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Queen of Sweden. We are not informed of any of the circumstances of this interview ; but Phillips says that “Grotius took the visit kindly, and gave him entertainment suitable to his worth and the high commendations he had heard of him.” In truth our loss is probably not very great, for in general little that is of much importance takes place at such interviews.
He only staid a few days in Paris, which probably possessed little to interest him, and then left it, directing his course for Italy, the goal of his desires. Lord Scudamore kindly furnished him with letters to the English merchants at the ports of the South which he was likely to visit. We are not informed of his route through France, but it was of course the ordinary one through Lyons, and probably down the Rhône; for instead of entering Italy by the Alps and Turin, we find that he went to Nice, and thence by sea to Genoa. From this city, as he informs us, he proceeded, probably by sea also, to Leghorn and thence to Pisa, whence he went on to Florence, where he made a stay of two months.
Florence was then, as ever, the most literary city in Italy. - Milton probably had from Sir Henry Wootton, from Lord Scudamore, or from some other quarter, letters of introduction to some person of influence there, for he obtained ready admission to those literary societies named Academies; and as it was the custom that every one who was admitted should give some specimens of his literary powers, he used for this purpose such of his Latin poems as he retained in his memory, to which he added the Italian sonnets which he composed while there, all of which were received with applause. Count Carlo Dati wrote a Latin address panegyrizing him in high, almost extravagant terms; a gentleman of literary taste and
attainments named Francini wrote an Italian ode in his praise ; and Antonio Malatesti presented him with a copy
; of his manuscript poems named La Tina, with a handsome dedication to him in the title-page.*
The other distinguished Florentines with whom he was on terms of intimacy were, he tells us, Buommattei, the celebrated grammarian, Gaddi, Frescobaldi, Coltellino, Clementillo, more properly Chimentelli, and others whom he does not name. When some years
When some years later he was nobly advocating the liberty of the press, he tells how these learned and ingenious men deplored the intellectual bondage under which they groaned. “I could recount, says he, “what I have seen and heard in other countries where this kind of inquisition tyrannizes ; where I have sat among their learned men (for this honour I had), and been counted happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom as they supposed England was, while themselves did nothing but bemoan the servile condition into which learning amongst them was brought; that this was it which had damped the glory of Italian wits ; that nothing had been there written now these many years but flattery and fustian.” The words which immediately follow these are important, as they inform us that Milton had also the high honour of being acquainted with the most illustrious philosopher of the age : “ There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown
* Mr. Singer, who has seen this very copy, has given the title as follows, in Notes and Queries, viii. 295:
La Tina, Equivoci Rusticali, di Antonio Malatesti cöposti nella sua Villa di Triano, il Settembre dell'anno 1637.
“Sonetti cinquanta dedicati all' Illmo Signore et Padrone Ossmo il Signore Giovanni Milton, nobil' Inghilese."
La Tina (probably from tina, winepress), Mr. Singer tells us, was the name of the poet's rustic mistress, to whom the sonnets are supposed to have been addressed.
old, a prisoner to the Inquisition for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.” Whether this was on his first or second visit to Florence he does not inform us, and we consequently have no means of ascertaining. Our young poet's intercourse at Florence however does not appear to have been confined to the men of letters, for he would also seem to have mingled in general society. It in fact appears from his Italian sonnets that he met there a lady, apparently a Bolognese, who made some impression on his heart.
Instead of taking the more agreeable and picturesque route by Perugia, he went to Rome by Siena, which, we may observe, was at that time, and long continued to be, the ordinary route between Florence and Rome. In this former mistress of the world he made another stay of two months, engaged, it would appear, chiefly in studying the ruins and the antiquities. In all probability he had brought with him letters of introduction from Florence. Among his literary acquaintances at Rome we meet with the names of Salsilli and Selvaggi, otherwise little known, the former of whom wrote a Latin tetrastich, the latter a Latin distich, in his praise,-neither of much merit, but both indicative of the strong idea he must have given of his poetic powers.
But his most valuable acquaintance at Rome seems to have been Lucas Holstein, or, as it was Latinized, Holstenius, at that time keeper of the Vatican Library, a man of learning, and who had at one time spent three years at Oxford. As far as we can collect from Milton's own account, he went to the library either without an introduction, or with a very slight one from a person of the name of Cherubini, not otherwise mentioned, and made himself known to the learned Librarian. Holstein received him with the greatest politeness, took him over the library and showed him all its treasures. He seems to have been so much struck by the stores of knowledge and the strength and variety of the mental powers displayed by his new acquaintance, that he spoke of him in the highest terms to the Pope's eldest nephew Cardinal F. Barberini, who, as we learn elsewhere, was guardian or patron of the English, an office apparently similar to that of Proxenus in ancient Greece. In consequence of this, soon after, at a splendid concert given by this munificent Cardinal, to which, probably as a matter of course, all the English travellers at Rome were invited, he waited in person at the door of the saloon to receive the young Englishman, and almost, says Milton, taking him by the hand, led him into the room with every mark of attention and respect. Holstein accompanied him when he went next day to pay his respects to the Cardinal, and nothing could be more gracious than the reception he met with from that prince of the Church. It
be here observed that, beside speaking Latin, which every scholar at that time could do, Milton, as his poetic compositions in it evince, was a perfect master of the Italian language, and probably spoke it with fluency and ease. During his abode at Rome,-at the Cardinal's probably and elsewhere, for he heard her several times, --Milton, whose passion for music was extreme, heard the celebrated Leonora Baroni sing, and he repaid the delight which she yielded him with three Latin epigrams which he addressed to her. He also repaid Salsilli for his tetrastich by an elegant copy of Latin Scazontes addressed to him on the occasion of his illness.
After, as we have said, a residence of two months at Rome, Milton left that city and set out for Naples. He of course travelled in the ordinary mode, by vettura, and, as he tells us, one of his travelling companions was a hermit, whom we may presume to have been a man of some taste and learning, as he was acquainted with the Marquis Manso. On their arrival at Naples the hermit introduced to that nobleman the young English traveller, with whose conversation on the journey he had probably been much pleased.
To every one acquainted with the history of the unhappy Torquato Tasso, the name of John Baptist Manso, Marquis of Villa, must be familiar. He had been the patron, friend, and biographer of that poet, and he had been the same to Marini, a poet whose birth also Naples claims. He was now nearly eighty years of age, yet he showed the stranger every attention, becoming his guide to all places worthy of his inspection. “I experienced from him, as long as I remained there,” says Milton, “the most friendly attentions. He accompanied me to the various parts of the city, and took me over the Viceroy's palace, and came more than once to my lodgings to visit
At my departure he made earnest excuses to me for not having been able to show me the further attentions which he desired in that city, on account of my unwillingness to conceal my religious sentiments.” The venerable nobleman wrote a Latin distich in our poet's praise, who repaid it by a Latin poem which left far behind anything written in his honour even by the great Torquato Tasso.
It had been Milton's original intention to visit both Sicily and Greece, and thus to have explored all the regions in which classic poetry had had its birth, and from which it had drawn its inspiration. But while his mind