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country is distinguished from every other in Europe. Though, how ever, Mr. Warner is zealous in the cause of his native land, he does not suffer his patriotism to run riot, and to waste its vigor in extravagant declamation. His objections to Mr. Poulter's Sermons arise from that gentleman's outré expressious both of censure and of praise. We have often lamented that our clergy should abandon themselves to the intemperance of passion, instead of endeavouring to exercise calm and fair discrimination, and should forget that they only expose themselves when they obtrude for truth such representations as credulity itself cannot swallow.

The subjoined character of Mr. Pitt, by a friend of Mr. Warner, is not so highly coloured as that which is drawn by Sir A. Gordon, or that of Mr. Poulter, but is a better likeness.

CORRESPONDENCE.

We have received a letter from Mr. Seymour, relative to our review of his Remarks on Shakspeare in our last Number: but he must excuse us if we decline to resume the discussion, and if we express our opinion that he has not succeeded in throwing any new light on the subjects to which he adverts. He admits that the passage from Macbeth, quoted in p. 36. is incorrigibly embarrassed,' and his supplemental remarks do not contradict that opinion. In the passage from Lear, in the same page, he still contends that there is a change of mood, and that "Prize me at her worth" is unequivocally imperative.

The letter signed Asiaticus seems to be intitled to attention, but, as we can place no reliance on anonymous communications, we can neither print it wholly or in part, nor enter into any arguments respecting its contents. Indeed, to do this would be extraofficial, any farther than as our own opinions were controverted or our statements contradicted.

X. Y. is requested to accept our thanks for his obliging and polite expressions.

Alpha and Omega is sollicited to exercise his patience: a number of letters occur to compose the alphabet, besides the first and the last.

·

In the last Appendix, p. 513. 1. 13. for De Wally,' r. De Wailly.-P. 515, 1, 26. and 516. 1. 13. for Franços,' r. Français.

THE

MONTHLY REVIEW,

For NOVEMBER, 1806.

ART. I. Mr. Roscoe's Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth. [Article concluded from p. 128.]

CON ONFORMABLY to our promise, we shall now briefly advert to the account which the author has given of the religious discussions of the sixteenth century. When it is considered how fully and minutely, as well as impartially, these events have been stated and discussed at various periods by different writers;-how near a perfect history is that of the Reforma. tion, as it respects Germany, by Sleidan-how great is the merit of that of Burnet in reference to the same revolution in England;-how satisfactorily Fra. Paolo has exposed the policy and measures of the Roman church since the establishment of Protestantism ;-what neat statements of the samé transactions have proceeded from the pen of Beausobre-and how philosophical and comprehensive are the views of them which are to be found in the recent pages of M. Villers;-it will be perceived that much is not to be expected from a fresh fabourer in the same field, though he should possess exemplary industry, and distinguished ingenuity. Yet these, volumes may boast of passages which, if they do not instruct, will arrest the attention of the best informed.

Mr. Roscoe takes notice of the state of thraldom and oppression, in which the see of Rome attempted to retain the human mind: an attempt which he regards as producing effects the reverse of those that were expected, and as disposing men to shake off a yoke which they found thus hardly to press on them. Alluding to the free manner in which the wits and philosophers of the preceding times had treated the church, he observes that it was soon perceived that the utmost danger was to be apprehended from a continuance of those liberties: but, instead of applying the effectual remedy of self-reformation, they had recourse to injudicious denunciations and penalties, which probably increased the evil. He then states the various VOL. LI. circumstances

ircumstances which had so decided a tendency to relax the ties by which the popular superstition held its sway, and which are here properly viewed as predisposing causes with respect to the changes which afterward occurred. The grounds of the success of Luther are next investigated; the behaviour of the intrepid reformer at the diet of Worms is well narrated; and his presence of mind, firmness, and discretion, are made to appear with the highest advantage. The portrait of Luther is a masterpiece, from which we should gladly quote some parts, if we had not so lately dwelt on his character and conduct *.

The author's remarks on the effects of the reformation on letters and arts are composed in the spirit of true philosophy, and bespeak an unbiassed and highly cultivated mind. While On this part of his subject, he introduces a quotation from Erasmus which is so apposite, and is so characteristic of that exquisite writer, that we cannot refrain from inserting it here, as well as some of the remarks with which it is accompanied :

< The opinion of Erasmus with regard to the introduction of images, was much more liberal than that of Luther. "They who have attacked the images of saints," says he," although with immoderate zeal, have had some reason for their conduct; for idolatry, that is, the worship of images, is a horrible crime; and although it be now abolished, yet the arts of Satan are always to be guarded against. But when we reflect that statuary and painting, formerly regarded as liberal arts, are a kind of silent poesy, and have often an effect on the feelings of mankind beyond that produced by the most accomplished orator, it might have been well to have corrected their superstition without destroying their utility. I could, indeed, wish, that the walls of all public places were decorated with representations of the incidents of the life of Christ, expressed in a becoming manner. But as it was decreed in the Council of Africa, that in places of worship nothing should be recited but the scriptural canons, so it would be proper that no subjects should be exhibited in such places, except such as the scriptural canons supply. In the porches, vestibules, or cloisters, other subjects might be represented, taken from common history, so that they inculcated good morals; but absurd, obscene, or seditious pictures should be banished, not only from churches, but from all habitations; and as it is a kind of blasphemy to pervert the sacred writings to profane and wanton jests, so those painters deserve to be punished, who when they represent subjects from the holy scriptures, mingle with them their own improper and ridiculous inventions. If they wish to indulge their folly, let them rather seek for their subjects in Philostratus; although the annals of heathenism afford many lessons which may be exhibited with great utility." That observations so rational, and from which Luther himself would scarcely have dissented, have not been sufficient to prevent the almost

