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the French. It was not till he had relieved his mind by an apology for the unhappy Louis XVI., then a prisoner, and a furious invective against the whole nation, entitled Il Misogallo, that Alfieri could again turn his attention to Italian literature. Still it was his unhappy fate twice before he died to see the objects of his especial hatred enter Florence—once in 1799, and again in 1804, when he peremptorily refused the French general's request to make his acquaintance. In the spring of 1793 we find him aiding personally in the recital of his tragedies by a society of dilettanti in Florence. He made great progress in the art of declamation, giving the light and shade, inflection of voice, and variety of action necessary to make the characters he personated stand out distinctly and vividly before his audience. Saul was his favourite tragedy. After reciting it several times, he was prevailed upon to play the part of the Hebrew king, in a private theatre at Pisa, and there he tells us“ rimasi quanto al teatro, morto da .” Authors do not always give the preference to their best works, but the Italian critics confirm Alfieri in his predilection for Saul, esteeming it the best and most powerful of his tragedies. Alfieri made a previous study of the character of Saul in Holy Writ, and the inspired language seems to have been present to his mind throughout the composition of the piece. We recognize it in the beautiful song of David, which stills for a while the king's madness, of which we can only give a faint idea in translation :“ Thou who in eternal power dost reign

O'er all created things dread Lord Divine, Thou, at whose word I was from nothing How dare I lift my trembling eyes to Thine ! Thou, from whose gaze the depths of earth

contain No secret paths, and night as day doth

shine : Speak but Thy word, and worlds in chaos

close, Stretch forth Thine arm, and scatter'd flee

Thy foes. Borne earth wards on the rushing fiery wings Of myriad cherubims Thy chariot stayed, And with Thy Word, which mightiest power

brings, Didst Israel's leader once vouchsafe to aid ;

Wisdom and speech didst give from living

springs, And Thou Thyself his sword and buckler

made. Let but one ray of Thine effulgent light Pierce through the clouds and strike our

dazzled sight.” Saul, Act. iii. Sc. 4. Again, we frequently find it in the expression of the deep religious feeling which is the mainspring of each and all of the characters. "Miseri noi! che siam, se Iddio ci lascia," David exclaims, in his pity for Saul (Sc. 1). Col sia pace” is Jonathan's salu. tation to his father. “E sia col Padre Iddio," adds Michal. il Dolore," replies the unhappy king. The dream of Saul, the departure of David on the eve of the battle, are worth referring to, as they abound in the rich metaphors which give such an Eastern colouring to the drama.

An interval of ten years elapsed between the nineteen tragedies which were published by Didot and the two last compositions, the Alceste Prima and Seconda. These were the results of his Greek studies late in life, and Alfieri was not a little vain of having learnt Greek at the age of fortysix. “ Better late than never," he observes in the chapter devoted to the account of this new accomplishment; and in his mature years he read for the first time, in the original, the story of Alcestis “brought from the grave.' It took such a hold of his imagination, that he breaks the vow which he had solemnly made never to write another tragedy, and gives us a finished composition remarkable for a soft delicacy foreign to his other works. The return of Alcestis to life in the concluding scene is beautifully told, recalling by its tender feeling the last scene of the Winter's Tale. When, like Hermione, Alcestis “Bequeaths to death her numbness,

For from him dear life redeems her," and is reunited to her husband, for whose sake she had laid down her life, while her children cling round her in rapt and wondering delight, the pathos of the scene is unrivalled. Eccola; mira ; Alceste viva è questa !” and Alfieri puts the finishing touch when he



makes the sight draw tears from Her- (with the one exception of Egisto, in cules, the mighty hero, who had snatched Merope) unknown either to themselves her from the very grasp of death. or to others. I have not availed myself “It was the crowning grace of that great

of either supernatural or physical aid ; heart

no flitting ghosts haunt my scenes ; no To keep back joy ; procrastinate the truth, thunder and lightning enhance my Until the wife, who had made proof and found

