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Envy, and heart-inquietude, derived

From intricate cabals of treacherous friends.

I, who on shipboard lived from earliest youth,

Could represent the countenance horrible

Of the vexed waters, and the indignant rage

Of Auster and Bootes. Forty years

Over the well-steer'd galleys did I rule :

From huge Pelorus to the Atlantic pillars,

Rises no mountain to mine eyes unknown ;

And the broad gulphs I traversed oft and oft ;

Of every cloud which in the heavens might stir

I knew the force; and hence the rough sea's pride

Avail'd not to my vessel's overthrow.


What noble pomp, and frequent, have not I
On regal decks beheld ! Yet in the end
I learn that one poor moment can suffice
To equalise the lofty and the low.
We sail the sea of life a calm one finds,
And one a tempest and, the voyage o'er,
Death is the quiet haven of us all.*

The tranquil life of Chiabrera was agreeably varied
by his love,, not exactly of travelling, but of visiting
the various cities of Italy, and by the honours paid
him by its princes, in recompence for his poetry, which
was enthusiastically admired by all his countrymen. He
never made any long stay away from home, except
at Genoa and Florence, and there he possessed friends
who were glad to welcome him ; for if he was of an iras-
cible, he was of a placable disposition, and though serious
of aspect, he was gay and good-humoured in society.
The grand duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand I., held him
in high esteem, and employed him in arranging various
dramatic representations on the marriage of Mary de'
Medici with the king of France. Charles Emanuel.
duke of Savoy, made him generous offers of remunera-
tion, if he would take up his abode at his court ; but
Chiabrera wisely preferred his independence. It has

* Per il Signer Giambattista Feo.

Uomo non e, che pervenuto a morte

Non possa raccontar della sua vita

Lunghi travagli. II cavalier di Marte

Dira le piaghe, e lo splendor de' brandi,

Ed il suon delle trombe : il condennato,

Nellegrart Reggie, ad inchinar la fronte,

De' Re scettrati, narrera le frodi,

Le lunghe invidie, ed i sofferti affanni

Infra le schiere de' bugiardi amici.

lo, che mi vissi in su spalmate prore,

Potrei rappresentar 1' orribil faccia

Del mar irato, ed i rabbiosi sdegni

d'Austro e di Boote. Anni cinquanta

Commandai su galere a buon nocchieri :

Dal gran Peloro all' Atlantei cplonne

Non sorge monte a gli occhi miei non noto,

E gli ampj golfi veleggiai piti volte :

D' ogni nube, che in ciel fosse raccolta,

Seppi la forza, onde marino orgoglio

A' legni miei non valse fare oltraggio.

Che nobil pompa non mirai sovente

Su regie poppe ? E pure io provo al fine,

Che ledisuguaglianze un' ora adegua.

Tutti quaggiuso navighiamo in forse.

Altri ha tempesta, ed altri ha calma, e poscia

Nel porto della Morte ognun da fondo.

31 4


been mentioned that he arranged the interludes of
a comedy of Guarini, when it was represented on
occasion of the marriage of the son of the duke of
Mantua with a princess of Savoy. All these princes
rewarded him with gifts, or honours, which he seems
to have set a still higher value upon ; lodging him in
their palaces, sending their carriages for his conveyance^
and permitting him to remain covered in their presence.
He had been the intimate friend of cardinal Barberini,
and when the latter was created pope, under the name
of Urban VIII., Chiabrera often visited Rome, though
he would never reside there ; and the pope made him
priestly gifts of agnus del and medallions, and in the
year of the jubilee wrote him a brief, or letter of
compliment, similar to those sent to sovereign princes
and men of the highest rank.

Chiabrera was always an orthodox catholic, "a
sinner," he expresses it, " but not without Christian de-
votion. He had Santa Lucia for his advocate, and
during a space of sixty years, he never failed twice a
day to devote himself to pious thoughts, which con-
tinued uppermost in his mind all his life." His
moderate desires and temperate habits assisted to pre-
serve him in uninterrupted good health. He died at
the advanced age of eighty-six, and was buried in his
own chapel in the church of San Giacomo.





