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bless-one who is now weeping for me in lonely anguish-one whom I have led astray from the paths of innocence and peace-one who erred only from love for me, your idolized boy, your now dying son, who, trusting to the solemn promises I gave her,-ay, even on my knees,-mark that, my mother !-to make her my wife, plunged into that guilt which has rendered her an outcast from society, branded with shame and scorn, and placed her for ever without the pale of that virtue, so beautiful, so holy in woman. Yet, mother, her heart is pure and unsullied still : as the crime was only mine, so mine alone was darkened by its polluting stain; and soon, too soon, must I answer for it to an offended God. Recollect, therefore, when I am in the grave, that whatever kindness you show to Louisa, you show to the wedded wife of your son in the eyes of Heaven; and that it will in part atone for the injury I have done her, and render placable the incensed justice I dread to meet above."
Doctor, Mrs. Hargrave, and the whole of the servants, male and female, of the two establishments, accompanied the disconsolate mother to the last home of her adored son. Louisa was not asked to go; indeed, it was considered better by all parties, that she should not follow her lover to the grave, to spare Mrs. Talbot's feelings at such a trying moment.
Nothing occurred to interrupt the solemnity of that most impressive and awful ceremony, which consigns the form whose beauty awoke our passionate affection and admiration, to the unpitying power of corruption, until the first particles of earth rattled on the lowered coffin with that tremendously hollow sound that leaves a lasting memory on the appalled ear, and a lasting weight on the terrified heart; when one wild frantic shriek, as from a maniac, burst from the assembled group of mourners, piercing the serene air with its startling shrillness : from whom it came none knew, but every eye turned pityingly on the poor weeping mother, as conjecturing hers was the agony that had awed them so. But no; it came from the convulsively swollen bosom of Louisa, who, beneath the sombre hood, so sacred to the desolating grief that death occasions, had taken the place of Amy in the humble rank of followers, and was leaning on the arm of Robert, when her feelings betrayed her to him; but he respected her secret, and venerated her for her devotion to his master. None questioned her, although, doubtless, both Mrs. Hargrave and Mrs. Talbot divined the truth.-Yes ! that shriek must have smitten the heart of the dead Alfred's mother!
As soon as she was certain of Louisa's thorough, and she trusted) permanent reformation, Mrs. Hargrave, knowing « How beautiful upon The mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings," dispatched Robert (now become the doctor's groom) to her aged parents, to inform them of it. They, of course, rejoiced that she was restored to their prayers, and that their tears had not been shed in vain for her return to the paths of innocence; but, with a delicacy of feeling rare in persons whose necessities but too commonly exceed their limited means of supplying them, they firmly and positively declined receiving the annual allowance their child was anxious to settle on them for life; observing, “ That, although her wealth was the reward of her
present resumption of virtue, still, they could not but consider it as arising, in the first instance, from her deviation from it; for had she been content to remain in the humble station in which it pleased the Almighty to place her at her birth, she never would have had it to bestow on them; and that bread purchased with such money would only be bitter to the taste as wormwood, and wine bought by it would drink as gall.” They further remarked—“that much as they still loved her, they considered it better that she should not come home to them, with the expensive taste for dress that she must have acquired, and her lavish means of supporting it, to spread the contagion of such a pernicious example among her artless but lowly young relatives; for the burthen of toil was heavy to all, and required great strength of mind, and confidence in the even-handed justice of the Lord, to submit to it unmurmuringly, which could hardly be expected from unreflecting youth, particularly if they had forced upon their daily contemplation, the contrast with their own lot, of the idleness and splendour of one, who had obtained those very riches by breaking through the painful bounds of honest exertion, which condemned them to perpetual labour."
This refusal of her parents, knowing how they had to struggle, was a severe pang to Louisa also, as she could not but consider it their unkind manner of declining her proffered return to them again. “Oh! they no longer love me!" she exclaimed, weeping bitterly, " they no longer care for my welfare; or would they refuse me the shelter of their arms, where alone I should be safe from temptationwhere alone-where alone, indeed, I should feel encouraged to continue virtuous ?"
