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people of fashion if ever they were seen together. M. LA HARPE says that this drama combats a prejudice which longer subsists; and that, if La Chaussée contribute 1 to its discontinuance, which he believes, it is one of the most honourable victories over vice and folly that talents ever ob. tained.
Sect. VII. Voltaire. -Here M. LA HARPE remarks that, ' among the few talents wanting to render the genius of Vol. taire universal, must be included comedy. He early made the experiment, and failed ;'- yet the Lecturer has just told us that it is easier to write comedy than tragedy. • In 1736, he produced, anonymously, The Prodigal Son, written on the plan of de la Chaussée; which he then much admired, though he afterward decried it. This comedy ran 30 nights; and there are scenes in it which are extremely affecting, even to tears : but, when the author attempts humour, of which he has so much on other occasions, the dialogue becomes mean, vulgar, and contemptible. The play resembles comi-tragedy more than the sober and delicate scenes of la Chaussée.' The humour of Voltaire, like that of our Fielding, always tended to profligacy; which may be entertaining to some readers in a book, but is generally disgusting on the stage.
Sect. vi. Diderot, Saurin, Sedaine. - In this section, we have much good criticism, particularly relative to Diderot's two singular domestic tragedies, Le Fils naturel, and Le Père de famille : but a short extract would afford our readers little satisfaction, and we liave not space for a long one.
Sect. ix. Fabre d'Eglantine, and Beaumarchais. In the first of these articles, the Lecturer has not spared te Jacobins, or the descendants of his old friends the Philosophers. The account of Beaumarchais, drawn up with singular care and candour, is interesting, and full of anecdotes and information concerning this extraordinary character ; of which we are sorry that our limits will not allow us to give specimens.
Vol. xii. is wholly devoted to the French Opera, concerning which the rest of Europe is less interested than about any other branch of literature; so little pleasure does the vocal music of that country afford to ears that are accustomed to Italian singing, or to singers of that school. We shall therefore content ourselves, and we hope to satisfy our readers, with merely pointing out the contents of this volume.
Chap. vi. Of the Opera. Sect. 1. Danchet and LamotteSect. 11. Roy, Pillegrin, Bernard, Labreure.-Sect. ii. Of Vol. taire in the great Opera, or Acad. Royale de la Musique, and in the heroic Comedy and comic Opera.--Sect. sv. Of the Italian Opera
compared with the French, and of the Changes which the New Music may introduce at the French Opera.
Appendix to the preceding Section, or Observations on a Work by M. Grétry, intitled, Memoirs or Essays on Music.
Chap. vii. Of the Comic Opera, and of the Ballad Force which preceded it. Sect. 1. Lesage, Piron, Vadi.-Sect. 13. Favart.Sect. 11). Sedaine.--Sect. iv. Marmontel.-Sect. v. Concerning d'Hele (Dale), Anscaume, Poinsinet ; particular French Pieces at the Italian Theatre; and of the Collection by Gherardi.
Here, then, we take our leave of M. LA HARPE ; a writer whose uncommon exertions and very respectable talents in literature it is not necessary for us now to characterize, after she repeated and ample introductions of them which have taken place in our Review. Whether we are destined again to meet him on classic ground, we have intimated our doubts ag the beginning of this article : but, as we have been indebted to him for much entertainment, we are required by gratitude to wish him comfort and tranquillity in his latter days.
ART. IX. Voyage en Italie, &c. i. e. Travels through Italy, by
FREDERICK JEAN LAURENT MEYER, Doctor of Laws, Member
author's classical citations and allusions remind us of Addison. When he quotes the Georgics of Virgil, he gene. Bally gives, at the borrom of the page, a translation from the Abbé De Lille.- The objecis here described have frequently been delineated: but, as chacun a ses lunettes, this book will agreeably remind travellers of what they have seen, and acquaint readers with what is to be seen; and it will make those who have neither travelled, nor sought for information concerning Italy in books, desirous of doing both.
At Veronn, with which Dr. Meyer commences, Mafci is the hero, and the Amphitheatre is the lion. At Vicenza, Pala Badio is the principal personage, and his olympic theatre is the principal feature of that city. At Padua, the beautiful church of Santa Giustina, il Prato della Valle, and Gnadagni the singer, (of whose talents and history, the author seems but superficially informed,) are the principal themes. Livy's monument is but slightly touched; and of the church of San Antonio, and its celebrated choral establishment, nothing is said.
Venice is the next place which the author visits ; a city which at all times has afforded travellers much to observe and to report,
Many years ago, we pursued the same route which was followed by the writer of this volume, and we find his descriptions very exact. He delineates the external appearance of Venice, and the manners of its inhabitants, with an outline so correct, that it renovates all the pleasures which we received on seeing with our own eyes, and hearing with our own ears. The least common information, which this book furnishes concerning Venice, is a sketch of its anticnt government, that appears to be fair and candid. The lion's mouth, out of which issue the dreadful words, denunziaticni secrete, was the terror of those strangers who were accustomed to live under protécting laws and a mild government; and Mr. Addison, in the Spectator, has impressed this terror deeper in English minds, perhaps, than it has been felt in any other nation. There was certainly more power lodged in the hands of the state inquisitors, than it was safe to trust with any man or set of men: yet, according to Dr. Meyer, who is a staunch republican and a protestant, the accounts of its use and abuse have been greatly exaggerated. The inhabitants seemed very cheerful and happy; and, on inquiry on the spot, there had been no instance of any person being imprisoned, unexamined face to face with his accuser, for many years. Indeed, the people are in less danger from secret information than the senators and magistrates; and even the Doge himself has not always escaped from its effects.
The situation of Venice, its architecture, paintings, sculpture, gondolieri, conservatorios, the bridge, church, and piazza di San Marco, and the four celebrated antique horses, are all mentioned, and described with taste and spirit. Dr. Meyer comforts the Venetians for the loss of these renowned and inestimable horses, by assuring them tlrat animals glowing with such celestial fire, whose original destination was probably to grace the triumphal car of some great conqueror, or perhaps the chariot of the sun bimself, had been very absurdly placed at the portal of a Gothic building !
From Venice, the traveller proceeded to Ferrara, a city once highly flourishing, and the residence of the most polished personages in Italy, but now a desert! This declension is perhape somewhat too positively charged to the influence of the Holy See, under the dominion of which it has groaned during two centuries. In the course of time, however, and in the vicissitude of human affairs, how many empires have been destroyed, and kingdoms overthrown, without the tyranny of the Church Ferrara and Ravenna are in a desolate state, it is true: but so is Vicenza under the Venetians, and so are many cities which lourished under other governments; while Bologna, (which
the author seems not to have visited,) though under papal dominion, is rich, flourishing, and happy. The country round it is more cultivated and fertile than any other part of Italy : such plenty reigns in its precincts, that it is called Bologna la Grassa ; and all travellers find it the least expensive residence in the Papal territory.' Yet'priests and religious orders, who contribute nothing to this plenty, abound there in greater numbers than elsewhere. Ancona, also, under church government, is allowed to be in life and vigour from the spirit of commerce, and the freedom and activity of its inhabitants ;-these are the usual effects of trade and commerce elsewhere: but why Bologna alone, under ecclesiastical government, should escape poverty and desolation, it is not easy to explain.
The cataract of Velino, near Terni, our author calls the Niagara of Italy; and if his description be exact, it is surprising that it has so long escaped the eye and the pen of travellers : for we do not remember to have seen it in the general list of objects of wonder, in descriptive books.
The sensations which the author expresses on his first en. tering Rome, are such as every man of taste and reflection must feel on the same occasion. Rome and its wonders, however, have been so often described, that, except a little more or less enthusiasm and eloquence, nothing new is left to be said by future observers. We shall therefore take it for granted that those of our readers, who have never been at Rome, can talk about it; as Johnson, who had not seen Mrs. Siddons act when she had been three or four years on the stage, said, on being asked how he liked her, that he had never seen her, but he could talk Siddons.
Dr. Meyer's description of the Pontine Marshes, his history of them, of their poisonous effects, and of the failure in late attempts at draining them, are more ample than those of any other publication which we have perused.
The road from Rome to Naples, and the antique curiosities which it presents, are to be found in every book of travels. Being arrived at Naples, therefore, we shall follow the author through that beautiful city and its environs, as we have hitherto done reminding our readers ; that his account was drawn up previously to the revolution, and to the arrival of the spoglia a Italia at Paris.
Naples. The author commences this chapter with two proverbial sayings, repeated by the inhabitants to travellers, on their first arrival:
Vedi Napoli, e poi muori.
See Naples, and then die. In the second, they call Naples
Un pezzo di Cielo caduto in terra.
A piece of heaven fallen on the earth. In describing the theatre where Medonte, an opera by Sarti, was performed, the tranquil beginring, and the impetuous increase of rapidity and force in the orchestra, seem to be taken from Dr. Burney's Italian Tour. Almost all the great opera composers of the last century were Neapolitans, educated in the Conservatorios of that city.-Dr. M. has given a very minute and spirited account of Mount Vesuvius, and of one of its eruptions, at which he was present: but he refers to that intrepid observer, Sir William Hamilton, and to the drawings of Woulky, the Austrian painter, for the best intelligence concerning the beginning and progress of the tremendous and destructive eruption of 1779, so fatal to the city of Torre del Greco.
The character, manners, and propensities, of the Neapolitans, are described with apparerit truth and candour :-with their inactivity in all things but their pleasures and amuse.. ments; their passion for music, antiquities, and all the fine atts; the museum at Portici, containing the Greek and Roman treasures found in Hirculaneum and Pompeii, the history of their discovery, and a list of the most curious and valuable works of art found in those antient cities, which were overwhelmed and annihilated by the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. All these subjects the author has treated with spirit, intelligence, and good taste, far above the general standard of descriptive travellers.
The Catacombs, Virgil's tomb, the Pausilippan subterraneous passage, Grotto del Cane, &c. with the remains of Greek and Roman splendor in the environs of Naples, have been so often depicted by others, that little was left for Dr. MEYER to say on viewing them, which had not been anticipated.
In conclusion, it is but justice to say that this volume is written with such temper, prudence, and sound judgment, and that the objects of discussion and description are so well selected, that it must afford amusement and instruction not only to the general readers of travels, but to travellers themselves. Art. X. Précis des Evènemens Militaires, &c. i. e. A concise Ac.
count of Military Events, or an Historical Essay on the present War, with Maps and Plans ; from the Rupture of the Congress at Rastadt to the end of the Campaign of 1799. Nos. xi. and 211.* 8vo. Paris. 1801. Imported by De Boffe, and Debrett.
his termination of the Précis, executed with leisure of
which periodical publications seldom admit, is performed * See M. R Vol. xxx. N. S. p. 581.; Vol. xxxii. p. 307, and Vol. xxxiii. p. 310.