The object of both Maffei and Voltaire was, from Hyginus' account of its contents, to restore in some measure a lost piece of Euripides, which the ancients highly commended. Voltaire, pretending to eulogize, has given a rival's criticism of Maffei's Merope; there is also a lengthened criticism on it in the Dramaturgie of Lessing, as clever as it is impartial.
It is rather curious that the story of Merope should have been so tempting as, to mention nothing else, Maffei's attempt in Italian, Voltaire's in French, and this of Mr Arnold's in English, show it to have been to modern admirers and would-be practitioners of the Classical drama: and the curiosity is of a tell-tale kind.
The sketch of Cristofori's action in Maffei's essay, from which I have had a working model accurately made, shows that in the first instruments the action was not complete, and it may not have been perfected when Prince Ferdinand died in 1713.
The name has not been met with again between the Estense document and Scipione Maffei's well-known description, written in 1711, of Cristofori's "gravecembalo col piano e forte." My view of Cristofori's invention allows me to think that the Estense "piano e forte" may have been a hammer cembalo, a very imperfect one, of course.
He brought forth all his treasures for the boy's instruction and the two spent many an afternoon poring over Piranesi's Roman etchings, Maffei's Verona Illustrata, and Count Benedetto's own elegant pencil-drawings of classical remains.