Page images
PDF
EPUB

errors.

[ocr errors]

adding a thought is sometimes taken; that the picture of madame Busca's infirmities, in the story of Pamela (vol. .) is softened ; that the incident of Doralice sucking the eyes of Eglantine (vol. I.) is omitted (because it is supposed they would both have offended, even violently, the delicacy of an English reader) ; that, in consequence of the last mentioned omission, it was necessary to add circumstances and touches to give a sufficient degree of intereit to the story; and that other little freedoms have been taken ; such as, not permitting the sage Thelismar to tell his pupil Alphonso a falfood, even though with a virtuous inten. tion; and of leaving out certain notes which it was deemed were either too scientific for their situation, or too uninterest. ing; as well as of substituting some very few others, from the Cyclopædia, where it could evidently be done to advantage.'

There are a few instances of inattention to the effect of language, which we wish to point out : they cannot be called

In page 9, the translator says, no more we did not use to do, mamma'; but, fince our governess has had the fever.' The literal translation is, we never did gossip with them, mamma, but since our governess has had an ague,' &c. Again, · Ah my dear Henrietta, said Delphine, I see how happy you are, and how much you merit so to be.' The passage should be rendered :--- Ah my dear Henrietta, said Del. phine, much affected, I see, indeed, your happiness, and how much you deserve it.' We should scarcely have expected the words ' qui est riche,' to have been translated' who is well to do.' These are very slight circumstances, which do not affect the sense ; but they deserve Mr. Holcroft's attention in a fu. ture edition.

We shall only add, that the author's guides, on the subject of natural history, have in some instances, mifled her. The young pupils, having discovered some fondness for the fe. ducing wonders of the Fairy Tales, are told by the mother, that the wonders of art and nature are not less astonishing than those of fancy; and are at the time, on the baas of folid truth. To prove this, she composes a tale, entitled the 'Fairyism,' or perhaps more neatly translated by Mr. Holcroft, the * Magic of Art and Nature,' in which the principal phænomena of nature, and the inventions of art, are displayed, in the adventures of the hero. She has given a very ingenious apology for any defects which may appear in this tale, ex. tended almost through the second volume of the translation, by her reasons for having declined more able assistance.

My dear abbé, answered madame de Clémire, a woman ought never to suffer a man to add a single word to her writings; if the does, the man the consults, let him be who he may, will always pass for the original inventor, and she will be accused of putting her name to the works of oshers. One may be a very good woman, yet a very bad writer, but not were one to take the credit of other people's labours; one ought, therefore, carefully to avoid whatever might give room to lo injurious an accusation. Scarcely has there been one woman successful in her writings, and not accused of this kind of baseness.'

The notes contain explanations of passages which would not have been easily understood, and would have interrupted and embarrassed the narratives. The authorities, as we have observed, are not always the best in philosophy; but on the subjects of the fine'aris and belles lettres, they are less exceptionable. On the whole, the pleasure which we have received from these volumes, prevents us from closing the article, without repeating our warmest recommendation of them.

The Carmelite. A Tragedy. Performed at the Theatre Royal,

Drury-lane. By R. Cumberland, Esq. 8vo. 15. 6d. Dilly.
IT.
T is not uncommon to find a piece admired as a whole,

which, when minutely examined, appears both inaccurate and faulty. The play before us was said to be received with loud bursis of applause ; and perhaps few dramatic compo. fitions are better calculated to excite them. Even distant from the artificial delusions of the scene, we were interested, animated, or softened; the feelings were hurried away, without the interposition of the judgment, and sometimes rather in spite of it. Perhaps Mr. Cumberland wishes for no greater cology, fince it comprehends every thing that is required in a dramatic representation ; and the magic can be easily explained. Few imaginations are strong enough to feel the reality of a whole ; and the changes in the scenery, the music, or other trappings of the fage, destroy the delusion at the end of every scene. This is demonstrated by the pleasure we feel from the detached parts of Shakspeare, which are often so artificially connected, and the unities of time and place so completely violated, that, if the mind reverted for a moment to forn:er pallages, it would be incredulous and difgused. At the beginning therefore of each scene, it aflumes the different situations, however produced, as established facts, and pursues them in the subsequent spectacle. In the Care melite we often find distinct passages laboured with the greatest care, and worked to the higheit pitch: in these, the malter's hand has been chiefly employed with success, and we can seldom hint a fault; while the whole is sometimes incongruous, and fomewhat improbable.

The story is fimple, and well adapted for a dramatic composition. Saint Valcri a Norman knight, affumed the crois,

[ocr errors]

and fought in Palestine ; but, on his return, was set on by assassins, hired by lord Hildebrand, in a narrow pass of the Pyrenæans, and left breathless and weltering in his blood.? He was preserved by some Venetian merchants, but, in his voyage from Venice, was captured by a Saracen, and detained in lavery. After twenty years absence, he returned, and found Hildebrand in possession of his castle in Normandy ; and, at the moment, when he was about to discover himself to his vassals, a herald arrived from Henry, to fummon him to meet the champion of the supposed widow of St. Valori. The knight himself, who had assumed the habit of a car, melite, joins Hildebrand in the voyage ; and, in consequence of his new character, acquires his confidence. They are shipwrecked on the Isle of Wight, near the widow's castle, the scene of the tragedy.

