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(Still to my loss) at Candy; there's my hope.
That's all I have to trust to.
Enter BIRON. (Isabella looking at him.)
I live again, and rise but from his tomb.
Isa. Forgot you!
Bir. Then farewell my disguise, and my misfortunes! My Isabella!
[He goes to her; she shrieks, and faints.
Thy Biron summons thee to life and love;
Excess of love and joy, for my return,
Isa. Where have I been? Why do you keep him from me?
I know his voice; my life, upon the wing, Hears the soft lure that brings me back again; "Tis he himself, my Biron.
Do I hold you fast,
Never to part again?
If I must fall, death's welcome in these arms. Bir. Live ever in these arms.
Isa. But pardon me;
Excuse the wild disorder of my soul;
The joy, the strange surprising joy of sceing you, Of seeing you again, distracted me.
Isa. What a world of wo
Had been prevented but in hearing from you! Bir. Alas! thou could'st not help me.
At least, I'm sure I could have suffered all;
I would have sold myself to slavery, Without redemption; given up my child, The dearest part of me, to basest wants.
Bir. My little boy!
Isa. My life, but to have heard
You were alive.
I promised him to follow-him!
Isa. You do not know how much I could have Is he without a name? Biron, my husband
Bir. By no means;
I've been so long a slave to others' pride,
Isa. I'll but say my prayers, and follow you.
My prayers! no, I must never pray again. Prayers have their blessings, to reward our hopes, But I have nothing left to hope for more.
What Heaven could give I have enjoyed; but now
And what's to come is a long life of wo;
My husband! Ha! What then is Villeroy?
[Weeping. What's to be done? for something must be done. Two husbands! married to both,
And yet a wife to neither. Hold, my brainHa! a lucky thought
Works the right way to rid me of them all;
NICHOLAS ROWE was also bred to the law, and forsook it for the tragic drama. He was born in 1673 of a good family in Devonshire, and during the earlier years of manhood, lived on a patrimony
of L.300 a-year in chambers in the Temple. His first tragedy, The Ambitious Stepmother, was performed with great success, and it was followed by Tamerlane, The Fair Penitent, Ulysses, The Royal Convert, Jane Shore, and Lady Jane Gray. Rowe, on rising into fame as an author, was munificently patronised. The Duke of Queensberry made him his secretary for public affairs. On the accession of George I., he was made poet-laureate and a surveyor of customs; the Prince of Wales appointed him clerk of his council; and the Lord Chancellor gave him the office of secretary for the presentations. Rowe was a favourite in society. It is stated that his voice was uncommonly sweet, and his observations so lively, and his manners so engaging, that his friends, amongst whom were Pope, Swift, and Addison, delighted in his conversation. Yet it is also reported by Spence, that there was a certain superficiality of feeling about him, which made Pope, on one occasion, declare him to have no heart. Rowe was the first editor of Shakspeare entitled to the name, and the first to attempt the collection of a few biographical particulars of the immortal dramatist. He was twice married, and died in 1718, at the age of forty-five.
In addition to the dramatic works we have enumerated, Rowe was the author of two volumes of miscellaneous poetry, which scarcely ever rises above dull and respectable mediocrity. His tragedies are passionate and tender, with an equable and smooth style of versification, not unlike that of Ford. His 'Jane Shore' is still occasionally performed, and is effective in the pathetic scenes descriptive of the sufferings of the heroine. The Fair Penitent' was long a popular play, and the 'gallant gay Lothario' was the prototype of many stage seducers and romance heroes. Richardson elevated the character in his Lovelace, giving at the same time a purity and sanctity to the sorrows of his Clarissa, which leave
Rowe's Calista immeasurably behind. The incidents of Rowe's dramas are well arranged for stage effect; they are studied and prepared in the manner of the French school, and were adapted to the taste of the age. As the study of Shakspeare and the romantic drama has advanced in this country, Rowe has proportionally declined, and is now but seldom read or acted. His popularity in his own day is best seen in the epitaph by Pope-a beautiful and tender effusion of friendship, which, however, is perhaps not irreconcilable with the anecdote preserved by Mr Spence:
Thy relics, Rowe, to this sad shrine we trust,
[Penitence and Death of Jane Shore.]
JANE SHORE, her HUSBAND, and BELMOUR.
Bel. How fare you, lady?
Jane S. My heart is thrilled with horror. Bel. Be of courage;
Your husband lives! 'tis he, my worthiest friend.
