John Milton

John Milton

Overview
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth (republic) of England
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 under Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

.

Milton wrote in Latin, Italian and English, and had an international reputation during his lifetime. His poetry and prose reflect deep convictions and addressed urgent, contemporary issues (for example, his celebrated Areopagitica
Areopagitica
Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by English author John Milton against censorship...

is written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship).

After his death, his critical reception oscillated, a state of affairs that continued through the centuries.
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Quotations

And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie,That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

On Shakespeare (1630).

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year.

On His Having Arrived at the Age of Twenty-three (1631).

Captain or Colonel, or Knight in Arms,Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,If ever deed of honour did thee please,Guard them, and him within protect from harms.

Sonnet VIII: When the Assault was Intended to the City.

The great Emathian conqueror bid spareThe house of Pindarus, when temple and towerWent to the ground.

Sonnet VIII: When the Assault was intended to the City.

Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie.

Arcades (1630-1634), line 68.

Under the shady roofOf branching elm star-proof.

Arcades (1630-1634), line 88.

The lazy leaden-stepping Hours,Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace.

On Time (c. 1637).

O nightingale, that on yon bloomy sprayWarbl'st at eve, when all the woods are still.

Sonnet, To the Nightingale (c. 1637).

Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy,

At a Solemn Music (c. 1637), line 1.

Where the bright seraphim in burning rowTheir loud uplifted angel trumpets blow.

At a Solemn Music.
Encyclopedia
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth (republic) of England
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

 under Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

.

Milton wrote in Latin, Italian and English, and had an international reputation during his lifetime. His poetry and prose reflect deep convictions and addressed urgent, contemporary issues (for example, his celebrated Areopagitica
Areopagitica
Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by English author John Milton against censorship...

is written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship).

After his death, his critical reception oscillated, a state of affairs that continued through the centuries. At an early stage he became the subject of partisan biographies, such as that of John Toland
John Toland
John Toland was a rationalist philosopher and freethinker, and occasional satirist, who wrote numerous books and pamphlets on political philosophy and philosophy of religion, which are early expressions of the philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment...

 from the nonconformist perspective, and a hostile account by Anthony à Wood. Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

 praised Paradise Lost "a poem which, considered with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind". (Though Johnson, being a committed Tory
Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

, and recipient of royal patronage, called Milton's politics those of an "acrimonious and surly republican
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

".) William Hayley
William Hayley
William Hayley was an English writer, best known as the friend and biographer of William Cowper.-Biography:...

's 1796 biography called him the "greatest English author". He remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language and as a thinker of world importance."

Biography


The phases of Milton's life parallel the major historical and political divisions in Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

 Britain. Under the increasingly personal rule of Charles I
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 and its breakdown in constitutional confusion and war, Milton studied, travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist. Under the Commonwealth of England
Commonwealth of England
The Commonwealth of England was the republic which ruled first England, and then Ireland and Scotland from 1649 to 1660. Between 1653–1659 it was known as the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland...

, from being thought dangerously radical and even heretical, the shift in accepted attitudes in government placed him in public office, and he even acted as an official spokesman in certain of his publications. The Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 of 1660 deprived Milton, now completely blind, of his public platform, but this period saw him complete most of his major works of poetry. Milton had a great impact on the Romantic movement
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in England, as shown in fellow poet William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

's sonnet London, 1802
London, 1802
"London, 1802" is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In the poem Wordsworth castigates the English people as stagnant and selfish, and eulogizes seventeenth-century poet John Milton....

. Wordsworth calls upon him to rise from the dead and aid in returning England to its former glory.

Milton's views developed from his very extensive reading, as well as travel and experience, from his student days of the 1620s to the English Revolution
English Revolution
"English Revolution" has been used to describe two different events in English history. The first to be so called—by Whig historians—was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, whereby James II was replaced by William III and Mary II as monarch and a constitutional monarchy was established.In the...

. By the time of his death in 1674, Milton was impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life, yet unrepentant for his political choices, and of Europe-wide fame.

Early life



John Milton was born on Bread Street, London, on 9 December 1608, as the son of the composer John Milton
John Milton (composer)
John Milton was an English composer and father of poet John Milton. Early in his life he converted to Protestantism and his own father, Richard Milton, subsequently disowned him. He moved to London around 1583 to work as an apprentice scrivener. His work largely pertained to business matters;...

 and his wife Sarah Jeffrey. The senior John Milton (1562–1647) moved to London around 1583 after being disinherited by his devout Catholic father, Richard Milton, for embracing Protestantism. In London, the senior John Milton married Sarah Jeffrey (1572–1637), the poet's mother, and found lasting financial success as a scrivener
Scrivener
A scrivener was traditionally a person who could read and write. This usually indicated secretarial and administrative duties such as dictation and keeping business, judicial, and history records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities...

. He lived in, and worked from, a house on Bread Street
Bread Street
Bread Street is a ward of the City of London and is named from its principal street, which was anciently the bread market; for by the records it appears that in 1302, the bakers of London were ordered to sell no bread at their houses but in the open market...

, where the Mermaid Tavern
Mermaid Tavern
The Mermaid Tavern was a tavern on Cheapside in London during the Elizabethan era, located east of St. Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Friday Street and Bread Street. It was the site of the so-called Friday Street Club...

 was located in Cheapside
Cheapside
Cheapside is a street in the City of London that links Newgate Street with the junction of Queen Victoria Street and Mansion House Street. To the east is Mansion House, the Bank of England, and the major road junction above Bank tube station. To the west is St. Paul's Cathedral, St...

. The elder Milton was noted for his skill as a musical composer, and this talent left Milton with a lifetime appreciation for music and friendship with musicians such as Henry Lawes
Henry Lawes
Henry Lawes was an English musician and composer.He was born at Dinton in Wiltshire, and received his musical education from John Cooper, better known under his Italian pseudonym Giovanni Coperario, a famous composer of the day...

.
Milton's father's prosperity provided his eldest son with a private tutor, Thomas Young, and then a place at St Paul's School in London. There he began the study of Latin and Greek, and the classical languages left an imprint on his poetry in English (he wrote also in Italian and Latin). His first datable compositions are two psalms done at age 15 at Long Bennington
Long Bennington
Long Bennington is a village in South Kesteven, south Lincolnshire, England. It is equidistant from Newark-on-Trent and Grantham, and from the villages of Stubton and Orston. It has a population of 1,847.-Geography:...

. One contemporary source is the Brief Lives
Brief Lives
Brief Lives is a collection of short biographies written by John Aubrey in the last decades of the seventeenth century. Aubrey initially began collecting biographical material to assist the Oxford scholar Anthony Wood, who was working on his own collection of biographies...

of John Aubrey
John Aubrey
John Aubrey FRS, was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives...

, an uneven compilation including first-hand reports. In the work, Aubrey quotes Christopher, Milton's younger brother: "When he was young, he studied very hard and sat up very late, commonly till twelve or one o'clock at night".

Milton matriculated
Matriculation
Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list. In Scottish heraldry, for instance, a matriculation is a registration of armorial bearings...

 at Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.With a reputation for high academic standards, Christ's College averaged top place in the Tompkins Table from 1980-2000 . In 2011, Christ's was placed sixth.-College history:...

, in 1625 and graduated with a B.A. in 1629, ranking fourth of 24 honours graduates that year in the University of Cambridge. Preparing to become an Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 priest, he stayed on to obtain his Master of Arts degree on 3 July 1632.

Milton was probably rusticated
Rustication (academia)
Rustication is a term used at Oxbridge to mean being sent down or expelled temporarily. The term derives from the Latin word rus, countryside, to indicate that a student has been sent back to their family in the country, or from medieval Latin rustici, meaning "heathens or barbarians"...

 for quarrelling in his first year with his tutor, William Chappell
William Chappell (bishop)
William Chappell was an English scholar and clergyman. He became Church of Ireland bishop of Cork and Ross.-Academic:...

. He was certainly at home in the Lent Term 1626; there he wrote his Elegia Prima, a first Latin elegy
Elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

, to Charles Diodati, a friend from St Paul's. Based on remarks of John Aubrey
John Aubrey
John Aubrey FRS, was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives...

, Chappell "whipt" Milton. This story is now disputed. Certainly Milton disliked Chappell. Christopher Hill
Christopher Hill (historian)
John Edward Christopher Hill , usually known simply as Christopher Hill, was an English Marxist historian and author of textbooks....

 cautiously notes that Milton was "apparently" rusticated, and that the differences between Chappell and Milton may have been either religious or personal, as far as we can know. Another factor, possibly, was the plague, by which Cambridge was badly affected in 1625. Later in 1626 Milton's tutor was Nathaniel Tovey.

At Cambridge Milton was on good terms with Edward King
Edward King (British poet)
Edward King , the subject of Milton's Lycidas, was born in Ireland in 1612, the son of Sir John King, a member of a Yorkshire family which had migrated to Ireland. Edward King was admitted a pensioner of Christ's College, Cambridge, on June 9, 1626, and four years later was elected a fellow...

, for whom he later wrote Lycidas
Lycidas
"Lycidas" is a poem by John Milton, written in 1637 as a pastoral elegy. It first appeared in a 1638 collection of elegies, entitled Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, dedicated to the memory of Edward King, a collegemate of Milton's at Cambridge who drowned when his ship sank in the Irish Sea off the...

. He also befriended Anglo-American dissident and theologian, Roger Williams
Roger Williams (theologian)
Roger Williams was an English Protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of Providence Plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities. Williams started the first Baptist church in America,...

