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tion of the Monastery of St. Thomas, in Greenland. This, according to Captain Zahrtmann, "bears the most evident marks of fiction." "As to the volcanos and hot springs," he says, "which served to warm the houses, to cook the victuals, and to make the fruits of the south thrive in the latitude of 74, I do not think this part of the romance worth refutation." The latitude of Cape Farewell is but 60°; this, however, is of slight moment, as the climate is rigorous enough even there, to answer all the purposes of the critic. The entire improbability of this part of the story does not appear to us well established. Some of the details may be exaggerated, but there is nothing very strange in the convenient adaptation of boiling water to culinary purposes, either directly, or by evaporation, or in the idea of heating apartments by the same means. Hot water stoves are not unknown in our day. The boiling springs of Iceland are well known to be used for domestic purposes. "We see no
reason," say our foreign brethren, already cited, "to disbelieve (as some affect to do) the fact stated by Nicolò Zeno, of the friars of the Monastery of St. Thomas warming their rooms, cooking their victuals, and watering their gardens from a spring of hot water; such things are known to exist, and what should prevent these friars in that dreadfully cold region from availing themselves of an article so obviously useful and effectual?"*
But the incredulity of Captain Zahrtmann, in regard to this matter, is shown to be quite unreasonable, by the following statement of Humboldt, which is sufficiently conclusive; "One would suppose, that the Convent, described so minutely by the brothers Zeni, had suggested the plan of the extensive heating establishment at Chaudes Aigues, in the department of Cantol, where the fountain of Par distributes warmth among several hundred houses at the same time, and also answers the purposes of domestic economy. At the baths of Toplitz, in Bohemia, the gardens begin to derive a benefit from the effect of warm subterranean waters." +
London Quarterly Review, Vol. XVI. p. 165. They add, "There is one simple fact mentioned by Nicolò Zeno, which no man in the fourteenth century could know or imagine, who had not lived among the Esquimaux ; 'Their boats,' he says, are framed of the bones of fishes, and covered with their skins; and they are shaped like a weaver's shuttle'; - a description so just, and a resemblance so perfect, that, from that time to this, it has been adopted by every succeeding voyager."
+ Examen Critique, Tom. II. p. 127, note.
Other parts of the narrative, pronounced with so much confidence, by our author, to be only "a tissue of fiction," may, perhaps, be found equally susceptible of explanation. But we have already extended this article far beyond the limits originally intended, and must hasten to a conclusion. A further discussion of the subject is promised in a work now in the progress of publication at Copenhagen, on the monuments of ancient Greenland, which will unquestionably throw much new light upon it. In the mean time, we intend to hold our minds open to conviction, instead of coming to a hasty decision in a question of so much importance, involving the honor of a noble house, and the glory of an ancient republic. But we are free to acknowledge, that, so far as we have been enabled to pursue our investigations, with the dim light afforded to us by the few authorities on the subject within our reach, our convictions are unequivocally favorable to the substantial truth of the relation of the noble brothers ; — convictions, that, we trust, for the honor of our common nature, and the fame of that venerable commonwealth, may be hereafter fully confirmed.
ART. IX. 1. L' Ildegonda e la Fuggitiva, Novelle Romantiche di Tommaso Grossi. Firenze: 1825.
2. I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata, Canti Quindici di Tommaso Grossi. Milano: 1829.
3. Ulrico e Lida, Novella di Tommaso Grossi. Napoli:
4. L' Esule di Pietro Giannone. Parigi 1830. 5. Poesie di Giovanni Berchet. Londra 1827.
THERE are six great highways across the ridge of the Alps. From the Alps to the ocean, it is but a journey of three days. The Sirius and the Great Western have stretched a long bridge across the ocean, and the old world has shaken hands with the new. The bulletins of the French legions in Africa reach Paris in two days. Fresh figs from Smyrna are served on the tables of London. Queen Victoria crowns her head with flowers from a green-house of New York.
Yet steam-engines are only an infant discovery. It will not be long, and we may live to witness the time, when all Europe shall be but one vast city, and the United States a pretty suburb just across the ferry; when, like Philip, we shall say to our children, "Seek for another world; this earth is too narrow for you!"
Books, the first movers, perhaps, of this rapid whirling of men and things, do not circulate with the astonishing speed of other articles of luxury. Learning sails on a heavy-laden ship, encumbered with a weighty ballast of pedantry. We want oranges and pineapples from the tropics, ice and furs from the poles. Books grow in all climates; every country has but too many of its own. Oppressed with business at home, we have no time to think of our neighbours. Our literary reputations are confined within the limits of our district. In days of darkness, Petrarch was received in triumph, as a prophet, wherever he moved; in our days, the notoriety of Byron in Venice was owing to his handsome face, and to the singularity of his manners. Many a school-book, on the old continent, is still teaching that Florida is a province of Spain, Louisiana a French colony. To them the capital of the Union is still Philadelphia. Boston is very seldom heard of; Pittsburg and Buffalo never. On the other side, nothing comes here from Naples except maccaroni; Parma is known only for its exquisite cheese. Many ask whether the Pope is the king of Italy; and we have heard of a lady who, with earnest conviction, numbered the Italian among the dead languages. Alas! ignorance is much more vast than the ocean!
