Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904
This 33-page manuscript is all that remains of the many drafts and fair copies of the evolving text of Milton's biblical epic Paradise Lost. After he lost his sight, Milton relied on several copyists, to transcribe the verses he composed in solitude and to assist him as he revised. This manuscript, which has been marked up lightly by at least five different hands, consists of the text of Book I as it was delivered to Samuel Simmons, the printer of the 1667 first edition. Simmons probably retained these sheets and passed them on to later copyright holders because they bear the imprimatur, or publishing license, issued by the English government.
To celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Milton (1608–1674), The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present the only surviving manuscript of Paradise Lost, Book 1. This epic poem is considered Milton's greatest artistic achievement and one of the finest works of the human imagination. Acquired by Pierpont Morgan in 1904, it is the most important British literary manuscript in the collection. The 33-page manuscript has been temporarily disbound, providing an opportunity to see more of its pages than ever before. Also in this presentation are first editions of Paradise Lost printed in England and the United States during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a rarely seen miniature portrait of the poet.
[ ]n while the winged Haralds by [ ]mmand
[ ] sovran power, with awfull ceremony
[ ] trumpets sound throughout the host proclaime
[ ]olemn councell forthwith to be held
[ ] Pandæmonium, the high Capitall
[ ] Satan and his peers: thir summons call'd
[ ]om every band and squared regiment
By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
[ ]ith hundreds and with thousands trooping came
Attended: all accesse was throng'd, the gates
And porches wide, but chiefe the spacious hall
(Though like a cover'd feild, where champions bold
Wont ride in arm'd, and at the Soldans chair
Defy'd the best of Paynim chivalry
To mortall combat or carreer with lance)
Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,
Brusht with the hisse of russling wings. As bees
In spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
Poure forth thir populous youth about the hive
In clusters, they among fresh dews and flowers
Flie to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of thir straw built cittadell,
New rub'd with baume, expatiate and conferr
Thir state affairs. So thick the aerie crowd
Swarm'd and were straitn'd; till the signall giv'n
Behold a wonder! they but now who seemd
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.