Diodati, Charles (DNB00)

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DIODATI, CHARLES (1608?–1638), friend of Milton, was born about 1608. His father, Theodore Diodati, brother of Giovanni Diodati, a distinguished divine of Geneva (1576-1649), was born in all probability at Geneva in 1574. The family belonged to Lucca. Charles's father emigrated to England when a youth; was brought up as a doctor; lived at Brentford about 1609; attended Prince Henry and Princess Elizabeth; graduated as a doctor of medicine at Leyden, 6 Oct. 1615; became a licentiate of the College of Physicians, London, 24 Jan. 1616-17; practised in the parish of St. Bartholomew the Less, and was buried in the church there on 12 Feb. 1650-1. Florio when dedicating his translation of Montaigne to Lucy, countess of Bedford, acknowledged assistance from Theodore Diodati. Hakewill prints a letter of his, dated 30 Sept. 1629, describing a case of phlebotomy (Apology, 1630). Some of his medical recipes are in Egerton MS. 2214, ff. 46, 51, and fre-quent mention is made of him as 'Doctor Deodate ' in Lady Brilliana Harley's Correspondence ' (published by Camden Soc.) His first wife was an Englishwoman, and by her he had two sons, Charles and John, and a daughter, Philadelphia. When well advanced in life the doctor married again, much to the annoyance of his children.

Charles gained a scholarship at St. Paul's School, and while there made Milton's acquaintance. In February 1621-2 he went to Trinity College, Oxford, and graduated M, A. in July 1628. A year later he was incorporated M.A. at Cambridge. He was a good classical scholar, contributed some Latin alcaics to the volume published at Oxford on Camden's death in 1624, and wrote to Milton two letters in Greek, which are preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 5016, f. 64). Subsequently he practised physic in the neighbourhood of Chester, removed to the parish of St. Anne's, Blackfriars, lodged therewith his sister Philadelphia in the house of one Dollar, quarrelled with his father about his second marriage, and was buried at St. Anne's Church 27 Aug. 1638. His sister was buried at the same place seventeen days earlier, and his sister-in-law, Isabella, wife of his brother John, on 29 June of the same year.

Diodati's friendship with Milton gives him his chief interest. Milton's Latin poems prove how warm was his affection for his friend. To Diodati Milton addressed the first and sixth of his elegies, written respectively in 1626 and 1629, and first published in 1645. In September 1637 Milton wrote two Latin letters to Diodati, which are printed in the poet's 'Epistolae Familiares,' and early in 1639, when Milton was in Italy, he addressed Diodati in an Italian sonnet (No. v.) At Geneva Milton spent a fortnight with his friend's uncle, Giovanni Diodati, and on learning of Diodati's death he gave his most striking testimony to his affectionate regard for him in his 'Epitaphium Damoiiis.' In the introduction to the 'Epitaphium ' Diodati is described as 'ingenio, doctrina caeterisque clarissimis virtutibus juvenis egregius.' The poem in pathetic and poetic expression almost equals 'Lycidas,' and had it been written in English instead of Latin would doubtless have been as popular. It was first published in 1645. Diodati also seems to have been intimate with Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who entrusted him with a copy of his 'De Veritate ' to present to the philosopher Gassendi at Paris (Herbert, Autobiog. 1886, p. lv, 292 n.) Diodati had a first cousin named, like his father, Theodore, who practised medicine in England. He was the son of the learned Genevan, Giovanni Diodati, proceeded M.D. at Leyden 4 Feb. 1643, was admitted a member of the London College of Physicians in December 1664, was residuary legatee under his uncle Theodore's will, and died after many years' residence in London in 1680. Diodati's name was often spelt Deodate, Dyodate, and Diodate. A son of Charles's brother. John, who called himself William Diodate, is said to have settled at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1717.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys. i. 160; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xii. 348; R. F. Gardiner's St. Paul's School Register, p. 34; Masson's Life of Milton, i. ii.; Chester's Registers of St. Anne's, Blackfriars; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24492, ff. 74-5; Todd's Milton; E. E. Salisbury's Mr. William Diodate and his Italian Ancestry, reprinted from the Archives of the New Haven Colony (Hist. Soc.), 1875.]

S. L. L.