Imagens das páginas

mingled prose and verse—flowed in abundance from his pen. But the only writings, not tragical, on which it is necessary to dwell are the comedies and the autobiography, both of which belong to his closing years (1800-3). The former are by no means so well known as they deserve to be; the fame of the tragedies has probably stood in their light. One only—Il Divorzio, a lively satire on the Cicisbeo and other matrimonial institutions of Italy—deals with the ordinary themes of comedy. Another, La Finestrina, is a piece of pure fantasy. The remaining four —they are rather, as the author says, “one divided into four,” L'Uno, I Pochi, I Troppi, L'Antidoto—are in the nature of political satire. And it is clear that Aristophanes, whose Frogs had been among the translations of the preceding years, was the model that the author had before his eyes. The themes of the first three are taken from classical story. Monarchy is ridiculed in the tale of Darius, his horse and his handy groom; aristocracy in a merciless burlesque of the Gracchi, Cornelia with the worst grace in the world receiving a morning call from an upstart heroine of finance, while Tiberius rehearses an oration before a looking-glass, to the accompaniment of a flute. Democracy is blasted in an equally contemptuous travesty of Demosthenes at the court of Alexander in Babylon. The concluding piece, the least successful of the four, shifts the scene from classical ground to a nameless island in the Orkneys; and the treatment is no less fanciful than the setting. It is only with the moral that we return to solid earth; and the plunge is abrupt. The “antidote" to the three “poisons” is found in constitutional monarchy, so artfully tempered as to neutralise all their deadly qualities and, by a stroke of the wand, convert them into blessings. The allegory is uncommonly clumsy; and Alfieri is more at home in his classical burlesques. Whether it is legitimate to lay profane hands on memories so stately, is another question. But that once granted, the skill, the striking originality of the writer, can hardly be denied. And his own defence of his method is ingenious enough. “My century,” he writes, “had set itself to fish tragedy out of comedy. ... I struck into just the opposite path and sought to draw comedy out of tragedy; a task which appears to me more useful, more amusing, and more sound. For the great often make us laugh; while no bourgeois —banker, lawyer, or the like—ever excited our admiration. And the buskin fits ill upon a dirty foot." A characteristic hit at those beneath him in rank; an equally characteristic assertion of classical principles against the most cherished invention of the earlier phases of romance.

The autobiography is a more unquestioned achieve

ment. The portraiture, both direct and indirect, is

Heau, one of the most striking upon recor
biography. g up cord. The

Set picture is drawn wit

h the fewest the boldest strokes. West and

And, unconsciously, the char. acter of the poet reveals itself on every page in Vivid Phrases of scorn or admiration for the actions of graphic description for the Scenes, among whics * Vita, Ep. iv., cap. 29.

his lot was cast. Nothing could be more stirring than the story of his duel with Lord Ligonier in Green Park; or his escape from Paris, after the 10th of August, with the Countess of Albany. Apart from such incisive portrayal of character and incident, the chief value of the Vita lies in the luminous account which it gives of the manner of his working,—an account more minute, though from the nature of the case less exciting, than Cellini's description of the casting of Perseus; as, indeed, in more ways than one the life of the poet recalls that of the boisterous sculptor. And it is a significant tribute to the prevalent tendencies of his age that the supreme champion of classical ideals should, in the last work of his life, have followed in the steps of Rousseau, the father of romance.

Consult the following, among other works: Petit de Jullcville, Histoire de la Langue et dela LitUrature francaise (8 vols., 1896-99); Hettner, LitUraturgetchichte (as before); Grimm, Correspondanee littiraire (17 vols., 1813-14); Brandes, HovedstrOmningr (as before); Chateaubriand, Menwircs d'Outre-tombe (12 vols., 1849-50); Madame de Steel, Dix Annies d'Exil (1818); Sainte-Beuve, Oauseries du Lundi (15 vols., v.d.), Portraits de Femtnes, Portraits litteraires (3 vols.); Brunetiere, Etudes critiques (6 vols., v.d.); Beclard, Sebastien Mercier (vol. i., 1903) ; Texte, /.-/. Rousseau et les Origines du Cosmopolitisme litUraire (1895); Jusserand, Shakespeare en France (1898); Morse Stephens, Orators of the French Revolution (2 vols., 1892); Storia Letteraria <VItalia, scritta da una SocietA di Professori (7 vols., 1900-6); Sismondi, De la LitUrature du Midi de l'Europe (4 vols., 1813); Bouterwek, Oesehichte der Poesic und Beredsamkeit sett dem Ende des IS"1 Jahrhunderts (vol. iii.—English translation, 2 vols., 1823); Allien, Vita, tcritta da esto (1804); Biographic Universelle (85 vols., 1811-62); Nouvelle Biographic Oenirah (46 vols., 1853-66).

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With Italy all that is vital in the literature of the period may be said to end. In dealing with the remaining countries no more is possible, nor perhaps desirable, than to indicate the main currents of thought and feeling, the general drift of literary activity, in each. We turn first to the two Latin countries which still stand over—to Spain and Portugal.

In Spain, as elsewhere, the interest of the period Spain- classical c^tres round the revolt, timid indeed but tradition, ami yet clearly perceptible, against the classical

revolt against it. ... V. . , „ . ,. „ ,

tradition. During the first half of the eighteenth century that tradition had tightened its hold upon the land of Lope and Calderon. A French dynasty was on the throne; and this must have strengthened the tendency, so pronounced throughout Europe, to bow down before the ideals embodied in the "great age" of French literature. In lyric poetry, no doubt, the national tradition still lingered; and the old national forms — Quintillas, Letrillas, and the rest — were again brought into use by Nicolas Moratin and others after the middle of the century. But the life has gone out of them—here, as wherever the classical spirit prevailed, things being unpropitious to lyric inspiration. Nor can it be said that, even in the last quarter of the century, the outlook greatly brightened; though the lyrics of Melendez Valdes (1754-1817), of which the first volume was published in 1785, are generally both sincere in feeling and graceful in expression.i Of the novel not even so much can be reported. The revival of this form had in other countries been among the chief signs of the romantic movement. Alike in England, France, and Germany, the publication of a novel—Clarissa, La Nouvelle Hilaise, Werther —had marked some of the most memorable dates in the earlier phases of romance. The same thing, though at a much later period, is true of Italy. But in Spain, which in the preceding century had created a new type in this matter—a type whose influence, as we have seen, was still potent even upon Goethe,—

i E.g., Al Viento, La Noche de Intrierno, La Tarde, and, in a different vein, A las EstrMxs. All these show the influence of Thomson.

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