See Review for February last, p. 194.

total

total exclusion of picturesque representations from the reformed churches, is greatly to be regretted; not only as being an irrepara ble injury to the arts, but as depriving the people of one mode of instruction, not less calculated to interest their feelings and excite their piety, than that which is conveyed by means of speech. Whether mankind, in any state of society, were ever so ignorant as to make these visible representations the actual objects of their adoration, may well be doubted; but at all events there can now be no danger of such an error in the most uninformed part of Europe and it may yet be hoped, that as the spirit of bigotry declines, religion may be allowed to avail herself of every aid which may engage her admirers, illustrate her precepts, or enforce her laws.'

In the wish contained in the concluding sentence of this paragraph, we feel much tempted to unite. When the eye has been accustomed to the masterpieces which adorn the temples of some foreign countries, it is not to be denied that it reconciles itself with difficulty to the bare walls of our churches. Yet however innocent these ornaments would prove in respect to enlightened persons, and however grateful they would be to the man of taste, we are not so thoroughly satisfied as Mr. Roscoe seems to be, that the innovation would not be abused and perverted. The doubt expressed by him in the above passage shews that he has forgotten that a philosopher was obliged to fly from polished Athens, for having asserted that the material statue was not the object of the adoration of the pious, but the divinity which it represented.

The course followed by Mr. Roscoe, in stating the progress of the human mind at this period, has been to divide those who were engaged in assisting it into the following classes; viz. the cultivators of the vernacular tongue, those who addicted themselves to Latin poetry, the disciples of moral and natural philosophy, and artists. He supplies biographical notices of the most distinguished men in each of these branches, observes on their principal performances, and appreciates their merits. Though little that is original can be expected even from Mr. Roscoe in this department, men of taste will attend particularly to the terms in which he conveys his sentiments of the true productions of Italian genius.

Bembo is too celebrated a name not to engage the particular. attention of this historian; who observes that

His poetical works consist chiefly of Sonetti and Canzoni, in the stile of Petrarca, and are frequently more correct and chaste, but at the same time more unimpassioned and cold, than the model on which they are formed. In the perusal of these pieces we perceive inothing of that genuine feeling, which proceeding from the heart of the author, makes a direct and irresistable appeal to that of the reader; and but little even of that secondary characteristic of genius,

Q 2

which

which luxuriates in the regions of fancy, and by its vivid and rapidimagery delights the imagination. On the contrary, whilst these pieces stand approved to our deliberate judgment, we feel a conviction that any person of good taste and extensive reading might, by a due portion of labour, produce works of equal merit. That this conviction is well founded is proved in no unequivocal man. ner, by the innumerable throng of writers who have imitated the manner of Bembo; and who, availing themselves of the example of this scholastic stile of composition, have inundated Italy with writings which seldom exhibit any distinction either of character or of merit. That the introduction of this manner of writing was fatal to the higher productions of genius cannot be doubted. Internal worth was sacrificed to external ornament. The vehicle was gilt and polished to the highest degree, but it contained nothing of any value; and the whole attention of these writers was employed, not in discovering what should be said, but how it should be said.'

The vernacular poets of Italy, the author remarks, may be divided into four distinct classes:

I. Such as continued to adopt in their writings, although in dif ferent degrees, the rude and imperfect style of composition which was used towards the latter part of the preceding century. II. The admirers of Petrarca, who considered him as the model of a true poetic diction, and closely imitated his manner in their writings. III. Those who, depending on the vigour of their own genius, adopted such a style of composition as they conceived expressed in the most forcible and explicit manner, the sentiments which they had to communicate. And IV. Those authors who followed the example of the ancients, not only in the manner of treating their subjects, but in the frequent use of the versi sciolti, and in the simplicity and purity of their diction. That in each of these departments a consi derable number of writers, besides those before mentioned, might be enumerated, will readily be perceived; but the limited object of the present work will be sufficiently obtained, by demonstrating the encouragement which the poets of the time derived from Leo X. and the proficiency made, during his pontificate, in this most popu lar and pleasing branch of literature. It is to this period that we are to trace back those abundant streams which have now diffused them selves throughout the rest of Europe; and although some of them may be pursued to a still higher fountain, yet it was not until this time that they began to flow in a clear and certain course. The laws of lyric composition, as prescribed by the example of Sanazzaro, Bembo, Molza, aud Vittoria Colonna, have since been adopted by the two Tas os, Tansillo, Constanzo, Celio Magno, Guidi, Filicaja, and a long train of other writers; who have carried this kind of composition, and particularly the higher species of ode, to a: degree of excellence hitherto unattained in any other country. In epic poetry, the great work of Ariosto excited an emulation which, in the course of the sixteenth century produced an immense number of poems on similar subjects; many of which are of great extent, and some of which, if they have not equalled the Orlando Furiose in

fertility

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