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June 133ing character of the ancient Arcadians. The poets have adopted the same idea, traces of which are found in Pindar, and Homer, among the Greeks; and among the Latins, not to speak of Horace, Ovid, Propertius and others, Virgil alone would be sufficient, who not only has taken an opportunity to adorn his bucolics with the peculiarities of Arcadia, but dedicated the greatest part of the eight book of the Eneid to the memory of Evander, and the praises. of the Arcadians. Jacopo Sannazaro, a celebrated Italian and Latin poet of the sixteenth century, under the name of Actius Sincerus, completed what in His a manner had been only hinted by others. Arcadia, a composition consisting of eclogues in verse and in prose, deserves to be read and admired for the sweetness of its numbers, and the simplicity of its elocution.
After his steps, and almost with the same pastoral. simplicity, Tafso laid the scene of his Aminta in Arcadia, where likewise Guarini fixed the scenery of his Pastor Fido, a composition in which certainly many beauties are to be found, though, unluckily, too much interspersed with concetti; but as for his shepherds there is nothing pastoral in them, except the pellice, the crook, and the javelin, and they might rather be considered as refined citizens, and knavish, courtiers in a fhepherd's disguise.
These performances, in some respect, paved the way to the institution of the modern Arcadia, which, although it is nothing else but an union of men of letters, or as it is commonly called an academy of belles lettres, yet it has so much distinguished itself,
197 above all other academies, not only in Rome and Italy, but likewise in many other parts of Europe, that it is respected as an universal literary republic.
This institution was intended to put out of fashion. the barbarous taste which prevailed very much for the greatest part of the last century in the writings of the Italians; a faulty taste from which the writers of other parts of Europe were not at all free. But, before I undertake to fhew how it has been by degrees extirpated, and how. the good stile was recovered, by imitating the best masters of antiquity, it will not be amifs to give a cursory review of the state of letters in the greater part of Italy, when the society of Arcadia was instituted..
Four centuries were almost passed since the Italian language had received all its splendour, in Dante, Boccaccio Petrarca. For two centuries after them, most Italian writers followed their steps with, perhaps, even too great a degree of servility; so that, al-though nothing singularly beautiful then appeared, yet no vicious manner of stile had taken place; mediocrity seems to have then characterised the works of the Italians. At last, however, the æra arrived, which has been called the golden age of the Italian language. Pope Leo x, who was no lefs inclined to letters, and generous to the literati, than Augustus, and was the promoter of learning and of arts in his dominions, had the pleasure to see flou rish around him eminent writers, which, both in num-. ber and in quality, might be compared with the sublime geniuses that surrounded the throne of the Roman emperor. Epic poetry reached there to the
pitch of its glory by the immortal poem of Ludovico. Ariosto, whom Italy has had no difficulty to compare to Homer. The same author, in the comic and the satiric, revived the beauty of Terence and of Horace. The Italian bucolic, by the means of Sannazaro, appeared adorned with new graces and in a new dress ; and from the pen of the same author was seen, for the first time, the Latin piscatorial poetry, of which only a hint had been given in a fhort idyllium by Theocritus. Bembo then taught the manner of imitating Petrarca, and the same Bembo, together with Castiglione, and Casa, attained a new manner of writing nobly and elegantly in Italian prose. Many other fine geniuses enriched Italy with most excellent works both in prose and verse, in Latin and Italian. At that time Torquato Tafso was eminently conspicuous; and has acquired no lefs fame for his works in prose, than for his poems, pastoral, lyric, and epic, in all of which he excelled Bernardo Tafso his father, who was a very good poet, himself; but knowing how little poetry was compatible with an easy life, wished to have his. son follow the more lucrative profession of the law, but in vain. At nineteen years of age Torquato. published Il Rinaldo; a poem, in which, receding, both from the stile of his father, and from that of Ariosto, he paved his way to the immortal poem of the Gerusalemme Liberata, which he afterwards publifhed at a riper age. He endeavoured to transfuse into it the greatnefs of thoughts, and the harmoni ous numbers of Virgil, with whom it is generally esteemed he deserves to be compared. But as Latin poetry, which having reached its highest per
fection in the Æneid of Virgil, began from that period gradually to decline, it happened likewise that the Italian poetry, having attained its full beauties in Tafso, afterwards declined very much from its dignity, even in his own life time. His imitators, making a bad use of his elegancies, began to disseminate in their works the seeds of a particular manner of thinking, which approached too much to reflection; and, as it very often happens, every one was striving to introduce some novelty, and endeavouring not to be surpafsed in merit by those who had anticipated them in time. Upon a strict examination of Tafso's own works, it will appear that traces are to be found in them of the concetti and overstreached metaphors, in one word, of the corrupted stile which became so universal in the seventeenth century. It may be added to this that the idiom of the Spanish language, Spain at that time domineering over the greatest part of Italy, admitted of such a turn of thought, and such a kind of phraseology, as somewhat approaches to the above mentioned manner; so true it is that nations become easily reconciled to the customs of those who govern them; as likewise that what may be admitted as an ornament in one language, not only will not be proper, but even will be a fault in another.
Extract of a LETTER FROM MISS SEWARD TO DR BOSWELL
ON THE SUBJECT OF DR JOHNSON.
For the Bee.
The following dialogue was obligingly communicated to the Editor, by a gentleman of first eminence in the literary world, with an afsurance of his having many reasons to be satisfied that it is a genu'ne perfor Inance of the lady whose name it bears. Mr Boswell has given a much lefs interesting or characteristic account of this dialogue in the second volume of his life of Johnson, p. 231.
You ask me for the minutes I once made of a certain conversation which pafsed at Mr Dilly's in a literary party; and in which Dr Johnson and Mrs Knowles disputed so warmly? As you seem to have an idea of inserting this dispute in your future meditated work, the life of Dr Johnson, it is necefsary that something should be known concerning the young person who was the subject of it.
Mifs Jenny Harry was, for fhe is now no more, the daughter of a rich planter in the West Indies, who sent her to England to receive her education, at the house of his friend Mr where an inge ́nious quaker lady, Mrs Knowles, was frequently a visitor. This gentleman affected wit, and was perpetually rallying Mrs Knowles on the subject of her quaker principles, in the presence of this young, gentle, and ingenuous Mifs Harry, who, at the age of eighteen, had received what is called a proper and polite education, without having been much instructed in the nature and grounds of her religious belief. Mrs Knowles was often led into a serious Jefence of her devotional opinions, upon those visits