Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

לל

Had Clement VII. shewn less rigour in refusing to your eighth Harry his demand, by insisting on the very

doubtful canon law of the case, England would at this day be the most valuable ffeoff of St. Peter's domain. In bygone days, the request of Philippe Le Bel, backed by the emperor, the kings of England and Spain, was deemed sufficient, in the teeth of evidence, to condemn the noble brotberhood of the Temple. These orders" are of human institution: the Jesuits must be yielded up to the exigency of the times. To calm the effervescence of the moment, the Pope may safely dismiss his ' Janissaries.'

“ Yet the day may come,” I replied, “when Christianity may want the aid of science and of literature—when the paltry defence of ignorant bigotry will be no longer of any avail-when all the motley host of remaining monks and friars, white, black, and grey, will find their inability to fill the space left void by the suppression of that intellectual and redeeming ORDER which once destroyed can only re appear in a feeble and inefficient imitation.”

Two hours had now elapsed since our midnight adventure; and the warning chime of the palace belfry gave me an opportunity, in accordance with Barry's repeated signals, to take leave. The prelate, having carefully ascertained our names and address, placed us under the guidance of the attendant in waiting, who led us by the cortile dei Suizzeri to the Scala regia ; and we finally stood in front of St. Peter's Church. We paused there awhile, little dreaming that it was the last night we should pass in Rome. The moon was up, and the giant obelisk of Sesostris, that had measured the sands of Lybia with its shadow, now cast its gnomon to the very

foot of that glorious portico. Gushing with perennial murmur, the two immense jets d'eau flung out their cataracts on each side of the sublime monument, and alone broke with monotonous sound the silence of the night.

Poor Marcella! those two hours had been a space of severe trial and sad suspense for thee; but we knew not till months had elapsed the fatal consequences that ensued. Barry, when he parted with her father, had promised to remain but a moment in the gallery ; and old Centurioni bade his daughter wait up for his guests, while he himself sought his quiet pillow. Hours rolled on, and we came not. The

idea of nocturnal assassination, unfortunately too familiar to the Roman mind, awakened by the non-appearance of the Irish artist, took rapid possession of her kindling imagination, as she watched in the Torrione in vain for his return The transition from doubt to the certainty of some indefnable danger was the work of an instant. Yielding to the bold impulse of hereditary instinct, she seized the bronze lamp that burned on the mantelpiece, grasped a Damascus blade, the weapon of some crusader in olden time, and gliding with the speed of thought, was soon far advanced in her searching progress through the corridors and galleries of the palace. Had the statue of Lucretia leaped from its pedestal it might present a similar appearance in gesture and deveportment. Alas, she was never to re-enter the parental dwelling! Ere the morning dawned the romantic girl was a prisoner in the Castle of St. Angelo, under suspicion of being employed by the Jesuits to assassinate Ganganelli !

Strange whispers were current at break of day :—“An Irish painter and an Irish priest, both emissaries of the Society,' had been detected lurking in the Vatican: an assault had been committed on the sacred person of the pontiff: they had avowed all in a secret interview with his holiness, and had confessed that they were employed by Lawrence Ricci, the general of the order.” At the English coffeehouse in the Piazza di Spagna, the morning's gossip was early circulated in Barry's hearing : the truth flashed on his mind at once.

He ran to my apartments. I was thunderstruck.

Nothing had as yet transpired concerning Marcella's imprisonment; and we, unfortunately, resolved on a step which gave a colourable pretext to accusation. In the hurry of our alarm, we agreed on quitting Rome at once. Barry took the road to Bologna ; and I was by noon in the Pontine marshes, on my way to Naples. Our friends thought us safely immured in those cells which the “holy office” still keeps up at its head-quarters in the Dominican convent, called, ironically enough, La Minerva."

Old Centurioni was debarred the privilege of seeing his daughter; in silent anguish he mourned over his child, and bemoaned the fate of the young foreigners, who, he doubted not, were equally in the hands of “justice.” But the worst

That angelic being, whose nature was toe

Has to come.

pure, and whose spirit was too lofty, to endure the disgrace and infamy imputed to her, remained haughtily and indignantly passive under the harsh and unmerited infliction. She gave no sign. An inflammatory fever, the combined result of her uncertainty concerning the fate of her lover, and irritation at the very thought of such heinous guilt thus laid to her charge, closed in less than a fortnight her earthly career. Her death set the seal to my friend's evil destiny.

A SERIES OF MODERN LATIN POETS.

CHAPTER I.—THE SILKWORM, A POEM. By JEROME VIDA.

“Ecco Alessandro il mio signor Farnese;

O dotta compagnia che seco mena !
Blosio, Pierio, e VIDA Cremonese
D'alta facondia inessicabil vena.'

ARIOSTO, Orl. Fur. cant. ult., st. xiii.
“ Immortal VIDA! on whose honoured brow
The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow.”

