Obrazy na stronie

Mariana. What could I do? Cot, garden, vineyard, rivulet, and wood, Lake, sky, and mountain, went along with him! Could I remain behind! My father found My heart was not at home; he loved his child, And asked me, one day, whither we should got I said, “To Mantua.” I followed him To Mantual to breathe the air he breathed, To walk upon the ground he walked upon, To look upon the things he looked upon, To look, perchance, on him 1 perchance to hear him, To touch him! never to be known to him, Till he was told I lived and died his love.


The Bride's Tragedy, by THoMAs LovELL BEDDoes, published in 1822, is intended for the closet rather than the theatre. It possesses many passages of pure and sparkling verse. ‘The following,’ says a writer in the Edinburgh Review, “will show the way in which Mr Beddoes manages a subject that poets have almost reduced to commonplace. We thought all similes for the violet had been used up; but he gives us a new one, and one that is very delightful." Hesperus and Floribel (the young wedded lovers) are in a garden; and the husband speaks:–

Hesperus. See, here's a bower Of eglantine with honeysuckles woven, Where not a spark of prying light creeps in, So closely do the sweets enfold each other. 'Tis twilight's home; come in, my gentle love, And talk to me. Sol I’ve a rival here; What's this that sleeps so sweetly on your neck Floribel. Jealous so soon, my Hesperus : Look then, It is a bunch of flowers I pulled for you : Here's the blue violet, like Pandora's eye, When first it darkened with immortal life. Hesperus. Sweet as thy lips. Fie on those taper fingers, Have they been brushing the long grass aside, To drag the daisy from its hiding-place, Where it shuns light, the Danae of flowers, With gold up-hoarded on its virgin lap * Floribel. And here's a treasure that I found by chance, A lily of the valley; low it la Over a mossy mound, †† and weeping, As on a fairy's grave. Hesperus. Of all the pos Give me the rose, though there's a tale of blood Soiling its name. In elfin annals old 'Tis writ, how Zephyr, envious of his love he love he bare to Summer, who since then as, weeping, visited the world), once found The baby Perfume cradled in a violet; ('Twas said the beauteous bantling was the child Of a gay bee, that in his wantonness Toyed with a pea-bud in a lady's garland); The felon winds, confederate §§. Bound the sweet slumberer with golden chains, Pulled from the wreathed laburnum, and together Deep cast him in the bosom of a rose, And fed the fettered wretch with dew and air.

[blocks in formation]

is waiting for him in the Divinity path, alone, and is terrified. At last he comes; and she sighs out—

Speak let me hearthy voice, Tell me the joyful news :

and thus he answers—

Ay, I am come
In all my solemn pomp, Darkness and Fear,
And the great Tempest in his midnight car,
The sword of lightning girt across his thigh,
And the whole demon brood of night, blind Fog
And withering Blight, all these are my retainers;
How? not one smile for all this bravery
What think you of my minstrels, the hoarse winds,
Thunder, and tuneful Discord Hark, they play.
Well piped, methinks; somewhat too rough, for.
Floribel. I know you practise on my silliness,
Else I might well be scared. But leave this mirth,
Or I must weep.
Hesperus. "Twill serve to fill the goblets

For our carousal; but we loiter here,
The bride-maids are without; well-picked, thou’lt say,
Wan ghosts of wo-begone, self-slaughtered damsels
In their best winding-sheets; start not; I bid them



[ocr errors]

After some further speech, she asks him what he means, and he replies—

What mean I? Death and murder, Darkness and misery. To thy prayers and shrift, Earth gives thee back. Thy God hath sent me for thee; Repent and die.

