The First Half of the Seventeenth Century/Chapter 8

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1658144The First Half of the Seventeenth Century
— Chapter 8: Italy and Germany
1906Herbert John Clifford Grierson


"secentismo." marino—'la lira'—'l'adone.' followers. chiabrera—the italian "canzone" and the classical ode—bernardo tasso—chiabrera's pindarics and "canzonette." testi. tassoni—criticism of aristotle and petrarch—'la secchia rapita'—prose—galileo—d'avila—bentivoglio. germany—late influence of renaissance. precursors. opitz—theory and practice. followers—fleming. hymns. drama—gryphius. satire—logau.

In studying the poetry of Italy[1] in the seventeenth century, one finds oneself face to face with a phenomenon Secentismo. to which that much abused term decadence can be more intelligibly and legitimately applied than to anything in English or French poetry of the same period. In the affectations of Marino and his contemporaries—and one may not except altogether Chiabrera and Tassoni—we see an art which, whatever its limitations, had reached perfection, running to seed in the strained and feverish pursuit of novelty undirected by any new and fruitful inspiration. In "secentismo," one might venture to say, nothing is new but everything is novel. To startle and amaze was the motive of each new departure in form or verse or conceit. As Marino says—

             "È del poeta il fin la maraviglia,
              Parlo dell' eccellente e non del goffo,
              Chi non sa far stupir vada alia striglia."

But the only method of surprising that Marino and his contemporaries discovered was to heighten the notes, to make the conceits of compliment and flattery more far-fetched and hyperbolical, the descriptions more detailed and flamboyant, the horrors more hideous and grotesque, the mock-heroic more satirical and prosaic in spirit. They added no single new note or form to Italian poetry.

In lyrical poetry, despite the impatience of Petrarch's influence expressed by Marino, his work, and that of Decadence of
Lyrical Poetry.
his imitators, is only the last phase in the progressive decadence which had invaded the Italian sonnet and lyric at least from Petrarch onwards. Indeed the courtly poets of the close of the fifteenth century, Cariteo, Tebaldeo, and Serafino Dall' Aquila, developed in their sonnets and strambotti all the extravagances of mere compliment latent in their great predecessor's work, all that tasteless pseudo-metaphysics of love, begotten of the frigid elaboration of metaphor (Addison's "mixed wit"), which M. Vianey has paraphrased from the poems of Serafino. "Pending the fatal issue of this duel Serafino is the benefactor of his kind. Carry him into the desert and he will supply water from his eyes, fire from his heart. If a besieged castle is in want of water, call for him. Does a mariner desire wind to fill his sails, bring the poet. Is an unfortunate person freezing in winter, let him draw near. Love has put water in his eyes, the wind in his mouth, fire in his heart. And the proof that he is all fire is just that he is all water. He is like green wood which gives out water when it burns." In this poetry at the same time the more ideal conception of love gave place to the classical and sensual.[2]

Lorenzo de' Medici and Poliziano endeavoured to give new life to the Italian lyric by refining and enriching the fresh and living songs of the people; but the inspirer of cinquecentist lyric poetry was Cardinal Bembo, who revived a purer but still quite artificial Petrarchian tradition which—except in the sonnets of Michael Angelo—was little more than an exercise in style.[3] Marino's hyperboles and ingenuities are not more extravagant than those of many of his predecessors, and the prettiness which is their characteristic had appeared already, at any rate in Tasso's poetry.

Nor, although he boasted that like his townsman Columbus he would find a new world or drown, do the experiments of Chiabrera reveal anything new in spirit or form. To reproduce the classical ode, to substitute classical imagery and sentiment for the more metaphysical and ideal strain of Petrarchian poetry, had been essayed by several poets, including Bernardo Tasso, before Chiabrera; while to make the main theme of poetry the praise of princes and heroes instead of love, was not a striking departure in a country and an age so prone to flattery.

In epic poetry, in like manner, what is novel in Marino's and Tassoni's experiments is either negation Of Epic. or exaggeration. In the Adone the chief novelty is the entire extinction of the heroic spirit which in Ariosto had never quite departed despite the prevalent tone of irony. All the ornaments of style with which that poem is over-laid can be found in the romantic-epic poems of his predecessors.[4] What Marino eviscerated, his friend and admirer Tassoni assailed with ridicule. The Secchia Rapita is the most original poem of the seventeenth century in Italy. Yet the heroic and burlesque had been mingled before. Tassoni has only heightened and intensified the strain of satire with which the mock-heroic is pervaded. The poetry of earlier burlesque is gone. And in all Tassoni's attacks upon the ideals of his day he was prompted more by spleen than by any clear perception of new ends and new ideals.

The causes of the decadence of "secentist" literature are too complex and subtle to be discussed here.[5]Causes. It would be rash to attribute them too entirely to the political condition of the country and the depressing influence of Jesuitism. To the latter is due rather the fact that the poetry of the "Seicento" proper was succeeded by the tame and conventional work of the "Arcadia," that Italy notwithstanding her great men of science did not share fully in the rationalist movement of the later seventeenth and of the eighteenth century, and that she therefore found no new and great inspiration until Rousseau awakened her to the enthusiasm for nature and humanity.

Of the poets mentioned, the most popular and the most influential both in Italy and abroad wasMarino. Giovanni Battista Marino,[6] the Neapolitan (1569-1625). His work excited as great enthusiasm in Italy as had Tasso's, or greater. Lope de Vega declared that he was the day to which Tasso had been the dawn; just as Denham considered that Jonson's and Shakespeare's graces were united and perfected in Fletcher. In France he was the idol of Richelieu and of the critical Chapelain, who wrote a laudatory preface to the Adone, as well as of the Hôtel de Rambouillet. His influence is the predominant one in the refined work of the Scottish Drummond, and was not unfelt by Crashaw and Cowley; while in Holland, Hooft placed Petrarch and Marino at the head of Italian poets. A writer of such widespread influence deserves more careful study than has always been given to him, and fuller treatment than can be allowed here.

