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From The National Review. MR. HENUY TAYLOR'S NEW DRAS1A.
8t. Clement's Eve: a Play. By Henry
Taylor, author of" Philip von Artevelde.''
Chapman and Hall, 1862.
We ought to have reviewed this poem in our last number, and at one time had intended to do so, but were withheld by the consideration, that we had nothing to say regarding it that was not eulogistic, and that unmixed eulogy, however sincere and well deserved, is dull writing, and duller reading. But St. Clement's Eve is far too meritorious a production to be passed over without notice; and hitherto it has not received that attention from critics which its yery unusual excellences ought to have secured. It will never attain the popularity of Philip von Artevelde, for it has no salient character of surpassing interest and matchless grandeur like his, nor are the events of which it treats at all parallel in importance or attractiveness. It is, too, both shorter and slighter in texture; and compared even with the author's second drama, Edwin the Fair, it lacks both variety and stir. But it is far more free from defects and weak places than either; it bears the impress of a purer taste, more finished skill and a mellower and maturer mind. The workmanship, too, seems to us absolutely faultless, and such as only a lifetime of conscientious and fastidious labor could have achieved. It bespeaks an artist who has never, even in moments of fatigue and relaxed exertion, allowed any slipshod or slovenly com position to pass from his pen. The mingled dignity and sweetness of the diction bespeak a student who has drank deep at the rich fountains of our earlier and nobler writers, and the harmony of the Terse is almost monotonously perfect. The tone of sentiment and morals which peryades the poem is throughout pure and noble, though very simple; there are no perplexing questionings, no subtle problems either of feeling or of thought; the passions dealt with are those of ordinary men in rude and violent ages; and the story derives its chief interest from that sad and touching conflict between woman's virtue and woman's love which is of all times, and which, though ever recurring, is ever new.
The subject seems to us meagre and illchosen. The scene is laid in the reign of
Charles VI. of France, at the early part of the fifteenth century, when the country was torn and devastated hy the quarrels and private wars of the two great princes of the land, the Dukes of Orleans and Burgundy; the one the brother, the other the cousin, of the king. The monarch himself, eminently amiable, well-intentioned, and beloved, was powerless to restrain his nobles or protect his people, in consequence of the frequent attacks of insanity to which he was subject, and which neither physicians nor exorcists had been able to cure. A terrible picture of the state of the unhappy country under such a regime is drawn by a Hermit, who is introduced at the council-board during one of the lucj^l intervals enjoyed by the king, to deliver a message with which he says that God had charged him. The rough and fierce Duke of Burgundy bids him beware of giving offence. The Hermit replies :—
"What God commands, How smacks it of offence .' But dire offence There wore if fear of man should choke God's
I heard and saw, and I am here to spenk.
Women and children to the plough were yoked.
The houseless villagers. I journeyed on,
The mother's funeral cry, 'My child is dead!
Yea, and in me, n thousand voices cried, • Visit liicn, Gml, with thy divine revenge!' Then they, too, ceased, and sterner still tho
Slow mid sepulchral, that the word took up: 'Him, God, luir not him only, nor him most; Look , in Mi to them flint breed the men of blood. That hruednnd feed the murderers of the realm. Look thoii to them thnt, hither and thither tost Between their quarrels aud tlieir pleasures,
At tor.nents that they tnste not; bid them learn
The most moving scenes and incidents of the story arise out of the rescue, by the chivalrous, cultivated, and seductive Duke of Orleans, from outrage and abduction of a young novice named lolandc, who was residing in the Convent of the Celestins, which the duke himself had founded. A mutual affection springs up between the duke and his protegee, and he has several interviews with her in the convent,—she knowing him only as a knight who had befriendefl and saved her. In one of these he avows his love, and the scene which ensues seems to.us exquisitely natural and touching.
I lovo yon,—yet to say so is a sin;
"Go back! go back!
I know not yon were married ; back to your wife. Lcavo me — forget me — God will give mo
There yet is lime, for I am innocent still, And 1 "was happy yesterday. Go back.— b your wife goad t
"DCKE OF OBLEANS.
"Yes, she is gentle, pure, Most loving, and much injured.
"Oh. go back,
And never wrong her more; and ucvcr more Bay you lovo me.
