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*place us, your cotemporaries, on the but a part only. I think with y lowest bench. The faults which you in most things. We do want incide ascribe to us may be reduced to two Our tragedies (except “Virginius,”-1. Want of incident or action; and which, as far as incident is concerned, 2. Want of passion ; and you sup- but not otherwise, is the best tragedy, port these accusations by quoting i. e. the best constructed tragedy of bad passages from our works. This, the day) are miserably deficient in I believe, is the state of your case. events. We want passion alsn, but
In the first place, and in answer in a less degree ; and as a matter of to your charge of our being the worst course, action; for passion is almost of the three schools,—I deny it. necessarily the language of action.
There are two props by which tra- . We want, in short, animal spirit and gedy (1 do not mean what is insinu- a change of scene. We inundate our atingly called “ domestic” tragedy, pages with description (the bane of such as “George Barnwell ” and the tragedy) when we should stick to " Gamester,” but tragedy proper) is the business of the story, and thrill supported: the one is action, and the hearts of our hearers. This must the other poetry. The writers of the always happen until we draw upon age of Elizabeth, I will allow for a
our invention, and sketch out a good moment, had both, the writers of and full plot before we begin upon the next age action * without poe- our dialogue. You will have obtry, and we poetry without action. served that half of our scenes want In reply to this, you may assert that a purpose. They are often unfolded "action is the more material of the and swept away, and nothing is done
two, and that we may have a trage- for the story. Two or three persons dy without poetry, but not without come forward, and talk for ten miaction. I answer - yes; you may nutes, and then vanish. This is not have a “domestic” tragedy, a thing the way to proceed, as you know. with creeping thoughts and bouncing Every scene should show a progress exits, with pistols, and ropes, and made in the story; and nothing the gallows; but tragedy, crowned should be told which can be acted. and built up, as it should be, to the A play should be the march of passtars, demands poetry of the very sion from its cradle to its grave. It highest order. In fact, its breath is should have both a change of events, poetry, and if it exbales only prose and a growth of passion, and this it it dies. Shakspeare arrived at the is (involving, as it does, a power over height of his reputation by means of character) in which we fail. Occahis poetry (his passion of poetry) atsionally we transport our hero from least as much as by his dramatic Rome to Naples-from Thebes to skill. I grant you that he is super- Athens; and thus far some little proeminent in the last, but he is unap- gress is made ; but, after all, such proached in the former. The fire of things are the mere spectral appearhis imagination was so strong that it ances--the phantasmagoria of the fused the dull words of common life drama. The body and soul-the into passion, and animated with a action and change of passion-- the fresh and impetuous principle the “deeper and deeper still” are wanting; creeping sentences of prose. His and without these, the florid power of superiority did not exist more in the the poet, his pathos, even his “ noise” dramatic turn of his dialogue, in his (1 quote Mr. Lacy) will avail but distinction of character, or the ra- little. pid changes of events, than in his One of the great sins of our dramapoetry, which gave life and strength tists is owing to their egotism, i.e. they to all.
will thrust themselves and their opiniAm I maintaining then, that as we ons into every mask, from king to possess poetry of a certain kind, we beggar. They will not let each chahave sufficient for the purposes of racter do its best; but they (the authe drama? -By no means. I do thors) come forward and play the not write to controvert all you say, prompter, from a fear lest the beggar
You will perceive that I here admit too much: for many of them had as little sca tion as ourselves (see the Hills, Rowcs, Johnsons, Addisons, Murphy's, &c.) and 10 poctry whatever.
