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theatre. From political causes this ranks of society--the rudeness of vulis not likely, but there are hopes the gar life was to be found in the habits
French have none. In England, the of knights and dames, while the chiși spirit of independence has overcome in valrous feelings of high birth were
every point,-religion, politics, litera- communicated to the followers and ture: the latter is completely founded vassals. When manuscripts became on a modern at least, if not altogether numerous, the learned began to sepaon a national basis, and the little of an- rate themselves from the nation, and
cient sentiment that exists 'compound- even poets, affecting to avoid vulgar: ed with it, is not more than what has ity, began" to powder their talk i naturally become current throughout with over-sea language." But when
all ranks of society. Hence, to enter the art of printing came into use, liinto the penetralia of our poetry, to terature completely separated itself
render the taste for it exquisite, it is from vulgar feeling-which, after all, E' necessary to read but itself-it is not is the only national one ; and thenceu over Pantheons or classical dictionaries forward, tales and epics struggled to is that we must prepare ourselves to en- erect themselves on a fantastic basis
joy it—but in cultivating our own neither foreign nor domestic. The
English mind, simply English in this, scenes were laid in a fancied region, * that to a superior degree it is reflec- of which the customs, the terms, the
tive, deep-thoughted, and moral. To atmosphere, suited the preconceived i recapitulate our system, taste, or the ideas of no living person. The poet op passive faculty of the mind, has been reckoned on a limited class of polite o in France always predominant over and idle readers, who were willing to
genius or the active faculty. The lat- step beyond their natural and habitual
ter has been but a consequence of the feelings for the sake of enjoying novel 1. former, and has been dragged after it, imaginations. The mass of a nation
like a cock-boat in the wake of a vese will not take this trouble, even if they usel of war. In Italy, they have been be called upon to do so; they cannot
balanced pretty nearly. But, in Eng- dispense with the atmosphere of naland, genius has always led the way; tionality that involves their tasteand taste, confined to its proper limits, and 'tis well that they cannot; if they is but an adjunct of it—a polypus ad- could, then would be an end of naa
hering to its mass, and assimilating it- tions. Thus the produce of imagina* self to the varying colour of that on tion, as soon as it comes to exist otheren which and by which it exists. wise than orally, contracts itself from
The discovery of the art of print- its former expansion over the whole ing, which is considered to have ex- people, and tends to centralize itself tended the sphere of literature, has in a kind of literary aristocracy. To had really the opposite effect, at least this thereis one greatcheck -one grand with respect to works of imagination, and noble link, to unite and reclaim
These, as long as they were oral, were literature to its original sense of nai necessarily national; the jongleurs and tional feeling this link is the Drama. i menestrels, although they might reckon The Drama is a poetry which, in its
a few lords and princes among their legitimate scope, must be addressed to 3 ranks, were in general from the lowest all ranks of society-must wear the
order of the people; their chant was common garb, and speak the common addressed not to the nobles alone, but language of all. It is the forum, to chiefs and vassals united, to the where all ranks meet, and are but mingled assemblage of the feudal hall. equals ; where the base of mankind “There could be nothing exclusive in unlearn their ferocity, and divest them
taste-one single feeling animated all selves of their callousness; and where,
* This sweeping clause is perhaps unjust. The Filippo and the Conspiracy of the Pozzi, by Alfieri, are exceptions to his rigid reverence for the antique ; in the former, which was his first, there is a tenderness and passion in the loves of Carlo and Isabella, which the poet never condescended to in his subsequent pieces. His other tragedies on modern subjects, Don Garzia, and Maria Stuarda, are among the worst of his produce tions. We shall change a word one day or another with Mr Cam, respecting his contempt for Alfieri's most original and Aristophanic comedies. Vol. XI.
likewise, the noble and gentle must A dramatic genius, take our word dispense with artificial feelings, and for it, must be a dramatic genius, and know, that whatever be the shell, the nothing else. Melpomene is enough kernel is at best but a man.
