Fertility of invention and variety of description, huve excelled it in regularity and classical chastity of design, and have displayed all those poetical graces, that without surprising, delight the reader. If to the satires of Ariosto, we add those of Ereole Bentivolio, who was nearly his contemporary, and which are written on a similar model, we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that neither these, nor the singular productions of Berni, Bini, Mauro, and their associates, have in any degree been rivalled in subsequent times. Nor have the later writers of blank verse, among whom may be enumerated Annibale Caro, Marchetti, and Salvini, greatly improved upon the correct and graceful example displayed in the writings of Rucellai, Almanni, the cardinal Ippolito de Medici, and frequently in those of Trissino.'

Mr. R.'s subsequent remarks on the Italian drama derive weight from the authority which, in these matters, is justly annexed to his opinion :

• Neither the Sofanisba of Trissino, nor the Rosmunda or Oreste of Rucellai, although highly to be commended, when compared with the works which preceded them, and when considered with relation to the times in which they were produced, can be regarded as perfect models of tragedy, adapted to theatrical representation. It must also be observed, that the efforts of the cardinal da Bibbiena, and even of Ariosto, to introduce a better style of comic writing, are rather scholastic attempts to imitate the ancient writers, than examples of that true comedy which represents by living portraits, the follies, the vices, and the manners of the age. It is only in later times that the dramatic works of Maffei, of Metastasio, of Alfieri, and of Monti, have effectually removed from their country, the reproach of baving been inferior in this great department of letters, to the rest of Europe. In comedy, the Italians have been yet more negligent ; for between the dry and insipid performances of the early writers, and the extravagant, low, and burlesque exhibitions of Goldoni, Chiari, and similar authors of modern comedy, lies a spacious field, in which the genius of a Moliere, a Goldsmith, or a Sheridan, would not fail to discover innumerable objects of pursuit and of amusement.'

In the seventeenth chapter of this work, the reader will meet with a profusion of criticism on the Latin poetry of the age of Leo, the period of its utmost perfection in modern days; which, we are told, it had occupied a hundred and fifty years in attaining. In the times of which we are speaking, it was not uncommon for men to sit down with the intention of rivalling Horace, and of surpassing Virgil. Though the most successful productions in this line will not gratify so much as far humbler performances in a living language, we are still of opinion that, at this stage in the progress of the moderns to literary eminence, it was a discipline which had a favourable influence in improying the taste and maturing the judgments of both writers and readers. As it is the end of knowlege to elevate and to perfect


the human mind; and as its value is to be determined by its effects of this nature, it is gratifying to peruse the author's record of the urbanity and candour of the Italian scholars; and which shews that the pursuit, to which we have been alluding, is intitled to more consideration than is usually allotted to it.

Mr. R. again introduces us to Sanazzaro; of whom, and of Vida, Fracastoro, Navagero, and the younger Flaminio, he speaks in those terms of enthusiastic admiration, which result from an exquisite perception of their beauties.

When treating of those who in the age now under review addicted themselves to philosophy, it is justly remarked by Mr. Roscoe ;

That mankind, when they begin to cultivate their intellectual powers, have generally turned their first attention towards those abstruse and speculative studies, which are the most difficult of comprehension, and the most remote from their present state and conditioni' This is the natural result of that inexperience which is com-. mon to an early or unimproved state of society. Ignorant of that which relates to their immediate well being, they attempt to rise into the realms of immaterial existence ; or, if the laws of nature engage their notice, it is only in subordination to some higher purpose. The course of the heavenly bodies would be considered as a study not deserving of their attention, were it not believed to unfold to them the secrets of futurity; and the productions of the vegetable and mineral kingdoms are disregarded, except when they are sup. posed to exhibit striking prodigies, or to produce miraculous effects. Hence it has been the most difficult effort of the human mind to divest itself of absurdity and of error, and to quit its sublime flights for the plain and palpable inductions of reason and common sense ; and hence the due estination of our own powers, although it be of all sciences the most important, is generally the latest acquired.

