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These plans of life were suddenly changed by his mother's death in 1637,27 and he then obtained his father's permission to go abroad. He left England in 1639, having previously obtained some directions for his travels from Sir Henry Wotton; and, as a presiding maxim of prudence, and means of safety, amid civil broils, and spiritual dissensions, he was desired to recollect the following sentence, which that experienced statesman had also impressed on other travellers.—' I pensieri stretti, ed il viso sciolto.'
On his arrival at Paris, by the favour of Lord Scudamore, he was presented to Grotius, then residing at the French court, as ambassador from the celebrated queen of Sweden. Philips says, 'that Grotius took the visit kindly, and gave him entertainment suitable to his worth, and the high commendations he had heard of him.' After a residence of a few days, he proceeded directly to Nice, and embarked for Genoa, * from thence he passed through Leghorn and Pisa in his way to Florence. Milton had studied the language and literature of Italy with peculiar diligence
and success; and at Florence he found himself honoura
sperabam mihi iterum aliquando otium illud Literarium, qun ego vitæ genere etiam cælestes animas gaudere opinor; eratque penitus in animo jam tandem abdere me in Literas et jucundissimæ Philosophiæ perdius et per nox assidere, ita semper assolet laboris et voluptatis vicissitudo amovere satietatis tædium,' &c.
27 Mr. Godwin says, “There is great confusion among all the biographers of Milton, respecting the period of his travels, and this confusion originates with Milton himself.' See his Life of Philips, p. 357.
bly received by the most enlightened persons,28 as well as by the learned academicians. He formed a friendship with Gaddi, Carlo Dati, Frescobaldi, and other ingenious scholars. Dati presented him with an encomiastic inscription in Latin, and Francini with an Italian ode. A manuscript entitled, La * Tina,' by Antonio Malatesti29 was also dedicated to him while he was at Florence, by its author. His visit to the great and injured Galileo must not pass unnoticed. Most of the biographers of Milton have asserted that our poet visited the philosopher in prison ; but the superior information of Mr. Walker has proved that Galileo was never a prisoner in the inquisition at Florence, but was confined at Rome, and at Sienna. After his liberation, he went to Arcetri, where it is probable that Milton
From Florence he passed to Sienna, and then to Rome, where he resided two months, experiencing the civilities, and partaking the hospitality of the learned, and the great. L. Holstenius, an eminent scholar, was at that time keeper of the Vatican Library ; he introduced Milton to Cardinal Barbarini, who was 'the peculiar guardian, or patron of the English ;' and who, at a musical entertainment waited for our youthful poet at the
28 See his verses to his friend, Giov. Satsilli, 10.
Hæc ergo alumnus ille Londini Milto
Virosque, doctæque indolem juventutis.
Quin et nostra suas docuerunt nomina fagos
Et studiis noti, Lydorum sanguinis ambo. 29 The full čitle of this work is · La Tina, Equivoci Rusticali di Antonio Malatesti, exposti nella sua villa de Taiano il Septembre dell'anno 1637. Sonnetti Cinquante, dedicate all'Illo Signore, e Padrone off no il Signor Giovanni Milton nobil Inghilesc.' This manuscript was discovered by Mr. Brand on a book-stall; it was sent as a present to the Academia della Crusca, but came back to England, and was sold by Evans the auctioneer, in Pall Mall. See Todd's Life, p. 34. Mr. Hollis searched unsuccessfully the Laurentian Library for six Italian sonnets of Milton, addressed to his friend Chimentelli; for other italian and Latin compositions, and for his marble bust, said to be at Florence.
v. Warton's Milton, p. 333. Hollis's Memoirs, p. 167, 491.
door, and presented him with respect to the company.
30 Milton speaks of the Cardinal as one .Cujus magnæ virtutes, rectique studium ad provocandas item omnes artes liberales egregie comparatum, semper mihi ob oculos versatur.' Salselli and Selvaggi praised him in some common-place verses, (yet the best, I suppose, which they could give); and wherever he went, admiration and esteem accompanied him.
From Rome he passed on to Naples, in company with a hermit, to whom he owed his introduction to Manso, Marquis of Villa, a nobleman of distinguished rank and fortune (who had supported a military character with high reputation,) of unblemished morals, a polite scholar, and known to posterity as the friend, the patron, and the biographer of Tasso.31 To him Milton addressed a beautiful Latin poem, in which he expresses his hope, if he could find such a friend and patron as Manso, of celebrating in verse the exploits of King Arthur and his Knights.
Si quando indigenas revocabo in carmina reges
Dr. Johnson very justly says, that this poem must have raised a high opinion of English elegance and literature among the scholars of Italy.
From Naples he intended to visit Sicily and Greece ; but he now heard of the commencement of the quarrel between the king
30 It was at the concerts of Barbarini, that Milton heard Leonora Baroni sing; who, with her mother, Adriana of Mantua, was esteemed the first singer in the world. Milton has celebrated her in three Latin epigrams. It was the fashion for all ingenious strangers who visited Rome to leave some verses in her praise. Pietro della Valle, who wrote in 1640, on the Muses of his Time, speaks of the fanciful and masterly style in which Leonora touched the Arch lute to her own accompaniments. v. Warton's Milton,
31 Tasso mentions Manso in the twentieth book of his Gierusal. Liberata, among other princes of Italy. He addressed to him five sonnets. Manso was also the patron of Marino; and was the biographer of both these illustrious poets. Mr. Walker, when at Naples, endeavoured to discover the villa where Manso had received the visits of Milton and Tasso. Seo Hist. Mem. 1799 ; App. p. xxvi. xxxi.
and the parliament; and he thought it his duty to hasten home, where his countrymen were contending for their rights, rather than to pursue the enjoyments of more extended travel. “Turpe enim existimabam, dum mei cives de libertate dimicarent, me animi causâ, otiose peregrinari.' He returned by way of Rome, though some merchants had informed him of the enmity of the Jesuits on account of his freedom of conversation ; and Manso was withheld from showing him some favours by the opinions which Milton had too openly expressed on religious questions. Sir Henry Wotton's advice, though neglected, was now seen to be prudent and wise; but we may conceive, that, in those times, it was difficult to withhold opinions on subjects so much agitated, affecting the temporal interests of some, and awakening the spiritual alarm of others. The schism between the churches was comparatively fresh; the Church of Rome reluctantly beheld a great and growing kingdom rescued from her avarice and power.32 In the freedom of opinion, and by the discussion of rights, she saw her safety endangered, or her splendour diminished. She had fostered for her protection a body of men the most politic, and deep in worldly wisdom, whose existence depended on her prosperity : we shall not therefore be surprised if a young and zealous Protestant, who could not well endure the ecclesiastical establishment of his own country, simple and moderate as it was, should give offence when expressing his feelings in the inmost bosom of the Papal Church, in the verge of the Vatican, and under the very chair of St. Peter himself. He says, speaking of his conduct whilst in Italy,33 .I laid it down as a rule for myself, never to begin a conversation on religion in these parts, but if interrogated concerning my faith, whatever might be the consequence, to dissemble nothing. If any one attacked me, I defended in the most open manner,
82 Dum Cathedram, venerande tuam, diademaque triplex
Ridet Hyperboreo gens barbara nata sub axe
Miltoni Sylo. Quint. Nov. v. 94. 53 See Second Defence of the People, p. 384, ed. Burnet.
before, the orthodox faith for nearly two months more, in the city even of the sovereign Pontiff.'
Milton staid about two months at Rome, and pursued his journey without molestation to Florence. He then visited Lucca, and spent a month at Venice. There he shipped for England the collection of books and music which he had formed, and travelled to Geneva, which, Johnson observes, he probably considered as the metropolis of orthodoxy.
At Geneva he became acquainted with John Deodati,34 and Frederic Spanheim, the father of the eminently learned scholar and antiquary, whom Milton subsequently knew. He now passed through France, and returned home after an absence of fifteen months. Of his habitual purity of morals, and sanctity of character, when abroad, he has himself informed us. 'Deum hic rursus testem in vocem, me his omnibus in locis ubi tum multa licent, ab omni flagitio ac Probro, integrum atque intactum vixisse, illud perpetuo cogitantem, si hominum latere oculos possem, Dei certe non posse.'
On his return he heard of the death of Charles Deodati,35 and he has recorded the affection which he felt for his friend, in the Epithalamium Damonis.
Nec dum aderat Thyrsis, pastorem scilicet illum
passages in this poem are borrowed from the Aminta of
34 See some account of this Giov. Deodati, of his preaching at Venice in a trooper's dress, and converting a Venetian courtesan, in Warton's Milton, p. 548. He was uncle of Charles,' mentioned below.
35 C. Deodati was a native of England, but of an Italian family, which came originally from Lucca ; but in its last generation established at Geneva. His father, Theodore, came early in life to England, married a lady of family and fortune, and practised as a physician. The son was bred to the same profession, and settled in Cheshire. See some further account in Todd's Milton, vol. vi. p. 173. 360. The two Greek letters of Deodati, possessed by Toland, are now in the British Museum, (MS. Add. No. 5017. f. 71.) and will be found in the Appendix to this Memoir.
36 v. Ep. Damonis, ver. 12.