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They dealt with passions, not with manners, and single tragedies ; and she would have invented more awoke the higher feelings and sensibilities of our stirring incidents to justify the passion of her chanature. Good plays were also mingled with the racters, and to give them that air of fatality which, bad: if Kotzebue was acted, Goëthe and Schiller though peculiarly predominant in the Greek drama, were studied. The Wallenstein was translated by will also be found, to a certain extent, in all successColeridge, and the influence of the German drama ful tragedies. Instead of this, she contrives to make was felt by most of the young poets.
all the passions of her main characters proceed from One of those who imbibed a taste for the mar. the wilful natures of the beings themselves. Their vellous and the romantic from this source was feelings are not precipitated by circumstances, like MATTHEW GREGORY LEWIS, whose drama, The a stream down a declivity, that leaps from rock to Castle Spectre, was produced in 1797, and was per- rock; but, for want of incident, they seem often like formed about sixty successive nights. It is full of water on a level, without a propelling impulse.'* supernatural horrors, deadly revenge, and assassina- The design of Miss Baillie in restricting her dramas tion, with touches of poetical feeling, and some well- each to the elucidation of one passion, appears cermanaged scenes. In the same year Lewis adapted tainly to have been an unnecessary and unwise rea tragedy from Schiller, entitled The Minister ; and straint, as tending to circumscribe the business of this was followed by a succession of dramatic pieces the piece, and exclude the interest arising from -Rolla, a tragedy, 1799; The East Indian, a comedy, varied emotions and conflicting passions. It cannot 1800; Adelmorn, or the Outlaw, a drama, 1801 ; be said to have been successful in her own case, and Rugantio, a melo-drama, 1805; Adelgitha, a play, it has never been copied by any other author. Sir 1806; Venoni, a drama, 1809; One o'Clock, or the Walter Scott has eulogised Basil's love and MontKnight and Wood Demon, 1811; Timour the Tartar, fort's hate' as something like a revival of the ina melo-drama, 1812 ; and Rich and Poor, a comic spired strain of Shakspeare. The tragedies of Count opera, 1812. The Castle Spectre is still occasionally Basil and De Montfort are among the best of Miss performed; but the diffusion of a more sound and Baillie's plays; but they are more like the works of healthy taste in literature has banished the other Shirley, or the serious parts of Massinger, than the dramas of Lewis equally from the stage and the glorious dramas of Shakspeare, so full of life, of inpress. To the present generation they are unknown. cident, and imagery. Miss Baillie's style is smooth They were fit companions for the ogres, giants, and and regular, and her plots are both original and Blue-beards of the nursery tales, and they have carefully constructed; but she has no poetical luxushared the same oblivion.
riance, and few commanding situations. Her tragic scenes are too much connected with the crime of murder, one of the easiest resources of a tragedian;
and partly from the delicacy of her sex, as well as The most important addition to the written drama from the restrictions imposed by her theory of comat this time was the first volume of Joanna BAILLIE's position, she is deficient in that variety and fulness plays on the passions, published in 1798 under the of passion, the form and pressure' of real life, which title of A Series of Plays : in which it is attempted to are so essential on the stage. The design and plot Delineate the Stronger Passions of the Mind, each of her dramas are obvious almost from the first act Passion being the subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy. -a circumstance that would be fatal to their sucTo the volume was prefixed a long and interesting cess in representation. The unity and intellectual introductory discourse, in which the authoress dis- completeness of Miss Baillie's plays are their most cusses the subject of the drama in all its bearings, striking characteristics. Her simple masculine style, and asserts the supremacy of simple nature over all so unlike the florid or insipid sentimentalism then decoration and refinement. 'Let one simple trait prevalent, was a bold innovation at the time of her of the human heart, one expression of passion, two first volumes; but the public had fortunately genuine and true to nature, be introduced, and it taste enough to appreciate its excellence. Miss will stand forth alone in the boldness of reality, Baillie was undoubtedly a great improver of our whilst the false and unnatural around it fades away poetical diction. upon every side, like the rising exhalations of the morning. This theory (which anticipated the dis
