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.
In adamantine chaines & penall fire
Who durst defie th' Omnipotent to armes.
Nine times the space that measures day & night
To mortall men, hee with his horrid crue
Lay vanquisht, rowling in the fiery gulfe
Confounded though immortall: But his doome
Reservd him to more wrauth; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness & lasting paine
Torments him, round he throws his balefull eyes
That witness'd huge affliction & dismay
Mix'd with obdurate pride & stedfast hate:
At once as farr as Angells kenne he views
The dismal scituation waste & wilde
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great Furnace flam'd, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darknes visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, dolefull shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell; Hope never comes
That comes to all: but torture without end
Still urges, & a fiery deluge fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd:
Such place eternall Justice had prepar'd
For these rebellious, here thir prison ordain'd
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.