Dionysius Lardner.

Eminent literary and scientific men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 34 of 34)
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Vanity, that assumed the appearance of disdain, ren-
dered him difficult of access, but compassion and
warmth of heart were hidden by this outside. Fearful
of being thought servile, he ran into the opposite
extreme, and was little apt to praise even those to
whom praise was due. Vehement in his opinions,
yet he disliked dispute ; and if ever led into it, in a
fe\v minutes sheltered himself again in silence. His
heart was a stranger to the feeling of hatred, but
neither was he very open to friendship ; he was inti-
mate but with few, and even with these he was reserved.
He preferred the society of women, and in early life
loved with sincerity and passion ; and there was deli-
cacy and refinement in all his feelings with regard to
the fair sex. As he expresses himself, in Ortis, e< I
have been taught by some how to seduce and betray,

* There is an error in this inscription with regard to the day of Foscolo's
death, and also probably of his age, since it is supposed that he was not
more than forty-nine when he died. His countrymen also regret that in-
stead of the above inscription, that was not adopted which he wrote for
himself, under the feigned name of Didimo Chierico, which runs thus :

Didymi Clerici

Vitia : virtus : ossa

Hie : post : annos . . .

Conquiescere coepere.


and I might perhaps have srdmvd and betrayed, but
the pleasure I anticipated fell coldly and bitterly on
my heart, which has never been tamed either by time
or reason ; and thus you have often heard me exclaim,
that all depends on the heart, which neither heaven,
men, nor we ourselves can ever change." The sincerity
of his feelings had their reward since his affections
had on some occasions met a return, which his uncouth
appearance and strange manners would never have com-
manded, and which was due only to his truth. lie
loved solitude and study, w r as abstemious in his habits,
but not of strong health, and was often devoured by
the deepest gloom. He spoke well, and detested all
artifice and deceit. To these virtues we may add his
constant attention to and affection for his mother.
Strange, wild, and imprudent, his faults chiefly hurt
himself ; and even the impetuosity of his character
seldom led him into any acts that injured or annoyed

As an author, he may be said to be a bad tragedian,
and not a good novelist ; but he was an elegant writer,
conversant with the depths and the refinements of the
human heart. His subtle turn of mind led him too
much to verbal and minute criticism his love of the
ancients sometimes injured the w r armth and originality
of his productions but we may name two among them
as nearly perfect in their several species; the "Essays
on Petrarch," in prose ; and, in verse, his ce Ode on
Sepulchres," w r hich, for harmony, grace, sweetness, and
pure taste, is perhaps unequalled by any other poem i
the world.





New-Street- Square.


NOV 2 1928


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