Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: The Second Edition - The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth
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II.: The Second Edition - John Milton, The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth 
The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth, edited with Introduction, Notes, and Glossary by Evert Mordecai Clark (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915).
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The Second Edition
‘It was but a little before the king’s Restoration,’ says Milton’s nephew, ‘that he wrote and published his book In Defense of a Commonwealth; so undaunted he was in declaring his true sentiments to the world.’1 And a study of the additions, omissions, and other alterations made in the process of revision shows that the treatise must indeed have been almost the last pre-Restoration protest of the republicans.
There are many references to contemporary events. The restored Rump has already become the ‘last Parliament.’ This dissolution occurred on March 16. Those who are bent upon recalling the king are now engaged in ‘cheapning’ the ‘price’ of subjection. Monk held his first interview with the royal agent, Sir John Greenville, on March 17, and dispatched him to Brussels with proposals on March 20. It is not likely that Milton knew of this business immediately. Yet he seems to be writing with full knowledge of Monk’s and of the Presbyterians’ negotiations with the king. The Censure of the Rota appeared on March 30. It is evident that Milton is writing after that date, for the gibes and criticisms contained in the pamphlet are freshly and poignantly in mind (see Appendix A. 2). Furthermore, Milton thinks that what he has written ‘may now be of much more use and concernment to be freely publishd, in the midst of our Elections to a free Parlament, or their sitting to consider freely of the Government.’ The writs for this election had been agreed upon by Parliament on March 16, and Whitelock reports several members elected as early as March 26.1 But Milton’s sentence indicates that he is writing, not at the beginning, but in the full swing of the elections—very probably well along in April. As these elections proceeded, it became apparent that the Parliament about to meet would be almost solidly Royalist. The return of Charles was therefore a certainty. Milton concedes the fact, and drops, as no longer applicable, the allusion to Coniah in his terrific peroration. He laments the ‘absolute determination . . . to enthrall,’ and admits the hopelessness of staying the deluge. There is no longer a possibility of convincing opponents, but only of confirming those who yield not—probably Lambert and the Fanatics, then making a last appeal to arms. Lambert escaped from the Tower on April 9, and was captured on April 22. In view of the internal evidence just considered, we may be reasonably certain that to this interval, April 9-22, belongs the composition of the second edition.
We do not know the exact date of its publication; but there is evidence that the book appeared after April 20. Milton himself mentions the possibility of its coming out during the ‘sitting’ of the new Parliament—that is, after April 25. Roger L’Estrange, Milton’s tireless pamphleteering opponent and critic, writing on April 20 in reply1 to the Notes on Dr. Griffith’s Sermon, quotes several passages from The Ready and Easy Way, and invariably from the first edition. It seems incredible that L’Estrange, who pounced with such zest and fury upon every utterance of his renowned antagonist, should have been ignorant of the more daring edition, or have failed to quote from it, had it been at that time in print.
It would seem, at first thought, that the book must have appeared before April 24, when Lambert was brought captive to London, and all signs of armed resistance disappeared. But Phillips’ statement indicates that the pamphleteers were the last in the field: ‘The Defeat of Lambert did not make the Fanaticks leave the Pursuit of their Mischiefs, several seditious Pamphlets being published in Print, to deprave the Minds of the People.’2 It is not unlikely that The Ready and Easy Way was one of them.
The conclusion, then, is that the second edition was written certainly between March 16 and April 25, and very likely during the interval April 9-22; and that it was published upon the eve of the Restoration, almost certainly after April 20, and probably in the last six days before the setting up of kingship on the 1st of May.
[1 ]Godwin, Lives of Edw. and John Phillips, p. 377.
[1 ]Memorials 4. 405.
[1 ]No Blinds Guides (Tracts, p. 1).
[2 ]Baker, Chron., p. 608.