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there seem to be any thing in Paris that could promise him either solid advantage, or pleasure. Poor, and without patronage, friends, or means of introduction, he well knew that he should find himself, when there, in the state of one fallen from the clouds. Moreover, he only proposed to himself a residence of eight or ten months in France,-a space of time which he must have known inadequate to the acquisition of any art even in the most superficial degree. What, then, was his purpose in going to Paris ? Merely to have the advantage of talking about it after his return. And here we must observe that an erroneous impression has been conveyed by Montesquieu, Voltaire, and most foreign writers on Spain, as well as travellers, when they have asserted the people of that country to be one of the proudest and vainest in Europe, in what relates to literature and the fine arts. This is altogether incorrect. No individual of any nation has a less flattering opinion of his own national contemporaries than the Spaniard. For him, the man who meets his daily view on the promenade, or in the evening circle of the Tertulia, is only the man of his acquaintance, not the sadant, the artist, or the man of letters. The vanity of the Spaniard (if he may be said to have any) exerts itself upon objects no longer in existence, or attaches itself to such as are yet to come, but takes no notice of those which are passing under its immediate view. In this sense, Spain may be designated as the paradise of the departed, the limbo of those yet unborn, and the purgatory of the living. A national production of the present age can only receive estimation there from its reference to ultramontane manners, language, or institutions : it is allowed, in short, no merit but what it borrows, and is only relished by the Spaniards in proportion as it is not Spanish. Mayquez, therefore, who had been despised so long as he continued to live in Spain, became an object of public interest as soon as the purport of his journey was noised among the coteries of the capital. No longer calumniated as the insipid, monotonous actor, he was now viewed as the future disciple of Talma, the intrepid young traveller seeking instruction beyond the formidable space between the Manzanares and the Seine !*
It is not our intention to affirm that this tour was of no real service to Mayquez, or to the interest of Spanish oratory. The former unquestionably derived from it an enlargement of his ideas. He obseved, compared, and extracted the quintessence of every thing that could further his design. His manner of regarding things was guided by too sensible a judgment to admit of his confounding, in the performance of Talma, Lafond, Clozee, or Mademoiselle Mars, what appertained to the art in
* To such a degree had the Spaniards become isolated by the effects of despotism, that the custom of travelling was lost among them. Previously to the war of 1808, the fact of a person's having been six months in Paris or London, was looked upon as an actual merit by the vulgar. It was an exertion more extraordinary than that of Belzoni.
† Mayquez visited Talma as soon as he reached Paris. An anecdote is related that does honour to both. We believe it substantially correct, although we cannot certify it to be so. It is said that Talma received Mayquez with great cordiality, and requested him to recite some passage from a Spanish tragedy, in order to give an idea of his powers as an actor. It must be observed that all the conversation passed through the medium of an interpreter, as neither of the principals could speak the language of the other. Mayquez delivered about twenty lines of the Numancia (a tragedy of Ayala's); and such was the expression of his features, the
general, with what was only conceded to the particular circumstances of national manners and habits, or to the structure even of French versification. He selected, accordingly, that only which was adapted for representation in Spain, hispanizing (if we may be allowed the term) whatever he found it convenient to transport with him. We may add moreover, from his own declaration, that in all which concerns scenie decoration, the interior service of a theatre, and accurate imitation in costume, he profited much by his journey.
The return of Mayquez io Madrid, after an absence of ten months, was marked by the most brilliant success. His acting produced an enchantment of delight. People affected to discern at once that Talma had been his instructor. His refined manners, his dignity on the stage, plainly denoted one who had inhaled the air of the fauxbourg St. Germain. There alone was the knowledge to be acquired how to present oneself before the world. The very dress of the newly adopted favourite bespoke a derivation from the Rue Vivienne; and finally the fair sex voted his face more handsome and more animated since it had been immersed in the limpid waters of the Seine. To doubt of this was a sacrilege—the sex were so rarely deceived in their opinions of physiognomy, in the case of men! Mayquez, who adhered to the familiar style of acting, thus acquired a popularity which not all the arguments and the criticism of a Luzan, a Velasquez, or a Mayans-nor the declared patronage of the ministry,—nor even the masterpieces of a Moratin had availed to excite. It was then that classic comedy gained ground in Spain, for it was then only that the taste for its representation became generalised amongst all ranks of society, that players learned to embody it with propriety, and that poets were enabled to write in that style, without fear of committing themselves, or of being misunderstood.
