« ZurückWeiter »
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
In grave Quintilian's copious work, we find
Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire, 675 And bless their critic with a poet's fire. An ardent judge, who, zealous in his trust, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just : Whose own example strengthens all his laws; And is himself that great sublime he draws. 680
Thus long succeeding critics justly reign’d, License repress’d, and useful laws ordain'd. Learning and Rome alike in empire grew; And arts still follow'd where her eagles flew ; 684
669 Grave Quintilian. The manuscripts of Quintilian, complete, were found by the learned Poggio, in 1417, in the dust at the bottom of a tower of the monastery of St. Gal, near Constance : Silius Italicus and Valerius Flaccus were exhumed from the burial of centuries at the same place and period. This was the age of learned discovery, and the enthusiasm of the discoverers was fully proportioned to the value of the prize. Leonardo Aretino congratulates Poggio in raptures worthy only of a scholar and an Italian :- By your exertions we are at length in possession of a perfect copy of Quintilian. I bave inspected the titles of the books; we have now the intire treatise, of which before we had only one half, and that in a very mutilated state. O, what a valuable acquisition ! wbat an unexpected pleasure! Shall I then behold Quintilian whole and intire, who, even in his imperfect state, was so rich a source of delight? I entreat you, my dear Poggio, to send me the manuscripts as soon as possible, that I may see them before I die.'—Shepherd's Life of Poggio.
From the same foes, at last, both felt their doom,
At length Erasmus, that great injured name,
bays; Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread, Shakes off the dust, and rears his reverend head. Then Sculpture and her sister-arts revive; 701 Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live; With sweeter notes each rising temple rung; A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung. Immortal Vida ; on whose honor'd brow 705 The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow :
705 Immorta! Vida. A rare instance of poetry leading to the highest honors of professional life. Vida was the son of a Cremonese peasant, but of an ancient Italian line. In a day when Latin was the universal language of scholarship, and verse the favorite accomplishment of the Roman court, the young poet and scholar was taken into the patronage of the most accomplished, elegant, and voluptuous prince that ever refined the taste, or swelled the profligacy, of modern RomeLeo X.: from Leo he obtained a priory. He was now in the high road to fortune : by Clement VII, he was preferred, on the merits of his Christiad,' to the bishopric of Alba : from Paul III. he was on the point of obtaining
Cremona now shall ever boast thy name,
But soon by impious arms from Latium chased,
tell, • Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.'
the more important bishopric of his native city. But the pope died : Vida's poetic fire, his fame, or the pontifical fondness for poetry, passed away with him; and the author of the Scacchia,' of all modern Latinity, perhaps the most dexterous and the most popular specimen, remained in Alba, where, in 1566, at the age of seventy-six, he died. He was a vigorous critic, an active political writer, and a learned controversialist; but his poetry was the foundation of his fortune.
723 Such was the Muse. The duke of Buckingham's rank, opulence, and love of literature, intitled him to more distinction than he deserved by his ability: but he was the object of panegyric to the whole living generation of poets. Yet not to all with equal success. Pope's insertion of this couplet in his second edition, touched the feeling or the vanity, which had been so often wooed in vain; and from that period this powerful nobleman was his friend.
Such was Roscommon, not more learn'd than good;
wing, Her guide now lost, no more attempts to rise, But in low numbers short excursions tries; Content, if hence the unlearn'd their wants may
view, The learn'd reflect on what before they knew : 740 Careless of censure, nor too fond of fame; Still pleased to praise, yet not afraid to blame: Averse alike to flatter or offend; Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend.
725 Such was Roscommon. An •Essay on Translated Verse' seems, at first sight, to be a barren subject; yet Roscommon has decorated it with many precepts of utility and taste, and enlivened it with a tale in imitation of Boileau.
744 Nor yet too vain to mend. Probably adopted from the concluding lines of Boileau's' Art of Poetry:'
Censeur un peu facheux, mais souvent nécessaire ;
IN FOUR EPISTLES :
TO SEVERAL PERSONS.
Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se