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the low cunning of the fox, and ment, until he breaks down under exults over it. Since he wanted to their accumulated load. When Ortis, ruin or sell Venice, why not do it imbued with the doctrines of Paganopenly, with the bold ferocity of a ism, hints at suicide as the only Selim I. or a Nadir Shah ? Let us means of escaping from the surnot hope and say to ourselves, he rounding misery, the reply he rewas born an Italian, and will one ceives from the old man he meets day deliver his mother country. No, by the fountain, shows that the auhe will not! His natural disposition thor's mind had not altogether lost is that of a tyrant, and a tyrant has sight of eternal truth. The language no country.”
of Ortis is impassioned, but natural, In 1800 Foscolo brought forth his and well suited to the times. If celebrated “Ultime Lettere di Ja- Göethe has written a more dramatic copo Ortis," originally called “Let- and more artistic story, Foscolo has tere di Due Amanti.” They are produced a more philosophical-a presumed to be based on an un- profounder work, and one of far happy attachment of the author for higher scope and more extended a damsel of noble lineage, of Pisa; bearing. and the lady herself, who was alive During the year 1802 General in 1853, admitted that a few lines Bonaparte, having summoned toaddressed in the book by Teresa together at Lyons a meeting of Italian Jacopo, had really been written by deputies to propose a new Constituher. But after the commencement tion for the Cisalpine Republic, Ugo the novel assumes, to a certain ex- Foscolo was requested by some of tent, the colour of Goethe's “ Wer- the authorities to write an address ther," which tinges, however, only to the first Consul, with an exposithe love portion of the story. The tion of the state of the country and great attraction of these remarkable the wishes of the people-a most letters consists in their political useless proceeding, even had it been strictures and their patriotic senti- carried out, seeing how little Bonaments, in the living picture of the parte attended to the wishes of anyextraordinary epoch in which they one but himself. But the intended were penned, in the sarcastic ex- address (“ Orazione a Bonaparte "), posure of the republican fanatics of assumed the shape of a Phillipic, the times, in the pungent satire on drawing an eloquent picture of the contemporary society, in the hatred malversations, oppressions, and inagainst injustice, oppression, and juries of every description, which the hypocrisy, and in the lofty, though Italians had suffered at the hands of almost hopeless aspirations towards the French since 1796. Foscolo a higher order of things. The “ Let- did not forget Venice, and the folters of Ortis” are as objectionable lowing sentences referred to it: “I as. “Werther” in their moral ten- hear the voice of Italy cry aloud. dency; yet Jacopo has more re- The shadow of my name still hovered deeming points than his German over the sea-girt city, the last legatee prototype. Teresa is more interest of the proud destinies of Rome. ing than Lolotte; and the gloomy Time, the arbiter of events — the and unreasonable murmurs of Ja- policy of powerful nations--and percopo against the dispensations of haps the vices of its government, Providence are less selfish and more overthrew the venerable commongenerous than the maudlin senti- wealth ; but future generations will mentality of Werther. In “Werther" hear, amidst the ruins of its palaces the catastrophe is produced by love; and halls, the plaintive echo repeatwhilst Ortis gives way under a tumult ing the name of Bonaparte.” The of feelings, wishes, and disappoint- oration ended by entreating the first
Consul to be the saviour of the man of letters. In an age and in a Italian Republic--the founder of its land of licensed gallantry, in a city real, and not nominal independence, where “free love ” was by no means from which he would derive more unknown, Foscolo's reputation as a glory than by any mere conquest of successful author appears to have arms. It was written in a some- gained him a fair amount of success what pedantic, classical style, and with women; for he was far from might have been composed by Ta- being prepossessing in his personal citus. Foscolo spared no one. He appearance. He was somewhat bewas no deceiving or deceived par- low the middle size in person, but tisan; no eulogist of factious des active and muscular. His compotism or popular license. He was, plexion was sandy ; his hair thick in a political sense, a new Cato the and of a fiery auburn; his grey eyes Censor—fearless and incorruptible. were deep set, and had quick, dartWhen the nature of the documenting glances; his features were irretranspired, its presentation was stop- gular; his cheek-bones high; and ped, and the “Orazione " was after- his lips thick and protruding. Morewards printed at Milan. It forms over, he wore bushy whiskers, meetan important memorial of the age : ing under the chin; and mostly his and Foscolo proved himself as inex- looks were gloomy, dark, and fororable as Dante. Such men as he, bidding, at any rate, towards stranthough not strong enough in troub- gers. It is related that a Frenchlous times to rule the storm, are inan once observed to him : “ Vous most useful in checking violence, in etes bien laid, monsieur.” “À faire exposing hypocrisy, and in opposing peur," was Foscolo's retort, fixing the ever-existing disposition of man intently his eyes on the speaker, kind to follow headlong the design- who prudently held his tongue. On ing and the ambitious.
