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Denmark, Norway and England. Grotius was then in the service of Oxenstiern as Swedish ambassador to France, having renounced the citizenship of his native Holland. In a few days Milton left Paris for Italy, which he entered by way of Nice.
At Florence he was hospitably entertained by the Academies' (private societies of learned dilettanti), and was allowed full liberty of speech on religious subjects--a concession singularly polite,' as he himself allows. Those of his productions that, as was customary, he recited before these societies, 'were received with written encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this side the Alps.'
From Florence he proceeded to Rome, for a sojourn of nearly two months. He was shewn the treasures of the Vatican by its librarian, Lucas Holsten, and entertained by Cardinal Barberini, who had constituted himself a voluntary British consul at Rome. At one of his public musical entertainments, the Cardinal waited for Milton at the door, and taking him by the hand, led him into the assembly. At these concerts the poet heard the celebrated Leonora Baroni, who, singing with her mother and sister, was the delight of all her hearers. Their audience sometimes included the Pope himself. Three several tributes of Latin verse were dedicated by Milton to the songstress. The compliments are extravagant enough :-One Leonora made Tasso mad: this would have brought him back to reason.' 'Parthenope the Siren is not buried (as is fabled) in Naples, but lives at Rome.' "God himself, mutely diffused through all else, speaks only in her.' "This last, observes Charles Lamb, 'requires some candour of construction (besides the slight darkening of a dead language) to cast a veil over the ugly appearance of something very like blasphemy. But the writer was in a unhealthy, heated atmosphere of exaggerated flattery. At Rome a poet named Salsillus anticipated Dryden's famous lines with a difference, making Milton superior to Homer, Virgil, and Tasso. The compliment was repaid in kind. It was the custom of the time and of the country—'fattery and fustian.
Milton left Rome for Naples, where he became (Nov. 1638)
acquainted with Manso, Marquis of Villa (patron of Tasso and Marini), now in his seventy-seventh year. The Marquis paid his visitor great attention, and apologized for not carrying his civilities even further, as he would have done if the young Englishman had not spoken so freely on religious subjects. In that particular Milton did not follow the maxim commended as a ‘Delphian oracle' by Sir Henry Wotton in the Letter prefixed to Comus, although he found it in other matters ‘most useful,' as he elsewhere acknowledges. He was 'never the first to begin any conversation on religion; but if any questions were put to him concerning his faith, to declare it without any reserve or fear.
In the same independent spirit he found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner (in his own house) to the Inquisition for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.
Manso's courtesies were acknowledged in some Latin verses, complimenting him upon his biographies of the poets, whom he had cherished in life, and expressing the writer's desire that when he too should sing a lofty theme—the wars of Arthur and the “Table Round'-his fate would assign him such a friend. The answer of the Marquis was a gift of two engraved goblets, and an accompanying epigram, that Milton would be 'non Anglus sed Angelus' were but his creed the true one.
The traveller then (February 1639) returned to Rome, although he had heard that the English Jesuits there had laid a plot against him. But he fearlessly stayed two months, defending the reformed religion in the very metropolis of popery.' He then returned unharmed to Florence, where he was received with as much affection as if he had returned to his native country. After a stay of two months he passed through Bologna and Ferrara to Venice. At or near Bologna he appears to have met with an Italian lady who praised her native tongue as that in which Love delighted.' To her Milton dedicated five attempts in Italian verse. That addressed to Diodati is a description of the fair one, and an avowal of his own captivity.
In Venice Milton remained for a month, shipping off to England a great quantity of books and music. Thence he went to Geneva, where he was daily in the society of Diodati's uncle, John, the Professor of Theology. There, in the album of a Neapolitan nobleman, he wrote the last two lines of Comus, adding ‘Cælum, non animum muto, qui trans mare curro.' (June 10, 1639.)
Through Paris he returned to England, late in July or early in August. Throughout his journeyings he had always borne this thought with him that though he could escape the eyes of men he could not flee from the presence of God.