• In correcting these errors of early times, the ancients had made a considerable progress; but on the revival of letters, that second in. fancy of mankind, the powers of the human intellect were not so froquently enployed on subjects of real' utility, as in the investigation of the most difficult or unintelligble propositions. The writings of Aristotle, which had first been introduced through the medium of the Arabians, afforded the greatest abundance of subjects of this nature, and he therefore became the universal favourite. The study of his works superseded the study of nature; and as few topics were left untouched by his vigorous and enterprising genius, he was not only resorted to as the general authority on all subjects of science and of literature, but produced a considerable effect on the theological teners of the times. The superiority and influence, which, by the aid of the schoolmen, he had for so many ages maintained, were, however, at length diminished by the rival system of Plato' ; and the dominion which he had so long exer. cised over the human intellect, was now divided between him and

his sablimer opponent. This circumstance may, however, be considered rather as a compromise between the rulers, than as an alteraa Lion in the condition of those who were still destined to obey. The metaphysical doctrines of Plato were as remote from the business of seal life, and the simple induction of facts, as those of Aristotle. It is not, however, wholly improbable, that mankind derived some ad. vantage from this event. In dividing their allegiance, it occasion.' ally led them to think for themselves, and perhaps induced a suspi. cion, that as in opposing systems both leaders could not be right, so it was possible that both of them might be wrong.'

In the same chapter, Mr. R. thus expresses himself:

• It is impossible to observe the industry, the learning, and the acuteness which have been displayed in these abstruse speculations, without sincerely regretting such a lamentable waste of talents and of time. For what important discoveries might the world have been indebted to the genius of Giovanni Pico of Mirandula, if instead of attempting to reconcile the opinions of Plato, and of Aristotle, he had devoted himself to those studies which are within the proper limits of the human intellect. Nor might posterity have had less cause to admire the talents, and approve the indefatigable labours of Giovan-Francesco Pico, the nephew of Giovanni, if he had not suffered himself to be led astray from the path of nature and utility, by the example of his uncle, and the inveterate prejudices of the age.'

We believe that the labours of the human mind are not al. ways to be estimated by their direct fruits. It is not improbable that it was necessary to traverse these perplexing paths, in order to convince men of their unprofitableness, and to in, duce them to attempt a more practical course. The researches, to which the dreams of astrology and alchemy incited, ultimately led to and forwarded true science. The laborious and captious trifling, which, under the name of logic, so long engaged the whole attention of the schools, paved the way for the philosophy of the mind. The quibbles and subtilties of the Doctors, whom we treat with undue contempt, habituated the studious to speculations which prepared them to enter into the doubts of Des Cartes, to admire the conclusions of Hobbes, to learn the principles of human knowlege from Locke, to comprehend the sublime logic of Berkeley, to trace with Hartley the phænomena of mind to the principle of Association, and to embrace the practical deductions drawn from these discoveries by the ingenious Dugald Stewart. If Des Cartes had not romanced, and Kepler had not exercised himself in conjectures, it is probable that Newton and Leibnitz would not have enriched the world with their discoveries. We have perhaps, therefore, no cause for regretting that the two Picos applied their superior talents to the reveries of the Grecian sages.



Though we may have no great respect for the scientific treatises of the age of Leo, and though a similar fate perhaps awaits the proudest performances of later times in this department, we find that they were indirectly productive of fruits which can scarcely be equalled by the science of our own days :

