Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ord.-Where was I ?
Isd.--He, of whom you tell the tale-

Ord.-Surveying all things with a quiet scorn,
Tam'd himself down to living purposes,
The occupations and the semblances

Of ordinary men-and such he seem'd. To this heartless suspicion and contempt of all men, he unites a certain degree of generosity and honour; and when he finds Isidore armed and prepared to meet him, be joyfully exclaims:

• Now this is excellent, and warms the blood !
My heart was drawing back; drawing me back
With weak and womanish scruples. Now my vengeance
Beckons me onwards with a warrior's mien,
And claims that life, my pity robb'd her of.-
Now will I kill thee, thankless slave, and count it

Among my comfortable thoughts hereafter.' He strikes us as bearing in many points a strong resemblance to the murderer of the lamented Perceval ; in his moral madness framing a new code of action, in which he is self-constituted judge and executioner, and by which the most dreadful acts of vengeance stand justified of guilt; feeling indeed at times the tortures of unperverted conscience, yet neither terrified nor subdued and angry, at the weaknesses of a nature, which he deems unworthy of him.

We have endeavoured to give our readers some idea of Ordonio; but we pass over the remainder of the charaeters, because they are either slightly drawn, or are in themselves rather interesting and amiable, than strongly marked or original. But we do not consider this as a defect in the composition of the play. No scene, to be natural, should be exclusively filled with prominent characters ; indeed these are qualities which may be said to exist only by comparison, and certainly cannot have their due effect, unless they are relieved by contrast.

To the merits of incident and character, we have to add the charm of a rich and glowing poetry. Indeed in all that Mr. Coleridge writes are to be observed a loftiness and purity of sen

a timent, a picturesque conception of imagery, and a luxuriance of fancy, which make us regret that he has so much abused his endowments. The following description is highly poetical:

The morning of the day of our departure
We were alone: the purple hue of dawn
Fell from the kindling east aslant upon us,
And blending with the blushes on her cheek,
Suffus'd the tear-drops there with rosy light;

а

There seem'd a glory round us, and Teresë

re The angel of the vision. There is something of uncommon richness and wildness of fancy in the following speech of Teresa :

6 There are woes
III barter'd for the garishness of joy.
If it be wretched with an untir'd eye,
To watch those skiey tints, and this green acean;
Or in the sultry hour, beneath some rock,
My hair dishevelled by the pleasant sea-breeze,
To shape sweet visions, and live o'er again
All past hours of delight. If it be wretched
To watch some bark, and fancy Alvar there,
To go through each minutest circumstance
Of the blest meeting, and to frame adventures
Most terrible and strange, and hear him tell them;
And if indeed it be a wretched thing
To trick out mine own death-bed, and imagine
That I had died, died just ere his return!
Then see him listening to my constancy,
Or hover round, as he at midnight oft
Sits on my grave, and gazes at the moon;
Or haply in some more fantastic mood,
To be in Paradise, and with choice flowers
Build up a bower, where he and I might dwell,
And there to wait his coming! O'my sire,
If this be wretchedness, what were it, think you,
If in a most assured reality
He should return, and see a brother's infant

Smile at him from my arms! Highly, however, as we think of the merits of the Remorse, we confess we are rather surprised that it should ever have been popular on the stage. The plot has radical errors, and is full of improbabilities. It is improbable that Teresa should not recognise Alvar; it is improbable, that neither Ordonio nor Isidore should discover him; it is improbable, that Alhadra should have been able to collect her band of Morescoes in so short a time; it is improbable, that she should have penetrated, undiscovered, with them, to the dungeon in the castle; it is still more improbable, that she should escape with them, unmolested, when Valdez and his p

peasantry must have been in the very entrance. There is also a considerable awkwardness in the conduct of the plot; between the closing of each act and the opening of the following one, more of the aetion is carried on, than it is possible by any stretch of imagination to suppose natural. We do not, however, build upon those errors, our opinion, that the play is not likely to keep possession of the stage." We know, that in the

[ocr errors]

1

illusion of splendid scenery, and the bustle of representation, greater defects than these may well be overlooked; but we think

I that the great merits of the Remorse are precisely those which in representation would be neglected, or ill understood by the majority of spectators. The character of Ordonio is the masterly conception of an original mind, but to be duly appreciated it must be not merely seen, but studied : it is strongly marked with the metaphysical habits of the author; and the parts must be compared with each other, and with the whole, before we can "enter into the poet's own ideas of Ordonio.

Again, the poetry, beautiful as it is, and strongly as it appeals in many parts to the heart, is yet too frequently of a lofty and imaginative character, far removed from the ready apprehension of common minds. We consider the invocation to be appropriate and happy: and aided by music, scenery, and the solemn feelings that naturally arise on such occasions, we can conceive that the whole effect must have been awful and imposing; but how few of the audience would comprehend at a single hearing poetry so full of mysterious and learned allusion, as the following !

