« FöregåendeFortsätt »
certainty, by an awkward attempt towards the close to introduce, though without naming bim, Lord Byron as a companion in an eight days sail round the lake of Geneva; and by the insertion, at the end of the volume, of a poem which bas very much the air of being intended to pass for bis Lordship's composition. The narrative professes to be written by a lady who, in company with her husband and sister, travelled, partly on foot, through France to Switzerland, and down the Rhine to Hol land. At the very outset, a storm awakens the sympathy of the reader, and the attention is continually kept alive by a number, of convenient little episodes and accidents which might have happened, and we certainly cannot affirm that they did not, though the toute ensemble irresistibly reminds us of the notorious production of “ Lieut. Col. Pinkney, of the New York Rangers.” If our suspicions are well founded, this mixture of fiction is the more to be regretted, because perfectly unnecessary, since the journey appears to have been really made, or at least dextrously made up from authentic materials.
The road to Paris is as well known to English readers, as that to Dover, and the Writer judiciously passes over it without description. From the capital, the party determined 'to ( walk through France, accompanied by an ass, who was condemned to carry not only the portmanteau, but the females alterpately; this beast, however, proved unequal to his task, and was afterwards exchanged for a mule. Soon afterwards, the husband spruined his ancle, and this event reminds us of the celebrated sprain which prevented Brydone from ascending Mount Etna, and which be describes with much more pathos than truth, since it is, we believe, tolerably well ascertained that so far from twisting his tendons in this journey, he never even made the attempt of which be relates the failure. In one part of the route, our travellers were much annoyed by a circumstance wbich has, we imagine, procured for that part of France through which they were journeying, the odious epithet of lousy Champagne.
• Nothing could be more barren and wretched than the track through which we now passed ; the ground was chalky and uncovered even by grass, and where there had been any attempts made towards cultivation, the straggling ears of corn discovered more plainly the barren nature of the soil. Thousands of insects, which were of the same white colour as the road, infested our path.'
At Troyes they engaged a voiturier, who is said to have been civil and attentive, wbile he remained in the level country, but to have been scared out of his senses,' by the sight of mountain roads ; to have teazed them in various modes of annoyance, and finally to have deserted them. In Switzerland their situation was, in all respects, changed for the better;, the people were clean and courteous, and the scenery was 'dio vine.'
• Two leagues from Neufchâtel we saw the Alps: range after range of black mountains are seen extending one before the other, and far behind all, towering above every feature of the scene, the snowy Alps. They were an hundred miles distant, but reach so high in the heavens, that they look like those accumulated clouds of dazzling white that arrange themselves on the horizon during summer. Their immensity staggers the imagination, and so far surpasses all conception, that it requires an effort of the understanding to believe that they indeed form a part of the earth.'
Unluckily, the party was stopped at Lucerne by the alarming diminution of their funds, and it was determined to return forth with, following the course of the Rhine, and availing themselves, as far as possible, of the cheap and pleasant facilities of conveyance offered by the passage-boats which float down its rapid current. The husband begins this tour by knocking a man down, who takes it very quietly, and matters proceed as usual. Iu a subsequent page we find a very foolish attempt to be humorous at the expense of the boatman's bad French. We will venture to aflirm that no human being, except the Author, ever made use of such a collocation of French words as he puts into the mouth of the helmsman: seulement may be the dictionary rendering of only,' but it would, most certainly, ne. ver have been used as its equivalent in the phrase quoted. It may have been a fortunate circumstance for the writer, that Mrs. Radcliffe bad travelled on and along the Rhine before him, for we really believe that if her journey, and the wonderful quarto of Sir John Carr, had never appeared, the very little that is here related of that noble and picturesque river, must have been either left upsaid, or obtained from less obvious sources. The three months' residence at Geneva, are despatched in a very limited space, and we shall only trespass on it for the following piece of characteristic description.
· The next morning we proceeded, still ascending among the ravines and vallies of the mountain. The scenery perpetually grows more wonderful and sublime: pine forests of impenetrable thickness, and untrodden, nay, inaccessible expanse, spread on every side. Sometimes the dark woods descending, follow the route into the vallies, the distorted trees struggling with knotted roots between the most barren clefts; sometimes the road winds high into the regions of frost, and then the forests become scattered, and the branches of the trees are loaded with snow, and half of the enormous pines themselves buried in the wavy drifts. The spring, as the inhabitants informed us, was unusually late, and indeed the cold was excessive; as we ascended the mountains, the same clouds which rained ou us in the vallies, poured forth large flakes of snow thick and fast. The san occasionally shone through these showers, and illuminated the mag.
nificent ravines of the mountains, whose gigantic pines were some laden with snow, some wreathed round by the lines of scattered and lingering vapour; others darting their dark spires into the sunny sky, brilliantly clear and azure.'
The voyage on the lake is not without interest; the attempt to direct the attention to the distinguished individual before mentioned is contained in such expressions as the following:
They reminded my companion of Greece; it was five years, he said, since he had slept in such beds,'—so soon as the syndic heard my companion's rank and name, he apologized, My companion, an excellent swimmer,' in which art Lord Byron has himself recorded his skill. We shall afford space for another piece of description, good in itself, and relating to a very singular scene.