• The proficiency made in geographical and astronomical studiesa prior to and during the pontificate of Leo X. is not so much to be collected from the written documents of the times, as from the great practical uses to which those studies were applied. That the rescarches of the early navigators were instigated and pramoted by many of the most eminent scholars of the times, appears

from un doubted evidence. The assistance thus afforded to these daring ads venturers was, however, amply repaid. By the successful result of their labours, the form of the globe, and the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, were more decidedly ascertained. Nor can it be doubted, that their experience first served to establish that more cor. rect system of the universe, which has since been fully demonstrated. These discoveries gave rise, however, to many extravagant ideas, which afford a striking proof of the credulity of the age. It is asserted by Monaldeschi, that the kingdom of Peru required a whole year to traverse it from one extremity to the other ; and that New Spain was at least twice the size of Peru. Bembo, in his history of Venice, has also expatiated on the productions of the new world, and on the persons and customs of the inhabitants, with a mixture of truth and fiction highly amusing. The success which attended the expeditions to the eastern world, was no small cause of anxiety to the Venetians, who, foresaw in the new intercourse to which they

ould undoubtedly give rise, the destruction of that commerce which the republic had sa long monopolized; but although the states of Italy derived fewer advantages from these discoveries than any other country in Europe, yet it is observable, that the persons by whose courage, skill, and perseverance, they were made, were principally Italians. Cristoforo Colombo was a native of Genoa ; Amerigo Vespucci, who contended with him for the honour of having been the first to touch that new continent, which is yet designated

by his name, was a Florentine ; Giovanni Verazzini, to whose efforts the French were so much indebted for their foreign possessions, was of the same country; and John and Sebastian Cabot, who under the reigns of Henry VII. Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, rendered such important services to the English crown, were of Venetian origin,'

Having in glowing and forcible terms expressed his lamentations over the calamities occasioned by the discovery of America, the author relates a trait of Leo which is more honour. able to him than any other feature in his character, and which must be regarded as covering a multitude of sins :

• If the spirit of ecclesiastical domination conspired with the lust of ambition, in extending the conquests of the maritime nations of Europe, it must be remembered, to the credit of the Roman church, that the first persons who opposed themselves to the atrocities committed on the unoffending natives, were the missionaries of the dif. ferent orders of monks, who had been sent for the purpose of preach. ing among them the Christian faith. In this generous undertaking the Dominicans took the lead. The horrible practice of seizing upon the persons of the native Americans, and distributing them in proportionate numbers among the new settlers, to be held in per. Petual slavery, was represented by the monks of this fraternity as wholly inconsistent with the mild spirit of Christianity, and subversive of the great object of their own mission. The Franciscans, without attempting to justify these enormities to their full extent, opposed themselves to the benevolent views of the Dominicans. Their dis. Kensions soon reached Europe, and the supreme pontiff was resorted to for lais decision on this novel and important subject. His sentence confers honour on his memory. He declared that not only religion, but nature herself, cried out against slavery. He observed, with equal justice and benevolence, that the only mode by which civilization and religious improvement could be extended, was by the adoption of mild and equitable measures ; and he employed his ut. most endeavours to prevail on Ferdinand of Spain to repress the avarice and ferocity of the new settlers, in the countries subjected to his authority.'


While adverting to the ethical writings of this period, Mr. Roscoe introduces the novels of Bandello; which call from him the observation that the ecclesiastics of that age are dis. tinguished from other writers by offending more against modesty in their compositions. Doubtless there cannot be a stronger instance in point than the tales of the good Bishop of Agen.

We pass over with much reluctance the account which the guthor gives of that non descript in literary history, Pietro Aretino ; whose life, he says, ' • may be denominated the triumph of cffrontery.'

Mr, Roscoc next dwells on the zeal and exertions of Leo as a collector of books and manuscripts. The learned librarians of the Vatican, and che historians of the period, then pass in review, While he examines the merits of the latter with a dem corous and manly freedom, he at the same time preserves that tenderness and respect which are becoming in a writer who is so greatly obliged to them, and who himself sustains a similas character. To the generality of our readers, the judgment of Mr. Roscoe on books in daily use will be of greater benefit than his accounts of productions which are more rare and cu. rious. How far the following delineation is original, or has been derived from the labours of others, is not very material: but, if we can trust the impression made on our own minds by the same work, it is as masterly and correct as ever critic drew. Many other sketches of nearly equal felicity enrich these pages.

• The

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