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Zanoni eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 456 pages of information about Zanoni.
should be regarded as one of poetical conception and design.  To this it was not possible to do justice, and in the attempt I have doubtless very often need of the reader’s indulgent consideration.  My natural respect for the old gentleman’s vagaries, with a muse of equivocal character, must be my only excuse whenever the language, without luxuriating into verse, borrows flowers scarcely natural to prose.  Truth compels me also to confess, that, with all my pains, I am by no means sure that I have invariably given the true meaning of the cipher; nay, that here and there either a gap in the narrative, or the sudden assumption of a new cipher, to which no key was afforded, has obliged me to resort to interpolations of my own, no doubt easily discernible, but which, I flatter myself, are not inharmonious to the general design.  This confession leads me to the sentence with which I shall conclude:  If, reader, in this book there be anything that pleases you, it is certainly mine; but whenever you come to something you dislike,—­lay the blame upon the old gentleman!

London, January, 1842.

N.B.—­The notes appended to the text are sometimes by the author, sometimes by the editor.  I have occasionally (but not always) marked the distinction; where, however, this is omitted, the ingenuity of the reader will be rarely at fault.

ZANONI.

BOOK I. —­ THE MUSICIAN.

     Due Fontane
     Chi di diverso effeto hanno liquore!

     “Ariosto, Orland.  Fur.”  Canto 1.7.

     (Two Founts
     That hold a draught of different effects.)

CHAPTER 1.I.

Vergina era D’ alta belta, ma sua belta non cura:  ....  Di natura, d’ amor, de’ cieli amici Le negligenze sue sono artifici.

     “Gerusal.  Lib.,” canto ii. xiv.-xviii.

     (She was a virgin of a glorious beauty, but regarded not her
     beauty...Negligence itself is art in those favoured by Nature, by
     love, and by the heavens.)

At Naples, in the latter half of the last century, a worthy artist named Gaetano Pisani lived and flourished.  He was a musician of great genius, but not of popular reputation; there was in all his compositions something capricious and fantastic which did not please the taste of the Dilettanti of Naples.  He was fond of unfamiliar subjects into which he introduced airs and symphonies that excited a kind of terror in those who listened.  The names of his pieces will probably suggest their nature.  I find, for instance, among his MSS., these titles:  “The Feast of the Harpies,” “The Witches at Benevento,” “The Descent of Orpheus into Hades,” “The Evil Eye,” “The Eumenides,” and many others that evince a powerful imagination delighting in the fearful and supernatural, but often relieved by an airy and delicate fancy with passages of exquisite grace and beauty.  It is true that in the selection of his subjects from ancient fable, Gaetano Pisani was much more faithful than his contemporaries to the remote origin and the early genius of Italian Opera.

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