The son of a Neapolitan lawyer, Marino was turned out of doors by his father for debt, dissipation, and Life. devotion to poetry. At the age of twenty he had already made himself famous throughout Italy by his voluptuous and musical Canzone dei Baci, and he had no difficulty in finding patrons, including the Marquis of Manso, at whose house he made the acquaintance and won the esteem of Tasso. His share in a scandalous abduction drove him to Rome, where he found fresh patrons in Crescenzio, the Pope's chamberlain, and Cardinal Aldobrandini. From Rome he accompanied the latter to Ravenna, and thence to the Court of Savoy, where his reputation as a poet and panegyrist gained him the favour of Carlo Emanuele. His quarrel with the poet Murtola, the scurrilous sonnets they wrote on one another, the attempt Murtola made on Marino's life, and the imprisonment of the latter, need not be detailed. In 1615 he left Milan for Paris, whither he had been invited by Margaret of Valois, and where he was granted a pension by Maria de' Medici. Here he enlarged, completed, and published the Adone in 1623. He returned to Italy in the same year, and was received with the utmost enthusiasm in Rome, and in Naples where he died two years later.

It is clear from any careful study of the references to Marino's work that his poems circulated in Works. manuscript before they were published. When he came to Rome he was already a well-known poet, yet he had printed only a single sonnet. In 1602 he collected and issued his earliest verses in two parts, the first consisting of sonnets (amorose, marittime, boscherecce, lugubri, sacre e varie), the second of madrigals and canzoni. The Rime of 1602 was enlarged by a book in 1614 and given the title of La Lira. The other works published in his lifetime, besides some panegyrics, and the sonnets on Murtola, were the Galleria (1619), a collection of madrigals on pictures and characters, mythical and historical, many of which are translated from Lope da Vega's Epitafios; the Sampogna (1620), a series of diffuse, operatic idylls; and the Adone. A sacred poem, the Strage degli Innocenti, was issued after his death, but of the long list of works which Claretti, in his preface to the third book of the Lira, described as finished and awaiting immediate publication, some were never issued, others would seem to have been melted down into the Adone.

The Lira—especially the first two parts—and the Adone are Marino's most representative works, the La Lira. one of his earlier, the other of his later manner, and a just criticism would distinguish them in passing sentence on the writer. In the sonnets of La Lira there is not only technical perfection but beauty of description, as well as freshness and delicacy of feeling. Conceits abound, but the sensuous and voluptuous Neapolitan has few of the tasteless, pseudo-metaphysical extravagances of Tebaldeo, Cariteo, and Serafino. Marino's conceits are objective and pretty. A fair estimate of his best manner may be formed by remembering that a large number of Drummond's sonnets,[7] amorous, moral, and divine, are translated from or suggested by Marino's, and that if the Scotch poet's manner is the larger and nobler, the Italian's technique is the more perfect. A characteristic and beautful sonnet is the original of Drummond's "Alexis! here she stayed,"—

         "Quì rise o Thirse e qui ver me rivolse
          Le due stelle d' Amor la bella Clori:
          Quì per ornarmi il crin de' più bei fiori
          Al suon de le mie canne un grembo colse.
          Quì l'angelica voce in note sciolse
          C' humiliaro i piu superbi Tori:
          Quì le Gratie scherzar vidi, e gli Amori
          Quando le chiome d' or sparte raccolse.
          Quì con meco s'affisse, e quì mi cinse,
          Del caro braccio il fianco, e dolce interno,
          Stringendomi la man, l'alma mi strinse,
          Quì d' un bacio ferrimmi, e'l viso adorno
          Di bel vermiglio vergognando tinse.
          O memoria soave, ò lieto giorno!"

Beyond the hyperbole in the sixth line there is nothing in such a sonnet which is not purely charming, and the art is superior at every turn to Drummond's. For the delightful image of the Graces and the Loves dancing with joy when she gathered her golden hair, Drummond has only the conventional

    "Here did she spread the treasure of her hair,
     More rich than that brought from the Colchian mines;"

and Marino's closing sigh is lost in the Scotchman's platitude—

          "But ah! what serv'd it to be happy so,
           Sith passed pleasures double but new woe?"

Both the pastoral and maritime sonnets contain picturesque descriptions, such as the following of the bay of Naples:—

        "Pon mente al mar Cratone hor che'n ciascuna
         Riva sua dorme l' onda, e tace il vento:
         E notte in ciel di cento gemme, e cento
         Ricca spiega la vesta azurra, e bruna.
         Rimira ignuda, e senza benda alcuna
         Nuotando per lo mobile elemento
         Misto, e confuso l' un con l' altro argento,
         Trà le ninfe del Ciel danza la Luna.
         Vè come van per queste piagge, e quelle
         Con scintille scherzando ardenti, e chiare
         Volte in pesci le stelle, i pesci in stelle:
         Si puro il vago fondo à noi traspare
         Che frà tanti dirai lampi, e facelle
         Ecco in Ciel christallin cangiato il mare."

The hyperbolical, ingenious prettiness of the last thoughts is the characteristic of "secentismo" in Marino's sonnets and madrigals. One gets it usually in the compliment which is the point of the poem. The following pastoral sonnet, for example, opens delightfully—

               "Pon giù l' urna gravosa ò bionda Spio,
                Ah troppo lunge è del volturno il fonte:
                Ti mostrero (se vuoi) di quà dal monte
                E men lontano, e più tranquillo un rio";

but instead of closing—as the sonnet quoted above does—in an appropriate and natural sentiment, passes into a conceit hyperbolical and ingenious, but cold as the frost-work on a window-pane—

                                         "vedrai poi
            Volto il fiume in argento, e l' acqua in foco
            S' avvien che specchio ei sia de' gli occhi tuoi."

And in another suggested by Theocritus's beautiful idyll, which tells how he fell in love with the young girl as she gathered fruit beside her mother, the passionate cry which Virgil translated

          "Ut vidi, ut perii! ut me malus abstulit error!"

becomes a poor conceit—

              "Io stava in parte rimirando, e quante
               Cogliea la bianca man rose e ligustri
               Tante m'erano al cor facelle e piaghe."

Marino rehandles all the hackneyed images of the sonneteers—fire and ice, love's arrows and nets, hearts which migrate, mirrors, and little dogs; but even when absurd his conceits are both ingenious and pretty, and in the graver sonnets they are sometimes more. Those who think of Drummond as a refined and thoughtful poet, and of Marino as a decadent manufacturer of extravagant conceits, might not have suspected, till Mr Ward pointed it out, that the following and other philosophical sonnets were translations from Marino:—

     Of this fair volume which we world do name,
         If we the sheets and leaves could turn with care,
     Of him who it corrects, and did it frame
         We clear might read the art and wisdom rare:
     Find out his power which wildest powers doth tame,
         His providence extending everywhere.
         His justice which proud rebels doth not spare,
     In every page, no, period of the same:
         But silly we, like foolish children, rest
     Well pleas'd with colour'd vellum, leaves of gold.
         Fair dangling ribbons, leaving what is best,
     On the great writers sense ne'er taking hold;
         Or if by chance our minds do muse on aught.
         It is some picture on the margin wrought.

