John Milton



Jackson Campbell Boswell, Milton's Library: A Catalogue of the Remains of John Milton's Library and an Annotated Reconstruction of Milton's Library and Ancillary Readings, (New York & London, 1975)

Carey & Fowler

The Poems of John Milton, ed. John Carey and Alastair Fowler (London, 1968)


The Works of John Milton, General Editor: Frank Allen Patterson, 18 vols plus 2 index vols (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-8)


The Poetical Works of John Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire, 2 vols (Oxford, 1952-5; reprinted 1978)

Darbishire, Early Lives

The Early Lives of Milton, ed. Helen Darbishire (London, 1932)


James Holly Hanford, A Milton Handbook (London, 1928)


John Milton's Complete Poetical Works Reproduced in Photographic Facsimile, ed. Harris Francis Fletcher, 4 vols (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1943-8)


The Life Records of John Milton, ed. J. Milton French, 5 vols (New Brunswick, 1949-58)


David Masson, The Life of John Milton, 7 vols (Cambridge, 1859-94)


Leo Miller, John Milton & The Oldenburg Safeguard (New York, 1985)

A Milton Encyclopedia

A Milton Encyclopedia, General Editor: William B. Hunter, Jr, 9 vols (Lewisburg & London, 1978-83)


William Riley Parker, Milton: A Biography 2 vols (Oxford, 1968)

Poems (1645)

Poems of Mr John Milton, both English and Latin, compos'd at several times (London, 1645)

Poems (1672)

John Milton, Poems Reproduced in Facsimile from the Manuscript in Trinity College, Cambridge with a Transcript (Menston: Scolar Press, 1972)

Shawcross, Bibliography

John T. Shawcross, Milton: A Bibliography for the Years 1624-1700 (Binghamton, New York, 1984)

Sotheby, Ramblings

Samuel Leigh Sotheby, Ramblings in the Elucidation of the Autograph of Milton (London, 1861)


Complete Prose Works of John Milton, General Editor: Don M. Wolfe, 8 vols [Vol. VII revised and reissued in 1980] (New Haven: Yale University Press; and London: Oxford University Press, 1953-82)


Autograph Manuscripts

Although Milton must have left many manuscripts that have subsequently perished — including a ‘lost’ Latin dictionary compiled by dictation during the years of his blindness and at least one theological commonplace book — the number of extant manuscripts by and associated with him is not inconsiderable for his period.

A collection of literary drafts by him, the ‘Trinity MS’ (Trinity College, Cambridge, MS R. 34) — must be the single most important autograph poetical manuscript of the seventeenth century still to survive. This is despite some measure of deterioration since the mid-eighteenth century, caused by careless handling by many admiring visitors to the college. Early facsimiles show, for instance, page numbers which by the turn of the 20th century had been rubbed off, and changes have been discernible even more recently. A number of lost readings, particularly on now frayed outer leaves, were, however, partly recorded in earlier editions and transcripts: see particularly The Poetical Works of Milton, ed. Henry Todd, 6 vols (London 1801), V, 57-9, 172, 418-31, 504-7. Collations of various poems and of Comus in this manuscript were incorporated in the manuscript volume of transcripts of works by Milton made by his biographer Francis Peck (1692-1743), now in the British Library (Add. MS 28637). A complete transcript of the Trinity MS made in 1792 by Arthur Young, a student of Trinity College, was offered for sale at Sotheby's (with a facsimile example in the catalogue) on 19 July 1990, lot 11. It was sold to Pickering, and is now at Princeton (Gen. MSS. Misc. No. AM 91-22). This transcript is discussed, with facsimile examples of both the transcript and of the Trinity MS itself, in Peter McCullough, Arthur Young, Jr's 1792 Transcript of Milton's Trinity Manuscript, English Manuscript Studies, 5 (1995), 85-106. Anonymous ‘extracts’ from the Trinity MS made on three duodecimo leaves were also offered in Thomas Rodd's sale catalogue of manuscripts in 1841, lot 611.

Besides the Trinity MS there survive an early, apparently autograph, set of academic exercises in Latin verse and prose (*MnJ 7, *MnJ 8, *MnJ 50) and a largely autograph commonplace book recording Milton's private studies from his later university days to c.1665 (*MnJ 66), as well as a number of autograph letters, inscriptions and annotations in books and albums, signed documents and some other fragmentary material. In addition, several extant manuscripts, both literary and otherwise, were written on his behalf by amanuenses — most notably the deservedly celebrated manuscript of the first book of Paradise Lost (MnJ 22); the Bridgewater Manuscript of Comus (MnJ 59); and the complete manuscript, not published until 1825, of his De Doctrina Christiana (MnJ 46).

The majority of the undisputably authentic examples of Milton's handwriting conform, even with developments in some letter formations (such as his shift from epsilon e to italic e) over a period, to a clearly recognisable and idiosyncratic style of writing: the familiar simple but uneven italic, generally written in his mature years with a thickish pen. The one exception is the set of early academic exercises (*MnJ 7, *MnJ 8, *MnJ 50), written in a mixture of secretary and italic forms, many of which bear no counterpart anywhere else in Milton manuscripts. Had these exercises not been found inserted in Milton's Commonplace Book (*MnJ 66), and with Milton's name on them, it is unlikely that they would ever have been associated with Milton on the basis of palaeographical evidence alone. Even now one hesitates to attribute them to Milton with absolute certainty. Nevertheless, in view of the circumstantial evidence, their probable early dating and their limited palaeographical affinities with Milton's mature hand, the likelihood is that they are the only surviving examples of Milton's writing as a schoolboy.

Given the importance of Milton, it is not surprising that these various manuscripts should have attracted over the years considerable scholarly attention. As with Shakespeare, however, this kind of attention has not been uniformly conducive to clarity and light. Even with so many indisputable examples of his handwriting in existence, the supposed identification of other so-called ‘autographs’ by Milton has sometimes reached fanciful proportions. For the most part, spurious attributions amount probably to no more than wishful thinking — such as many printed books supposedly annotated by him, and the so-called Milton-Ovid (see below). Nevertheless, the common failure of scholars (with honourable exceptions such as Maurice Kelley) to discriminate adequately on palaeographical grounds mars the usefulness of most accounts of Milton autograph manuscripts. This failing appears in some of the items included in the monumental Columbia edition and in J. Milton French's seminal listing, ‘The Autographs of John Milton’, English Literary History, 4 (1937), 301-30, as well as in some of the entries relating to manuscripts in A Milton Encyclopedia.

General discussions about Milton's handwriting (varying in reliability) are to be found in: Sotheby, Ramblings (1861), passim; Hugh C H. Candy, ‘Milton Autographs Established’, The Library, 4th Ser. 13 (1932), 192-200; Helen Darbishire, ‘The Chronology of Milton's Handwriting’, The Library (1933), 229-35; Hugh C. H. Candy, ‘Milton's Prolusio Script’, The Library, 4th Ser. 15 (1934-5), 330-9; Maurice Kelley, ‘“J” and “I” in Milton's Script’, Modern Language Review, 44 (1949), 545-7; Helen Darbishire, ‘The Chronology of Milton's Handwriting’, Seventeenth-Century News, 11, No. 4 [Supplement] (Winter 1953), 11; Croft, Autograph Poetry, I, 47; Petti, English Literary Hands, No. 59; and see also, of related interest, John T. Shawcross, ‘What Can We Learn from Milton's Spelling’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 26 (1963), 351-61, and ‘One aspect of Milton's Spelling: Idle Final “E”’, PMLA, 78.i (1963), 501-10

No less controversial is the identification in extant manuscripts of Milton's amanuenses — a subject discussed further below. Nor can the Milton manuscripts — some of them compiled over a period of years — always be readily dated. The dating of the various drafts and revisions in, most especially, the Trinity MS, on the basis of inking, palaeographical changes, and spelling variants, as well as external evidence regarding particular poems, is likely to remain a subject of debate; for which reason a too precise dating is avoided in the entries below where there are insufficient grounds for certainty.


Two original autograph letters signed by Milton are currently known (*MnJ 69-70, in addition to two autograph drafts of a letter in the Trinity MS (*MnJ 68). A number of other original letters by Milton were written by amanuenses, and also sometimes signed on his behalf, chiefly because of his blindness, which progressed over a period of eight years or so and was complete by February 1651/2 (see MnJ 71-82).

