Pagina:Baretti - Prefazioni e polemiche.djvu/314



happen, that the most obvious attainments, though ever so valuable, will be overlooked and less desirable advantages pursued with eagerness.

That the odes of Horace are susceptible of the finest music, I take for granted no body will contest; and if it should be doubted or denied, I hope my friend Philidor will soon evince that cavil must fall before experience. It appears from many passages in those odes that they were intended for music; nay, that they were sung in the very act of their existence. Horace has said it repeatedly that he composed them at the sound of the barbiton and the cithara; and I bave always taken bis words literally, because the custom stili subsists in many parts of Italy, especially in Horace ’s native province, of composing verses after that manner. The Apulians and Calabrians of this day compose their rude songs, sometimes deliberately, oftener extempore, to the sound of the guitar and the colascione, which, if the truth was known, would be set down in ali lexicons as perfect equivalents of the cithara and the barbiton, notwithstanding the present vulgarity of their names. The Spaniards likewise, who, in language as in other particulars, bear a greater resemblance to the eastern Italians than any other people, bave that same custom over the greatest part of their country; nor would it be easy to prove that they came by that custom otherwise than the Apulians and Calabrians. To derive it from the northern nations, which, overthrowing the empire severally possessed themselves of Spain and Italy, is less probable, as it is not recorded that the northern nations had any such custom .

I am not to be told that the English, the French and other cultivators of poetry ali over Europe make verses in their respective languages, without any help either from their own voice, or from any musical instrument. It does not however follow, that their practice is universal. It is one of the least controverted opinions among mankind, that poetry, in her originai, went band in band with music, and singing was inseparable from playing in the metrical compositions of the first