Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/151



men of great wit and learning, but such is the present condition of the country,

che Appenin parte e 7 mar circonda e l’Alpe,

as to leave me but faint hopes of seeing literary men much countenanced there, since the best part of it is in the hand of strangers, that think more of plunder than of literature, and do not care to preser\’e a language they scarcely understand. It is even probable that our tongue will soon be no more a tongue, as the Tuscans, who are the naturai guardians of it, besides meeting no encouragement fot writing in it, are obliged to get some knowledge of foreign gabbles, that they may talk to their ignorant masters, who mixing on their part their French and German words and phrases with the few Tuscan they catch by conversing with their subjects, must in a short while beget a monstrous jargon; and if the source of the language is once tainted, the corruption will quickly run ali along the stream and quite poison it.

May the tutelar genius of Italy avert the melancholy catastrophe, and may a young prince, who gave in his earliest years the most hopeful signs that he would one day be the promoter as well as the cultivator of Italian learning, keep our language from sinking into a dead language so soon as I apprehend. May my expectation not be frustrated of hearing the banks of the Po, the Tiber, the Mincio, the Sebeto and the Arno, and both the shores of my country, with the Alps and Appenines, loudly re-echo his name and repeat the Italian verses that shall be sung in his praise!