Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a

bears his daughter Ophelia ; and en, for the purpose of consulting a sage old gages Norceste to go to the King, and man, who is to acquaint him with imrelate to him the assassination of the portant tidings. He mentions the reEnglish monarch, for the purpose of bellion of Cador, against whom Macobserving what effect it would produce beth conducts the royal army, and inon the royal conscience. The third dulges in presentiments and fears of act commences between Polonius and ill fortune and an untimely end. Ducis Claudius, (whom we have perhaps is extremely fond of the prophetic menprematurely called king.) plotting to tal horrors of the German school. prevent the crowning of Hamlet. The From the second scene, in which the Becond scene of the third act answers old man appears, we learn that Dunto our play-scene; and is exceedingly can has committed, secretly, his son meagre and wretched, the relation of Malcolm (supposed dead) to the care of the English king's death being substi- this old man, (Sevar,) that he may be tuted for our episodic drama. At the out of the reach of Cador. Duncan end of the act, Ophelia appears, and inquires of the character and educainforms the Queen, that love for her tion of his son ;-this is a poor and is the cause of Hamlet's madness. The useless imitation of the original scene fourth act opens with Hamlet's soli- between Macduff and Malcolm. At the loquy; it is interrupted by the ap- end of this act is a Variante, to be used pearance of Ophelia, who, not very de- or not, ad libitum ; in which the three ficately,

acquaints the prince, that she witches make a brief appearance, and has disclosed the secret of their loves, hint at the conflict then engaged. The and settled the affair with the Queen second act takes place near Macbeth's He answers very ungallantly,

castle, which“ doit être d'un caractere “Le bonheur quelquefois est plus loin qu'on terrible," as we are informed. Except ne pense.

one or two scenes of little import, it

passes between Macbeth and his lady, The scene, though one of the best (Fredegonde.) The former has just in Ducis' play, shows manifestly that returned; he relates his having met the author was as incapable of compre- with the witches, to whom the poet, hending, as of imitating, the beauties in obedience to the usual bad taste of of Shakespeare. Hamlet expresses his the French with respect to imaginative intention of killing Claudius, and propriety, gives a classic and incongruOphelia appeals to his love to spare

her

ous occupation. father. Ducis has made her the daughter of Claudius, not of Polonius. This “ Dans les flancs entr'ouverts d'un enfant affords a struggle in the mind of égorgé, Hamlet between love and duty—that Pour consulter le sort, leur bras s'etait common-place contrariety of interest, plongé." which the French so gladly lay hold He could not understand a Scotch on. The catastrophe is somewhat reversed. Claudius besieges the palace

witch, without metamorphosing her -threatens Hamlet's life but is kill- into a Roman augur. 'Fredegonde ed by that prince. The Queen kills tempts Macbeth to aim at the crown. herself ; and Hamlet concludes with, and Glamis enter, and are conducted

In the last scene of the act, Duncan « Mais je suis homme et roi : reservé to their apartments. Act the third, pour souffrir,

Fredegonde urges - Macbeth to murJe saurai vivre encore ; je fais plus que der Duncan, saying, that she had conmourir."

sulted Iphyctone, who declared he The “ Macbeth" of Ducis made its should be king. They do not know appearance in 1790 ; and is further re- Malcolm to exist, but suppose Glamis moved from the spirit of its original, alone between them and the throne. by the political allusions, which were Fredegonde still urges Macbeth-the necessary indeed to the success of any dialogue between them is very fine, piece at that period. It is nevertheless and literally taken from Shakespeare. far superior to his “ Hamlet.” The He is about to perpetrate the crime, first scene is very fine and spirited, and when interrupted by the cry of “ To takes place between King Duncan and arms ! Cador has attacked the castle ?" Glamis, the supposed heir to the Act fourth commences between Maccrown. Duncan, it seems, has visited beth and Fredegonde, after the murthe forest in which the scene is laid, der of the King. The people enter, and

