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there was much in his character to remind one of Swift. He was quite as fond of using the lash as the Dean, but he wanted the genius of the author of " A Tale of a Tub." And it was well for those who took most pains to secure his friendship that it was so. It is not strange that an author of this character should himself have been severely criticised when his retaliation was no longer feared. While alive, and in the full enjoyment of his faculties, no author of his time was more praised. The most successful of his countrymenthose who might well claim to be his rivals in poetry, if not in criticism-did not scruple to compare him to Dante and Petrarch. Manzoni has gone farther still; for he compares him to Virgil in melody, and to Dante in grandeur and greatness of soul.
“ Salvi o divino a cui largi natura
Il cor di Dante e del suo Duca il canto
But once unable to criticise, as he was for some three years before his death, he was assailed by some of the very men who had been most extravagant in his praise. In short, the most elaborate efforts were made, to prove that he possessed no genius for poetry; and that whatever was worthy of being remembered in his writings had been stolen from others—often from those against whom his fiercest invectives had been directed. It is incredible to those who have paid no attention to the subject, what a vast amount of research, talent, and erudition has been brought to bear on his writings in this way, with a view of depreciating them. For a time the attempt was successful, though, with all his faults, Monti did not want defenders-even among those he had most mercilessly criticised. The public were made to believe that he was better entitled to the character of a plagiarist than of a poet; but the grass had scarcely time to grow over his grave, when the same public again betook itself to the eager perusal of his works. It was remembered that, if he was not a great poet, he was at least the first, since the time of Dante, to attempt innovations in political ideas as well as in ideas purely literary. Even the Academies admitted, when too late, that his death was a national loss ; and that his writings deserved to be ranked with the best of those of his contemporaries. The revival thus caused has again subsided; but he is quite as much read at the present day as Wordsworth or Coleridge-in the opinion of respectable French critics, as much even as Byron or Moore. This is undoubtedly an exaggeration of his popularity'; but he is surely popular enough, and possesses sufficient intrinsic merit to render it strange that so little is known about him in this country. Not a few of his lyrical effusions are worthy of comparison with those even of Petrarch. The first and last cantos in his Mascheroniana are worth an octavo volume of modern poetry; the whole poem deserves to be translated into English, as it has been into French and German, and, we believe, into Spanish.
the Creon towards us. You have not done so; but you go about saying and writing that I am hated even by those who welcome me to their houses. They write to me from Mantua, that you now condemn those same literary opinions, which you have so often applauded in me as just and virtuous. I have in my hand a letter to that effect, which has been written by you against me--an old friend-to some new friends. This document and those reports have been sent to me without any request on my part, and I defy the world to find a letter of mine which speaks of you otherwise than to praise your works. (Who will deny that this was a moving appeal to his forbearance ?) Be more prudent, then, in writing against old friends, and in trusting yourself to new ones. Know at once that for several years they have been looking for an adversary for you, of greater eminence than the Giannis, the Coureils, the Lampredis, and less easily pacified than the Bettinellis and the Mazzas. For some years many people have believed that you fear me for my manner of thinking, and that I envy you for your manner of writing. I will furnish you a thousand instances of the zeal with which I have everywhere in public protected your name from calumny, even to the extent of publicly giving a blow to one who was aspersing you, and bringing on myself a duel. Now-a-days these same wretches divide into parties, attach themselves to me; others, by their speeches and writings, wish to excite us to the field ; and as fast as I drive the whole set away from me, they will go to swell your party.
"As for me, I will cut off my hand before writing a single word against you. I know that you have said in several places that I am the court Cato, and that you
have meanly alleged as a proof, a salute that I gave, whilst walking to the carriage of the Gran Giudice. I know that you have threatened to scatter the dust of my tombs." (An allusion to the “ I Sepolcri.") " Monti ! we shall both go down to the tomb; you the more lauded, doubtless, and I, perhaps, the more mourned. Eulogium will speak in your epitaph; and in mine-I am sure of it will be read, that born and bred with strong and bad passions, I have yet preserved my pen unpolluted by falsehood, but perhaps my name will be buried with me.
“Of my writings you will speak as you please ; for myself, I shall forget that you have praised them. But since many of our fellow-citizens may not forget it, leave to Lampredi, to Guillon, to Lattanze, and their companions, the business of tearing me to pieces. (No child could dread the rod more.). They will add personal malignity towards the enemy of the courtiers and grandees of my time, a malignity which will do me more harm than all their literary criticisms. You have condemned these men to infamy; and now, to earn your friendship, they offer me to you, as the sacrifice of reconciliation. Let them, my dear Monti ; but, for the love of heaven, do not fraternize anew with them. Let them, and welcome, live in their illusions, so the Philebi who torment you will leave you in peace, and they will lose their time in barking round me. Iyself—I am more patient and more hard of hearing. The wretches cannot rob me of my name. As for places and favors, you know that I have none, and that I have no fear of losing any. Nevertheless, if you should attack me, by writing, or rather, by speaking, as you are accustomed to do, in the unhappy moments of your passion, I shall be silent; but beware, for the heart of many an Italian breast will, perhaps, with a shuddering indignation, respond for me....
