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POETIC and DRAMATIC. Art. 19. Self Immolation ; or, the Sacrifice of Love. A Play, in
Three Acts. By Augustus Von Kotzebue. Translated from the German by Henry Neuman, Esq. 8vo. Phillips. 1799
This play has been altered for performance at the Hay-Market, under the title of Family. Distress. It is calculated to excite strong interest, and is well adapted to the modern stage: but we have still to complain that the plot is unconnected, and that the piece consists almost entirely of detached scenes. There is, also, still too much of the feeling and energy confined within crotchets, instead of being suffered to expand itself in the dialogue :-- of which we observe a strong instance in the scene where Maxwell is restored to his family after an attempt at suicide. The whole impassioned part evaporates in dumbshew, and the first observation made comes from a bystander, (a sentitimental porter) who recollects that Maxwell wished to turn porter in the morning! • SCENE XII.-Enter MAXWELL, WALWYN, and HARRINGTON.
• Maxwell. (Still of a death-like paleniass in his countenance,-his bair hanging down in disorder,-bis looks down-cast,- is led by Walwyn to Arabella.)
Arabella. (Attempting to rise, is unable, but sinks back, and holds out her arms.)
Maxwell. (Kneels before ker, and with involuntary feebleness, laya bis bead in her lap.)
Arabella. (Bends sobbing over him.)
Harrington. (Stands lost in deep thought, and now and then casts a look on the re-united pair.)
Maxwell. (Lifts up his head, and looks on Arabelia with an expression of anguish.)
Arabella. (Clasps his neck, and joins ber cheek to his.)
Hartopp. By my soul, it is the man, who, this morning tried my load. He perhaps carried heavier than I.
Harrington. Are you not the same person, who this morning asked my assistance in the tca-garden? Maxwell. I am.'
Mr. Von Kotzebue's plays are so much liked in this country, with all their faults, that we wonder that none of his admirers think it worth while to divest them of those excrescences which disfigure them in the eyes of men of good taste, and the absence of which no English reader or spectator could regret. Art. 20. Vortigern, an Historical Tragedy, in Five Acts; repre.
sented at the Theatre. Royal, Drury-Lane. And Henry the Second, an Historical Drama. Supposed to be written by the Author of Vortigern. 8vo.' 45. Barker. 1709.
The Goddess Dulness, the natural and implacable enemy of Shakspeare and his fraternity, has made divers attempts to blast the laurels
of our great dramatist, by inserting some of the poppy and henbane of her own sons among them. The forgery of Theobald's Double Falsehood is perpetuated by the Dunciad; we remember a tragedy on the subject of Arden of Feversham *, which was given to the world as a lost sheep of Shakspeare , and in the present instance, we should have lost a sheep, if he liad not bleated;" for verily the risible tragedy of King Vortigern had quite escaped our memory, until this publication recalled it.
Of all the impositions ever attempted on the public, this is unques. tionably one of the most gross and contemptible. There is scarcely a line of ten syllables properly accented, in a play attributed to Shakspeare! Wherever any slight resemblance to our poet appears, it is the effect of a bungling and disfiguring plagiarism. Who does not perceiie that the following egregious soliloquy is made up of shreds and patches from Macbeth?
• Vort. Thus far, then, have my deeds a sanction found,
It would be a waste of our pages to make many farther quotations; the reader may consult, for more parallelisms, pp. 8. 10, 11, of Vor tigern, all taken from Macbeth.
At page 41, we have a dash of Lear:
# See M. Rey, vol. xliii. p. 423,
For a gem,
Shou'd I not meet them there, I will rail so !-
In p. 65, Macbeth is again laid under contribution. The sentence of the audience is therefore fully confirmed in our court. neral character of the play, we shall use the best words--those of our bard himself:
“ A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
The passion of loud laughter never shed.” The unhappy fate of Vortigern, we suppose, prevented his succes sor, Henry the Second, from mounting the stage.
There is no rea. son for regretting the absence of his royal eloquence, for thus doth he declaim :
• Then short-mantled Harry bids ye beware! [Is this to be said or sung?]
For as the tigress, when stirr'd from her whelp,
Ye rouze the dunny spirit of revenge.' P. 2. We presume that the elegant, impressive, and noble epithet, which we have distinguished by Italics, must have been borrowed cither from the kings of Brentford or from Sir Jeffrey Dunstan, of; immortal memory ; and we give our decided vote for its being sent back to the place whence it came. Art. 21. The Castle of Montval, a Tragedy. By the Rev. T. S.
Whalley. 8vo. 25. 6d. Phillips, &c. 1799. The author of this play has very modestly and properly given the la:id of its success on the stage 'to Mrs. Siddons. "Could he have printed her countenance and gestures with his own dialogue, it might probably have passed muster with the reader : but, left to its own powers, it proves tame and spiritless, in spite of the fashionable adjuncts of secret doors, old tapestry, and rusty knives. One novelty, however, we have remarked, and it is fit that we should notice it ;-as the marginal directions of Mr. Von Kotzebue are not yet adopted by our tragic writers, the author of this play has ingeniously distinguished the emphatic words in his verses, by printing them in Italics. For example: · Teresa. Nay, nay, good friend,
If he has hitherto ne'er trusted you
Blaise. If not to me, entrust them to Lapont;
Teresa. Think you Lapont is trusted like my lady!
Blaise. Enough: you ought to know their humours best.
These detestable keys form the distress of the play, during a couple of acts.
The plot, which turns on the accidental discovery of an art father, who had been imprisoned during several years in his own castle by the cruelty of an unnatural son, is said to be founded on a well-known fact, which happened, the author believes, somewhere in the south of France, and so recently as in the year cighty three.'— Art. 22. Poems by the Rev. Josiah Relph of Sebergham, near Car
lisle. With the Life of the Author, and a Pastorał Eligy on his Death. By Thomas Sanderson.
25. 6d. Faulder. Whatever opinion may be formed of Mr. Relph's poetic genius, the memoirs here given of him cannot be read without exciting the most pleasing emotions; for they exhibit the picture of a man who, placed in a remote village, and little favoured by the gifts of fortune, found the means of practising the brightest virtues, and, by his precepts and examples, of effecting a reformation in the sentiments and manners of his parishioners.
. We must reluctantly pass, however, from a contemplation of the moral qualities of Mr. Relph, to an examination of his works.-Of the pastorals in the Cumberland dialect, we confess ourselves not competent judges: the editor, who perhaps may be rather partial, speaks of them in the following manner:
· His pastorals, if they had been less uniform in their plan and sentiments, and more diversified in local imagery, by admitting a wider range of rural life, would have presented us with a more faithful pictạre of pastoral manners and customs than has yet been given. The sentiments are natural and appropriate ; and the language is familiar without grossness : it is never elevated above the rural character by too much refinement, nor ever depressed below it by disgusting vol. garity. His swains discover their fears and their hopes, their intentions and their sentiments, like honest men, whom an intercourse with the world has not taught disguise. Their conversation, though its terate and unpolished, is that of rational beings; it is not disgraced by absurdities, nor made ridiculous by puerilities: it often discovers ignorance, but never folly.'
This praise may be exaggerated: but we know not whether we have ever seen so just a description of what a pastoral ought to be,
The following is one of the most pleasing poems in this collection;
of the Babes in the Wood.
Sweet softness! still, O still retaia
• In plenty flow thy days, and ease,
* And thou, O Bard! whose artless tongue,
Compleat is thy success at last;
And Nature's self now deigis to praise.' To those who love epigrams, the following may not be displeasing: « To Dean SWIFT, on his intention of leaving his fortune to build an
Hospital for ideots.
'Twill make at least a thousand Ideots wise.' Mr. Relph's poetry is easy and natural, such as might be expected in a cultivated mind fond of the beauties of nature: but it does not abound either with tow'ring flights of fancy, or with originality of thought. If the rhimes sometimes appear careless, we should consider that the poet died in the year 1740, when so much attention was not generally paid to the harmony of numbers as at present. Art. 23. Pizarro. The Spaniards in Peru; or, the Death of Rolla.
A Tragedy, in Five Acts: by Augustus Von Kotzebue. Translated from the German by Anne Plumptre. 8vo. Pp. 93. 25.6d. · Phillips, &c. 1799
This is a translation of the original play from which the splendid and popular tragedy of Pizarro, lately in representation at Drury-lane, is iaken. Having already laid before our readers a view of the altera.