Page images

cipal incidents, and in many of the sentiments, that the English reader will be much interested in Mr. Walker's account of it. Were it not too long for the limits of our article, we should gladly have transcribed it.

After the account of the blind actor and bard, we find an historical and descriptive relation of the celebrated Olympic theatre built by Palladio at Vicenza.

The next tragedy analyzed by Mr. W., after that of Hadriana, is the memorable Canace and Macareo of Speron Speroni, 1546; which may be said to have been d-d into fame by critical opposition. The wild horror, terrific events, and mythological theogony of Æschylus, seem to have occupied the mind of Speron Speroni when he wrote this tragedy; which is on so disgusting a subject, that a modern audience would not bear the representation. Indeed it was never acted in Italy. Speroni had, however, acquired great respect and reverence by his Dialogues, learning, and critical sagacity, before he terminated his vital course in 1588, at the advanced age of fourscore.

The Fable of Conace is a mythological texture, first dramatised by the author, which none but bigoted Pagans could digest. Æolus, god of winds, had twins, a son and a daughter, by his consort Deopeia. This divinity, favoured by Juno, was of course persecuted by Venus, for the storm with which he had opposed Æneas, as well as in remembrance of the quarrel relative to the judgment of Paris ; and in order to render him and his family miserable, the goddess made the twins so criminally fond of each other, that an incestuous intercourse took place, and a child was the consequence.

The play opens with the Ghost of this infant, who had been murdered by order of the grandfather, and whose carcase had been thrown to the dogs *:-but, though the ghost anticipates all the disgusting horrors of the piece, the plot is detailed in scenes between the following characters of the drama: Æolus, Deopeia, Canace their daughter, Macareo their son, a councellor or confidential officer of state in the court of the blustering god, a nurse, a servant, a lady of the bedchamber (cameriera) to Deopeia, and a minister of justice, or exęcụtioner.

We have now before us an edition of this extraordinary drama, of 1566, without the printer's names with the Giudi. cis, or examination of the piece, dated 1543 ; 'containing many useful reflections on the art of tragedy, and other poems.' Much learning and knowlege of antiquity are displayed in this critique.

Gay, in his What d'ye call it, has the ghost of an Embryo, or UD. born child.


B 3

Mr. W, has now worked his way to the celebrated novelist, Giambattista Giraldi Cinthio, to whose novels Shakspeare has so many obligations. This author's fertile invention produced nine tragedies. Mr. Walker has given an account of the Orbecche, the best of these productions, and has selected a passage from it, to shew Cinthio's happy powers in den scribing scenes of horror :'

Giace nel fondo di quest' alta torre,

In parte si solinga e si riporta,
Che non vi giunge mai raggio di sole,
Un luogo destinato a' sacrifici,
Che soglion farsi da' re nostri all'ombre
A Proserpina irata, al fier flutune,
Ove non pur la tenebrosa wotte,

Ma il più orribile orrore ha la sua sede;""
which Mr. W. thus translates;

Low in the bosom of the lofty pile,
In gloomy loneliness sequestei'd deep,
Unvisited by sun-beam, or by star,
A place there lies for dire oblatione made,
Which, to the ghosts of our departed kings.
To the pale queen of Hades, and her lord,
Are offer’d duly. There, not only night,
But the magnificence of horror, hulds

Her court in dreadful pomp.'
We cannot allow Mr. W. to be perfectly happy in his trans-
lation of this sublime description of the residence of horror,
Fondo is certainly not weil rendered by bosom ; nor irata by
pale : tenebrosa notte is not fully expressed by night; and magni-
ficence of horror seems ironical, Might not the first line run

Low in a dungeon of this lofty pile ;-
and would not the four following lines be somewhat more
faithful to the original ?

To the dread queen of Hades, and her lord,
Are offer'd duly. There, not only night
In ebon darkness reigns, but Horror's self

His court terrific holds.
Giraldi, or Cinthio, a cognomen, or academic name, by
which he is chiefly known, died in 1569.