another occasion a foreigner with Foscolo lived quietly at Milan, for whom Foscolo was to have breakabout three years, on his slender fasted, pretended not to recognise literary gains; for though he seems the poet when the latter arrived to have received a small income from at the appointed restaurant's, and property in the Ionian Islands, he greeted him with the flattering words, no doubt spent it all, and more, in Oh, I beg your pardon ! I did not providing for the education of a know you. I thought it was an younger brother, and in assisting ourang-outang!” The utterer of this some members of the family, Dur- sorry joke paid a full penalty for it, ing this time he studied, he wrote, for the indignant author challenged he gambled, and he made love. him to a duel, and shattered his When he won at the faro-table, he knee with a bullet. purchased horses, furnished sump- An Italian army having been tuous apartments, and gave costly formed, and Napoleon having deentertainments. When the wheel of clared war against England in 1805, fortune turned round, and the last Foscolo returned to the service, and feather from his back was plucked, was appointed captain in the staff of he sold off all, down to his clothes General Teuliè. The Italian forces, and his books, and he hid himself under the command of General Pino, in a garret. He was a great ad- were ordered to Boulogne, for the mirer of female beauty, and he was purpose of taking part in the conalways in love, though not always quest of Great Britain. Whilst the with the same person. Black hair, French were contemplating the chalk large eyes, and coral lips had a won- cliffs of Albion from their camp, drous influence over the eccentric Foscolo became acquainted with an patriot, and the not always amiable English lady, at St. Omer, and began
to study our language and literature, him to captivate the eyes, the ears, and even to translate Sterne's “Sen- and the hearts of the youthful auditimental Journey.” Foscolo was not tors. His house was a sort of Lydestined to invade England, at least ceum, and when he who was boisteron that occasion; and on the camp ous in conversation met with interat Boulogne being broken up, he locutors who vociferated as loudly received leave of absence, and re- as himself, it was-according to his turned to Milan. There, to revive biographer, Pecchio-like the cave the study of military science among of Æolus. Then, towards evening, his countrymen, he published a new he would walk to the theatre, and and splendid edition, with numerous sit there, like a crouching lion, at the notes, of the works of Montecuccoli, feet of his Omphale, a handsome the celebrated Italian military chief and witty lady of Brescia. of the seventeenth century. Owing Here it was that he penned what to the high price fixed for the book, may be considered his masterpiece, which was dedicated to General Caf- the poem entitled, “I Sepolcri.” A farelli, the minister of war, few copies law had been promulgated, directing were sold at the time; but after- all burials to take place without the wards, a cheaper edition was brought towns, instead of following the injuout, and met with a fair sale. At rious custom of burying the dead the same time he wrote his first under the pavement of the churches. “Ode-alle Grazie, entitled “Venere," The atmosphere afterwards often bewhich was one of his minor, but not came poisoned thus, and it was no least elegant poems.