The play commences with their preservation from the inhumanity of the natives, by the active interposition of Montgomeri. Hildebrand, weighed down with guilt, appalled with horror, at the recollection of his crimes, wounded and diseased, in confequence of his fhipwreck, dies, full of penis tence, before the day of combat. St. Valori sees his lady, whose reason seems to be affected by her loss, and is on the point of discovering himself, when he perceives her partiality to Montgomeri, and learns, that he is supposed to be already her husband, or soon to assume that character.' The incidents relating to the intended combat, and the diftreffing jealousy of St. Valori, form the chief substance of the play. Montgomeri is however her son, and the champion whom she defigns to oppose to Hildebrand ; so that, on this discovery, the conclufion is happy.

The ftory of a plot is like a pantomime, when we are admitted behind the scenes ; it is an unfair and disadvantageous representation, and necessary only when we are obliged to analyse it. The improbabilities in the story are numerous. St. Valori is supposed to be murdered by unknown affaflins, and yet Hildebrand is fummoned to the lists. Hildebrand had indeed taken poffeffion of St. Valori's Norman domains, though we know not on what foundation ; for, while the property of the lower orders were un protected in those times of licentious. ness and tumult, the wardship of orphans, and the protection of widows of rank, were sufficiently provided for. The crown seldom overlooked such advantageous accidents. Again, Montgomeri is brought up in the castle of his mother, as a page, though she seemed only to delay her demands on Hildebrand, till her son could be her champion. This fituation was by no means calculated to ensure his succefs against an able and ex

perienced perienced warrior : it rather doomed him to certain deftruc. tion ; and so far from his being trained in the proper exer. cises, that the contempt and jealousy of St. Valori are particularly excited, by the meannefs of his supposed rival. It is improbable also that Gyfford, an old servant, who remembers his master, should not know that his mistress had a fon.

In the conduct of the piece, there are also errors. The weakened reason of Matilda is, with a few exceptions, well fupported in the first act; but we hear so little of it afterwards, that, if Mr. Cumberland had not expressly told Mrs. Sidaons, in the Dedication, that artificial situations, ftudied incidents, and tricking declamation, must be thrown afide,' where me is to appear : that the author who writes a character for ber, muft· not call her into ftarts and attisudes, merely because he has a form so striking to display at his command :' if it were not for these declarations, we thould have suspected that this partial phrenzy of the brain was only calculated for the appearance of the actress. It has very little connection with the subsequent events. It might have been an error, in an inferior writer, to have explained the relations of the different parties so early, as it would destroy expectation, and lessen the interest ; but, Mr. Cumberland perhaps withed to fhow, that the magic of his language, and the force of the fituations, would rife superior to such artificial arrangements.

The first scene between St. Valori and his lady is admirably
executed ; and yet, from too great fondness for metaphor, and
fome, perhaps, accidental resemblance to a comic scene in the
Drummer, its effect is weakened. The following passages,
with a little exception, are very beautiful,
Matilda,

Alas!
I am a helpless folitary woman,
A widow, who have lost- God! O God!
'Twill turn my brain to speak of what I've loft ;
It is amongst the lightest of my griefs
That I have lost myself.
St. Val.

Thyself!
Matil.

My senses :
At best they are but half my own, lometimes
I am bereft of all. Theretore I lead
On this lone coait a melancholy life,
And thut my gate, but not my charity,
Against the stranger.
St. Val.

Oh, support me, Heaven !
'Tis the, 'Tis she ! that woe-run'd voice is her's;
Those eyes, that caft their pale and waining fires
With such a melting languor thro' my soul,
Those eyes are ber's and forrow's, o

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

Again,
Matild.

Oh, approach and enter
If you can weep, we will converse whole days,
And speak no other language ; we will fit,
Like fountain flatues, face to face oppos’d,
And each to other tell our griefs in tears,
Yet neither utter word.'

*

*

*

I saw you

St. Val. Oh, tell me have you then endur'd
Twenty long years of mournful widowhood ?

Matil. They say 'tis twenty years ago he died ;
I cannot speak of time : it may be so ;
Yet I thou'd think 'twas yesterday.

St. Val.
Matil. - You saw me! When?
St. Val.

When you did wed your lord.
The
paragon

of all this world you was.
Grief has gone o'er you like a wintry cloud,-
You've heard this voice before,
Matil.

I think I have :
It gives a painful sense of former days :
I've heard such voices in my dreams; sometimes
Convers’d with them all night; but then they told me
My senses wander'd.--Pray you, do not harm me:
Leave me, good monk; indeed I know you not.

St. Val. I wore no monkish cowl in that gay hour
When you wore bridal white, On Pagan ground, .
Beneath the banner of the Christian cross,
Faithful I fought; I was God's soldier then,
Tho' now his peaceful servant,
Maril.

You have fought
Under the Christian cross !-- You shake my brain.
St. Val. Peace to your thoughts ! I will no farther move

you:
Shall I not lead you hence :
Matil.

Stand off ;- stand off!
The murderer of Saint Valori is abroad;
The bloody Hildebrand is on the seas.-
Rise, 'rife, ye waves! blow from all points, ye winds,
And whelm th' accursed plank that wafts him over
In fathomless perdition ! -Let him link,
He and his hateful crew ! let none escape,
Not one ; or if one, let him only breathe
To tell his tale, and die I-Away! begone!
You've made me mad.?

We shall select but one scene more, viz. the discovery of St. Valori. Full of jealousy and resentment, but still in his assumed character, the Carmelite, he had sent a bracelet, given by his lady on their first separation, pretending to have received it

from

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »