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The noise and cries continue; and, during the intervals of the pealing sounds, the chorus exclaim:
Mr. W. has not attempted to render these last beautiful lines into English; though it seems as if an almost literal translation would convey to the English reader some faint idea of the sentiments, if not of the language, of the original. Will the reader admit the following attempt?
Oh heavens, oh earth, oh sea, oh winds and flame!
Change not the beauteous order of the heavens ;
Alamanni, a studious refiner of blank verse, wrote a tragedy about this time (1530) in imitation of the Antigone of Sophocles; and a didactic poem in the same measure, entitled La Cultivazione, published at Paris, whither he was a fugitive, in 1546.
Mr. Walker's account of the next tragedy in the series is so curious, that we shall present it to our readers.
• The tragic muse being now roused in Italy found several votaries. Amongst the many pieces, as well original as translations, which covered her altars, the Edipo Re (Edipus tyrannus) of Orsatto Giustiniano, a Venetian nobleman, particularly recommends itself to our notice, not only by its intrinsic merit, but from the adventitious circumstance of its having been the first drama represented in the famous Olympic theatre of Palladio at Vicenza, where, says an Italian author, it was recited in 1585, con sontuosissimo apparato. This tragedy becomes attractive also from another anecdote attached to its scenical history. When it was first exhibited, the part of Edipus was performed with great ability,-by Luigi Groto, commonly called Il Cieco d'Adria (the blind man of Adria) from the circumstance of his being totally deprived of sight; a misfortune that befel him on the eighth day after he was born. This extraordinary man was not only an actor of merit, but a fruitful (fertile) and successful writer. His pastoral of Calisto, and his comedies of Alteria, Emilia, and I Tesoro, are honourably mentioned by Gravina and other Italian critics.'
This extraordinary person, so early deprived of sight, was author of a tragedy entitled Hadriana; which bears so strong a resemblance to our Shakspeare's Romeo and Juliet, in its prin
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 Macares 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 Eschylus, 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 four
The Fable of Canace is a mythological texture, first dramatised by the author, which none but bigoted Pagans could digest. olus, god of winds, had twins, a son and a daughter, by his consort Deopeia. This divinity, favoured by Juno, was of course perseented 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: Æblus, 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 executioner.
We have now before us an edition of this extraordinary drama, of 1566, without the printer's name; with the Giudicio, 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 hat d'ye call it, has the ghost of an Embryo, or un born child.
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 describing scenes of horror :'
"Giate nel fondo di quest' alta torre,
Low in the bosom of the lofty pile,
We cannot allow Mr. W. to be perfectly happy in his translation of this sublime description of the residence of horror. Fondo is certainly not well rendered by bosom; nor irata by pale: tenebrosa notte is not fully expressed by night; and magnificence of horror seems ironical. Might not the first line run thus?
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,
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
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; and the mildness with which he treats, in many parts of his works, his malignant adversary, Girolamo Ruscelii, merits the praise which they bestow upon it. Dolce 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. Besides the tragedies already mentioned, our author published a transla tion 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 havesse parole uguali à le tue lode, mai di commendarti non se ne vedrehbe stanca la voce mia. Per te è per mai sempre la vita gioiosa e licta: per te gli huomini si fanno sempiterni e gloriosi. Viva dunque, viva il Matri monio e chi disidera di vivere e morire contento e beato elegga per il vero
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 davell 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 the 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 flayed 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, and 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, has 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. W. gives 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 Italian literature; and the translation, to those who are able to compare it with the original, whence they will find much of the spirit of da Horte conveyed into the English.
The Semiramide of Manfredi, and the Merope 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 model, by preserving the attendant chorus; and the Roman, by their sanguinary horrors and catastrophes.
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 tongue the taste and spirit of the classics, they copied, with the most aukward servility, the language and ideas suited to an age so different from their own." What is "acquiescing in the reason of the antients," but transferring the taste and spirit of the classics into their own tongue ?
The first tragedy written at the beginning of the xviith century seems to have been Thomyris, by Angelo Ingegneri,