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should recall the high finish, the appropriateness, the facility, the delicate proportion, and above all, the perfusive and omnipresent grace, which have preserved,' as in a shrine of precious amber, the Sparrow of Catullus, the Swallow, the Grasshopper, and all the other little loves of Anacreon; and which, with bright, though diminished glories, revisited the youth and early manhood of Christian Europe, in the vales of
6 These thoughts were suggested to me during the perusal of the Madrigals of Giovambatista Strozzi published in Florence in May 1595, by his sons Lorenzo and Filippo Strozzi, with a dedication to their paternal uncle, Signor Leone Strozzi, Generale delle battaglie di Santa Chiesa. As I do not remember to have seen either the poems or their author mentioned in any English work, or to have found them in any of the common collections of Italian poetry ;* and as the little work is of rare occurrence; I will transcribe a few specimens. I have seldom met with compositions that possessed, to my feelings, more of that satisfying entireness, that complete adequateness of the manner to the matter which so charms us in Anacreon, joined with the tenderness, and more than the delicacy of Catullus. Trifles as they are, they were probably elaborated with great care; yet in the perusal we refer them to a spontaneous energy rather than to voluntary effort. To a cultivated taste there is a delight in perfection for its own sake, independently of the material in which it is manifested, that none but a cultivated taste can understand or appreciate.
After what I have advanced, it would appear presumption to offer a translation; even if the attempt were not discouraged by the different genius of the English mind and language, which demands a denser body of thought as the condition of a high polish, than the Italian. I cannot but deem it likewise an advantage in the Italian tongue, in many other respects inferiour to our own, that the language of poetry is more distinct from that of prose than with us. From the earlier appearance and established primacy of the Tuscan poets, concurring with
[Gamba, p. 593, calls this edition rara edizione. Ed.]
Arno, and the groves of Isis and of Cam ;-and who
the number of independent states, and the diversity of written dialects, the Italians have gained a poetic idiom, as the Greeks before them had obtained from the same causes, with greater and more various discriminations, for example, the Ionic for their heroic verses; the Attic for their iambic; and the two modes of the Doric for the lyric or sacerdotal, and the pastoral, the distinctions of which were doubtless more obvious to the Greeks themselves than they are to us.
I will venture to add one other observation before I proceed to the transcription. I am aware that the sentiments which I have avowed concerning the points of difference between the poetry of the present age, and that of the period between 1500 and 1650, are the reverse of the opinion commonly entertained. I was conversing on this subject with a friend, when the servant, a worthy and sensible woman, coming in, I placed before her two engravings, the one a pinky-coloured plate of the day, the other a masterly etching by Salvator Rosa from one of his own pictures. On pressing her to tell us, which she preferred, after a little blushing and flutter of feeling, she replied-" Why, that, Sir, to be sure! (pointing to the ware from the Fleet-street print shops);-it's so neat and elegant. Tother is such a scratchy slovenly thing." An artist, whose writings are scarcely less valuable than his pictures, and to whose authority more deference will be willingly paid, than I could even wish should be shewn to mine, has told us, and from his own experience too, that good taste must be acquired, and like all other good things, is the result of thought and the submissive study of the best models. If it be asked, "But what shall I deem such ?"the answer is; presume those to be the best, the reputation of
["On whom then can he rely, or who shall show him the path that leads to excellence? The answer is obvious. Those great masters who have travelled the same road with success are the most likely to conduct others. The works of those who have stood the test of ages have a claim to that respect and veneration to which no modern can pretend. The duration and stability of their fame is sufficient to evince that it has not been suspended upon the slender thread of fashion and caprice, but bound to the human heart by every tie of sympathetic admiration." Reynolds. Discourse ii. Ed.]
with these should combine the keener interest, deeper
which has been matured into fame by the consent of ages. For wisdom always has a final majority, if not by conviction, yet by acquiescence. In addition to Sir J. Reynolds I may mention Harris of Salisbury; who in one of his philosophical disquisitions has written on the means of acquiring a just taste with the precision of Aristotle, and the elegance of Quinctilian.‡
Gelido suo ruscel chiaro, e tranquillo
Girsene il vidi, che turbar no'l volli:
Sol mi specchiava, e'n dolce ombrosa sponda
[See Philological Inquiries: Part ii. chap. xii. especially the concluding paragraphs. This Treatise is contained in vol. ii. of the collective edition of the works of Harris,-by his son the Earl of Malmesbury, in two vols. 4to. London, 1801.
James Harris, the author of those volumes, was born in the Close of Salisbury, July 29, 1709-died Dec. 22, 1780. He is best known as the author of Hermes, a work on Universal Grammar; which, according to Bishop Lowth, presents "the most beautiful example of analysis that has been exhibited since the days of Aristotle:" and three Treatises concerning Art, Music, Painting and Poetry, and Happiness,-which imitate the method of Plato, and are written with admirable distinctness. Harris was not given up wholly to literary pursuits, and domestic and social amusements, though possessed of high qualifications for both the one and the other: he also took a part in public life, held the office first of a Lord of the Admiralty, then for about two years of a Lord of the Treasury. In 1774 he became Secretary and Comptroller to the Queen. He represented the Borough of Christ Church till the day of his death, was assiduous in the discharge of his parliamentary duty and occasionally took a share in debates. See Memoirs of the Author by his Son, prefixed to his works. S. C.]
pathos, manlier reflection, and the fresher and more
Aure dell' angoscioso viver mio
E dolce sì, che più non mi par grave
A scherzare, e cantar per suoi boschetti,
Pacifiche, ma spesso in amorosa
Alla stagione acerba
Verdi insegne del giglio e della rosa,
Movete, Aure, pian pian; che tregua ò posa,
E so ben dove:-Oh vago, e mansueto
Hor come un scoglio stassi,
Hor come un rio se'n fugge,
Ed hor crud' orsa rugge,
Hor canta angelo pio: ma che non fassi?
E che non fammi, O sassi,
O rivi, o belue, o Dii, questa mia vaga
Piangendo mi baciaste,
various imagery, which give a value and a name that
Lasso! non vonne errando,
E non piango, e non grido? e qual pur forte?
Risi e piansi d'Amor; nè però mai
Se non in fiamma, ò 'n onda, ò 'n vento scrissi:
[Filli in Strozzi's Madrigal. S. C.]