ST. ONOFRIO AND TASSO

From Bergamo Torquato was summoned to Pesaro, since known as the birthplace of Rossini, hence called the "Swan of Pesaro." His father had found a home with the Duke of Urbino, who treated him with the utmost kindness. In the Villa Barachetto, on the shores of the Adriatic, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery and by the finest treasures of art, which have long since been transferred to Paris and Rome, Bernardo Tasso at last completed his Amadigi; while, captivated by his grace and intelligence, the duke made Torquato the companion of his son, Francesco Maria, in all his studies and amusements. For two years father and son enjoyed in this place a grateful repose from the buffetings of fortune. But, fired by ambition, Bernardo left Pesaro for Venice, in order to see his poem through the press of Aldus Manutius; and being not only welcomed with open arms by his literary friends in that city, but also appointed secretary of the great Venetian Academy "Della Fama," with a handsome salary, he sent for his son, took a house in a good situation, and resolved to settle down in the place. There was much to captivate the imagination of the youthful Torquato in this wonderful city of the sea, then in the zenith of its fame, surpassing all the capitals of transalpine Europe in the extent of its commerce, in refinement of manners, and in the cultivation of learning and the arts. Its romantic situation, its weird history, its splendid palaces, its silent water-ways, its stirring commerce, its inspiring arts, must have kindled all the enthusiasm of his nature. But he did not yield himself up to the siren attractions of the place, and muse in idleness upon its varied charms. On the contrary, the time that he spent in Venice was the busiest of his life. He was absorbed in the study of Dante and Petrarch; and the results of his devotion may still be seen in the numerous annotations in his handwriting in the copies of these poets which belonged to him, now preserved in the Vatican Library in Rome and the Laurentian Library in Florence. He was also employed by his father in transcribing for the press considerable portions of his poetical works; and these studies and exercises were of much use to him in enabling him to form a graphic and elegant literary style. His own compositions, both in prose and verse, were by this time pretty numerous, though nothing of his had found its way into print as yet.

His father saw with much concern the development of his son's genius. Anxious to save him from the trials which he himself had experienced in his literary career, he sent him to the University of Padua to study law, which he thought would be a surer provision for his future life than a devotion to the Muses. One great branch of law, that which relates to ecclesiastical jurisprudence, has always been much esteemed in Italy, and the study of it, in many instances, has paved the way to high honours. Almost all the eminent poets of Italy, Petrarch, Ariosto, Marino, Metastasio, spent their earlier years in this pursuit; but, like Ovid and our own Milton, their nature rebelled against the bondage. They took greater pleasure in the study of the laws for rhyme than in the study of the Pandects of Justinian or the Decretals of Isidore. It was so with Tasso. He attended faithfully the lectures of Guido Panciroli, although these were not compulsory, and waited patiently at the University during the three years of residence which is required for a law degree. But all the time his mind was occupied with other thoughts than those connected with his law studies. Still, uncongenial as they must have been to him, he could not have attended for three years to such studies without unconsciously deriving much benefit from them. They must have impressed upon him those ideas of order and logical arrangement which he afterwards carried out in his writings, and which separate them so markedly from the confused, inconsistent license of the older literature of Italy; and he could not have resided in the birthplace of Livy, in constant association with the highest minds of the time, as a member of a University then the most famous in Europe, numbering no less than ten thousand students from all parts of the world, without his intellectual life being greatly quickened.