excerpt from 'Letters from the North of Italy, Addressed to Henry Hallam, Esq., in Two Volumes' pp. 10-11 (343 words)

excerpt from 'Letters from the North of Italy, Addressed to Henry Hallam, Esq., in Two Volumes' pp. 10-11 (343 words)

part of

Letters from the North of Italy, Addressed to Henry Hallam, Esq., in Two Volumes

original language

urn:iso:std:iso:639:ed-3:eng

in pages

10-11

type

text excerpt

encoded value

[LETTER XXXII Vol. 2]

The happiest efforts of these poets have usually been what we term Venetian ballads, a great number of which, though cruelly disfigured, are current in England. The music to which these songs are set is well known in London. But no idea can be formed of them by hearing them any where but at Venice. For the pronunciation, if ever to be imitated, is only to be caught from Venetian lips, and nothing can be more ludicrous in the eyes and ears of one who "has swam in a gondola," than the gay or impassioned strain of the poetry, contrasted with the stucco-face of the statue which doles it forth at home. Here it is seconded by all the nice inflections of voice, all the grace of gesture, and all that play of features which distinguishes the Venetian women. It is now however almost as difficult to find one who can sing a Venetian ballad as one who can chaunt verses from Tasso.

 This poet [Tasso] has been, as you know, translated into all or nearly all the Italian dialects, but with most success into that of this state, ministering matter for their music to the gondoleers of former times. But "the songs of other years" have died away. I requested one, the other day, from a man who was said to be amongst the last depositories of them; but found I had touched a tender string in asking for a song of Sion. He shook his head, and told me that, "in times like these, he had no heart to sing."

 This boat -music was destined for the silence and solitude of the night; but it should seem that some of our countrymen entertain very different notions on this subject; as I saw lately a sober-looking Englishman, with his wife and child, embarked on the grand canal at mid-day, with two violins and a drum. Yet they did not look like people who would have paraded Bond Street, at the time of high water with fiddles in a barouche.    

[LETTER XXXII Vol. 2]

The happiest efforts of these poets have usually been what we term Venetian ballads, a great number of which, though cruelly disfigured, are current in England. The music to which these songs are set is well known in London. But no idea can be formed of them by hearing them any where but at Venice. For the pronunciation, if ever to be imitated, is only to be caught from Venetian lips, and nothing can be more ludicrous in the eyes and ears of one who "has swam in a gondola," than the gay or impassioned strain of the poetry, contrasted with the stucco-face of the statue which doles it forth at home. Here it is seconded by all the nice inflections of voice, all the grace of gesture, and all that play of features which distinguishes the Venetian women. It is now however almost as difficult to find one who can sing a Venetian ballad as one who can chaunt verses from Tasso.

 This poet [Tasso] has been, as you know, translated into all or nearly all the Italian dialects, but with most success into that of this state, ministering matter for their music to the gondoleers of former times. But "the songs of other years" have died away. I requested one, the other day, from a man who was said to be amongst the last depositories of them; but found I had touched a tender string in asking for a song of Sion. He shook his head, and told me that, "in times like these, he had no heart to sing."

 This boat -music was destined for the silence and solitude of the night; but it should seem that some of our countrymen entertain very different notions on this subject; as I saw lately a sober-looking Englishman, with his wife and child, embarked on the grand canal at mid-day, with two violins and a drum. Yet they did not look like people who would have paraded Bond Street, at the time of high water with fiddles in a barouche.    

 

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excerpt from 'Letters from the North of Italy, Addressed to Henry Hallam, Esq., in Two Volumes' pp. 10-11 (343 words)

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