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poem, that being delivered in a most easy strain, will certainly make the bulk of his readers better than they are, and consequently render his name dear to his contemporaries and venerable to posterity; especially if in the next edition he shall expunge some passages that are too burlesque or rather too vulgar, and if he is made sensible that he has done amiss in running down physicians, to whom he has, like Molière, been quite unjust, casting ridicule on their respectable art, whenever his subject brought him to talk of physic.
A specimen of Passeroni ’s poetry I take from the twentyninth canto, where, after having said that Cicero ’s father chose a Tuscan poet to be the governor and preceptor of his son, our author runs into a digression in praise of the poetical art, too much despised in Italy by a multitude of ignorant people, who confounding poetasters (of which there are great numbers) with poets, are continually declaiming against it:
Un poeta per aio a Cicerone, un che compone versi in lingua losca, ecc. (i).
The present state of our language in Italy is neither very good nor very bad. Besides Metastasio and Passeroni, we bave many poets and prose- writers not destitute of elegance, but our present poets stand at a great distance from Ariosto and Tasso, and we are far from boasting now of novellista like Boccaccio and Firenzuola; of historians, like Machiavelli and Guicciardini; of critics, like Vellutello and Castelvetro; and of philosophers, like Piccolomini and Galileo; yet Cocchi, Lami, Gori, Foscarini, Zanetti, Volpi, Martinelli, Gozzi, Marsili, Vitturi, Zanetti, Vettori, Frugoni, Balestrieri, Tanzi and some others, will, in my opinion, be reverenced by posterity and ranked amongst the benefactors of mankind, if they publish their voluminous writings, which I suppose to be equal to the short specimens they bave already printed. Our universities and our -academies are not wanting in
(i) XXIX, st. 21-29, 31-43 [Ed.].