To the same period (that of Mayquez's return) may be assigned the custom of the daily representation of tragedy. Its performance had, till then, been usually very rare, and equally wretched. The same manner of recitation and decoration had been applied to it, and even the same carelessness of costume, as in the exhibition of comedy. Mayquez was not only superior in tragic parts, he was the inventor of Spanish declamation ; the founder of a school altogether new and national.* The prosperous opening which he made, encouraged authors to cultivate a branch of literature hitherto almost exotic in Spain. We have already noticed that only two tragedies (the Raquel, and the Numancia,) had maintained their place on the list of the Repertory, and shall presently enquire what are those that may be added, up to the period of this essay, after we have said a few words about the tragedies of M. Cienfuegos, printed, with his other poetical writings, towards the end of the last century.
silent eloquence of his eyes, and the truth and uature displayed in his action, that Talma made no scruple of assigning to him thenceforth one of the highest stations in the temple of Melpomene. The mutual esteem of both followed this interview, and endured no interruption.
Such of our readers as may desire a more intimate acquaintance with this part of the scenic history of the Peninsula, are referred to the Life of Mayquez, published in Madrid in 1820, from the pen of M. de Gorostiza, a dramatic writer of eminence and competitor with Moratin.
M. Cienfuegos held a post in the office of foreign affairs in Madrid, and was a distinguished member of the Spanish academy. He was excellent as a lyric poet, judicious as a prose-writer, highly enlightened as a man of letters, besides being in his character honourable and amiable. He was likewise the intimate friend of Cadalso, Melendez, and Jovellanos. Four tragedies were composed by him : Idomeneo, Pittaco,* Zurayda, and La Condesa de Castilla (the Countess of Castille). The two first have never been played, nor do we think they will ever meet with success, by reason of the barrenness and comparative torpor of their respective plots, although their versification is very good. The other two have had success, and are still occasionally played, though not productive of much effect. They are deserving, at least, of estimation among the literati, and of the critic's notice. Zorayda is a very well written composition, giving a faithful picture of the troubles in Grenada during the feuds of the Abencerrages and Zegries. It derives from its subject an air of romance which conveys into the details an inexpressible charm. Zorayda is, in fact, the tragedy, of all others, which the Spaniards experience the highest interest in reading. However, whether it be that Moorish tales harmonize better with the lyric than the tragic manner, owing to the richness of imagination which they call forth, and which leads us
unavoidably into exaggeration, or that the isolated subject of the tragedy in question was not well conceived by Cienfuegos, the fact is certain, that, in the representation, it excites no emotion, either by means of the situations or the speeches. tator is sensible of a void, which he is at first at a loss to explain to himself, but soon finding time for analysis, discovers that the characters are feeble, the dialogue loaded with a superfluity of words, and the progress of the story, in consequence, very tardy. The catastrophe, besides, excites neither surprise nor strong sensation of any kind, as it merely fulfils previous conjecture. Of the Condesa de Castilla we must observe that it is the only one of Cienfuegos' tragedies the subject of which is positively tragic. Indeed, we are aware but of one blemish in it: that of a denouement tediously slow. The Countess of Castille swallows poison towards the middle of the fifth act, and never quits the stage, nor ceases to speak, until she dies precisely at the end. A strict attention on the part of the auditory to a protracted contrivance like this can by no means be kept up, and the illusion of the spectacle is therefore dissipated. We paint Melpomene with a dagger in her hand -never with a phial of laudanum ; thereby seeming to indicate that a catastrophe, to be imposing, should be rapid and bloody; that the curtain should descend as soon as the blow is struck, if we would prolong for a few moments the terror it is presumed to have inspired in the mind of the spectator. The catastrophe, however, excepted, this tragedy may be termed excellent. Its tone is truly historical, its dialogue concise and impetuous, its versification powerful; the story is well developed, the characters well marked and supported, particularly that of the Countess, which is a finished piece of composition, exhibiting at once the haughty sovereign, the weak mother, the devoted mistress, and the impassioned woman.
We will now return to the time of Mayquez. The first tragedy he performed in was Shakspeare's Othello, translated into Spanish by Don Theodore La Calle, from Ducis' French version. We should have bestowed no mention on this translation, which is altogether below mediocrity, had not M. Bouterwek cited its author among those who have exerted themselves for the re-establishment of the modern stage, and that chiefly in allusion to his translation of Othello. None of the literary works of M. La Calle, on the contrary, have entitled him to this kind of distinction. Destitute of genius as a poet, and being in fact but a mean versifier, he has never enjoyed any consideration in the Peninsula ; and we are impelled to point out M. Bouterwek's mistake, from the apprehension that La Calle may acquire an undue estimation with foreigners through the means of so respectable an authority.
