« VorigeDoorgaan »
Lisana, yes ;
around her. He places her in the convent his brother. It was perhaps about the worst of San Paolo, of which his aunt is abbess, and most anarchical period of the middle and in the stillness of that retreat her bet- ages. The king was loved by his people, and ter mind returns to her, and the passion deserved their love, for in the intervals of that tormented her takes tlight.
his malady he devoted himself to their in
terests with a tender and profound solici“Ere waned one moon
tude. He is described in this play with a Of her novitiate, it had pass'd away
mournful pathos. Like the soft tumult of a summer storm." The Duke of Burgundy is a man of blood,
fierce, with a shrewd intellect (the instruShe now bids adieu to her deliverer be
ment of ungovernable passions), a domineerfore taking the veil :
ing pride, and a will that knows no law.
The Duke of Orleans has not escaped the Lisana.
O friend beloved, Who propp'd this weak heart in its weakest posed to respect religion in its outward
contamination of a dissolute court, more dis hour, Rejoice with me, and evermore rejoice!
forms than to obey its commands, but he Your work is done, your recompense achieved, bas about him much that is good, and more A thankful soul is saved.
that is specious. He is frank, generous, loyRuggiero.
al, and devotedly attached to his brother, I will rejoice ; I do ; though mortal eyes whom he resembles in his personal beauty Must still have lookings backwards. Yet 'tis and in love for his country. His kindly and
courteous manners make him a favourite of The holiest verily are the sweetest thoughts, And sweetest thoughts were ever of your heart plishments recommend him to the clergy.
the people, while his learning and accomThe native growth. Lisana. No more of that, my Lord ;
He represents the chivalry of his age; but It savours of the blandishments of earth.
it was a chivalry dying out. The spirit of Look onward only — up the eminent path
self-sacrifice, the virtuous zeal, and the revTo which you led me — which my feet have erence for purity had left it, and consetrodden
quently the child-like faith of the middle With gladness, issuing daily to the light, ages was daily becoming more enervated Till meeting now the radiance face to faco, with those childish superstitions from which Earth melts, Heaven opens, Angels stretch neither orthodoxy nor heterodoxy secures their hands
the unspiritual and sensual. Chivalry reTo take me in amongst them, glory breaks
tained its bright accost and winning grace, Upon me, and I feel through all my soul
but the That there is joy, joy over me in heaven.
graver heart had departed from it, Ruggiero. Then joy too shall be over you on and the savage fierceness of the feudality it earth.
had covered was working out again through My eyes shall never more behold your face the thin disguise. Till, looking through the grave and gate of St. Clements Eve is, in power and ability, death,
among the best of Mr. Taylor's Dramas, but I see it glorified and like to His
in some respects it is less satisfactory than Who raised it; but I will not waste a sigh it is remarkable. Both in its success and On what, if seeing, I should see to fade. Lisana. Farewell my Master calls me
its short-comings it signally illustrates the Ruggiero.
Fare you well.
philosophy of the drama. It is as masculine I pace a lower terrace; but some flowers a work as Philip van Artevelde. It is also From yours fling down to me, at least in prayer. far more condensed, and the action is more
Vol. iii. p. 80.
