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ancient fame, had the living reputation of genius in Architecture, in Music, in Painting, in Poetry. The Italian cities had scarcely ceased to be the mistresses of the world.Venice and Florence, from their marts and exchanges, still were felt in the halls of Trade ; and as republics, (although indeed the seats of the most exquisite tyranny,) the name might attract the young enthusiast for Liberty, desirous to know how far the word so loved was the symbol of a substance or shade. It must ever be a souree of regret to us, that Milton kept no account of his travels. We know nothing, therefore, of the enthusiasmi with which he must have trod the land of which he must have so often read in connection with the valour, eloquence, wisdom, and virtue of its ancient citizens. The rapture with which he beheld the magnificent relics of classic ages, or breathed the bland atmospheres, and saw the clear bright skies so different to those of our cold northern clime ;--the thrill of ecstacy with which the Mediterranean, or the Adriatic, the Bay of Naples, the Alps, or the Appenines were first gazed upon. All these expired, and left no trace of their power immediately behind them. But, although we know nothing of these raptures, we do know that he
was introduced to, and became the wonder and the favourite of, many men who were then known to the world, and have since become most distinguished for their literary labours. It may be interesting here to quote his own words—none can be better-in which he gives some account, both of his travels, and his reception as he passed along :
“ Taking ship at Nice, I arrived at Genoa ; and afterwards visited Leghorn, Pisa, and Florence. In the latter city, which I have always more particularly esteemed for the elegance of its dialect, its genius, and its taste, I stopped about two months ; when I contracted an intimacy with many persons of rank and learning, and was a constant attendant at their literary parties ; a practice which prevails there, and tends so much to the diffusion of knowledge and the preservation of friendship. No time will ever abolish the agreeable reflections which I cherish of Jacob Gaddi, * Carolo Dati,+ Frescobaldo, Cultellero, Bonomatthai, Clementillo, Francisco, and many others. From Florence I went to Sienna, thence to Rome; where, after I had spent about two months in viewing the antiquities of that renowned city, where I experienced the most friendly attentions from Lucas Holstein, * and other learned and ingenious men, I continued my route to Naples ; there I was introduced by a certain recluse, with whom I had travelled from Rome, to John Baptista Manso, Marquis of Villa, a nobleman of distinguished rank and authority, to whom Torquato Tasso, the illustrious poet, inscribed his book on Friendship. During my stay, he gave me singular proofs of his regard; he himself conducted me round the city, and to the palace of the viceroy ; and more than once paid me a visit at my lodgings. On my departure he gravely apologised for not having shewn me more civility, which he said he had been restrained from doing, because I had spoken with so little reserve on matters of religion.
* The historical painter. + A nobleman of Florence, author of an essay on the Discoveries of Galileo, and of the Lives of the Fathers.
“When I was preparing to pass over into Sicily and Greece, the melancholy intelligence which I received of the civil commotions in England, made me alter my purpose ; for I thought it base to be travelling for amusement abroad, while my fellow-citizens were fighting for liberty at home. While I was on my way back to Rome, some merchants informed me that the English jesuits had formed a plot against me, if I returned to Rome, because I had spoken too freely of religion ; for it was a rule which I laid down to myself in those places, never to be the first to begin any conversation on religion ; but if any questions were put to me concerning my faith, to declare it without any reserve or fear. I nevertheless returned to Rome. I took no steps to conceal either my person or my character; and for about the space of two months I again openly defended, as I had done before, the reformed religion, in the very metropolis of Popery.”
* Librarian of the Vatican.
He mentions his excursion to Lucca, his crossing the Appenines, his passing through Bologna and Ferrara to Venice, Verona, Milan, and the Lake of Geneva; his route through France, and arrivalat home, after an absence of aboutone year and nine months, at the very time that Charles, having broken the peace, was attempting to renew the war with the Scotch. The autobiographic notices we have quoted, are from the Second Defence of the People of England, and form a part of an eloquent defence of his early life against the charges, as insane as they were false, of the licentiousness of his early days.Milton's name coupled with licentiousness, indeed !! It is needless to linger longer over the travels of this illustrious man: every where homage and respect awaited him. The Marquis Baptista Manso, to whom reference has been made, addressed to him a Latin poem, the translation of which runs thus:-“Did your piety equal your talents, form, countenance, grace, and manners, you were not so much an Englishman, by Hercules! as an angel.” The exception in reference to piety, relates to Milton being a Protestant; a zealous Romanist could see no piety out of the borders of his own church. Yet even Romanists did him honour he was admitted to the library of the Vatican. The Cardinal Barberini did him especial honour: he met him at his own gate, and conducted him into the assembly.
This journey must have been of very great importance to the poet—the man—the citizen. Other countries were presented to him ; he saw what courts were like; he beheld man under new aspects : nor was it long before he developed, in some degree, the importance of the brief time to him, between his departure from England and his return. How vast the difference between “ Comus” and the “ Areopagitica,” between the gentle spray, the flashing, silvery beauty of his “ Lycidas," or