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The Cameronian's Dream. [By James Hislop.]
[James Hislop was born of humble parents in the parish of Kirkconnel, in the neighbourhood of Sanquhar, near the source of the Nith, in July 1798. He was employed as a shepherd-boy in the vicinity of Airsmoss, where, at the grave-stone of a party of slain Covenanters, he composed the following striking poem. He afterwards became a teacher, and his poetical effusions having attracted the favourable notice of Lord Jeffrey, and other eminent literary characters, he was, through their influence, appointed schoolmaster, first on board the Doris, and subsequently the Tweed man-of-war. He died on the 4th December 1827, from fever caught by sleeping one night in the open air upon the island of St Jago. His compositions display an elegant rather than a vigorous imagination, much chasteness of thought, and a pure but ardent love of nature.]
In a dream of the night I was wafted away,
'Twas a dream of those ages of darkness and blood, When the minister's home was the mountain and
wood; When in Wellwood's dark valley the standard of Zion, All bloody and torn 'mong the heather was lying.
'Twas morning; and summer's young sun from the east
Lay in loving repose on the green mountain's breast;
On Wardlaw and Cairntable the clear shining dew,
Glistened there 'mong the heath-bells and mountain flowers blue.
And far up in heaven near the white sunny cloud,
And Wellwood's sweet valleys breathed music and
But, oh! there were hearts cherished far other feelings,
Illumed by the light of prophetic revealings,
Who drank from the scenery of beauty but sorrow,
For they knew that their blood would bedew it to-morrow.
'Twas the few faithful ones who with Cameron were lying Conceale'mong the mist where the heath-fowl was
crying, For the horsemen of Earlshall around them were hovering, And their bridle reins rung through the thin misty covering.
Their faces grew pale, and their swords were unsheathed, But the vengeance that darkened their brow was unbreathed; With eyes turned to heaven in calm resignation, They sung their last song to the God of Salvation.
The hills with the deep mournful music were ringing,
Though in mist and in darkness and fire they were shrouded,
Yet the souls of the righteous were calm and unclouded. Their dark eyes flashed lightning, as, firm and unbending, They stood like the rock which the thunder is rending.
The muskets were flashing, the blue swords were gleaming,
The helmets were cleft, and the red blood was streaming,
The heavens grew dark, and the thunder was rolling,
When in Wellwood's dark muirlands the mighty were falling.
When the righteous had fallen, and the combat was ended
A chariot of fire through the dark cloud descended;
Its drivers were angels on horses of whiteness,
And its burning wheels turned on axles of brightness.
A seraph unfolded its doors bright and shining,
On the arch of the rainbow the chariot is gliding,
D R A MATISTS.
The admirable acting of Mrs Siddons, with that her brother John Kemble, Kean, and Miss O'Neil, rendered the stage popular during a part of this period, and tempted a few men of genius and reputation to write for it. Kemble reclaimed the stage from the barbarous solecisms in dress and decoration which even Garrick had tolerated. Neither Kemble nor Garrick, however, paid sufficient attention to the text of Shakspeare's dramas, which, even down to about the year 1838, continued to be presented as mutilated by Nahum Tate, Colley Cibber, and others. The first manager who ventured to restore the pure text of the great dramatist, and present it without any of the baser alloys on the stage, was Mr Macready, who made great though unavailing efforts to encourage the taste of the public for Shakspeare and the legitimate drama. At a more recent period, Mr Charles Kean, of the Princess's Theatre, and Mr Phelps of Sadler's Wells Theatre, revived the Shakspearian drama to some extent—the former by embellishing the plays with tasteful and magnificent "scenery; the latter by careful and energetic acting.
WILLIAM GOD WIN-WILLIAM SOTHE BY.
MR GoDw1N, the novelist, attempted the tragic drama in the year 1800, but his powerful genius, which had produced a romance of deep and thrilling interest, became cold and frigid when confined to the rules of the stage. His play was named Antonio, or the Soldier's Return. It turned out ‘a miracle of dulness, as Sergeant Talfourd relates, and at last the actors were hooted from the stage. The author's equanimity under this severe trial is amusingly related by Talfourd. Mr Godwin, he says, “sat on one of the front benches of the pit, unmoved amidst the storm. When the first act passed off without a hand, he expressed his satisfaction at the good sense of the house; “the proper season of applause had not arrived;” all was exactly as it should be. The second act proceeded to its close in the same uninterrupted calm; his friends became uneasy, but still
his optimism prevailed; he could afford to wait. And although he did at last admit the great movement was somewhat tardy, and that the audience seemed rather patient than interested, he did not lose his confidence till the tumult arose, and then he submitted with quiet dignity to the fate of genius, too lofty to be understood by a world as yet in its childhood. The next new play was also by a man of distinguished genius, and it also was unsuccessful. Julian and Agnes, by WILLIAM SoTHEBY, the translator of Oberon, was acted April 25, 1800. “In the course of its performance, Mrs Siddons, as the heroine, had to make her exit from the scene with an infant in her arms. Having to retire precipitately, she inadvertently struck the baby's head violently against a door-post. Happily, the little thing was made of wood, so that her doll's accident only produced a general laugh, in which the actress herself joined heartily. This ‘untoward event’ would have marred the success of any new tragedy; but Mr Sotheby's is deficient in arrangement and dramatic art.
