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destruction, the Muses left him for twenty years. Coming fresh from the living fountains of all imaginative creation, the happy delirium of glorious genius subsided into a cold and harsh stagnation of all that was eloquent and generous. The blight was more violent and effective in proportion as the bloom had been strong.
Milton did not stay long enough at any of the great Italian cities: instead of eighteen months among them all, his stay ought to have been four or five years.
I give in this place Cowper's translation of the Latin epistle to Manso.
TO GIOVANNI BATTISTA MANSO,
MARQUIS OF VILLA.
[" Giovanni Battista Manso, Marquis of Villa, is an Italian nobleman of the highest estimation among his countrymen for genius, literature, and military accomplishments. To him Torquato Tasso addressed his 'Dialogues on Friendship;' for he was much the friend of Tasso, who has also celebrated him among the other princes of his country in his poem entitled ' Gerusalemme Conquistata,' book xx.
Fra cavalier magnanimi, e cortesi,
During the author's stay at Naples, he received at the
These verses also to thy praise the Nine,
Already such it shines in Tasso's page,
For thou wast Tasso's friend, from age to age;
And next, the Muse consign'd, not unaware
How high the charge, Marino to thy care;
Who, singing to the nymphs Adonis' praise,
Boasts thee the patron of his copious lays.
To thee alone the poet would entrust
His latest vows; to thee alone his dust:
And thou with punctual piety hast paid,
In labour'd brass, thy tribute to his shade.
Nor this contented thee—but, lest the grave
Should aught absorb of theirs, which thou couldst save,
All future ages thou hast deign'd to teach
The life, lot, genius, character, of each,
Eloquent as the Carian sage, who true
To his great theme, the life of Homer drew.
I, therefore, though a stranger youth, who come,
Yes,—dreary as we own our northern clime,
metrical narratives were, for the most part, dull chronicles: that fiery force, where life breathes in every line and every image, was almost unknown. It is by the invention of grand fables that poets must stand high: little patches of flowers—a style of similes and metaphors, will not do. The manners and credences of Europe, from the commencement of the crusades, afforded inexhaustible subjects of heroic poetry: fictions improved upon the romantic tales of the Provencal bards could never be wanting to the imagination or the lyre.
Milton returned by Venice, where he made a large collection of music for his father; and thence passed through Geneva, at which he made a short sojourn with John Deodate, a learned theologian and professor, the relation of his friend Charles Deodate, and became acquainted with Frederic Spanheim. Here he is supposed to have renewed his Calvinistic and puritanical prejudices. It is somewhat strange that this small place should have been the focus of all that troubled the governments of Europe for more than a century. They were not content with forming a republican government for their own petty canton, for which it was well suited, but struggled to turn all the great monarchies into republics.
The poet must have been delighted with the lake-scenery and Alpine summits of this magnificent country: yet, after the pomp of Italy, its splendid arts, its princely societies, its genial skies, its imaginative delights, men must have seemed here to have dwindled into formal and dull automatons. Here might be learning; but it was dry and tasteless: here was now no Beza, or D'Aubigne"; nor any anticipation of the eloquent and passionate Rousseau, or spiritual De Stael, or historic and philosophical Sismondi. I have endeavoured to find some traces of Milton's visit in Geneva; but have yet discovered none. I am told it is a mistake that the Deodate campagne at the adjoining village of Cologny on the Savoy side, which Byron inhabited in 1816, was that which belonged to the Deodate family when Milton was here. In the 'Livre des Anglais,' preserved in the statearchives at the Hotel de Ville, are registers of the English (including John Knox), who took refuge here from 1554 to 1558, and had an English chapel in Geneva.
ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF Milton's PROSE
In 1639 Milton returned to England: he had the grief of finding that his friend Charles Deodate was already dead: on that occasion he wrote the Latin pastoral entitled 'Epitaphium Damonis.' He now undertook the tutorship of his two nephews, John and Edward Phillips, and added to them some other pupils. Having professed to have been drawn back to England to take a part in the cause of liberty, then breaking out into open contest, Johnson considers this occupation a falling off from his boasted high intentions, and utters a growling sort of merriment at the failure. This is in the tone of the biographer's usual insults on the great bard: he is on these occasions coarse, pompous, and unjust. Milton did not come home to take a part by the sword, but by the pen: if therefore he endeavoured to aid an incompetent income by taking pupils, what inconsistency was there in this? The sneer comes doubly ill from one who had been himself a schoolmaster.