Imágenes de página

aggrandizement of the Coburgs; for the Whigs, as well he knew, were the most pliant of tools and the most prodigal of paymasters. But that this mighty realm should come to be sacrificed, or made to pander to the pounds shillings and pence calculations of a huckstering sovereign of its own elevation that its power, wealth, and resources, should be made subservient only to the profit of a cabbage-garden like Coburg-monstrous the conviction, more monstrous still the reality; yet so is the fact!

We dwell not-we loathe to dwell -on the deadly perils, the baleful intrigues, the officials corrupt and depraved, which environ and pervade the Court of a youthful Queen, unsuspicious because guileless, confiding because inexperienced, pure and spotless herself as the freshness of opening spring. Nor will we enter on the history of the wrongs, and of the untimely fate of that lady of high descent, of royal blood, and of fame

spotless as the unsullied nobility of her lineage, who fell the melancholy victim of Court calumny and courtly malignity-of the noble Lady Flora Hastings, and that dreadful business, we would only say, requiescat in pace; she sleeps in that peace which has fled for ever from the pillows of her per


But what confusion-what dissensions-what, disorganization every where, and in all departments, from the Court to the Cabinet, and from both to the Country! Well might that enlightened statesman and that eloquent orator, the ornament of his own, and the admiration of other countries-Daniel Webster-say to the assembled élite of the Whigs at Holland House.*"There never was but one England-there never will be but one England-there never can be but one England! Ye, oh Whigs, have done your best to spoil and ruin this grandest of all the creations of the Almighty!"

*At a great dinner there given him, when all the Ministers were present.

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.






It is the custom for many of the liberal writers, both of Germany and of our own country, to depreciate the literary character of Austria. It is spoken of as a German Boeotia—a soil wherein the fine arts, with the exception of music, can take no root; and where poetry, in particular, has never displayed any vigour or originality of character. In all this there is, with some truth, also much exaggeration. It is true that Austria has produced no Goëthe or Schiller; but, when we descend to writers of a respectable though lower order of genius, we can perceive, at the present moment, but little difference between her position and that of the other states of Germany. In none can any writer of commanding ability in poetry be pointed out; while in all there are many who respectably support its pretensions, both in the lyrical and dramatic departments: the epic being left very much in the same state of abeyance in Germany as it is among ourselves. In the drama in particular, Austria will not suffer by a comparison with any or all of its German rivals; and the names of Grillparzer and the Baron von Zedlitz may safely be opposed to those of Immermann and Raupach, who, though not an Austrian, has composed all his best dramas for the Vienna theatre. Grillparzer was at first


led into a wrong direction by his imitation of the vulgar fate school of Mullner, who seems himself to have been led astray by a misconception of the principle on which Schiller had composed his Bride of Messina. But of the tragedies constructed on that unhappy model, the Ancestress of Grillparzer was certainly the best. He effected all that could be done for such a subject; for he contrived to infuse a true supernatural grandeur into a legend which in ordinary hands would have been simply ludicrous. This CastleSpectre style, however, he soon exchanged for one of a higher and purer character. His Sappho and his Golden Fleece + are classical plays in the best sense of the word; and his King Ottocar's Prosperity and Death,§ (Konig Ottocar's Gluck und Ende,) and his True Servant of his Master, (Treuer Diener Seines Herrn), are historical plays of great dramatic beauty and interest.

None of the plays of the Baron von Zedlitz have as yet been translated into English, though many of them have been successful on the German stage. The author has distinguished himself in more than one capacity. He was originally in the army, and served in the war of 1809 under the Prince of Hohenzollern; was present at the battles of Ratisbon, Aspern, and

* Blackwood's Magazine, Vol. vi, p. 247. Id. Vol. xxiv. p. 155. NO. CCLXXXVIII, VOL. XLVI.