Twenty-nine further letters by Milton are known only from the texts printed in Epistolarum Familiarium (London, 1674), which are reprinted, with English translations, in Columbia, XII.

Some now ‘lost’ letters written by Milton in the ‘purest Latin’ to the convent at Vallombrosa ‘after his return to England’ were reported in 1873 by Dr James H. Dixon to have been preserved there a few years previously. Two of them are also recorded in 1877 as having been seen ‘a few years ago, when residing in Florence’ by one ‘C .J. H.’: see N&Q, 4th Ser. 11 (18 January 1873), 62; 5th Ser. 7 (23 June 1877), 493; 5th Ser. VIII (11 August 1877), 117; and recorded in Columbia, XII, 413, and LR, I, 381; II, 5. No trace of these letters has since come to light; and it may be that the reports of their existence were entirely fanciful: see Edward Chaney, ‘The Visit to Vallombrosa: A Literary Tradition’, in Milton in Italy, ed. Mario A. Di Cesare (Binghamton, NY, 1991), pp. 113-46.

There have also been rumours, from other sources, of ‘lost’ letters by Milton to Cromwell and to John Winthrop (1606-76): see Parker, II, 1168. An unspecified letter by Milton was apparently included in an ‘Album of Autograph Letters’ (including examples by Buckhurst, Congreve and Waller) sold at Sotheby's on 17 February 1890 (Alexander Foote sale), lot 285, to Stileles.

Some of the letters sent to Milton by his many correspondents have survived in various forms. The originals of nine, written between 1625 and 1666, are known (and are all edited in Columbia, XII). Those by Diodati, Dati, Leo van Aizema, Heimbach, Henry Lawes and Andrew Sandelands are in the British Library (Add. MSS 5016; 36354); in the New York Public Library; and in the National Archives, Kew (SP 18/23/6; SP 18/34/105). A series of autograph drafts of thirteen letters to Milton by Hermann Mylius (together with one to G. R. Weckherlin, once thought to be addressed to Milton) are preserved in Mylius's Tagebuch in the Niedersächsische Staatsarchiv, Oldenburg (Best. 20, Tit. 38, No. 73, fasc. 13). They are printed in Columbia, XII, with a facsimile example after p. 356, and see also facsimile examples and further discussion in Miller (esp. pp. 24, 30). Henry Oldenburg's retained copies of five letters by him to Milton are in his notebook preserved by the Royal Society (MS I, ff. 9r-v, 11r-v, 22v-3, 30r-v, 61r-v). They are edited in LR, IV. Letters written to Milton by Andrew Marvell in 1654 and by Moses Wall in 1659 are known only from eighteenth-century transcripts in the Ayscough MS (British Library, Add. MS 4292, Nos. 120-1), edited in Columbia, XII, 331-6. Sir Henry Wotton's warm and eulogistic letter to Milton, dated 13 April 1638, is known only from Milton's own printing of it in his Poems (1645).

The original parliamentary warrant sent to Milton by John Bradshaw on 25 June 1650, ordering him to search the papers of William Prynne, was owned in the 1930s by Miss Dorothy Margaret Stuart and is now at the University of Illinois (Pre-1650 MS 0168). The text is edited in LR, II, 315-17. The version of the warrant in the official order book, now in the National Archives, Kew (SP 25/64, p. 483) has a space where Milton's name should be. It is, incidentally, interesting to compare this warrant with one issued by the Privy Council to William Trumbull, at the time of Prynne's original indictment before the Star Chamber on 1 February 1632/3, now in the British Library and reproduced in Sotheby's catalogue The Trumbull Papers, 14 December 1989, lot 30.


A number of other surviving miscellaneous documents — ranging from Milton's student subscriptions to his scrawled entries in libri amicorum when blind — bear Milton's autograph signature or additions and are given entries below (MnJ 88-93, MnJ 95-100, MnJ 102-104, *MnJ 106, *MnJ 108).

An additional item is what was described, not very convincingly, as an ‘Official Letter, said to be in [Milton's] autograph, as Secretary to Cromwell, signed Oliver P., and by his son-in-law Charles Fleetwood’. This was offered for sale at Sotheby's, 27 May 1875, lot 266.

Yet other documents recorded below (MnJ 101, MnJ 103, MnJ 105, MnJ 107, MnJ 109-110-112) — including perhaps the most famous contract in English literary history (MnJ 111) — were signed on Milton's behalf by amanuenses: i.e. they generally bear procurational signatures resulting from the management of Milton's affairs by other parties because of his blindness.

A detached ‘signature’ by or on behalf of ‘John Milton’ and ‘cut from [a] parchment document’ was sold at Christie's, 27 March 1985, lot 178A, to Rendell (and is reproduced in the sale catalogue). It may, for all one can tell, relate to the poet, but it is not in his own hand. Neither is the signature ‘John Milton’ as witness on an indenture for the mortgage of land in Reigate, Surrey, between John Woodman and George Caffey, 23 January 1657/8, a document formerly owned by Roger W. Barrett of Chicago. Despite general scepticism about it, it was offered for sale at Sotheby's, New York, 14 December 1988, lot 141, with a facsimile of the signatures in the sale catalogue (sold to Quaritch but returned). This document was recorded in Columbia, XVIII, 625-6, and edited in LR, IV, 211-14, but disputed in Parker, II, 1049; and see also [Leo Miller], ‘Caveat Emptor’, Milton Studies, 23 (1989), 88. The particular ‘John Milton’ concerned here is very unlikely to be the poet.

Other documents, the originals of which Milton might have signed, are known only from contemporary copies. Two examples are:

(i) The will of William Blackborow, witnessed by Milton (‘John Milton’), 11 April 1645, proved 5 June 1646. (copy in the National Archives, Kew, PROB 10/660, registered copy PROB 11/196/82). Recorded in Columbia, XVIII, 624, and in LR, II, 147. It is possible, however, that the signature on the original may have been that of John Milton Senior.

(ii) The will of Richard Powell, witnessed by Milton (‘John Milton’), 30 December 1646 (registered copy in the National Archives, Kew, PROB 11/199/52, and another copy is in the Bodleian, MS Top. Oxon. c. 289, ff. 49-51). Recorded in Columbia, XVIII, 624, and edited in LR, II, 164-6.

Milton's State Letters and Papers

Milton worked for the Commonwealth as Secretary for the Foreign Tongues to the Council of State from March 1648/9, just after the execution of Charles I, until at least the autumn of 1659, a few months before the Restoration (The last recorded payment of his salary is dated 25 October 1659: LR, IV, 280-1). Both in translating and in drafting or revising state letters and other papers, Milton was partly or wholly responsible for a considerable number of surviving official documents of this period.

The bulk of those for which Milton was largely responsible have been identified by virtue of three collections. One is the posthumous edition Literae Pseudo-Senatus Anglicani…a Joanne Miltono (1676), which was anonymously translated in 1682 and again, by Edward Phillips, in 1694 (LR, V, 237-8, 260, 295). The other two, both manuscripts, are: (i) the so-called ‘Columbia MS’, a volume of state tracts and papers including transcripts of 156 state letters probably originally written by Milton (Columbia University, X823M64/S62: MnJ 84) and (ii) the so-called ‘Skinner MS’, a letterbook in the hand of Daniel Skinner, comprising 139 state letters, entitled ‘Epistolae Johannis Miltonii Angli Pro Parlamento Anglicano interregni tempore scriptae’ (National Archives, Kew, SP 9/194: MnJ 85).

Other manuscript collections of transcripts of Milton's state letters are: (iii) Bodleian, MS Rawl. A. 260 (including 71 state letters from 1653/4-55, partly composed by Milton: MnJ 82); (iv) Bodleian, MS Rawl. A. 261 (including c.105 letters of state from 1653/4-55 partly composed by Milton): MnJ 83; and (v) the ‘Nalson Papers’ in the Bodleian.

