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was occupied with the idea of the pleasures he seemed about to enjoy, he received tidings of the alarming state of affairs in England ; * and aware that a rupture must ensue between the King and his people, he resolved to return and take whatever part Providence might assign him in the impending struggle. “I deemed it,” says he,“ to be disgraceful for me to be idling away my time abroad, for my own gratification, while my countrymen were contending for their liberty.” Animated with these honourable intentions, he turned his back on fair Parthenope and set out once more for Rome, though his friends among the English merchants told him that they had been advised by letters from that city that the English Jesuits there were plotting against him, on account of the freedom with which he expressed himself on the subject of religion. In fact, he seems not to have adhered to the maxim of the prudent Italian, communicated by his friend Sir Henry Wootton, Il viso sciolto ed i pensieri stretti. It may be even doubted if it were possible for one of his open, candid, and fearless temper to have adhered to a maxim of such timid caution. The rule which, he says, he had laid down for himself was, never to introduce the subject of religion, but if questioned as to his faith, not to dissemble it, be the consequences what they might.

He accordingly quitted Naples and set out once more for Rome, where he arrived in safety, and where he made an abode of another two months, enjoying the society of his literary friends and unmolested by the Jesuits, though never concealing his religion, and boldly defending it when

* Just about the time that Milton was setting out on his travels, the National Covenant was renewed in Scotland, and the differences between the King and the people of that country assumed every day more and more a menacing aspect.


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attacked. He thence proceeded to Florence, where he found himself as welcome, he says, as if it had been his native country. While there he wrote a letter to his friend Holstein at Rome, who had requested him to inspect for him some MS. in the Laurentian Library, a thing which, he tells him, he had hitherto found it impossible to accomplish, on account of the illiberal system on which that Library was managed. This letter, which is dated March 30, 1639, is of importance in settling the chronology of his travels.

After another stay of two months in this capital of Tuscany, during which he made an excursion of a few days to Lucca, he took a final leave of his friends there, and travelling of course by vettura, he crossed the Apennines to Bologna, and went thence by Ferrara to Venice. This celebrated city detained him an entire month, but he does not inform us how he passed his time there, or what acquaintances he made. He had, it appears, been a diligent collector of both books and music during his residence in Italy; and being now at a seaport, and having an opportunity of sending his literary treasures to England by sea, and thus becoming more expedite for his remaining travels, he took advantage of it, and put them on board an English vessel, at least a vessel bound for London, where, as he says nothing to the contrary, we may presume they arrived in safety.

Quitting the then Queen of the Adriatic, he proceeded through Padua and Vicenza to Verona, where of course he viewed the amphitheatre ; and so on to Milan and over the Pennine Alps, i.e. Mount St. Bernard, to Geneva. He does not tell us how long he remained in this metropolis of Calvinism, but while there he was in the habit of daily intercourse with John Diodati, the professor of theology,

the uncle of his friend Charles Diodati. Here also he made the acquaintance of Frederick Spanheim, an eminent theologian. He thence proceeded to Lyons; and taking his former route through France, reached his native land in safety some time in the month of August, 1639, after an absence of fifteen months.

It does not seem to have occurred to any of Milton's biographers, to endeavour to assign the time of the year that he was in the different cities of Italy which he visited ; yet it is not an uninteresting subject, and we will therefore try if we can succeed in elucidating it.

It is probable that he reached Florence some time in the month of July, 1638,* for he was two months there, and it is not at all likely that he would have set out for Rome till toward the middle or end of September, so as not to arrive till the period of the malaria in that city was nearly over, and people of rank were returning to it from the country. He staid there, as he tells us, about two months, so he may have reached Naples toward the end of November. His stay there must have been brief, perhaps not more than a fortnight, and he was probably back in Rome before Christmas. As he remained there two months, and was two months more in Florence, and one month in Venice, and we know that he was in Geneva in the beginning of June,† he probably left Rome about the middle of February. He wrote, as we have

* As he left England in May and made only a short stay in Paris, it is difficult to conjecture how he spent so much time on his Italy.

† Mr. Hunter (p. 23) mentions an album kept at Geneva at that time, in which Milton had written

• If virtue feeble were,

Heaven itself would stoop to her.
Cælum non animum muto dum trans mare curro.

Junii 10°, 1639. Johannes Miltonius, Anglus.”





seen, to Holstein from Florence on the 30th of March, and within the next fortnight he must have set out for Venice, where he spent a month, and so left it in or about the middle of May, so as to reach Geneva by the end of that month or the beginning of June. He must have made some stay in Geneva, as he did not land in England till some time in August.*

When terminating at Geneva the brief account which he gives of his travels, Milton expresses himself in the following terms :—“Here again I take God to witness, that I lived in all those places, where so much license is given, free from and untouched by any kind of vice and infamy, continually bearing in mind that even if I could escape


eyes of men, I could not escape those of God.” Even in his Italian poetry, written at Florence, we may discern the same religious tone which characterized his English compositions anterior to his abode at Horton. From his poem to Manso, and from the complimentary verses of his Roman friends, we may perceive that he had formed the intention and made known his resolution of writing an heroic poem, taking his subject from some part of the ancient British history, as narrated by Geoffrey of Monmouth. There is not the slightest reason for supposing that the Fall of Man had as yet presented itself to his mind, as the subject of either an epic poem or a drama.

* We feel a kind of pride at the reflection that our own route in Italy, the only time we have been able to visit it, and the time we spent in its various cities, have several points of coincidence with those of Milton.

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Milton's return to England was not, as he himself (by a slip of memory, no doubt) states, * “at the time when Charles, having broken the peace with the Scots, was renewing the second of those wars named Episcopal,” but exactly a twelvemonth previous to that time, and about eight months before the meeting of the Short Parliament. It is not improbable that his father had disposed of the house at Horton during his son's absence, and gone to reside with his son Christopher, with whom we find him living in Reading, at a somewhat later period. Milton therefore, who had now a large collection of books, and who expected more every day from Italy, and for this and probably other reasons did not wish to live out of London, hired apartments for himself in

that city.

It was probably very soon after his return that he wrote his beautiful Latin poem, the Epitaphium Damonis, to commemorate the virtues of his early friend Charles Diodati, who had died apparently in the preceding spring, while the poet was enjoying the delights

* Defensio Secunda.

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