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Grouped around Correggio in every possible degree of harmony and contrast, we have a variety of figures all sufficiently marked, each in itself complete, and all aiding in carrying out the main effect, the apotheosis of the artist hero.
Nor has Oehlenschläger made his tragedy the vehicle for mere declamation, nor for inculcating any particular system of art or set of principles. In Michael Angelo and in Giulio Romano we have exhibited two artist-minds as different from each other and from Antonio Correggio as can be image ined. The haughty, stern, arrogant, but magnanimous and magnificent Michael Angelo, can with difficulty be brought to appreciate, or even look upon, a style so different from his own, and thunders out his rules of art like Olympian Jove. The gay, confident, generous, courteous Giulio Romano is less exclusive, if less severely grand, in his taste. The luxuriant grace of Correggio, the blending of the purely natural with the purely ideal, in his conceptions of beauty, are again distinct from both these great masters. Again the influence of art over minds variously constituted is exhibited in the tender wife of Correggio, the favorite model for his Madonnas; the old hermit Silvestro; the high-born, beautiful enthusiast, Celestina, who places the laurel wreath on the brow of the sleeping painter; and the peasant girl, Lauretta, who gives him drink when fainting with thirst; and the penitent robber; and the careless young noble, with whom art is subservient to his vanity and his passions; and the vulgar villain of the piece, Battista, who alone is absolutely insensible to its influence ;---all these form as beautiful a group, and as perfect in keeping, as we can meet in dramatic literature. Then there are such charming touches of feeling, such splendid passages of description and aphorisms on art, which seize on the fancy and cling to the memory! while the allusions to certain well-known pictures, bringing them before the mind's eye in a few expressive and characteristic words, are delicious to the amateur.
The received account of the cause of Correggio's death rests on a tradition,* which later researches render very problematical; but it remains uncon. tradicted that he lived and died poor—that his health was feeble and delicate-his life retired and blameless ;-and the catastrophe has been so long current and credited, that the poet has done well to adhere to the common tradition. In the very moment that Correggio sinks into death, a messer.ger arrives from the Duke of Mantua, with splendid offers of patronage. He comes too late. Art and the world are the heirs of the great man's genius: his poor family follow him heart-broken to the grave.
* That of Vasari, who states that he died in extreme poverty; that, having received at Parma & payment of sixty crowns, which was churlishly made to him in copper, he walked to the city of Correggio with this load on his back from anxiety to relieve ris family, and died in consequence of the effort. Lanzi and other of his biographers distrust this story, and have pointed out its improbability. Whatever the cause of his death, the expressions of Annibal Carracci are conclusive as to the neglect and povery in which he lived.
The “ Schuld” of Adolf Müllner does not produce such an overpowering effect on the imagination the second time of reading, because we are not hurried forward by the interest of the story; but in one respect it has affected me more deeply than at first. Hugo says,
“ Mich dunket, nie Sollten Nord und Süd sich küssen!" * And all through this fine play the spirit of the North and the spirit of the South are brought into beautiful yet fearful contrast. The passions which form the groundwork of the piece are prepared amid the palaces and orange-groves of the glowing South ; the catastrophe evolved amid the deserts and pine-forests of the North ; and in the fair, stillsouled, but heroic Scandinavian maid, Jerta, and the dark, impassioned Elvira, we have the personified sentiment of the North and the South.
Has it ever occurred to you that Coleridge must have had this tragedy in his mind when he wrote his “ Remorse ?”
What a slight touch upon an extreme link will
That North and South should never kiss each other.
send us back sometimes through a long, long chair of memories and associations ! A word, a name, has sent me from Toronto to Vienna; what a flight what a contrast it makes even Fancy herself. breathless! Did I ever mention to you Madams Arneth? When the “ Schuld” was produced at Vienna, she played the Scandinavian Jerta, and I have heard the effect of her representation com. pared, in its characteristic purity and calmness, an? mild intellectual beauty, to the “ moonlight on a snow-wreath,”
--a comparison which gave me a vivid impression of its truth. Madame Arneth was herself not unlike the fair and serious Jerta.
The question has been often agitated, often con troverted, but I am inclined to maintain the opin ion elsewhere expressed, that there is nothing in the profession of an actress which is incompatible with the respect due to us as women—the cultiva tion of every feminine virtue—the practice of every private duty. I have conversed with those who think otherwise, and yet continue to frequent th> theatre as an amusement, and even as a source of mental delight and improvement; and this I conceive to be a dereliction of principle-wrong in itself, and the cause of wrong. A love for dramatic representation, for imitative action, is in the ele. ments of our human nature ; we see it in children, in savages, in all ages, in all nations;—we cannot help it-it is even so. That the position of an actress should sometimes be a false one,-a dangerous one even for a female, is not the fault of the
profession, but the effect of the public opinion of the profession. When fashion, or conventional 'aw, or public opinion, denounce as inexpedient what they cannot prove to be wrong-stigmatizo vhat they allow_encourage and take delight in what they affect to contemn-what wonder that com such barbarous, such senseless inconsistency, should spring a whole heap of abuses and mistakes? As to the idea that acting, as a profession, is incompatible with female virtue and modesty, it is not merely an insult to the estimable women who have adorned and still adorn the stage, but to all womankind; it makes me blush with indignation. Unreflecting people—the world is full of such-point to the numerous instances which might be cited to the contrary. I have been perplexed by them sometimes in argument, but never on consideration and examination ; and with regard to some other evils, not less, as it appears to me, in a moral point of view, I do not see their necessary connection with the stage as a profession. Vanity, jealousy, selfishDess, the spirit of intrigue, the morbid effects of over-excitement, are not confined to actresses ; if women placed in this position do require caution and dignity to ward off temptation, and self-control to resist it, and some knowledge of their own structure and the liabilities incurred by their profession, in order to manage better their own health, moral and physical, then they only require what all women should possess—what every woman needs, no matter what her position.