Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the happiness of Princes who get the best of every thing, withdraws to guard the entrance of the garden.

We now return to the palace, where we find the Princess and her two sons. She rejoices in their union, and informs them that they have a sister. They inquire why their sister's existence has been kept secret; and the Princess answers that prior to her daughter's birth both she and their father had remarkable dreams; that the father applied to an Arabian magician for the interpretation of his, and was told, that if the Princess bore a daughter, that daughter would occasion the death of his sons and the extinction of his race; that she, liking neither interpretation nor interpreter, had recourse with her dream to her confessor, who assured her that she would bear a daughter who would unite in ardent love the already estranged hearts of her sons; that she had borne a daughter, had deceived her husband as to the execution of his orders for destroying the child, and caused it to be reared in obscurity in a retired convent. The sons ask why she did not produce their sister immediately upon their father's death, to which she replies she wished first to see them reconciled. Each of the two brothers then announces to her another daughter in the person of his intended bride, Don Cæsar again telling the history of his falling in love. Old Diego arrives to interrupt him, with the news that Princess Beatrice had disappeared the preceding night, and was supposed to have been made captive by a Corsair vessel, which had been seen off the coast. Isabella charges her sons to seek their sister; and they depart separately, Manuel soinething disconcerted at all he has heard.

We are then carried back to Beatrice's garden, where the second chorus opposes the entrance of the first, that is bringing Don Manuel's presents. Manuel arrives, and the second chorus retires in submission to his authority. He now discovers his rank to Beatrice, who is not much delighted at finding her beloved one of the brothers whom she dreaded and hated. Their conversation is suddenly broken in upon by Don Cæsar, who, enraged at seeing bis brother embracing his intended bride, kills him without waiting to ask any questions. Beatrice faints. He orders his chorus, who had followed him in, to carry her in his name to his mother, and goes away. His chorus obeys; and the first chorus, after lamenting Don Manuel, forms a bier upon which to convey him home.

The scene changes for the last time back to the Palace. Isabella, and her confidant Diego, appear in impatient anxiety. The second chorus brings the still insensible Beatrice, with Don Caesar's message. Diego recognises her, and the mother concludes her sons have been successful in their search. Beatrice recovers, and they play for some time at cross-purposes. The arrival of the first chorus with the dead body stops the impending explanation, and Isabella, in her grief, curses the murderer, his mother, and all his race, speaking as irreverently of oracles and prophecies as Jocasta did before her; all to the great horror of the whole chorus. Don Cæsar comes, and every thing is discovered. He resolves to kill himself in expiation of his crime; and after much argument against his determination from the chorus, much intreaty from his mother, who promises to forgive and never to reproach him if he will only live, and some expostulation from Beatrice, who wishes

[ocr errors]

to be killed in his stead,-an occasion, by the way, which produces the only thing like a burst of passion in the play, he says,

She cares not, mother, if we live or die,

So she may in the grave join her beloved ! He stabs himself, and the curtain falls.

It is evident from the analysis we have just given of this drama, that in the fable at least there is no deficiency of the proper elements of tragedy; and at first sight it does not seem very easy to make out how the author of such plays as “ Die Räuber” and “Kabale und Liebe" could contrive to present such incidents to our sight, without in the slightest degree disturbing our peace of mind, almost without exciting a wish to know how it will all end. The chorus may do much, but clearly not all; for other tragic writers have, as we shall presently show, accomplished the same desirable object without a chorus; and in some of the Greek tragedies the chorus does not prevent a very deep emotion of sympathy with the sufferings, of which that curiously, composite personage appears to be joint spectator with the regular audience. We may obserye, however, before we proceed, that the peculiarity which distinguishes the chorus in “ Die Braüt von Messina” "from its classical original, may perhaps increase rather more than is agreeable its power of destroying illusion. Instead of forming, one body of calm, sympathizing poetical spectators, it is here divided into two hostile squadrons, who come and go, fetch and carry, squabble and embrace, at the pleasure of their respective masters. They are, in fact, merely the favourite courtiers of the two princes, and bear less resemblance to the Greek chorus than to the French confidant, from whom, in fact, they only differ in their plurality and their poetry. So that Schiller seems to have devised the means of happily combining the improbabilities and inconveniences of two different systems. Something too is probably owing to the length of many of the speeches, and the regular and almost uniform alternation of those that are shorter. Our nerves are lulled into a state of soft repose by Isabella's first hundred lines, and by the silent unanimity of her ancient auditors with their hands on their breasts. But the great point seems to be, that the personages of the drama themselves appear thoroughly conscious of their own plastic nature; and except that Don Cæsar may be thought a little precipitate in killing his brother, go through their passions and misfortunes in a very correct, statue-like manner. And the grand secret by which all this is accomplished, we apprehend, is, that the poet, full of his theory of tranquillity, and of preserving the character of art in distinct vividness, kept his own mind calm, writing as a mere narrator or spectator, and carefully avoiding to identify himself with the fears and hopes, the passions and agonies of his Dramatis Personæ.