rapid. But the subjeci throws a gloom over
the play darker than that which tragedy reWe now proceed to Mr. Taylor's latest quires. We leave it with a feeling of sadtragedy, St. Clement's Eve. This play takes ness, the result not merely, or chiefly, of a up the tale of European society where it fatal catastrophe, but of the absence of no was left off in Philip van Artevelde, but il- ble characters sufficient to balance the iglustrates it as it existed in France, not noble and the wicked. We have no right to Flanders. Charles the Sixth, the boy-king, quarrel with a dramatist either for selecting by whom so bright a light was thrown over a corrupt period of history for illustration, or the second part of Van Artevelde, is pre- for faithfully representing it, yet he certainly sented to us again, but this time in eclipse. loses not a little by such a selection. WhatHe was subject to recurring fits of madness, ever the pride of art may affirm, the abiding during which the kingdom was torn to pieces charm of a poem will ever bear a proportion by the rivalries of the Duke of Burgundy, to the moral beauty it enshrines,– not merethe king's cousin, and the Duke of Orleans, I ly the beauty which the poet has created, but that which he has found ready-made in interests of the drama require, and as it his theme. A favourite book is generally seems to us, historic truth no less, that specione fortunate in its subject, as well as one mens of a nobler order of character should that makes the most of that subject. The be also introduced in a compensating measpoet works against the tide unless the theme ure. The best periods have their villains, and the characters he describes work with and the worst have often their saints and him, and tend to a result which, though heroes: nature commonly produces such inpainful, still is such as the higher imagina- termingling, and art requires it. The chronition can
muse on with satisfaction and cles of the time described, full as they are peace. There must be a due proportion of of violence and wrong, delight us also with sunshine to the shadow, and even the sad- many a trait of generosiiy, magnanimity, est events must be something more than loyalty, fidelity, and self-abnegation, which sad ; they must illustrate poetical justice; need no aid from the romance of chivalry to they must set forth the ways of God to man; give them interest. Virtue becomes perthey must leave behind them the sense that fected by the very trials and temptations to the world we inhabit, though it has its sor- which it is subjected, and though at particurows, has yet its method and order, that lar periods injustice and wrong may occupy it is a region into which angels of chastise- an unusual prominence upon the surface of ment are indeed sent as well as angels of society, yet true virtue must co-exist with love and joy, but that it is not a jungle beset these, both in high places and in low, or 80by wild beasts, or a labyrinth — the haunt ciety could not long continue to exist.
It of mocking spirits.
has but small place in this play.
Even A perfect tragic theme is one that pre- characters so rarely presented to us that sents us with greatness in all forms. There their vices contribute nothing to the carrymust be great sorrows, but there should also ing out of the plot, are sketched in colours be great characters; there should be a scope of arbitrary gloom. The Archbishop of Pafor great energies: the event should be the ris is made a servile old pedant. This is result of great, even though of erring, pas- gratuitous. The metropolitan sees were in sions, not of petty infirmities and base those ages commonly occupied either by machinations. Many a striking theme does men of ability and force of character, or by not include such materials, abundant as it the representatives of some great family, may be in stirring action and picturesque by one, in short, whose faults were not likely positions, just as many a fair landscape is to be those of a schoolmaster turned courtier. deficient in that which a picture requires. We find here something of that confusion Let the subject include the characteristics between the middle ages and the ancien réwe have named and very numerous defects, gime which M. de Montalembert alludes to with which the critic may cavil, will de- as so common. Such bishops would have tract but little from the reader's pleasure. been less easily found in the middle ages He will recur to the work when the first than in the seventeenth century, when in effect of surprise, and the admiration pro- most parts of Europe an oriental despotism duced by the sense of difficulties overcome, had risen up upon the ruins of feudalism. have worn off. A poet will be wise to In still more repulsive colours is the Abbess choose a theme that does much for him. It of the Celestines represented, and little as is the one for which he can do most, as, in we see of her, we are left with the painful the long-run, it is the best land which best impression that she has worse faults than repays the husbandman's toil.
those which seek a palliation in passion. The subject of St. Clement's Eve combines the barbarism of prolonged civil war with "That liberty she grants herself, good soul, the corruptions of a court, and exhibits a She not denies to others,” social condition in which simplicity has ceased to exist, while refinement has not is a comment made upon her by a friend ; yet come. It supplies but one wholly noble and we find her stimulating the vanity and character, that of the hermit, Robert de increasing the danger of a pupil intrusted to Menuot. Montargis and Burgundy are men her charge, who has attracted the admirawithout conscience or honour, or even that tion of the Duke of Orleans. This might regard for reputation which often passes for surely have been avoided without representhonour. The two monks, or supposed monks, ing the abbess either as a saintly Hildegarde, are equally prompt at the burning of a witch or even as a nun “ wise and witty," and or the composition of a philtre. Such cha- with more aptitude for the day's work than racters, in their due place, may doubtless be fitness for a place in romance. Of the portrayed both justly and usefully. But the younger female characters, Flos, though
energetic and sparkling, is not intended to The People stare and deem the day is nigh interest our deeper sympathies.
