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article; also, in relation to the neglect of the commentators upon Milton, generally, in their editions, in omitting, to a considerable extent, reference to passages from modern writings of various kinds, in which the evidences of Milton's use of those works are fully as strong as, if not stronger in many instances than, those of his imitations from the ancient and modern classics ; but, for all which might be said on the first head, we refer the reader to Johnson's Rambler, No. 143, on the Criterions of Plagiarism ; and to Thomasius de plagio literario: and on the second, we commend to perusal the critical remarks upon Prendeville's Milton, in Blackwood, the last upon the list of our references.

Art. III.—Les Burgraves ; Trilogie. Par Victor Hugo.

ACCORDING to Victor Hugo's predictions, with the Revolution of 1830 commenced a glorious era for dramatic poetry. The words of strife,"classic" and romantic," were swallowed up in the abyss of that year, as the epithets "Gluckist” and "Piccinist" in the gulf of 1789. Art remained, alone and firmly based ; the theatre conquered its liberty in the struggle for political freedom; and pieces which the censor, at the Restoration, had buried alive, burst their cerements and came forth, scattering themselves over all the theatres of Paris, amid the delighted applause of the people. The spirit of renovation and reformation, which had been at work in history, poetry, philosophy, then made itself felt in the dra

Art was free; a vast step had been taken from the past to the present age; the drama possessed a power it had never wielded, or even dreamed of, before; what was once only a fresco painted on a dead wall, became a living and thrilling representation of passion, of soul,-in a word, of humanity.

Our author, enraptured with the prospect opened to him, expects that with the hour shall also arise the man. The poet has to do with a great people, accustomed to great things; why should not this propitious time, he asks, produce one who shall be to Shakspeare what Napoleon was to Charlemagne?


Alas! this golden promise has not yet been realized. The liberty so lately acquired by art, and her new-born energies, have been employed not in building the splendid and enduring structure which was tower above all the monuments of the early poetry of France, but in scattering abroad brilliant fragments, or in piling together masses of different orders of architecture, without regard to harmony or taste. The tragic muse has, indeed, put off her “Athenian garment;" but in exchange she wears the meretricious robe of a courtesan, and roams abroad with a disordered demeanor, such as may well shame her votaries for the license they have allowed her.

In default of any adequate illustration of his theory, Victor Hugo offers us his drama of "Marion de Lorme," a piece which, he acknowledges, would have been absolutely banished from the theatre under the elder branch of the Bourbons. "If this work,” he says, “had more exalted merit, it might be submitted to those who assert that the revolution of July has done injury to art.” We are far from venturing to affirm that art did suffer in the political shock; we can well conceive how the emancipation of opinion may work most favorably for literature; but we cannot yield to Marion de Lorme as much as the author claims for it.

It is, indeed, a work of some power; but the utter confusion of its morals, to say nothing of the grossness and exaggeration of the story, deprives it, in our judgment, of all title to praise.

Our poet, in his own remarks upon the drama, shows us that he has a just conception of its design. In the loveliest production of art, he says—in a poetic, passionate creation, invested in velvet and silk and gold, severe thought should exist, as the skeleton for the beautiful frame. The dramaas he aims to make it, as a man of genius can make it,sought to give to the crowd a philosophy, to ideas a formula, to poetry its muscle and its life-blood, to those who think a disinterested exposition, to thirsty souls a beverage, to secret wounds a balm, to each a counsel, to all a law."

We have good reason, then, to quarrel with M. Hugo, who apprehends so justly his true mission, for presenting us with such a play. By arraying a profligate and abandoned woman in all the colors of loveliness, and presenting her as an object for sympathy, he does violence to our sense of right, and sins against his own philosophy. Marion de

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Lorme is a historical character of infamous celebrity. She is first introduced in retirement, where, assuming the name of Marie, and pretending to be an innocent country maiden, she has won the affections of Didier, an honorable young man, who intends to make her his wife. Didier one evening rescues the Marquis de Saverny from assassins in the street, and conducts him to the apartments of Marie. The young noble has previously recognized her, and behaves with such a want of respect, that Didier resolves to challenge him. A royal edict is soon after proclaimed, making it a capital crime to engage in any duel: nevertheless, on their meeting, Didier and Saverny fight. They are discovered by the guard ; Didier is taken prisoner, and his adversary escapes by pretending to be dead. Didier afterwards escapes from prison, and in company with Marion, appears in a company of strolling players; where he again meets Saverny, disguised as an officer of the regiment of Anjou, and learns from him, by means of a portrait, that his Marie and Marion de Lorme are the same person. In his horror at this discovery, the miserable young man betrays bimself to Laffesmas, one of the officers of Cardinal Richelieu, and is again arrested. Saverny, having revealed his real name in the hope of saving his late enemy, is also seized; and both are remanded to prison. The punishment of Marion is in the disgust exhibited towards her by her former lover. In vain she and the uncle of Saverny entreat the pardon of Louis XIII., for the condemned. The King afterwards grants their lives at the solicitation of his jester, who pleads that the young men are two excellent falconers; but the order of mercy is revoked by the Cardinal, and the combatants are executed. Didier, in his last moments, forgives and embraces the wretched girl who has deceived him.

