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with a double-barrelled gun, and followed dered to head-quarters; and, when the order by menials, who take from him even the came, I was in the highest possible spirits. trouble of loading his piece, he and his The night before I set out on my journey, I party fire a thousand shots, and spread scarcely slept a wink. Young Phaeton, when death and desolation around them. This is importuning his father for the reins of that called glorious sport, a noble day, rare chariot which was fatal to his existence, country amusement! and the great man was not more anxious than I was, on this returns as proud as ever Alexander was after occasion ; nor, when he asked that sire to his greatest victory. Brandy recruits the grant his boon, as a pledge of the love which fatigues of this memorable morning, and he bore to his mother-“ Pignora da Genithe tongue of flattery tickles the nobleman's tor, &c." could he seek it in a more eager ear, and elevates him in his own esteem, tone than I enquired “ if to-morrow was the
“At dressing time he gives audience to the day on which I was to set out ?" steward, who is ordered to pay his gaming “ And yet I tenderly loved my parents. I and intriguing debts, by the sale of timber, was an only child, their prop and stay; I mortgage, anticipation, or annuities.
could not love them more than they deserved. “Such is the Exquisite's country life! Such The whole village too shared my affections : the delights in which he indulges, in the I felt the relative ties of humanity and good midst of family estates and picturesque will ; of brotherhood and connexion with scenery, to which he is as blind as he is to all my neighbours-domestics and all. I his own vices and failings,
had even a tenderish feeling for the fire-side “What a pity that a habitation and scenes animals of the paternal roof, — the poor old like these should be bestowed on such a pos- pointer, the dowager-spaniel, Duchess, the sessor! The very detail is offensive to rea invalid cat, and my mother's pet bullfinch, son and feeling ; but its colouring is not too Yes, I had rather not had to feel the “good high, nor is it a solitary example.
by to ye.” The shooting pony, I recomself-exiled, our ruined, our ruining nobility mended to Robert's care, and my setter,and rich men, look to themselves and this poor Trusty! accompanied me through many picture. How many will behold their own a varied and uneven path. Night came, and likeness, thus slightly sketched as it is, by her mantle sat uneasily on me. I felt almost the hand of
a woman's weakness as I sunk upon that “The HermIT IN THE COUNTRY."
mother's breast, where I drew my first love, mingled with the stream of life ; but I tried to be the soldier; and, after one dewy kiss, I
resolved not to see her in the morning. My "LEAVING HOME.
father was to accompany me a part of the “I had just completed my eighteenth road : and the thought of this was a relief year, when I received orders to join my regi- to me. ment for the first time. The sash and gor “ As I drew on my regimental boots, the get, the maiden sword, scarlet cloth and only article of military uniform which I gold lace, had all their weight and attrac wore on my journey, I felt an elevation of tions for me. I contemplated the empire mind, and seemed as if I were already fit to which I should have over hearts, and the command a company. But my satisfaction preference, which I had so often felt morti was not without alloy : I had the Dulce fied at wanting, at a ball, or in a country Domum to quit; I had the village to look circle ; I expected to live with the best fel- on, perhaps, for the last time; I had to lows in the world, to see a great variety of shake hands with the poor servants, some of scenes, to be ever amused, ever changing whom had borne my helpless infant form in quarters, — to dance as it were through life, their arms. This was trying. I whistled a to the tune of the merry fife and drum, and march; but it was more like a dirge ; I tried to leave care and gloomy reflection always a a country-dance: it was out of tune. day's march behind me; but above all i “ I sent the cook to knock at my father's longed to see the world, to be free, to be an door, an hour earlier than agreed upon ; for uncontrolled agent,-in a word, to be my time now seemed loaded with a weight of own master.
care ; and I resolved, albeit I was proud of “I had gone through the classics with my appearance, not to be seen by my kind some degree of attention, was a pretty good neighbours. I therefore gave keepsakes to dancer, could play a little on the flute, rode all the servants, and wrote a letter for the boldly, had read history, was a good shot, surgeon's daughter. and considered myself, upon the whole, a My dear father appeared : it was a great decent sort of fellow, particularly as the ease to my state of mind. I shook him maid-servants called me handsome, and the heartily by the hand, tried to look gay, and village surgeon's daughter had eyed me with brushed over the threshold of the door. The some degree of interest.
old nurse insisted upon kissing me: she was “I had now been looking for myself in the aged and ugly, but a good woman, and gazette for six weeks; and not a little proud somehow she had a right to this embrace. was I to see myself in print for the first I gave it her heartily, looking, however, time. My next impatience was to be or- jealously around : nobody saw me but the
family, else should I have blushed.