should prove beggarly, and the miser diseased after the Restoration, bloatbe meagre of his words. This is bad ed, mad, and unnatural; and finally, and impertinent. Again, the success if I may say so, sank into a trance. of some of our actors, seduces wri. After the revival of poetry, which I ters into a trickery of speech. They should date from Cowper and Bishop stifle a furious sentence in its birth. Percy's ballads, &c. and the impulse They throw in a “ Ha !” or a given to men's minds by certain “ 'Sdeath!” They begin with “ By great political events, I consider the heavens !” &c. and, when you think drama as having awaked, languid that they are about to pull Jove from and inert indeed, but sane, and his stool, or dash their words in the stripped of its bombastic diseases teeth of Mars, they fall down sudden- and hideous deformities, and presently, from alto to basso, quick as a sound- ing altogether a sounder aspect and ing plummet, and end in a “Well, more hopeful character than at any well!” or a moral caution, which period since the death of Shirley. draws down the thunder-of the gal. You will have observed the declenleries. This is also impertinent and sion of the drama—from Shakspeare, bad. Besides these, we have other to Fletcher, to Ford, to Shirley, faults, which you have enlarged up- then its throes and agonies in Dryon; and if I, who am what is called den and Lee, Congreve and Otway (I a“ successful” dramatist, admit your shall speak hereafter of “ Venice charges, it is surely some argu- Preserved.") Addison, Rowe (who ment in their favour. I do admit them, committed grand larceny upon Masalmost in their extent. We do want singer), Aaron Hill, Murphy, Thomincident and passion. Our tragedies son, and a world of others, till at are sleepy in their progress, and thin last was born the “ Douglas” of Mr. in their construction. Our drama- Home, free indeed from many of the tists seem as though they wrote un- vices of its predecessors, but the der the influence of soda-water and feeblest and frailest infant of the the hyp. Their little bursts are like stage, nourished in a period of barrenmere water bubbles, while their doseness, by artificial means, and now of languor is potent indeed. Their kept alive (or perhaps onlyembalmed) dialogue is indolent, and their passion in the sunset reputation of Mrs. Sida feverish and unnatural. The pitch dons. is not enough above ordinary talk, I have admitted that we are below and does not consequently stimulate the dramatists of Elizabeth ; but I the attention. I am not sorry, I con- mean this chiefly with reference to fess—that you have applied a cata- our comparative powers in poetry, plasm to the body dramatique, al- and in the delineation of character. though I am a sufferer under it. But In other respects we are surely but I never piqued myself upon my dra- little inferior. One test of a play being ma (" The of- , or, The fa- (or being not) dramatic, is its fortune tal -"*)-I despised it from the at the theatré. Now, I will undermoment I heard it upon the stage, take to say, that few of the old and should have done so before, had plays, and scarcely one of the second my furor had time to cool.
era, would keep up the attention of Having admitted thus much, I an audience in the way that is effectmust now be permitted to say that ed by several of our modern dramas. I disagree with you, in your com
With the exception of “ A New parative estimate of the three Way to pay Old Debts,"
'2" Every schools of the drama. You have Man in his Humour,” and “Rule a put forth your opinion, Mr. Lacy; Wife and have a Wife,”—(all of which permit me to state mine :-it is this. may be considered comedies) there is I think that tragedy was highest and not one of the old dramas which can best in the time of Elizabeth and keep its footing upon the stage. her successors, previous to the com- Did you see “ The Jew of Malta, monwealth. I think that it became • The humorous Lieutenant,"
I could, perhaps, call up the late Mr. Astley, a great encourager of rising gerius, to say a word or two as to the merits of my drama : but I shall reserve his testimony, in case it shall be necessary to add the weight of my reputation (which is not trifling, in St. George's-fields) to the force of my argument or assertions.
(strongly cast too) or even “ The us encouragement, as well as abuse. Duke of Milan," "represented ? If The present state is the collapse of the so, you can judge for yourself. As drama. She is weak after sickness, to the dramas of the second era, there inert after a long repose, but she has are absolutely none, except “Venice much of what is sane and healthful Preserved,” which can contest the about her, and wants but time to repalm. You yourself have convicted cruit her strength, and your good is Oroonoko, (one of the best) by word (and the good word of others) being unable to extract more than to tempt her to higher and better three lines (and those not good and flights. far from original) out of a whole You are not a common-place man.
“ Venice Preserved," is up- Do not fall into the common-place, of held by the character of Pierre, under-rating your cotemporaries, which is undoubtedly a strong and while comparing them with people dashing sketch. Were it not for whose renown is more secure, though him, Belvidera and Jaffier would not more deserved than theirs. overwhelm us with their tediousness. You will observe that I avoid The “ Revenge," a heavy dull play, Shakspeare altogether.* He is above is in like manner supported by Zanga all“ schools and all « times :' alone, and he is a copy : the rest is and you treat us, I think, not quite “ leather and prunella." How “ Isa- fạirly, Mr. Lacy, when you try us by bella” keeps her widowed eminence his standard, instead of by that of his at the theatre, I am unable to say. cotemporaries, or by the general cast It is a puzzle, altogether; for, cer- of the subsequent dramatists. We tainly, if there ever was a weak play, do not affect to approach him. We barren of incident, and tame in dic- never shall-if I may venture on a tion, it is “ Isabella, or the Fatal prophecy - produce any thing like Marriage.” In fact, all the dramas him. He is an enormous and splenof the second era are mightily defi- did star thrown out of the regular cient in incident (I omit Venice Pre- system; or he is, if you prefer it, a served) and are utterly void of poetry. sun, around which we, like twinkling Dryden is mad and prosaic : Lee is planets, move and do homage. Try mad and but no, I must except us by the ordinary run of dramatists, parts of Lee, for he is often poetical: and then give us our place. You Congreve is tumid and tame : Rowe's should not select Shakspeare, singly; “ golden lines” turn out to be partly nor even Otway (though I hope we forged and entirely copper: Addi- shall, after a little time, face him son's ten feet are frost-stricken: without fear), but give us our chance Thomson's swollen : Doctor with the crowd.-Do I ask any thing Johnson's are-all that is weak and but what is fair? bad. His muse indeed (if he had a And now to descend from generals, muse) lies absolutely prostrate, and to particulars. You are, I believe, Demetrius and his fellows trample right upon the whole there, also : yet upon her and drawl out their heavy you are (shall I say) unjust upon one sentences over her, till she dies of point, viz. Lord Byron. excess of prose."
