« PreviousContinue »
Poi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,
Madonna a voi del mio cuor l'humil dono
De pensieri leggiadro, accorto, e buono;
Quando rugge il gran mondo,e scocca il tuono,
Tanto del forse, e d'invidia securo,
Quanto d'ingegno, e d'alto valor vago,
E di cetra sonora, e delle muse:
Lady, to you a youth unknown to art,
(Who fondly from himself in thought would fly,)
Devotes the faith, truth, spirit, constancy,
When shakes the world, and thunders roll on high,
All adamant, it dares the storm defy,
Not more above fear, envy, low desire,
Than prone to hail the heaven-resounding lyre,
An eye, like Milton's, created for the enjoyment of beauty in all her shapes, and an imagination, which was ever solicitously vagrant for gratification, even in the regions of Arabian fiction and of Gothic romance,
wealth, high rank and eminent character, deriving his principal renown from the friendship of the illustrious Tasso; of whom he had been the cherisher when living, and the biographer when dead. He now opened his arms to Milton, and received, with kindness, a poet yet superior to his immortal friend. The attentions, which he paid to the English traveller were of the most flattering nature, not only conducting him through the viceroy's palace, and to a sight of all that was worthy to be shown in the city, but honouring him also with some familiar and friendly visits. The imprudent freedom, with which our zealous protestant, unmindful of his friend Wotton's counsel, had discovered his sentiments on the subject of religion, was the only circumstance, which deprived him of a still more free and intimate communication with this elegant Mæcenas of modern Italy. This was intimated to Milton, on his departure from Naples, by Manso himself, who with all his kindnesses on this occasion had not satisfied the liberality of his own mind, and who was desirous of explaining the cause of the imaginary deficiency. He had, indeed, pointed to this offence of religion in a latin distich, with which he had presented his new guest, and which is cer
tainly more remarkable for the height of its
Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,
It has been remarked, and not without malignity, that the complimentary offerings of the Italian wits to our illustrious traveller, are not distinguishable for their merit as compositions. We will not dispute the truth of this observation; or affect to discover much beauty in the latin prose of Dati; or, though this be rather of a higher order, in the Italian verse of Francini. We will even allow that as the praise grows, the poetry dwindles; and that in this last distich, in which the climax of compliment is complete, the Manso of Naples is inferior to the Salsilli, and the Selvaggi of Rome. But the intrinsic or thọ
9 The conceit, such as it is, is borrowed from Gregory the Archdeacon, and afterwards Pope, in the sixth century.
Quà potes, atque avidas Parcarum eludere leges.
Sed neque nos genus incultum, nec inutile Phæbo; Quà plaga septeno mundi sulcata Trione
* Manso became the biographer of his two friends Tasso and Marino.
* Mr. Warton is peculiarly unfortunate in his note on this passage. Not a word in the two lines of Milton is applicable to Plutarch, and every word is applicable to Herodotus. For the former no epithet 'can be conceived as more unhappily selected than “facundus:' to the latter it is admirably appropriate. Of the two lives of Homer, which are extant, it is more probable that the Ionic was written by Herodotus, than that the Attic was the production of Plutarch. Mycale is a mountain not in Bæotia, as Mr.W. affirms, but in Ionia near the borders of Caria, the native country of Herodotus. Ovid, whom Mr. Warton quotes on this occasion, is no evidence respecting the situation of Mycale. In the cited passage his mountains are thrown together without any other reference than to that of netre; and Mycale succeeds to the Phrygian Dindymus :
Dindymaque et Mycale, natusque ad sacra Cithæron. z Chaucer, who travelled into Italy, is distinguished in Spencer's pastorals by the name of Tityrus,
Brumalem patitur longa sub nocte Boöten.
Fortunate senex, ergo, quacunque per orbein
Upis, Loxo, and Hecaērge are the names of the daughters of Boreas, who offer presents to Apollo in Callimachus's hymn to Delos.
από ξανθων αριμασπών Ουπις τε λοξώ τε και ευαιων εκαεργη Θυγατέρες βορέαο, ,
Υμν' εις Δηλον.
• The fable of Apollo, driven by Jupiter from heaven, and compelled to tend the flocks of Admetus king of Thessaly, is too well known to require a repetition of it. Mr. Warton bas observed, before me, that Milton in this passage has imitated a beautiful chorus in the Alcestis. I wish, however, that Milton on this occasion had preserved the moderation of Euripides, and restricted to the animal creation the effects of Apollo's melodies: but perhaps no limitation of power need necessarily be prescribed to the lyre of a god.