When lamb and lion shall lie down together. We have spoken strongly of what we
De Chevreuse. Rode on one horse ! deem the fault of the theme in this play.
De Aicelin. Yea, Orleans before, It is more difficult to speak, without the ap
And Burgundy behind.
'Twas so they rode : pearance of exaggeration, of its merits.
Two witches on one broomstick rode beside Its manliness might startle a literary age as
them ; effeminate as ours. Not a few of its readers
But riding past an image of Our Lady will exclaim
The hindmost suorted and the broomstick
brake. “What doth the eagle in the coop,
De Cassinel. Would I were sure my gout The bison in the stall?”
would be as brief as their good fellowship
De Vierzon. In its vigour, both of thought and of lan
To see grim John
Do his endeavour at a gracious smile, guage, it possesses a merit which to some will be lost in its strangeness — a strange
Was worth a ducat; with his trenchant teeth
Clipch'd like a rat-trap. ness like that which we find in the organic De Cassinel.
Ever and anon remains of a remote age. That vigour be- They open’d to let forth a troop of words longs, not only to the serious scenes, but to Scented and gilt, a company of masques the lighter also, which are of a very differ- Stiff with brocade, and each a pot in hand ent character from those of A Sicilian Sum- Fill'd with wasp's honey.” mer, and preserve something of fierceness even in mirth. Its songs have the buoyancy, terseness, and dramatic impulse which be
The most characteristic illustration which
we can give of St. Clement's Eve is the folIn none of his works, perhaps, is his style so lowing denunciation of both the Royal consummate. It is at once classical and Dukes, pronounced by Robert the Hermit idiomatic, and it has the polish, with the before the Council
. We regard it also as weight of steel. Above all it is invariably the finest piece of poetry in the play, and clear, letting the thoughts shine through it,
as such extract it uncurtailed:like objects seen through transparent air. This last eharacteristic is becoming rare in “ Robert. King and my gracious Sovereign, our day, owing, in some measure, to the very
unto whom degree to which some particular merits of
I bend the knee as one ordain'd of God, style have been carried. At present, in not a
A message hath been given me, and I am bid
To tell thee in what sort. St. Jerome's Day, little of our popular poetry, language has been so strained in search of expressiveness,
My vows perform’d, I sail'd from Palestine, and has thus become such a richly-coloured
With favouring winds at first; but the tenth
night medium, that it sometimes seems to be a
A storm arose and darkness was around beautiful substitute for thought rather than a And fear and trembling and the face of death. revealer of thought, thus resembling those Six hours I knelt in prayer, and with the water-colour drawings in which the aërial seventh effects swallow up mountain and plain, and A light was flash'd upon the raging sea, in which the picture might be described as
And in the raging sea a space appear'd mist with trees in it. In this play, conden
Flat as a lake, where lay outstretch'd and
white sation has, we think, been carried too far. The introduction of a few interstitial scenes
A woman's body ; thereupon were perch'd
Two birds, a falcon and a kite, whose heads would be useful, not only as thus allowing
Bare each a crown, and each had bloody the enrichment of poetry and philosophic beaks, thought, but yet more in suspending the And blood was on the claws of each, which course of an action so rapid as to hurry us clasp'd, out of breath. That action is occupied This the right breast and that the left, and chiefly by the jealousies of the royal cousins;
each and we have not room to trace it in details. Fouglit with the other, nor for that they
ceased They had also their occasional reconciliations, one of which is thus humorously de
To tear the body. Then there came a cry. scribed:
Piercing the storm – Woe, woe for France,
Thy mother France, how excellently fair "To-day they rode together on one horse, And in how foul a clutch !' Then silence, Each in the other's livery. To-morrow
then, They are to sleep together in one bed.
* Robert of Menuot, thou shalt surely live,
For God hath work to give thee; be of good | See to that soldier's quittance — blood for
blood ! Nail thou two planks in figure of a cross, Visit him, God, with thy divine revenge!' And lash thee to that cross and leap, and lo! The woman ceased; but voices in the air, Thou shalt be cast upon the coast of France ; Yea and in me a thousand voices cried, Then take thy way to Paris ; on the road, Visit him, God, with thy divine revenge!' See, hear, and when thou com'st to Paris, Then they too ceased, and sterner still the speak.
