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Rare Books

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books and Special Collections

Henry Austin Whitney Collection of Milton (with additions from other sources)

The extensive Milton collection in the Princeton University Library contains many original editions of the books and pamphlets which illustrate the variety of ways in which Milton availed himself of "the freedom of press." Whitney's collection was 254 volumes of first editions and other rare editions of Milton's pamphlets and poetry, and other works of criticism, biography and translation. Refer to: Biblia VII, 1 (February, 1936) pp. [3-4] [full text] .

The Scheide Library includes a first edition of Paradise Lost.

Acquired by Princeton at the end of 1989 was Herman Melville's heavily annotated copy of Milton's works [(Ex) PR3551 .M57 1836].

For details about the Milton collection but mainly for information about the Faithorne "Bayfordbury" portrait of Milton, see: John Martin. The Portrait of John Milton at Princeton and Its Place in Milton Iconography. (Princeton, 1961).

Re: books at Princeton said to be formerly owned by Milton.
1) In the Index of English Literary Manuscripts covering 1625 to 1700, the entry for Milton (p.80) states "An exemplum of William Ames, De conscientia (Amsterdam, 1635) at Princeton bears the inscription in an unidentified hand 'Ex libris Johannis Miltonii,' and might conceivably have an authentic provenance, but there is no sign of Milton's own hand by way of corrobation (LR, I, 292; Boswell, No. 36)." This book is in the library of the Princeton Theological Seminary, call number SCB #1254.
2) Re: Peter Du Moulin, Regii Sanguinis Clamor (Hague, 1652) [Ex 14432.313]
Acquired by the Library before 1884, because it is listed in the printed catalouge published that year, on page 450, col. 2, under Milton, General works. It is also marked with the Library's shelf mark "Art Room B.1.34". (The Art Room was the east wing of Chancellor Green Library. See Bric-a-Brac 1877-78, page 26). A note in pencil on front free end paper "This copy sold in Dawson Turner's sale for 2.2. ..." Turner's books were sold at Sotheby & Wilkinson, London in March 1853. This is lot 549. Princeton's marked copy of the Turner catalogue says that the book was sold to Waller. Waller is either William Waller & Son, "At the Temple Depot" London, or John Waller same address who issued a catalogue in 1873 (Cf. Bloglie).
A note regarding this copy appeared in volume 3, page 245, The Life Records of John Milton (New Brunswick, 1958): "John Milton, August 1652. ... A copy of Regii Sanguinis Clamor, printed by Vlac at The Hague, 1652, now in the library of Princeton University, bears the initials "J. M." on a flyleaf at the back. Under it is the note, perhaps in the hand of Dawson Turner, "Milton's Initials." On a front flyleaf are various signatures and initials, including "Dawson Turner 1845" and "John Phillips." The editors of the "First Supplement to the Columbia 'Milton,' " published in Notes and Queries, CLXXVII (1939), 330, in which this information is set forth, were unable to decide with any assurance whether this book was actually Milton's copy or not. However, Milton certainly must have possessed a copy, as the quotation from Viac's Apology from Milton's Defensio Secunda proves; and this may quite possibly be his. There are no marginal notations in it."
Nicolas Barker examined the book in November, 1976, and judged the initials to be forgeries.