This is but a meagre outline of the plot; and it must be acknowledged that the play is not wanting in spirit or dramatic effect. Many of the characters are cleverly delineated; Saverny, the gay, reckless, generous young noble, is admirable; the scenes are lively, and the dialogue brief, pointed and abounding in wit. But the merit of the whole is marred by the character of the heroine. Not only is she excluded from sympathy by the vicious life she has previously led, and for which she does not seem to feel any proper degree of compunction, but after the reader's interest is excited in her behalf by her sufferings, she is made to de

scend to a depth in crime, which converts sympathy into disgust. Thus, instead of pathos, we are only presented, in the latter scenes, with what is painful and revolting.

Lucréce Borgia” and “Le Roi s'amuse," are liable to objections on the same score; and in a more atrocious degree. Marie Tudor," is not much better; and the drama published a few years since, entitled “Angelo,which really possesses much beauty and interest, is also spoiled by its immorality. The author, in this piece, has aimed, as he says, to represent different orders of men, and different states of women, by living types; and to paint, besides, a whole age, a whole climate, a whole people ; attempting, also, to illustrate the influence of the Christian religion upon his representatives of society. The story is simple, and probably known to many of our readers. A poor widow, who sang songs in the public places at Brescia, chanced to incur the resentinent of a senator by some lines in the verses she sang, offensive to the Signory of Venice. He ordered her to immediate execution, and she was seized by the guards on the spot. The senator had with him his daughter, a beautiful young girl. She was moved to compassion for the poor woman, and throwing herself at her father's feet, entreated and obtained pardon for the culprit. The widow gave her crucifix to the child, in token of her gratitude. Some years after, Catharina, the senator's daughter, becomes the wife of the podesta of Padua, Angelo Malipieri. The podesta has a mistress—the actress Thisbe, who is the daughter of the widow of Brescia. Both his mistress and his wife are enamoured of Rodolph, alias Ezzelino, who passes with Angelo for Thisbe's brother. By the agency of Homodei, a spy of the Council of Ten, Rodolph is introduced into the apartments of Catharina. Thisbe follows them, in a transport of jealous rage ; Rodolph, alarmed at the sound of footsteps, conceals himself in the lady's oratory; the actress pours out reproaches upon her terrified rival, and calls for the podesta. Catharina, in mortal fear, flies to her crucifix to pray for protection; Thisbe observes it, and discovers that her rival is the young girl who had once saved her mother's life. Filial affection triumphs over love; the actress sacrifices her resentment to the memory of her dead mother; and when Angelo appears, turns away his suspicions by informing him that she had visited the palace at that late hour, to warn him of a conspiracy against his life. The

podesta, however, is next day informed by Homodei of the guilt of his wife, and condemns her to death. He has always hated her, he says, because a Malipieri must have some one to hate. By the counsel of Thisbe, he substitutes poison for the axe, and permits her to furnish a deadly liquor, given her by the Dean of St. Mark. The actress administers a sleeping potion instead of the poison; and conveys Catharina, under pretence of burial, to a place of safety, where she sends for Rodolph, and provides horses for their flight. The young man, believing his mistress murdered, stabs the actress ; Catharina awakes at the same moment; he asks by whom she has been saved, and the expiring Thisbe replies, "Par moi-pour toi!”—This brief analysis of the piece may serve to show the interesting situations in which it abounds; and, at the same time, the levelling of distinction between virtue and vice. It may be seen how completely, in the catastrophe, the author has violated the principles which ought to regulate the construction of every literary work.

Hernani," the earliest represented among the plays of M. Hugo, though not the first written, is free from the great fault we have mentioned, but spoiled by an exaggeration that amounts to the ludicrous. Its design is to exhibit the stern inflexibility of Castilian honor. Had it been written as a burlesque upon some modern notions of chivalry, it might have passed for a capital piece of sarcasm. Here we have a Spanish noble risking his own life to protect his guest, and afterwards following him to claim his extorted promise to commit suicide. The same person who stands upon so nice a point of etiquette, enters afterwards into a conspiracy against his lawful sovereign. Then the hero, who has taken an oath by the head of his father,” to give up his life whenever he hears the sound of his horn,-scruples not to keep the silly promise, though it leaves his bride a prey to his enemy, or exposes her to the same fate with himself. These, and other inconsistencies, are the faults in a piece which has so many beauties, that it may be entitled to stand at the head of a new school.

The young and lovely heroine, Dona Sol, is betrothed to her uncle, Don Ruy Gomez de Silva, but in love with a bandit chief, who passes by the name of Hernani. Don Carlos, King of Spain, is also enamoured of her, and in the first two acts several scenes of strife for the lady, occur be

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