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1. ReMARKs on THE DISTRIBUTION OF PARTS IN SOME TRAGEDIEs.
It seems probable, that besides the kwood Tpogwrá, who never spoke at all, it sometimes happened that the same part was represented in some scenes of a play by a mere silent actor, not the same who supported the character in the dialogue; owing to the limited number of actors, and still more to the fewness of those who were fit to support the highest parts. See Müller, xxii. 8., where he hints, that the first scene of the Prometheus was arranged so as to require only two actors, as in the other three plays which preceded the exhibition of the Agamemnon; but does not explain how. I cannot but think that the Prometheus of the first scene was an image, through whose breast the adamantine wedge was driven, though I know not whether the remaining evidence of the scene-artifices of the ancients will explain how the change was managed. But I suspect that even in the Agamemnon, there were but two actors, though there are three in the other two plays, which were brought out on the same day. I suspect that Cassandra and Clytemnestra were acted by the same person. If so, the silences of Cassandra and Prometheus, which produce so great an effect, (though the silences in AEschylus elsewhere were, as appears from Aristophanes, sometimes open to ridicule,) are a matter of necessity. On our opera stage, when a principal dancer is to seem to fly, another, dressed in the same manner, is substituted for him or her. It is possible to conceive, however, that the Cassandra in the car, and the Prometheus in the first scene, were just off the stage, and came, or were wheeled, on, when they were to begin speaking. But this would have so undramatic an effect, especially in those large theatres, where seeing would not always be supplied by hearing, that it is very difficult to admit it. The reverse happens on our stage more commonly, that people speak before they are seen. In the CEdipus at Colonus, Ismene is described before she comes on; but that is quite a different thing. Indeed, it is in the highest degree dramatic and affecting. I conceive that, in the trilogy of AEschylus, though there were three actors, there were not two of such superior excellence as to be fit to represent such pre-eminent parts as the poet has made Cassandra and Clytemnestra. We must never, I presume, resort to the sup
position, which would answer the conditions in the Prometheus, that
The succession of actors in the scenes is as follows, as I conceive:– GEdipus, Antigone.
THE beautiful little poem, which bears this title, and which is found in a volume written during the reign of Edward I., apparently in one of the eastern counties of England, is not printed among the various extracts from the same MS., which Messrs. Wright and Halliwell have published in their Reliquide Antiquae. This MS. (Digby, 86, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford,) is undoubtedly written by a Norman clerk, who, young, rude, and silly as he seems to have been, has mixed up in it every thing, good and bad, sacred and profane, Latin, Norman-French, and English materials. The poem strikes the reader, when he discovers it surrounded by other poetry of a different and even low description, because it is the production of a stage of the English language, of which the history is not yet known sufficiently at the present day. We can therefore not understand the reason why these few verses did not find a place among the Reliquiae Antiquae, and we give them here for the first time, with a few remarks and grammatical explanations showing their real value.
The language is still semi-Saxon as it was spoken in the beginning and in the middle of the 13th century, a hundred years before Chaucer; only five words have crept in from the Norman-French: prowe, pris, mirour, poure, to fail ; besides, the spelling of ounstudefast and oup is a proof that a Frenchman has committed these verses to the vellum. All other words are pure Germanic, and although the construction of the sentences is already very different from the Anglo-Saxon, the flexion of the nouns, as in thene, eien, halien, the infinitive of the verbs terminating in -en, bileven, bugen, done, gon, and the double negation like ne—non, nout-ne, mis-non, show sufficiently how little the language of the conquering people had been able to supplant that of the subdued nation, in the course of two centuries." It is true, the verse has lost everything that was peculiar to the old Saxon poetry; no traces of the double arsis in every verse are left, and if we except coincidences like wint and went, hous and hom, the old alliteration is entirely given up, and its place is filled by the romantic rhyme. But the structure of the strophes is exceedingly tasteful; all of them are alike, consisting of ten verses, each of them having four (iambic) feet with three different rhyming syllables, which follow each other alternately like 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 2. The subject seems to have been a very favourite one among the Saxons, as the very similar but still alliterative fragment called the Grave, (in Thorpe's Anal. p. 153, ed. II.) shows, it marks for a considerable time the contrast against the gay and licentious ballads of the Norman conquerors. A depth of feeling and thoughtful contemplation is displayed, such as we find only in the poetic relics of those Teutonic nations, whose pure blood and manner of thinking was not yet altered by the intrusion of foreign elements. The Chaunsun del Secle, whose Norman title must be kept, as no other is given, reminds one immediately of certain beautiful songs of the German Minnesaenger, in which all happiness of this world, whose outward appearance is all green and red, is described as nothing, when the inside of it is seen, dark like death, and the only consolation is found in true religious longing. This little English specimen of the same century conveys the same idea, expressed in a not less beautiful form.
Uuorldes blisse ne last non prowe,”
the lengore that hic hit icnowe,”
for al hit is imeind" with kare,
* The dialect is the East-Anglian and | mon at that time. “The A.S. is winof exactly the same period, in which dan and wendan, the Germ. winden und the second MS. of Layamon's Brut is wenden. " A.S. gecnawan, cognoscere; written (MS. Otho. c. xiii.) cf. Sir F. the prefix i- appears very early in the Madden's Edition, and the Extracts in East-Anglian dialect in the place of the B. Thorpe's Analecta Anglo-Saxonica. Saxon and German ge-, * Mingled
* Profit, old Engl. introduced by the from the A.S. mengan. Normans. * The aspirate is very com
with serewen' and with evel fare,
and at the laste poure and bare;
al the blisse, that is her and there,
Al shal gon, that her monoweth,” al hit shal wenden into nowt,”
the mon that her no goed" ne soeth" wen other repeth, he worth bicaut.'"
thenk, mon, the wile thou havest mightte,
thine gultes” her to rightte
and do goed bi dai and nightte, ar” thou bi of this lifilawt;”
for thou nost,” wene Crist oure drightte.” the acseth that he the haveth bitawt.”
Al the blisse of thisse live thou shalt, mon, henden” in woep, of hous and hom of child of wive, seli” mon, tak ther of koep.” for althou shalt bileven” here, eightte—wer-of” louerd” thou were, wen thou list, mon, oppon bere” and slepest thene” longe dreri” slep, ne shalt thou haven with the non fere” bote” thine workes on an hep.
7 There is still some mark of the case; A.S. seorh, semis. Seorwe, sorrow. * Man, like the French on, the German man. 9 When; the next words are not quite clear; is ginneth = beginneth, and is agon the infinitive to go, or the A.S. agan, to have " A.S. belucan, to lock, to inclose. "Whoop and moan.
* Owns, possesses. ** A.S. nowint like Germ. niwiht, nicht. ** A.S. g6d, good. ** A.S. sawan, to sow. * Old Engl. bicache, to deceive ; the A.S. weqrthan, to become, forms still the passive, like in Germ. ” A.S. gylt, guilt. * A.S. aer old Engl. ere, before. ** The Semisaxon partic. instead of the A.S. gelaehte, from gelaeccan, to take, to seize. 20 Nustan, to know not. * A.S. drihten, the Lord, a word of old origin,
which is found also in the poetry of the
the article, slaep being a masc. * A.S.
pany, cf. Germ. gefaehrte. ** A.S. bu