Imatges de pàgina
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After a short intervening scene, Tancred appears before his
daughter with a vase in his hand, and the drama thus pro-
ceeds:
« Tanc. All void the chamber-leave us to be private,

Sigis. Low at your feet see Sigismonda falls!
No hand is stretch'd to raise her from the dust,
No glance, inspiring confidence!-Alas! -
He heeds me not

Tanc. Let none approach our presence.
Sigis. Then must thy daughter grow for ever here!

« Tanc, Rise; these are idle forms, mere mockeries ;
They please me not. What boots the bended knee,
When the proud stubborn heart derides such crouchings?
Behold this vase!
Sigis. I know its dreadful import,

Tanc. Alas! alas, thou know its import!—thou!
The babe of ease and joy!-Leave those who've press’d
The milkless breast of want, who have been scared,
On the first step of life, with famine, war,
The gangrened plague, or massacre; leave those,
With all their skill in horrors, to divine
Its foul contents-But thou-

Sigis. I know 'tis poison; A welcome present, worthy of my father. You tremble; give it to my steadier hand. · Tanc. No, let it rest awhile.- [Places it on a table. ]-Now hear

me, daughter,
Thou dost not, sure, forget that horrid night,
When, circled in these arms, you watch'd in silence
Your mother's parțing breath: the expiring saint,
Fixing her eyes on thee, thus faintly cried,
Almighty Powers! preserve yon blooming infant,
Make her the comfort of her father's age,
Nurse of his sickness, pleasure of his health;
And, ere she swerve from Virtue's arduous path,
Take her, O! take her, pure and innocent,
To your immortal selyes!
Short-sighted state of man, unjust and vain
In all his reasonings !—if death had hasten'd
His well-timed course, to save thee from this ruin,
Still I had wept; with partial cruelty
Had tax'd high Heaven-perhaps, had follow'd thee
To the cold grave, in the fond doating error
Of thy bright excellence, that fence impregnable
'Gainst wantonness and vice.

Sigis. Tancred, I make
No empty vaunt; I boast not, that, since first
This tongue knew utterance, this brain conception,
This bosom sense and feeling, I have lov'd thee
Beyond a father's poor prerogative,
Or the cold tribute of a daughter's duty,

My mother's prayer was heard; she pray'd that Virtue
Should point my dubious way. 'Twas by that light
I steer'd; and fix'd on that, on that alone,
I found it led to Guiscard, and to truth.-
This to his manes!

(seising the vase.
Tanc. O!-yet hold, my daughter.

Sigis. Idle delay:- the drug may lose its force. Tanc. Art thou prepared to viewSigis. Speak-what-[sbe removes the lid.] O! horror! What's this that meets my eyes ?

Tanc. Thy husband's heartHis rebel blood-my exquisite revenge. Dost thou approve the gift?

Sigis. [4fter a long struggle to speak.] I now have strength
To thank you as I ought !-Do I approve it ?
Thou true, thou honest heart! O sad, O poor
Remains of all my soul held dear! thus, thus
I press thee to this throbbing breast !

Tanc. [aside.] I fear
I've gone too far-behold how eagerly
She grasps the fatal cup.- Forbear, my child,
Forbear.

Sigis. I am conversing with the dead,
And must not be disturb’d.-Alas! poor heart,
And wilt thou ever sleep inanimate
Within thy narrow sepulchre ! - Vain shadow
Of that which once was Guiscard! where are all
Thy fine sensations—thy tumultuous pulse ?
Spark of ethereal fire, how art thou quench'd !
Region of honour, courage, truth, and love,
All, all laid waste !--Tis

strange I am not mad;
Perhaps I shall not be. It matters not,
For the short space that's

left me.

For, there's something
That from within whispers my quick releasement.
Methinks I feel like one worn out with age,
Tottering, and weak,—though; at the evening bell,
(And night's not fallen yet) "I had the nerves

Tanc. (half aside.] O! my lost child, too late,
Too late, alas ! I wish the deed undone.
Resign the cup-it is a sight too horrible

Sigis. Never but with life.-
Swear that no ruffian force shall tear it from me.
But let it thus be lock'd in my embrace,

partner of my grave ! To heaven I'll bear it With me, the passport to eternal peace!

Tanc. Who talks of peace and heaven !- damning guilt ! O sharp remorse! the sounds of peace and heaven Harrow my soul with fears :-and, to complete My woes, thou’rt ready

with thy dying curse.

Of playful youth.

For mortal vision.

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Sigis. I pray come nearer to me.—Thus I curse thee

[embracing him. Thus, on thy neck, pour forth the only tears I've shed in all my grief.-Horror, before, Dried up their source.

Tanc. And can those injured hands, That should have sent a poniard to my bosom, Entwine me thus within them?-1, all stain'd With blood-ah! and whose blood ! Sigis. That's true : impure

[starting from him. Is thy embrace, and 'tis an impious deed To approach my husband's murderer. Let me hence.' P. 114.

The death of Sigismunda, and the agonising remorse of Tancred, close the melancholy tale.

In the construction of the fable of the Step-Mother, the noble author informs us that he had no recourse to the records of history, or to the invention of contemporary writers. The plot of this drama is well arranged, and the story is interesting. Ít exhibits the revengeful artifices of the countess Casimir, by which she takes advantage of the illicit love of her husband for Louisa, who is betrothed to Frederic, his son by a former wife, to induce the son to slay his own father. This event constitutes the catastrophe of the drama. The character of the countess strongly reminds us of lady Macbeth; and we are also reminded of the same pure fountain of dramatic writing by the machinery of aërial beings, who prompt the count to the execution of his villanous designs against the virtue of Louisa. We cannot, however, but think the introduction of the machinery unnecessary, as the operation of evil passions, which had been long and habitually indulged, is sufficient to account for all the atrocities introduced. To the intermixture of characters approaching the comic, in the course of a tragedy, we do not object, provided such intermixture be not too copious; and we think his lordship has been suficiently temperate in this respect, and that they do not obtrude too frequently upon the scene. As an additional specimen of the noble earl's dramatic style, we would willingly transcribe at length the first scene of the third act, which appears to be written with considerable spirit; but we have only room for a part of it. The reader will observe that the wrath of the countess is roused by the fraudulent inspection of her husband's will, by the tenor of which, in case she survived him, she would be reduced from princely affluence to a state of comparative poverty.

"ACT III.

Scene 1.-The Countess's Apartment. Countess. [alone.] Had he but cast into my drinking-cup The deadly nightshade-had he but let out,

With his avenging sword, my heart's warm blood,
And so at once had crush'd his enemy-.
Might well, when nature pleaded for itself,
Admit of pardon. But, rotting in the tomb,
And, when the glorious sense of great revenge
Was felt no more to rob me from the grave
To subject me to pain—’midst provinces,
Abundant farms, and populous cities,
All which I gave; to make me crouch in the hut
Of beggary, a mendicant's asylum-
And, when his shrouded eyes no more could feast
With execrable joy on the oppression,
Still to oppress—O this dissolves all ties !
Makes vengeance righteous !—Now, lord Casimir,
It is become a striving race between us :
One, and one only, can enjoy the prize ;
That prize is life ;—and death must have a victim !

Enter Lord Henry. Countess. Welcome, lord Henry! Since the fresh coming Of our new guests, say, what has thy keen search Collected for our use? Know, circumstances, That, single, trifling seem, together heap'd, Become a mass for notice.

· Hen. In that spot,
Where we all met this morning, you'll believe
The observer glean’d but little.- 'Twas a scene
To raise one's mirth.—Mark'd you your husband's joy,
How real, how sincere ? All the hasty questions,
That saved the answerer's breath? Can you divine,
Why Frederick’s presence could be well dispensed with ?

Countess. The parent's hate of every thing allied
To virtue or fair conduct conjures up
A stern upbraider of his life, in all
Who wallow not in his polluted litter :
And in this son he views a censurer
Of all his actions. Where is then the wonder
His absence had been pardon'd ?

Hen. Something yet
Remains to be explain'd. Late, I've remark'd
The various altars, which your lord had raised
Around this place to wild unlicensed love,
All have been neglected-No presents now,
In secret, are dispatch'd, as formerly,
Each morning to the city. What's more-safely
The village beauty meets him in her path ;
Nor has, some nine months after, to deplore
She took that dang'rous road. This sudden change
I've well observed. Say, have you not suspected
Some new attraction draws him from his haunts ?

Countess. If I esteem'd him, then, perchance, I could Be jealous for his honour, and be studious

To hide such brutish weakness from the world;
Or if the trembling flame of foolish fondness
Still warm'd this injured heart ; why then, indeed,
I might employ a leisure hour to note
The fleeting, quick succession of my rivals!
Where no affection warms the lifeless soil,
How can the roots of jealousy be cherish'd ? P. 181.

We can truly commend the judgement displayed by the noble earl in the arrangement of these plots; but he, nevertheless, appears to us to want the faculty of drawing that decided and clear outline which is requisite to the successful delineation of dramatic character. In Tancred and the countess Casimir we find distinct, and determinate features ; but his lovers, and especially his heroines, are those of every play, and almost of every novel. The reader is accordingly more interested by the various incidents that attend them, than by their characteristic conduct and language'; and he will too frequently be reminded of the unlucky motto, Volo, non valeo, attached to the emblazonment of his lordship's arms, which are introduced as a kind of vignette to the present volume. The style of the noble dramatist is somewhat too ornamented; but his metaphors and allusions, individually considered, are generally correct and just.

The poems which close this volume are few and short : they evince, however, a feeling heart and a polished mind. We shall close our observations by extracting the following verses. On Occasion of a Friend's contending for Beauty, and Beauty alone,

• A noisy laughing Cupid I detest ;

Give me the Boy with look intent,

Big with grave care, as though he meant
Some mighty work, when he besieged my breast,
• Not, that a whining love has charms for me ;

Yet there's a tenderness that wears

A serious robe, and drinks the tears Soft guahing from the eye of Sympathy. • The charitable gift, the pitying hand,

The soul that melts at sight of woe,

Strike on the breast the hardest blow,
And join esteem to Passion's looser band.
• Hence true affection, hence refined desire,

Feel their full right to nobler joy,

To bliss that is too dear to cloy,
For it is purified by Reason's fire.
• yvely thy nymph! but will she e'er incline

O'er the sick bed or sorrow's chair?

O! light and giddy, would she bear
One sober flower in Pleasure's wreath to twine?

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