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exemplify that credulity which cha- were without oftentation, he hava racterises the human race in every ing a short time before his death age, may at least serve to thew that given express directions to that ef: the event to which they were sup- fect. Not a tomb or an inscription posed to allude was conceived to be marks the place that received his of such magnitude as to occasion à alhes; but ihe stranger, who, fmitdeviation from the ordinary course ten with the love of letters and of of nature. From Careggi the body arts, wanders amidst the fplendid of Lorenzo was conveyed to the monuments erected to the chiefs of church of his patron saint, amidst this illustrious family, the work of the tears and lamentations of all Michelagnolo and of his powerful ranks of people, who bewailed the competitors, whilst he looks in vain loss of their faithful protector, the for that inscribed with the name of glory of their city, the companion Lorenzo, will be reminded of his of their amusements, their common glory by them all.” father and friend. His obsequies
Memoirs of the Abate Metastasio, until his Arrival at VIENNA
on his Appointment to the Office of IMPERIAL LAUREATE.
(Extracted from Dr. BURNEY'S MEMOIRS of the Life and WRITINGS
of that Poet.)
“PIETRO TRAPASSO, the se
IETRO TRAPASSO, the fe- a little money, he entered into part
cond son of Felice Trapasto nerthip with a fhop-keeper at of Alisi, and Francesca Galafti of Rome, for the sale of goods which Bologna, was born at Rome, Jan. belong to what the Romans call 6th, 1698, in the parish of Santi l'arte bianca, consisting of oil, Lorenzo & Damafo, where he was flower, pastry, and other culinary baptised the 19th of the same month, materials. by Card. Ottoboni.
And having been somewhat “ His father, though descended prosperous in this kind of merfrom a family in Ahli which had chandise, he placed his two eldest long enjoyed the privileges of free fons, Leopoldo and Pietro, at a citizens, but which, by a gradual Grammar-school. The latter disdecline, was reduced to poverty, covered an extraordinary quicknesi not being able to fubfist in the place and disposition for literature, and a of his birth, listed for a soldier in violent pallion for poetry, with a the regiment of Corfi, and soon power of making verses, extempore, after married Francefca Galafti, by on any given subject, before he was whom he had many children be- ten years old. fides the poet.
" This faculty he was habituated " While he was in garrison, to to exercise, after school hours, at the small pay of a soldier, he added his father's thop, where great crowds something towards the maintenance used to assemble in the street of an of his family, by becoming an,ama- evening to hear the young Tranuensis. And at length, having paffi fing, all'improvifta; who, beserved the usual time, and by ex- lides the harmony of his numbers, treme industry and economy saved was gifted with the melody of a fine voice. During one of these spect and reverence for ancient lore, tuneful fits, the learned civilian he translated his name into Greek : Gravina having accidentally passed calling him Metastasio, instead of that way, was ftruck with the sweet- Trapalli; as Metastatis, Mutatio, ness of the child's voice, and still seemed at once to express his formore with his verses, which he soon mer name of Trapalsu, and his new found were extempore, and either situation as an adopted child. upon persons who stood near him, “ And having changed his name, or on playful subjects of their fug- he undertook the more difficult task gesting.
of changing, or at least enlarging, “ Gravina was so astonished and his mental faculties, and at the same pleased at the precocity of the little time that he was studying the bard's talents, that he stopt to careis, learned languages, and imbruing his and converse with him, offering mind with the sciences, he wished him money for his performance, to make him an orator rather than which however the child modestly a poet, and determined that he declined to accept. This so much fhould study the law as a profession; increased the civilian's admiration, that, and divinity, being the only that he instantly conceived a wish two roads by which a man of to adopt him, for the pleasure of learning could arrive at honours cultivating a foil which nature had and dignity in Rome. Poets, inrendered so fertile, that even the deed, were rewarded with barren spontaneous flowers and fruits it praise and acclamation, but wealth produced were of a superior kind. and affiuence were strangers to Without hesitation he therefore apo their doors. plied to his parents, foliciting them 66 Yet while he was obliged to to transfer to him the care of their read the dry books of the law, and fon's education, promising to be. to hear the wrangling and jargon of come not only his preceptor, but the bar, bis natural pafsion never father.
