« AnteriorContinuar »
fession, became a little irregular in his habits, frequented the theatre, and was guilty of a few indiscretions. A little good advice and reflection, however, speedily stopped him in his career of dissipation, and he regained the favour of the Countess, who shortly afterwards discouraged Stanislaus II. from bestowing an estate upon her protegé. How completely does such conduct explain, and degrade, the motives which induced her ladyship to take Joujou under her patronage ! how does it transmute gold into lead, and change benevolence and compassion into a mean spirit of selfishness, a puerile love of possessing what is curious, and a contemptible desire of keeping the poor little Count dependent on her and her alone! We must do him the justice to say, that he avoids all harsh language with respect to his early benefactress, and speaks of her behaviour to him in more moderate terms than, from his own acrount, it deserved. Among other inadvertent or designed omissions, he has neglected to state the year in which he was born; and from the memoirs before us we are unable to discover his age at any one period of his adventures. We learn, however, from another source, that it was at the mature age of forty-one when the calm tenor of his days was first disturbed by the admission of love into his hitherto peaceful bosom. The object of his attachment was a young lady, named Isalina, residing in the Countess Humiecka's family, but in what capacity we are not informed, of middle stature, expressive countenance, amiable temper, and never-failing vivacity. The Count says, with a happy but-amusing vanity, “ I had made an impression on the tender heart of Isalina ; and, indeed, how could I fail, my love being guided by sincerity, and her want of fortune proving my disinterested ness ?”
We cannot help suspecting that the Count might have met with ladies, who, though equally convinced of his sincere and disinterested affection, might have been less ready to reward it by the gift of their hands.
“The course of true love never yet ran smooth;" and, notwithstanding the lady's kindness, obstacles interfered to retard poor Joujou's felicity. The Countess disapproved his attachment, banished Isalina from her house, and confined the tiny lover to his own room for a fortnight. With the art, the bribery, or the eloquence of lovers “ of a larger growth," the Count contrived to gain the servant who was set to guard him, and to establish a correspondence with his dear Isalina. Two of his love-letters are given, as specimens of Lilliputian courtship. At length the Countess sent a messenger to her little prisoner with offers of amity, on condition of his resigning Isalina, but threatening the immediate loss of her protection if he persisted in his attachment. A lover six feet high could not have abandoned more magnanimously fortune and favour for poverty and love.
He left the Countess Humiecka's house, and threw himself at Isalina's feet. nately, Prince Casimir had interested himself in the Dwarf's amour, and had procured for him a pension of a hundred ducats from his brother, the King. The Count says, that “the Nuncio, misinformed by the Countess, endeavoured, by some ridiculous pretext, to prevent the marriage;" but Royalty itself interfered, every objection was over-ruled, and the happy pair were united.
The Count observes a most mysterious silence on all the subsequent events of his matrimonial life; and it is impossible to avoid suspecting that “they two who with so many thousand sighs did buy each other,” did not live in the harmony that might have been expected, or that the lovely, lively Isalina disappointed the fond anticipations of her little husband. However this may be, whether he thought with the prudent Italian proverb, “ È meglio dir poveretto me, che poveretti noi,” or whether he found, on experiment, that he had no taste for the connubial felicity described by Boileau :
"Quelle joie en effet, quelle douceur extrême !
Des petits Citoyens dont on croit être Père."certain it is that, finding his pension unequal to his wants, he took the advice of his friend, Prince Casimir, and resolved to revisit the different Courts of Europe ; and that from the 57th page of his “Memoirs,” where he says, "the idea of seeing my beloved Ísalina in misery did not permit me long to enjoy the happiness of possessing her," to the 383d, which concludes the volume, the name of his " beloved Isalina" is not again mentioned, nor is there the slightest allusion to his matrimonial ties. He evidently travelled alone; and amidst all his cares and comforts, those of the husband and the father remain unnoticed : yet his wife bore him several daughters; and we can remember reading in some old newspaper, or magazine, an account of the christening of one of them, born, we suppose, in this country, to whom several persons of distinction acted as sponsors.
To return to the Count's travels. Provided, by order of the King, with a convenient coach, such a one, perhaps, as appears in the pantomime of Gulliver, he left Warsaw, and proceeded to Vienna, where he gave a concert. Disappointed by its indifferent success, he seems to have directed all his hopes towards the most uncivilized countries; and considering that he declares his travels had profit, not amusement or information for their object, we cannot but feel astonished at the route he chose to select. He visited Hungary, Turkey, Arabia, Syria, Astracan, Finland, Lapland, and Nova Zembla. His friends strongly dissuaded him from visiting the latter place, and foretold that a concert would not tlırive on so barbarous a soil ; but the Count was obstinate, and confesses that he afterwards repented his pertinacity. He appears to have been once in some danger from the impetuous curiosity of the natives, who surrounded the house in which he was, and insisted on his coming forth. Like Blucher, he obeyed, and the savages devoutly " thanked the Sun for shewing them such a man;" which “flattering compliment,” as the Count fortunately considered it, induced him to play them a tune on his guitar. The wondering auditors returned this civility by the gift of some sables. The rambling Lilliputian next visited Tobolsk and Kamschatka, and proceeded as far as Bebring's Straits, occasionally procuring a lucrative concert to defray his travelling expenses. On his return towards Europe, he stopped at Catherineburg, where the Director of the Siberian mines resided, who paid the Count considerable attention. This Director must have been a wonderful man, not only a profound observer of events himself, but the cause of profound observation in others; for a short conversation with him on politics led Count Boruwlaski to believe, “ that there is a large appledumpling made, and now boiling in the pot, for certain princes, which must in due time be ready for their dinner.” Here, too, he retrogrades in his narration, to give an account of a pursuit after the philosopher's stonc, in which he had been at some former period engaged. Unsuccessful himself in this old-fashioned search, he is kind enough to describe the method he adopted, which sounds too much like gibberish to be intelligible to any but the disciples of Geber. The Count gives us another digression, occasioned by the sight of the “Henriade” in a gentleman's library, in order to favour us with an account of his introduction to M. de Voltaire, whom he had formerly met at Madame Pompadour's. The first sight of the philosopher produced a most unusual effect on his little admirer—it completely silenced him. When the first surprise was over, he made a speech in explanation of his taciturnity and in praise of Voltaire ; on hearing which, “the eyes of that respectable old philosopher filled with an expression of surprise and delight," which he manifested by snatching up the pigmy panegyrist in his arms.
Retracing his steps, the Count returned to Germany, visited Munich and other cities, and at Triersdorff was persuaded by the Margrave and Margravine of Anspach to try his fortune in England. Through this and the sister countries he made expeditions for many years, sometimes giving concerts, and sometimes, we believe, exhibiting himself in a less equivocal manner. At length, just as he was on the point of setting out for America, he received from some kind and generous friends a sum sufficient to secure to him a moderate independence. at thus terminating wanderings and labours now so unsuited to his years, his new and happy sensations of ease and security, his sincere and lively gratitude, are simply but strongly expressed; he settled himself at Durham near some of his friends, and there he still resides, waiting his summons to that state where every outward distinction will cease, where those who were here “curtailed of this fair proportion, cheated of stature by dissembling Nature,” will as amply fill the glorious robes of light and immortality, as if they had been Earth's fierce issue, the "immania Monstra Gigantes."
“Not changed ?-Oh sadly changed thou art!
Her virtue forın'd her fairest part.
One solemn truth let Reason speak-
Her lover has no more to seek.”
ALFICRI'S FILIPPO AND SCHILLER'S DON CARLOS. The circumstances of Don Carlos' death are involved in doubt and mystery. The truth could not be expected from the Spanish historians of the time, even if they had known it; and the motives that occasioned the many accusations against Phillip II. from other quarters are too apparent, not to inculcate caution in deciding on such testimony. Mariana, who is, however, a bad authority where Philip is the accused, says that " foreigners relate many idle and absurd tales on this subject, which must be considered as wild inventions." The most generally received of these tales is that which ascribes the death of the Prince of Spain to the King's suspicions of his persevering attachment to Elizabeth of Valois, who had been betrothed to Don Carlos before she was married to King Philip. This incident, possessing the highest dramatic interest, but requiring the nicest skill in managing it, has been chosen by the two greatest dramatists of the last half century as the groundwork of their respective plays mentioned at the head of this article. It is scarcely possible to produce two writers of merit more opposite than Alfieri and Schiller. One is a dramatist of the old, the other, of the new school; one is disdainful of imagery, and concise even to abruptness of expression; the other florid, diffuse, and eloquent. Their pieces, therefore, though constructed on the same plot, are as widely different as the genius of the authors.
It is not the object of this paper to say much of the first of these pieces. It has been minutely analysed by a very eminent critic, whose criticism consequently must be often repeated in expatiating upon its beauties. In the character of Philip, Alfieri has vented, that which he enumerates among his dramatic qualifications, his “ profonda ferocissima rabbia ed aborrimento contra ogni qualsivoglia tirannide.” He has painted him a monster, and perhaps he was so ; but it seems unnecessary to describe him as indifferent to his wife's affection.
- I never prized
Shudder with horror.* Schiller, whose profound historical knowledge is a sufficient guarantee for the fidelity of his portraits, has not judged it requisite to deprive this character of all sympathy. His admiration of the generous sentiments of De Posa serves to display more forcibly the prejudices of his education, when he can continue to act in opposition to those sentiments ; and the situation of the Queen becomes still more interesting, when in contending against the ill-fated passion, which it was once not criminal to listen to, she hears from her husband such sentiments as these :
They style me richest in the Christian world;
Yet those domains another hath possess'd, * The extracts from Alfieri are given in the words of Mr. Lloyd's translation, thic excellence of which renders a new version unnecessary.
And many more will after
There is the part, where I indeed am mortal. The next difference observable between Alfieri and Schiller is in the character of the Queen. Alfieri takes care to inform his audience, in the first line, that her marriage with the father has not taught her to forget the son. “Love, apprehension, and flagitious hope her breast invade." She invokes their absence, but promotes their stay. In this we think it will be seen that Schiller has greatly the advantage. His Elizabeth is the redeeming angel of his piece; she maintains the equipoise, threatened to be shaken on the one hand by the savage barbarity of Philip, and, on the other, by the unruly passions of Carlos: her calm sense of propriety, tempering her unhappy attachment, her melancholy remembrance of past hopes, joined to her steady performance of present duties, awaken our admiration whilst they excite our pity. Had it been otherwise, Schiller's play must have been a tragedy of incest, for he has adhered more closely to the story in pourtraying the impetuous and rebellious temper of Carlos, than Alfieri, who has made him a more obedient son than he has authority for. With these feelings, then, on the part of Isabella, the lovers meet at the commencement of the piece, and the Queen's demeanour is more indicative of melting tenderness than steady virtue. Alfieri's strict observance of the unity of action, leading him to make the single incident, on which his plot is founded, predominant, nothing occurs, from the first scene to the last, to withdraw the attention from it. When we are introduced to Philip, it is only to observe the developement of his suspicions ; and the manner in which they are communicated to his minister, tried and finally confirmed, is an evidence of skill that has perhaps never been surpassed. It has been correctly observed, that he has a confidant, to whom he however communicates nothing, allowing him only to derive the benefit of his own conclusions. Behold the confidence which such a king bestows on such a minister.
Philip. What, above all things that this world can give,
Gom. Thy favour.
By what means
By the means that gain’d it:
Thou art call’:1 This day to practise both. Gomez is then stationed as a silent spy, whilst Philip tortures his unhappy wife with artful interrogatories, tending to induce her to believe that he is acquainted with her secret, then again branching off to some other subject, and thus exposing her agitated mind to the cold and steady gaze of his vile associate. A speech or two will serve to display Alfieri's extraordinary skill in this part of his performance.
Phi. But tell me also, ere the fact I state,