ALESSANDRO TASSOXI was born at Modena, in 1565,
of a noble and ancient family. He was so unfortunate
as to lose both parents in early childhood; nor had he
any near relative to watch over his tender years and
guard his interests. In consequence, scarcely had he
emerged from boyhood, than his inheritance was attacked
by lawsuits, and he was involved in the most annoying
struggles with private enemies, while long and painful
illnesses unfitted him to cope with these evils. Still a
love of knowledge rose above the multiplied disasters
that beset him, and from his earliest years he was a
student. He learnt the Greek and Latin languages
under Lazzaro Labadini, a learned and worthy man,
but some what of the Dominie Sampson species: simple-
hearted and abstracted, he was exposed to ridiculous
mistakes; and his pupil records in his celebrated poem,
how, when a servant informed him of the death of a cow,
he sent to the apothecary's shop for drugs to cure her.*
While yet under this master's tuition, he wrote a Latin
poem named Errico, which displayed an extraordinary
smoothness of versification and command of language.
At the age of eighteen he took the degree of doctor of
laws, and in 1585 he entered the university of Bologna,
where he continued five years, applying himself to phi-
losophy, under the most celebrated masters. He after-
wards studied jurisprudence at Ferrara, and acquired a
reputation for his learning and critical acumen.

It was not till past thirty years of age that he ap-

* La dove il Labaclin, persona accorta,
Fe' iL beverone alia sua vacca morta.


pears to have seriously entered on the task of bettering
1597. his moderate fortunes. He visited Rome, and entered
^ tat 'the service of cardinal Colonna. He accompanied his
>2< patron to Spain, and two years after was sent by him
to Rome, to obtain permission from pope Clement VIII.
to accept the viceroyalty of Aragon. Succeeding in his
mission, Tassoni returned to the cardinal. It was during
these journeys that he amused himself by composing his
" Considerations on Petrarch," which afterwards occa-
sioned so much controversy. The cardinal sent him
again to Rome to manage his affairs there ; but a few
years after, for some reason, with which we are unac-
quainted, Tassoni quitted his service.

Restored to independence, he visited Naples, and then
took up his abode at Rome. He now published his
f( Considerations on Petrarch," and his " Thoughts
on various Subjects," which exposed him to the attacks
of the literati of Italy. Tassoni was of a bold and
original turn of mind ; he hated literary prejudices, and
loved to set himself against received opinions, merely
because they were supported by the greater number.
Thus he attacked Homer, Aristotle, and Petrarch. He
was singularly acute in discovering minor defects, and
his sarcastic and witty talent rendered his criticisms
doubly poignant. He was attacked for his publications
and he replied with a mixture of humour and bitterness
peculiarly galling.

He had thus become well known in Italy, when his
reputation was raised to its highest pinnacle by the
" Secchia Rapita/' or Stolen Bucket, a serio-comic or
mock-heroic poem, the first of the kind that had appeared.
A work of this nature is adapted only to the very region in
which it is composed ; and even then, there are certain
minds which never relish travesti. How much more
is Hudibras spoken of than read, and to how many,
except in select and peculiar passages, does it prove
heavy and tedious. To an English reader the ' ' Secchia
Rapita" must appear greatly inferior to the work of
Butler; it is coarser and more long- winded; besides that


the rhymes, the wrenching and transformation of lan-
guage, the vulgarisms and idioms full coldly on the ears
of those, who have not been habituated from infancy to
their use or abuse.

The " Secchia Rapita" is founded on those petty wars
between two towns, so common in Italy in the 14th
and 15th centuries. The people of Modena had, in
1325, discomfited the Bolognese at Zoppolino, and the
vanquished fled with such precipitation, that their pur-
suers entered their town with them. The Modenese
were driven out again, but carried off, as token of their
triumph, the bucket belonging to the public well of the
city. The Bolognese made an expedition to recover it,
and this forms the basis of the poem. The plebeian
names of the " unwashed artificers" who compose the
several armies, their ridiculous proceedings, their com-
bats, mocking those of belted knights, are all infinitely
relished by the Italians. Tassoni is praised also for the
various fancy he displays in individualising the com-
batants, their combats, and the modes by which they
die, as well as for the dignity with which he invests the
really noble personages who take a part in the warfare.
There are episodes also, some more dignified, others
more burlesque even than the main subject of the poem ;
the gods and goddesses take part, and the kings of
Naples and Savoy are brought in on either side. The
chief satire of the poem falls on an unfortunate count di
Culagna, under which name Tassoni held up to ridicule
count Paolo Brusantini, a noble of Ferrara, who had
provoked him by instigating a violent and infamous at-
tack on one of his works. Tassoni was unable to avenge
himself openly, as Brusantini was a favourite of his
prince, but vowed future vengeance, and writing to a
friend he exclaims, " If God lends me life, he shall
learn, in one way or another, that he has furnished a
work to the devil." The count di Culagna falls in love
with the Amazon of the poem, and resolves to poison his
wife : he makes a confidant of one Titta, a Romagnole,
a courtier of the papal court, who was in fact the lover