* This piece was not printed till after the death of the author.
If it was M. Bouterwek's wish to devote a few of his pages to the Spanish versions of modern tragedies, he might have adduced Legouvé's Mort d'Abel, translated by M. de Saviñon ; L'Oscar, translated by M. Gallego; or the Cid of Corneille, translated by M. Garcia Suelto. Of these, the two first are distinguished for purity of language and richness of versification. The last is rather a new cast of its subject, than a simple translation. M. Garcia Suelto, a young physician of great credit, and an estimable member of the literary world, profiting by Voltaire's judicious remarks contained in his elaborate criticism on the Cid, took care to omit in his translation the tedious character of the Infanta, to abridge considerably Rodrigo's famous soliloquy, and to amend certain anachronisms as to the manners of the period as well as the scene of action, which had escaped Corneille. The style and the mode of versifying of the translator are moreover worthy of an original writer. The national theatre is likewise indebted to the pen of M. Garcia Suelto for a highly approved translation of Regnard's comedy, the Celibataire.
Whilst on the subject of tragic translation, and that we may avoid future recurrence to it, we will make a cursory allusion to what M. Solis has done in this way from the compositions of Alfieri, although of a date somewhat posterior to the preceding. This writer has translated Eteocle, Polinice, Oreste, Virginia, and some others with a very laudable degree of talent. His versions are invariably accurate, and he has rendered admirably the republican spirit and occasional ruggedness of Alfieri. Possessing little harmony in his own mode of versifying, Solis has given with so much the better effect those monosyllables and disjointed words so frequent with his Italian original ; and having been many years engaged as a prompter to the stage in Madrid, he is extensively acquainted with the dramatic literature of his country. He is likewise understood to be well informed in that of other nations, besides having a familiar knowledge of the dead languages.
ITALIAN IMPROVISATORI. No sooner had the gloom of the dark ages been dispersed and literature regained some portion of its pristine splendour, than in almost every town of Italy Improvisatori appeared, professing to descant in poetic metre upon any subject that might be proposed. Nor was it solely in the vulgar dialect of the provinces, or where the mere tinkling of rhyme would ensure applause, that these indefatigable bards appeared. On the contrary, many of them courted the criticism of the learned. Of some of these worthies, whose names are distinguished in the writings of their contemporaries, an account may not be uninteresting to the general reader. The literary historians of the sixteenth century, in their account of this class of poets in that age, all agree in honourable mention of Andrea Marone. The exact place of his birth we do not find recorded, but he seems to have been a humble schoolmaster in Venzone, until the fame of his versifying talents introduced him to the notice of the Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, whom he accompanied to the court of Alfonso I. Duke of Ferrara. His protector, the Cardinal, having occasion to make a journey into Hungary, Marone expressed a wish to be of the party. For some reason or other the Cardinal was not anxious for his company, and Marone unable to bear the mortification of the refusal, grew weary of the countenance of his patron, and at length abandoned the Court of Ferrara for that of Leo the Tenth, which was at that time the most advantageous arena for every species of talent, Giovio, Giraldi, and Valeriano, his contemporaries, relate almost incredible instances of the wonderful facility which this poet possessed in Latin improvisation. Accompanying himself on the viol, which he played with exquisite taste, he poured forth verses with astonishing rapidity, and as he proceeded, increased in copiousness and elegance.
Scarce a meteor appeared in the horizon of literature, science, or the fine arts, during the pontificate of Leo the Tenth, the lustre of which did not contribute to the splendour of his court and add glory to his reign. Possessed of no trifling share of acquirement himself, he knew well how to appreciate it in others, and from one end of Europe to the other, the Vatican drew learning and accomplishment to splendid leisure and luxurious enjoyment. Here then was a fit stage for the developement of the talents of Marone. We are told by Giovio that Querno, Raffaello, Brandolini, and other celebrated improvisatori of the Court, “hid their diminished heads” when confronted with him, and that on one occasion at a solemn festival given by his Holiness to the ambassadors and other distinguished residents at Rome, when commanded to dilate upon the league against the Turks, then the subject of discussion, he so far surpassed the anticipations of his patron, and so delighted and astonished the guests, that Leo immediately conferred on him a valuable benefice in Capua. Contemporary with Marone, though enjoying less honourable celebrity, was Camillo Querno, born at Monopoli, in the kingdom of Naples, A. D. 1470. His propensity to gormandizing was so great that many historians make no mention of him but as a notorious ghiottone," whose other qualities were too trifling to redeem this unpardonable sin. He seems, however, early to have listened to the whisperings of his art, and ere he quitted his native
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