« AnteriorContinuar »
that Milton sent back Mansus, the marquis of Villa was certainly overpaid.
The patron of Tasso did our poet a more friendly service, by telling him, frankly, that he was too forward in promulgating his own opinions; and that, had he not visited Galileo, and been less free in his speech about religion and politics, he would have received yet more and greater marks of distinction. While he was preparing to embark for Sicily and Greece, he received intelligence of the civil war in England; and, thinking that his own country demanded his first care, he resolved to change his destination, and return home. Some merchants now brought him numerous reports of plots against his life by the English Jesuits; and advised him, by all means, not to travel by the way of Rome. But Milton seems to have wanted neither civil nor personal courage ;* and, in a spirit of defiance, he set out again for Rome; resolving, says Toland, to maintain his doctrines even 'under the nose of the pope;' to dispute, whenever there should be occasion, and perhaps to fight, if it should become necessary. Fortunately, however, the Jesuits had not resolved to take his life, and the pope gave himself little trouble about his opinions. He was permitted to live as unmolested, and to speak as freely, as ever; and, though he spent two months more in Rome, we do not find him engaged in any adventures, of which it has been thought worth while to give posterity an account.
* He was reproached with weakness by the author of Clamor Regii Sanguinis ; and he thus answers the charge: Neither am I (says he) slender; tor I was strong and capable enough in my youth to handie my weapons, and to exercise daily fencing : so that wearing a sword by inny side, as became a gentleman, I thought myself a match for those that were much stronger, and was not afraid of receiving an affrent from any body. I have still the same soul and vigour, but not the same eyes.' And we cannot but remark, that it is almost solely on this occasion, and for this reason alone, that Ire ever seenis to lament the loss of his cyes.
From Rome he travelled through Lucca, Bononia, and Ferrara, to Venice; and, after shipping a collection of rare books, proceeded thence to Verona, to Milan, along the Poenine Alps, and by Lake Leman, to Geneva. Dr. Johnson thinks, he now considered himself as in the metropolis of orthodoxy;' and was happy to become acquainted with John Diodati and Frederick Spanhiem, two learned professors of divinity.' Diodati was, indeed, a noted theologian; but Spanhiem had his head too much filled with other things to find a place for divinity. Toland calls him the celebrated critic and antiquary;' and says he was alive in 1761.* From Geneva Milton passed into France, and returned to England. He now learned, that Charles Diodati had died in his absence; and, resolving to perpetuate the memory of so near a friend, he composed a pastoral poem, entitled Epitaphium Damonis. Diodati was descended from a family in Lucca; and might have ! been related to the Genevan professor, whom we have just mentioned. He was born in England; and became a student of physic. He is said to have written Greek letters to Milton;t and it is not probable, that he would be so frequently answered in Latin, unless he had been a good scholar.
Milton's next object was to procure a residence, and get into some kind of business. He took lodgings at the house of one Russel, a taylor, in St. Bride's Church-yard; and, as his two nephews, Edward and John Phillips, were, in a measure, cast upon the world, by the second marriage of his sister Ann,+ he concluded to adopt them for his own, and be the superintendant of their education. He shortly after undertook the same office for the sons of some
* Tol. p. 15.
+ Tol. p. 16. He speaks of two Greek letters of his to Milton, very handsomely written, and which,'he adds, 'I have now in my bands,
Godw. p. 4,
ng a cob
intimate friends; and, finding his room too small for the reception of his library, and the accommodation
of his pupils, he removed into Aldersgate street, ake Le
and took a garden-house at the end of an entry. He was generally a pattern to his scholars, of hard study and spare diet; but once in three weeks or a month, (says his nephew,) he would drop into the society of some young sparks of his acquaintance, the chief whereof were Mr. Alphry and Mr. Miller, two gentlemen of Gray's Inn, the beaux of those times, but nothing near so bad as those now-a-days; with these gentlemen he would so far make free with his body as now and then to keep a gaudy day."* We suspect, from his early poems, that he was naturally prone to festivity and dissipation; and Aristotle had set him the example of being, at the same time, a fop and a philosopher.