The Nalson Papers, which have not been given separate entries, are a set of transcripts of state papers, including many of the letters of state composed by Milton, made before 1682 by Dr John Nalson (1638?-86), Rector of Doddington and Canon of Ely. Some of these papers came into the possession of Bishop Tanner and are now in the Bodleian (MSS Tanner, passim). The main collection, however, was bound together in 22 volumes in 1730 by Nalson's grandson, Philip Williams. It later came into the possession of the Duke of Portland and is now in the Bodleian (MSS Nalson, i-xxiii, formerly Dep. c. 152-176). Photocopies are preserved in the Parliamentary Archives. The Nalson Papers relating to Milton are calendared in HMC, 13th report, Appendix, Part I, Portland I (1891) [with an index in Portland II], and are cited in Yale, V, Part 2, passim.

Many of the ‘originals’ of these various transcripts, as drafted or sent, as well as a number of other state papers in which Milton was involved, are preserved in the National Archives, Kew, and (some) in the Bodleian, British Library and New York Public Library, as well as in state archives in Amsterdam, Basel, Brandenburg, Bremen, Budapest, Copenhagen, Florence, Gdansk, Geneva, The Hague, Kiel, Lübeck, Merseburg, Moscow, Oldenburg, Paris, Simancas, Stockholm, Turin, Venice, and Zurich. No doubt other examples will come to light in due course.

For details of these state papers, and circumstances surrounding their production, see, inter alia, Columbia, XIII and XVIII; Yale, V, Part 2; J. Milton French, ‘“That Late Villain Milton”’, PMLA, 55 (1940), 102-15; Maurice Kelley, ‘Additional Texts of Milton's State Papers’, Modern Language Notes, 67 (1952), 14-19; J. Max Patrick, ‘Significant Aspects of the Miltonic State Papers’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 33 (1969-70), 321-30; Robert Thomas Fallon, ‘Miltonic Documents in the Public Record Office, London’, Studies in Bibliography, 32 (1979), 82-100; Maurice Kelley and Leo Miller, ‘The Columbia Milton: Sixth Supplement’, N&Q, 226 (1980), 43-4; Shawcross, Bibliography; Leo Miller, Establishing the Text of Milton's State Papers, TEXT, 2 (1985), 181-6; Leo Miller, ‘Two Milton State Letters: New Dates and New Insights’, N&Q, 231 (December 1986), 461-4; Leo Miller, ‘Another Milton State Paper Recovered and a Mystery Demystified’, English Language Notes, 25 (1987-8), 21-33; Leo Miller, John Milton and the Oldenburg Safeguard (New York, 1985); Leo Miller, ‘Milton's Conversations with Schlezer and his Letters to Brandenburg’, N&Q, 232 (September 1987), 321-4; Leo Miller, ‘The Milton/Cromwell Letter to Transylvania’, N&Q, 234 (December 1989), 435-42; and see also Robert Thomas Fallon, ‘Filling the Gaps: New Perspectives on Mr. Secretary Milton’, Milton Studies, 12 (1979), 165-95, and his Milton in Government (University Park, PA, 1993).

One of the traditional bones of scholarly contention over Milton's Secretaryship is whether he worked (in Parker's words) as ‘little more than a translator and interpreter for monolithic bosses’, or as (in Don M. Wolfe's words) ‘a prompt, resourceful coworker in the immense variety of duties imposed upon the Council by the daily issues faced by the new republic’ (see Fallon, art. cit. in Milton Studies, 1979, and also light thrown on the matter in Miller, esp. pp. 297-303). J. Max Patrick (Yale, V, Part 2, 477) has drawn attention to the existence of scribal ‘drafts’ of various documents in the Nalson Papers which indicate that Milton's contributions (showing ‘far more than stylistic’ renderings) were substantial. Further evidence in support of the latter assumption is provided by the papers of Milton's immediate predecessor in that position, Georg Rudolph Weckherlin (1584-1653), which show vividly and in remarkable detail the kind of responsibilities involved in Milton's job. These papers were offered at Sotheby's on 14 December 1989 (separate hardbound catalogue, The Trumbull Papers), lot 41, and are now in the British Library (Add. MSS 72434-72438). It is interesting to note of Weckherlin's ‘Letters and other papers of publique concernement’ that, according to an order issued by John Bradshaw on 4 February 1649/50 (ibid., lot 42 (illustrated in the catalogue), they should have been delivered to Milton for his use (and see also the copies of corresponding orders in the National Archives, Kew, quoted in LR, II, 295-6). However, this order was evidently not complied with.

Weckherlin's papers are, in any case, not to be identified with another group of state papers (of in-coming letters to Cromwell, Ireton and others) bequeathed by Milton to Thomas Ellwood and published by John Nicholls as Original Letters and Papers of State…From the Year MDCXLIX to MDCLVIII (London, 1743): see LR, V, 339-40. These papers are now in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries (MS 138).

Presentation Exempla of Books by Milton

Milton evidently presented exempla of various of his printed books to friends and persons of influence (His Pro populo anglicana defensio secunda (London, 1654), for instance, he is known to have given to Bradshaw and to Andrew Marvell, among others). There is no way of knowing how many such presentation exempla there once were, neither is it an easy matter to distinguish Milton's hand in manuscript corrections that have been recorded as occurring in various printed exempla of his works. Besides the possibility that such corrections were made by the printers or else by contemporary readers, there is the likelihood that, even if Milton were entering them himself, he would have tended to conform to the printed type in the books, any personal idiosyncrasies of his writing being reduced to a minimum in such circumstances.

With this caveat, a few probably legitimate examples known to survive are given entries below (MnJ 113-116). Other volumes too have been occasionally recorded as containing inscriptions or additions in Milton's hand, though not authenticated. Two examples, for instance, are the exempla of Poems (1645) in the New York Public Library (Rare Book Room, *KC 1645), and of Areopagitica (1644) offered in Maggs's sale catalogue No. 620 (1936), item 4 (with a facsimile in the catalogue).

A number of further ‘presentation’ volumes have been recorded from time to time as containing apparently contemporary ex dona authoris inscriptions, at least some of them by known friends or associates of the poet. Most of these are recorded in Columbia, XVIII, in LR, or in Yale, and see also Leo Miller, ‘Miltoniana: Some Hitherto Unrecognised Items’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 70 (1976), 107-10. Examples, which are not given separate entries, include:

An Apology against…A Modest Confutation (London, 1642). British Library, E. 147. 22.

Areopagitica (London, 1644). Exempla in British Library (C. 55. c. 22 (9)); at Yale (Ij.M642.C641.v.3); and in Quaritch's sale catalogue No. 1132 (December 1990), item 69. The inscribed title-page of the Yale item is reproduced in facsimile in Yale, II, 485. These and other exempla with printers' corrections are briefly discussed in Helen Darbishire, ‘Pen-and-Ink Corrections in Books of the Seventeenth Century’, RES, 7 (1931), 72-3.

Articles of Peace Made and Concluded with the Irish Rebels, and Papists, by James Earle of Ormond (London, 1649). Exemplum inscribed on the title-page by John Bradshaw ‘Ex dono Authoris. 10 Maij 1649’ and ‘By ye Pen of John Mylton’. Quaritch's sale catalogue ‘English Literature in Manuscript’ (November 1996), item 5, with a facsimile of the inscribed title-page.

The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, 2nd edition (London, 1644). ‘H. Jackson, ex dono Authoris’, with manuscript corrections. Thorpe's sale catalogue, 1832, Part I, item 1687. Yale, 1972 1004.

Eikonoklastes, 2nd edition (London, 1650). One exemplum given to Thomas Barlow in 1656: Bodleian, 4° Rawl. 408 (reproduced in facsimile in John Milton, Prose Works 1641-50, 3 vols (Menston: Scolar Press, 1967-8), Vol. III). Another exemplum given to John Durie: British Library, G 11718.

Of Education (London, 1644). Exemplum presented to Samuel Hartlib. William H. Robinson's sale catalogue No. 56 (1935), item 133.

Of Reformation touching Church-Discipline in England (London, 1641). One exemplum given to J[?]H: Bodleian (D.12.6. Linc.). Another given to George Thomason: British Library, E 208 (3)

Pro populo anglicano defensio (various issues: London, 1651). One exemplum given to Henry Darley, MP: Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. Another given to John Rous: Bodleian, E 2. 20. Art. Yet others given to Walter Frost (University of Texas at Austin, Stark 6472*); to John Morris (British Library, C114.b.37, formerly 599.c.26); to Charles Vane (Harvard, *fEC65 M6427 651 pb (B)); and to other unidentified recipients (*EC65 M6427 651paa (B), and Pierpont Morgan Library: PML 17280.W4D).