for any one gentleman, and he who A literature, in order to be any will coquet with half-a-dozen muses, thing—at least any thing more than a may make up his account to be jilted. shadow or an imitation-must be na- by all. Byron will never write a trational: and to be national, it must gedy, though he sent ten dialogisms to establish as its basis, that part of it- the Albemarle-street Press in a twelveself which embraces and spreads its month---" hot and hot,” as he said roots amongst the entire mass of the himself on a memorable occasion. hy heribe people. Of old, this part was its oral Scott will never write a tragedy, for verse, and at present, we may repeat, all Mr Jeffrey's exhortations, the this part is still its oral verseits dra- worthy poet has been for these many ma." It would be superfluous here to year, fairly up to his neck in prose, inquire, whether the poets of the pre- and Heaven keep him there. Besides
, sent day are proceeding right or wrong, we know what abortions are produced or to censure them for building a su- by these god-fathering sort of comperstructure, while they neglect the mendations. Sheridan told Miss Edgefoundation. Let them proceed, each worth to write comedies that it was to fulfil that to which he was called ; just the path that would suit herit is a fruitless endeavour to turn the and she produced, wonderful to relate, stream of Helicon, nor would it be to as stupid a volume as ever issued from much advantage to divert from their the back settlements of Paternosteremployment the adorners of an edi. Row. There is but one literary counfice, or the workers in stucco, and sellor in the world worth attending to, compel them to apply their finican superior to all the Reviewers and Mahands and utensils to the laborious gazinists, from John o’ Groat's to the task of rearing a foundation. All we Land's End-id est, in vulgar phrawould hint to those worthy bards, who seology, the Maggot. When he bites, have been so successful in the walks obey him, and when he does not, of narrative and monologue, is to be- why, e'en let the world go its own ware entering upon the Drama with way, in God's name. the confined and individual character We have defined the Drama, in its which they have developed, and cer- original scope, as oral verse. The tainly perfected in their other under more it retires from answering this takings. The Drama does not deserve definition, the more does it cease to to be put off with a jaded muse, or a be dramatic; and what is a drama second-hand style, worn out in the that is not dramatic? Ask Lord Byservice of tale and song. One of ye, ron and his non-descript talks. A my worthies, has tried and failed — poet that writes to be read may become he is as talented almost as any among unmindful of his readers--hé is indeye; 'twere well not to imitate his pendent of them in a manner--he disfall-a dramatist may rise when ye unites them both in time and place as are no more; and 'tis far more ho- to the act of passing judgment upon nourable to be reproached with ne- him. Even of the few that read, there glect as to the stage, than to be con are but fewer still whose taste and previcted of a failure. Besides, success judices he is bound to consult. Since even is a dishonour in the present state he addresses himself to individuals, som of our theatres :-dd not the plays fa- litary individuals, it is but individual bricated in Cockaigne live--ay, live originality he need aim at; originality three whole nights ere they expire ? on the broad basis of general or naand shall you, ye heroes of the Muse, tional feeling would be too weighty but walk by their sides, and live and a task. To write for the stage, if that die the ephemeral space allotted to stage be what it should be, free and such caterpillars?
popular, is a more serious underta“ What ! dic !
king; it will not be sufficient in this Be decently interred in a churchyard case to deal out an affected vocabulary With stinking rogues, that rot in winding to a narrow class, or to cater to the sheets,
prepared appetites of a few delicate Surfeit-slain fools, the common dung o nerved gentlemen. The production the soil."
will be represented before a section of
- original will he be:-there never has
the country, before the vulgar as well as and feelings, all packed upon their hic Lab the refined, neither of which classes will proper shoulders. 'We hate all this
sanction what is out of the line of their we abhor selfishness-we lament to comprehensions, whether it be above see men for ever fishing in their own
or below them. The poet cannot plead little selves, and angling, as it were, DE 9 be 3 that he is of this school or of that for gudgeons in a pool. We had raFTRID school; his Lakeism or his Satanism ther see the line flung abroad into the
will not save the piece from being ocean, and hawling up the monsters damned, if it be stupid ; and all those of the deep. We like a bold, open pretty affectations that mark the petite game, such as a whole nation can maître versification of the day, and play at, but anatomy or dissecting that go off very well over a tea-table, rooms give us qualms--we are tenderpass for nothing in the huge ear of a hearted, so is John Bull, and we ear
theatrical assemblage. It is nonsense nestly entreat the poets of the day to niech
that a writer should consult keep their stomachs to themselves for but his own taste; it must be influ- the future, and not to be so confoundse provenced, be it ever so unconsciously, by edly kind and communicative, as to
floating opinion, and the more seclu- disgust us every now and then with a bid ja eded he lives, the more will he be influ- view of their very entrails. It is
enced by the little he does hear. The butchery, not poetry.
more general the opinion that modi You perceive, my public, the difbrielas fies and directs a poet's taste, the more ference between sense and nonsense.
