Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

restrain him. They see all the details, express the soul, and its innermost the tides that sway a man, one from depths the truth, and the whole without, another from within, one truth. through another, one within another, How did they succeed, and what is both together without faltering and this new art which tramples on all or. without ceasing. And what is this dinary rules ? It is an art for a:l that, insight but sympathy, an imitative sym- since it is natural; a great art, since it pathy, which puts us in another's place, embraces more things, and that more which carries over their agitations to deeply than others do, like the art of our own breasts, which makes our life Rembrandt and Rubens ; but like a little world, able to reproduce the theirs, it is a Teutonic art, and one great one in abstract ? Like the char- whose every step is, contrast with acters they imagine, poets and specta- those of classical art. tors niake gestures, raise their voices, and Romans, the originators of the act. No speech or story can show latter, sought in every thing, was charm their inner mood, but it is the scenic and order. Monuments, statues, and effect which can manifest it. As some paintings, the theatre, eloquence and men invent a language for their ideas, poetry, from Sophocles to Racine, they so these act and mimic them; theatri- shaped all their work in the same cal imitation and figured representation mould, and attained beauty by the same is their genuine speech : all other ex- method. In the infinite entanglement pression, the lyrical song of Æschylus, and complexity of things, they grasped the reflective symbolism of Goethe, the a small number of simple ideas, which oratorical development of Racine, they embraced in a small number of would be impossible for them. Invol- simple representations, so that the vast untarily, instantaneously, without fore confused vegetation of life is presented cast, they cut life into scenes, and carry to the mind from that time forth, pruned it piecemeal on the boards; this goes and reduced, and perhaps easily emso far, that often a mere character braced at a single glance. A square of becomes an actor,* playing a part with walls with rows of columns all alike ; a in a part; the scenic faculty is the symmetrical group of draped or unnatural form of their mind. Beneath draped forms; a young man standing the effort of this instinct, all the acces- up and raising one arm; a wounded sory parts of the drama come before the warrior who will not return to the footlights and expand before our eyes. camp, though they beseech him: this, A battle has been fought; instead of in their noblest epoch, was their archirelating it, they bring it before the tecture, their painting, their sculpture, public, trumpets and drums, pushing and their theatre. No poetry but a crowds, slaughtering combatants. A few sentiments not very intricate, al. shipwreck happens; straightway the ways natural, not toned down, intelliship is before the spectator, with the gible to all ; no eloquence but a con sailors' oaths, the technical orders of the tinuous argument, a limited vocabulary, pilot. Of all the details of human life,t the loftiest ideas brought down to their tavern-racket and statesmen's councils, sensible origin, so that children can scullion's talk and court processions, understand such eloquence and feel domestic tenderness and pandering, such poetry; and in this sense they aro none is too small or too lofty : these classical. * In the hands of Frenchmen, things exist in life-let them exist on the last inheritors of the simple art, the stage, each in full, in the rough, these great legacies of antiquity undes. atrocious, or absurd, just as they are, go no change. If poetic genius is less, no matter how. Neither in Greece, nor the structure of mind has not altered. Italy, nor Spain, nor France, has an Racine puts on the stage a sole action, art been seen which tried so boldly to * This is, in fact, the English view of the

French mind, which is doubtless a refinemen, * Falstaff in Shakspeare ; the queen in Lon- many times refined, of the classical spirit. But dom, by Greene and Decker ; Rosalind in M. Íaine has seemingly not taken into account Shakspeare.

such products as the Medea on the one hand, | In Webster's Duchess of Malf there is an and the works of Aristophaner and the Latin admirable accouchement scene.

sensualists on the other.-TR.

3

[ocr errors]

whose details he adjusts, and whose progressive and individual action. Two course he regulates ; no incident, noth- or three actions connected endwise, or irg unforeseen, no appendices or in- entangled one with another, WO of congruities; no secondary intrigue. three incomplete endings badly con The subordinate parts are effaced; at trived, and opened up again; no na: the most four or five principal charac- chinery but death, scattered right and ters, the fewest possible; the rest, re- left and unforeseen: such is the logic duced to the condition of confidants, of their method. The fact is, that our take the tone of their masters, and mere- logic, the Latin, fails then. Their 'y reply to them. All the scenes are mind does not march by the smooth com.ected, and flow insensibly one into and straightforward paths of rhetoric he other; and every scene, like the en- and eloquence.

It reaches the same re piece, has its order and progress. end, but by other approaches. It is at Che tragedy stands out symmetrically once more comprehensive and less regand clear in the midst of human life, ular than ours.

