Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

VI.

Giovane piano e simplicette amante,

Poi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,

Madonna, a voi del mio cuor l'humil dono
Faro divoto; io certo a prove tante
L'hebbi fedele, intrepido, costante,

De pensieri leggiadro, accorto e buono;

Quando rugge il gran mondo, e scocca il tuono,
S'arma di se e d'intero diamante :

Tanto del forse, e d'invidia sicuro,
Di timori, e speranze, al popol use,

Quanto d'ingegno, e d' alto valor vago,

E di cetra sonora, e delle muse:
Sol troverete in tal parte men duro,
Ove Amor mise l'insanabil ago.

Lady, to you a youth unknown to art,

(Who fondly from himself in thought would fly,)

Devotes the faith, truth, spirit, constancy,
And firm yet feeling temper of his heart;
Proved strong by trials for life's arduous part:

When shakes the world and thunders roll on high,

All adamant, it dares the storm defy,
Erect, unconscious of the guilty start:

Not more above fear, envy, low desire,
And all the tyrants of the vulgar breast,

Than prone to hail the heaven-resounding lyre,
High worth, and Genius of the Muse posšest :
Unshaken and entire,--and only found
Not proof against the shaft when Lore directs the wound.

An eye, like Milton's, created for the most exquisite perception of beauty in all her shapes, and an imagination ever solicitously vagrant for gratification, even in the regions of Arabian fiction and of Gothic

romance, could not be insensible to those opportunities of luxurious indulgence which the capital of Italy afforded. Milton, as we cannot reasonably doubt, studied the forms of ideal nature, not only as they existed in the marbles of ancient Greece, but also as they breathed and glowed in the tints of modern Italy. We

may

be certain that he contemplated with delight the animated walls of the Vatican, and that his genius kindled and ex. panded from the sublime frescoes of Michael Angelo and the milder and more characteristic canvass of Raffaelle. Imagination will converse with imagination through the medium of diversified art; and, whether words or forms be the exciters or conductors, the idea will flash from mind to mind, and

• To speak with philosophical precision, forms are the sole means by which the ideas of one mind can be imparted to another; for words merely stimulate the mind, to which they are addressed, to form ideas or phantasms of its own.

When we séc. the Hercules or the Transfiguration, we behold the very identical mental representation, in its immediate transcript, from which Glycon fashioned his marble or Raffaelle traced his lines : but when we read the description of Paradise or the vale of Tempe, our minds are only urged, within certain limits and under some particular modifications, to form a creation of their own. If fifty artists, without any intercourse with each other, were to draw these scenes, not one of the draughts would be precisely like another, though they might all be justified by the words of the poet or the historian,

will increase the mass of etherial fire wherever it is received. The mind of Milton unquestionably maintained an intercourse with the minds of the great masters of the pencil, and probably derived from them what was afterwards matured into the conceptions of his Satan and his Raphael, his Adam and his Eve. But if he became indebted on this occasion to the genius of painting, his Muse bas most amply discharged the obligation to her “ dumb sister,” by giving to Fuseli much inore than she borrowed from his lineal progenitor in the pedigree of genius, Michael Angelo; and inducing the ideas of that creation, displayed in the Milton Gallery, which, constituting the pride of the present times, will cominand the admiration of posterity.

From Rome our traveller continued his route to Naples; and, falling into company on the road with a certain pilgrim or hermit, as he tells us, was by him, from whom such a service could be the least expected, introduced to the celebrated Giovanni Battista Manso, Marquis of Villa. This accomplished nobleman, who had formerly distinguished himself in the armies of Spain, was now at an advanced age established in his native city; and, though possessed of great wealth high rank and eminent character, de

riving his principal renown from the friendship of the illustrious Tasso; of whom when living he had been the cherisher, and the biographer when dead. He now opened his arms to Milton, and received with kindness a poet still greater than 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 bis friend Wotton's counsel, had discovered his sentiments on the subject of religion, was the only circumstance which deprived him of a still more unreserved 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 certainly more remarkable for the height of its

praise than for the goodness of its verse or the justness and the originality of its thought. Generally known as it is, it shall be given to our readers, with an apology for the attempted translation of a pun.

Ut mens, forma, decor, facies, mos, si pietas sic,
Non Anglus verùm herclè Angelus ipse fores.
With mind, form, manners, face did faith agree,

No Angle but an ANGEL wouldst thou be.

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 coinpositions. 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

f The conceit, such as it is, is borrowed from Gregory the Archdeacon, who was afterwards raised to the Papal throne, in the sixth century.

With the advantage of five syllables more than the English verse, and of the double meaning of the word, mos, alluding both to morals and to manners, the Latin hexameter cannot be adequately represented by one line of five iambic feet in our language. The,“ decor," of the original is wholly omitted, and the, "mos," only half inserted in my translation: but “ brevity," in this instance, " is the soul of wit,"

« AnteriorContinuar »