« السابقةمتابعة »
REVIEW OF NEW WORKS.
The Star of Seville. A Drama In Five of society which she exhibited in her girlhood,
Acts. By Mrs. Butler, (late Miss Kem- even those who are the most tender of her fame ble). London, 1837.
will cease to make allowances for her literary trans
gressions, and if they can no longer excuse will, at Too much praise seems to have spoiled Miss
all events, cease to panegyrise her. Thus, from Kemble, whom we like to call by her old name,
the topmost height of applause, she will drop into as that by which she is best known amongst us,
oblivion, unless it be that her fall will be attended and under which she won whatever laurels she
with out-spoken condemnation. There are some people who love praise
We are tempted to say so much-sparing much so well, that they are incapable of discriminating
more that might be said — because we perceive in whether their flatterers are in earnest or in ridicule;
this drama, the last production of her muse, so and who, when they happen to be praised, as is
many violations of good taste, and such allusions sometimes the case, for merits which they really
to things with which it is not pleasant to suppose do not possess, implicitly act upon the immediate
a lady to be acquainted, that we are still compelled suggestions of their vanity. We believe Miss
to observe in how small a measure Miss Kemble's Kemble to be affected by this feeling to a very re
notions of poetical propriety have been purified by markable degree; and we believe, also, that it
experience. We might forgive, as one forgives the exercises so complete an influence over her that
frowardness and random faults of a child, Miss she is perfectly unconscious of it, which is always Kemble's minute catalogue of all the petty events one of the peculiarities of fallacious tendencies
that happened to her at sea, what she eat and indulged to excess. Indeed, she appears to be so
drank, what the gentlemen said and did, how much little aware of her erroneous estimate of herself, she hated them, and their vulgar ways, what senand her readiness to be deceived by adulation,
sations set her pulpitating, and what things made that she even professes to despise opinion, and
her sick; these, and a thousand such trifles, might permits no opportunity to escape in which she can
be forgiven in the diary of a young and ardent and exhibit her contempt for criticism. We do not
spoiled actress going out to a strange country, after allude to her foolish affectation of aversion towards having received honours at home that might well persons connected with the public press, for she
have intoxicated her imagination. But since that must be conscious that it is but affectation; and
time Miss Kemble has married, has mixed largely there might be some reasonable apology for such
with society in a republic where false pretensions aversion in an individual of a lofty and command
are speedily reduced to their true level, where ing intellect—which Miss Kemble assuredly is
there are no ovations for meretricious display, and not ;—but to the general tone of her writings, her
where all matters, moral and personal, are fixed by flippant outrages of propriety, her scoffs and taunts
a swift and insensible process at their actual valueupon the quiet and respectable points of ordinary priced and labelled at once by the operation of public decorum, her vapid levities, and ribald imitations of opinion. It was to be expected, therefore, that Miss the pruriencies of past ages. We are entirely satis- Kemble would have come out of this rough ordeal a fied that these follies do not lie below the surface little wiser than she went into it; that she would with Miss Kemble, that she really does not fully have profited more or less, by the observations which comprehend the extravagances she commits, and it must have forced upon her mind; and that, that, in fact, while her faults are, in appearance, at least, she would have corrected, or lost that very reprehensible, they are nothing more than exuberance of temperament which plunged her into the lip-indiscretions of a buoyant, self-willed, and such witless extravagance.
We do not find in thoughtless girl.
this play, and we notice the fact with regret, that But it is time that this heedlessness should be
any such change has been wrought upon her. So abandoned. The world will not continue to give far as a play can testify to the condition of an indiMiss Kemble credit for her faults on the side of dual, the Star of Seville suggests even a more direct youth and inexperience. She has grown into a tendency to reprehensible excesses of expression than woman since she was last in England—she bas seen Miss Kemble bas hitherto indulged. We still, howmuch of the world, and its passions, and conflict- ever, attribute this error to mis-judgment, and to the ing interests, and sturdy prejudices in the interval; want of some authorative mind to lead 'her talents and it is expected that as she advances some tokens
into a proper direction. We are unwilling to believe of improvement in her mode of thinking will be
that she may not yet devote herself to literature come visible. Should it, however, be found that in a healthier and worthier spirit: increase of years has brought no increase of judg- The faults to which we allude are to be found ment,' and that she betrays in her maturity the in the comic portions of the drama—the greater same reckless indifference to the good estimation part of which is tarnished with a species of masked
VOL. X.--NO. V.-MAY, 1837.
