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by his walls at the head of a detachment of the army, he takes advantage of an epidemic sickness in the neighbourhood, to persuade two of the brotherhood to give out that they had been warned in a vision to stop the first military detachment that pass ed by, and choose from them, by lot, one man, whom they should detain for a night within the walls, for the expiation of conccaled guilt. Osterloo, accordingly, is stopped ; and, by a little management, the lot falls upon him. He is then led to the spot where the bones of his victim are interred ; and is mov, ed by aiye. and remorse to disclose his secret guilt. The Prior then takes advantage of his seignorial rights to sentence the unhappy culprit to immediate death ; and the whołe power of the author is displayed in depicting the extraordinary dejection, horror and consternation, that instantly seizes upon the spirit of this brave and impetuous warrior. A good deal of talent is shown, too, both in redeeming the hero from the degradation of this too potent despair, and in reconciling it to the character of habitual gallantry, by restoring him for a moment to liberty, by the mediation of a compassionate monk and a pitying female. After his own escape is secured, he turns, with generous and reckless courage, upon a whole band of opponents; for the rescue of his less fortunate deliverers; and, in this desperate atteinpt, is again made captive, and remanded to his dungeon and unnerving agony. 'Miss Baillie's forte, we think, is in the delineation of horrors; and the scene of the execution is drawn with strong colours, and by 'a steady and skilful hand. The unhappy Osterloo, complaining of durkness in the midst of a blaze of torches, and letting all things slip from his memory, his fingers, and his tongue, has his head at last bent down to the block; and the executioner is just raising the axe, when the Imperial ambassador rushes into the hall, arrests the proceedings, and orders the rescued general to rise. The shouts of deliverance, however, are pealed in an unconscious ear; and, upon raising the miserable victim from the block, the agony of the mind is found, of itselt, to have extinguished for ever the sense of buman suffering.
The third piece in the volume is “The Sicge;' a comedy ia five acts on the subject of Fear,—to which we really cannot afford even the very mıxderate praise of being better than Miss Baillie's other comedies. The story is neither striking nor probable; and the principal characters are the old hackneyed ones of a boastful coward--a testy but worthy old gentleman--a modest and gallant youth-and a designing and coquetting old flatterer, represented certainly with no extraordinary spirit, nor contrasted by any very ludicrous combinations. The scene is laid, like that of the two preceding plays--and perhaps for deep reasons --in a castle in Germany; and this is the outline of the fable. The Lady Livia is heiress of the castle ; and Valdemere, the coward, is her lover; a forward, handsome, well-spoken youth -not quite so entertaining as Parolles, ---but plausible enough to throw altogether into the shade the valiant Count Antonio, who is also an admirer of the lady-though too bashful in her presence abnost to make known his pretensions. Some friends of his, who suspect the courage of his more prosperous rival, devise a scheme for putting it to the test, by getting a party of troops that are on duty in the neighbourhood, to make a mock attack on the castle. The success of this plot is perfeet. Valdemere is exposed before the whole household, and runs to hide himself in the cellar, from which he is dragged, amidst the derision of the whole party but Antonio, who generously attempts to extenuate his frailty, and by this and his other virtues, completely wins the heart of the heiress. To enhance the dignity of this story, and lend a little more eclat to her hero, Miss Baillie does not hesitate altogether to destroy its probability ;--for, at the very moment of the mock attack, she makes a much stronger party of the enemy commence a real attack upon the castle and its feigned assailants ; and brings Antonio again upon the back of those bona fide besiegers, with a force that demolishes them in an instant. There is an underplot between Livia's old guardian and the mother of Valdemere, who tricks him out of many necklaces and snuffboxes, and is in a fair way of inveigling him into matrimony, by praising his sonnets and personal graces, till he is undeceiv, ed, by going to her in the character of a Jew broker, and buying his own picture at a very cheap rate at the same time that he hears her and her chambermaid laughing immoderately at his poetry: Valdemere is moreover obliged to marry a sister of his page's, whom he had formerly seduced. Poor as this play is, however, in coutrivance and character, and destitute of comic effect, it could not have been written by an ordinary person. There is a chastity in the style, and a tone of strong good sense in much of the dialogue, that place it far beyond the things that have iately been produced as comedies on our theatres,
The last piece in the volume is the shortest, and the best. It is entitled, “ The Beacon ;' a serious drama of two acts, in blank verse, and interspersed with songs. The subject is Hope; and the story is very simple, and without any pretensions to probability. Aurora, a fáir maid in one of the small islands in The Meditorrancan, was betrothed to Ermingard, a noble youth,
who had gone in pursuit of glory to the Holy Land, in the time of the Crusades, and had not been seen or heard of for many months after a great battle, in which he had been engaged, and was universally supposed to have perished. As his body was not found among the slain, however, Aurora refnses to be lieve that he is dead; and insists upon lighting a beacon flame every :right, on the eastern cape of the island, to guide the vessel which she still hopes is to restore him to her arms. Her guardian, Ulrick, is himself a suitor for her hand, and labours to persuade her of the extravagance of her expectations. The play opens with a dialogue between him and one of her attendants; to whom he announces, that he can no longer counte nance the folly of her eager hope; and that the ensuing night is the last in which he will allow her beacon to be kindled. He is then called away to attend on the Pope's legate, who has accidentally landed on his way from Palestine. The next scene shows Aurora herself in conversation with her attendants ;-at first sunk and desponding; but gradually catching hope and animation from the wishes and possibilities upon which she delights to dwell; till at last her imagination is so raised, that, when one of the Legate's companions is admitted to an audience of her, she is persuaded that it is Ermingard himself; and refuses to part froin the hope that sustains her being, even when she hears from him that the universal persuasion among his associates was, that he had perished in the fight, out of which he was never seen to return.
The second act introduces us to the beacon, and two fishermen singing as they watch round it. Intelligence is then brought that a boat is approaching the shore in a dangerous direction; and the sailors go out to lend them assistance. Aurora then enters; and, by and by, a hymn, which some of her attendants recognise to be a part of the service of the Knights of Jerusalem, is heard from the beach below; and a train of those brave and holy persons, in the habits of their order, ascend to the beacon which had guided them to the shore. Aurora, inquiring eagerly after the fate of her beloved, is referred to a young Knight, who had fought in the battle where he was supposed to fall, and who answers mournfully, that she must learn to think of him as of the dead. She is struck with his voice; and, tearing off his mantle, discovers the features of her Ermingard himself! They are in great perplexity, however, about his row of celibacy, whiclı he had been induced to take, and to conceal his name, in consequence of a false report that she had married Ulrick in his absence; and some very pleasing and tender scenes pass bekweșn them on that subject. The Pope's legate, however, informs them, that if it be made plain that he had taken that vow upon an erroneous belief as to the state of the fact, luis Holiness will not hesitate in releasing him from its bond; and offers to take them with him to Rome as soon as the wind is favourable. The piece ends with Aurora exclaiming that it will change im316diately.
The merit of this piece certainly does not consist in thcf.blenor in the delineation of character, though there is something plcasing in the female variableness, the purity and buoyant confidence of Amora; but in the fanciful and poetical cast of the whole compositin-the multitude of pleasing images with which it abounds, anzi te beauty of several of the songs with which it is intermingled. The poetry is of a less laboured kind than that zoleich Miss Baillie usually attempts, and has less pretension and less heaviness. The songs have all a great deal of beauty-and are thick set with images and idcas. Indeed, the whole style is anore richly adorned with figures of thouglit and of speech than in any of her other performances; and both from this circumstance, and its being less constrained in its flow, approaches much pearer to the genuine standard of those older writers of whom her obsolete words have sometimes reminded us rather unluckily, The reader may take the following as a fair specimen. Aurora enters in one of her desponding moods. Her attendant speaks.
· Ter. Here you will find a more refreshing air ;
You are deceived
Aur. In truth I now but little have to do
His fix'd ynvaried notice.' p. 276, 277, After her fancy and hopes are kindled, her companion endeasours to inoderate her confidence; and observes, that she makes ber
after sorrow more acute When these vain fancies fail.
Aur. And let them fail! Though duller thoughts succeed, The bliss e'en of a moment, still is bliss.
Viol. (to Ter.) Thou would'st not of her dew-drops spoil
Aur. Thanks, gentle Viola!' Thon art ever kind.
And make of this a blessing for to-day.' p. 281, 282.
. Bast. Here is, indeed, a splendid noble fire Left me in ward. It makes the darkness round, To its fierce light oppos’d, seem thick and palpable, And clos'd o'er head, like to the pitchy cope Of some vast cavern. -Near at hand, methinks, Soft female voices speak : I'll to my station. Upon the entrance of Aurora and her attendants, this person apologizes for his intrusion ; though he adds, 6. I've clamber'd o'er these cliffs, ev'n at this hour,
To see the ocean from its sabled breast
Bast. Some six or so, he will descry it faintly,
Viol. Fie on such images !
Looks rousingly,' p. 296-98. The last extract we shall make from the dialogue part of the play shall be from the scene where Aurora, after the recovery
of her lover, aud under the belief of their being eternally separated in consequence of his vow, endeavours to reconcile him to that tantalizing destiny. After observing that she cannot attend him As a page, she adds