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Be this, my Lord, the proof that I deceive not,
Guelfo. I'll have his blood--or endless tears from thee-
Guelfo. Ah new! ah horrible anguish! he may see me
Ricciarda. Give me the sword then-thus I join my mother
Ha!--in God thou trustest
When from my dust and ashes I shall rise.
Ricciarda. Come with me, come-
Did ever fugitive prince
Ricciarda. Oh, God unfolds his bosom to the wretched-
Guelfo. On thee they will-on them I ne'er bad mercy!
Ricciarda. That I should leave thee!
I, of all my lineage
Ricciarda. Ah me-avert from that fell steel thine eyes
He hears me not-alas !-more fierce he looks on it.' Rage returns again to the bosom of the tyrant; while Ricciarda embraces her mother's tomb in silent terror, he rushes through the vaults calling on Guido-he comes back, and with his dagger uplifted over her exclaims
I hear thee.'
Thus closes his tragedy, of which at least the last act is wrought with consummate skill and admirable scenic effect. If we lay out of the account the nature of the plot, which some may think too horrible for legitimate tragedy, though we confess ourselves of a different opinion, the defects of the drama are too great an unisormity of situation, and an obscurity of style. Our terror is so often appealed to, lest the father should slay his child, that we become in some degree familiarised with the danger, and are of course less moved by it. On the second point we must refer to our former observations on the unfitness of the Latin language for dramatic poetry, most of which apply to the close and pregnant style of Foscolo. It displays indeed great mastery over the language, to comprise so many ideas in so few words; but when our feelings are addressed, we like not the having to dwell on sentences, the antithetical force and fuliness of which occasionally remind us of Tacitus. We either hurry on without having received into our minds the whole meaning of the author, or we pause so long as to lose the spirit of the scene. But these defects are nobly counterbalanced by the general impression of poetic power which the whole piece bears; by the conception and execution of the characters which appear to us truely tragic and original. There is something tremendous in Guelfo, whose vigilant suspicion finds aliment in the most trivial circumstances; and who is so deep in guilt, as to take pride in hardening himself in his atrocity. God to him, he thinks, must be a God of vengeance; he has sinned beyond hope of mercy, therefore he must go on; his is a fine exemplification of that faith of the devils, who believe and tremble.' Yet, even in him, nature sometimes speaks; gleams of parental affection pass across the gloom of his spirit; he wavers and is irresolute, till some new occurrence excites him again to frenzy, and he abandons himself to the guidance of furious passion. Ricciarda, with the exception which we hinted above, is uniformly pleasing: willing to be the sacrifice, and only anxious that her father may escape the guilt of her death; for this, foregoing even her love for Guido—for this, offering herself to commit suicide. Guido, from his peculiar situation, is more inactive than we should have wished; but there is something imposing in his calm and uniform generosity.
The “ Francesca da Rimini,” of Silvio Pellico, is the poem of ardent and unstudied feeling. There is a natural ease in every expression, and the artifice of the plot seems to originate rather in the instinctive delicacy of the poet's mind, which shrunk from the undisguised relation of an incestuous passion, and felt intuitively the right way of securing the reader's commiseration for the unhappy pair. The play opens with the father (Guido of VOL. XXIV. NO. XLVII.
Ravenna) and (Lancelot of Rimini) the husband of Francesca, who mutually deplore the melancholy which perpetually broods over her, and which they attribute to grief for the death of her brother, by the hand of Paulo, the younger brother of her husband. On the intelligence of the approach of Paulo to Rimini, she had intreated to be sent away; to be sent any where rather than meet him. When she enters she acknowledges her secret sadness.
God hath laid a weight incredible
Lancelot. Oh dutiful, though cruel! still affict me; Steep all my hours in poison-only live.' Lancelot hints at the possibility of her being melancholy from some concealed attachment; he recalls some ambiguous words which she had once uttered.
· Francesca. Ah-even in their delirium, of the wretched
Gladly, so I may fly the face of man.' A stranger is now announced; Francesca hastily retires. It is Paulo, who has been at Byzantium, engaged in war for the Emperor of the East. He knew not, and is now first informed by Lancelot, that Francesca of Ravenna is his wife. Paulo's confusion is attributed to his having slain her brother in battle, and he declares, in agitation, that he must depart again, and go where she is not. In the first scene of the second act, Francesca is about to reveal her dreadful secret to her father; she hints to him that she is the slave of an unlawful, though yet ungratified, passion; but while her father is in the first access of
and before she declares the object of her attachment, Lancelot enters
to intreat her, at Paulo's desire, to see him once before he departs for ever. He too has betrayed to his brother that he is the victim of a hopeless passion, and concealed the object of it. In the third act they meet by accident, and betray their mutual passion in a scene of exquisite simplicity and beauty. They had before met, they had read together in the romance, and (here the author differs from the tradition, to which Dante so tenderly alludes,) they had parted without any declaration. Paulo had afterwards slain her brother by accident, and thought himself hated by her. She, abandoned by him, had thought herself forgotten. They part in the presence of her husband and father; the secret flashes at once upon the former. In the fourth act is an interview between the father and Lancelot. The father had made Francesca swear, at the foot of the altar, that she was still innocent; and with this certainty, that Paulo loves her and is beloved, but that their love is still guiltless, the brothers meet in mingled hostility and affection.
• Lancelot. Advance, thou wretched man!
I am not used
To a brother.
Speak, then-thy bride
Paulo. Francesca-never would I brook
If thy brother