His course of studies has been censured by Dr. Johnson; and the schoolmaster of Litchfield is certainly entitled to be heard on all questions of education. Milton seems to have taken an idea from Cowley, that it would be a great economy of time,
if students could be made to learn, from one and t pre
the same author, the rudiments of language, and the principles of science. In five years, therefore, he made his scholars run over' (to use the words of his nephew) all the most celebrated Greek and Roman authors upon agriculture, physic, natural history, architecture, military tactics, astronomy, cosmography, geography, cynegetics and helieutics,
education, and moral philosophy. The list is truly Ejste
formidable :-Cato, Varro, Columella, Palladius, 2106
Hesiod, Celsus, Pliny, Vitruvius, Frontinus, Ælian, Orth
Polyænus, Lucretius, Manilius, Geminus, Aratus, Dionysius Afer, Oppian, Quintus Calaber, Appollonius Rhodius, Plutarch, Xenophon. After these, the student was put into the Arithmetic of Urstisius,
Riff's Geometry, Petiseus' Trigonometry, Bosco's Spherics, and Davity's Geography.* Then they were to learn Italian and French; to have a smattering of Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac; and to hear a theological lecture upon every Sabbath day...
Dr. Johnson recommends a very different course. As the sciences are seldom wanted for the purposes of active life, he thinks, that the season of education should rather be spent in acquiring correct notions of right and wrong, and in making ourselves acquainted with the general history of mankind, and the biography of particular individuals. 'Prudence and justice (says he) are virtues and excellencies of all times and of ail places; we are perpetually moralists, but we are geometricians only by chance Physiological learning is of so rare emergence, that one may know another half his life, without being able to estimate his skill in hydrostatics or astronomy; but his moral and prudential character imme. diately appears. Those authors, therefore, are to be read at schools, that supply most axioms, most principles of moral truth, and most materials for conversation. We have the presumption to think that the disposition and capacities of a boy are little considered, when he is expected to become learned in the sciences, adept in morality, or fertile for conversation, at the same time that he is making himself skilful in the etymology and syntax of the dead languages. To suppose that even a man can, in the same passage, be learning to construe a sentence
. Ph. ap. Godw. pp. 362, 363. Mr. Godwin supposes that Homer, Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Pindar, Anacreon, Herodotus, Thu cydides, Pl to, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terence, Catullus, Juvenal Martial, Cicero, Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus, were excluded from the course, because Milton thought it would be a profanation to en ploy' the works of such authors' as exercises' to acquire the rud ments of etymology prosody, and syntax,' p. 315, note. If it had been Milton's sole object to teach these rudiments, does Mr. Godwin take him to have had so little sense, as to neglect the only works in which they could be correctly acquired?
and to calculate an eclipse,—to acquire axioms of prudence,' and to apply the rules of prosody,--to be furnishing himself with ‘materials for conversation,' and storing up definitions of words,--appears the dream of a man, who never witnessed the experiment, or has forgotten the result.
• Of institutions (adds Dr. Johnson) we may judge by their effects. From this wonder-working academy, I do not know that there ever proceeded any man very eminent for knowledge: its only genuine product, I believe, is a small History of Poetry, written in Latin, by his nephew, Phillips, of which, perhaps, none of my readers has ever heard. So much it was necessary to say, in order to substantiate with facts, what had already been proved in theory. It was said in the most profound ignorance of the truth; and, from the fury, with which Mr. Godwin flies at the doctor, whenever he meets or wherever he can find him, we suspect that his book, in quarto, was written chiefly to refute what he thinks so insolent a paragraph. Indeed, he has himself intimated nearly the same thing. It was accident,' says he, “that first threw in my way two or three productions of these writers, (Edward and John Phillips,) that my literary acquaintance whom I consulted had never heard of. Dr. Johnson had told me, that the pupils of Milton had given to the world “ only one genuine production.” Persons betterinformed than Dr. Johnson could tell me perhaps of half a dozen. How great was my surprise, when I found my collection swelling to forty or fifty !'* Posterity was to know, therefore, that Dr. Johnson hac committed a mistake; and, to purchase that knowledge, they must be made to read 400 quarto pages. In this book-making age, it would be surprising, indeed, if, by dint of some bibliography upon fifty dif. ferent works, occasional notices of Milton, a pretty