[Scene from De Montfort.] sertations and most of the poetry of Wordsworth)
[De Montfort explains to his sister Jane his hatred of Rezen. the accomplished dramatist illustrated in her plays, the merits of which were instantly recognised, and velt, which at last hurries him into the crime of murder. The
gradual deepening of this malignant passion, and its frightful a second edition called for in a few months. Miss catastrophe, are powerfully depicted. We may remark, that the Baillie was then in the thirty-fourth year of her age. character of De Montfort, his altered habits and appearance In 1802 she published a second volume, and in 1812 after his travels, his settled gloom, and the violence of his pasa third. In the interval she had produced a volume sions, seem to have been the prototype of Byron's Manfred and of miscellaneous dramas (1804), and The Family Lara.] Legend (1810), a tragedy founded on a Highland
De Mon. No more, my sister, urge me not again ; tradition, and brought out with success at the Edinburgh theatre. In 1836 this authoress published My secret troubles cannot be revealed. three more volumes of plays, her career as a dramatic From all participation of its thoughts writer thus extending over the long period of thirty- My heart recoils: I pray thee be contented. eight years. Only one of her dramas has ever been observe thy restless eye and gait disturbed
Jane. What! must I, like a distant humble friend, performed on the stage : De Montfort was brought In timid silence, whilst with yearning heart out by Kemble shortly after its appearance, and was
I turn aside to weep? O no, De Montfort ! acted eleven nights. It was again introduced in 1821, A nobler task thy nobler mind will give; to exhibit the talents of Kean in the character of Thy true intrusted friend I still shall be De Montfort ; but this actor remarked that, though
De Mon. Ah, Jane, forbear! I cannot e’en to thee. a fine poem, it would never be an acting play. The anthor who mentions this circumstance, remarks :- There was a time when e'en with murder stained,
Jane. Then fie upon it! fie upon it, Montfort ! *If Joanna Baillie had known the stage practically, Had it been possible that such dire deed she would never have attached the importance which she does to the development of single passions in
* Campbell's Life of Mrs Siddons.
Could e'er have been the crime of one so piteous, Feel like the oppressive airless pestilence.
O Jane! thou wilt despise me.
I never can despise thee, gentle brother.
No kindly heart contemps.
No, it is hate! black, lasting, deadly hate !
Which thus hath driven me forth from kindred peace,
To be a sullen wanderer on the earth,
Avoiding all men, cursing and accursed. I have so long, as if by nature's right,
Jane. De Montfort, this is fiend-like, terrible!
What being, by the Almighty Father formed
Who art thyself his fellow?
Unknit thy brows, and spread those wrath-clenched The cheerer of this home, with strangers sought,
hands. The soother of those griefs I must not know.
Some sprite accursed within thy bosom mates This is mine office now: I ask no more.
To work thy ruin. Strive with it, my brother! De Mon. Oh, Jane, thou dost constrain me with thy Strive bravely with it; drive it from thy heart; love
'Tis the degrader of a noble heart. Would I could tell it thee!
Curse it, and bid it part. Jane. Thou shalt not tell me. Nay, I'll stop De Mon. It will not part. I've lodged it here too mine ears,
long. Nor from the yearnings of affection wring
With my first cares I felt its rankling touch.
De Mon. Detested Rezenvelt!
E'en in our early sports, like two young whelps To steady thought progressive, driving forth
Of hostile breed, instinctively averse, All floating, wild, unhappy fantasies,
Each 'gainst the other pitched his ready pledge,
And envious gibing malice, poorly veiled
Still more detestable and odious grew.
With all his gay and damned merriment,
Above his paltry self. When, low in fortune,
As nightly birds, roused from their murky holes,
Do scowl and chatter at the light of day, Why do I treat thee thus? It should not be
I could endure it; even as we bear And yet I cannot_0 that cursed villain!
The impotent bite of some half-trodden worm, He will not let me be the man I would.
I could endure it. But when honours came, Jane. What sayst thou, Montfort ? Oh! what words And wealth and new-got titles fed his pride; are these!