First, however, as to MIRANDOLA. With all our faults (and we have I am assured by a friend that your plenty) we at least have something of opinion of this tragedy cannot equal the characteristic and familiar mixed the contempt of the author himself: with something of the poetic; and I He says that it was scribbled in a maintain that these qualities properly hurry, in the languor subsequent upon amalgamated form the essence of drac illness, and he desires not to be judged matic dialogue. Give us time, Mr. by it. The structure of the verse he Lacy, instead of treading upon us; give allows to be often bad, the scenes
• Yet even in Shakspeare (and in his best plays), I could point out to you many instances of what you complain of in us. What do you think of the 3d scene in the 4th act of Macbeth ? It is heavy and to no purpose. Neither do I see much use in the Doctor coming forward to speak of the king curing the evil. And with regard to the structure of dramatic verse (observe, I agree with you on this point) you will find as many errors in Shakspeare-look at the Midsummer Night's Dream, &c.—as in almost any other author. I admit that he is not often prosaic, except where it is for the best; and occasionally (though seldom) it is for the best.
often weak, and the incidents too few. Į agree with you, that there are After this you should not, perhaps, beautiful passages in Mr. Haynes's censure him without putting his ex- play, great merit in Miss Baillie culpatory statement upon record. Į (though her verse is generally much have every reason to believe that the too artificial), and above all very great account which I now give up of this power and beauty in the drama of author's play is true; but I cannot Mr. Beddoes. If this last author be understood, of course, to vouch does not do something extraordinary for the fact. Nevertheless, even with I shall be deceived. With respect to regard to this tragedy, the dialogue Mr. Milman, I cannot think that he is, I should say, generally dramatic; has much dramatic power, whatever and the structure of the plot (though poetical claims he may possess. Lord too meagre) is in some respects new; Byron is decidedly in my opinion more for the interest is single, and is cast dramatic than he, to say nothing of for two acts upon one character, and his comparative strength. then shifted, and devolves upon ano- One or two more observations, and ther. This you will observe escapes I have done—for the present. You the tedium of too long a sympathy say the rhetorical school at least kept with one person ; without frittering us awake by their noise! To my away the interest, as is often done, thinking, their noise, though great, by dividing it between the principal is too monotonous: it lures me into and secondary groups. I do not know slumber. Noise is an “accident" of that this has been done elsewhere. the drama; but it depends, for its
In regard to "LORD BYRON: you effect, upon its intervals of calm. have, I think, treated him somewhat Then, you say that poetry is the harshly. You speak of the injury accident and not the essence of drawhich he has done to our poetry. matic language! Yet, it is the grand .But, what poetry was there in exist- distinction between Shakspeare and ence (of this age) at the time Lord Lillo. It is, in my opinion, as much Byron arose ?-absolutely none, ex- the essence of tragic dialogue as accept the poems of Mr. Wordsworth, tion: for it is the great principle of and a few, a very few others. Lord elevation, without which, as you justly Byron has been the cause of bad hint, Tragedy would " walk the stage rhyme undoubtedly; but this is be- on her belly,"—that is to say, it cause he has given a sudden impulse would not walk, but would creep; and to the public mind, and thrown it the end would be that it would die. headlong (if I may so speak) into It is, therefore, I submit to you, poetry. I certainly do not think him essential. the most poetical writer of the day. Upon the whole, Mr. Lacy, I must Mr.Wordsworth,Mr. Shelley, and Mr. allow that you have spoken well and Keats, were perhaps more so. But he justly to us. A little more kindness, has an impetuous strength that well perhaps—but let that pass. I write becomes the garb of verse, and strikes to acknowledge the good service often harder at our sympathies than which you have done ; generally the more regular and truer efforts of agreeing with you, but sometimes dilthe muse. Lord Byron is not very fering, as you will see. I had intended dramatic, and he allows this; but he to have retorted more in your own has done good to the generation by pithy vein, and to have argued the so much as he has probed men's hearts matter more completely and at length; to their depths, and awakened the but sickness and some annoyances spirit of poetry within them. With (which I will not obtrude upon you) all his faults also--and I allow the have discomposed me, and rendered structure of his blank verse to be far me less efficient for my task than from good-he has done the poetical when I originally designed it. state some service; and you should, For the present, therefore, farewell ! · I think, grant this. You will ob- and believe me to be (although a draserve that Lord Byron has said that matist) your admirer and humble serhis tragedies were not written for the vant, stage. Why then do you try him by
TEREXTIUS SECUNDUS. its rules?