For the exemplum of Eikonoklastes (London, 1649) once given by someone (but not Milton) to the Earl of Carbery, see D.S. Robertson, ‘A Copy of Milton's “Eikonoklastes”’, TLS (15 June 1951), p. 380, and (22 June 1951), p. 396.

Yet other exempla of printed works by Milton bear what are clearly printers' manuscript corrections — not a particularly especially rare occurrence in this period. Examples, probably among many others, are exempla of The Reason of Church-Government (London, 1641) in the British Library (E.137.9), and of The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (London, 1649) at Yale (Ij M642 649t); and of The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, 2nd edition (London, 1644), including an exemplum in the British Library (E.31.(5).

Milton's Library

The attempt to identify individual books from Milton's library, which was dispersed both before and after his death, has been a chequered record, over the past three centuries, of spurious claims, misidentifications (inscriptions by other ‘John Miltons’), plain wishful thinking (the most common cause of misattribution) and even, on occasions, of downright forgery (one by J.P. Collier, for instance). Only a relatively small handful of extant volumes with reasonably credible evidence of provenance — the presence of Milton's authentic signature, inscription or annotations — are currently known. These have been given separate entries below (MnJ 117-123).

Downright spurious attributions are legion — and despite elaborate claims made by earlier commentators. For the record, exempla of volumes in this category are given entries below (MnJ 124-135). They may be supplimented by many other books of unreliable provenance and which are no longer traceable, including various other Bibles, works by Creccelius, Malvezzi, M.A. Muret, Polycarp, Thomas White, Beza, Nieremberg, John Pits, J. Sleidan, Olaus Magnus, Thomas Lodge, Montaigne, Thomas Cooper, Henry Peacham, and others. See Columbia (XVIII, 575-82); LR (passim); Boswell; and ‘Association Copies’, ‘Library’ and ‘Marginalia’ in A Milton Encyclopedia, I (1978), 106-8, and V (1979), 23-5, 73-5. Even this list may be extended. We have, for instance, the claim of Sotheby's catalogue for 18 May 1853 (Thomas Jolley sale) that lot 1294, an exemplum of Herodian, Historia…Angelo Politiano interprete (Basel, 1563), bore on the title-page the poet's ‘autograph signature “JOHN MILTON”’ (almost certainly spurious if thus written), as well as his ‘marginal references…on several of the pages’.On 26 February 1861 Sotheby's offered as lot 115 (sold to Ellis) an exemplum of Plutarch, Opusculorum de liberorum institutione and Isocrates, Orationes tres (London, 1627) ‘with the following note on title-page, “pretium hujus libri — 6d I.M. Julii 2, 1646” (supposed to be in the autograph of John Milton’). In their ‘Catalogue of English Literature’ (August-November 1884), Quaritch offered as item 22960 an exemplum of Thomas Cooper's Thesaurus (London, 1573) which was allegedly Milton's as attested by the thoroughly unreliable J.P. Collier in a note dated November 1875. On 21 May 1890 Sotheby's also offered (lot 79), as an alleged autograph by Milton, the inscription ‘J. M., Pret. 5s., 2d. hand’, which was written on the back of a portrait of Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, to whose memory Milton wrote an elegy.

Milton's Amanuenses

Like the dating of Milton's manuscript poems, the identification of Milton's many amanuenses (perhaps dozens, counting the government clerks he employed in the 1650s) remains a controversial subject. That Milton made use of amanuenses throughout his life — particularly, of course, during the years of his blindness after 1652 — is well attested. According to Cyriack Skinner's ‘Life’ of Milton (see below), ‘The Youths that hee instructed from time to time servd him often as Amanuenses, & some elderly persons were glad, for the benefit of his learned Conversation, to perform that Office’. Although the identities of some of Milton's amanuenses are known — as also the names of a few of his pupils (see Parker, II, 924-5) — it is not always easy to match them with particular samples of extant handwriting. This uncertainty, together with the presence of other, entirely unidentified hands in the Milton manuscripts, has encouraged speculation by scholars so that the overall picture is now far from clear. The subject would still benefit greatly from a fresh, detailed and systematic study, and the comments made below are offered as but a guide to current thinking on the matter.

Those ‘identified’ amanuenses most relevant to the Milton manuscripts may be listed briefly as follows:

THOMAS ELLWOOD (1639-1713), Quaker friend and student of Milton, ‘adviser’ on both Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, to whom Milton bequeathed his collection of state letters (see above). For a discussion of Ellwood, with facsimile examples of autograph manuscripts by him (in the Library of the Society of Friends, London), see Elizabeth T. McLaughlin, ‘Milton and Thomas Ellwood’, Milton Newsletter, 1 (1967), 17-28. Although Ellwood may conceivably have served on occasions the same office as Milton's other friends (and later he did act as amanuensis to one other poet, Edmund Waller), nowhere does he state in his autobiography that he did so; nor can his hand be identified among recorded Milton manuscripts, despite suggestions by John Shawcross that the publishing contract for Paradise Lost and receipt of 26-27 April 1669 written on Milton's behalf (see above) may be in Ellwood's hand (see McLaughlin, p. 24, and facsimile of the receipt, p. 22). The suggestion that a now lost manuscript copy of the tract The Readie and Easie Way to Establish a free Commonwealth ‘may be’ in Ellwood's hand would also seem to be no more than speculation by an auction cataloguer in 1963 (see MnJ 55).

ELIZABETH MILTON, née MINSHULL (1638-1727), Milton's third wife, who, according to Bishop Newton in 1749, used to write down verses from her husband's dictation first thing each morning (Columbia, XVIII, 390). Legal documents written or signed by her survive: for instance, a signed receipt for payment by Samuel Symmons, 21 December 1680, now at Christ's College, Cambridge (the signature reproduced in facsimile in Gentleman's Magazine, 92.ii (1822), 13, and in Sotheby, Ramblings, pp. 137-40, Plate XVIII, No. iii); a similar document, releasing Symmons from claims on the copyright of Paradise Lost, 29 April 1681, at Christ's College (facsimile in Illinois, III, 17); her signed will, 22 August 1727 (in the Cheshire Record Office, WS 1727); and some related documents, including a copy of her will, sold at Sotheby's, 2 August 1820, lot 62, and 12 May 1882, lot 2104, now in the New York Public Library (these are printed in John Fitchett Marsh, Papers connected with the Affairs of Milton and his Family, Chetham Society Publications XXIV (1851), pp. 1-46, with a facsimile example as frontispiece: see LR, V, 255-6, 258-9, 303-5, 312-14, 325-6). A further document signed by her (and not recorded in LR) is the assignment to Joseph Watts, for 10 guineas, of copyright in Milton's prose works (which are listed in full), a document signed ‘at Mainwarings Coffee house in ffleet Street’, 24 June 1695, now in the Bedfordshire Record Office (P 11/28/2, pp. 314-15). This is printed, with a related document (see below), in Henry John Rose, ‘Remarks on some Documents relating to John Milton and Isaac Barrow, preserved in the Rectory House of Houghton-Conquest’, Bedfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, 8th Report (1855), 319-31 (pp. 328-30). There are, however, no recorded literary manuscripts in Elizabeth Milton's hand.

EDWARD PHILLIPS (1630-96?), Milton's nephew and pupil who, according to an entry he made himself in John Aubrey's ‘Life’, was his uncle's, ‘cheif Amanuensis’ for Paradise Lost (see below) and who certainly possessed some of Milton's papers after the poet's death. His distinctively bold, cursive hand survives in many letters and documents, especially in translations and antiquarian works of Elias Ashmole (Bodleian, MSS Ashmole 826, 842, 857, 865, 1109, 1110, 1119, 1123, 1125, 1127, 1128, 1139 and 1149), and see also Christ Church, Oxford (Evelyn Papers MS 3, Vol. II, items 128 and 129). Facsimile examples of Edward Phillips's handwriting are reproduced in Sotheby, Ramblings, after p. 190 (Plate XXIV, Nos i [a presentation inscription in a book owned by Samuel Leigh Sotheby] and ii [from pages in the Ashmolean manuscripts]); in Darbishire, Early Lives, after p. 12 [Bodleian, MS Aubrey 8, f. 68r: part of Edward Phillips's additions to Aubrey's ‘Life’]; and in Maurice Kelley, ‘Milton and Machiavelli's Discorsi’, Studies in Bibliography, 4 (1951-2), 123-7 (Plate II) [ditto].

