Page images
[ocr errors]

"times, having been steward to the Duca di Pag"liano, who with all his family were ftrangled, "fave this only man, that escaped by forefight of "the tempeft. With him I had often much chat "of thofe affairs; into which he took pleasure to "look back from his native harbour; and at my de66 parture toward Rome, which had been the center "of his experience, I had won confidence enough "to beg his advice, how I might carry myself fe"curely there, without offenfe of others, or of my own confcience: Signor Arrigo meo, fays he, i penfieri ftretti, & il vifo fciolto, that is, Your "thoughts clofe, and Your countenance loose, " will go fafely over the whole world. Of which "Delphian oracle (for fo I have found it) Your "judgment doth need no commentary; and therefore, Sir, I will commit You with it to the beft "of all fecurities, God's dear love, remaining Your "friend, as much at command as any of longer "date. H. Wotton. P. S. "Sir, I have exprefsly fent this by my footboy to prevent Your departure, without fome acknowledgment from me of the receipt of Your obliging letter, having myself thro' fome bufinefs, "I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I fhall understand You fixed, I fhall be glad and diligent to entertain "You with home-novelties, even for fome fomen"tation of our friendship, too foon interrupted in "the cradle."


[ocr errors]

Soon after this he fet out upon his travels, being of an age to make the proper improvements, and


not barely to fee fights and to learn the languages, like most of our modern travelers, who go out boys, and return fuch as we fee, but fuch as I do not choose to name. He was attended by only one fervant, who accompanied him through all his travels; and he went first to France, where he had recommendations to the Lord Scudamore, the English embaffador there at that time; and as foon as he came to Paris, he waited upon his Lordfhip, and was received with wonderful civility; and having an earnest defire to visit the learned Hugo Grotius, he was by his Lordship's means introduced to that great man, who was then embaffador at the French court from the famous Chriftina Queen of Sweden; and the vifit was to their mutual fatisfaction; they were each of them pleased to fee a perfon, of whom they had heard fuch commendations. But at Paris he stayed not long; his thoughts and his wishes haftened into Italy; and fo after a few days he took leave of the Lord Scudamore, who very kindly gave him letters to the English merchants in the feveral places thro' which he was to travel, requefting them to do him all the good.offices which lay in their power.

From Paris he went directly to Nice, where he took shipping for Genoa, from whence he went to Leghorn, and thence to Pifa, and fo to Florence, in which city he found fufficient inducements to make a ftay of two months. For befides the curiofities and other beauties of the place, he took great delight in the company and converfation there, and frequented their academies as they are called, the meetings of the moft polite and ingenious perfons, which they have in this, as well as in the other principal

C 2

principal cities of Italy, for the exercife and improvement of wit and learning among them. And in these converfations he bore fo good a part, and produced fo many excellent compofitions, that he was foon taken notice of, and was very much courted and careffed by feveral of the nobility and prime wits of Florence. For the manner is, as he fays himself in the preface to his fecond book of the Reason of Church-government, that every one must give some proof of his wit and reading there, and his productions were received with written encomiums which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this fide the Alps. Jacomo Gaddi, Antonio Francini, Carlo Dati, Beneditto Bonmatthei, Cultellino, Frefcobaldi, Clementilli are reckoned among his particular friends. At Gaddi's house the academies were held, which he conftantly frequented. frequented. Antonio Francini compofed an Italian ode in his commendation, Carlo Dati wrote a Latin eulogium of him, and correfponded with him after his return to England. Bonmatthei was at that time about publishing an Italian grammar; and the eighth of our author's familiar epiftles, dated at Florence Sept. 10. 1638,. is addreffed to him upon that occafion, commending his defign, and advising him to add fome obfervations concerning the true pronunciation of that language for the ufe of foreigners.

So much good acquaintance would probably have detained him longer at Florence, if he had not been going to Rome, which to a curious traveler is certainly the place the moft worth feeing of any in the world. And fo he took leave of his friends at Flo-. rence, and went from thence to Sienna, and from

Sienna to Rome, where he ftayed much about the fame time that he had continued at Florence, feasting both his eyes and his mind, and delighted with the fine paintings, and fculptures, and other rarities and antiquities of the city, as well as with the converfation of several learned and ingenious men, and particularly of Lucas Holftenius, keeper of the Vatican library, who received him with the greatest humanity, and showed him all the Greek authors, whether in print or in manufcript, which had paffed thro' his correction; and alfo prefented him to Cardinal Barberini, who at an entertainment of music, performed at his own expenfe, waited for him at the door, and taking him by the hand brought him into the affembly. The next morning he waited upon the Cardinal to return him thanks for his civilities, and by the means of Holftenius was again introduced to his Eminence, and spent fome time in -converfation with him. It seems that Holftenius had ftudied three years at Oxford, and this might difpofe him to be more friendly to the English, but he took a particular liking and affection to Milton; and Milton, to thank him for all his favors, wrote to him afterwards from Florence the ninth of his familiar epiftles. At Rome too Selvaggi made a Latin diftich in honor of Milton, and Salfilli a Latin tetraftich, celebrating him for his Greek and Latin and Italian poetry; and he in return presented to Salfilli in his fickness those fine Scazons, or Iambic verfes having a fpondee in the laft foot, which are inferted among his juvenile poems.

From Rome he went to Naples, in company with a certain hermit; and by his means was introduced

to the acquaintance of Giovanni Baptifta Manfo, Marquis of Villa, a Neapolitan nobleman, of fingular merit and virtue, to whom Taffo addreffes his dialogue of friendship, and whom he mentions likewife in his Gierufalemme Liberata with great honor. This nobleman was particularly civil to Milton, frequently vifited him at his lodgings, and went with him to fhow him the Viceroy's palace, and whatever was curious or worth notice in the city: and moreover he honored him fo far as to make a Latin distich in his praife, which is printed before our author's Latin poems, as is likewife the other of Selvaggi, and the Latin tetraftich of Salfilli together with the Italian ode and the Latin eulogium before mentioned. We may fuppofe that Milton was not a little pleased with the honors conferred upon him by fo many perfons of distinction, and efpecially by one of fuch quality and eminence as the Marquis of Villa; and as a teftimony of his gratitude he prefented to the Marquis at his departure from Naples his eclogue intitled Manfus, which is well worth reading among his Latin poems. So that it may be reckoned a peculiar felicity of the Marquis of Villa's life, to have been celebrated both by Taffo and Milton, the one the greateft modern poet of his own, and the other the greateft of foreign nations.

Having feen the finest parts of Italy, Milton was now thinking of paffing over into Sicily and Greece, when he was diverted from his purpofe by the news from England, that, things were tending to a civil war between the King and Parlament; for he thought it unworthy of himself to be taking his pleasure abroad, while his countrymen were contend

« PreviousContinue »