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.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.
Photography by Graham Haber.
The images of the Paradise Lost manuscript have been digitally enhanced and do not show conservation treatment.
John Milton (1608–1674)
But what if hee our conquerour, (whom I now
Of force beleive Almighty, since no lesse
Then such could have orepowr'd such force as ours)
Have left us this our spirit, and strength intire
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That wee may so suffice his vengefull ire
Or doe him mightier service as his thralls
By right of warr, what e're his buis'nesse bee
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
Or doe his errands in the gloomy deep,
What can it then availe though yet wee feele
Strength undiminish'd, or eternall being
To undergoe eternall punishment?
Where to with speedy words th' Arch-fiend reply'd.
Fall'n Cherube, to bee weak is miserable
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure
To do aught good never will bee our task,
But ever to doe ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom wee resist. If then his providence
Out of our evill seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evill,
Paradise Lost. Manuscript of Book I, in the hand of an amanuensis, ca. 1665.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1904; MA 307 (fol. 5r)