Whilst flattering knaves did trumpet forth his praise,
Oh! then I could no longer suffer it!
It drove me frantic. What, what would I give By the dear memory of our infant days;
What would I give to crush the bloated toad,
So rankly do I loathe him!
Who gave to thee that life he might have taken !
That life which thou so rashly didst expose
To aim at his? Oh, this is horrible! Tried early, long, and never wanting found,
De Mon. Ha! thou hast heard it, then! From all O'er generous man hath more authority,
the world, More rightful power than crown or sceptre give, But most of all from thee, I thought it hid. I do command thee!
Jane. I heard a secret whisper, and resolved De Montfort, do not thus resist my love.
Upon the instant to return to thee. Here I intreat thee on my bended knees.
Didst thou receive my letter? Alas! my brother!
De Mon. I did! I did ! 'Twas that which drove me De Mon. (Raising her, and kneeling.]
hither. Thus let him kneel who should the abased be, I could not bear to meet thine eye again. And at thine honoured feet confession make.
Jane. Alas! that, tempted by a sister's tears, I'll tell thee all-but, oh! thou wilt despise me. I ever left thy house! These few past months, For in my breast a raging passion burns,
These absent months, have brought us all this wo.
Had I remained with thee, it had not been.
You dared him to the field ; both bravely fought;
He, more adroit, disarmed you; courteously
Returned the forfeit sword, which, so returned, Shall, thundering loud, strike on the distant ear You did refuse to use against him more;
Of ’nighted travellers, who shall gladly bend And then, as says report, you parted friends. Their doubtful footsteps towards the cheering din. De Mon. When he disarmed this cursed, this worth. Solemn, and grave, and cloistered, and demure less hand
We shall not be. Will this content
damsels ? Of its most worthless weapon, he but spared
Every season From devilish pride, which now derives a bliss Shall have its suited pastime: even winter In seeing me thus fettered, shamed, subjected In its deep noon, when mountains piled with snow, With the vile favour of his poor forbearance ; And choked up valleys from our mansion bar Whilst he securely sits with gibing brow,
All entrance, and nor guest nor traveller And basely baits me like a muzzled cur,
Sounds at our gate ; the empty hall forsaken, Who cannot turn again.
In some warm chamber, by the crackling fire, Until that day, till that accursed day,
We'll hold our little, snug, domestic court, I knew not half the torment of this hell
Plying our work with song and tale between. Which burns within my breast. Heaven's lightnings
blast him! Jane. Oh, this is horrible! Forbear, forbear!
[Fears of Imagination.] Lest Heaven's vengeance light upon thy head Didst thou ne'er see the swallow's veering breast, For this most impious wish.
Winging the air beneath some murky cloud
In the sunned glimpses of a stormy day,
Or boatmen's oar, as vivid lightning flash
Tracks the still waters of some sullen lake? Jane. Oh! wouldst thou kill me with these dread. Or lonely tower, from its brown mass of woods, ful words?
Give to the parting of a wintry sun
Closing in darkness round it ? Gentle friend !
And may be so to-morrow.
[Specch of Prince Edward in his Dungeon.]
And ruddy vapours, and deep-glowing flames, Jane. Thou, too, De Montfort,
And softly varied shades, look gloriously! In better days was wont to be my pride.
Do the green woods dance to the wind.? the lakes De Mon. I am a wretch, most wretched in myself, Cast up their sparkling waters to the light! And still more wretched in the pain 1 give.
Do the sweet hamlets in their bushy dells O curse that villain, that detested villain!
Send winding up to heaven their curling smoke He has spread misery o'er my fated life;
On the soft morning air? He will undo us all.
Do the flocks bleat, and the wild creatures bound Jane. I've held my warfare through a troubled world, In antic happiness ? and mazy birds And borne with steady mind my share of ill; Wing the mid air in lightly skimming bands? For then the helpmate of my toil wast thou.
Ay, all this is men do behold all this
The poorest man. Even in this lonely vault,
And sadly think how small a space divides me
From all this fair creation. [Pemale Picture of a Country Life.]
