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the occasion, that half verses are forced in merely for the sake of the rhyme, that the poet has made it his business to write as an improvisatore sings, who, possessed by his subject, thinks it enough to fill up the measure that he may arrive the sooner at the event or image that occupies his mind. These negligences would any where else be faults ; but Ariosto, who laboured all his verses and left these irregularities in them by design, has, in his language, in his very abandonment, so inimitable a grace, that his nonchalance pleases us like real simplicity, and furnishes us, as it were, with a proof of the reality of his narrative.'
We cannot find space even for the titles of the numerous poems in imitation of Boyardo and Ariosto, which issued from the Italian press during the sixteenth century. A general catalogue, together with some account of a few of them, which, though brief, appears to be fuller than they deserve, may be found in M. Ginguenè's fifth volume. But we ought not to conclude the subject without bestowing some notice on the Rifaccimento of the Orlando Innamorato by Francesco Berni, which has so entirely superseded the original that no body now reads or thinks of the genuine Boyardo. With reference, however, to the space we have already occupied, we must content ourselves with the following slight but just observations of M. Sismondi on that peculiar style of humour which takes its name, though, as we have already seen, not absolutely its origin, from the writer now mentioned.
Berni had made the ancients his study, and he composed Latin verses, himself, with some elegance; he had thus purified his taste, and accustomed himself to the labour of correction. His pleasantries have so much nature and comic truth that they allow us to conceive the enthusiasm with which he is still held up as a model by a powerful party of admirers; but under his management every thing was converted to folly; his satire was almost always personal, and, when he chose to excite a laugh, no respect for morals or decency restrained him. His Orlando Innamorato is reckoned among their classical poems by the Itaļians. Berni, even to a greater degree than Ariosto, thought it impose sible to view chivalry under any other light than that of ridicule : he has not burlesqued the work of Boyardo ; it is still the same romance ; told in good earnest, but told by a man who cannot refrain from laughing all the while at the absurdities he is telling us. The versification is laboured; the wit is scattered profusely; the gaiety is more sportive than that of Ariosto; but for imagination, colouring, richness, all that constitutes truc poetry, the two books never can be compared with each other.
The heroic poem of Tasso is founded on models very different from those which produced and Berni; or rather the serious of those last compositions ming- . led with other sources in the composition of that which alone deserves the name of epic in Italian poetry. We shall probably
3 usagi-comic romance of Ariosto révert to this subject.
beth, Antonia, and Clytemnestra. By John Galt. London;
former number we found ourselves obliged to make upon Mr. Galt, have not been taken in such good part by this ingenious writer as our wishes had led us to anticipate. Warned by this failure, we should perhaps have declined recurring to this new work if we foresaw in it any seeds of a difference of opinion; but as we think these tragedies are nearly perfect in their kind, and as our observations can be little else than a stream of panegyric, we hasten to renew 'our acquaintance with Mr. Galt, and we trust with fairer prospects of mutual satisfaction.
The most distinguishing quality of Mr. Galt which strikes every reader on opening his book, and which has even so forced itself on his own modesty, that he notices it in his preface, is boldness ; in one not so highly gifted, it would deserve another name ;' but in Mr. Galt we admit it to be the legitimate flight of genius, and we admire the happy audacity with which he challenges comparison with Sophocles, Euripides, Shakspeare, Racine, and Otway. These are undoubtedly the great masters of the tragic art, and every writer who aims at any degree of excellence in it, must have them before him as models for imitation; but it is not to this common praise that Mr. Galt aspires; he approaches them less as a scholar than as a rival, -he encounters rather than imitates them ;-with a nobleness of soul above all praise, he dares them in their most trophied fields, and the names of Lady Macbetb, Clytemnestra,' and Agamemnon, attest at once the ri.. valry and the confidence of Mr. Galt.
Mr. Galt is too acute an observer not to perceive, that, in a struggle with such champions, the spectators, from prejudices of education and habit, would be somewhat partial to them; but he was conscious, and indeed admits, that his manner of treating the subjects would be altogether different from Euripides or Shakspeare's,-that it would be soon seen that he was no servile imitator--and that his style was one which could not be mistaken for that of any other author living or dead.
The plot of Maddelen is familiar to the stage,--the love of the son of an old husband for a young and blooming step-mother: this will remind our readers of Otway's Don Carlos; but it is but justice to Mr. Galt to say, that except a line or two which he here and there condescends to transplant, there is nothing in MaddeJen that will bring Otway to their recollection:
VOL. XI. NO. XXI.
Indeed the fatal love,-the terrible trial of the strongest and tenderest of human feelings-was not, as Mr. Galt informs us, his impulse to write this tragedy; that would have been too common and vulgar an object.
The piece,' he says, was undertaken to try whither (meaning, perhaps, whether) such a person as the Dutchess, a character of meaner energies than the generality of those on whom the interest of the solemn drama is supposed essentially to depend, might be rendered capable of exciting a tragical degree of poetical sympathy.'--(Pref. p. vi.)
: In other words, whether the meanest and least important character in a play, might not be made the most proininent and interesting. This, it will be admitted, is a novel attempt; but it has completely succeeded :--we think, (and our readers will presently be of the same opinion,) that whenever this play shall be acted, the good old Dutchess will be far the most entertaining person of the whole drama. Her Grace is, we know not how, The aunt of the son and of the bride, and a kind of confidant of their mutual love; about which, with great prudence, she never says a word till the ill-starred nuptials have taken place, wherr she suddenly becomes so 'giddy and garrulous' that she can talk of nothing else : and (what exceedinglyincreases the interest) meaning, and indeed suspecting no kind of mischief, she is particularly jocose on the subject with the poor father-husband, a worthy old gentleman, who, if the Dutchess's fit of talking had come on at about nine in the morning instead of noon, would have been but too happy to hand over bis bride to his son. This consistency in loquacity however, (though, according to Shakspeare and other tame copyers of the human character, it would have been more natural,) Mr. Galt has very properly neglected; we say very properly, because if the Dutchess had laughed, winked, or muttered, one minute too soon, there could have been no tragedy at all; the
young couple would have been married, and the old folks. would have retired quietly to their respective beds. Her
grace the Dutchess meets Count Valdini, the old bridegroom, and thus addresses him.
Joy! joy, my Lord! how does my Lady niece ?
When the Dutciless complains of the altered temper of the Duke, she does it in the accents of high-born indignation.
Between ourselves, the Duke's a-I know what.
. At other times, when put somewhat out of humour, she declares that she may as well turn devout, which she very correctly seems to consider as the lowest and last act of condescension.
• Well! by my troth; I have good cause to fret.
I may, as well, at once, go say my prayers.'--p. 18.
• I cannot speak, but flash, and there's a storm ;-;
well go lay me down to die.
Was it for this, that I was made a dutchess ?-p.36. Though the Dutchess is, as Mr. Galt informs us, the true heroine of the play, yet the bride (who gives the drama her name of Maddelen) is a person from whom much entertainment must accrue to a discerning audience. She was educated, it appears, by the Dutchess ; and here it is that we may safely observe the superiority of Mr. Galt over Shakspeare. Every body must be struck at the elegance and tenderness of Juliet.-but it must nevertheless be confessed to be a most unnatural delineation. Juliet was educated by a gossiping vulgar old nurse, and it is contrary to all experience that she should not have been infected with the manners of her gouvernante. On the contrary, the Lady Maddelen is an admirably drawn character just what one would expect a young creature formed by the Dutchess to be.
Her Grace, who is curious in these matters, declares, after the wedding, with a roguish air, that she'll to the bride and feel her palpitations. The bride displays a great similarity of taste, and when she meets her lover-son, begs him to amuse her with some story of their early love,
Or if you think