Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/100



Yet this daring critic treats our poets with contempt, and those poets too whose works have been equally the delight of the learned and ignorant: a privilege that only Homer, Shakespeare, Corneille and very few others have been able to obtain; and mentions Ariosto in the same ludicrous style in which the French satirist spoke of the abbot Cotin.

Besides those contumelies Mr. Voltaire hath thrown upon my country in that Essay and in others of his works, I was net a little ofifended when, in reading the writings of many other French authors, good and bad, I found an infinite number of coarse and unreasonable invectives against the productions of Italy, and especially against those which are in the greatest esteem and veneration amongst us.

Stimulated by an honest zeal for the honour of our authors, I resolved to trace the origin of this, I know not whether to say dull insensibility, prò found ignorance or jealous disingenuity in the French nation; and having read many of their books, I have, in my opinion, disco vered the rise and progress of the extravagant and unjust censure, by which they have so long injured my countrymen.

Tasso was scarce dead in Rome(i), after having filled ali Europe with his fame, when John Baptist Marini began to distinguish himself in Naples as a poet.

This man, born with an imagination as strong and lively as Italy ever produced, in the compass of a few j^ears overspread^ his country with his verses.

It is indeed a great loss to us that the judgment of Marini was so much inferior to his fancy; had he had sufficient Xdiscernment to know what to choose and what to reject, he would have reached as great excellence in poetry as any other poet ancient or modem ever did: his knowledge was very extensive in ali sciences and in ali arts, liberal or mechanic, and his facility in clothing his thoughts in rime was wonderful. But he did not study his language thoroughly, and not being

(i) Torquato Tasso born in Surrento in the year 1544, died in Rome in 1595.