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litated by that timidity and caution which is occafioned by a regard to the dictates of art: or whether, that philofophical, that geometrical, and fyftematical spirit so much in vogue, which has spread itself from the sciences even into polite literature, by confulting only REASON, has not diminished and destroyed SENTIMENT; and made our poets write from and to the HEAD rather than the HEART: or whether, laftly, when juft models, from which the rules have neceffarily been drawn, have once appeared, fucceeding writers, by ambitiously endeavouring to furpass those just models, and to be original and new, do not become distorted and unnatural, in their thoughts and diction,
Of the RAPE of the Lock.
F the Moderns have excelled the Ancients
in any fpecies of writing, it feems to be in fatire: and, particularly in that kind of fatire, which is conveyed in the form of the epopee, a pleafing vehicle of fatire never used by the ancients. As the poet disappears in this way of writing, and does not deliver the intended cenfure in his own proper perfon, the fatire becomes more delicate, because more oblique. Add to this, that a tale or story more strongly engages and interefts the reader, than a series of precepts or reproofs, or even of characters themselves, however lively and natural. An heroi-comic poem may therefore be justly esteemed the most excellent kind of fatire,
THE invention of it is ufually afcribed to Aleffandro Taffoni; who in the year 1622, published at Paris, a poem composed by him,
in a few months of the year 1611, entitled. LA SECCHIA RAPITA, or The Rape of the Bucket. To avoid giving offence, it was first printed under the name of Androvini Melifoni. It was afterwards reprinted at Venice, corrected, with the name of the author, and with fome illuftrations of Gafparo Salviani. But the learned and curious Crefcembini, in his Iftoria della Volgar Poefia,
that it is doubtful whether the invention of the † heroi-comic poem ought to be ascribed to Taffoni, or to Francefco Bracciolini, who wrote LO SCHERNO DE GLI DEI, which performance, though it was printed four years after LA SECCHIA, is nevertheless declared in an epiftle prefixed, to 1 ave been written many years fooner. The real fubject of Taffoni's poem, was the war which the inhabitants of Modena declared against those of Bologna, on the refufal of the latter to reftore to them fome towns, which had been detained ever fince the time
* Lib. i. pag. 78.. In Roma, per il Chracas, 1698. +E tal Poefia puo diffinirfi, e chiamarfi, immitazione d'azione feria fatto con rifo. Crescembini, ibid.
of the emperor Frederic II. The author artfully made ufe of a popular tradition, according to which it was believed, that a certain woodden bucket, which is kept at Modena in the treasury of the cathedral, came from Bologna, and that it had been forcibly taken away by the Modenefe. Crefcembini adds, that because Taffoni had feverely ridiculed the Bolognese, Bartolomeo Bocchini, to revenge his countrymen, printed at Venice MDCXLI, a tragico-heroicomic poem, entitled LE PAZZIE DE SAVI, overo, IL LAMBERTACCIO, in which the Modenese are spoken of with much contempt. The Italians have a fine turn for works of humour, in which they abound. They have another poem of this fpecies, called MalMANTILE RACQUISTATO, written by Lorenzo Lippi, in the year MDCLXXVI, which Crefcembini highly commends, calling it,
Spiritofifimo e legiadriffimo poema gia"cofo." It was afterwards reprinted at Florence MDCLXXXVIII, with the useful anno
Pag. 368. lib. 5.
tations of Puccio Lamoni, a Florentine painter, who was himself no contemptible poet.
THE LUTRIN of Boileau was the fecond remarkable poem, in which the Serious and Comic were happily blended. Boileau himfelf has given a circumftantial account of what occafion to this gave poem; which account, because it is entertaining, and not printed in the common editions of his works, I will infert at length. "I fhall not here act like Ariofto, who frequently when he is going to relate the moft abfurd story in the world, folemnly protests it to be true, and supports it by the authority of archbishop Turpin. For my part I freely declare, the whole poem of the DESK is nothing but pure fiction; that it is all invented, even to the name itself of the place where the action paffes. An odd occafion gave rife to this poem. company I was lately engaged in, the converfation turned upon epic poetry: every one delivered his opinion, according to his abilities; when mine was afked, I confirmed