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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. He was 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 coutented with ransacking the Adamo 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
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 Ange!cida 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
text, and more than 20 of additional notes and appendix, consist. ing of extracts, conjectures, and correspondence, on the subject.
The Alpina of l'ulvio Testi is said by Mr. Walker to have given birth to the opera : but this is an erroneous idea, if we may rely on the authority of Dr. Burney, who, in his History of Music, seems minutely to have traced it to a much higher period;--and what Mr. W. calls airs, which were so frequently introduced in Testi's drama, written in 1636, and recitata at Bologna in 1646, according to the Drammaturgia, could not have been sung at so early a period of the Melodrama. Indeed all that Mr. W. Says on this subject seems conjectural, and supported by no authority. Fulvio Testi died in 1646.
Aristodemo, a tragedy by Carlo de' Dottori, 1657, is next recorded ; and the suffrage of the excellent critic Signorelli is given in favour of its being a work of superior merit to the Solimano of Bonarelli :-- which Apostolo Zeno did not allow.
Four tragedies of Cardinal Delfino are highly praised by Crescimbeni, and by a much better judge, Maitei. In 1694, the Corradino of Caraccio, a tragedy, was represented at Rome. These declamatory dramas were still written in Greek tranmels of long speeches, and with little attention to the spirit of the dialogue,
Section III. Here we are presented with a history of the origin and establishment of the Academia degli Arcadi at Rome; the poetry and criticism of which were cultivated from May to October by its members, in a grove or a garden, in the manner of the antient inhabitants of Arcadia in Greece. Not only the natives of Italy, when at Rome, but Princes and illustrious for reigners visiting that city, were proud of being inrolled in this literary establishment.
The first tragic poet, who distinguished himself at the beginning of the present century, was Pier Jacopo Martelli, who died in 1727
• His Perselide, Ifigenia in Tauri, and Alceste, were represented (says Signorelli) with unequivocal applause by the company of Riccoboni at Venice, Verona, and Bologna. We find not only in these tragedies, (he continues,) but in his Procco, Cicerone, Q. Fabio, and Tuimingi, genuine tragic beauties. In the Persclide, is particularly admired the happy manner in which the three principal characters are marked: the magnanimity of Mustapha, the pathetic tenderness of Perselius, and the jealousy of power and relentless cruelty of Solimano, evince the glowing and energetic pencil of genius. Signior Signorelli recommends the Ifigenia and Alceste of this author, as mo
dels for imitation to all young poets who would wish to adapt the fables of the Greek theatre to the modern stage.'
Martelli's tragedies are composed in rhyme, and in a new species of versification, since called Martelliano, consisting entirely of Alexandrines of 14 syllables, or two verses of 7 syllables each. The Italian rhymes being all double, the junction of two verses of 7 syllables each makes their Alexandrine 14 syllables ; though our heroic verse, and that of France, contain but twelve.
The translation of Addison's Cato into Italian by Salvini is enumerated among the tragedies of this period; after which the tragedies of the learned Civilian and critic, Gravina, the patron and parent (by adoption) of Metastasio, are slightly mentioned. The chief accusation against Gravina is that he is too Grecian in the fable and conduct of his dramas. Though they failed to please, they did not deter our countryman Mason from constructing his Elfrida and Caractacus on the models of Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides ; and though Mr. Mason's tragedies excite more interest, and abound with infinitely more exquisite poetical beauties, they have also failed of public favour on the stage; with all the changes in the dialogue, and allurements of the music to the songs and choruses, that have been applied to them. They will never be admitted into the established Liturgy of the great parish church; though in the closet, or poetical chapel of ease, they will ever afford devout members of the Greek church the highest consolation and rapture.
Mr. W. has given a sketch of Gravina's life from Dr. Burney's Memoirs of Metastasio, and an account of that admirable lyric poet's Juvenile Tragedy of Giustino, from the same biographer; adding some curious, and authentic information of his own, which he had received from Italy, confirming the report of Metastasio's lyric dramas, or operas, being frequently declaimed, with success, as speaking tragedies, without music.
Among the minor tragics, we have a list of dramas written by the Count Pansati, the Duke Annibale Marchese, and Antonio Conti, a Venetian nobleman. It is a curious circumstance, which does honour to the nobility of Italy, that nearly all her best tragic writers have been of that class.
About the middle of the present century, Sig. Ant. Conti, who resided a considerable time in England, produced four gragedies : Giunio Bruto, Druso, Marco Bruto, and Giulio Cesare ; the last two from the double plot of Shakspeare's Ju. lius Cæsar, to which the Duke of Buckinghamn, and Voltaire, had previously pointed out the road.