Schiller has not himself informed us whether he regarded this play as the perfection of æsthetische and tragic science, or thought he had been rather oversparing of the sensibility of the audience. If we judge upon circumstantial evidence, we shall decide for the latter opinion.' So much at least is certain, that he never again wrote upon the same plan, and that his next piece, “ Wilhelm Tell,” affords reason to believe it was, if not abandoned, very considerably modified. “W1TVOL. III. No. 14.-1822.

0

helm Tell” abounds in situations of almost overpowering interest: though it must be owned they are occasionally varied by scenes, the prolixity of which recalls “Vie Braüt von Messina.” But we have neither time nor space for an analysis of the Swiss Patriot, which we. the less regret, as we understand this tragedy is likely soon to make its appearance in an English garb; and indeed, upon looking back to the preceding pages, we observe that we have run into such length as must oblige us to reserve what we propose to say touching the æsthetische schemes for tragic composition, adopted by Goethe, and by some authors of the present day of high poetical genius, for a future oppor. tunity,

M. M.

BALLAD-FROM THE SPANISH:

“Las huestes de Rodrigo."
The hosts of Roderick took to flight, in terror and dismay,
When in the last and fatal fight the Moor had won the day :
And Roderick leaves his lands behind, and from his palace flies,
Without a friend or follower now, all desolate he hies.
He cannot change his wearied steed, all wearied though he lay,
He wanders at his will, for none comes forth to bid him stay;
So faint he was with grief and toil, nor sight nor sense had he,
So worn with thirst and hunger now, that pity 'twas to see.
He wander'd on, from head to foot all clotted o'er with gore,
And many a rent and battle dint his bruised armour bore.
His trusty sword with many a blow is hack'd and edgeless now,
His helmet, battered with the blows, is sunk upon his brow.
His face was deeply scarr'd with toil, and furrow'd o'er with wo,
He climb'd the mountain-side, and look'd upon the plain below:
He saw the shipwreck of his hopes, his armies scatter'd round,
His royal banner in the dust, his standards on the ground-
All torn and trampled by the feet of coming foes they lie;
He look'd for all his captains then, but none, alas! was nigh.
He saw the smiling fields that now in floods of carnage ran,
He saw-and shudder'd at the sight, and weeping, thus began :
“ Alas! alas ! but yesterday I was the King of Spain;
To-day no foot of land is mine in all that wide domain :
Mine were these hills and dales, and mine was many a tower and towni,
And many a subject sought my smile, or shook beneath my frown.
To-day, that one remains to me, alas! I cannot say—
Ah! luckless was the hour I ween, and luckless was the day,
The day that made me lord of all this realm so fair and gay,
Since what that luckless hour had given, an hour could take away.
0! Death, why cam’st thou not to end at once my life and wo,
When I could welcome thy approach, and thank thee for the blow."

G. M. THE CEMETERY OF PERE LA CHAISE.

Quid sis, esse velis, nihilque malis;