Those aware of the amount of labor performed by Foscolo, as a critic, may well wonder at his being so much afraid of the criticisms of Monti. During his residence in England, he contributed to all the principal Reviews, especially to “ The Quarterly,” and “Edinburgh,” in each of which he has written admirable. papers on Dante, Tasso, Alfieri, &c. But in none of his criticisms is he satirical ; his object is more to discover beauties than to expose faults. Had he been of an ill-natured disposition, he had ample opportunity, in the two great English Reviews, to avenge himself of all his countrymen who had sought to depreciate his writings, and who had caused him that pain which he scarcely makes any effort to conceal in his letters to Monti. His revenge might have been complete, since there is scarcely one of his purely literary contributions to those journals which was not immediately translated into Italian, and reproduced in the principal periodicals of Sardinia, Venice, Tuscany, and Naples. There is every reason to believe that, at all events, it was not for want of courage he forbore to retaliate on his detractors; it was precisely because he was bold, fearless, and impatient of wrong, that he was forced to abandon his beloved country, at a time when she was most in need of his services. Even Napoleon failed to intimidate Foscolo ; and he was equally proof against the conqueror's offers of patronage and honors. This was well illustrated in his celebrated Address before the Congress of Lyons, which was convoked by order of Napoleon, whom he was expected to eulogize. Indeed, it was expressly for this purpose he was invited. But how did he perform his task ? " The following extract, from the Address itself, is the best answer to the question. The conqueror was astonished to find that, instead of his being addressed as the greatest man the ancient or modern world had seen, he was simply told :
“There is not one, of all thy splendid qualities, but meets with its counterpart in history: in the impenetrable policy of Tiberius; in the philosophical spirit of Marcus Aurelius, and in that patron of letters, Leo X. If many noble and brilliant examples like these were, as we are assured, more or less stained with crimes, that was, because they were men, and
mortals, as thou, too, art. Let us recollect that it was the voice of una daunted posterity, and not the hopes or fears of their contemporaries, which pronounced final sentence upon their tombs. Innumerable and illustrious examples have rendered sacred, by its fulfillment, that maxim of the wise of old: “No one ought to pronounce himself fortunate before his death.""
It is to the honor of Napoleon that he not only allowed him to give free expression to his opinions, but shook him, warmly by the hand after he had concluded his Address. “I do not object,” said Napoleon, “to your reminding me that I have been excelled by others, but I have a request to ask of you—it is this, that whatever you say of me as an individual you will not exercise the influence of a poet and orator to the prejudice of my government. Yet, why do I ask you, for I know
you love Italy too well to speak against one who, I am sure you will admit, has already done much to render her prosperous and happy.” As might have been expected, this made a deep impression on the poet, though it failed. to produce the effect intended by Napoleon.
Foscolo did not, indeed, expressly oppose his government, for he gave him credit for good intentions towards Italy. Soon after, Monti was appointed Historiographer of the kingdom of Italy, and Foscolo received the appointment of Professor of Literature in the University of Pavia, with the information that he would have a higher salary than any of his predecessors, not excepting Monti. In this position, too, it was expected that, according to established custom, he would pronounce a eulogy on the existing government. Monti had done so, and, with the exception of the incident already mentioned, there was no reason to apprehend that he would not do the same, especially as he had been treated so kindly by Napoleon. But, instead of a eulogy, his very first lecture consisted of an earnest and powerful invective against the baseness and depravity of those writers who prostitute their talents to the cause of tyrants and the enslavement of their country. The rest of the faculty got frightened, and reminded him of the invariable custom of his predecessors; but his only reply was, “that it belonged to history alone to do full justice to the character of great sovereigns." It was thought he would be dismissed at once, but Napoleon had better sense.
In reply to those who complained of the rashness of the poet-professor, he remarked that it was better to convince him of his error by improving the condition of his country, than by
punishing him for what he evidently regarded as a solemn duty. But another lecture, delivered three months after, changed his mind to some extent. It was intimated to the Professor that he ought now to do what he had omitted at his inauguration; at least, that he ought to make such remarks as would counteract any injurious effect that might have been produced by his disparaging allusions on the occasion referred to, and that he could do so without any sacrifice of principle, since Napoleon was daily giving new proofs of his disposition to contribute in every way in his power to the prosperity of Italy. Had his advisers confined themselves to this, they would probably have succeeded, but they reminded him, in conclusion, that all the other Italian poets and authors who were favored with the patronage of the government did not hesitate to give Napoleon that credit for noble intentions towards their beloved country which was not denied him even by his enemies. Foscolo listened patiently, until they had exhausted all their arguments, and then replied sarcastically that Augustus Cæsar once issued a decree for the sole purpose of prohibiting bad poets and petty orators from sullying his fame by their vulgar eulogies. This only made bad worse, for it was evident that what Foscolo meant was, that Cæsar, being truly great, did not doubt himself-he needed no praise; but that Napoleon, being a parvenu, courted praise-nay, seemed to enforce it as a tax. It was now generally predicted that the daring poet would be banished, if not imprisoned. Neither was done, however. The Emperor was loath even to dismiss the satirist, but, after considerable hesitation, he issued a decree
suppressing the professorship of the University of Pavia. This was sufficiently plain, at the same time it was a delicate way to put an end to attacks which, emanating as they did from one of the most learned universities in Italy, seemed to possess a semi-official character.
It was a consolation to Foscolo that, if he was no longer Professor of Literature, nobody succeeded him in that office; and it is said, besides, that he got his salary as usual-at least, an amount equivalent to it. At all events, it does not appear that Napoleon ever molested him. The best proof of this is to be found in the fact that he resided in comfort, if not in affluence, at Milan until the downfall of the Emperor, and that, as soon as the Austrian domination was restored, he felt it necessary to retire at once to Switzerland. Finding