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This stupid indifference so often you blame,
Nor is Sunday's sermon so strong in my head;
"But I hate to be cheated, and never will buy
Long years of repentance for moments of joy.
For I would have the pow'r, though not give the pain :
"No pedant, yet learned; no rake-helly gay,
Let the friend and the lover be handsomely mix'd,
Whose kindness can soothe me, whose counsel can guide.
No danger should fright me, no millions should bribe;
As I long have liv'd chaste, I will keep myself so.
"I never will share with the wanton coquet,
Published by HUNT and CLARKE, York street, Covent garden: and sold by all Booksellers and Newsvenders in town and country.-Price 4d.
PRINTED BY C. H. REYNELL, BROAD STREET, GOLDEN SQUARE.
No. XXIV. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18, 1828.
"Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
REDI'S BACCHUS IN TUSCANY.
REDI, a celebrated naturalist and wit-poet of Italy, was physician to the Grand Dukes of Tuscany in the times of Charles and James the Second. He was a great experimentalist, and overthrew the doctrine of equivocal generation: but our business at present is with his poem of Bacco in Toscana, which he wrote on the Tuscan wines, and which is one of the most popular pieces of wit in Italy. Some years ago, Mr Mathias, the celebrated Italian scholar, published an edition of this in London. We no sooner saw it, than we longed to decanter it into English; but circumstances prevented us, till we happened to pay a visit to the poet's own country, when we proceeded to indulge ourselves accordingly, and dispatched the version home. It is said however that Italian wines will not keep in their exportation; and our transfusion certainly did not hold good. The bottle fell broken from the wine-press. To drop our metaphor, the translation of the Bacco in Toscana did not succeed. It would perhaps have been unreasonable to expect that it should, considering the nature of the subject, the English having no cognizance of Italian wines, and not caring for what they never tasted. Furthermore, whether the poem was calculated to succeed 24
or not, our own version may not have been the one to make it do so. But we confess we are willing to discover some further reason for a non-success so entire, as to enable us to venture the present summary of the poem with the reader, in default of being well enough to do better. And this reason, we think, may be two-fold; first, a newness and inaptitude to his work on the part of the publisher, who had been used to greater tasks; and second, the extraordinary fact of its being published with upwards of fifty mistakes of the press, and many of those of the most extraordinary and confounding description. We blame nobody for these accidents. The private circumstances under which the publication took place, partook of the extraordinary nature of the rest; the publisher, as well as the author, was occupied with many cares; the author was in another country; and the appearance of the work, after being delayed a year, could be hardly said to have been one after all. Of the extent to which the mistakes were carried, the reader may judge by the following specimens. "Plebeian home," at p. 6 of the book, ought to be "plebeian Rome." An old stony giggiano (a reverend mystery at p. 15) should be "And old stony Giggiano" (a place so called.) A line (“ And much agrees with-") where an unseasonable hiccup cuts it short (for the worst of it is, that in a poem of this kind, people suppose such mistakes a part of the joke) ought to be
"And much agrees with me."
Mr Lamb, in the notes, at p. 59, is made to say that Bacchus's true Indian conquest "" warms the West," instead of " was from the West." At p. 96, it is observed, that "the French began to speak with admiration of Milton, partly because Voltaire wanted them to like epics of all sorts, for the sake of puzzling opinion, and introducing the steanade." This is the Henriade ! And at p. 139, where there is an endeavour to shew that a novelist is not likely to be a great poet, from a want of a turn for concentration, Boccaccio in his style is said to be "over close and succinct," instead of " never close and succinct." We do not wish to lay any more stress on these matters than our present purpose requires, and can join very heartily in laughing at them. We wish we had
never given printers in our time more cause to complain of us, than they have given us reason to find fault with them. But when our poor version, besides not being calculated to be popular in itself, finds its intention of being agreeable turned into these involuntary distortions, has scores of blotches inflicted on the likeness it intends to represent, an eye or so jammed in,—and a shrewd cut given to its hamstring when preparing to dance,—it may reasonably say to our friends in private (for such we always feel inclined to consider the readers of this paper)" I am not exactly what I have been taken for; and if you will allow me, I will shew you as much."
To proceed then with our summary.
The poet feigns, that Bacchus, in taking his divine circuits. about the globe, comes and seats himself with Ariadne on the lawn before the Grand-Ducal mansion in the neighbourhood of Florence. The object of the God is to see how the Tuscan wines go on, and to give his opinion of them. They are served up to him: he drinks and criticises, and at length (like a proper Bacchus of the time of Charles II) gets drunk, and fancies himself going in a boat.
"After all (says the Preface) what is the Bacco in Toscana?' It is an original, an effusion of animal spirits, a piece of Bacchanalian music. This is all; but this will not be regarded as nothing, by those who know the value of originality, and who are thankful for any addition to our pleasures. Common critics may chuse to confess, that they see as little in it as they undoubtedly do see. Good-natured intelligence is always willing to find something to be pleased with; and the poet, truly so called, discovers the merit that exists in anything really good, because he has an universal sympathy. I wish that, by any process not interfering with the spirit of my original, I could make up to the English reader for the absence of that particular interest in a poem of this kind, which arises from its being national. But this is impossible; and if he has neither a great understanding, nor a good nature that supplies the want of it; if he is deficient in animal spirits, or does not value a supply of them; and above all, if he has no ear for a dancing measure, and no laughing welcome for a sudden turn or two at the end of a passage-our author's triumph over his cups will fall on his ear like a jest unprofitable.' I confess I have both enough melancholy and merriment in me to be at no time proof against a passage like the following:
"Chi la squallida Cervogia
A le labbra sue congiugne,
Cups of Chocolate,
Are not medicines
I would sooner take to poison
Down in Erebus,
"Twas the detestable Fifty in
The Furies then took it,
To grind and to cook it,
If the Mussulman in Asia Doats on a beverage so unseemly, I differ with the man extremely." The anathema against Beer is celebrated; and if spoken of small beer, the epithet squalid must be allowed to be admirable. As for ale and cyder, an Italian of those days, visiting England, might reasonably have objected to them from the habit of drinking his dinner-wines; but we can only say at present, that bottled porter is in much request among his descendants. If Redi gave his opinion from anything but report, the beer and cyder he speaks of were probably as bad as importation could make them.
"There's a squalid thing call'd Beer :
The man whose lips that thing
Swiftly dies; or falling foolish,
Let her take to English Cyder :