She returns gentle answers to him; but in the end he kills her, and afterwards mourns thus over her body:

Dead art thou, Floribel; fair, painted earth,
And no warm breath shall ever more disport |
Between those ruby lips: no; they have quaffed
Life to the dregs, and found death at the bottom,
The sugar of the draught. All cold and still;
Her very tresses stiffen in the air.
Look, what a face I had our first mother worn
But half such beauty when the serpent came,
His heart, all malice, would have turned to love;
No hand but this, which I do think was once
Cain, the arch murderer's, could have acted it.
And I must hide these sweets, not in my bosom;
In the foul earth. She shudders at my grasp:
Just so she laid her head across my bosom
When first—oh villain which way lies the grave?

Miss MITFord—sin Edward Lytton BULWERThomas noon talround.

Miss Mitford, so well known for her fine prose tales and sketches, has written three tragedies— Julian, Rienzi, and The Vespers of Palermo. They were all brought on the stage, but “Rienzi' only met with decided success. An equal number of dramas has been produced by another novelist, SIR Edward Lytton BULwer: these are entitled, The Lady of Lyons, La Valliere, and Richelieu. The first of these pieces is the best, and it seldom fails of drawing tears when well represented. It is a picturesque and romantic play, with passages of fine poetry and genuine feeling. “La Valliere' is founded on the court and times of Louis XIV., but it wants prominence of character and dramatic art. “Richelieu’ is a drama of greater energy and power, but is also loosely constructed. Thomas Noon TALFourD, ser

written two classic plays, Ion, and The Athenian 521

geant-at-law, an eloquent English barrister, =|

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Captive, remarkable for a gentle beauty, refinement, .# pathos. He has also produced a domestic drama, The Massacre of Glencoe, but it is much inferior to his other productions. “Ion' was acted with great success, and published in 1835. It seems an embodiment of the simplicity and grandeur of the Greek drama, and its plot is founded on the old Grecian notion of destiny, apart from all moral agencies. The oracle of Delphi had announced that the vengeance which the misrule of the race of Argos had brought on the people, in the form of a pestilence, could only be disarmed by the extirpation of the guilty race, and Ion, the hero of the play, at length offers himself a sacrifice. The character of Ion—the discovery of his birth, as son of the king— his love and patriotism, are drawn with great power and effect. The style of Mr Talfourd is chaste and clear, yet full of imagery. Take, for example, the delineation of the character of Ion:—

Ion, our sometime darling, whom we prized | As a stray gift, by bounteous Heaven dismissed From some bright sphere which sorrow may not cloud To make the happy happier! Is he sent To grapple with the miseries of this time, Whose nature such ethereal aspect wears As it would perish at the touch of wrong! By no internal contest is he trained For such hard duty; no emotions rude Hath his clear spirit vanquished—Love, the germ Of his mild nature, hath spread graces forth, Expanding with its progress, as the store Of rainbow colour which the seed conceals Sheds out its tints from its dim treasury, To flush and circle in the flower. No tear Hath filled his eye save that of thoughtful joy When, in the evening stillness, lovely things Pressed on his soul too busily; his voice, If, in the earnestness of childish sports, Raised to the tone of anger, checked its force, As if it feared to break its being's law, | And faltered into music; when the forms Of guilty passion have been made to live In pictured speech, and others have waxed loud In righteous indignation, he hath heard With sceptic smile, or from some slender vein Of goodness, which surrounding gloom concealed, Struck sunlight o'er it: so his life hath flowed From its mysterious urn a sacred stream, In whose calm depth the beautiful and pure Alone are mirrored; which, though shapes of ill May hover round its surface, glides in light, And takes no shadow from them.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Ion. What wouldst thou with me, lady ?

Clemanthe. Is it so?
Nothing, my lord, save to implore thy pardon,
That the departing gleams of a bright dream,
From which I scarce had wakened, made me bold
To crave a word with thee; but all are fled—

Ion. 'Twas indeed a goodly dream;
But thou art right to think it was no more;
And study to forget it.

Clem. To forget it !
Indeed, my lord, I will not wish to lose
What, being past, is all my future hath,
All I shall live for ; do not grudge me this,
The brief space I shall need it.

