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impressive. 6 In Siciliam quoque et Græciam trajicere volentem, me tristis ex Anglia belli civilis nuntius revocavit: turpe enim existimabam, dum mei cives de libertate demicarent, ne animi causâ, otiosè peregrinari.” 6 As I was desirous to pass into Sicily and Greece, the melancholy intelligence from England of the civil war recalled me: for I esteemed it dishonourable for me to be lingering abroad, even for the improvement of my mind, when my fellow citizens were contending for their liberty at home.'
He resolved, however, to revisit Rome; and, though he was cautioned by some friendly merchants to avoid that city where the English Jesuits were meditating plans against his safety, he persevered in his resolution, and returned to the papal capital. Here, according to his previous determination, neither timidly concealing nor ostentatiously flaunting his religious opinions, he continued in fearless openness for nearly two
h Def. sec. P.W. vol. v. 231. Wheri Milton speaks of the civil war as already begun, and I mention it as existing only in prospect at the same period, we do not give incompatible accounts: he considers the civil war. as begun by the resistance of the Scots, and I as commencing, somewhat later, at the declaration of the English parliament for the raising of an army, or at the immediately subsequent event of the siege of Hull. The Scots rebellion began in 1637, the civil war of England in 1642.
months; and whenever his religion was attacked, he scrupled not to defend it with spirit
, even within the precincts of the sacerdotal palace. Whatever dangers might threaten him in this strong hold of priestly domination, (and I can see no reason for supposing that there were none,) they were averted by a good Providence, and he was allowed to repair again in safety to Florence.
His second visit to this city, which the kindness of his friends made a species of home to him, was of equal duration with his first. He stole, indeed, a few days from it to
pass them at Lucca, the native place of the Deodati, the family of his respected and beloved schoolfellow. When he departed from Florence, he crossed the Apennines, and travelled, through Bologna and Ferrara, to Venice.' He spent a month in viewing
i At the name of Venice every thoughtful and generous bosom must heave a sigh of pain and indignation, when the spectacle recurs of her present situation, and of its detestable cause. When we see a city, after ages
of independence and renown, consigned, by unfeeling policy, to the dead oppression of a foreign and rigid yoke, can we do otherwise than curse the cruelty of ambition ?--than execrate all the parties, who were involved in the guilt of the transaction, the power that permitted, the robber who seized, and the thief who accepted the plunder-France, Bonaparte, and the Emperor? The fate of Switzerland is equally to be lamented, and execrated: but in this age, more than in any former one, the happiness of man seems to be made the sport and victim of individual ambition,
can be caught at a glance, even, perhaps, by the most inquisitive and intelligent traveller. Let it be recollected, however, in defence of Milton on this occasion, that his previous intimacy, in his closet, with Italy left him little, if
any thing, to know of that interesting region, more than what a visit of a few months would readily give to him. Familiar with the language, the authors and the history of the country, he wanted only that acquaintance with it, which his eye alone could obtain, or the personal communication of its men of talents and learning supply. To these his access was immediate and perfect; and the short time which he passed beyond the Alps was sufficient for him to measure his own strength on the most renowned arena of literature in Europe, and to receive and to give knowledge in a generous traffic with the first men
If his course was rapid and brilliant, it was not useless to others or to himself. He was a meteor, which, gathering' all the luminous particles within the
of the age.
? The advantage, which he is supposed to have gained from Galileo's conversation, has already been mentioned; and we, with some of his other biographers, have inferred the growth and direction which his imagination acquired from the works of the great painters of Italy. His intercourse with Manso
may, perhaps, be classed with the prime benefits resulting from his transalpine visit.
sphere of its attraction, absorbed and blended them with its own radiant body, for the sole purpose of diffusing a stronger emanation of light.
The time, for which he suspended his journey at Geneva, the Rome of Calvinism, is not related: and we only know that it was sufficiently long for him to contract an intimacy and friendship with two of its most eminent theologians, Frederic Spanheim and Giovanni Deodati, the uncle of his friend Charles. From Geneva he retraced his former road through France, and arrived in England, after an absence of a year and three months, about the time of the King's return from his second expedition against Scotland, when his forces had been obliged by Leslie to retreat. The crisis was striking, and the mind of Milton, checked as he had been by his patriotism in his pursuit of an interesting object, was undoubtedly very powerfully affected by it.
His public sensations, however, were for a time overpowered by those which resulted from the calamity of a private loss. Affiction met his first step on British ground, and wrung his heart for the death of his beloved friend, Charles Deodati. He had, indeed, while abroad, been touched by a ru
mour of this melancholy event; but he was now wounded with the fatal certainty; and, what was formerly softened by distance and the engagements of a new scene, was now brought closc, and made painfully present to him by its association with almost every surrounding object. This young man, who seems to have merited the place which he possessed in Milton's regard, was a native of England, though of an Italian family, originally from Lucca, but in its last generation established at Geneva. His father, Theodore, came early in life to England, and, marrying a lady of good family and fortune, settled himself in this country, and practised as a physician. The son was bred to the profession of his father; and, having attained to very eminent proficiency in literature, he was now commencing the exercise of his professional duties in Cheshire, when a premature death disappointed the hopes of the world, and the friendship of Milton. The immediate cause, or the precise time of this event, which happened when our author was at Florence," is no where, as I can find, mentioned. - That it excited all his sensibilities
m Nec dum aderat Thyrsis, pastorem scilicet illum Dulcis amor Musæ Thuscâ retinebat in urbe.
Ep. Dam. 1. 12.