The next tragic bard with whom Mr. W. makes us acquainted, is the famous, and, sometimes, infamous Pietro Aretino. His tragedy of Horatia (the first drama written on the subject of the Horatii and Curatii that was brought on the stage) is highly commended by the Italians : but the depraved character


[merged small][ocr errors]

of this author makes the inhabitants of other countries expect little good from such a pen.

He died in 1550. After Aretino, we have Lodovico Dolce, his contemporary and friend, author of two celebrated Italian tragedies : Didone, and Mariamne. The particulars which Mr. W. has collected concerning the life of this writer are curious, and will probably be new to many of our readers.

« Of Lodovico Dolce little is known that can be related with pleasure. Born in poverty, he lived and died in indigence ; and the greater part of his life was embittered by literary warfare. His biographers speak with wonder of the early maturity and universality of his genius į and the mildness with which he treats, in many parts of his works, his malignant adversary, Girolamo Ruscelli, merits the praise which they bestow upon it. Dolee died in the sixtieth year of his age, and was buried in the church of San Luca, in his native city of Venice, near his friend Aretino, and his adversary Ruscelli. 'Be. sides the tragedies already mentioned, our author published a translation of the tragedies of Seneca, whose coldness we may sometimes perceive creeping through his original dramas. To study Seneca is to touch the torpedo. In his paraphrase of the sixth satire of Juvenal, and in the Epithalamio di Catullo, nelle nozze di Peleo et di Theti, he has preserved the spirit of his originals. The former is prefaced with a short letter of delicate and elegant compliment to Titian the painter, In a little volume, containing those two pieces, now lying before me, I find a Dialogo del modo di tor moglie, which had probably been read by Milton, as the following eulogy on matrimony may be traced in the beautiful apostrophe to wedded love, in the fourth book of the Paradise Lost : “ O matrimonio felice e santo, s'io bavesse parole uguali à le tue lude, mai di commendarti non se ne vedrebbe stanca la voce mią. Per te è per


sempre la vila gioiosa e licta : per te gli huomini si fanno sempiterni e gloriosi. Viva dunque, viva il Matrimonio : e chi disidera di vivere e morire conteito e beato elegga per il vero el unico mozzo il matrimonio.Of the dramatic labours of our author, Il Capitano and La Hecuba still remain to be noticed ; but as the former is a free translation from Plautus, and the latter a faithful version of a tragedy, on the same subject, by Euripides, I shall not dwell on those pieces. In the dedication to the Hecuba, Dolce pathetically alludes to the misfortunes of his life. His Giocasta I have not seen ; but I have read with pleasure an elegant tribute to his genius and learning by Benedetto Guidi, in a sonnet, beginning,

Fra mille dotti, et honorati ingegni.We come now to the celebrated tragedy of Torrismondo, written by the admirable Torquato Tasso. Mr. W. has given a spirited translation of the beautiful description of the nocturnal disquietudes of Alvida, in this drama; which should have been inserted here if we could have spared it a niche.--For information concerning the life as well as the writings of Tasso, our author judiciously refers his readers to Mr. Hoole.

La Girmonda, and Il Tancredo, two tragedies built on tho piles of Boccaccio ; the comedy of the Alchimista, in 1583, prior to Ben Jonson's Alchymist; Bragadino, a tragedy on the subject of this Venetian General's heroism, who so obstinately defended Cyprus against the assaults of the Turks, that, when at length it was surrendered on honourable terms, they fiayed him alive ; Isifile, on a similar subject of Turkish treachery and Christian fortitude; another Rosmunda, by Ant. Cavalerino, on the same subject as that of Rucellai ; Telefonte, anıt the first Merope that was written in Italian, likewise by Cavalerino; appeared about this time, and are characterised by our author.

