Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/143



ignorance of our language and epic poetry, as well as the impudence of their temper. But this subject would lead me too far beyond the limits I have prescribed to this dissertation. Perhaps I shall hereafter fully discuss this mattar in a treatise for this purpose and expose them to the ridicule they deserve for their temerity on this head. Meanwhile let the English reader take my word for it, that Ariosto is the greatest poet that my poetical country ever produced; for a specimen of his poetry, I select that part of the xxiii canto in whicli he describes his liero tuming mad out of love and jealousj’:

Volgendosi ivi intorno vide scritti molti arboscelli in sull’ombrosa riva, ecc. (0.

Ariosto had a prodigious number of contemporaries that increased and beautified the Italian tongue with their works; amongst whom Annibale Caro is perhaps the best model of familiar writing we have; Claudio Tolomei, Francesco Maria Molza, Giangiorgio Trissino, the author of the Italia liberata, an epic poem in blank verse, Nicolò Machiavello, Bernardo Segni, Giacomo Bonfadio, Andrea Navagero, Agostino Beaziano, Trifon Gabrieli, Benedetto Varchi, Bernardo Tasso, the father of the famous Torquato, Iacopo Sannazaro, Sperone Speroni, Baldassare Castiglione, Giovanni Guidiccioni, Lodovico Castel vetro, Berardino Rota, Giovanni Della Casa and others; besides some ladies whose performances are stili the admiration of our wits, especially those of Veronica da Gambara, Vittoria Colonna, Laura Battiferra, Tullia d’Aragona and Gaspara Stampa.

The succeeding generation of writers was much inferior to that of Ariosto in number, as well as in language. The Italians, weary of simplicity which is the chief characteristic of their tongue, began to for.sake the old road and seek for a new one. That interval nevertheless produced Torquato Tasso, whose Gerusalemme liberata will last as long as any performance in Italian.

(i) XXIII, st. 102-33 [Ed]