Графични страници
PDF файл

those insects crawling over it, for he was now past attempting to rid himself in the least from this torment, as he had quite lost himself, not recollecting our names that were about him, or even his own. His beard was as long as a hermit's, that and his face being covered with train-oil and dirt, from having long accustomed himself to sleep upon a bag, by the way of pillow, in which he kept the stinking seal. This prudent method he took to prevent our getting at it whilst he slept : his legs were as big as mill-posts, though his body appeared to be nothing but skin and bone."

Mr. Hamilton separated from them, and the others proceeded till they arrived at the island of Chiloe, where the compassionate Indians supplied their necessities with every thing their hearts could desire. They were now delivered as prisoners of war into the hands of the Spaniards. Mr. Byron adds

* “It is amazing, that our eating to that excess we had done, from the time we first got amongst these Indians, had not killed us; we were never satisfied, and used to take all opportunities, for months after, of filling our pockets, when we were not seen, that we might get up two or three times in the night to cram ourselves."

Among the Spaniards, they received the most humane and kind attention; and Mr. Byron captivated a young lady to that degree, that a proposal of marriage was made by the uncle, who, to enhance the value of the bride, displayed his wealth by way of inducement.

“ Amongst other things, he produced a piece of linen, which he said, should immediately be made up into shirts for me. I own this last article was a great temptation to me; however, I had the resolution to withstand it, and made the best excuses I could for not accepting of the honour they intended me.”

. The author, after escaping this and a variety of other perils, was sent with his companions to Valparaiso, from whence they sailed in the Lys, belonging to St. Maloes, and reached St. Domingo; but pursued their route after a few days, and arrived at Brest. Hence, they were permitted to take their passage to England in a Dutchman, and happily reached their native land in safety, after a series of extraordinary scenes and unfortunate adventures, in which they had suffered every degree of privation and distress for upwards of five years. Of the men who went away in the long-boat, some got to England, others were left on shore at different places, and many perished by the way.

Morris, a midshipman, and with him two or three others,

passed over land, across the continent, to Buenos Ayres, conducted by the Indians who had taken them prisoners; but they were redeemed by the Spaniards, and treated with generous kindness.

The fleet which had been dispatched under Pizarro, to defeat Commodore Anson, consisted of four ships of the line, a frigate, and a vessel of twenty guns; and though Anson's squadron suffered severely from disasters, yet Pizarro's were still more fatal on account of his improvidence respecting stores and provisions. On board the Asia, (the Admiral's ship) rats, when they could be caught, were sold for four dollars a piece; and a sailor, who died on board, had his death concealed some days by his brother, who, during that time, lay in the same hammock with the corpse, only to receive the dead man's allowance of provision. Of all the fleet, only this ship returned to Europe; and a circumstance occurred on the passage worthy of recording, as it strongly marks the undaunted spirit of the Indians. Eleven of these, with a chief named Orellana, were forced on board at Monte Video, against their will, to navigate the ship, but the cruel treatment they met with from the officers, instigated them to revenge their wrongs. On a given signal, these desperate men rushed on the quarterdeck, brandishing their knives, killing all who came in their way, and gained possession of a vessel mounting sixty-six guns, with a crew of five hundred men. After the panic had a little subsided, one of the officers who had retreated to the cabin, was fortunate enough to shoot Orellana dead on the spot; on which, his faithful companions, abandoning all thoughts of further resistance, instantly leaped into the sea, where every man perished. Thus terminated these expeditions, in which human life was sacrificed without a cause. The descriptions of them are calculated to excite astonishment and pride in the mariners of the present day, who navigate their ships through the same dangers, and sail round the Globe frequently without losing a "man. For the great improvement in cleanliness and ventilation, so necessary to health, we are principally indebted to Captain Cook, whose name will ever stand on the highest rolls of fame for skill, courage, and humanity.

ART. VI.-Poesie Toscane di Vincenzo da Filicaia, &c.

Venice, 3 vols. 12mo. 1747.

Vincenzo da Filicaja, a native of Florence, who was born in 1642, and died in 1707, was a poet whom the universal es


[ocr errors]

teem of his contemporaries, and the echoes of their admiration, during the first half century that succeeded his death, raised to such distinguished reputation, that he has become famous throughout Europe, and is idolized in his own country, as an absolute prodigy of genius. In proof of his celebrity we might cite the literary opinions of his princely contemporaries, the Emperor Leopold, Duke Charles of Lorraine, John III., King of Poland, and that strange compound of royalty, literature, magnanimity, imbecility, and above all, ferocity, the assassin of the Marquis Monaldeschi, Christina, Queen of Sweden. But the gracious criticism of kings and princes is not the test of merit; an easy, cheap, and unsubstantial return for the incense of adulation, which poets, wonderfully prone to admire, or gifted with accommodating consciences, lavish on these illustrious personages with unbounded liberality. There is a tolerable specimen of the taste and accuracy of royal criticism, in a letter of Christina's to Filicaja, in which she says,—“ Were Alexander the Great now living, he might, with more reason, envy modern princes on your account, than he formerly envied Achilles for his Homer.-In you I behold the incomparable Petrarch restored to life; but raised with a glorious body, exempt from his defects. You have excelled all,” &c. &c.- Letters, August 12, and October 2, 1684.