"And yet in loving yon, I lore my wife not less, and virtue more. * * * *
"Home to your wife, go home; Your heart betrays itself and truth and me. You know not love, speaking of love for nvo. 1 knew not love till now, nnd love and shame Have flung tltemselves upon me both at once. One will be with me till my death, I know; The other not an hour. Oh, brave and true And loyal as you are, from deadly wrong You rescued me, now rescue me from shame; For Klnime it is to hear you speak of love, And shame it is to answer you with tears That seem like softness; but my trust is this, That in myself I trust not, nor in you,— Save only if you trust yourself no more. And fly from sin."
It had been resolved, as a last hope of redeeming the king from the thraldom of those evil spirits who were supposed to cause his malady, to try the efficacy of a famous relic, the tears of St. Mary Magdalene sprinkled on the forehead of the maniac by a spotless maiden, ' whom no sin nor thought of sin had violated." lolande, whose purity and spiritual enthusiasm had won her the respect of all, was fixed upon for this task; and she, full of holy aspiration, and conscious of no wrong, deemed she might undertake it, and by prayer and religious preparation labored to fit herself for the signal privilege. But the spell failed,—the king became madder than ever; and both lolande herself and her ghostly adviser, Robert the Hermit, attributed the failure to the influence of an earthly passion, which had stained and dimmed the purity of her souL She is in despair; and the Duke of Orleans endeavors to comfort and re-assure her, and declares that now in .her sorrow he cannot bear to leave her.
"I ronld have borne— I thought I could have borne—to lose thec, loTe ('audit in a blnzc of triumph and of joy That snatched thce from my sight; but as thoo
art, Nor Earth nor Hell shall part us.
"Earth and Hell I It is for Heaven to part us. Earth and Hell Are closing round mid pressing in upon in, That neither mny escape the other's snare. My strength has left me. I am fallen, fallen! And know myself no more as once I was, A free nnd fearless ranger of the skies, Bathing in sunshine and in rainbow lights, And dreaming things divine. Earth hath m»
My spirit i* in chains; nnd if I dream, "1'is of a darkness blacker than Earth knows, And of a bitterer boudago.
"ddks Of Orleans.
"Look not back;
Tis tlint wny darkness lies. God's will it was That tliou tihouldst faithfully Btrire, yet strive in
To Mm- iho afflicted succor. Thnt is past. . . Come forth then from the post; como bravely
And bid it get behind thee. We will fly
Twero to forget there is a Go(j in Heaven.
Prince, 1 have told thce I am weak through grief;
Wenk, through tho overthrow of faith and hope;
Weak, through the triumph of malignant powers;
And weak,—through what beside I will not say.
And here 1 stand before tbee, a poor child.
Unutterably wretched and abased,
But knowing there is yet a further fall.
Oh, spare me! save me I make me not a prey 1
For I am wounded almost unto death,
And cunnot fly.
"duke Of Orleans.
"Enough, O lolande! Thy spirit in its weakest hour is strong. And rules us both; and where thy spirit rule? Is sanctity supreme; and Passion's self Is in thy presence purified and purged From earthly stain, and ministers to grace. No word nor wish shall henceforth violate That sacred precinct."
The drama is interspersed with lighter characters and gayer scenes, which are full of taste and playfulness, and relieve the gravity of the deeper portions. Such are Flos and her dream, the advice of the duke's jester to a gay gallant of the duke's court, and a short madrigal by the duke's minstrel. But we are in no mood to quote these now. Mr. Taylor is evidently in the full zenith of his powers; and we can only hope that hit next choice may fall upon a richer subject and more modern times.
The phmso"a violation of nature," artfully put forward by infidels, and most inconsiderately adopted or repeated by Christian writers, mystilius what is very clear. Miracles arc iilways attributed to a certain cause—not to no cause—not to 11 cnuso that is foreign to the universe: they arc not n breaking in upon order in any sense oilier than that in which tho will of man in every moment of every man's conscious existence, is a breaking in upon tho order of nature. In this sense all tho world is a scene of perpetual confusion; it is n chaos of " violences ; " for wherever man comes in upon the material world, ho comes in to turn aside its course, or to interrupt, or to give a new direction tu its order. Tho order of nature allows the bird to wing itself from cast to we«t, or from tree to true, but the shaft of the savnge, or the gun of the sportsman, brings its plumage to tho dust. How obvious U this; and yet we hear it nfiirmed that tho smallest imaginable intervention, disturbing the fated order of nature, linked as are its parts irrevocably from eternity, must issue, if it were possible, in breaking up the vaxt framework of the material universe. If only the free will of man be acknowledged, then this entire sophism comes down in worthless fragments. So long as we allow ourselves to speak us tlit 1st >, then miracles which wo attribute to i Ik: will, the purpote, thcpotcerof God, •re not iu any sense violations of nature; or
they are so in the same sense in which the entircncss of our human existence—our active converse with the material world from morning to night of every day—is also a violation of nature.
