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pean renown (who had known Milton when he (Holstenius) was at Oxford) was then Librarian to the Vatican. He introduced the young Englishman to Cardinal Barberini. afterwards Pope Urban VIII., who invited him to a concert, received him at the doors, and presented him, in the most flattering terms, to the brilliant assembly. Amongst them Milton's eyes lighted on a woman, beautiful, with the rare and intellectual loveliness of a Grecian muse: she was Leonora Baroni—the first singer in the world. Her mother, as beautiful and nearly as fine a singer as herself, sat near her with her lute. The rapture of the poet may be imagined when he heard the fair wonder sing to her mother's accompaniment. Ho celebrated her genius in three fine Latin epigrams. (See page 549.) Whether she was the “ Donna ” of his Italian sonnets we cannot tell; her name recalled the Leonora of Tasso; her talent was just that which he best loved.

From Rome Milton travelled to Naples, in company with a hermit, who must have been able to appreciate the poet, as, on their arrival at Naples, he introduced him to Manso, Marquis of Villa, the friend, patron, and biographer of Tasso. Manso was delighted with his new acquaintance, and addressed to him a distich, with the same play on words with which Gregory inaugurated his plan for the conversion of Britian.

Ut mons, forma decor, facies, mos, si pietas do
Non Anglus, verum borclo Angelus ipso foral,

Thus translated by Cowper :

The Neapolitan, John Baptist Manso, Marquis of Villa, to the Englishman,

JOHN MILTON.

What features, form, mien, manners, with a mind,
Oh, how intelligent ! and how refined !
Were but thy piety from fault as free,
Thou wouldst no angle, but an angel be.

Milton, in return, addressed to the Marquis a Latin poem (sete page 570), which must have greatly impressed the learned Italians.

Milton now purposed visiting Sicily and Greece, but letters from home told him how England was shaken to its centre by the differences between the King, Charles I., and his Parliament, and the young man thorght that duty and patriotism alike forbade his absence from his native land in her hour of sore trial. So he b

his steps homeward, not, however, hurrying his journey. Again he visited Rome, though warned of plots formed by the Jesuits against him on account of the openness with which he had discussed religious topics, and although at Naples, Manso had told him that his religion alone precluded him from great distinction, he felt sure that his nationality protected him from personal danger, and remained again two months in Rome. From thence he went to Florence, to Lucca, and to Venice. From the latter city he sent his father a collection of music and books, and proceeded to Geneva, then the seat of Puritanism, and the spot from whence republican doctrines were promulgated over Europe. Here he found a friend in Charles Diodati's uncle, John (or Giovanni), and in Frederick Spanheim, who was also a learned Professor of Divinity. From Geneva he returned to France, and thence home, having been absent from England a year and three months.

The news of the death of his dear friend, Charles Diodati, met him on his return: he commemorated the loss in the “ Epitaphium Damonis.” (See page 573.)

The youth of Milton closes with this grief. He was now a man of thirty-one years of age, and it behoved him to take up the work of life in earnest. He had drawn largely on the means of his generous father, and he was not the only child-he had a brother Christopher, a lawyer; his sister Anne was well married before he went to Cambridge. (See his Elegy on the death of her infant, at page 1.) She had recently been widowed and married a second time. Milton at once decided on his own course. He resolved to take pupils, and the first he received were his sister's sons by her first husband-John and Edward Philips. He took a lodging at the house of a tailor named Russell, in St. Bride's Churchyard, and began the prosaic task of teaching; but the locality was unendurable to him, and he removed into a pleasant house, standing in a garden, at the end of a passage leading out of Aldersgate Street. Here he received more private pupils to board and teach.

And now we come to the reverse of the brilliant picture of his youth. For twenty years the poet sang no more.

All that long period was occupied in school duties, political controversy, and household troubles. In considering this period of Milton's life, when he used his great abilities (obscured in prose) agaiust his Sovereign and the National Church, we must pause for a moment to consider the age in which he had been born and brought up.

When his infant eyes unclosed in Bread Street, James 1. had been five years King of Britain. The glorious reign of Elizabeth, with its host of great Statesmen, Warriors, Poets, and Discoverers, was succeeded by that of a contemptible and pedantic Sovereign, whose favonritism led to crimes of the darkest dye. Our readers will find in the vivid pages of Mr. Hepworth Dixon's “Her Majesty's Tower” (vols. 2nd and 3rd), a picture of corruption disgraceful to any country. The murder of Sir Thomas Overbury must have been the talk of Milton's nursery. He must have heard continually the extravagances and wickedness of the favourite Villiers, the theme of animadversion; the death of Sir Walter Raleigh must have been to him a boyish horror algo; all England lamented that murder; and the persecution of his tutor, and the bigotry of his grandfather, which had robbed him of a fair heritage, must have all conspired to sway him towards the side of the Puritans.

True, his “gentle " instincts, his fine taste and early associations, and the better character of Charles I., for a time held the balance, but now he had to choose his side: no one at that time could remain neutral, and he threw in his lot with the Parliament.

