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TO GIOVANNI BATTISTA MANSO,
MARQUIS OF VILLA.
Milton's Account of Manso. Giovanni Battista Manso, Marquis of Villa, is an Italian nobleman of the highest estimation among his countrymen, for genius, literature, and military accomplishments. To him Torquato Tasso addressed his Dialogues on Friendship, for he was much the friend of Tasso, who has also celebrated him among the other princes of his country, in his poem entitled, Gerusalemme Conquistata, book xx.
Fra cavalieri magnanimi, e cortesi,
Risplende il Manso. During the Author's stay at Naples he received at the hands of the Marquis a thousand kind offices and civilities, and, desirous not to appear ungrateful, sent him this poem a short time before his departure from that city.
HESE verses also to thy praise, the Nine,
Oh Manso! happy in that theme, design,
For, Gallus and Mæcenas gone, they see
None such besides, or whom they love as thee;
And if my verse may give the meed of fame,
Thine too shall prove an everlasting name.
Already such, it shines in Tasso's page
(For thou wast Tasso's friend) from age to age,
And, next, the Muse consign'd (not unaware
How high the charge) Marino to thy care,
Who, singing to the nymphs Adonis' praise,
Boasts thee the patron of his copious lays.
To thee alone the poet would entrust
His latest vows, to thee alone his dust;
And thou with punctual piety haft paid,
In labour'd brass, thy tribute to his shade.
Nor this contented thee - but left the grave
Should aught absorb of theirs which thou couldst
All future ages thou hast deign'd to teach [fave,
The life, lot, genius, character of each,
Eloquent as the Carian fage, who, true
To his great theme, the life of Homer drew.
I, therefore, though a stranger youth, who come
Chilld by rude blasts that freeze my northern home,
Thee dear to Clio, confident proclaim,
And thine, for Phæbus' fake, a deathless name.
Nor thou, so kind, wilt view with scornful eye
A Muse scarce rear'd beneath our sullen sky,
Who fears not, indiscreet as she is
young, To seek in Latium hearers of her song. We too, where Thames with his unsullied waves The tresses of the blue-hair'd Ocean laves, Hear oft by night, or, slumbering, seem to hear, O'er his wide stream, the swan's voice warbling clear; And we could boast a Tityrus of
yore Who trod, a welcome guest, your happy shore.
Yes, dreary as we own our northern clime,
E’en we to Phæbus raise the polish'd rhyme,
We too serve Phæbus; Phæbus has received
(If legends old may claim to be believed)
No sordid gifts from us, the golden ear,
The burnish'd apple, ruddiest of the year,
The fragrant crocus, and, to grace his fane,
Fair damsels chosen from the Druid train ;
Druids, our native bards in ancient time,
Who gods and heroes praised in hallow'd rhyme !
Hence, often as the maids of Greece surround
Apollo's shrine with hymns of festive sound,
They name the virgins who arrived of yore
With British offerings on the Delian shore ;
Loxo, from giant Corineus sprung,
Upis, on whose blest lips the future hung,
And Hecaerge, with the golden hair, [bare.
All deck'd with Pictish hues, and all with bosoms
Thou, therefore, happy fage, whatever clime
Shall ring with Tasso's praise in after time,
Or with Marino's, shalt be known their friend,
And with an equal flight to fame ascend.
The world shall hear how Phoebus and the Nine
Were inmates once, and willing guests of thine.
Yet Phæbus, when of old constrain'd to roam
The earth, an exile from his heavenly home,
Enter'd, no willing guest, Admetus' door,
Though Hercules had ventured there before.
But gentle Chiron's cave was near, a scene
Of rural peace, clothed with perpetual green,
And thither, oft as respite he required
From rustic clamours loud, the God retired.
There, many a time, on Peneus' bank reclined
At some oak’s root, with ivy thick entwined,
Won by his hospitable friend's desire,
He soothed his pains of exile with the lyre.
Then shook the hills, then trembled Peneus' shore,
Nor Oeta felt his load of forests more;
The upland elms descended to the plain,
And soften'd lynxes wonder'd at that strain.
Well may we think, O dear to all above!
Thy birth distinguish'd by the smile of Jove,
And that Apollo shed his kindliest power,
And Maia's son, on that propitious hour,
Since only minds so born can comprehend
A poet's worth, or yield that worth a friend.
Hence on thy yet unfaded cheek
The lingering freshness of thy greener years,
Hence in thy front and features we admire
Nature unwither'd and a mind entire.
O might so true a friend to me belong,
So skilld to grace the votaries of song,
Should I recall hereafter into rhyme
The kings and heroes of my
Arthur the chief, who even now prepares,
In subterraneous being, future wars,
With all his martial knights, to be restored
Each to his seat around the federal board ;
And oh, if spirit fail me not, disperse
Our Saxon plunderers in triumphant verse !
Then, after all, when, with the past content,
A life I finish, not in silence spent ;
Should he, kind mourner, o'er my deathbed bend,
I shall but need to say—“ Be yet my friend !”
He, too, perhaps, shall bid the marble breathe
To honour me, and with the graceful wreath
Or of Parnassus or the Paphian isle
Shall bind my brows—but I shall rest the while.
Then also, if the fruits of Faith endure,
And Virtue's promised recompense be sure,
Born to those seats to which the blest aspire
By purity of soul and virtuous fire,
These rites, as Fate permits, I shall survey
eyes illumined by celestial day,
And, every cloud from my pure spirit driven,
Joy in the bright beatitude of Heaven !
The Argument. Thyrsis and Damon, shepherds and neighbours, had always pur
sued the same studies, and had, from their earliest days, been united in the closest friendship. Thyrsis, while travelling for improvement, received intelligence of the death of Damon, and, after a time, returning and finding it true, deplores bim
self, and his solitary condition, in this poem. By Damon is to be understood Charles Deodati, connected with
the Italian city of Lucca by his father's side, in other respects an Englishman; a youth of uncommon genius, erudition, and virtue.
E Nymphs of Himera, (for ye have shed
Erewhile for Daphnis, and for Hylas
And over Bion's long-lamented bier,
The fruitless meed of many a sacred tear)
Now through the villas laved by Thames rehearse
The woes of Thyrsis in Sicilian verse, [found
What fighs he heaved, and how with groans pro-
He made the woods and hollow rocks resound,
Young Damon dead; nor even ceased to pour
His lonely sorrows at the midnight hour.
The green wheat twice had nodded in the ear,