Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/247
elected an honorary citizen of Rome, and in the letter in which he thanked the mayor for the courtesy shown him he expressed his joy at the consummation of Italian unity. He died on May 22, 1873.
MANZONI AS A POET AND CRITIC
Among modern Italian poets Manzoni takes high rank. Besides some minor lyrics and other poems of an occasional nature he wrote the "Inni Sacri," hymns in which he gives poetical form to the noblest and highest manifestations of the Christian religion, emphasizing especially the principles of charity, hope, and eventual comfort for all human ills; the ode "Cinque Maggio," already mentioned; the ode "Marzo, 1821," dealing with the aspirations and endeavors of the liberal party in Piedmont; and the two-verse dramas, the "Conte di Carmagnola" and the "Adelchi." These tragedies figure among the best productions of the Romantic movement in Italy, and they are the first examples of the historical play in Italian. The "Conte di Carmagnola" is concerned with the story of the famous captain of free lances, Francesco Bussone, called Carmagnola, who in the fifteenth century was undeservedly done to death by his employers, the Venetians; the "Adelchi" turns upon events in Lombardy back in the time of its king Desiderius and his foe and conqueror, Charlemagne.
Noteworthy among the minor prose works of Manzoni are the documents in which he discusses the validity of the French system of unities as applied to dramatic composition ("Lettre a M. Chauvet") and the purposes of the Italian Romantic school ("Lettera al Marchese Cesare d'Azeglio sul Romanticismo"). In various writings he discusses the often-mooted question as to what is the true form of speech for Italian literary expression, and he ranges himself on the side of sanity by advocating the use of the Florentine vocabulary on the part of Italian authors from all parts of the peninsula.
I PROMESSI SPOSI
His masterpiece is, of course, "I Promessi Sposi," which, begun as we have seen in 1821, occupied Manzoni for some six years with its composition and its printing; yet, hardly had it appeared when, faithful to his belief that the Florentine speech was the correct lan-
- See Harvard Classics, vol. xxi.