The news of the death of Diodati awaited Milton on his return, and he commemorated his friend in the Epitaphium Damonis. · When Milton was at Naples, preparing to pass over into Sicily and Greece, the news of the civil commotions in England altered his purpose, for he thought it base to be travelling for his pleasure abroad' while his countrymen were contending for their liberty at home.' Dr. Johnson looks
with some degree of merriment' on this instance of great promises and small performances,' since the poet returned 'to vapour away his patriotism in a private boarding-school.' De Quincey well answers, ‘Milton made no promise at all. He made a sacrifice without word of promise.' And having enumerated the chief lands and cities the sight of which was thus renounced for the sake of watching opportunities,' afterwards .so memorably improved, the poet's advocate concludes :- All readers capable of measuring the disappointment, or of appreciating the temper in which such a self-conquest must have been achieved, will sympathize heroically with Milton's victorious resistance to temptation so specially framed for him, and at the same time will sympathize fraternally with Milton's bitter suffering of self-sacrifice as to all that formed the sting of that temptation.'
A lodging at the house of Russell, a tailor, in St. Bride's Churchyard (where Milton began the education of his nephews, Edward and John Phillips) was soon exchanged for a 'pretty garden-house,’ in Aldersgate Street, then one of the quietest streets in London. There he received the sons of gentlemen who were his intimate friends' to be instructed with his nephews. Their school course included not only Greek and Latin, Italian and French, but Chaldee, Syriac and Hebrew. About once a month their master would relax the severity of his studies and 'keep a gaudy-day with some young sparks of his acquaintance, the chief of whom were Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, two gentlemen of Gray's Inn,' the
beaux of those times,' says Phillips, but nothing near so bad as those now-a-days.'
Milton, now that the controversy about episcopacy was waxing fiercer (1641), thought that, ‘God by his secretary Conscience enjoined' him to embark in a troubled sea of noises and hoarse disputes.' He was therefore 'not wanting to his country, church, and fellow-Christians in a crisis of so much danger,' and accordingly wrote two books Of the Reformation in England and the Causes that have hitherto hindered It-these causes being the exactions and tyranny of the bishops. The same year, Hall, Bishop of Norwich, published his Humble Remonstrance in favour of Episcopacy, which was immediately answered by five Puritan divines in a work entitled (from the initials of their names) Smectymnuus. Archbishop Usher undertook to confute the latter in his Apostolical Institution of Episcopacy; and Milton having replied thereto in a Treatise on Prelatical Episcopacy, and in The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty, wrote Animadversions on Bishop Hall's Defence of the Humble Remonstrance, and retired from the controversy with an Apology for Smectymnuus (1642). In all these writings Milton advocates a simpler form of ecclesiastical polity than that established, and upholds the Presbyterian model as the fittest, and as a means of union with the Protestant Churches abroad. He affirms that Episcopacy is not (as had been asserted) the strength, but the weakness of the monarchy, though the bishops had indeed been the
i Stephen Marshall, Edward Calamy, Thomas Young (Milton's old tutor), Matthew Newcomen, William Spurstow.
constant allies of tyranny. But Milton owned that he was 'not disposed to this manner of writing, wherein he knew himself inferior to himself,' being ‘led by the genial power of nature to another task.'
The elder Milton, who had resided in his son Christopher's house at Reading till that city was taken by Essex (1643), now came to live with the poet. With him the old man remained, 'wholly retired to his rest and devotion without the least trouble imaginable,' till his death in March 16.47.
The Aldersgate household received another inmate when, at Whitsuntide, its master took an excursion into the country, and after a month's absence 'he returned a married man that had set out a bachelor,' having wedded Mary, daughter of Mr. Richard Powell of Forest Hill, an Oxfordshire Justice of the Peace. But the bride soon grew weary of her new home, and having obtained permission to visit her friends until Michaelmas, she refused to return at the appointed time. Milton finding his remonstrances treated with contempt, resolved to repudiate his disobedient wife, and as an exposition and justification of his principles he published (1644), at first anonymously, his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, and afterwards (1645) his Tetrachordon, or Exposition of the Four chief places in Scripture which treat of Marriage, and his Colasterion, a reply to an anonymous opponent.
The Assembly at Westminster took alarm, and accused the author before the House of Lords; 'but that House, whether approving the doctrine or not favouring his accusers, did soon dismiss him. He was proceeding to carry his theory into practice by courting the daughter of a Dr. Davies, when, as he was paying a visit to a relative named 'Blackborough, who lived in the lane of St. Martin le Grand Mary Milton suddenly appeared, and on her knees implored and obtained the forgiveness of her husband.
Milton 'perceived that there were three species of liberty essential to the happiness of society: religious, domestic and civil. Of the first he had already treated; the last he left to the magistrates. The second ‘seemed to him to be threefold in its relation to marriage, education, and the free