« Thrice had he essayed to part with me, Captain to kiss an ugly old woman! fie for before this proposal : I saw the motion pass shame."
in his mind; but his heart failed him ; his “ We were now at the end of the village. steps hung on mine, and his affections linI dreaded the sight of my mother at the gered with me, and were loth to part. He window, so I never looked back until out of looked at his watch on alighting from his sight of the house. I was now to take a last pony, as much as to say, “ a short walk, and look at this rustic assemblage of houses. then." Next, when fatigued, he sat down They danced tremulously in a tear, in my on a bank, and seemed determined to shake eye; but I cleared up with such a hoarse hands and to bid adieu ;—but he could not. and monstrous hem that the echo of the He then remounted, and proposed riding on church-yard, which returned it to me, ter to dinner, in the cool of the evening. My rihed me with the sound.-All this time my heart placed all these debts of gratitude lo father and I had not exchanged a word; his account. he looked thoughtful, and as if he had had “ He had another object, however, in a sleepless night.
this confidential walk ; in this protracted “The moming was beautiful, and I never journey together. He wished to give me a saw my native scene in such glowing colours great deal of good advice, and that advice before. There seemed to be a peculiar grace was offered and delivered to me more like a in the antique belfry of the church; and the brother and a comrade, a companion and a stiff sepulchral yews were gilded with the friend, than a parent, or one set in authority sun-beam. Obituary sculpture might have over me,-more like the man prone to error caused me some serious reflection. But my and failing like myself, than one to whom mind dwelt not on the past ; nor were any age and experience had given so decided a doubts and fears as to the future, unfolded superiority. to my view. - How many a departed bliss “On how many useful subjects did he now leaves but its monumental memento in give me his cool and unpresuming counsel ! my heart! how many prospects have va How fraught with honour, sentiment, and nished like the days of my ancestors ! how delicacy were his paternal admonitions! In many a brave comrade in arms now lies in how many instances of life have his prehis narrow bed, and upon his earthly pil- cepts and warnings upheld and prevented low !--but let us return to my father. me from evil! How often has a retrospect
"We had better dismount and walk a of that happy hour been a benefit to me in little,' said he to me, in a kind affectionate my passage through life!
•The weather is beautifully fine; “We parted, precipitately at last; for we have a long day before us; and I can re the mail-coach horn relieved us from those turn in the cool of the evening. I should achings of the bosom which a first separalike to have as much of your company as I tion from those who are dear to us naturally can; and you will not always have your old produces. father for your companion. We alighted " That parent, alas! is now no more! I accordingly, and gave our horses to the ser- have been the support of his sad relict; but vant who had charge of my luggage. I was I have no longer that brotherly father to to proceed in the mail from the first stage. hang upon my arm, to pledge me in the con
* We now turned off the high road, and vivial cup, to interest himself in every cirskirted a beautiful wood, crossed some ad cumstance concerning my welfare in this jacent fields, and pursued the course of the checkered scene of life, nor to recur to, for river, by the foot-path for some miles.-My advice, in difficulty or distress. father folded his arm in mine with a peculiar “Often have I, in different climates, and degree of friendship, familiarity, and tender- novel scenes, in distant and in doubtful ness; and I never hung on the discourse of circumstance, pondered upon this opening any one with so much attention either before scene of life, with a melancholy sensibility, or since. He evidently tried to amuse my which has mingled sweets and bitterness so mind, and to cheat the way and beguile the intimately together, that not to have been time by his conversation ; and he succeeded sad, would be double wretchedness, since to a charm. We saw the vertical sun ere sadly sweet was the very essence of reflecwe thought morning midway gonc; and tion. his declining ray surprised us ere we thought “ Even at the moment that I am writing it two hours after,
these lines, it seems as if my father's shade “Let us dine together, my dear boy,' hovered near me-as if I were wrapt and said he, with so much of the good fellow in covered all over in affection's mantle. Farehis air and accent, that I regr ted that he well, dear scenes ! I shall never behold ye was not more my own age, and going to join more! yet must memory itself perish, ere the army with me. I assented with delight. ye fade from the heart of * There is scarcely any night,' said he,
“THE HERMIT IN THE COUNTRY." now; and I must ride home the harder for it.'
