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fons celebrated, with the wit, good tafte, and sound criticism of the author, who, though a great geometrician, did not despise and reject the affistance of grace and elegance, have seduced us into an article of an unusual length, for which we Mall make no apology; for as Garth faid of his Preface to Ovid's Metamor. phofes, “ It is in every reader's power to make it as Ahort as bio pleases.”
author's satisfaction in having accomplished it; as he expects nothing less from its influence than a total revolution in poetry.
In the first Dialogue, he endeavours to Thew the absurdity of introducing Beings into Poetry whose existence is neither bem lieved by the reader nor the writer. It is time, he thinks, to divest ourselves of the ancient prejudice of Greek mythology, which is now so worn-out, and childish, that even school-boys Mould be no longer plagued with it. The machinery of the Christian fyftem, of angels, and devils, is but feldom applicable; nor can ghosts be often introduced, or long remain as agents in the butiness of a poem. But the chief part of what he says on this subject is borrowed from chap. I. vol. 8. of Tom Jones; however, he is so candid as to allow, that “ Fielding defends his opinion very ably.” It is pity that Fielding did not know, when he was writing this chapter, the service he was rendering to a German author, and the honour that would accrue to him for it, forty years after !
In the Ild Dialogue, the author points all his artillery againft Rhyme. His ammunition is chiefly furnished by Milton in the preface to his Paradise Lost. One argument in favour of his dodrine, he draws from the difficulty which a good actor finds in concealing the rhymes in which French, and many German plays are still written ; and he fancies that our Garrick was equally embarrassed by them.
La Motte vainly tried in France to get rid of rhyme in tragedy ; but either babit, or the want of dignity in the lana guage, makes the French regard a tragedy in prose not only as unpleasing, but unnatural. If our Teutonic author had known how disrespectfully Pope has treated rhyme, in a letter to one of his friends, he would have thought his triumph complete. “I hould be sorry and alhamed (says our admirable countryman) to go on jingling to the last step, like a waggoner's borse, in the
same road, and fo leave my bells to the next filly animal tbat will be proud of them. A man makes but a mean figure, ia che eyes of reason, who is measuring syllables and coupling rhymes." But this was written in an ungrateful and splenetic fit, in 1714, before the bard had been so completely absurd as to produce bis best works.
In the II id Dialogue, the writer having, as he thinks, dirpatched the rhyming throng, and left them fprawling; proceeds to attack the metrical tribe. We have often met with rhyme without reason, and reason without rhyme, but never with nominal poetry, without measure. In a drama he thinks blank verle as great an enemy to probability, and good declamation, as rhyme. Dk. Johnlon bas faid, in his Lives of the Poets, that " the variety of paules fo much boasted by the lovers of black verse, changes the measure of an English poet to the periods of declamation.” And on this text our author seems to preach, He allows, however, that rhythm,may have its use in mufic, in phrasing the melody, and rendering it more symmetric.
Ia the IV th Dialogue, he pretends to have discovered that the English language is totally unfit for metrical verse; and he builds his opinion on the following passage of Dr. Johnson : “ Poetry may subsist without rhyme, but will not often please; nor can rhyme be safely spared except when the subject is able to support itself. Blank verse makes some approach to that ftyle which is called the Lapidary Style, but has neither the care of prose nor the melody of numbers, and therefore tires by Jong continuance.” This testimony, and the ill success of Sir Philip Sidney in endeavouring to render English verse subservient to the feet and metrical laws of the ancient Greek and Latin poetry, convince him that his new species of poetry will be particularly applicable to the English language.
Beside che want of sovelty in treating these subjects, the author's perfect feli-complacence in the midst of pedantry and an affected style, place this work in that numerous class which, for our many-fold fins, we are obliged to read, and in which we derive our chief plealure from the final period.
At the end of the book we are presented with specimens of the author's new invented poetry, which is literally profe run mad. We will endeavour to tranfue a part, to thew our readers bow well it suits the English language.
• Ode to the High Priests of the German Ljre.
Shake the hearts of men more
• Ye whole tuneful silver throat
• Ye powerful finging forcerers!
