Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/148



of our tongue ; yet none likewise have sunk so low as to merit a rank amongst the corrupters of it; and it is to be hoped_that the Works offra Ciro di- Efirs^ Claudio Achillini, Luca Assarino, Giovanni Ciampoli, Girolamo Preti, Antonio Abati and the other imitators and improvers of the marinian corru£tipn, will b^ totally lost and forgotten in a short time. ^

Thús háve I traced our language step after step from the twelfth century down to our present times. To give an account of our living writers to an Englishman is needless, as the best amongst them have but followed the good path pointed out to them by their earliest predecessors and made almost no advance towards the enlarging the compass of our tongue, though, upon the whole, it is my opinion, that ne ver so much real knowledge was spread amongst the Italians as at present.

I cannot nevertheless pass in silence two living poets, who have struck out two new tracks thro’ the vast continent of literature. I cannot resist the impulses of admiration for Pietro Metastasio and the calls of friendship for Giancarlo Passeroni, who have not only added to the splendour of our poetry, but, what is stili more commendable, have interspersed their works with the dogms of the strictest morality, an ornament, as I took notice before, too much neglected by the generality of our authors of the three good ages of our language.

Metastasio has published many operas, oratorios, cantatas and songs, in so harmonious a style, that our musicians are chiefly indebted to him for the honour of having their compositions relished at present in almost ali parts of Europe; yet the most judicious part of our readers like Metastasio ’s verses better without than with music, as it but seldom happens that the composers keep pace with the poet. They either slacken when his poetry requires to be expressed with forcible notes or sink into effeminacy when it demands but softness.

Metastasio well deserves the honours paid him by the present age, for besides his unparallelled harmoniousness in versification, his language is most perspicuous, his invention of characters and interesting situations almost equal to that of