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thence to Pesaro. His goods had been left at Catholica, a distance of ten miles. This town had been taken by the Austrian Hussars, and word was brought that all was lost. Goldoni hired a post-chaise, and started for Catholica with his wife. A ruined castle lay on the roadside. He ordered the driver to stop, and they alighted. No sooner were they out of sight, than the rascal turned the horses' heads, and set off at a gallop for Pesaro. We cannot resist the pleasure of quoting the following passage from the autobiography :
“ Not a living soul was to be seen. Not a peasant on the fields, not a single inhabitant in any of the houses ; every body dreaded the approach of the two armies : my wife wept; I raised my eyes to heaven, and felt myself inspired. •Courage,' said I, “my dear friend ! we are but six miles from Catholica : we are young enough and strong enough to walk that distance; we must not return,—we must have nothing to reproach ourselves with.' She complied with the best grace in the world, and we continued our journey on foot. After an hour's walk, we came to a rivulet, too broad to be leaped, and too deep to be forded by my wife. There was a small wooden bridge for the convenience of foot-passengers, but the planks were all broken. This did not disconcert me: I stooped down, my wife put her arms round my neck: I rose smiling, crossed over the stream, with inexpressible joy; and I said to myself, omnia bona mecum porto.' My feet and legs were wet, but it did not signify. We continued our journey, and after some time, came to another stream like that we had passed. The depth was similar, and the bridge was equally ruinous. This was no obstacle ; we passed it as we did the former, and with the same gaiety. But it was a very different matter when, close upon Catholica, we came to a torrent, of considerable breadth, which rushed along with great fury. We sat down at the foot of a tree, till Providence should afford us the means of crossing it without danger. I rose, for the purpose of looking about me. • This torrent,' said I, 'must necessarily enter the sea. If we descend its banks, we shall at last come to the mouth of it.' We proceeded accordingly down the stream, instigated by distress, and supported by hope; and we began to discover sails, which were an indication of the proximity of the sea. This infused courage into us, and we quickened our pace. As we proceeded, we observed the torrent became less and less agitated; and our joy was not to be contained, when at length our eyes were blest with the sight of a boat. It belonged to some fishermen, from whom we met with a very kind reception. They carried us over to the opposite bank, and returried us a thousand thanks for a paoli which I gave them."
After obtaining refreshments at an inn, they were conducted to the advanced posts of the Austrian Hussars. The name of Goldoni was not unknown to them. It now stood him in stead. He recovered his goods. He obtained a lucrative theatrical commission at Rimini, and resigned his Genoese consulate. After visiting Florence, Treviza, Volterra, and Peccioli, he reached Pisa. Here he had a pleasant adventure with La Colonia Alfeu, and was admitted into the society of the Arcadi of Rome, under the name of Polisseno Fegeio, and hailed by the whole assembly as a brother shepherd. Here also he gained
two causes, which greatly contributed to his popularity; and here, too, at the request of Sacchi, the famous comic actor, he produced his comedies of the “Valet of two Masters,” and “Harlequin's Child Lost and Found,” which became the instrument of his good fortune at Paris. In 1747, the war terminated. The Infant Don Philip was left in possession of the Duchies of Parma Piacenza and Guastalla. The Duke of Modena had returned to his dominions; the ducal Bank proposed an arrangement with the annuitants, of which Goldoni gladly availed himself, and after the lapse of five years, returned once more to his beloved Venice. Here he occupied himself in the composition of numerous comedies, most of which met with the most flattering reception. One alone proved an utter failure. This was the “ Fortunate Heiress.” Goldoni was piqued with the public, and in a momentary fit of spleen, undertook to furnish sixteen comedies within the year. His foes laughed: his friends trembled: Goldoni triumphed.
Goldoni continued to compose for the theatres at Venice, Bologna, and Parma. In 1755, he was presented with letters-patent of Poet and actual Servant of the Infant Don Philip, and with a considerable annual pension. After this, he was invited to take charge of the Tordinona Theatra in Rome, but met with no success, in consequence of the deficiencies of the company employed there. He was, however, universally welcomed, and treated with great honour by the nobles and princes of the Eternal city. Clement XIII. gave him a most gracious reception, and loaded him with presents.