. Milton tutored Williams in Hebrew in exchange for lessons in Dutch. Otherwise at Cambridge he developed a reputation for poetic skill and general erudition, but experienced alienation from his peers and university life as a whole. Watching his fellow students attempting comedy upon the college stage, he later observed 'they thought themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools'. Milton, due to his hair, which he wore long, and his general delicacy of manner, was known as the "Lady of Christ's".

The university curriculum was dour, and he worked towards formal debates on topics, conducted in Latin. Yet his corpus is not devoid of humour, notably his sixth prolusion and his epitaphs on the death of Thomas Hobson
Thomas Hobson
Thomas Hobson , sometimes called "The Cambridge Carrier", is best known as the name behind the expression Hobson's choice....

. While at Cambridge he wrote a number of his well-known shorter English poems, among them On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, his Epitaph on the admirable Dramatick Poet, W. Shakespeare, his first poem to appear in print, L'Allegro
L'Allegro
L'Allegro is a pastoral poem by John Milton published in 1645. L'Allegro is invariably paired with the contrasting pastoral poem, Il Penseroso , which depicts a similar day spent in contemplation and thought.-Background:It is uncertain when L'Allegro and Il Penseroso were composed because they do...

and Il Penseroso
Il Penseroso
Il Penseroso is a vision of poetic melancholy by John Milton. Presented in the 1645 folio of verses, The Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, Il Penseroso was presented as a companion piece to L'Allegro, a vision of poetic Mirth...

.

Study, poetry, and travel



Upon receiving his M.A. in 1632, Milton retired to Hammersmith
Hammersmith
Hammersmith is an urban centre in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in west London, England, in the United Kingdom, approximately five miles west of Charing Cross on the north bank of the River Thames...

, his father's new home since the previous year. He also lived at Horton, Berkshire
Horton, Berkshire
Horton is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. It is located between Windsor and Staines. Horton was transferred from Buckinghamshire to Berkshire in 1974. Through the Horton parish flows the Colne Brook which runs to the River Thames from the River Colne.The village name is a common...

, from 1635 and undertook six years of self-directed private study. Christopher Hill points out that this was not retreat into a rural or pastoral idyll at all: Hammersmith was then a "suburban village" falling into the orbit of London, and even Horton was becoming deforested, and suffered from the plague. He read both ancient and modern works of theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, philosophy, history, politics, literature and science, in preparation for a prospective poetical career. Milton's intellectual development can be charted via entries in his commonplace book (like a scrapbook), now in the British Library
British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and is the world's largest library in terms of total number of items. The library is a major research library, holding over 150 million items from every country in the world, in virtually all known languages and in many formats,...

. As a result of such intensive study, Milton is considered to be among the most learned of all English poets; in addition to his years of private study, Milton had command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian from his school and undergraduate days; he also added Old English to his linguistic repertoire in the 1650s while researching his History of Britain, and probably acquired proficiency in Dutch soon after.

Milton continued to write poetry during this period of study: his Arcades
Arcades (Milton)
"Arcades" is a masque written by John Milton and performed on 4 May 1634. The piece was written to celebrate the character of Alice Spencer, the Countess Dowager of Darby, widow of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, during her 75th birthday...

and Comus
Comus (John Milton)
Comus is a masque in honour of chastity, written by John Milton. It was first presented on Michaelmas, 1634, before John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater at Ludlow Castle in celebration of the Earl's new post as Lord President of Wales.Known colloquially as Comus, the mask's actual full title is A...

were both commissioned for masques composed for noble patrons, connections of the Egerton family, and performed in 1632 and 1634 respectively. Comus argues for the virtuousness of temperance
Temperance (virtue)
Temperance has been studied by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently, psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. It is considered a virtue, a core value that can be seen consistently across time and cultures...

 and chastity
Chastity
Chastity refers to the sexual behavior of a man or woman acceptable to the moral standards and guidelines of a culture, civilization, or religion....

.

He contributed his pastoral
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 elegy
Elegy
In literature, an elegy is a mournful, melancholic or plaintive poem, especially a funeral song or a lament for the dead.-History:The Greek term elegeia originally referred to any verse written in elegiac couplets and covering a wide range of subject matter, including epitaphs for tombs...

 Lycidas
Lycidas
"Lycidas" is a poem by John Milton, written in 1637 as a pastoral elegy. It first appeared in a 1638 collection of elegies, entitled Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, dedicated to the memory of Edward King, a collegemate of Milton's at Cambridge who drowned when his ship sank in the Irish Sea off the...

to a memorial collection for one of his Cambridge classmates. Drafts of these poems are preserved in Milton’s poetry notebook, known as the Trinity Manuscript because it is now kept at Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

.

In May 1638, Milton embarked upon a tour of France and Italy that lasted up to July or August 1639. His travels supplemented his study with new and direct experience of artistic and religious traditions, especially Roman Catholicism. He met famous theorists and intellectuals of the time, and was able to display his poetic skills. For specific details of what happened within Milton's "grand tour
Grand Tour
The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage...

", there appears to be just one primary source
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

: Milton's own Defensio Secunda
Defensio Secunda
Defension Secunda was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against a royalist tract published under the name Salmasius in 1652,...

. Although there are other records, including some letters and some references in his other prose tracts, the bulk of the information about the tour comes from a work that, according to Barbara Lewalski, "was not intended as autobiography but as rhetoric, designed to emphasise his sterling reputation with the learned of Europe."
He first went to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

, and then on to Paris, riding horseback, with a letter from diplomat Henry Wotton
Henry Wotton
Sir Henry Wotton was an English author and diplomat. He is often quoted as saying, "An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country." -Life:The son of Thomas Wotton , brother of Edward Wotton, 1st Baron Wotton, and grandnephew of the diplomat...

 to ambassador John Scudamore. Through Scudamore, Milton met Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius
Hugo Grotius , also known as Huig de Groot, Hugo Grocio or Hugo de Groot, was a jurist in the Dutch Republic. With Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili he laid the foundations for international law, based on natural law...

, a Dutch law philosopher, playwright and poet. Milton left France soon after this meeting. He travelled south, from Nice to Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, and then to Livorno
Livorno
Livorno , traditionally Leghorn , is a port city on the Tyrrhenian Sea on the western edge of Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Livorno, having a population of approximately 160,000 residents in 2009.- History :...

 and Pisa
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

. He reached Florence in July 1638. While there, Milton enjoyed many of the sites and structures of the city. His candour of manner and erudite neo-Latin poetry made him friends in Florentine intellectual circles, and he met the astronomer Galileo, who was under virtual house arrest at Arcetri
Arcetri
Arcetri is a region of Florence, Italy, in the hills to the south of the city centre.-Landmarks:A number of historic buildings are situated there, including the house of the famous scientist Galileo Galilei ,...

, as well as others. Milton probably visited the Florentine Academy and the Academia della Crusca along with smaller academies in the area including the Apatisti and the Svogliati.

He left Florence in September to continue to Rome. With the connections from Florence, Milton was able to have easy access to Rome's intellectual society. His poetic abilities impressed those like Giovanni Salzilli, who praised Milton within an epigram. In late October, Milton, despite his dislike for the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

, attended a dinner given by the English College, Rome, meeting English Catholics who were also guests, theologian Henry Holden
Henry Holden
Henry Holden was an English Roman Catholic priest, known as a theologian.-Life:Henry Holden was the second son of Richard Holden, of Chaigley, Lancashire, and Eleanor, his wife. He entered the English College at Douai under the name of Johnson, 18 September 1618...

 and the poet Patrick Cary
Patrick Cary
Patrick Cary was an English poet, an early user in English of the triolet form.-Life:He was a younger son of Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland, by Elizabeth Cary née Tanfield. At an early age he was sent to France, to be brought up a Catholic...

. He also attended musical events, including oratorios, operas and melodramas. Milton left for Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 toward the end of November, where he stayed only for a month because of the Spanish control. During that time he was introduced to Giovanni Battista Manso, patron to both Torquato Tasso
Torquato Tasso
Torquato Tasso was an Italian poet of the 16th century, best known for his poem La Gerusalemme liberata , in which he depicts a highly imaginative version of the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the First Crusade, during the siege of Jerusalem...

 and to Giovanni Battista Marino.

Originally Milton wanted to leave Naples in order to travel to Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, and then on to Greece, but he returned to England during the summer of 1639 because of what he claimed, in Defensio Secunda, were "sad tidings of civil war in England." Matters became more complicated when Milton received word that Diodati, his childhood friend, had died. Milton in fact stayed another seven months on the continent, and spent time at Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 with Diodati's uncle after he returned to Rome. In Defensio Secunda, Milton proclaimed he was warned against a return to Rome because of his frankness about religion, but he stayed in the city for two months and was able to experience Carnival
Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 and meet Lukas Holste, a Vatican librarian, who guided Milton through its collection. He was introduced to Cardinal Francesco Barberini
Francesco Barberini
Francesco Barberini may refer to:*Francesco Barberini , Cardinal-nephew of Pope Urban VIII from 1623*Francesco Barberini , Cardinal from 1690...

 who invited Milton to an opera hosted by the Cardinal. Around March Milton travelled once again to Florence, staying there for two months, attending further meetings of the academies, and spent time with friends. After leaving Florence he travelled through Lucca, Bologna, and Ferrara before coming to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. In Venice Milton was exposed to a model of Republicanism, later important in his political writings, but he soon found another model when he travelled to Geneva. From Switzerland, Milton travelled to Paris and then to Calais before finally arriving back in England in either July or August 1639.