catastrophes. I have abstained from The husband wanting, might essay once

unnecessary murders and massacres. more, Hear, see, and feel him renovated now,

In short, I have rigidly denied myself Able to do, know, all herself had done, the usual license permitted to dramatic Risen to the height of her : so hand in hand writers.” But the very simplicity of his The two might go together, live and die.” 1

tragedies laid him open to attack on Thus once again embarked in lite- account of their uniformity of method ; rary labours, Alfieri, at the close of and the author does not deny that he his career, wrote six comedies, and was

pursues the same system with each and engaged in revising them when the all alike, trusting to the variety of illness overtook him of which he died subject and character to obviate this at Florence, October 4, 1804. But monotony. His own opinion of his these comedies did not add to his works, as deliberately expressed as if he reputation, nor did the rather "puerile

was discussing those of another author, vanity," as he terms it, which prompted was constantly corrected by contemhim to celebrate his lately acquired porary criticism. He recognised the Greek scholarship by the invention and justice of the enlightened comments of self-investment of an Homeric Order of Il Calzabigi and of Cesarotti, whose Merit. This consisted of a chain, or blank verse had served him for a model ; collar, from which hung a cameo repre- but to the captious fault-finding of the senting Homer, and bearing on the Florentine Academy he was perfectly

a Greek distich, invented by indifferent. Alfieri, and translated also by him into

“ Uom se' tu grande o vile ? Italian rhyme :

Morì e il saprai,” Forse inventava Alfieri un ordin vero, are the concluding words of the sonnet

Nel farsi ei stesso Cavalier d'Omero." in which he describes for posterity the But as the most eminent tragic writer of strange mixture of good and evil in his Italy he is worthy of the highest honour. character.

character. And if the critics busied Full of vigour and power, he breathes themselves with his works during his new life into the languid scenes of lifetime, they dissected them after his Italian tragedy. He will have no

death in the most unsparing manner. imitation of French gallantry, no

The French revenge themselves with Spanish rhodomontades. Italy must

bitter invective for the abuse Alfieri had have a theatre of her own, speaking her heaped upon their nation. Schlegel is pure idiom, and representing her own scant of his praises, and only selects the ideas on either classical or modern Saul as worthy of favourable comment ; subjects. With one sweep he clears but the opinion of his own nation, as the stage of all confidants and secondary summed up in the discourse of Pietro personages ; so that, if you run your eye

del Rio, is of more consequence.

"You down the list of characters, you see that

must not look," he says, “for dazthey rarely exceed six or seven, and are

zling variety of metaphor, nor yet for generally limited to four.

persuasive forms of speech; but you

my tragedies," he says, "you will find no will always find a magnificent power in convenient eavesdropper ready to hear the style, life and vigour in the action of and reveal the secret on which the whole the drama, force in the dialogue, vivacity plot depends, no mysterious characters and truth in the characters, and occa* Balaustion's Adventure, Robert Browning,

sional passages of astounding eloquence."

6 In


p. 147.



SIR, -On reading Mr. Loftie's article I can think of. It is clearly useless on Thorough Restoration," in last to discuss the abstract "merits or demonth's Macmillan, my first reflection merits of works. I can, however, was that I had never felt mora e pointedly examine into questions of fact, and the truth of the injunction, “Judge by inference from these it is possible not, that ye be not judged,” since, that some aid may be obtained in after having for years been amongst judging of questions of opinion. Any. the most earnest of protesters against how, it will be the better for the the system he condemns, I find my general subject that it be divested sentiments and almost my very words from any palpable errors of this taken out of my mouth, and adduced nature. to my own condemnation.

Mr. Loftie lays great stress upon This is the more excruciating, when the restoration, ten years back, of the I find in a list of damaged churches church of St. Michael, near St. Alban's. one at least which had filled me with A


bad case, indeed," says he, such wrath as to provoke me (though “where one of the oldest churches in without expressly naming it) to intro- England has been deliberately ruined." duce a most pungent paragraph into The excellent incumbent, who is absomy inaugural address, when elected lutely devoted to his church, and well President of the Institute of British knows every stone and brick of it, says Architects; and—then find one of my on the contrary, “I consider the reown (which I had rather plumed my- storation of the church as thoroughly self upon) introduced in the same list. conservative, and often point out to This, however, is a mere flea-bite; visitors evidences of

your great for, while Mr. Loftie does not think it anxiety that every old feature should worth while to say much about the be distinctly shown.

