Imatges de pàgina
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which both the mother and the monk are averse, on pretence of their relationship, as within the prohibited degrees, but in reality because Elgiva and her family are of the Secular party, and likely to confirm the King in his disfavour to the Regulars. The Queen Mother amiably suggests the convenience of murdering Elgiva. Dunstan is shocked at her “ vulture's appetite” for blood, and proposes the murder of the young Princess's soul only. He does not scruple to give Gunnilda the grossest advice in the most impious terms :

“Now list the counsel which from Heaven and Earth,
Much reading of their signs and characters,
I learn, and bid thee follow. If less pure
In outward seeming than its sacred source,
Be not the less assured it is from God,
Who works through human frailties to good ends.
Mew not her up, nor yet be strict with bim;
Withdraw your watch and ward--let the girl loose-
Loose access give the boy; so shall she fall,
And she so failen, satiate appetite

Sickens on this side marriage, and there an end." The old Queen accepts the commission, and consents to act as procuress to her own son in promoting between him and her niece a connection not barely illicit, but in her belief incestuous. Dunstan gives her instructions, too.

“ It is an easy task.'
Have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, brains
That apprehend not! Let their wills run riot.
What other furtherance a woman's wit
To such an end as this may minister,

Be vigilant to use.”—
Then he starts off in one of his hocus pocus antics.

“ Hark!-hist!-a spirit !
Another-and a third! They're trooping up.
Q. Mother. St. Magnus, shield us !
Dunstan.

Thou art safe; but go;
The wood will soon be populous with spirits..
The path thou cam’st retread. Who laughs i' the air ?

Ecce crucem, spargere lucem,

Spiritum Trias, pandite vias!
The way is open.”-
And so he frightens the old lady and gets rid of her.

Then follows a scene, in the palace, between Athulf and his sister, in which the latter excuses her inconstancy to his friend Leolf, and receives a touching admonition from her brother.

“ Beware, my sister, that ambition's weeds

Choke not the garden where thy love should grow.
In Man, of questionable quality
Ambition has been holden; but in Woman-
Oh! 'tis the veriest beggary of the heart

That Winter ever witnessed!” The King holds a council, in which it is resolved that his coronation shall immediately take place, in order to check the intrigues of the Regulars, who are stirring up sedition in the country, and setting up he claims of Prince Edgar, the younger brother of the King, and a

mere child, to a share of the kingdom. Then follows some pretty lovetrifling between Edwin and Elgiva. The Queen Mother and Dunstan steal to the door, and finding their intended victims in close conversation, retire satisfied, Dunstan coarsely whispering to his companion,

“ Madam, to bed, and let no light be seen,

Nor any voice be heard in bower or hall.” The next day Edwin and his confidants meet in a forest on pretence of hunting, and solemnly agree that Edwin shall be crowned on St. Austin's Eve, by the Bishop of Rochester, if Odo, the Archbishop, who is quite under the influence of Dunstan, should refuse to officiate. They then disperse ; and Athulf and Leolf are left together.

The following discourse between the two friends has much heart as well as much elegance in it:“Leolf.

Athulf, stay:
I am for Sussex, there to raise my power.
Athulf. Your seneschal is there; what needs yourself?
Leolf. Nor you nor I can longer blind ourselves,

I am needed no where.
Athulf.

Leolf, on my soul,
What I do see, I see with grief and shame.
Leolf. Reproach her not; she is a child in years,

And though in wit a woman, yet her heart,
Untempered by the discipline of pain,
Is fancy-led. One half the fault is mine.
She is a child; and, look-upon my head
Already peepeth out the willowy grey.

My youth is wearing from me,
Athulf.

Nay, not so. Leolf. And youth and sovereignty, with furtherance fair

Of a seductive beauty in the boy,

What could they but prevail !
Athulf.

No child is she ;
And if she were, is childhood then so false ?

