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Whom this strange chance unites once more ?
“ Let men Part? never
Regard me ard the poet dead long ago, Till thou, the lover, know; and I, the knower, Who once loved rashly; and shape forth a third Love-until both are saved."
And better tempered spirit, warned by both.” But Aprile expires, leaving Paracelsus In his note the author says: “the liberconvinced, that knowledge is precious only
ties I have taken with my subject are very in its union with love.
trifling; and the reader may slip the foreThe third scene presents him at Basil, going scenes between the leaves of any melecturing to admiring pupils, at the zenith moir of Paracelsus he pleases, by way of of his fame and popularity. Yet the les commentary.” Now, we plead guilty to son which he has learned from Aprile, to but slight familiarity with the biographies use his wisdom for man's benefit, has not of the Father of Chemistry, yet we do not rooted out his old contempt of his fellows. hesitate to say, if they are sufficiently He despises, while he teaches them, and enigmatical to need the elucidation of such sees little harm in playing off the tricks of a commentary, we shall be in no more haste a charlatan upon men, who cannot appre- to cultivate a more intimate acquaintance. ciate true wisdom. He seems to have Meanwhile, notwithstanding its defects, the
learned the lesson of love, theoretically, poem is full of boldness and originality, rather than practically. Festus is all ad- far beyond the reach of mediocre minds
, miration of his success; but Paracelsus which gave ample promise of ripened expredicts his own downfall, and still feels, cellence. There are passages of which within, the unsubdued desire to attain to any poet might be proud; particularly perfect knowledge.
those passages of description, which evince In the fourth part Paracelsus again" as the observing eye, and personifying imagipires ;” that is, the people of Basil, baving nation of the true poet. And though it is, come to the conclusion that he is an uncon- in a measure, true, as has been said, that scionable quack, he is about to start again Browning seldom expends his strength upon his old vagabond life, in search of upon isolated passages, but shows his powknowledge. This fourth part is a wonder- er in a subordination of the parts to the ful talk-the old race of volubility between whole, we shall yet attempt to compensate Festus and Paracelsus, with a new spirit for our somewhat disparaging criticism, by superadded. We had set it down as an a few quotations. astonishing specimen of some new style of As an instance of imaginative force in a poetry, and given up understanding its single word, we remember few which surreal or dramatic significance, until we pass the following: found, by consulting the notes, that, at this
Michal, some months hence, time, Paracelsus “ scarcely ever ascended Will say, 'this autumn was a pleasant time, the lecture desk, unless half-drunk, and For some few sunny days, and overlook only dictated to his secretaries when in a
Its bleak wind hankering after pining leaves." state of intoxication.” This surely ex- Here is a description of an autumnal plains an accumulation of incongruities, morning : under which language reels, and reason
Festus. Hush ! staggers, although it may raise a question Paracelsus. 'Tis the melancholy wind astir
Within the trees; the embers too are gray, among critics as to the æsthetical propriety Morn must be near. of such writing.
Best ope the casement: see! In the fifth part Paracelsus once more The night, late strewn with clouds and flying “ attains ;” that is, he dies in the faith that
stars, he has missed the aim of life, by not
Is blank and motionless; how peaceful sleep
The tree-tops all together. Like an asp mingling love with his thirst for knowl
The wind slips whispering from bough to edge. This much, at least, we gather from bough. his wild and incoherent rhapsody, strewn
Par. Aye; you would doze on a wind-shaken here and there, with beautiful thoughts
By the hour, nor count time lost. and images, like stars that twinkle trem- Fest.
So you shall gaze. ulously in a nebulous sea of ether. The Those happy times will come again, poet states its moral in these word sof Par
Gone! Gone! acelsus :
Those pleasant times. Does not the moaning
Seem to bewail that we have gained such | from producing a work of the very first gains,
order. And bartered sleep for them.
The next play, “ Pippa Passes,” is simFest.
It is our trust That there is yet another world to mend ple in its design, and genial in its sentiAll error and mischance."
ment. The author's capacity is fully equal Here the descriptions are exquisite, and characters are distinctly outlined, and the
to his conception, and, consequently, the the transitions all beautifully suggested by thoughts no longer float at large in nubinatural associations. Yet it is curious to
bus. The poem seems intended to illusnote how, even here, everything tends directly back to that eternal coil of doubt and trate the influence of a good word, when
spoken in critical moments. The heroine faith, pride, contempt, and love, and the of the piece, Pippa, a poor girl from the problems of " providence, foreknowledge, silk-mills, who has her New Year's holiwill, and fate,” which he keeps unwinding day, passes the “Happiest Tour,” as she from his bosom, without end. Here is a further decription of morning :
supposes, in Asolo, and, fancying her
self for the moment the persons themselves, * Seo morn at length. The heavy darkness sings her song in their hearing, and, with
girlish light-heartedness, trips away. She Diluted; grey and clear without the stars, The shrubs bestir and rouse themselves, as if
first passes Ottima, the young wife of an Some snake, that weighed thein down all night, old man. She, with her paramour Sebold,
has, the night before, murdered her husHis hold; and from the east, fuller and fuller, band, and, this New Year's morn, arises Day, like a mighty river, is flowing in,
from the gratification of their guilty pasBut clouded, wintry, desolate, and cold. Yet see how that broad, prickly, star-shaped
sions, to a life which their wicked deed has plant,
stripped of all its real charm. They are Half down in the crevice, spreads its woolly conversing in her bed-chamber, habitualeaves,
ting their minds to the terrible rememAll thick and glistening with diamond dew."
