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0, what a thought! It gushes to my
heart Like the warm blood. Beatr.
Yet both will soon be cold. 0, trample out that thought! Worse
than despair, Worse than the bitterness of death, is
hope: It is the only ill which can find place Upon the giddy, sharp and narrow hour Tottering beneath us. Plead with the
swift frost That it should spare the eldest flower of
spring: Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er
whose couch Even now a city stands, strong, fair and
free; Now stench and blackness yawn, like
death. O plead With famine, or wind-walking pestilence, Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with
man! Cruel, cold, formal man! righteous in
words, In deeds a Cain. No, mother, we must
die: Since such is the reward of innocent
lives; Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. And whilst our murderers live, and hard,
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on
uponThee, light of life-dead, dark! while I
say, sister, To hear I have no sister; and thou,
Mother, Whose love was [as] a bond to all our
loves— Dead! The sweet bond broken! (Enter Camillo and Guards.)
Let me Kiss those warm lips before their crimson
leaves Are blighted-white-cold. Say fare
well, before Death chokes that gentle voice! O, let
me hear You speak! Beatr.
Farewell, my tender brother. Think Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now: And let mild pitying thoughts lighten for
thee Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh de
spair, But tears and patience. One thing more,
my child, For thine own sake be constant to the
love Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I, Though wrapt in a strange cloud of crime
and shame, Lived ever holy and unstained. And
though Ill tongues shall wound me, and our com
Smiling and slow, walk thro' a world of
tears To death as to life's sleep; 't were just the
grave Were some strange joy for us. Come,
obscure Death, And wind me in thine all-embracing
arms! Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom, And rock me to the sleep from which
none wake. Live ye, who live, subject to one another As we were once, who now
(Bernardo rushes in.)
Oh, horrible! That tears, that looks, that hope poured
forth in prayer, Even till the heart is vacant and de
spairs, Should all be vain! The ministers of
death Are waiting round the doors. I thought
I saw Blood on the face of one-what if 't were
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent
brow For men to point at as they pass, do
thou Forbear, and never think a thought un
kind Of those, who perhaps love thee in their
graves. So mayest thou die as I do; fear and
pain Being subdued. Farewell! farewell!
Ber. I cannot say, farewell!
0, Lady Beatrice! Beatr. Give yourself no unnecessary pain, My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, Mother,
tie My girdle for me, and bind up this hair In any simple knot; ay, that does well.
And yours I see is coming down. How
often Have we done this for one another! now We shall not do it any more. My Lord, We are quite ready. Well, 't is very Edward Bulwer-Lytton, first Baron Lytton (1803–1873), of aristocratic birth, passed a youth of romantic emotion, precocious literary work, wide desultory study, and fashionable gaiety. Interested in political reform, he was in the House of Commons from 1831 most of the time till 1860, when he became a peer; and also held cabinet offices. His activity and versatility were great. His best-known literary works are his novels; his plays, notably The Lady of Lyons and Richelieu, have been among the most often acted of the century.
THE LADY OF LYONS, OR, LOVE AND PRIDE
Bulwer-Lytton was rather a popular than a great writer, a man of much talent but not of genius. He seems to have taken to writing as a result of his ambition and desire for popularity and prominence, and of a mind which was restless and active rather than fine, penetrating, or imaginative. His earlier novels followed the prevalent romantic taste, being especially under the influence of Byron. Later, like Dickens, he combined realism with the spirit of reform; he also wrote some of the most popular of historical novels. In his style there is a grandiloquence, a flowery wordiness, that often seems insincere, and was made fun of by Thackeray among his Burlesqucs. From the first, the critics have had no very high praise for his novels, but their popular success was universal; which was due in large measure to active elaborate plots, and a profusion of “strong dramatic situations. And much the same must be said of his plays. They follow instead of leading contemporary taste; their style is sometimes meretricious. Yet their popularity was and has continued to be great. It shows how relatively low has been the literary quality of nineteenth-century acting drama that they are among the most favorable specimens of dramatic taste in the earlier Victorian period. Bulwer-Lytton was the only man, except perhaps Goldsmith, from Dryden to the present day, who was prominent in other literary work and greatly succeeded in the drama.