In 1641, he published a “ Treatise of Reformation,” in two books, against the established Church, being anxious to help the Puritans, who were, he said, “inferior to the prelates in learning.”

Hall, the Bishop of Norwich (with whose quaint Meditations out readers are probably acquainted), had published a “Humble Remon. strance in defence of Episcopacy,” to which five ministers, the initial letters of whose names made the celebrated word Smectymnuus,' replied. “Of this answer a confutation was attempted,” says Johnson, “ by the learned Usher.” To this confutation Milton (seeing that the Archbishop had the best of the argument) replied.

His next work was “The Reason of Church Government urged against Prelacy."

“In this book," says Johnson, “he discovers, not with ostentatious exultation, but with calm confidence, his high opinion of his own powers; and promises to undertake something, he yet knows not what, that may be of use and honour to his country.” “This,” says he (Milton), “ is not to be obtained but by devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit that can enrich with all utterance and knowledge,

They were, Stephen Marshall, Edmund Calamy, Thomas Young (Milton's tutor) Matthew Newoomen, and Willian Spurstow.

and sends out his Seraphim with the hallowed fire of his altar to touch and purify the lips of whom He pleases. To this must be added industrious and select reading, steady observation, and insight into all seemly arts and affairs; till which in some measure be compassed, I refuse not to sustain this expectation."

“From a promise like this, at once fervid, pious, and rational,” says Johnson, “ might be expected the ‘Paradise Lost.'”!

Milton's controversial writings did not interrupt his school duties. He did everyth ng diligently and with earnestness. His youth had been pure and moral; his manhood was almost ascetic; he lived sparingly, drank water, and set his pupils an example of hard study. Now and then he took a day's recreation with some gay friends of Gray's Inn, and displayed his beautiful and welldressed person on the fashionable promenades of Gray's Inn Gardens and Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.

After Reading was taken by the King's forces, Milton's beloved father came to live with him, and in 1643, at Whitsuntide, he brought home a fair young bride, whom he had wooed and won from the adverse party of the Cavaliers.

Mary Powel was the daughter of a country gentleman, a justice of the peace for Oxfordshire, and had been used, as Philips, her husband's nephew, tells us, “to a great house, much company,” and the fun and joviality of the ranting Royalists. She was beautiful, but seems to have been a spoilt child, and not to have possessed the intellect her husband needed in a companion ;-this is inferred from his own words when he speaks of a “mute and spiritless mate."

It is only just, also, to give a glance at Mary Powel's side of the question. She found herself suddenly transplanted from a lively and liberal home to a house where profound stillness reigned, save when it was broken by the crying of punished school-boys. No visitors came to the house; if they came, they were of the solemn Puritans, whom she had been brought up to laugh at as rogues and hypocrites. Her gay Cavalier songs were exchanged for solemn hymns; her feasting for hard fare; her husband, occupied by his pupils and his controversy, could have given her but a small portion of his time; there was no sympathy round her,-in her passionate loyalty, her country tastes and habits. Her parents asked if she

1 Johnson'a “Lives of the Poets," Vol. 1, p. 26.

1

might spend part of the sun.mer with them, and her husband Rssenting, she left him. He pursued his studies, occasionally visiting the accomplished Lady Margaret Leigh, but at Michaelmas he wrote to Mary to summon her home. He received no answer; he wrote again and again with the same result. At last, knowing how uncertain was the arrival of letters in the now distracted country, ke despatched a messenger for Mistress Milton. The man was sent back with contempt. Milton, excessively angry, resolved to divorce his disobedient wife, and published, as a prelimina y justification of his conduct, a treatise on "The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,” which was followed by " The Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning Divorce," and his “Tetrachordon."

The clergy, then holding their famous assembly at Westminster, were greatly scandalized by these productions, and had the writer brought before the House of Lords. But that House had matter of more import to engage it than the dreams (as they doubtless thought) of a visionary Puritan, and the case was dismissed. But Milton never forgave his former friends, the Presbyterians, for their share in this prosecution. He proceeded to put his theory in practice by wooing Miss Davis, the daughter nf Dr. Davis, who, however, had scrupies on the legality and morality of such a marriage. Whilst she still hesitated, a circumstance decided the doubt for her. As Milton was one day at the house of a relative of the name of Blackborough, in St. Martin's Lane, his wife rushed from an adjoining room and threw herself at his feet, imploring his forgiveness. He resisted her entreaties for a time, but yielded at length, and received her to his heurt and home once more. Their reunion proved happier than might have been expected. Baby hands came to draw them together, and Mary Milton lived to give birth to a third daughter, and then died. But long before that period the generous poet had given shelter in his house to all her family, when the Republican party had risen to power. Sube sequently he arranged their affairs for them.

The new Council of State, in which were Bradshaw and Sir Harry Vane, chose Milton as their Latin Secretary, and employed him to write against the celebrated book called “Icon Basilike," then supposed to have been written by the unhappy Charles I., and which was turning the hearts of the people back to him. Milton wrote against it the “Iconoclastes." But we must not omit to mention the much more interesting fact that in 1645 his

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