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Ariosto had in his youth acquired such a reputatíon by his Latin verses, that having in his riper years communicated to his friend cardinal Bembo the design he had formed of writing an Italian epic poem, the cardinal exerted ali his powers to dissuade him from such an enterprize, telling him that he certainly would acquire an everlasting name if he continued to beat the lyric tracie in Latin, but would absolutely forfeit his poetical fame by attemptíng this second road to immortality.
But the good luck of Italy would bave it that when Ariosto communicated his pian to Bembo he had already written some cantos of the Orlartelo, and having read them to his relation and master, the duke of Ferrara, both the duke and his learned courtiers joined against Bembo ’s opinion, so that Ariosto went on in his work with a steady resolution; and in spite of his politicai occupations, in which he was involved as long as he lived, and the care of a numerous family which he was obliged to provide for, he was able to finish it in the space of thirteen years.
The poem was scarcely multiplied by an edition when the author had the agreeable surprize of hearing ali Italy resounding with the praises given to his performance. The learned bestowed upon Ariosto the most enthusíastical appellations, and the people showed him the same testimonies of reverence that the Grecians showed three thousand years before to their blind bard, by committing the Orlando to memory and singing it through the streets. So numerous were the beauties found in the poem, that the pen of criticism dared not at that time to point out even some faults that might bave been discovered in it; and the Florentines, who, proud of their Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio, stooped with difficulty to acknowledge that any body could write with Tuscan purit>’, presently granted that Ariosto ’s language was most elegant and inferior to nobody ’s; nor did his reputation, like a sudden flash of lightning, surprize, dazzle and disappear, as was the case at that time with the impious Peter Aretine, and in the last centur>’ with John Baptist Marini; but, sun-like, it constantly shone with an equal lustre and is as bright in our days, asTt was two huhdfèd yeáfs"ágo.