Imágenes de página

the posthumous reputation of a merry wake and well-attended burial. The opinion of the North American Indians upon this subject is strikingly exemplified by the following oration, delivered by a chief of the Teton tribe, over the body of “ Black Buffaloe,” the flower of the warriors, who had died, at a conference held with the Americans at Portage de Sioux. It is pathetic in the extreme, and glows with a manly though mournful energy

“Warriors, do not grieve; misfortunes will happen to the best of men. Death will come, and always comes out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey. What is past and cannot be prevented should not be grieved for. Be not discouraged then, that in visiting your father here, you have lost your chief. Misfortunes are not peculiar to our path-they grow every where, What a misfortune for me that I did not die to-day instead of him who lies before us. My trifling loss would have been doubly repaid by the glories of my burial. They would have wiped away all tears. Instead of being covered with the cloud of sorrow, my warriors would have felt the sunshine of joy in their hearts. Hereafter when I die, instead of a noble grave and a grand procession, the rolling music and the thundering cannon, with a white flag waving at my head, I shall be wrapt in a robe and hoisted on a scaffold to the whistling winds, soon to be blown to the earth-my flesh to be devoured by wolves, and my bones rattled on the plains by the wild beasts of prey ! (Addressing himself to Colonel Miller) Chief of the warriors, your fabours have not been in vain—they shall not be forgotten--my nation shall hear of your honour to the dead. When I return, I will écho the sound of your guns.”

There appears to us to be a very beautiful simplicity in the foregoing words; but by far the most pathetic of the Indian complaints are those addressed to the tribes, upon the daily encroachment of the white men on their villages. We seldom recollect reading any thing more affecting than the reproaches of Scauaudo, the old Oneida chieftain and convert, upon the discovery that their lands and improvements had been sold to the States, by the intrigue, as he imagined, of the white men. Scauaudo was then one hundred



and had been blind for a long period before. While he spoke, the tears ran copiously down his cheeks and those of all his people. Even the missionary, who had settled among the Oneidas, could not refrain from the general sympathy excited by the murmurs of the forlorn patriarch. With his words we shall close this communication.

My warriors and my children! hear! it is cruel—it is very cruel -a heavy burden lies upon my heart! This is a dark day. The clouds are black and heavy over the Oneida nation, and a strong arm is pressing on us, and our hearts are groaning under it. The graves of our fathers are destroyed, and our children are driven away. Our fires are put out, and our beds removed from under us.

The Almighty is angry with us, for we have been very wicked, and therefore it is that his arm does not keep us. Where are the chiefs of the rising-sun? White chiefs now kindle their ancient fires ! . There no Indian sleeps but those who are sleeping in their graves. My house will soon be like theirs—soon will a white chief kindle his fire upon the hearth of Oneida! Your Scauaudo will soon be no more, and his village no more a village of Indians. The news that came last night by our men from Albany made this day a sick day in Oneida. All our children's hearts are sick, and our eyes rain like the black clouds that roar on the tops of the trees in the wilderness. Long did the loud voice of Scauaudo cry—children, take care, be wise, be straight. His feet were then like the deer's, and his arm like the bear's. He can now only mourn out a few words and be silent, and his voice will soon be heard no more in Oneida. But certainly he will be long in the minds of his children. In white men's land his name has gone far, and will not die. Long has he said to his children-drink no strong waters—it makes you mice for white men, who are cats. Many a meal have they eaten of you. Their mouth is a snare, and their way like the fox. Their lips are sweet, but their heart is bitter. Yet there are good whites and good Indians. Jesus, whom I love, sees all—his great day is coming; he will make straight; he will say to cheating whites and drinking Indians, Begone ye, begone ye, go, go, go. In that day I will rejoice, but, oh, great sorrow is now in my heart that so many of my children mourn. The Great Spirit has looked on, all the while the whites were cheating us, and it will remain in his mind-he is good; my blind eyes he will open. Children, his way is a good way. Hearken, my children, when this news sounds in the council-house towards the setting-sun, and the chiefs of the six nations hearken, and they send to the council by the great lake near the setting-sun, and they cry, make bows and arrows, sharpen the tomahawk, put the chain of friendship with the whites into the ground—warriors, kill, kill. The great chief* at the setting-sun won't kill any of the six nations that go into his land, because they have a chain of friendship with the whites; and he says, the whites have made us wicked like themselves, and that we have sold them our land. We have not sold it; we have been cheated : and my messengers shall speak true words in the great council towards the setting-sun, and say,-yet, bury the tomahawk; Oneidas must be children of peace. Children, some have said that


chiefs signed papers of white men that sold our fires. Your chiefs signed no papers ; sooner would they let the tomahawk lay them low.

We know one of our men was hired by white men to tell you this, and he will now say 50. Papers are wicked things. Take care; sign none of them, but euch as our minister reads to us; he is straight. The tears are running from his eyes. Father, dry up your tears.

We know, if your arm could, it would help us. You suffer with us; bụt you are the

• The President of the United States,

servant of the Great Spirit, and he will not love you less for loving Indians. Children, our two messengers will run and carry your sorrows to the great council fires * beside the setting-sun. Run, my children, and tell our words. Give health to all the chiefs assembled round the great fire. And may the Great Spirit bring you back in safety!"

Two men immediately set off for Buffaloe; but Scauaudo was too true a prophet. In six years afterwards, the fires of his fathers ceased to burn in their village. He had removed himself three miles further into the woods, and the commissioners of the United States were busy laying out their improvements in his deserted or rather usurped inheritance. Scauaudo was blind and bed-ridden; he could not see the sorrows of his children. Alas, in a few years more perhaps this perishable record may be all that remains of the warrior of Oneida. May the arrow which ends his sorrows have its barbs smoothed by the reflection, that his name is not dead among the white men.”



