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noblest cultivation, seem to explain the fact, that writers of this kind should have flourished so greatly among us, and that scarcely any others should permanently interest us.
These remarks do not concern poetical literature alone, or chiefly. Those habits of mind, of which I have spoken, ought to make us the best historians. If Germany has a right to claim the whole realm of the abstract, if Frenchmen understand the framework of society better than we do, there is in the national dramas of Shakspeare an historical secret which neither the philosophy of the one nor the acute observation of the other can discover. Yet these dramas are almost the only' satisfactory expression of that historical faculty, which, I believe, is latent in us. The zeal of our factions, a result of our national activity, has made earnest history dishonest; our English justice has fled to indifferent and skeptical writers for the impartiality which it sought in vain elsewhere. This resource has failed, — the indifferentism of Hume could not secure him against his Scotch prejudices, or against gross unfairness when any thing disagreeably positive and vehement came in his way. Moreover, a practical people demand movement and life, not mere judging and balancing. For a time there was a reaction in favour of party history, but it could not last long; already we are glad to seek in Ranke or Michelet that which seems denied us at home. Much, no doubt, may be gained from such sources; but I am convinced that this is not the produce which we are meant generally to import; for this we may trust to well-directed native industry. The time is, I hope, at hand, when those who are most in earnest will feel that therefore they are most bound to be just — when they will confess the exceeding wickedness of the desire to extort or suppress a fact, or misrepresent a character — when they will ask as solemnly to be delivered from
the temptation to this, as to any crime which is punished by law.
The clergy ought especially to lead the way in this reformation. They have erred grievously in perverting history to their own purposes. What was a sin in others was in them a blasphemy, because they professed to acknowledge God as the Ruler of the world, and hereby they showed that they valued their own conclusions above the facts which reveal His order. They owe, therefore, a great amende to their country, and they should consider seriously how they can make it most effectually. I look upon this Play as an effort in this direction, which I trust may be followed by many more. On this ground alone, even if its poetical worth was less than I believe it is, I should, as a clergyman, be thankful for its publication.
F. D. M.
The story which I have here put into a dramatic form is one familiar to Romanists, and perfectly and circumstantially authenticated. Abridged versions of it, carefully softened and sentimentalized, may be read in any Romish collection of Lives of the Saints. An enlarged edition has been published in France, I believe by Count Montalembert, and translated, with illustrations, by an English gentleman. From consulting this work I have hitherto abstained, in order that I might draw my facts and opinions, entire and unbiased, from the original Biography of Elizabeth, by Dietrich of Appold, her contemporary, as given entire by Canisius.
Dietrich was born in Thuringia, near the scene of Elizabeth's labours, a few years before her death, had conversed with those who had seen her, and calls to witness “ God and the elect angels,” that he had inserted nothing but what he had either understood from religious and veracious persons, or read in approved writings, viz; “ The Book of the Sayings of Elizabeth's Four Ladies (Guta, Isentrudis, and two others.)” “ The Letter which Conrad of Marpurg, her Director, wrote to Pope Gregory the Ninth.” (These two documents still exist.) “ The Sermon of Otto,” (de Ordine Prædic.) “ which begins thus, Mulierem fortem.” .
“ Not satisfied with these,” he “ visited monasteries, castles, and towns, interrogated the most aged and veracious persons, and wrote letters, seeking for completeness and truth in all things ;” and thus composed his biog-, raphy, from which that in Surius, (Acta Sanctorum,) Jacobus de Voragine, Albạn Butler, and all others which I have seen, are copied with a very few additions and many prudent omissions.
Wishing to adhere strictly to historical truth, I have followed the received account, not only in the incidents, but often in the language which it attributes to its various characters ; and have given in the Notes all necessary references to the biography in Canisius's collection. My part has therefore been merely to show how the conduct of my heroine was not only possible, but to a certain degree necessary, for a character of earnestness and piety such as hers, working under the influences of the Middle Age. · In deducing fairly, from the phenomena of her life, the character of Elizabeth, she necessarily became a type of two great mental struggles of the Middle Age ; first, of that between Scriptural or unconscious, and