Of the madrigals and canzoni which fill the second book of the Lira, grace and elegance are the prevailing characteristic. Marino is a master in the art of carving heads upon cherry-stones, a Waller with more of fancy and invention, a Herrick without the classical strain which the latter got from Jonson, and without his happier choice of rural subjects.

It has seemed worth while dwelling on the prettiness and even charm of Marino's poetry, because it is frequently spoken of as though it abounded in the tasteless ingenuities of Serafino's; whereas there is more of such tasteless pseudo-metaphysics as have been exemplified above in Cowley's Mistress than in Marino's Lira. It is not in virtue of his conceits that the latter is a decadent. Marino's conceits are not worse than Shakespeare's can be. It is the absence from his poetry of any other quality than prettiness and cleverness—its barrenness of any interest of content beyond an appeal to prurience and love of flattery; and this barrenness is not so apparent in his earlier lyrical poetry as in his later idylls and epics.

For Marino's experience as the favourite poet of Italy, caressed and flattered by cardinals and princes,The Adone, &c. did not improve his poetry in spirit or form. His eulogies are vapid and rococo; his Sampogna a collection of idylls which suggest nothing so much as the libretto of an opera; the Galleria a further series of elegancies. The great work of these years was the Adone, which had been begun at Rome as an idyll, and consisted in 1614 of four books. It was, apparently, the adulation Marino received in France, the desire to vie with Tasso in an heroic poem, the inability of his lyrical and idyllic genius to rise to the height of a Gerusalemme Distrutta (of which one book was composed), that induced him to fall back on the line he had made his own—the line of voluptuous, facile, ornate description,—but to expand the Adone into an epic by the addition of other idylls planned for the Sampogna, of the astronomy and philosophy which were to have been the subject of a Polinnia,[8] by a series of pictures which might have enriched the Galleria, and by fresh variations on the endless theme of kisses and roses, versions in ottava rima of the Canzone dei Baci and La Rosa (Lira II.) The outcome was a poem of over forty thousand lines, in which a voluptuous and licentious story is expanded by endless digressions and diffuse, facile, irrelevant descriptions. All the conventional ornaments of cinquecentist poetry are heaped upon one another in Marino's glittering and fluent stanzas—conceits, antitheses, alliterative and other artificial sound-effects, gorgeous descriptions in which nature is embellished by art (trees have emerald leaves and golden fruit, teeth are pearls and lips are rubies), hackneyed and allegorical personifications and frigid hyperboles.[9] The taste for detailed picturesque description which had come down to the Italian poets from medieval romance, and had been intensified by the influence of classical idyll and contemporary art, divorced from everything else became a mania in the Adone, the last Italian poem which was an event in European literature. The decline of Italy had begun half a century earlier, but the Aminta (1573), the Gerusalemme Liberata (1581), the Pastor Fido (1590), and the Lira (1602) were all works whose influence was felt far beyond Italy. The Adone was the last of such; though both the Secchia Rapita and Marino's posthumous Strage degli Innocenti—in which the grotesquely horrible and the sentimental are exaggerated in the same way as the romantic in the Adone—begot several imitations. Marino's popularity in France was short-lived, and later criticism was disposed to include Tasso and Italian poetry generally in its condemnation of "points" and tinsel.

Marino's followers were numerous. Both in verse and prose ingenious and extravagant conceit was the Followers. fashion, not least among the preachers. Marino boasted that he had succeeded in carrying a single metaphor through each of his prose Dicerie Sacre, discourses on painting, music, and the heavens. Of the Marinist poets the best known are Claudio Acchillini (1574-1640), Girolamo Preti (died 1626), whose conception of love, however, is—except in his early idyll Salmace—purely neo-platonic and spiritual, and Antonio Muscettola, who, besides Marinistic love-verses, composed some happier imitations of Anacreon, and a few odes which won the praises of Testi. The "sudate o fuochi" with which the first opened an ode to Richelieu has remained in literary histories as a type of "secentistic" conceit.

A purer if hardly less artificial taste than that for Marinistic love-poetry was ministered to by the elaborate and tumid odes of Gabriello Chiabrera[10] (1552-1638), a native of Savona, and fond of comparing his adventures into new regions of poetry with the achievements of his townsman Columbus. Chiabrera visited most parts of Italy in his lifetime, and enjoyed the patronage of cardinals and princes, including Carlo Emanuele; but though he was eager to have his compliments repaid with pensions, he shunned the complete immersion in court life which demoralised Marino, and the diplomatic career that gave Testi so much trouble. His works include heroic poems, tragedies, and pastorals, but his reputation rests upon his Pindaric odes, the scherzi and canzonette in which he followed Anacreon and Ronsard, his dignified epitaphs, and genial satires.

In the canzone of Dante and Petrarch the Italians possessed a noble and elaborate lyric which was so The Canzone
and the Ode
firmly established that, like the sonnet and the epic, it was modified but not superseded at the Renaissance by classical models. The canzoni of the cinquecento may be divided into those which, as Cariteo's and Tasso's, fill the Petrarchian form with the sentiments, imagery, and mythology of classical elegy, and others, such as those of Sannazaro, Bembo, and Ariosto, which retain the "concetti metafisici ed ideali" of Italian poetry.[11] Efforts were made, however, to adopt the form and also the themes of the classical ode. Trissino, Alamanni, and Minturno experimented in the Pindaric structure, writing laudatory odes to the French King or the Emperor divided into volta, rivolta, and stanza, just as Ben Jonson later addressed "that noble pair Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morison" in a Pindaric ode with turn, counter-turn, and stand. These experiments were isolated and unsuccessful. Better results were achieved in the moralising Horatian ode by Bernardo Tasso, the father of Torquato, whose epic has been mentioned in a previous volume. His Odi,[12] written in short stanzas of mingled hendecasyllabics and septenars, are too often artificial addresses, in the style of Horace, to gods and goddesses; but one of them is a moving description of his own sorrows, and two—that on the Dawn, which has the colour and sentiment of Drummond's "Phœbus arise!" and that on the Shepherd's Life—are finely conceived and executed. Bernardo Tasso's Odi were the first decisive movement from the canzone in the direction of the ode of Chiabrera, Testi, Redi, and a line of descendants down to Leopardi, Carducci, and D'Annunzio.