uncommon occurrence for persons After a time, he retired to Brescia, to faint during prayers. This judia fine town, situate in a pleasant and cious hygienic measure was injudihealthy country, at the foot of the ciously carried out and tyrannically mountains, and not far from the enforced. No inscriptions were alLake of Garda. Brescia, best known lowed over the tombstones, which in our days for its bombardment by were all to be exactly similar, and Marshal Haynau, has produced more no visitors were to be admitted to literary men than any other city in the cemeteries. Foscolo's ardent Lombardy. Its inhabitants are lively, imagination took fire at what he conintelligent, and active, and its young sidered a sacrilege against poetical men are fine and hardy, and make as well as religious feelings. Howexcellent soldiers. Foscolo took up ever, he says himself,his residence in a small countryhouse, a short distance from Brescia. Non sempre i sassi sepolcrali ai tempi He spent his whole day, from morn
Fean pavimenti, ne agl' incensi avvolto
De' cadaveri il lezzo i supplicanti ing till evening, in the study of philo- Contaminò. .... sophy and classical poetry, and in composing and revising his own pro- which lines, according to Campbell's ductions. His house was frequented capital translation, are rendered by men of all parties and of all thus :ranks--all admired him, though, pro- Not in wise times the cemeteries dank bably, all did not like him. Even the Were laid beneath the churches floors, and clergy, notwithstanding his doubtful reputation, respected him. He pos- Till the belieyers shuddered at the stench, sessed the art of electrifying the minds
Strangling the incense fumes, and kneeled of youth. His abrupt sentences scat
in terror. tered broadcast, his moralapothegms, In his short poem, Foscolo, after which he held forth in a stentorian deprecating the obnoxious law which or a sepulchral voice, the air of power forbade a name to the grave, he undoubtedly possessed, enabled turns round and reproaches the Lombard Sardanapalus (Prince Bel- dered him but ill fitted for the strict giojaso) for revelling in luxury on the discipline of military exigencies. In banks of the Ticino, squandering fact, the Prince was wont to say, that his wealth on singers and dancing the three poets in his army-Foscolo, girls, whilst leaving without inscrip- Gasparénetti, and Ceroni-gave him tion the remains of good Parini. He more trouble than all the other then proceeds to describe the vari- officers. At this period, however, ous rites by which ancient nations Foscolo was placed on half-pay, and honoured the dead, and relates his was appointed to the vacant chair own impressions when he stood in of eloquence at the University of Santa Croce, the Italian Pantheon, Pavia. Everyone in those days in the presence of the tombs of was expected to burn incense at the Macchiavelli, Michael Angelo, and shrine of the Great Jove ; and Count Galileo, and, in a splendid apos- Vaccari, his friend, warmly recomtrophe, he extols the Tuscan Athens mended to him to say something for the care she bestowed on the laudatory of Napoleon in his inauonly remaining glories of Italy– the gural address. Whatever expressions dust of her mighty dead. Little did he might use to that effect would he foresee then, that this day he no more compromise him than the would be brought from far-off En- expressions of humble and obedient gland to lie side by side with the service at the end of a letter, congigantic geniuses of his country. stitute a pledge on the part of the
At Brescia, also, Foscolo published writer. Foscolo listened in grim sia version of the first book of Homer, lence. To the promise, if hecomplied, which he dedicated to Vincenzo of the Legion of Honour, he coldly Monte, his rival, who had already replied, “ It is better to deserve a brought out some books of his own decoration without receiving it, than translations of the “ Iliad.” Besides to receive it without deserving it.” the superiority of our author over Even the entreaties of a beautiful Monti as a scholar, he had the ad- Milanese lady, who was present, were vantage of being familiar with mo- of no avail ; and for once soft accents dern Greek from his infancy. It is and lustrous black eyes, usually so said that Foscolo understood the influential with him, were quite harmony of Homer's poetry better powerless. than any man then living; a rather The new professor took for the surprising gift, considering that he subject of his introductory lecture, possessed not the slightest ear for the origin and objects of literature. music, and could not distinguish a He went through a vast field of metatarantella from an operatic overture. physical speculation and science, He completed his version of the discussing the origin of words and Greek poet, which is, perhaps, the speech, the progress of early sobest in the Italian language, whilst ciety, the combined effect of the that of Monti remains unfinished. physical laws of the world, and the