of the countess, and betrays to her the murderous design.
The lady accordingly deceives her husband; changes her
soup plate with him, and then flies to the tent of Titta.
The count's physician, however, who had been applied
to for poison, has only furnished physic, and Culagna
recovers. He hears of the infidelity of his wife, and
defies Titta to mortal combat. Titta is not brave, but
Culagna is trebly a coward. When his challenge is
accepted, he takes to his bed, makes his will, and de-
clares that he is going to die. His friends cannot
inspire him with any valour, but his doctor, by adminis-
tering three or four large cups of wine, imparts the
necessary courage. The opponents meet ; Titta's spear
strikes the throat and chest of the count, who falls to
the ground, and is carried to his tent, to bed, while
Titta exults in his overthrow and death. The surgeon
visits Culagna's wound j but, to the surprise of all, the
skin even is not scratched: " Yet I saw something red,"
cries the count, " it was assuredly my blood ! " On
this they examine him with more attention, and discover
a red riband hanging from his throat to his girdle. The
blow of Titta disordering his dress, had exposed this
unfortunate silk of sanguineous hue to the eyes of the
frightened combatant, who at once believed that he
had received a mortal wound. Now, perceiving how
he had been deceived, the count thanked God most fer-
vently, and, in his artless, pious gratitude, pardoned his
friend and his wife all the injuries they had done him.
Such is the outline of the principal episode of the
" Secchia Rapita," which concludes by a peace brought
about by the pope's legate ; the bucket remaining, how-
ever, with the Modenese ; and there it probably is to
this day. Goldoni saw it, in 1730, suspended by an
iron chain from the belfry of the cathedral.

This poem was hailed with rapture, even in manu-
script: for some time, indeed, it was only known thus,
and numerous copies were made at the price of eight
crowns each. As Tassoni had not spared his countrymen
or his contemporaries, great obstacles were thrown in


the way of its publication ; and even when printed at
Venice and Padua, no edition was really on sale till
1622, when it -was published at Paris, under the in-
spection of Marini.

Tassoni's slender fortunes meanwhile did not permit
him to preserve his independence: he accepted the offers
of Charles Emanuel, duke of Savoy ; but scarcely had he
entered on his new service, than a series of persecutions
was commenced against him, which ended by his taking 1025
refuge in private life. Again free from all slavery, JEta
disgusted by the inconstancy of men and the intrigues 50 -
of courts, he took up his abode at Rome, where he had
a house and vineyard, giving himself up to the enjoy-
ment of solitude and study, and deriving his chief
pleasure from hunting and the cultivation of flowers.
Still he was not wholly weaned from the world, nor
content to be neglected : he said that he reminded him.
self of Fabricius expecting the dictatorship; and to
follow up this truly mock-heroic similitude, he accepted
the offer of cardinal Ludovisio, nephew of pope Gregory
XV., and entered his service, in which he remained till
his patron's death. He afterwards returned to his native
town, and being taken into favour by its reigning prince,
he passed the remnant of his life prosperously, under
the shadow of that fame, which his works, his arduous
studies, and great talents caused to gather thick around
him. After a few years spent in peace and honour, he
died on the 5th of April, 1635, in the seventy-first year
of his age.




GIAMBATTISTA MARINI was born at Naples on the 18th
of October, 1569- His father, a celebrated jurisconsult,
was desirous of bringing up his son to the same profes-
sion ; but the youth felt an unconquerable distaste to the
career of the law. Marini possessed a fervid and lively
imagination, and a facility in the composition of poetry
which determined, without a question, his destiny in life.
There are many poets even, we may say, of a higher
class than Marini many more sublime, more earnest,
more pathetic but, in his degree, Marini is a genuine
poet, and gave himself up with confidence and ardour
to the pursuit of that fame of which he reaped so large
a harvest. His father, angry at his resistance to his
wishes, was doubly indignant when he gave open testi-
mony of his new career, and actually published a volume
of poetry : he turned him from his house, and refused
to supply him with the necessaries of life.

