Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/124



of his countrymen, that the Italian poets are not so bad as they bave been represented; and if this discourse of mine is favourably received, it will encourage me to resumé the subject, and treat of some other of our epic poets, who in Italy are not thought inferior to Dante in their several ways: among whom are Boiardo, Pulci and Tasso. But I shall enlarge particularly upon Ariosto, who, as I collect from French and English authors, is not yet well understood by foreigners; and I will endeavour to show that it is true what our best critics say, that we, having such a poet, need not envy Greece its Homer and Latium Virgil. Ariosto is generally allowed among us to be the greatest of our poets; and we deservedly confer the same honour on his Orlando that Greece did on the Iliad, learning it by heart and singing it in the streets, both day and night. I will enlarge also upon our dramatic, lyric, pastoral, dithyrambic and burlesque poets, and al ways support the characters I shall give of them with quotations from their works in Italian and English.

I will only add that I hope the favourers of Voltaire will pardon the freedom taken with him in my reflections. A freedom not inconsistent with the esteem I bave for some of his writings. Though I bave been a little severe against the Essay on epic poetry in London, yet I bave shed tears in Paris at the representation of Zaire. We may despise the Satire upon man though we praise the Lutrin, and laugh at the tragedy of Agesilaus though written by Corneille.