As long as we utter our own sublime i Pering been tale or epic since the world be- philosophy and abstract criticism, and
gan, so original as our early dramas, as long as we speak of the worthy elwhich
were composed imperatively for ders of literature, the purest stream of success and bread, and, consequently, prose flows from our pen. But the
kept ever in view the taste of the au moment, the cursed moment, in which 4 ditory: But people at present fancy we first make mention of Cockaigne or beint that the only entrance to originality eotemporaries, we lose all command of is de is through the narrow duct of their ourselves, we wax angry, foam at the 1211w egotistical spirit, and that to wing mouth, grow hysterical—in short, pour
way through the free and open forth a deal of nonsense, at times, inspace of general sentiment, would be deed, almost as disjointed as tablebut to follow a beaten path. It is talk. But where were we? just as if a carpenter or a blacksmith Dramatic authors are, as we have were to attempt perfecting himself in observed, necessarily subservient to gehis trade by chiselling or hammering neral feeling; they may change or inhis own nose instead of the wood or fluence it, but this must be by deiron, which are his natural materials. grees. A series of dramatic writers,
The human mind certainly contains a were they kept up, would be the lic 4 World of poesy ; but it is not any in- terary history of a country—" they
dividual mind, far less a Cockney, or shew the body of the time its form even a Byronic one, that can be said and pressure” -and an age that is to contain this. It is an arrogant trick without them has in reality no literaof both these last-mentioned schools ture properly its own. It is by this and their scholars, for each to set dependence on popular taste that the himself up as a type, as a representa- Drama has existed and flourished, tion of the human racea poetical and if at present we have no Drama, Anacharsis Clootz.
Those fellows the reason is simply, that we endeavour have their eyes for ever turned in to elevate it on exclusive taste-on wards upon themselves with an ego- that of our numerous schools. We tistical squint-they assume
their do not mention the pieces that strive own pineal gland to be the world, and to live by scenic effect, clap-traps and the two-legged images that float there- appeals to the galleries alone-they in to be mankind.
are too wretched ; but they deserve to There can be no stronger sign of be as successful as those which are the decay of literature, than to see its addressed to the three front rows of spirit thus ensconced within itself, the pit, such as Mirandola, &c.; these and our poets creeping about, lonely we might call pit-plays. A man may and separate, like so many snails, write a poem to please three hundred with their habitations, food, family, friends, but a tragedy cannot be
À y could out of st
created for so limited an end ; and if may be sure, the blunt English yeomans rie in his tragedy an author wishes to exercised his full share of influence weled cater to the delicate palates of his re- We see the consequence; the world has fined friends, those touches should never had, and never will have, such a be, as in Shakspeare, altogether sub- theatre. The puritans overturned the al way on ordinate ; they should keep up with stage ; and when it was revived, the beautiful insignificance merely, like court and cavaliers sought to take posviolets among the loftier and more ro- session of it, in imitation of the French. bust flowers that
characterize the work. Then commenced the reign of the pit pour le from Ex pede Herculem, is fair reasoning and the beaux-esprits ; and, from that for a critic, but to carve a foot and call day, the drama fell. it Hercules-to write a prettiness, and We are, like Lord Byron,* aristo be he call it tragedy, is but an indefinite crats by birth and feeling, but we mixture of blunder and impudence. have a drop of the tiers etat in us, and there will
In the annals of stage history, we grow republican at times ; nowhere pad his th always find the drama dependent on more so than in a theatre. We forget the audience before whom it was to be the garter beneath our knee, and the pat dra represented; and proportionably as ribbon in our button-hole--the Gold-ekwe that audience was free, mixed, and po- en Fleece and the Grand Cross of the 'Where are pular, we find the drama to bave been Legion of Honour become invisible on grand, sublime, and original. Every our generous swelling breast--we look izture
, one's knowledge will here fill up a pa- up and around with a sentiment of fra- atte ragraph for itself concerning the Gre- ternity, and with proud humiliation cian and Roman stage. In Italy, the rejoice that so many are in one reaudience of tragedy became soon con- spect almost as great as ourselves. fined to the learned, owing to the mu
“ One touch of nature maketh the whole sical and operative propensities of the
world kin." people, as well as to the mental thraldom imposed by religion. The tragic How beautiful the line! How trebly pieces from Trissino to Maffei are no- beautiful, had not the Cockneys bequo. la poe things--absolute nothings; they ad- ted it! Who can doubt that it was not dressed an assembly of learned and in his theatre Shakespeare conceived tasteful churchmen, whose vein was ri- the thought and moulded the verse ? dicule and raillery; and who could to- It must have been so—we have felt na tede lerate serious feeling, only when it was the sentiment there a thousand times
, cold; and even then, but for form- and should have built the very line sake. Alfieri arose late, and having no ourselves, in this very article
, had not audience but an imaginary one to look the poet had the impudence to write to, he wrote a second edition of the it before us. Grecian Drama, to which he hoped the Vulgarity is the essence of the dra. de les de Italians would suit themselves-till matic genius,not conventional vul dan that distant day, his works may re- garity or cant, but vulgarity, properly dete main in the closet. In France, the ru- so called the current sentiments-the ling audience of tragedy was the Court. unsophisticated passions- the simple
, A new piece was first brought forward straight-forward" language of vulgar there, and the smile or frown of the life. To write an epic, or to found a monarch passed a judgment without school, we may refine upon refinement appeal. To this smile the drama
-we may create supererogation of genadapted itself, and became what it is tility and heroism-and idle folk may -utterly contemptible for any one be found who will educate their hotthat has a thought beyond his ears. In bed sympathies for the prepense enEngland, thanks to the Reformation, joyment of such imaginations ; but let the theatre became free, and obedient these never be embodied in a tragedy. solely to a public audience; where, we Antithetic characters, unintelligible
Query. Was Lord Byron born an aristocrat ?-If we mistake not, neither he himself, nor his friends, could have had expectations at the hour of his birth, that he would ever enjoy a title. And had the aristocratic baby of an hour old—had the little gentleman titled hopes, how does that make him an aristocrat ? « Un lord disoit spirituellement:" zelates Madame de Stael, “ Je ne puis pas devenir aristocrate, car j'ai chez moi constamment des representans du parti populaire ; ce sont mes fils cadets."