indelicacy, which has, no doubt, been derived from doing. The amount of originality in the piece is a perusal of the works of a former period, but much in the same proportion that the solids bore to which is entirely inappropriate to our times. Some the sack, in the hostess's bill against Falstaff. roystering holiday apprentices, and May-flies, But it is not merely in tone and manner that this flaunt through these scenes, after the fashions of play is deficient in originality: it is open to a much the loose gentlemen in our old comedies; their more serious charge than that of mere imitation. intrigues and bantering dialogues, their popinjay We confess that we touch upon this part of the exploits, and surface vanities are described in the subject with regret, since the exposure of direct very language of the by-gone conventions of the plagiary, which it renders unavoidable, is calculated stage, and if there were no other objection to them
for ever to cast suspicion upon any similar producthan that they are a resurrection rather than a
tion which proceeds from this clever but creation, it would be sufficient to justify their ex
less lady. The incident upon which the main plot clusion from a piece, the interest of which is hinges, or rather the plot itself, with very slight marred rather than relieved by their introduction.
alterations, is derived, without acknowledgment, But we dismiss them to say a few words upon the from one of the numerous dramas of Lope de Vega. drama, in which they appear like interlopers. We have not access at the moment to the original
The plot may be briefly summed up. The young play, but we have before us a German version of it, King of Spain, Alphonso, in the course of a pro- by Baron von Sedlitz, published at Stuttgard in gress through his dominions, sees the fair Estrella
1830, entitled, “ Der Stern von Sevilla," which, in the balcony of her brother's house in Seville.
necessary to inform some of our readers, is Being a somewhat licentious lover of beauty, he the very same title as that adopted by Miss Kemble contrives to steal into her apartment at night, but -“The Star of Seville.” This piece, which is her brother suddenly comes upon him, reproaches called a Trauerspiel, or tragedy, contains characters him for his baseness, and finally strikes him, and
exactly equivalent to those employed by Miss forces him to make his retreat by leaping from the Kemble; and the fact that she derived the whole balcony into the street. The king cannot forgive subject from this tragedy is established, not merely this indignity, and resolves upon the death of the by the complete agreement of the plot, but by the haughty nobleman. The person he fixes upon to transference into her play of some of the very execute this honourable office is Don Carlos, a
names, which, by a very clumsy expedient, to avoid, high-spirited and virtuous lord, the intimate friend
we presume, too palpable a similarity, she has transof Estrella's brother, and moreover the plighted posed in one instance from one character to another. lover of Estrella, their nuptials having been already In “ Der Stern von Sevilla,” the king is called appointed to take place on the following morning.
Sancho der Tapfere-in Miss Kemble's play he is Don Carlos, before he knows who the victim is,
called Alphonso. In the former, the king's conpromises to perform the deed, and, when he hears
fidant is called Don Arias in the latter, the conthat the unhappy man who has fallen under the fidant, advanced to the relationship of cousin, is king's displeasure is his intimate friend, he is too also called Don Arias. The heroine is called consistent a person, and has too high a sense of the
Estrella in both. The brother, in Miss Kembles obligation of an oath, not to fulfil his promise. play, is Don Pedro de Roella—and in Lope de He accordingly slays Don Pedro in the street, is Vega's drama, the lover is Don Sancho Ortiz do taken up, tried, and condemned to death. Estrella
las Roellas; and there is a lord called Don Pedro; loses her senses, but recovers them just before the so that the brother in the new version bears a name execution, and dies on the scaffold beside her lover.
