Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

to him,-and finally concerts with him, that they should enter the castle by a private passage nexť night, in the disguise of apparitions; and by that means, after frightening away her attendants, carry off Orra without opposition. They agree, however, to send a letter to the lady to apprise her of their design ; -and then retiro merrily to sup, in the inner cave.

The fourth act discloses Orra and her attendant, talking as usual of ghosts, on the battlements of the castle. A soldier comes and gives her a letter, on which she recognises Theoball's handwriting ; but, before she can read a word of it, Rudiger comes in, and insists upon seeing it; on which she is obliged to throw it into the fire. In tlre next scene; we find the night has set in ;-and we had forgot to inform our readers, that it was St Michael's night-on which the castle spectres had been long observed to be far more unruly than on any other in the whole year. The larly Orra, of course, is dismally frightened ; but she gets her maid to sit with her; and they pass the time tolerably enougly at the old work of ghost stories, till the fåtal hour of midnight is past. The maid then unluckily proposes to go, and bring her mistress some drops; and has no sooner gone out, than the most hcrrible noises are heard under the battlements, and by and by in the staircase; and, while the poor Orra is shrieking and shuddering in Frer lonely apartment, the door opens slowly, and a horrid figure in a black cloak, with it hunting horn m his hand, enters, and approaches her with outstretched arins, The unliappy hely gives a piercing cry, and falls senselesss on the ground; and Theobald, after casting ott' his disguise, and labouring in vain to revive lier, bursts crit into this pathetic exchamation

" The villain hati deceiv'i me.
My letter she has ne'er received. Onicol,

To liazard this !! His friend, the captain of the outlaws, however, comes to his assistance ;, and they carry out the inschsible Orra by the subterranean passage.

The fifth act is full of business. It opens with a clamorous lue and cry through the castle for the lady, who has just been missed; and then Plughobert--whom Nauric', in revenge for Rudiger's trick of the false stones, had arprised of his treachery ---arrives in a great passion, with Clottenbal, and accuses him of having secreted his fair prisoner. He protests his innocence za vain; and it is proposed to give him a start flogging to bring out the truth. To escape this indigvity, however, he chuses to stab himself; and then, counterfeiting sudden penitence and humility, asks to exchange forgireness with Gotten

bul

bal, at whom, as he stoops over him, he aims a blow with his dagger, which merely scratches his neck; and then dies impenitent. The party then go out, upon being informed that the Indy Orra's voice had been heard from a cavern in the neighLourhood; and tlie scene shifts to the mouth of the cavern, whence the shrieks of the distracted Orra are heard, and whence she soon issues in a state of complete derangenyent. They try all sorts of soothing and remonstrance with her, but to no purpose; and she raves on about skulls ard skeletong, and hellhounds and murders, till the curtain drops upon her frenzy ---though not till Hughobert receives a message, that his hopeful son is dead of the wound inflicted by the clying Rudiger, whose dagger's point it seems had been poisoned.

It is quite needless to make any remarks on the faults of such a drama as this ;--and if the sketch we have now given of it, wiih the few extracts to which we have confined ourselves, do not justify all that we have said above to the prejudiče of Miss Baillie's dramatic powers, we must submit to pass for

very malignant or very incompetent censors. It is but justice, however, to lay before our rcaders some of the good passages, by which we think thosc faults are to a certain degree redeemed; and, accordingly, ive shall now extract almost all that the play furnishes of this description.

The most strik: itğ passage it contains, perhaps, is that in which Orta; on her first appearance, replies to the question of her attendant, lrow she came to be so merry upon Glottenbal so soon after her dismal meditations of the preceding evening ? There is, no doubt, great poetical beauty is the following lines ;yet they do not seein to us to be at alt dramatical; and are not only unnatural, we think, in the inouth of the speaker, but, we shouki tery much fear, would be found unintelligible to most auditor's. • Dids't thou ne'er see the swallow's veering breast,

Winging the air beneath some murky cloud
In the sunn'd glimpses of a stormy days
Shiver in silv'ry brightess?
Or boatman's oar, as vivid lightning, flash
In the faint gleam, that like a spirit's path
Tracks the still waters of some sullen lake?
Or lonely tower, from its brown mass of woods,
Give to the parting of a wintry sun
One hasty glance in mockery of the night
Closing in darkness round it?-Gentle Friend !
Chide not lter mirth, who was sad yesterday,
And may

be so tomorrow.' p. 16. The next passage we shall give, though tar less foreib!c, bara urdoubteilly more of a dramatic character:-- It is that in which Orra pictures out the life of rustic beneficence which she proposes to lead in cheerful celibacy, when she takes possession of her own domains. It affords a very apt illustration of those moral partialities which we formerly noticed as lending their colour to most of the author's poetry.

• Ev'n now methinks
Each little cottage of my native vale
Swells out its earthen sides, upheaves its roof,
Like to a hillock mov'd by lab’ring mole,
And with green trail-weeds clamb’ring up its walls,
Roses and ev'ry gay and fragrant plant,
Before my fancy stands, a fairy bower.
Aye, and within it too do fairies dwell.
Peep thro' its wreathed window, if indeed
The flowers grow not too close ; and there within
Thou'lt see some half a dozen rosy brats,
Eating from wooden bowls their dainty milk;
Those are my mountain elves. See'st thou not
Their
very

forms distinctly?' p. 23.

* I'll gather round my board
All that heav'n sends to me of way-worn folks,
And noble travellers, and neighb’ring friends,
Both young and old. Within my ample hall,
The worn out man of arms, shall o’tip-toe tread,
Tossing his grey locks from his wrinkled brow
With cheerful freedom, as he boasts his feats
Of days gone by.--Music we'll have ; and oft
The bick’ring dance upon our oaken floors
Shall, thund'ring loud, strike on the distant ear
Of ’nighted travollers, who shall gladly bend
Their doubtful footsteps tow'rds the cheering din.
Solemn, and grave, and cloister'd, and demure
We shall not be. Will this content ye,

damsels?

Ev'ry season
Shall have its suited pastime: even winter
In its deep noon, when mountains piled with snow,
And chok'd up valleys from our mansion bar
All entrance, and nor guest nor traveller
Sounds at our gate ; the empty hall forsaking,
in some warm chamber, by the crackling fire,
We'll hold our little, snug, domestic court,

Plying our work with song and tale between.'

The reader may take next Orra's exaggerated description of the empty and dismal apartments of the castle ; which is in a loftier vein of poetry.

• Thy taper's light,
s thus aloft thou wav'st it to and fro,
fretted ceiling gilds with feeble brightress;

p. 27, 28.

[ocr errors]

P. 47.

[ocr errors]

Whilst over-head its carved ribs glide past
Like edgy waves of a dark sea, returning
To an eclipsed moon its sullen sheen.
Alas! how many hours and years have pass'd
Since human forms have round this table sat,
Or lamp or taper on its surface gleam'd!
Methinks I hear the sound of time long past
Still murm’ring o'er us in the lofty void
Of those dark arches, like the ling'ring voices
Of those who long within their graves have slept.
It was their gloomy home ; now it is mine.'
The following are some of her horrors when under the im-
mediate influence of her constitutional terrors.

0, if it look on me with its dead eyes !
If it should move its lock'd and earthy lips,
And utt'rance give to the grave's hollow sounds !
If it stretch forth its cold and bony grasp
O horror, horror!
O that beneath these planks of senseless matter
I could, until the dreadful hour is past,
As senseless be!

O open and receive me,
Ye happy things of still and lifeless being,
That to the awful steps which tread upon ye

Unconscious are !' p. 71.
• The icy scalp of fear is on my

head The life stirs in my hair : it is a sense That tells the nearing of unearthly steps, Albeit my ringing ears no sounds distinguish.' p. 77. The most powerful part of the play, however, is, beyond all question, the representation of the heroine's insanity. This is touched throughout with a strong and skilful hand ;--and though it is merely horrible, and therefore altogether unfit for representation, it cannot fail to give a very high idea of the author's force of conception, and even, in some places, of her power of expression. On her first rushing out from the cave, she shrinks back, exclaiming,

• Come back, come back! The fierce and fiery light!

Theo. Shrink not, dear love! it is the light of day.

Or. Aye, so it is ; day takes his daily turn,
Rising beoveen the gulphy dells of night
Like whiten'd billows on a gloomy sea!
Till glowworms gleam, and stars peep thro' the dark,
And will-o'-the-wisp his dancing taper light,
They will not come again.

Hark, hark! Aye, hark :
They are all there : I hear their hollow sound
Full many a fathom down.' p. 91, 92.

[ocr errors]

* El. O rave not thus ! Dost thou not know us, Orra ?
Or. (hastily) Aye, well enough I know

уе,
Urst. Ha! think ye that she does ?

Or. Away! your faces waver to and fro;
I'll know you better in your winding-sheets,
When the moon shines upon ye.? p. 97.

I'll tell thee how it is :
A hideous burst hath been: the damn'd and holy,
The living and the dead, together are
In horrid neighbourship:Tis but thin vapour,
Floating around thee, makes the wav'ring bound.
Poh! blow it off, and see th' uncurtain'd reach.
See! from all points they come ; earth casts them up!
In grave-clothes swath'd are those but new in death;
And there be some half bone, half cased in shreds
Of that which fiesh hath been ; and there be some
With wicker'd ribs, thro' which the darkness scowls,
Back, back ! - They close upon us.--Oh the void
Of hollow unball'd sockets staring grimly,
And lipless jaws that move and clatter round us
In mockery of speech !— Back, back, I say!

Back, back! It is immediately after this speech that the curtain drops ;and closes a play which, though in the main absurd and uninteresting, contains scenes that indisputably cntitle the author to thc honours of original genius.

The next piece is entitled. The Dream,' a tragedy in prosc, in three acts; of which we are neither able nor willing to say Half so much as we have done of the preceding. The merit of this piece is, that it is short and intelligible, and tells its story without vexatious entanglement, and with a good deal of solemn effect. Its fault is, that there is not enough of story, and scarcely any variety of interest or passion. The incident upon which it is founded would do very well, in short, for an after-supper narrative in a quiet country family; but much higher powers than Miss Baillie's could not work it up into ą taking tragedy for an audience of town-bred critics. The story is shortly as follows:Count Osterloo has, in his youth, assassinated a foreign nobleman, who had given him cause of jealousy ; but, being afterwards employed in active service, had, in the course of many years, lost in a great measure the sense and the memory of his offerice, Tho brother of his victim, in the mean time, had been appointed Prior of the abbey of St Maurice; and had recently found reason to suspect the fate of his kinsman, and that he was actually interred in the abbey. Having found that Osterloo was to pass

by

« AnteriorContinuar »