Imatges de pàgina

At the present day we feel within ourselves no great venetation for the picturesque, and would not exchange a field of wheat for all the beauties of barrenness. .

Stonehenge we have already mentioned, and Amesbury is of little consequence ; but we must present a short extract from the account of Savernake Forest.

"It is the property of the earl of Aylesbury, and the only one in this country belonging to a subject. It is profusely wooded, and abundantly stocked with red and fallow deer, nearly two thousand being generally kept at one time in the forest and adjoining park of

Tottenham, both of which include a space of ground nearly sixteen miles in circumference. The forest is intersected with a great number of walks and avenues, cilt through its umbrageous woods and coppices : eight of these, like the rays of a star, concentrate in a spacious opening in the middle of the forest, where the late earl intended to erect an octagon tower, whose sides should correspond with the entrances to each vista.

• Mr. Gilpin, in a tone of regret, says, “ that the vestiges of most of our English forests are obliterated ;"--of " sylvan honours, scarcely any of them have the least remains to boast.” This cannot apply to the forest of Savernake, the scenery of which is peculiarly fine, and cannot but be highly interesting to the painter, who may here discover many of those subjects and effects which were so en. chanting to the eyes of a Gainsborough and a Wilson. The numerous herds of bounding deer, the prancing horse and ragged colt, whome untutored manes Autter on the pinions of the breeze, the mossa grown venerable oak, the solemn beech, and the taper pine, unite to constitute it a scene truly picturesque, and might well give in spiration to the poet who delights in-artless nature.

Raises his wood-crown'd brow; prospect sublime!
Whether yon stately oaks and slender pines,
In well-plann's order plac'd, attract the sight;
Or, o'er the smooth-shorn plain, we turn our eye
Beneath th' embow'ring shade, the lordly stag
And bounding hind repose, devoid of fear;
Around, their dapplèd young, in sportive play
Wanton, and chace each other through the grove.
From tree to tree the nimble squirrel springs ;
The blackbird shrill, and sweetly warbling thrush,
With echoing notes made the wide forest ring."

Greensied's Fugitive Pieces. • Many of the oaks in this forest are exceedingly large and majestic. The branches of one, called by way of pre-eminence the King oak, are as large in girt as the holes of many full-sized trees. The ground they overspread is upwards of fixty yards in diameter.

" The forest of Savernake, with the manor of Barton-cum-Marl. borough, and other estates adjoining, were formerly assigned as part of the jointure of the queen consort of England, particularly of Eleanor wife of king Edward the Third. Among the earl of

Aylesbury's writings relating to the forest are several warrants to the keepers, signed by her highness, in a very fine hand, for the delivery of verrison.

• Savernake forest came into the possession of the Bruce family through the marriage of Thomas lord Bruce, afterwards earl of Aylesbury, with lady Anne Seymour, the daughter of Henry lord Beauchamp, the sister and heir of William Seymour duke of Somerset, sixth in descent from the protector, in the year 1676.' Vol. i. P. 159.

We believe we have now enabled the reader to form a tolerable judgement of these volumes, which produce a pleasing accession to English topography.

set, amp, the side Anne Skomas Torsersion of

ART. IX.—The Tragedies and Poems of Frederic Earl of Carlisle.

8vo. 75. 6d. Boards. Wright. 1801. By submitting this volume to the public inspection, the noble author foregoes the privileges of the peerage, and becomes a citizen of the republic of letters, which banishes from its constitution all regard to distinction of birth, and gives to a plebeian critic to arraign, if it should be found necessary, a member of the upper house of high crimes and misdemeanours against the laws of true taste and elegant composition. • The tragedies contained in this volume are two in number; the first entitled, The Father's Revenge ; the second, The StepMother.

The story of the Father's Revenge is borrowed from the well known tale of Tancred and Sigismunda, as related by Bocaccio and Dryden. In filling up the outline of the plot however, and in the delineation of dramatic characters, it is obvious much scope is left for the exertion of genius.

The tragedy opens with a procession of monks, headed by the archbishop of Salerno, brother to Tancred king of Sicily, who pauses to communicate to Anselmo the horrors of a vision which had disturbed his slumbers during the course of the preceding night.

Anselmo, mark my words, and I beseech thee,
Think not 'twas dotage wove this airy vision.
A thousand footsteps seem'd in haste to pass
Close by my chamber door:-strange whisperings
Then horrid shrieks: and some, methought, did laugh,
But with a mirth so terrible, the groans
Which follow'd e'en gave respite to my fears.
A hollow voice upon my brother call’d,
And, in the tumult, Sigismonda's name
Struck on my ear. I started from my bed,

And, by a hand invisible impell’d,
Through these lone mansions of the dead, survey'd
That royal tomb, exposing, in sad show,
The nauseous remnants of all worldly grandeur,
And gaping wide in sad expectancy
Of some new victim from our falling house.
-Hadst thou, Anselmo, in that hour beheld me
Sinking to earth, thou surely would'st have deem'd
Some foul and secret guilt had bade these terrors
Brood o'er my sleepless bead.' P. 11,

The ill omened reflexions of the archbishop are interrupted by the annunciation of the arrival of Manfred, prince of Benevento, from a successful expedition against the pagans. Manfred next enters to view with Guiscard, a youth intrusted to him by Tancred, to be instructed in the military art. In the following dialogue between these warriors, the character of Tancred is opened, and the plot begins to unfold itself.

