Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

TO CHILDE HAROLD.

TO CHILDE TAROLD.

_

107

and buried where they fell. The superstition was not confined to the worshippers of Jupiter : the Lombards believed in the omens furnished by lightning, and a Christian priest confesses that, by a diabolical skill in interpreting thunder, a seer foretold to Agilulf, duke of Turin, an event which came to pass, and gave him a queen and a crown. * There was, however, something equivocal in this sign, which the ancient inhabitants of Rome did not always consider propitious; and as the fears are likely to last longer than the consolations of superstition, it is not strange that the Romans of the age of Leo X. should have been so much terrified at some misinterpreted storms as to require the exhortations of a scholar who arrayed all the learning on thunder and lightning to prove the omen favourable : beginning with the flash which struck the walls of Velitræ, and including that which played upon a gate at FloTence, and fore told the pontificate of one of its citizens. +

Stanza XLII.

Italia, oh Italia , etc. The two stanzas, XLII. and XLIII. are , with the exception of a line or two, a translation of the famous sonnet of Filicaja ; « Italia, Italia, O tu cui feo la sorte. »

Stanza XLIV.
Wandering in youth , I traced the path of him ,

The Roman friend of Rome's least mortal mind. The celebrated letter of Servius Sulpicius to Cicero on the death of his daughter , describes as it then was, and now is, a path which I often traced in Greece, both by sea and land, in different jour. neys and voyages.

» On my return from Asia , as I was sailing from Ægina towards Megara, I began to contemplate the prospect of the countries

* Pauli Diaconi, de gestis Langobard. lib. iii. cap. xiv. fo. 15. edit. Taurin. 1527.

of I. P. Valeriani, de fulminum significationibus declamatio , ap. Græv. Antiq. Rom. tom. v. pag. 593. The declamation is addressed to Julian of Medicis,

around me : Ægina was behind, Magara before me ; Piræus on the right, Corinth on the left; all which towns, once famous and flourishing , now lie overturned and buried in their ruins. Upon this sight, I could not but think presently within myself, Alas! how do we poor mortals fret and vex ourselves if any of our friends happen to die or be killed, whose life is yet so short, when the carcases of so many noble cities lie here exposed before me in one view. » *

Stanza XLVI.

And we pass The skeleton of her Titanic form. It is Poggio who , looking from the Capitoline hill upon ruined Rome , breaks forth into the exclamation, « Ut nunc omni decore nudata, prostrata jacet, instar gigantei cadaveris corrupti atque undique exesi. » **

Stanza XLIX. There too the goddess loves in stone. The view of the Venus of Medicis instantly suggests the lines in the Seasons, and the comparison of the object with the description proves, not only the correctness of the portrait, but the peculiar turn of thought, and, if the term may be used , the sexual imagination of the descriptive poet. The same conclusion may be deduced from another hint in the same episode of Misidora ; for Thomson's notion of the privileges of favoured love must have been either very primitive, or rather deficient in delicacy , when he made his grateful nymph inform her discreet Damon that in some happier moment he might perhaps be the companion of her bath :

« The time may come you need not fly. » The reader will recollect the anecdote told in the life of Dr. Johnson. We will not leave the Florentine gallery without a word on the Whetter, It seems strange that the character of that dispu

The reads The time might per

* Dr. Middleton-History of the Life of M. Tullius Cicero, sect. vii. pag. 371. vol. ii.

** De fortunæ varietale urbis Romæ et de ruinis ejnsdem descripțio, ap. Sallengre, Thesaur, tom. i. pag, 501,

ted statue should not be entirely decided , at least in the mind of any one who has seen a sarcophagus in the vestibule of the Basilica of St. Paul without the walls, at Rome, where the whole group of the fable of Marsyas is seen in tolerable preservation ; and the Scythian slave whetting the knife is ropresented exactly in the same position as this celebrated master-piece. The slave is not naked : but it is easier to get rid of this difficulty than to suppose the knife in the hand of the Florentine statue an instrument for shaving, which it must be, if, as Lanzi supposes, the man is no other than the barber of Julius Cæsar. Winkelmann , illustrating a bas relief of the same subject ; follows the opinion of Leonard Agostini , and his authority might have been thought conclusive , even if the re- · semblance did not strike the most careless observer.*

Amongst the bronzes of the princely collection, is still to be seen the incribed tablet copied and commented upon by Mr. Gibbon. of Our historian found some difficulties, but did not desist from his illustration : he might be vexed to hear that his criticism has been thrown away on an inscription now generally recognized to be a forgery.

Stanzas LI.
His eyes to thee upturn ,
Feeding on thy sweet cheek,

'Oplan cow's Salcamu
« Atque oculos pascat uterque suos. »

Ovid. Amour. lib. ii.
Stanza LIV.

In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie. This name will recal the memory, not only of those whose tombs have raised the Santa Croce into the centre of pilgrimage, the Mecca of Italy, but her whose eloquence was poured over the illustrious ashes, and whose voice is now as those she sung. CORINNA is no

* See Monim. Ant. ined. par, i, cap. xvii, n. xlii. pag. 50; and Storia delle arti, etc. lib. xi. cap. i. tom. ii. p. 314. not. B.

† Nomina gentesque Antiquæ Italiæ, p. 204. edit. oct.

more ; and with her should expire the fear , the flattery, and the envy, which threw too dazzling or too dark a cloud round the march of genius, and forbad the steady gaze of disinterested criticism. We have her picture embellished or distorted, as friendship or detraction has held the pencil: the impartial portrait was hardly to be expected from a cotemporary, The immediate voice of her survivors will, it is probable, be far from affording a just estimate of her singular capacity. The gallantry, the love of wonder, and the hope of associated fame, which blunted the edge of censure, must cease to exist.—The dead have no sex ; they can surprise by no new miracles ; they can confer no priviliege : Corinna has ceased to be a woman-she is only an author; and it may be foreseen that many will repay themselves for former complaisance, by a severity to which the extravagance of previous praises may perhaps give the colour of truth. The latest posterity , for to the latest posterity they will assuredly descend , will have to pronounce upon her various productions ; and the longer the vista through which thy are seen, the more accurately minute will be the object, the more certain the justice , of the decision, She will enter into that existence in which the great writers of all ages and nations are, as it were, associated in a world of their own, and, from that superior sphere, shed their eternal influence for the control and consolation of mankind. But the individual will gradually disappear as the author is more distinctly seen: some one, therefore, of all those whom the charms of involuntary wit, and of easy hospitality , attracted within the friendly circles of Coppet , should rescue from oblivion those virtues which , althongh they are said to love the shade , are, in fact, more frequently chilled than excited by the domestic cares of private life. Some one should be found to pourtray the unaffected graces with which she adorned those dearer relationships , the performance of whose duties is rather discovered amongst the interior secrels , than seen in the outward management, of family intercourse; and which, indeed, it requires the delicacy of genuine affection to qualify for the eye of an indifferent spectator. Some one should be found , not to celebrate, but to describe , the amiable mistress of an open mansion, the centre of a society, ever varied, and always pleased, the creator of which , divested of the ambi

tion and the arts of public rivalry , shone forth only to give fresh animation to those around her. The mother tenderly affectionate and tenderly beloved , the friend unboundedly generous but stillesteemed, the charitable patroness of all distress, cannot be forgotten by those whom she cherished, and protected , and fed. Her loss will be mourned the most where she was known the best ; and, to the sorrows of very many friends and more dependants, may be offered the disinterested regret of a stranger, who , amidst the sublimer scenes of the Leman lake , received his chief satisfaction from contemplating the engaging qualities of the incomparable Corinna.

Stanza LIV.

Here repose

Angelo's, Alfieri's bones. Alfieri is the great name of this age. The Italians, without waiting for the hundred years, consider him as «a poet good in law. » -His memory is the more dear to them because he is the bard of freedom; and because, as such, his tragedies can receive no countenance from any of their sovereigns. They are but very seldom, and but very few of them, allowed to be acted. It was observed by Cicero, that nowhere were the true opinions and feelings of the Romans so clearly shown as at the theatre. * In the autumn of 1816, a celebrated improvisatore exhibited his talents at the Opera-house of Milan. The reading of the theses handed in for the

* The free expression of their honest sentiments survived their liberties. Titius, the friend of Antony, presented them with games in the theatre of Pompey. They did not suffer the brilliancy of the spectacle to efface from their memory that the man who furnished them with the entertainment had murdered the son of Pompey : they drove him from the theatre with curses. The moral sense of a populace, spontaneously expressed, is never wrong. Even the soldiers of the triumvirs joined in the execration of the citizens, by shouting round the chariots of Lepidus and Plancus , who had proscribed their brothers, De Germanis non de Gallis duo triumphant Consules, a saying worth a record, were it nothing but a good pun. [C. Vell. Paterculi Hist. lib. ii. cap. lxxix. pag. 78. edit. Elzevir, 1639. Ibid. lib. ii. cap. lxxvii.]

« AnteriorContinuar »