[Description of Jane de Montfort.] Even now methinks Each little cottage of my native vale
[The following has been pronounced to be a perfect picture Swells out its earthen sides, upheaves its roof,
of Mrs Siddons, the tragic actress.) Like to a billock moved by labouring mole,
Page. Madam, there is a lady in your hall And with green trail-weeds clambering up its walls, Who begs to be admitted to your presence. Roses and every gay and fragrant plant
Lady. Is it not one of our invited friends? Before my fancy stands, a fairy bower.
Page. No; far unlike to them. It is a stranger. Ay, and within it too do fairies dwell.
Lady. How looks her countenance ? Peep through its wreathed window, if indeed
Page. So queenly, so commanding, and so noble, The flowers grow not too close ; and there within I shrunk at first in awe; but when she smiled, Thou'lt see some half a dozen rosy brats,
Methought I could have compassed sea and land Eating from wooden bowls their dainty milk
To do her bidding. Those are my mountain elves. Seest thou not
Lady Is she young or old ? Their very forms distinctly?
Page. Neither, if right I guess ; but she is fair,
Page. So stately and so graceful is her form,
Lady. What is her garb?
Page. I cannot well describe the fashion of it: in 1813, aided by fine original music, but it has She is not decked in any gallant trim,
not since been revived. It contains, however, some But seems to me clad in her usual weeds
of Coleridge's most exquisite poetry and wild superOf high habitual state; for as she moves,
stition, with a striking romantic plot. We extract Wide flows her robe in many a waving fold,
the scene in which Alhadra describes the supposed As I have seen unfurled banners play
murder of her husband, Alvar, by his brother, and With the soft breeze.
animates his followers to vengeance. Lady. Thine eyes deceive thee, boy; It is an apparition thou hast seen.
[Scene from 'Remorse.'] Freberg. (Starting from his seat, where he has been sitting during the conversation between the Lady
The Mountains by Moonlight. ALAADRA alone, in a
Alhadra. Yon hanging woods, that, touched by
As they were blossoming hues of fire and gold;
The flower-like woods, most lovely in decay,
The many clouds, the sea, the rocks, the sands, MR GODWIN, the novelist, attempted the tragic Lie in the silent moonshine; and the owl drama in the year 1800, but his powerful genius, (Strange, very strange !)—the screech-owl only wakes, which had produced a romance of deep and thrilling Sole voice, sole eye of all this world of beauty! interest, became cold and frigid when confined to the Unless, perhaps, she sing her screeching song rules of the stage. His play was named Antonio, or To a herd of wolves, that skulk athirst for blood. the Soldier's Return. It turned out 'a miracle of Why such a thing am I? Where are these men ! dulness,' as Sergeant Talfourd relates, and at last I need the sympathy of human faces, the actors were hooted from the stage. The author's To beat away this deep contempt for all things, equanimity under this severe trial is amusingly re- Which quenches my revenge. Oh! would to Alla lated by Talfourd. Mr Godwin, he says, “sat on The raven or the sea-mew were appointed one of the front benches of the pit, unmoved amidst To bring me food! or rather that my soul the storm. When the first act passed off without a Could drink in life from the universal air! hand, he expressed his satisfaction at the good sense It were a lot divine in some small skiff, of the house ; "the proper season of applause had Along some ocean's boundless solitude, not arrived;" all was exactly as it should be. The To float for ever with a careless course, second act proceeded to its close in the same unin. And think myself the only being alive! terrupted calm; his friends became uneasy, but still My children !—Isidore's children !-Son of Valdez, his optimism prevailed; he could afford to wait. This bath new strung mine arm. Thou coward tyrant! And although he did at last admit the great move To stupify a woman's heart with anguish, ment was somewhat tardy, and that the audience Till she forgot even that she was a mother! seemed rather patient than interested, he did not [She fixes her eyes on the earth. Then drop in, one after lose his confidence till the tumult arose, and then he another, from different parts of the stage, a considerable numsubmitted with quiet dignity to the fate of genius, ber of Morescoes, all in Moorish garments and Moorish armour. too lofty to be understood by a world as yet in its They form a circle at a distance round ALHADRA, and remain childhood. The next new play was also by a man silent till the second in command, NAOMI, enters, distinguished of distinguished genius, and it also was unsuccessful. by his dress and armour, and by the silent obeisance paid to Julian and Agnes, by WILLIAM SOTHEBY, the trans- him on his entrance by the other Moors.] lator of Oberon, was acted April 25, 1800. 'In the Naomi. Woman, may Alla and the prophet bless course of its performance, Mrs Siddons, as the heroine,
thee! had to make her exit from the scene with an infant We have obeyed thy call. Where is our chief? in her arms. Having to retire precipitately, she in- And why didst thou enjoin these Moorish garments ! advertently struck the baby's head violently against Alhad. (Raising her eyes, and looking round on the a door-post. Happily, the little thing was made of circle.] wood, so that her doll's accident only produced a Warriors of Mahomet ! faithful in the battle! general laugh, in which the actress herself joined My countrymen! Come ye prepared to work beartily.' This ‘untoward event’ would have marred An honourable deed? And would ye work it the success of any new tragedy; but Mr Sotheby's In the slave's garb? Curse on those Christian robes! is deficient in arrangement and dramatic art. We They are spell-blasted ; and whoever wears them, may remark, that at this time the genius of Kemble His arm shrinks withered, his heart melts away, and Mrs Siddons shed a lustre on the stage, and re- And his bones soften. claimed it from the barbarous solecisms in dress and Naomi. Where is Isidore ? decoration which even Garrick had tolerated. Neither Alhad. (In a deep low voice.) This night I went from Kemble nor Garrick, however, paid sufficient atten forth my house, and left tion to the text of Shakspeare's dramas, which, even His children all asleep; and he was living ! down to about the year 1838, continued to be pre- And I returned, and found them still asleep, sented as mutilated by Nahum Tate, Colley Cibber, But he had perished ! and others. The first manager who ventured to re All Morescoes. Perished ? store the pure text of the great dramatist, and present Alhad. He had perished !it without any of the baser alloys on the stage, was Sleep on, poor babes! not one of you doth know Mr Macready, who made great though unavailing That he is fatherless-a desolate orphan! efforts to encourage the taste of the public for Shak. Why should we wake them? Can an infant's arm speare and the legitimate drama.
Revenge his murder?
One Moresco to another. Did she say his murder ! 8. T. COLERIDGE.
Naomi. Murder! Not murdered !
Alhad. Murdered by a Christian! [They all at once The tragedies of Coleridge, Scott, Byron, Procter, draw their sabres. and Milman (noticed in our account of these poets), Alhad. [To Naomi, who advances from the circle.) must be considered as poems rather than plays. Brother of Zagri, fling away thy sword; Coleridge's Remorse was acted with some success This is thy chieftain's ! [!e steps forward to take il.]
I left you.
Dost thou dare receive it!
And lower down poor Alvar, fast asleep, For I have sworn by Alla and the prophet,
His head upon the blind boy's dog. It pleased me No tear shall dim these eyeg--this woman's heart To mark how he had fastened round the pipe Shall heave no groan-till I have seen that sword A silver toy his grandam had late given him. Wet with the life-blood of the son of Valdez !
Methinks I see him now as he then looked
[A pause.] Even so! He had outgrown his infant dress, Ordonio was your chieftain's murderer!
Yet still he wore it. Naomi. He dies, by Alla!
Alv. My tears must not flow! All. (Kneeling.) By Alla !
I must not clasp his knees, and cry, My father! Alhad. This night your chieftain armed himself,
Enter TERESA and Attendants. And hurried from me. But I followed him
Ter. Lord Valdez, you have asked my presence here, At distance, till I saw him enter-there!
And I subniit; but (Heaven bear witness for me) Naomi. The cavern?
My heart approves it not ! 'tis mockery. Alhad. Yes, the mouth of yonder cavern.
Ord. Believe you, then, no preternatural influence ! After a while I saw the son of Valdez
Believe you not that spirits throng around us? Rush by with flaring torch; he likewise entered.