Near Maglans, within a league of each other, we saw two waterfalls. They were no more than mountain rivulets, but the height from which they fell, at least of twelve hundred feet, made them assume a character inconsistent with the smallness of their stream. The first fell from the overhanging brow of a black precipice, on an enormous rock, precisely resembling some colossal Egyptian statue of a female deity. It struck the head of the visionary image, and gracefully dividing there, fell from it in folds of foam' more like to cloud than water, imitating a veil of the most exquisite woof. It then united, concealing the lower part of the statue, and hiding itself in a winding of its channel, burst into a deeper fall, and crossed our route in its path towards the Arve.'
We feel strongly tempted to extract a notable piece of ridiculous extravagance in p. 162, but we have only room to notice the poem entitled Mont Blanc,' written by the au. thor of the two letters from Chamouni and Vevai. We are, as usual, informed that it was the offspring of deep and pow
erful feelings,' that it is an uodisciplined overflowing of the soul,' and that it is an imitation of untameable wildness and
inaccessible solemnity.' How well it accomplishes this praise-
« The everlasting universe of things
Of waters with a sound but half its own."
ration and rapture. An adequate notion of his morality may be formed from his boundless idolatry of the nastiest* of mortals-Rousseau, and of bis religious creed, from his selection of the epithet “ enlightened," as applicable to Michael Servetus. In page 74, be appears to confound Thomas Burnet with Gilbert Burnet. We are prevented from making any extract from this publication, by a suspicion, wbich we have not at present the means of verifying, that its substance, at least, has appeared before, under a different form.
Art. V. Rome, Naples, and Florence, in 1817. By the Count de
Stendhal. 8vo. pp. 339. London, 1818. THI HIS is another of the same class of light and superficial
productions, but of very superior merit to the two preceding, and it furnishes a picture of the people and manners which it professes to represent, more vivid, and with more of reality of truth and nature, than is generally accomplished by laboured description, and metaphysical investigation.
The Count de Stendhal left Berlin in October 1816, for enchanting Italy, and sets off in an ecstacy of delight, wbich, like most other ecstacies, founded on unreasonable expectations of enjoyment, quickly begins to evaporate, and leaves him, before half his volume is gone through, as sober-minded and rational a companion as can be expected from one who appears to be compounded of German enthusiasm and French vivacity. He begins his tour in the character of Il Frenetico per la Musica ; examines the state of the theatres in the places he visits, with as much anxiety as a general calculates the strength of his armies; places his favourite science of music above all other human attainments, and ranks Mozart above Guido, and Rossini above Shakspeare. Musicians bave at least one advantage, their beauties can not be injured either by time, or by bad translators; their language addresses itself alike to all nations, and is secure from change or misconstruction, except what the temporary caprices of fashion, or the blunders of ignorance, may momentarily throw over it. Our readers will smile at the transports into which our Author is thrown by the Opera of the Brazen “ Head” at Milan, and the additional deligbt he seems to receive from the information, that at the theatre of La Scala, where it was performed, and which he styles the first theatre in the ' world,' a thousand and twenty five dresses of velvet and satin had been made up a short time before, for one new ballet. We must do our lively traveller the justice to say, that his admi
* For an illustration of the peculiar aptness of this phrase, we need only refer to the Memoirs of Baron Grimm, in the original : the translation has, very properly, been softened.
ration of particular composers, however extravagantly it may be expressed, is generally well founded. Unblemisbed by affectation, unswayed by the authority of names, his taste is regulated by the purest principles of harmony and feeling, nor does he ever wish to have the intricacies of the science supersede the expression which must always be its principal cbarm. Such moderation in a professed amateur is rare : were he a performer also, it would be perhaps without parallel. The mechanical labour indispensably necessary to that practice which maketh perfect, is decidedly at war with that enthusiasm of enjoyment, which belongs only to a mind at ease. The performer is babituated to pass over the most affecting passages, with the least study. Those which cost him most labour, are, of course, impressed the most forcibly upon his memory, and are valued by him in proportion to the effort it has cost him to attain them; but by others in general are looked upon only as necessary evils. With this determination to judge for himself, the Count de Stendhal does not fall under the influence of the Catalani mania, which raged with unabated fury in this kingdom, during the whole of that celebrated singer's residence among us. cuses her of travelling over Europe with about a dozen airs, and singing them all in the same manner; bestowing upon the affecting air frenar vorrei le lacrime, the same luxuriance of little rapid ornaments, as upon Nel cor più non mi sento. Still, he does full justice to the wonderful powers of her voice, though it only adds to his regret tható nature has not joined some por« tion of soul to so astonishing an instrument.' The Italians seem to think still less favourably of her, and say that she sings no better than she did at Milan, eighteen years ago.
It will appear to the majority of our readers, perhaps, that our Author's notices respecting music, far exceed in minuteness and gravity the real importance of their subject. In Italy, bowever, above all countries, music may be allowed to make a stand, for it is the only possession left to ber which she can call her own, and indulge in without fear of evil resulting from her gratifica. tion in it: jealousies, distrusts, arbitrary governments, and continual changes of persons in power, repress all freedom of inquiry or discussion ; the arts languish for want of useful objects, to which they may be applied; the sciences and philosophy sicken under the influence of manners which are directly opposed to every abstract pursuit, or lofty precept ; nothing flourishes in this fine country but music. It is the only art which survives, ' in Italy,' says our Author, after some melancholy reflections on the state of literature in that country. '. There are two routes which lead to communicating pleasure, the style of Haydn, and the style of Cimarosa : the latter can never be imitated by fools, Music was at its highest point of glory in 1740;