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Stand onely and behold Gods indignation on these Godless pourd By mee; not you but mee they have despis'd, Yet envied ; against mee is all thir rage, Because the Father, t'whom in Heav'n supream Kingdom and Power and Glorie appertains, Hath honourd me according to his will. Therefore to mee thir doom he hath assig'n'd. In the Son's speech offering himself as Redeemer (iii. 227–249) where the pronoun all through is markedly emphasized, it is printed mee the first four times, and afterwards me ; but it is noticeable that these first four times the emphatic word does not stand in the stressed place of the verse, so that a careless reader might not emphasize it, unless his attention were specially called by some such sign: Behold mee then, mee for him, life for life I offer, on mee let thine anger fall; Account mee man. In the Hymn of Creation (v. 160-209) where ye occurs fourteen times, the emphasis and the metrical stress six times out of seven coincide, and the pronoun is spelt yee; where it is unemphatic, and in an unstressed place, it is spelt ye. Two lines are especially instructive : Speak yee who best can tell, ye Sons of light (l. 160); and Fountains and yee, that warble, as ye flow, Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise (l. 195). In v. 694 it marks, as the voice by its emphasis would mark in reading, a change of subject: So spake the false Arch-Angel, and infus'd Bad influence into th’ unwarie brest Of his Associate; hee (i. e. the associate) together calls, &c. An examination of other passages, where there is no antithesis, goes to show that the lengthened form of the pronoun is most frequent before a pause (as vii. 95); or at the end of a line (i. 245, 257); or when a foot is inverted (v. 133); or when as object it precedes its verb (v. 612 ; vii. 747), or as subject follows it (ix. 1 Io9; x. 4). But as we might expect under circumstances where a purist could not correct his own proofs, there are not a few inconsistencies. There does not seem, for example, any special emphasis in the second we of the following passage: Freely we serve.
Because wee freely love, as in our will
On the other hand, in the passage (iii. 41) in which the poet speaks of his own blindness : Thus with the Year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, &c. where, if anywhere, we should expect mee, we do not find it, though it occurs in the speech eight lines below. It should be added that this differentiation of the pronouns is not found in any printed poem of Milton's before Paradise Lost, nor is it found in the Cambridge autograph. In that manuscript the constant forms are me, wee, yee. There is one place where there is a difference in the spelling of she, and it is just possible that this may not be due to accident. In the first verse of the song in Arcades, the MS. reads:
This, this is shee;
and in the third verse:
This, this is she alone.
This use of the double vowel is found a few times in Paradise A'egain'd; in ii. 259 and iv. 486, 497 where mee begins a line, and in iv. 638 where hee is specially emphatic in the concluding lines of the poem. In Samson Agonistes it is more frequent (e.g. lines 124, 178, 193, 220, 252, 290, 1125). Another word the spelling of which in Paradise Lost will be observed to vary is the pronoun their, which is spelt sometimes thir. The spelling in the Cambridge manuscript is uniformly thire, except once when it is thir; and where their once occurs in the writing of an amanuensis the e is struck through. That the difference is not merely a printer's device to accommodate his line may be seen by a comparison of lines 358 and 363 in the First Book, where the shorter word comes in the shorter line. It is probable that the lighter form of the word was intended to be used when it was quite unemphatic. Contrast, for example, in Book iii. l. 59:
His own works and their works at once to view with line 113:
Thir maker and thir making and thir Fate.
But the use is not consistent, and the form thir is not found at all till the 349th line of the First Book. The distinction is kept up in the Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonistes, but, if possible, with even less consistency. Such passages, however, as Paradise A'egain'd, iii. 414–44o; Samson Agonistes, 880–890, are certainly spelt upon a method, and it is noticeable that in the choruses the lighter form is universal.
Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonisses were published in 1671, and no further edition was called for in the remaining three years of the poet's lifetime, so that in the case of these poems there are no new readings to record; and the texts were so carefully revised, that only one fault (Paradise Regain'd, ii. 309) was left for correction later. In these and the other poems I have corrected the misprints catalogued in the tables of Errata, and I have silently corrected any other unless it might be mistaken for a various reading, when I have called attention to it in a note. Thus I have not recorded such blunders as Zetoian for Lesbian in the 1645 text of Zycidas, line 63;, or hallow for hollow in Paradise Lost, vi. 484; but I have noted content for concent, in At a Solemn Musick, line 6.
In conclusion I have to offer my sincere thanks to all who have collaborated with me in preparing this Edition; to the Delegates of the Oxford Press for allowing me to undertake it and decorate it with so many facsimiles; to the Controller of the Press for his unfailing courtesy; to the printers and printer's reader for their care and pains. I have also to thank the Curators of the Bodleian Library for their permission to reproduce a portion of Milton's autograph poem addressed to Rous, Bodley's Librarian of that day; and the Council of Trinity College, Cambridge, for leave to reproduce a page from their priceless manuscript of the Minor Poems. Coming nearer home I cannot but acknowledge the help I have received in looking over proof-sheets from my sister, Mrs. P. A. Barnett, who has ungrudgingly put at the service of this book both time and eyesight. In taking leave of it, I may be permitted to say that it has cost more of both these inestimable treasures than I had anticipated. The last proof reaches me just a year after the first, and the progress of the work has not in the interval been interrupted. In tenui labor et tenuis gloria. Nevertheless I cannot be sorry it was undertaken.
H. C. B.
SoNNET--On the new forcers of Conscience under
Parliament . - - - -
SoNNET-On the Lord Gen. Fairfax at the seige of Colchester
, To the Lord Generall Cromwell May 1652 .
,, To St Henry Vane the younger . - -
,, To Mr. Cyriack Skinner upon his Blindness .
, III . - - - -
,, XII . - -
Book I . . - - - - - -
, II . . . . . . . .
,, III . . .
SPECIMEN of MILTON's spelling, FRoM CAMBRIDGE AUToGRAPH MS.
NoTE of A FEw READINGS FROM THE SAME . - -