« AnteriorContinuar »
It seems strange that any one should have thought Bandusia a fountain of the Digentia—Horace has not let drop a word of it; and this immortal spring has, in fact, been discovered in possession of the holders of many good things in Italy, the monks. It was attached to the church of St. Gervais and Protais near Venusia, where it was most likely to be found.* We sball not be so lucky as a late traveller in finding the occasional pine still pendant on the poetic villa. There is not a pine in the wkole valley, but there are two cypresses, which lie evidently took, or mistook, for the tree in the ode. t The truth is, that the pine is now, as it was in the days of Virgil, a garden tree, and it was not at all likely to be found in the craggy acclivities of the valley of Rustica. Horace probably had one of them in the orchard close above his farm, immediately overshadowing his villa, not on the rocky heights at some distance from his abode. The tourist may have easily supposed himself to have seen this pine figured in the above cypresses, for the orange and lemon trees which throw such a bloom over his description of the royal gardens at Naples, unless they have been since displaced, were assuredly only acacias and other common garden shrubs. 1-The extreme disappointment experienced by chusing the Classical Tourist as a guide in Italy must be allowed to find vent in a few observations, which, it is asserted without fear of contradiction, will be confirmed by every one who has selected the same conductor through the same country. The author is, in fact, one of the most inaccurate, unsatisfactory writers that have in our times obtained a temporary reputation, and is very seldom to be trusted even when he speaks of objects which he must be presumed to have seen. His errors, from the simple exaggeration to the downright misstatement, are so frequent as to induce a suspicion that he had either never visited the spots described, or had trusted to the fidelity of former writers. Indeed the Classical Tour has every characteristic of a mere compilation of former notices, strung together on a very slender thread of personal observation, and swelled out by those decorations which are so easily supplied by a systematic adoption of all the common places of praise, applied to every thing, and therefore signifying nothing.
The style which one person thinks cloggy and cumbrous, and unsuitable, may be to the taste of others, and such may experience some salutary excitement in ploughing through the periods of the Classical Tour. It must be said, however, that polish and weight are apt to beget an expectation of value. It is amongst the pains of the damned to toil up a climax with a huge round stone.
The tourist had the choice of his words, but there was no such latitude allowed to that of his sentiments. The love of virtue and of liberty, which must have distinguished the character, certainly adorns the pages of Mr. Eustace, and the gentlemanly spirit, so recommendatory either in an author or his productions, is very conspicuous throughout the Classical Tour. But these generous, qualities are the foliage of such a performance, and may be spread about it so prominently and profusely, as to embarrass those who wish to see and find the truth at hand. The unction of the divine, and the exhortations of the moralist, may have made this work something more and better than a book of travels, but they have not made it a book of travels ; and this observation applies more especially to that enticing method of instruction conveyed by the perpetual introduction of the same Gallic Helot to reel and bluster before the rising generation, and terrify it into decency by the display of all the excesses of the revolution. An animosity against atheists and regicides in general, and Frenchmen specifically, may be honourable, and may be useful, as a record; but that antidote should either be administered in any work rather than a tour, or, at least, should be served up apart, and not so mixed with the whole mass of information and reflection, as to give a bitterness to every page : for who would chuse to have the antipathies of any man, however just, for his travelling companions? A tourist, unless he aspires to the credit of prophecy, is not answerable for the changes which may take place in the country which he describes : but his reader may very fairly esteem all his political portraits and deductions as so much waste paper, the moment they cease to assist, and more particularly if they obstruct, his actual survey.
* See Historical Illustrations of the fourth Canto, p. 43. + See Classical Tour, &c., chap. vii. p. 250, vol. ii. : “ Under our windows, and bordering on the beach, is the royal garden, laid out in parterres, and walks shaded by rows of orange trees." Classical Tour, &c., chap. xi, vol. ii. oct. 365.
Neither encomium nor accusation of any government, or governors, is meant to be here offered; but it is stated as an incontrovertible fact, that the change operated, either by the address of the late imperial system, or by the disappointment of every expectation by those who have succeeded to the Italian thrones, has been so considerable, and is so apparent, as not only to put Mr. Eustace's Antigallican philippics entirely out of date, but even to throw some suspicion upon the competency and candour of the author himself. A remarkable example may be found in the instance of Bologna, over whose papal attachments, and consequent desolation, the tourist pours forth such strains of condolence and revenge, made louder by the borrowed trumpet of Mr. Burke. Now, Bologna is at this moment, and has been for some years, notorious amongst the states of Italy for its attachment to revolution principles, and was almost the only city which made any demonstrations in favour of the unfortunate Murat. This change may, however, have been made since Mr. Eustace visited this country ; but the traveller whom he has thrilled with horror at the projected stripping of the copper from the cupola of St. Peter's, must be much relieved to find that sacrilege out of the power of the French, or any other plunderers, the cupola being covered with lead.
If the conspiring voice of otherwise rival critics had not given considerable currency to the Classical Tour, it would have been unnecessary to warn the reader, that, however it may adorn his library, it will be of little or no service to himn in his carriage; and if the judgment of those critics had hitherto been suspended, no attempt would have been made to anticipate their decision. As it is, those who stand in relation of posterity to Mr. Eustace may be permitted to appeal from contemporary praises, and are perhaps more likely to be just in proportion as the causes of love and hatred are the farther removed. This appeal had, in some measure, been made before the above remarks were written; for one of the most respectable of the Florentine publishers, who had been persuaded by the repeated inquiries of those on their journey southwards, to reprint a cheap edition of the Classical Tour, was, by the concurring advice of returning travellers, induced to abandon his design, although he had already arranged his types and paper, and had struck off one or two of the first sheets.
The writer of these notes would wish to part (like Mr. Gibbon) on good terms with the Pope and the Cardinals, but he does not think it necessary to extend the same discreet silence to their humble partisans.
The following stanzas in the first Canto of Childe Harold were altered by the advice of Mr. Dallas. In his Correspondence of Lord Byron, he says :-“ As the genius of Lord Byron has placed his fame so far above the possibility of being injured by the production of an occasional inferior stanza, and as the succeeding glories of the Peninsular campaigns have completely thrown into shade the events alluded to, there can be no impropriety in now publishing, as literary curiosities, the three stanzas which were then properly omitted.”—The following are the six stanzas as they originally stood. The stanzas here numbered 24, 26, and 29, were 24, 25 and 26. Those marked 25, 27, and 28, weré omitted.
*" What, then, will be the astonishment, or rather the horror of my reader, when I inform him
.... the French Committee turned its attention to Saint Peter's, and employed a company of Jews to estimate and purchase the gold, silver, and bronze that adorn the inside of the edifice, as well as the copper that covers the vaults and dome on the outside." Chap. iv. p. 130, vol. ii. The story about the Jews is positively denied at Rome.
Such pæans teemed for our triumphant host,
With foe such treaty never should be kept.
Yet knaves, not idiots, should the law condemn.
By foes in fight o'erthrown, yet victors here,
*“ Blatant beast," a figure for the mob;-1 think first used by Smollett in his “ Adventures of an Atom.” Horace has the “Bellua multorum capitum.” In England, fortunately enough, the illustrious mobility have not even one.
† By this query it is not meant that our foolish Generals should have been shot, but that Byng might have been spared; though the one suffer and the others escaped, probably for Candide's reason, pour encourager les autres."
A FRAGMENT OF A TURKISH TALE.
One fatal remembrance-one sorrow, that throws
TO SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ. AS A SLIGAT BUT MOST SINCERB TOKEN OF ADMIRATION OF HIS GENIUS,
RRSPBOT FOR HIS CHARACTER, AND GRATITUDB FOR HIS FRIENDSHIP,
THIS PRODUCTION IS INSCRIBED,
BY HIS OBLIGED AND AFFECTIONATE SERVANT,
The Tale which these disjointed fragments present is founded upon circumstances now less common in the East than formerly; either because the ladies are more circumspect than in the “olden time;" or because the Christians have better fortune, or less enterprise. The story, when entire, contained the adventures of a female slave, who was thrown, in the Mussulnian manner, into the sea for infidelity, and avenged by a young Venetian, her lover, at the time the Seven Islands were possessed by the Republic of Venice, and soon after the Arnaouts were beaten back from the Morea, which they had ravaged for some time subsequent to the Russian inyasion. The desertion of the Mainotes, on being refused the plunder of Misitra, led to the abandonment of that enterprise, and to the desolation of the Morea, during which the cruelty exercised on all sides was unparalleled even in the annals of the faithful.