Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

the first. Perhaps Poetry, being one of the failures. If his theme be difficult, he runs children of pleasure, may, like her sisters, from that into the nearest common-place, be most welcome in the evening.

or takes refuge in loose lyric measures. " I remarked that La Fantastici, when Thus he may always be fluent, and somespeaking of her art, gave some cold praise times by accident be bright. to her rival La Bandettini; but she set an “ Tonce heard a little drama given extem. old Tuscan peasant above all the tribe, as pore with great effect, from the acting talent first in original and poetic thinking. She of the poet : but dramatic poetry is not so seemed then to forget her once admired much the subject of Italian impromptu as Gianni, the Roman stay-maker. This crook. it was among the Greeks. The Greek lone éd son of Apollo was the contested gallant guage and the Italian appear to me equally of the first beauties in Florence, where he favourable to this talent. Equally rich, and displayed powers yet unequalled in im- barinonious, and pliant, they allow poets to promptu; 'defying all the obligazioni or alter the length and the collocation of words, shackles that the severest audience could to pile epithets on epithets, and sometimes impose on him. The very idea, however, to range among different dialects. of imposition is a violence fatal to genius; " In attending to the Italian improvvisaand the poetical commands thus executed, tori, I began to find out, or perhaps only to like laureate odes and other tasks, may show fancy, several points in which they resemble skill, practice, talent; but none of the high- their great predecessor Homer. In both may er felicities of art."

be remarked the same openness of style and

simplicity of construction, the same digresThat all this is very delightful and șions, rests, repetitions, anomalies. Homer surprising we cordially admit, and think has often recourse to the shifts of the mo. that an evening the de!assemens of which ment, like other improvvisatori. Like them included such a display of talent and he betrays great inequalities. Sometimes eloquence, must approach as nearly as

when his speech is lengthening into detail, possible to that rapturous state of feel when the interest and difficulty thicken, the

he cuts it short and concludes. Sometimes ing which we are accustomed to attri- poct escapes, like his heroes, in a cloud. I bute to superior beings :—but, perhaps, once thought of Homer in the stoets of our wonder would abate somewhat on a Florence, where I once saw a poor cyclio cool examination of the compositions thus bard most cruelly perplexed in a tale of chival. thrown forth, in the midst of the united ry. He wished tounravel; but every stanza excitements of beauty, music, and ele- gave a new twist to his plot. His hearers seemgant conviviality, and where too the sud- ed impatient for the denoument, but still the denness and rapidity of the verse does not confusion increased. At last, seeing no other permit the exercise of criticism. The po- means of escape, he vented his poetical fury

on the skin of his tambourine, and went oil etic facility, besides, of the Italian lan

with a maledello.'guage, and its richness in rhymes, must be powerful aids to the improvvisutore, There is a chapter upon the Italian thewho, were he requested to make a rational atre, too long for insertion, but whose in. discourse in prose-where the advantages teresting details we shall endeavour to of his language would cease to assist him condense:-As early as the twelfth cen. -would, in all probability, find bimself tury Italy had her Istrioni-mere ballad. awkwardly situated. Mr. Forsyth's ob- singers, who never aspired to the perso. servations on this subject are judicious and nation of character. The moralitics, or expressed with great elegance.

scriptural dialogues, of the next age, ap" Such "strains pronounced and sung un. of the regular drama-and in 1449 the

proximated somewhat nearer to the form mediated, such prompt eloquence,' such sentiment and imagery flowing in rich dic. history of Abraham announced the aption, in measure, in rhyme, and in music, proach of the Tragic Muse. Thirty years without interruption, and on subjects un

afterwards appeared the Orfeo of Politian foreseen, all this must evince in La Fantas, -a composition constructed upon the fici a wonderful command of powers ; yet, Greek model—and which was so generaljudging from her studied and published com ly admired and imitated, that the first repositions, which are dull enough, I should gular theatre of modern Europe was built suspect that this impromptu exercise seldom at Milan, in 1490, upon the Greek plan. leads to poetical excellence. Serafino d'Ac- To Politian's Orfeo succeeded the Sofoquila, the first improvvisatore that appeared nisba of Carretto, and in 1515 appeared in the language, was gazed at in the Italian the first attempt of Trissido ;-the tasto courts as a divine and inspired being, till he for Greek tragedy was now epidemical, published his verses and dispelled the illusion.

" An Italian improvvisatore has the benefit and was supported by a host of feeble and of a language rich in echoes. He generally forgotten writers, whose stiff, solemn, lancalls in the accompaniment of song, a lute, or guid dialogues exhibit the form of the * guitar, ta set off his verse and conccal any classic drama, without a trace of the va

rious and immortal genius that makes us “painted on a pole and underwrit-and forget its defects.

every performance is concluded with a The translation from Plautus by He- long and mean supplication of the public cules, duke of Ferrara, first introduced favour to the next:--the comic actors are among the Italians a taste for comedy. principally Lombards, Ariosto followed with an original produc

« And of these the best are enlisted under tion. Then came a crowd who wrote Goldoni, a relation of the great dramatist. learned comedies, to be recited—not on

In his company are the two first actors of a public stage-no-these grave wits the day, Zanerini and Andolfati. never thought of writing for the people “ Zanerini's walk is the padre nobile;' but “in courts, academies, and colleges, and surely in pathetic old characters he caras exercises for princes and scholars,' ries the exquisite and the forceful as far as of these “ eruditecompositions an into- they can exist together. Jerable stupidity is the usual characteris,

“Andolfati excels as a caratterista, and has tic, and where they are not dull, they are

dramatised for himself some passages in the obscure.-The « commedie del arte," life of Frederick II. whom he imitates, tale though addressed to the feelings and pas. Andolfati's merit rises far above mimicry;

quale, in his voice, walk, and manner. But sions of the populace, and consequently he can thrill the heart as well as shake the deficient in the higher qualities of the sides, and (what is more difficult than either) drama, were, nevertheless, vastly more he can excite through long scenes that see interesting than the writings of the “ eru. cret intellectual smile which, like the huditi,”-action was their principal charm mour of Addison, never fatigues.” the dialogue was rarely printed-but the plot being sketched, the filling up of racter of the celebrated Alfieri are in a

The remarks upon the genius and chathe characters was left to the spontaneous talents of the actors, the varieties of vul- style of discriminating criticism very un

usual with travellers, who generally gar life afforded an exhaustless diversity of subject, and the wit of the performers praise and depreciate in the lump;—the was supplied from the same sources:

second paragraph is peculiarly fine—and The degradation of tragedy gave birth be a full and imperial answer to his exult

though the word “ SHAKESPEARE" would to that seducing nondescript, the Opera – ing questions Has England a tragic the same cause, as applied to comedy, produced the Opera Buffamand in the poet equal to Alfieri?”and though the charms of music, and the attractions of justness of the insinuated panegyric is buffoonery—both national passions—the impeached by the allowed tragical supeItalians were contented to forget the ab- riority of Schiller (a poet whose chief surdity of the one, the vulgarity of the ther burlesque of the ficrcer scenes of the

merit is an exaggerated imitation or raother, and the invasion which both were making up on the legitimate drama. But bard of Avon)—we have no hesitation in Goldoni appeared,

and comedy reared ber saying that the sentences in question are drooping head. For a while he yielded such as none but a man of genius could

produce. to the prevailing fashion, and his carly pieces were written for the old masques Alfieri is, next to Dante, the Italian poet --but by the introduction of new beauties, most difficult to Italians themselves. His wholly foreign to and unadapted to them, tragedies are too patriotic and austere for be by degrees, created a taste for superior the Tuscan stage. Their construction is simproductions, and at length, though not ple, perhaps too simple, too sparing of action without some murmurs from the adhe- and of agents. Hence his heroes must often rents of the old schaol, succeeded in ba- soliloquise, he must often describe what a nishing the masked comedy from the stage nation immoderately fond of picture. Every

Shakespeare would represent, and this to a altogether. This change in the form of thought, indeed, is warm, proper, energetic; the cornic drama produced a correspon- every word is necessary and precise ; yet dent revolution in the style of acting, and. this very strength and compression, being instead of the former rant and bombastic new to the language and foreign to its genius, extravagance, the performers “ affect a have rendered his style inverted, broken, temperance bordering upon tameness. and obscure; full of ellipses and elisions ; They are held in slight estimation by the speckled even to affectation with Dantesque other classes of society—and rank even

terms; without pliancy, or flow, or variety, helow the warblers of the Opera ;-their own opinion of their own art (they style Alfieri? Has England or France one that

" Yet where lives the tragic poet equal to it merely recitation) scarcely entitles them deserves the name ? Schiller may excel him to the respect of others—"like sbowmen in those peals of terror which thunder in the streets” they expose their scenes through his gloomy and tempestuous scenes ;

or ease.

but he is poorer in thought, and inferior in their neighbours born to the same san and the mechanism of his dramas.

soil. Leopold toiled to make his peasants “ Alfieri's conduct is more open than his all comfortable, and the steward takes care works to censure. Though born in a mon that none shall be rich. They pass the year archy, and living under mild princes, this in a vicissitude of hard labour and jollity; count concentrated in his heart all the pride, they are seldom out of debt, and never inbrutality, and violence of the purest aristo- solvent. Negligent of their own dress, they cracies that ever oppressed Genoa or Venice. take a pride in the flaring silks and broad Whoever was more or less than noble be- earrings of their wives and daughters. These came the object of his hatred or his con- assist them in the field; for the farms, being tempt. The same pen levelled his Tiran- too small to support servants, are laboured nide against princes, and his Antigallican in the patriarchal style by the brothers, sisagainst plebeians. The patriotism which he ers, and children of the farmer. once put on could never sit easy upon such - Few of the proprietors round Florence a mind, nor fall naturally into the forms and will grant leases; yet so binding is the force postures of common life. In forcing it vio- of prescription, so mutual the interest of lently on he rent the unsightly garb, then landlord and tenant, and so close the interthrew it aside, and let the tyrant go naked. texture of their property, that removals are

“ This hatred of princes led him to dedi- very rare, and many now occupy the farms cate his Agis to our Charles I. I admit the which their forefathers tilled during the Flojurisdiction of posterity over the fame of rentine republic. dead kings. But was it manly, was it hu “ The stock of these farms belongs half mane, to call up the shade of an accomplish- to the landlord, and half to the tenant. This ed prince, a prince fully as unfortunate as he partnership extends even to the poultry and was criminal, on purpose to insult him with pigeons: the only peculium of the farmer is a mock dedication ? and of all Italians, did the produce of his hives. Hence the cattle this become Alfieri, the reputed husband of run usually in pairs. One yoke of bullocks that very woman, whose sterility has ex- is sufficient for a common farm. Their oxen tinguished the race of Charles ?

are all dove coloured; even those which * His aristocratical pride, working on a are imported from other states change their splenetic constitution, breaks out into dis- coat in Tuscany, where they are always fed gusting eccentricities, meets you at his very in the stall, and never go out but to labour. door, bars up all his approaches, and leaves They are gnided in the team by reins fixed himself in the solitude of a sultan. How to rings which are inserted in their nostrils; unbecoming a poet was his conduct to Gene- sometimes two hooks joined like pincers are ral Miollis, the declared friend of all poets used, like the postomis of Lucilius, which living and dead! How often has he descend- has teazed so many antiquaries. ed from his theatrical stateliness to the low “Every field in the environs of Florence est scurrility! How true is his own descrip- is ditched round, lined with poplars, and intion of himself !

tersected by rows of vines or olive trees. " Or stimandomi Achille, ed or Tersite." Those rows are so close as to impede the The environs of Florence are indebted plough; which, though it saves labour, is for the principal features of their beauty duce, tan the triangular spade, with which

considered here as less calculated for proto the agricultural industry of their in- the tenant is bound by his landlord to dig or habitants.

rather to shovel one third of his farm. « The environs of Florence owe their 6. This rich plain of the Val d'Arno yields beauty to a race of farmers who are far more usually two harvests a year, the first of industrious, intelligent, and liberal,* than wheat, the second of some green crop;

which last is sometimes ploughed up, and ** Their liberality is conspicuous in the contributions of their rural fraternities, who come in left to rot on the field as manure for the next procession to Florence with splendid fusciacche, This course is interrupted every third or and leave their donations in the churches. Hence fourth year by a crop of Turkey wheat, the clergy keep them well disciplined in faith, sometimes

of beans or rye, and more rarely and, through the terror of bad crops, they begin of oats. Barley was unknown here, until to extort the abolished tithes.

the breweries lately established at Florence « On Easter-eve I remarked a crowd of these and Pisa called it into cultivation. farmers collected in the cathedral of Florence, “ As you approach the skirts of this nar. to watch the motion of an artificial dove, which, row plain,

you perceive a change in agria just as the priests began. Gloria in Excelsis,' culture. The vine and the olive gradually burst away from the choir, glided along the nave prevail over corn ; and each farm brings a eyes of every peasant were wishfully rivetted learn all the complicate processes which prostreet, and then flew whizzing back to its post. The variety of arts into action! In addition to

our objects of husbandry, the Tuscan has to on the sacred puppet, and expressed a deep in- duce wine, oil, and silk, the principal exterest in its flight ; for all their hopes of a future harvest depended on its safe return to the altar. ports of the state. Of corn an average crop • Quando va bene la colombina, va bene il Fio- brings only five returns in the Florentine rentino' is an adage as ancient as the dignity of territory; in the Senese eight or nine; and ibe Pazzi, who still provide the car.

the aggregate affords but ten months' subsist.

ence to all Tuscany, although the moun “ The season brought a curious succession taineers live mostly on chesnuts.*

of insects into view. On the way to Fiesole “ This garden of Tuscany seems to re- my ears were deafened with the hoarse quire more manure than it produces. To croak of the cigala, which Homer, I'cannot Keep it perpetually in crop, the farmers must conceive why, compares to the softness of resort to the infectious sewers of the city; the lily. On my return the lower air was they send poor men and asses to pick up illuminated with myriads of lucciole or fire dung on the roads; and, at certain resting flies; and I entered Florence at shutting of places on the highway, they spread litter for the gates, the cattle that pass to stale for their benefit."