It demands a concep like a complete and solitary temple tion more complete, but less consecuwhich limns its regular outline_on the tive. It proceeds, not as with us, by a luminous azure of the sky. In England line of uniform steps, but by sudden all is different. All that the French leaps and long pauses. It does not rest call proportion and fitness is wanting ; satisfied with a simple idea drawn from Englishmen do not trouble themselves a complex fact, but demands the comabout them, they do not need them. plex fact entire, with its numberless There is no unity; they leap suddenly particularities, its interminable ramifiover twenty years, or five hundred cations. It sees in man not a general leagues. There are twenty scenes in passion-ambition, anger, or love; not an act-we stumble without prepara- a pure quality - happiness, avarice, tion from one to the other, from tragedy folly ; but a character, that is, the imto buffoonery; usually it appears as print, wonderfully complicated, which though the action gained no ground; inheritance, temperament, education, the different personages waste their calling, age, society, conversation, time in conversation, dreaming, dis- habits, have stamped on every man ; playing their character.

We were

an incommunicable and individual im moved, anxious for the issue, and here print, which, once stamped in a man, they bring us in quarrelling servants, is not found again in any other. It sees lovers making poetry. Even the dia- in the hero not only the hero, but the logue and speeches, which we would individual, with his manner of walking, think ought particularly to be of a drinking, swearing, blowing his nose; regular and continuous flow of engross- with the tone of his voice, whether he ing ideas, remain stagnant, or are is thin or fat ; * and thus plunges to the scattered in windings and deviations. bottom of things, with every look, as At first sight we fancy we are not ad. by a miner's deep shaft. This sunk, it vancing, we do not feel at every phrase little cares whether the second shaft be that we have made a step. There are two paces or a hundred from the first; none of those solid pleadings, none of enough that it reaches the same depth, those conclusive discussions, which and serves equally well to display the every moment add reason to reason, inner and invisible layer. Logic is here zbija t:on to objection; people might from beneath, not from above. It is ay that the different personages only the unity of a character which binds knew how to scold, to repeat them- the two actions of the personage, as the selves, and to mark time. And the unity of an impression connects the two disorder is as great in general as in scenes of a drama. To speak exactly, particular things. They heap a whole the spectator is like a man whom we reign, a complete war, an entire novel, should lead along a wall pierced at into a drama; they cut up into scenes separate intervals with little windows an English chronicle or an Italian at every window he catches for an in novel : this is all their art; the events matter little; whatever they are, they queen in Hamlet (v. 2) says:

* See Hamlet, Coriolanus, Hotspur. The

"" He Hamjet) accept them. They have no idea of fat, and scant of breath."

a

stant a glimpse of a new landscape, poisoning himself, and with the death with its million details : the walk over, rattle in his throat, is brought to his if he is of Latin race and training, he enemy's side, to give him a foretaste of finds a medley of images jostling in his agony. Queen Brunhalt has panders head, and asks for a map that he may with her on the stage, and causes her recollect himself; if he is of German two sons to slay each other. Death race and training, he perceives as a everywhere; at the close of every play, whole, by natural concentration, the all the great people wade in blood: wide country which he has only seen with slaughter and butcheries, the stage piece-meal. Such a conception, by the becomes a field of battle or a church multitude of details which it combines, yard.* Shall I describe a few of these and by the depth of the vistas which it tragedies ? In the Duke of Milan embraces, is a half-vision which shakes Francesco, to avenge his sister, who the whole soul. What its works are has been seduced, wishes to seduce in about to show us is, with what energy, his turn the Duchess Marcel a, wife of what disdain of contrivance, what Sforza, the seducer; he desires her, he vehemence of truth, it dares to coin will have her; he says to her, with and hammer the human medal ; with cries of love and rage : what liberty it is able to reproduce in

“For with this arm I'll swim through seas of full prominence worn out characters, blood, and the extreme flights of virgin nature. Or make a bridge, arch'd with the bones of men,

But I will grasp my aims in you, my dearest, VI.

Dearest, and best of women ”f

For he wishes to strike the duke Let us consider the different person through her, whether she lives or dies, ages which this art, so suited to depict if not by dishonor, at least by murder ; real manners, and so apt to paint the the first is as good as the second, nay living soul, goes in search of amidst better, for so he will do a greater inthe real manners and the living souls of jury. He calumniates her, and the its time and country. They are of two duke, who adores her, kills her ; then, kinds, as befits the nature of the being undeceived, loses his senses, will drama : one which produces terror, the not believe she is dead, has the body other which moves to pity; these grace brought in, kneels before it, rages and ful and feminine, those manly and vio- weeps. He knows now the name of lent. All the differences of sex, all the the traitor, and at the thought of him extremes of life, all the resources of the he swoons or raves : stage, are embraced in this contrast; and if ever there was a complete con

• I'll follow him to hell, but I will find him,

And there live a fourth Fury to torment him. trast, it is here.

