of Europe. The time had not yet come when anything to do with Cromwell could be taken calmly, and permission to publish Milton's public correspondence was denied. Thereupon the printer solicited Milton for something to take its place. Milton discovered in his papers some of the Latin exercises or disputations he had composed at Cambridge to satisfy the requirements for his degrees. The printer accepted these and published them along with Milton's private letters in a duodecimo volume.

This volume is the sole authority for the text of very nearly all the letters and of all the exercises. Besides being badly punctuated it contains not a few misprints, the most important of which are specified in the textual notes, but it is not more inaccurate than one would expect a printed Latin book dated 1674 to be. Subsequent editions have faithfully reproduced the original mistakes. Textually, therefore, it is the original edition only that counts.

2 MILTON'S PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE

If the reader expects to find in Milton's letters the sort of thing that he finds in those of Howell or Lamb or Keats, he will be disappointed. He will also be misjudging Milton's intention. For Milton treated the . . .

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