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friends, and the other pleasures of his Italian tour, he looked forward to the time when he should meet Diodati again, after so long an absence, and pour into his ear, in long sittings within doors, or in walks together through English fields and country lanes, the connected story of all he had done and seen in the wondrous southern land of olives and myrtles, blue skies and soft winds, art and antiquities, poetry and beauty.
All the more terrible was the shock that awaited Milton. His friend Diodati was no longer alive. He had died in August 1638, very soon after Milton had left England. The news had reached Milton very slowly. It did reach him while he was still on the Continent,-if not at Florence on his second visit in March 1639, at latest at Geneva on his return homewards in June 1639; for he tells us that, while at Geneva on his return, he was much in the company of the celebrated theologian, Jean Diodati, the uncle of Charles Diodati, and it is natural to suppose that the uncle had heard of his nephew's death. Not till Milton was in England, however, did he fully ascertain the particulars. They eluded all modern research till August 1874, when the present editor received the following conclusive information in a letter from the late Colonel J. L. Chester, whose great work, The Westminster Abbey Registers, is only a sample of the stores of antiquarian and genealogical knowledge he had accumulated by his labours among English parish registers and collections of archives after he had settled among us from America, and whose contribution of facts to Milton's biography we have had occasion already to mention specially: -- Charles Diodati was buried at St. Anne, Blackfriars, London, 27 Aug. 1638. The entry in the Register is simply 'Mr. Charles Deodate, from Mr. Dollam's.' Seventeen days before, viz. 10 Aug. 1638, was also buried there “Mrs. Philadelphia Deodate, from Mr. Dollam’s.' On the 29th of June 1638 was baptized · Richard, son of John and Isabell Deodate'; and on the 23d of June in the same year was buried ‘Isabell, wife to John Deodate.' These are all the entries of the name that occur in the Register of St. Anne, Blackfriars.”—The interpretation of these facts and dates is not difficult. Since 1637, as we have seen, the second
i First published by me in the preface to the Cambridge Edition of Milton's Poetical Works in September 1874.
marriage of the naturalized London physician, Dr. Theodore Diodati, had rather alienated from him the children of his first marriage. Accordingly, in 1638, and probably before Milton had gone abroad, the two brothers, John and Charles Diodati, had left their father's house in Little St. Bartholomew, and were domiciled in Blackfriars,—John a married man, and apparently in a house of his own, and Charles unmarried, and boarding, it seems, together with his sister (?) Philadelphia, in the house of a Mr. Dollam.
In June 1638, John Diodati was made a widower by the death of his wife, Isabell, just after she had given birth to a son, Richard ; and in August 1638 Charles Diodati and his sister (?) Philadelphia were carried to their graves from Mr. Dollam's house, within three weeks of each other, the victims perhaps of some epidemic in the neighbourhood. The widower, John Diodati, it has been ascertained by Colonel Chester, took out letters of administration to the effects of his deceased brother Charles on the 3d of October 1638.All this, and much more, Milton must have learnt in detail on his return to London in July or August 1639. One of his first visits must have been to the house of Mr. Dollam in Blackfriars, whence there had been the funeral a year before.
For some time after his return Milton seems to have gone about, between London and Horton, thinking of little else than Charles Diodati's melancholy death. His return, his reminiscences of Italy, and all the other delights of his foreign tour, were saddened and spoiled for him by this one irremediable loss. At length his musings over it took poetic form, and some time in the autumn of 1639, or in the winter of 1639-40, he wrote his Epitaphium Damonis.
The poem is, beyond all question, the finest, the deepest in feeling, of all that Milton has left us in Latin, and one of the most interesting of all his poems, whether Latin or English. It is purely the accident of its being in Latin that has prevented it from being as well known as Lycidas, and that has transferred to the subject of that English pastoral, Edward King of Christ's College, Cambridge, the honour of being remembered and spoken of as the pre-eminent friend of Milton's youth and early manhood. That is a mistake. Not Lycidas but Damon, not the Irish-born Edward King, but the half-Italian Charles Diodati, was Milton's dearest, most intimate, most peculiar friend. The records prove this irresistibly, and a careful perusal of the two poems will add to the impression. Whoever will read the Latin Epitaphium Damonis will perceive in it a passionateness of personal grief, an evidence of bursts of tears and sobbings interrupting the act of writing, to which there is nothing equivalent in the English Lycidas, affectionate and exquisitely beautiful as that poem is. Yet the two poems are, in a sense, companions, and ought to be recollected in connexion. Both are pastorals ; in both the form is that of a surviving shepherd bewailing the death of a dear fellow-shepherd. In the one case the dead shepherd is named Lycidas, while the surviving shepherd who mourns him is left unnamed, and only seen at the end as the "uncouth swain ” who has been singing ; in the other the dead shepherd is named Damon, and Milton, under the name of Thyrsis, is avowedly the shepherd who laments him. The Epitaphium Damonis indeed is a pastoral of the most artificial variety. It is in Latin ; and this, in itself, removes