But Marini was born under a more fortunate star

than usually smiles upon men who give themselves to the

fervent aspirations of genius. Amiable and generous

as he was, he did not possess that stern independence of

disposition, nor that self-engrossed intensity of feeling,

which often render poets an intractable race. Several

noblemen stepped forward to assist and patronise the

young adventurer in the groves of Parnassus. The duke

of Bovino, the prince of Conca, and the marquess of

Manso, the friend of Tasso, offered him protection and

shelter. He became acquainted with Tasso, who encou-

1589. ra o e( l hi m to pursue his pretic career ; and he published

,/Etat. his Canzoni de' Baci, which acquired for him a great

20. reputation.


He was concerned in some youthful scrapes ; and hav-
ing assisted a friend to escape, who had been imprisoned
on account of a love adventure, he was himself thrown
into a prison. He amused himself there by writing gay
and light-hearted verses ; but soon after he escaped from
confinement, and fled to Rome, where he took up his
abode with monsignore Crescenzi. With him he visited
Venice, but returned to Rome after a short absence,
and entered the service of cardinal Aldobrandini. At
Venice he published a volume of lyrical poetry, which
established his fame.

Marini was always a popular man, and beloved and
esteemed by his friends. When Paul V. was created
pope, his patron, cardinal Aldobrandini, was sent as
legate to Ravenna, and Marini accompanied him. He
frequently visited Venice and Bologna, and formed
intimacies with the men of reputation and talent residing
in those cities. He was devoted to the cultivation of
poetry ; and here he first conceived the idea of the
* f Adone." He accompanied the cardinal to Turin,
where Charles EmanueL, duke of Savoy, received him at
his court with the most flattering marks of distinction.
Marini repaid him by a panegyric, which he called " II
Ritratto''or the Portrait, and was rewarded by the gift
of a gold chain, and made cavalier of the order of Saints
Maurice and Lazarus. When cardinal Aldobrandini
returned to Ravenna, the poet was invited to remain at
the Piedmontese court; and, with the consent of his
former patron, he accepted the offer.

Marini's life was chiefly diversified by literary quarrels,
in which he came off with his usual good fortune. He
had already sustained several skirmishes with various
authors, when the most deadly war was declared against
him by Gasparo Murtola, a Genoese, and secretary to
the duke. He believed himself to be the first poet of
the age, and was indignant at the favour shown to
Marini. He levelled an attack of epigrams and satirical
sonnets against him, which Marini answered, and was
considered to have the best of the battle: they pub-


lished these collectively afterwards, undei the title
of the Murtoleide and the Marineide : but Murtola,
still more angry at the advantages gained by his adver-
sary in this paper hostility,, took a more injurious mode
of showing his enmity : he shot at him as he was
walking in the public square, but,, missing his aim,
wounded a favourite of the duke who was with him.
Murtola was thrown into prison, and condemned to
death. Marini generously interceded in his favour,
and at his solicitation he was pardoned and liberated.
Murtola, more angry and envious than ever, brought
forward a poem of his enemy, which satirised the duke
of Savoy. In vain Marini represented that this work
had been written at Naples in his youth, many years
before. He was thrown into prison, nor liberated till
the marchese Manso sent his testimony of the truth of
what he had declared, as to the period of its composi-
tion. His tranquillity does not appear to have suffered
by this persecution. He continued to devote himself
to learning and poetry : he applied himself to the
study of the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the
Fathers, and published his poem on the Murder of the
Innocents, which he considered his best production.

His fame, spread beyond the Alps, had induced
queen Marguerite of France to invite him to her court.
Marini accepted her invitation ; but by the time he
arrived in Paris his patroness had died. Queen Mary
de' Medici stepped forward, however, in her room, and
the place of gentleman to the king, with a pension of
2000 crowns, was bestowed on him. He became very
popular among the French nobility ; many learnt
Italian for the express purpose of reading his works.
He lived a happy and honourable life. His great
pleasure consisted in forming a valuable and extensive
library, and collecting pictures by the best artists. The
queen showed him many marks of favour : if she met
him in the street, she w r as in the habit of stopping her
carriage, for the sake of conversing with him ; and such
generosity was shown him by her, and his other noble


patrons, that he was enabled to buy a villa near Naples,
on Mon Posilippo, whither he intended at some future
time to retire,, and end his days. No doubt, in the
chill climate of Paris, under the dusky atmosphere of
the north, his lively imagination recurred with yearning
to the beautiful and genial land of his nativity.

