Imágenes de páginas

address as a lover in his Italian poetry. The most eloquent of the passions, which is said to convert almost every man who feels it into a poet, induced the imagination of Milton to try its powers in a foreign language, whose difficulties he seems to have perfectly subdued by the united aids of genius and of love.

His Italian sonnets have been liberally commended by natives of Italy, and one of them contains a sketch of his own character, so spirited and singular as to claim a place in this narrative.

Giovane piano, e semplicetto amante
Poi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,
Madonna a voi del mio cuor 1' humil dono
Farò divoto; io certo a prove tante

"L' hebbi fedele, intrepido, constante
De pensieri leggiadri accorto, c buono;
Quando rugge il gran mondo, e scocca il tuono,
S* arma di se, e d'intero diamante;

Tanto del forse, e d'invidia sicuro,
Di timori, e speranze, al popol use,
Quanto d'ingegno, e d' alto valor vago,
. E di cetra sonora, e delle muse:


Sol trovevete in tal parte men duro,
Ove' Amor mise 1' insanabil ago.

Enamour'd, artless, young, on foreign ground,
Uncertain whither from myself to fly,
To thee, dear lady, with an humble sigh,
Let me devote my heart, which I have found

By certain proofs, not few, intrepid, sound,
Good, and addicted to conceptions high:
When tempest shakes the world, and fires the sky,
It rests in adamant, self wrapt around,

As safe from envy and from outrage rude,

From hopes and fears, that vulgar minds abuse,
As fond of genius, and fixt solitude,

Of the resounding lyre, and every muse:

Weak you will find it in one only part, . 1
Now piere'd by love's immedicable dart.

It was at Rome that Milton was complimented in Latin verse, by Selvaggi and Salsilli: 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 singularly distinguished as the friend and the biographer of two eminent poets, Tasso and Marino; 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


Rival to him, whose pen, to nature true,
The life of Homer eloquently drew!

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 favorable light. A traveller, so little distinguished by birth or opulence, would hardly have obtained such a compliment from a nobleman of Manso's experience, age, and dignity, 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 roe more good offices, he was unable to do

« AnteriorContinuar »