Three dramas by Trapolini are also mentioned: but the tragedy of Acripanda, by Ant. Decio da Horte, a friend of Tasso, ļias supplied materials for an interesting article.-- This play (says Mr. W.) is opened by the ghost of Orsilia, the murdered wife of the king of Egypt, who quits the dark abyss for the purpose of instigating her son, the king of Arabia, to avenge her death.? Mr. a passage in her address to light, on first perceiving its chearing beam, which will probably remind the reader of Milton's hymn to that glorious emanation of the Deity. It is too long for insertion here, but we recommend this speech, and several others from this play, to the lovers of Pian literature; and the translation, to those who are able to conipare it with the original, wluence they will find much of the spirit of da Horte conveyed into the English.

The Semiramide of Manfredi, and the Herope of Pomponio Torelli, furnish Mr. W. with an opportunity for discussion, of which he has availed himself in an amusing manner.

The tragedies of Italy from 1500 to 1600 nearly all follow the Greek inodel, by preserving the attendant chorus; and the Ronian, by their sanguinary horrors and catastrop'ies.

Section 1. We do not very well understand the following citation from Gibbon, given by Mr. W. at the beginning of this section, when speaking of the long adherence of the Italians to Greek models. “ Instead of exercising their own reason, the Italians acquiesced in that of the antients : instead of transferring into their native congue the taste and spirit of the classics, they cupied, with the most aukward servility, the language and ideas suiied to an age so different from their own.” What is ac. quiescing in the reason of the antients," but transferring the caste and spirit of the classics into their own tongue ? • The first tragedy written at the beginning of the xviith century seems to have been Tbomyris, by Angelo Ingegneri,


[ocr errors]

He was

1607. The merit of this drama is discussed by Mr. Walker. Ingegneri, besides his abilities as a poet, was author of a masterly discourse on dramatic representations, in folio; and of a translation of the first book of Ovid's Art of Love. an intimate and zealous friend of Tasso, and editor of the first correct edition of Gerusalemme liberata.

We find no record of any tragedy of great estimation, from this period till 1620, when the Solimano of Count Prospero Bonarelli of Ancona appeared. This author was the first Italian dramatic poet who, in a tragedy, had the courage to quit the Greek model, and reject the chorus. His brother, Gui. baldo, was author of the celebrated pastoral drama called Filli di Sciro, of which the admirers of Italian literature must often have heard.

Here (p. 165) we have an ample account of Gio. Battista Andreini, author of the representation entitled Adamo, which has been supposed to have suggested to Milton his divine Paradise Lost. In composing this article, Mr. W. has much availed himself of the ingenuity and labours of Mr. Hayley; and from this curious production, and Mr. Hayley's translation, copious extracts are given ; as well as from an account of Andreini's life and writings by Count Mazzuchelli. All these are very curious and amusing :--but we think that the adorers of Milton are too ambitious of discovering the germ of al our great bard's conceptions; by which they rob him of his principal claims to INVENTION, a poet's greatest glory, and allow nothing to the coincidence of congenial minds meditating on the same subject. These zealous defenders of Milton are very angry with Dr. Johnson for ridiculing his sour temper and severe politics, though the Doctor has praised the Paradise Lost in prose nearly equal to the verse of that immortal poem. Not contented with ransacking the Adam of Andreini for similitudes, the tragic scene of Adam and Eve, by Troilo Lancetta Benacence, is analysed ; in order to prove the possibility of that author's having first thrown into the mind of Milton the idea of converting Adam into an epic personage,' p.171; and Mr. Walker takes leave to observe, that Andreini and Lancetta were not the first Italian writers who dramatized the story of Adam and Eve.' Muratori tells us that, 'in the year 1304, the creation of Adam and Eve was represented at Friuli in a mystery. Milton is thought by Mr. Hayley to have had obligations to the Angeleida of Erasmo di Valvasone ;--and Mr. W., not satisfied with a detection of all these unacknowleged imitations, (which, in a writer of less dignity and established fame than Milton, would perhaps be styled plagiarisms,) has given 15 pages of



« PreviousContinue »