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coincider con la sophistica, ni la historia que seria tomar la materia al histórico; y no siendo historia porque toca fabúlas ni mentira porque toca historia, tiene por objeto el verisimil, que todo lo abraza. De aqui resulta que es un arte superior á la metaphysica, porqué comprende mucho mas, y se extiende a lo que es y á lo que no es."1 What may lie behind this notion of probability is still indefinite and impenetrable.
Moved by a wish to place poetry on a foundation other Fr. Patrizzi than the probable, Francesco Patrizzi, the anti-Aristo- (Patricius). telian, composed his Poetica between 1555 and 1586 in refutation of all Aristotle's main doctrines. Patrizzi notes that the word " imitation” is given many meanings by the Greek philosopher, who uses it now to denote a single word, now to describe a tragedy; at times it stands for a figure of speech, at others for a fiction : whence he draws the logical conclusion (from which, however, he shrinks alarmed) " that all philosophic and other kinds of writing and speaking are poetry, since they are made of words which themselves are imitations." He observes further that, according to Aristotle, it is impossible to distinguish between poetry and history (since both are imitations), or to prove that verse is not essential to poetry, or that history, science and art are unsuitable material for it; since Aristotle in several passages says that poetry may comprise “fable, actual occurrences, belief of others, duty, the best, necessity, the possible, the probable, the credible, the incredible, the suitable" as well as “ all things worldly.” After these objections, some sound, others sophistical, Patrizzi comes to the conclusion that “there is no truth in the dogma that poetry is wholly imitation; and even if it be imitation at all, it belongs not to poets alone, nor is it mere imitation of any kind, but something else not mentioned by Aristotle nor pointed out by any one else, nor yet borne into the mind of man. The discovery may possibly be made in course of time, or some one may hit
the 1 Philosophia antiqua poetica, Madrid, 1596 (reprinted Valladolid, 1894).
truth and bring it to light”; but up to the present“ such discovery has not been made.” 1
Yet these confessions of ignorance, these endeavours, though vain, to escape from the Aristotelian circle of ideas, and the great literary controversies of the sixteenth century concerning the concept of poetic truth and the probable had their use in that they stimulated interest by directing attention to a mystery still unsolved. Thought had once more begun to move upon the æsthetic problem, and this time it was not destined to be broken off or to lose itself.
1 Francesco Patrici, Della poetica, la Deca disputata, “in which by history, by reason, by authority of the greatest worthies of antiquity, is shown the falsity of the most received opinions concerning Poetry down to our own day.” Ferrara, 1586.
FERMENTS OF THOUGHT
and new observations
INTEREST in æsthetic investigation increased rapidly in New words the early years of the following century, owing either to the popularity acquired by certain new words or to the in the sevennovel meanings given to words already familiar, which teenth century emphasized new aspects of artistic production and criticism, complicating the problem and rendering it thereby more puzzling and attractive. For example : wit, taste, imagination or fancy, feeling, and several others, which must be examined rather closely.
Wit (ingegno) differed somewhat from intellect. Free use of the word arose, if we mistake not, from its convenience in Rhetoric as conceived by antiquity; that is to say, a suave and facile mode of knowledge, as opposed to the severity of Dialectic; an “Antistrophe to Dialectic,” which substituted for reasons of actual fact those of probability or fancy; enthymemes for syllogisms, examples for inductions; so much so that Zeno the Stoic figured Dialectic with her fist clenched and Rhetoric with her hand open. The empty style of the decadent Italian authors in the seventeenth century found its complete justification in this theory of rhetoric; their prose and verse, Marinesque and Achillinesque, professed to exhibit not the true but the striking, subtly conceited, curious or nice. The word wit, ingegno, was now repeated much more frequently than in the preceding century; wit was hailed as presiding genius of Rhetoric ; its“ vivacities” were lauded to the skies ; " belli ingegni”
was a phrase seized upon by the French, who rendered it as “esprit” or “ beaux esprits." 1 One of the most noteworthy commentators on these matters (although opposed to the literary excesses of the times), Matteo Pellegrini of Bologna (1650), defines wit as "that part of the soul which in a certain way practises, aims, and seeks to find and create the beautiful and the efficacious" considers the work of "wit” to be the
wit” to be the “conceits and subtleties” noted by him in a previous pamphlet (1639). Emmanuele Tesauro also descants at considerable length in his Cannochiale Aristotelico (1654) upon wit and subtleties, not alone“ verbal ” and “lapidary” conceits, but also " symbolic " and " figurative" (statues, stories, devices, satires, hieroglyphs, mosaics, emblems, insignia, sceptres), and even“ animated agents” (pantomimes, play-scenes, masques and dances) : all things which may be grouped under “polite quibbling" or rhetoric as distinct from " dialectic."
Amongst such treatises, product of their age, one written by the Spaniard Baltasar Gracian (1642) became celebrated throughout Europe. Wit became in his hands the strictly inventive or artistic faculty, "genius”; génie, “genius
genius” were now used as synonyms of wit, ingegno and esprit. In the following century Mario Pagano 5 wrote: “Wit may be taken as equivalent to the génie of the French, a word now commonly used in Italy." To return to the seventeenth century, Bouhours, a Jesuit writer of dialogues on the Manière de bien penser dans les ouvrages d'esprit (1687), says that “heart' and ' wit' are greatly in fashion just now, nothing else is spoken of in polite conversation, and all discourse is at last brought round to l'esprit et le cæur.” 6
1 E.g. Molière, Préc. ridic. sc. I, 10.
: Delle acutezze che altrimenti spiriti, vivezze e concetti volgarmenti si appellano, Genova-Bologna, 1639.
Agudeza y arte de ingenio, Madrid, 1642 ; enlarged, Huesca, 1649. 5 Saggio del gusto e delle belle arti, 1783, ch. I, note.
& Ital. trans. in Orsi, Considerazioni, etc. (Modena, 1735), vol. i. dial. I.
the word taste.
The word taste or good taste was equally widespread Taste. and fashionable, signifying the faculty of judgement brought to bear on the beautiful, distinct to some extent from intellectual power, and sometimes divided into active and passive, so that it was usual to speak of one kind of taste as “ productive” or “ fertile ” (thus coinciding with “ wit ”), and of another as “ sterile.”
From the rough notes which we possess as to the Various history of the concept of taste, several meanings of the meanings of word, not all of equal importance as indications of the development of ideas, detach themselves in a somewhat confused manner. “Taste," meaning "pleasure" or “delight,” was an old-established word in Italy and Spain, as is shown in such phrases as “to have a taste for, to be to one's taste”; when Lope di Vega and other Spaniards speak continually of the drama of their country as seeking to please the popular taste (“ deleita el gusto”;
para darle gusto "') they mean only the “ pleasure” of the populace. In Italy there was a very ancient use of the word in the metaphorical sense of “judgement,” either literary, scientific, or artistic; numberless examples of this use occur in writers of the sixteenth century (Ariosto, Varchi, Michael Angelo, Tasso). To take but one of these : the lines in Orlando Furioso where it is said of the Emperor Augustus, “ Laver avuto in poesia buon gusto La proscrizione iniqua gli perdona,” “For having had good taste in poetry he shall be forgiven his iniquitous proscriptions”; or the remark of Ludovico Dolce that some person
“had such exquisite taste, he sang no verses save those of Catullus and Calvus.”1 The word " taste,” in the sense of a special faculty or attitude of mind, appears to have been used for the first time in Spain in the middle of the seventeenth century by Gracian, the moralist and political writer already quoted. It is evidently to him that the Italian author Trevisano alludes in a preface to a book by Muratori (1708) when
1 Orl. Furioso, xxxv. 26; L. Dolce, Dial. del pittura (Venice, 1557); ad init.
2 Borinski, Poet. d. Renaiss. p. 308 seqq. ; B. Gracian, pp. 39-54.