66

offer the crown to Macbeth, but with should be broiled and distributed for the proviso then fashionable,

the food of the poor-yet these men

could not tolerate Othello. The preQue tu n'es rien ici qu’un premier ci- face speaks of the tragedy of Shaketoyen.”

speare as “une des plus touchantes, et Then follows an imitation of our ban- plus terribles productions dramatiques quet scene. Macbeth sees the ghost qu'ait enfanté le génie vraiment créaof Banquo becomes distracted—and teur de ce grande homme. L'execrahis lady disperses the company. Sevar ble caractére de Iago y est exprimé introduces Malcolm as the son of the surtout avec une vigueur de pinceau late king. The fourth act concludes extraordinaire." This is another sign with a soliloquy of Fredegonde, medic of French taste. The character of Iago tating the destruction of the new-found is understood and appreciated; but, as Malcolm.

we shall see, that of Othello is appreAct 5th-Macbeth soliloquizes—is bended by the imitator not a jot farrepentant, and professes his intention ther than its coarse outline. None of to restore the crown to the young the fine shades of the high-minded and prince. Fredegonde walks in her sleep, passionate soldier are caught by the and reveals her criminal acts and pur- imitator-the broad features are given, poses. This scene is supposed to be and indeed are quite sufficient, more one of Mademoiselle George's finest than sufficient, for the French muse; pieces of acting. There are two catas. but all that we esteem the charactertrophes to the play, which the actors istic beauties of Othelloof that noble may choose between ;-in one, Mac- ideal of a soldier, is lost upon the perbeth confesses the King's murder, and ceptions of Ducis—they were to him restores the crown; while it appears mere leather or prunella.” that Fredegonde, in her sleep, has The tragedy opens by an officer restabbed her own son, mistaking him lating to the Doge (Moncenigo) the for Malcolm ;-in the other, assassins, conquest of the rebellious Veronese by employed by Fredegonde, are made to Othello. Odalbert (Brabantio) rushes fall into a similar mistake, and stab in, plaining the loss of his daughter Macbeth for Malcolm. o' my faith, Othello soon after enters. The scene were the French versifier living, we is beautifully written, but Othello asa should indite him on the Maiming sumes a pathetic tone of expostulation, Act. The Irish never houghed cattle which is a poor substitute for the mild in a more cruel style than Ducis does yet manly tone of the soldier of ShakeShakespeare.

speare. The account of his courtship The “ Othello,” which is the chef is closely and beautifully imitated. d'æuvre of Ducis, was first acted in This act does not depart much from 1792. It is accompanied by a preface, the original, except that Othello and which we should at first suspect to Hedelmone (Desdemona) are not yet have been addressed to his countrymen married. The second act commences bein a tone of bitter irony; but upon ex- tween Hedelmone and her nurse; the amining it, we find it merely to con- former confesses the feeling of presensist of stupid flattery; It tends to il- timent which we have mentioned as a lustrate the natural tenderness of favourite with Ducis. Loredan, son French hearts, and the impossibility to the Doge, and an old suitor to Heof their sitting spectators of the cruel delmone, is introduced. He requests of and ferocious Othello. Unluckily, this her to obtain permission for him to ac

was written in 1792. They who could company Othello to the war. He also bear and enjoy the cold blooded mas- acquaints her, that her father is ensacre of two millions of their fellow- gaged, from resentment against Othelcountrymen, could not sit to behold lo, in a plot against the state-she enOthello! They who—but we must treats Loredan to watch over her fanot grow angry. One of the men of ther's safety. Towards the end, they taste of that day, who was also, by the are observed by Othello and his friend bye, an Academician, wrote a pam- Pezare. The poetry of the scene bephlet, in which heproposed a vast saving tween these two is very fine, and altoto the nation. The proposal was, that gether original. The following dethe human carcases daily butchered scription of the government is much should not be thrown to waste, but esteemed by the French critics :

3L

[graphic]