which is compounded from those of two characters The king, who is the real author of all this misery, in the old play. The adoption of the same names escapes even without censure.
is a conclusive proof that the identity, for such it Throughout this story there is a want of natural
is, of the plot is not one of those extraordinary coinprobability. The grief is not produced by such cidences which have so very rarely occurred in reasonable causes as are required to move our pity. literature. It is just possible that Miss Kemble Don Carlos is made to commit an act utterly re- might have invented a story which should throughpugnant to his feelings, and against the very grain out all its scenes be a precise counterpart of a story of his position in men's eyes, that the play may invented by Lope de Vega, two hundred and fifty wind up with appalling misery. The contrivance years ago; but it would be an absurd stretch of is so artificial, that it fails to excite sympathy or credulity to suppose that they should both place compassion; and the abuse of poetical justice in the scene in Spain, select the same names for the the catastrophe is fatal to its dramatic and moral heroine and other characters, and give to both their truth. Of the work as a composition, but very plays the same title. All these particulars could little need be said. It is the fruit of a fancy heated not agree by accident what then are we to conby old plays. The tournure of the style, and
clude ? multitudes of bits of passages, are derived from the In this German translation of the original, the writers of the age of Elizabeth. We do not mean king, instead of seeing Estrella in a balcony as he to say that Miss Kemble has done this knowingly; passes by, meets her in the public ball-room in but it is not the less injurious to her reputation Seville, where her beauty eclipses that of all the that she did it without knowing what she was ladies by whom she is surrounded-which surpasswe have not discovered any thing in this biography
ing brightness acquires for her the fanciful desig- the flattering hope that a circumstance so startling nation of the Star. But the hint of the balcony is should escape detection : for, much as she may nevertheless derived from Lope de Vega. Arias, despise critics and criticism, she could not have calthe king's confidant, is employed to contrive means culated so imprudently upon the ignorance of her for the king to visit the lady at night, and he suc- contemporaries. We leave the matter for public ceeds in corrupting a servant, who promises to opinion to deal with it as it may deserve. We have appear in the balcony with a light in her hand, as discharged our office in furnishing the evidence upon a signal, at the appointed hour. When the time which that verdict is to be given. arrives, the servant is ready, but Don Bustos, Estrella's brother, suddenly intercepts her. At this
Life of King Henry VIII., founded on moment the king arrives in a mask, and is treated
authentic and original documents (some by Don Bustos exactly in the same way that he is
of them not before published), &c. By treated by the Don Pedro of Miss Kemble's play.
Patrick Fraser Tytler, Esq., F.S. A. His majesty makes his escape, after suffering a proper share of indignity, and Bustos rushes through Edinburgh : Oliver and Boyd, 1837. a side door, and, in his fury, slays the servant. The first point of distrust that will strike the This incident is omitted by Miss Kemble. Both- reader on opening this work, is the impossibility plays now proceed pari passu. The king com- of doing justice, within a single volume, to the missions Ortiz, the lover of Estrella, who, as in reign of Henry VIII., one of the most momentous Miss Kemble's version, is to be married on the fol
in the whole range of English history. A perusal lowing morning, to kill the man who, by offering of the work must convince the reader that his insult to his royal master, has committed treason. doubts of the practicability of such an attempt were And here we may observe that the difficulty of but too well founded. If we say that Mr. Tytler reconciling the revolting facility of the Spanish has accomplished as much within the compass he nobleman to probability is got over much better in allotted to his task as any writer could fairly be the old play than in the new one: the arguments are
expected to do, we dismiss all the eulogy to which stronger and more elaborate, and the motives are
the publication can honestly lay claim. With the somewhat heightened and even dignified. Ortiz
exception of snatches from the correspondence of accepts the office, and proceeds to its fulfilment,
Henry VIII., embraced in a volume of State Papers which he carries into effect as nearly as possible published in 1830, the price of which is so high as after the same manner as his English shadow. Now
to place it beyond the reach of the public generally, follow other parallel scenes.