Civil war, prose tracts, and marriage


On returning to England, where the Bishops' Wars
Bishops' Wars
The Bishops' Wars , were conflicts, both political and military, which occurred in 1639 and 1640 centred around the nature of the governance of the Church of Scotland, and the rights and powers of the Crown...

 presaged further armed conflict, Milton began to write prose tract
Tract (literature)
A tract is a literary work, and in current usage, usually religious in nature. The notion of what constitutes a tract has changed over time. By the early part of the 21st century, these meant small pamphlets used for religious and political purposes, though far more often the former. They are...

s against episcopacy, in the service of the Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 and Parliamentary
Long Parliament
The Long Parliament was made on 3 November 1640, following the Bishops' Wars. It received its name from the fact that through an Act of Parliament, it could only be dissolved with the agreement of the members, and those members did not agree to its dissolution until after the English Civil War and...

 cause. Milton's first foray into polemics was Of Reformation touching Church Discipline in England (1641), followed by Of Prelatical Episcopacy, the two defences of Smectymnuus
Smectymnuus
Smectymnuus was the nom de plume of a group of Puritan clergymen active in England in 1641. It comprised four leading English churchmen, and one Scottish minister...

 (a group of presbyterian divines named from their initials: the "TY" belonged to Milton's old tutor Thomas Young), and The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty
The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty
The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty is an essay by English poet John Milton distributed as one of a series of religious pamphlets by the writer. Published in 1642, the political work details Milton's preference for a Presbyterian approach to the Church of England over approaches...

. With frequent passages of real eloquence lighting up the rough controversial style of the period, and deploying a wide knowledge of church history, he vigorously attacked the High-church party of the Church of England and their leader, William Laud
William Laud
William Laud was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism...

, Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

.

Though supported by his father’s investments, at this time Milton became a private schoolmaster, educating his nephews and other children of the well-to-do. This experience, and discussions with educational reformer Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib
Samuel Hartlib was a German-British polymath. An active promoter and expert writer in many fields, he was interested in science, medicine, agriculture, politics, and education. He settled in England, where he married and died...

, led him to write in 1644 his short tract, Of Education
Of Education
The tractate Of Education was published in 1644, first appearing anonymously as a single eight-page quarto sheet . Presented as a letter written in response to a request from the Puritan educational reformer Samuel Hartlib, it represents John Milton's most comprehensive statement on educational...

, urging a reform of the national universities.

In June 1643 Milton paid a visit to the manor house at Forest Hill, Oxfordshire
Forest Hill, Oxfordshire
Forest Hill is a village in Forest Hill with Shotover civil parish in Oxfordshire, about east of Oxford.-Manor:The toponym is derived from the Old English forst-hyll meaning "hill ridge". It has no etymological connection with forests....

, and returned with a 16-year-old bride, Mary Powell. A month later, finding life difficult with the severe 35-year-old schoolmaster and pamphleteer, Mary returned to her family. Because of the outbreak of the Civil War
First English Civil War
The First English Civil War began the series of three wars known as the English Civil War . "The English Civil War" was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations that took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1651, and includes the Second English Civil War and...

, she did not return until 1645; in the meantime her desertion prompted Milton, over the next three years, to publish a series of pamphlets
Milton's divorce tracts
Milton's divorce tracts refer to the four interlinked polemical pamphlets--The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, The Judgment of Martin Bucer, Tetrachordon, and Colasterion--written by John Milton from 1643-45 arguing for the legitimacy for divorce on grounds of spousal incompatibility...

 arguing for the legality and morality of divorce. (Anna Beer
Anna Beer
Anna Beer is a writer, lecturer and researcher who specialises in the literature and culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She was Lecturer in Literature at the Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford between 2003 and 2010, and remains a Fellow of Kellogg College...

, one of Milton's most recent biographers, points to a lack of evidence and the dangers of cynicism in urging that it was not necessarily the case that the private life so animated the public polemicising.) In 1643 Milton had a brush with the authorities over these writings, in parallel with Hezekiah Woodward
Hezekiah Woodward
Hezekiah Woodward was an English nonconformist minister and educator, also involved in the pamphlet wars of the 1640s. He was a Comenian in educational theory, and an associate of Samuel Hartlib. He was one of those articulating the Puritan argument against the celebration of Christmas.-Life:In...

, who had more trouble. It was the hostile response accorded the divorce tracts that spurred Milton to write Areopagitica
Areopagitica
Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by English author John Milton against censorship...

, his celebrated attack on pre-printing censorship.

Secretary for Foreign Tongues


With the parliamentary victory in the Civil War, Milton used his pen in defence of the republican principles represented by the Commonwealth. The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates is a book by John Milton, in which he defends the right of people to execute a guilty sovereign, whether tyrannical or not....

(1649) defended popular
Populism
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

 government and implicitly sanctioned the regicide
Regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

; Milton’s political reputation got him appointed Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State in March 1649. Though Milton's main job description was to compose the English Republic's foreign correspondence in Latin, he also was called upon to produce propaganda for the regime and to serve as a censor. In October 1649 he published Eikonoklastes
Eikonoklastes
Eikonoklastes is a book by John Milton, published October 1649. In it he provides a justification for the execution of Charles I, which had taken place on 30 January 1649. The book's title is taken from the Greek, and means "iconoclast" or "breaker of the icon", and refers to Eikon Basilike, a...

, an explicit defence of the regicide, in response to the Eikon Basilike
Eikon Basilike
The Eikon Basilike , The Pourtrature of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings, was a purported spiritual autobiography attributed to King Charles I of England...

, a phenomenal best-seller popularly attributed to Charles I that portrayed the King as an innocent Christian martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

.
A month after Milton had tried to break this powerful image of Charles I (the literal translation of Eikonoklastes is 'the image breaker'), the exiled Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 and his party published a defence of monarchy, Defensio Regia Pro Carolo Primo, written by the leading humanist Claudius Salmasius
Claudius Salmasius
Claudius Salmasius is the Latin name of Claude Saumaise , a French classical scholar.-Life:Salmasius was born at Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy. His father, a counsellor of the parlement of Dijon, sent him, at the age of sixteen, to Paris, where he became intimate with Isaac Casaubon...

. By January of the following year, Milton was ordered to write a defence of the English people by the Council of State
English Council of State
The English Council of State, later also known as the Protector's Privy Council, was first appointed by the Rump Parliament on 14 February 1649 after the execution of King Charles I....

. Given the European audience and the English Republic's desire to establish diplomatic and cultural legitimacy, Milton worked more slowly than usual, as he drew on the learning marshalled by his years of study to compose a riposte. On 24 February 1652 Milton published his Latin defence of the English People, Defensio Pro Populo Anglicano
Defensio pro Populo Anglicano
Defensio pro Populo Anglicano is a Latin polemic by John Milton, published in 1651. The full title in English is John Milton an Englishman His Defence of the People of England. It was a piece of propaganda, and made political argument in support of what was at the time the government of...

, also known as the First Defence. Milton's pure Latin prose and evident learning, exemplified in the First Defence, quickly made him a European reputation, and the work ran to numerous editions.

In 1654, in response to an anonymous Royalist tract "Regii sanguinis clamor", a work that made many personal attacks on Milton, he completed a second defence of the English nation, Defensio secunda, which praised Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

, now Lord Protector, while exhorting him to remain true to the principles of the Revolution. Alexander Morus
Alexander Morus
Alexander Morus was a Franco-Scottish Calvinist preacher.-Biography:...

, to whom Milton wrongly attributed the Clamor (in fact by Peter du Moulin
Peter du Moulin
Peter du Moulin was a French-English Anglican clergyman, son of the Huguenot pastor Pierre du Moulin and brother of Lewis du Moulin. He was the anonymous author of Regii sanguinis clamor ad coelum adversus paricidas Anglicanos, published at The Hague in 1652, a royalist work defending Salmasius...

), published an attack on Milton, in response to which Milton published the autobiographical Defensio pro se in 1655. In addition to these literary defences of the Commonwealth and his character, Milton continued to translate official correspondence into Latin. By 1654 Milton become totally blind, probably due to the onset of glaucoma
Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye and progressing to complete blindness if untreated. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye...

. This forced him to dictate his verse
Verse (poetry)
A verse is formally a single line in a metrical composition, e.g. poetry. However, the word has come to represent any division or grouping of words in such a composition, which traditionally had been referred to as a stanza....

 and prose to amanuenses
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

 (helpers), one of whom was the poet Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell was an English metaphysical poet, Parliamentarian, and the son of a Church of England clergyman . As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert...

. One of his best-known sonnets, On His Blindness
On His Blindness
On His Blindness is one of the best known of the sonnets of John Milton. It may have been written as early as 1652, although most scholars believe it was composed sometime between June and October of 1655, when Milton's blindness was essentially complete....

, is presumed to date from this period.

Family


Milton and Mary Powell (1625–1652) had four children:
  • Anne (born 7 July 1646)
  • Mary (born 25 October 1648)
  • John (16 March 1651 – June 1652)
  • Deborah (2 May 1652 – ?)


His first wife, Mary Powell, died on 5 May 1652 from complications following Deborah's birth. Milton's daughters survived to adulthood, but he had always a strained relationship with them.

On 12 November 1656, Milton was married again, to Katherine Woodcock. She died on 3 February 1658, less than four months after giving birth to a daughter, Katherine, who also died.

Milton married for a third time on 24 February 1662, to Elizabeth Mynshull (1638–1728), the niece of Thomas Mynshull, a wealthy apothecary and philanthropist in Manchester. Despite a 31-year age gap, the marriage seemed happy, according to John Aubrey
John Aubrey
John Aubrey FRS, was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives...

, and was to last more than 11 years until Milton's death. (A plaque on the wall of Mynshull's House in Manchester describes Elizabeth as Milton's "3rd and Best wife".)

Two nephews, John Phillips
John Phillips (author)
John Phillips was an English author, the brother of Edward Phillips, and a nephew of John Milton.Anne Phillips, mother of John and Edward, was the sister of John Milton, the poet. In 1652, John Phillips published a Latin reply to the anonymous attack on Milton entitled Pro Rege et populo anglicano...

 and Edward Phillips
Edward Phillips
Edward Phillips , was an English author.-Life:He was the son of Edward Phillips of the crown office in chancery, and his wife Anne, only sister of John Milton, the poet. Edward Phillips the younger was born in the Strand, London. His father died in 1631, and Anne eventually married her husband's...

, were well known as writers. They were sons of Milton's sister Anne. John acted as a secretary, and Edward was Milton's first biographer.

The Restoration



Though Cromwell’s death in 1658 caused the English Republic to collapse into feuding military and political factions, Milton stubbornly clung to the beliefs that had originally inspired him to write for the Commonwealth. In 1659 he published A Treatise of Civil Power
A Treatise of Civil Power
A Treatise of Civil Power was published by John Milton in February 1659. The work argues over the definition and nature of heresy and free thought, and Milton tries to convince the new English Parliament to further his cause.-Background:...

, attacking the concept of a state-dominated church (the position known as Erastianism), as well as Considerations touching the likeliest means to remove hirelings, denouncing corrupt practises in church governance. As the Republic disintegrated, Milton wrote several proposals to retain a non-monarchical government against the wishes of parliament, soldiers and the people:
  • A Letter to a Friend, Concerning the Ruptures of the Commonwealth, written in October 1659, was a response to General Lambert
    John Lambert (general)
    John Lambert was an English Parliamentary general and politician. He fought during the English Civil War and then in Oliver Cromwell's Scottish campaign , becoming thereafter active in civilian politics until his dismissal by Cromwell in 1657...

    's recent dissolution of the Rump Parliament
    Rump Parliament
    The Rump Parliament is the name of the English Parliament after Colonel Pride purged the Long Parliament on 6 December 1648 of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason....

  • Proposals of certain expedients for the preventing of a civil war now feared, written in November 1659
  • The Ready and Easy Way to Establishing a Free Commonwealth, in two editions, responded to General Monck
    George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle
    George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, KG was an English soldier and politician and a key figure in the restoration of Charles II.-Early life and career:...

    's march towards London to restore the Long Parliament
    Long Parliament
    The Long Parliament was made on 3 November 1640, following the Bishops' Wars. It received its name from the fact that through an Act of Parliament, it could only be dissolved with the agreement of the members, and those members did not agree to its dissolution until after the English Civil War and...

     (which led to the restoration of the monarchy). The work is an impassioned, bitter, and futile jeremiad
    Jeremiad
    A jeremiad is a long literary work, usually in prose, but sometimes in poetry, in which the author bitterly laments the state of society and its morals in a serious tone of sustained invective, and always contains a prophecy of society's imminent downfall....

     damning the English people for backsliding from the cause of liberty
    Liberty
    Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

     and advocating the establishment of an authoritarian rule by an oligarchy
    Oligarchy
    Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

     set up by unelected parliament.


Upon the Restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 in May 1660, Milton went into hiding for his life, while a warrant was issued for his arrest and his writings burnt. He re-emerged after a general pardon was issued, but was nevertheless arrested and briefly imprisoned before influential friends, such as Marvell, now an MP, intervened. On 24 February 1663 Milton remarried, for a third and final time, a Wistaston
Wistaston
Wistaston is a civil parish and village in the unitary authority of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, in north-west England. It is approximately west of Crewe town centre and east of Nantwich town centre...

, Cheshire-born woman Elizabeth (Betty) Minshull, then aged 24, and spent the remaining decade of his life living quietly in London, only retiring to a cottage – Milton's Cottage
Milton's Cottage
Milton's Cottage is a timber framed 16th century building located in the Buckinghamshire village of Chalfont St Giles.In 1665 John Milton and his wife, moved into the cottage to escape the Plague in London. Despite the fact that Milton spent less than a year at the cottage, it is important because...

 – in Chalfont St. Giles, his only extant home, during the Great Plague of London
Great Plague of London
The Great Plague was a massive outbreak of disease in the Kingdom of England that killed an estimated 100,000 people, 20% of London's population. The disease is identified as bubonic plague, an infection by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, transmitted through a flea vector...

.

During this period Milton published several minor prose works, such as a grammar textbook, Art of Logic, and a History of Britain. His only explicitly political tracts were the 1672 Of True Religion, arguing for toleration
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

 (except for Catholics), and a translation of a Polish tract advocating an elective monarchy. Both these works were referred to in the Exclusion
Exclusion Bill
The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1678 through 1681 in the reign of Charles II of England. The Exclusion Bill sought to exclude the king's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic...

 debate – the attempt to exclude the heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the throne of England because he was Roman Catholic – that would preoccupy politics in the 1670s and '80s and precipitate the formation of the Whig party
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 and the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

.

Milton died of kidney failure on 8 November 1674 and was buried in the church of St Giles Cripplegate; according to an early biographer, his funeral was attended by “his learned and great Friends in London, not without a friendly concourse of the Vulgar.”

Published poetry


Milton's poetry was slow to see the light of day, at least under his name. His first published poem was On Shakespear (1630), anonymously included in the Second Folio
Second Folio
Second Folio is the term applied to the 1632 edition of the works of William Shakespeare, following upon the First Folio of 1623.Much language was updated; there are almost 1,700 changes from the First Folio....

 edition of Shakespeare. In the midst of the excitement attending the possibility of establishing a new English government, Milton collected his work in 1645 Poems. The anonymous edition of Comus was published in 1637, and the publication of Lycidas in 1638 in Justa Edouardo King Naufrago was signed J. M. Otherwise the 1645 collection was the only poetry of his to see print, until Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

appeared in 1667.

Paradise Lost



Milton’s magnum opus
Masterpiece
Masterpiece in modern usage refers to a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person's career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill or workmanship....

, the blank-verse epic poem
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

, was composed by the blind and impoverished Milton from 1658 to 1664 (first edition) with small but significant revisions published in 1674 (second edition). As a blind poet, Milton dictated his verse to a series of aides in his employ. It reflects his personal despair at the failure of the Revolution, yet affirms an ultimate optimism in human potential. Milton encoded many references to his unyielding support for the "Good Old Cause
Good Old Cause
The Good Old Cause was the retrospective name given by the soldiers of the New Model Army for the complex of reasons for which they fought, on behalf of the Parliament of England....

".


On 27 April 1667, Milton sold the publication rights to Paradise Lost to publisher Samuel Simmons
Samuel Simmons
Samuel Simmons was an English printer, best known as the first publisher of several works by John Milton.-External links:...

 for £5, equivalent to approximately £7,400 income in 2008, with a further £5 to be paid if and when each print run of between 1,300 and 1,500 copies sold out. The first run, a quarto
Bookbinding
Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. It usually involves attaching covers to the resulting text-block.-Origins of the book:...

 edition priced at three shilling
Shilling (English coin)
The English shilling was a coin of the Kingdom of England, when first introduced known as the testoon. It remained in circulation until it became the British shilling as the result of the Union of England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.There were twenty shillings to the...

s per copy, was published in August 1667 and sold out in eighteen months.

Milton followed up Paradise Lost with its sequel, Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained is a poem by the English poet John Milton, published in 1671. It is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes...

, published alongside the tragedy Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. It appeared with the publication of Milton's Paradise Regain'd in 1671, as the title page of that volume states: "Paradise Regained / A Poem / In IV Books / To Which Is Added / Samson Agonistes"...

, in 1671. Both these works also resonate with Milton’s post-Restoration political situation. Just before his death in 1674, Milton supervised a second edition of Paradise Lost, accompanied by an explanation of "why the poem rhymes not" and prefatory verses by Marvell. Milton republished his 1645 Poems in 1673, as well a collection of his letters and the Latin prolusions from his Cambridge days. A 1668 edition of Paradise Lost, reported to have been Milton's personal copy, is now housed in the archives of the University of Western Ontario
University of Western Ontario
The University of Western Ontario is a public research university located in London, Ontario, Canada. The university's main campus covers of land, with the Thames River cutting through the eastern portion of the main campus. Western administers its programs through 12 different faculties and...

.

Views


An unfinished religious manifesto, De doctrina christiana
De Doctrina Christiana (Milton)
De doctrina Christiana is a Latin manuscript found in 1823 and attributed to John Milton, who died 148 years prior. Since Milton was blind by the time of the work's creation, this attribution assumes that an amanuensis aided the author.The history and style of Christian Doctrine have created much...

, probably written by Milton, lays out many of his heterodox theological views, and was not discovered and published until 1823. Milton's key beliefs were idiosyncratic, not those of an identifiable group or faction, and often they go well beyond the orthodoxy of the time. Their tone, however, stemmed from the Puritan emphasis on the centrality and inviolability of conscience. He was his own man, but it is Areopagitica, where he was anticipated by Henry Robinson
Henry Robinson (writer)
Henry Robinson was an English merchant and writer. He is best known for a work on religious toleration, Liberty of Conscience from 1644.-Life:He was educated at St John's College, Oxford, and was a freeman of the Mercers' Company...

 and others, that has lasted best of his prose works.

Philosophy


By the late 1650s, Milton was a proponent of monism
Monism
Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic...

 or animist materialism, the notion that a single material substance which is "animate, self-active, and free" composes everything in the universe: from stones and trees and bodies to minds, souls, angels, and God. Milton devised this position to avoid the mind-body dualism
Dualism (philosophy of mind)
In philosophy of mind, dualism is a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, which begins with the claim that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical....

 of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Descartes as well as the mechanistic
Mechanism (philosophy)
Mechanism is the belief that natural wholes are like machines or artifacts, composed of parts lacking any intrinsic relationship to each other, and with their order imposed from without. Thus, the source of an apparent thing's activities is not the whole itself, but its parts or an external...

 determinism
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 of Hobbes. Milton's monism is most notably reflected in Paradise Lost when he has angels eat (5.433–39) and engage in sexual intercourse (8.622–29) and the De Doctrina, where he denies the dual natures of man and argues for a theory of Creation ex Deo
Ex nihilo
Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing"—chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurs in other fields.In theology, the common phrase creatio ex...

.

Political thought




In his political writing, Milton addressed particular themes at different periods. The years 1641–42 were dedicated to church politics and the struggle against episcopacy. After his divorce writings, Areopagitica, and a gap, he wrote in 1649–54 in the aftermath of the execution of Charles I, and in polemic justification of the regicide and the existing Parliamentarian regime. Then in 1659–60 he foresaw the Restoration, and wrote to head it off.

Milton's own beliefs were in some cases both unpopular and dangerous, and this was true particularly to his commitment to republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

. In coming centuries, Milton would be claimed as an early apostle of liberalism. According to James Tully:
A friend and ally in the pamphlet wars was Marchamont Nedham. Austin Woolrych considers that although they were quite close, there is "little real affinity, beyond a broad republicanism", between their approaches. Blair Worden
Blair Worden
Blair Worden is a British historian, among the leading authorities on the period of the English Civil War and on relations between literature and history more generally in the early modern period. He matriculated as an undergraduate at Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1963. After spending a year as a...

 remarks that both Milton and Nedham, with others such as Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell was an English metaphysical poet, Parliamentarian, and the son of a Church of England clergyman . As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert...

 and James Harrington, would have taken the problem with the Rump Parliament
Rump Parliament
The Rump Parliament is the name of the English Parliament after Colonel Pride purged the Long Parliament on 6 December 1648 of those members hostile to the Grandees' intention to try King Charles I for high treason....

 to be not the republic, but the fact that it was not a proper republic. Woolrych speaks of "the gulf between Milton's vision of the Commonwealth's future and the reality". In the early version of his History of Britain
History of Britain (John Milton)
The History of Britain, that Part especially now called England; from the first traditional Beginning, continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the antientest and best Authours thereof, a prose work by the English poet John Milton, was published in 1670...

, begun in 1649, Milton was already writing off the members of the Long Parliament
Long Parliament
The Long Parliament was made on 3 November 1640, following the Bishops' Wars. It received its name from the fact that through an Act of Parliament, it could only be dissolved with the agreement of the members, and those members did not agree to its dissolution until after the English Civil War and...

 as incorrigible.

He praised Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader who overthrew the English monarchy and temporarily turned England into a republican Commonwealth, and served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland....

 as the Protectorate was set up; though subsequently he had major reservations. When Cromwell seemed to be backsliding as a revolutionary, after a couple of years in power, Milton moved closer to the position of Sir Henry Vane
Henry Vane the Younger
Sir Henry Vane , son of Henry Vane the Elder , was an English politician, statesman, and colonial governor...

, to whom he wrote a sonnet in 1652. The group of disaffected republicans included, besides Vane, John Bradshaw
John Bradshaw (judge)
John Bradshaw was an English judge. He is most notable for his role as President of the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles I and as the first Lord President of the Council of State of the English Commonwealth....

, John Hutchinson
John Hutchinson (Colonel)
Colonel John Hutchinson was one of the Puritan leaders, and a prominent Roundhead in the English Civil War to the extent of being the 13th of 39 Commissioners to sign the death-warrant of King Charles I.-Biography:...

, Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I, and for his Memoirs, which were published posthumously in a rewritten form and which have become a major source for historians of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. After service in the English...

, Henry Marten
Henry Marten (regicide)
Sir Henry Marten was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1640 and 1653...

, Robert Overton
Robert Overton
Major-General Robert Overton was prominent soldier and scholar, who supported the Parliamentary cause during the English Civil War, and was imprisoned a number of times during the Protectorate and the English Restoration for his strong republican views.-Biography:As positions hardened during the...

, Edward Sexby
Edward Sexby
Colonel Edward Sexby or Saxby was an English Puritan soldier and Leveller in the army of Oliver Cromwell. Later he turned against Cromwell and plotted his assassination.-Life:...

 and John Streater
John Streater
John Streater was an English soldier, political writer and printer. An opponent of Oliver Cromwell, Streater was a "key republican critic of the regime" He was a leading example of the “commonwealthmen”, one division among the English republicans of the period, along with James Harrington, Edmund...

; but not Marvell, who remained with Cromwell's party. Milton had already commended Overton, along with Edmund Whalley and Bulstrode Whitelocke
Bulstrode Whitelocke
Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke was an English lawyer, writer, parliamentarian and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.- Biography :...

, in Defensio Secunda
Defensio Secunda
Defension Secunda was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against a royalist tract published under the name Salmasius in 1652,...

. Nigel Smith writes that
As Richard Cromwell
Richard Cromwell
At the same time, the officers of the New Model Army became increasingly wary about the government's commitment to the military cause. The fact that Richard Cromwell lacked military credentials grated with men who had fought on the battlefields of the English Civil War to secure their nation's...

 fell from power, he envisaged a step towards a freer republic or “free commonwealth”, writing in the hope of this outcome in early 1660. Milton had argued for an awkward position, in the Ready and Easy Way
The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth was published by John Milton at the end of February 1660. In the tract, Milton warns against the dangers inherent in a monarchical form of government...

, because he wanted to invoke the Good Old Cause
Good Old Cause
The Good Old Cause was the retrospective name given by the soldiers of the New Model Army for the complex of reasons for which they fought, on behalf of the Parliament of England....

 and gain the support of the republicans, but without offering a democratic solution of any kind. His proposal, backed by reference (amongst other reasons) to the oligarchical Dutch and Venetian constitutions, was for a council with perpetual membership. This attitude cut right across the grain of popular opinion of the time, which swung decisively behind the restoration of the Stuart monarchy that took place later in the year. Milton, an associate of and advocate on behalf of the regicides, was silenced on political matters as Charles II returned.

Theology



Like many Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 artists before him, Milton attempted to integrate Christian theology with classical modes. In his early poems, the poet narrator expresses a tension between vice and virtue, the latter invariably related to Protestantism. In Comus Milton may make ironic use of the Caroline
Charles I of England
Charles I was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles engaged in a struggle for power with the Parliament of England, attempting to obtain royal revenue whilst Parliament sought to curb his Royal prerogative which Charles...

 court masque
Masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

 by elevating notions of purity and virtue over the conventions of court revelry and superstition. In his later poems, Milton's theological concerns become more explicit. In 1648 he wrote a hymn How lovely are thy dwelling fair, a paraphrase of Psalm 84, that explains his view on God.

Milton embraced many heterodox Christian theological views. He rejected the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

, in the belief that the Son was subordinate to the Father, a position known as Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

; and his sympathy or curiosity was probably engaged by Socinianism
Socinianism
Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini , which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland during the 15th and 16th centuries and embraced also by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania during the same period...

: in August 1650 he licensed for publication by William Dugard
William Dugard
William Dugard, or Du Gard, was a respected schoolmaster and printer. During the English Interregnum, he printed many important documents and propaganda, first in support of Charles I and later of Oliver Cromwell...

 the Racovian Catechism
Racovian Catechism
The Racovian Catechism is a nontrinitarian statement of faith from the 16th century. The title Racovian comes from the publishers, the Polish Brethren, who had founded a sizeable town in Raków, Kielce County, where the Racovian Academy and printing press was founded by Jakub Sienieński in...

, based on a non-trinitarian creed. A source has interpreted him as broadly Protestant, if not always easy to locate in a more precise religious category.

In his 1641 treatise, Of Reformation
Of Reformation
Of Reformation is a 1641 pamphlet by John Milton, and his debut in the public arena. Its full title is Of Reformation of Church-Discipline in England.-Background:...

, Milton expressed his dislike for Catholicism and episcopacy, presenting Rome as a modern Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, and bishops as Egyptian taskmasters. These analogies conform to Milton's puritanical preference for Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 imagery. He knew at least four commentaries on Genesis: those of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

, Paulus Fagius, David Pareus
David Pareus
David Pareus was a German Reformed Protestant theologian and reformer.-Life:He was born at Frankenstein December 30, 1548. He was apprenticed to an apothecary and again to a shoemaker...

 and Andreus Rivetus.

Through the Interregnum
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

, Milton often presents England, rescued from the trappings of a worldly monarchy, as an elect nation akin to the Old Testament Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and shows its leader, Oliver Cromwell, as a latter-day Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

. These views were bound up in Protestant views of the Millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

, which some sects, such as the Fifth Monarchists
Fifth Monarchists
The Fifth Monarchists or Fifth Monarchy Men were active from 1649 to 1661 during the Interregnum, following the English Civil Wars of the 17th century. They took their name from a prophecy in the Book of Daniel that four ancient monarchies would precede Christ's return...

 predicted would arrive in England. Milton, however, would later criticise the "worldly" millenarian views of these and others, and expressed orthodox ideas on the prophecy of the Four Empires.

The Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 began a new phase in Milton's work. In Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained
Paradise Regained is a poem by the English poet John Milton, published in 1671. It is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes...

and Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes
Samson Agonistes is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. It appeared with the publication of Milton's Paradise Regain'd in 1671, as the title page of that volume states: "Paradise Regained / A Poem / In IV Books / To Which Is Added / Samson Agonistes"...

Milton mourns the end of the godly Commonwealth. The Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

 may allegorically reflect Milton's view of England's recent Fall from Grace
The Fall of Man
In Christian doctrine, the Fall of Man, or simply the Fall, refers to the transition of the first humans from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience to God. In Genesis chapter 2, Adam and Eve live at first with God in a paradise, but the serpent tempts them into...

, while Samson's
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

 blindness and captivity – mirroring Milton's own lost sight – may be a metaphor for England's blind acceptance of Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 as king.
Illustrated by Paradise Lost is mortalism, the belief that the soul lies dormant after the body dies.

Despite the Restoration of the monarchy Milton did not lose his personal faith; Samson shows how the loss of national salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 did not necessarily preclude the salvation of the individual, while Paradise Regained expresses Milton's continuing belief in the promise of Christian salvation through Jesus Christ.

Though he may have maintained his personal faith in spite of the defeats suffered by his cause, the Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
The Dictionary of National Biography is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885...

recounts how he had been alienated from the Church of England by Archbishop William Laud, and then moved similarly from the Dissenters by their denunciation of religious tolerance in England.

Religious toleration


Milton called in the Aeropagitica for "the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" (applied, however, only to the conflicting Protestant sects, and not to atheists, Jews, Muslims or Catholics). "Milton argued for disestablishment as the only effective way of achieving broad toleration
Religious toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

. Rather than force a man's conscience, government should recognise the persuasive force of the gospel."

Divorce



His thinking on divorce caused him considerable trouble with the authorities. An orthodox Presbyterian view of the time was that Milton's views on divorce constituted a one-man heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

:
Even here, though, his originality is qualified: Thomas Gataker
Thomas Gataker
Thomas Gataker was an English clergyman and theologian.-Life:He was born in London and educated at St John's College, Cambridge. From 1601 to 1611 he held the appointment of preacher to the society of Lincoln's Inn, which he resigned on accepting the rectory of Rotherhithe...

 had already identified "mutual solace" as a principal goal in marriage. Milton abandoned his campaign to legitimise divorce after 1645, but he expressed support for polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 in the De doctrina christiana, the theological treatise that provides the clearest evidence for his views.

History


History was particularly important for the political class of the period, and Lewalski considers that Milton "more than most illustrates" a remark of Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 on the weight placed at the time on the classical Latin historical writers Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

, Sallust
Sallust
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust , a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family, and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines...

 and Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, and their republican attitudes. Milton himself wrote that "Worthy deeds are not often destitute of worthy relaters", in Book II of his History of Britain. A sense of history mattered greatly to him:

Legacy and influence


Once Paradise Lost was published, Milton's stature as epic poet was immediately recognised. He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare. Very early on, though, he was championed by Whigs, and decried by Tories: with the regicide Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I, and for his Memoirs, which were published posthumously in a rewritten form and which have become a major source for historians of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. After service in the English...

 he was claimed as an early Whig, while the High Tory Anglican minister Luke Milbourne
Luke Milbourne
Luke Milbourne or Milbourn was an English clergyman, known as a High Church supporter of Henry Sacheverell, and also as a critic and poet.-Life:...

 lumped Milton in with other "Agents of Darkness" such as John Knox
John Knox
John Knox was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation who brought reformation to the church in Scotland. He was educated at the University of St Andrews or possibly the University of Glasgow and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1536...

, George Buchanan
George Buchanan
George Buchanan may refer to:*George Buchanan , Scottish humanist*Sir George Buchanan , Scottish soldier during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms*Sir George Buchanan , Chief Medical Officer...

, Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter
Richard Baxter was an English Puritan church leader, poet, hymn-writer, theologian, and controversialist. Dean Stanley called him "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". After some false starts, he made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster, and at around the same time began a long...

, Algernon Sidney and John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

.

Early reception of the poetry


John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

, an early enthusiast, in 1677 began the trend of describing Milton as the poet of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

. Dryden's The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man: an Opera (1677) is evidence of an immediate cultural influence. In 1695, Patrick Hume
Patrick Hume (editor)
Patrick Hume was a Scottish schoolmaster in London, author of the first commentary on the Paradise Lost of John Milton.He is said to have been a member of the family of Hume of Polwarth, Berwickshire. In 1695 he edited for Jacob Tonson the sixth edition of Milton's Paradise Lost with elaborate notes...

 became the first editor of Paradise Lost, providing an extensive apparatus of annotation and commentary, particularly chasing down allusions.

In 1732 the classical scholar Richard Bentley
Richard Bentley
Richard Bentley was an English classical scholar, critic, and theologian. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge....

 offered a corrected version of Paradise Lost. Bentley was considered presumptuous, and was attacked in the following year by Zachary Pearce
Zachary Pearce
Zachary Pearce, sometimes known as Zachariah , was an English Bishop of Bangor and Bishop of Rochester. He was a controversialist and a notable early critical writer defending John Milton, attacking Richard Bentley's 1732 edition of Paradise Lost the following year.-Life:Pearce was born the son of...

. Christopher Ricks
Christopher Ricks
Sir Christopher Bruce Ricks, FBA is a British literary critic and scholar. He is the William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of the Humanities at Boston University and Co-Director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University, and was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford from 2004...

 judges that, as critic, Bentley was both acute and wrong-headed, and "incorrigibly eccentric"; William Empson
William Empson
Sir William Empson was an English literary critic and poet.He was known as "燕卜荪" in Chinese.He was widely influential for his practice of closely reading literary works, fundamental to the New Critics...

 also finds Pearce to be more sympathetic to Bentley's underlying line of thought than is warranted.

There was an early, partial translation of Paradise Lost into German by Theodore Haak
Theodore Haak
Theodore Haak was a German Calvinist scholar, resident in England in later life. Haak’s communications abilities and interests in the new science provided the backdrop for convening the “1645 Group,” a precursor of the Royal Society.Although not himself known as a natural philosopher, Haak's...

, and based on that a standard verse translation by Ernest Gottlieb von Berge. A subsequent prose translation by Johann Jakob Bodmer
Johann Jakob Bodmer
Johann Jakob Bodmer was a Swiss-German author, academic, critic and poet.-Life:Born at Greifensee, near Zürich, and first studying theology and then trying a commercial career, he finally found his vocation in letters...

 was very popular; it influenced Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock. The German-language Milton tradition returned to England in the person of the artist Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli
Henry Fuseli was a British painter, draughtsman, and writer on art, of Swiss origin.-Biography:...

.

Many enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century revered and commented on Milton's poetry and non-poetical works. In addition to John Dryden, among them were Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

, Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. He was a man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison...

, Thomas Newton
Thomas Newton
Thomas Newton was an English cleric, biblical scholar and author. He served as the Bishop of Bristol from 1761 to 1782....

, and Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

. For example in The Spectator
The Spectator (1711)
The Spectator was a daily publication of 1711–12, founded by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele in England after they met at Charterhouse School. Eustace Budgell, a cousin of Addison's, also contributed to the publication. Each 'paper', or 'number', was approximately 2,500 words long, and the...

Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison
Joseph Addison was an English essayist, poet, playwright and politician. He was a man of letters, eldest son of Lancelot Addison...

 wrote extensive notes, annotations, and interpretations of certain passages of Paradise Lost. Jonathan Richardson, senior
Jonathan Richardson (painter)
Jonathan Richardson sometimes called "the Elder" to distinguish him from his son) was an English artist, collector of drawings, and writer on art, working almost entirely as a portrait-painter in London. He was considered by some art-critics as one of the three foremost painters of his time. He...

, and Jonathan Richardson, the younger, co-wrote a book of criticism. In 1749, Thomas Newton published an extensive edition of Milton's poetical works with annotations provided by himself, Dryden, Pope, Addison, the Richardsons (father and son) and others. Newton's edition of Milton was a culmination of the honour bestowed upon Milton by early Enlightenment thinkers; it may also have been prompted by Richard Bentley's infamous edition, described above. Samuel Johnson wrote numerous essays on Paradise Lost, and Milton was included in his Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets
Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets
Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets was a work by Samuel Johnson, comprising short biographies and critical appraisals of 52 poets, most of whom lived during the eighteenth century...

(1779–1781).

Blake



William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

 considered Milton the major English poet. Blake placed Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

 as Milton's precursor, and saw himself as Milton's poetical son. In his Milton a Poem, Blake uses Milton as a character.

Romantic theory


Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

 was a theorist of the sublime, and he regarded Milton's description of Hell as exemplary of sublimity as aesthetic concept. For Burke it was to set alongside mountain-tops, a storm at sea, and infinity
Infinity
Infinity is a concept in many fields, most predominantly mathematics and physics, that refers to a quantity without bound or end. People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity...

. In The Beautiful and the Sublime he wrote "No person seems better to have understood the secret of heightening, or of setting terrible things, if I may use the expression, in their strongest light, by the force of a judicious obscurity than Milton."