Vol. XI,

[ocr errors]

“ Dans tous les lieux, sans cesse, ouyrant l'ail et l'oreille,
En paraissant dormir, le gouvernement veille,
Tenébreux dans sa marche, il poursuit son chemin ;
Muet, couvert d'un voile, et le glaive à la main,
Il cache au jour l'arrêt, la peine, la victime,

Po
Et punit la pensée aussi-tôt que le crime.
Ici, dans des cachots, l'accusé descendu
Pleure au fond d'un abime, et n'est point entendu.
D'un mot ou d'un regard l'Etat ici s'offense,
Et toujours sa justice a l'air de la vengeance.
Un homme peut périr, la loi peut l'égorger,
Sans qu'un pere ou qu'un fils ait connu son danger.
La mort frappe sans bruit, le sang coulen silence ;
Et les bourreaux sont prets quand le soupçon commence,

&c." In the third act, Odalbert having French tragedies," and after the furelearned that his daughter is not mar- going analysis, many will be tempted ried, endeavours to induce her to leave to add-bad is the best. It possesses, Othello; Loredan, the son of the Doge, nevertheless, much vigour and beauty he declares, can alone save him from of versification. Ducis has also writthe punishment due to his treason, and ten Lear and Romeo and Juliet, bethat Loredan demands Hedelmone's sides the original pieces of " Edipe hand as the only price of her father's chez Admete," and “ Allinfar, ou la safety. After much reluctance she Famille Arabe.” signs a promise to bestow herself up- We cannot quit the subject of the on him, and also gives to Loredan her French drama without noticing the bandeau of diamonds, in order to pro- new tragedy by Jouy, which, in our cure food and necessaries for her fugi- theatrical phrase, has had such a Tur tive father. This is all very lame--in in Paris. The title, Sylla, sufficientthe last scene of the act, Othello drags ly announces the gist of the piece, and Hedelmone away.

saves us the trouble of an analysis. It Act fourth commences' between is rich in all the beauties that French Othello and Pezare. Loredan has in- versification allows of; it is melodious terrupted the secret marriage cere- and pointed, and strong in allusion at mony between Hedelmone and his ri- least, if not in passion. There is no val. Pezare, the Iago of Shakespeare, plot-Sylla appears in the commenceis much softened down in Ducis, his ment, dressing his lists of proscription, diabolical purposes not being suspect and openly acting the tyrant. Uped by the audience until the denoue- on the expostulation of Roscius, who ment. Then follows a scene between upbraids him with his tyranny, and Othello and Hedelmone-he begs her says “For what crimes, Sõlla, punishto accompany him to the war-she est thou the Romans pú pleads the necessity of watching over Sylla replies, “For accepting the her father. Othello's rising jealousy is chains that I give, for daring to hope but poorly copied from Shakespeare. from me pardon for their servility. Pezare declares to Othello the infide- Thou knowst me not, Roscius ; I see lity of Hedelmone, and produces for that my soul is as yet a mystery, to proof the billet and bandeau found thee. The liberty which I destroy, has on Loredan, whom he has killed.

dearest idol; for it have Hedelmone enters, brought by the I combated in the senate, the forum, boisterous imprecations of Othello,who on the plains of Cheronæa, and the ironically conveys to her his suspi- sands of Arpinum. I wished it for all, cions.

but in Rome saw not one save myself

, Act the fifth represents the chambre who wished or who dared to be free, à coucher of Hedelmone; it is, in one &c." “ I scaped from the axe of Variante, much the same as in Shakes- the lictor ; proscribed I fled, and repeare, but much curtailed, hurried, turn dictator ; what should I consult and vastly inferior in effect. Hedet. in these degenerate times, but my cormone sings the Willow song, which tempt for mankind ? What plea bare was a singular innovation for the the Románs to aught but my hate? French stage. The other Variante In spite of them I'll break their chains ends happily, and makes the discovery Ye crouching citizens ! 'tis slavery ye of Pezare's treachery be announced as seek! I judge ye worthy of a no Othello's hand is raised to give the fa- bler fate. Ye ask of me chains, and tal blow. Othello “is one of the best of I answer ye, death.”