In a word, is the universe a vast machine of mindless sequences, eternally fated, and therefore exclusive of whatever gives room for conceptions of moral and religious relations 1 Miracles can have no place in a universe thus ruled by fate. Pantheism, atheism, has no room for tho supernatural; for it lias no room in the world, cither for man or God : it bus no room for man, such as he feels himself 10 be, free, responsible, and related to a moral government; it has no room for God, thought of ns we must think of him, or not think at all.—North Ijntisk Review.
Circular Panoramic Prints.—Mr. Sotton propo«cs to make the panoramic lens nvniK able for producing photographic pictures including an angle of 90°, vertically as well 01 horizontally, by using glasses in tho form of a segment of a sphere, instead of that of u cylinder now in use. Tho focus in such pictures would bo perfect in every part except where an object happened to be nearer tu the operator than ten or twelve yards, and which would rarely happen.—London fiatitv.
From The Spectator. I
NEW TALES BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.*
The many admirers of Hans Andersen in England will be glad to hear that he has lately published a little volume of new tales, which will, doubtless, in due course of time be translated. Tbey are worth reading, but they are not equal to his earlier efforts.i There is the SHme naif and pleasant style, lighted up with touches of the old humor, ] but the author has followed an unfortunate inspiration in turning his inimitable sketches of animal life into novellettes of veritableI men and women. It is the old blunder, which his autobiography exhibits in almost every page, of mistaking a playful and creative fancy for imagination. We regret the error almost more than we wonder at it; Hans Andersen has a strange power of skimming the surface of deep thought, which he has not unnaturally confounded with philosophical insight, much as he has mistaken quick and manifold perceptions for wide sympathies. He is at home with children and animals precisely because he is unable to understand strong passion or the problems of genuine speculation; and if he can make a china image talk like a man it is at the price of appreciating men and women like cliina images ; they have color and form, and even movement, but we feel that they have not life. He speaks himself of the powerful influence Heine has exercised on him, but he does himself injustice if he supposes that he has copied more than a certain bizarre trick of style from the thoughtful Germca poet. After all, we have no reason to complain when M. Andersen has done so much so well. Even his failures are redeemed by touches which no one but hiinBelf could have imagined, and the execution almost atones for the faulty composition of his sketches.
The first of the "New Tales" is founded on the true story of two Swiss lovers who went the day before their marriage to a little island near Chillon, on the Lake of Geneva. Their boat drifted away from its moorings, and the young man was drowned before his betrothed's eyes in trying to bring it back. From this incident Huns Andersen works back to the history of their lives. He tells
* ffye t'tentyr og flistorier af B. C. Andersen. Copenhagen: (J. A. Keitzel
us how Rudy's father and mother and uncle bad all perished in the snow of the Alps and in the embrace of " Our Lady of the Ice." The picturesque name has a household interest to Andersen, who heard it first from his own father, predicting his death from a chill in the Danish fogs. But the Erl King's daughter, whose kiss is death, does not bear to be metamorphosed into a weird lady—• half giantess, half sorceress—who floats up over the cliffs on the north wind, and bears an angry grudge against the sons of men who scale her rocks for eagles' eggs and pierce her mountains for railways. She looks out scornfully through her veil of mist on the first train. "They are amusing themselves, the gentlemen, down there—the powers of thought," said our Lidy of the Ice; "but the powers of nature will prevail in the end;" and she laughed, she sang, till it rang again in the valleys. "There fell an avalanche," said the people below. Between "Our Lady" and Rudy is a wager of life and death ; for Rudy, when a child, has been snatched as if by a miracle from her embrace. More than once she seems to reclaim him; always her own cold touch and the strokes of her sisters, the powers of dizziness, fail against the steady foot and eye of the stout-hearted mountain climber. Even when he scales the eagle's nest, on a jutting brow of icy cliff, and guarded by the furious mother bird, his courage and skill carry him through. He wins the rich reward an Englishman has promised for the eaglets, and is able to claim the hand of Babette, the miller's daughter. After a little jealous quarrel with his betrothed, all seems to be smoothed over, and the lovers start for Geneva that the marriage ceremony mny be performed. They stop on the way at Chillon and the catastrophe happens. The story would be almost without a plot, if our Lady of the Ice were not introduced; and the half supernatural machinery only serves to lengthen and perplex a tale of real life. The descriptions of Alpine climbing and the conversation of the two cat!) at the mill are the best part of the story. The history of Rudy's first visit, when the miller turns him out of doors as too poor, is full of genuine humor. The parlor-cat is the first to speak. "Do you know, you from the kitchen, the miller knows everything? That was a rare ending it had. Rudy came here towards evening, and he and Babette had a lot to whisper and tattle about; they stood in the passage just outside the.miller's room. I lay at their feet, but they had no eyes or thoughts for me. 