REMARKS ON VIRGINIUS, AND ON MODERN TRAGEDY.
SINGULARLY rich as the present lyse the hearts of men, the idea of fate age is in poetical genius, it has produced as influencing tragedy ceases. Necessity very few works cast in noble moulds, in our age is a mere philosophical docand finished with a view to perfection. trine, which, whether true or false, can We have fragments of diversified and of never fitly be represented in the creations surpassing beauty, many of which, of the bard, as hurrying human agents in doubtless, will be long and well re a particular career, still less as opposed membered, but scarcely any imaginative to their will. The infinite chain of creations which have been framed with causes may be regulated in its progresa manifest hope that they would never sion by immutable laws, but these will perish. In our tragic poems, where not act in opposition to motives or pasposterity will look for the stateliest me- sions, but will inspire and guide them. morials of the age, we have done but Tragedy may indeed shew the grapple of little. As the noble filling up of this mind with fortune ; the limitless desire vast chasm in our literature is a subject opposed to the narrow bounds of morof our fondest and most earnest desire, tality ; love and hope, of purest eswe shall endeavour to sketch out our sence, contending vainly with the powers idea of the peculiar requisites of modern of fortune or of the grave. But the tragedy before we examine the beautiful triumph of the poet will be greater-bis piece immediately before us. We shall hold on our sympathies firmer--if he not now discuss exploded unities, or can elicit his interest, not from the mere mere technical rules, but say a few opposition of inind to circumstance, words on the action-the poetry and but from the collision of mind with the sentiment to which a tragic poet in mind-if he can animate the whole these times should aspire.
scene with breathing life-and endow 1. The action of a tragedy, which is with sensibility and passion every porits essence, should be altogether dif- tion of the high picture which he eshiferent in these times from that which it bits. With action, at all events, the appears in the grandest of the antique piece should be filled-because nothing dramas. Setting aside the ingenious else, except mere suffering, can be made analogy which Schlegel has discovered palpable to the senses ; and unless in in the ancient drama to the art of staiu- suffering there be something awful, or ary, and in the modern to that of pic- redeeming, the soul will be only harture, we must feel that the materials of rowed and tortured by the spectacle. the latter are very dissimilar to those of The mind, indeed, in the high state of which the former was compacted. There excitement, will necessary kindle-pasis, indeed, in the best works of the sion will grow bright as well as fervid Greek poets no intricacy of plot, no ex- and the sparks of fancy will fly quickly citement for curiosity, and little of hu- off from the soul in its rapid career. The man passion. The whole is scarcely plot should have enough of variety to more than one high sacrifice to the keep alive an intense interest in the power of the gods or of fate. Dignity spectators, yet no mere surprises, no of rank, and elevation of virtue, are but fantastic turns in which the general the ornaments which render the hero feeling is broken, none of the equivoke morc fit to become the victim. All is
or intrigue which belong to comedy. pervaded by a sublime composure, a The unity of time is nothing—the congentle spirit of resignation to the powers tinuance of place is nothing but the which are visibly fulfilling their irrevo oneness of the interest is of the highest cable purposes. But in modern tragedy importance to the success of a tragic i man regains his freedom-the struggle poet. As far as possible, the causes is not a contest with destiny, but with should not only be sufficient naturally circumstance or with passion-and the to produce the results, but should be fullest scope is given for the energetic similar to them in dignity and might. contest of the finest elements of our The sad events, at least, should spring being. We cannot agree with the great not from trifles, or mistakes, but critic to whoin we have alluded, that from real circumstances worthy to cause the idea of fate is essential to tragedy. strange and wild distresses. When jeaWhen superior existences are no longer lousy is groundless, or hatred arises supposed visibly and immediately to from mistake, or fatal catastrophes ocdirect the fortunes and inspire or para cur from a few minutes' delay of expla
