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'which sometimes come in after one- Gher. Did your highness ever hear the another in running dialogue, tot up into a verse of exactly the heroic O'the friend the duchess mourn'd so ? number of feet. A fractional devia

Duke.

Never; she tion from this complete measure

Wish'd not to tell it ; so, although my mind seems to be loaded with the penalty

Dislikes such secrets, I have never asked. of total damnation,-if we are to Attachment to you?

Gher. Lord Guido then never confided his judge by the intense anxiety of our Duke. His ? his ? Never. tragedists to accumulate the proper Gher.

Never ? number of syllables, upon all such

(Mirandola, Act , Sc. 3.) occasions of broken lines and to-andfro speeches. The dramatists of the Here is callida junctura with a witday appear to be agitated by a cu- ness. And the best of it is, to see in the rious system of cross-purposes: at above passages, the two wrong-headthe same time that they are, by the ed systems of joineryand prose-poetry means of prose-poetry, virtually re- pulling different ways, with equal in nouncing metre, with a superfluous tensity; this dragging the sound of one degree of zeal they preserve the out- line into the following, so as to give ward show of numbers, and would as

them the air of prose, that squeezing soon lose one of the ten fingers off a cluster of syllables into one row, so their hands as one of the ten syllables as to count like poetry; Surely no off their verses.

It is ever thus: we one who has read Shakspeare with give up the substance, and stickle for any attention can conceive this methe form. The most indefatigable thod of writing by the square either industry is exhibited by our drama- necessary or right? Surely no one 'tists in fitting their scattered lineolæ who has asked the question of his together, so as to make up whole own common-sense, will be answered verses of the given orthodox length, in the affirmative? But, like all the whilst with the same pen they run other errors of our modern tragedists, one line into another, so as to make it originates in that blind confusion of versification almost nugatory ; per- drama with common poetry, which I tinaciously solicitous that their poe- have so frequently spoken of. Betry shall put the due number of feet cause this method of joining the head to the ground, but totally careless of A's answer to the tail of B's queswhat kind of feet they may be, whe- tion, or inserting G's reply between ther they support the majesty of legi- two of D's remarks, so as to eke out timate verse, or totter into downright a pentameter of the regular ad amusprose. Ex. gr.

sim length,-because this may be reBenducar. I should have scorn'd him, quisite in poematical dramas, they but 'tis hard to hear

think it equally so in theatrical draOne's friend traduced.

mas. Absurd! It is consecrated neiAlonzo.

What said he ? ther by authority nor common-sense. Ben.

Nothing, but Take the Quarrel scene in Julius Was insolent.

Cæsar, take this model for dramatism, Al. You struck him in your rage; examine it narrowly, and then tell me 'Twas not for nothing you could lift your what authority it gives you for join

ery. There are no less than seven Against a thing so worthless.

unmetrical lines, or pieces of lines, Ben.

Nay, he callid My friend a coward !

out of less than a hundred and forty Al. (Drawing.) Coward ! ha!

which make up the scene ! Ay, but, Ben.

(you say), take his works together, Your, &c.-(Durazzo, Act l, Sc. 2.) and on an average, nineteen lines out Again:

of twenty are exact pentameters; in

nineteen cases out of twenty he culGheraldi. His servant says, though this tivates the system of joinery. Grant

must be surmise, That his young master still is ignorant of

ed (though it is not true) :-and in Your bighness' inarriage.

nineteen cases out of twenty (or Duke.

That's impossible! whatever it is) metre ought to be preI wrote to him twice ; more.

served. But you preserve it in the Gher.