Few modern languages, however, are more generally studied than the Italian. Whether this is to be attributed to its velvet smoothness, or to the general persuasion of its easy acquisition, or to the general diffusion of the music of Bellini, it is certain, that, in all Europe, that language ranks with the English in its commercial, the German in its literary, and the French in its diplomatic and choregraphic importance. The ladies of the eastern cities of America are rivalling Europe in this, as in other branches of literary culture. One hundred young men are annually trained to the acquirement of it in Harvard College. All persons, who have any pretension to learning, have, more or less, had something to do with Italian.
But, although few share now the opinion of the good lady, that twenty-two millions of people cannot keep a language alive, it is a general persuasion, received and accredited among sensible persons, that the literature of that country is dead, and that Italy, exhausted with the productions of five centuries, by which she has waked her rude neighbours into literary life, is resting now under the shade of her laurels, and surveying the youthful efforts of England and Germany, like a superannuated wrestler, with downcast brow and folded arms, looking upon the feats of his disciples from the head
of the circus.
In calling the attention of American readers to books, which have never reached or never circulated among them, it is our purpose to give some general views of the direction that literary studies are taking in Italy; to point out how far the influence of German and English literature acts upon the productions of that land, accustomed to exert, not to obey, influence, and what important revolutions are going forward in the taste and genius of a nation, whose creative power can never be extinguished, whose genius is indigenous, and whose resources are inexhaustible as its soil; which has successively nourished generations of Gauls, Romans, and Greeks; of Goths, Vandals, and Lombards; of Spaniards and Frenchmen; and which is now but too rich and luxuriant for Croats and Hungarians.
Italy is, in modern civilization, the eldest of countries. Laboring under the miseries of decrepitude, she exhibits, in her outward aspect, the long ravages of age. The sea has receded from her coasts; several of her noblest harbours have been dried up and deserted. The discords of her former republics, the inroads of Moors and pirates, and the improvidence of her successive governments, have turned into swamps her flourishing shores and the shores of her islands. The clearing of woods in the mountains has let in the winds of the north, and sprinkled with hoary frost the fair hair of her Apennines. War and earthquakes, all the scourges of heaven, have desolated, demolished, buried her cities. Invasions, migrations, the crossing of races, have degraded her character, eclipsed her grandeur, obliterated her name. Rome and Ravenna, Pavia, Venice, and Pisa, by turns queens and empresses, lie now inglorious and senseless, like spectre cities, the grass growing in their wide streets, the moss creep
ing over the marble of their tottering palaces. Ruins of forums and aqueducts, arches of bridges and mausoleums, Gothic castles and temples, nunneries, dungeons, Madonnas, and Venuses, the wrecks of all worships and governments, pride of all rulers and conquerors, all crushed in a common heap, mouldering in a general dissolution;- such has been, and, to a certain extent, such is, Italy. But among those ruins a few warm, confiding hearts may be seen, impatient of that lingering decay, hastening the work of time, trampling those remains with disdain, to level them to the ground, a basis for new edifices; young believers, firm in the opinion of an approaching redemption, persuaded, that, like Tithonus of the fable, Italy is doomed to old age, not to death; young thinkers, exulting in the eternal reproduction of all things, pointing to Leghorn and Trieste, new towns rising and thriving as the old decline; the vale of the Po inheriting the ever smiling fertility of Apulia and Campania; the Lombard character, strengthened and ennobled in proportion to the relaxation of the Roman and Tuscan; the elements of Italy in ages
The romantic literature in that land is the representative of this spirit of regeneration. Literature is not politics; but the highest and dearest patriotic feelings are very often, if not essentially, its main resource. Poetry and eloquence may grow independent of all forms of governments; but they always receive a decisive impulse from the established orders of society, and exert upon them a strong reaction. Literature is not politics. The air of liberty is not so essential to the budding of genius, as the spring breeze to the opening of flowers. Byron was born in England, rocked in the cradle of freedom; Schiller was bred up in Austria, fed upon errors and prejudices. But letters and arts want excitement; they can sail with all winds, but not without wind. The mind expands in proportion to its own exertion. Give a genius passion and movement, delirium and fever, anxiety and suffering; let the mountain stream madden through rocks and over precipices, dash and foam against bridges and dikes ; but let it not exhaust its might on the plain, to stagnate in marshes and mire.
The regeneration which is now in progress in Italy, although in great part of a political cast, does not depend on political vicissitudes. Whether the petty fragments, into