RECENT POETICAL PLAGIARISMS AND IMITATIONS.
(Continued.) Taking up this subject where we a long passage, in which Fitz James left it in our December Number, we has been vilifying and threatening are about to proceed with the imita- Roderic, not aware that it was to tions in Scott's remaining poems, and him he was talking. The scene prowith such as have occurred to us ceeds. in Southey, Montgomery, Moore, &c. Fitz James was brave :-though to his heart and lastly in Byron.
The life-blood thrilled with sudden start, LADY OF THE LAKE.
He manned himself with dauntless air,
Returned the chief his haughty stare, « Oh! stranger, in such hour of fear, What evil hap has brought thee here?
His back against a rock he bore, An evil hap how can it be
And firmly placed his foot before, &c.
C. 5. That bids me look again on thee?"
The Gathering. Quel Paladin, di che ti vai vantando
Son io!. Fremerne posso, ove tu a me lo annunzi ?
Ferran non perdè per ciò il coraggio Alfieri, Filipo. Trasse la spada, e in atto si raccolse, &c.
Il Fur. xii. 25. A lock from Blanch's tresses fair He blended with her bridegroom's hair ;
The rest of the passage (the meThe mingled braid in blood he dyed,
rit of which is wholly in the TVKVWOLS And placed it on his bonnet side. “ By him whose word is truth! I swear,
εκλελεγμενων, for which Longinus No other favour will I wear,
praises Sappho,) is gathered from Till this sad token I imbue
Lucan and Claudian. In the best blood of Roderic Dhu!” His
back against a rock he bore,
iv. 28. And firmly placed his foot before. With which he cut a lock of all their hair,
“ Come one, come all; this rock shall fly Which meddling with their blood and earth From its firm base as soon as I."he threw;
Sir Roderic marked, and in his eyes ... and gan devoutly swear
Respect was mingled with surprize, Such and such evil God on Guyon rear
And the stern joy which warriors feel
C. 6. if I due vengeance do forbear,
In foeman worthy of their steel. Till guilty blood her guerdon do obtain. Stetit aggere fultus
Fairy Quech. Cespitis intrepidus vultu, meruitque timeri
Non metuens, atque hæc, ira dictante, proThe chase is ap, but they shall know
Pharsal. y. 316. The stag at bay's a dangerous foe. C. 4. Radiat quam torva voluptas....frontis. The hunt is up! and in the midnight wood
Bell. Getic. With lights to dazzle and with nets they. Moored in the rifted rock,
seek A timid prey: and lo! the tiger's eye
Proof to the tempest's shock, Glares in the red flame of his hunter's torch! The firmer he roots him the ruder it blow, Coleridge. Remorse, A. iii. ad fin.
Rather like the mountain oak,
Tempest shaken, rooted fast,
While it wrestles with the blast.
Montgomery. periculis lætus.
Tac. Hist. ii. 86.
Cowper observed the fact, and hint: From shingles grey their lances start,
ed the application. (Task, b. 1.) The bracken bush sends forth the dart, The rushes and the willow wand
ROKEBY · Are bristling into axe and brand. C. 5. Conscience, anticipating time, ...των δε ειχες ειατο πυκναι
Already rues the unacted crime; Ασσισι και κορυθεσσι, και εγχεσι πεφρικύια.
And calls her furies forth, to shake
The sounding scourge and hissing snake. 1λ.
C. i. 2. " And Saxon-I am Roderic Dhu!”
Quæ tamen etsi absunt, et mens sibi con
scia facti These words (forming the coup de Præmetuens adhibet stimulos, torretque Theatre) will remind our readers of
Luciet. I. 3, 1031. MARCH, 1824.