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The effect of these most lame and impotent conclusions' on the melody of the verse, is scarcely less deplorable than their cruel operation on the sense; but the truth is, that the melody of. Miss Baillie's blank verse is not to be hurt by trifles-- there being nothing in the whole range of modern poetry half so clumsy and untuneful as the greater part of her unrhymed versification.
We will not, however, pursue the ungrateful theme of her faults any farther; but, before closing this hasty and unintended sketch of her poetical character, shall add a word or two, as both duty and inclination prompt us to do, on the more pleasing subject of her merits :--And here we must give the first place, we believe, to the tone of good sense, and amiable feeling, which pervades every part of her performances; and which, wherever They are found to be habitual and unaffected, impart a charm, even to poetical compositions, which compensates for the want of many more splendid attributes. Miss Baillie is not only very moral, and intelligently moral; but there is, in all her writings, a character of indulgent and vigilant affection for her cies, and of a goodness that is both magnanimous and practical, which we do not know that we have traced, in the same degree, in the compositions of any other writer. Then she has a very considerable knowledge of human nature, and an uncommon talent of representing (though not in the best dramatical form) the peculiar symptoms and natural development of various passions ; so that her plays may always be read with a certain degree of instruction,-and cannot be read without feelings of great respect for the penetration and sagacity of their author. Even as to style and diction, while we lament both the poverty and the constraint of which we have been compelled to take notice, it is but fair to say, that Miss Baillie appears to us to have had good taste enough to keep her eye pretty constantly on the best models; and that even her poverty has not been able to seduce her into those flowery paths, where the poorest, if they are regardless of purity, may, with small labour, become as rich, or, at least, as gaudy as their neighbours. Finally, we think Miss Baillie entitled to very high and unmingled praise, for the beauty of many detached passages in every one of her metrical compositions ;-passages that possess many of the higher qualities of fine and original poetry; and which, if they were only a little longer, and a little more numerous, would entitle her to take her place on a level with the most distinguished names that have illustrated this age of poetry. Few, and far Ketween as they are, they are decisive, we think, of her genius and capacity ; and though we do think they are in danger of being lost and forgotten amidst the mass of baser matter with which they are now surrounded, they make it a duty in all who are aware of their value, to unite their efforts both for their resa cue and their multiplication.
We come now to the contents of the volume before us. It consists of four plays ;--two tragedies (one in verse and one in prose) upon Fear ;-a comedy upon the same passion ;--and a serious musical drama, in verse, upon Hope. The last, we think, is decidedly the best ;--and, taken as a whole, is perhaps the most faultless of all Miss Baillie's productions. Next to it is the poetical tragedy on Fear; which occupies the first place in the volume before us. Both the prose plays we think are bad; though in very different degrees--the prose tragedy being merely dull, while the prese comedy is foolish. We proceed, now, to give some account of these pieces in the order in which they are printed.
The first tragedy, which is entitled Orra, is said by the auther to be founded on the passion of Fear; but rests, in reality, upon a weakness still less adapted for scenic representation. Those who have not read the volume, we are afraid, will scarcely believe us, when we inform them, that the heroine of this play is a young lady, who is particularly fond of listening to ghost stories, and is consequently very much afraid of being left alone in the dark, especially in places that have the reputation of being haunted; and that the sum of the story, detailed in these five elaborate acts, is, that her guardian, being aware of this infirmity, shuts her up in an old castle, which labours under that imputation, in order to frighten her into a marriage with his song-where she is so terrified by a mock apparition in a black cloak, that she loses her reason, and is left, at the dropping of the curtain, in a state of hopeless insanity. If we lıad not read the play with our own eyes, we should scarcely have thought it possible, that a person of sound judgment, and no vulgar genius, should have conceived the idea of making this the subjecti of a long, regular, and very elaborate tragedy. But so the fact is; and our readers, we dare say, feel some curiosity to know how the thing is accomplished.
Orra of Oldenberg, then, they must know, was an orphan heiress in Suabia, living under the guardianship of Count Hu ghobert, who was desirous of marrying her to his son Gloitenbal, a very clumsy and ill-conditioned youth, whose character seems indeed to be copied with the most rigorous fidelity from that of Cloten in Cymbeline. The lady Orra, of course, detests him as much as Imogen does his prototype: But there is no Posthumus in Miss Barillie's story-the said lady-being in love with
nobody,--and professing a partiality to a single life, notwith: standing the attachment of a worthy Count Theobald, and the devotion of a bastard cousin of the name of Rudiger, who strikes us again as a faint copy of Edmond in King Lear. The play begins with Theobald discomfiting Rudiger and Glottenbal in a tournament, which the latter had instituted to show off his prowess. The unsuccessful champions quarrel and growl ini various notes through the first scenes ; and the victor talks modestly with his friend of his own unworthiness of the object of his affections. Then Count Hughobert scolds his son for allowing himself to be unhorsed; and the lady Orra (after she has done caressing her hound) makes game of her unfortunate suitor, in a vein of irony so truly primitive, that we do not believe that a parallel will be found to it in any author more recent than Homer--who makes one of his warriors facetiously compliment his antagonist as he falls dead out of his chariot, on his agility in diving. As this is the first appearance of the heroine, it is but fair to Miss Baillie to lay these exemplary pleasantries before the reader in her own words.--Glottenbal says,
• Glot. Full well I know why thou so merry art.
