« السابقةمتابعة »
Before the court I offer up myself
There was yet another incident, which the poet's passion for business and spectacle induced him to avail himself of, viz. the funeral of the Marshal; this he displays on the stage, with a train of captains and soldiers following the body of their general: Charalois and Romont, under custody of their jailors, appear as chief mourners, and a party of creditors are concerned in the groupe.
After this solemnity is dispatched, the poet proceeds to develop the amiable generosity of old Rochfort, who being touched with the gallant fpirit of Romont, and still more penetrated with the filial piety of young Charalois, delivers them both from imprisonment and distress, by discharging the debts of the Marshal and dismissing the creditors : This also passes before the eyes of the spectators. Before Charalois has given full ex- . pression to his gratitude for this extraordinary benefaction, Rochfort follows it with a further act of bounty, which he introduces in the file of a request
Call in my daughter-Still I have a suit to you,
Beaumelle, Rochfort's daughter, is presented to Charalois; the scene is hurried on with a precipitation almost without example: Charalois alks the lady,
Fair Beaumelle, can you love me?
The match is agreed upon as soon as proposed, and Rochfort hastens away to prepare the celebration.
In this cluster of incidents I must not fail to remark, that the poet introduces young Novall upon the scene, in the very moment when the fhort dialogue above quoted was passing: This Novall had before been exhibited as a fuitor to Beaumelle, and his vain frivolous character had been displayed in a very ridiculous and contemptible light; he is now again introduced to be a witness of his own disappointment, and his only observation upon it is What's this change? Upon the exit of the father however he addresses himself to the lady, and her reply gives the alarm
ing hint, that makes discovery of the fatal turn which the plot is now about to take; for when Novall turning aside to Beaumelle, by one word --Mistress!-conveys the reproach of inconstancy, she replies,
Oh, Servant ! Virtue frengthen me! Thy presence blows round my affection's vane : You will undo me if you speak again. (Exit. )
Young Novall is left on the scene with certain followers and dependants, which hang upon his fortune, one of which (Pontalier by name) a man under deep obligations to him, yet of an honest nature, advises him to an honourable renunciation of all further hopes or attempts to avail himself of the affections of Beaumelle
Tho' you have sav'd my life,
and my love to truth :
This honourable advice is rejected with contempt : Novall, in whose mean bosom there does not seem a trace of virtue, avows a determined perseverance; and the poet having in this hafty manner compleated these inauspicious nuptials, closes the second act of his tragedy.
E have now expended two entire acts
of The Fatal Dowry in advancing to that period in the fable, at which the tragedy of The Fair Penitent opens. If the author of this tragedy thought it necessary to contract Mafsinger's plot, and found one upon it of a more regular construction, I know not how he could do this any otherwise than by taking up the story at the point where we have now left it, and throwing the antecedent matter into narration; and though these two prefatory acts are full of very affecting incidents, yet the pathos, which properly appertains to the plot and conduces to the catastrophe of the tragedy, does not in strictness take place before the event of the marriage. No critic will say that the pleadings before the judges, the interference of the creditors, the distresses of Charalois, or the funeral of the Marshal, are necessary parts of the drama; at the same time no reader will deny (and neither could Rowe himself overlook) the effect of these incidents: He could not fail to foresee that he was to sacrifice very much of the interest of his fable, when he was to throw that upon narration, which his original had given in spectacle; and the loss was more enhanced by falling upon the hero of the drama ; for who that compares Charalois, at the end of the second act of Maffinger, with Rowe's Altamont at the opening scene of The Fair Penitent, can doubt which character has most interest with the spectators? We have seen the former in all the most amiable offices which filial piety could perform ; enduring insults from his inveterate oppressors, and voluntarily surrendering himself to a prison to ransom the dead body of his father from unrelenting creditors. Altamont presents himself before us in his wedding fuit, in the splendour of fortune and at the summit of happiness; he greets us with a burst of exultation
Let this auspicious day be ever sacred, No mourning, no misfortunes happen on it ; Let it be mark'd for triumphs and rejoicings ! Let happy lovers ever make it holy, Choose it to bless their hopes and crown their wishes; This happy day, that gives me my Calisa!
The rest of the scene is employed by him and Horatio alternately in recounting the benefits conferred upon them by the generous Sciolto; and the very same incident of the seizure of his father's corpse by the creditors, and his redemption of it, is recited by Horatio