Yes, Sir, but whole twenty cases, and there.it Duke,

But what? ought not to be preserved. WhereSneak!

fore not? (say you): Shakspeare was

arm

a

a

Put up

a « barbarian” (sec. Byron), and we the design, and the superiority in the sha’n't abide by his practice: So- construction of the English (i.e. the phocles and the Greek dramatists are Shakspearian) drama; which oribetter models, and they preserve the ginality and superiority both consist rigid laws of metre in their trage- in our collections of scenes, called dies: wherefore then should not we plays, being almost fac-similes of real also?

life. Had Shakspeare been a scholar, I answer: 1. In order to approach his plays would have been transcripts probability and real life ; to relieve of imaginary, not real life, as are the the ear from monotony and uniform plays of all scholars, from Euripides cadence; to afford opportunities for down to John Home. 3. The Greek bursts of passion, exclamations, and tragedy does not observe the law of natural expression; to liberate the uniform metre; for the chorus and author from the necessity of endea- dialogue are in different species of vouring after what he cannot attain, a verse. This is a kind of proof that perfect amalgamation of regular poe- the Greeks saw the necessity of try with the language of irregular relieving the monotonous effect of emotion under the influence of which invariable iambic poetry. 4. Even if Tragedy supposes the speakers mostly Greek tragedy did preserve its metre to be; and to carry on the business uniform, Greek tragedy (as I said of the piece with rapid concision. before) is not English tragedy. The 2. Whether Shakspeare's occasional latter aspires to give a close repreirregularity of metre was owing to sentation of human life, the former carelessness, design, or “barbarian- does not, but contents itself with the ism,” is totally irrelevant; but if it reputation of being little more than be attributed to the latter, this only an elegant conversational poem. We makes good an opinion of mine, that cannot, therefore, argue from one to much of this author's dramatic suc- the other; they are, in fact, quite cess was owing to the lucky_imper- different species of composition. fectness of his education. For the Upon the whole, I am fully prepurposes of drama, though perhaps pared to grant, that if you can comfor no other, his mind was exactly in bine ever-new variety with undethe right state of mean cultivation, viating regularity of numbers, if you neither totally ignorant of rules, nor can let passion run loose in the strict altogether subservient to them. This . manege of pentameter poetry, and gave him his freedom of manner, his allow nature to expatiate at will in bold recklessness of style, so wonder- the fetter-locks of rigorous metre,fully adapted to the colloquial nature that is, if you can do impossibilities, of drama. If his spirit had been I grant you are right to attempt retamed down by a regular classical conciling in your dramas the above education, he might have written inconsistencies. Your success will, I better poems, but not as good dramas. dare promise you, be exactly comAnd why? Why, because the true mensurate to the wisdom of the enlanguage of the stage is, for the most terprise. Do not, however, imagine part, an indefinable mediate manner that I am an advocate for metrical of phrase, between the homeliness of irregularity, in every species of poecommon discourse, and the supra- try; English drama, the only true natural refinement of pure poetical drama (being a close imitation of diction.* The illiterate man and the human life), has its peculiar laws, scholar will equally deviate into the privileges, and immunities. But, opposite extremes, of extravagant mark: I do not say that occasional irregularity, and inflexible precise- irregularity of metre, in drama, is ness, one of which destroys the beau- merely excusable or permissible; I ty, and the other the naturalness of say it is proper, right, and necessary, dramatic dialogue. To the above founded in nature and reason; I say fortunate accident I am strongly in- that drama is not legitimate drama clined to attribute the originality in without it. When there is a new

Vide Othello (Act 3, Sc. 2), a masterly combination and intermixture of the sublimest poetry with the most natural, yet effective, unmetrical dialogue. The author is not tied to the Muses' apron-string (like our modern dramatists), but condescends occa. sionally to speak the language of nature and humanity.

world discovered, where human con- This is natural, easy, animated, very versation is carried on in verse, I will unmetrical, but not unpleasant to allow perfect uniformity of metre to the ear. * Look you now, what folbe natural in their drama; but whilst lows;" the old world is satisfied to talk prose, our dramatic language must, Kent. Thy youngest daughter does not in some measure, and upon occasion,

love thee least; approach it.

Nor are those empty-hearted, whose, low Taking the law of irregularity in Reverbs no hollowness.

sound dramatic verse, as theoretically es

Lear.

Kent, on thy life, tablished by the foregoing reason- No more. ings, and practically confirmed by the

Kent. My life I never held but as 'example of Shakspeare,—the system A pawn to wage against thine enemies :

of joinery* is, as far as it goes, a di- Nor fear to lose 't, thy safety being the rect infringement of this law. And it Motive. is to the inexorable spirit with which Lear. Out of my sight! this system is pursued by our living

Kent.