" Come la mosca cede alla zanzara.”
Mr. Forsyth enjoyed from the roof of
the Franciscan convent a view of the Val Milton and Ariosto have immortalized
d'Aino-it is scarcely fair to anticipate the secluded and solemn shades of Val-
the feelings of our readers, but really we lombrosa :-shall we extract Mr. For.
cannot rufrain from the expression of that syth's description of the silent and sacred
rapturous possession which bis brief and beauties of that majestic retreat ?-our
exquisite description of that delicious limits forbid us—were we to give all that
scenery took of our mind and senses : is interesting in his book, we might ex-
in the few lines he bas given to its delinc- tract four-fifths of the volume. Camaldoli,
ation, we seemed to behold the living lux- however, is Jess known than the haunted
uriancy of the landscape, and we pity those shades of the Vallombrosa-and the sin-
who can peruse it with other emotions. gular institution of the Eremo will, we

“It would be ungrateful to leave the en- trust, awaken the sympathy of our fair
virons of Florence without mentioning the readers.
pleasure which I once enjoyed at evening “ We now crossed the beautiful vale of
from the top of Fesole.' The weather was

Prato Vecchio, rode round the modest arthen Elysian, the spring in its most beautiful cades of the town, and arrived at the lower point, and all the world, just released from convent of Camaldoli, just at shutting of the the privations of Lent, were fresh in their gates. The sun was set, and every object festivity. I sat down on the brow of the hill, sinking into repose, except the stream which and measured with my enraptured eye half roared among the rocks, and the convent the Val d'Arno. Palaces, villas, convents, beHs which were then ringing the Angelus. towns, and farms were seated on the hills,

“ This monastry is secluded from the apor diffused through the vale, in the very proach of woman in a deep, narrow, woody points and combinations where a Claude dell. Its circuit of dead walls built on the would have placed them

conventual plan, gives it an aspect of con" Monti superbi, la cui fronte Alpina finement and defence; yet this is consider. " Fa di se contro i venti argine e sponda ! ed as a privileged retreat, where the rule of “Valii beate, per cui d'onda in onda

the order relaxes its rigour, and no monks * L'Arno con passo signor il cammina !" can reside but the sick or the superannuated,

We give his notice of the convent from the dignitary or the steward, the apothecary the top of which he surveyed this enchant- night, and next morning rode up by steeptra:

or the bead-turner. Here we passed the ing scenery.

verses to the Santa Eremo, where Saint Ro4 The top of the hill is conical, and its mualdo lived and established. summit usurped by a convent of Francis

“ de' tacenti cenobiti il coro, oans, whose leave you must ask to view the variegated inap of country below you,

“L'orcane penitenze, ed i digiuni

Al Camaldoli suo.
Their corridors command a multiplicity of
landscape: every window presented a dif.

6 The Eremo is a city of hermits, walled ferent scene, and every minute before sun- round, and divided into streets of low, des set changed the whole colouring. Leopold tached cells. Each cell consists of two or three once brought his brother Joseph up to show naked rooms, built exactly on the plan of him here the garden of his dominions; and the Saint's own tenement, which reinains this imperial visit is recorded in a Latin in- just as Romualdo left it 800 years ago, now scription as an event in the history of the too sacred and too damp for a mortal tenant, convent.