Alhadra. Yon hanging woods, that, touched by autumn, seem
As they were blossoming hues of fire and gold;
[She fixes her eyes on the earth. Then drop in, one after another, from different parts of the stage, a considerable number of Morescoes, all in Moorish garments and Moorish armour. They form a circle at a distance round ALHADRA, and remain silent till the second in command, NAOMI, enters, distinguished by his dress and armour, and by the silent obeisance paid to him on his entrance by the other Moors.]
Naomi. Woman, may Alla and the prophet bless
We have obeyed thy call. Where is our chief?
And it was stained with blood. Then first I shrieked, My eyeballs burned, my brain grew hot as fire! And all the hanging drops of the wet roof Turned into blood—I saw them turn to blood! And I was leaping wildly down the chasm, When on the further brink I saw his sword, And it said vengeance ! Curses on my tongue ! The moon hath moved in heaven, and I am here, And he hath not had vengeance Isidore, Spirit of Isidore, thy murderer lives! Away, away ! All Away, away! [She rushes off, all following. The incantation scene, in the same play, is sketched with high poetical power, and the author's unrivalled musical expression:
Scene—A Hall of Armoury, with an altar at the back of the stage. Soft music from an instrument of glass or steel.
WALDEz, ORDoNIo, and ALvAR in a Sorcerer's robe are
Enter TERESA and Attendants.
Teresa. Lord Waldez, you have asked my presence here, And I submit; but—Heaven bear witness for me— My heart approves it not! 'tis mockery. Ord. Believe you, then, no preternatural influence? Believe you not that spirits throng around us? Ter. Say rather that I have imagined it A possible thing; and it has soothed my soul As other fancies have; but ne'er seduced me To traffic with the black and frenzied hope That the dead hear the voice of witch or wizard. [To Alvar.] Stranger, I mourn and blush to see you here On such employment I left you. Ord. [Aside..] Ha! he has been tampering with her? Alv. Ohigh-souled maiden and more dear to me Than suits the stranger's name ! I swear to thee I will uncover all concealed guilt. Doubt, but decide not! Stand ye from the altar. [Here a strain of music is heard from behind the scene. Alv. With no irreverent voice or uncouth charm I call up the departed !
With far other thoughts
Soul of Alvar ! Hear our soft suit, and heed my milder spell: So may the gates of paradise, unbarred, Cease thy swift toils! Since happily thou art one Of that innumerable company Who in broad circle, lovelier than the rainbow, Girdle this round earth in a dizzy motion, With noise too vast and constant to be heard: Fitliest unheard? For oh, ye numberless
And rapid travellers! what ear unstunned,
[Song behind the scenes, accompanied by the same instrument as before.]
Hear, sweet spirit, hear the spell,
Hark! the cadence dies away On the yellow moonlight sea: The boatmen rest their oars and say, Miserere Domine! [A long pause. Ord. The innocent obey nor charm nor spell! My brother is in heaven. Thou sainted spirit, Burst on our sight, a passing visitant' Once more to hearthy voice, once more to see thee, 0’twere a joy to me! Alv. A joy to thee! What if thou heardst him now? What if his spirit Re-entered its cold corse, and came upon thee With many a stab from many a murderer's poniard? What if—his steadfast eye still beaming pity And brother's love—he turned his head aside, Lest he should look at thee, and with one look Hurl thee beyond all power of penitence? Wald. These are unholy fancies! Ord. [Struggling with his feelings.] Yes, my father, He is in heaven | Alv. [Still to Ordonio.] But what if he had a brother, Who had lived even so, that at his dying hour The name of heaven would have convulsed his face More than the death-pang? Val. Idly prating man! Thou hast guessed ill: Don Alvar's only brother Stands here before thee—a father's blessing on him He is most virtuous. Alv. [Still to Ordonio.] What if his very virtues Had pampered his swollen heart and made him proud? And what if pride had duped him into guilt? Yet still he stalked a self-created god,
Not very bold, but exquisitely cunning;
R.E. W. CHARLES ROBERT MATURIN.
The REv. CHARLEs RoBERT MATURIN, author of several romances, produced a tragedy named Bertram, which, by the influence of Lord Byron, was brought out at Drury Lane in 1816. It was well received; and by the performance and publication of his play, the author realised about £1000. Sir Walter Scott considered the tragedy ‘grand and powerful, the language most animated and poetical, and the characters sketched with a masterly enthusiasm. The author was anxious to introduce Satan on the stage, a return to the style of the ancient mysteries by no means suited to modern taste. Mr Maturin was curate of St Peter's, Dublin. The scanty income derived from his curacy being insufficient for his comfortable maintenance, he employed himself in assisting young persons during their classical studies at Trinity College, Dublin. The novels of Maturin —which will be afterwards noticed—enjoyed considerable popularity; and had his prudence been
equal to his genius, his life might have been passed in comfort and respect. He was, however, vain and extravagant—always in difficulties (Scott at one time generously sent him £50), and haunted by bailiffs. When this eccentric author was engaged in composition, he used to fasten a wafer on his forehead, which was the signal that if any of his family entered the sanctum they must not speak to him! The success of Bertram induced Mr Maturin to attempt another tragedy, Manuel, which he published in 1817. It is a very inferior production; ‘the absurd work of a clever man,’ says Byron. The unfortunate author died in Dublin on the 30th of October 1824.
[Scene from “Bertram,' A ‘passage of great poetical beauty, says Sir Walter Scott, ‘in which Bertram is represented as spurred to the commission of his great crimes by the direct agency of a supernatural and malevolent being."] Prion-BERTRAM.
Prior. The dark knight of the forest,
Bertram. I'll ring a summons on his bar:£"