See better, Lear: dramatists, that I ascribe much of And let me still remain the true blank of the barrenness and insipidity of their Thine eye.

Lear. running dialogue. The necessity

Now, by Apollo,

Kent. which they gratuitously impose upon Thou swearest, king, thy gods in vain.

Now, by Apollo, themselves, of incessantly filling up Lear.

O vassal! their lines to the full measure of ten Miscreant! syllables, induces tameness, monotony, and an appearance of artifice; ren- This is the manner in which a ders natural expression unattainable, “ dramatist of the day” would have and passion impossible to be deve- put together the colloquy between loped; makes so many words, and such the impetuous king and his intrepid round-about methods of enouncing subject. I submit whether the mebrief sentiments and straight-for- tamorphose be not very much in the ward discourse, necessary,—that it style of a piece of modern dramatism, is no miracle if running dialogue, -as far as regards joinery and proseunder such restrictions, be neither poetry: there is, indeed, a native spirited, natural, nor effective. Now, spirit and fire in the words, which it just for illustration's sake, let us ap- is impossible to extinguish by any ply this system to a passage in Shåk- transposition or dislocation of them, speare; we shall see what a curious and which would ever prevent the metamorphosis it will work:

passage from being mistaken for the

work of a modern tragedist. The mere Kent. Thy youngest daughter does not translation of a few

words from one love thee least;

line to another can effect no real Nor are those empty-hearted, whose low sound

change in the original passage: but Reverbs no hollowness.

that which came naturally and forciLear. Kent, on thy life, no more. bly off the tongue in its own irregu

Kent. My life I never held but as a pawn lar form of poetic eloquence, beTo wage against thine enemics : nor fear to comes tame and artificial on our atlose it,

tempting to read it as a piece of exact Thy safety being the motive.

metrical versification. What then Lear. Out of my sight!

would be the effect, if instead of diKent. See better, Lear; and let me still viding into regular verses what is

remain The true blank of thine eye.

already written in the free spirit of Lear. Now, by Apollo,

drama, we had to write an original Kent. Now, by Apollo, king,

piece according to that regular diviThou swear'st thy gods in vain.

sion? Why the effect would be,-a Lear. O vassal! miscreant !

Modern Drama. (Laying his hand on his sword.)

The Rhetoric School did not carry Lear, A. 1. Sc. 1. the above principle to such an ex

:

Will the reader pardon me this and other out-of-the-way phrases which perpetually occur in the course of these letters ? When I cannot find one authentic word to express a compound notion or principle, my horror of circumlocution obliges me to coin new and barbarous, but I hope not inappropriate terms.

travagant pitch ; in this, as in other from the breasts of the speakers, respects, it has not diverged so un- with an alternate stopple put into conscionably from the methods of their mouths, so as to let them run genuine drama. Nevertheless, I hope out but one line of eloquence bethere are few of my readers who tween them. To conclude with this have not laughed at least once in subject,- I repeat, that this method their life, at this illustrious specimen of joinery originates in the mistake of joinery in the Revenge (where of our modern tragic writers, who Leonora persuades Alonzo, asking have lost sight of the true nature of him if he can bear to see her married dramatic verse, and are perpetually to Carlos):

endeavouring to make drama poetiAlonzo. Oh!

cal, instead of poetry dramatical. Leonora. Is it possible ?

This is the pivot on which all turns. Al. Death!

This series of Letters to DramaLeon. Can you ?

tists was intended to close,—and it Al. Oh!

does close, with the present number. These separate pieces of conversa- There are however a few remaining tion, it will be seen, are so finically observations, which I should have measured, as to fit accurately into added to the last paragraph, but one line of the regular. pantameter they would swell this article to a longitude, viz.

more intolerable length. If they Oh! Is it possible ? Death ! Can you ? Oh! hang upon the peg of my memory

The reader cannot but remark, till next month, they may furnish out what a natural air the dialogue has,

a moderate Postscript. and what a free exit passion finds

John Lacy.

SPECIMENS OF SONNETS

FROM THE MOST EMINENT POETS OF ITALY.