“ The unfeeling Saint has here established

a rule which anticipates the pains of purga** One half of Tuscany is mountains, which tory. No stranger can behold without emoproduce nothing but uimber, one sixth part con tion a number of noble, interesting young sists of bills which are covered with vineyards or olive gardens ; the remaining

third is plain : the choir for eight hours a day; their faces pale,

men, bound to stand erect chaunting at whole is distributed into 80,000 fattorie, or stewardships. Each fattoria includes on the average their backs raw, their legs swollen, and their

their heads shaven, their beards shaggy, seven farms. This property is divided among 40,000 families or corporations. The Riccardi, feet bare. With this horrible institute the the Strozzi, the Ferroni, and the Benedictines, climate conspires in severity, and selects rank first in the number:

from society the best constitutions. The

[ocr errors]

siekly novice is cut off in one or two win. diversified vale of Chiana, bound in with its ters, the rest are subject to dropsy, and few glowing fence of vine-mantled hills, and arrive at old age."

studded with cottages, villas, “and conFrom Camaldoli Mr. Forsyth proceed- vents of sobergray,” extending before you ed to La Verna remarkable Francis- in a sort of lively tranquillity-combines can convent overhanging the precipitous so many features of the magnificent and steeps of a lofty Appenine of which the beautiful, that the whole forms a landarchitect was the founder of the order to scape not exceeded by any in Tuscany, which it appertains.

excepting, perhaps, the famous Val d'Ar" Here reigns all the terrible of nature no.-Cortona contains about 4000 inhabiA rocky mountain, a ruin of the elements, tants-yet in this little spot the pretenbroken, sawn, and piled in sublime confu- sions of nobility are carried to as absurd sion-precipices crowned with old, gloomy, and disgusting an excess as in Florence, visionary woodsblack chasms in the rock Reme, or Naples. where curiosity shudders to look down, haunted caverns sanctified by miraculous

We cannot stop to consider Mr. Forcrosses long excavated stairs that restore syth's observations upon Sienna, Sic. but you to day-light. This scenery is now un

hasten on with hiin to the head-quarters der the pencil of Philip Hackart, a Prussian, of all that is grand and deeply interesting brought by a reflux of art from the land of in Italian history and antiquities--of Rome Vandals to charm Italy with his landscapes. it is hardly possible to form any thing like On the top of the mountain is a mass of ma a correct notion from the innumerable rine testaceous petrifactions, where Soldani engraved views which crowd the porthas collected for his microscopical work, folios of the curious, and in which the vamyriads of ammonites and nautili perfect in nity of the artists has given to its ruins their forms, yet minute as sand.

and architectural monuments so many "On entering the chapel of the stigmata, adscititious embellishments, or so enlarged we caught the religion of the place; we knelt round the rail, and gazed, with a kind of lo- their sites, that" a stranger, arriving here cal devotion, at the holy spot where Saint with the expectations raized by those Francis received the five wounds of Christ. prints, will be infallibly disappointed." The whole hill is legendary ground. Here The Flaminian Gate is still the principal the Seraphic father was saluted by two crows, entrance of Rome. The streets are inwhich still haunt the convent; there the de. convenient, and the pavement, from its vil hurled him down a precipice, yet was minutè reticular construction, peculiarly not permitted to bruise a bone of him.”

disagreeable to pedestrians. The only The specimens we have laid before our lamps are those suspended before the readers of Mr. Forsyth's style, and his images of the Virgin-Reflectors (revereloquent and forceful manner of treating beres) were once suggested, but theclergy, every topic on which he touches are so no doubt for the sake of decorum and moample that, with the exception of one or rality, were averse to the innovation, and two scattered passages, we cannot afford the streets of Rome are, at the present any farther quotations and all that we moment, involved in as comfortable and can do with respect to the remainder of convenient darkness as a cardinal or Bethe journey, is to follow him with rapid nedictine monk can desire. though unequal steps, and, if possible, Mr. Forsyth divides the architecture crop, as we proceed, a few of those exqui- of Rome into four distinct species—the site flowers which he has so profusely la- works of the Republic-those of the Emvished over his path.

pire—those of the Middle ages and the From La Verna we pass on to CORTONA, crection of modern times. Our limits will once a rich and flourishing city, and still only permit us to make a few observations considered with

respect as the metropolis on those of the Republic and Empire. of the ancient Etruria.--Here the Etru Architectural taste was first introduced sian Academy hold their sittings, and an. among the Romans by the Tarquips, and tiquaries meet you at every step. Half- the few remains of the buildings of that bosomed in vineyards, and seated on the early age are manifestly Etruscan. The ascent of a steep eminence,-with broad, blocks of which they are composed are black, lofty mountains in the back ground massy, regular, but uncemented. The -at some distances it looks “ like a pic- walls of a prison, and a common scwture hung upon a wall.” The prospecter, cannot be expected to evince much over the adjacent country from Santa grandeur or elegance, but the solidity of Marguerita-the Thrasimene and Clusian those useful constructions show that even lakes spreading beneath you in silvery in the infancy of their grcatness, the Rolustre-dark-browed mountains lowering mans aspired to the foundation of an in the distance--and the extensive and “ctcrna) city." With the kings, the

« ForrigeFortsæt »