brance, and devising the means of extractThe following lines, though they remind ing pleasure from their mutual wretchedas of Wordsworth's account of the origin ness. Peppa passes, singing her song, of the Grecian gods, yet have a beauty all which concludes :
6 God's in his Heaven,
All's right with the world.”
The words awaken some old responsive A querulous mutter, or a quick gay laugh,
feeling in the heart of Sebold, and he, at Never a senseless gust now man is born ; The herded pines commune, and have deep
once, sees in his beautiful paramour a being thoughts,
hideous and despicable : A secret they assemble to discuss When the sun drops behind their trunks, which Sebold.
Leave me! glow
Go, get your clotheson-dress those shoulders ! Like grates of Hell: the peerless cup afloat Olti.
Sebold ? Of the lake-lily is an urn, some nymph
Seb. Wipe off that paint. I hate you. Swims bearing high above her lead; no bird Otti.
Miserable! Whistles unseen, but through the gaps above, Seb. My God, and she is emptied of it now, That let light in upon the gloomy woods,
Outright now-how miraculously gone A shape peeps from the breezy forest-top,
Of all the grace-had she not strange grace Arch, with small puckered mouth, and mocking eye ;
Why, the blank cheek hangs listless as it likes The morn has enterprise,-deep quiet droops No purpose holds the features up together, With evening; triumph takes the sunset hour; Only the cloven brow and puckered chin Voluptuous transport ripens with the corn,
Stay in their places—and the very hair, Beneath a warm moon, like a happy face." That seemed to have a sort of life in it,
Drops a dead web. Thus we might proceed, would our limits
Otti. Speak to me - speak not of me. permit, quoting passage after passage, shew- Seb. That round, great, full-orbed face, where ing a bold, vigorous, and original mind, Broke the delicious indolence—all broken ! which only a too decided introversiveness,
Olti. To me-not of me! Ungrateful, perjured which time seems fast remedying, prevents cheat.
their own :
The words italicised are an exquisite | let also illustrates another fault, somewhat stroke of nature. Only a true dramatist more common, viz. the frequent suppression would have so intensely conceived the sit- of the relative pronoun, which or who—a uation of Ottima, as to have felt that the fault that, sometimes, contributes very maunmistakeable expression of alienation and terially to his obscurity. The song desabhorrence was in the use of the third per- cribing the King, who lived long ago. “ in son—as if seas and mountains had arisen the morning of the world,” is an admirable between her and Sebold, or, as if she had “modern antique ;” though we have some suddenly sunk to a lower scale of being— doubts, whether it be in character with the rather than in his words of disgust and con- person who sings it. Yet it is much better tempt.
in this respect, than some of the metaphyPippa next passes a young sculptor with sies and school-divinity, mingled in the his bride. His rivals, envious of his songs of this little girl, who is represented genius and hating him for some slight ec- as singing, as the bird carols, from the fullcentricities, by a pretended correspondence ness of a joyous nature. In this play, too, carried on in the name of his bride, have we note another peculiarity, which has not deceived him into marrying a girl, whom much decreased with experience,-a fondhis fancy has clothed with all conceivableness for sudden and unexpected transitions loveliness, but who is, in reality, of very which render some of the dialogue, at the ordinary pretensions. He has just discov; first reading, almost as enigmatical as a ered the deception, and is about to discard Greek chorus, though a more thorough study her at the very moment that the magnet- of the author's conceptions and a free use ic influence of his presence and conversa- of one's own imagination in the scenical detion have developed the germ of a new life tails of the play, remove this objection. within her ; when the song of Pippa resolves But our three favorites among these him to také noble revenge upon his rivals, plays are, “Colombe's Birthday,” « A Blot hy devoting himself to unfolding a nature, on the 'Scutcheon," and "Lusia.” Of these, which needs only the shining-in of affection perhaps, Colombe's Birthday will be most and intellect to germinate and bloom with generally popular. It is full of stir, inciexquisite beauty. “Look,” he says, dent and vivacity ; its characters all speak
in propria persona, without showing the “ Look at the woman here, with the new soul, author through them, and the dialogue, parLike my own Psyche's—fresh upon her lips Alit, the visionary buttertly,
ticularly in the last two acts, is managed Waiting my word to enter and make bright, with an exquisite grace and tact, which Or flutter off and leave all blank as first.