From this evidence Edward Phillips's distinctive hand can confidently be identified in some of the corrections in the extant manuscript of Book I of Paradise Lost (MnJ 22), in some of the entries in Milton's Commonplace Book (*MnJ 66), and in one of Milton's letters to Mylius (No. 10 in the list of original letters above).

JOHN PHILLIPS (1631-1706?), Edward's brother who was likewise his uncle's pupil, also probably served as an amanuensis at times and is so characterised by a contemporary reader on the title-page of the British Library exemplum of John Phillips's Responsio in 1652 (LR, III, 291). No definitive example of John Phillips's handwriting is known; however, the manuscript of his A Satyr against Hypocrites of 1655 survives in the Bodleian (MS Rawl. poet. 30). The main text is evidently in the hand of a professional scribe, but the neatly penned and signed dedication to John Churchill (f. 2r-v), as well as the title-page (f. 1r), is very probably in the hand of John Phillips himself, who was also most likely responsible for a series of neatly inserted corrections and side-notes in the main text. A reduced facsimile of the last page of the dedication (f. 2v) appears in Darbishire, Early Lives, after p. xviii.

On this evidence Darbishire has argued that later versions of the same hand are to be found in the Trinity MS, p. 49 (Sonnets XXI and XXII: MnJ 42, 43) and also in the anonymous ‘Life of Mr John Milton’ (written as a would-be fair copy with deletions and inserted revisions in a single, slightly florid but non-professional hand, evidently that of the author) in the Bodleian (MS Wood D. 4, ff. 140r-4r), a ‘Life’ which she consequently attributes to John Phillips (and see her facsimile examples, after pp. xxvi and 18). Her identification — as, indeed, any correspondence between MS Rawl. poet. 30 and the other manuscripts cited — has not generally been accepted (see, for instance, Maurice Kelley, ‘Milton's Later Sonnets and the Cambridge Manuscript’, Modern Philology, 54 (1956), 20-5 (pp. 24-5)), and indeed the ‘Life’ can now positively be attributed to Cyriack Skinner (see below).

Sotheby, Ramblings, reproduces after p. 190 (Plate XXIV, Nos iii-iv) facsimiles of two ‘signatures’ by, respectively, ‘Jn°: Phillips’ and ‘John Phillipp[s]’ (which appear in then privately owned printed books). However, these do not clarify matters, since they were evidently written by two different people, neither of whom was necessarily Milton's nephew — any more than the ‘John Phillipps’ and ‘J. Phillips’ who, respectively, wrote letters of 15 February [1653/4] and c.30 September 1681 now in the Bodleian (MSS Rawl. A. 11, f. 342, and Wood F. 43, f. 223), or the ‘Johannes Philips’ who inscribed the flyleaf of a verse miscellany in the British Library (Add. MS 19268: see William Strode below, Δ 8). An exemplum of Edward Phillips, Theatrum Poetarum (London, 1675) at Harvard (EC65.P5425.675t) likewise bears on a flyleaf the names ‘Edward Phillips’ and ‘John Phillips’, both in the same hand (which is certainly not that of the former), as well as the name ‘Heph Philips’, but this too is unreliable evidence.

No less potentially misleading is John T. Shawcross's readiness to identify as John Phillips's a host of other manuscripts: see especially his ‘Notes on Milton's Amanuenses’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 58 (1959), 29-38, and entry on ‘Amanuenses’ in A Milton Encyclopedia, I (1978), 41-3. Ranging from a series of entries in Milton's Commonplace Book (*MnJ 66), the ode Ad Joannem Rousium (MnJ 1), and the inscription in Christopher Arnold's album in 1651 (*MnJ 99), to various of Milton's letters to Mylius and translations of two intercepted letters by Princess Sophie (see Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 81), as well as a sonnet copied in Milton's exemplum of Della Casa's Rime et prose (*MnJ 120). These entries are written in a variety of styles which bear no certain relationship to one another, let alone to the one probably example of John Phillips's hand in MS Rawl. poet. 30.

JEREMIE PICARD (fl. 1658-60). Very little is known of Picard — unless he be the ‘Mr. Packer’ mentioned by Aubrey as one of Milton's pupils or, perhaps, the ‘Jeremiah Pickard’ who was admitted for a time to Bedlam in 1678 and 1700 — but his signature and distinctively rounded handwriting occur in a number of documents which show that he served for a period as one of Milton's amanuenses. He signed one document, on 14 January 1657/8, as witness (see above, Documents Signed on Milton's Behalf, No. iii), and probably also both this document and one of 5 May 1660 (iv above) on Milton's behalf; he added two entries after 17 March 1657/8 to Milton's family Bible (ii above), as well as in an annotation there in Romans xv.6; he added two entries, on pp. 188 and 195, to Milton's Commonplace Book (*MnJ 66); he entered Sonnet XXIII in the Trinity MS (MnJ 44), as well as directions to the printer at the top of p. 45 (MnJ 32); and, most substantially, he transcribed De Doctrina Christiana (MnJ 46). Picard's hand also appears in an audit of moneys collected for relief of the Piedmontese (National Archives, Kew, SP 46/112/63). See James Holly Hanford, ‘The Rosenbach Milton Documents’, PMLA, 38 (1923), 290-6 (pp. 293-4 and facsimile examples after p. 292 [Nos. 1-4, and questionably Nos. 5-6]); Maurice Kelley, This Great Argument (Princeton, 1941), pp. 71-2; William Elton, ‘New Light on Milton's Amanuensis’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 26 (1963), 383-4; Parker, II, 1063; Yale, VI, 12 (n. 4); and facsimile examples in other sources cited. Hanford suggests, less convincingly, that it may also have been Picard who signed on Milton's behalf the two Rosenbach documents of 7 June 1665 and the publishing contract for Paradise Lost on 27 April 1667 (v, vi, viii above, and vii is also probably in the same hand).

CYRIACK SKINNER (1627-1700), a pupil, close friend and (at least in 1654-6) neighbour of Milton. William Riley Parker records (in TLS (13 September 1957), p. 547) sight of a letter by Cyriack Skinner, dated 23 March 1668/9, in the city archives of Kingston upon Hull. On this evidence he argued that it was Cyriack Skinner, rather than John Phillips, who was probably responsible for Sonnets XXI and XXII in the Trinity MS, p. 49 (MnJ 42, MnJ 43) and for the anonymous ‘Life of Mr John Milton’ in the Bodleian (MS Wood D. 4, ff. 140-4 — a suggestion made, for different reasons, by Maurice Kelley in Modern Philology, 54 (1956), 25. R.W. Hunt, of the Bodleian Library (in TLS (11 October 1957), p. 609), registered some reservation about this identification, leaving open the possibility that the ‘Life’ was by John Phillips.

In fact there are two autograph letters by Cyriack Skinner in the City Record Office, Hull (BRL 794 and 795), dated 9 and 23 March 1668/9 respectively (and, incidentally, mentioning Andrew Marvell), as well as one to his sister-in-law, from Dublin, 1 November 1675, in the Leeds Archives (WYL 1352/A2/1/1). The handwriting here is in every respect so distinctive — even down to the peculiar style of deletion employed — as to leave no doubt whatsoever, pace Hunt, that Cyriack Skinner was also responsible for page 49 in the Trinity MS and for the ‘Life’ of Milton in Bodleian, MS Wood A. 4, ff. 140r-4r.

DANIEL SKINNER (b.1651?). There is no clear evidence that Daniel Skinner ever acted as Milton's amanuensis; nevertheless, it was he who, after the poet's death, ‘cull'd out’ some of Milton's papers and also wrote about them in surviving letters. His distinctively dashing cursive hand is found in a number of letters in the National Archives, Kew; in the Bodleian (MSS Rawl. A. 185, ff. 133r, 271r, 396r), and elsewhere: see, for instance, LR, V, 69, 238-9; Maurice Kelley, Modern Language Notes, 64 (1949), 522-5; and elsewhere. For facsimile examples, see Sotheby, Ramblings, after pp. 162 and 164 (Plates XX, No. I, ii*, and XXXIII, Nos i, iv); and Maurice Kelley, ‘Milton and Machiavelli's Discorsi’, Studies in Bibliography, 4 (1951-2), 123-7 (Plate II) [from Bodleian, MS 185, f. 396r].

