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other designation than la città de la salsiccia fina, while in an earlier part of his poem (Canto i. st. 31.) he immortalizes Sabatino Brunello as primo inventor de la salsiccia fina. Let the reader observe with what a true, and at the same time with what a learned relish of a sausage Michael Agnolo Firenzuola writes of it, in a canzon which he devoted expressly to its praise
"Sausage is made of every kind of meat.
We learn, indeed, from history,
His meat from bulls he took,
The skill of many now-a-days surpasses
In making sausages of flesh of asses,
They must be asses who think them a treat.
Semiramis us'd horse-flesh;
But she was a piece of coarse flesh.
A learned Grecian author,
Speaking of what he saw there,
Says that in Egypt of dog's-flesh they make them :
I'd rather much my own compound,
Large, firm, and round,
And in the well-clean'd entrails tightly bound.
Happy, ye old, that are not gabies,
And ne'er forsake them!
Live on such food, and then
Ye will be young again;
So young, you'll fancy ye are full-grown babies."
And so this sausage-serving Abbot of Prato (who lived in the gay times of Leo, Clement, and Paul III.) proceeds in the same strain of carnivorous devotion. How much more naturally does he account for the passion of Pasiphaë, than Ovid or Apollonius; and no wonder if, living upon bull-beef sausages, she produced the Minotaur, without any of the scandal to which for many centuries the lady's character has been exposed. But the founder of the De-la-Cruscan Academy of Florence (which grew out of the society of the Humidi) thought the same theme not below the dignity of his pen; and thus, in his Capitolo on the sausage, in terza rima (which we have ventured to imitate), breaks out in a fit of enthusiastic admiration of pork, the meat best adapted to the purpose.
"The pig domestic 's better far than all
The other animals of earth, sea, air,
In my poor judgment, which I think not small.
Nor are there any who in this affair
The various goodness of that creature rare.
Oh worthy pig! both gentle and genteel,
And good at dinner, supper, every meal!
Thou giv'st content to every man alive
With thy most noble limbs, fat, fair, and round.
Head, feet, and blood; ay, e'en thy skin is found
But this thy chiefest excellence and true,
That thy rare flesh can make an old man young:
The thought in the last line but one of this quotation from Grazzini is the same as in the canzon of Michael Agnolo Firenzuola, and it seems to have been a proverb. Grazzini was known among his friends by the designation of Il Lasca, or the Roach, for it was the custom for each of the Members of the Academy of the Humidi to take a name connected with water: all Grazzini's rime piacevole purport to have been written by Il Lasca. And this leads us to remark upon another point, viz. that this humorous species of poetry, which flourished at one period so luxuriantly in Italy, arose not more out of the nature of the language than out of the state of society in that country. Besides the Humidi already mentioned, there were many other clubs or associations of artists and men of letters coexistent-the Academia de gli Inquieti, de gli Confusi, and divers others. There is no book that gives a more entertaining and vivid account of such societies than the Life of Benvenuto Cellini, where he speaks of the convivial unions of painters, with Julio Romano at their head, and of poets, with Berni for their leader, at which he was present. The moral conduct of the Associates was now and then exceptionable, and it not a little tinged their productions both of the pencil and the pen, but the meetings were most joyous and unrestrained, and the mirth was generally as harmless as it was hearty. On these occasions many, if not most, of the poesie giocose were read or recited, and not a few of the artists of that day were also poets, or at least dabblers in poetry as well as in paint. There is no doubt, however, that the Italian language is also peculiarly adapted to such capricious effusions: Rapin (a very impartial judge, because a Frenchman, who never admits any superior excellence in a foreign tongue which he can possibly deny), in his Reflections on Modern Poetry, states that "les Italiens expriment mieux le ridicule des choses;" and that " leur langue est plus propre que la nôtre, par l'air badin qu'elle a de dire ce qu'elle dit." The fact is indisputable, and hence the great difficulty we have found in rendering some of these charming pieces into tolerable English. Boileau, however, was not so impartial when he talks of the éclatante folie of Italian poetry, although he was fain to imitate some of its faux brillans in his Lutrin, as well as Gresset in his delectable Vert Vert.
We have mentioned Italian poet-painters, or painter-poets (as they may be called in reference to their superior excellence in the one art or in the other) who wrote rime piacevole; but there is one great artist, who was also no inconsiderable satirist, of more modern date, who fell foul of the light-infantry of letters, the authors of humorous poems of the kind we have been describing, with his wonted vigour.
We allude to Salvator Rosa, who, in his second satire, lays about him in the following manner. We must use his own words, for they are quite untranslatable.
"Oh Febo! oh Febo! e dove sei condotto?
Questi gli studii son d'un gran cervello !
Lodar le mosche, i grilli, e il ravanello,
Ed altre scioccherie ch' hanno composto
Il Berni, il Mauro, il Lasca, ed il Burchiello."