This fulsome praise in the mouth of princes is nothing very surprising; the wonder is, that the poetical competitors of Filicaja greeted him with applauses equally flattering; and that the genus irritabile vatum, suppressing every rising emotion of constitutional envy, evinced towards him only admiration and good-will. The letters of Francesco Redi afford an instance of this phenomenon. He was a contemporary and countryman of Filicaja; and although, in his poetical criticisms, he sometimes appears to have been too easily pleased, he was one of the most learned men of his time, and then held the first rank amongst the poets. Unpresuming on his own reputation, and incapable of jealousy towards other writers of celebrity, he laboured incessantly to direct the attention and awaken the taste of the public to the works of Filicaja. When he mentions our poet's verses, he constantly runs into the extreme of admiration; and in one of his letters, sent to Filicaja, on the 26th of September, 1683, on occasion of the Canzone written by the latter on the siege of Vienna by the Turks that year, he goes so far as to say,-" Had one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament been called upon to speak to the Almighty on such an affair as the siege of Vienna, he could not have expressed himself in a more masterly style, or with a more decorous and holy bumility, than you have done

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

in your poem. Return thanks to God for this production ; il could only have been dictated by his divine spirit.”—And, in another letter of the same year—" It may be said, without fattery, that, in this work," (the Canzone on the victory of Vienna,)“ you have touched the very harp of David himself.” - In a third letter, dated October 4th, 1687, he says, “ From the days of Fra Guittone to the present time, (the reader will observe, that this is a tolerable stride, and passes over a heap of Redi's own verses,) I had found no poetry which pleased me more than that” (of Filicaja). Fortunate Signor Redi ! to find, at last, in the rhymes of Filicaja, that delicious repast with which neither Dante nor Petrarch could regale his refined poetical palate.

But, independently of all these extravagant encomiums, whoever has but just looked into the literary history of Filicaja's times, and of those which have since elapsed, must know how highly his poems were esteemed in Italy, and throughout Europe. To the shame, however, of that excessive admiration, of which he was the living object-to the shame of those flatterers who offered their incense to him on every side, let us see what he himself prophecied, with respect to his own fame, in his hundred and ninety-fifth sonnet.

-la mia, benche selvaggia e oscura
Musa-il perche non so-rispettan gli anni,

E più d'un l'idolatra, e fé gli giura.
Ma degli altrui troppo amorosi inganni
Fatta giudice un dì l'Età futura,
Fia che si folle idolatria condanni."

Awhile the feeting years adore

My muse's wild unconscious beauty,
And in her artless ear they pour

Their fatt'ring vows of love and duty.
But thou, my muse, their tales distrust,

Credulity may bring repentanca;
And future times, severely just,

May pass a more impartial sentence."

Our author's prophecy has been but too exactly fulfilled. The future times,” predicted by him, have arrrived ; and, with the exception of a few insignificant Italian pedants, obstinately tenacious of the only respect they could ever command, that of the boys in their own worthless school, there is no longer a reader who does not lower, by a hundred degrees, the elevation to which the applause of the last century had exalted the

throne of Filicaja. His name is now seldom mentioned, even in Italy, unless by way of tradition; and few people take the trouble of reading his verses. The sonnet on the slavery of Italy, alone, is still repeated by every pretender to learning; but, beyond those fourteen lines, * no one feels sufficiently interested to examine.

The indifference of the modern Italians towards the works of a poet so lately celebrated as incomparable, deserves some consideration. It cannot be regarded as a mere caprice of fashion ; for many of the Italians, whilst they neglect this poet, profess a more passionate study, a more profound veneration, a more lively enthusiasm than ever existed in former times, for two ancient illustrious lyric poets of Italy, Dante and Pe

* “ Italia, Italia, o tu, cui feo la Sorte

Dono infelice di bellezza, onde hui
Funesta dote d'infiniti guai

Che in fronte scritti per gran doglia porte:
Deh! fossi tu men bella, o almen più forte

One assai piu ti paventasse, o assai
T'amasse men chi del tuo bello aï rai

Par che si strugga, e pur ti sfida a morte!
Che or giù d'all’Alpi non vedrei torrenti

Scender d'Armati, né di sangue tinta

Bever l'Onda del Po Gallici armenti;
Ne te vedrei del non tuo ferro cinta

Pugno col braccio di straniere genti

Per servir sempre, o vincitrice, o vinta.” As we have already several English translations of this sonnet, we think it needless to increase the number. Many of our readers will thank us for rather citing the Latin trauslation, made by the Abbé Regnier Desmarais.

“ Italia, infausto Cæli quæ munere pulchra,

Huic referenda vides uni infortunia doti,
Quæ te cumque premunt, et fronti inscripta leguntur:
Oh utinam vel pulchra minus, vel fortior esses,
Ut vel amare minus, vel te magis ille timere
Disceret, exitium qui victus amore minatur!
Non ego nunc ruere Alpinis effusa viderem
Castra jugis, non Eridanum nunc sanguine fædum
Strage recens biberet Gallus; nec milite cincta
Non proprio, externa tentares prælia dextra,
Ut victrix, seu victa, jugo des colla superbo.”

« ПредишнаНапред »