Page images

accustomed to the encounter of good-will as to L. It is also a delicate, and no very grateful task, withstand the shock firmly, tbat I thus attempt to to dissert upon the literature and manners of a commemorate your good qualities, or rather the nation so dissimilar ; and requires an attention and advantages which I lave derived from their exer- impartiality which would induce us—though pertion. Even the recurrence of the date of this letter, haps no inattentive observers, nor ignorant of the the anniversary of the most unfortunate day of my language or customs of the people amongst whom past existence, 1 but which cannot poison my future we have recently abode—to distrust, or at least while I retain the resource of your friendship, and defer our judgment, and more narrowly examine of my own faculties, will henceforth have a more our information. The state of literary as well as agreeable recollection for both, inasmuch as it will political party appears to run, or to have run, so remind us of this my attempt to thank you for an high, that for a stranger to steer impartially between indefatigable regard, such as few men have expe-them is next to impossible. It may be enough, rienced, and no one could experience without think then, at least for my purpose, to quote from their ing better of his species and of himself.

own beautiful language—"Mi pare che in un paese It has been our fortune to traverse together, at tutto poetico, che vanta la lingua la più nobile ed various periods, the countries of chivalry, history, insieme la più dolce, tutte tutte le vie diverse si and fable-Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy; possono tentare, e che sinche la patria di Alfieri e and what Athens and Constantinople were to us a di Monti non ha perduto l'antico valore, in tutte essa few years ago, Venice and Rome have been more dovrebbe essere la prima.” Italy has great names recently. The poem also, or the pilgrim, or both, still: Canova, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Pindemonte, have accompanied me from first to last; and per- Visconti, Morelli

, Cicognara, Albrizzi

, Mezzophanti, haps it may be a pardonable vanity which induces Mai, Mustoxidi, Aglietti, and Vacca, will secure to me to reflect with complacency on a composition the present generation an honourable place in most which in some degree connects me with the spot of the departments of art, science, and belles lettres : where it was produced, and the objects it would and in some the very highest. Europe—the World fain describe ; and however unworthy it may be -has but one Canova. deemed of those magical and memorable abodes, It has been somewhere said by Alfieri, that “La however short it may fall of our distant conceptions pianta uomo nasce più robusta in Italia che in qualand immediate impressions, yet as a mark of respect unque altra terra—e che gli stessi atroci delitti che for what is venerable, and of feeling for what is glo- vi si commettono ne sono una prova.” Without rious, it has been to me a source of pleasure in the subscribing to the latter part of his proposition-a production, and I part with it with a kind of regret, dangerous doctrine, the truth of which may be diswhich I hardly suspected that events could have left puted on better grounds, namely, that the Italians me for imaginary objects.

are in no respect more ferocious than their neighWith regard to the conduct of the last canto, bours--that man must be wilfully blind, or ignothere will be found less of the pilgrim than in any rantly heedless, who is not struck with the extraof the preceding, and that little slightly, if at all, ordinary capacity of this people, or, if such a word separated from the author speaking in bis own per- be admissible, their capabilities, the facility of their son. The fact is, that I had become weary of acquisitions, the rapidity of their conceptions, the drawing a line which every one seemed determined fire of their genius, their sense of beanty, and, not to perceive : like the Chinese in Goldsmith's amidst all the disadvantages of repeated revolutions, Citizen of the World, whom nobody would believe the desolation of battles, and the despair of ages, to be a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted, and their still unguenched "longing after immortality" imagined that I had drawn, a distinction between the immortality of independence. And when we the author and the pilgrim; and the very anxiety ourselves, in riding round the walls of Rome, heard to preserve this difference, and disappointment at the simple lament of the labourers' chorus, “Roma ! finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the Roma! Roma! Roma non è più come era prima, composition, that I determined to abandon it alto- it was difficult not to contrast this melancholy gether--and have done so. The opinions which dirge with the bacchanal roar of the songs of exultalave been, or may be, formed on that subject, are tion still yelled from the London taverns, over the now a matter of indifference: the work is to depend carnage of Mont St. Jean, and the betrayal of Geon itself and not on the writer ; and the author, noa, of Italy, of France, and of the world, by men who has no resources in his own mind beyond the whose conduct you yourself have exposed in a work reputation, transient or permanent, wbich is to worthy of the better days of our history. For arise from his literary efforts, deserves the fate of me,authors.

