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Ma s'io non son possente
Per lo tuo raggio, che mi giunge al core,
Pensando a cui mia alma hai fatta ancella.
Dirai a quella, ch' ha la bionda trezza,
M'ha comandato io sia servente d'ella.
That pleaseth in its early blossom so,
To make report of this new miracle,
On her to gaze,
Her sweet smile won me, and the rays
Not powerful to hold up against the beam
Thinking whose vassal thou my soul hast made.
Tell her that hath the flaxen tresses free,
As Love hath told, her servitor must be. Pier. Antonio Serassi (Ibid p. 440.) manner of writing, that he must says of Lapo Gianni : he was a Flo- have belonged to the fourteenth cenrentine, and by profession a notary. tury; an opinion, says he, in which He adds, Crescimbeni was of opinion they would have been more conthat he flourished in the same time firmed, if they had see as Guittone d’Arezzo, and Piero beautiful Cauzone, beginning, delle Vigne; but that Muratori and Donna se'l prego della mente mia. Quadrio argued more justly, from his
This line is nearly the same as one in Dante :
A SIXTH LETTER TO THE DRAMATISTS OF THE DAY.
One word more, I beseech you.—2 Henry IV. GENTLEMEN,– It would be an easy, bute, which is indeed one with it,though somewhat invidious task, to pervades the whole dialogue of Miprove by examples from the works of randola, from the first scene to the last. living writers, the almost universal dif- I am sure the unadulterated taste fusion throughout the passing world of our author would never have led of verse, of the contagion of prose- him to the lips of such an indopoetry, that thing whose absurd lent Muse, who seems to kiss with but mischievous principles were ex- but half her soul, and inspires her posed in the preceding number. adorer with but half the Confining myself, however, to my frenzy” of a poet. But he must, dramatic province; I am sorry to indeed! follow in the slippery steps of see such a man as the Author of Mi- Lord Lucifer, and like him, sacriRANDOLA taking a lesson in this de- fice his seat in the high heavens of generate school of verse, and dis- legitimate poetry, for a prose-poetic seminating, by the influence of his stool in the realms of damned traname and abilities also, the vicious gedists.* Or is our Abdiel already principles of metre patronised by on the wing of return? Let him be Lord Byron. The right honourable received Professor of Prose-poetry will allow, With joy and acclamations loud, that one, that I have not lightly impeached That of so many myriads fall'n, yet one him of having corrupted (or refined, Return'd, not lost. as he may choose to call it) the man
But it is right to set a mark of rener, and depraved the taste of our probation on his tragedy; his error living poets, when he here finds one of the most celebrated among them, Mirandola yet remains a model to
is abroad, his recantation is not. forsaking the orthodox system of mislead embryo dramatists, who may English versification, to become his not perhaps know that the artist himheretical disciple:
self condemns his own manner in Guido. Sweet blessings rest
that work. Upon your head for ever! I shall go
How the bloom should gather on Afar; yet do not thou forget me. We
these two celebrated authors' cheeks, Have known each other long. Fortune has been
to find a woman and a boy instruct. Our foe. Our very youth is gone before
ing their skilless manhood in the verIts time, and we must part.-Oh! Isidora, nacular language of the British Muse! Think of me sometimes : amidst crowds and Joanna Baillie and young Beddoes, revels
a female extern and a freshman, You'll be a queen: pomp and admiring teaching Byron and Barry Cornwall, eyes
after a regular graduation in the colWill follow you, and delicate music, like lege of English Minstrels, their own Incense from heav'n, will haunt around poetical mother-tongue, the very eleyour rooms.
ments of their native poetical dialect, Mirandola, A. 5. Sc. 2. which they have either forgotten, or Half of this extract is, at least corrupted with a base intermixture with respect to cadence, positive of foreign principles. I am no paneprose; half the remainder is very gyrist of ladies' poetry ; I am very weakly versification; so that, but far indeed from being a cavalier in two or three lines from the whole the cause of female genius; in fact, number are, what all pretend to be, generally speaking, I despise the one ---genuine rhythmical poetry. Lan- and I dispute the other, but in the guor of expression, which is the cha- case of Miss Baillie, justice forturacteristic property and effect of the nately coincides with gallantry, and prose-poetic system of metre, its in- I may assert her praises without the evitable issue and inseparable attri- imputation of gratuitous knight-er
* Truth generally wears paint in a metaphor. Mirandola was not damned, though Marino Faliero was.
rantry. This lady denies her sex several lines, without the regular dealmost irrefutably in the following casyllabic recurrence of final pauses passage (De Monfort's soliloquy be- and closes. Second: that the imafore he murders Rezenvelt): gery, if not exactly suited to proHow hollow groans the earth beneath my more romantic than tragic), is at
duce dramatic effect (being perhaps tread! Is there an echo here? Methinks it sounds least not that of still life or nature As though some heavy footstep follow'd me. asleep, as most of our modem tragic I will advance no farther.
imagery is; and that the sentiments, Deep settled shadows rest across the path,
if they do not press on each other And thickly-tangled boughs o'er-hang this with sufficient rapidity and impetuspot.
osity, are nevertheless agitating and O that a tenfold gloom did cover it! impassioned in their nature, not lanThat midst the murky darkness I might guific and soul-smoothing, after the strike.
manner of Evadne or Mirandola,– As in the wild confusion of a dream, they are provocatives, not sedatives, Things horrid, bloody, terrible, do pass
of the mind. Nay, it would not be As though they pass'd not ; nor impress the mind
very difficult to detect many of the With the fix'd clearness of reality.
images and sentiments of Macbeth What sound is that? It is the screech. in the passage just quoted; the be
ginning and concluding lines immeFoul bird of night! What spirit guides thee diately suggest these as their respechere?
tive prototypes : Art thou instinctive drawn to scenes of
Thou sure and firm-set earth horror ?