Ion. Speak not, fair one,
In tone so mournful, for it makes me feel
Too sensibly the hapless wretch I am,

That troubled the deep quiet of thy soul
In that pure fountain which reflected heaven,
For a brief taste of rapture.
Clem. Dost thou yet
Esteem it rapture, then? My foolish heart,
Be still !
O, my dear Ion I let me call thee so
This once at least—it could not in my thoughts
Increase the distance that there was between us
When, rich in spirit, thou to strangers' eyes
Seemed a poor foundling.
Ion. It must separate us!
Think it no harmless bauble; but a curse
Will freeze the current in the veins of youth,
And from familiar touch of genial hand,
From household pleasures, from sweet daily tasks,
From airy thought, free wanderer of the heavens,
For ever banish me !
Clem. Thou dost accuse
Thy state too harshly ; it may give some room,
Some little room, amidst its radiant cares,
For love and joy to breathe in.
Ion. Not for me;
My pomp must be most lonesome, far removed
From that sweet fellowship of humankind
The slave rejoices in : my solemn robes
Shall wrap me as a panoply of ice,
And the attendants who may throng around me
Shall want the flatteries which may basely warm
The sceptral thing they circle. Dark and cold
Stretches the path which, when I wear the crown,
I needs must enter : the great gods forbid
That thou shouldst follow in it !
Clem. O unkindl
And shall we never see each other?
Ion. [After a pause..] Yes!
I have asked that dreadful question of the hills
That look eternal ; of the flowing streams
That lucid flow for ever ; of the stars,
Amid whose fields of azure my raised spirit
Hath trod in glory: all were dumb; but now,
While I thus gaze upon thy living face,
I feel the love that kindles through its beauty
Can never wholly perish: we shall meet
Again, Clemanthel
Clem. Bless thee for that name ;

Pray, call me so again; thy words sound strangely, Yet they breathe kindness, and I’ll drink them in,

Though they destroy me. Shall we meet indeed
Think not I would intrude upon thy cares,
Thy councils, or thy pomps; to sit at distance,
To weave, with the nice labour which preserves
The rebel pulses even, from gay threads
Faint records of thy deeds, and sometimes catch
The falling music of a gracious word,
Or the stray sunshine of a smile, will be
Comfort enough : do not deny me this;
Or if stern fate compel thee to deny,
Kill me at once 1
Ion. No ; thou must live, my fair one:
There are a thousand joyous things in life,
Which pass unheeded in a life of joy
As thine hath been, till breezy sorrow comes
To ruffle it; and daily duties paid
Hardly at first, at length will bring repose
To the sad mind that studies to perform them.
Thou dost not mark me.
Clem. O, I do | I do I
Ion. If for thy brother's and thy father's sake
Thou art content to live, the healer Time
Will reconcile thee to the lovely things
Of this delightful world—and if another,
A happier—no, I cannot bid thee love
Another l—I did think I could have said it,
But 'tis in vain.
Clem. Thou art my own, then, still 52.2

Yet wherefore should a crown divide us t

Ion. I am thine own! thus let me clasp thee; nearer; 0 joy too thrilling and too shortl

Enter Agenon.

Agenor. My lord, The sacrificial rites await thy presence. Ion. I come. One more embrace—the last, the last In this world! Now, farewell! [Exit.

Clem. The last embrace

Then he has cast me off! no—'tis not so ;

Some Inournful secret of his fate divides us ;

I'll struggle to bear that, and snatch a comfort

From seeing him uplifted. I will look Upon him in his throne ; Minerva's shrine | Will shelter me from vulgar gaze; I'll hasten And feast my sad eyes with his greatness there. [Erit.

[Ion is installed in his royal dignity, attended by the high priest, the senators, &c. The people receive him with shouts.]