The Lady of Lyons was written in 1838, in little over two weeks. The author states in his Preface that the plot was suggested by a vague memory of a " very pretty little tale, called 'The Bellows-Mender'”; also that the play was written to help Macready in his newly assumed management of the Covent Garden theater, and to retrieve “the comparative failure on the stage of The Duchess
de la Vallière," a play of his own which had appeared in 1836. When produced, The Lady of Lyons made an immediate success, and has held the stage intermittently till almost the present day. It was put on in elaborate and expensive style by so eminent an actor as Henry Irving in 1879, when it was already old and hackneyed, and played by him fortyfive times, at a period when he was acting in such plays as Faust and The Bells. Irving used also to read it aloud publicly. For half a century, therefore, it was a representative play and pleased the best tastes.
A play like The Lady of Lyons, with its abundant action, its superficiality, its sen. sationalism, its emotionality, is properly to be classed as a melodrama; but it shows curiously a heritage from both sentimentalism and romanticism. It ends with a couple of maxinis of the sort affected by the former, and such are to be found elsewhere in the play. Mme. Deschappelles is of a type of crudely worldly, designing woman often opposed to the celestial innocence of the eight. eenth century heroine. The resemblance to sentimental drama is perhaps most important in the attempt to combine realism and humor with an all-pervading but shallow emotionality, and with an elaborate and not over-probable plot. A romantic element was inevitable in any play by Bulwer and writ. ten in the 30's. The lovers belong rather to romance than to sentimentalism. The eighteenth century liked to see a young man raise slighted and unfortunate merit to the honor of associating with county-families; what could give better opportunity for the mood of moral approbation in which senti. mental drama basked ? Sentimentalism was after all conventionality and worldliness on its good behavior; while romance hardly ae. cepted the bonds even of possibility Romance liked to hitch its wagon to a star, and eagerly granted a suspension of its disbelief to the gardener's son who learned painting, fencing, and deportment that he might woo the haughtiest beauty of Lyons. The romance was felt as the more delightful be cause the scene was in a neighboring country and the time within the memory of middle aged people; those with an appetite for the strange and alluring were gratified at finding it so near their own lives. The setting had another advantage. A concession to common-sense was made by placing the action, as the author remarks in his Preface, at a time
when the strata of society had just been Bulwer puts the more high-emotional passhaken up by the Revolutionary earthquake, sages of this prose play into blank-verse. and an excess of mawkishness was avoided In this play as in the romantic novel, such by treating Mme. Deschappelles (and her as Scott's, some solid mundane element was daughter at first) with satiric humor. The needed to hold the romance down from toatdramatist forgot his romance also in act IV, ing away into the palaces of the sunset clouds. where, after being grossly tricked by him, Two of the characters especially fulfil this Pauline betrays and finally confesses her con- office, the two "character parts.” Damas is tinued desire for Claude. Such a strain on the typical blunt soldier, affecting cynicism our credulity can be justified only by a phys- about women, but generous, good-hearted, and ical passion such as crude realism may por- ready “to blubber” at an affecting scene. tray, a dash of cynicism, and the dramatist's The other is Mme. Deschappelles, transpardesire to prepare for the happy outcome. ently silly and vain. This combination of Romance flourishes chiefly in the figure of the improbable-pleasing with the exaggerClaude in act V, during ‘most of which he ated-real may be regarded as inherited from is judiciously kept rather in the background, sentimentalism, and makes a strong link belest the beautifying glamour of fresh romance tween Bulwer-Lytton and Dickens. In life which now covers him should be dissipated. they were good friends, and both were equally “This mysterious Morier,” especially favored interested in the novel and the drama, which by Napoleon —"his constant melancholy, the have long been the most intimately connected loneliness of his habits — his daring valor, of literary forms. his brilliant rise in the profession, all tend to The success of the play was due first and make him as much the matter of gossip as of foremost, no doubt, to its well-constructed admiration.” This is a perfect description plot, full of suspense, surprise, and variety: of the “ Byronic hero," gloomy and piquing, To it the author tells us he gave his chief who began his admired course in such poems attention. As in The Alchemist, Venice Preas The Giaour and Manfred, and enthralled served and The Cenci, the last act stands the world, not young ladies only, for a gener: apart from the rest of the play; the main ation. Bulwer himself in his youth had been action being concluded, it seems as if all were nicknamed “ Childe Harold” by an English- over, yet a new interest is created as keen woman in Paris. Claude Melnotte is a com- as the old, an admirable device. Bulwer bination of romance and sheer improbability. himself attributed his success to the art “ of In his Preface the author pleads the general creating agreeable emotions"; this amounts ferment of the time as the excuse for Mel- to saying that it was adapted to connotte's “unsettled principles (the struggle temporary taste, which the author shared, but between which makes the passion of this which, being somewhat crudely ambitious, he drama)”; but the most romantic spectator also studied. To us the play seems a somecould hardly find here an excuse for his un- what unhappy combination of the romantic, manly treachery. His ideal figure at the the sentimental, the satiric, and the realistic. close was needed to restore him to the good It seems to us lacking whether we compare it graces of the audience. It must be remem- with the stalwart imagination of the Elizabered that in fiction of this type the barest bethans, or the austere reality of Ibsen and minimum of psychological truth was all that his followers. It seems to us more old-fashwas felt to be needed in the persons who acted ioned, because it was more temporary, than out an interesting plot. Other traits char- the plays of Sheridan or Jonson. It is only acteristic of the age appear in the literary the highest excellence that is timeless. But style, the composite style of the romanticists the qualities which won admiration for The
not the language of life, but somewhat Lady of Lyons in its day gain it tolerance artificial, and ornate and stilted, yet unlike now, and its suggestiveness as to early Victhe artificiality of the eighteenth century. torian taste gives it considerable historical inWith Shakespeare's example as a precedent, terest.
THE LADY OF LYONS, OR, LOVE AND PRIDE
BEAUSEANT, a rich gentleman of Lyons, in
love with, and refused by, Pauline Des
cousin to Mme. Deschappelles, and an of
ficer in the French Army. MONSIEUR DESCHAPPELLES, a Lyonnese mere
chant, father to Pauline. LANDLORD OF THE GOLDEN LION. GASPAR.
Servants, Notary, &c.
Servant. Monsieur Beauseant, madam.
Mme. Deschap. Let him enter. Pauline, SCENE 1. A room in the house of M. this is another offer! I know it is !-
Deschappelles, at Lyons. Pauline re- Your father should engage an additional clining on a sofa; Marian, her maid fan- clerk to keep the account-book of your ning her.–Flowers and notes on a table conquests. beside the sofa.—Madame Deschappelles
(Enter Beauseant.) seated.The gardens are seen from the
Beau. Ah, ladies, how fortunate I am to find you
at home!-(Aside.) How Mme. Deschap. Marian, put that rose a
lovely she looks !—It is a great sacrifice little more to the left.-(Marian alters
I make in marrying into a family in the position of a rose in Pauline's hair.)
trade!—they will be eternally grateful! -Ah, so !-that improves the air,-the
--(Aloud.) Madame, you will permit tournure, the je ne sais quoi! 1—You are
me a word with your charming daughter. certainly very handsome, child quite
-(Approaches Pauline, who rises dismy style;—I don't wonder that you
dainfully.)—Mademoiselle, I have venmake such a sensation !-Old, young,
tured to wait upon you, in a hope that rich, and poor, do homage to the Beauty
you must long since have divined. Last of Lyons !—Ah, we live again in our
night, when you outshone all the beauty children,-especially when they have our
of Lyons, you completed your conquest eyes and complexion !
over me! You know that my fortune is Pauline. (Languidly.) Dear mother, you
not exceeded by any estate in the prorspoil your Pauline !-(Aside.) I wish I
ince, you know that, but for the Revoknew who sent me these flowers !
lution, which has defrauded me of my Mme. Deschap. No, child !-If I praise
titles, I should be noble. May I, then, you, it is only to inspire you with a
trust that you will not reject my alproper ambition.—You are born to make
liance? I offer you my hand and heart. a great marriage.—Beauty is valuable
Pauline. (Aside.) He has the air of a or worthless according as you invest the
man who confers a favor!-(Aloud.) property to the best advantage.—Mar
very condescending-I ian, go and order the carriage!
thank you humbly; but, being duly sensi(Exit Marian.)
ble of my own demerits, you must allow Pauline. Who can it be that sends me,
me to decline the honor you propose. every day, these beautiful flowers ?-now
(Curtsies, and turns away.) sweet they are!
Beau. Decline!'impossible !—you are not (Enter Servant.)
serious !—Madame, suffer me to appeal 1 The general effect, the inexpressible something.