Estrella sits in her chamber with her tiring woman, awaiting the
with which every reader of history was not precoming of Ortiz, when the dead body of her brother is brought in- exactly as Miss Kemble has it; but
viously familiar. The great change in our ecclesiasLope de Vega has treated this incident with much
tical institutions brought about by the Reformagreater truth and pathos. Instead of suddenly ter
tion, and the equally extensive change in the state minating it with a stage shriek and swoon, to form
of society produced by the introduction of classical a tableau, as Miss Kemble has done, he makes
literature into England, after it had been locked Estrella break out into the most touching lamen
up by the monks in the middle ages, are the two tations, and call upon Ortiz, the only friend now
grand features of the reign in an historical point of left to her in the world, to avenge the death of him
view; subsidiary to which, are the foreign policy of he loved so well, desiring the attendants at the
the country, which, partly in consequence of the same time to send for him, and describing with
conduct of Henry himself, and partly arising from intense feeling the affliction which this heavy news
other circumstances, underwent some considerable will bring to him. From this point the plays
modifications—the influence and actions of the diverge to different catastrophes; that of the old antagonist statesmen by whom the unprincipled play being hardly reconcilable to our stage, and that
monarch was surrounded—the proceedings of Henry of Miss Kemble's being more consonant with our
himself—and the numerous personal details condramatic usages, although it is notwithstanding very
nected with one of the most profligate and corrupt imperfect and unsatisfactory.
courts in Europe. These are the materials of the This slight outline will be sufficient to shew the book. It is needless to say that they are dwarfed source from whence the play is evidently taken.
into such narrow bounds as to exclude every thing The dialogue is not that of Lope de Vega, except
in the shape of examination or tests of conflicting in substance; but it is not the more original on statements, and to compel the author, in all cases, that account, as it is so completely impressed with to arrive as rapidly as he could at his conclusions. the character of our early drama, as to betray the We believe Mr. Tytler intended to be very imparinspiration out of the fullness of which it was writ- tial in this narrative; but, of what value is his ten. We will not make any comment upon the impartiality, when he really has not room to display impropriety Miss Kemble has committed in publish- it? A race-borse might as well be expected to ing as her own, a drama, the whole story of which, show off his paces in a tennis court as an historian even to the structure of its principal scenes, she has his impartiality, or the knowledge upon which that unscrupulously borrowed from a previous writer. impartiality is brought to bear in such a stunted She certainly could not have deceived herself into book as this. But, as far as his limits have perand twenty-eight in number, but it is said that he stante. E. Y. H. Senior, London, 1837.
mitted him to explain his opinions, we can sec meritorious object to which it is addressed. Those clearly enough that Mr. Tytler is not so impartial who are best acquainted with the works of Calas he believes himself to be. He writes timidly deron will approve of the selection made by the and in doubt-leans too gently upon some of the editor, notified in the title which we have quoted ; guilty actors in the criminal scene—and betrays although, of course, as tastes differ in such matters, more indecision upon some occasions than is con- there will be a variety of opinions as to the sistent with the judicial nature of his office. His choice. Of these pieces, the only one, we believe, defence, if we may so call it, of Anna Boleyn, for that has been translated into English, is El Maexample, is surely an historical error. Pity for gico Prodigioso, but we are not aware whether that her fate is excusable ; but, if the grave question be translation obtained any favour with the public. put, whether she deserved it, we apprehend that We are disposed to suspect that it was clumsily justice- rigid justice-must answer in the affir- executed, and fell still-born from the press. It mative. It was not because Henry was habitually passed through our hands, and a cursory glance false and cruel that Anna Boleyn was the less
satisfied us that it was too literal to become popuimpure and unmindful of the demands of her posi
lar in this country.
The translator seemed to tion. It is fortunate for some public characters
have rendered bis author exactly as he found him, that they happen to be thrown into immediate con
without exhibiting much taste in the task, and trast with persons worse than themselves, so that
without catching in his own language the spirit of they obtain, hy accident, from the erroneous com
the original. So far as the present edition passion of the world, that sort of vague commisera
goes--simply as a reprint of these dramarmit tion to which, alone, and exposed in the singleness
is entitled to unmixed approbation ; but it is to of truth, they would be altogether disentitled.
be regretted that it contains nothing more Anna Boleyn was placed in that lucky situation,
than the plays, not a single line of introducand so her name has escaped to posterity not as a
tion, not a single note, nothing whatever, in fact, wilful and imprudent woman, to treat her memory
to give the student of Spanish literature an interest mildly, but as the victim of a remorseless husband. in its contents. This is a serious defect; it is calHad not Henry, however, exceeded all measures of
culated on the very threshold to limit the circuordinary humanity in his treatment of her, posterity lation of the volume amongst those who are already would not have dealt so leniently with her fame.
acquainted with the productions of Calderon, and In his sketch of Cranmer, too, Mr. Tytler is equally
who desire the book for no other reason than to at fault; but then, the epitome is so slender, that
possess that with which they are already familiar. it is hardly worth while to point out particular
Editor's of such editions ought to remember that passages in which it is defective.
As to that por
the class of persons for whose use these works are tion which relates to the introduction of European
more especially intended do not possess the same and classical literature into England, to which Mr. advantages of information which they have Tytler solicits especial attention in his preface, we
themselves acquired ; and that in order to attract must observe, that we have failed to discover the the English public to the writings of such a man as
Calderon, it is absolutely necessary to give some new light our author believes he has thrown on the subject. The same topic is examined much more
critical and biographical particulars, elucidative of at large, and certainly in a much more philosophical
obscure passages, and other obvious commentaries,
without which a reader to whom the whole subject and critical spirit, in Wartor's History of English
is new must enter upon its perusal with but a parPoetry, to which work we commend the reader
tial relish for its beauties. What an enviable who is curious upon the maiter. On the whole,
opportunity has been lost here for an essay on the this book is not adapted to supply the desideratum
genius of Calderon, whose life was in itself a strikit was designed to fill ; and the Life of Henry VIII.,
ing illustration of the triumph of genius over ciras a separate and distinct enquiry, remains yet to
cumstances. Calderon is estimated in Spain to be be written.
the first dramatist in the world. The estimate is Comedias Escogidas de von p. Calderon de certainly extravagant, but, with exceptions, he may la Barca. El Mágico Prodigioso; La
perhaps as a serious dramatist be placed next to
Shakspeare. His collected plays are one hundred Vida es Sueno ; y El Principe Con
wrote many more which were never published. El The appearance of three of the plays of Calderon Principe Constante, which will be found in the in the Spanish language, in London, is an event of present volume, is one of his most celebrated proimportance to the literary world. It may be at ductions, and takes the very highest rank amongst once received as a proof of the rapid diffusion of tragedies of the romantic order. In addition to continental literature in this country.
Unless a dramas he wrote a vast number of autos sacramenreasonable chance existed of a remunerating circu. tales, loas, or preludes, and saynetes, farces; as lation, it is not to be supposed that any publisher well as a multitude of minor poems, songs, sonwould venture on such a speculation; and the nets, and ballads. If quantity and variety be publishers are undoubtedly the best judges of the any proof of power, Calderon is not second to any condition and prospects of the book market. The author of any age or country.
He was the edition before us is well got up, and worthy of the founder of the Spanish drama, the honours of which ticated and confirmed, and of the mode of execution form the results of his observations in India, during adopted towards them, and, as might be expected, a residence of some years in that country, with a
he successfully contested with Lope de Vega, of finery from the first page to the last. In the and after passing a part of his life in the military course of his enquiries he touches upon the state of profession, he at last took sacred orders, but con- agriculture, manners, and customs, diseases of the tinued to the end to contribute to the theatre
climate, different races of Indians, intercourse with a fertility that, except by his distinguished between our people and the natives at the various contemporary, is unparalleled. He wrote his last stations, antiquities, and civil and military governplay in the eighty-first year of his age. The ment. But, although Dr. Spry disclaims any recent increased cultivation of the Spanish lan- merit on the score of mere authorship, we must guage in this country, which by the pressure of not omit to observe that his statements are repolitical circumstances is likely to be still farther markably lucid, that the descriptive parts are promoted, leads us to hope that his works will written with grace and fluency, and that the work, be introduced in a more popular form to the public. apart from its worth as a repertory of facts, is highly Here we have nothing but the text itself, and creditable to his talents. In the space to which it would be deserving of consideration at the hands we are necessarily limited, we can do no more of the editor of this book, whether he might not thau indicate a few points of interest, leaving successfully follow it up by a dissertation upon the reader to follow up the pleasure of perusal. Calderon generally, and an analysis of each of We find, amongst other curious details, some these plays.
It would be a valuable companion further account of the Thugs, that ferocious race to this reprint.
of pledged assassins. Dr. Spry, who has had access
to official documents on the subject, and who was Modern India ; with Illustrations of the
present on some of the occasions to which this Resources and Capabilities of Hindustan.
portion of the work alludes, gives an extraordinary By Henry H. Spry, M. D., F.G. S., narrative of the way in which the Thugs are M.R.A.S., Bengal Military Staff, &c., tracked and brought to justice, how the evidence &c. 2 vols. Whittaker & Co., London. against them procured, and how it is authenDr. Spry was induced to put together into this
their marvellous impenitence. An almost inview to supply a deficiency which a very short credible fact, too, is brought to light in these experience in the East brought under his attention. volumes—the existence of a race of cannibals, the He was so struck by the ignorance exhibited by Kookees, within 150 miles of Calcutta, Were his brother Anglo-Indians of the state of the presi
not this circumstance placed beyond doubt by condencies, and of the affairs of India generally, that current testimonies, we might well be excused for he thought a clear matter-of-fact work that should questioning its correctness. But the fact admits be founded upon personal enquiries, and should of no doubt. These people, who have no settled contain a mass of that sort of information which place of habitation, but wander about in herds from is indispensable towards the formation of correct wilderness to wilderness, building for themselves, opinions on practical subjects, would be acceptable like the monkeys, resting-places in the highest not only to our countrymen abroad, but to the branches of the trees, have been discovered by the public at large. He, therefore, applied himself elephant hunters, in the immediate neighbourhood with diligence to this labour of manifest utility, of whose principal dépôt they congregate in large and, after traversing a considerable part of the numbers. Many attempts have been made to country, and seizing earnestly upon every oppor
reclaim them, but it is found that their original tunity of acquiring materials which his position on nature is unsusceptible of civilization.
We learn, the medical staff afforded him, he collected the also, that besides the Kookees, who infest the blue details which fill these volumes. While the num- mountains of Chittagong, there is another race of ber of publications upon the subject of India-her cannibals in India, the Goauds, who lurk in the scenery, sports, customs, and even government, hill forests of Nagpore. It is a disgrace to the increase every day, yet amongst them all there is British authorities that such monsters should be not one which exactly aspires to the place which permitted to exist. There are cases in which this book occupies. Similar details are to be mercy and forbearance are crimes against the found scattered through other volumes, but we are welfare of the community ; and certainly this is not aware of any work which contains so much one of them. Before we dismiss our author it information, or which gives such a variety of local may be useful to add that his first location was at statements, without bearing them down by the Dum Dum, the well-known military station near vanities of authorship. Dr. Spry betrays none of Calcutta ; that from thence he was removed to the qualities of a book-maker ; he claims attention, Cawnpore, of which he gives a very animated not for the freshness of his style, or the poetical account; and that, after a residence there of three incongruities of rhapsodical descriptions, but for years, he was next transferred to Saugor, in Central the truth and importance of the facts he has col. India : so that his experience, including his nulected ; and, in this respect, his production deserves merous journeys, as well as his fixed residences, unmixed praise. It is full of valuable details ; enabled him to embrace a sufficient variety on the there is scarcely a single topic of interest omitted ; surface to render his note-book of more than and there is not a word thrown away for the sake ordinary value.