Guisc. 'Tis said, that Nature has not form'd the heart
Of Tancred of her softest clay; in me
Behold an instance of his clemency.
Where Reggio's rocky cliffs the surge defy,
There was I found, inhumanly exposed,
(By whom, and whence, uncertain) there I lay
An infant helpless, in my cradle pent,
Left to the mercy of a rising sea.
"Twas in thạt season, in this perilous state,
Tancred espied me as he chanc'd to pass,
Just as the favouring tide, by Heaven directed,
Heaved me on shore. My plaintive cries so moved
Salerno's prince, that carefully, in his robe,
He wrapt me round, and bore me to his palace;
Where, from that moment, I have ever shared
His fatherly affection,

Manf. Tis most strange,
That on thy head the shower of Tancred's kindness
Should all be spent, and not a stream of pity
Left to assuage his people's sufferings;
That he, accustom'd to the piercing shrieks
Of tortured criminals, should turn aside
To thee, and let thy childish eloquence
Invade a breast so fenced against compassion,

Guisc. Imperious in his nature, wrong'd by those
Whom he most trusts, instructed from his youth
To esteem the people but as instruments
Of his ambition or capricious will,
Yet, sir, believe me, Tancred still has virtues,
Which might in public blaze, but are obscured
By the dim clouds of passion that eclipse them,
And intercept their lustre from mankind,

Manf. 'Tis true, indeed, he rears that tender plant,
His beauteous daughter, with unwearied care,
In spotless innocence and purest virtue;
Ne'er has he suffer'd the infectious gale
Of vice to breathe upon her tender ear:
In this he shows a softness in his nature
That almost blunts the dart of accusation.'

Guisc. Named you his daughter, lovely Sigismonda?
O! I have seen him sit and gaze upon her,
Till down his manly cheeks the scorching tears
Have flow'd so fast, that on his iron corselet
Were mark'd their rusty channels. Innocence
Like her's is watch'd by all the host of angels,
The fiends of this licentious court obey
The fascination of her eyes, though meek
As gentle Mercy's at the throne of Heaven,

Manf. And the soft graces of her outward form
Keep equal pace with all her soul's perfections.

Guisc. The amorous winds, sure, never in their sport
From such a forehead stirr'd the waving tresses,
To give more beauty to the gazing world.

Manf. But you, my Guiscard, witness to the spring
When first these beauties budded to the morn,
Arm'd with its gentler warmth and gradual fires,
Faint not like those that feel the summer's gleam.

Guisc. [aside.] Ah! that in truth it were so ! But behold The minister of Tancred, with his train.' P. 20.

The first act closes with a petition from an aged captive to Guiscard, desiring him to use his influence with Tancred to obtain his liberty. In the commencement of the second act, we have the meeting of Tancred and the victorious crusaders.

They are soon joined by Sigismunda, the daughter of Tancred, who, at the sight of Guiscard, evinces those tender emotions which may easily be conceived to proceed from her having long returned his affection in secret. In the progress of this act, Monforti, the prime-minister of Tancred, thus confers with Raimond on the subject of a conspiracy he has formed against his master's life.

· Monf. Hast thou, throughout this murmuring city, spread The hopes of vengeance, and redress of wrongs ?

Raim. The leafless oak, crumbling to dust with age, -
Fires not so quickly in the lightning's course
As our brave citizens, whene'er I point
The path to great revenge.

Monf. Say, hast thou ventured
To hint that I partake their just resentments,
Approve their rage, and weep at their oppression?
: ; Raim. I even whisper'd you would not be wanting
To guide them through the danger.

Monf. The gulld fools
Believe I love them. They are, indeed, the waves,
And, while they bear us, we must court their favour,
Until we gain the port: unheeded then,
To the wide ocean they again may flow,
Lost and forgotten ʼmidst their kindred waters.' P. 37.

In the last scene of the present act, Guiscard and Sigismunda renew their vows of love ; but the transport of their affection is, in some measure, damped by the gloomy presages which arise in the mind of the princess.

. Sigis. Guiscard, my boding heart Informs me—but ere long dread certainty Will take the place of miserable doubt; Till then be patient.-Soon, I fear, the sun Of all our happiness must set for ever!' P.47. Guiscard now applies to Tancred in behalf of the aged captive, but meets with a harsh repulse. The Sicilian king -is reproved for his cruelty by his brother the archbishop, who informs him of the conspiracy framed by Monforti against his life. The bold and confident spirit of Tancred induces him to disbelieve the information. In the ensuing scene Guiscard relates to Hassan the ill success of his petition to the cruel monarch, in the answer to which relation it is discovered that Hassan is Guiscard's father.

Manfred next communicates to Guiscard the intention of Tancred to bestow upon him (Manfred) the hand of Sigismunda and the inheritance of his kingdom. When, however, he finds that the affections of his intended bride are engaged to Guiscard, he generously resigns his pretensions in behalf of his friend. In an interview with Sigismunda, Guiscard persuades her privately to marry him, and intimates his intention of accompanying her immediately afterwards to the dominions of Manfred, who has offered him an asylum and protection against ihe wrath of Tancred. The lovers repair to a retired part of the castle, where a friar waits to perform the nuptial ceremony. This is scarcely concluded, when Tancred, who had been apprised that this was the rendezvous of the conspirators, arrives at the spot and arrests the friar, who, in the agitation of fear, informs him of the union of his daughter with Guiscard. This information fills the Sicilian prince with extreme fury, and he bursts abruptly upon the newly-united pair. The interview which follows gives rise to a very interesting scene, which we wish our limits would permit us to insert. The opening of the fifth act discovers Guiscard and Hassan in the dungeon of a prison, and, in mutual comfort and exhortation, preparing themselves for their approaching fate. A band of ruffians now enter, and convey Guiscard into some remote recesses of the cavern.

« AnteriorContinua »