תמונות בעמוד

order to enable him to have the Latin comedies represented with the necessary decorum. The theatre got the name of Sala Latina ; and the cardinals Gentili and Corsini were declared protectors of it.

The public assemblies for the rehearsal of compositions in the Serbatojo, are no less frequented than at the Bosco Parrasio ; but it is extraordinarily so when it is known that there is l'improviso or singing poetry, extempore, a prerogative which I believe is peculiar to Italy. Sometimes the poets will challenge one another in rhime, and find out reciprocally a subject; at other times any of the company is invited to give a subject, which, if there be two or three impropisatori, is generally of the problematic kind, that each may choose an opinion, and thus forman agreeable contention. Two or three different subjects have been given by different persons at the same time to Abate Serio, a Neapolitan ; he makes one of them the principal subject, and introduces the others, as episodes; and thus goes on for an hour or two singing poetry.extempore. Among the old Arcadians were famous for improvisare, Tirsi, the ( Avvocato Zappi,) Benaco, (Cononico Grazzini,) Fedreo, (Giuseppe Vace cari,) Eulibio, (Paolo Rolli,) Fausto, (Paolo Vannini,) Eniso, ( Domenico Ottavio Petrosellini,) Artino, (Pietre Metastasio,) from his younger years, and Alauro, (Cavalier Perfetti,) who at the request of the princess Violante of Bavaria, dowager of Tuscany, then in Rome, got the laurel çrown in the Capitol ; which coronation was very much opposed, as it was alia

VOL. xj.

[ocr errors]

leged that the laurel crown was at all times reserved only for epic poetry, as indeed all those who had been crowned in the Capitol before him had been so on account of their epic poems, exclusive of their other poetical performances. In the latter times we have had Acromelo, ( Agostino Germisoni,) Euridalco, (Abate Golt,) Aurasio, (Abate Versari,) Enisildo, ( Abate Gius seppe Petrosellini *,) Abate Rocchetti, Abate Berardi; Abate Casali, Giacomo Diolle, and Giuseppe Giordani, who have displayed in Arcadia their talents in singing poetry extempore; the two last particularly excelled in the jocose style. Two ladies, likewise, Arcadian nymphs, have made the Serbatojo resound with their elegant improviso: Efiria Corilea, (Signora Anna Parisotti Beati,) and Corilla Olimpica, (Signora Maddalena Morelli Fernandez.) The latter was likewise crowned in the Capitol ; but she was rather sacrificed, by the foolish manner the businefs was brought a-. bout by her protectors, who were besides nowise acceptable to the public ; so that it had more the apa pearance of a mock coronation, than any thing else, I cannot take leave of this subject without making particular mention of another Arcadian nymph, although She has never been at Rome, and who is the admiration, not only of her own countrymen, but of all foreigners of learning and taste who have the opportunity of conversing with her, on account of her profound knowledge, united to extreme modesty, and of the most pleasing entertainment they enjoy from her readiners in the improviso, wherein the most deep science is elegantly set off by the most chaste beauties

* Some of the Arcadian names haye escaped my memory.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of true poetry; I mean Temira Parraside, (Signo-
ra Fortunata Sulcker Fantastici,) in Florence. In the
same town I have had the pleasure to be intimately
acquainted with Dr Giannetti, who, to the ameni-
ties of the fine arts, has added application to the se-
verest studies. The astonishing rapidity with which
he speaks his extempore poetical performances makes
up for his want of voice, which hinders him to sing
at the sound of the luthe, as is commonly in use
with the improvisatori, though Corilla used to sing
her poetry at the sound of the violin, especially
"where she could meet with Nardini. Nor is this
ready disposition to extempore poetry peculiar to
people of education ; that natural keenness of sense
for harmony, numbers, and metre, which may be
reckoned one of the first things requisite to form a
poet, is not rare in Italy, even among the country
lads and girls, chiefly in the environs of Rome and
Florence, who, not knowing even to read, and total-
ly ignorant of metrical laws, will sing verses all'
improviso upon any given subject, suited to their ca-
pacity, with the only guide of their ear, without
ever transgressing the accents or the measures
though many learned people, and well acquainted
with the laws of versification, would find it very
difficult to execute, without counting the syllables on
their fingers. It is pleasant in Rome, in the summer
nights, to follow some of these jolly fellows, most of
them journeymen mechanics, and hear them sing
their rhapsodies, in which many fine, natural, un-
sought poetical flashes, lighten through the clouds of
their uncouth language. The like pleasure was for-

merly enjoyed in Florence, at Ponte Santa Trinita, where the improvisatori would resort with their luthe, or their guittar, and challenge one another to sing, like the shepherds of Theocritus or Virgil. This was in the joyful days of the Medicis. Thus €any is now more like a mournful daughter, heartily bewailing the loss of a tender, careful, and indulgent father ;-her times are changed; even her language, one of her chief boasts, is corrupted,-Frenchified by the Lorainese, and Germanised by the Austrians that have crept among her inhabitants with her new masters.

The ordinary method of being admitted a member of the society of Arcadia, is to be proposed by two of the Arcadians, who answer for his abilities and good behaviour; and every person that has had a good education may be admitted. But when the fame of the Arcadians began to spread, and that people of rank, and cardinals began to frequent às auditors, which at first was permitted only to the Arcadians, the custode Alfesibeo devised the admission by acclamation. The cardinals who were mosé àfsiduous in attending their rehearsals were Carpegna, Buonvisi, Panfilio, Ottoboni, and Albani, who was afterwards exalted to the pontificat. In the year 1695, one day they had been all five attending the first meeting the Arcadians had in that year, a general assembly was formed, and when the cardinals were gone out, they were unanimously, viva voce, ac calmated Arcadian shepherds; and it was afterwards decreed, that none should be received an Arcadian, by acclamation, but monarchs and sovereign princes,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

cardinals, grand masters of military orders, the senator of Rome, viceroys, ambassadors of princes or republics, and the nephews of popes actually reigna ing.

The deduction of colonies was one of the strongest instruments the Romans made use of, even from the times of Romulus, to form and to maintain the happiness and splendour of their wise commonwealth, and their powerful empire. By easily admitting strangers to the privilege of Roman citizens, and by sending citizens from Rome, among foreign nations, Rome did, in a manner, form one people of the many nations she conquered, and gradually conveyed to them her manners, and her laws; and established by her prudence, what she had acquired by her valour.

Although I do not pretend to compare with the real dominion of the Roman republic, the affairs of our literary assembly, which are only imaginary, yet, I may sly, that by the same means which ancient Rome made use of to make all the nations become Romans, our Arcadia has attained to make one body of all the literati, at least the Italians, to the purpose of propagating that good taste in writing, which had been adopted by the Arcadians, and which at that period was not to be found among others; and in order that Italy should recover the possession of thinking justly, and of writing according to the rules and the models of her own best authors. The means to attain this, have been an

easy reception of any person that dis.covered a genius capable of shining some day or other in the sciences or belles lettres; and in deduc

« הקודםהמשך »