nation or of succour, there is a dissatis- those who require a strong stiinulant to faction in our grief, a feeling of listless break their lethargic indifference, can vexation, which is never felt when ef- never endure. Even on the stage the fects, however awful, arise from ade- tragic poet never attains so pure a triquate and insuperable causes. The umph as when he moves his audience chief characters should, in general, have with strange delight by the revealing of the elevation of external majesty, in order some deep spring of sympathy in the that more of sensible dignity may be heart--when he exhibits to them some given to the scene, unless the passions affecting instance of the self-sacrifice are of such depth and grandeur as to of a generous spirit, and makes them vindicate to themselves a regality of sharers in some disinterested act which their own., The piece, in short, should has a tearful beauty in its grandeur. It be vivid in action, majestic in character, is not, indeed, necessary that he should clear and rapid in progress, adequate in exhibit goodness rewarded, but it is
its causes, and leave a solemn and undi- essential that he should make us feel its vided emotion on the soul of the spec- loveliness and its power. It is not his tator.
business to make us in love with for1. 2. The poetical cast of the language, tune, but with nature;, to inspire a in a tragedy, is of far less importance pride in our species, and enable us, in than its action. All, indeed, of cold imagination at least, to exert its best conceit—all of mere metaphor, which, and sweetest prerogatives. To awaken however beautiful and ingenious, draws latent tendernesses to open, as by a us from the character to the author—is cabalistic word, the long-sealed springs necessarily injurious to the general ef- of charity-to send through the delicate fect of the piece. Yet the difference fibres of the soul a keen and shivering of a composition of mere prose from one rapture by the disclosure of a fresh exof easy and natural verse will be appa- cellence in man--is the finest of a tragic rent even in the theatre. Passion is al- poet's successes. ways to a certain degree poetical ; and The tragic poets of England have naturally, takes the language of images, never, we think, made so noble a use of rather than of mere words, for the more active passion, which they have been set vivid communication of its sensations. free to depict, as the Greeks did of those 'Two things should be attempted by the stern and awful materials to which they tragedian in the use of figurative language were limited by the religion and the —that the images should never be so taste of Athens. The contemporaries of ostentatious as to divert the mind from Shakespear-abounding as they do with its sympathy to a cold admiration, and the richest stores of fancy, sentiment, and that they should be deeply tinged and pathos--can scarcely be regarded as havimbued with the passion, which, if it ing left us tragedies. There is rarely one be genuine, must draw all things into general design to which all tends-one its likeness, and impart to them one central point of interest round which all harmonious colouring. The tide of revolves—or one reconciling atmosphere emotion, as it rushes impetuously on- of feeling diffused over their pieces. ward, may, in the midst of its foam- We never think of them as harmonious ing eddies, have some little pieces of structures but remember individual smooth water on which the sun-beams characters, detached scenes, or exquiplay, or some piece of delicate branch or site passages. Even Shakespear himof golden cloud is tenderly reflected. self, except in his Lear, Macbeth,
3. The sentiment of a tragedy—hy Othello, and Romeo and Juliet, is rawhich we mean, not the mere moraliz- ther a romantic dramatist than a traing of its persons, but its general influ- gedian. In most of his plays, notwithence on the noble and sweet affections standing their higher qualities as poems, of our nature—is happily of high im- there is a want of these definite bounportance to its success. Some writers daries, that striking and massive forein our own day have fallen into the ground, and that subservience of the strange error of depicting the most hor- whole to one majestic purpose, which rible anomalies of vice, and attempting are calculated to produce the stately and to redeem them by the mere power of adamantine creation which will have intellect with which atrocious thoughts the grandest effect in the theatre. There are embodied and awful crimes com is too much perspective of the imaginapleted. But these works touching on no tion in his works-too infinite a variety universal chord of the heart, though of event, situation, and character-o they may be admired for a while by allow of that singleness of feeling,