Skinner's career is outlined notably in J. H. Hanford, ‘Pepys and the Skinner Family’, Review of English Studies, 7 (1931), 257-70; in J. Milton French, ‘“That Late Villain Milton”’, PMLA, 55 (1940), 102-15; in Maurice Kelley, ‘Addendum: The Later Career of Daniel Skinner’, PMLA, 55 (1940), 116-18; in Parker, I, 610-12 et passim; and in Maurice Kelley [review of Parker], Seventeenth-Century News, 28 (1970), 1. For further references, see Yale, VI, 11-12, 36-8.

On this evidence Daniel Skinner's hand can be identified as the scribe responsible for the ‘Skinner MS’ of state letters by Milton (see above) and for much of the surviving manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (MnJ 46), which, until threatened with government disfavour, he tried to publish in Amsterdam (LR, V, 237-9). In addition, he evidently owned and initialled Milton's exemplum of Euripides (see v above) and he may also have owned the Trinity MS and Milton's Commonplace Book.

Various other anonymous amanuenses of Milton have been discussed, and comparisons made, by scholars, but, again, not always with illuminating results: for instance, pace Shawcross (‘What Can We Learn from Milton's Spelling’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 26 (1963), 351-61), Sonnet XIV on page 46 of the Trinity MS (MnJ 38), Milton's letter to Whitelocke (MnJ 77) and his letter to Bradshaw (*MnJ 81) are not written by the same amanuensis, but are in three quite different hands.

Circulation of Milton's Works in Manuscript

Milton is not a poet whose works one would normally associate with manuscript circulation. Nevertheless, there are rare instances of this happening. At Cambridge, despite his professed contempt for the fashionable outpourings of his academic contemporaries (‘those new fangled toys’ of ‘our late fantasticks’, as he calls them, for instance, in At a Vacation Exercise in 1628: Darbishire, II, 127), he could not remain entirely detached from the less formal literary life of his university. His Hobson poems, which had some degree of manuscript circulation (MnJ 2-5, MnJ 19), bear witness to his participation in at least one thoroughly characteristic student activity; and isolated contemporary manuscript copies of On Time (MnJ 20-21) and An Epitaph on the Marchioness of Winchester (MnJ 9) reflect a similar impingement on student commonplace-book culture. In the special case of A Mask Presented at Ludlow-Castle (Comus) transcripts of the text were evidently made besides those recorded below (MnJ 57-64). In the Dedication to Milton's Poems (1645), Henry Lawes says ‘the often Copying of it hath tir'd my Pen to give my severall friends satisfaction’. The celebrated Bridgewater Manuscript of this masque (MnJ 59) was indeed once though to bear Lawes's own handwriting (adding the names of the actors on the title-page), but this suggestion may now safely be discounted. A highly accomplished scribe, who varied his style for the component parts of the title-page and for stage directions and headings in the text, was responsible for this manuscript. What was probably another hand, writing in a lighter (now brown-coloured) ink and making some attempt to imitate the calligraphic features of the original scribe (in the majuscule S and C, for instance), has added abbreviated names of characters (‘Co:’, ‘La:’, ‘El: bro.’, ‘2 bro:’, ‘De:’, ‘Sab:’) at various points in the margin and in spaces left by the scribe in the text. It should be noted that these additions are rarely visible in the Illinois facsimile of the manuscript, although incorporated in the transcript printed there.

Of non-autograph manuscripts, apart from the unique Picard-Skinner manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana (MnJ 46), clearly by far the most valuable to survive — being indeed one of the major literary manuscripts of its century — is the First Book of Paradise Lost (MnJ 22), part of the printer's copy for the first edition. As noted above, Edward Phillips was allegedly his uncle's ‘chief Amanuensis’ during the writing of the poem (‘All the time of writing it’, according to Aubrey, ‘this was 4 or 5 yeares of his doeing it’: Darbishire, Early Lives, pp. 9, 13). In his life of Milton published in 1694, Edward Phillips himself recalled how he ‘had the perusal’ of the poem ‘from the very beginning’ (‘…for some years, as I went from time to time, to Visit him, in a Parcel of Ten, Twenty, or Thirty Verses at a Time, which being Written by whatever hand came next, might possibly want Correction as to the Orthography and Pointing…’: Darbishire, Early Lives, p. 73).

Other Texts

Some other, later, texts of poems by Milton, or translations or adaptations of them, which have not been given separate entries below, can be listed briefly as follows.

A quarto volume of manuscript transcripts of works by Milton made by his eighteenth-century biographer Francis Peck was offered for sale at Sotheby's, 15-25 March 1871 (Joseph Lilly sale), lot 1765, and is now in the British Library (Add. MS 28637). Invariably transcribed from early printed sources (such as Poems (1645), but also incorporating readings taken from the Trinity MS, the 87-leaf manuscript includes Peck's transcripts of Arcades (ff. 65r-6r), ‘arguments’ from Paradise Lost (ff. 16r-51r), and some 29 of his miscellaneous poems including L'Allegro and Il Penseroso (ff. 52r-64r, 67r-87r). Peck's transcript of Comus (ff. 2r-14r) is briefly discussed in S.E. Sprott's edition of that work (Toronto, 1973).

William Cowper's partly autograph drafts and fair copies of his translation into English of some of Milton's Latin and Italian poems are in the British Library (Add. MS 30801). An autograph manuscript of Thomas Warton's translation into Latin of Song On May morning (‘Now the bright morning Star, Dayes harbinger’), with his transcript of the original poem, 1750, is in Boston Public Library (MS Ch.H.1.27). Latin versions of Lycidas, made in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, are in Cambridge University Library (Add. MS 42, ff. 152-9) and Lambeth Palace (MS 841, item 8 (recorded in Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 410). A calligraphic illuminated copy of Lycidas made in 1850-53 by Anna Maria Fay (1828-1922/3) is at Harvard (MS Eng 1622) and a twentieth-century calligraphic copy of the poem is at the University of Texas at Austin (X-7).

A Latin verse translation of Paradise Lost by Thomas Power (Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, fl.1680-5), the First Book only of which was published (in 1691), is now somewhat dispersed. His revised manuscript of Books II-VII, on 137 quarto leaves (including blanks), is at Trinity College, Cambridge (MS R.2.38: James 538). His Books VIII-XII occupy pp. 194-336 of MS R.2.37 (James 537). The last five Books are in the same college (C.1.64). His Book XI is also at Harvard (14487.42.21*: Lobby XI. 4. 7, 13 [folio pages]) and (14487.42.20*: Lobby XI. 1. 24: [179 quarto pages, with a translation of the First Book added by Dr Henry Newcome, the manuscript once owned by John Plumptre (1753-1825)]).

A Latin verse translation of much of Book III of Paradise Lost made c.1805-25 by William Parsons, of Bewdley, is in the Bodleian (MS Top. Salop d. 1, f. 34r et seq.). A manuscript of a translation of Paradise Lost, Book I, into Italian, by Lorenzo Magalotti (1637-1712) is in the British Library (Lansdowne MS 845, ff. 14e-24v), as is part of a prose translation into French (Sloane MS 3324, ff. 273r-88v). Extracts from an Italian translation of the poem are in the British Library (Lansdowne MS 928, ff. 133v-42r). The manuscript of an incomplete German translation of the poem by Theodore Haak (1605-90) is in the Landesbibliothek und Murhardsche Bibliothek der Stadt Kassel (Poet. MS 4°2) [Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 290]; and another early German translation of Book I, by Christopher Wegleiter, is in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (MS Hs 40 660) [Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 411]. The manuscript of Sarah Siddons's reading text of Paradise Lost, as abridged and arranged by her for four public readings in 1817, on 279 quarto pages, presented by her to Miss Wilkinson in July 1818, is at Harvard (14486.42.5*: Lobby XI. 1. 26). For John Dryden's operatic version of Paradise Lost, see DrJ 287-294.

A manuscript adapted version of Comus, in a cursive hand with deletions and revisions, on twelve quarto leaves (rectos only), now at Harvard (MS Eng 591), is of ‘Comus. as acted at the TR-Covt Garden Made Vestris Management’: i.e. under Madame Vestris (1797-1856). A pencil note on a flyleaf, dated 1932, claims that the masque was ‘prepared for stage by J R Planché’ (1795-1889, playwright) ‘& perhaps in his hand writing’. The prompt-book of W.C. Macready's acting version of Comus as staged in 1846, copied by the Drury Lane prompter D. Home with stage directions inserted by the prompter George Ellis, is in the Charles Kean Collection at the Folger (see Charles H. Shattuck, ‘Macready's Comus: A Prompt-Book Study’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 60 (1961), 731-48. A late eighteenth-century ‘mask’ entitled The Cestus, written in imitation of Comus, a manuscript once in the library of the Osborne family, Dukes of Leeds, at Hornby Castle, Yorkshire, is in the British Library (Egerton MS 3507). It is discussed in Thomas B. Stroup, ‘The Cestus: Manuscript of an Anonymous Eighteenth-Century Imitation of Comus’, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 2 (1962), 47-55.

An anonymous English translation of Pro populo anglicano defensio (1651), differing from that by Joseph Washington published in 1692, survives in a manuscript of 345 octavo pages in the Alexander Trumbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand (MS G MIL 111,610 [Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 416]).

Miscellaneous extracts from Milton's works, largely from printed texts, occur in many seventeenth- and eighteenth-century miscellanies, some of which are given entries below (MnJ 136-148).

‘Hobson's Epitaph’ and Other Dubious Attributions

Of those poems that have been spuriously attributed to Milton the most common found in manuscript sources is Hobson's Epitaph (‘Here Hobson lyes amongst his many debters’). This epitaph (which is edited in Columbia, XVIII, 359) was first published in A Banquet of Jests (London, 1640), along with one of Milton's two genuine poems on Hobson (MnJ 2-5, MnJ 19). Unlike those, however, it was not included in Milton's Poems (1645), is nowhere actually ascribed to him, and, despite attempts (albeit cautious) by W.R. Parker (in Modern Language Review, 31 (1936), 395-402), John Shawcross (in Review of English Studies, NS 18 (1967), 433-7) and others to suggest otherwise, would seem to be only one of a number of humorous poems by Milton's contemporaries (including Thomas Randolph, William Hall, and one Hacksby) on what was a popular topical subject in Cambridge circles in the 1630s. The many known versions of this epitaph in chiefly seventeenth-century miscellanies (some of which begin ‘Here lies Hobson amongst his many betters’ or with other variants of this line) are not given separate entries below, but may briefly be listed for the record:

Bodleian, MSS Eng. poet. f. 10r, fol. 101v; Eng. poet. f. 27, pp. 81-2; Rawl. poet. 26, f. 64v; Rawl. poet. 117, ff. 105v-6r; Tanner 465, pp. 235-6

British Library, Add. MSS 5807, f. 2v; 6400, f. 67v; 15227, f. 74r; 30982, f. 65r-v; 58215, f. 173v rev.; Egerton MS 1160, f. 139r; Harley MSS 791, f. 45r; 6057, ff. 15v-17r; 6383, ff. 26v-7r; 6396, f. 21r; 6931, f. 24v; Sloane MS 542, f. 52r

Cambridge University Library, MS Add. 8684, f. 20v

Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS 309, f. 48v

Dorset History Centre, D51/5, p. 214

Durham Cathedral, Hunter MS 125, pp. 53-4

Folger, MSS E. a. 6, f. 4r; V.a.97, f. 68v; V.a.160, p. 50

Harvard, MS Eng 686, f. 79

Huntington, HM 116, p. 103

John Rylands University Library of Manchester, English MS 410, ff. 31v-2r

Leicestershire Record Office, DG 7/Lit. 2, f. 355r

Massachusetts Historical Society, Ms SBd-69, pp. 155-6

Rosenbach Museum & Library, MS 239/27, pp. 359-60; MS 1083/16, p. 62

St John's College, Cambridge, MS S. 32 (James 423), f. 18v

Yale, Osborn MS b 200, pp. 225-6.

Various of these texts are edited, collated or recorded in Columbia; in G. Blakemore Evans, ‘Milton and the Hobson Poems’, Modern Language Quarterly, 4 (1943), 281-90; in The Complete English Poetry of John Milton, ed. John T. Shawcross (New York, 1963); and in Shawcross, ‘A Note on Milton's Hobson Poems’, Review of English Studies, NS 18 (1967), 433-7.

A number of other spurious attributions are edited or recorded in Columbia (XVIII, 351-3), and see also ‘Attributions’ in A Milton Encyclopedia, I (1978), 111-14. Of these perhaps the most spectacular is the so-called ‘Milton Ovid’ (LR, I, 52). This is a series of 166 eight-line stanzas (beginning ‘A chaos all confus'd on heapes doth ly’) relating to scenes in Ovid's Metamorphoses . It is written in a seventeenth-century hand on blanks in a printed exemplum of Johannes Posthius, Tetrasticha in Ovidii Matamor. Lib. XV (Frankfurt, 1563). The stanzas were proclaimed as Milton's holograph, with elaborate discussions, by Hugh C.H. Candy in TLS (26 January 1922) and in N&Q, 1922-3 (passim), and were printed in full, with facsimile examples, in his Some Newly Discovered Stanzas written by John Milton on Engraved Scenes illustrating Ovid's Metamorphoses (London, 1924). For all Candy's sensible palaeographical discussions elsewhere, his determination to prove as Milton's this manifestly un-Miltonic work — written in a conventional mid-seventeenth century cursive mixed hand — must be accounted no more than a folly of obsession. The volume, sold at Sotheby's on 29 March 1926, lot 461 (with facsimile examples in the sale catalogue), resurfaced and was sold there again on 22 July 1985, lot 30 (also with a facsimile example in the sale catalogue). It is now in the Brotherton Collection, Leeds University (MS Lt. 76).

The anonymous printed pamphlet The Plot Discovered [1641?] was once attributed to Milton: see LR, II, 44, and TLS (24 October 1936), p. 868, and (19 December 1936), p. 1056. On the basis of manuscript evidence identifying the inscribed exemplum in the General Theological Seminary, New York (285.0512E), as that owned by Sir Edward Dering (1599-1644), a case for the attribution to Milton was revived by Jason P. Rosenblatt in ‘Sir Edward Dering's Milton’, Modern Philology, 79 (1981-2), 376-85, and in English Literary Renaissance, 15 (1985), 318-52.


Many printed exempla of works by Milton have interesting annotations or associations. For instance, the exemplum of Poems (1645) from John Evelyn's library (see LR, V, 64) was offered in Quaritch's sale catalogue No. 1043 (December 1984), item 110. An exemplum of this edition once owned by Samuel Pepys and the Earl of Anglesey was in 1908 in the possession of Sir Richard Tangye (LR, II, 138), while Edmund Waller also owned an exemplum of the 1673 edition (see *WaE 890 and LR, V, 64). The exemplum traditionally owned by Cromwell's chaplain Lewis Stucley (d.1687) was sold at Sotheby's, 19 June 1934, to Pickering. Milton French also records (LR, V, 64) an exemplum containing anonymous annotations at Yale. An apparently presentation exemplum of Justa Edouardo King naufrago, ab amicis moerentibus, amoris (Cambridge, 1638), with Milton's Lycidas, inscribed ‘Ex Dono Joh. Alsop’ (i.e. the probable editor of the book, John Alsop), was offered in Quaritch's sale catalogue of ‘English Books New Acquisitions Midwinter 2009’, item 50.

