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feelings, and, by an artful story about two sisters, similarly situated, excites, even the idea of murder, in the mind of Olivia. Jacquelina, however, suggests a plan to win Cosmo. Barbadeca had wooed Demetria, in Cosmo's absence, and was rejected. Jacquelina lays a plot, by which he may carry her off; and, obtaining from him the envelope of the letter, which had contained the rejection of his suit, prepares to shake the confidence of Cosmo in Demetria, and unite him to Olivia. In the envelope, addressed to Barbadeca, Jacquelina places a paper, which Demetria had written, descriptive of her feelings for Cosmo; and, apparently by accident, permits Cosmo to peruse it. She makes Cosmo believe, that Demetria is in love with Barbadeca, and only feigns a love for him, to elude her father, and elope with Barbadeca. Having convinced Cosmo of this, she tells him of Olivia's love for him; and, that it would be a glorious revenge on Demetria, to marry her sister. No explanations take place,—the pride of both preventing it; Cosmo marries Olivia, aud Demetria takes poison. Bianca, the maid of Demetria, tells him what she has done, and convinces him that he has been imposed on; an interview takes place, and an explanation. Demetria dies, and Cosmo stabs himself by her side. The scenic illusion, in this play, and the portraiture of character, are, at times, good, the descriptive portions, brilliant; but we like neither the conception, the conduct of the plot, nor the moral. There is entirely too much juggling, to forward the plans of the malignant Olivia and her maid; the prevention of all explanation, is improbable; and the fall of the virtuous, while the vicious go unpunished, is abhorrent to our feelings. It lacks originality, and has too many coincidences with “ Hadad,” to which, however, it is infinitely inferior. For example: Absalom is full of envy towards his younger brother; Olivia, towards her sister. The prize, in the former case, is a crown; in the latter, it is a lover. Hadad is the fiend that exacerbates the feelings of Absalom ; Jacquelina inflames Olivia. Absalom startles when Hadad proposes violence to his father, yet consents in the end; Olivia is startled when Jacquelina suggests to her the murder of her sister, yet her passion leads her to entertain the project. The excited dreams of Absalom before the battle, and those of Olivia while plotting against her sister, are a further coincidence ; and between the following, with which the drama opens, and the fountain-scene in “Hadad," where he speaks to Tamar of the naiad of the fount, the resemblance is obvious.
“ Cos. Now, as thou sit’st, absorbed and motionless,
Drew homage to her pedestal.” This will serve as a specimen of “Demetria.” It shows well the workings of the heart. The first part of the address, is the inspiration of the scene. She makes no return; when, thinking that her pious disposition would be better pleased with sentiments respecting her own religion, than heathenism, he pays a further compliment. He is surprised and grieved at her coldness, and checks his speech. He essays to speak again,--commences with a compliment; but, his impetuous nature hurries him on, and he closes with a sarcasm.
“Percy's Masque,” is a drama founded on the Hermit of Warkworth, a ballad, by Bishop Percy. The plan is this: The exiled Percy, disguised as a servant, is employed as huntsman by Neville, who has been created Earl of Westmoreland and Northumberland, and has been presented with the estates which the Percies held before the defeat at Shrewsbury. He wins the love of the Earl's daughter, and revives, in the hearts of the inhabitants, their ancient enthusiasm for his family. Having received permission from the Earl, to hold a masquerade, on the occasion of King Henry's visiting the castle with a small number of knights, he fills the secret passages with armed men, and, at midnight, marches in his masquerade warriors, in complete mail. The king and earl are convinced that resistance is in vain ; Percy declares himself, and kneels, presenting his sword and breast to the king, and asking “death, or his inheritance." The king bids him rise, reinstates him in his possessions, and
bestows on him the hand of Elinor. To remunerate Neville for what he has taken from him, he bestows other and larger possessions upon him. The incidents of this drama are generally interesting ; the dialogue sprightly; but we think the part of Percy towards Neville, who receives him as a stranger, friendless and destitute, and provides for him, has too much the appearance of treachery, and cannot be par doned, even for the purpose of regaining his estates. After all the military preparations, there is a degree of disappointment, at the pacific turn which every thing takes; but, as this is a disappointment kindred with the chagrin of the old lady, who grieved that the criminal was not hung after her coming to see the execution, it may well be excused by a generous mind.
The language is too inverted and artificial. The style that suited the scenes and events of Judea,grave and antique, is not well suited to the baronial castles of Europe.