it into the realm of the artificial. But, in the Latin, the precedents of the Greek pastoralists, Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus, as well as of the Latin Virgil, have been studied, and every device of classic pastoralism has been imitated. There are the sheep, the kids, the reeden flutes, the pastures, the shepherds and shepherdesses wondering at the mourner and coming round him to comfort him. The measure used is the Virgilian Hexameter, and the poem is broken into musical parts or bursts by a recurring phrase, as in some of the Greek Idylls; the names used for the shepherds and shepherdesses are from the Greek Idyllists or from Virgil ; the very title of the poem is an echo of that of the third Idyll of Moschus, Epitaphium Bionis. All the more strange, to those whose notion of the Pastoral has not gone beyond Dr. Johnson's in his criticism of Lycidas, may seem the assertion that in this Latin pastoral, the Epitaphium Damonis, the pastoralism of which is more subtle and artificial in every point than that of the corresponding English poem, Milton will be found, undeniably, and with an earnestness which breaks through the assumed guise and thrills the nerves of the reader, speaking his own heart. For my part, I risk the assertion and will leave the verification to the reader. To the reader also I will leave the pleasure of finding out what is interesting otherwise in the poem. Only let him rest a little, for special reasons, over the memorable
passage beginning “ Ipse etiam” (line 155) and extending to * Orcades 'undis” (line 178). That passage is an important shred of Milton's autobiography. It tells, more minutely, and in a more emphatic manner, what he had already hinted in his Latin poem to Manso : viz. that at this period of his life his thoughts were full of the project of an Epic founded on British legendary History, and especially on the subject of King Arthur. Combined with this glimpse of what was shaping itself in Milton's mind at that time (1639-40) is the farther information that he had then also resolved to give up Latin for the purposes of Poetry, and to confine himself to English.
The Italian physician, Dr. Theodore Diodati, lived till Feb. 1650-1. By his will, Colonel Chester informed me, he left his property chiefly to his second wife, Abigail, and a nephew, Theodore Diodati, a son of the Genevese divine, who had settled in London in medical practice. This second Theodore Diodati is found alive in London, as “Doctor of Medicine and Merchant,” to as late as 1680. It would thus seem that John Diodati, the son of the first Dr. Theodore, and the surviving brother of Milton's friend Charles, had remained in that state of estrangement from his father which had been occasioned as far back as 1637 by the old gentleman's second marriage. This John Diodati, however, left a widower in 1638 by the death of his wife Isabell (Underwood, it seems, was her maiden surname), contracted a second marriage himself, and had a second son by that marriage, named John, born in 1660. That John too married twice, and had children by both marriages. One of his children by his second marriage, William Diodati, or Diodate, emigrated to New England before 1717, and was a person of some note in the colony of New Haven till his death in 1751. His American descendants to the present day are traced, and there is an elaborate exploration of the whole prior pedigree of the Diodati family back to their Italian original in Lucca in the fourteenth century, in a monograph, entitled Mr. William Diodate and his Italian Ancestry, by Professor Edward E. Salisbury, printed for private circulation, from the Archives of the New Haven Historical Society, in 1876.
AD JOANNEM ROUSIUM,
OXONIENSIS ACADEMIÆ BIBLIOTHECARIUM.
JANUARY 23, 1646-7. John Rous, M.A., and Fellow of Oriel College, was elected Chief Librarian of the Bodleian, May 9, 1620, and he remained in that post till his death in April 1652. Milton may have become acquainted with him in some visit to Oxford during the Cambridge period of his life; or, at all events, in 1635, when, as a Cambridge M.A. of three years' standing, he was incorporated, in the same degree, at Oxford. It is almost certain that “our common friend Mr. R.” mentioned by Sir Henry Wotton in his letter to Milton of April 13, 1638, as having sent to Wotton a copy of Lawes's anonymous edition of Comus of the previous year, bound up with a volume of inferior poetry printed at Oxford, was this John Rous, the Oxford Librarian. In any case, Milton had come to know Rous. Who in those days could avoid doing so that had dealings with books, and was drawn to the sight of such a collection of books as that in the great Bodleian? It may have been a recommendation of Rous in Milton's eyes that, Oxonian though he was, his sympathies were decidedly Parliamentarian. Possibly he was a relative of Francis Rous, the Puritan member of the Long Parliament for Truro.
Milton, at Rous's request, had sent him, for the Bodleian, in 1646, a set of his published writings complete to that date: to wit, his eleven Prose-pamphlets of 1641-5 (the five on the Episcopacy question, the four on Divorce, the Areopagitica, and the Tract on Education), and, separately bound, the edition of his Poems in English and Latin published by Moseley in the end of 1645. Of these, however, only the Prose-pamphlets had reached their destination; the Poems had been lost or stolen on their way to Oxford, or had otherwise gone astray. Rous, accordingly, both in his own behalf and in the interest of the Library, begs for another copy, to make the set of Milton's writings complete, as had been intended. Milton complies with the request, and sends a second copy of the Poems. But, amused by the incident of the loss of the first, he composes a Latin Ode on the subject; and a transcript of this Ode, carefully written out on a sheet