Numerous exempla of Paradise Lost bear readers' annotations: for instance, a first edition at Keble College, Oxford (with ‘corrections’ once actually thought ‘autograph’) and an ‘improved’ exemplum of the 1695 edition offered at Sotheby's, 16 July 1984, lot 13. The poet William Cowper's annotated Paradise Lost (1790) is in the Pierpont Morgan Library (PML 966-7); his annotations to an exemplum of Richard Bentley's edition (1732) is at Christ's College, Cambridge (Ee.2.8); other drafts of his commentary on the poem are in the Bodleian (MS Eng. poet. c. 11, ff. 106r-7r; and yet others are recorded in Margaret M. Smith, IELM, III.i (1986), pp. 290-1 (CpW 702-5). An exemplum of the 1678 edition copiously annotated by Francis Atterbury (1662-1732), Bishop of Rochester, is at Yale (Osborn pb 9 [Shawcross, Bibliography, No. 325]). William Wordsworth's annotated exemplum of the 1674 edition is at Dove Cottage: see Bishop C. Hunt, Jr., ‘Wordsworth's Marginalia in Paradise Lost’, Bulletin of the New York Public Library, 73 (1969), 167-83, with a facsimile example. An autograph letter by Wordsworth quoting the last four lines of Paradise Lost, 1 January 1831, was offered for sale at Sotheby's, with a facsimile in the sale catalogue, 13 December 1990, lot 197, and his autograph quotation from Sonnet XII, dated 23 October 1842, was offered in Maggs's sale catalogue No. 1126 (1991), item 219 (also with a facsimile in the catalogue). What is alleged to be William Blake's annotated exemplum of the edition by Richard Bentley (1732), once owned by the second Earl of Wharncliffe (1856-1926) and now in private ownership, is discussed in Mark Crosby, ‘William Blake's Annotations to Milton's Paradise Lost’, The Book Collector, 57/4 (Winter 2008), 513-46. The Earl of Mulgrave's exemplum of Paradise Lost (1668 edition) was sold at Sotheby's, 26 June 1885 (Rev. J. F. Russell sale), lot 772, to Quaritch), and J.P. Kemble's exemplum of the first edition (1667) was offered in Henry Sotheran's sale catalogue Bibliotheca Pretiosa (1907), item 305.

S.T. Colereridge's annotated exemplum of the 1777 edition of Paradise Lost is not known today, but for his annotations in his exemplum of the 1791 edition of Milton's Poems, see The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol. 12, Marginalia III, ed. H.J. Jackson and George Whalley, pp. 881-905. Herman Melville's annotated exemplum of Milton's Poetical Works, 2 vols (Boston, 1836), was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 9-10 November 1989 (The Garden Sale), lot 182 (with facsimile examples in the sale catalogue), and is now at Princeton ((Ex)PR3551.M57 1836). Thomas Hardy's annotated exemplum of Milton's Poetical Works (Halifax, 1865) is in the Dorset County Museum: see James L. Persoon, ‘Hardy's Pocket Milton: An Early Unpublished Poem’, English Language Notes, 25 (1988), 49-52. Gerard Manley Hopkins's exemplum of Milton's poems, given to him as a school prize, is privately owned in London. An exemplum of Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes (London, 1671) ‘with contemporary MS. Verses on fly-leaf’ was sold at Sotheby's on 26 June 1885 (Rev. J .F. Russell sale), lot 775, to Layster. The tally of such association volumes can no doubt be multiplied indefinitely.

There are very many other documents, in the public records and elsewhere, relating to Milton's life and works — documents such as his horoscope, university records, writs relating to his acrimonious dispute with the family of his first wife, Mary Powell, and so on, as well as documents relating to his Roman Catholic brother, Christopher, and many others signed by his scrivener father, John Milton the Elder. For most of these, see Milton French, LR, and Parker (and see also William R. Parker, ‘John Milton Scrivener 1590-1632’, Modern Language Notes, 59 (1944), 532-7). For a few additions, see also Lois Spencer and J. Milton French, ‘A Supplement to “The Life Records of John Milton” from the Thomason Manuscript Catalogue’, N&Q, 205 (November 1960), 424-5. There is also the assignment by Edward Vize of copyright in Milton's Judgement of Martin Bucer (1644) to Joseph Watts, 14 February 1688/9 (Bedfordshire Record Office, P 11/28/2, pp. 309-10). This is edited (with a related document signed in 1695 by Milton's widow, Elizabeth Minshull (P11/28/2, pp. 313, 315), by Henry John Rose in Bedfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society, 8th Report (1855), 319-31 (pp. 327-8), and discussed and edited, with facsimiles, in Peter Lindenbaum, ‘Authors and Publishers in the Late Seventeenth Century: New Evidence on their Relations’, The Library, 6th Ser. 17/3 (September 1995), 250-69. Jacob Tonson's assignment of the copyright of Paradise Lost to his nephew Jacob Tonson the Younger, on 17 September 1718, is in the Rosenbach Museum & Library (417/10). A receipt signed by Richard Bentley relating to payment by Jacob Tonson for Bentley's edition of Paradise Lost, dated 23 May 1732, was sold at Sotheby's, 27 October 1970, lot 438, to Pickering & Chatto. There was also another document signed as witness by the elder John Milton (no doubt one of many resulting from his active professional career that might be identified) in a group of indentures relating to Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, sold at Sotheby's, 20 November 1973, lot 83, to Lewin. For facsimiles of Milton's Cambridge supplicats in 1629-32, written on his behalf by university officials, see J. Milton French, ‘Milton's Supplicats’, Huntington Library Quarterly, 5 (1942), 349-53.

Various references to Milton between c.1643 and 1653 are also found in the working diary cum commonplace book Ephemerides compiled by his occasional associate, the virtuoso Samuel Hartlib (c.1600/2-62), now at the University of Sheffield (50H: see especially 30/4/89a, 91a; 31/22/21a; 28/1/13b, 34a, 62a; 28/2/53a, 62a).

Milton's ‘earliest biography’ (Bodleian, MS Wood D. 4, ff. 140-4) — once ascribed to John Phillips but demonstrably written by Cyriack Skinner — has been noted above. The text is edited (not altogether accurately), with a facsimile example, in Darbishire, Early Lives, pp. 17-34. John Aubrey's autograph ‘brief life’ of Milton, with additions by Edward Phillips, is in the Bodleian (MS Aubrey 8, ff. 63r-8r), and is also edited, with facsimile examples, in Darbishire, Early Lives, pp. 1-15. Shawcross has noted (Bibliography, No. 335) that Milton's tract Of Education is also cited in MS Aubrey 10, Aubrey's ‘Ideas of Education of Young Gentlemen’ of 1683/4. Notes on Milton by William Oldys (1696-1761) are written in his exemplum of Gerard Langbaine, An Account of the English Dramatick Poets (Oxford, 1691), now in the British Library (C.28.g.1, pp. 375-7). Notes on Milton by the Rev. Joseph Hunter (1783-1861) in his Chorus Vatum Anglicanorum (Volume IV) are also in the British Library (Add. MS 24490, ff. 183r-91r, 289r-90r). Part of the autograph life of Milton written in 1834 by Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762-1837) is in the Pierpont Morgan Library. The manuscript of Mark Pattison's biography of Milton, of 1879, is in the Bodleian (MS Pattison 111).

Notes on Milton's poems by the Rev. G.S. Luke were offered at Puttick & Simpson's, 7 June 1852, lot 205. Notes on Milton appear in the autograph ‘Remarks & Observations on the most celebrated Authors & Artists’ by the Rev. Philip Bliss (1787-1857), antiquary and book collector, which was sold at Sotheby's, 15 December 1852, lot 117, to Quaritch and is now in the Bodleian (MS Don. e. 132). A letter by Thomas Keightly about his forthcoming edition of Milton's poems, 8 February 1858, is in Boston Public Library (MS Eng. 535). Materials for an edition of Paradise Lost by Dr Edward Hill (1741-1830), Regius Professor of Medicine, are at Trinity College Dublin (MS 629 (K.5.14-18)): see J.B. Lyons, ‘Milton's Dublin Editor: Edward Hill MD’, in What did I die of? The Death of Parnell etc. (Dublin, 1991), pp. 40-63; and a further 450-page manuscript by Hill, on the same subject, dated from 1811 to 1821, is at Harvard (MS Eng 1599: Lobby XI.1.38). A mid-eighteenth-century manuscript discussion of Paradise Lost, Book I, lines 1-663, is among the Foster Library manuscripts in the Lincolnshire Archives Office (F. L. MISC/1/8). A transcript of Paradise Lost made by Katherine Howard between 3 December 1733 and 17 May 1735 was exported to Robert J. Wickenheisck, and a microfilm of it is in the British Library (RP 3915). The Miltonic collections of Maurice Kelley, comprising six large albums containing facsimiles of examples of Milton's handwriting known to him, are preserved at Princeton (Oversize Bound MSS, No. AM 83-114 (‘Kelley’)): see Princeton University Library Chronicle, 45 (1983), 82.

Peter Beal