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of real slaughter, they could not endure the philosophic and poetic view of distress in which it is softened and made sacred. Their imaginations were too practical for a genuine poet to affect. Hence, in the plays which bear the name of Seneca, horrors are heaped on horrors—the most unpleasing of the Greek fictions (as that of Medea) are re-written and made ghastly—and every touch that might redeem and soften is carefully effaced by the poet. Still the grandeur of old tragedy is there-still “ the gorgeous pall comes sweeping by”-still the dignity survives, though the beauty has faded.
In the productions of Shakespear, doubtless tragedy was divested of something of its external grandeur. The mythology of the ancient world had lost its living charm. Its heroic forms remained, indeed, unimpaired in beauty or grace, in the distant regions of the imagination; but they could no longer occupy the foreground of poetry. Men required forms of flesh and blood, animated by human passion, and awakening human sympathy. Shakespear, therefore, sought for his materials nearer to common humanity than the elder bards. He took also, in each play, a far wider range than they had dared to
occupy. He does not, therefore, convey so completely as they V did one grand harmonious feeling, by each of his works. But who shall affirm, that the tragedy of Shakespear has not an elevation of its own, or that it produces pleasure only by exhibiting spectacles of varied anguish? The reconciling power of his imagination, and the genial influences of his philosophy, are ever softening and consecrating sorrow. He scatters the rainbow hues of fancy over objects in themselves repulsive. He nicely developes the “ soul of goodness in things evil” to console and delight us. He blends all the most glorious imagery of nature with the passionate expressions of affliction. He sometimes in a single image expresses an intense sentiment in all its depth, yet identifies it with the widest and the grandest objects of creation. Thus he makes Timon, in the bitterness of his soul, set up his tomb on the beached shore, that the wave of the ocean may once a day cover him with its embossed foamexpanding an individual feeling into the extent of the vast and eternal sea; yet making us feel it as more intense, from the very sublimity of the image. The mind can always rest without anguish on his catastrophes, however mournful. Sad as the story of Romeo and Juliet is, it does not lacerate or tear the heart, but relieves it of its weight by awakening sweet tears. Their joys, indeed, are nipped in early blossom; but the flower that is softly shed on the earth, yet puts forth undying odours. We shriek not at their tomb, which we feel has set a seal on their loves and virtues, but almost long with them there “ to set up our everlasting rest." We do not feel unmingled agony ! at the death of Lear;when his aged heart, which has beaten so fearfully, is at rest—and his withered frame, late o'erinformed with terrific energy, reposes with his pious child. We are not shocked and harrowed even when Hamlet falls; for we feel that he is unfit for the bustle of this world, and his own gentle contemplations on death have deprived it of its terrors. In Shakespear, the passionate is always steeped in the beautiful. Sometimes he diverts sorrow with tender conceits, which, like little fantastic rocks, break its streams into sparkling cascades and circling eddies. And when it must flow on, deep and still, he bends over it branching foliage and graceful flowers-whose leaves are seen in its dark bosom, all of one sober and harmonious hue--but in their clearest form and most delicate proportions.
The other dramatists of Shakespear's age, deprived like him of classical resources, and far inferior to him in imagination and wisdom, strove to excite a deep interest by the wildness of their plots, and the strangeness of the incidents with which their scenes were crowded. Their bloody tragedies are, however, often relieved by passages of exquisite sweetness. Their terrors, not humanized like those of Shakespear, are yet far removed from the vulgar or disgusting. Sometimes, amidst the gloom of continued crimes, which often follow each other in stern and awful succession, are fair pictures of more than earthly virtue, tinted with the dews, of heaven, and encircled with celestial glories. The scene in The Broken Heart, where Calantha amidst the festal crowd, receives the news of the successive deaths of those dearest to her in the world, yet dances on--and that in which she composedly settles all the affairs of her empire, and then dies smiling by the body of her contracted lordare in the loftiest spirit of tragedy. They combine the dignity and majestic suffering of the ancient drama, with the intenseness of the modern. The last scène unites beauty, tenderness, and grandeur, in one harmonious and stately picture as sublime as any single scene in the tragedies of Æschylus or of Shakespear.
Of the succeeding tragedians of England, the frigid imitators of the French Drama, it is necessary to say but little. | The elevation of their plays is only on the stilts of declamatory language. The proportions and symmetry of their plots are but an accordance with arbitrary rules. Yet was there no reason to fear that the sensibilities of their audience should be too strongly excited, without the alleviations of fancy or of grandeur, because their sorrows are unreal, turgid, and fantastic. Cato is a classical petrifaction. Its tenderest expression is, “ Be sure you place his urn near mine,” which comes over us like a sentiment frozen in the utterance. Congreve's Mourning Bride has a greater air of magnificence than most tragedies of his or of the succeeding time; but its declamations fatigue, and its labyrinthine plot perplexes. Venice Preserved is cast in the mould of dignity and of grandeur; but the characters want nobleness, the poetry coherence, and the sentiments truth.
The plays of Hill, Hughes, Philips, Murphy, and Rowe, are dialogues, sometimes ill and sometimes well written-occasionally stately in numbers, but never touching the soul. It would be unjust to mention Young and Thomson as the writers of tragedies.