† Id. Vol. xix. p. 404. § Id. Vol. xxii. p. 300. 2 E

Wagram; was afterwards appointed Imperial chamberlain, and, marrying in 1810, withdrew from the army, and devoted himself to literature. His lyrical poems soon attracted attention, although the best of these, entitled Todten Kränze, (Garlands for the Dead,) did not appear till 1831, and after his reputation as a dramatist had been established. One little ballad of his, written with much force and originality, entitled Napoleon's Midnight Review, has been translated into several languages, and has appeared, we believe, more than once in English. The first of his plays, Turturell, ap. peared in 1825. It was followed by Two Nights in Valladolid, (1825;) Master and Slave, a tragedy; and Love will find a Way, a comedy, (1827 ;) The Star of Seville, (1830 ;) The Prison and the Crown, and The Queen's Honour, (1834.) Of these, we should say, The Star of Seville, the Two Nights in Valladolid, and the Prison and the Crown, are the best. In the first of these, which is an adaptation from a play of Lope de Vega, he has caught with much success the spirit of the Spanish romantic theatre, as in his comedy of Love will find a Way, he has very gracefully imitated the manner of Calderon's pieces of intrigue. The Star of Seville had the strange fortune to be attacked equally by Liberals and Absolutists. While the maxims of devoted loyalty which the dramatist had put into the mouth of Don Sancho Ortis, drew down on the head of the Baron the charge of advocating a servile submission to authority, the tone of the play, in other respects, appeared to some of the critical authorities of Vienna far too liberal to be safe; and it is even said that its representation was prohibited.

While it may be said of all the plays of Zedlitz, that in knowledge of dramatic effect, and probably also in the delineation of character, he is inferior to Raupách; yet in-fertility of imagery, beauty of reflection, and harmony of versification, he is fully his equal. His diction has indeed been generally and justly admired throughout Germany. How far we may succeed in conveying any idea of these merits by our translation, we know not. But, at least, the translation is executed line for line, and as nearly as possible word for wordeven the disposition of the pauses in the original being generally copied.

The subject of Tasso has been rendered popular in Germany, by the play of Goëthe on the subject. Raupach, in The Death of Tasso, has furnished as it were a second part to Goëthe's, to which he has endeavoured, in all respects, to conform the tone of his own play. That of the Baron Von Zedlitz is a more independent creation, though, as usual, Raupach's knowledge of stage effect renders his play more effective in representation. It must be admitted, however, that all these plays labour under one defect— that the subject is not dramatic. Deeply interesting as is the character of Tasso, that interest is not of a tragic nature. The picture of a poetical temperament at war with the conventional restraints of its position, at first indulging in the dream that the nobi lity of genius must counterbalance rank, and then taught by a cruel and unexpected reverse the folly of such expectations, though an affecting picture in itself, affords but little room for development either in sentiment or action. Still less does the closing portion of Tasso's career-his imprisonment in St Anne's, or his restless wanderings from one Italian court to another, after his liberation—afford the materials of strong dramatic interest. The uniformity of melancholy becomes monotonous. Any play which deals with this period of fretfulness, and complaint, and despondency, assumes almost unavoidably a lyrical rather than a tragic tone. Tasso himself, in a beautiful chorus in his (almost unknown) tragedy of Torrismond, has concentrated the whole spirit of his own feelings and situation as he approached the close of his course, more effectually than could be done by any attempt to develop them in dramatic action.

Come alpestre rapido torrente,
Come acceso baleno,

In notturno sereno,
Come aura o fumo, o come stral repente,
Volan e nostre fame, ed ogni onore

Sembra languido fiore.

Che piu si spera, ò che s'attende omai?
Dopo trionfo e palma,
Sol qui restano all' alma,
Lutte e lamenti e lagrimosi lai;
Che piu giova amicizia o giova amore?
Ahi lagrime! ahi dolore!

Zedlitz has done as much, we think, o impart interest and variety to the

Duke's sister, Lucretia, the Duchess of Urbino, determines Leonora to make another and a last appeal to the compassion of her brother, through the Duke of Urbino, the Duke of Mantua, and the Countess Sanvitale Scandiano, who are expected at the court of Ferrara. Meantime she announces her resolution of seeing Tasso once more-though without speaking to him-in his cell; which she is informed by the keeper is possible, by placing herself in an upper gallery surrounding the cells, whence she could see without being scen by the object of her interest and pity. The fourth scene introduces us to the Hospital of St Anne's and Tasso's cell.

