صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

who leaves Novall as far behind him as Chara. lois does Altamont: It is admitted then that Califta has as good a plea as any wanton could wish to urge for her criminality with Lothario, and the poet has not spared the ear of modesty in his exaggerated description of the guilty scene; every luxurious image, that his inflamed imagination could crowd into the glowing rhapsody, is there to be found, and the whole is recited in numbers fo Aowing and harmonious, that they not only arrest the passions but the memory also, and perhaps have been, and still can be, as generally repeated as any passage in English poetry. Maffinger with less elegance, but not with less regard to decency, suffers the guilty act to pass within the course of his drama; the greater refinement of manners in Rowe's day did not allow of this, and he anticipated the incident; but when he revived the recollection of it by such a studied description, he plainly shewed that it was not from moral principle that he omitted it; and if he has presented his heroine to the spectators with more immediate delicacy during the compass of the play, he has at the same time given her greater depravity of mind; her manners may be more refined, but her principle is fouler than braumelle’s. Califta, who yielded to the gallant gay Lothario, hot with the Tuscan grape, might

perhaps

TA

perhaps have disdained a lover who addressed her in the holiday language which Novall uses to Beaumelle

Best day to Nature's curiosity!
Star of Dijon, the luftre of all France!
Perpetual Spring dwell on thy rosy cheeks,
Whose breath is perfume to our continent;
See, Flora trimm'd in her varieties !
No Autumn, nor no Age ever approach
This heavenly piece, which Nature having wrought,
She lof her needle, and did then despair
Ever to work

fo lively and fo fair,

The letter of Calista (which brings about the discovery by the poor expedient of Lothario’s dropping it and Horatio's finding it) has not even the merit of being characteristically wicked, and is both in its matter and mode below tragedy. It is Lothario's cruelty has determined her to yield a perfeEl obedience to her father, and give her hand to Altamont, in spite of her weakness for the false Lothario.-If the lady had given her perfect ebedience its true denomination, she had called it a most dishonourable compliance; and if we may take Lothario's word (who seems full correct enough in describing facts and particulars) she had not much cause to complain of his being Palle; for he tells Roffano

1

I likid

I likid her, would have marry'd ber,
But that it pleas'd her father to refuse me,
To make this honourable fool ber husband.

It appears by this that Lothario had not been false to her in the article of marriage, though he might have been cruel to her on the score of passion, which indeed is confest on his part with as much cold indifference, as the most barefaced avowal could express. But to return to the letter: She proceeds to tell himthat she could almost wish she had that heart, and that honour to bestow with it, which he has robbed her of_But left this half wish should startle him, she adds But oh! I fear, could I retrieve them, I should again be undone by the too faithless, yet too lovely Lothario.

This must be owned as full a reason as she could give why she should only almost wis for her loft honour, when she would make such an use of it, if she had it again at her disposal. And yet the very next paragraph throws every thing into contradiction, for she tells him—this is the last weakness of her pen, and to-morrow shall be the last in which she will indulge her eyes. If the could keep to that resolution, I must think the recovery of her innocence would have been worth a whole with, and many a wish; unless we are to suppose she was so devoted to guilt, that she could take delight in reflecting upon it: This is a state of depravity, which human nature hardly ever attains, and seems peculiar to Califta. She now grows very humble, and concludes in a stile well suited to her humility_Lucilla shall conduct you, if you are kind enough to let me fee you ; it shall be the last trouble you shall meet with from

that

The Loft Califta. It was very ill done of Horatio's curiosity to read this letter, and I muft ever regret that he has fo unhandsomely exposed a lady's private correspondence to the world,

No XC.

[ocr errors]

HOUGH the part which Horatio takes

in the business of the drama is exactly that which falls to the fhare of Romont in the Fatal Dowry, yet their characters are of a very different caft; for.as Rowe had bestowed the fire and impetuofity of Romont upon his Lothario, it was a very judicious opposition to contraft it with the cool deliberate courage of the sententious Horatio, the friend and brother-in-law of Altamont.

When

When Horatio has read Calista's letter, which Lothario had dropped (an accident which more frequently happens to gentlemen in comedies than in tragedies) he falls into a very long meditation, and closes it with putting this question to himself;

What if I give this paper to ber father?
It follows that his justice dooms her dead,
And breaks bis heart with forrow; hard return
For all the good bis hand has beap'd on us !
Hold, let me take a moment's thought

At this moment he is interrupted in his reflections by the presence of Lavinia, whose tender folicitude fills up the remaining part of the dialogue, and concludes the act without any decisive resolution on the part of Horatio ; an incident well contrived, and introduced with much dramatic skill and effect: Though pressed by his wife to disclose the cause of his uneafinefs, he does not impart to her the fatal difcovery he has made ; this also is well in character. Upon his next entrance he has withdrawn himself from the company, and being alone, resumes his meditation

Wbat, if, while all are here intent on revelling,
I privately went forth and fought Lothario?
This letter may be forg'd; perhaps the wantonness

« السابقةمتابعة »