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had been instituted, under the genial patronage of the Medici, for the advancement of literature, and for the cementing of friendships among its votaries. In these assemblies, in which s it was the custom," as he tells us, “ that every one should give some proof of his wit and reading,” many of his productions, either those of his younger
years, or “ those, which he had shifted, in descarcity of books and conveniencies to patch
up among them,” were received with much applause, “and with written encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this side the Alps.”
It was at this time that Carlo Dati, a nobleman of Florence, and Antonio Francini, of a rank only one step lower, both men of talents and high literary renown, presented our traveller with an offering of their respect,
one in an Italian ode of considerable merit, to predicting the future greatness of Milton ;
and the other in a latin address, in which admiration is expressed in terms of extreme and almost extravagant panegyric.
Besides the two, whom we have now mentioned, the English bard could number on the list of the friends, conciliated by his learn
The Reason of Church Goy. P.W. v.i. 119.
ing, talents and manners, the respectable literary names of Gaddi, Frescobaldi, Col. tellino, Bonmatthei, Clementillo, and Malatesti. The applause and respect, which he obtained, seems to have been unlimited; and the transalpine scholars appear to be lost in surprise at the spectacle, presented to them, of a native of Britain, a country just emerging, as they imagined, from barbarism, who to an acquaintance, not superficial, with all the sciences, united a profound knowledge of classic and Italian letters; whose mind was at once sublime and deep, accurate and comprehensive, powerful and acute; patient to follow judgment in the gradual investigation of philosophical truth, yet delighted to fly, with the natives of the brain, on the high and expatiating wing of imagination. * Of all liis rare accomplishments and talents, however, none, perhaps, would more forcibly strike the attention, and win the regard of the Italians, than his absolute command of their language, and the affection which he discovered for it. So perfect was his know
f A work called La Tina, by Antonio Malatesti, and dedi. cated to Milton while at Florence, was found on a bookstall and purchased by Mr. Brand. He gave it to Mr. Hollis, and Mr. Hollis sent it with Milton's works, and his life by Toland, 1758, to the Academy della Crusca.
de ledge of it, that he was frequently consulted
respecting its niceties by the Academy della Crusca, instituted expressly for its preservation and improvement. So strong was his attachment to Italian literature, that, in a letter to Bene. Bonmatthei, in which he offers some advice to that author, then on the point of publishing an Italian grammar, he declares that “ 6 neither Athens herself, with her lucid Ilissus, nor ancient Rome, with the banks of her Tiber, could so entirely detain him, as to prevent him from visiting with fondness the vale of the Arno and the hills of Fesolé."
During this visit to Florence, he saw the great Galileo, and conversed with that me, morable victim of priestly ignorance and superstition. For his philosophical opinions, which were supposed to contradict the assertions of the Holy Scriptures on the subject of the earth's figure and motion, this illustrious man had been imprisoned for five months by the Inquisition; and was now resident near Florence in a state of aggravated infirmity from age, sickness, and mental " distress.
& Nec me tam ipsæ Athena Atticæ, cum illo suo pellucido Ilisso, nec illa vetus Roma, snå Tiberis ripâ, retinere valuerunt, quin sæpe Arnum vestrum, et Fæsulanos illos colles invisere amem. Epis. Fam. P.W, vol. vi.'118.
'? There it was (in Italy) that I found and visited the fa.
Rolli, the Italian biographer of Milton, supposes that, from his intercourse with the Tuscan astronomer the English poet' gained those ideas, approaching to the Newtonian, respecting our planetary system, which he has discovered in the Paradise Lost. If this supposition be just, it must be the subject of our surprise, as it is of our regret, that a system, which, resolving the phænomena of the heavens with so much simplicity, would enforce the conviction of any philosophic and acute mind even without the demonstration of Newton's mathematics, should not have obtained our poet's entire assent, and thus have saved him from that awkward halting between two opinions, which incidentally disfigures a few pages of his immortal epic,
On his leaving Florence, where he staid, as we have observed, two months, our traveller proceeded through Sienna to Rome. In this city of old and of modern renown, the mistress of the world, at one time, by her arms and laws, and of Europe, at another, by her policy and the engine of perverted religion, he passed two months in the contemplation of the wonders of her ancient and
mous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.” A speech for unlicensed printing. P.W. v.1.313,
po modern art; and in the society, made more so interesting by the friendship of her scholars ed and great men. The kindness of Holstenius, ,
the learned keeper of the Vatican library,
not only opened to him the curiosities of list that grand repository of literature, but intro
duced him to the attentions of the Cardinal Barberini,' who at that time possessed the
whole delegated sovereignty of Rome under all his uncle, Urban VIII. At a great musical
entertainment which this opulent Cardinal gave with a magnificence truly Roman, he
looked for our traveller among the crowd at od the door, and brought him, almost by the
hand, into the assembly. These benefits and il favours were not forgotten by him; and the
letter, which he addressed to Holstenius from
i Tum nec aliter crediderim, quam quæ tu* de me verba fe. ceris ad præstantissimum Cardin. Franc. Barberinum, iis factum esse, ut cum ille paucis post diebus ä'xpćqua illud Musicum magnificentiâ verè Romanâ publice exhiberet, ipse me tanta in Jurbâ quæsitum ad fores expectans, et penè manu prehensum persanè honorificè intro admiserit. Epist. Fam. P. W. vol. vi. 120.
* Mr. Todd, the industrious and faithful editor of Milton, has mentioned, on the authority of a MS. of Dr. Bargrave, that, at this time, every foreign nation had a particular guardian assigned to it at Rome in the person of one of the Cardinals ; and that Barberini was the appointed guardian of the English. V. Todd's Life of Mil.