1698 COMPLETE COLLECTED EDITION OF MILTON'S PROSE WORKS, INCLUDING DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF DIVORCE, THE HISTORY OF BRITAIN, AND AN EARLY PRINTING OF AREOPAGITICA: "GIVE ME LIBERTY TO KNOW, TO UTTER, TO ARGUE FREELY…"
MILTON, John. A Complete Collection of the Historical, Political, and Miscellaneous Works…, Both English and Latin. With som [sic] Papers never before Publish'd. Amsterdam [London]: (no publisher), 1698. Three volumes bound as one. Thick folio 8 by 12-1/2 inches), contemporary full speckled calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spine laid down, raised bands, red morocco spine label. $4000.
Expanded second edition of Milton's collected prose works, published only one year after the first edition.
This folio volume notably includes Milton's finest prose works: Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Eikonoclastes, and his landmark Areopagitica, in which "the argument for freedom has never, before or since, been so magnificently or forcefully expressed" (PMM 133). Areopagitica, in particular, "was the first Milton book published in America (1774) and its arguments have continued to echo down the centuries in defense of liberal ideas of toleration and intellectual freedom" (Lewalski in Bloom, ed, John Milton, 322). In his lifetime, Milton was renowned more for his rhetoric than poetry: "a fiery pamphleteer in an age of religious and political argument, whose tireless defense of divorce, progressive education, regicide and the Commonwealth marked him out as a natural, and brilliant, English radical" (Robert McCrum). However, "within 25 years of his death, five biographies were in print—an unprecedented number even for a great statesman, which he was not… Milton's reputation, shorn of its denigration and divinity, seems now to rest on grounds more secure than ever" (Ruoff, 294, 298). With engraved frontis portrait of Milton by William Faithorne and separate title pages. This second edition includes the first edition of John Toland's Life of Milton, published as a separate work the following year. Toland, often considered to be Milton's "first independent biographer," consulted closely with Milton's daughter, wife and other family members for this important early work, and extensively quotes from Milton's own writings throughout (Wickenheiser IIIA48). With mispagination as issued without loss of text. Wing M2087. Lowndes, 1564. CBEL I: 466. Contemporary owner signature on title page.
Text generally quite clean, title page of Volume III remargined. A handsome copy.