ART: XVII. Le Revoluzioni del Teatro muficale Ialiano, &c. i.e. The Revolutions
of the Italian Opera, trom its Origin to the present Time; by STEFANO ARTEAGA. Concluded. N conformiiy to a promise which we made to our readers
laft year *, we return to this work; of which we then had only room for the skeleton, or table of contents. Though this history of the Musical Drama has been much read in Italy, we find, by several pofterior publications, that neither the Literati nor the Musicians of that country are quite satisfied with the Author's decisions, or his manner of treating the fubje&t. In the first place, he is a Spaniard, and partial to the poetry of his own country; and in the next, he is not allowed to be either a practical mufician fufficient to judge of the composers whom he mentions, except by tradition, or deeply read in the history of the art, or the professional talents of individuals. He writes, however, with elegance and fire, particularly in speaking of Lyric Poetry, which he seems to feel with much more enthufialin than music. · But disdaining all discussion of the theory or practice of the art, he confines himself chiefly to what he calls its Rhetoric and Philofophy.
In his preliminary discourse, Sig. ARTEAGA has characterized his predeceffors in a fummary way. He allows but four
* See App. to Rev. vol. lxxvii. p. 547
who have written expressly on the mufical drama: Suadris, Algarotti, Planelli, and Napoli- Signorelli. He calls the former,
• A man of immense reading, but on whose learning, tafte, or criticism, no dependence can be placed. He has filled half an hege volume of his Storia e ragione d'ogna Posia with titles, dates, and names of authors, heaped promiscuously one on the other, in fuch a way as to frighten memory, and destroy the most determines pa. rience. The celebrated Court Algarotti, in bis Saggio dell' O, ateis Mufica, has manifested taste in his usual fowery tyle, enriched virh all the embellifhments of his own language, and of that of fose: countries. His reflections on the conduct of modern dramas as generally elegant and judicious; but he has not sufficiently mounted to the source and principles of the musical drama, to deserve the name of a complete critic. The Cavalier Planelli, in his Trattato dell Opera in Mufica, is more profound, learned, fyftematic, and confequently more useful; embracing the object of his work in its whole extent. Yet, notwithstanding it is the best didactic book ca the subject, it seems as if his reflections on lyric poetry were neither fo just nor deep as the rest of his performance, nor has he sufficieatly diiiinguished opera from tragedy; and be fails till more in the biítoricat ihan in the critical part.
Il Dottor Pietro Napoli- Signorelli, in his Storia critica de Teatri, disappoints his readers in speaking so little of modern times, after being so diffuse on the ancient. This brevity has led him into baly and ill-founded decilions on national merit, and inaccurate itatements of facts. All these defe&s, however, have not prevented the Author from producing a learned and captivating book, nor his readers from hoping that he will soon publish bis Sistema dramatico, which he has promised, and which will perhaps furnish, chole lights for which we vainly seek in his History.
This last period and character are wholly omitted in the fecond edition ; previously to the publication of which, a con. troversy broke out, and was carried on with some afperity, between the Spaniards and Italjans, concerning the antiquity and comparative excellence of the dramatic produtions of their leve, sal countries. Napıli Signorelli, who had spoken irreverently of the Spanilh dramatists, in his Gritical History of ancient and mee dern Theatres, awakened Spanish patriotism, and gave birit to a work entitled Saggio Apologetico, or an Effay in defence of the Spanish Drama This was immediately answered, with con. fiderabie abilities, by Napoli Signorelli, in his Discorso StoricoCritica, of which the reaioning and facts are enlivened with so much wit and sarcasm, that the Spaniards are less likely to forgive the author for being right than wrong. This seeais to account for the suppreffion of Arteaga's eloge on Signorelli.
The first chapter contains a well-digefted analysis of the Mu. fecal Dramas, pointing out the (pecific difference between them and other kinds of dramatic compositions. The author fays puls, that the word OPERA cannot be heard without remind
ing us, not of a fingle uncompounded production, but an age
The union, therefore, of music with poetry, is the characteristic difference between an opera and a tragedy or comedy ; nor is the union so absurd as is often pretended, on account of the necessity of heroes and heroines rejoicing, grieving, converfing, and reasoning, in fong. It is but transferring the sen, timents of the poet from speech to melody, a more sweet and sonorous language.
What the author fays concerning the neceflity of avoiding
Rendi mi il Figlio mio, &c. *
• When Mattei sung this air on our stage, in the opera of Ciro