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Gorlz. Why, what may that be?
Charles. “ Yarthausen is thę name of a village and castle on the river Yart, which has belonged for two centuries by right and by inheritance to the Lords of Berlingen."
Gortz. Dost thou know the Lord of Berlingen?
Gortz. (Aside, laughing). Through sheer learning he does not know his own father. (To the child) Why to whom does Yarthausen belong?
Charles. “ Yarthausen is a village and castle on the river Yart."
Gortz. That was not what I asked: I was acquainted with every path, wood, and wild of it, before I knew what river, village, or castle meant. What, is thy mother in the kitchen?
Charles. She is getting some roast lamb and turnips ready.
Gortz. Thou must ever have something set apart for thee. Falkenhelm, I will return to you immediately: I must go and see my wife. Come, Charles !
Charles. Who is that man?
Charles. There, man! there's my hand for thee.
Falkenhelm. (Taking him up in his arms and kissing him) Happy Child! who can imagine no greater evil than the delay of the dinner! God give you much joy of the boy! Berlingen.
Gortz. Where there is much light, there will also be strong shadow. Yet was he welcome to me. We will see what is to be done.
[Exeunt Gortz and Charles.]' We do not give this extract either as the best or the worst part of the whole; it conveys a tolerable idea of the execution of the play in ger.eral. The egotism and garrulity of the hero, by which the reader's attention to his importance is perpetually solicited, cannot fail to excite some disgust in the judicious admirers of Shakspeare; who will immediately recollect the calm dignity and unaffected sublimity of his heroic characters. It must, besides, occur to the critical reader, that the interest is much weakened by the author's custom of delineating characters by narratives of past events, instead of expressions of their present feelings. Where the German author runs into a multiplicity of little circumstances, which disperse and enfeeble instead of accumulating the reader's feelings, our bard would have seized the leading features with the boldness of a master, and have left the others in the shade.
We have, in our language, a writer of acknowleged genius, who closely resembles in manner the popular German authors, though he is not a dramatist ; and if we were inclined to hazard a bold conjecture, we might suggest the probability that some of the defects of our neighbours originate in their admiration of RICHARDSON. The samne passion for unlimited detail, and the same interminable flow of
dialogue, pervade them; yet the sensibility and enthusiasm which prevail in their works extort the applause of the reader, in spite of their irregularities. The dialogue, in all Richardson's novels, is so level, that it has never furnished a single quotation; and it would be very difficult to prove his knowlege of the heart, from any unconnected sentence. He abounds in descriptions, not in maxims. Yet no person of taste and feeling can read his works, without experiencing the strongest interest in his plots, and without contracting a kind of attachment to his principal characters. This is the sensation produced by the tragedy of Goethe. We read with increasing curiosity, yet we retain no striking passage, as we proceed ; and though our passions are agitated frequently before the conclusion, we do not revert to any scene on which we can dwell with particular fondness. On the contrary, those minute particulars, which roused attention at the first perusal, prove insipid on a review of the performance.
We are aware that many of the faults, which we have noticed, are jinputed to the prevalent admiration of Shakspeare among the German dramatists. The errors of Shakspeare would be readily forgiven in any man who should approach his excellence : but we confess that he has not been frequently brought to our recollection in the present work. If, however, luxuriance of style be a promise of gnad-writing in the infancy of art, as Quintilian establishes it to be in that of the individual, we may still bope to see unexceptionable dramatic pieces produced by the German School. When its writers shall elevate themselves more to the majestic simplicity of the Greek Tragedians, and when they shall attend to the correct representation of human passious more than to stage-effect and the impression of vulgar prejudices, we may receive from them productions worthy of our study and our tears. Art. 38. Adelaide of Wulfingen, a Tragedy, in Four Acts, (exem.
plifying the Barbarity which prevailed during the Thirteenth Cen. Eury,) from the German of Augustus Von Kotzebue. By Benja. min Thompson, jun. 8vo. 28. Vernor and Hood.
It has been frequently observed, that Professor Kotzebuc's plays are distinguished by great latitude cf morals. In the present instance, we conceive that his licence has been extended too far; and we cannot help thinking that he has acted very injudiciously, in combining an attack on bigotry and hypocrisy with something like a vindication of incest. We should have dismissed an inferior writer from our bar with a summary rebuke, but the popularity of this author renders his errors extremely dangerous. The intended moral of the play seems 10 be, that superstitious prejudices are the bane of society: but surely no wise nor good man would raak detestation of an incestuous mar. riage, though contracted from the ignorance of the parties, among blameable feelings : yet the innocent and virtuous heroine of the piece is driven, by discovering that her husband is her brother, to the murder of her children. This is an unnecessary and shocking termination of the action, and it is very improperly made to pass before the eyes he audience. We may truly say, after having gone through the play, that we “have supped full with horrors;" though
we perceive no salutary effect from the agitation of the passions produced by it.
This tragedy contains more of Kotzebue's faults, and fewer of his excellencies, than any of his numerous productions that have come under our notice. To his former works, we have given our tribute of applause ; it may not be useless, therefore, in the present instance, to point out some of his defects.
Probability is violated, throughout this play; the Countess of Wulfingen is introduced, in the first scene where she makes her appearance, carrying two pitchers of water from a well in the village. This proof of humility reminds us of Foote’s Piety in Pattens, and is not to be excused by the barbarous manners of the age.
There are customs and modes of life, which, however true and usual at certain periods, are totally unfit for dramatic representation. A tragic poet, who should produce Andromache making a mash for Hector's coursers, or feeding them, on the stage, might quote Homer's authority, without being able to save himself from ridicule. These are not the convenientia recommended by Horace.
