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part of Italy. * Their philological labors have, in truth, been highly valuable;

though perhaps not so completely successful as those of the French academicians. We do not allude to any capricious principle on which their vocabulary may have been constructed, an affair of their own critics ; but to the fact, that, after all, they have not been able to settle the language with the same precision and uniformity with which it has been done in France; from the want of some great metropolis, like Paris, whose authority would be received as paramount all over the kingdom. No such universal deference has been paid to the Cruscan academy, and the Italian language, far from being accurately determined, is even too loose and inexact for the common purposes of business. Perhaps it is for this very reason better adapted to the ideal purposes of poetry

The exquisite mechanism of the Italian tongue, made up of the very elements of music, and picturesque in its formation beyond that of any other living language, is, undoubtedly, a cause of the exaggerated consequence imputed to style by the writers of the nation. The author of the Dialogue on Orators points out, as one of the symptoms of depraved eloquence in Rome, that voluptuous artificial harmony of cadence, which is better suited to the purposes of the musician or the dancer, than of the orator. The same vice has infected Italian prose from its earliest models, from Boccaccio and Bembo, down to the most ordinary book-wright of the present day, who hopes to disguise his poverty of thought under his melodious redundancy of diction. Hence it is that their numerous Letters, Dialogues, and their specimens of written eloquence, are too often defective both in natural force and feeling. Even in those graver productions, which derive almost their sole value from their facts, they are apt to be far more solicitous about style and ingenious turns of thought, as one of their own critics has admitted, than either utility or sound philosophy.t

A principal cause, after all, of the various peculiarities of Italian literature, of which we have been speaking, is to be traced to that fine perception of the beautiful, so inherent in every order of the nation, whether it proceed from a happier

* See, in particular, the treatise of Parini, himself a Lombard, De' principi delle Belle Lettere. Part II. Cap. 5.

† Bettinelli. Risorgim. d'Italia. Introd. p. 14.

physical organization, or from an early familiarity with those models of ideal beauty, by which they are every where surrounded. Whoever has visited Italy must have been struck with such a sensibility to elegant pleasure, and such a refinement of taste in the very lowest classes, as in other countries belong only to the more cultivated. This is to be discerned in the most trilling particulars; in their various costume, whose picturesque arrangement seems to have been studied from the models of ancient statuary ; in the flowers and other tasteful ornaments, with which, on fête days, they decorate their chapels and public temples; in the eagerness with which the peasant and the artisan, after their daily toil, resort to the theatre, the opera, or similar intellectual amusements, instead of the bear-baitings, bull-fights, and drunken orgies, so familiar to the populace of other countries; and in the quiet rapture with which they listen for hours, in the public squares, to the strains of an improvisatore, or the recitations of a story-teller, without any other refreshment than a glass of water. The author of a new musical piece for San Carlos hardly feels assured of its success, till it has received the approbation of the lazzaroni; and Cellini informs us, that his patron, the Duke of Tuscany, hesitated to pronounce upon his celebrated statue of Perseus, until it had been exposed to the criticism of the populace in the great square of Florence. Even the art of improvisation, carried to such perfection by the Italians, is far less imputable to the facilities of their verse, than to the poetical genius of the people ; an evidence of which, is the abundance of improvisatori in Latin in the sixteenth century, when that language came to be widely cultivated.

It is time, however, to conclude our remarks, which have already encroached too liberally on the patience of our readers. Notwithstanding our sincere admiration, as generally expressed, for the beautiful literature of Italy, we fear that some of our reflections may be rather unpalatable to a people, who shrink with sensitive delicacy from the rude touch of foreign criticism. The most liberal opinions of a foreigner, it is true, coming through so different a medium of prejudice and taste, must always present a somewhat distorted aspect to the eye of a native. On those finer shades of expression, which constitute, indeed, much of the value of poetry, none but a native can propounce with accuracy. But on its intellectual and moral character, a foreign critic is better qualified to decide; he may be more perspicacious, even, than a native, in detecting those obliquities from a correct standard of taste, to which the latter has been reconciled by prejudice and long example, or which he may have learned to reverence as beauties.

There must be so many exceptions, too, to the sweeping range of any general criticism, that it will always carry with it a certain air of injustice. Thus while we object to the Italians the diluted, redundant style of their compositions, may they not refer us to their versions of Tacitus and Persius, the most condensed writers in the most condensed language in the world, in a form equally compact with that of the originals ? May they not object to us Dante and Alfieri, scarcely capable of translation into any modern tongue, in the same compass, without a violence to idiom? And may they not cite the same hardy models, in refutation of an unqualified charge of effeminacy? Where shall we find examples of purer and more exalted sentiment, than in the writings of Petrarch and Tasso ? Where of a more chastised composition, than in Casa or Caro ? And where more pertinent examples of a didactic aim, than in their numerous poetical treatises on husbandry, manufactures, and other useful arts, which in other countries form the topics of bulky disquisitions in prose? This is all just. But such exceptions, however imposing, in no way contravene the general truth of our positions, founded on the prevalent tone and characteristics of Italian literature.