The Romantic poets valued his exploration of blank verse, but for the most part rejected his religiosity. William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

 began his sonnet "London, 1802
London, 1802
"London, 1802" is a sonnet by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In the poem Wordsworth castigates the English people as stagnant and selfish, and eulogizes seventeenth-century poet John Milton....

" with "Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour" and modelled The Prelude
The Prelude
The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind is an autobiographical, "philosophical" poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote the first version of the poem when he was 28, and worked over the rest of it for his long life without publishing it...

, his own blank verse epic, on Paradise Lost. John Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

 found the yoke of Milton's style uncongenial; he exclaimed that "Miltonic verse cannot be written but in an artful or rather artist's humour." Keats felt that Paradise Lost was a "beautiful and grand curiosity"; but his own unfinished attempt at epic poetry, Hyperion
Hyperion (poem)
"Hyperion" is an abandoned epic poem by 19th-century English Romantic poet John Keats. It is based on the Titanomachia, and tells of the despair of the Titans after their fall to the Olympians...

, was unsatisfactory to the author because, amongst other things, it had too many "Miltonic inversions". In The Madwoman in the Attic
The Madwoman in the Attic
The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, published in 1979, examines Victorian literature from a feminist perspective...

, Sandra Gilbert
Sandra Gilbert
Sandra M. Gilbert , Professor Emerita of English at the University of California, Davis, is an influential literary critic and poet who has published widely in the fields of feminist literary criticism, feminist theory, and psychoanalytic criticism...

 and Susan Gubar
Susan Gubar
Dr. Susan D. Gubar is an American academic and Distinguished Professor of English and Women's Studies at Indiana University. She is co-author with Dr. Sandra M. Gilbert of the standard feminist text, The Madwoman in the Attic and a trilogy on women's writing in the twentieth century.Her book...

 note that Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus . She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley...

's novel Frankenstein
Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster, written by Mary Shelley, with inserts of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first...

is, in the view of many critics, "one of the key 'Romantic' readings of Paradise Lost."

Later legacy


The Victorian age witnessed a continuation of Milton's influence, George Eliot
George Eliot
Mary Anne Evans , better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist and translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era...

 and Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

 being particularly inspired by Milton's poetry and biography. By contrast, the early 20th century, with the efforts of T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

 and Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry...

, witnessed a reduction in Milton's critical stature. Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

, in The Anxiety of Influence
The Anxiety of Influence
The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry is a book by Harold Bloom, published in 1973. It was the first in a series of books that advanced a new "revisionary" or antithetical approach to literary criticism....

, could still write that "Milton is the central problem in any theory and history of poetic influence in English [...]".

Milton's Areopagitica
Areopagitica
Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by English author John Milton against censorship...

is still cited as relevant to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

. A quotation from Areopagitica – "A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life" – is displayed in many public libraries, including the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

.

The title of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman comprising Northern Lights , The Subtle Knife , and The Amber Spyglass...

trilogy is derived from a quotation, "His dark materials to create more worlds", line 915 of Book II in Paradise Lost. Pullman was concerned to produce a version of Milton's poem accessible to teenagers, and has spoken of Milton as "our greatest public poet".

T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns "T. S." Eliot OM was a playwright, literary critic, and arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century. Although he was born an American he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927 at age 39.The poem that made his...

 believed that "of no other poet is it so difficult to consider the poetry simply as poetry, without our theological and political dispositions... making unlawful entry".

Literary legacy


Milton's use of blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, in addition to his stylistic innovations (such as grandiloquence of voice and vision, peculiar diction and phraseology) influenced later poets. At the time poetic blank verse was considered distinct from its use in verse drama, and Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

was taken as a unique examplar. Said Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts
Isaac Watts was an English hymnwriter, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymnwriter, he was recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", credited with some 750 hymns...

 in 1734, "Mr. Milton is esteemed the parent and author of blank verse among us". "Miltonic verse" might be synonymous for a century with blank verse as poetry, a new poetic terrain independent from both the drama and the heroic couplet
Heroic couplet
A heroic couplet is a traditional form for English poetry, commonly used for epic and narrative poetry; it refers to poems constructed from a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines. The rhyme is always masculine. Use of the heroic couplet was first pioneered by Geoffrey Chaucer in...

.

Lack of rhyme was sometimes taken as Milton's defining innovation. He himself considered the rhymeless quality of Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

 to be an extension of his own personal liberty:
This pursuit of freedom was largely a reaction against conservative values entrenched within the rigid heroic couplet. Within a dominant culture that stressed elegance and finish, he granted primacy to freedom, breadth and imaginative suggestiveness, eventually developed into the romantic vision of sublime terror. Reaction to Milton’s poetic worldview included, grudgingly, acknowledgement that of poet’s resemblance to classical writers (Greek and Roman poetry being unrhymed. Blank verse came to be a recognised medium for religious works and for translations of the classics. Unrhymed lyrics like Collins
William Collins (poet)
William Collins was an English poet. Second in influence only to Thomas Gray, he was an important poet of the middle decades of the 18th century...

' Ode to Evening (in the meter of Milton's translation of Horace
Horace
Quintus Horatius Flaccus , known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus.-Life:...

's Ode to Pyrrha) were not uncommon after 1740.

A second aspect of Milton's blank verse was the use of unconventional rhythm:
Before Milton, "the sense of regular rhythm ... had been knocked into the English head so securely that it was part of their nature". The "Heroick measure", according to Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson , often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer...

, "is pure ... when the accent rests upon every second syllable through the whole line  The repetition of this sound or percussion at equal times, is the most complete harmony of which a single verse is capable", Caesura
Caesura
thumb|100px|An example of a caesura in modern western music notation.In meter, a caesura is a complete pause in a line of poetry or in a musical composition. The plural form of caesura is caesuras or caesurae...

l pauses, most agreed, were best placed at the middle and the end of the line. In order to support this symmetry, lines were most often octo- or deca-syllabic, with no enjambed endings. To this schema Milton introduced modifications, which included hypermetrical syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

s (trisyllabic feet
Foot (prosody)
The foot is the basic metrical unit that generates a line of verse in most Western traditions of poetry, including English accentual-syllabic verse and the quantitative meter of classical ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The unit is composed of syllables, the number of which is limited, with a few...

), inversion or slighting of stresses
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

, and the shifting of pauses to all parts of the line. Milton deemed these features to be reflective of "the transcendental union of order and freedom". Admirers remained hesitant to adopt such departures from traditional metrical schemes: "The English ... had been writing separate lines for so long that they could not rid themselves of the habit”. Isaac Watts preferred his lines distinct from each other, as did Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith was an Irish writer, poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield , his pastoral poem The Deserted Village , and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man and She Stoops to Conquer...

, Henry Pemberton
Henry Pemberton
Henry Pemberton was an English physician and man of letters. He became Gresham Professor of Physic, and edited the third edition of Principia Mathematica.-Life:...

, and Scott of Amwell, whose general opinion it was that Milton's frequent omission of the initial unaccented foot was "displeasing to a nice ear". It was not until the late 18th century that poets (beginning with Gray
Thomas Gray
Thomas Gray was a poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University.-Early life and education:...

) began to appreciate "the composition of Milton's harmony ... how he loved to vary his pauses, his measures, and his feet, which gives that enchanting air of freedom and wilderness to his versification".

While neo-classical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 diction was as restrictive as its prosody, and narrow imagery paired with uniformity of sentence structure resulted in a small set of 800 nouns circumscribing the vocabulary of 90% of heroic couplets ever written up to the eighteenth century, and tradition required that the same adjectives attach to the same nouns, followed by the same verbs, Milton's pursuit of liberty extended into his vocabulary as well. It included many Latinate neologisms, as well as obsolete words already dropped from popular usage so completely that their meanings were no longer understood. In 1740 Francis Peck
Francis Peck
-Life:He was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, and educated at Stamford School. Peck was educated at Charterhouse School, before continuing on to St John's College, Cambridge...

 identified some examples of Milton's "old" words (now popular). The “Miltonian dialect” as it was called, was emulated by later poets; Pope used the diction of Paradise Lost in his Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

 translation, while the lyric poetry of Gray and Collins was frequently criticised for their use of “obsolete words out of Spenser and Milton”. The language of Thomson’s finest poems (e.g. The Seasons
The Seasons
The Seasons may refer to:In literature:* The Seasons , a Lithuanian poem by Kristijonas Donelaitis* The Seasons, four long poems by James ThomsonIn mythology:* The Seasons, also known as the HoraeIn music and dance:...

, Castle of Indolence) was self-consciously modelled after the Miltonian dialect, with the same tone and sensibilities as Paradise Lost. Following to Milton, English poetry from Pope to John Keats
John Keats
John Keats was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death.Although his poems were not...

 exhibited a steadily increasing attention to the connotative, the imaginative and poetic, value of words.