Jane S. Still art thou there? still dost thou hover round me?
Oh, save me, Belmour, from his angry shade!
Oh, that my eyes could shut him out for ever!
Shore. Am I so hateful, then, so deadly to thee,
Jane S. Oh! thou most injured-dost thou live, indeed?
Fall then, ye mountains, on my guilty head!
Shore. Why dost thou turn away! Why tremble thus?
Why thus indulge thy fears, and in despair
Now, while occasion seems to smile upon us, Forsake this place of shame, and find a shelter. Jane S. What shall I say to you? But I obey. Shore. Lean on my arm.
Jane S. Alas! I'm wondrous faint:
But that's not strange, I have not ate these three days. Shore. Oh, merciless!
Jane S. Oh! I am sick at heart!
Enter CATESBY with a Guard.
Cates. Seize on 'em both, as traitors to the state! Bel. What means this violence?
[Guards lay hold on Shore and Belmour.
[Breaks from the Guards. Stand off! the agonies of death are on her! She pulls, she gripes me hard with her cold hand. Jane S. Was this blow wanting to complete my ruin? Oh! let me go, ye ministers of terror. He shall offend no more, for I will die, And yield obedience to your cruel master. Tarry a little, but a little longer,
And take my last breath with you.
Shore. Oh, my love!
Why dost thou fix thy dying eyes upon me
Jane S. Forgive me! but forgive me!
Shore. Be witness for me, ye celestial host,
Jane S. Then all is well, and I shall sleep in peace; 'Tis very dark, and I have lost you now: Was there not something I would have bequeathed you?
But I have nothing left me to bestow,
[Calista's Passion for Lothario.]
Cal. Be dumb for ever, silent as the grave,
Luc. Why do you follow still that wandering fire, That has misled your weary steps, and leaves you Benighted in a wilderness of wo,
That false Lothario? Turn from the deceiver;
Cal. There I fain would hide me
From the base world, from malice, and from shame;
And blesses her good stars that she is virtuous.
Luc. Oh! hear me, hear your ever faithful creature;
I charge thee, no; my genius drives me on;
Luc. Trust not to that:
The experiment of domestic tragedy, founded on sorrows incident to real life in the lower and middling ranks, was tried with considerable success by WILLIAM LILLO, a jeweller in London. Lillo was born in 1693, and carried on business successfully for several years, dying in 1739, with property to a considerable amount, and an estate worth £60 per annum. Being of a literary turn, this respectable citizen devoted his leisure hours to the composition of three dramas, George Barnwell, Fatal Curiosity, and Arden of Feversham. A tragedy on the latter subject had, it will be recollected, appeared about the time of Shakspeare. At this early period of the drama, the style of Lillo may be said to have been also shadowed forth in the Yorkshire tragedy, and one or two other plays founded on domestic occurrences. These, however, were rude and irregular, and were driven off the stage by the romantic drama of Shakspeare and his successors. Lillo had a competent knowledge of dramatic art, and his style was generally smooth and easy. To the masters of the drama he stands in a position similar to that of Defoe, compared with Cervantes or Sir Walter Scott. His George Barnwell' describes the career of a London apprentice hurried on to ruin and murder by an infamous woman, who at last delivers him up to justice and to an ignominious death. The characters are naturally delineated; and we have no doubt it was correctly said that 'George Barnwell' drew more
tears than the rants of Alexander the Great. His
Ay, such a treasure would expel for ever
Undoubtedly the genuine delineation of the human heart will please us, from whatever station or circumstances of life it is derived. In the simple pathos of tragedy, probably very little difference will be felt from the choice of characters being pitched above or below the line of mediocrity in station. But something more than pathos is required in tragedy; and the very pain that attends our sympathy requires agreeable and romantic associations of the fancy to be blended with its poignancy. Whatever attaches ideas of importance, publicity, and elevation to the object of pity, forms a brightening and alluring medium to the imagination. Athens herself, with all her simplicity and democracy, delighted on the stage to
"let gorgeous Tragedy
In sceptred pall come sweeping by."
Even situations far depressed beneath the familiar mediocrity of life, are more picturesque and poetical than its ordinary level. It is, certainly, on the virtues of the middling rank of life that the strength and comforts of society chiefly depend, in the same manner as we look for the harvest not on cliffs and precipices, but on the easy slope and the uniform plain. But the painter does not, in general, fix on level countries for the subjects of his noblest landscapes. There is an analogy, I conceive, to this in the moral painting of tragedy. Disparities of station give it boldness of outline. The commanding situations of life are its mountain scenery the region where its storm and sunshine may be portrayed in their strongest contrast and colouring.'