“Non movero mai corda In the course of the following canto it was my

Ove la turba di sue ciance assorda." intention, either in the text or in the notes, to liave touched upon the present state of Italian literature, What Italy has gained by the late transfer of and perhaps of manners. But the text, within the nations, it were useless for Englishmen to inquire, limits I proposed, I soon found hardly sufficient for till it becomes ascertained that England has acquired the labyrinth of external objects, and the consequont something more than a permanent army and a sus. reflections ; and for the whole of the notes, ex- pended Habeas Corpus; it is enough for them to cepting a few of the shortest, I am indebted to look at home. For what they have done abroad, yourself

, and these were necessarily limited to the and especially in the south, " verily they will have elucidation of the text.

their reward," and at no very distant period.

Wishing you, my dear Hobhouse, a safe and (1) His marriage.

agreeable return to that country whose real welfare

[blocks in formation]



St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood

See ! as they chant the tragic lıymn, the car Stand, but in mockery of his wither'd power, Of the o'ermaster'd victor stops, the reins Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued, Fall from his hands-his idle scimitar And monarchis gazed and envied in the hour Starts from its belt -- he rends his captire's When Venice was a queen with an unequallid

chains, dower.

And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.

XVII. The Suabian sucd, and now the · Austrian reigns

Thus, Venice, if no stronger claim were thine, An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt; Were all tly proud historic deeds forgot, Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains Thy clioral memory of the Bard divine, Clank over sceptered cities; nations melt

Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot From power's high pinnacle, whieu they have

Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot felt

Is shameful to the nations,-most of all, The sunshine for a while, and downward go

Albion! to thee: the Ocean Queen should not Like lauwine loosen'd from the mountain's belt:

Abandon Oceau's children ; in the fall Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo !

Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall. Tl’octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe.

I loved her from my boyhood : she to me

Was as a fairy city of the heart,
Before St. Mark still glow his steeds of brass,

Rising like water-columns from the sea, Their gilded collars glittering in the sun ;

Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart; But is not Doria's menace come to pass ?

And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakspeare's Are they not bridled ?-Venice, lost and won,

art.3 Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done, Had stamp'd her image in me, and even so, Sinks, like a sea-weed, into whence she rose !

Although I found her thus, we did not part, Better be whelm'd beneath the waves, and shun, Perchance even dearer in hier day of woe, Even in Destruction's deptlı, hier foreign foes,

Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show. From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.


I can repeople with the past—and of In youth she was all glory,—a new Tyre,– The present there is still for eye and thought, Her very byword sprung from victory,

And meditation chasten'd down, enouglı; The "Planter of the Lion,"1 which through And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought; fire

And of the happiest moments which were And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea;

wrought Though making many slaves, herself still free,

Within the web of my existence, some And Europe's bulwark ’gainst the Ottomite: From thee, fair Venice! have their colours Witness Troy's rival, Candia! Vouch it, ye

caught : Iminortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight! There are some feelings Time can not benumb, For ye are names no time nor tyranny can blight. Nor torture shake, or mine would now be cold and


XX. Statues of glass-all shiver'd-the long file But from their nature will the tannen grow 4 Of her dead Doges are declined to dust;

Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter'd rocks, But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous Rooted in barrenness, where nought below pile

Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust;

Of eddying storms; yet springs the truuk, aud Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust,

mocks Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls,

The howling tempest, till its height and frame Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must

Are worthy of the mountains from whose blocks Too oft remind hier who and what enthrals, Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely And grew a giant tree ;-the mind may grow the

Of bleak, grey granite, into life it came, walls.

same. XVI.