With no irreverent voice, or uncouth charm
I call up the departed. Soul of Alvar,
Hear our soft suit-

Since haply thou art one
Of that innumerable company,
Who in broad circle, lovelier than the rainbow,
Girdle this round earth in a dizzy motion,
With noise too vast and constant to be heard:
Fitliest unheard! For oh ye numberless
And rapid travellers, what ear unstunn'd,
What sense unmaddened might bear up against
The rushing of your congregated wings! [Music.
Even now your living wheel turns o'er my

head.
Ye, as ye pass, toss high the desert sands
That roar, and whiten, like a burst of waters,
A sweet appearance, but a dread illusion
To the parch'd caravan, that roams by night.
And

ye

build up on the becalmed waves
That whirling pillar, which from earth to heaven

Stands vast and moves in blackness, &c. Throughout the play, the reader who is at all conversant with Shakspeare, will perceive the author's ardent admiration of the father of the English drama. Mr. Coleridge is, however, no servile copyist; in general his imitation is of that jadicious kind which is felt every where, and seen no where, a likeness of the

: whole, rather than a copy of any part; in some instances, however, by boldly venturing to try his strength with his great master, he forces us to a comparison of particular passages which is not favourable to him. The imitation, for example, of Hamlet's picture of his father and unele, though not without some beautiful lines, appears to be the effort of an injudicious and mistaken ambition. Should we even allow, that in any instance of this sort Mr. Coleridge had equalled the parallel passage in Sbakspeare; this would not in any way affect our judgment of the merits of the tvo poets. It is one thing to invent, another to imitate; it is one thing as by inspiration to throw out a bright passage, which shall become a text in the mouths of all men for ever, and anotber to study that passage, to enlarge its beauties, to supply its defects, to prune luxuriancies, and thus at length produce a faultless copy original. Mr. Coleridge is not often guilty

ass of this fault; he has in general rather given us the character, tban the features of Shakspeare. For these and many other excellences, which our limits prevent us from noticing, we will venture to recommend the Remorse to our readers. We are confident of its success in the closet, we wish we could be as sanguine of our own, when we exhort Mr. Coleridge to a better application of the talents, which Providence has imparted to bim. He has been long before the public, and has acquired a reputation for ability proportioned rather to wbat he is supposed capable of performing, than to any thing which he has accomplished. In truth, if life be dissipated in alternations of desultory application, and nervous indolence, if scherne be added to scheme, and plan to plan, all to be deserted, when the labour of execution begins, the greatest talents will soon become enervated, and unequal to tasks of comparative facility. We are no advocates for bookmaking, but where the best part of a life, and endowments, of no ordinary class have been devoted to the acquiring and digesting of information on important subjects, it is neither accordant with the duty of a citizen to his country, nor the gratitude of a creature to his maker, to suffer the fruits of his labour to perish. We remember the saying of the pious Hooker, that he did not beg a long life of God for any other reason but to live to finish his three remaining books of Polity. In this prayer we believe that sonal views of fame bad little or no concern; but it is not forbid:

perden us to indulge a reasonable desire of a glorious name in the aftertime.

a

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Art. XIII.-History of the Azores, or Western Islands ; contain

ing an Account of the Government, Laws, and Religion ; the Manners, Ceremonies, and Character of the Inhabitants, and demonstrating the Importance of these valuable Islands to the British Empire. London. 1813. HE quality possessed by the magnet of attracting iron was well

known to the ancients; but when, or where, or by whom the

[ocr errors]

remarkable property of its polarity was first discovered, is doomed, it would seem, to remain an impenetrable secret. Nor is the first application of this quality to the purposes of navigation--a circumstance which must for ever rank among the most important as well as wonderful events in the bistory of the

the progress of human knowledge-better known to us. That no record should remain, no trace be found, of the success or failure of the first experiments--of the cautious proceedings, of the hopes and fears, of him who first launched his frail bark into the wild ocean's wave' under the directing influence of this extraordinary instrument,-is difficult to be conceived, even with all the allowances for the unenlightened times in which it was made.

If, however, a hope may yet be indulged that any such records are in existence, they must unquestionably be sought in Portugal. It may be urged, indeed, that the two great historians of the nautical discoveries of that nation, Jean de Barros and Faria y Sousa, having had the full command of all the requisite documents for the compilation of their respective narratives, would not have overlooked so extraordinary a discovery, if any record of it had passed through their hands. But this by no means follows. They inquired not beyond the facts of the voyages that came before them. And even in recording these, it was too much the fashion of writers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to quote authorities for opinions but not for facts; if it was maintained that

fire would burn, or water drown, Pliny was called upon to vouch for the one, and Galen for the other; but an historical fact was to be taken on the simple authority of the author, whom indeed they rarely condescended to name. Of the lights therefore which led to these maritime discoveries--the spirit in which they were undertaken and persevered in, in spite of the numerous difficulties and dangers to be encountered, and which would do bonour to any age or nation--these historians convey but very scanty and imperfect information. The preparatory memoirs, and the original journals of the voyages, if still in existence, (of which we have little doubt,) would afford materials for one of the most curious and instructive histories of the early progress of maritime and geographical knowledge that has yet been exhibited ; and we cannot help thinking that this desideratum in literature might

to the share of some of our countrymen who have been the means of preserving the existence of that ancient kingdom, if a proper search were set about at this moment. We venture to say there would be no objection on the part of the Portugueze government. Any intelligent and respectable Englishman, well acquainted with the language of the country, would find no difficulty in getting access to the public records: the object of the research, so flattering to the nation, would of itself ensure every assistance.

the fall

« PreviousContinue »