ever been

my

[ocr errors]

a

The catastrophe of the piece is sim-" It is curious to observe the attempts ply the abdication of Sylla, which is of the French dramatists to escape represented in the frontispiece-the from the critical despotism that hems figure which purposely resembles Na- them in like another cordon sanitaire, poleon more than Talma, exclaiming and drives them back to rot one upon in the words of the piece “ J'ai gou- the traces of another. The translated verné sans peur, et j'abdique sans drama of Falkland, successful this crainte.” The reader will have per-' season, was somewhat new. But the ceived that the great interest of the very principle of Sylla is a daring intragedy lies in Napoleon being sha« : novation, evidently taken from our dowed forth in Sylla, nor is the re- present taste in literature. “ Hithersemblance at all covert-Jouy's pre- to," says Jouy, “ the pathetic and the face contains a comparison between terrific have been excited in tragedy the Roman and the French dictator. by the combat of passions or the fatal

Children of their own deeds, both ity of events; I have attempted for ardent partizans of liberty before their the first time to make them spring individual elevation, both thought from the energy of a single character, they had purchased at the price of vice and to open to the spectator the tory the right to enslave their coun-. abysses in the spirit of a superior more tries. One laid violent hold of power, tal, and from this solely to derive all the other received it as a deposit, and the interest of my performance." To used it as an inheritance, &c. The this the critics exclaim, “ These are systematic coldness of the two men not the elements of tragedy, but of was in each the result of different biographicdialogue, divided into scenes principles—in one it was the egotism and acts. You must make choice, M. of vengeance, in the other the egotism Jouy, and be either a dramatic histoof grandeur. The craving after re- rian, or a tragic poet.” renown which devoured them both, Jouy is a liberal. He wrote for the entirely withered up the soul of Sylla; Minerve, and writes at present for the that of Napoleon still remained acces- Miroir and Constitutionelthese tensible to the pure pleasures and sweet af, dencies, of course, bring down upon fections of domestic life. Napoleon him the old school in politics and liintroduced severity in manners; Syl- terature,

From this we prophesy la's

's power on the contrary was wasted much advantage; the revolution and in debauch, &c. Sylla abdicated the the upset of opinions preceding and ampire, Napoleon lost it. Sylla ter- subsequent to it, created a new order minated his days peaceably at Rome, of judgment and taste, with respect to which he had bathed in blood, and in every thing, but poetry-every other the midst of a people whose fathers compartment of literature was reges he had prescribed. Napoleon died nerated. And the regeneration of the prisoner to the English, on an isola- muse might perhaps have followed, ted rock in the ocean, where he him had not Buonaparte stepped in, and self marked out the space of his tomb." completely shut up her temple. But

Talma, we all know, is not unlike if liberality in poetic criticism should Napoleon, but in Sylla the actor has come to be united, through the zeal of rendered the resemblance most stri- opponents, with liberality in political king, by imitating the bearing, dress, bias, the consequence will be (a con&c. of the late Emperor. His hair is summation devoutly to be wished for) arranged for the same effect, with the that originality and unfettered passion top of the head bald—the peculiarity will become popular in verse, as well which gained for Napoleon among his as independent principles in prose. soldiery the pet name of " notre petit Too much stress on both sides has tondu,"_and with the solitary lock been laid on the unities--a decent oblying sideways across the forehead. servation of them never shackles a Another allusion is the character of poet of genius: it is not the confining Roscius introduced into the piece, and of the tragic muse to the unities that Talma is even called Roscius in the cripples her, it is the confining her to preface; his familiarity with the dic- generalities, and forbidding her to retator, and the good offices thereby present individual passion. performed, bear a striking and bo- The preface to Sylla sets out, by nourable resemblance to the great lim way of precaution, in protesting against ving actor.