She is weak of heart.
Leolf. No more. For Hastings I-

No more-or, Athulf, but one word-but one-
To her I would not say it, but to thee,
My friend in all fidelity approved!
I-Athulf, she is gone from me for ever! ...
But this remains- I can devote my life
To serve her and protect her-broken hearts
Have service in them still-Oh, more than strength
Is in the sad idolatry that haunts
The ruinous fane of their deserted faith!
I can adore her, serve her, shield her, die
I pray you pardon me-Is shame no more?
I should be silent, for I am not licensed

To either dotage- that of youth or age.
Athulf. Oh Leolf! oh my friend !
Leolf. Quit we the theme,

But from my griefs and me this counsel take;
Expend the passion of thy heart in youth;
Fight thy love-battles whilst thy heart is strong,

And wounds heal kindlily. An April frost
Is sharp, but kills not; sad October's storm
Strikes when the juices and the vital sap

Are ebbing from the leaf.” The King sends Athulf to Dunstan to signify his pleasure touching his coronation ; the services of the Abbot, as well as of Archbishop Odo, being required. Arrived at the Monastery of Sheen, Athulf asks two monks whom he meets in the corridor, whether the Abbot of Glastonbury be within, and he is told that he is, but that he will hardly give bis attention to any one coming on secular concerns at that moment, as“ he is about to scourge himself.” Athulf drily answers,—

“I'll wait;
For a king's ransom I would not cut short

So good a work.” Dunstan is presently discovered in an oratory, in a shirt of sackcloth stained with blood, reclined on a straw pallet. Odo, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stands near him. They converse on their projects against the King and his supporters, and Dunstan exclaims,

“ Brother, lo!
With blasting and with mildew shall they perish!
With madness, blindness and astonishment
Shall they be smitten, the young man and the virgin,
Terror within them and a sword without !
One way against us shall their host come forth,

And seven ways flee before us.” Athulf is introduced, and delivers his message unceremoniously; receives an evasive answer from the two churchmen, and retires leaving the Lord Abbot to resume his conference with the Archbishop, whose morals, with regard to the disgusting means by which Edwin's intended marriage to Elgiva is to be prevented, are just as accommodating as the Queen Mother's to the views of Dunstan.

In the Second Act we are introduced to Wulfstan the Wise (ohaplain to Earl Leolf), and Emma his daughter. The first is a dreamy nondescript, something between a Dominie Sampson and a late metaphysical poet of great celebrity,

“ With large round silvery head and fair round face,

And those lost eyes so lustrous.” Wulfstan“ never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one."

“ This life, and all that it contains, to him

Is but a tissue of illuminous dreams
Filled with book-wisdom, pictured thought, and love

That on its own creation spends itself.” If this character, Wulfstan, be designed, as it seems to be, for Mr. Coleridge, we condemn it from beginning to end, as a specimen of bad taste and false drawing. Mr. Taylor should have studied the “ Aids to Reflection" before he ventured on any delineation so personal; and he should have studied the Art of Moral Perspective more nicely in this peculiar case, before he attempted to draw such a character at all. The man who has been styled “ The Wonderful," by one well qualified to judge of his wonderful attainments, and who

has really disseminated more practical knowledge of ethics (in alliance with and subordination to Christianity), than any individual since the days of Bacon, ought not to be made a scenical object of persifflage. We could sooner forgive Foote for his intended stage mimicry of the living Johnson, who had the club of Hercules to defend himself with, than we would Mr. Taylor for irreverence to the memory of Coleridge. It was part of the farcist's vocation to gibe and disfigure Genius. Mr. Taylor's is a higher calling. It is no part of his business to quiz the Translator of “Wallenstein," and the Author of “ Remorse,” and “ Zapolya.” We should say to him :

“ Know thine own worth, and reverence the Lyre!” Wulfstan's daughter, Emma, is a still more whimsical character than himself. She is in love with Leolf, whom she knows to be devoted to Elgiva ; and for the sake of following him to the Court, and aiding the interests of the King's party, persuades a foolish lover, Ernway, a follower of Earl Leolf, to pretend a stolen marriage with her. On the only occasion in which he appears in the Play, except as a mute, she uses him as capriciously as Phæbe treats Silvius, and their dialogue is in the same strain. Ernway. Although you love me not, you should not scorn me:

Lest some day you be scorned yourself.
Emma.

"Tis true,
I should be gentle; and, good faith, I love you,
Not amorously, I own, but amicably.
You are a kind and most affectionate fool.-
Such is my friendship; and this many a day

I have not taxed you for returns. But now
Ernway. What can I do?
Emma.

What will you?

Nay, what not?
Emma. You will get nothing for it.
Ernway.

Not a smile?
Emma. A smile at most; assuredly not more.
Ernway. I am content to lie and cheat for that.
Emma. You come from court. There's much of service there

Is of that kind, and in that kind requited.
Now you will instantly to court again,
And for the service you can do—'tis this,

To take me with you.
Ernway

I would kneel for years
But for the blessing of a morning dream

That told me you would ask me this in earnest.
Етта.

You are to present
The shadow of a husband—nothing more,
And this but for a season-

There, you may kiss my hand;
And now I pray you, go.
Ernway.

Good bye, sweet Emma.
Emma. Call me, 'dear wife,'-'sweet Emma' is too loving."

Compare this with the following, from “ As You Like It." Silvius. Sweet Phæbe, do not scorn me; do not Phæbe;

Say that you love me not; but say not so
In bitterness.—Oh, dear Phæbe,

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If ever, as that ever may be near,
You meet in some fresh cheek the power of fancy,
Then shall you know the wounds invisible

That Love's keen arrows make.-Sweet Phæbe, pity me.
Phoebe. Thou hast my love; is not that neighbourly?
Silvius. I would have you.
Phæbe.

Nay, that were covetous.
Silvius, the time was that I hated thee;
And yet it is not that I bear thee love ;
Thy company, which erst was irksome to me,
I will endure; and I'll employ thee too;
But do not look for further recompense

Than thine own gladness that thou art employed.
Silvius. So holy and so perfect is my love,

And I in such a poverty of grace,
That I shall think it a most plenteous crop
To glean the broken ears after the man
That the main harvest reaps; loose now and then

A scattered smile, and that I'll live upon.” In this Act the coronation of Edwin takes place ; followed by the banquet, which the King quits too soon, to the great offence of the disaffected nobles ; a brawl arising out of Edwin's refusal to return, when insolently sent to, occurs between them and his friends. In the meantime the King is hastily married to Elgiva by his chaplain. Odo and Dunstan seek him, and forcibly separate the newly-wed pair, sending off the Queen to Chester Castle, in charge of its governor, Harcather, and his son Ruold, wbile Edwin is hurried away to the Tower by his rebellious subjects.

A synod is held to determine the question of the validity or otherwise of the King's marriage. The two parties, Regulars and Seculars, muster in strong force. The latter are likely to carry the day in favour of the King ; but Wulfstan the Wise, who is their ill-chosen mouthpiece, bolts to Mount Olympus at the very first start of his oration, and botches the whole business. It is on this occasion that Dunstan plays off the conjuration of the oracular cross. Having previously encased Gurmo within the frame of the huge crucifix which is affixed to the wall over the shrine of St. Augustine in the synodial chamber, he audaciously appeals

“ To Christ upon the cross : O name divine !

Is it thy will that this the assembled Church

Should ratify these nuptials? Yes or No ?” A voice from the crucifix answers

Absit hoc ut fiat ! Absit hoc ut fiat !Most of the assembly fall prostrate; there is a solemn pause; and Dunstan, who has remained erect, stretches his hand towards the cross and fulminates a terrible anathema on the marriage, the Queen, and the chief supporters of the King. The Secular party retire amidst the shouts and execrations of the Regulars.

We have still two acts to consider, which, however, we must postpove until the next number, our examination having already exceeded our limits.

(To be continued.)

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