Foscolo, until the year 1808, had moral nature of man, the corruption been allowed to retain the rank and of eloquence by the rhetoricians, the full pay of a captain in the army, and the necessity of freeing literature whilst he had unlimited leave, and from the trammels of grammarians was permitted to rove whither he and sophists. When he came to listed, and to follow his own avoca- discant on the noble office and sacred tions. Prince Eugene had great duties of literature, the orator rose regard for his literary reputation, to the loftiest key of eloquence. In and, moreover, was not sorry to his peroration, he recommended his keep him away, for his turbulent, auditors, “to study the lives of restless, and irascible nature ren- Dante, Macchiavelli, Galileo, and
Tasso, to learn from the history of the society of Count Grevio, a those illustrious men, how they kept hospitable and amiable nobleman alive the sacred fire of genius, fond of erudition and poetry. There through persecutions, torments, and he spent his days in study or in exile, in the depth of dungeons, and wanderings to the solitary hills of in the midst of domestic poverty, to Villa Pliniana, and the old towers of bend over their tombs, to inquire Baradello. One of the pretty daughhow they became both great and ters of the Count would frequently unfortunate, and how they were laugh at Foscolo's strange and supported, in their trials, by their morose look, and rally him on his love of country, of fame, and truth, eccentricities and misanthropic haso as to enable them to bequeath to bits. He would grumble and growl, posterity the rich legacy of their but he was easily tamed by beauty works and the benefit of their ex- and feminine wit. ample." Not a word about prince, He wrote there the tragedy of emperor, or government. Whether “Ajax," a cold and declamatory comit be owing to his stubborn love of position, which was produced at La freedom, or to the boldness of his Scala. The audience received it speculative theories, it is certain that with great indifference until the term after he had delivered two more “Salamini” was several times relectures, the chair of eloquence was peated, when tlie spectators tittered suppressed at Pavia, and soon after first and then broke into fits of laughalso at Bologna and at Padua. Napo- ter. That unlucky word had the same leon probably feared the effects of effect as James Thonison's wellnational eloquence on the Italian known line in his tragedy. youth. We find soon after this, Foscolo,
Oh, Sophovisba ! Sophonisba, oh ! in a letter without date, apparently By “Salamini” the author meant addressed to one of the ministers at the natives of Salamis, who followed Milan, complaining of the financial Ajax to Troy; by “Salamini," a porloss entailed upon him by the tion of the audience understood, or abolition of his professorial chair ; chose to understand the diminutive of previous to his last appointment, he Salame, the Italian for sausage, and having been in receipt of 6000 a slang term for a low fellow. Not francs a year, and sundry gifts be- only “ Ajace” was damned, but his sides. Now not only had he spent enemies discovered that Agamemhis ready cash in securing the lease non was but another name for Naof a house at Pavia, and in other poleon ; and Ajax, who could not matters necessary to his position, obtain the arms of Achilles, was in but he had incurred debts which he reality General Moreau. The supdid not know how to meet; a not position was absurd, but it was suffiuncommon position with him, by the cient to cause much annoyance to way. The trifling compensation the poet, who thereupon left Milan, that had been made to him, had and proceeded to Florence. scarcely been enough to defray the In that city he completed his two cost of his black suits, and he was remaining odes, “ Alle Grazie;" and compelled to ask some pecuniary also he finished and published his assistance, to be enabled at least to translation of Sterne's “ Sentimental satisfy his creditors. Whether this Journey." This work is characterised appeal met with any response we by a perfect ease and freedom of are unable to say.
style, by the great fidelity with which Foscolo for a time retired to every thought and allusion is rendBorgo Vico, a delightful retreat near ered, and by the happy conversion the Lake of Como, where he enjoyed of the quaint, satirical playfulness of