Voice "To whom?' quoth 1. Was answer made, Slow and sepulchral that the word took up The King.'
* Him, God, but not him only, nor him most; I question'd, 'What?' That thou shalt see, Look Thou to them that breed the men of blood, declare,
That breed and feed the murderers of the realm. And what God puts it in thy heart to speak Look Thou to them that, hither and thither tost That at the peril of thy soul deliver.'
Betwixt their quarrels and their pleasures, laugh Then leap'd I in the sea lash'd to a cross, At torments that they taste not; bid them learn And drifting half a day I came to shore That there be torments terribler than these At Sigean, on the coast of Languedoc,
Whereof it is Thy will that they shall taste, And parting thence barefooted journey'd hither So they repent not, in the belly of liell.' For forty days save one, and on the road So spake the Voice, then thunder shook the I saw and heard, and I am here to speak.
wood, The King. Good hermit, by God's mercy And lightning smote and splinter'd two tall
we are spared To hear thee, and not only with our cars That tower'd above the rest, the one a pine, But with our mind.
An ash the other. Then I knew the doom Burgundy.
If there be no offence. Of those accursed men who sport with war But take thou heed to that.
And tear the body of their mother, France. Roberi.
What God commands, Trembling though guiltless did I hear that How smacks it of offence? But dire offence
doom, There were if fear of man should choke God's Trembling though guiltless I; for them I word.
quaked I heard and saw, and I am here to speak. Of whom it spake: 0 Princes, tremble ye, Nigh forty days I sped from town to town, For ye are they ! Oh, hearken to that Voice! Hamlet to hamlet, and from grange to grange, Oh cruel, cruel, cruel Princes hear! And wheresoe'er I set my foot, behold ! For ye are they that tear your mother's flesh; The foot of war had been before, and there Oh, flee the wrath come! Repent and live! Did nothing grow, and in the fruitless fields Else know your doom, which God declares Whence ruffian hands had snatch'd the beasts through me, of draught
Perdition and the pit hereafter; here Women and children to the plough were yoked; Short life and shameful death.” – Vol. iii. p. The very sheep had learnt the ways of war,
125-8. And soon as from the citadel rang out The larum peal, flock'd to the city gates :
We cannot better illustrate the two chief And tilth was none by day, for none durst forth, female characters of the play than by the But wronging the night season which God gave following passage. Iolande has been giving To minister sweet forgetfulness and rest, friendly counsel to Flos, whose wayward Was labour and a spur. I journey'd on, temper and love of wordly pleasures excite And near a burning village in a wood
her alarm : Were huddled 'neath a drist of blood-stain'd
“ Iolande. Last night I had a dreadful dream. The houseless villagers : I journye'd on,
I thought And as I pass'd a convent, at the gate
That borne at sunrise on a flecce of cloud. Were famish'd peasants, hustling each the I floated high in air, and looking down, other,
Beheld an ocean-bay girt by green hills, Half-fed by famish'd nuns: I journey'd on, And in a million wavelets tipp'd with gold And 'twixt a hamlet and a church the road Leapt the soft pulses of the sunlit sea. Was black with biers, for famine-fever raged: And lightly from the shore a hounding bark, I journey'd on - a trumpet's brazen clang Festive with streamers fluttering in the wind, Died in the distance; at my side I heard Sail'd seaward, and the palpitating waves A child's weak wail that on its mother's breast Fondly like spaniels Alung themselves upon her, Droop'd its thin face and died; then peal’d to Recoiling and returning in their joy. heaven
And on her deck sea-spirits I descried The mother's funeral cry, 'My child is dead Gliding and lapsing in an undulant dance, For lack of food ; he hunger'd unto death; From whom a choral gratulating strain A soldier ate his food, and what was left Exhaled its witcheries on the wanton air. He trampled in the mire; my child is dead ! Still sail'd she seaward, and ere long the bay Hear me, o God! a soldier kill'd my child ! Was left behind ; but then a shadow fell
Upon the outer sca — a shadowy shape – ries, might reply, with the author of GuessThe shadow bore the likeness of the form
es at Truth, Yes, a visionary, because he Of the Arch-fiend. I shudder'd for the bark, And stretch'd my hands to heaven, and strove from her the respect of others and her own.
sees.” But fate and fortune conspire to take to pray But could not for much fear. T'he shadow
She has been saved by Orleans from Mongrew
targis, who attempted to carry her off, and Till sea and sky were black; the bark plunged she loves her preserver before she knows he
wife. On the discovery she breaks And clove the blackness; then the fleece of the tie; but her heart is neither restored to cloud
liberty (as in so noble a nature it must soon That hore me, melted, and I fell and fell, have been), nor left in peace with its sorrow And falling I awoke.
and its humiliation. Orleans implores her Flos.
Yes, Iolande, You're ever dreaming dreams, and when they're she renounces bim, at least to befriend his
“O pious fraud of amorous charity”- if bad
sick brother. They're always about me. I too can dream,
At his entreaty she underBut otherwise than you. The god of dreams
takes to exorcise the king's malady by Who sleeps with me is blithe and débonnaire, means of certain miraculous waters enclosed Else should he not be partner of my bed. in a reliquary, the healing virtue of which I dreamt I was a cat, and much caress’d, depends upon the spotless purity in heart And fed with dainty viands; there was cream, and life of her by whose hand they are And fish, and flesh, and porridge, but no mice; sprinkled upon the sufferer’s brow.
She And I was fat and sleek, but in my heart
makes the attempt, and fails. The ordinaThere rose a long and melancholy mew Which meant, 'I must have mice ;" and there ry reader will account for her failure, not withal
by her unworthiness, but by the circumI found myself transported to the hall
stance that she was but a dupe, practised on Of an old castle, with the rapturous sound
by impostors. This is not her view of the Of gnawing of old wainscot in my ears ; subject, nor the hermit's; and if accepted With that I couch'd and sprang and sprang and as just, though it exculpates the victim, it couch'a,
leaves her death wholly unredeemed by poMy soul rejoicing
etic justice. In Shakspeare, imposture is Jolande. May God grant, dear Flos, Your mice shall not prove bloodhounds.”—Vol. deserves; it is exhibited, detected, and flung
treated with the contempt so sorry a thing iii. p. 135.
aside. The catastrophe of a tragedy is nevToo soon it turns out that there was room noble efforts of the hermit for the restoration
er made to depend on it. In this play the for the warning. Flos is betrayed and de- of France are frustrated, and the most inserted by her lover Montargis. Wooed by teresting characters swept into ruin by inanother, she tells him that, before he wins her favour, he must avenge
strumentalities too petty for such a cataswrong :
trophe. “Give me thy hand again. It is too white.
We have another fault to find with this I delicate this hand to truth and love,
part of the plot. It forces our sympathies And hatred and revenge. White as mine own ! into a painful region of poetic casuistry. Dye it and bring it back to me to-morrow, The struggle between human love and heav. And I will clasp it to my heart. Farewell!” enly love, where each so easily puts on the
semblance of the other, is perplexing to the Father Renault moralizes well:
imagination. We know not how far we are
to condemn, and how far we may pity.
“How swift The transformation whereby carnal love
There is a pity which is “ akin to love,” Is changed to carnal hatred ! I have heard it and another pity which is "akin to consaid,
tempt;” and in the misty region of insinThere is no haunt the viper more affects cere and equivocal action and passion, the Than the forsaken bird's nest.'
two run into each other. The poetry that
describes or adumbrates such conflicts of We know not how far we can recognize spirit and flesh, belongs to what, in writers in Iolan'le, the heroine of the play, an ex- very different from Mr. Taylor, sometimes ception to the general darkness that charac- claims the name of psychological poetry.” terizes it. At first she has a delightful There are struggles in human nature which freshvess, and a purity capable of “disin- even the author of Hamlet would have fecting" the bad air in which she lives. She shrunk from exhibiting in tragedy. There is tender in heart and soaring in aspirations, are regions in the human heart, open to the one of those who, if reproached as visiona- | Divine Eye alone, into which reverence and