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But thou, my father, since to render thanks
Equivalent, and to requite by deeds
Thy liberality, exceeds my power,
Suffice it that I thus record thy gifts,
And bear them treasur'd in a grateful mind.
Ye too, the favorite pastime of my youth,
My voluntary numbers, if ye dare
To hope longevity, and to survive
Your master's funeral, not soon absorb'd
In the oblivious Lethaean gulph,
Shall to futurity perhaps convey
This theme, and by these praises of my sire
Improve the fathers of a distant age.
"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 the 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 himself i tx mathematics and in music, at that time his favorite 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 desire 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 some directions for his travels from the celebrated Sir Henry Wotton, he went, with a single servant, to Paris, in 1638; he was there honored by the notice of Lord Scudamore, the English ambassador,
* Dicam jam nunc serio quid cogitcm, in hospitium juridicorum aliquod immigrare, sicubi anioena et umbrosa ambulatio est, quod et inter aliquot sodales, commodior illic habitatio, si dorai manere, et o^tn^tot tuwjswErsj" quocunque libitum erit excurrere: ubi nunc sum, ut nosti, obscure et anguste sum. ■
who, at his earnest desire, gave him an introduction to Grotius, then residing at Paris as the minister of Sweden.
Curiosity 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 Exul of the Swedish Ambassador were a subject of their discourse, it is probable its author must have spoken of it but slightly, as a juvenile composition, since he does so 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 circumstantial as they are, afford no traces
* Christum patientem recudendum judico, ideoque vclim aliquod ejus exemplum ad me mitti, ut errata typographica corrigam, quando ipse nullum habeo. Adami Exulis poeraa juvenilius est quam ut ausim addere. Grotti Epist. 77.
of this interesting visit; but they lead me to imagine, that the point, which the learned ambassador most warmly recommended 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, gives us little reason to hope, that his life can be long; common prudence, 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 most likely to seize a hint of this kind with avidity, and expressions in Paradise Lost have led an Italian biographer of the poet to suppose,
* Senex is, optime de univcrso meritus,morbo fractus, insuper ct animi ajgritudine, baud multum nobis vita; sua; promittit; quare prudentiae crit arriperc tcmpus, dum tanto doctore uti licet. Grotii Epist. 96'4.
that while he resided at Florence he caught from Galileo, or his disciples, some ideas approaching towards the Newtonian philosophy. He says himself, speaking of Italy in his Areopagitica, "there it was that Ifound and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition for thinking in astronomy, otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought!" It seems not unreasonable to conclude, that he was in some degree indebted to his conference with Grotiusfor that mournful gratification.
From Paris our author proceeded to Italy, embarking at Nice for Genoa. After a cursory view of Leghorn and Pisa, he settled for two months at Florence; a city, which he particularly regarded for the elegance of its language, and the men of genius it had produced; here, as he informs us, he became familiar with many persons distinguished by their rank and learning; and here, probably, he began to form those great but unsettled projects of future composition which were to prove the sources of his glory and of which he thus speaks himself: