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Svarto, Guntigi and others, evince a profound knowledge of the deepest recesses of the human heart.
But let it not be forgotten that Manzoni is above all things a lyric poet. The chorus in the third act of “Carmagnola” and those at the end of the second and fourth acts of " Adelchi” are written in a prophetic rather than poetical style. The lyric poesy of Manzoni in these three national songs, no less than in his “ Inni Sacri,” and in his ode“ Il cinque Maggio,” are a new creation in Italy, both for the enthusiasm that inspired them, and for the metres and language in which they were dictated. Had Italian literature produced nothing in this century beyond those few sacred verses, there would be no reason to conceive any serious apprehensions of its being in a period of decline. Such effusions however are not only beyond the reach of translation, but are pot even to be duly appreciated by any foreigner to whom the Italian language has not become a second nature.
It is, therefore, with a full expectation of a thorough failure that we venture to subjoin the following version of one of those sare passages ; and notwithstanding the freedom of our translation and of the inetre we have adopted, we must, before we resolve upon offering it to our readers, remind them how much the original must lose, in its new dress, of that softness and delicacy by which that beautiful language seems to ennoble and grace every image it embodies.
It is a chorus in the third act of the Adelchi: Charlemagne and his host have almost miraculously been led through unknown paths across the Alps. The Lombard armies are seized by the panic of sudden surprise. The cowardly defection of some of the feudal lords of that nation hasten the downfal of the fated dynasty of Alboin. The two kings, Desiderius and Adelchis, with the scattered remnants of their forces, seek their refuge within the walls of Pavia and Verona. The enslaved Latin, or native Italian, population, after two centuries not yet thoroughly schooled to their yoke, are now suddenly aroused from their long state of dejection by the tidings of the ruin of their masters. The Chorus, who are made to utter the poet's mind, raise their solemn, ominous voice to undeceive them from their fond expectation.
The allusion to recent events is obvious enough. It only requires a change of names. We need but read Austrians instead of Lombards, French instead of Franks, Napoleon instead of Charlemagne, and the whole mournful drama of blind illusion and dolorous disenchantment exhibited under Manzoni's eyes, will be perhaps, notwithstanding the bard's fatidical lesson, reproduced again and again on the same stage.
“ The Chorus.* “ From moss-grown fanes, from tottering halls,
From their burnt forges' clanging walls,
Through winding paths, with faltering tread,
* “ CORO.
Dai boschi, dall' arse fucine stridenti
And right and left, like loosened packs,
But hark? those brave victorious bands,
From land to land, in joyous throngs,
Ansanti li vede quai trepide fere
The martial rule, the toilsome march,
And all these toils, these dangers past,
The trampled race of Italy!". It is greatly to be regretted that the assiduous cares he bestowed on his historical novel, and, in later years, his more than devoted exertions in favour of what he deemed to be the cause of true religion, have estranged Manzoni froin that branch of literature into which, notwithstanding his lack of really dramatic
A torme di terra passarono in terra
talents, he was likely by repeated essays to introduce a salutary revolution. Deprived of his important countenance, the romantic reform, that had commenced under his auspices, remained incomplete; and those of the modern dramatists, who are considered as belonging to his school, such as Carlo Tedaldi-Fores, Davide Bertolotti, and a young Neapolitan, who has endeavoured to reproduce the most revolting scenes of the modern French drama, have been led from extravagance into extravagance until the very name of romanticism has fallen under the strokes of that most irresistible of weapons-ridicule. But there were in that school, notwithstanding its frequent aberrations of taste, ideas teeming with vigour and youth, with life and activity ; its principles were consonant with the newly-awakened longings for political freedom, for moral and mental emancipation; its supporters appealed to all that was noblest or dearest in modern patriotism; they aspired to make of literature a matter of national pride, an instrument of social progress, an emanation from life. The lessons of romanticism could not be utterly lost, however unsuccessful its earliest specimens might have proved to be, neither could classicism be revived, although the present age had nothing to substitute in its place. Hence that state of uncertainty and dissatisfaction that prevents the people of Italy from following a determined course and laying the basis of a national school. For, on the one side, the Greco-Latin type of beauty, noble and venerable as it is, when considered in its relation to the past, is utterly insufficient to the wants and in opposition to the tendencies of the present; nor can any sympathy be established between the Italians of the nineteenth century and the heroes of fabulous Greece, between the patriots of “ young Italy” and that
“Race d'Agamemnon qui ne finit jamais ;"— But it is, on the other side, not quite evident, why the dramatic rules, the grim legends of the Gerinan and Scandinavian nations should better suit the sunny imagination and the lively feelings of a southern people. To substitute the imitation of Schiller or Shakspeare for that of Æschylus or Euripides, would be a strange way of providing for the development of an independent national taste. The classical style of Greece and Rome is to be banished as something alien and obsolete. But is Italy to receive her models from Oltremonti? Are indeed the dramas of Manzoni and his disciples more national productions than those of Alfieri or Foscolo? Is there among those romantic structures an edifice that can be considered as essentially belonging to a genuine Italian school? The Italians were glad to receive from their neighbours the example of that truly Teutonic independence
VOL. XXVII. NO. LII.