Pope's Essay on Criticism.

Ar the southern extremity of the French metropolis there lieth an extensive burying-ground, which rejoiceth (if any such lugubrious concern can be said to rejoice) in the name ofCimetière du Mont Parnasse.” Some Cockney tourists have had the curiosity to visit this Parnassian grave-yard, under the impression that it was a kind of Gallican “ Poets' Corner," or sepulchral “limbo," set apart for the dedeased children of the muse, in the same national spirit that raised the “Hôtel des Invalides," and inscribed on the church of Ste. Genevieve, or “Pantheon " (where Marat and Mirabeau and Voltaire were entombed), that lapidary lampoon, Aux grands hommes la patrie reconnaissante.” No such object, however, appears to have been contemplated by the municipal authorities of Paris, when they inclosed the funereal field thus whimsically designated.

L L

A collection of poetical effusions in any one of the dead languages would, we apprehend, considering the present state and prospects of literature, turn out to be, in the gloomiest sense of the word, a grave undertaking. Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Anglo-Saxon, are truly and really dead, defunct, mute, unspoken.

“Monsieur Malbrook est mort, est mort et interré.”

Hebrew is dead, and no mistake!—the Wandering Jew must have found that out long since. We venture to affirm that Salathiel (who, according to Croly, lurks about the synagogue in St. Alban's Place) has often laughed at the shevas of our modern Rabbim, and at those pothooks “with points" which are hawked about among the learned as copies of the original Hebrew Scriptures. As to the idiom of King Alfred, to say nothing of Queen Boadicea, how few of our literati are conversant therein or cognisant thereof ! Kemble, Wright, and Lingard (pauci quos æquus amavit Jupiter), enjoy an undisturbed monopoly of Anglo-SaxonGreek exhibits but few symptoms of vitality; no Barnes, no Porson, no Wolff, grace these degenerate days : nay, the mitre seems to have acted as an extinguisher on the solitary light of Bloomfield. Oxford hath now nothing in common with the Boooogos but the name, and the groves of Cam have ceased to be those of Academus. Things are not much better on the Continent. While Buonaparte from the rock of St. Helena still threatened Europe, we recollect, in a provincial city of France, a candidate for the office of town-librarian, who was outvoted by an ignorant competitor, and, on inquiry, found that many of the royalist constituency, hearing of his being an ardent Hellenist,had fancied him a very dangerous character indeed. Latin is still the language of the Romish liturgy, and consequently may have some claim to rank, if not as a living tongue, at least as one half-alive: defunctus adhuc loquitur." Though, in sober truth, if we are to judge from the quality generally met with in that quarter, we should be inclined to say

that the tongue of Cicero had long since gone to the dogs.

Weare tempted, however,to try on these “unknown tongues"

nasse.

the effects of that galvanic process which is known to be so successful in the case of a dead frog. We open the undertaking with a name that may give assurance to our first attempt, and prevent uncharitable folks from applying to our operations the old surgical sarcasm of experimentum in animd vili. The beautiful poem of Vida shall fitly introduce our series, and usher in these “modern instances” of lively composition-lively even in a dead language. It will soon be seen whether Prout can be allowed by the local authorities to carry on the trade of resurrectionist in the Cimetière du Mont Par.

If the “subjects he has disinterred” be not found fresh enough for the purposes of critical dissection, still we do not despair; something may be made of the most thin and meagre anatomies, and a good price is occasionally got for a skeleton. The hermit of Watergrasshill never pretended to enjoy the faculty of old Ezekiel—to clothe with substantiai flesh the dry frame-work, the “disjecta membra,” the poetical bones scattered over the vale of Tempé; though such miraculous gift might find full scope for its exercise in the Golgotha of Parnassus. “ And beheld, there were very many bones in the open valley, and lo! they were very dry.Ezekiel, xxxvii. 2.

We had first decided on calling this new batch of Prout Papers a “modern Latin anthology," but, on reflection, we have discarded that common-place title; the tern anthology bearing obvious reference to a still blooming flower-garden, and being far too fresh and gay a conceit for our purpose. Prefixed to a poetic miscellany in any of the living tongues, it might pass, and even be deemed suitable; applied to Latin or Greek, it would be a palpable misnomer. Dried plants, preserved specimens, and shrivelled exotics, may perhaps make up a hortus siccus ; but not a garland or a nosegay.

Dead languages have one great advantage, however, over living. These latter are fickle and perpetually changing (like the sex), varium et mutabile : whereas the former, like old family portraits, are fixed in form, feature, and expression. Flesh and blood, confessedly, have not the durability of a marble bust; the parlance of the ancients is effectually petrified. There is nothing “movable” in the “ characters” of Greek and Latin phraseology: all is stereo

« PreviousContinue »