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Her zeal to see her cousin's face,
Here, then, are Abate Ravasi's verses, — which he called his
Ah! non resiste il cuore
A vedermi lasciar,
Io sento a palpitar
Co' tronchi accenti,
Co’ flebili lamenti,
D'un fido servidor;
Non trovasi di te.
L'amato tuo consorte,
VERSES ON BUFFON.
While we were daily receiving some tender adieux from our Milanese friends, the famous Buffon died, and changed the conversation. He was blind a few days before his death, and occasioned this epigram :
“Ah! s'il est vrai que Buffon perd les yeux,
Que le jour se refuse au foyer des lumières :
Qui pénétroient tous ses mystères."
The Abate Bossi translated it thus:
“ Ah! s'è ver che Buffon cieco diventa,
Se alle pupille sue il dì s'asconde;
Natura alla fin gelosa confonde
Buffon's bright eyes at length grow dim,
Dame Nature now no more will yield;
Who all her mysteries revealed.
This last of course was done by your own little friend, who was careful to preserve a power over her own language, although beginning almost to think in Italian, by such constant use.
Dedication (writer not specified).
What a whimsical task, my dear friends, you impose
We mean not our book for the public inspection,
Preface, by Mrs. Piozzi.* PREFACES to Books, like Prologues to Plays, will seldom be found to invite readers, and still less often to convey importance. Excuses for mean Performances add only the baseness of submission to poverty of sentiment, and take from insipidity the praise of being inoffensive. We do not however by this little address mean to deprecate public Criticism, or solicit Regard ; why we wrote the verses may be easily explain'd, we wrote them to divert ourselves, and to say kind things of each other; we collected them that our reciprocal expressions of kindness might not be lost, and we printed them because we had no reason to be ashamed of our mutual partiality.
Portrait Painting, though unadorn’d by allegorical allusions and unsupported by recollection of events or places, will be esteem'd for ever as one of the most durable methods to keep Ten
* See ante, p. 90.
derness alive and preserve Friendship from decay ; nor do I observe that the room here where Artists of many Ages have contributed their own likenesses to the Royal Gallery is less frequented than that which contains the statue of a slave and the picture of a Sybil. Our little Book can scarcely be less important to Readers of a distant Age or Nation than we ourselves are ready to acknowledge it; the waters of a mineral spring which sparkle in the glass, and exhilarate the spirits of those who drink them on the spot, grow vapid and tasteless by carriage and keeping; and though we have perhaps transgress'd the Persian Rule of sitting silent till we could find something important or instructive to say, we shall at least be allow'd to have glisten’d innocently in Italian sunshine, and to have imbibed from its rays the warmth of mutual Benevolence, though we have miss'd the hardness and polish that some coarser Metal might have obtain'd by heat of equal force. I will not however lengthen out my Preface ; if the Book is but a feather, tying a stone to it can be no good policy, though it were a precious one; the lighter body would not make the heavy one swim, but the heavy body would inevitably make the light one sink.
On Tuesday evening, the 26th December, 1815 (writes Mr. Fellowes), we met at the Vineyards, our conversation led to the House of Commons, and my father expressed a wish that I had been a member, adding that he believed I should have followed that line with more pleasure than physic. Mrs. Piozzi assented to this, in her usual good-humored complimentary manner. I made an observation about illusion, &c., and something was said about Spain, and the beauties of the language, and I read the following Spanish verses to her, which pleased from their simplicity and neatness : —
“La otra noche soñaba,
Que feliz sueño,
Pero no quieso.
Que algun dia tu sueñes,
Lo que soné yo.” On the following morning I received from Mrs. Piozzi these lines : —
“ The amorous Spaniard's glowing dream,
Caused in my brain confusion;
Say, was that all illusion ?
“O, if the stream of eloquence,
Was fancied all and vain :
And turn to dream again. “ Mr. Linton takes this imitation of the verses you showed me last night.
H. L. P.”