« AnteriorContinuar »
ladyship, lived at a much greater distance from Horton than the Countess herself, it is likely, that Milton first established his reputation with the latter; and, being afterwards introduced to the former, was solicited to make a second effort of his skill. Mr. Wharton tells us, that the Arcades was acted by the persons of Lady Derby's own family ;' and Mr. Todd conjectures, that these persons could have been no other than the same Lord Brackley, Mr. Thomas and Lady Alice Egerton, who performed Comus. It seems, indeed, that they were famous for their abilities at a mask; for, in 1633, they assisted in the performance of Carew's Cælum Brittanicum before the court.*
In August, 1637, Mr. Edward King, son of Sir John King, secretary for Ireland, under queen Elizabeth, James the First, and Charles the First, was sailing from Chester to Ireland, when the crazy ves. sel, in which he had embarked, was split upon a rock, and went to the bottom. A few escaped; and an attempt was made to get Mr. King into the boat; but we have the most unequivocal evidence, that the attempt proved unsuccessful. He had many friends in Cambridge; and his death was lamented in three Greek, nineteen Latin, and thirteen English poems. Milton's Lycidas was at the end of the collection; and, though Peck says, that it was placed last in consequence of the author's disagreement with Christ College, Mr. Wharton will have it, that the end of the volume was the place of honour. King had written some Latin iambics; and Milton asks,
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? He knew
Cleveland went farther:
Our tears shall seem the Irish seas,
But a Mr. Booth exceeded all the rest; though his poem was not published in the collection. He has this epitaph upon Mr. King:
Heere lies the love of gentle hearts,
In all the three poems now mentioned, Milton had imitated the Italian versification; and it was probably on account of this preference, that he was recompensed with so much extravagant praise, during his stay in Italy. His reputation must have had time to go before him; and, as his letter of advice from Sir Henry Wotton is dated April 13th, 1638,7 it is probable, that he did not set out till about the close of that year, or the beginning of the next. It was in this letter that Sir Henry Wotton gave Milton the famous advice of 'I pensieri stretti, et il viso sciolto'-thoughts close, and looks loose; which same piece of advice he received from an old Roman courtier, and was accustomed to bestow it upon all his friends, who were about to travel. This, and a direction as to the best route, are the only advice in this famous letter of Sir Henry Wotton. How Milton followed the former, is well known. Whether he adopted the latter, we cannot ascertain.
He started with a single servant, who accompanied him throughout his journey. The English
ambassador at Paris received him with kindness;
Preceding biographers have generally followed each other in stating, that, when Milton visited Galileo, he was in the dungeon of the Inquisition, for holding doctrines at variance with the established astronomical philosophy, ‘But Mr. Walker has informed me, (says Mr. Todd,) that Galileo was never a prisoner in the Inquisition at Florence, although a prisoner of it. On his arrival at Rome, on February the 10th, 1632, that illustrious philosopher had surrendered himself to Urban, who ordered him to be confined, for his philosophical heresy, in the palace of Trinità de Monti.'' Five months of impri. sonment made him retract his opinions; but this confession only procured him a dismission from Rome; and the house of a Monsignor Piccolomini was assigned him as his future prison. About the beginning of December, 1633, however, he was en
* Defensio Secunda.
brely liberated; and, after a short residence at the village of Belloguardo, near Florence, he removed to Arceti,--where, as it is supposed, he received the visit of Milton. In an Italian Life, by M. ROLLI, it is conjectured, that some passages in Paradise Lost, which he supposes to approach the Newtonian philosophy, must have been the result of the poet's conversations with Galileo and his followers.*
'From Florence Milton passed through Sienna, to Rome; where he remained another two months. Lucas Holstenius, the Vatican librarian, received him with hospitality; and took care to show him all the Greek authors, whether published or in manuscript, which had undergone his care and emendation. It was by his means, also, that Milton became acquainted with Cardinal Barberini; whose attentions to the English poet have been dwelt upon, by his English biographers, as a mark of high and peculiar favour. It appears, however, that the cardinal did little more than his duty. “At Rome,' says Dr. Bargrave, every forraigne Nation hath some Catdinall or other to be their peculiar guardian,' and, when I was four several times at Rome,' he continues, this Cardinall Barberini was guardian to the English.' It is no great wonder, therefore, that, in the exercise of this official guardianship, he should, with his own hands, lead an English poet into a musical entertainment. Milton himself was as much deceived as his biographers; and, esteeming the circumstance as a mark of especial distinction, he afterwards repaid Barberini in a Latin epistle to Holstenius. "De cætero, (says he,) novo bene. ficio devinxeris, si Emmentissimums Cardinalem quan
Todd, vol. i. pp. 30, 31. + Toland, p. 13.
MS. in the library of the Canterbury cathedral. Todd, vol. i. p. 33, note.
This title was first given to the cardinals by Barberini himself, That of Padrone belonged to the pope's chief nephew; and was afterwards conferred on this same cardinal, as the eldest nephew of
tâ potest observantiâ meo nomine salutes, cujus magnæ virtutes, rectique studium, ad provehendas item omnes arte liberales egregiè comparatum, semper mihi ob oculos versatur.'
At Rome, Milton also became acquainted with the two Italian poets, Selvaggi and Salsilli; the first of whom, in a distich, makes him equal to Homer and Virgil; and the second, in a tetrastich, sets him not only above both the Greek and Roman poets, but even above his own Tasso. With his honours thus thick upon him, Milton departed for Naples; and was introduced to Manso, marquis of Villa, by a hermit, who had been the companion of his journey. Manso was the patron of Tasso; and is not only mentioned, among the princes of Campania, in the twentieth book of Gierusalemme Liberata,—but received the dedication of a treatise, by the same author, intitled De Amicitia.* He went himself with Milton to view the curiosities of the city; often vi. sited him, in person, at his lodgings; and, finally, wrote a distich of Latin verses, in praise of every thing but his religion.t If it was for these two lines
Urban VIII.; who, says Dr. Bargrave, had nothing in his mouth but Cardinall Padrone. Where is the Cardinall Padrone call the Cardinall Padrone: speake to the Cardinall Padrone: nothing was heard of but the Cardinall Padrone.' Todd, vol. i. p. 34, note. Car dinal Barberini knew whom he was to caress; and, had Milton come with letters to any other gaardjan, he would have been more likely to show him out of a musical assembly, than to conduct him into it. "When I was at Rome with the earle of Chesterfield, (we still use the words of Dr. Bargrave.) then under my tuition. 1650, at a yeare of jubile, this Cardinall (formerly kind to me) would not admit my lord or myself to any audience, though, in eleven months' time, tryed severall times : and I heard that it was because that we had recommendatory letters from our queen mother to Cardinall Copponies, and another from the datchess of Savoy to Cardinall Penzirolo, and no letters to him, who was the English (I say Rebells) Protector ; and that we visited them before him.' Ibid. p. 33, note.
Phill, ap. Godw. pp. 359, 360. + id ibid. He would have been an angel, if he had only been a catholic
Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,