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Then after all, when with the past content,
illumin'd by celestialiday,
The preceding verses have various claims to at:tention; they exhibit a lively piąure of the literary project thatcoccupied the mind of Milton at this period; they forcibly prove with what vehemence of desire he panted for poetical immortality, and for the superior rewards of a laborious life, devoted to piety-and virtue.
His acquaintance with Manso may be regarded as the most fortunate incident of his foreign excursion. Nothing could have a greater tendency to preserve and strengthen the feeds of poetic enterprize in the mind of the young traveller, than his familiarity with this eminent and engaging personage, the bosom friend of Tasso; the friend who had cherished that great and afflicted poet under his roof in a season of
his mental calamity, had restored his health, re-animated his fancy, and given a religious turn to the latest efforts of his majestic muse. The very life of Taffo, which this noble biographer had written with the copious and minute fidelity of perfonal knowledge, and with the ardour of affectionate enthu. fiasm, might be sufficient to give new energy to Milton's early passion for poetical renown : his conversation had, probably, a still greater tendency to produce this effect. Circumstances remote, and apparently of little moment, have often a marvellous influence on the works of imagination ; nor is it too wild a conjecture to suppose, that the zeal of Manso, in speaking to Milton of his departed friend, might give force and permanence to that literary ambition, which ultimately rendered his aspiring guest the great rival of Tasso, and, in the estimation of Englishmen, his fuperior.
From Naples it was the design of Milton to pass into Sicily and Greece; but receiving intelligence of the civil war in England, he felt it inconsistent with his principles to wander abroad, even for the improvement of his mind, while his countrymen were contending for liberty at home.
In preparing for his return to Rome, he was cautioned against it by some mercantile friends, whose letters intimated, that he had much to apprehend from the machinations of English jesuits, if he appeared again in that city; they were incensed against him by the freedom of his discourse on to. pics of religion: “I had made it a rule (says Milton) never to start a religious subject in this country;
but if I were questioned on my faith, never to dissemble, whatever I might suffer. I returned, nevertheless, to Rome,” continues the undaunted traveller, “ and, whenever I was interrogated, I attempted no disguise: if any one attacked my principles, I defended the true religion in the very city of the pope, and, during almost two months, with as much freedom as I had used before. By the protection of God I returned fafe again to Florence, re-visiting friends, who received me as gladly as if I had been restored to my native home *.”
After a second residence of almost two months in Florence, whence he made an excursion to Lucca, a pļace endeared to him by having produced the ancestors of his favourite friend Diodati, he extended his travels through Bologna and Ferrara to Venice. Here, he remained a month, and having sent hence a collection of books, and particularly of music, by sea, he proceeded himself through Verona and
* In Siciliam quoque et Græciam trajicere volentem me, tristis ex Anglia belli civilis nuntius revocavit ; turpe enim existimabam, dum mei cives domi de libertate dimicarent, ne animi caufà otiofe peregrinari. Romam autem reversurum, monebant mercatores se didiciffe per literas parari mihi ab jesuitis Anglis infidias, fi Romam reverterem, cò quod de religione nimis liberè loquatus effem. Sic enim mecum ftatueram, de religione quidem iis in locis sermones ultro non inferre ; interrogatus de fide, quicquid eslem paffurus, nihil dissimulare. Romam itaque nihilominus redii : quid effem, fi quis interrogabat, nemine celavi; fi quis adoriebatur, in ipsa urbe pontificis, alteros proje duos menfes, orthodoxam religionem, ut antea, liberrimè tuebar: deoque fic volente, incolumis Florentiam rurfus perveni; baud minus mei cupientes revifens, ac fi in patriam revertissem.-Defenfio fecunda.
Milan to Geneva. In this city he was particularly gratified by the society and kindness of John Diodati, uncle of his young friend, whose untimely death he lamented in a Latin poem, of which we shall foon have occasion to speak. Returning by his former road through France, he reached England at a period that seems to have made a strong impression on his mind, when the king was waging, in favour of episcopacy, his unprosperous war with the Scots. The time of Milton's absence from his native country exceeded not, by his own account, a year and three months.
In the relation that he gives himself of his return, the name of Geneva recalling to his mind one of the most slanderous of his political adversaries, he animates his narrative by a solemn appeal to heaven on his unspotted integrity; he protests that, during his residence in foreign scenes, where licentiousness
was universal, his own conduct was perfectly irreproachable*. I dwell the more zealously on whats
ever may elucidate the moral character of Milton, because, even among those who love and revere him, the splendor of the poet has in some measure eclipfed the merit of the man; but in proportion as the particulars of his life are studied with intelligence and candour, his virtue will become, as it ought to be, the friendly rival of his genius, and receive its
* Quæ urbs, cum in mentem mihi hinc veniat Mori calumniatoris, facit ut deum hic rursus teftem invocem, me his omnibus in locis, ubi tam multa licent, ab omni fagitio ac probro integrum atque intactum vixisse, illud perpetuo cogitantem, fi hominum latere oculos poílem, dei certe non poffe.
due share of admiration and esteem. Men, indeed, of narrow minds, and of servile principles, will for ever attempt to depreciate a character so absolutely the reverse of their own; but liberal spirits, who allow to others that freedom of sentiment, which they vindicate for themselves, however they disapprove or oppose the opinions of the fectary and the republican, will render honourable and affectionate justice to the patriotic benevolence, the industry, and the courage, with which Milton endeavoured to promote what he fincerely and fervently regarded as the true interest of his country.
We have now attended him to the middle stage of his life, at which it may not be improper to pause, and make a few remarks on tħe years that are passed, and those that are yet in prospect. We behold him, at the age of thirty-two, recalled to England, from a foreign excursion of improvement and delight, by a manly sense of what he owed to his country in a season of difficulty and danger. His thoughts and conduct on this occasion are the more noble and becoming, as all his preceding years had been employed in forming, for the most important purposes, a firm and lofty mind, and in furnishing it abundantly with whatever might be useful and honourable to himself and others, in the various exigences and vicissitudes both of private and public life.
We have traced him through a long course of infantine, academical, domesic, and foreign study; we have feen him distinguished by application, docility, and genius ; uncommonly attached to his instructors, and most amiably grateful to his pa