'I will go at once in to your father,' said Rudy, 'that is acting honorably.' « Shall I follow you?' said Babette, 'that will give you courage.' 'I have courage enough,' said Rudy; 'but if you are there, he must be good-humored, whether he likes it or not.' And so they went in. Rudy trod heavily on my tail. Rudy is very awkward. I mewed; but neither he nor Babette had any ears to listen with. They opened the door, and both went in, I first; but I sprang up on the back of a chair; I could not conceive how Rudy would kick out. But the miller kicked out; that was a jolly row; 'out at the doors, up on the mountains to the chamois; Rudy may now aim at them, and not at our little Babette.' And Babette said good-by to him as demurely as a little kitten that cannot see its mother." Pity a man who can write like this should mistake his genuine knowledge of cats for sympathy with human sorrows and love!
A little short story, how the swallow would have a love, is a gem in its way. The unhappy bird was fastidious. He first rejected the spring flowers, snowdrops, and crocuses; "they are too neat,—tidy girls, just confirmed,—though fresh enough." Like all young men, he was sweet upon ripe beauties. So he flew to the anemones, but they were too prudish; the violets were too romantic, the tulips were too gorgeous, the daffodils too homely. He was on the point of courting the sweet-pea; but, on coming up, saw a pod hanging on a tendril close by. "Who is that?" he asked. "That is my sister," said the sweet-pea. "Then you will look like that when you are older." The suitor was frightened and flew away. Autumn came, and it was time, if ever, to make a choice. The swallow fixed on mint. "She has no flower exactly, and yet is a flower every inch of her, and smells from the root to the top." But the mint stood stiff and •till, and at last said," Friendship, but really nothing more. I am old and you are old; we can very well live for one another, but marriage—no, do not let us play the fool in our* old age." Winter comes, and the swallow lingering too long, is caught, stuffed, and put in a case as a curiosity. "Now am
I, too, perched on a stalk like the flowers," said the swallow. "It is not altogether pleasant, but it is like being married . one is fixed fast; " and he comforted himself with this. "That is poor comfort," said the flowers in pots in the windows. "But flowers in pots cannot be quite trusted," thought the swallow; "they are too much about with men."
The third story, "Psyche," is the most ambitious of the series, and is more like a sketch by Hawthorne than like Andersen's earlier works. A young painter is living in Rome during the great days of the Renaissance, when Michael Angelo and Raphael were contemporaries. In spite of the times, in spite of Raphael's example, although his companions constantly urge him to enjoy life, and take "'cakes and ale " like his fellows, the sculptor remains faithful to his better nature, and is kept from all uncleanness by a feeling for some unachieved, unknown ideal. Suddenly his dreams seem to be realized in the garden of a great Roman palace, where "the large white lallaes shoot up with their green fleshy leaves in the marble basin, where the clear water was plashing." He sees a young girl, graceful and pure as he has seen no woman yet, except in a picture of Psyche by Raphael. He returns home to breathe his new feeling into his work, and a statue of Psyche grows gradually under his hand, in which his friends see that his genius has at last found play. Rome rings with the report of a new sculptor, and among the visitors to his studio is the father of the unconscious model. The prince is struck with the likeness to his daughter, and commissions the artist to execute it in marble. The workman's task is nt last done, and the sculptor goes to announce the result to his patron. Unhappily he is allowed to see the young girl alone; there has been Do thought of social "convenancc" where the difference of rank is insuperable; and the artist in a moment of madness tells ererything and pleads for hope. "He knew not what he was saying; does the crater know that it is vomiting glowing lava?" A look of scorn and abhorrence, an indignant order to leave the room, end the interview. He rushes half-frenzied to his studio, and is about to shiver the statue to pieces, when a friend interferes, and hurries him off to a bacchanalian carouse in a tavern outside tha