quitted him, but “ As the child was still to remain
True as the needle to the Polar ftar, at Rome, and no cruel preliminary Which nightly guides the advent'rous was mentioned, by which his natu
mariner, ral parents were prohibited from Its glowing influence pointed out the way, seeing him and cherishing recipro
Through now'ry paths of poetry to firay; cal affection, Felix was too wise, And however he was ostensibly ocand zealous for the welfare of his cupied by other studies, he found son, to refuse the proffered patron- tinie, by stealth, to read the great age; and the next morning Pietro models of the art, of which says an was conducted by his father and Italian writer, ' he fucked the tweet, mother to the house of Gravina, and devoured the substance.' Inand wholly consigned to his care deed he was as much in disguise in and protection,
the robes of the forum, as Achilles "Our young bard was now, from in those of a female. At the nannies the legitimate child of a fhop-keep- of Homer and Ariosto, which were er, become the adopted son of a his favourite poets, he was unable man of letters. And as his learned to contain himself; and Gravina patron was partial to Greek litera- discovering, in spite of his pupil's ture, and wished to implant in the determination to conformimplicitly mind of the young Roman a re.
to his will, that this exclufive paffion for poetry was insuperable, at nificence of princes,' and he wat length permitted him to read thofe heard with wonder and rapture by poets which he himself thought not all the learned present. They adonly the best, but the only models mired the fecundity of his ideas, of perfection. At the age of four- the sublimity of his conceptions, teen, during the early period of this the flights of his fancy, and the fa indulgence, Metastasio produced his cility and neatness of his exprelñon. tragedy of Giustino, conformable Indeed he became in that city, the to the rigour of all the rules of the general and favourite subject of liancient Greek dramatic writers, terary academies and allemblies of with which his learned preceptor good taste and polite conversation; had supplied him. But he lifped where nothing was repeated but the the numbers of the dry and formal favourite verles which he had sung scenes of this Coup d'Esai in a extempore, and which were remanner which he afterwards dif- membered by those who had heard liked in proportion to the pains he them from his own mouth: on had taken to walk the Nage in these occasions, the order, clearness, Grcek bulkins."
and learning, with which he treated “ It seems somewhat inconsistent, the subjects, as well as the beanty that Gravina, whose first impreffi. of his verses, the sweetness of his ons in favour of his young pupil voice, the grace of his action, his were the effects of his premature modeft deportment, and the ex. genius for poetry, should check his pression of his countenance, were progress in that art, in favour of universally extolled. By these exanother study for which he had no cellencies, joined to his fine feapassion or uncommon disposition; tures and great natural dignity, he but thinking more of his future became the idol of all who heard fortune than fame, he chained him and saw him; and the love of bis to legislation, pandects, ediéts, de- preceptor, Gravina, encreased with crees, codes, rolls, and every species his years, as the genius and gratiof advocation that was likely to tude of his pupil rendered him contribute to his profeffional know- every day more and more satisfied ledge and advancement.
with his own discernment in fe. “But after producing the tragedy lecting and adopting him. of Giustino upon Gravina's fa- “ With his poetical itudies Mevourite Greek model, the learned taftafio ftill continued to purfue civilian seenis not only to have to those of the law, and in order to lerated, but encouraged his pupil's obtain a passport through the two adoration of the Muses; and at most promising roads to preferuient eighteen carried him to Naples ex- at Rome, he cherished also a hope pressly to afford him an opportu- of rising in the church; affumed nity of fioging extempore with the the clerical habit, and took the mimost celebrated Improvisatori of nor orders of priesthood; not inItaly at that time.”
deed, say the Italian writers of his • And it is related by his bio- life, from any partiality for that graphers, that in this very year of profession, but by the advice of his his age, he fung, all'improvifta, at affectionate master, as the moft Naples, forty octave stanzas, on a likely means of obtaining honour subject proposed to him by one of and emoluments. the audience, which was the mag- “At twenty years of age he had
the misfortune to lose his learned “ Our poet is now become a free preceptor and patron, Gravina, who agent, master of himself, and a dt 1died in 1718, aged fifty-four. It potic prince over no inconfiderahas been doubted whether this ble fortune. His conversation and event, which his heart inclined him verfes had too much excellence to to regard as the greatest calamity, want admirers. And his table was was not a fortunate circumstance too well served to be in vant of for his fame. Metastasio, whose guests. He now wholly quitted the writings evince him to have been dry study of the law, and devoted all tenderness, gratitude, and disin- himself and his fortune to the muses terefted fenfibility, bewailed this and his friends, There was no misfortune with the deepest afflic- poetical aflembly in which he did tion; and in the Elegy called La not read some new production: as Strada della Gloria, written on this our Garrick in the early part of liis occasion, and read at a full affem- life was found wherever lovers of bly of the members of the arcadian theatrical amusements were assemacademy founded by Gravina, he bled. Stimulated by the applause gave a public testimony of his form which every piece universally rerow and gratitude, expressive of ceived, Metaftafio thought of nothose noble sentiments, which he thing but how to have it renewed cherislied and practised taw the end by another composition. The love of his life. Nor did the beneficent of praise is an infirmity to which will of his master diminish his grief the best minds are perhaps the most or dry his tears, though when open- subject. During this intoxication, ed it was found to have been made not a thought seems to have been in 1717, and that he had appointed bestowed on his present finances or him his heir.