XXI. When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,

Existence may be borne, and the deep root And fetter'd thousands bore the yoke of war, Of life and sufferance make its firm abode Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse, 2

In bare and desolate bosoms : mute Her voice their only ransom from afar :

The camel labours with the heaviest load,



(1) That is, the Lion of St. Mark, the standard of the republic, which is the origin of the word Pantaloon-Piantaleone, Pantaleon, Pantaloon.

(2) The story is told in Plutarch's Life of Nicias.

13) Venice Preserved: Mysteries of Udolpho ; The GhostSeer, or Armenian; The Merchant of Venice; Othello.

(4) Tannen is the plural of tanne, a species fir peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky parts, where scarcely soil sufficient for its nourishment can be found. On these spots it grows to a greater height than any otber mountain tree.

And the wolf dies in silence. Not bestow'd Even in thy desert, what is like to thee?
In vain should such examples be; if they,

Thy very weeds are beautiful, tlıy waste
Things of ignoble or of savage mood,

More rich than other climes' fertility; Endure and shrink not, we of nobler clay

They wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced May temper it to bear,—it is but for a day. With an immaculate charm which cannot be de


[blocks in formation]

XXXII. And the soft quiet hamlet where lie dwelt Is one of that complexion which seems made For those who their mortality have felt, And sought a refuge from their hopes decay'd In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade, Which shows a distant prospect far away Of busy cities, now in vain display'd, For they can lure no further; and the ray Of a bright sun can make sufficient holiday.

Thou formest in his fortunes bids us think
Of thy poor malice, naming thee with scorn-
Alfonso ! how thy ducal pageants shrink

From thee! if in another station born, Scarce fit to be the slave of him thou mad'st to mourn:

XXXVIII. Thou ! form’d to eat, and be despised, and die, Even as the beasts that perish, save that thou Had'st a more splendid trouglı, and wider sty: He ! with a glory round his furrow'd brow, Which emanated then, and dazzles now In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire, And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow No strain which shamed his country's creaking

lyre, That whetstone of the teeth—inonotony in wire !

XXXIII. Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers, And shining in the brawling brook, where-by, Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours With a calm languor, which, though to the eye Idlesse it seem, liath its morality. If from society we learn to live, 'Tis solitude should teach us how to die;

It hath no flatterers ; vanity can give No hollow aid; alone-man with his God must

strive :



Or, it may be, with demons, who impair
The strength of better thoughts, and seek their

In melancholy bosoms, such as were
Of moody texture from their earliest day,
And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay,
Deeming themselves predestined to a doom
Which is not of the

pang pass away; Making the sun like blood, the earth a tomb, The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom.

[blocks in formation]



Ferrara! in thy wide and grass-grown streets,
Whose symmetry was not for solitude,
There seems as 'twere a curse upon the seats
Of former sovereigns, and the antique brood
Of Este, which for many an age made good
Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore
Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood

Of petty power impellid, of those who wore
The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn


XL. Great as thou art, yet paralleld by those, Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine, The Bards of Hell and Chivalry; first rose The Tuscan father's comedy divine; Then, not unequal to the Florentine, The southern Scott, the minstrel who call'd

forth A new creation with his magic line,

And, like the Ariosto of the North, Sang ladye-love and war, romance and knightly




The lightning rent from Ariosto’s bust The iron crown of laurel's mimick'd leaves; Nor was the ominous element unjust, For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, And the false semblance but disgraced his brow; Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves, Know that the lightning sanctifies below Whate'er it strikes-yon head is doubly sacred

And Tasso is their glory and their shame.
Hark to this strain ! and then survey his cell !
And see how dearly earn’d Torquato's fame,
And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell.
The miserable despot could not quell
The insulted mind he sought to quench, and

With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell

Where he had plunged it. Glory without end Scatter'd the clouds away—and on that name at





Italia! O Italia! thou who hast
The fatal gift of beauty, which became
A funeral dower of present woes and past,
On thy sweet brow is sorrow ploughed by shame,
And annals graved in characters of flame.
O God! that thou wert in thy nakedness
Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim

Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press To shed thiy blood, and drink the tcars of thy


The tears and praises of all time, while thine
Would rot in its oblivion in the sink
Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line
Is shaken into nothing; but the link

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »