« PreviousContinue »
Of chaos bursting in with all its waves,
Blow out, and quench the element of light.",
The attention of the angel of Abel sight of which, Cain wildly rushes is arrested by a struggle in the skies, from the spot, while his brethren, with between the guardian of Cain and that anthems of thankfulness, salute their terrible demon, which had sò fearfully brother Abel as the acknowleged priest alarmed him in the course of the pre- of Jehovah. oeding night, and a sublime impres- The second act' opens with an apsion is produced by an incidental al- palling communion between the ans lusion to the state of unconscious gels of the two brothers, in which the danger in which Cain appears, while guardian of Cain sorrowing confesses the dreadful conflict for his soul is that he had been mastered by the maintained between the fiend and the demon, and forced to abandon his seraph. Before the struggle is how- charge, is returning to receive, if ever terminated, the angel of Abel is Providence so pleases, a renewal and drawn from his station on the moun- augmentation of strength in heaven. tain, by the appearance of an innume- The sorrow of the angel is calm and rable multitude of evil spirits throng- solemn, and his apprehension at what ing in from all sides, towards the may befal Cain, exposed, in the “
unplace where the mortals are assembled guarded hour," to the temptations of round the altars, and he hastens to the fiend, and prone to evil, by the the protection of his charge. The consequences of Adam's forfeiture, is scene is then again changed, and the affectingly implied in the silence and worshippers are introduced. Adam dejection with which he parts from and Eve are represented as standing his companion, and ascends to heaven, by themselves apart from their family, foreboding that he is never to be again and from what passes between them permitted to return we learn that Abel is kneeling with The second scene exhibits Cain his face to the ground before his altar, wandering solitary in a wild and rughumbly and resigned, awaiting the ged upland country, where the trees manifestation of the will of Heaven; are stunted in their growth, broken by while Cain is standing with the sacri- the tempest, and blasted by the light ficial instrument dropping the blood ning. He throws himself on the ledge of the victim in his left hand, and of a precipice which overlooks the shading his eyes with his right, as he plain, where the altar of Abel is still arrogantly looks towards the sun, in seen smoking, and abandons himself expectation of the coming fire. In to the implacable feelings of a degra. this awful moment a solemn sound is ded spirit; in the midst of which, heard ; a glorious splendour fills all however, occasional gleams of hope the air, and a eherub with wings of and piety sparkle out, and shew the flame descends upon the altar of Abel, war between the good and evil of his and with his touch kindles and con- nature, which so agitates his bosom. sumes the accepted offering ; at the
“ Yes: he may serve their altars. What of that?..
My sacrifice and supplication scorn'd ?
While thus indulging these humilia- of a cavern; but the fiend awfully ad-
“What though no flame from Heaven your altar fired,
They do accept you for their minister." The demon then insinuates reasons power and dominion by their achieveand suggestions which have the effect ments over mankind. In the midst, of converting the keen sense of de, however, of this terrific exultation, gradation into resentment against an their joy is suddenly silenced by the implied usurpation on the part of glorious apparition of Abel's spirit Abel. A contest of feeling between seen ascending to heaven, 'welcomed fraternal affection and the instigations by the angels, and conducted by the of revenge then ensues ; in the end, host of the cherubim and seraphim, the influence of the tempting fiend rejoicing in the salvation of the first prevails, and the murder of Abel closes of the human race that
has incurred the second act.
the penalty of death. This magnifiIn the third division of the subject, cent
apotheosis is succeeded by a scene Cain, gnawed by remorse, is repre- of solitude and horror that has no ex, sented as endowed with more than ample. Cain, having wandered into a Promethean fortitude. The first scene wilderness where nature suffered the introduces him returning after he had first and greatest shock of the curse murdered his brother. Eve, seeing him which shattered and blasted the face approach, runs to meet him, uncone of the earth at the fall of man, leans scious of the crime he had committed, against a rock, and looking abroad on and only anxious to sooth and console a vast expanse of gloomy precipices, him; but on advancing towards him, dark woods, and troubled waters, she halts suddenly, alarmed and terri- watches the heavy and funereal profied at the alteration in his looks--the gress of a thunder-cloud which lowers awful impress of his guilt. We are between him and the sun, covering not told of what the mark set on his the landscape with the mantle of its forehead consists; but the horror and black and portentous shadow. When aversion with which his heretofore too he has stood some time in the sullen partial mother turns away and bids contemplation of these dark and luguhim hide his dreadful visage from her brious objects, he breaks out into a sosight, is far more impressive than the liloquy, which we dare not venture to most emphatic description. At her quote, calling upon the slumbering exclamation the fratricide sullenly re- fires and thunders of the cloud to burst tires, and the scene changes to an as- upon his head, and relieve him from sembly of the fiends exulting at having the horrors of existence. Maddening gained, as they suppose, the soul of in impiety, he exclaims, stretching his the first-born man, and triumphantly right hand in defiance towards the anticipating a tremendous increase of skies,
“ Thou dread, eternal, irresponsible,
Atone the evil, and resolve me back
This blasphemous apostrophe leads on to reflections of a singularly appalling character, in which the original non-existence of the Universe is considered as an entire and beautiful perfection that was broken at the creation.
« These rolling worlds of stars and miseries
While he stands venting these wild victor demon to resign his prize, who and desperate fancies, the demon comes in the meantime had fallen asleep. to him again, and urges him to self- The gracious influences of the celestial destruction ; but he rejects this coun- visitant are shed over Cain as he lies selling with a stern and sublime ve- on the ground, and when he awakes hemence.-In this crisis he hears the he discovers a fresh and flowery scene, voice of the venerable Adam at a dis- glittering with sunny dewdrops, and tance calling on him to return, and joyous with the melody of birds. His smitten with the sense of guilt, and frenzy has subsided, and melted to huconscious of the sorrow he has occa- mility by the universal benevolence sioned, he rushes from the spot, pur- that breathes and smiles around him, sued by the fiend, and the scene changes he kneels, and with a lowly and conto a dark and woody valley where he trite spirit, confesses his guilt and unenters, and exhausted by fatigue and worthiness, and resigns himself unto agitation, sinks upon the ground. The the compassion of his Maker, whom, demon believes him dying, and exult- in the delirium of remorse, he had so ing in having gained his soul, sum- awfully defied. His prayer and pénimons together the evil spirits who are tence are accepted, and the spirit of abroad on the earth to bear it-their Abel, in the glorious vestment of its first trophy-in triumph to perdition. heavenly change, invites him to para But while they are gathering in, and take of the joys of the celestial parahovering and gloating over their prey, dise. The penitent, thus assured of a sudden brightness opens in the skies, pardon and mercy, dies in the confiand the angel of mercy descending, dent expectation of a happy resurrec disperses the fiends, and compells the tion.
* Notwithstanding the gravity with which this critique is managed, we suspect that the author intends it for an anticipatory quiz of Lord Byron's forth coming Poem of CAIN.
And not a star lights up the heavy gloom;
And all is sad and silent as the tomb;
Of earthly doubt; and through futurity
The weary heart oppress.-Mid solitudes,
O'er blasted heath, or under forest gloom,
Serpent and beckoning forms, the vision broods,
ON THE DECLINE OF THE TUSCAN ASCENDENCY IN ITALIAN
The infinite superiority attained by the Tuscan writers, over all the other Italian authors in the early ages of their literature, and successfully maintained for a period of four hundred years, had inspired a general belief that, the highest excellence in composition, and the utmost originality in point of thought, must, with few exceptions, be sought for in vain at a distance from the banks of the Arno. In Tuscany more especially, the pride of a noble literary ancestry had blinded all classes to the decline of their ancient fame, and insensible to the long and death-like torpidity of the Academicians, they still continued to dream over the time when the chiefs of the famous “ Quatordici Ambasciatori" might be numbered among the citizens of Florence. More lately, however, the zeal and ability displayed throughout the Lombard states, and in other districts of Italy, has greatly tended to dispel this illusion, and the Tus cans find that something more substantial than a proud reference to the deeds of other days, must be exhibited as a proof of their existing superiority. The director of the Biblioteca Italiana, a Milanese Journal, has been among the most active and successful in his endeavours to break the sceptre of the Tuscans, and to assert not only the equality, but the superiority of the other Italian states for more than a hundred years. The countrymen of Dante and Boccacio were, of course, horror-struck, and considered such an assertion as little less than heresy. Much idle disputation followed, in which there was, perhaps, on both sides somewhat more of declamation than of argument. Yet to an indifferent spectator, facts seem to do more for the Lombard party, than for the standard-bearers of the Cruscan Academy. A long letter was written by a gentleman of Empoli, accusing the director of the Biblioteca Italiana, of blind injustice in thus invading the majesty of Florence, To this the director replied by a statement of his reasons for lowering the Tuscans in the ranks of modern literature, and we have translated the most material part of it, that our readers may judge for themselves, whether some of other Italian states have not now an equally good claim to literary precedence.
The defence by the Tuscan of Eme interest to another. Italy in the 18th poli has greatly deceived my expecta- and 19th centuries, has greatly excel, tions. By placing before me his much led the preceding ages in every branch boasted literary riches, of which I, in of useful discipline ; but Tuscany has common with all Italy, had hitherto not taken in that elevation the part remained ignorant, he would have in-' which she held of old, and which she creased the patrimony of our common ought to have retained, in order to country, for we have a community in preserve her right to that precedency interests and cares. Whatever is the and importance to which it seems both cause of detriment to him and his she and her Academy still consider brethren, is equally hurtful to the na- themselves as entitled."" The Tuscans tional honour, of which all good Ita- appear to have remained stationaryamid lians should be alike regardful. It is, the advancement of the other provinces therefore, far from being an agreeable of Italy, and especially of those of the task for me to confute him, and to north. For some time past, the best Itabring forward proofs which may prove lian poets and prose writers have not hurtful to the splendour of Tuscany, been from Tuscany; and this truth, which forms so beautiful and so illus- not easily comprehended by the Tustrious a portion of our peninsula. It cans, must have greatly contribuis this reflection alone which consoles ted to lessen that authority which the me, that by shewing how other parts tribunal of the Crusca enjoyed in the of Italy have attained a rank equal to days of Magalotti, Salvini and Redi. if not higher than that from which the people of Tuscany are the best Tuscany has fallen, I convert the par- speakers, and its literary men the tial loss into a national gain, or at least worst writers in Italy.” These are prove that what has been abstracted my assertions, and they have for a from one side, has been added with foundation our modern literary his
tory. The hasty and general nature of by De Angelis, and some few things my proæmium * necessarily debarred by the Canonico Moreni, whose princime from entering into any thing like a pal merit consists not so much in the detail of circumstances. But I am style, as in his great tenderness for the now forced to follow another course, sacred office of the Inquisition. To and we must proceed to facts. Let us these works we may well oppose those take a rapid glance of the literary his-, of Signorelli, Foscarini, Ticozzi, Maytory of Italy, from the commencement er, and many others. of the 18th century down to the pre- And now that we speak of the fine sent time. One hundred and twenty arts, by whom is the only History of years is a good tract of time, and of Music which Italy can yet boast of ? him who has slept during all that By a Bolognese, the Father Martini. period it is surely no calumny to own And who is the author of those Lete that he has “ slept a long sleep." tere (Haydine) Sulla Estetica Musia:
Now it may be asked, where 'were cale, which all classes have read with the flowers of all knowledge to be so much delight? One of our own found during this long period ? In all Milanese, G. Carpani. other parts of Italy sooner than in To whom has been granted the first Tuscany: Who were the greatest and rank among the writers of the literary. most learned men? Gravina, Muratori, history of Italy? No Tuscan will dare Maffei, Corvini, Pacciaudi, Saverio, to contend with Tiraboschi, the BerMattei, &c. &c. not one of whom is gamasque. And all the other works Tuscan. Who was the Prince of Aue of the same class, which preceded and tiquaries ? Ennio Quirino Visconti, a followed that of Tiraboschi, from Roman. Who is the chief of the living whence have they proceeded? Cresarchæologists and lapidaries? The cimbeni's is from Macerata, QuadAbate Morcelli, provost of Chiari. Who rio's from the Valtellina, Bettenelli's attained the highest rank as a writer from Mantova, Signorelli's from Nai of political history during the above ples, Foscarini's from Venice, Mazzumentioned period? Will the Tuscans chelli's and Corniani's from Breschia, ñame as such their Galluzzi, their Serassi’s from Bergamo; and so it may Cambiaso, their Pignotti ? But who be said of many other works, which would place these names in competi- we here omit, per brevita. tion with the great luminaries of his- If we turn our regards upon philotory, with Bianchini, Giannone, Mura- sophy, we shall find, that the first and tori, Denina ? And who is our most deepest thinkers have been produced illustrious living historian, proclaimed out of Tuscany. It would suffice to as such by the voice of the whole Ita- name Vico alone, without alluding to lian nation? Without any doubt Botta Genovesi, Stellina, Pietro Verri, and the Piedmontese.
others. And if to philosophy we add In the history of the arts, Tuscany politics, and the principles of legislawas wont to boast of Vasari, Baldi- tion, where is the Tuscan name which nucci, Dati, now almost forgotten and can stand to be confronted with Graneglected ; and the lead in that de- vina, Niccola Spedalieri, Filangeri, partment of literature has long been Beccaria? In political economy, no
Itataken from the Tuscans. The Storia lian writer equals Genovisi, Galiani, della pittura of the Abate Lanzi--the Pietro Verri, and no Tuscan can be Cose del Milizia—the Lettere Senesi of measured with our Gioja. Indeed, P. della Valle-the Cenacolo of Leo- this part of philosophical discipline,
nardo, by the painter Bossi-the Sto- prior to and since the time of Pomşria della Sculturu of Cicognara--the peo Neri, was entirely neglected in
Enciclopedia Metodica Critico-ragi- Tuscany, but has, on the contrary, Sonata of the Abate Zani, are among been cultivated with success and ho
the greatest and most remarkable nour among ourselves, by Mangotti, works of the times, and their authors Valeriani, Cagnazzi, Bosellini, Ressi, are all from other districts than Tus- Beretta, Padovani, and many others. cany. The Tuscans have only the Sacred eloquence does not boast a works of Gori Gandellini, augmented single writer of celebrity in Tuscany.
* Discorso Proemiale premesso al Volume XVII. del Giornale Letterario-Scienti. fico intitolato Biblioteca Italiana. Di Guiseppe Acerbi. Milano, 1820.