Hear not my steps which way they walk, I've heard of this.
for fear How those fall'n leaves do rustle on the The very stones prate of my whereaboutpath,
And With whispering noise, as though the earth
Come thick night, around me Did utter secret things !
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell ! The distant river, too, bears to mine ear
That my keen knife see not the wound it A distant wailing. O mysterious night!
makes.Thou art not silent, many tongues hast thou. But as to the particular of metre: A distant gathering blast sounds through it may be said that our authoress the wood,
preceded the epoch of prose-poetry, And dark clouds fleetly hasten o'er the sky: and that, had it been in vogue in her O that a storm would rise, a raging storm; time, she would have adopted the inAmidst the roar of warring elements
glorious system. Being a woman I'd lift my hand and strike : but this pale perhaps she would; being a woman
light, The calm distinctness of each stilly thing,
of manly genius, Í think she would Is terrible. De Monfort, A. 4. Sc. 1. not. But ay or no has nothing what
ever to do with the merits of the The fair authoress has put off the question ; prose-poetry depends neiwoman here with the happiest suc- ther on Miss Baillie's opinion of it nor cess. She has apostatized very cre- on mine, but on its own reasonableditably from the principles of maud. ness or absurdity. However: here lin composition which regulate she- is Minor Beddoes, born in the very poets in general. I do not mean to zenith of this mock-sun of poetry, say that Miss Baillie could write a whilst it is culminating in the tragedy; and I am very sure that mid-heaven of our literary hemishe is not Shakspeare either in or out sphere, shining in watery splendour, of“ petticoats ;" but that her play of the gaze and gape of our foolishDE MONFORT would do honour to a faced fat-headed nation: here is Mibetter sex, is my blunt opinion. In nor Beddoes, I say, bom amidst the the above extract, two particulars very rage and triumph of the Byromay be remarkedFirst: that the nian heresy,—nay, in a preface more language is formed on the true mo- remarkable for good-nature than del of English blank verse, each line good-sense, eulogizing some of the ending with a pause and a sounding prose-poets,-yet what does Minor close, thereby avoiding the protract- Beddoes ? Why, writing a tragedy ed feebleness of prose-poetry, which himself, with a judgment far different often winds down the page through from that exhibited in his panegyrical
preface, he totally rejects, and there- To lead her through the starry-blossomed före tacitly condemns and abjures the
meads use of prose-poetry. But it was not Where the young hours of morning by the
lark the boy's judgment which led him to this; it was his undepraved ear, and With earthly airs are mourished, through his native energy of mind, teaching. Of silent gloum, beneath whose breathless
the groves him to respue this effeminate style of
shades versification. The Bride's Tragedy The thousand children of Calamity transcends, in the quality of its Play murtherously with men's hearts :) Oh rhythm and metrical harmony, the
pause ! Doge of Venice and Mirandola; just Your universal occupations leave ! as much as it does Fazio, and the Lay down awhile the infant miseries, other dramas which conform to the That to the empty and untenanted clay rules of genuine English heroic verse,
Ye carry from the country of the unborn ; in the energy of its language, the And grant the summoned soul one moment power of its sentiments, and the boldness of its imagery—that is, in- To linger on the threshold of its flesh ;
For I would task you. calculably. The impassioned sublimity of this speech of Hesperus (after
Bride's Tragedy, Act 2, Sc. 6. he has murdered Floribel), is a There is a good deal of extravanearer approach to the vein of our gance here, a good deal of hyperbodramatic school of tragedy, than I lical rambling; the luxuriant growth can recognize in either the rhetoric or of a fancy which maturer judgment poetic:
will restrain. The author appears,
also, to be making too evident a set Scene-A Suicide's Grave.
at sublimity in this passage; it beHail, shrine of blood, in double shadows gins too designedly in the established veiled,
form of solemnific invocation, and Where the Tartarian blossoms shed their
runs too long a gauntlet of secondpoison And load the air with wicked impulses ;
person pronouns, the rhapsodist's
right-hand monosyllable, time immeHail, leafless shade, hallowed to sacrilege, Altar of death. Where is thy deity ?