The beauty of old dramatic poetry is now so deeply felt and so widely understood; so many great critics have illustrated and adorned the subject, that it is rare to find a fine play that has not been as finely praised. One writer, nearly the last, of the great dramatic age, has been singularly unfortunate-1 allude to Thomas May, the author of two charming tender comedies, “The Heir” and “ The Old Couple," whose name I do not remember to have seen mentioned in any notice of the early English drama. Perhaps the nature of his merit may account for this neglect. The remarkable equability of his style is, in this point of view, a real disadvantage. His plays are essentially unquotable; and in spite of the excellence of the plots, the felicity of the situations, the constant grace and barmony of the language, and a certain indescribable charm of tenderness and loving kindness, which breathes through the whole and penetrates like incense, it would be difficult to select any single scene that might seem to justify the impression produced by the entire work. There is high poetry, but it is the poetry of feeling rather than of words; a deep humanity; a strong faith in virtue ; an earnest repentence; a zealous atonement; every thing that is sweet, and genial, and soothing ; nothing that is striking; little that is fanciful. Thomas May's writings resemble Mr. Macready's acting, rather than Mr. Kean's. No sudden bursts! no electrical shocks ! all is graceful, flowing, and continuous. His softness is almost womanly: his female characters are as pure and delicate as the finest carving in ivory.

* The Congress.

The plot of “The Heir" still appears original and unhackneyed. Polymetes, a Sicilian nobleman, who has two children, a son abroad (Eugenio), and a beautiful daughter (Leucothoë), spreads a report that his son is dead, in order to attract suitors to the rich heiress. His plan succeeds. Count Virro, a powerful and avaricious lord, demands the hand of Leucothoë, and gains the delighted consent of Polymetes, though not of his daughter. Eugenio, astonished at the report of his own death, returns privately to Syracuse, visits his father in the disguise of a servant, and informs him that his son is alive. He afterwards conveys the same intelligence to Count Virro, who engages him to poison Eugenio—that is, himself-which he undertakes without scruple. In the mean time Philocles, the son of Euphues, her father's enemy, falls in love with Leucothoë, who confesses that she has long loved him; and they elope. They are betrayed by Psectas, her faithless confidante, and Philocles is seized and tried for stealing an heiress. A Hall of Justice-Judges-Virro, Polymetes, Euphues, Leucothoë, &c.

Enter Philocles, with a Guard.
1 Judge. Philocles, stand to the bar, and answer to such

As shall be here objected against thy life.
Read the indictment.

Spare that labour ;
I do confess the fact that I am charged with,
And speak as much as my accusers can,
As much as all the witnesses can prove ;
'Twas I that stole away the daughter and heir
Of Lord Polymetes, which, were 't to do again,
Rather than lose her, I again would venture.
This was the fact : your sentence, honoured fathers !

Cler. 'Tis brave and resolute.

1 Judge. A heavy sentence, noble Philocles,
And such a one as I'could wish myself
Off from this place some other might deliver;
You must die for it, death is your sentence.

Phil. Which I embrace with willingness. Now, my Lord,
Is your hate glutted yet, or is my life (To Polymctes.)
Too poor a sacrifice to appease the rancour
Of your inveterate malice? If it be so,
Invent some scandal, that may after blot
My reputation. Father, dry your tears,
Weep not for me, my death shall leave no stain
Upon your blood, nor blot on your fair name:
The honoured ashes of my ancestors

May still rest quiet in their tear-wet urns
For any fact of mine; I might have lived,
If Heaven had not prevented it, and found
Death for some foul, dishonourable act.
Brother, farewell; no sooner have I found
But I must leave thy wished-for company.
Farewell, my dearest love; live thou still happy;
And may some one of more desert than I
Be blest in the enjoying what I lose.
I need not wish him happiness that has thee,
For thou wilt bring it ; may he prove as good
As thou art worthy!

Dearest Philocles,
There is no room for any man but thee
Within this breast. Oh, good my lords,
Be merciful: condemn us both together ;
Our faults are both alike; why should the law
Be partial thus, and lay it all on him ?

1 Judge. Lady, I would we could as lawfully

Save him as you, he should not die for this. The reader foresees the conclusion. Eugenio first accuses Count Virro of murder, then relieves all parties by discovering himself. A reconciliation ensues of the most perfect earnestness and sincerity ; very different from the words of course spoken by two " good haters” at the end of a modern comedy. There is an underplot dovetailed in with great skill, which I have left untouched, to avoid confusion.

“The Old Couple" is a still sweeter play than “The Heir;" though the story is more intricate and the persons are more numerous. I can only quote part of the opening scene. Eugeny thinks that he has killed Scudmore in a duel, and remains concealed in the woods near the house of his mistress, who meets him in her garden.

Eugeny, solus.
Eug. This is the hour which fair Artemia
Promised to borrow from all company,
And bless me only with it; to deny
Her beauteous presence to all else, and shine
On me, poor me! Within this garden here,
This happy garden once, while I was happy,
And wanted not a free access unto it;
Before my fatal and accursed crime
Had shut these gates of paradise against me;
When I, without controul, alone might spend
With sweet Artemia in these fragrant walks
The day's short-seeming hours ; and ravished hear
Her sweet discourses of the lily's whiteness,
The blushing rose, blue-mantled violet,
Pale daffodil, and purple hyacinth ;

« AnteriorContinuar »