Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/313


Joseph Baretti to the english reader

In an age disposed, like this, to musical entertainments, and in a nation acquainted, like the English, with learned antiquit}’, I see no reason why literature and pleasure should not contribute to each other, and why the odes of Horace should not find their way from the school and college to gayer scenes.

Whenever I hapjjened to look into those odes, I have wondered at the inattention of our composers, who, ever since the invention of modem music, have been hunting every where for harmonious verses, yet ne ver bethought themselves of Horace ’s, which in point of harmony, as well as of other excellence, are, by universal confession, superior to any thing of the kind produced these two thousand years. Pergolesi, Leo, Porpora, Sanmartino and many more, owe no small part of their celebrity to their having set Latin verses to music, such as the Stabat Mater, the Dies trae, the Tantum ergo and the Veni Creator. They went further, and set to music various pieces in Latin prose, such as the Miserere, the Deprofundis, the Lamentationes Jeremiae and several others, as it is well known to every lover of their art. How they could go so far, yet leave Horace totally unnoticed, nor ever try what could be done with his lyric poetry, cannot but create astonishment, as it is more than probable they would there have opened themselves a mine of music, if I may so cali it, productive of the greatest riches and not soon to be exhausted. But so it will oftentimes