The old English feeling of tender beauty has at last begun to revive. Lamb's John Woodvil, despised by the critics, and for a while neglected by the people, awakened those gentle pulses of deep joy which had long forgotten to beat. Here first, after a long interval, instead of the pompous swelling of inane declamation, the music of humanity was heard in its sweetest tones. The air of freshness breathed over its forest scenes, the delicate grace of its images, its nice disclosure of consolations and venerablenesses in the nature of man, and the exquisite beauty of its catastrophe, where the stony remorse of the hero is melted into child-like tears, as he kneels on the little hassock where he had often kneeled in infancy, are truly Shakspearian. Yet this piece, with all its delicacies in the reading, wants that striking scenic effect, without which a tragedy cannot succeed on the stage. The Remorse of Coleridge is a noble poem ; but its metaphysical clouds, though fringed with golden imaginations, brood too heavily over it. In the detached scenes of Barry Cornwall, passages of the daintiest beauty abound—the passion is every where breathed tenderly forth, in strains which are “silver sweet”--and the sorrow is relieved by tenderness the most endearing. Here may be enjoyed “a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, where no crude surfeit reigns.”—In these-and in the works of Shiel, and even of Maturin-are the elements whence a tragedy more noble and complete might be moulded, than any which has astonished the world since Macbeth and Lear. We long to see a stately subject for tragedy chosen by some living aspirant(the sublime struggle of high passions for the mastery, displayed
-the sufferings relieved by glorious imaginations, yet brought tenderly home to our souls—and the whole conveying one grand and harmonious impression to the general heart. Let as hope that this triumph will not long be wanting, to complete the intellectual glories of our age.
loften with all its thout whicoleridge
VOL. I. PART I.
Art. II. Itinerarium Germaniæ, Galliæ, Anglia, Italiæ ;
scriptum à Paulo Hentznero, J. C. &c. Bresla, 1627. Á Journey into England, .by Paul Hentzner, in 1598. Printed at Strawberry Hill, 1757. Re-printed at the private press of T. E. Williams. Reading, 1807.
a the physi Hentznere accur
Books of travels, especially in the neighbouring countries of Europe, are now-a-days a history of the personal adventures of the traveller. Sheer information is no longer an object> we have become too well acquainted with our neighbours to tolerate a mere description of their habits—we require highseasoned private histories, extraordinary incidents interspersed with agreeable anecdotes, not to forget philosophical sketches of national character, sparkling with wit and humour. Things were not so in Paul Hentzner's time-people were content with staying at home--the absence of international communication separated countries from each other more effectually than the physical boundaries of mountains, forests, and rivers. Honest Paul Hentzner sets down the peculiarities of an Englishman with the same accuracy that Captain Hall describes the new found inhabitants of the Loo Choo Islands. His end was to communicate the knowledge of manners and objects, of which it is manifest his countrymen had formed no previous idea. He borrows no aid from the adventitious interest of personal narrative. Paul himself seldom appears ; but what appeared to him, was instantly put down as it occurred, with the scrupulous fidelity of a tradesman taking stock. All is fresh to him, and the result is, that the description which he gives comes as fresh upon us.
The travels of a German tutor in England in 1598, must indeed be matter of curiosity, to those who wish to know what impressions the manners, habits, and amusements, and the general character of their country, made upon a foreigner more than two hundred years ago. To a stranger thus circumstanced, the commonest things would be novelties, and the oldest and most trifling customs, subjects of wonder-which would exact as much attention, and excite as much interest, as the most important--for the mind of the traveller, struck with the contrast, would seize with avidity the things most opposed to his peculiar modes of thinking and acting. The portraits or descriptions of ourselves thus sketched out from the feeling of the moment, surprise us by the new light in which we are exhibited—we not only wish to know what we really are, but what others think of us. There is no part of our history which
has been more the theme of panegyric, or the source of our national pride, than the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It was in “ the golden age of great Eliza” that this matter-of-fact traveller landed on our shores; and we think our readers will be glad to see what he said of that illustrious sovereign and her subjects, with the other curious particulars we shall extract from his book.
“We arrived next at the Royal Palace of Greenwich, reported to have been originally built by Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, and to have received very magnificent additions from Henry VIII. It was · here Elizabeth, the present Queen, was born—and here she generally resides, particularly in summer, for the delightfulness of the situation. We were admitted by an order Mr. Rogers had procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the presence chamber, hung with rich tapestry, and the floor, after the English fashion, strewed with hay,* through which the Queen commonly passes in her way to the chapel. At the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, whose office was to introduce to the Queen any person of distinction that came to wait on her : it was Sunday, when there is usually the greatest attendance of nobility. In the same hall were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great many Counsellors of State, Officers of the Crown, and Gentlemen who waited the Queen's coming out—which she did from her own apartment, when it was time to go to prayers, attended in the following manner :
“First, went Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Knights of the Garter, all richly dressed and bare-headed ; next came the Chancellor, bearing the seals in a silk purse, between two, one of which carried the Royal sceptre, the other the sword of state in a red scabbard, studded with golden Fleurs-de-Lis, the point upwards ; next came the Queen, in the fifty-sixth year of her age, (as we were told,) very majestic ; her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled ; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant,; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow, and her teeth black, (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar); she had in her ears two very rich pearls with drops; she wore false hair, and that red; upon her head she had a small crown, reported to have been made of some of the gold of the celebrated Lunebourg table; her bosom was uncovered, as all the English ladies have it till they marry; and she had on a necklace of exceeding fine jewels; her hands were small, her fingers long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, her manner of speaking mild and obliging. That day she was dressed in white silk, bordered with pearls of the size of beans, and over it a mantle of black silk shot with silver threads; her train was very long, the end of it borne by a marchioness; instead of a chain, she had an oblong collar of gold and jewels. As she went along in all this state and magnificence, she spoke very graciously, first to one, then to another, (whether foreign
* Probably, rushes.