Young WILMOT, unknown, enters the house of his parents, and delivers them a casket, requesting to retire an hour for
AGNES, the mother, alone, with the casket in her hand. Agnes. Who should this stranger be? And then this casket
He says it is of value, and yet trusts it,
As if a trifle, to a stranger's hand.
To search and pry into the affairs of others,
Enter OLD WILMOT.
Old Wilmot. The mind contented, with how little
Agnes. And who shall know it?
0. Wil. There is a kind of pride, a decent dignity
Agnes. Shows sovereign madness, and a scorn of
Pursue no further this detested theme:
O. Wil. To chase a shadow, when the setting sun
O. Wil. There is no fear of that.
0. Wil. Strange folly! Where's the means?
Perhaps thou dost but try me; yet take heed.
0. Wil. The inhospitable murder of our guest? How couldst thou form a thought so very tempting, So advantageous, so secure, and easy; And yet so cruel, and so full of horror?
Agnes. 'Tis less impiety, less against nature, To take another's life than end our own.
0. Wil. It is no matter, whether this or that
Or none could act amiss. And that all err,
Agnes. You're too severe: reason may justly plead For her own preservation.
0. Wil. Rest contented:
O. Wil. Why, what a fiend!
How cruel, how remorseless, how impatient, Have pride and poverty made thee!
Agnes. Barbarous man!
Whose wasteful riots ruined our estate,
And drove our son, ere the first down had spread
To seek his bread 'mongst strangers, and to perish
I ought not to reproach thee. I confess
That thou hast suffered much: so have we both.
From which he's ne'er to rise, took off the sash
If you make use of that, I can assist.
"Tis a dreadful office, and I'll spare
Thy thoughts are perishing; thy youthful joys,
Are withering in their bloom. But though extinguished,
He'll never know the loss, nor feel the bitter
Of every joy, and even hope itself,
As I have done. Why do I mourn him then?
The comedies of CONGREVE abound more than any others, perhaps, in the English language, in witty dialogue and lively incident, but their licentiousness has banished them from the stage. The life of this eminent dramatic writer was a happy and prosperous one. He was born in 1672, in Ireland, according to one account, or at Bardsey, near Leeds, as others have represented. He was of a good family, and his father held a military employment in Ireland, where the poet was educated. He studied the law in the middle temple, but began early to write for the stage. His Old Bachelor was produced in his twenty-first year, and acted with great applause. Lord Halifax conferred appointments on him in the customs and other departments of public service, worth £600 per annum. Other plays soon appeared; the Double Dealer in 1694, Love for Love in 1695, the Mourning Bride, a tragedy, in 1697, and the Way of the World in 1700. In 1710 he published a collection of miscellaneous poems; and his good fortune still following him, he obtained, on the accession of George I., the office of secretary for the island of Jamaica, which raised his emoluments to about £1200 per annum. Basking in the sunshine of opulence and courtly society, Congreve wished to forget that he was an author, and when Voltaire waited upon him, he said he would rather be considered a gentleman than a poet. If you had been merely a gentleman,' said the witty Frenchman, I should not have come to visit you.' A complaint in the eyes, which terminated in total blindness, afflicted Congreve in his latter days: he died at his house in London on the 29th of January 1729. Dryden complimented Congreve as one whom every muse and grace adorned; and Pope dedicated to him his translation of the Iliad. What higher literary honours could have been paid a poet whose laurels were all gained, or at least planted, by the age of twenty-seven? One incident in the history of Congreve is too remarkable to be omitted. He contracted a close intimacy with the Duchess of Marlborough (daughter of the great duke), sat at her table daily, and assisted in her household management. On his death, he left the bulk of his fortune, amounting to about £10,000, to this eccentric lady, who honoured him with a splendid funeral. "The corpse lay in state under the ancient roof of the Jerusalem chamber, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. The pall was borne by the Duke of Bridgewater, Lord Cobham, the Earl of Wilmington, who had been speaker, and was afterwards first lord of the treasury, and other men of high consideration. Her grace laid out her friend's bequest in a superb diamond necklace, which she wore in honour of him; and if report is to be believed, showed her regard in ways much more extraordinary. It is said that she had a statue of him in ivory, which moved by clockwork, and was placed daily at her table; that she had a wax doll made in imitation of him, and that the feet of this doll were regularly blistered and