Miltonic effects


The varied manifestations of personal liberty in Milton's works (e.g. abandonment of rhyme, irregular rhythms, peculiar diction) converge to create specific Miltonian effects that live on to this day. Raymond Dexter identifies nine outstanding characteristics specific to Paradise Lost that survived into later poetic movements:

1. Dignity, reserve and stateliness

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse (i. 1–6)

2. Sonorous, orotund voice

O thou that, with surpassing glory crown'd
Look'st from thy sole dominion like the god
Of this new World. (iv. 32-4)

3. Inversion of the natural order of words and phrases

Ten paces huge
He back recoil’d. (vi. 193-4)

"temperate vapours bland"(v. 5)
"heavenly form Angelic"(ix. 457-8)
"unvoyageable gulf obscure"(x. 366)

4. The omission of words not necessary to the sense

And where their weakness, how attempted best,
By force or subtlety. (ii. 357-8)

5. Parenthesis and opposition

Their song was partial, but the harmony
(What could it less when Spirits immortal sing?)
Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment
The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet
(For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense)
Others apart sat on a hill retired (ii. 552-7)

6. The use of one part of speech for another
"with gems . . . rich emblazed", "grinned horrible", (adjective used as adverb)
"Heaven's azure" or "the vast of Heaven". (adjective used as noun)
"without disturb they took alarm"; "the place of her retire." (verbs used as nouns )
May serve to better us and worse our foes (adjective used as verb)
Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill (verb, adjective employed in participal sense)
"fuell'd entrails," "his con-sorted Eve," "roses bushing round." (substantive used as verb).

7. Vocabulary
Archaic words from Chaucer, Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

 and Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

: "erst," "grunsel," "welkin," "frore," "lore," "grisly," "ken" etc.
Unusual Words from Greek or Latin: "dulcet," "panoplie," "sapience," "nocent," "congratulant” etc.
Words employed in senses obsolete to the eighteenth century: "the secret top Of Oreb," "a singèd bottom all in-volved With stench," "tempt an abyss,” "his uncouth way"

8. The introduction into a comparatively short passage of proper names in number, not necessary to the sense, but adding richness, color, and imaginative suggestiveness

And what resounds
In fable or romance of Uther's son,
Begirt with British and Armoric knights;
And all who since, baptised or infidel,
jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,
Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond;
Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabbia. (i. 579-87)


9. Unusual compound epithets
"Sail-broad vans," "high-climbing hill," "arch-chemic sun," "half-rounding guards," "night-warbling bird," "love-labour'd song"

Poetic and dramatic works

  • 1631: L'Allegro
    L'Allegro
    L'Allegro is a pastoral poem by John Milton published in 1645. L'Allegro is invariably paired with the contrasting pastoral poem, Il Penseroso , which depicts a similar day spent in contemplation and thought.-Background:It is uncertain when L'Allegro and Il Penseroso were composed because they do...

  • 1631: Il Penseroso
    Il Penseroso
    Il Penseroso is a vision of poetic melancholy by John Milton. Presented in the 1645 folio of verses, The Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, Il Penseroso was presented as a companion piece to L'Allegro, a vision of poetic Mirth...

  • 1634: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634 commonly known as Comus
    Comus (John Milton)
    Comus is a masque in honour of chastity, written by John Milton. It was first presented on Michaelmas, 1634, before John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater at Ludlow Castle in celebration of the Earl's new post as Lord President of Wales.Known colloquially as Comus, the mask's actual full title is A...

    (a masque
    Masque
    The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...

    )
  • 1638: Lycidas
    Lycidas
    "Lycidas" is a poem by John Milton, written in 1637 as a pastoral elegy. It first appeared in a 1638 collection of elegies, entitled Justa Edouardo King Naufrago, dedicated to the memory of Edward King, a collegemate of Milton's at Cambridge who drowned when his ship sank in the Irish Sea off the...

  • 1645: Poems of Mr John Milton, Both English and Latin
  • 1655: On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
    On the Late Massacre in Piedmont
    On the Late Massacre in Piedmont is a sonnet by the English poet John Milton inspired by the massacre of Waldensians in Piedmont by the Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy in April 1655.-The sonnet:Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones...

  • 1667: Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost
    Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse...

  • 1671: Paradise Regained
    Paradise Regained
    Paradise Regained is a poem by the English poet John Milton, published in 1671. It is connected by name to his earlier and more famous epic poem Paradise Lost, with which it shares similar theological themes...

  • 1671: Samson Agonistes
    Samson Agonistes
    Samson Agonistes is a tragic closet drama by John Milton. It appeared with the publication of Milton's Paradise Regain'd in 1671, as the title page of that volume states: "Paradise Regained / A Poem / In IV Books / To Which Is Added / Samson Agonistes"...

  • 1673: Poems, &c, Upon Several Occasions

Political, philosophical and religious prose

  • Of Reformation
    Of Reformation
    Of Reformation is a 1641 pamphlet by John Milton, and his debut in the public arena. Its full title is Of Reformation of Church-Discipline in England.-Background:...

    (1641)
  • Of Prelatical Episcopacy
    Of Prelatical Episcopacy
    Of Prelatical Episcopacy is a religious tract written by John Milton in either June or July 1641.-Background:The tract, the shortest of Milton's tracts on prelatical issues, was written as a response to many works, such as Archbishop James Ussher's The Judgement of Doctor Rainoldes Touching the...

    (1641)
  • Animadversions
    Animadversions
    Animadversions is the third of John Milton's antiprelatical tracts, in the form of a response to the works and claims of Bishop Joseph Hall. The tract was published in July 1641 under the title Animadversions upon The Remonstrants Defence Against Smectymnvvs.-Tract:The tract is a direct, personal...

    (1641)
  • The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty
    The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty
    The Reason of Church-Government Urged against Prelaty is an essay by English poet John Milton distributed as one of a series of religious pamphlets by the writer. Published in 1642, the political work details Milton's preference for a Presbyterian approach to the Church of England over approaches...

    (1642)
  • Apology for Smectymnuus
    Apology for Smectymnuus
    Apology for Smectymnuus, or An Apology for a Pamphlet, was published by John Milton in April 1642. It was the final of his antiprelatical tracts which criticize the structure of the Church of England.-Background:...

    (1642)
  • Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
    Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce
    The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce: Restor'd to the Good of Both Sexes, From the Bondage of Canon Law was published by John Milton on 1 August 1643. An expanded second edition was published on 2 February 1644. The editions were published anonymously, and his name was not associated with the...

    (1643)
  • Judgement of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce
    Judgement of Martin Bucer Concerning Divorce
    Judgment of Martin Bucer by John Milton was published on 15 July 1644. The work consists mostly of Milton's translations of pro-divorce arguments from Martin Bucer's De Regno Christi...

    (1644)
  • Of Education
    Of Education
    The tractate Of Education was published in 1644, first appearing anonymously as a single eight-page quarto sheet . Presented as a letter written in response to a request from the Puritan educational reformer Samuel Hartlib, it represents John Milton's most comprehensive statement on educational...

    (1644)
  • Areopagitica
    Areopagitica
    Areopagitica: A speech of Mr. John Milton for the liberty of unlicensed printing to the Parliament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by English author John Milton against censorship...

    (1644)
  • Tetrachordon
    Tetrachordon
    Tetrachordon was published by John Milton with his Colasterion on 4 March 1645. The title symbolizes Milton's attempt to connect four passages of Biblical Scripture to rationalize the legalization of divorce.-Background:...

    (1645)
  • Colasterion
    Colasterion
    Colasterion was published by John Milton with his Tetrachordon on 4 March 1645. The tract is a response to an anonymous pamphlet attacking the first edition of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce...

    (1645)
  • The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
    The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates
    The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates is a book by John Milton, in which he defends the right of people to execute a guilty sovereign, whether tyrannical or not....

    (1649)
  • Eikonoklastes
    Eikonoklastes
    Eikonoklastes is a book by John Milton, published October 1649. In it he provides a justification for the execution of Charles I, which had taken place on 30 January 1649. The book's title is taken from the Greek, and means "iconoclast" or "breaker of the icon", and refers to Eikon Basilike, a...

    (1649)
  • Defensio pro Populo Anglicano
    Defensio pro Populo Anglicano
    Defensio pro Populo Anglicano is a Latin polemic by John Milton, published in 1651. The full title in English is John Milton an Englishman His Defence of the People of England. It was a piece of propaganda, and made political argument in support of what was at the time the government of...

    [First Defence] (1651)
  • Defensio Secunda
    Defensio Secunda
    Defension Secunda was a 1654 political tract by John Milton, a sequel to his Defensio pro Populo Anglicano. It is a defence of the Parliamentary regime, by then controlled by Oliver Cromwell; and also defense of his own reputation against a royalist tract published under the name Salmasius in 1652,...

    [Second Defence] (1654)
  • A treatise of Civil Power
    A Treatise of Civil Power
    A Treatise of Civil Power was published by John Milton in February 1659. The work argues over the definition and nature of heresy and free thought, and Milton tries to convince the new English Parliament to further his cause.-Background:...

    (1659)
  • The Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings from the Church (1659)
  • The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
    The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
    The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth was published by John Milton at the end of February 1660. In the tract, Milton warns against the dangers inherent in a monarchical form of government...

    (1660)
  • Brief Notes Upon a Late Sermon (1660)
  • Accedence Commenced Grammar (1669)
  • History of Britain
    History of Britain (John Milton)
    The History of Britain, that Part especially now called England; from the first traditional Beginning, continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the antientest and best Authours thereof, a prose work by the English poet John Milton, was published in 1670...

    (1670)
  • Artis logicae plenior institutio [Art of Logic] (1672)
  • Of True Religion (1673)
  • Epistolae Familiaries (1674)
  • Prolusiones (1674)
  • A brief History of Moscovia, and other less known Countries lying Eastward of Russia as far as Cathay, gathered from the writings of several Eye-witnesses (1682)
  • De Doctrina Christiana
    De Doctrina Christiana (Milton)
    De doctrina Christiana is a Latin manuscript found in 1823 and attributed to John Milton, who died 148 years prior. Since Milton was blind by the time of the work's creation, this attribution assumes that an amanuensis aided the author.The history and style of Christian Doctrine have created much...

    (1823)

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