Ter. Say rather that I have imagined it There was another and a longer pause;
A possible thing: and it has soothed my soul And once methought I heard the clash of swords !
As other fancies have; but ne'er seduced me And soon the son of Valdez reappeared :
To traffic with the black and frenzied hope He flung his torch towards the moon in sport,
That the dead hear the voice of witch or wizard. And seemed as he were mirthful; I stood listening,
[To Alvar.] Stranger, I mourn and blush to see you Impatient for the footsteps of my husband !,
here Naomi. Thou calledst him?
On such employment! With far other thoughts Alhad. I crept into the cavern'Twas dark and very silent. [Then wildly.] What
Ord. (Aside.] Ha! he has been tampering with her! saidst thou ?
Alv. 0 high-souled maiden! and more dear to me No, no! I did not dare call Isidore,
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. O Heaven ! I heard a groan, and followed it;
[Here a strain of music is heard from behind the scene. And yet another groan, which guided me
Alv. With no irreverent voice or uncouth charın Into a strange recess, and there was light,
I call up the departed ! A hideous light! his torch lay on the ground;
Soul of Alvar! It's flame burned dimly o’er a chasm's brink.
Hear our soft suit, and heed my milder spell : I spake; and whilst I spake, a feeble groan Came from that chasm! it was his last—his death-Cease thy swift toils ! Since haply thou art one
So may the gates of Paradise, unbarred, groan!
Of that innumerable company Naomi. Comfort her, Alla.
Who in broad circle, lovelier than the rainbow, Alhad. I stood in unimaginable trance,
Girdle this round earth in a dizzy motion,
With poise too vast and constant to be heard :
Fitliest unheard! For oh, ye numberless
What sense unmaddened, might bear up against
The rushing of your congregated wings? [Music.] My sight was bounded by a jutting fragment; And it was stained with blood. Then first I shrieked,
Even now your living wheel turns o'er my head 1
[Music expressive of the movements and images My eyeballs burned, my brain grew hot as fire !
that follow.] And all the hanging drops of the wet roof Turned into blood- I saw them turn to blood !
Ye, as ye pass, toss high the desert sands,
That roar and whiten like a burst of waters,
A sweet appearance, but a dread illusion
To the parched caravan that roams by night!
And ye build up on the becalmed waves
That whirling pillar, which from earth to heaven
Stands vast, and moves in blackness! Ye, too, split Spirit of Isidore, thy murderer lives!
The ice mount ! and with fragments many and huge Away, away! All. Away, away! [She rushes of, all following. Suck in, perchance, some Lapland wizard's skiff!
Tempest the new-thawed sea, whose sudden gulfs The incantation scene, in the same play, is sketched Then round and round the whirlpool's marge ye dance, with high poetical power, and the author's unrivalled Till from the blue swollen corse the soul toils out, musical expression :
And joins your mighty army. [Here, behind the scenes,
a voice sings the three words, ' Lear, sweet spirit.') Scene A Hall of Armory, with an altar at the back of the
Soul of Alvar! stage. Soft music from an instrument of glass or steel. Valdez, ORDONIO, and AlvaR in a Sorcerer's robe are dis- By sighs unquiet, and the sickly pang
Hear the mild spell, and tempt no blacker charm ! covered.
Of a half dead, yet still undying hope, Ord. This was too melancholy, father.
Pass visible before our mortal sense ! Vald. Nay,
So shall the church's cleansing rites be thine, My Alvar loved sad music from a child.
Her knells and masses, that redeern the dead ! Once he was lost, and after
search We found him in an open place in the wood,
[Song behind the scenes, accompanied by the same To which spot he had followed a blind boy,
instrument as before.] Who breathed into a pipe of sycamore
Hear, sweet spirit, hear the spell, Some strangely moving notes; and these, he said,
Lest à blacker charm compel! Were taught him in a dream. Him we first saw
So shall the midnight breezes swell Stretched on the broad top of a sunny heath-bank:
With thy deep long lingering knell.