« ForrigeFortsæt »
principles. Accordingly, there commenced immediately the most vexatious system of domestic government-the most petty and illiberal interference with the habits of the people. The old custom was resorted to of obliging the Jews to confine themselves within the Ghetto, which was enlarged for their better accommodation, if the stinking hole in which their thronging habitations are huddled together can be so described ;--the walls were repaired, the hinges of the gates put in order, sentinels regularly posted there night and day, and all ingress and egress forbidden, after an early hour of the evening. If the great banker himself had entered the Eternal City on his route from Vienna to Naples, to negotiate a loan for the use even of the most legitimate of legitimates, it is doubtful whether he would not have had to pay handsomely for a dispensation for the privilege of passing a night in the Piazza di Spagna*, or the Piazza di Veneziaf. Another vexatious decree, which professed to have the morals of the people for its object, was that which prohibited the allowing wine to be drunk in any osteria, or public-house, where the customers were not also served with food; and a strong bar and railing (cancelletto) was erected in every pot-house, beyond which the buyers were not allowed to pass. This was a regulation most oppressive to the poor people, and of most unseemly consequences to the dignity of the city itself, since it was the custom of the labourers and servants to bring their meals from home in the morning, and retire at the usual hour to enjoy their dinner at a public-house, where they might moisten it with a Foglietta of Vino de Castelli. The Ordonnance deprived them of this convenience; they were obliged to remove their portion of wine from the tavern as soon as procured, and were to be seen taking their meals in the streets, on the steps, and at the doors of houses : and, as in Rome, the male servants are mostly on board wages, this unbecoming spectacle was daily exhibited by the livery servants of Cardinals and Nobles, in front of their palaces.
Regulations were also threatened, but as long as the writer of this notice remained in Rome not put in execution, forbidding women to appear on the stage, and prescribing the use of a three-cornered hat and other distinguishing marks of dress, to all married men. Among other edicts actually published, however, was one, subjecting those who misbehaved themselves at the theatre to the cavallello, or punishment by whipping in the pillory. Pasquino did not fail to take advantage of these absurdities; and consequently his statue, one fine morning in the month of March, presented the following epigram, which was soon circulated all over the city :
Al teatro il cavalletto,
O che governo maledetto!
# The writer himself experienced the unpleasant action of this edict. On return from a walk to Monte Mario, on a hot summer's day, he went into an osteria, and called for a glass of wine, but on pouring it out to drink, was prevented by the landlord, and actually abused as a spy and informer.
These evils, though galling enough, were of trifling consequence compared with the mischief which had been produced in the provinces by the relaxation of the reins of government. Consalvi himself had not kept so tight a hand on the brigands as he might have done; but still his power and spirit were known, and had inspired them with some degree of awe. No sooner, however, was he removed from the government, than these ruffians felt the difference of the hand that guided it: they gave a loose to their insolence, committed the most daring outrages, pillaged academies, massacring the provosts, and taking the pupils away for the sake of ransom: they added all sorts of insults to their violence; and if the report current in Rome be true, absolutely cut off the beards of all the inmates of a Capuchin Convent in the neighbourhood of Albano. What was Leo's conduct in this emergency ? He withdrew the few troops that remained as a check to these excesses, and sent the Cardinal Pallotta with a proclamation, calling on the banditti to abstain, and submit themselves, in the name of St. Peter and the Holy Virgin! The consequences were such as might have been expected; the robbers became more audacious than ever, and entering a small town in the neighbourhood of Frosignone, where the holy legate had taken up his head-quarters, on a Sunday when the inhabitants were at mass, they tore down the proclamation from the church-door, dragged the mayor of the place from the altar, and massacred bim on consecrated ground without side the holy edifice. After six weeks' trial of the efficacy of the sacred name of the Virgin, and of the respect of the banditti for the Apostolic Church, (but not before he had exhausted a purse of 200,000 crowns,) the Cardinal Pallotta returned to Rome. Of course, he became the ridicule of all circles of society, excepting in the papal court, where he was well received, and adınitted to mutual condolences with his Holiness. On this occasion, also, Pasquino could not refrain from exhibiting his satire and learning in the following epitaph:
Ingenii fatuitate clarissimo
Latrones merentissimi posuere. Such was the character, such were the consequences, of the government of Leo in its commencement. His well-known bull against the English Bible societies was attended with very similar effects, being every where laughed at, except by those who thought it to their interest to regard it in a serious light. In his Anno Santo, we believe, he was thoroughly disappointed. Indeed, the events of his whole reign must have convinced any but the most obstinate and bigoted, of the perfect absurdity of the attempt to bring back the good old times of St. Leo. The only good result emanating from this spirit has been a certain would-beindependence in his relations with foreign states; but even in those negotiations he has suffered much mortification, and had to feel that the respect for a papal bull, or for the church in general, was something altered in the nineteenth century. On first seating himself in the chair of St. Peter, he showed some impartiality towards political sects, by ordering that the asylum which the carbonari of other states had found within his dominions, should be respected. Not that this order proceeded from any favourable disposition towards political sects, for more than that of the former pope was his government inimical to secret societies; but his conduct in this respect was regulated by the old church principle of the sanctity of a refuge sought in the dominions of his Holiness. He was fond of religious ceremonies when able to officiate, and is, on more than one occasion, said to have risked his life in assisting at them in person. His own part he performed with much dignity and great fervour, and a devotion which had every appearance of proceeding from the heart.
FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY.
3rd. The Opera opened on Saturday, after a tremendous newspaper warfare of some continuance. The parties seem to have been threefold;--first, the discharged musicians--next, the patrons of the rights of the pit, and lastly, M. Laporte the lessee. Now, we are the farthest in the world from wishing to sneer at any fair attempt to keep a monopoly in order. The worthy English commercial maxim-"Take it or leave it,' does not apply to the commodities vended at Patent Theatres. There, it is the choice of the celebrated Hobson--this or none. The public have, therefore, certainly a right to see that that this shall be something worth having. Still, we like only fair attempts; ; and we really think M. Laporte makes out a very good case in the letter he has published within these few days. The musicians complain of M. Laporte wanting to restrain them from going to morning concerts. M. Laporte responds that, as matters were last year, it was impossible ever to get them to attend rehearsals, which, as being necessary to the due performance of operas, he must insist upon. Into the diversities of opinion, however, between the manager and the musicians, we do not wish to enter-inasmuch as with this subject we think the public have nothing to do. All that they have a right to exact is to have good operas well performed-but we do not see that they have a right to dictate the engagement of Monsieur un tel to play upon any given instrument
With the stalls, however, we think the public have a great deal to do; and if we thought "my pensive public" had any real wherefore" to “look sad” on this subject, we should be the first to wield our pen in their support. But we really think these stalls an advantage to the world in general. We can perfectly conceive that a right reverend bishop, with a fine family of boys between the first year of Eton and the last of Oxford, may consider this far too weighty a phrase for any
but prebendal states. But, even granting this, we still think that many of the lay frequenters of the Opera will be much convenienced, and none at all annoyed by, the arrangement. We mean that the additional luxury of finding an excellent seat at any time in the evening will be enjoyed by those who choose to pay for it without the slightest inconvenience to those who are contented to remain in gurgite vasto, we hope, for the sake of Gusto, not rari nantes.
But this introduction of stalls is not an innovation. Mr. Ebers adopted it during the last part of his last year of management, and M. Laporte had it last season--and no objection was made. Now the same thing has been done in a more convenient way, and “ Vive le parterre!" is echoed through every journal as far as the Land's End. But there had been no civil war then! There was, however, no row on Saturday as was announced, after we came into the house, which was less than half way through the first act—and we were told it was only the slightest thing in the world, at the beginning.
Pass we, however, these extraneous feuds—and let us consider the opera itself—for no fewer than three first appearances call for judgment. We shall, contrary to all rules, but for due reasons of our own, begin with the gentleman first. Signor Donzelli is a fine, clear, fresh, straight-forward tenor. Not quite so powerful, perhaps, as the most powerful we have heard; but with more than sufficient force to give perfect effect to any music belonging to his order of voice. He will be a great acquisition to the theatre, and will, we doubt not, add the admiration of London in general to the suffrages he has already obtained. Mademoiselle Monticelli appeared as Elena :~and though she seems now and then, rather startlingly in comparison with her general performance, to have considerable powers of voice, we do not think that she made, or indeed quite deserved, un grand succés. In one or two pieces, she both drew forth and deserved very warm applause-but we question whether she be quite equal to be the prima donna of the season. Still, she is a singer of whom we have no sort of inclination to speak lightly. She is a little like Madame Ronzi de Begnis about the eyes, and less, though something, like Pasta about the forehead--and the hair was dressed after her. We think if the consciousness of these slight resemblances were not present in Mademoiselle Monticelli's mind, her manner would be simpler, and thence more pleasing and effective.
Come we now to Madame Pisaroni-to speak of whom last was our real object in beginning with the Signor. This is, indeed, a succés great, true, and we may say as though the future were already the present-permanent. We delight in a triumph like that of this lady on Saturday, for it is that of genius over the niggardliness of nature in physical gifts. We need not from false delicacy abstain from saying this with regard to Madame Pisaroni--for we have been told, and we believe, more than one very frank, simple, and touching trait of her own consciousness on this subject. Still, when you get near the stage, and can fix the expression of the eye, it proves to be fine, as, we are convinced that of every person of genius, which is free from actual defect, always is and must be.
We are by no means lavish of the word genius—but we apply it at once to Madame Pisaroni. Her singing is splendid ;-she has a contralto voice of a force, fervour, and beauty, which we did not think the least diminished when a musical friend who was near us did us the unkind kindness to point out certain little imperfections, which occasionally we could not quite deny, though they required to be listened for;—and which certainly we never should have heard in the midst of the delight which the rich, fresh, natural and ardent manner, in which Madame Pisaroni sings, excites. There is really soul in every sound she breathes. We almost shrink from using a term made so fade by silly misapplicatiou and inveterate over-use; but it is in vain to seek any other word which can convey the character of Madame Pisaroni's execution. The words are distinctly given-her whole being seems enwrapt in the feeling she expresses, and you hang upon every note which her vivid and spirit-stirring voice sends forth.
Madame Pisaroni is the very opposite of what is called a sol fa singer-and, therefore, she is to us the more delightful. Not but what she is, as we are told by those much more conversant with such matters technically than we pretend to be, a most cultivated musician ;-but she is not a mere musician. She is not an instrument, which issues notes perhaps the sweetest and the grandest—but without any reference to sentiment or sense—with no feeling, with no meaning * No-passion thrills upon her accent--streams upon her rushing voice. Love, sorrow, indignation-she had occasion to express them all-nobody with ears, whether they understood the language or not, but must have thoroughly followed their variations ;-by those who have ought within that can appreciate what the ears convey, the sensations which Ah, si pera excited will long be remembered, and felt.
Upon reading over what we have said of Madame Pisaroni, we see it may be considered high-flown. But we think it just—and therefore we let it stand. It is not written under the impression of the moment: our sensations are revived at the end of three days, and, therefore, we do not consider them exaggerated ;-others may And yet, we think not many ;-for we heard nothing around us but admiration—and we saw that of one or two whose judgment at the Opera is of no little value, beaming upon their countenances unrestrained.
6th. Lord Burleigh has spoken at last, and to some purpose. Never did the inventive genius of the fair narrator of the tales of the Thousand and One Nights bring forward, throughout their whole course, a transformation more magically sudden, total, and complete than that of the writer of the letter to Dr. Curtis six weeks ago, into the concocter of
“ Oblivion," quotha !—if the united * We hope we shall not be mistaken as meaning to apply these remarks to real instruments, when in the hands of our first professors. So far from it, that we have often heard some of them bring forth from the string or the wood more meaning than the style of the singers we are endeavouring to describe above, have done with the aid of words. They are human instruments that we are speaking of. MARCH. 1829.