PETROCCHI.
Io chiesi al Tempo; ed a chi sorse il grande
Ampio edifizio che qui al suol traesti ?
Ei non risponde, e più veloci e presti
Fuggitivo per l'aere i vanni spande.

Dico alla Fama; O tu, che all' ammirande
Cose dài vita e questi avanzi e questi !
China ella gli occhi conturbati e mesti,
Qual chi dogliosi alti sospiri tramande.
Io già volgea maravigliando il passo,

i
Quando sull' alta mole, altero in mostra,
Visto girsene Obblio di sasso in sasso,

Ah tu, gridai, forse apristi, ah! mostra
Ma in tuono ei m'interruppe, orrido e basso,

Io di chi fu non curo, adesso è nostra.
I ask'u of Time: To whom arose this high
Majestic pile here sunk in rude decay?
He answers not, but swifter speeds his way,
Fanning with outspread wings the boundless sky.

I say to Fame: O thou whose sons defy
The waste of years, and deathless works essay
She heaves a sigh as one to grief a prey,
And sobbing downward casts her tearful eye.

I now proceeded, sad and thoughtful grown,
When stern in aspect o'er the ruin'd shrine
I see Oblivion stalk from stone to stone,

Ah thou, I cried, hast known! say, what design-
He check'd my further speech with sullen tone,
I care not whose it was, it now is mine."-

PIETRO METASTASIO.
In circostanza del vestirsi l'abito religioso dalla Signora Rosa

Leggiadra Rosa ! le cui pure foglie
L'alba educò con le soavi brine,
Ea cui le molli aurette mattutine
Fero a vermiglio colorar le spoglie !

Quella provvida man, che al suol ti toglie,
Vuol trasportarti ad immortal confine,
Ove, spogliata delle ingiuste spine,
Sol la parte miglior di te germoglie.

Cosi fior diverrai che non soggiace
All'acqua, al gelo, al vento, ed allo scherno
D'una stagion volubile e fugace :
E a più

fido cultor posto in governo,
Unir potrai nella tranquilla pace

Ad eterna bellezza odore eterno.
Addressed to a Lady called Rose, on occasion of her taking the veil.

O BEAUTEOUS Rose! whose leaves of spotless hue
By the sweet dews were fed of earliest morn,
When vermeil tints the balmy breezes born
At opening day o'er thy bright vesture threw!

The pious hand, that hence thy bloom withdrew,
Would fain transplant thee where thou may'st adorn
Immortal climes, and stript of every thorn
Thy better part may shine with graces new.

Thus thou wilt soon become a peerless flow'r,
No longer subject to the changefül air,
From wind and frost secure, and whelming show'r ;

And train'd by One who ne'er remits his care,
Thou may'st acquire within that peaceful bow'r
Eternal fragrance for thy beauty rare.

GABRIELE FIAMMA.
Non è sì vaga alla stagion novella
L'ape di puri ed odorati fiori,
Allor che i novi preziosi umori
Industre porta ad arricchir la cella ;

Nè cervetta giammai leggiadra e snella,
Dianzi seguita ne' riposti orrori
Di fieri veltri, da sospetto fuori
Si ratta corse all' acqua chiara e bella ;

Com' io son vago d'un ardente umore
Che versan gli occhi, allor che tema, o zelo,
Od altro affetto più m'accende in Dio :

Dice allor ebbro di dolcezza il core ;
Quanto è felice quei ch' alberga in cielo,

S'egli ha gioja maggior del pianto mio!
The bee when spring first yields the honied meat,
Loves not so well the pure and od'rous flow'r,
When with such glee it plies its little pow'r
T'enrich with juices new the storehouse sweet;

Nor hind with graceful form and nimble feet,
When hounds have ceas'd the woody haunts to scour,
E'er glancing, safely now, from secret bow'r,
So swiftly sought the water's cool retreat ;

As I in those warm burning tears rejoice
That bathe my cheeks, when holy fear, or love,
Or ravish'd sense, joins me to God in bliss:

My heart then lifts in ecstasy her voice
How happy must he be who dwells above,
If he possess a joy more true than this!

S.
Dec. 1823.

9 U

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