Chiabrera's first Pindaric odes were published seventeen years after Bernardo Tasso's. It was only in his later work that he made any serious effort to reproduce the correct Pindaric structure. His odes are Pindaric Chiabrera's
because he departs from the regular structure of the canzone; because the sentiments and imagery are borrowed from Pindar, not from Petrarch; and because their theme is not love but the praise of dead and living Italian heroes and princes.

The receipt for writing classical odes which Chiabrera used was supplied by Bernardo Tasso in the preface to his Odi. "Sometimes I make the construction full of a shining obscurity as Horace does; at times I depart from the principal subject in a digression and return again; but at times I come to a close in the digression in imitation of the good lyric poets." Artificial obscurity, and artificial digressions into classical mythology, are Chiabrera's recurrent devices for giving the appearance of rapt elevation to his strain, and the result is tumid and artificial. A poem on Enrico Dandolo is occupied with the story of Eteocles and Polyneices. Chiabrera is at his best in dignified moral commonplaces, but he had not the "gran temperamento lirico" which made the torch even of pastoral elegy vibrate so fiercely in Milton's hand,[13] and lends so quickening an effect to Vondel's far less elaborately constructed pæans. There is fire enough in "Avenge, Lord!" to burn up the whole of Chiabrera's canzoniere.

Chiabrera was happier, and perhaps rendered as great a service to Italian poetry, in his lighter scherzi and Canzonette. canzonette. Stimulated by the new developments in music, and taking Ronsard for his model, he found a midway "tra la via grece e'l bel cammin francese." He released the Italian lyric from its somewhat slavish bondage to the hendecasyllable and the septenar, experimenting in shorter lines and sonorous masculine rhymes. Tripping trochaic cadences like the following were comparatively new in Italian verse:—

                        Belle rose porporine
                               Che tra spine
                        Sull' aurora non aprite:
                        Ma, ministri degli amori
                               Bei tesori
                        Di bei denti custodite;
                        Dite, rose prezïose
                        Dite, ond' è che s' io m' affiso
                        Nel bel guardo vivo ardente,
                               Voi repente
                        Discioglete un bel sorriso?

Unusual also, though they had been used by Dante, are the rhymes in the second, fourth, and sixth lines of each verse in the following:—

                   "O man leggiadra, o bella man di rose;
                        Rose non di giardin,
                    Che un oltraggio di sole a mezzo giorno
                        Vinte conduce a fin;
                    Ma rose che l' Aurora in suo ritorno
                        Semina sul mattin.

                    Per adornarti, o man, non tesser fregi
                        Nè di perle nè d' òr.
                    Per tutte l'altre mani, o man, s'apprezza
                        Di Gange il gran tesor:
                    È per te sola, o man, somma ricchezza
                        Il tuo puro candor.

                    Dunque, leggiadra e bella man di rose,
                        Che di te dir si può?
                    Lodi altere diran lingue amorose,
                        Io le mi tacerò;
                    Perchè la tua bellezza, o man di rose,
                        Il cor mi depredò."

In these delightfully fresh and varied strains Chiabrera brought cultured poetry back into closer touch with popular song. The dignified moralising, which is the best thing in his Pindarics, is shown to better advantage in the sermone and epitaffii'. Of the latter some are familiar to English readers from Wordsworth's translations.

Leopardi and Carducci are at one in assigning the highest place among the writers of classical odes in Testi. the seventeenth century, early and late, to Fulvio Testi[14] (1593-1643), the servant of Cesare d'Este, Duke of Modena, and the friend of Tassoni, whose troubled and somewhat intriguing career closed in prison at Modena, but not as was believed by violence. Testi's earliest Rime (1613) were Marinistic, and he was accused by Claretti, speaking for Marino, of plagiarism. But he came under the influence of the patriotic sentiment evoked by the war between Savoy and Spain, and he turned to the ode to express his more masculine and elevated sentiments. He was almost certainly the author of the famous Pianto d'Italia, which in dignified and vibrating octaves portrayed the misery of Italy, and invoked the deliverance of Carlo Emanuele. In his first Poesie Liriche (1621) he was equally outspoken, and was in consequence banished from Modena. He found it safer formally to recant his too candid utterances, but his poetry remained thenceforward moral and elevated in cast. In an ode on the death of Lope de Vega he deplores the decadence of Italian song under the influence of Marino—

                         "Non hà dunque Elicona
               Per dilettar altro, ch' amplessi e baci?
               Che Salmace nel fonte, Adon nel bosco?"

And his own odes, Horatian in form rather than Pindaric,— being composed, like Bernardo Tasso's, in verses of intermingled hendecasyllabics and septenars, with a preference for the longer line,—are on moral themes, the vanity of court life and delights of retirement, the dignity of virtue, and the consolations of song. Simplicity, sincerity, ardour, and clear effective evolution are the qualities which distinguish Testi's odes from Chiabrera's. In evolution, the essential quality of the elaborate and elevated ode, Chiabrera's are singularly weak. Ambitious flights are followed by prosaic lapses. Testi warms to his theme, and carries the reader easily forward through his swelling stanzas. The digressions are relevant, the close natural and effective, the phrasing felicitous and dignified. There are not many poems in which figure and thought are more happily matched than in the "Ruscelletto orgoglioso," which excited Leopardi's enthusiasm, an Horatian ode on overweening vanity, in which the poet contrasts the noisy babbling of a rain-swollen stream with the silent and stately flow of the river Po bearing onward its freight of vessels.

One of the most learned, acute, and paradoxical writers of the century was Alessandro Tassoni[15] (1565-1635),Tassoni. whose life was a continuous literary warfare. Educated at Bologna and Ferrara, he was a member of the most famous academies, while, in the service of Cardinal Ascanio Colonna, he twice visited Spain. He supported the Duke of Savoy in 1615 by two fiery Filippiche contra gli Spagnuoli, which he had afterwards to repudiate; and although some barren honours were bestowed on him, it seems doubtful if he was ever a persona grata with Carlo Emanuele. He died at Modena, where his statue has been erected.