equal or surpass the most charming scenes This body had no soul before, but slept
in Massinger. There are no prolix speechOr stirred, was beauteous or úngainly, free From taint or foul with stain, as outward things es, no long metaphysical disquisitions, but Fastened their image on its passiveness ; a brisk interchange of thought and sentiNow it will wake, feel. live, or die again! ment, a constant development of the plot, Shall to produce form out of unshaped stuff Be art--and, further, to evoke a soul
and a delicacy and precision of characterFrom form--be nothing? The new soul is ization, which awaken an interest in the mine."
persons for their own sakes. It is the old
theme of love versus money or high social With like success she passes a youth; position, or, adopting a broader generalizameditating the assassination of a tyrant, and tion, of nature versus artificiality, and no a bishop, who is on the point of compro- where do we remember to have seen it mising a high duty to expediency. We have no disposition to find fault with claims of love and nature advocated in
more delightfully treated—no where the a poem which so far surpasses its preten
more manly, healthy, and truly wise and sions, and will only note, en passant, one noble style.' Cultivated nature speaks in or two blemishes. He makes Pippa say, every part, without mawkish sentimentality “ Thou art my single day. God lends to heaven
or drivelling cant, asserting, in the persons What were all earth else with a feel of heaven." of a high-born and honest-hearted woman,
and of a simple and lofty-minded man, the But Mr. Browning is seldom guilty of homage which is ever her desert. such verbal impropriety as this. The coup- The plot is briefly this. Colombe is
Duchess of Cleves and Juliers. At the time iers, his large sympathies for humanity, and represented in the play, one year of her his heart, burning with the wrongs of his rule has passed amid the adulations of a townsmen, contrast finely with their intricourt, and she is now to celebrate her guing selfishness. While their courtly acbirth-day and the anniversary of her coro- complishments, their paltry shifts and evanation. But the Duchy descends accord- sions but sink them deeper in trouble, acting to Salic law, and, this very day, Bert-ing from the instincts of nature and loyal hold, the nearest heir male of her father, to his sovereign, because loyal to his own backed by the influence of the Pope, the conscience, he inspires a confidence, which Emperor, and the Kings of France and he will use only for Truth and Right. Spain, demands the throne. The arrival While the Duchess supposes that the fickle of this demand gives the author a fine op- | impotence of her courtiers has left her sucportunity to paint the littleness and incon- corless, he reveals to her the true sources stancy of men nurtured amid the artifices of sovereignty. When she says, “ heard of courts. Each courtier tries to shift up you not I rule no longer,” he replies : on the other the unpleasant duty of present
“ Lady if your rule ing the demand the Duchess; and each
Were based alone on such a ground as these shrinks from the task, desirous of doing
(Pointing to the Courtiers) nothing which shall forfeit the favor of their Could furnish you—abjure it! They have
hidden mistress, and, at the same time, of conciliating the new claimant. At this point, The Duck. You hear them-no source is left.
A source of true dominion from your sight. Valence, a young advocate, comes with a Val.
Hear Cleves ! petition from the inhabitants of Cleves for Whose haggard craftsmen rose to starve this the redress of their grievances, and, uncon
Starve now, and will lie down at night to starve, scious of its purport, is induced, as the
Sure of a like to-morrow-but as sure price of an admission, to present the de- Of a most unlike morrow-after-that, mand. The Duchess is surprised, heaps Since end things must, end howso'er things reproaches on her courtiers, who apologize, may.
What curbs the brute-force instinct in its shuffle, and temporize. The prince is at
hour? the city gates, and they have no counsel for What makes, instead of rising, all as one, the emergency
Valence, with noble man- And teaching fingers, so expert to yield liness and chivalry, assumes the responsi
Their tool, the broad-sword's play, or carbine's
trick ? bilities from which they shrink, is invested
-What makes that there's an easier help they by the Duchess with their offices, and by think, his courage and promptitude, at once re- For you, whose name so few of them can spell, lieves her from her embarrassments and
Whose face scarce one in every hundred saw, wins her heart. She submits to him the
You simply have to understand their wrongs,
And wrong will vanish--so, still trades are claims of Berthold, and bids him decide up
plied, on their validity. Valence decides in fa- And swords lie rusting, and myself am here?
