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final edition. Thus the scraps of verse, whether in English or Latin, interspersed through his prose writings, are now properly collected and inserted among the Poems. Those four English Sonnets, also, which Milton had, from prudential reasons, omitted in the edition of 1673, are now in their places. After the Revolution of 1688 there was no reason for withholding these interesting sonnets from the public ; and, accordingly, when Milton's nephew, Edward Phillips, published, in 1694, an English edition of the “ Letters of State” which had been written by his uncle as Latin Secretary during the Commonwealth and the Protectorates, and prefixed to these Letters his Memoir of his uncle, he very properly printed the four missing sonnets as an appendix to the Memoir. From that time they have always been included in editions of the Poems.
Even had Milton not given his Minor Poems to the world in print during his lifetime, those interesting productions of his genius would not have been wholly lost. From the time when he had first begun to write poems or other things, he had carefully kept the MSS.; and it so chances that a larger quantity of Milton's original MSS. has been preserved than of the original MSS. of most other English poets of that age. Not a few of Milton's papers, either loose, or forming a kind of large draft-book, had come into the possession of Sir Henry Newton Puckering, Bart., a scholar and book-collector of the seventeenth century; and as, on his death in 1700, he left his collection of books to the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, these papers lay about in that Library till 1736, when they were carefully put together and bound in morocco. Accordingly, this thin morocco-bound volume of Milton MSS. is to this day one of the most precious curiosities in the Library of Trinity College. It is shown to visitors in a glass table-case, arranged so as to gratify them with the sight of a page or two of Milton's autograph. By permission of the Master and Fellows, but only in the presence of one of the Fellows, it may be removed from the case for more leisurely examination. The volume consists of fifty-four pages, all of folio size, except an interpolated leaf or two of
Eight of the pages are blank; all the other forty-six are written on, most of them very closely. The following is a list of the ontents in the order in which they stand :-Arcades (draft in Milton's own hand); Song, At a
Solemn Music (Milton's own hand); Two Drafts of an English Prose Letter to a Friend, the first containing a transcript of the “Sonnet on his having arrived at the age of twenty-three" (all in Milton's own hand); On Time (Milton's own hand); Upon the Circumcision (Milton's own hand); Sonnet VIII. (in the hand of an amanuensis); Sonnets IX. and X. (Milton's own hand); Comus and Lycidas, entire drafts, much corrected (in Milton's own hand); Seven pages of Jottings of Subjects for Tragedies (Milton's own hand : see Introd. to P. L., to P. R., and to Sams. Ag.); Sonnets X1. — XIV. (in Milton's own hand, but with copies in another hand); Sonnet XV.: To Fairfax (in Milton's own hand); Sonnet XVI.: To Cromwell (in the hand of some amanuensis); Sonnet XVII. : To Vane (also in another hand); Lines on the Forcers of Conscience (also in another hand); Sonnets XXI. — XXIII. (also in the hands of amanuenses). It thus appears that in this precious volume at Cambridge there are preserved,—mostly in Milton's own hand, but occasionally in the hands of amanuenses, who either transcribed from his original drafts before he was blind, or, after he was blind, wrote to his dictation,-actual MS. copies of much the larger part of all Milton's Minor English Poetry What has to be specially noted, however, in the enumeration of the pieces contained in the Cambridge volume, is that it does not include a single original draft of a poem of Milton's known to be of earlier date than 1632, the year when he left Cambridge for the retirement of his father's country house at Horton. The “Sonnet on his having arrived at the age of twenty-three” is only an apparent exception. That sonnet was written in December 1631 ; but it is only a transcript of the original copy that is included in the Letter to a Friend, and this with an intimation in the letter itself that the sonnet was written “some while since." On the whole, the inference is that the Cambridge MS. volume of drafts begins in 1633, just after Milton had settled at Horton.
TO THE ENGLISH POEMS.
PARAPHRASES ON PSALMS CXIV. AND CXXXVI.
THESE were done, as the author himself takes care to tell us, “at fifteen years old”-i.e. in 1624. They are, in fact, the only specimens now extant of Milton's muse before he went to Cambridge. They are the relics, doubtless, of a little collection of boyish performances, now lost, with which he amused himself, and perhaps pleased his father and his teachers, when he lived in his father's house in Bread Street, Cheapside, and attended the neighbouring school of St. Paul's. They prove him to have been even then a careful reader of contemporary English poetry, and, in particular, of Spenser, and of Sylvester's quaint and old-fashioned, but richly poetical, translation of the Divine Weekes and Workes of the French religious poet Du Bartas. This book, which had been published in 1605 by Humphrey Lownes, a wellknown printer of Bread Street Hill, close to Milton's father's house, was as popular in England as the original was on the Continent. It went through several editions while Sylvester lived, and almost every pious English household of literary tastes possessed a copy.
ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT DYING OF A COUGH.
Over this poem Milton has himself placed the words “Anno ætatis 17,” implying that it was written in his 17th year. Now, as Milton entered his seventeenth year on the 9th of December 1624, and ended it on the gth of Decem.