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Now fitted the halter, now traversed the cart,
And often took leare, but seem'd loath to depart.-PRIOR.

EDINBURGH
ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

1862

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INTRODUCTION TO IVANHO E.

Now fitted the halter, now traversed the cart,
And often took leave-but seem'd loath to depart! 1

PRIOR.

THE Author of the Waverley Novels had hitherto proceeded in an unabated course of popularity, and might, in his peculiar district of literature, have been termed L'Enfant Gâté of success. It was plain, how. ever, that frequent publication must finally wear out the public favour, unless some mode could be derised to give an appearance of novelty to subsequent productions. Scottish manners, Scottish dialect, and Scottish cbaracters of note being those with which the author was most intimately and familiarly acquainted, were the groundwork upon which he had hitherto relied for giving effect to his narrative. It was, however, obvious, that this kind of interest must in the end occasion a degree of sameness and repetition, if exclusively resorted to, and that the reader was likely at length to adopt the language of Edwin, in Parnell's Tale :

-"'Reverse the spell,' he cries, And let it fairly now suffice,

The gam bol has been shown.'"

Nothing can be more dangerous for the fame of a professor of the fino arts than to permit (if he can possibly prevent it) the character of a mannerist to be attached to him, or that he should be supposed capable of success only in a particular and limited style. The public are, in general, very ready to adopt the opinion, that he who has pleased them in one peculiar mode of composition, is, by means of that very talent, rendered incapable of venturing upon other subjects. The effect of this disinclination, on the part of the public, towards the artificers of their pleasures, when they attempt to enlarge their means of amusing, may be seen in the censures usually passed by vulgar criticism upon actors or artists who venture to change the character of their efforts, that, in so doing, they may enlarge the scale of their art.

There is some justice in this opinion, as there always is in such as attain general currency. It may often happen on the stage, that an actor, by possessing in a pre-eminent degree the external qualities necessary to give effect to comedy, may be deprived of the right to aspire to tragic ex

xcellence; and in painting or literary composition, an artist or poet may be master exclusively of modes of thought, and powers of expression, which confine him to a single course of subjects. But much more frequently the same

1 The motto alludes to the Author returning to the stage repeatedly after having taken leave.

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