Jon. I thank you for your greetings—shout no more, But in deep silence raise your hearts to heaven, That it may strengthen one so young and frail As I am for the business of this hour. Must I sit here Medon. My son 1 my son 1 What ails thee! When thou shouldst reflect the joy Of Argos, the strange paleness of the grave Marbles thy face. Ion. Am I indeed so pale It is a solemn office I assume, Which well may make me falter; yet sustained By thee, and by the gods I serve, I take it. [Sits on the throne. Stand forth, Agenor. Agenor. I await thy will. Ion. To thee I look as to the wisest friend Of this afflicted people ; thou must leave Awhile the quiet which thy life has earned To rule our councils; fill the seats of justice With good men, not so absolute in goodness As to forget what human frailty is; And order my sad country. Agenor. Pardon me— Ion. Nay, I will promise ’tis my last request; Grant me thy help till this distracted state Rise tranquil from her griefs—'twill not be long, If the great gods smile on us now. Remember, Meanwhile, thou hast all power my word can give, Whether I live or die. Agenor. Die! Ere that hour, May even the old man's epitaph be moss-grown on. Death is not jealous of the mild decay That gently wins thee his ; exulting youth Provokes the ghastly monarch's sudden stride, And makes his horrid fingers quick to clasp His prey benumbed at noontide. Let me see The captain of the guard. Crythes. I kneel to crave Humbly the favour which thy sire bestowed On one who loved him well. Ion. I cannot mark thee, That wakest the memory of my father's weakness, But I will not forget that thou hast shared The light enjoyments of a noble spirit, | And learned the need of luxury. I grant | For thee and thy brave comrades ample share | Of such rich treasure as my stores contain, To grace thy passage to some distant land, Where, if an honest cause engage thy sword, | May glorious issues wait it. In our realm | We shall not need it longer. Crythes. Dost intend To banish the firm troops before whose valour Barbarian millions shrink appalled, and leave Our city naked to the first assault Of reckless foes? Jon, No, Crythes; in ourselves,

[ocr errors]

In our own honest hearts and chainless hands Will be our safeguard; while we do not use Our power towards others, so that we should blush To teach our children; while the simple love Of justice and their country shall be born With dawning reason; while their sinews grow Hard 'midst the gladness of heroic sports, We shall not need, to guard our walls in peace, One selfish passion, or one venal sword. I would not grieve thee; but thy valiant troop— For I esteem them valiant—must no more With luxury which suits a desperate camp Infect us. See that they embark, Agenor, Ere night. Crythes. My Lord— Ion. No more—my word hath passed. Medon, there is no office I can add To those thou hast grown old in; thou wilt guard The shrine of Phoebus, and within thy home— Thy too delightful home—befriend the stranger As thou didst me; there sometimes waste a thought On thy spoiled inmate. Medon. Think of thee, my lord? Long shall we triumph in thy glorious reign. Ion. Prithee no more. Argives | I have a boon To crave of you. Whene'er I shall rejoin In death the father from whose heart in life Stern fate divided me, think gently of him : Think that beneath his panoply of pride Were fair affections crushed by bitter wrongs Which fretted him to madness; what he did, Alas! ye know ; could you know what he suffered, Ye would not curse his name. Yet never more Let the great interests of the state depend Upon the thousand chances that may sway A piece of human frailty; swear to me That ye will seek hereafter in yourselves The means of sovereignty: our country's space, So happy in its smallness, so compact, Needs not the magic of a single name Which wider regions may require to draw Their interest into one; but, circled thus, Like a blest family, by simple laws May tenderly be governed—all degrees, Not placed in dexterous balance, not combined By bonds of parchment, or by iron clasps, But blended into one—a single form Of nymph-like loveliness, which finest chords Of sympathy pervading, shall endow With vital beauty; tint with roseate bloom In times of happy peace, and bid to flash With one brave impulse, if ambitious bands Of foreign power should threaten. Swear to me That ye will do this 1 Medon. Wherefore ask this now 3 Thou shalt live long; the paleness of thy face, Which late seemed death-like, is grown radiant now, And thine eyes kindle with the prophecy Of glorious years. Ion. The gods approve me then I Yet I will use the function of a king, And claim obedience. Swear, that if I die, And leave no issue, ye will seek the power To govern in the free-born people's choice, And in the prudence of the wise. Medon and others. We swear it ! Ion. Hear and record the oath, immortal powers! Now give me leave a moment to approach That altar unattended. [He goes to the altar. Gracious gods ! In whose mild service my glad youth was spent, Look on me now ; and if there is a power, As at this solemn time I feel there is, Beyond ye, that hath breathed through all your shapes The spirit of the beautiful that lives

In earth and heaven; to ye I offer up

This conscious being, full of life and love,
For my dear country's welfare. Let this blow
End all her sorrows 1 [Stabs himself.