Tassoni had a large measure of Dr Johnson's dislike of cant, and the tendency to be carried by that dislike into the defence of paradox. In his earliest work, the Parte de' quesiti di A. Tassoni (1608)—which was expanded afterwards into the Pensieri Diversi—he criticised Aristotle more from impatience of his tyranny in the schools than with any inkling of newer methods in science. He tested the Iliad by the rules of the "heroic poem" and found it wanting, which did not suggest to him any doubt of the rules, but was explained by the assertion that Homer was a rude natural genius who wrote wonderful verses for his time. For Tassoni was, also like Johnson, sceptical of the superiority of early to more cultivated ages, and devoted one whole book to the defence of the moderns.

In the Considerazioni sopra le Rime del Petrarca (1609), Tassoni disclaimed any prejudice against "il Petrarca Re di Melici"; but he was impatient of the imitators of that poet who said he could not err, and accordingly submitted his work to a minute and not always respectful examination, somewhat in the style of Malherbe's notes on Desportes, but much more discriminating, and with a great deal of caustic humour, interesting elucidation, and quotation from Provencal poets.[16] This candid treatment of Petrarch provoked a literary warfare which thoroughly roused Tassoni's bile, and it was primarily to avenge himself on his foes, and in the second place to attack still another idol, the epics written in imitation of Tasso's Gerusalemme, that he composed the Secchia Rapita, which, after circulating for some years in manuscript, was published at Paris in 1622. A political motive has been ascribed to the work, but without probability.

The idea of describing a war between two Italian cities, provoked by a trifling cause (the carrying off La secchia
of a well-bucket during a raid), waged by realistic everyday Italians of the seventeenth century, in a style in which the dignified and picturesque diction of epic is interchanged with coarse and dialectal colloquialism, and with all the machinery of the heroic poem, was undoubtedly suggested to Tassoni by Don Quixote, to which he more than once makes reference. There is little of Cervantes' sympathetic humour, however, in the dry crackling laughter with which Tassoni describes the exploits of the Potta and his followers and foes. His characters are utterly unattractive, and the episodes in which the Conte di Culagna (who stands for the poet's chief enemy, Alessandro Brusantini) is proved "a coward and a cuckold-knave" are more malevolent than amusing. But the scheme of a mock-epic is sustained with the greatest skill, and Tassoni, who evidently had read the romantic epics with the same pleasure that Cervantes read romances, does not let the intention of parody prevent his describing the battles with vigour and gusto; and he has two episodes in the picturesque, voluptuous style of Marino. With a larger purpose and a little of Cervantes' humanity Tassoni might have written a great as well as a clever poem. His strangely critical and negative mind touched with acid all the literary idols of Italy, but he indicated no fresh direction and descried no new ideals.

Mellifluous verse is the most unequivocal excellence of Marino's Sampogna and Adone, and it was in the linking of flowing verse of no very high poetical quality to more and more elaborate music that Italy Poetry and
achieved her most notable success in the seventeenth century. This linking of poetry and music in melodrama and opera was a consequence, partly of the enormous advance made in music as a vehicle for the expression of feeling and picturesque representation, partly, like so many other things at the Renaissance, of the study of antiquity. It was while endeavouring to discover in what way the Greeks recited their tragedies, in song and to the accompaniment of music, that Vincenzio Galilei, father of the astronomer, devised, with others, the system of expressive recitative, and set to music the Ugolino canto in the Divina Commedia, and the Book of Lamentations. Once discovered, the new method was soon applied to other works, especially the favourite pastoral and mythological idylls and plays, and the first complete musical drama, La Dafne written by Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621) and set by Corsi and Jacopo Peri, was performed in 1595. Rinuccini's Euridice and Chiabrera's Rapimento di Cefalo soon followed, and opera, growing always more elaborate musically, was started on its long career,—a career which belongs to the history of music, not of literature, for in Addison's words "the poetry of them is generally as exquisitely ill as the music is good."

The literary drama of the seventeenth century in Italy is only a decadent continuation of the already decadent Drama. drama of the sixteenth—tragedies, religious and secular, modelled on Seneca, and abounding in horrors; comedy classical also, but in general following the line indicated by Giambattista Della Porta (1553-1613), and freshening the interest of the hackneyed scheme with incidents borrowed from the novelle; pastoral plays in endless profusion, the source of all of which is the Aminta and the Pastor Fido. Despite its classical form, sacred tragedy in Italy was, as regards theme and spirit, directly descended from the Sacre Rappresentazioni of the fifteenth century, and the older allegorical characters and irregular structure reappear in some plays which are interesting also inasmuch as they reveal the influence of opera upon tragedy. These are the Adamo (1613) and the Maddalena (1617) of Giambattista Andreini (1578-c.1650), leader, after his father, of the famous company of comedians, the Gelosi, and author of some religious poems and literary comedies. The Adamo, with its strange blend of morality, tragedy, and opera, has been claimed by Voltaire and subsequent critics as the source of Paradise Lost, on the ground especially of the element of allegory which appears in Milton's first sketches of a drama. The closest resemblance to Paradise Lost is, perhaps, in the seventh scene of the fourth act, where Death and Despair circle round in a large hospital which contains all human diseases. This may be the original of Milton's "Lazar-house," where

                "Over them triumphant Death his dart
                 Shook, but delayed to strike."

If tragedy and pastoral found a serious rival in opera, literary comedy suffered the same fate at the hand of the popular comedy of improvisation (the Commedia dell' Arte), which before the end of the Comedy.sixteenth century had been launched by the Gelosi on its triumphant career. The captain, the doctor, the pantaloon, harlequin, and scaramouch were soon as popular in France and Spain as in Italy, and have left their mark on the comedy of Molière—even perhaps of Shakespeare and Jonson. Their effect in Italy was to make motley the only wear; and when the Spanish drama found its way through Naples into the Italian theatre, it was larded with buffoonery and indecency. Nay, when Addison witnessed a performance of the Cid at Venice in 1700, he found that noble tragedy also enlivened by interludes of the pantaloon and the harlequin. The whirligig of time brings its revenges. A living drama must have its roots in popular taste. The country which had rendered most obsequious reverence to classical authority in drama and criticism, had to allow a blend of kinds more inharmonious and inartistic than that at which tragi-comedy aimed, and which Shakespeare achieved in so many different ways.

