Imágenes de páginas

“And finds no end in wandering mazes lost.” been fashionable in the court of MaThe limits of an essay will not allow drid, in which a proposition is laid us to touch upon the smaller peculi- down, and the characters adopt difarities of the Spanish theatre-ihe dia ferent sides, and defend their opivision and classification of their plays, nions in a set speech." This is certhe measure in which they are written, tainly absurd, and the reasoning on or the introduction of that anomalous either side is seldom very correct or personage, the Gracioso. One or two convincing, but the reader will be ocwords on the dialogue, and we have casionally amused with its subtlety done.

and ingenuity, and with the elegance The dialogue of the Spanish plays and epigrammatic point of the language has great faults and great beauties. in which it is conveyed. It may be questioned how far any po

The remarks which we have now etry can be properly admitted into concluded are applicable to the the drama, save the mere poetry of middle period of the Spanish drama. sentiment and action, and certainly it Three epochs in its existence are obwould not be easy to defend theoreti- servable. The first extends froin its cally the introduction of poetry of a infancy through the rude and obsolyriccast: all practice, however, pleads lete works of Encina, the Naharros, strongly in its favour. The ancient Lopé de Rueda, and Virues, down to Greek drama, and the plays of Shake Cervantes, who may either be consispeare, and of the writers of the Eliza- dered as the last of the first, or the bethan age, will readily occur to every founder of the second epoch. The reader. It is this whích tempers the second, to which we have been digloom of the German drama, and it is recting our attention, was the manthe want of this which renders the hood and maturity of the Spanish tragedies of Alfieri so disagreeably op- drama, which reached its highest elepressive and monotonous. The whole vation under Calderon. It includes structure of the dialogue of the Spa- Lopé, Calderon, Moreto, Roxas, De nish theatre is extremely lyrical, a Solis, Molina, and a nameless crowd circumstance, which, as Lord Holland of“ imitated imitators,” who exaggerobserves, may have originated in the ated even the extravagancies of their short lyric nature of the redondillas, prototypes. The close of the sevenand versos de pie quebrado in which teenth century witnessed the comtheir plays are written, but which has mencement of a new æra, with the with equal probability resulted from introduction of the French comedy, the superabundance of a warm imagi- The credit of the old national drama nation, untempered by judgment, had been gradually declining, and and pouring forth its treasures, not after a well meant but feeble stand with liberality, but profusion. This made by La Huerta, the old writers lyrical propensity would not, however, were laid on the shelf, and Yriarte and be objectionable, were it not for the Moratin reigned in their stead. Spain common-place nature of too many of seems to be at this moment commencthe images, metaphors, and allusions ing a fourth epoch, or rather witnesof the Spanish dramatists, not except- sing the revival of the second, for the ing even those of The Poet, par French taste is slowly but surely on excellence,” as Schlegel calls Calde- the decline, and a revulsion of taste, ron. Neither Lopé nor Calderon which seems to be gaining ground could, indeed, be expected to em over all Europe, is again restoring the ploy much research, or to be origi- old writers to favour and popularity. nal through several hundred come On the whole, though those who dies. The former, indeed, is said come to the perusal of the Spanish to have frequently interwoven with drama with a disposition to be critithe structure of his dramas any cal, will find ample materials for rispare poems, sonnets, odes, or epi- dicule and censure, the candid and grams, which he happened to have impartial reader will, amidst these ocby him at the time, and the exami- casional absurdities, find much to apnation of a few of his plays will plaud, to imitate, and to admire. tend strongly to confirm the surmise. Both he and Calderon are extremely A very favourable specimen of these fond of introducing into their pieces a dialogues is to be found in Calderon's adkind of dialogues that seems to have mirable play of “ El secreto a voces.”