Then, for this cursed hand and arm that guided The reader must study for himself The wicked steel, l'll have them, joint by joint, some of these pieces, or he will have With burning irons sear’d off, which I will eai, no idea of the fury into which the stage 1 being a vulture fit to taste such carrion.” I is hurled; force and transport are Suddenly he gasps for breath, and falls, driven every instant to the point of Francesco has poisoned him. The atrocity, and further still, if there be duke dies, and the murderer is led to

Assassinations, poison- torture. There are worse scenes thao ings, tortures, outcries of madness and this; to find sentiments strong enough rage ; no passion and no suffering are they go to those which change the too extreme for their energy or their very nature of man. Massinger puts effort. Anger is with them a madness, on the stage a father who judges and ambition a frenzy, love a delirium. condemns his daughter, stabbed by her Hippolyto, who has lost his mistress, says, “Were thine eyes clear as mine,

* Beaumont and Fletcher, Valentinians

Thierry and Theodoret. See Massinger's thou might'st behold her, watching up- Picture, which resembles Musset's Barberine. on yon battlements of stars, how I ob- Its crudity, the extraordinary and repulsive serve them.” *

Aretus, to be avenged energy, will show the difference of the two ages on Valentinian, poisons him after 1859, Duke of Milan, ii. '1.

Massinger's Works, ed. H Coleridge * Middleton, The Honest Whore, part i. iv.s. I Duke of Milan, v. 3.

[ocr errors]

Any further.

more.

husband; We jster and Ford, a son

" A. Soft! 'twas not in my bargain. who assassinates his mother; Ford, Yet somewhat, sir, to stay your lorging

stomach the incestuous loves of a brother and I am content t' acquaint you with the man, sister.* Irresistible love overtakes The more than man, that got this spright's then:; the ancient love of Pasiphaë boy,and Myrrha, a kind of madness-like Your heir shall be a son.)

(For 'tis a boy, and therefore glory, sir, enchantment, and beneath which the S. Damnable monster? will entirely gives way.

Giovanni A. Nay, an you will not hear l'1 çeal na Bays:

S. Yes, speak, and speak thyánt. is Lost! I did Yst! My fates have doom'd my You, why you are not worthy once to name

A , death! he more I stive, I love ; the more I love, His name without true worship, or, indeed, The less I hope: I see my ruin certain. Unless you kneel'd to hear another dame him I have even wearied heaven with pray’rs, dried S. What was he call's ? up

A. We are not come to that ; The spring of my continual tears, even starv'd Let it suffice that you shall have the glory my veins with daily fasts : what wit or art

To father what so brave a father got. Could counsel, I have practis'd; but, alas!

S. Dost thou laugh? I find all these but dreams, and old men's tales, Come, whore, tell me your lover, or, by truth To fright unsteady youth: I am still the same; I'll hew thy flesh to shreds; who is't?) * Or I must speak, or burst." + What transports follow! what fierce She laughs; the excess of shame and and bitter joys, and how short too, how terror has given her courage ; she in

i grievous and mingled with anguish, sults him, she sings; so like a woman ! especially for her! She is married to

A. (Sings) Che morte piu dolce che morire another. Read for yourself the admirable and horrible scene which repre

per amore.

S. Thus will I pull thy hair, and thus l'll sents the wedding night. She is

drag pregnant, and Soranzo, the husband, Thy lust be-leper'd body through the dust. drags her along the ground, with curses,

(Hales her up and down)

A. Be a gallant hangman. demanding the name of her lover:

I leave revenge behind, and thou shalt feel 't. "Co:ne strumpet, famous whore? .

(To Vasquez.) Pish, do not beg for me, I prize Harlot, rare, notable harlot, l'hat with thy brazen face maintain'st thy sin,

As nothing.; if the man will needs be mad, Was there no man in Parma to be bawd

Why, let him take it.” | To your loose cunning whoredom else but I? Must your hot itch and plurisy of lust, In the end all is discovered, and thc The heyday of your luxury, be fed

two lovers know they must die. For Up to a surfeit, and could none but I Be pick'd out to be cloak to your close tricks,

the last time, they see each other in Your belly-sports?-Now I must be the dad Annabella's chamber, listening to the To all that gallimaufry that is stuffed

noise of the feast below which shali In thy corrupted bastard-bearing womb ?

serve for their funeral-feast. Gio Say, must I }

Annabella. Beastly man? why, 'tis thy fate. vanni, who has made his resolve like : ( si'd not to thee.

madman, sees Annabella richly dressed, S. Tell me by whom." ;

dazzling. He regards her in silence, She gets excited, feels and cares fo and remembers the past. He weeps nothing more, refuses to tell the name and says: of her lover, and praises him in the following words. This praise in the

“ These are the funerai tears, midst of danger is like a rose she has Shed on your grave; these furrcwald-ep my p.ucked, and of which the odor intox- When first I lov'd and knew not how to woo... icates her:

Give me your hand : how sweetly life doth ran

In these well-colour'd veins ! How constantly • Massinger, The Fatal Dowry; Webster These palms do promise health! and Ford, À late Murther of the Sonne upon Kiss me again, forgive me. . . Farewell.” 1.. the Mother (a play not extant); Ford, 'Tis pity she's a whore., See also Ford's Broken He then stabs her, enters the banquet Heart, with its sublime scenes of agony madness.

ing room, with her heart upon his dag Ford's Works, ed. H. Coleridge, 1859, ger : Tis pity she's 3 Whore, i: 3. fbid. iv. 3:

Ibid
t Ibid

1 Ibid. v.

my life

your life.

“Sorauzo see this heart, which was thy wife's. are worse than the body's. He sende Thus 1 exchange it royally for thine." .

assassins to kill Antonio, and mean He kills him, and casting himself on while comes to her in the dark, with the swords of banditti, dies. It would affectionate words; pretends to be seem that tragedy could go no fur- reconciled, and suddenly shows her thur.

waxen figures, covered with woun is, But it did go further; for if these are whom she takes for her slaughtered inelodramas, they are sincere, com- husband and children. She staggere posed, not like those of to-day, by under the blow, and remains in gloor Giub Street writers for peaceful cití- without crying out.

Then she says: cerns, but by impassioned man, expe: “Goud comfortable fellow ienced in tragical arts, for a violent,

Persuade a wretch that's broke upon who over-fed melancholy race. From

wheel Shakspeare to Milton, Swift, Hogarth, To have all his bones new set ; entreat hin

live no race has been more glutted with

To be executed again. Who must despatch coarse expressions and horrors, and its

me ? poets supply them plentifully; Ford Bosola. Come, be of comfort, I will save less so than Webster; the latter a sombre man, whose thoughts seem in

Duchess. Indeed, I have not leisure to tend

So small a business. cessantly to be haunting tombs and

B. Now, by my life, I pity you. charnel-houses. “ Places in court,” he D. Thou art a fool, then, says, " are but like beds in the hospital, Ts waste thy pity on a thing so wretched where this man's head lies at that man's

As cannot pity itself. I am full of daggers." foot, and so lower and lower.” † Such Slow words, spoken in a whisper, as in are his images. No one has equalled a dream, or as if she were speaking of Webster in creating desperate char

a third person.

Her brother sends to acters, utter wretches, bitter misan- her a company of madmen, who leap thropes, in blackening and blasphem- and howl and rave around her in ing human life, above all, in depicting mournful wise ; a pitiful sight, calcuthe shameless depravity, and refined lated to unseat the reason ; a kind of ferocity of Italian manners, The Duch- foretaste of hell

. She says nothing, ess of Mafi has secretly married her looking upon them; her heart is dead, steward Antonio, and her brother learns her eyes fixed, with vacant stare : that she has children; almost mad || with rage and wounded pride, he re- Cariola. What think you of, madam? mains silent, waiting until he knows

Duchess. Of nothing : the name of the father; cher. he

When I muse thus, I sleep.

C. Like a madman, with your eyes openi arrives all of a sudden, means to kill D. Dost thou think we shall know one her, but so that she shall taste the lees another of death. She must suffer much, but

In the other world?

C. Yes, out of question, above all, she must not die too quickly!

D. O that it were possible we might She must suffer in mind; these griefs

;

But hold some two days' conference with the

dead! * Tis pity she's a Whore, v. t.

From them I should learn somewbat, I am + Webster's Works, ed. Dyce, 1857, Duchess Malfi, i. 1.

I never shall know here. I'll tell thee a The characters of Bosola, Flaminio.

miracle ; ☆ See Stendhal Chronicles of Italy, The I am not mad yet, to my cause of sorrow : Cenii, The Duchess of Pallizno, and all the The heaven o'er my head seems mane of mo biographies of the time ; of the Borgias, of ten brass, Bianca Capello, of Vittoria Accoramboni. The earth of flaming sulphur, yet I am no Ferdinand, one of the brothers, says (ii. 5): mad. “'I would have their bodies

I am acquainted with sad misery Burnt in a coal-pit with the ventage stopp'd, As the tann'd galley-slave is with his oar.” 1 That their curs'd smoke might not ascend to heaven ;

In this state, the limbs, like those of Or dip the sheets they lie in in pitch or su'phur, one who has been newly executed, stik Wrap them in't, and then light then as a matchị.

quiver, but the sensibility is worn out Ur else to-boil their bastard to a cullis, the miserable body only stirs mechani And give't his lecherous father to renew The sin of his back."

Duchess of Malfi, iv. J.

+ Ibid. iv. a.

sure,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »