Page images

trade is not the object of such a splendid combination!" The hardihood and daring of the mariners in this illicit traffic is described as being unsurpassed; and, indeed, the more tempestuous the weather, and dangerous the landing, the better for their purposes. Little less intrepid are the parties on land, selling and carrying about their contraband goods almost under the very nose of the Catalan manufacturers of the like. Nor are instances wanting of some of these manufacturers, finding it impossible to compete with the smuggled articles, lending the stamp of their own productions, after which the smugglers have greater facilities to circulate their wares.

Don Pablo says, that the number of persons and families interested in and dependent upon smuggling in Spain-a foe to commerce that cannot be equalled by any other evil-has been estimated at a hundred thousand. He is persuaded, that the minimum calculation cannot make the number less than seventy-five thousand families, or three hundred and twenty-five thousand individuals! Then what must be the amount of those armies of agents and other persons employed by government to suppress such an evil and such a multitude, and who consequently are not only unproductive, but destructive of peace? Such a state of things may truly be said to render war indigenous in Spain, while it must annihilate wealth and domestic prosperity.

The main objection to the views advocated by our author amounts to this, that the cotton manufactures of Catalonia require to be protected, and therefore the exclusion of foreign cotton goods is enforced. We have seen how vain it is to afford this protection in the manner that has hitherto been adopted; but Don Pablo goes farther, and clearly shows that the existing laws are contrary not only to the sound principles of political economy, but to the general interest of the Spanish nation, to the provincial interest of Catalonia, and to the individual interest of the manufacturers themselves.

"It is a fact," he declares, "that the manufacturers of Catalonia add to their exceedingly reduced number the fatal misfortune of being destitute of those two most essential elements, mineral coal and machinery. These they receive from England, the very country whose capacity they must emulate in order to compete with her. They are also deficient in the raw material to be manufactured, cotton; which, from the very limited trade carried on with the United States, or other causes, they cannot obtain except at a vastly larger price than it costs the English; nay, in point of fact they get their cotton from Liverpool and other British Ports." Even after this the raw material is burdened with a heavy duty before it can be imported legally.

The Catalonian capital engaged in her cotton manufactures and the number of looms employed are really insignificant, and when compared with those of England sink into absolute nothingness.

"But," says our author, "a question deserving of particular notice arises, if these English manufactures be daily advancing, even above their present condition of perfection, how can the Catalonian manufactures ever expect to rival them? Reason, facts, and the experience afforded by the daily consumption of these nominally excluded goods prove the object of the existing laws to be unattainable; they prove it to be an absolutely chimerical design so to prop the manufactures of Catalonia, by means of prohibitions as to secure their advance upon those of England, for the purpose of supplying the national consumption; for in plain truth, many ages must elapse before such an advance can be rationally expected. But during the interval that must precede this happy era, can it be for the general interest of the nation to bear an annual charge of 19,336,000 dollars, which the second proposition has shown now to be borne? Can it be for the interest of the administration, or the benefit of the treasury, in meeting inevitable and necessary expenses, to lose the 8,400,000 dollars that would be received if the foreign goods now consumed without paying any duty were admitted on paying a moderate duty?" Then as to Catalonia in particular, "Why should a million and a half of Catalans pay their proportion of this enormous taxation for the benefit of a handful of native manufacturers? Why should the bulk of the Catalans pay fifty per cent. more for their clothing than, but for this most unjust partiality, they would need to disburse?" Such a state of things as our author has described cannot even offer enviable temptations to the manufacturers of Catalonia themselves.

The truth is, that the present most absurd condition of the Spanish tariffs, while professedly continued for the sake of supporting Catalonia, and preventing that province from endeavouring to become an independent State, so depresses the whole nation, engenders so many contentions, and fosters so many outlaws, as to serve the purposes of intrigue and the protraction of civil war, which evils, not only by some foreign powers, but by certain traitorous parties belonging to the Spanish soil, are much desired.

We sincerely hope, however, that the period is close at hand when England will no longer allow such an important portion of Europe as Spain to sink any deeper under her self-inflicted burdens, but will by a double-edged measure invigorate herself, and adopt the surest as well as most peaceful means to banish discord from a kingdom where so much English blood has been spilt to little purpose, and to infuse health and prosperity. We can hardly suppose that the convincing, enlightened, and not unfrequently eloquent pages before us, will fail in the work of persuading the governments both of Spain and of this country to follow some such course as is here indicated, even although no such scheme has been previously contemplated.


ART. XI.—The Love-Chase. A Comedy, in Five Acts. By JAMES SHERIDAN KNOWLES. Author of "Virginius," &c. &c. London: Moxon. 1837.

A COMEDY by the first English dramatic writer of the age, especially a comedy in five acts, by one who has hitherto been almost exclusively admired as a writer of tragedy, might well engage the solicitude and curiosity of the literary public. To be sure, the author of "The Love-Chase" has in several of his former productions presented comic scenes and characters; but it was not unusual to hear those who pretend to be judges of such works, boldly aver that the author could not write comedy at all. Those who with better discrimination demurred to this sweeping conclusion, and were jealous of the honour of the British drama, might well tremble for the fame of Knowles when he adventured upon a five act play, that thus professed to sustain all the high attributes of a legitimate comedy. But if the effort was a bold one requiring extraordinary talents and genius, the warmest of the author's friends could not have wished for a more felicitous and flattering production; a production which both in the theatre and the closet has, so far as we have heard, commanded universal admiration and delight, without material drawback, either as respects the structure of the plot, or the conception and development of the characters. At the same time that this is the undoubted judgment passed upon the piece, it is to be observed, that it is essentially an original work, formed upon the peculiar and unborrowed genius of its author's mind; a mind the healthfulness of which is everywhere manifest and reviving.

Sheridan Knowles has, in the play before us, more perhaps than in any of his former productions, shown us that his resources are unlimited, and that his fancy and invention, whether serious or humorous, whether probing and delineating the deep-seated affections of human nature, or playing with its frivolities and eccentricities, are inexhaustible. Here we have a regular comedy from beginning to end, overflowing with thought and beautiful images, and exhibited in a great variety of characters and positions. The pulse of Shakspearian life, the action of true English spirits never stagnate in it. We have not found a mawkish or artificial sentiment in the whole, though a great number of characters have to be upheld, each one of them having a distinct nature to exhibit and a defined part to perform. Many are the bursts of noble feelings, exquisitely clothed, which the dramatis persone utter, and which wonderfully enrich some of the happiest dialogues that can any where be referred to. But all general eulogy becomes vapid and unintelligible unless supported by some examples, which we can be at no loss to adduce.


"The Love-Chase" is a title that is aptly chosen for this comedy, and which its plot excellently elucidates. No less than three marriages result between the parties who start in the drama. The first pair, viz., Constance and Wildrake have been companions since childhood. There is a secret affection mutually in operation between them, but which is apt to show itself in little quarrels, that are not, however, of very long standing though frequent occurrence. Indeed the regard felt by each is not perceived by them, until each finds that the other is about to be lost through marriage. In as far as this couple are concerned the play is faultless. We perceive that some of our contemporaries think they have discovered certain family resemblances to Beatrice and Benedick. To our apprehension, the likeness is not closer than the progeny of original minds may be without any servile imitation, or even any suspicion of an agreement on the part of the writers.

The second couple-Lydia and Waller, present a young girl in a humbler sphere of life, who is beset by a libertine, whom, however, she wins back to virtue. Some minor criticisms might be applied to this pair, at least, when put alongside of the preceding, and tried by the high standard that is thus at hand. At the same time, Lydia is beautifully true to nature, and exhibits a fine mixture of passion and tenderness, as when she says,

"To show you, Sir,

The heart you make so light of-You are beloved!
But she that tells you so, tells you beside
She ne'er beholds you more!"

A weak-minded, conceited old baronet and a gay widow make the third couple. Their names are Sir William Fondlove and Widow Green. He flatters himself that he still looks young, and that he is as agile as ever he had been; but while he is in chase of the Widow, her look out is for a younger beau, though at last she is very glad to accept of the amorous old coxcomb to escape the ridicule of the world.

We have already alluded to the faultless manner in which Constance and Wildrake are delineated. The blending of reckless innocence and volatile fancies with an unsophisticated and generous womanhood, which characterises the former, renders her extremely lovely and winning. Who does not admire her, were it but for the following proof of a guileless and wilful nature?

"Why would he fall in love, and spoil it all!
I feel as I could cry! He has no right
To marry any one! What wants he with
A wife? Has he not plague enough in me?
Would he be plagued with any body else?
Ever since I have liv'd in town I have felt
The want of neighbour Wildrake! Not a soul

Besides I care to quarrel with, and now
He goes and gives himself to another!"

Well might her father, Trueworth, say in reference to her,

"Unlike to other common flowers,

The flower of love shows various in the bud,
"Twill look a thistle and will blow a rose."

A speech by the same virtuous character, when endeavouring to dissuade the libertine from a base design, breathes sentiments as lofty as the language is poetical.

"Impossible! Most possible of things

If thou'rt in love! Where merit lies itself,

What matters it to want the name, which, weighed,
Is not the worth of so much breath as it takes
To utter it! If, but from Nature's hand,

She is all you could expect of gentle blood,
Face, form, mien, speech; with these, what to belong
To lady more behoves-thoughts delicate,
Affections generous, and modesty-
Perfectionating, brightening crown of all!
If she hath these-true titles to thy heart-
What doth she lack that's title to thy hand?
The name of lady, which is none of these,

But may belong without? Thou might'st do worse
Than marry her! Thou would'st, undoing her!
Yea, by my mother's name, a shameful act
Most shamefully performed !"


may in truth be said that Mr. Knowles is possessed of such a luxuriance of rich thoughts and beautiful language whenever he discourses of the tender passion, that one can hardly fancy otherwise than that he must have been a great martyr to its tyranny. As, for example

"I cannot think love thrives by artifice,

Or can disguise its mood, and show its face.
I would not hide one portion of my heart
Where I did give it and did feel 'twas right,
Nor feign a wish, to mask a wish that was,
Howe'er to keep it. For no cause except
Myself would I be lov'd. What were't to me,
My lover valued me the more, the more
He saw me comely in another's eyes,
When his alone the vision I would show,
Becoming too? I have sought the reason oft
They paint Love as a child, and still have thought
It was because true love, like infancy,


Frank, trusting, unobservant of its mood,

Doth show its wish at once, and means no more!"

« PreviousContinue »