which the tragedian should leave on much the mere excellence of outline, the soul. The scene of a tragedy and the rapidity of action, will effect ; should appear to the imagination like and how lamentable a deficiency may a narrow, but awful spot, bounded by yet remain, when truth of sentiment dark and gigantic barriers, within which and stability of principle are wanting. the characters are shut for their high The spirit of tragedy has not been struggle and majestic suffering. Since proportionably awakened in the great the best days of English genius, until revival of genius in our time, because our own, there has been no genuine the speculative and meditative cast of and native production of this class the prevailing imagination is altogether worthy of particular criticism, except alien to its essence. The “ Remorse,” “Venice Preserved,”a short examination with its glory-tinted clouds of metaphyof which will serve to illustrate some sical thought, has not enough of intense of the positions which we have taken. human passion, or present interest, to
This piece appears to us to possess fill the mind with any vast image of all the grandest externals of tragedy. massive greatness. “Fazio” has a beautiIts plot, involving the fate of an ancient ful simplicity of plot, and singular richrepublic, has an importance which fills ness of diction; but the characters, as in the imagination, and its action is conti- Venice Preserved, are low and selfish, nued almost without pause, in a succes- and there is nothing in the piece very sion of closely-woven incidents to its exquisitely to move our sympathies, or dreadful conclusion. The distress arises elevate our conceptions. " Evadne," on from no fantastical source ;-but the si- the other hand, sets before us some of tuation of Jaflier, which becomes more the loveliest traits of humanity, and desperate at every step he takes, is at gives sweet impulse to the purest and once striking and probable. With most disinterested affections, but it these merits, in which perhaps it is wants coherence, and is too much ocunequalled, this tragedy would be one cupied by lover's quarrels arising only of the most sublime ever written if the from paltry mistakes. “Bertram,” though filling up were at all comparable to the sprinkled with some of the fairest and outline. But unhappily the sentiments the saddest flowers of poetry, is destiand the characters are as low and worth- tute of nearly all the requisites of genuless as the plan is grand, and the situ- ine tragedy ;-it has little action, no ations appalling. There is scarcely any majesty, and no power of touching any touch of beauty or of nobleness to refresh sympathy but such as the exhibition of the soul, and to relieve it of its weight mere Satanic force may awaken. The of anguish. The conspirators are a band piece before us has more of genuine of the lowest ruffians, whose motives tragic spirit than any of these ; and if it are as base as their designs are bloody does not, in all respects, realize our idea and remorseless. Pierre himself, who of tragedy, it is rather the deficiency meanly practises on his friend's neces of the subject, than of the author. sity to hire him as an assassin, is hardly a s. The story of Virginius, notwithstandstep above his poor, weak, luxurious, ing its pure and mournful beauty, preand trembling victim. Belvidera, who sents one great difficulty to a modern might sweeten the whole by a native tragedian, that, in its dramatic 'form, purity which no circumstances could there can be no struggle. The main injure, is unworthy of her sex, and interest must necessarily be crowded in suited only to the husband whom she a single scene. The design of Appius cajoles and betrays. She is a pitiful on Virginia scarcely assumes the high contriver, with nothing but a selfish and tragic form, until the dreadful moand cloying fondness towards Jaffier ment when all hope is gone, and the to redeem her from contemptuous pity. father resolves and completes the sacriThe language, with a few exceptions fice. If this scene be made the last, of luxurious softness, is poor, though there must be four acts, almost without high sounding, often quite beside the business, or filled with action which purpose, and sometimes polluted by can neither tend to produce the catalow and disgusting allusions. Except- strophe, nor harmonize with the emoing in the passage where Jaffier asks tions which it should enkindle. With his wife, “How long is't since the these obstacles to his success, Mr. miserable day we wedded first,” there Knowles has produced a piece of the is no genuine pathos in the play, not- deepest and purest interest, and of the withstanding the distressful nature of most delicaie beauty. He has placed its events. Hence we perceive how the great scene in the fourth act ;