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fight, and the ground strewed with several wounded aud dead sol. diers, as if they had been fighting for some time. Farther off, missile weapons and showers of arrows darken the air, and the view of tlie more distant battle is concealed in thick clouds of dust.'
• A field of battle strewed with slain, and some penple seen upon the back ground searching amongst the dead bodies.' Or again, An
open space near the walls of the city, with half ruined houses on each side, and a row of arched pillars thrown across the middle of the stage, as if it were the remains of some ruined public building; through which is seen in the back ground a breach in the walls, and the confused fighting of the besieged, enveloped in clouds of smoke and dust. The noise of artillery, the battering of engines, and the cries of the combatants heard as the curtain draws up, and many people discovered on the front of the stage, running about in great hurry and confusion, and some mounted upon the roofs of the houses overlooking the battle.' Are these, we say, really meant as stage-directions? If so, Miss B. would surely require a kingdom for a stage.' But we are convinced, in truth, that the very atteinpt to represent such things would turn the tragedy into burlesque. The fact is, that Miss B. relies too much upon her marginal notices; her pages are sometimes a tissue of mingled narrative and dialogue. To say nothing of the awkwardness of this, its effect in drawing the mind from the work to the author is truly lamentable. After being thrown into a fine glow by an eloquent oration or a generous sentiment, we are all at once damped again by being advertised of the look and gesture with which it is to be accompanied. There appears to be a mysterious importance in some of her directions, as
« Enter Count Zaterloo, Rayner, Sebastian, and four others of the band, armed, and a few of them bearing in their hands dark lanthorns. It is particularly requested if this play should be ever acted, that no Jight may be permitted on the stage but that which proceeds from the lanterns only
Miss Baillie's incidents are not only few but trivial. After all that may be said of the familiarity to which tragedy may very properly descend, she is never to become childisli, and lisp and
We, therefore, object to a catastrophe's being produced by a man's dressing himself up like a spectre-knight, and frightening a poor girl into madness. This is even beneath comedy, as, we think, Miss B. has sufficiently shewn in her • second marriage. That a tragedy villain should be discovered by his underling in a fit of spite, for having been deceived by a bribe of false brilliauts, is equally reprehensible. Neither have we any praise to bestow upon the catastrophe of Rayner, where the hero is saved from the axe, by a negro slave, whose good offices he had obtained by giving him his cloak on a cold night, and who, in return, saws the main prop of the scaffold across,
• So that he headsman mounting first, the platform
Fell with a crash and Rayner is saved long enough to hear of a pardon.
We wish, therefore, that Miss Baillie would oftener take her subjects from history. She has succeeded sufficiently well in · Constantine Paleologus' to go forward vigorously in that path ;-though even here the introduction of a mock conjurer and his insignia, puts one too much in mind of Cadwallader Crabtree, and his cats.
One word more, and we have done with the fables of Miss B. We think that they are sometimes conducted too historically, She begins at the beginning and goes strait on. This may be in part owing to her plan of giving entire the rise and progress of a passion in a play; but, besides this, she has no skill
, (if we may borrow an expression from painting,) in fore-shortening, ' in so adjusting a few parts of her piece, that it may be lengthened in the reader's imagination,- that he may seem to see the whole from what she may find it expedient to lay before him.
We proceed to the characters. Here the author has great merit. It is peculiarly difficult to unfold tragic or heroic character. It is in general from very minute and even ludicrous circumstances, that the novelist and the comedian depict their personages ; and in avoiding these, as beneath the dignity of his subject, the tragedian is too apt to exceed on the other side, and give his characters no discriminating strokes at all. Miss B, has managed this with great skill. Her characters are strongly marked, and yet highly poetical, frail and infirm, and yet very interesting. De Monfort, brave and generous and manly, strug: gling with an infernal passion, bearing up and making head against it, and at length finally borne down by it, and brought to the perpetration of a deed cowardly, ungenerous, and unmanly;--- Constantine, the soft, the domestic, the effeminate, rouzed to action, to deeds of war and terror, by the best passions of the soul, love and pity for his subjects, standing out bravely with his little band of followers in the midst of a ruined and des solate city, and yet sometimes almost sinking back into luxury and love-Valeria, beautiful and tender, full of love and full of fears, yet, when collected in herself, dignified and majestic; - these are characters conceived in the true spirit of poetry, and touched and finished with the hand of a master. We might add many other of the principal personages. Among the se
condary ones, if indeed to be reckoned secondary, Rezenvelt must be mentioned. There is a carelessness in the delineation of this character, a flowing freedom in the outline, seldom to be met with in Miss Baillie, and which puts us more in mind of Shakespeare than any thing in the volumes. Of hatred, excited and kept alive, by gibing gaiety, by a carelessness that seems to mock the uneasiness it occasions, every one has seen examples ; and this Miss Baillie has seized and managed so happily, that we have no hesitation in pronouncing
De Monfort the most original tragedy of the present age, and Rezenvelt a character the most her own of any she has produced.
We have kept Miss B. so long at the door in announcing her name and dwelling upon her titles, that it becomes necessary now to bring her at once before our readers. It cannot be expected that of so large a collection we should attempt to characterize the individual plays. Indeed, considering the length of time that they have been before the public, it is needless. We shall, therefore, content ourselves with enabling our readers to form an estimate of the poetical talents of the fair author, by pretty numerous quotations. It is not in the deep pathetic that she excels; she never rends the heart, or drowns the reader in tears. One reason of this may be, that when she should be attending to the common places of grief, she is searching into the deep and hidden movements of the heart. She produces, therefore, fine and solemn poetry, and not undramatic, inasmuch as it strongly interests the feelings, but she does not melt and overwhelm. For instance; a female is carried off by a band of ruffians to a sea-surrounded rock, and there left to perish at the coming-in of the tide: What are her reflections ?
Helen (alone). It is the sound; the leaving hollow swell
* We do not conceive it necessary to apologize to our readers for leaving out as many of Miss Baillie's stage-directions as we think proper.
Or let us take the meditation of a condemned criminal, the night before his execution.
• This bell speaks with a deep and sullen voice:
It is even so.
And can bear all things.' Rayner. pp 111-113. This is solemn poetry; but does it not betray a mind at ease, a mind at leisure for thought?
The remorse and self-upbraiding and fruitless wishes of De Monfort, after having comunitted the fatal deed, are more affecting
• O that I ne'er had known the light of day! That filmy darkness on mine eyes
had hung, And clos'd me out from the fair face of nature ! O that my mind in mental darkness pent, Had no perception, no distinction known, Of fair, or foul, perfection, or defect,
Nor thought conceiv'd of proud pre-eminence!
Vol. I. De Monfort. pp. 392, 393. Every one remembers Sterne's Captive: Miss Baillie's certainly speaks more to the imagination, but, we think, less to the heart.
• Doth the bright sun from the high arch of heaven,
Which soon shall be withdrawn.' Vol. II. Ethwald. p. 286. Miss B. apparently, trusts more to her powers in the terrific than the pathetic. And here she is a master.
Our first quotation will show, collaterally, her adroitness in putting hor