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Another Leonora once inspired
Milton condescended to curb his genius in some Italian sonnets. It is amusing to see the magnificent bard of Satan disporting among the sweet numbers of Petrarch.
Canto, dal mio buon popol non inteso ;
E'l bel Tamigi cangio con bel Arno.
Milton became acquainted at Naples with Manso, Marquis of Villa, a veteran who enjoyed the double honour of being the friend of Tasso and the host of Milton, to whom he addressed a parody on Pope Gregory's distich :
Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,
“ If thy piety were equal to thy understanding, figure, eloquence, beauty, and manners—verily thou wouldst not be an Englishman, but an angel!”
Milton paid his debt of gratitude in a Latin poem full of energy and tenderness.
Well may we think, O dear to all above,
O might so true a friend to me belong,
the votaries of song,
The future bard of the innocent joys of Eden did not obtain the favour which he here implored. He had no friend, no defender of his fame, but posterity. The poet entreats Manso not to disdain an hyperborean Muse, gracefully adding,
Nos etiam nostro modulantes flumine cycnos
We too, where Thames, with its unsullied waves,
Miltou had formed the design of visiting Sicily and Greece. What a precursor of Byron! The troubles in his native country recalled him; but he did not return to England till he had seen Venice, that beauty of Italy, who still retains so many charms, though expiring on the margin of the waves.
MILTON'S RETURN TO ENGLAND.
HIS OCCUPATIONS AND HIS FIRST CONTROVERSIAL WORKS.
The traveller, having returned to London, did not take an active part in the first movements of the revolution. On this subject Johnson says,
Let not our veneration for Milton forbid us to look with some degree of merriment on great promises and small performances, on the man who hastens home, because his countrymen are contending for their liberty, and, when he reaches the scene of action, vapours away his patriotism in a private boarding-school. This is the period of his life from which all his biographers seem inclined to shrink.
They are unwilling that Milton should be degraded to a schoolmaster ; but, since it cannot be denied that he taught boys, one finds out that he taught for nothing, and another, that his motive was only zeal for the propagation of learning and virtue: and all tell what they do not know to be true, only to excuse an act which no wise man will consider as in itself disgraceful.”
The satirical and prejudiced spirit of Johnson displays itself in this passage. The Doctor, who had never seen a revolution, was ignorant that in these great convulsions there are fields of battle everywhere, and that each man chooses that to which he is called by his inclination or his genius : Milton's sword would not have done for liberty what he effected with his pen. The Doctor, a stanch royalist, forgets also that all the royalists did not take up arms or ascend the scaffold like the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Holland, and Lord Capel; that Lord Arundel, for example, a friend of the muses, like Milton, and to whom science is indebted for the Arundelian marbles at Oxford, left London at the commencement of the civil war, though at the time earl-marshal of England, and died peaceably at Padua. It is true, that his unfortunate nephew, William Howard, Lord Strafford, paid a tribute for him to misfortune, and it is but too well known by whom his blood was spilled
For three years Milton attended to the education of his sister's two sons and some other boys
He lived at first in St. Bride's churchyard, Fleet-street, and afterwards in a large house, with a garden, in Aldersgate-street. While
of their age.