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SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
A NEW EDITION.
The dramatic works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, including the translation of the “Wallenstein,” are now for the first time presented to the public as a separate whole, forming a companion-volume to the new edition of the Poems, which has just appeared.
Of the two original dramas, “Remorse" and “ Zapolya,” the former, as already stated in the Preface to that collection, which was intended by the lamented authoress as a general introduction to the Poetical Works, was first cast at Nether Stowey, in the year 1797, the author being then in his twentyfifth year, in the spring-tide of his creative faculty, if not in the maturity of his judgment. It was written expressly for the stage, at the instigation, and with the encouragement of Mr. Sheridan, by whom, how
ever, it was not deemed suitable for that purpose. x Ultimately it was brought out at Drury Lane Theatre in the year 1813, under the auspices of Lord Byron and Mr. Whitbread, when it ran twenty nights,—such welcome was given to the aspirant,
Who first essayed in that distinguished fane
• The concluding lines of the Prologue to “Remorse" by Charles Lamb.
Probably it had been remodelled to some extent with a view to stage effect; but as, with one exception, it
has not been reproduced in London, it may still, v perhaps, be found imperfectly adapted for the pur
poses of the theatre. To the reader the question is of little moment. As a dramatic poem,-indeed, as a drama, in the strictest sense of the term, though more adapted for mental representation than for a visible stage,—the “Remorse” has long taken a place in the standard literature of the country. One beautiful scene from the first draught of the play, “ The Dungeon,” or as it is now entitled, “The Foster Mother's Tale," was published in Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in 1798, and has since been printed with the author's Poems.* Another fragment is given in a note to the present drama. Both appear more or less necessary for the perfect understanding of the plot. If there were many such curtailments, or if for the sake of a more rapid action the reflective character of the piece were in any degree sacrificed, it might almost be regretted that the rejected “ Osorio,” for such was the original title, had not been preserved as it came from the author's pen.
The history of Zapolya, which was published in 1817, is somewhat similar. As an acting drama, it had been pronounced“ beautiful but impracticable,” a criticism to which nothing needs to be added. Eventually it was presented to the reader “merely as a Christmas Tale;" and merely as a tale, it must be read with pleasure; yet still more for the poetical treatment than for the interest of the story. As a poem it is distinguished by a diffused and tender grace -a mellow tint, as of commencing autumn. For perfection of language and versification, it may be studied as a model.
* Page 267 of the new edition.
The translation of “ Wallenstein” requires a more particular notice, the high reputation which this extraordinary, and as it has been deemed, unique performance has enjoyed for upwards of half a century, having exposed it to a severity of criticism which, even if it were just, could hardly have been anticipated by the author, and which has certainly been provoked by its merits, rather than by its pretensions. By the author himself this translation, with whatever feelings or motives it may have been undertaken, was viewed in the retrospect as an irksome toil, which had actually paralysed his poetical faculty. That the spell was soon and effectually broken there is good proof in the second part of “ Wallenstein,” which was composed in the autumn of the year 1800
the same in which both parts of the “Wallenstein,” though with an interval, went to press. The translation had been commenced in the close of the year 1799, immediately after his return from Germany, and was finished in six weeks. The date of the MS. by Schiller is September, 1799, and the English version was to be brought out at the same time that the play was published in German. Such was the condition under which the publication was undertaken, which may account for the rapidity with which the translation was dispatched and carried through the press. It was executed, however, as the author observed in a