The outline of the whole is imposing There is, we think, what is better and magnificent, and though in some than eloquence, real simplicity in this parts the colouring is sketchy and narrative, and but little attempt to unfinished, in others glaring and ex- colour or exaggerate. The gifted aggerated, yet touches are continually writer speaks with great humility of occurring which reveal the handling her own powers, and makes no effort of the artist, and atone for many im- to conccal her weaknesses, we do not perfections. In every age and coun mean those more culpable weaknesses try where the era of genius has not which have been ascribed to her, and been succeeded or supplanted by that which, if they did exist, it would have of taste, mens' writings must bear a been inc pudence to have unveiled in certain impress of rudeness, which at any form of hypocritical contrition ; a more advanced period will undoubt- but weaknesses very allowable to her edly jar with, and shock those delicate sex and situation, and yet, which one, feelings which refinement and civic who had been desirous of becoming lization have generated ; but cold in- the heroine of a tale, might bave endeed to the beauties of poetry must deavoured to cover. that mind be, which cannot over It is not, however, Madame de Staël look these faults, amongst the excel- herself who is the principal figure on lencies by which they are surround the canvas before us. Another much ed: Some of these faults too are more more terrible personage starts into life imaginary than real. We should again, in all the panoply of his power; learn to distrust our opinion with and at this moment, when we have so regard to works in another language. lately heard of his final departure One essential part of our pleasure in from that world which he had conreading poetry is, that the delicacies trived in his “ little day,” almost to and shades of allusion should be at turn upside down ; there is something once detected without the necessity indescribably awful in having him so of a laborious investigation. Now, soon recalled from the region of spiit is almost impossible for a foreigner rits, and presented to us once more in to be so perfectly acquainted with the the full Aush of his glory and his manners, customs, and local allusions crimes. The name of Napoleon can of another country, as not to overlook scarcely now be repeated" but with many beauties, which, to a native, some feelings of tenderness ; there are striking and palpable. And this was in the mind and in the fortunes must be more particularly the case in of that astonishing man, something so dramatic literature, where the fami- dazzling at one time, and even to the liarity and frequency of such allu- last something so commanding; he sions presuppose an acquaintance with was so well adapted for the part the manners of all classes in society, which he played, and even when it which it falls to the lot of few foreign- was all at an end, he carried so much ers ever to attain.

of the sovereign with him off the stage-he was separated so far from

the rest of humankind, and lived in TEN YEARS' EXILE; A POSTHUMOUS

such an enchanted whirl, and died in WORK OF MADAME DE STAEL."

such a no less narvellous calm ; that

he is from beginning to end almost a We have not for a long time met hero of romance, a kind of fabulous with a book of deeper interest than being, to whom we can hardly apply these memoirs, although they are the common rules of moral censure, and merely the fragments of an incomplete whose existence, now that it is at an work. They are written with the end, wecan scarcely believe to have been lively feeling, and the comprehensive any other than that of a distempered observation, which characterize all dream. At present, perhaps, it would Madame de Staël's compositions ; and be more suitable to the train of our as they relate to her own history dur- feelings, to hear nothing but what was ing one of its most distressing periods, good about Napoleon. Madame de she has scarcely occasion to have re

Staël may be as " honest a chronicler course to her uncommon eloquence for as Griffith,” but, alas ! she has not awakening our warmest sympathies. made us

Whom we most hated living* London, 1821.

Now in his ashes honour,

Never get has he been painted, very much, came to see me, and told me, even by herself, in more hateful co • My brother complains of you. Why, lours; and we fear there is no exag- said he to me yesterday, why does not Mageration, but that every word is true. dame de Stael attach herself to my govern. the opinion entertained of Napoleon of the deposit of her father?

I will give

ment? what is it she wants ? the payment by this lady has long been known, as

orders for it: a residence in Paris ? I will a character of the most thorough and allow it her. In short, what is i: she complete selfishness, without any con- wishes ?' • Good God!' replied I, it cern about any human being who is not what I wish, but what I think, that stood at all in the way of his plans or is in question.' I know not if this answer his caprices. This we were prepared was reported to him, but if it was, I am again to hear, but we scarcely expect certain that he attached no meaning to it ; ed to meet such a detail of mean and for he believes in the sincerity of no one's paltry cruelty, or to find that while opinions ; he considers every kind of mohe was forming, in his boundless ima- rality as nothing more than a form,

to gination, the most extensive schemes which no more meaning is attached than of conquest that ever seduced an he- to the conclusion of a letter; and as the roic mind, he could yet condescend having assured any one that you are his

most humble servant would not entitle to the lowest practices of revenge, him to ask any thing of you, so if any one which one might look for from soine

says that he is a lover of liberty,--that he slighted or jealous woman. While believes in God, that he prefers his conthe whole world was at his feet, science to his interest, Bonaparte considers he actually seems to have taken the such professions only as an adherence to pet, that a female writer had never of- custom, or as the regular means of for. fered incense upon his altar, and his warding anıbitious views or selfish calcupersecution of her appears to have lations. The only class of human beings been as pertinacious and minute in all those who are sincerely attached to an opi

whom he cannot well comprehend, are the possible means of torturing, as if pion, whatever be the consequences of it: this important enterprise had been the

such persons Bonaparte looks upon as booonly business upon his hand. At bies, or as traders who outstand their mar. first sight this appears incredible, and ket, that is to say, who would sell themwe might impute the whole represen- selves too dear. Thus, as we shall see in tation to the lady's inflated notion of the sequel, has he never been deceived in her own importance, but she makes it his calculations, but by integrity, encounout, to our apprehension, very clearly, tered either in individuals or nations.” pp. and, we believe, this was only one in 3-5. stance among many of Napoleon's most insane affectation of omnipotence and

Madame de Staël was, in no long omniscience,- he had a vanity of doing time, obliged to leave Paris, and was the most trivial things as well as the not permitted to come nearer than greatest, and of knowing what was pas- forty leagues,-a heavy punishment to sing in the most private families, as one who delighted in Parisian society well as in the cabinets of kings-and and conversation. During this time, he probably thought it something su

she travelled in Germany and Italy, blime to be able to direct the perse

but it was not till the intended pubcution of Madame de Staël, with the lication of her book on Germany, that same thorough-going detail, with the full violence of the storm burst which he at the same moment was upon her. This was in the year 1810. planning the overthrow of the Rus The book was printed at Paris under sian Empire.

censorial inspection, and yet, when she From the very outset of his reign, expected to hear of its publication, Napoleon took a distaste to this lady. the appalling news arrived, that the The friends of liberty, particularly B. whole impression, to the number of Constant, were encouraged by her con 10,000 copies, was ordered to be deversation.

stroyed, and that she herself was to “Shortly after the 18th Brumaire, Bo. quit France in three days. She renaparte had heard that I had been speak. tired to Coppet, near Geneva, formering strongly in my own parties, against ly the residence of her father, M. that dawning oppression, whose progress I Necker, but even hece she had no foresaw as clearly as if the future had been repose, her every motion was watchrevealed to me. Joseph Bonaparte, whose ed, she was deprived of Mr Schleunderstanding and conversation I liked gel, the tutor of her sons, ---two


friends who came to see her, one only yet remained one means of getting to Engfor a few hours, were themselves in land, and that means the tour of the whole consequence banished, and she was at of Europe. I fixed the 15th of May for last forced, after much hesitation and my departure, the preparations for wbich balancing of difficulties, to attempt to

had been arranged long before-hand in the escape out of the reach of her tormen- day, my strength abandoned me entirely,

most profound secrecy. On the eve of that tor.

Singular as it may seem, the and for a moment I almost persuaded myoffence taken by the Emperor ap- self that such a degree of terror as I felt pears to have been, that, in the book on

could only proceed from the consciousness Germany, no mention had been made of meditating a bad action. Sometimes I of him or his glory, for not a word consulted all sort of presages in the most was said that could be construed to foolish manner ; at others, which was much his prejudice. The prefect at Gene- wiser, I interrogated my friends and myva often hinted to Madame de Staël self on the morality of my resolution. It that all would go well, if she would appears to me that the part of resignation only write something in the Empere in all things may be the most religious, or's praise.

and I am not surprised that pious men

should have gone so far as to feel a sort of “Of what consequence (she well re. scruple about resolutions proceeding

from marks) was this eulogium to him, among

free will. Necessity appears to bear a sort the millions of phrases which fear and hope of divine character, while man's resolution were constantly offering at his shrine ? may be connected with his pride. It is Bonaparte once said : If I had the choice, certain, however, that none of our facul. either of doing a noble action myself, or of ties have been given us in vain, and that inducing my adversary to do a mean one, of deciding for one's self has also its use. I would not hesitate to prefer the debase. On another side, all persons of mediocre ment of my enemy.' In this sentence you intellect are continually astorished that tahave the explanation of the particular lent has different desires from theirs. pains which he took to torment my exist. When it is successful, all the world might

He knew that I was attached to do the same; but when it is productive my friends, to France, to my works, to my of trouble, when it excites to stepping out tastes, to society; in taking from me every of the common track, these same people thing which composed my happiness, his regard it no longer but as a disease, and wish was to trouble me sufficiently to make almost as a crime. I heard continually me write some piece of insipid flattery, buzzing about me the common-places with in the hope that it would obtain me my which the world suffers itself to be led : recall. In refusing to lend myself to his Has not she plenty of money ? Can she not wishes, I ought to say it, I have not had live well and sleep well in a good house ?' the merit of making a sacrifice; the em. Some persons, indeed, of a higher cast, peror wislied me to commit a meanness, felt that I had not even the certainty of my but a meanness entirely useless ; for at a sad situation, and that it might get worse, time when success was in a manner deified, without ever getting better. But the ato the ridicule would not have been complete, mosphere which surrounded me counselled if I had succeeded in returning to Paris, repose, because, for the last six months, I by whatever means I had effected it. To had not been assailed by any new persecusatisfy our master, whose skill in degrad. tion, and because men always believe that ing whatever remains of lofty mind is un what is, is what will be. It was in the questionable, it was necessary that I should midst of all these dispiriting circumstances dishonour myself in order to obtain my that I was called upon to take one of the return to France,-that he should turn strongest resolutions which can occur in into mockery my zeal in praise of him, the private life of a female. My servants, who had never ceased to persecute me,

with the exception of two confidential perand that this zeal should not be of the least sons, were entirely ignorant of my secret ; service to me. I have denied him this the greatest part of those who visited me truly refined satisfaction ; it is all the me had not the least idea of it, and by a sinrit I have had in the long contest which gle action, I was going to make an entire has subsisted between his omnipotence and change in my own life, and that of my fa. my weakness.” pp. 221–223.

mily. Torn to pieces by uncertainty, I

wandered over the park of Coppet ; I seatMadame de Staël describes, in a ed myself in all the places where my father manner very affecting and natural, the had been accustomed to repose hiniself and irresolution and weakness into which contemplate nature; I regarded once more she was thrown before her departure these same beauties of water and verdure from Coppet.

which we had so often admired together ;

I bid them adieu, and recommended my, “ I determined on going off, while there self to their sweet influence. The monu

rable step

ment which incloses the ashes of my father however, at nearly two thousand leagues and my mother, and in which, if the good distance from that goal, to which the usual God permits, mine also will be depositedroad would have so speedily conducted me, was one of the principal causes of the re but every step brought me at least some gret I felt at banishing myself from the thing nearer to it. When I had proceedplace of my residence, but I found al. ed a few leagues, I sent back one of my most always on approaching it, a sort of servants to apprize my establishment that strength, which appeared to me to come I should not return until the next day, from on high. I passed an hour in pray- and I continued travelling night and day er before that iron gate which inclosed the as far as a farm-house beyond Berne, where mortal remains of the noblest of human I had fixed to meet Mr Schlegel, who was beings, and there, my soul was con so good as to offer to accompany me ; there vinced of the necessity of departure. also I had to leave my eldest son, who had I recalled the famous verses of Claudian, been educated, up to the age of fourteen, in which he expresses the kind of doubt by the example of my father, whose feawhich arises in the most religious minds tures he reminds one of. A second time when they see the earth abandoned to the all my courage abandoned me; that Switwicked, and the destiny of mortals as it zerland, still so tranquil and always so were floating at the mercy of chance. | beautiful, her inhabitants, who know how felt that I had no longer the strength ne to be free by their virtues, even though cessary to feed the enthusiasm which deve they have lost their political independence : loped in me whatever good qualities I pos the whole country detained me, it seemed sessed, and that I must listen to the voice to tell me not to quit it. It was still time of those of similar sentiments as myself, to return, I had not yet made an irrepafor the purpose of strengthening my con

Although the prefect had fidence in my own resources, and preserv- thought proper to interdict me from travel. ing that self-respect which my fether had ling in Switzerland, I saw clearly that it instilled into me. In this state of anxiety, was only from the fear of my going beI invoked several times the memory of yond it. Finally, I had not yet crossed my father, of that man, the Fénélon of po. the barrier which left me no possibilty of litics, whose genius was in every thing op- returning ; the imagination feels a difiposed to that of Bonaparte ; and genius he culty in supporting this idea. On the certainly, had for it requires at least as other hand, there was also something irremuch of that to put one's self in harmony parable in the resolution of remaining ; for with heaven, as to invoke to one's aid all after that moment, I felt, and the event the instruments which are let loose by the has proved the feeling correct, that I could absence of laws divine and human. I went no longer escape. Besides, there is an inonce more to look at my father's study, describable sort of shame in recommencing where his easy chair, his table, and his such solemn farewells, and one can scarcepapers, still remained in their old situation ; ly resuscitate for one's friends more than I embraced each venerated mark, I took once. I know not what would have behis cloak, which till then I had ordered to come of me, if this uncertainty, even at be left upon his chair, and carried it away the very moment of action, had lasted with me, that I might wrap myself in it, much longer ; for my head was quite conif the messenger of death approached me. fused with it. My children decided me, and When these adieus were terminated, I especially my daughter, then searcely fouravoided as much as I could any other teen years old. I committed myself, in a leave-takings, which affected me too much, manner, to her, as if the voice of God had and wrote to the friends whom I quitted, made itself to be heard by the mouth of a taking care that my letters should not child. My son took his leave, and after he rezch them until several days after my de was out of my sight, I could say, like parture.

Lord Russel, the bitter ness of death is past. “ The next day, Saturday, the 23d of I got into my carriage with my daughter ; May 1812, at two o'clock in the afternoon, uncertainty once terminated, 'I collected I got into my carriage, saying that i all my strength within myself, and I found should return to dinner. I took no packet sufficient of that for action which had altowhatever with me; I had my fan in my gether failed me for deliberation.” pp. band, and my daughter hers, only my 238—247. son and Mr Rocca carried in their pockets Her route was for Vienna, where what was necessary for some days' journey. she arrived after more alarms than lo descending the avenue of Coppet, in

real obstacles, thus quitting that chateau which had be. come to me like an old and valued friend, " Before I reached Vienna, as I waited I was ready to faint ; my son took my for my second son, who was to rejoin me hand, and said, ' My dear mother, think with my servants and baggage, I stopped. that you are setting out for England.' a day at Mölk, that celebrated abbey, That word revived my spirits : I was still, placed upon an eminence, from which Na.

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