Of prose writers Italy in the seventeenth century produced abundance, whose work in science, theology, Prose. history, and travels can be but touched on. Much of the prose of the period, especially in sermons, was affected by the same taste for conceits as the poetry, but there were writers of pure and eloquent Italian.

The greatest Italian of the century, Galileo Galilei[17] (1564-1642), the story of whose life and discoveriesGalileo. in physics belongs to a history of science rather than of literature, wrote on the form, situation, and dimensions of Dante's Inferno, and also Considerazioni al Tasso (c. 1590, pub. 1793), notes on his phraseology not unlike those of Tassoni on Petrarch's Canzoniere. But Galileo's finest compositions are his scientific dialogues, notably the Saggiatore, nel quale con bilancia esquisita e giusta si ponderano le cose contenute nella Libra astronomica e filosofica di Lotario Sarsi Sigensano (1623), which D'Ancona and Bacci describe as "un vero gioiello di stile polemico"; the Dialogo dei Massimi sistemi del Mondo (1632), for which he was arraigned; and the Dialoghi delle nuove scienze (1638). In all of these the lucidity, strength, and freedom from all rhetoric of Galileo's prose are the vivid reflection of his acute and powerful mind. And his style is more than merely lucid and strong—it is dignified and harmonious.

Of historians the best known are Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623), the Venetian antagonist of theHistorians. Inquisition and historian of the Council of Trent; Enrico Caterina D'Avila[18] (1576-1631), also a servant for a great part of his life of the Republic of Venice, author of the Historia delle Guerre civili di Francia (1631), in fifteen books; and Guido Bentivoglio[19] (1579-1644), author of a history in twenty-four books, Della Guerra di Fiandra (1632-9). Sarpi's great work is not free from prejudice and passion, yet is an invaluable contribution to history, based on numerous contemporary sources, and written in a style which is clear, exact, and lightened by a vein of genial irony. D'Avila's history was translated into many other languages, and was one of the works most studied and admired by Clarendon. According to the classical Italian tradition, it is elaborate in its descriptions and very full in its report of councils, and of the pros and cons advanced—an example that Clarendon, statesman as well as historian, was able to follow. Bentivoglio was a great admirer of Marino, of whose Sampogna he exclaims, "O che vena! O che purità! O che Pellegrini concetti!" And his own style is not free from antitheses, affectations, and what the French call the "cheville," the use of otiose epithets to secure balance and rhythm. It is, however, clear and easy.


While the poetry of the Renaissance was expiring in Italy in the scintillating extravagances of Germany. Marino and his school, and in the tumid grandeur of Chiabrera's classical odes, it was making its first endeavour to find a footing in Germany,[20] where its advent had been delayed by the more national and vivifying influence of the Reformation. The endeavour, unfortunately, came at a time when social conditions made almost impossible any leisurely and fruitful culture of art and letters.

The way for new experiments had been prepared by the Humanists, who did so much for German Preparation. culture, and had made the school Latin drama so living and interesting a product. But, as elsewhere, a new literature came, not from the direct imitations of the classics, but from the living influence of Italy, and, more directly, from countries which had already transplanted and naturalised the Italian flower, such as France and Holland. Pioneers in the movement to introduce new forms, and give poetry a new grace and elegance, were Paul Schede or Paulus Melissus (1539-1602), who translated Marot's Psalms; Julius Wilhelm Zincgref (1591-1635), author of some stirring war-songs modelled expressly on the poems of Tyrtæus, and a collection of Scharpfsinnige Kluge Sprüch or Apothegmata containing anecdotes and proverbs; and Georg Rodolf Weckherlin (1584-1653), who spent a considerable portion of his life in England, and whose Horatian Oden und Gesänge (1618-19) have the courtly grace and musical rhythm which are the most unmistakable features of Renaissance poetry.

But the Ronsard or Hooft of German poetry was Martin Opitz (1597-1639). Born in Silesia, educated Optiz. in Breslau, and in the Universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg—the cradle of the Renaissance movement,—Opitz led a wandering life. He visited Holland, and imbibed the critical doctrines of Heinsius, two of whose Dutch poems—hymns to Bacchus (1614) and Christ (1616)—he translated into German in 1622. In Paris, he met Hugo Grotius; in Denmark, he wrote his Trostgedicht in Widerwärtigkeit des Krieges; at Vienna, the emperor laureated and ennobled him. Though a zealous Protestant he was for a time in the service of Graf Hannibal von Dohna, the Catholic persecutor of Silesia. After his death (1633), Opitz entered the service of Ladislaus of Poland, where he died in 1639.

Opitz set himself deliberately to introduce new forms and an improved metre into German poetry—

                                      "Ich will die Pierinnen,
       Die nie nach teutscher Art noch haben reden können,
       Sampt ihrem Helicon mit dieser meiner hand
       Versetzen biss hieher in unser Vaterland."

With him began, says Goedeke a little bitterly, "the dependence of German literature, which has continued ever since, now on Dutchmen, Italians, and Spaniards; then on Frenchmen and gallicised Englishmen; then on Romans, Greeks, and Englishmen; thereafter on the Middle Ages; the East and the extreme West; and lastly, on an eclectic selection from the world's literature."

Following in the wake of the Pleiad, and drawing his precepts from Du Bellay, Scaliger, and Heinsius, Theory. Opitz sketched the plan of his reforms in his Buch von der Deutschen Poeterey (1624). With some just and fruitful remarks on purity of language, and on versification (some of which he had anticipated in his earlier Aristarchus sive de contemptu linguæ Teutonicæ (1617)), he combines the usual discussion of the "kinds"—epic, tragedy and comedy, eclogues, sylvæ, lyrics, &c.—and singles out for commendation Petrarch, Sannazaro, Ronsard, Sidney (whose Arcadia he translated), Heinsius, and the tragedies and comedies of those Dutchmen, Hooft, Brederoo, and Coster, who had established Coster's Academy, a few years before, with the same reforming intention as Opitz.

