Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

many provinces by the present French rulers, they are generally passed over in silence and contempt, as shifting scenes or rather mere figuranti in the political drama, destined to occupy the attention for a time, and to disappear when the principal character shows himself upon the stage.

Of the state of painting and sculpture, though these arts reflect so much lustre on Italy, little is said; an acknowledgment which may surprize and disappoint many readers. But, on the one hand, to give a long catalogue of pictures and statues, without explanatory observations, appeared absurd; and on the other, to execute such a work in a becoming manner requires leisure, technical information, and the pen of a professed artist, perhaps of a Reynolds. The subject is therefore touched incidentally only; but as it is extensive and amusing, and affords scope to the display of skill, taste and erudition united, it will, it is to be hoped, ere long attract the attention of some writer capable of doing it justice.

As to the Style-in the first place some, perhaps many expressions, and occasionally whole sentences, may have been inadvertently repeated; a defect great without doubt, but pardonable because almost unavoidable in descriptive composition. Who, in truth, can paint like Nature, or who vary his colouring with all the tints of Italian scenery, lighted by Italian b

VOL. I.

skies? If Lucretius has repeated at length two of the most beautiful passages in his poem *, the Author may claim indulgence, if in describing the perpetual recurrence of similar objects, he has been betrayed into similar language.

In Proper Names, he has ventured frequently to use the ancient appellation if not irrecoverably lost in the modern. Thus, he sometimes introduces the Benacus, Liris, and Athesis, instead of the Lago di Garda, Garigliano and Adige, because the former names are still familiar to the learned ear and by no means unknown even to the peasantry. The same may be said of the Arno, the Tiber, and several other rivers, and may be extended to many cities and mountains. He has, as much as possible, attempted to discard the French termination in Italian names, and laments that he cannot carry consistency so far as to apply it to antiquity, and rejecting the semi-barbarous appellations with which the French have misnamed some of the most illustrious ancients, restore to Horace, and Virgil, all their Roman majesty. But this general reformation must be left to more able and more popular writers, or rather perhaps recommended to the learned gentlemen who

* Lib. I. v. 925.-Lib. IV. V.

+ Titus Livius owes the recovery of his Roman appellation to the Bishop of Llandaff.-Apology for the Bible.

preside over the Universities and the great Schools, and to the Critics who direct the public taste in Reviews, and have of late exercised no small influence over custom itself.

We now come to objects of greater moment, and here the Author must, however reluctantly, obtrude himself on the attention of the Reader. Religion, Politics, and Literature, are the three great objects that employ every mind raised by education above the level of the labourer or the mechanic; upon them, every thinking man must have a decided opinion, and that opinion must occasionally influence his conduct, conversation, and writings. Sincere and undisguised in the belief and profession of the Roman Catholic Religion, the Author affects not to conceal, because he is not ashamed of its influence. However unpopular it may be, he is convinced that its evil report is not the result of any inherent defect, but the natural consequence of polemic animosity, of the exaggerations of friends, of the misconceptions of enemies. Yes! he must acknowledge that the affecting lessons, the holy examples, and the majestic rites of the Catholic Church, made an early impression on his mind; and neither time nor experience, neither reading nor conversation, nor much travelling, have weakened that impression, or diminished his veneration. Yet with this affectionate attachment to the ancient Faith, he presumes not to arraign those who support other systems. Persuaded that their claims to mercy as well as his own, depend upon Sincerity and Charity, he leaves them

and himself to the disposal of the common Father of All, who, we may humbly hope, will treat our errors and our defects with more indulgence than mortals usually shew to each other. In truth, Reconciliation and Union are the objects of his warmest wishes, of his most fervent prayers: they occupy his thoughts, they employ his pen; and if a stone shall happen to mark the spot where his remains are to repose, that stone shall speak of Peace and Reconciliation.

We come next to Politics, a subject of a very delicate nature, where difference of opinion, like disagreement in Religion, has given occasion to many rancorous and interminable contests: and here, expressions apparently favourable to republicanism, or perhaps the general tendency of his principles to the cause of freedom, may incline some of his readers to suspect him of an excessive and unconstitutional attachment to that form of government. Without doubt, Liberty, the source of so many virtues, the mother of so many arts, the spring of public and private happiness, of the glory and the greatness of nations, is and ever will be the idol of liberal and manly minds, and that system which is most favourable to its development must necessarily obtain their approbation. But fortunately they need not have recourse to fine-spun theories for the principles, or look to past ages or distant countries for the practice of a free, and, what may justly be called, a republican government. The Constitution of England actually comprises the excellencies of all the ancient commonwealths,

together with the advantages of the best forms of monarchy; though liable, as all human institutions are, to abuse and decay, yet like the works of Providence, it contains in itself the means of correction and the seeds of renovation. Such a system was considered as one of unattainable perfection by Cicero, and by Tacitus pronounced, a vision fair but transient. A scheme of policy that enchanted the sages of antiquity may surely content the patriot and the philosopher of modern days, and the only wish of both must be, that, in spite of courtly encroachment and of popular frenzy, it may last for ever.

In Literature, if the Author differs from those who have preceded him in the same Tour, if he censures the opinions of any other traveller or writer, he hopes he has expressed the reasons of his dissent with the tenderness and the attention due to their feelings and reputation.

On the merits of the French language and literature he differs from many, but he is open to conviction even on this subject, and only requests the Reader to weigh with impartiality the reasons which he produces against both, and the more so, as the question is of greater importance than may perhaps be imagined; for, to the wide circulation of French authors may be attributed many of the evils under which Europe now labours. This observation naturally leads to the following. If ever he indulges in harsh and acrimonious language, it is when speaking of

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »