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With all the various sweets and painted glories
A recompense, as my Artemia's sight. (Artemia then enters ; and after some sweet chiding for his rashness in visiting her, inquires )
How dost thou spend thy melancholy time?
Eug. Within the covert of yon shady wood,
Art. Just so alone am I: nay, want the presence
Eug. There my Artemia names my happiness :
What wonder 's this
But I in vain, alas!
His name is Theodore,
Art. Oh, heavens! his son! Can such a caitiff wretch,
The miser lives alone, abhorred by all
Eug. For his son's sake, tread gently on his fame. Scudmore is, however, alive, and all ends happily. The chief purpose of this play seems to be to expose the vice of avarice in all its forms; and nothing can be more finely marked and distinguished than the bold and wicked grasping of Sir Argent Scrape, the cunning, yet abortive over-reaching of Lady Lovet, and the sordid accumulation and tenacious retention of Earthworm. Its principal charm is undoubtedly the character of Theodore, Earthworm's son ; who bends the whole force of a noble and powerful mind to effect his father's reformation, and his friend's happiness; and conquers all others, as he conquers himself, by the strength of his will, and the softness and pliability of his temper. He throws off a beginning passion for Matilda,“ Scudmore's love,” as she is prettily called in the Dramatis Personæ, with a self-controul as absolute as his influence over all about him is irresistible. His gentle and peaceful character has something quite chivalrous in its repose and courtesy: We could no more doubt his courage than we could doubt that of Sir Philip Sidney. Another attraction of this charming play is the circumstance of the scene's being laid in the country, in the midst of woods and gardens, and farms and old mansions; with perpetual allusions to rural sights and sounds, to the moon and the nightingale, and the sweet world of leaves and flowers. A less pleasing peculiarity is the miserable picture it exhibits of the utter perversion of justice during the reign of Charles the First, when lives were bought or sold, not only by men's enemies, but by their heirs. Sir Ărgent Scrape plots to prevent Eugeny's obtaining a pardon, that he may inherit his estate. Theodore says:
And then what bribes may do
To fly from nature, mock religion,
And trample under feet the holiest laws. The conclusion of “ The Old Couple” is still sweeter than that of “The Heir.” Penitence and joy, the rain and the sunshine, bring out a flush of blossoms like April weather. Earthworm is the most ardent and enthusiastic of misers, and with a natural reaction of the passions becomes generous almost to prodigality.
Of the personal character of Thomas May very little is known, and that little comes from a political enemy. Lord Clarendon, with whom he was intimately acquainted, says, " That his father spent the fortune to which he was born, so that he had only an annuity left him, not proportionable to a liberal education ; yet, since his fortune could not raise his mind, he brought his mind down to his fortune, by a great modesty and humility in his nature, which was not affected, but very well became an imperfection in his speech, which was a great mortification to him, and kept him from entering upon any discourse but in the company of his very friends. His parts of nature and art were very good, as appears by his translation of Lucan (none of the easiest work of that kind), and more by his supplement to Lucan, which being entirely his own, for the learning, the wit, and the language, may be well looked upon as one of the best epic poems in the English language. He writ some other commendable pieces of the reign of some of our kings. He was cherished by many persons of honour, and very acceptable in all places.” No need to follow Lord Clarendon into his political vituperation. What I have quoted does equal honour to the historian and the poet; and is exactly what one imagines in reading the plays.
ITALY.* There is no country on the face of the habitable globe that is connected with so many associations of taste and feeling, of fancy and reflection, as Italy. Lovely in the fables of antiquity; wildly grand and wonderful in her early history; universal in the sway of her middle ages; dazzling in the splendour of her mid-day power; affecting in the long twilight of her decay; again imposing, and perhaps more than ever so, to the inquiring mind, in the Gothic darkness of the night which succeeded to all her glories; and trebly interesting in the sweet refulgence which reviving intellect threw over even the ruined images of her former greatness-ideas of the energy, the brilliancy of her mental character, are inseparably united in our minds with corresponding images of her cloudless skies, her luxuriant valleys; her mountains, presenting all that is magnificent in nature; her cities, containing every thing that is valuable in art. Hence is this charming country described and re-described, and every description of it perused and re-perused with an eagerness which requires not novelty of theme to increase the pleasure we derive from comparing one account with another, and all of them with either our own actual experience, or previous conceptions on the subject. There is, however, one province of delineation throughout the world which must ever present novelty, for by every eye it will be differently viewed, according to the light in which it may have been contemplated ; by every hand be differently traced, according to the feeling, as well as the execution of the artist who may use the pencil—we mean the delineation of human nature. Hence, if Italy, as a country, could ever cease to interest, Italy, as a people, must still claim our attention as long as we are concerned in what befals our fellow-creatures, and in the effect of such human institutions, and variations of outward circumstances, as all nations are exposed to, and which therefore all nations ought to know. In this point of view there are few modern tourists who will be found to draw more amusing pictures than Lady Morgan.
* Italy. By Lady Morgan. 2 vols. 4to.
Susa is styled by Lady Morgan “ the first stage in the theory of agreeable sensations ;” and to those who are, most likely, still congratulating themselves as they enter it, on their safe descent from the cloudcapped mountains under whose shadow it lies, we wonder not at its appearing so.
Turin, the smallest royal capital in Europe, being only three miles in circumference, she terms a little city of palaces ; at the time of the French invasion it contained an hundred and ten churches, all splendidly endowed, and rich in marbles, pictures, and other precious objects. Still, amidst all its beauties, it has "the fault of incompleteness ;" its noblest palaces are to be seen partly unfinished, and partly in ruins; an epitome of the general state of Italian villas, as well royal as noble ; being, for the most part, vast, desolate, dreary, and neglected. Sight-seeing scarcely begins at Turin, but the Library is very extensive, and the biblical treasures it contains are immense. Lady Morgan saw there the famous Golden Bull of Trebizond, respecting which she remarks that the diplomacy of it " is as unintelligible as if it proceeded from that British minister whose bulls are not always golden."
It would be an injustice did we omit to notice in this place the honourable conduct of the French with respect to the Library at Milan, only two works from which they took away; one a Polyglott Bible, the other a Hebrew Tract; for both of which they left written acknowledgments, and both of which were returned. From the cabinet of medals, one of the richest in Italy, they took not, nor even displaced, a single coin. Mr. Eustace's lamentations over their spoliations are therefore somewhat misplaced, as well as his censures of them for turning the “ Lord's Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, in the convent of the Dominicans, into a target for the soldiers to fire at;" the whole story of which is declared by the author of “ Italy" to be without foundation, as the picture is without injury, save and except that which the Monks themselves have inflicted on it, by cutting a door through the legs of the principal figure, which is that of Our Saviour, in order that, by making a nearer communication with the kitchen, the abbot's dinner might be served up hotter in the refectory, than it could be if suffered to pass through the cloisters!
Notwithstanding the close copying of French manners which has long characterized Turin, an affectation, or we would say admiration of English habits, is much diffused among its politer circles at this period : our literature is sedulously cultivated by many of the young persons, and Lady Morgan was presented with Italian translations of Lalla Rookh and Childe Harold the day before she left Turin ; the general society of which appears, from her account, intelligent, liberal, and courteous.
The Duomo of Milan, which, begun by the usurper Visconti in the 14th century, was finished in the 19th by Bonaparte, who used to gaze on it, when he first arrived in that city, with unsatiated delight, is described by Lady Morgan with all that felicity of expression which, in matters that touch her heart or fancy, is peculiarly her own. The architecture, which is mixed Gothic, she leaves to the cavils of the virtuosi, and describes it only as she saw it, in the radiance of the mid-day sun: its masses of white and polished marble, wrought into such elegant fillagree as is traced on Indian ivory by Hindoo fingers; its slim and delicate pinnacles tipped with sculptured saints, and looking (all gigantic as it is) like some fairy fabric of virgin silver, dazzling the eye, and fascinating the imagination. Its interior solemnity is represented as finely opposing its outward lustre; and the effect of the contrast was heightened by the splendid procession of the chapter, with their archbishop at their head, issuing from the choir ; and the more affecting, though less imposing one, of the viaticum borne to some dying sinner, whilst the Imperial guards turned out and carried their arms as it went forth, and those who were passing by stopped and knelt with uncovered heads. Lady Morgan justly observes, that “the bold daring of the first reformers is only to be estimated in Catholic countries, in the midst of those imposing forms to which the feelings so readily lend themselves, and from which the imagination finds it so difficult to escape.”
After the Duomo comes the THEATRE of the Scala, as next in the admiration and affection of the Milanese. The Count de Stendhal, who seems to have travelled with breathless haste and anxiety from one theatre to another throughout Italy, has left nothing for other tourists to say on this, which can boast of never using in a second piece, scenes that have been already exhibited in another, and of having 1085 dresses made for one ballet; but Stendhal has described nothing belonging to it, as Lady Morgan describes the ballet of the Vestale; and we doubt not, but that the effect of it is as powerful on a people so alive to, and so skilled in the language of gesticulation, as any of their best written tragedies. “Signor Vigano, the principal ballet-master, is the Shakspeare of his art; and with such powerful conceptions, and such intimate knowledge of nature and effect as he exhibits, it is wonderful that, instead of composing ballets, he does not write epics. The Italian ballet always differed from every other, and seems to have been the origin of the modern melodrame. It borrows its perfection from causes which may be said to be not only physical, but political. The mobility of the Italian muscle is well adapted to the language of gesture, which breaks through even their ordinary discourse; while a habit