Opitz's own contributions to the carrying out of his ambitious programme—epics, tragedies, pastorals, and odes—have proved of no enduring value. All that lives of his poetry are some of the more graceful and simple of his songs—lyrics like

                  "Sei Wohlgemuth, lass Trauern sein,
                   Auf Regen folget Sonnenschein,
                   Es giebet endlich doch das Glück
                   Nach Toben einen guten Blick,"


                  "Ich empfinde fast ein Grauen
                   Das ich, Plato, für and für
                   Bin gesessen über dir;
                   Es ist Zeit hinaus zu schauen,
                   Und sich bei den frischen Quellen
                   In dem Grünen zu ergehn,
                   Wo die schönen Blumen stehen
                   Und die Fischer Netze stellen."

The opening verses recall Wordsworth's "Up! up my friend, and quit your books," but the German proceeds to confess that Nature is not for him a sufficient stimulant—

                  "Holla, Junge, geh' und frage,
                   Wo der beste Trunk mag sein,
                   Nimm den Krug und fülle Wein."

What is true of Opitz is true of his followers. The ambitious societies, imitations of the Italian Followers. academies, which sprang up with the declared purpose of carrying out Opitz's principles ("Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft" under Prince Ludwig of Anhalt, "Der gekrönte Blumenorden" of Nürnberg, known also as "Die Gesellschaft der Schäfer an der Pegnitz," &c.), produced nothing of value beyond works on language and metre; but some of Opitz's imitators wrote good songs, secular and religious. Among them was the Königsberg poet, Simon Dach (1605-1659), author of

                 "Jetz schlafen Berg' und Felder
                  Mit Reiff und Schnee verdeckt,"


                 "Der mensch hat nichts so eigen,
                  Nichts steht so wohl ihm an,
                  Als dass er Treu erzeigen,
                  Und Freundschaft halten kann,"

as well as the delightful Aenchen von Tharau. Jacob Rist (1607-1667) wrote the sublime hymn, "O Ewigkeit du Donnerwort"; but the best of Opitz's followers was Paul Fleming (1609-1640), who, after being educated in Leipzig, accompanied his friend Adam Olearius on an embassy to Russia and to Persia. Fleming composed Latin poems, and translated from Latin, French, Dutch, and Italian. His German poems are Fleming. in the classical forms which Opitz recommended—odes, songs, sonnets, epithalamia, epicedes,—and are amorous, religious, and occasional. But the spirit of Fleming's poetry is not pedantic, but sincere and natural. "An heitrer Naturwahrheit," says Goedeke, "steht er allen Dichtern des Jahrhunderts voran." His is the beautiful

                        "Lass dich nur nichts dauren
                                     Mit Trauren,
                                          Sei stille,
                         Wie Gott es fügt,
                           So sei vergnügt,
                                          Mein Wille."

There is more fire in Fleming's songs than in those of the elegiac Dach, and the lines he wrote on his death-bed have the confidence without the arrogance of Landor's

 "Mein Schall floh über welt, kein Landsman sang mir gleich,
  Von Reisen hochgepreist, für keiner Mühe bleich,
  Jung, wachsam, unbesorgt. Man wird mich nennen hören
  Bis dass die letzte Glut dies Alles wird verstören."

In religious poetry, strengthening, consoling, and at times mystical, the spirit of the German people Hymns. found its most natural expression during years of endless war and suffering. Some of it shows the influence of Opitz's artificialities and refinements, as for example the religious pastorals of Silesius (of whom the next volume speaks) and Friederich von Spee (1591-1635), and the religious sonnets of Andreas Gryphius. But the best has the simplicity and strength of folk-song. The greatest of these hymn-writers is the author of "Befiehl du deine Wege" and "Nun ruhen alle Wälder," Paul Gerhardt (1607-76), who also has been included in the subsequent volume of this series.

The dramatic preparation of the sixteenth century, which has been described in a previous volume,[21] produced no Drama. adequate result in the seventeenth. No Shakespeare arose to harmonise the popular and learned elements in a drama vital and artistic. The school Latin drama of the preceding century remained Germany's greatest achievement in drama till the appearance of Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller. For a Shakespeare or a Corneille, Germany produced only an Andreas Gryphius (1616-1664).

A native of Glogau, in Silesia, Gryphius had a troubled early life, in which he made himself master Gryphius. of all the languages which the confusion of the Thirty Years' War brought together in Germany, as well as composing the usual epic poem. A patron gave him the means of proceeding to Leyden to study, where he brought out two books of sonnets, Son- und Feyrtags Sonnete (1639), accomplished in form, and full of passionate religious zeal. He visited Italy and many parts of Germany, and died at his native town in 1664.

Gryphius' plays show the influence of the tragedies of Seneca and Vondel, and of the English plays which had already affected the ruder work of Jacob Ayrer (1595-1605), who "grafted the English dramatic style" (with its abundance of action and striking situations) "on to the style of Hans Sachs." Gryphius' tragedies—Leo Arminius, Catharina von Georgien, Ermordete Majestät oder Carolus Stuardus, &c., Cardenio und Celinde, Gross-muttiger Rechts-Gelehrter—breathe the same Christian spirit as Vondel's (three are, like so many of the Dutch poet's, martyr-plays), but Gryphius' are in the more melodramatic Senecan style, which Vondel outgrew as he became familiar with Greek tragedy. They are full of ghost scenes, atrocities, and bombast. The Cardenio und Celinde an Italian novella tragedy, is written in a simpler and more effective style.

But Gryphius' best plays are his two comedies, Peter Squenz and Horribilicribrifax. The first deals with the comic episodes, the acting of Bottom and his friends, in A Midsummer Night's Dream; the second is more a comedy of humours—the bragging soldier, the pedant, and the Jew. Both are written in prose.

In Friedrich von Logau (1605-1655) the early seventeenth century produced a satirical epigrammatist Satire. who was scantly appreciated in his lifetime. In 1638 he published Erstes Hundert Teutscher Reimen-Sprüche, and, in 1654, Salomons von Golaw Deutscher Sinn-Gedichte Drey Tausend. They were little noticed till republished in 1759. Logau was a patriot, and was not a great believer in Opitz's rules. He expresses bitterly his sense of the subservience of Germany in literary and other fashions—her unhappy lot at this period, when Spain and France, England and Holland, had such rich and such national literatures—

                    "Wer nicht Französisch kann,
                     Ist kein gerühmnter Mann;
                     Drum müssen wir verdammen
                     Von denen wir entstammen,
                     Bey denen Herz und Mund
                     Alleine deutsch gekunt."

