« AnteriorContinuar »
Munere, mille sonos numeros componis ad aptos,
Nor thou persist, I pray thee, still to flight
Of hate, thou hatest not the gentle muse,
father! for thou never bad'st me tread
The poet seems to have had a prophetic view of the singular calumnies, that awaited his reputation, and to have anticipated his triumph, over all his adversaries, in the following magnanimous exclamation :
Este procul vigiles curæ! procul este querelæ !
Away then, sleepless care! complaint away!
After this high-toned burst of confidence and indignation, how sweetly the poet sinks again into the tender notes of gratitude, in the close of this truly filial composition !
At tibi, chare pater, postquam non æqua merenti
But thou, my father, since to render thanks
" He began now,
," says. Johnson, “ to grow weary of the country, and had some purpose of " taking chambers in the inns of court."
This weariness appears to have existed only in the fancy of his biographer. During the five years that Milton resided with his parents, in Buckinghamshire, he had occasional lodgings in London, which he visited, as he informs us himself, for the purpose of buying books, and improving himselt in mathematics and in music, at that time his fa
vourite amusements. The letter, which intimates his intention of taking chambers in the inns of court, was not written from the country, as his biographer seems to have supposed; it is dated from London, and only expresses, that his quarters there appeared to him awkward and inconvenient*.
On the death of his mother, who died in April, 1637, and is buried in the chancel of Horton church, he obtained his father's permission to gratify his eager defire of visiting the continent, a permission the more readily granted, perhaps, as one of his motives for visiting Italy was to form a collection of Italian music.
Having received fome directions for his travels from the celebrated Sir Henry Wotton, he went, with a single servant, to Paris, in 1638; he was there honoured by the notice of Lord Scudamore, the English ambassador, who, at his earnest desire, gave him an introduction to Grotius, then residing at Paris as the minister of Sweden.
Curiofity is naturally excited by the idea of a conference between two persons so eminent and accomplished. It has been conjectured, that Milton might conceive his first design of writing a tragedy on the banishment of Adam from this interview with Grotius; but if the Adamus Exsul of the Swedish ambassador were a subject of their discourse, it is
* Dicam jam nunc serio quid cogitem, in hofpitium juridicorum aliquod immigrare, ficubi amena et umbrosa ambulatio eft, quod et inter aliquot sodales, commodior illic habitatio, fi domi manere, et ofuentngrov EU TOGETTES egou quocunque libitum erit excurrere : ubi punc fum, ut nosti, obfcurè et anguftè fum.
probable its author must have spoken of it but slightly, as a juvenile composition, fince he does fo in a letter to his friend Vossius, in 1616, concerning a new edition of his poetry, from which he particularly excluded this sacred drama, as too puerile, in his own judgment, to be republished *.
The letters of Grotius, voluminous and circumftantial as they are, afford no traces of this interesting visit; but they lead me to imagine, that the point, which the learned ambassador most warmly recoinmended to Milton, on his departure for Italy, was to pay the kindest attention in his power to the sufferings of Galileo, then persecuted as a prisoner by the inquisition in Florence.
In a letter to Vossius, dated in the very month when Milton was probably introduced to Grotius, that liberal friend to science and humanity speaks thus of Galileo : “ This old man, to whom the universe is so deeply indebted, worn out with maladies, and still more with anguish of mind, give us little reason to hope, that his life can be long ; common pru. dence, therefore, suggests to us to make the utmost of the time, while we can yet avail ourselves of such an instructor .” Milton was, of all travellers, the
* Chriftum patientem recudendum judico, ideoque velim aliquod ejus exemplum ad me mitti, ut errata typographica corrigam, quando ipfe nullum habeo. Adami Exulis poema juvenilius est quam ut aufim addere. Grotii Epift. 77.
+ Senex is, optime de universo meritus, morbo fractus, insuper et animi ægritudine, haud multum nobis vitæ fuæ promittit ; quare prudentiæ erit arripere tempus, dum tanto doctore uti licet. Grotii Epift. 964.