Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/147



I bave said that the immediate successors of Torquato Tasso made no advantageous additions to our language; but this happened rather for want of judgment than of genius in many of them. Tasso had even an immediate successor, who, for vastness of imagination, command of language and poetical powers, would perhaps have surpassed him and equalled Ariosto, had he not, out of a foolish fondness for novelty, deviated fròm the ri ght track of comm on se n se.,

ThisjuaiLj^s Giambattista Manni, whose surprising_fa^ ity^ in versificatioa-’ fitled Italy in a few years with his epic, lyric, satirical and pastoral works, with which he so much dazzled thè eyes òTTiis countrymen as made them almost totally forget their old writers; and his exuberant fancy, expanding itself into bold metaphors and wild exaggerations, entirely corrupted, with astonishing rapidit}’, the taste of his contemporaneous authors and readers, so that many of them improving extravagance with extravagance and engrafting nonsense upon nonsense, published innumerable books, big with bombastic and far-fetched thoughts, clad with humorous and unnatural language.

That unhappy centur>’ was, towards the end of it, and on the beginning of this, branded by the Italians with the dishonourable appellat ion o f cattivo secolo della lingua, in opposition to the age of Petrarch, honoured, as I said, with that of buon secolo della lingua. Nor can we gfive a more opprobrious character to a bad modern~scribbTèr, than"^y calling Tilrif~«^ sec entista ^ that is a writer like those of the seventeenth centuryT’

About the end of the last and the beginning of this present age, Francesco Redi, the famous physician, Alessandro Marchetti, Lorenzo Magalotti, Benedetto Menzini, Lorenzo Bellini, Antónmaria Salviní and some other Tuscans destroyed at last the charm of corruption and brought their countrymen again within sight of nature.

It is true that, although taste was at last restored amongst us, none of those poets or prosatori who have flourished since the literary reformation in Italy have deserved to be compared with Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio and the other fathers or improvers