« PreviousContinue »
friend Mr. R. in the very clofe of the late Mr. R.'s poems, printed at Oxford, whereunto it is added, (as I now fuppofe,) that the acceffory might help out the principal, according to the art of ftationers, and leavethe reader con la bocca dolce.
Now, Sir. concerning your travels, wherein I may challenge a little more privilege of discourse with you; I fuppofe you will not blanch Paris in your way. Therefore I have been bold to trouble you with a few lines to Mr. M.. B. whom you fhall eafily find attending the young Lord S. as his governor; and you may furely receive from him good directions for the fhaping of your farther journey into Italy, where he did refide by my choice fome time for the King, after mine own recefs from Venice.
I fhould think, that your best line will be through the whole length of France to Marseilles, and thence by fea to Genoa, whence the paffage into Tufcany is as diurnal as a Gravefend barge. I haften, as you do, to Florence, or Sienna, the rather to tell you a fhort story, from the intereft you have given me in your fafety.
At Sienna I was tabled in the houfe of one Alberto Scipioni, an old Roman courtier in dangerous times, Having been steward to the Duca di Pagliano, 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 departure toward Rome, (which had been the centre of his experience), I had won confidence enough to beg his advice, how I might carry myself fecurely there, without offence of others; or of mine own confcience. Signor Arrigo mio, (fays he,) I penfieri ftresti, et 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 best of all fecurities, God's dear love; re
maining your friend, as much at command as any of longer date, II. WOTTON."
P. S. "Sir, I have exprefsly fent this by my foot. boy, to prevent your departure without fome acknowledgment from me of the receipt of your obliging letter, having my felf through 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 fomentation of our friendship, too foon interrupted in the cradle."
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 moft of our modern travellers, who go out boys, and return fuch as we fee, but fuch as I do not chufe to name. He went first to France, where he had recommendations to the Lord Scudamore, the English ambaffador. As foon as he came to Paris, he waited upon his Lordship, and was received with wonderful civility. Having an earnest defire to vifit the learned Hugo Grotius, he was by his Lordship's means introduced to that great man, who then refided at the French court as ambaffador from the famous Chriftina Queen of Sweden. 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 he ftaid not long at Paris; his thoughts and his wishes haftened into Italy. He therefore after a few days took leave of Lord Scudamore, who very kindly gave him letters to the English merchants. in the feveral places through which he was to travel, requesting them to do him all the good offices which lay in their power.
From Paris he went directly to Nice, where he took fhipping 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 cities of Italy, for the exercife and improvement of wit and learning among them. 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 Milton tells us, that every one must give fome proof of his wit and reading there. 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 houfe the academies were held, which he conftantly 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 pubblifhing an Italian grammar; and Milton addreffed an epiftle to him upon that occafion, commending his defign, and advifing 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 traveller is certainly the place the moft worth feeing of any in the world. From Florence he went to Sienna, and from thence to Rome, where he ftaid 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 conversation of several learned and ingenious men, particularly of Lucas Holftenius, keeper of the Vatican library, who received
received him with the greatest humanity, and fhowed him all the Greek authors, whether in print or in manufcript, which had paffed through his correction; and also presented him to Cardinal Barberini, who at an entertainment of mufic, performed at his own expence, 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 fpent fome time in converfation with him. It seems that Holftenius had studied 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 favours, wrote to him afterwards from Florence. At Rome too Selvaggi made a Latin distich in honour of Milton, and Salfilli a Latin tetraflich, 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
From Rome he went to Naples in company with a certain hermit, and by his means was introduced to the acquaintance of Giovanni Baptista Manso, Marquis of Villa, a Neapolitan nobleman of fingular me rit and virtue, to whom Taffo addreffes his dialogue of friendship, and whom he mentions likewise in his Gierufalemme Liberata with great honour. This nobleman was particularly civil to Milton, frequently vifited him at his lodgings, went with him to show him the Viceroy's palace, and whatever was curious or worth notice in the city, and honoured him so far as to make a Latin diftich 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 pleafed with the honours conferred upon him by fo many persons of distinction, and especially
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, entitled 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 greatest 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 parliament; for he thought it unworthy of himfelf to be taking his pleasure abroad, while his countrymen were contending for lis berty at home. He refolved therefore to return by the way of Rome, though he was advised to the contrary by the merchants, who had received intelligence from their correfpondents, that the English Jefuits there were forming plots against him, in cafe he should return thither, by reafon of the great freedom which he had used in all his difcourfes of religion; for he had by no means obferved the rule recommended to him, by Sir Henry Wotton, of keeping his thoughts clofe and his countenance open. He had vifited Gatileo, a prifoner to the inquifition, for afferting the motion of the earth, and thinking otherwise in aftronomy than the Dominicans and Francifcans thought; and though the Marquis of Villa had shown him fuch diftinguishing marks of favour at Naples, yet he told him at his departure, that he would have shown him much greater, if he had been more reserved in matters of religion. But he had a foul above diffimulation and difguife; he was neither afraid nor afhamed to vindicate the truth; and, if any man had, he had in him the fpirit of an old martyr. He was fo prudent indeed, that he would not of his own accord begin any difcourfe of religion; but at the fame time he was fo honest, that, if he was queftioned at all about his faith, he would not diffemble his fentiments, whatever was