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should have made no acknowledgment of his imitation either in his dedication or prologue, or any where else that I am apprised of.
This tragedy of The Fatal Dowry was the joint production of Maslinger and Nathaniel Field; it takes a wider compass of fable than The Fair Penitent, by which means it presents a very af, fecting scene at the opening, which discovers young Charalois attended by his friend Romont, waiting with a petition in his hand to be presented to the judges, when they shall meet, praying the release of his dead father's body, which had been seized by his creditors, and detained in their hands for debts he had incurred in the public service, as Field Marshal of the armies of Burgundy. Maflinger, to whose share this part of the tragedy devolved, has managed this pathetic introduction with consummate skill and great expression of nature ; a noble youth in the last state of worldly distress, reduced to the humiliating yet pious office of soliciting an ụnfeeling and unfriendly judge to allow him to pay the folemn rites of burial to the remains of an illurtrious father, who had fought his country's battles with glory, and had facrificed life and fortune, in defence of an ingrateful state, impresses the spectators mind with pity and respect, which are felt through every passage of the play: One thing
in particular strikes me at the opening of the scene, which is the long filence that the poet has artfully imposed upon his principal character (Charalois) who stands in muțe forrow with his petition in his hand, whilst his friend Romont and his advocate Charmi, urge him to present himself to the judges and solicit them in person : The judges now make their entrance, they stop upon the stage; they offer him the faireft opportunity for tendering his petition and foliciting his suit : Charalois remains fixed and speechless ; Romont, who is all eagerness in his cause, presses him again and again
Now put on your spirits
The judges point him out to each other; they lament the misfortunes of his noble house; they observe,
It is young Charalois
Romont. Hab! they name you.
Rochfort. Yes, to the same of this ingrateful fate,
So noble and fo highly meriting
Romont. Dare you ever hope for like opportunity ?
It is in vain; the opportunity passes off, and Charalois opens not his mouth, nor even filently tenders his petition.
I have, upon a former occasion, both generally and particularly observed upon the effects of dramatic filence; the stage cannot afford a more beautiful and touching instance than this before us : To say it is not inferior to the silence of Hamlet upon his firft appearance, would be saying too little in its favour. I have no doubt but Maffinger had this very case in his thoughts, and I honour him no less for the imitating, than I should have done for striking out a silence so naturally and so delicately preserved. What could Charalois have uttered to give him that interest in the hearts of his spectators, which their own conclufions during his affecting filence have already iinprered? No sooner are the judges gone, than thre ardent Romont again breaks forth
This obftinate fpleen
BSERVER N° 88. THE OBSERVER. 267 This is Hamlet himself, his inky cloak, and customary fuits of folemn black.
The character of Charalois is thus fixed before he speaks; the poet's art has given the prejudice that is to bear him in our affections through all the succeeding events of the fable; and a striking contrast is eftablished between the undiscerning fiery zeal of Romont, and Charalois' fine fenfibility and highborn dignity of foul.
A more methodical and regular dramatist would have stopped here, fatisfied that the impression already made was fully fufficient for all the purposes of his plot; but Masfinger, according to the busy spirit of the stage for which he wrote, is not alarmed by a throng of incidents, and proceeds to open the court and discuss the pleadings on the stage: The advocate Charmi in a set harangue moves the judges for dispensing with the rigour of the law in favour of creditors, and for rescuing the Marshal's corpse out of their clutches; he is brow-beaten and filenced by the presiding judge old Novall: The plea is then taken up by the impetuous Romont, and urged with so much personal infolence, that he is arrested on the spot, put in charge of the officers of the court, and taken to prison. This is a very striking mode of introducing the set oration of Charalois; a son recounting the military atchievments of a newly deceafed father, and imploring mercy from his creditors and the law towards his unburied remains, now claims the attention of the court, who had been hitherto unmoved by the feeble formality of a hired pleader, and the turbulent passion of an enraged soldier. Charalois' argument takes a middle courfe between both; the pious feelings of a fon, tempered by the modest manners of a gentleman: The creditors however are implacable, the judge is hoftile, and the law must take its course.
Creditor. 'Tis the city's do&rine :
Charalois. Be conftant in it;