Let us not, however, appear insensible to the merits of a literature, pre-eminent above all others for activity of fancy and beautiful variety of form, or to those of a country so fruitful in interesting recollections to the scholar and the artist; in which the human mind has displayed its highest energies untired through the longest series of ages; on which the light of science shed its parting ray, and where it first broke again upon the nations; whose history is the link that connects the past with the present, the ancient with the modern, and whose enterprising genius enlarged the boundaries of the old world by the discovery of a new; whose scholars opened to mankind the intellectual treasures of antiquity ; whose schools first expounded those principles of law, which have become the basis of jurisprudence in most of the civilized nations of Europe ; whose cities gave the earliest example of free institutions, and when the vision of liberty had passed away, maintained their empire over the mind, by those admirable productions of art that revive the bright period of Grecian glory ; and who, even now, that her palaces are made desolate, and her vineyards trodden down under the foot of the stranger, retains within her bosom all the fire of ancient genius. It would show a strange insensibility, indeed, did we not sympathize in the fortunes of a nation that has manifested, in such a variety of ways, the highest intellectual power; of which we may exclaim, in the language which a modern poét has applied to one of the most beautiful of her cities,

O Decus, O Lux
Ausoniæ, per quam libera turba sumus,
Per quam Barbaries nobis non imperat, et Sol

Exoriens nostro clarius orbe nitet!

W.BO: Peabody,

ART. III.—Origin and Progress of the Useful Arts.

The Frugal Housewife. By the Author of Hobomok.

Third Edition. Boston. 1830. It would be presumptuous in us, to point out the merits or defects of a work so entirely beyond our jurisdiction as this; at the same time, we would not have this writer suspect that we have introduced her name, merely to secure a title to our article. We have done it rather, to express our respect for an accomplished lady, to whom we have been indebted for entertainment informer times; and though her present writings do not come within the reach of our criticism, we know how to estimate the moral self-denial, which appears in the devotion of her talents to the service of the

young.

We can recommend her Juvenile Miscellany to parents, as an excellent work for their children ; the defects in it are very trifling, and ought never to be mentioned, without giving the praise due to all, who, feeling themselves capable of higher efforts, are content to sacrifice such fame, for the better and more enduring reward of gratitude and affection. We

propose to give a slight account of several of the arts of life, which are alluded to in this work ;—to trace them downwards, showing from what beginning they sprang, and what improvements they underwent in the course of successive ages. There is no regular history of such arts, excepting Beckmann's, which is nothing more than a collection of notes on various subjects without system ; valuable and thorough, VOL. XXXIII.-NO. 72.

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but very limited in its range of subjects. Such an imperfect account as can be given, is only to be gained from incidental remarks gleaned in the works of various historians, who had no intention of giving light to future ages upon any such matters. Such an account will afford evidence, distressing to a certain class of moralists, because it tends to show that the wants of the human race are growing. Growing in extent and number they certainly are, and it seems to us, that men cannot do better than to let them grow; for these wants, in whatever form they come, are severely faithful friends; they drive men to activity both of body and mind. It was well said, that the advice to cut off our wants, when we have nothing to supply them, is like advising men to cut off their feet, when they happen to have no shoes. No tribes of the human race, with which we are acquainted, will work with body or mind, simply for the sport of the thing; and since exercise is so important to the health of the soul, we think that the moralist should bless the necessity that drives men to exertion. It is evident, that most of the luxuries, which at their first introduction, were looked upon with an evil eye, soon became nothing more than comforts; stockings, for example, were doubtless thought very effeminate, when first invented; but as invention put them within the reach of all, they became nothing more than comforts, which no man was disposed to rail against, because they could not well be dispensed with; and which, instead of

1 tending to enervate the frame, do actually increase its power of physical endurance and exertion. It is sufficiently clear, from various experiments, that although the wild human animal does endure more hardships than the domesticated, the latter can endure far more from exposure to labor or climate, than the other, because strength is increased by a proper measure of food and keeping; even luxuries, when they are not excesses, do not produce the effect apprehended; witness the young English officers, who, though accustomed to no other parade than that of Bond-street, sustained, even better than veterans, the march and bivouac of the Peninsular campaigns.

This matter is not generally understood, and what the error is, may be explained by an illustration. After the death of Major Laing, the enterprising traveller in Africa, the colored potentate of the kingdom in which he died restored his effects to the British Admiral, on the nearest station, and among the

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