Imágenes de página

commendations; one is good because it makes the man stoop, the other is also good because it does not. Again we say, that the change may be desirable, but not assuredly for the reasons assigned by Mr. Parnell.

Few things seem to strike this great patriot as being so important in an Irish labourer as a good English accent; but much and often as he insists upon this amendment, he does not inform us how it is to be effected. We anxiously request him to remedy this omission in a second edition : such a recipe might be useful not to

poor Ireland' alone, but to all Scotland, and certain parts of England itself, which at present suffer under the grievous infirmity of a provincial accent.

It must be obvious that it would also be a great blessing to Ireland, hardly inferior perhaps to mending the accent of the peasantry, if discontent and disaffection, old prejudices and rankling feuds could be eradicated, and that a general respect for and acqui. escence in the present state of laws, constitution and property, could be generally diffused :—this is a tune to which the political nightingale might delight to sing; and accordingly Mr. Parnell does not wholly omịt it; but the mode he takes of inculcating these conciliatory doctrines is quite as surprising as an Irish labourer's being created a grandee of Spain—he takes every opportunity of launching, in an Irish spirit of conciliation, the most sarcastic and indignant remarks against the government and the gentry; he judiciously reminds all the peasants that, whether their names be O'Toole, or O'Neale, or O'Sullivan, they are descended from a line of kings, and (though despoiled and degraded) the real owners of the soil, and (if every man had his due) the just inheritors of the wealth and power of the country. He further takes great pains to assure us and them of their unanimity and their strength and their disaffection. He tells us plainly that one of his heroes, • James Hi Sullivan, with great reason to be contented, nourished the keenest regret for his family honours and the bitterest rancour against his spoliators, the English,' (of whom Mr. Parnell is one ;) and he further informs us that there is not one single Irish Roman catholic who is perfectly free from the same festering discontent.'

p. 117.

Is this indeed so, Mr. Parnell? Is all that we have heard of the loyalty and good dispositions of the Irish Catholics utterly false ? Do they all, without exception, nourish the bitterest rancour against the present state of things ? Are catholic emancipation and religious toleration mere pretences ? and is a revolution in rank and property the real object of the catholic claims? The best that we can do for Mr. Parnell is to hope that he does not quite ow what he is saying—he is a child playing with fire-arms;



an innocent who, by way of giving light to his neighbours, sticks his farthing candle into a barrel of gunpowder.

The judicious and consolatory topics which Mr. Parnell produces to amend the morals, better the condition, and raise the character of his countrymen, are exactly the same as those with which his hero Hi Sullivan awakened the feelings of the mob that attacked Mr. Dale's house, and we therefore are not greatly surprized that the affair ended in burning Mr. Dale and all his family in their beds; and we are a little afraid that, if such principles were to be propagated with any success, Mr. Parnell's own house would in no long period of them share the fate of Mr. Dale's.

It may appear incredible, that any man should publish a book at once so mischievous and absurd, and venture to usher it in by a preface which talks political economy ex cathedra, and sneers at Adam Sunith, and all the puny statesmen who have verned Ireland from the earliest to the present time;—but there is a circumstance which mitigates our surprize: the attention of parliament was, during the last session, solicited to two bills, introduced with sufficient pomp, for the alleviation of some of those tremendous evils under which Ireland is represented as labouring—the one was a bill for the education of children employed in cotton factories, the other for regulating the office of coroner in Ireland! their chief enactments were some paltry details, either impracticable or contemptible. These bills were for a short time a bye-word amongst those who had looked at them; and they sank under the weight of their own inconsistencies before they had reached any debateable stage :~they were from the same pen and in the same spirit as the Priest of Rahery.'-Requiescant in pace!

Art. IX.-1. Prospectus and Specimen of un intended National Work, by William and Robert Whistlecraft

, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers, intended to comprize the most interesting particulars relating to King Arthur and his

Round Table. London, 1818. 2. The Court of Beasts, freely translated from the Animali Par

lanti of Giambattista Casti, a Poem, in seven Cantos. By

William Stewart Rose. London. 1819. GIAN IAMBATTISTA Casti published his Animali Parlanti in

1802: Mr. Rose has therefore taken the most recent narrative poem of the Italians as his text-book. On the other hand, the unknown poet who comes forward disguised in the working jacket of the Whistlecrafts, has imitated the earliest of the Italian romantic poems, the Morgante Maggiore, which was written by Pulci about the year 1470.

If these two writers wished to em


ploy their talents in copying from Italian models, models, too, very susceptible of improvement, the choice could not have been made with greater judgment. Casti, like most modern Italian writers, is often meagre and diffuse; and the energetic lay of Pulci is stamped with the rudeness and severity of antiquity. Mr. Rose has condensed his original. The pseudo-Whistlecraft has refined on what he has imitated. But in order to appreciate the Court of Beasts,' and the Tale of King Arthur,' it is absolutely necessary that our readers should be enabled to form a just idea of their Italian prototypes.

The narrative poems of the Italians, which in other countries i would be all grouped together as epics, have been classed

with great nicety by their litterati. The Orlando Furioso, ac:cording to their poetical nomenclature, is their chief romantic, and

the Gerusalemme Liberata their first heroic poem. The Secchia

Rapita of Tassoni is accounted a chef-d'oeuvre in the heroic-comic - style. Burlesque poetry is exemplified in the Ricciardetto, and the

Animali Parlanti is considered wholly as a satire. The Ultramontani

cry out against these subtle classifications, as not existing in nature. We content ourselves with stating the Italian theory as a matter of fact: and perhaps some other facts which we intend to bring forward may tend to elucidate the question, whether it be right or wrong to arrange the different species of poems under distinct names, and according to laws supposed to be essential to each class?" It is possible that the Italians may have been compelled to sort their epics into families, in order to assist themselves in making way through the multitude: for during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, the narrative poems published in Italy nearly equal in bulk and number the volumes of voyages, and travels and history which have appeared in England during the present reign.

Every line of the Animali Parlanti discloses the object of the author. Satire was his only aim. He does not ridicule the religion, or the politics, or the ethics of any peculiar sect or nation; he laughs at all faith, and all patriotism, and all morality; yet his satire has not been always understood : and politicians and party-men have been so simple as to quote the verses of Casti, imagining that the laughers would be on their side.

Casti was born in the Papal dominions, about the year 1720. He was a priest and a professor of rhetoric; but he soon quitted his college, and turned his back upon the altar. He rambled through most of the continental courts as a professional bel-esprit. Poor, yet independent, he was the guest of the great; and he died in 1803, full of years, as he was leaving an entertainment. Casti never


praised any one of the kings and princes who protected him in their turns; but he successively ministered a more poignant treat to their vanity by ridiculing their royal neighbours. As soon as he was out of the reach of the claws of one sovereign, he immediately satirized his discarded patron at the court of another. When his royal protectors read his verses, and enjoyed the satirical portraits of their compeers, they laughed at each other, and the world at large laughed more heartily at them all. The Casti breed is no rarity in common life; but the individuals who compose it excite little attention, because they do not write, and because they carry on their operations in private sets and circles. They existed in ages less civilized than our own : such was the Thersites of Homer.

Awed by no shame, by no respect control'd,
In scandal busy, in reproaches bold:
With witty malice studious to defame,
Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim.
But chief he gloried, with licentious style,
To lash the great, and monarchs to revile.

His figure such as might his soul proclaim.-II. b. ii. Casti was even uglier than the Grecian: Partly through disease, and partly through the doctor, he had lost a piece of his nose, and his palate. He snuffled out his licentious verses : and the unblushing cynical impudence with which he recited his metrical bawdry, formed a whimsical contrast to his name, and a hideous one to his sacerdotal character, for he never ceased to reckon himself an Abbé, the petit collet being always accepted in continental society as an apology for plebeian extraction.

Casti acquired great celebrity by his “ Novelle Galanti.? There are few men so graceless as to confess that they have read the book; yet the French and Italian booksellers continue to make money by reprinting it in secret. Since the days of Boccaccio, Italy has been infested by works of this description. Yet with the exception of Casti, and the infamous Aretine, * these authors do not appear to have written with the deliberate intent of corrupting the morals of their readers; and greatly as they have degraded themselves, they only participated in the common pollution of the

*The real name of Aretino, who acquired the epithet of the Infamous, was Pietro Bucci. Another Aretino, Leonardo Bruni, was called the Historian. Both were born at Arezzo; the historian in 1369, and Peter the Infamous in 1492. The bones of the historian rest at Florence, near the remains of Galileo and Michael Angelo. Peter died at Venice, but where he is buried no one knows, or wishes to know, Madame de Staël and the Rev. Mr. Eustace were ignorant of the existence of the bistorian, and therefore they imagined they saw the tomb of the infamous Aretine by the side of the tombs of Galileo and Michael Angelo, and they have moralized thereon. The learned lady and the reverend gentleman also saw the tomb of Boccaccio in the same church. It happens, however, that the tomb is twelve miles off.

times. Ariosto only versified the table-talk of the Italian nobles, nay of the Italian pontiffs. In the 16th century the spirit of chivalry was blended with the spirit of licentiousness. A thousand such contradictions may be found in the history of civilized society, and they must be carefully observed by him who wishes to study human nature. The nobles of the court of Elizabeth broke their spears in honour of their royal mistress, or they fought around the fortress of Beauty, besieged, and besieged in vain, by Love, and Wantonness, and Desire. At the same time, Sir John Harrington dedicated his version of Ariosto to the Virgin Queen. The loose yet romantic poetry of Ariosto agreed with the manners of the age. The good knight therefore did not scruple to translate the licentious passages of his original word for word. He professes indeed to apologize for the indelicacy of Ariosto, but the apology is a curious specimen of the mock-modesty which it was then usual for authors to affect.

It may be, and is by some objected, that although Ariosto wrote Christianly in some places, yet in others he is too lascivious, as in that of ........ Alas! if this be a fault, pardon him this one fault, though I do not doubt but that too many of you, gentle readers, will be too exorable on this point; yea, methinks I see some of you searching already for those places of the book, and you are half offended that I have not made some directions, that you might find out and read them immediately; but I beseech you stay awhile, and as the Italian saith, pian piano, fair and softly, and take this caveat with you, to read them as my author meant them, to breed detestation and not delectation.'

We are far from suspecting the gentle readers' of our days, like Sir John Harrington: but his apology, as well as his good advice at the end, is fallacious. The tone taken by Ariosto at the opening of the adventure plainly proves that he felt he was somewhat guilty.

“You ladies, ye that ladies hold in prize,
Give not (perdie) your eare to this same tale,
The which to tell mine host doth here devise
To make men thinke your vertues are but small:
Though from so base a tongue there can arise
To your swet sexe no just disgrace at all;
Fooles will find fault without ihe cause discerning,
And argue most of that they have no learning.

Turn o'er the leaf, and let this tale alone,
If any think the sex by this disgraced,
I write it for no spite, nor malice none;
But in my author's book I find it placed.
My loyal love to ladies all is known,
In whom I see such worth to be imbraced,
That theirs I am, and glad would be therefore
To shew thereof a thousand proofes and more.


« AnteriorContinuar »