• Or. Nay, rather say, of him, who at my feet,
merriment a ref'ronce hath
Pray, good Glottenbal,
Thou did'st forbear to mention.' p. 16, 17. After this, Rudiger, who thinks that his own suit may somehow or other be advanced by it, suggests to Hughobert the notable expedient of sending his ward to the haunted castlewhere, us he has been assured that she grew " deadly pale
at tale of nightly sprite or apparition,' he says there is no doubt
• but she will ere long full gladly Her freedom purchase at the price you name. The cruel guardian assents to this pretty experiment; and the act ends with Glottenbal going out to a drinking party.
The second act opens with Orra talking to her maidens of the happy and innocent life they will live when she comes to her estate ; and candidly telling Theobald, that she does not choose to marry, because, by so doing, she must give all her lands and rights' into the hands of a master. One of the maidens, however, by way of giving the finishing-stroke to the picture of snug domestic comfort upon which they had been dwelling, asks whether they shall not have ghost stories too over their quiet winter fire ?--and immediately Orra becomes furious with impatience for a ghost story. The most prudent of her attendants declares that it is not right’to indulge this taste; and very sensibly asks what pleasure there can be in being frightened?' Orra answers, how ever, that there is a pleasure in it;--and that she delights to feel her blood run cold, and her skin become like a goose's skin, She does not, indeed, use this homely expression ; but we conjecture that it is what she means by the following strong phrases, --which really do not give us a very pleasing idea of the state of this young lady's person. • When every hair's-pit on my shrunken skin
A knotted knoll becomes. She then insists for the story-and the waiting gentlewoman tells it accordingly—with all the brevity and platitude imaginable -as followeth « Since I must tell it, then, the story goes That grim Count Wallenberg, the ancestor Of Hughobert and also of yourself, From hatred or from envy, did decoy A noble knight, who hunted in the forest, Well the Black Forest named, into his castle,
And there, within his chamber, murder'd him.' The lady Orra's sensibility to legends of this nature, however, is so much, greater than ours, that she very nearly faints with horror at this recital; and the dialogue is broken off by a priest, who announces Hughobert's intention to banish her till she consents to marry his son; and then a scene ensues, in which he repeats his proposition, and she herrefusal, with much solemnity on both sides. The lady, how preteszed, in the usual way, that she would rail ,
ce her riavi and dwell in a coffin, than accounts Per Guttental, the old gentleman tuk sun, mis too Werally,
and asks her whether she really puts him in her estimationi with bones and sheeted clay?
The lady, however, is resolute; and is ordered off to the Suabian castle without delay, under guard of Rudiger ;-and the act ends with a special scene between him and a servant of the name of Maurice, whom he bribes to play the spy for him in his absence, after the ensuing manner.
Ruil. Go to ! I know thou art a greedy leech;
See'st thou here?
( Gives him the jewels.)
• Rud. I was too prudent : I had lost them else'. To no one but thyself would I entrust
The secret of their value. Now the beauty of ail this is, that they are false stones, which he thus palms upon the poor menial ; and that it is in a great measure through his diseovery of the frand, and consequent resentment, that the denouement is brought about:
The third act brings us to the castle ; where Orra is of course much appalled at its gloomy and desolate air; and Rudiger, taking advantage of her terror at being left alone, endeavours to urge his own suit to her with all earnestness and humility. She dismisses him, however, with infinite scorn ;--upon which he goes quietly to bed, in an adjoining apartment, and falls asleep! By and by, a hunting horn, and other noises, are heard without, which throws the unhappy lady into such an agony of terror, that she rushes into his chamber and awakes him ; but upon the servants coming in, resumes her disdain, and returns very valiantly to bed. The act ends with an exceedingly absurd scene, in which Theobald, who had followed his mistress with an intention to rescue her, strays in thedark into the cave of a gang of robbers, who burrow somewhere near the castle, and make noises in the night to frighten away its inhabitants. He there, by the most extraordinary good fortune, recognizes an old friend in the captain of the gang.--very naturally discloses his project VOL. XIX. NO. 33.