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To thee, dear lady, with an humble sigh,
Let me devote my heart, which I have found
Good, and addicted to conceptions high:
It rests in adamant, self wrapt around,
From hopes and fears that vulgar minds abuse,
As fond of genius, and fixt folitude,
Weak you will find it in one only part,
It was at Rome that Milton was complimented, in Latin verse, by Selvaggi and Salfilli: his reply to the latter, then suffering from a severe malady, is so remarkable for its elegance, tenderness, and spirit, that Mr. Warton praises it as one of the finest lyrical compositions, which the Latin poetry of modern times can exhibit.
The circumstances that happened to our author in his travels, and indeed, the most striking particulars of his life, are related by himself, in his “ Second Defence.” He there tells us, that in passing from Rome to Naples his fellow-traveller was a hermit, who introduced him to Baptista Manso, Marquis of Villa, an accomplished nobleman, and fingularly distinguished as the friend and the biographer of two eminent poets, Taffo and Marini ; they have both left poetical memorials of their esteem for the Marquis, who acquired his title as a soldier in the service of Spain, but retiring early, with considerable wealth, to Naples, his native city, he founded
there a literary academy, and lived in splendor as its president.
This graceful and venerable hero, whose politeness and learning had been fondly celebrated by Tasso, in a dialogue on friendship, that bears the name of Manso, was near eighty when Milton became his guest : he seems to have been endeared to the imagination of our poet by the liberal and affectionate tribute he had paid to the memory of his illustrious poetical friends; a a tribute very feelingly described by Milton in the following lines, addressed to the noble and generous biographer--they speak first of Marini :
Ille itidem moriens tibi foli debita vates
To thee alone the poet would entrust
And thou hast given it them; and deigned to teach
If the two Latin verses, in which this amiable old man expressed his admiration of the young English bard, deserve the name of a “ sorry distich,” which Johnson bestows upon them, they still present Milton to our fancy in a most favourable light. A traveller, fo little distinguished by birth or opulence, would hardly have, obtained such a compliment from a nobleman of Manso's experience, age, and dig. nity, had he not been peculiarly formed to engage the good opinion and courtesy of strangers, by the expressive comeliness of his person, the elegance of his manners, and the charm of his conversation.
In Manso, says Milton, I found a most friendly guide, who shewed me himself the curiosities of Naples, and the palace of the Viceroy. He came more than once to visit me, while I continued in that city; and when I left it, he earnestly excused himself, that although he greatly wished to render me more good offices, he was unable to do so in Naples, because in my religion I had disdained all disguise *.
* Neapolim perrexi: illic per eremitam quendam, quicum Roma iter feceram, ad Joannem Baptiftam Manfum, Marchionem Villenfem, virum nobiliffimum atque graviffimum (ad quem Torquatus Tallus, infignis poeta Italus, de amicitia fcripfit) fum introdu&tus ; eodemque ufus, quamdiu illic fui, fane amiciffimo; qui et ipse me per urbis loca et proregis aulam circumduxit, et vi.
Pleasing and honourable as the civilities were that our young countryman received from this Nestor of Italy, he has amply repaid them in a poem, which, , to the honour of English gratitude and English genius, we may justly pronounce superior to the compliments bestowed on this engaging character by the two celebrated poets, who wrote in his own language, and were peculiarly attached to him.
Of the five sonnets, indeed, that Tasso addressed to his courteous and liberal friend, two are very beautiful; but even these are furpassed, both in energy and tenderness, by the following conclusion
inscribed to Manso, by Milton.
of a poem,
Diis delecte senex, te Jupiter æquus oportet
sendi gratiâ haud femel ipfe ad hofpitium venit : discendenti feriò excufavit fe, tametfi multò plura detuliffe mihi oiicia maxime cupiebat, non potuiffe illâ in urbe, propterca quod nolebam in religione efie tectior.--Defentio Secunda.
Annorumque satur, cineri sua jura relinquam,
Well may we think, O dear to all above,