Goldoni was now far advanced in years, and, apprehensive lest old age should impair his faculties, and prevent him from obtaining an honourable livelihood, he resolved to accept an invitation to Paris, in order to secure himself from want. It is said, however, that he withdrew from Italy, in consequence of the success of his rival, Count Charles Gozzi, of whose rising fame he was jealous. It is but justice to Goldoni to state, that this report has but little foundation. In 1764, he crossed the bar which separates France from Italy. Here “he reiterated his farewell to his own country, and invoked the shade of Moliere to be his guide in that of his.”
Goldoni was an universal favourite in France. He was introduced to all the leading characters of the day, and lived on terms of friendship and intimacy with most of them. He received an annual pension of 4000 livres for teaching the French princesses the Italian language; another pension of 1200, during the life of himself and his nephew, from the French king, and an extraordinary gratuity of 6000 from the same royal source. He composed many pieces for the French theatres, which were generally approved. In particular, “La Boura Bienfaisant," written in the language of his adopted country, met with the most brilliant success. He also wrote an opera for the London theatre, which was deservedly approved.
In declining age, Goldoni seems to have suffered much from fits of hypochondriasis, to which he had always been subject, as well as from undue action of the heart. He still, however, remained the same . amiable character he had ever been; his gentle and urbane qualities rendered him generally beloved, and his society was eagerly sought by all whose praise is honour.
On the marriage of his niece, he signed over all his Italian property to her, and lived on his pension, and the profits of his literary labours. He survived the period at which his autobiography closes, about five years; the two last of which were passed in great indigence, owing to the disturbances of the Revolution. The French rulers, however, were on the eve of making provision for him, when death precluded the necessity.
Goldoni died at Paris 1792, at the advanced age of eighty-five. His plays amount to 150, and are published in thirtyfive volumes. So fertile a genius was perhaps never known.
Goldoni found the Italian stage disgraced by exhibitions at once the most absurd and demoralising, and determined to correct this abuse: with what success the attempt was made, we have fully shown.
For rapidity of execution, beauty of design, and powers of invention, Goldoni is almost without a rival. His wit is of the most brilliant order, though less keen than that of Moliere, to whom he has been frequently compared. His plots are, for the most part, admirable ; and the moral lessons which they inculcate, shew the uprightness and purity of his mind. His anecdotes are as remarkable for their point and humour as for their number. His dialogues are always full of life and spirit, are true to nature, and ever to the point. He possessed a thorough knowledge of the manners of his countryinen, and was eminently successful in depicting them on the stage. The Italians consider Goldoni to have carried the dramatic art to the highest point of excellence of which it is susceptible.
W. M. W. C.
| GAZED upon thee, and thine eye
Was not withdrawn :-our glances met ;
Betray'd confusion or regret.
I go, and will not e'en repine:
Will seek no more to link with thine.
Yet, musing, when in western heav'n,
The fire-eyed planet glows afar,
To my frail bark a guiding star!
By ling’ring streams when I recline,
From morning's light to day's decline.
C. B. W.
THE RELIGION OF POETS.
It has been generally believed, and frequently asserted, and that in the most direct and positive manner, that poets are, from the very nature of their organization, opposed to the love of virtue and religion, and that their repugnancy is manifest from the scope and tenor of their writings. That some have written “ many loose lays” is undeniable. The effusions of the amorous Mr. Little, are, it must be conceded, as tolerable specimens of the immoral tendency of the writings of the "genus irritabile,” as could well be indicated by the most rancorous enemy of poets and poetry. All poets, however, are not Littles; nor is it necessary that he who sings of love, should sing of it in impure and voluptuous strains. It may be questioned, however, whether even the volume of poems to which allusion has just been made, has occasioned a tithe of the mischief imputed to it. To the pure, all things are pure, and to the impure, even virtue itself would appear but another form of vice; even as the sun, which matures and gives odour and colour to the expanding bud, only withers and renders noisome the gathered flower.