We have said, Mr. Hillhouse left his true province, when he left Scriptural themes for other dramatic subjects. Still farther did he err, when he left the gravity of epic and tragic composition, for
light and playful literary trifling. The only merit that his “Sachem's Wood” has, is, that it gives us an insight into the amiable disposition of the poet, in wishing to celebrate scenes dear to him on account of early recollections. It is by no means creditable to his genius, how much soever it may commend his heart; and the copying into the poem, almost the words of Everett, in describing Philip, of Pokanoket, we think, should have called for acknowledgment. In his own true sphere, however, Mr. Hillhouse is preëminent over all his countrymen. His literary addresses are excellent. As a writer, he is by no means generally known. The reasons for this, appear to be, that his compositions have been chiefly dramatic ; and, consequently, a large class of readers have refused to read them; the length of his poems has prevented their being copied ; and, lastly and principally,—that, never having been connected with the press, editorial courtesy has done less for him, than for others, with a tithe of his talents, who have chanced to belong to the editorial corps.
Art. IV.–1. Histoire des Republiques Italiennes du
moyen âge, par J. C. L. Sismonde de Sismondi. Nouvelle Edition. Paris : Treuttel et Würtz, 1826. 6 vols.
octavo. 2. History of the Italian Republics, by J. C L. Simonde
de Sismondi; in Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia. 1 vol. 12 mo.
The history of free states possesses peculiar claims to the attention of the American. All, indeed, must feel, in its perusal, more of interest than can be excited with regard to nations under more arbitrary forms of government. It is the tendency of monarchical institutions, to repress some of the noblest motives which excite man to action, and to substitute other and lower feelings in their place. What wellregulated mind can experience that interest in the contests of princes, resulting from their personal quarrels, or entangling family alliances, which we feel in the strife of a nation warring for the rights of thousands ? Loyalty to an individual may be a noble principle; but, can it compare in elevation with the love of country? Even ambition assumes a loftier tone, and seems to be more worthy of man, when the reward it seeks is not a star, a ribband or a title, but the love and reverence of freemen.
But, to an American, the history of republics presents themes of interest, of a peculiar character. With all mankind, we own the relation of brethren ; we are men, and nought that is human is alien from us; but, with the freemen of former days, we have another bond of union; we are brethren in another, and in a worthy sense of that word. As we read, then, of their struggles, their defeats, their victories, with them we feel, we struggle, and we conquer, side by side, and heart with heart. Our condemnation of their errors is blended with generous pity; our admiration of their virtues is exalted into noble emulation, by the feeling that it is in our power to imitate them. From their history we read impressive lessons for our own use; and from their time-honored altars, we kindle to a brighter flame the torch of liberty.
The period of Roman greatness had long passed by, and the name of republic had been, for nearly a thousand years, VOL. I.-NO. 1.
forgotten sound in Europe, when, in the darkness of the middle ages, the spirit of ancient liberty revived. Then rose the Italian republics; and the influence which they diffused, like the twilight that precedes the dawn, awakened the slumbering world, and prepared mankind for the glorious morning of the fifteenth century.
To trace their rise, and the progress and decline of a few among them, will be our present occupation, guided, in general, by the volume whose name we have placed at the head of this article, though with occasional reference to other historians. It is necessary, however, first, to glance at the condition of Europe, and particularly of Italy, for some time preceding the age at which the Italian republics may be said to date their origin.
The Christian Roman Empire, which, in its period of power, extended from Persia, on the east, to the Atlantic, on the west, and from the interior of Africa, southward, to Poland and Germany, on the north, fell, at length, in consequence of its immense extent, its increasing corruption, and the wild fury of its northern invaders. Western Europe was overrun by hordes of barbarians, who gradually became blended with the remnants of the races which had preceded them, adopted from them the christian religion, and laid the foundation of the kingdoms which now exist. Centuries passed, and the descendants of these rude barbarians became humanized, by the influences of a permanent home, and of the religion which they had embraced. They recognized the chief minister of that religion, in the bishop of the imperial city. To the authority of the pope they referred, as the last arbitrator, in all questions of conscience. At length there arose, in France, one of those great men, who impress their image indelibly upon their age and their race. Charlemagne-Charles the Great,—whatever the errors of his policy, the intolerance of his religious zeal, or the justice of the charges against his personal character, stands forth, amidst the darkness of his age, in a lustre which is rendered brighter by the contrast. Not merely as a conqueror, but as a legislator,--as the founder of new, grand and permanent institutions, the patron of learning, it is impossible to withhold our homage from this great man. Having conquered the king of the Lombards, in Italy, Charlemagne, in the city of Rome, on Christmas-day, in the