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generally attributed of having restored* the elegance of the Latin tongue; particularly in poetry. But a late acute searcher into antiquity, whose death is justly lamented, the learned Scipio Maffei, has informed us,f in a curious passage, that this was not so much owing to Petrarch, as to Albertino Mussato, a native of Padua; with whose merit the learned seem not to be sufficiently acquainted. Mussato died very old, after having borne the greatest offices in his country, in the year 1329; that is to say, thirty-five years before Petrarch. He wrote not only many books of a history of his own times, and of the emperor Henry VII. but also an heroic poem on the siege of Padua, by the Veronese, under the


Toscani autori comune, e con loro anche comune 1' autorità, da ogni regolator dalla lingua riconosciuta, i quali, tra molti altri, furono Guidotto Bolognese, Marco Polo Veneziano, Pier Crescenzio da Bologna, Guido Giudice Messinese, Giacopo Colonna Romano, Frederico II. imperadore, Pier delle "Vigne . Capoano, Benvenuto da Imola, Fra Jacopone da Todi, Onesto Bolognese, Guido Guislieri, Semprebene, Fabrovio, Guido Guislieri, Jacopo della Lana, Giotto Mantovano."

Gravina della Bag. Poet. lib. ii. p. 170.

* When Petrarch wrote his Africa, he had not seen Silius Italic us.

t Teatro Italiano. In Verona, 1723. torn. i. p. 4.

great Can; together with eclogues, elegies, epistles in verse, and an Ovidian Cento. However, to form a full judgment in this case, one need only peruse his two Latin tragedies, entitled EcCerinis, and Achilles, which he composed in the style and manner of Seneca; and which were the first regular and perfect dramas that are to be found since the barbarous and obscure ages.*

48. Immortal Vida; on whose honour'd brow
The Poet's bays and Critic's ivy grow.f

The merits of Vida seem not to have been particularly attended to in England, till Pope had bestowed this commendation upon him; although the Poetics had been correctly published at Oxford, by Basil Kennet, some time before. The Silk-worms of Vida are written with classical purity, and with a just mixture of the styles


* Scardonius, in his Antiquities*of Padua, relates, page 130, that Alber. Mussato was so highly honoured, that the Bishop of Padua gave him a laurel crown, and issued an edict, that, on every Christmas-day, the doctors, regents, and professors, of the two colleges in that city, should go to his house in solemn procession with wax tapers in their hands, and offer him a triple crown.

t Ver. 705.

of Lucretius and Virgil. It Mras a happy choice to write a poem on Chess: nor is the execution less happy. The various stratagems, and manifold intricacies, of this ingenious game, so difficult to be described in Latin, are here expressed with the greatest perspicuity and elegance; so I that, perhaps, the game might be learned from J this description. Amidst many prosaic flatnesses, there are many fine strokes in the Christiad; particularly, his angels, with respect to their persons and insignia, are drawn with that dignity .which we so mUch admire in Milton, who seems to have had his eye on those passages. *Gravina applauds Vida, for having found out a method to introduce the whole history of our Saviour's life, by putting it into the mouth of St. Joseph and St. John, who relate it to Pilate. But surely this speech, consisting of as many lines as that of Dido to ^Eneas, was too long to be made on such an occasion, when Christ was brought before the tribunal of Pilate, to be judged, and condemned to death. The Poetics are, perhaps, the most perfect of his compositions: they are excellently translated by Pitt. Vida had formed


* Delia Ragion, Poet, page 127.

himself upon Virgil, who is therefore his hero: he has too much depreciated Homer. Although his precepts principally regard epic poetry, yet many of them are applicable to every species of composition. This poem has the praise of being one of the * first, if not the very first, pieces of criticism, that appeared in Italy since the revival of learning: for it was finished, as is evident from a short advertisement prefixed to it, in the year 1520. It is remarkable, that most of the great poets about this time wrote an Art of Poetry. Trissino, a name respected for giving to Europe the first regular epic poem, and for first daring to throw off the bondage of rhyme, f published at Vicenza, in the year 1529, Della Poetica, divisioni quattro, several years before his Italia Liberata. We have of Fracastorius, Naugerius, svoe de Poetica dialogus, Venetiis, J555. Minturnus, De Poeta, libri sex, ap^


* Victorius's Latin translation of Aristotle's Poetics wis published at Florence, 1560. Castlevetro's Italian one at Vienna, 1570.

f As did his contemporary, Alonso de Fuentes, in Spain, who published at Seville, in 1577, in blank verse, a Poem, entitled, La Suma de Philosophia.

peared at Venice 1559. Bernardo Tasso, the father of Torquato, and author of an epic poem entitled L'Amadigi, wrote Ragionamento della Poesia, printed at Venice, 1562. And to pay the highest honour to criticism, the great Torquato Tasso himself wrote Discorsi del Poema Eroico, printed at Venice, 1587. These discourses are full of learning and taste. But I must not omit a curious anecdote, which * Menage has given us in his Anti-Baillet; namely, that Sperone claimed these discourses as his own: for he thus speaks of them in one of his letters to Felice Paciotto: <{ Laudo voi infinitamente di voler scrivere della poetica; della quale interrogato molto fiate dal Tasso,f e rispondendogli io liberamente, si come soglio, egli n'a fatto un volume, e mandato al Signior Scipio Gonzaga per cosa sua, e non mea: ma io ne chiarirò il mondo."

49. And

* Tom. 1. page 353.

f It may be remarked, as an instance of Tasso's Judgment, that he himself did not approve .the episode of Sophronia and Olindo, so commonly censured.

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