XXI. MILTON IN CALABRIA
The castigation bestowed upon Lauder by Bishop Douglas, followed, as it was, by a terrific 'back-hander' from the brawny arm of Samuel Johnson, induces me to say that Salandra's 'Adamo Caduto,' though extremely rare - so rare that neither the British Museum nor the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale possesses a copy - is not an imaginary book; I have had it in my hands, and examined it at the Naples Biblioteca Nazionale; it is a small octavo of 251 pages (not including twenty unnumbered ones, and another one at the end for correction of misprints); badly printed and bearing all the marks of genuineness, with the author's name and the year and place of publication clearly set forth on the title-page. I have carefully compared Zicari's references to it, and quotations from it with the original. They are correct, save for a few insignificant verbal discrepancies which, so far as I can judge, betray no indication of an attempt on his part to mislead the reader, such as using the word tromba (trumpet) instead of Salandra's term sambuca(sackbut). And if further proof of authenticity be required, I may note that the 'Adamo Caduto' of Salandra is already cited in old bibliographies like Toppi's 'Biblioteca Napoletana' (1678), or that of Joannes a S. Antonio ('Biblioteca universa Franciscana, etc.,' Madrid, 1732-1733, vol. iii, p. 88). It appears to have been the only literary production of its author, who was a Franciscan monk and is described as 'Preacher, Lector and Definitor of the Reformed Province of Basilicata.'
We may take it, then, that Salandra was a real person, who published a mystery called 'Adamo Caduto' in 1647; and I will now, without further preamble, extract from Zicari's article as much as may be sufficient to show ground for his contention that Milton's 'Paradise Lost' is a transfusion, in general and in particular, of this same mystery.
Salandra's central theme is the Universe shattered by the disobedience of the First Man, the origin of our unhappiness and sins. The same with Milton.
Salandra's chief personages are God and His angels; the first man and woman; the serpent; Satan and his angels. The same with Milton.
Salandra, at the opening of his poem (the prologue), sets forth his argument, and dwells upon the Creative Omnipotence and his works. The same with Milton.
Salandra then describes the council of the rebel angels, their fall from heaven into a desert and sulphurous region, their discourses. Man is enviously spoken of, and his fall by means of stratagem decided upon; it is resolved to reunite in council in Pandemonium or the Abyss, where measures may be adopted to the end that man may become the enemy of God and the prey of hell. The same with Milton.
Salandra personifies Sin and Death, the latter being the child of the former. The same with Milton.
Salandra describes Omnipotence foreseeing the effects of the temptation and fall of man, and preparing his redemption. The same with Milton.
Salandra depicts the site of Paradise and the happy life there. The same with Milton.
Salandra sets forth the miraculous creation of the universe and of man, and the virtues of the forbidden fruit. The same with Milton.
Salandra reports the conversation between Eve and the Serpent; the eating of the forbidden fruit and the despair of our first parents. The same with Milton.
Salandra describes the joy of Death at the discomfiture of Eve; the rejoicings in hell; the grief of Adam; the flight of our first parents, their shame and repentance. The same with Milton.
Salandra anticipates the intercession of the Redeemer, and the overthrow of Sin and Death; he dwells upon the wonders of the Creation, the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, and other human ills; the vices of the Antediluvians, due to the fall of Adam; the infernal gift of war. The same with Milton.
Salandra describes the passion of Jesus Christ, and the comforts which Adam and Eve receive from the angel who announces the coming of the Messiah; lastly, their departure from the earthly paradise. The same with Milton.
So much for the general scheme of both poems. And now for a few particular points of resemblance, verbal and otherwise.
The character of Milton's Satan, with the various facets of pride, envy, vindictiveness, despair, and impenitence which go to form that harmonious whole, are already clearly mapped out in the Lucifero of Salandra. For this statement, which I find correct, Zicari gives chapter and verse, but it would take far too long to set forth the matter in this place. The speeches of Lucifero, to be sure, read rather like a caricature - it must not be forgotten that Salandra was writing for lower-class theatrical spectators, and not for refined readers - but the elements which Milton has utilized are already there.
Here is a coincidence:
Here we may reign secure . . .
Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
MILTON (i, 258)
. . . . Qui propria voglia, Son capo, son qui duce, son lor Prence.
SALANDRA (p. 49).
. . . Whom shall we find Sufficient? . . . This enterprise None shall partake with me. - MILTON (ii, 403, 465).
A chi bastera l' anima di voi? . . . certo che quest' affare A la mia man s' aspetta. - SALANDRA (p. 64).