We now come to the learned and justly celebrated Marquis Maffei ; whose tragedy of Merope is not only the chief glory of Melpomene in Italy, but has served as a model for excellent dramas in almost every other country in Europe. We have not room to follow Mr. W. in his examination of and extracts from the bold translation of this tragedy by Ayre:--but we cannot help thinking that he lays too great stress on the merit of constructing a tragedy without the aid of love, and we are more inclined to think, with Boileau, that “ the delineation of that passion is the most certain road to the heart," than with our author, that its admission into tragedy is a baneful innovation: (p. 139.), though in the next page we are told that refinement ever attends the influence of the fair.'- The production of a tragedy wholly unconnected with la belle passion is more ad. mired for the difficulty of the task, perhaps, than for its effects on our feelings. At some period of life, every mortal is sensible of a partiality for an individual of a different sex, and of a wish to appropriate a companion : but every one has not lost a child, a parent, a friend, or a kingdom. When this universal passion has taken possession of ar amiable and worthy heart, and is thwarted by adverse and inauspicious circumstances, pity and sympatiiy are excited in every breast which has experienced equal conflicts, or is susceptible of similar sensibility; and what Mr. W. calls a baneful innovation has been practised in our own country to the satisfaction of every feeling heart, by Shakspeare, Otway, Rowe, and Congreve, in dramas which are not likely to lose their favour.
In p. 245, Mr. W. seems to sing a palinodia, in speaking of the powerful effects of Love in Metastasio, when he wrote his Didone, and in all others when that drama was performed; exclaiming, 'Such is thy so potent art, O Love!'
The tragedies of Barruffaldi, Lazzarini, Gasparo Gozzi, Padre Bianchi, Count Savioli, Alfonso Varano, and Granelli, are next enumerated, and characterized, with zeal for the honour of their country.
We then come to Bettinelli; who, having acquired considerable fame as a prose writer by his Risorgiamento d'Italia, produced three tragedies of high renown: Gionata, Demetrio Poliorcete, and Serse. From this last we have the description of a ghost, with the translation (p. 265); which, had we room, should be presented to our readers : as the original was so admired at Rome in 1772, that the reviewers of that city confessed its effects, in exciting sorrow and perturbation, to have been such as had been produced by few tragedies which they had ever seen or read.
The Abaté Cesarotti, an eminent Italian writer still living, is justly celebrated by Mr. W. for his translations of some of Voltaire's tragedies, of Ossian, and of Homer, into the language of his country.
Much information and entertainment occur in subsequent articles; particularly in the account of the writings of Count Pepoli, and Count Alfieri, dramatic writers not yet numbered with the dead. Of the productions of this last voluminous author, we have an ample list, with extracts, which the limits of this article (already, perhaps, too much extended) will not allow us to detail ; and we have before spoken of them, in Rev. vol. xxiv. N. S. p. 527. Count Alfieri, we believe, was in England about 20 years ago. His tragedy of La Congiura de Pazzi has very justly been censured by Mr. Roscoe, in his admirable life of Lorenzo de' Medici, for the falsification of history, in order to blacken the character of that great patron of literature and of every ingenious art, and to render it subservient to the interests of freedom. " What shall we think of a dramatic performance in which the Pazzi are the champions of Liberty ? --In which superstition is called in to the aid of truth? In which the relations of all the parties are confounded, and a tragic effect is attempted to be produced by a total' dereliction of historical veracity, an assumption of falsehood for truth, and of vice for virtue?”
Mr.Walker has given the plans of 19 tragedies by Count Alfi. eri, with extracts from many of them :—but he places the Aristodemo of the Abaté Monti at the summit of modern tragedies, and indeed with the highest Italian authority for his opinion.
In the course of this work, we have a sketch of the history of the construction of Italian theatres, from the time of Palladio to the present: also, additional notes, and an appendix of more than 60 pages, containing interesting discussions and ex. planations. Some of the fragments from the tragedies, which the author has analyzed, will perhaps impress the lovers of Italian poetry with higher ideas of its beauty and force, than the more renowned writings of Dante, Petrarca, Ariosto, and Tasso.
Though we have found much amusement and considerable information on the subject under discussion in this book, we are obliged to own that the style is often inflated ; and that we have been frequently offended by the author's affectation in the needless use of foreign words, and in the new application of those
* Life of Lorenzo de' Medici, vol. i. Do 211. note (B).