Pray common run of restoration, such as accept my best thanks for your true those which have provoked my most

and careful restoration of the dear old earnest protests, he devotes himself church of St. Michael's." with a special gusto to writing down Another competent person, who some of my own which I had flattered watched the work throughout, says :myself were unassailable, or to which I have no hesitation in saying that I had at least devoted special love and a more careful restoration was never earnest anxiety.

carried out, special care to preserve Now, how am I to account for this? every portion of the building being Am I really such a self-deceiver as to taken by Sir Gilbert Scott.” For my fancy my own works to be honest and

own part I can assert the same.

I conscientious, while in fact they are took a very special interest in the just as bad as those against which I building and its conservation; and have been crying out “in season and even walls which it seemed at first out of season” for so many years ?- impossible to save, were bolstered up or do I look at matters from a differ- and embalmed, one may say, against ent stand-point from Mr. Loftie f-or the common decay of nature, by being is that gentleman's perception warped saturated internally with cementing or obscure? I cannot answer these matter; so that their surface requestions. There is only one test that mained identically as I found it, with


all its strange intermixture of flint, aisle." These expressions evidently stone, and Roman tile. In this course took their rise from Mr. Thorne, who of laborious conservation, work, appar. probably trusted too much to his ently Saxon, constructed in Roman memory, and similarly speaks of the brick, has been discovered throughout “Elizabethan porches, ceilings, and the church. An arch and doorway on fittings" as "strengthening Baconian the north of the chancel, and windows associations ; and further

says : on either side the nave, of this age and “The Verulam Chapel opposite the material, have been discovered and care- tomb, with its Elizabethan entrance, fully opened out to view, cut through ceiling, and pews, had quite a Baconian and ignored by the Norman arcade, character before the recent restoration itself so old that Clutterbuck says of when .... the chapel was reduced the arches, that “they bear a striking to an ordinary chancel aisle.” I learn resemblance to those in part of the also that Mr. Loftie speaks of a “ceiled nave in the Abbey Church.” The old pew,” as being the very seat in which roofs of the nave, the north aisle, and Bacon sat, "alluded to in the touching the south chapel of the nave have epitaph”—the epitaph containing the been cleared from the lath and plaster words, Sic bat. which largely concealed them, care- Now, all this is most perplexing. fully repaired without in the least dis- In the first place, the “ordinary turbing their antiquity, and exposed chancel aisle" into which I have sucagain to sight. The half-timber work ceeded in reducing the “ Bacon chapel” of the south chapel has been opened “ceiled pew”-neither exists nor out to view; while not a wall or a bit ever did exist. The chancel has not of wall has been disturbed or re- and never had an aisle! Clutterbuck newed except a small amount of repara- correctly describes the church, as it was tion imperatively demanded for safety. then and now is, as consisting (besides Windows of later date, long walled up, the tower), of “a nave, north side-aisle, have been opened out again and, where a south chapel of the nave, and a necessary, repaired. None, however, chancel ;” but no chancel aisle was have been renewed excepting the east there. Again, there was

no ceiled window of the chancel, which had pew or anything of the kind ; nor was fallen out and was replaced by a there any form of “Elizabethan ceilwooden frame; and, even in this ing" whatever. The chancel, it is single renewal, the jambs, &c., are true, was ceiled—but how? Let us the old ones, and the arch contains hear from the clerk of the works. the only old stone which could be “ The roof was for the most part fir, found of it. In fact, the loving pains some of the rafters were chestnut. The taken to preserve and hand down in whole of it is in such a rotten state, it its identity this ancient fabric, with was found impossible to do anything all the changes in its history not only with it; and but for the modern ceiling retained, but rediscovered and brought shaped in fir to form the same must have again to light, was beyond what I can collapsed.” This “ Elizabethan ceildescribe. And this is what Mr. Loftie ing" was probably put up “ during the calls being " deliberately ruined"! repair of the church,” which Clutter

