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VOL. XXII. —THIRD SERIES, VOL. IV.
- Carey's Memoir of William Carey, D.D., late Mis-
NOTICES AND INTELLIGENCE. Robinson's Hebrew and Eng-
THIRD SERIES - No. X.
ART. I. - Dramas, by JOANNA BAILLIE. In Three Volumes. 8vo. London: Longman, Rees, Orine, & Co.° 1836.) ·
We are now in possession of no less than seven volumes of Joanna Baillie's Dramas ;- the three volumes of plays on the Passions, which were published some years ago, a volume of miscellaneous plays, and the volumes before as. This collection may easily be called the richest gift which has been made to English dramatic literature in the present age; and we believe, that there are many who would not charge us with extravagance, if we were to say, that it is the richest which has been ever made to it, excepting the unapproached donation of the plays of Shakspeare. In offering such an opinion, we enter not into the question of individual genius. We remember the works, —a large portion indeed of which we should not grieve to forget, of Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Otway, and others. But, regarding both quantity and quality, intellectual elevation and moral influence, truth of substance and beauty of form, and holding a fair balance both of merits and defects, we hesitate not to place the name of this lady above even those distinguished names. However some of those writers may have excelled her in the graces of poetry and the flashes of intellect, there is a sustained dignity, a pure loftiness in her muse, which, with other attributes of power and beauty, entitle her to the precedence. But, if the charge of extravaVOL. XXII. -3D. s. VOL. IV. NO. I.
gance should be preferred against us, we might shelter ourselves behind the lyre of the great Northern minstrel. Listen to its
"" the notes that rung
From the wild harp, which silent hung
So sings Sir Walter Scott of the poetess of the Passions, somewhat enthusiastically, we confess; for it must only have been in a dream of patriotism and gallantry that he could have heard that "kindred measure," "" or seen the swans of Avon awaken and incline as if at the song of their master. His lines are good authority, nevertheless, for high admiration, and may support the plain prose assertion, that, with the exception of the plays of Shakspeare, our dramatic literature can boast of no such treasures, m the whole extent, as the plays of Joanna Baillie.
And yet these plays are for the closet rather than the stage. They are for select readers, rather than for a promiscuous audience. They are too classical, too chaste, too solemn, too good for the mass of those who frequent our theatres. They have power to move the hearts, and rouse the sensibilities, and confirm the principles of those who feed on truth and nature; but they have little power to command the shouts of pit and gallery. The lovers and patrons of the drama, as they are styled, must be lovers of refined sentiment, and intelligent admirers of poetry for its own real excellences, before they will patronize or even suffer the dramas of Miss Baillie. The manager who
should have so much taste and so little wit forward upon his boards successive representations of these dramas, would find ere long, by the intimations of a thin house and a rapidly-collapsing purse, that he and the much feared and flattered public held different sentiments concerning the good and the beautiful, and that he must either be ruined, or return to the wonted course of gorgeous spectacles, outrageous tragedies, and foolish farces. In some coming age, the creations of this lady's mind may be personated on the stage; but, at present, they must be confined to the library.