Summum nec metuas diem, nec optes. I am half disposed to admit the assertion of a lively authoress, that the French are a grave people, and absolutely determined upon contradicting the received opinion in England, that in the volatility of their character their sympathies, however easily excited, are generally evanescent; and that the claims of kindred or friendship, so far from awakening any permanent sensibility, are quickly superseded by the paramount dominion of frivolity and amusement. Let any man who is labouring under this mistaken impression pay a visit to the Cemetery of Père La Chaise; and if he do not hate France more than falsehood, he will admit that in the precincts of this beautiful and affecting spot there is not only a more striking assemblage of tasteful decoration and appropriate monumental sculpture, but more pervading evidences of deep, lingering, heart-rending affection for the dead than could be paralleled in England or any other country of Europe. The tombs elsewhere seem to be monuments of oblivion, not remembrance—they designate spots to be avoided, not visited, unless by the idle curiosity of strangers; here they seem built up with the heart as well as with the hands ;-they are hallowed by the frequent presence of sorrowing survivors, who, by various devices of ingenious and elegant offerings, still testify their grief and their respect for the departed, and keep up by these pious visitings a sort of holy communion between the living and the dead. Never, never shall I forget the solemn, yet sweet and soothing emotions that thrilled my bosom at the first visit to Père La Chaise. Women were in attendance as we approached the gate, offering for sale elegant crowns, crosses, and wreaths of orange-blossom, xerean. themum, amaranth, and other everlasting flowers, which the mourning relatives and friends are accustomed to suspend upon the monument, or throw down upon the grave, or entwine among the shrubs with which every enclosure is decorated. Congratulating myself that I had no such melancholy office to perform, I passed into this vast sanctuary of the dead, and found myself in a variegated and wide-spreading garden, consisting of hill and dale, redolent with flowers, and thickly planted with luxuriant shrubs and trees, from the midst of which monumental stones, columns, obelisks, pyramids, and temples, shot up in such profusion, that I was undecided which path to explore first, and stood some time in silent contemplation of the whole scene, which occupies a space of from sixty to eighty acres. A lofty Gothic monument on the right first claimed my attention, and on approaching it ! found that it contained the tomb in which are the ashes of Abelard and Eloisa, united at last in death, but even then denied that rest and repose to which they were strangers in their unhappy and passionate lives. Interred, after various removals, at Soissons, in the year 1120, they were transported in the year eight of the Republic from Chalons sur Saone to the Museum of French Monuments at Paris, and thence to the romantic spot which they at present occupy: We learn from the inscription, that with all his talents Abelard could not comprehend the doctrine of the Trinity, and on this account incurred the censure of contemporary hierarchs. Subsequently, however, he seems to have seen the wisdom of a more accommodating faith ; and having evinced his orthodoxy by the irrefragable argument of causing three figures to be sculptured upon one stone, which is still visible, being let into the side of his tomb, he was restored to the confidence and protection of the church. I had seen at Paris the dilapidated house in which he is stated to have resided; and now to be standing above the very dust which once contributed to form the fine intellect and throbbing hearts of these celebrated lovers, seemed to be an annihilation of intervening centuries, throwing the mind back to that remote period when Eloisa from the “deep solitudes and awful cells” of her convent endited those love-breathing epistles which have spread through the world the fame of her unhappy attachment. Quitting this interesting spot, a wilderness of little enclosures presented itself, almost every one' profusely planted with flowers, and overshadowed by poplar, cypress, weeping willow, and arbor vitæ, interspersed among flowering shrubs and fruittrees; for the ground, before its present appropriation had been laid out as a pleasure-garden. Many of the toinbs were provided with a watering-pot for the refreshment of the flowers, and the majority had a stone seat for the accommodation of those who came hither to indulge in melancholy retrospection, as they stationed themselves upon the grave in which their affections were deposited. Here and there the sufferers from filial, parental, or conjugal deprivation, were seen trimming the foliage or flowers that sprung up from the remains of their kindred flesh, and as they handled the shrubs, whose roots struck down into the very grave, one could almost imagine that the dead stretched forth their leafy arins from the earth to embrace once more those whom they had so fondly encircled when alive. In many instances, however, it must be confessed that this pious duty was deputed to the keepers of the ground, who for a small stipend maintained the tombs in a perpe, tual greenness. Some contented themselves with hanging a funeral garland on the monuments of their friends, by the number and freshness of which tributes we were enabled to judge, in some degree, of the merits of the deceased, and of the recency with which sad bosoms and glistening eyes had occupied the spot on which we then stood. Some were blooming all over with these flowery offerings, while others with a single forlorn and withered chaplet, or absolutely bare, showed that their mouldering tenants had left no friends behind; or that time had wrought his usual effect, and either brought them to the same appointed house, or “ steeped their senses in forgetfulness."

In ascending the hill extensive family vaults are seen, excavated in its side in the style of the ancients, with numerous recesses for coffins, the whole inclosed by bronze gates of exquisite taste and workmanship, through which might be seen the chairs for those who wish to shut themselves up and meditate in the sepulchre which they are permanently to occupy; while the yellow wreath upon the ground, or cottin, pointed out the latest occupant of the chamber of death. Some well-known name was perpetually presenting itself to our notice. In one place we encountered the tomb of the unfortunate Labedoyère, who was the first to join Napoleon when he advanced to Grenoble in 1815, and expiated his offence with his life. The spot in which the hapless Ney was deposited was also shown to us, but his monument

« AnteriorContinuar »