There is a vision in the heart of each, vor of the prince, but before the decision is made known, the prince makes, through
Of justice, mercy, wisdom; tenderness
To wrong and pain, and knowledge of its cure, Valence, proposals of marriage with the And these embodied in a woman's form, Duchess. This dashes all the hopes of That best transmits them, pure as first received, Valence, yet he manfully acquaints her
From God above her to mankind below." with his decision and Berthold's offer. The
And when Berthold reiterates his demand Duchess, during the interview, obtains from in person, speaking of the weakness of the him a confession of his love, and then, in
Duchess, he answers : the presence of the court, rejects the proposals of the prince, with his prospects of You see our Lady ; there, the old shapes
stand! imperial rule, for the hand of the humble
A Marshal, Chamberlain, and Chancellor, advocate of Cleves.
Be helped their way, into their death put life, The character of Valence, for in this And find advantage! So you counsel us. play the characters become valuable for But let strength feel alone, seek help itself,
And, as the inland hatched sea-creature hunts what they are, as well as for what they say,
The sea's breast out; as biltered'mid the waves, is drawn with bold yet discriminating
The desert brute makes for the descrt's joy, touches. Thrown into the midst of court- So turns our lady to her true resource,
Passing o'er hollow fictions, worn-out types, the highest class of artificial men. Val-So, I am first her instinct fastens on !
ence acts always from principle and sentiAnd prompt, I say, so clear as heart can speak, ment, without regard to consequences ; The people will not have you. Never, in this gentle spot of earth,
but Berthold, even in wooing a bride, keeps Can you become our Colombe, our play-queen, in view his_darling projects of self-aggranFor whom, to furnish lilies for her hair,
dizement. He thus makes love to the We'd pour our veins forth to enrich the soil.”
Duchess : We would gladly quote the whole scene “ You are what I, to be complete, must have, between the Duchess and Valence, where Find, now, and may not find, another time. Valence makes known the Prince's pro
While I career on all the world for stage,
There needs at home my representative. posals of marriage, and where the Duchess
The Duch. Such rather would some warrior wolearns the secret of his love for her. He is
man be; hardly an eloquent advocate for the Prince, One dowered with lands and gold, or rich in since his own love has sharpened his vision
One like yourself! to the want of it in others. The Duchess
Lady, I am myself, asks why Berthold's offer does not imply And have all these. I want what's not mylove.
Nor has all these. Why give one hand two “' Val. Because not one of Berthold's words and
Here's one already; be a friend's next gift Had gone with Love's presentment of a flower
A silk glove, if you will—I have a sword! To the beloved ; because bold confidence,
The Duch. You love me then. Open superiority, free pride
Your lineage I revere; Love owns not, yet were all that Besthold
Honor your virtue, in your truth believe, owned,
Do homage to your intellect, and bow Because, where reason even finds no flaw,
Before your peerless beauty. Unerringly a lover's instinct may."
But, for love ; But
Berth. A further love I do not understand. upon this topic we have room to ex
Our best course is to say these hideous truths, tract only those beautiful lines, in which,
And see them, once said, grow considerable, when the Prince in person proffers his hand Like waters shuddering from their central bed, and the Duchess seems about to accept it, Black with the midnight bowels of the earth, he resigns his claims, not only unrepiningly,
That once up-spouted by an earthquake's throe but with a kind of triumph.
A portent and a terror-soon subside,
Freshen apace, take gold and rainbow hues "Val. Who thought upon reward ? And yet how
Iu sunshine, sleep in shade; and, at last,
Grow common to the earth as hills and trees, much, Comes after-oh what amplest recompense !
Accepted by all things they came to scare.
The Duch. You cannot love then. Is the knowledge of her, nought? the memory
Berth. nought ?
Charlamagne, perhaps !" Lady, should such an one have looked on you,
And again :
- Your will and choice are still as ever free! You will have blessed him to his whole life's Say you have known a worthier than myself end;
In mind and heart, of happier form and face ; Low passions hindered, baser cares kept back,
Others must have their birthright ! I have gifts All goodness cherished where you dwelt and
To balance theirs, not blot them out of sight, dwell.
Against a hundred other qualities What would he have ?
I lay the prize I offer. I am nothing ; He holds you; you, both form
Wed you the Empire ? And mind, in his; where self-love makes such The Duch.
And my heart away?
Berth. When have I made pretension to your For love of you, he would not serve you now
heart ? The vulgar way; repulse your enemies,
I give none. I shall keep your honor safe ; Win you new realms, or best in saving you,
With mine I trust you as the sculptor trusts Die blissfully, that's past so long !
Yon marble woman with the marble rose, He wishes you no need, thought, care of him, Loose on her hand, she never will let fall, Your good, by any means, hiinself unseen,
In graceful, silent, slight security." Away, forgotton !"
But Colombe, like the true and noble Berthold is the counterpart of Valence. woman that she is—and Mr. Browning is With his nature half chivalric and half epi- surely very successful in his delineations of curean, with his aristocratic tastes and female character-makes, as we have seen, worldly views of marriage, he represents the choice which her heart dictates. “A