the dramatic taste of the English and German schools ; as this is merely a reserved but a single monologue to ruse to deceive his readers into enjoy the developement of this character." ing the very thing which he abuses, There could not well be devised a we pass it over, merely applauding the more pernicious classification, and it author for his ingenuity. But the proves that the originality and freeclassification of the French drama is dom of this author in the drama, is too interesting to be omitted. more owing to his genius than his

“With us, the only people who are taste. First of all, we exceedingly reelèves of the Greeks, the drama is na. gret to be informed, that the chefturally divided into three classes : d'auvres of the French stage, the Ore manners, intrigue, and character. And phelin de la Chine, Bajazet, Britannicus, this classification, so simple, so real, and Alzire, have, for their principal obis no less applicable to tragedy than ject, to paint the manners of the nations to comedy. The comedies of manners in which they pass if this be the case, are, Turcaret, the Femmes Savantes, the tragedies must be intolerably stuthe Precieuses Ridicules, the Philoso- pid :. Šir Walter himself could not phe sans le savoir, &c. &c.; the trage- compose an interesting romance even, dies of manners are, the Orphelin de if manners were not a very subordila Chine, Bajazet, Britannicus, Alzire, nate object in the performance. In the in which Racine and Voltaire had for second place, how inadequate must be the principal object to paint the man- the classification, that excludes Zaire ners of the people, amongst wh and Tancrède, and Icaves them bepassed the action of the drama. The tween two kinds, neither one thing Marriage de Figaro is the chef nor the other. From what the author euvre of the comedy of intrigue ; the says about the comedy of character, tragedy of intrigue has for its single and the momentary burst of eloquence example the sublime enigma of Héru- which he indulges in on the subject, clius.' Voltaire has intused all the we instantly see, that there is the ardour of the passions into Zaire and point of perfection for the French Tancrède, which are but tragedies of drama--that the flow of the poetic intrigue, happily modified by a slight tide has stopped there, and has not yet delineation of manners. The comedy reached what he calls the tragedy of of character is the highest of dramatic character :-in short, from this senconceptions; hence the Tartuffe and tence, as from a free confession, we the Misanthrope, in which the genius learn that the French have no great of Moliere has surpassed the very tragedy. This is a truth, which how. summit of his art, remain above all ever convinced of we were ourselves, comparison. To seize a character in yet certainly we never expected to see its ensemble, to drag, in the forcible it thus leap, as an inevitable corollary, expression of Locke, the monster from from the sentence of a French critic. his cavern, to sound the human heart, He allows that the French possess no and develope it in a single character, tragedy of character, and consequentunder all its phases, in its force, and ly in the consideration of the minor in its weakness, in its pride, and in its species, the comedy of character, he shamewhat a task-what a glory for expends the acme of his panegyric. a poet to fulfil !

Further, we perceive from the passage " The tragedy of character has been quoted, that they are not only without half intended, dimly shadowed forth tragedy of character, but without even by Racine in the person of Nero – an idea of what it is, or should be nevertheless there is but a trace, an historical truth, and consequently sube exquisite sketch, in the midst of a servience of imagination, being consicomposition of altogether another or- dered the grand requisite, for failing der. The Mahomet of Voltaire might in which even the Mahomet” falls also be considered as a tragedy of this under the critical ban. We (or more class, if historical truth had not been properly I) entered upon the study of sometimes sacrificed to high philoso- the French drama with an ardent wish phic thought in this admirable repre- to bestow upon it an admiration equal sentation. The character of Auguste, to that paid to our own- swallowed in the tragedy of Cinna, is more histoc an immense dose of anti-prejudice, rical; but in the midst of the passions which went further than mere neuand events, of which Auguste is the tralizing its opposite, for it became in pivot, though not the cause, Corneille itself a prejudice, and a strong one

1

« AnteriorContinuar »