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THE LAST SPEECH OF THE LADY ALICIA LISLE.
Gentlemen, friends, and neighbours, it may be expected that I should say something at my death, and in order thereunto, I shall acquaint you, that my birth and education were both near this place, and that my parents instructed me in the fear of God, and I now die of the reformed protestant religion; that if ever popery should return into this nation, it would be a very great and severe judgment; that I die in expectation of the pardon of all my sins, and of acceptance with God the Father, by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, He being the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes. I thank God, through Jesus Christ, that I do depart under the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel; God having made this chastisement an ordinance to my soul.
I did once as little expect to come to this place on this occasion, as any person in this place, or nation; therefore, let all learn not to be highminded, but fear. The Lord is a sovereign, and will take what way
he sees best to glorify himself in and by his poor creatures; and I do humbly desire to submit to his will, praying to him that I may possess my soul in patience. The crime that was laid to my charge, was for entertaining a nonconformist minister and others in my house; the said minister being sworn to have been in the late Duke of Monmouth's army; but I have been told that if I had denied them, it would not at all have affected me; I have no excuse, but surprise and fear, which I believe my jury must make use of to excuse their verdict to the world. I have been also told that the court did use to be of counsel for the prisoner, but instead of advice, I had evidence against me from thence; which, though it were only by hearsay, might possibly affect my jury; my defence being but such as might be expected from a weak woman; but, such as it was, I did not hear it repeated again to the jury; which, as I have been informed, is usual in such cases. However, I forgive all the world, and therein all those that have done me wrong; and, in particular, I forgive Colonel Penruddock, although he told me that he could have taken these men before they came to my house. I do acknowledge his majesty's favour, in revoking my sentence; I pray God to preserve him, that he may long reign in mercy, as well as justice; and that he may reign in peace, and that the protestant religion may flourish under him. I also return thanks to God, and the reverend clergy, that assisted me in my imprisonment.
The Lady Lisle now turned to the minister of the gospel, and kneeling down with him and her daughter, they continued in
prayer for some minutes. She
and the executioner came forward; “ Thank you,” she said mildly to him, “but my daughter will assist me." Tryphena removed her mother's hood, and her finely shaped head appeared covered only by her long and snowwhite hair. With trembling hands the loving daughter cut off all that long flowing hair ; and then, kneeling before her mother, prayed her blessing. “God, for Christ's sake, bless and keep you, my own child," she exclaimed aloud, and kissed her fondly. “We shall indeed meet again to part no more: now pray for me," she added, “ obey my last request, I am sure you will not disobey me now. Do not turn your head.”—Tryphena did obey. There was a short, but awful pause ; -a loud and sudden stroke sounded in the ears of the daughter-and she fell beside the headless corpse of her mother.
ON COTEMPORARY ITALIAN WRITERS.
No. I.-IPPOLITO PINDEMONTE.
It has been frequently a subject of remark, especially of late, how little cotemporary Italian literature is known in England. Even among the generality of literary men,- of those who know something of the literature of foreign countries,—the first-rate Italian classics, and Alfieri among the modern, are the only authors which may be said to be commonly appreciated.
The literary productions of Italy which have appeared since the French revolution are almost a dead letter in England ; indeed, we have heard it asked, with real inquisitiveness, whether there were any recent Italian authors worth reading. Many causes may be assigned for this singularity. The want of a common centre of information in Italy itself, from which circumstance many of her authors remain unknown beyond the precincts of their respective states ; the scarcity of reviews and other periodical works; the little encouragement literature enjoys, and the insecurity of literary property; the fashionable use of the French language; the censure; the custom-house duties; all these are sufficient motives to account for the slowness and difficulty with which literary novelties circulate even through Italy. Adding to these the distance between that country and England, and the consequent expense and trouble attending the carriage of books; the want of a speculative spirit among Italian booksellers, and the little intercourse that
akes place between the natives of the two countries, we shall not wonder so much at Italian cotemporary literature being little known in England. However, as we think this literature not altogether contemptible, although not perhaps in as flourishing a state as that of various former periods, we shall endeavour to fill this void in encyclopedic information, by giving a series of articles upon the most distinguished Italian writers of the day, attaching ourselves principally to the spirit of their works, and their connexion with, and influence upon, the present state of mind in
It has been said by a modern writer, that “le siécle qui suit une epoque de troubles est toujours le siécle des genie.” If this proposition were true, and it bears at first sight an air of plausibility, our age ought to be blessed with a greater quantum of genius than any since the flood. Troubles, and disturbances, and convulsions, there have been enough at the close of the last century and at the beginning of this; ten years have now nearly elapsed since the termination of those calamities,-a full time at least for the first beams of this promised blaze of intellectual splendour to have illuminated the horizon. Those countries, too, that have been the principal scene of troubles, and wars, and mighty changes, ought, by a natural deduction, to have the greater share of the subsequent benefit. But, alas ! facts are stubborn things, and overset the most flattering theories. Our age, with all its increase of education and general information, is remarkable for a scarcity of that unacquirable gift of nature called genius; and this scarcity is particularly observable in those countries which have, for a quarter of a century, been in a state of political and moral fermentation hardly equalled in history. France and Italy are decidedly poor in writers of original transcendant genius; indeed, in the former country, we should be much embarrassed to point out a literary character which, by the opinion of Frenchmen themselves, deserves to be placed in the same rank with their great writers of the age of Louis XIV., or even with those of the last century. With regard to Italy, which is more particularly concerned in the present article, we are bound to acknowledge an almost equal deficiency in original inventive genius; and the principal exceptions are those of two or three writers who belong properly to the age that is past, and who may be said to have flourished before and during that very disturbed period. The truth is, that the avatars of genius cannot be foretold ; the appearances of that child of heaven do not seem to be connected with the tide of other human affairs ; its visits have taken place at epochs the most dissimilar ; amongst the din and the horrors of war, as well as in the luxurious times of peace: it has appeared to the soldier in the busy field, to the party-man during the contentions of civil war,
and to the cænobite in the solitude of his cell; and even, at times, to the savage in the gloom of his forests, and to the barbarian roaming over the trackless waste. The combinations which determine its coming forth are beyond the power, as well as above the research, of man.
In the latter half of the last century, and in times of profound peace, Italy was irradiated by a constellation of bright intellects, such as she had not seen since the age of Leo. These great men had formed themselves under circumstances, which, in our days, we are apt to consider as peculiarly disadvantageous: they were the natives of Roman catholic countries, the subjects of absolute governments; they had been educated according to the old system, and most of them by jesuits. Some were churchmen themselves. And yet, from such a state of society, and under the shade of such institutions, came forth Passeroni, Gozzi, Bettinelli, Verri, Parini, Cesarotti, Denina, Alfieri, Monti, Pindemonte, Bertola, and several more who might be mentioned. Of this glorious list, two or three only are now surviving. Monti and Pindemonte
very old; and when they are gone, their seats on the Italian Parnassus will probably remain long vacant.
Ippolito Pindemonte was born a younger son of a patrician family of Verona, in the Venetian states. His elder brother, Giovanni, is known in Italy for some tragedies he wrote, and which enjoyed, at the time, some popularity. They are now nearly forgotten,-an instance of the precariousness of Italian literary reputation, owing to the great influence exercised upon the public by the opinion of a small class of literati; an influence which has at times weighed heavily on genius, and which is opposed now, but with doubtful success, by a school of young men that will no longer submit to it. Ippolito Pindemonte, however, by his genius, the independence of his mind, the amiability and modesty of his manner, and his immaculate reputation, has either conciliated or conquered the severity of this self-constituted areo pagus; for men of all parties, and critics of various opinions, speak of him with deference and respect, both for his talent and character. “ He is fully possessed,” says Countess Albrizzi, “of that most difficult art of making the wicked forgive him his goodness, the ignorant his learning, the vicious his virtues, and women his indifference.” This latter charge, however, has been gently repelled by Pindemonte, whose alleged coolness in this respect seems to have proceeded not from natural indifference to female charms, of which supposed indifference indeed many of his earlier productions afford a refutation, but from the mastery which it has been the study of his life to give to the nobler and purer, over the lower and more earthly, passions.
Among Pindemonte's earlier productions are his prosé and
poesie campestri, which, as he informs us, were written in the year 1785, while he was living in his rural residence of Avesa near Verona. 66 A man,” thus he described himself in the introduction, " who does not dislike living with himself, who loves independence and liberty, and who is enamoured of the country, finds himself, for the first time in his life, free, independent, and retired in the green recesses of a delightful villa. He is arrived at that crisis in which men become undeceived about most of the illusions of this world,-a crisis perhaps not very desirable, but yet unavoidable sooner or later in life, by those who have a single grain of philosophy in their heads. His disposition is somewhat inclined to melancholy, and his precarious health contributes to this bias; but his melancholy flows tranquilly and mildly, and the forewarnings of a slow but cruel disease
which threatens his days, endears to him still more his rural leisure, which he perhaps will not be able to enjoy much longer. He has exerted himself from boyhood in the art of composing; an art of which he knew the difficulty only when its charms had deprived him of the power of forsaking it: hence the various sensations and ideas which, in this his new situation, now crowd to his mind or warm his heart; he traces them on paper, now in the language of poetry, and now in that of prose, accordingly as he feels himself inspired. I am that man, and the reader will thus know what he has to expect from this book.”
These rural compositions are, by their sentiments and their style, well adapted to the subject. There is not in them any affectation of sentiment, but mild wisdom, love of the human kind, and an elegant taste for the beauties of nature. The language of the prose is flowing and familiar without being trivial ; it is a fair specimen of plain Italian composition, and shows that language well adapted for the humbler walks of light literature as well as for the loftiest flights of poetry. The author describes the inducements to rural life, and its advantages; and maintains its usefulness. 66 The inhabitants of cities, and especially of Italian cities, have a sort of contempt for country life; they look upon any one who does not live with them as being out of the world, as if there were no human beingsout of cities. And yet no where can the wise and the rich render themselves useful as in the country, where that part of the human race exists which is often in want of our greatest care, and which certainly deserves it most. It is in the country that, far from forgetting mankind, one learns better to love and serve it; while in cities one is in danger of deceiving others, to avoid being oneself deceived." These, and other reflections of the same sort, serve to prove that Pindemonte's philosophy was not of the indolent and epicurean character, but philanthropic and patriotic. Of this latter quality, indeed, he affords so many proofs throughout his writings that it were idle to doubt it. But the circumstances of his