The mass of artificial and occasional verse produced by the admirers of Opitz is consigned to oblivion. To the rich harvest of Renaissance poetry—especially rich in lyric and drama—Germany's contribution is practically limited to some drama not of the first order, some graceful courtly song, epigrams, and some passionate and simple hymns.

  1. Storia Letteraria d'Italia Scritta da una Società di Professori. Il Seicento, Antonio Bellini, Milano. D'Ancona e Bacci: Manuale della Letteratura Italiana, vol. iii., Firenze, 1904. For other histories with comments see Elton, Augustan Ages, p. 382, note, and add La Vita Italiana nel Seicento, an issue of "conferenze tenute a Firenze nel 1894." Important periodicals are Il Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana, and La Nuova Antologia.
  2. See Flamini, L'Italianismo a Tempo d'Enrico III. in Studi di Storia Letteraria, Livorno, 1895, and Joseph Vianey, L'Influence Italienne chez les Précurseurs de la Pléiade in Annales de la Faculté des Lettres de Bordeaux, Avril-Juin 1903. Vianey refers to Alessandro D'Ancona, Del secentismo nella poesia cortigiana del secolo XV. in Studj sulla letteratura italiana de primi scoli, Ancona, 1881.
  3. See Mazzoni, La Lirica del Cinquecento in La Vita Italiana nel Cinquecento, Milano, 1901.
  4. Lo Stile del Marino nell' Adone ossia Analisi del Secentismo: Sac. Dott. Enrico Canevari. Pavia, 1901.
  5. See an interesting article by Professor Graf of Turin, Il Fenomeno del Secentismo, in the Nuova Antologia, October 1905.
  6. M. Menghini, La Vita e le Opere di Giambattista Marino. Roma, 1888 (a life and critical study). Opere, ed. G. Zirardini, Napoli, 1861. Palermo, 1864. Old editions of La Lira, &c., are procurable. Different editions of the Lira vary in details as to content, not all having, e.g., the Canzone Dei Baci. A sumptuous edition of the Adone in four vols. is the Elzevier, 1678. Cheap editions are numerous. Sonnets in the Parnaso Italiano, tom. 41. 1784.
  7. See William C. Ward's edition (Muses Library), which prints several of the sonnets and madrigals translated. Mr Ward has not noticed "Run Shepherds" and "Alexis here." Probably others are translations. Mr Purves (Athenæum, Feb. 11, 1905) pointed out that Forth Feasting is suggested by Marino's Tebro Festante.
  8. This is one of the numerous works enumerated in the preface to the third book of the Lira, and was apparently to be a scientific poem, dealing with the structure of the universe from the elements up to God, in hymns in the style of Pindar, and of the choruses in tragedy. In the same preface the Sampogna is said to consist of fifty or sixty idylls. The Polinnia, if ever written, was never published: the Sampogna as published contains only twelve idylls, to which some additions were made in a second part. What I venture to suggest is that some of the material of these poems passed into the Adone, into whose texture are woven many myths besides that of Adonis, and which contains two allegoric-scientific cantos, the tenth and eleventh (Le Maraviglie and Le Bellezze), in which the hero visits the heavens and is instructed by Mercury.
  9. See Canevari, op. cit.
  10. Delle Opere di G. C., &c. Venezia, 1730-57-82. Rime, Savona, 1847. Poesie liriche scelte da F.-L. Polidori, Firenze, 1865 (with introd. by Carducci). Id, scelte ed annotate da G. Francesia, Torino, 1872. Canzoni, Parn. It., tom. 41, 1784, and Mathias, Componimenti lirici dei Piu Illustri Pocti d'Italia, tom. II., 1802.
  11. See the interesting article Dello Svolgimento dell' Ode in Italia, by Giosue Carducci, Nuova Antologia, June 1902. The article has been republished in the selections from Carducci's prose works, 1905.
  12. Published in the Rime di Messer B. Tasso, 1560.
  13. Of the various forms which Milton indicated as suitable for great poetry, "doctrinal and exemplary to a nation," the only one which he never essayed in English was the strict Pindaric ode with strophic arrangement, and laudation for its theme. Had he done so he would, as in epic and tragedy, while giving the form fresh content and motive, have drawn his inspiration directly from the Greek, which Chiabrera did not. See G. Bertolotto, G. Chiabrera ellenista? Geneva, 1891, and Il Ch. davanti all' ellenismo in Gior. ligust. 21, 271, quoted by D'Ancona and Bacci.
  14. Poesi...con alcune aggiunte...divise in quattro parti, Milano, 1658. Canzoni, Parn. It., tom. 41, 1784. Mathias, op. cit.
  15. Rime, Bologno, 1880. Old editions of the separate works are procurable. The Secchia Rapita is frequent—e.g., Parn. It., tom. 34. Class. Ital., tom. 163. 1804; Barbèra, Firenze, 1861 (with preface by Carducci); La Secchia Rapita, L'Occano e le Rime aggiuntevi le Prose Politche a cura di Tom. Casino, Firenze, Sansoni, 1887.
  16. For a full study of the Considerazioni see Orazio Bacci, Le Considerazioni., &c. Firenze, 1887.
  17. Opere di G. G. Lincco, Bologna, 1655-56; Firenze, 1842-56 (in 16 vols.) A national edition, in 20 vols., is nearly or just completed.
  18. Historia, first ed., Venezia, 1631; Londra, 1801-2 (6 vols. and 8 parts); Firenze, 1852 (6 vols.) Class. It., tt. 178-183, 1804. Davila's Historie of the Civil Warres of France (1647) was translated under the eye of Charles I. at Oxford by William Aylesbury (1615-1656), brother-in-law of Clarendon, and Sir Charles Cotterel, the translator of Cassandra.
  19. Della Guerra, &c., Colonia, 1632-9. Class. It., tt. 182-188, 1804. Englished by Henry Earl of Monmouth, London, 1654.
  20. W. Scherer, History of German Literature, transl. by Mrs F. C. Conybeare, Oxford, 1896; John G. Robertson, A History of German Literature, Edin., 1902; Karl Goedeke, Grundriss zur Geschichte der Deutschen Dichtung, Dritter Band, Dresden, 1887. Many of the works mentioned have been reprinted in Neudrucke deutscher Litteraturwerke des xvi. und xvii. Jahrhunderts, Halle, 1880.
  21. Early Renaissance, cc. 5 and 6.