“My dear child, moderate your grief,” replied Mrs. Hargrave; “this is only another trial it hath pleased the Almighty to send you, to prove you ; receive it, therefore, with becoming submission, as one who is conscious of deserving his chastisements. Your parents still remember, that their love could not bind you to them, nor their arms enchain you from flying to ruin and disgrace, and they naturally resent such ingratitude; but they must yield to time, and your contidual penitence: and in the mean while you shall remain with me,my arms shall be your shelter, my bosom your resting-place, and my lips your fond and gentle admonitors, or rather encouragers; only persevere (despite of every evil suggestion to lead you again from the path of uprightness) in your present line of conduct, and you must and will regain your wonted serenity of mind; for as Angels came and ministered to our blessed Saviour after his temptation on the Mount, 50 every sacrifice made for virtue's sake, hath also its ministering Angels, in the shape of heaven-directed thoughts, and self-approving reflections."
“Oh! dear, dear madam," exclaimed the grateful and contrite girl, enthusiastically, “if it be true, that the good deeds performed on earth form the gems of the coronet which encircles the brow of the pious and benevolent in a blessed eternity, this act of pity to me will be the centre jewel of yours, to shine effulgent for ever."
Mrs. Talbot at first imagined that, by raising Louisa above all temptation to commit further error, by settling a handsome indeN. 9,- VOL. VI.
pendence on her for life, she had strictly and gratefully obeyed her son's dying request; but when, after the lapse of a few months, and when time, by having blunted the poignancy of her immediate grief for his loss, enabled her to reflect seriously on the transitory nature of human hopes and wishes, the wickedness of pride, and the sinfulness of mortals arrogating to themselves superior merit and goodness,-she feltyes, deeply and sincerely felt—that she had but feebly complied with that tender and final injunction of her regretted boy's,—that money could not fulfil it; that it was love and affection he meant her to bestow on one so dear to him; and love and affection she determined to offer her, without a moment's delay. She therefore sent an express invitation, couched in the most affectionate terms, to the astonished girl, to accompany her abroad, whither she was ordered for her health; which invitation, by the advice of Mrs. Hargrave, was promptly and gratefully accepted, much as it cost both herself and the amiable doctor to part with one who had long since grown as a daughter to their fond, childless hearts. And when, a few years afterwards, Moss Grove Cottage became the purchased residence of two ladies, friends of the Hargraves, who engaged Robert and Amy, long become man and wife, as butler and housekeeper, no one suspected that the beautiful, elegant girl, the supposed daughter of the mild looking old lady, (whose sole delight was to assist the sick and sorrowful, as if her heart was an overflowing fount of charity, so that “when the ear heard her, then it blessed her, and when the eye saw her it gave witness to her : because she delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him : the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon her, and she caused the widow's heart to sing for joy,") was the same Louisa who had formerly lived there in such guilty splendour, and who had quitted it in such anguish and disgrace.
Ye women of England-ye, who, on account of your matchless beauty and chastity, may indeed be compared to Angels whose wings are budding for heaven-ye, who have only to look, to persuade, and to speak, to convert to your tasks of mercy,-every day such instances as I have now narrated are occurring-every day " is there a brand to be snatched from the burning;” and although all may not reward your efforts with such complete success as the reformation of a Louisa, yet “faint not, neither be weary in well doing," for you will assuredly save some. But oh! be your first care to endeavour, by your precepts and example, to impress upon the young and inexperienced around you—your daughters--your female domesticsmall who come in sweet contact with your vigilant piety, (and mighty is its household influence,)-the conviction that virtue alone is happiness ; so “ that they sin not at all "—that they may be spared the shame and sorrow of repentance.
BY FRANCIS BARHAM, ESQ. “Socrates fuit is, qui omnium eruditorum testimonio, totiusque judicio Græcæ, cum prudentiâ et acumine, et venustate et subtilitate, tum vero eloquentiâ, veritate, copiâ, quam se cunque in partem dedisset, omnium fuit facile princeps."-Cicero.
PREFACE. This tragedy of “Socrates” was written in 1840, as an experiment, how far it was possible to revive the British taste for the classic drama, once so admired and beloved.
