Trissino, Johnn George

, an Italian poet, who endeavoured to reform the style of his country, was born at Vicenza, July 3, 1478, and was descended from one of the most ancient families of that place. It has been said that it was late in life before he began his studies, but as the same writer who gives us this information, adds that upon his father’s death, when he was only seven years old, he applied to them with spirit, it is evident he could not have lost much time. He was first educated at Vicenza, under a priest named Francis Gragnuola, and afterwards at Milan under the celebrated Demetrius Cbalcondylcs. To the memory of this last master, who died in 1511, Trissino erected a monument in the church of St. Mary at Milan, or us others say, in that of San Salvador, with an | inscription. From the Greek and Latin language, he proceeded to the' study of mathematics, architecture, natural philosophy, and other branches which form a liberal education. In 1503 he married; and with a view to domestic happiness and literary retirement, went to reside on one of his estates, for he was left very opulent, at Criccoli on the Astego. Herv he built a magnificent house, from his own design, on which he employed one of his pupils in architecture, the afterwards justly celebrated Paliadio.

Trissino lived very happily in this retreat, cultivating the arts and sciences, and especially poetry, for which he had an early taste, until his tranquillity was disturbed by the death of his wife, who left him two sons, Francis and Julius. He now left Criccoli, and to dissipate ins grief by change of scene, went to Rome. It was perhaps with the same view that he endeavoured to amuse himself by writing his “Sophonisba,” the first tragedy of modern times in which appeared some traces of ancient style and manner. Leo X. who had received Trissino with respect, and even friendship, intended to have this tragedy represented with great magnificence, but it does not sevm certain that it was so acted In the mean time Leo perceived in the author talents of a graver kind, which he might employ with advantage. He accordingly sent him on some important diplomatic business to the king of Denmark, the emperor Maximilian, and the republic of Venice about 1516. In these respective courts, Trissino gained great credit, and during the intervals of his employments, formed connexions with the eminent men of all ranks who adorned the court of Leo.

After the death of this pontiff he returned to his own country, and married a relation, Blanche Trissina, by whom he had a third son, Ciro; but Leo’s successor, Clement VII. soon recalled him to Rome, and gave him equal proofs of his esteem a-nd confidence, by sending him as his ambassador to Charles V. and to the senate of Venice. Some of his biographers say that he was created a knight of the golden fleece, either by Charles V. or by Maximilian, but Tiraboschi thinks that he never was admitted into that order, although he might have permission to add the fleece to his arms, and even take the title of chevalier. Voltaire’s blunders about Trissino are wholly unaccountable. Hie makes him archbishop of Benevento at the time he wrote his tragedy; and having this probably pointed out to him, | he endeavoured to correct the error by asserting in a subsequent publication that bishop Trissino, by the advice of the archbishop of Benevento, chose Sophonisba for a subject, although Trissino never was either bishop or archbishop, nor an ecclesiastic of any rank.

Trissino now retired to Vicenza in order to compose at more leisure a poem of which, many years before, he had laid the plan; but his peace was at this time interrupted by domestic dissentions, in consequence of which he had scarcely afterwards a happy moment. The eldest of his two sons by his first wife, died, and Julius, the second, had conceived an aversion to his step-mother on account of the preference which his father seemed to give to her son Giro. Mutual irritation ended in Trissino’s resolving to disinherit Julius and settle all upon Giro, and in Julius threatening to commence a suit at law for the recovery of his mother’s fortune. To add to Trissino’s distress, his wife Blanche died in 1540, on which he disposed of her son in marriage, and went again to Rome in hopes of tranquillity. There he remained some years, and finished and published his great poem, “Italia liberata da Gothi.” In the mean time his son Julius was carrying on the law-suit at Venice, and was supported in it by his mother’s relations. This obliged Trissino to go thither in 1548, although so much afflicted by the gout, as to travel on a litter. From Venice he went to Vicenza, where he found that Julius had begun to take possession of all his property, and he was so much enraged at this conduct, as to make a will in which he totally disinherited his unnatural son. Julius, more irritated than ever, carried on his law-suit, and having obtained a decision in his favour, without ceremony took possession of his father’s house and the greater part of his goods. Trissino now returned to Home, bidding an eternal adieu to his country, in some Latin verses, in which he said, “he would go to some country under another climate, as he had been defrauded of his paternal mansion, and as the Venetians had encouraged that fraud by a cruel sentence,” &c. &c. He did not, however, long survive this latter disappointment, but died at Rome about the end of 1550, in the seventy-second year of his age.

Trissino has the credit of having first discarded the shackles of rhyme, and employed the versi scwlti, or blank verse of the Italians. This he first tried in his “Sophonisba,” and afterwards in his “Italia liberata,” the subject | of which was the liberation of Italy from the Goths by Belisarius’^ and it was his design to exhibit in this poem, which consists of twenty-seven books, a specimen of the true epic, as founded on the example of Homer, and confirmed by the authority of Aristotle: but into the merits of this poem it is not necessary to enter so minutely as Ginguene has done, since it seems universally acknowledged that of all the attempts at epic poetry which had hitherto appeared, the “Italia liberata” may be considered as the most insipid and uninteresting; nor from the time it first appeared, in 1547-8, was it ever reprinted until the Abbate Aniouini gave an edition of it in 1729, 3 vols. 8vo, and in the same year it appeared in the collected works of the author, Verona, 2 vols. folio. In this collection, besides his epic poem and the tragedy already mentioned, are, a comedy from Plautus, called “I Simillimi;” lyric poems, both Latin and Italian; and various prose treatises, almost all on grammar and on the Italian language. As most of the great poets of his time wrote an “Art of Poetry,” we find accordingly among Trissino’s works an attempt of this kind, “Delia Poetica,” which was originally published in 1529. 1

1 Tiraboschi. GincqeQ* Ilitt, L: t. d’ltalic. Roscoe’s Leo.