Hitherto, however, difference of buck mentions“ in the year 1808." view may be pleaded. Let us come, Mr. Thorne mentions new roofs." then, to more palpable questions of The only new roof takes the place of fact. He says-still speaking of St. this, which was so rotten as only to be Michael's—"the Elizabethan entrance held up by a modern ceiling! ceiling and pews

all relics Let come, however, to the of his [Lord Bacon's time, and were “ Bacon chapel”

or pew. I never all swept away, and the chapel reduced heard of its having anything to do to the level of an ordinary chancel with Bacon, nor did any one I have



that year.

inquired of, and I utterly disbelieve it. the neighbourhood of London till Inigo Even Mr. Loftie can hardly believe it Jones's time,' which hardly allows of to be identical with (hardly that it these pieces having been used and recontained) the handsome arm-chair used before Bacon's decease in 1626. referred to in the “ Sic sedebat"! It The fact is that this entire Baconian was a common, ordinary pew, bearing theory is a mere mare’s nest. Neither no signs of antiquity, and was about “chapel,"

66 ceiled


porch," one-third of it in the chancel, and "entrance," nor “ceiling" of Bacon's two-thirds in the nave; as a conse- time, existed, save in the fertile quence, if it is older than 1808, it was imaginations of these zealous gentlesevered in two by the chancel screen, men ! Nor had the church ever exwhich it seems was only removed in hibited its antiquities so profusely or

Besides this frustum of so plainly as has been the case since the Gorhambury pew, the main por- (in Mr. Loftie's language) it has been tion of which with its fireplace) was "deliberately ruined." in the nave, the chancel contained I now come to the glorious abbey “three ordinary square seats for the church (now happily the cathedral) of Gorhambury servants," of which the St. Alban's. incumbent says: “My own opinion is I may begin by saying (at the risk that the pews were made by some of of egotism) that for scarcely any the members of the family of the pre- church have I so strong and earnest sent owners of Gorhambury, the Grim- a love as for this. It was the daystons."

dream of my boyhood to be permitted In corroboration of this opinion I to visit it, and on the earliest opporhave (in addition to my own memory tunity which offered-only a year less and that of a most trustworthy assist- than half a century back-I made, ant) the testimony of the clerk of the with a palpitating heart, my first works that " no remains of posts were

pilgrimage there. This was before found which could have supported the repairs were undertaken by Mr. such a covering for ceiling'), but Cottingham, and while the

while the small only a curtain on brass rods; that the leaded spire, so characteristic of the framing was part deal, and some few district, still crowned the central panels on sides in wainscot, but quite tower. Ever since that time I have modern; not small, square panels, with been a not unfrequent visitor and moulded styles and rails like Queen student, and my various reports, as Anne's period, but simply coarse well as, to those who recollect them, moulding." He gives the section, my many peripatetic lectures, will which is of quite modern character. show how earnest have been my feel

So much for the “Bacon chapel," ings towards this, probably the most which I, for one, never till last month interesting of all English churches; heard of. The “ Elizabethan porch” and I can scarcely think it possible or “entrance” consisted of jambs and for any one to believe (whatever may lintel of Portland stone, in section have been my errors of judgment) like the nosing of a stone step, which

that I should have purposely injured the clerk of the works from its own a building so dear to me. evidence, states to have been“ re-useilMr. Loftie begins by saying that —that is removed here from some place " the works, as carried out, have where it had been previously employed already been the subject of contro“ The insertion of it,” he says, “ caused versy.” No one knows this better the destruction of one half of the than himself, for it was he who raised decorated canopy of a tomb found in the south wall of the chancel," and now

? Mr. Hull, the geologist, in his Treatise opened out to view. I do not know

on Building Stones, says of Portland stone:

“previously to 1623 this stone does not that Portland stone was brought into appear to have attracted any attention."

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