subject as its essential uniformity would admit of, by placing beside the poet, as the companion of his wanderings, a young and innocent being, Angioletta, the niece of the keeper of the Hospital, whose heart has unconsciously become devoted to him in his cell at St Anne's; and by throwing around the last scene of his life the consoling impression derived from the general acknowledgment of his greatness, and the preparations for his coronation in the Capitol. His play opens with the seventh year of Tasso's imprisonment in the Hospital of St Anne's, after many attempts had been made in vain to induce Alfonso to relax the rigour of his confinement. The arrival of the A high vaulted room with two side-doors. Above, in the background, a large Gothic glass door, leading out upon the gallery that surrounds the cells. TASSO and ANGIOLETTA, (the keeper's niece,) who sits at one side occupied with some female work, which she from time to time lays down and looks at Tasso. Angioletta. It is a mild and lovely day of spring,

The birds are twittering, and the flowers exhale

Sweet scents: soft airs come breathing through the window.
Tasso. Why speak to me of spring-of flowers-perfumes
For me there comes no spring--there comes no autumn;

The wheels of time stand still above my head,

Year follows year, and still immovable

Upon the brazen dial of my sorrows

The index seems to stand!

I have forgotten the sweet scents of spring,

The tints which deck the swelling breast of autumn,

While stretch'd upon my torturing rack I lie,

A Titan fetter'd to the ground, and feel

A universe of suffering lies above me.

Ang. O sir, be patient, be composed: you know

How much this agitation injures you.

Tas. O would it did! O would it could destroy me

But 'tis not so: Alas! of sevenfold steel

This frame is fashion'd, sickly as it seems:

Blows fall with giant force upon my head,
But cannot shatter it. O! 'tis pitiful!

Ang. Here comes my uncle.

He comes to announce that the Signor Montecatino, the bearer of a message from the Duke, is without, and demands admittance to the poet. Tasso refuses to see him, and bursts out into a strain of invective against his mingled pride and baseness, as a being who crawls in the dust before his superiors, and looks as if he disdained to breathe the same air with those beneath him. The Keeper replies

This touches you not. For you are his equal-
A noble like himself.

[blocks in formation]

These veins I would lay open on the spot
Were there one drop of blood within them which
Resembled him! What? I like him-no-never!
Thanks be to Heaven, that I am not his like!

Keep. I meant not that; I only meant that you,
Like him, were noble.

Understand me rightly.
In sooth I am not proud. How should I be?
I have indeed but little cause to be so.

I know myself, and to my God 'tis known

I look not with indulgence on my failings.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The whisperer, the calumniator-him
Who still has been my bitterest enemy !—
Oh! had he been an open foe, who face
To face, and sword to sword confronted me,
Though I had felt his steel within my breast,
I could have press'd his hand and pardon'd him :
But when I think how he has ever labour'd
To steal from me my honourable name,
By poison'd sneer, by malice, and by cunning-
No! by the devil! No!-I will not see him-
I will not, though ten Dukes had sent him thither.
Ang. Torquato!



But be not angry

Be calm, I pray. Is this
The promise that you made me yesterday?
Tas. Sweet creature! I am wrong.
It was my ancient waywardness o'ertook me.
Angioletta, you are right: I will be calm,
Were it for nothing but my promise to thee.
Now go-and let the-scoundrel come.

[The Keeper retires.

Ang. (rising and approaching Tasso.) Tasso! with patience bear

this stranger's visit:

Remember, hate you as he may-he bears

His master's message. Then receive him well.

Tas. Thou gentle flower! sure some propitious being

Sent thee to be my prison's comforter;

Looking on thee, I seem to breathe again

The mountain air fresh blowing-see once more

The wood, the fount, the field, the flower, the sunshine;

While the soft echo of thy gentle voice

Sounds to me like the wood-note of a bird,

That through the forest's verdant covering rings,

And "Freedom! Freedom!" is the song it sings.

[blocks in formation]

Mont. So, Tasso !-in God's name, how goes it with you?

You made me wait a little, worthy sir

A friend like me might enter unannounced.

Tas. Your pardon: I am sickly, as you know

So it is said at least-and it is possible

A visit may be unexpected-even

From friends like you. But to the point, so please you :

What happy chance confers on me the honour

Of seeing you within my prison walls?

Mont. Your prison walls!-there now is another

Of your diseased imaginations. Prison !

The Duke, believe me, is your well wisher;
And seeing that your present sickly state
Strict survey needs, and even present aid,
Has sent you hither to promote your cure,
Moved by the best advice of all your friends,
And wishing but your good,

« AnteriorContinuar »