morial. Nevertheless, it betrays a With him I come to covenant, and thou,
mind in which the rudiments of traDark power, that sittest in the chair' of gic power are, to my eyes, eminently night,
conspicuous,-tragic power of the Searching the clouds for tempests with thy very highest order. I have frequently brand,
mentioned the os magna sonans ; this Proxy of Hades ; list and be my witness, is the first great qualification for a And bid your phantoms all, (the while I tragedist, and this qualification the speak
Author of the Bride's Tragedy most What if they but repeat in sleeping ears, undeniably possesses. Nay, more: Will strike the hearer dead, and mad his considering the os magna as a quaSpread wide and black and thick their is one species of it only which is
lity as well as a qualification, there cloudy wings, Lest the appalled sky do pale to day.
peculiar to tragedy ; that which is Eternal people of the lower world, proper to epic poetry is essentially Ye citizens of Hades' capital,
different from this. But the rara That by the river of remorseful tears avis among dramatists, is he who Sit and despair for ever ;
possesses the tragic species, and not Ye negro brothers of the deadly winds, the epic; for any one conversant Ye elder souls of night, ye mighty sins, with the English stage, from ShakSceptred damnations, how may man invoke speare downwards, will easily perYour darkling glories ? Teach my eager ceive that almost all our dramatic
soul Fit language for your ears. Ye that have
writers mistake the epic for the tragic vein of magniloquence;
* power O'er births and swoons and deaths, the soul's Author of the Bride's Tragedy is a attendants,
rara avis of this kind. Otway's hol(Wont to convey her from her buman home low heroics, Lee's loud bombast, and Beyond existence, to the past and future, Young's elaborate grandiloquence,
* Compare Lady Macbeth's first and second soliloquies, with Zanza's first and last speeches, as instances of this.
though they may be all species of the plays no power whatever in delinea-, os sonans, are none of them of that tion of character. If it were posspecies proper to tragedy, which can sible, speaking of works of this kind, be defined mentally, not verbally,- to make a distinction between the but which may be said to be chiefly vis tragica and the vis dramatica, differenced and distinguished by pase should say that he possessed much of sion, by being more dependant on the former, but little of the latter. sense than sound, on the things pre- The energy, passion, terribility, and sented to the fancy than on the words sublime eloquence of the stage, he bruited to the ear. It is from the appears perfectly competent to : his appearance of this qualification in facilities in the artful developement the Author of the Bride's Tragedy, of story, the contrastment and indithat I would anticipate, with an ex- vidualization of characters, the compectation perhaps too sanguine, a position of effective dialogue, the better and more genuine tragedy management of incidents, scenes, and from his pen than Venice Preserved, situations, &c. are as yet under the Theodosius, or the Revenge, which bushel, if their non-appearance in his are all formed on the erroneous and tragedy be not a proof-presumptive epic principle. His tragedy is cer- of their non-existence in his mind, tainly a most singular and unex. In a word, the Bride's Tragedy does pected production, for this age; ex- not exhibit any faculty in the author hibiting, as it does, this peculiar knack of representing or imitating, huin the author for the genuine os of man life in a connected series of the stage. After all the abuse my well-ordered scenes, characters, and conscience has compelled me to pour dialogues; but it exhibits that quaforth on the plotlessness, still-life, lification of mind, which, if it in. puling effutiation, poetry, and prose- formed such a ready-made series, poetry of modern plays, it is grateful would render it not only a mere work to my heart to acknowledge that this of genius, but a work of legitimate first great quality of legitimate drama dramatic genius, an effective tragedy. is broad upon the surface of the We must, however, take off the edge Bride's Tragedy. I am almost tempts of these exceptions to our author's ed to confess after the perusal of, our flexibility of genius, by the recolMinor's poem, that I have been pre- lection of two facts. First, that his mature in pronouncing the decline of tragedy was written premeditatedly English poetry from the Byronian for the closet, and not for the stage ; epoch: and to express my confi- hence poetic tragedy, more than dradence that tragedy has again put matic, was his object. Secondly, he is forth a scion worthy of the stock “ Minor.” With the hope that he from which Shakspeare and Marlow will devote himself to the stage, * sprung: But whilst I pay this cor- and with the expectation that indial tribute of admiration to our au- creasing years will multiply his drathor's genius, and indulge in this matic powers which are now appaprospect of his eventual success as a rently confined to one, I conclude my dramatist, I cannot help avowing my observations on his work.t fears that he is deficient in some qua- Besides prose-poetry, which is a lifications, which, although not as common affection of all the verse now splendid, are just as necessary to going, there is another system of a complete a tragedist, as that one scarcely less absurd and mistaken which I have unreservedly allowed kind, which is the peculiar adoption him. The os magna, alone, will not of our modern tragedists. I allude do; even that which is not epic or to the frenzy (it cannot be more tenlyric, but strictly dramatic. He ex- derly designated) for making the sehibits no skill in dialogue. He dis- parately-spoken little bits of lines,
* He may depend upon this, that no tragic writer declines this ordeal, but he who is inwardly conscious he should burn his fingers in the trial ; Lord Byron to wit, who affects to despise the judgment of an audience, which would return the compliment upon his genius, if he gave them an opportunity by the production of a stage-tragedy.
| It may be necessary, perhaps, for me to disavow all intimacy with the Author of the Bride's Tragedy, his family, friends, or acquaintance. I was not even educated at the same University with him, nor do I personally know any one who was.-J. L.