Here we see that he names three of the principal authors of rime piacevole, for it is not at all fair to include Burchiello, who was called the Barber of Florence, and most of whose productions were mere nonsensical absurdities, with here and there a stroke of humour, or a personal allusion now totally unintelligible: this, too, notwithstanding all the painful annotations of Doni, in the edition of 1553, dedicated to no less a man than Tintoretto, who seems to have had a genuine relish for the ridiculous. But Burchiello, to do him justice, did not owe all his reputation to mere nonsense-verses, as most of them may be fairly called: here and there he writes in a much better strain, as will be evidenced by the following sonnet, with its coda, which contains a very amusing as well as instructive apologue.
THE VAGRANT ANT.
"An Ant one day was roaming through the valleys,
The more she looks, the more the fabric tallies
She sought in vain for something that was eatable,
A sort of thing 'tis hard to do without.
'Where I came from (she cried) there was a free table :
I will return without delay. I fear
I shall be starv'd to death if I stay here.'
I also hold it clear,
Where there are victuals every place is handsome,
The coda is of course delivered by the writer in his own proper person, and the whole was intended to ridicule great houses, where a vast deal of state was kept up to the starvation of the inmates. The same thought occurs somewhere in Pulci's Morgante Maggiore, but we have mislaid the reference, and have not time just now to turn over the four-and-twenty cantos to find it. Some of the rime piacevole were addressed by poets to their patrons, in whose palaces they lived, now and then with a scanty allowance of money, but oftener merely for the sake of the table at which they were permitted to eat and drink. These poems therefore give us a curious in
sight into the state of society at that date in Italy. Romolo Bertini seems to have been one of those who obtained a small annuity, for in a sonnet addressed to Leopold, his patron, he acknowledges the receipt of dieci scudi il mese; and in another, which we are about to quote, he pleads very hard, and with much humour, for an increase of his allowance: the turn at the conclusion is very pleasant and unexpected.
"My Lord, I must acknowledge very clearly
That memory is least where wit is greatest,
Which shows, though proof comes rather of the latest,
This is the reason (I should hint it merely)
All that I ask to satiate hunger, dryness,
It was decreed by heaven, that
Thou shouldst fulfil: 'tis fit to have some shyness
In proving heaven itself to be a liar.”
This point is similar to that in Moore's epigram beginning "Your mother says, my little Venus," but we freely acquit him of any plagiarism. Bertini was not like Berni, who could lie on his back in his garret and count the rafters, despising courts and patrons: [Vide Orlando Innamorato, canto lxvii. st. 36. et seq.] in one part of his rifacimento he expressly calls upon the Anthropophagi and Lestrigoni of Boiardo to swallow cortigiani and empii padroni, who devoured the flesh and blood of their unhappy dependants and left them only their bare bones. Berni was a genius above the world, who could set at nought its troubles, or rather rejoice that he had them to contend with, and all his poetry shows a most hilarious spirit of reckless independence: he must have been a delightful fellow; and Dolce, who wrote a long poem upon Berni's huge nose, is a contemporary witness to his powers of conversation. The same praise seems to be due, though not by any means in the same degree, to Pier Salvetti, of whom, however, little is known beyond what he tells us himself in the terzetti he has left behind him. It was a peculiarity of the humorous poems of Italy, that the authors in the midst of their jocularity sometimes introduced matter deserving the gravest meditation; and Salvetti, whose chapter "Upon the loss of a Cricket" is now before us, affords a striking proof of it: he there inserts the following semiserious apostrophe to justice, which is perhaps as fine as anything of the kind in Italian.
"Oh Justice! Justice! where art thou?
Thou 'rt not on earth poor Virtue's nurse!
The power of gold, in the second stanza, to make Justice say "no," or "yes," according to convenience, is precisely Dante's thought
"Del no per li denar vi si fa ita."-Inferno, c. xxi.
Salvetti, if we are not mistaken, was a priest; at least he gives us to understand that he was in orders-and it was not then looked upon as at all inconsistent that he should write poesie giocose, even of the freest kind. One of the most notorious authors of this class (and who also wrote admirably in other departments) was Giovanni, or John, de la Casa, who was made Archbishop of Benevento by Paul III. and who very nearly contrived to thrust his head into a cardinal's hat. Some of his biographers endeavour to prove that he wrote rime burlesche only, prima che fosse in chiesa; but the best authorities establish that this was not the fact. He has produced a great deal that is quotable, and, among others, a very pleasant chapter on his own name John, which he considered a great misfortune to have received from his godfathers and godmothers. Old Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," (the reader must take the trouble to find the page, for here we are at fault for the exact reference,) says that "Socrates thought it worthy of him formally to advise parents to give their children well-sounding names;" and Archbishop John de la Casa was decidedly of opinion, although we can by no means agree with him, that John was not only an ill-sounding name, but that there were other very valid objections to it. The following is the sense of part of what he advances :
"If I were younger by some twenty years,
I would be re-baptised without all doubt,
My duty I can hardly go about;
In fact, I cannot any where be seen,
And when I turn, it is not I they mean.