Another obvious defect of this play is, that, however improbable the plot may appear, the author has depended so much on it, that he has not finished one character, excepting the superstitious timidity of Old Bertram. There are no phrases, no sentiments in the dialogue, which take possession of the reader's mind; we are hurried on by the rapidity of the action ; and wherever that seems to pause, we are instructed in the feelings of the characters, not by their own expressions, but by the help of marginal directions to the actors. Without this news species of tuition, 'many pathetic pages in our author would excite neither pity nor terror. If one of his characters should merely have to say, “how do you do?” the reader's feelings would be little interested: but, should he be informed by the friendly interpreters within crotchets, that these words are to be spoken (very mournfully, or with real agit:tion, though under a constrained appearance of indifer. ence] he would doubtless sympathize with the afilicted orator.
This invention, it must be confessed, is much superior to Mr. Bayes's plan for “ insinuating the plot into the boxes ;" for not only is the jeu du théatre thus conveyed with full effect to the reader, but the whole expence of thought and invention in the dialogue is retrenched.
In justification of these strictures, we shall cite the following passage, from that trying scene in which Sir Hugo is suddenly informed of the casual marriage contracted between his son and daughter, during his absence in Palestine. This situation would have severely tasked the invention of a tragic writer of the Old School; horror, remorse, affection, and shame, would have been displayed in bursts of impassioned eloquence. The German hero's speech consists of two words ; ' Well! Proceed! quiet words in themseives: but they affect the reader in a wonderful manner, by means of the marginal directions, which are very pathetic indec d.
HUGO. [Starts like a man who suddenly espies a phantom, but has courage enough to run towards it, and unmask it. The muscles of his face, for
some moments, express an inward struggle, which, however, soon subsides. That serenity, which ever accompanies firmly-rooted principles, resumes its place in his countenance, and he turns to Bertram.] 'WELL! PROCEED.
This pantomime reminds us of Puff's actor in the Critic, who in-
Savagely slaughter'd: to relate the manner,
you. Malcolm. Merciful Heaven !
What, Man, ne'er pull your hat upon your brows,
Whispers the o'er fraught heart, and bids it break.
There need no marginal notes to inform us what have been the workings of Macduff's passions, previously to this exclamation ; it is the
cry of Nature, and penetrates every heart. Let us try how this pathetic scene would appear in the Teutonic style :
Malcolm. Thunder of Heaven !
Macduff. [Draws forwards his bonnet, so as to conceal his eyes; crosses his arms on his breast ; stamps ; gnaws his under-lip; the whole muscles of the body expressing violence of resentment, grief, and desire of revenge; he then looks up to heaven, afterward turns to Rosse, and says, in a broken voice] Go on!
The Virgin of the Sun. A Play, in Five Acts. By Augustus Von Kotzebuc. Translated from the genuine German Edition, by Anne Plumptre. 8vo. 2s.6d. Phillips, Symonds, , &c. 1799.
After the copious remarks which we have made on the preceding play, we have little to add on the subject of this. We meet here with fresh proofs of the author's capacity for better things; more extravagance of plot, more attacks on superstition, and more marginal directions. We acknowlege, however, amid all the writer's errors, that this piece excites considerable interest; and that it may be read, once, with satisfaction :--but he is evidently deficient in judgment and labour ; without which no powers of invention can deliver to mankind a production, in which there will not be something that they would willingly resign.
We have, in this play, many attempts at the sublime, in which Kotzebue has not succeeded. , Such is the following speech of Rolla, when he is informed that Cora is condemned to die:
“ Tremble then, O earth, and let thy whole sarface become de. solate! Groan! groan! ye hills! Thou fire, burst forth in the valleys [vallies] and consume the fruits of the soil, that the fertile spots may no longer be crowned with verdure, but the whole earth appear as one vast scene of conflagration ! Rise, ye terrors of Nature, ye storms and whirlwinds, that I may breathe more freely amid your mighty conflicts, that the voice of my agony may contend with your roarings! that my arm may slay more rapidly than the lightning itself.'
We remember a similar passage in a burlesque tragedy, which had some celebrity in the days of our youth, and which was considered as the successor of Hurlothrumbo:
" A blow! shall Bombardinian take a blow?
Blush, blush, thou Sun! start back, thou rapid Ocean!
And Chrononhotonthologos shall die!"Even this tirade of Rolla, however, is out-done in a succeeding speech, where he threatens to kill his enemies after he is dead :
* Sooner shall he be stretched upon the earth, senseless, motionless, a breathless corpse! Yet let him not even then be trusted hastily! examine carefully that every spark of life be really extinguished, since if only one be left smothering, it will assuredly burst forth into a frame, and consume the persecutors of Cora !”
This stroke seems rather calculated for the meridian of Tipperary, than that of Vienna or London. We can, however, assure the numerous admirers of this poet, that this is by no means the worst of his performances. Art. 40. The Reconciliation : a Comedy, in Five Acts. Translated from the German of Augustus Von Kotzebue. 8vo.
3 s. Ridgway.
In this comedy, more attention is paid to the discrimination of character, than in some of the preceding dramas: but it is unfortunately over-run with an exuberance of sentiment; a fault which the Germans seem to have contracted, just as we have been getting rid of it. Here are a sentimental shoemaker and house-maid, who open the piece, and give a view of the characters, in the following delectable dialogue :
• Will. Good morrow to you, Miss Ann. • Ann. Thank you, honest William.
• Will. How are all the family? how does the old gentleman come on?
• Ann. He has had a tolerable good night; he is getting better every day.
• Will. Upon my soul I am glad of it, for the sake of your good mistress, and for your own sake too, Miss Ann.