It was especially composed for the perusal of Mr. Macready, who was understood to be inclined to favour such experiments. In justice to that gentleman, and in answer to those who have dropped insinuations to his prejudice, I frankly state that his treatment of this particular play was, throughout, generous and honourable. He appears to bave read it attentively, and freely recommended it to Mr. Webster, the manager of the Haymarket, for more merits than perhaps it possesses.
Though the tragedy thus recommended by Mr. Macready has been rejected by Mr. Webster, he has given me no fair cause to complain. He has a perfect right to form his own opinion, and very probably that opinion may be correct.
That these gentlemen may stand acquitted from any charge of discourtesy with regard to their treatment of this drama, I shall take the liberty of quoting a few passages from the correspondence on the subject.
Mr. Macready's letter to myself, dated October 7, 1840, is as follows:
“Dear Sir,-In reply to your inquiry, I beg to inform you, that I have read, and with much admiration of the character, learning, and poetry displayed in it, your tragedy of Socrates. But I think it right to express to you my opinion, that the public taste is not yet sufficiently educated to relish the representation of such a work; and that until, with the spread of knowledge and enlightenment, the many become more apprehensive of the philosophic, the poetic, and the minuter shades of character, ' Socrates'must remain a dramatic poem, and not be an acted play; winning for you the admiration of individuals before it addresses itself to an assembly. I have offered this tribute of explicitness to your judgement, which, I trust, will kindly appreciate my motive in so doing. At the same time it is offered to you alone; and I shall have the greatest pleasure in presenting the MS. to Mr. Webster, the manager, as one deserving the most respectful attention. Waiting your instructions to guide me, I remain, dear Sir,
* Yours very faithfully,
“W. C. MacReady.” In consequence of my request, the MS. was sent to Mr. Webster,
accompanied, as I afterwards found, with the following note from Mr. Macready, which I have vanity enough to quote, though it may be more flattering than true. It is dated Oct. 14, 1840 :
“Mr. Macready presents his compliments to Mr. Webster, and begs to forward him the enclosed tragedy of 'Socrates,' to which he requests his particular attention, as written upon a bold and novel plan, and as being the work of an accomplished and profound scholar.”
Mr. Webster has, in very civil terms, returned me this tragedy: nor do I blame his decision in the least degree. The drama is now published, however, that the public may judge whether this decision be correct, and whether plays of this nature are fit for representation or not. 67, Chancery Lane.
INTRODUCTION. Desirous of advancing the reform of the drama and the stage-a reform so warmly advocated by Jeremy Collier and other writers, I venture to publish this tragedy.
The moral purpose of the drama (say the critics) should be to represent the struggles and triumphs of virtue. I know no ancient character better fitted to illustrate this moral purpose than Socrates, the wisest of the Greeks.
This drama is a historical tragedy: it represents Socrates in all the more striking passages of bis biography; its range of incidents extends through a long series of years. Like Byron's Dream
“It curdles a whole life into an hour.” I know that this is carrying the poetic license a long way; but the dramatist, in order to be effective, must be free; and when free, he will trample on the fetters of the unities whenever he pleases. I conceive these artificial bonds resemble “ biscuits and pie-crust,"—they are made to be broken. .
In the following play, I have therefore violated the unities without remorse. I represent Socrates as he lived in the days of Pericles, and trace his subsequent career in association with Alcibiades, Plato, aud Xenophon.
My favourite, Grotius, says, “I undertook to write a tragedy, because our age is less fruitful in the loftier forms of the drama, than other kinds of literature; and the example of Euripides, Epicharnus, and Ennius, induced ine to aim at much variety, as a source of dramatic interest.” In this respect, I have endeavoured to emulate Grotius, whose Adamus Exul, the finest of all Latin tragedies, I have recently translated.
A new dramatic era is dawning on us; the public demands it, and it must be. For myself, I confess my wish to initiate a nobler series of tragic dramas than those which have been in fashion of late years. I should be pleased if Mr. Macready, for whose talents I have a high respect, would introduce the revival of ancient classic dramas. The play of “ Socrates” is sent forth as a feeler of the public taste in this particular regard; if it succeeds, the most actable tragedies of Æschy.