But it is not now my intention to speculate on this subject. What I wish to demonstrate is, that, in spite of occasional passages of objectionable tendency in their works, and of many and grievous errors in their lives, poets are themselves the subjects of deep religious feeling, and of the most fervent aspirations after the true and holy, after the good and beautiful. To some,
this proposition will appear strange and unintelligible; but these are they to whom the volume of nature is a sealed book, the history of the generations of the heaven and earth a neglected study, and by whom religion is recognised only in the utterance of certain forms of prayer, and the compliance with certain ceremonies as by law or custom established. With such I have no concern. They have no sympathy with poetry, -no love for nature,-no trust in the beautiful. But there are others who will readily accord with my views, and who, understanding the true aim and purposes of poetry, and “living with their muses in their heart,” will be disposed to acknowledge the correctness of my proposition, and be ready to uphold it against all gainsayers: for such I will attempt a development of my sentiments on this subject.
Poetry is the loftiest and most sacred of arts. It is the blossom and odour of all human knowledge. It is the impassioned utterance of the most subtle and hidden feelings of the heart, ---of the most glorious aspirations of the mind. It is the portraiture of all our passions and affections,- of our joys and griefs, -. of our hopes and fears. Its sphere is not bounded. It sings of earth and heaven; of good and evil ; of God and man; of time and of eternity. All nature, external and internal, is its subject; and wherever the beautiful or the good is to be found, there also, of necessity, co-essential with them, has poetry an existence and a home.
Since such are the characteristics of sacred song, it must be allowed,
I do not say
that in whatever degree a love of the good and beautiful, of the true and holy, exists in the mind of a poet, in the same degree must he be considered as the subject of religious impressions, and the worshipper of Him who inhabiteth eternity. If to give great and ennobling ideas of the greatest and most ennobling subjects, if to communicate to a listening world the most solemn and sublime truths, — if to show man the end and aim of his being,-if to teach him to march forward towards the goal of perfection ;-if this be the office of the poet, then must the poet's mind be steeped in the dazzling light of religion.
I do not say that his religion will assume the same external form which that of the generality of his fellow-men assumes. that the flesh may not obtain the mastery over the spirit, or that the poet may not frequently betray his privileges, and sell his birthright for a mess of pottage. Fierce and fiery passions; temptations hard to be resisted; circumstances over which he has no controul; “ solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty,” have too often been drawn up in battle array against the poet, and have too often succeeded, to a certain extent, in their efforts to darken the bright sanctuary of his mind, and to expel the angel that ministers there,- with folded wings and obscured glory, it is true, but who, notwithstanding, ministers and will minister. I do not say that the poet may not often desert the narrow path that leads to the shining gate of perfection, and that both in conduct and in song ; but I do say, that, in spite of all his errors, in spite of all his wanderings, the love of truth and of religion,—the aspiration after God, the absolute type of beauty and of holiness,remain unchanged and unchangeable in his soul. He cannot, if he would, extinguish the light which at his birth was kindled in his mind. He must love truth, because the Creator willed it. He must act in conformity with the dictates of his nature, and they would teach him to promote the welfare of his brethren. He must delineate the forms of the good and the beautiful, for thereto is he impelled by the irresistible agencies of his moral and intellectual nature.
Some there are, who would fain have us believe that we are entitled to demand from the children of genius, a degree of moral excellence commensurate with the vastness of their intellectual endowments. Some there are who dwell delightedly on every error of a great and glorious spirit, and take a peculiar species of pride in indicating and magnifying every fault into which the gifted may be at times betrayed. To throw down the altar raised to Genius,—to desolate the fane where his worshippers assemble, – to degrade the kings of thought to their own level; this is their object—this their glory. For this they strive, as for some noble end: wise men are they, and worthy, right worthy of our esteem and imitation! But when the altar is overthrown, when the fane is desolated, and when genius is humbled to the dust, what then? They have gained their object. They have sung their hymn of triumph. What then? Are they wiser ? Are they better? Oh
But they are satisfied, — they have recovered their self-esteem. Genius, after all, is nothing so very great. Oh, fools and blind! Sup. pose ye, then, that the creators of ideas can be exempt from even the stain of evil ? Suppose ye that, living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, with the stormy passions of beings like yourselves