passions, wire-drawn sentiments, may tated. Their noble and distinguishing be unravelled in the closet; and the qualities are to be adopted, b'it not nonsense of these too may be exquisite, transplanted, thought, language, and like Coleridge's ignorance, and may all, into a modern soil. Third-rate well repay our trouble ; but, on the borrowers commit desperate blunders ; stage, this is misplaced-it is all High they are never satisfied, and are so Dutch to John Bull. The passions eager to grasp, that they steal the first and characters of the acting drama thing that comes in their way, and, if
must be from the staple ones of hu- it be a mill-stone, endeavour to carry it and , in manity-they must be drawn from ob- off;-this has been the case with some
servation as well as from egotism; and of the Cocknies. The rising race of dra.
no one, be he ever so talented, ever so matists, have, in my humble opinion, eeling finely organized, can expect that an been led astray, when they were ingeted an audience will listen to a five act pano- duced to steep their souls, pens, and
rama of his thoughts, hopes, and opi- tongues, in these ancient worthies. tre. Tinions. Indeed we prophesy that our They have been put on the wrong
next great dramatic genius must spring scent, and look, at this present mofrom the lower ranks of the people. ment, extremely like a baffled pack of
And here we approach the very core beagles, howling here and there, and of the subject. The sign of decay, in running after their tails for lack of leall literature, has been peculiar and gitimate game. How much Christo
exclusive attention bestowed on lan- phorus Northus has been to blame in ad hotel guage. A more advantageous effect this case, we won't determine-forbid,
certainly could not be brought about, all powers propitious! that we should than that of stablishing language, and trouble the conscience of a gouty Sexarendering it pure and permanent. But genarian. As to Mr Lambe, he dem however noble and praise-worthy the serves to be hanged for wasting talent, endeavour be in itself, it is by no like the Schlegels, in making silkmeans the way to elevate a dormant purses out of sows' ears. And as for or a fallen poetry. What is chiefly ad- the Edinburgh Review, who moped mired in our ancient dramatists, is the after those dashing sons of genius, and simple
, strenuous, natural style ; it is took up the theme at second-hand, thence concluded that we should take like a cur hastening to mumble the them as models, and adopt their man- bone just dropt by the mastiff, we leave ner and phraseology. This would be the old woman to her quarterly task well, if the nineteenth century were of gleaning. the same as the sixteenth. But as (Impudence will have a fall, and there exists a material difference be- mine has already dissolved my pretween them, the language that appear. rogative of plurality.) I have a great ed simple, natural, and strong to the mind to belabour some of the old Engpeople of that day; and which appears lish dramatists. It would, indeed, be possessed still of the same qualities to
a charity to abuse them, for since every the critics of the present, who have no museling has taken to imitate them, objection to transport themselves a we shall soon think their free verse as couple of centuries back ;--this same backneyed as Pope's couplet. I love language is to the common audience of them all dearly, therefore will run a the year eighteen hundred and twenty- tilt at them some of these days ;-look two, neither simple nor natural, but, to your new editions, Mr Gifford, at on the contrary, pedantic, extravagant, which I intend to fly, not, however, and, for the most part, nonsense. The I trust, to break my shins over them, metaphors, the phrases, the turns of as did Mr Jeffrey.
It is time for the expression then used, founded, as they world to hear the other side of the were, on the current conversation of question. Every one has been heard the day, struck, with full force, on in their favour; Maga, the Quarterly, prepared and familiar ears; but to us “the Monthlies, the New and the it is a foreign tongue, and, with all its Old,” the Edinburgh Review, and the boasted simplicity and nature, I defy Cocknies, have all bellowed forth their & country gentleman, or a city one pleadings, and not a tongue has wageither, to understand one continued ged in contravention. And even should speech couched in its language. These my apostrophes fall foul of Mr North's ancient masters are worthy of being great toe, what care I? Doth not the initated, true, but not servilely
imia ocean roll between me and his crutch?