Abbildungen der Seite

tical, spirit so much in vogue, which has spread itself from the sciences, even into polite literature, by consulting only Reason, has not diminished and destroyed Sentiment, and made our poets write from and to the Head, rather than the Heart; or whether, lastly, when^Just models, from which the rules have necessarily been drawn, have once appeared, succeeding writers, by vainly and ambitiously striving to surpass those just models, and to shine and surprise, do not become stiff, and forced, and affected in their thoughts and diction.^



the Moderns have excelled the Ancients in any species of writing, it seems to be in satire, and particularly in that kind of satire which is conveyed in the form of the epopee; a pleasing vehicle of satire, seldom, if ever, used by the ancients ;\, for we know so little of the Margites of Homer, that it cannot well be produced as an example. s.As the poet disappears in this way of writing, and does not deliver the intended censure in his own proper person, the satire becomes more delicate, because more oblique. Add to this, that a tale or story more strongly engages and interests the reader, than a series of precepts or reproofs, or even of characters themselves, however lively and natural. An heroi-comic poem may therefore be justly esteemed the most excellent kind of satire^

The ''^TCie invention of it is usually ascribed to Alessandro Tassoni; who, in the year ] 622, published at Paris, a poem composed by him, in a few months of the year 1611, entitled La Secchia Rapita; or, The Rape of the Biicket^fr To avoid giving offence, it was first printed under the name of Androvini Melisoni. It was afterwards reprinted at Venice, corrected, with the name of the author, and with some illustrations of Gasparo Salviani. But the learned and curious Crescembini, in his Istoria della Volgar Poesia* informs us, that it is doubtful whether the invention of the f heroi comic poem ought to be ascribed to Tassoni, or to Francesco Bracciolini, who wrote % Lo Scherno De Gli Dei, which performance, though it was printed four years after La Secchia, is nevertheless declared in an epistle prefixed, to have been written many years sooner. The real subject of Tassoni's poem, was


* Lib. i. pag. 78. In Roma, per il Chracas, 1698.

•f E tal Poesia puo diffinirsi, e chianiarsi, immitazione d'azione seria fatto con riso. Crescembini, ibid. See Quadrio also.

J In Venetia, 1627. There is prefixed, by way of preface, a facetious dialogue betwixt Thalia and Urania.

the war which the inhabitants of Modena declared against those of Bologna, on the refusal of the latter to restore to them some towns which had been detained ever since the time of the emperor Frederic II. The author artfully made use of a popular tradition, according to which it was believed, that a certain wooden bucket, which is kept at Modena, in the treasury of the cathedral, came from Bologna, and that it had been forcibly taken away by the Modenese. Crescembini adds, that because Tassoni had severely ridiculed the Bolognese, Bartolomeo Bocchini, to revenge his countrymen, printed at Venice, 1641, a tragico-heroi-comic poem, entitled Le Pazzie De Savi, overo, Ii Lambertaccio, in which the Modenese are spoken of with much contempt. The Italians have a fine turn for works of humour, in which they abound. They have another poem of this species, called Malmantile Racquistato, written by Lorenzo Lippi, in the year 1676, which Crescembini* highly commends, calling it, "Spiritosisimo e legiadrissimo poema giacoso." It was afterwards reprinted at


[ocr errors]

Florence 1688, with the useful annotations of Puccio Lamoni, a Florentine painter, who was himself no contemptible poet.

*£jHie Lutrin of Boileau was the second remarkable poem, in which the Serious and Comic were happily blended^ Boileau himself has left us a circumstantial account of what gave occasion to this poem; which account, because it is entertaining, and not printed in some later editions of his works, I will insert at length. "I shall not here act like Ariosto, who frequently, when he is going to relate the most absurd story in the world, solemnly protests it to be true, and supports it by the authority of archbishop Turpin. For my part, I freely declare, the whole poem of the Desk is nothing but pure fiction; that it is all invented, even to the name itself of the place where the action passes. An odd occasion gave rise to this poem. In a company I was lately engaged in, the conversation turned upon epic poetry: every one delivered his opinion, according to his abilities: 'when mine was asked, I confirmed what I had advanced in my Art of Poetry, that an heroic poem, to be truly excellent, ought


« ZurückWeiter »