He published his ' ' Adone " while at Paris. The popu- 1 623.
larity of this poem was extraordinary; nothing was^ t:t -
spoken of but it and its author, and the rapid sale
enriched Marini, though it also exposed him to much
literary enmity, and the censures of the church. Italian
critics have since become exceedingly indignant, and
consider it the origin of the false taste, the conceits, and
flowery style of the seicentisti. But, while it must be
allowed that the imitators of Marini form a school of
poetry remarkable for its corrupt style, its mannerism,
and false and metaphoric imagery, it is impossible
not to admit that the " Adone" itself is a work of great
beauty and imagination : it wants sublimity, and deep
pathos and masculine dignity ; but its fancy, its de-
scriptions, its didactic passages, are animated by the
undeniable spirit of poetry. Marini possessed an ex-
treme ease of versification, and a versatility and fecun-
dity of style that carries the reader along with it. The
"Adone" is founded on the well-known mythological story
of Venus and Adonis. Cupid, having been chastised by
his goddess mother, in revenge, resolves to wreak on her
the miseries of love. He brings the son of Myrrha to
the shores of Cyprus, and while the Queen of Beauty is
regarding the beautiful youth as he sleeps, her wily son
pierces her heart with his love-poisoned arrow. She
falls in love on the instant, and Adonis, on awakening,
is not slow to return her passion. Venus conducts him
to her palace, where Cupid relates to him his adventures
with Psyche, and Mercury those of Narcissus, Hylas,
Actaeon, and other victims of love. He is then led
through the gardens of pleasure, into the tower of
delight ; but the loves of the goddess and her favourite
are interrupted by the jealousy of Mars, and Adonis



flies in alarm from the angry god. He falls afterwards
into the hands of a fairy, who imprisons and annoys
him : he escapes, and, after many wanderings and ad-
ventures, returns to Venus. It is then that he departs
on that fatal hunting expedition which brings on the
catastrophe. Mars and the malicious fairy unite in
sending the boar against him, by which he is destroyed :
his death the grief of Venus his interment and
the combats with which the goddess celebrates his
funeral, conclude the poem. Its chief fault is, that it is
terribly wiredrawn, even in the particular descriptions ;
for as to the story itself, that forms but a slender por-
tion of the w r hole composition. Besides this, we are
told that an allegory of youth is contained in the tempt-
ations, pleasures, and fatal catastrophe of the young
lover; and this, as well as the unreal and fantastic
nature of the personages, deprives it of all vivid interest.
It is far removed from the fire of Ariosto, or the pathos
and dignity of Tasso; still it is pleasing, varied, and
imaginative, and but for its length would to this day
be a more general favourite.

The cardinal Ludovisio, nephew of pope Gregory
XV., earnestly entreated Marini to forsake Paris and
repair to Rome. The king and queen of France per-
mitted him to accept the invitation ; and he returned to
Italy, unterrifjed by the accusation that hung over his
head, on account of the licentiousness of his work. He
was received at Rome with enthusiasm, and his society
was courted by every person of distinction. Here, as
elsewhere, however, he was involved in literary squab-
bles ; so that at last he resolved to retreat to the home
he had prepared for himself at Naples. The tribunal,
meanwhile, demanded alterations in his poem, accused
of licentiousness and a tendency to impiety. TW T O of
his friends appeared to answer for him ; but he permitted
two stanzas only to be altered. The poem of Marini is
certainly in its very texture soft, effeminate, and amor-
ous ; but there are no passages so reprehensible as many
in Ariosto : the " Orlando Furioso " was never de-

MARINI. 1 79

nounced ; and it is singular that so pertinacious an outcry
should have been raised against the " Adone."

Its author, however, was not destined to suffer perse-
cution., nor to enjoy his success for any long time.
Soon after his return to Naples, he established himself
at his delightful villa at Posilippo, where his life came
to a sudden close : he fell ill of a painful malady, and
died on the 25th of March, 1625, aged fifty-six. He
was buried in the cloister of the Theatin Fathers, to
whom he had bequeathed his valuable library.


164-2 1707.

VIXCENZO DA FILICAJA was born at Florence, on the

Online LibraryDionysius LardnerEminent literary and scientific men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 15 of 34)