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tion of the Brothers overtaken by night; and by darkness divided from their Sister. From this charge the Bard may be more easily vindicated—Why they were so long absent is another question—I have to account for the disputation: we find them in the double obscurity of night and a thick shade formed by innumerous boughs. To dissipate the fear of the Younger Brother for his Sister's safety, the Elder descants upon the unassailable nature of virgin purity. In the uncertainty of their situation, to move was dangerous; to expatiate, therefore, while it fortified their minds against alarming apprehension, deceived the weariness of time, combined with the aking privations of silence and darkness.

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COMUS, as it is here given, is an adaptation to the modern stage—by the retrenchment of much Dialogue, and the addition of many Airs.—That the Poetry of this beautiful piece suffers by a modern hand can be little doubted. Veneration for the Author might wish it in the original state ; but a dramatic exhibition must please to be repeated;—the aim should be to venture as little innovation as possible. The Music of Arne, in the modern Comus, is well known; it is as intelligent as modern music can be.

Let not this article be closed without paying to de. ceased merits the praise so deservedly their due :: From the late Mr. Henderson's performance of Comus was derived one of the most luxuriant feasts

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that the writer of this article ever banquetted upon. The jocundity~plausibility-festivity, and voluptuousness he assumed, were among the finest effects of his consummate abilities. His manner of reciting the rich melody of his first speech, and the happy con

tempt of

“ The blabbing Eastern Scout, the nice Morn, &c."

he who has heard will never forget-he who has not will never conceive.

PREFACE.

Tuis Mask was first represented at Ludlow-Castle on Michaelmas-day 1634, before the Right Hon. the Earl of BRIDGEWATER, Lord President of Wales: the principal Performers were the Lord Brackly, Mr. Thomas Egerton, and the Lady Alice Egerton*. In the year 1774 it was abridged, and has ever since been performed as an Afterpiece at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden. The following were the reasons offered to the Public in favour of the Abridgment, and were prefixed to an edition of the piece then published in its curtailed state.

" Pure Poetry, unmixt with passion, however admired in the “ closet, has scarce ever been able to sustain itself on the stage. “ In this Abridgment of Milton's Comus no circumstance of “ the drama contained in the original Mask is omitted. The “divine arguments on temperance and chastity, together with “ As a further argument in favour of the drama in its present form, it might perhaps be urged, that the festivity of the cha"racter of Comus is heightened by his assisting in the vocal “ parts as well as in the dialogue, and that theatrical propriety “is no longer violated in the character of the Lady, who now “ invokes the Echo in her own person, without absurdly leaving w the scene vacant as heretofore, while another voice warbled “out the song which the Lady was to be supposed to execute.

many descriptive passages, are indeed expunged or contracted; “ but, divine as they are, the most accomplished declaimers have “ been embarrassed in the recitation of them: the speaker vain“ ly laboured to prevent a coldness and languor in the audience: " and it cannot be dissembled that The Mask of Comus, with “ all its poetical beauties, not only maintained its place on the " theatre chiefly by the assistance of music, but the music it“ self, as if overwhelmed by the weight of the drama, almost “sunk with it, and became in a manner lost to the stage. That “ music, formerly heard and applauded with rapture, is now “ restored, and the Mask, on the above considerations, is cur“ tailed.

* The Music was originally composed by Sir Henry Lawes, who also represented he Attendant Spuit. The present viusic is the composition of Dr. Arne,

“ To conclude, it may not be impertinent to observe, that " The Faithful Shepherdess of Beaumont and Fletcher, which " is esteemed one of the most beautiful compositions in our “ language, not only afforded our Author the first hint of this 66 Mask, but that several brilliant passages of Comus are imi“ tated from that excellent performance; yet it is remarkable " that the play of The Faithful Shepherdess, being merely pre“ tical, was condemned on its first representation; for which " hard fate, though succeeding critics have reprehended the

aris of that age, yet no attempt ever been hazarded “ to restore the hapless drama to the stage."

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OUR stedfast Bard, to his own genius true,
Still bade his Muse* " fit audience find thofew;"
Scorning the judgment of a trifling age
To choicer spirits he bequeath'd his page.
He too was scorn'd, and to Britannia's shame
She scarce for half an age knew Milton's name :
But now, his fame by ev'ry trumpet blown,
We on his deathless trophies raise our own.
Nor art nor nature did his genius bound;
Heav'n, hell, carth; chaos, he survey'd around:
All things his eye, thro' wit's bright empire thrown,
Beheld, and made what it beheld his own.

Such Milton was: 'tis ours to bring him forth,
And your's to vindicate neglected worth.
Such heav'n-taught numbers should be more than read,
More wide the manna thro' the nation spread.
Like some bless'd spirit he to-night descends,
Mankind he visits, and their steps befriends;
Thro' mazy errors dark perplexing wood
Points out the path of true and real good,
Warns erring youth, and guards the spotless maid
From spell of magic vice by reason's aid.

Paradise Lost, Book VII. ver. 31.

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