future fortune. If he reflected at " By this liberal act, he verified all during these times of diflipation, his promise to the parents of Me. it was on the number of his friends taftafio, of treating him as his own and admirers, and the certainty of child. The advantage to his ta- patronage whenever he thould want lents and to the lovers of poetry, it. What his predecessor Petrarca which is supposed to have been de has said of the temple of love, was rived from this early loss of his still more applicable to that of forlearned tutor, was the opportunity tune, by Metastasio. it afforded his genius, to free itself
E12011, segni, ed immagini fmorte from the trammels of Grecian rules Eran d'intorno all'arco trionfale, and servile imitation. But though
E false opinioni in lu le porte, in his dramas he has more pathos,
E lubrico sperar ji per le scale.
Errors and dreains, and thoughts half poetry, nature, and facility, than
forin'd abound, we are now able to find in the
And crowd the baseless fabric all
around; ancient Greek tragedians, yet his While at the threshold false opinions early study of them certainly ele. fiand, vated his ideas and style, and taught And on the lieps, vain hope, with magic
wand. him how to thun the vulgarity and absurdities with which the early • Those whom the poet's young popular dramatists of most countries imagination had dignified with the abound. He may be said to write title of friends, were only indulging with classic elegance, though he had their love of poetry and good cheer, liberated bimself from claffic chains.” at his expence. Among all the lessons of literature and science, of the name of Paglietti, earnestly which his learned and liberal patron entreating his assistance in the study had taught him, he seems to have of jurisprudence, and promising on forgotten those of worldly wisdom. his own part, to second the instrucAnd in pointing out to his genius tions which he should receive with and diligence the means of meriting all possible diligence and docility. the property he left him, he wholly Paglietti was one of the most emineglected to tell him how to pre- nent lawyers at that time in the serve it, and that the flattery of the city of Naples; but fo rigorous a poor and the rich is alike selfish : disciplinarian, and so totally devothe one for profit, and the other for ted to his profession, that he not pleafure. And indeed it is said, only despired but absolutely hated that during this time, among his every species of ornamental knowmost ardent admirers at Rome, be- ledge or literature. Poetry was sides those who profited from his therefore ranked by him among bounty, there were many persons the most deadly sins of which an of the highest rank and authority, advocate could possibly be guilty, who seemed proud of being thought Indeed it was to him an object of his patrons and protectors. But such horror, that he trembled at the the zeal of these cooled in propor- mere mention of it. It is natural tion as he became likely to want 'therefore to suppose that Paglietti, their protection; and what Pliny devoid of all taite for the arts of has said of the cinnamon tree, elegance, which help to humanize feems applicable to the great in and polish our favage nature, was general, corticis, in quo fumma gratie, rough, four, and forbidding in his nothing but the bark, the mere address and manners: he was all outside, is of any value. For want law, and of that severe and merciof these instructions, his patron's less fort, which knows not how to legacy was soon diffipated; not in pardon the smallest imprudence or the support of vice, but mostly in deviation from worldly wisdom. munificence and good chcer. Ma- 6 Metastasio was not ignorant of ny of his fugitive pieces were pro- his severity and invincible hatred duced during this period, particu- for poetry; but instead of looking larly his sonnet on the celebrated upon it as an evil, he was the more Gasparini, in 1719, (the year after eager to place himself under his his patron's death,) when that ele- most rigid discipline, in order to gant and pleasing composer was in prevent a relapse into poetry, which the height of his favour at Rome. had hitherto been to him so unproMany of his cantatas, canzonets, fitable a study. The reception of and sonnets, were produced even Metastasio by this Lycurgus, and at a more early period,
his first lecture, were perhaps ren. "Finding himlelfin two years time dered more auftere and acrid by wholly reduced to his two sinall the fame of his poetical talents, Roman places, his little Neapoli- with which not only Naples, but all tan poriellions, and his library, he Italy, was already filled; but Mewent to Naples with the firm refo- tastasio hearing it with heroic palution of seriously resuming the tience, renewed his promise of unstudy of the law. Being arrived in wearied application, and kept it so that city 1720, he placed himself well during his first residence under under the guidance of an advocate the advocate's roof, that he began