Front Page Titles (by Subject) IX.: To Luke Holstein, in the Vatican at Rome. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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IX.: To Luke Holstein, in the Vatican at Rome. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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ToLuke Holstein,in the Vatican at Rome.
Though in my passage through Italy, many persons have honoured me with singular and memorable proofs of their civility and friendship, yet on so short an acquaintance, I know not whether I can truly say that any one ever gave me stronger marks of his regard than yourself. For, when I went to visit you in the Vatican, though I was not at all known to you, except perhaps from the incidental mention of Alexander Cherion, you received me with the utmost affability and kindness. You afterwards obligingly admitted me into the Museum, you permitted me to see the precious repository of literature, and many Greek MSS., adorned with your own observations; some of which have never yet seen the light, but seem, like the spirits in Virgil,
to demand the parturient labours of the press. Some of them you have already published, which are greedily received by the learned. You presented me with copies of these on my departure. And I cannot but impute it to your kind mention of me to the noble Cardinal Francisco Barberino, that at a grand musical entertainment which he gave, he waited for me at the door, sought me out among the crowd, took me by the hand, and introduced me into the palace with every mark of the most flattering distinction. When I went the next day to render him my acknowledgments for this his gracious condescension, it was you who obtained me an interview, in which I experienced a degree of civility and kindness greater than I had any reason to expect from a person of his high dignity and character. I know not, most learned Holstein, whether I am the only Englishman to whom you have shown so much friendship and regard, or whether you are led to show the same to all my countrymen, from a recollection of the three years which you passed at the university of Oxford. If this be the case, you generously pay to our dear England the fees of her education; and you both deserve the grateful acknowledgments of each individual in particular, and of our country in general. But if this distinction was shown exclusively to me, if you selected me as worthy of your friendship, I congratulate myself on your preference, while I think your candour greater than my desert.
I strenuously urged my friends, according to your instructions, to inspect the Codex Mediceus; though they have at present but little hope of being able to do it. For in that library nothing can be transcribed, nor even a pen put to paper, without permission being previously obtained; but they say that there is at Rome one John Baptista Donio, who is daily expected at Florence, where he has been invited to read lectures on the Greek language, and by whom you may easily obtain the object of your wishes. It would indeed have been far more grateful to me if I could have been at all instrumental in promoting those honourable and illustrious pursuits in which you are engaged; and which it behoves all men, on all occasions and in all circumstances, to promote. I add that you will lay me under new obligations if you will express my warmest acknowledgments, and my most respectful compliments, to the most noble Cardinal, whose great virtues and whose honest zeal, so favourable to the encouragement of all the liberal arts, are the constant objects of my admiration. Nor can I look without reverence on that mild, and if I may so speak, that lowly, loftiness of mind, which is exalted by its own humiliation, and to which we may apply a verse in the Ceres of Callimachus,
His conduct may serve to show other princes that a forbidding superciliousness and a dazzling parade of power are quite incompatible with real magnanimity. Nor do I think that while he lives any one will regret the loss of the Esti, the Farnese or the Medici, who formerly espoused with so much zeal the patronage of literature. Adieu, most learned Holstein, and if you think me worthy of the honour, rank me, I beseech you, for the future, wherever I may be, among those who are most attached to you and to the studies in which you are engaged.
Florence, March 30, 1639.