CLEMANTHE rushes forward.

Clem. Hold 1
Let me support him—stand away—indeed
I have best right, although ye know it not,
To cleave to him in death.

Ion. This is a joy
I did not hope for—this is sweet indeed.
Bend thine eyes on me!

Clem. And for this it was
Thou wouldst have weaned me from thee!
Couldst thou think
I would be so divorced

Ion. Thou art right, Clemanthe—
It was a shallow and an idle thought;
'Tis past; no show of coldness frets us now;
No vain disguise, my girl. Yet thou wilt think
On that which, when I feigned, I truly spoke—
Wilt thou not, sweet one :

Clem. I will treasure all.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Two dramatic poems have been produced by HENRY TAYLoR, Esq., which, though not popular, evince high genius and careful preparation. The first, Philip van Artevelde, was published in 1834, and the scene is laid in Flanders, at the close of the fourteenth century. The second, Edwin the Fair (1843), relates to early English history. Though somewhat too measured and reflective for the stage, the plays of Mr Taylor contain excellent scenes and dialogues. “The blended dignity of thought, and a sedate moral habit, invests Mr Taylor's poetry with a stateliness in which the drama is generally deficient, and makes his writings illustrate, in some degree, a new form of the art—such a form, indeed, as we might expect the written drama naturally to assume if it were to revive in the nineteenth century, and maintain itself as a branch of literature apart from the stage.” Strafford, a tragedy by J. BRowNING, was brought out in 1837, and acted with success. It is the work of a young poet, but is well conceived and arranged for effect, while its relation to a deeply interesting and stirring period of British history gives it a peculiar attraction to an English audience. MR LEIGH HUNT, in 1840, came before the public as a dramatic writer. His work was a mixture of romance and comedy, entitled, A Legend of Florence: it was acted at Covent Garden theatre with some success, but is too sketchy in its materials, and too extravagant in plot, to be a popular acting play. Athelwold, a tragedy by WILLIAM SMITH (1842), is a drama also for the closet; it wants variety and scenic effect for the stage, and in style and sentiment is not unlike one of Miss

[ocr errors]

* Quarterly Review.

Baillie's plays. The following Christian sentiment is finely expressed:—

Joy is a weak and giddy thing that laughs
Itself to weariness or sleep, and wakes
To the same barren laughter; 'tis a child
Perpetually, and all its past and future t
Lie in the compass of an infant's day.
Crushed from our sorrow all that's great in man
Has ever sprung. In the bold pagan world
Men deified the beautiful, the glad,
The strong, the boastful, and it came to nought;
We have raised Pain and Sorrow into heaven,
And in our temples, on our altars, Grief
Stands symbol of our faith, and it shall last
As long as man is mortal and ..o.
The gay at heart may wander to the skies,
And harps may there be found them, and the branch
Of palm be put into their hands; on earth
We know them not; no votarist of our faith,
Till he has dropped his tears into the stream,
Tastes of its sweetness.

[blocks in formation]

the author of the Jealous Wife and Clandestine Marriage, Colman had a hereditary attachment to the drama. He was educated at Westminster school, and afterwards entered of Christ's Church college, Oxford; but his idleness and dissipation at the university led his father to withdraw him from Oxford, and banish him to Aberdeen. Here he was distinguished for his eccentric dress and folly, but he also applied himself to his classical and other studies.

* Colman added “the younger' to his name after the condemnation of his play, The Iron Chest. “Lest my father” memory,’ he says, “may be injured by mistakes, and in the confusion of after-time the translator of Terence, and the author of the Jealous Wife, should be supposed guilty of The Iron Chest, I shall, were I to reach the patriarchal longevity of Methuselah, continue (in all my dramatic publications) to subscribe myself George Colman, the younger." 524

[ocr errors]

At Aberdeen he published a poem on Charles James Fox, entitled The Man of the People, and wrote a musical farce, The Female Dramatist, which his father brought out at the Haymarket theatre, but it was condemned. A second dramatic attempt, entitled Two to One, brought out in 1784, enjoyed considerable success. This seems to have fixed his literary taste and inclinations; for though his father intended him for the bar, and entered him of Lincoln's Inn, the drama engrossed his attention. In 1784 he contracted a thoughtless marriage with a Miss Catherine Morris, with whom he eloped to Gretna Green, and next year brought out a second musical comedy, Turk and no Turk. His father becoming incapacitated from attacks of paralysis, the younger Colman undertook the management of the theatre in Haymarket, and was thus fairly united to the stage and the drama. Various pieces proceeded from his pen: Inkle and Yarico, a musical opera, brought out with success in 1787; Ways and Means, a comedy, 1788; The Battle of Herham, 1789; The Surrender of Calais, 1791; The Mountaineers, 1793; The Iron Chest (founded on Godwin's novel of Caleb

[blocks in formation]

His gaiety, however, was not always allied to pru| dence, and theatrical property is a very precarious

possession. As a manager, Colman got entangled in lawsuits, and was forced to reside in the King's Bench. The king stept forward to relieve him, by appointing him to the situation of licenser and examiner of plays, an office worth from £300 to £400 In this situation Colman incurred the enmity of several dramatic authors by the rigour with which he scrutinised their productions. His own plays are far from being strictly correct or moral, but not an oath or double entendre was suffered to escape his expurgatorial pen as licenser, and he was peculiarly keen-scented in detecting all political allusions. Besides his numerous plays, Colman wrote some poetical travesties and pieces of levity, published under the title of My Nightgown and Slippers (1797), which were afterwards republished (1802) with additions, and named Broad Grins; also Poetical Vagaries, Vagaries Vindicated, and Eccentricities for Edinburgh. In these, delicacy and decorum are often sacrificed to broad mirth and humour. The last work of the lively author was memoirs of his own early life and times, entitled Random Records, and published in 1830. He died in London on the 26th October 1836. The comedies of Colman abound in witty and ludicrous delineations of character, interspersed with bursts of tenderness and feeling, somewhat in the style of Sterne,

whom, indeed, he has closely copied in his “Poor

Gentleman.' Sir Walter Scott has praised his ‘John Bull' as by far the best effort of our late comic drama. “The scenes of broad humour are executed in the best possible taste; and the whimsical, yet native characters, reflect the manners of real life. The sentimental parts, although one of them includes a finely wrought-up scene of paternal distress, par

take of the falsetto of German pathos. But the piece is both humorous and affecting; and we readily excuse its obvious imperfections in consideration of its exciting our laughter and our tears.’ The whimsical character of Ollapod in the “Poor Gentleman' is one of Colman's most original and laughable conceptions; Pangloss, in the “Heir at Law,' is also an excellent satirical portrait of a pedant (proud of being an LL.D., and, moreover, an A. double S.); and his Irishmen, Yorkshiremen, and country rustics (all admirably performed at the time), are highly entertaining, though overcharged portraits. A tendency to farce is indeed the besetting sin of Colman's comedies; and in his more serious plays, there is a curious mixture of prose and verse, high-toned sentiment and low humour. Their effect on the stage is, however, irresistible. We have quoted Joanna Baillie's description of Jane de Montfort as a portrait of Mrs Siddons; and Colman's Octavian in “The Mountaineers' is an equally faithful likeness of John Kemble:—

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »