Page images
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

These poor fruits of many years

are offered

to the Memory of one

who had the best claim to any tribute of mine,


Of the plays included in these volumes, three, though already performed, are now printed for the first time; these are the serious drama entitled “ Life for Life,” and the comedies of “A Favourite of Fortune” and “ Donna Diana.” Amongst the dramatic fragments and poems, the scene from “Montezuma,"" "A Lost Life,” “A Dream-Journey," and about half of the Sonnets, have also been hitherto unpublished. The work generally has received careful revision. In the case of one or two plays, that of “ Strathmore” especially, considerable alteration has been made, with a view of concentrating action, and giving fuller development to character.

After the lapse of many years since its production, a brief reference may be made to the “ Patrician's Daughter," the earliest work of the writer. It would ill become him to forget the generous reception accorded on the whole to that early production, though from the political elements involved in the plot, and from the fact that the action was placed in the very period represented, it was the not unnatural fate of the drama to excite much controversy, and in some quarters keen hostility. The end proposed was simply to exhibit, as impartially as might be, the conflict between the pride of Aristocracy and that of Democracy, with the evils resulting from their collision. There were not wanting, however, those who sought to identify the dramatist with his “Radical” hero ; while some, on the other hand, were found to reproach him with a Tory bias. A little reflection, however, would have shown that if it had been intended to hold up Mordaunt's conduct for approval, he would hardly have been visited with the retribution which befell him at the close. However warmly the writer might have espoused the doctrine that claims derived from human qualities outweigh those of accident and convention, it might have been thought obvious that he had given no sanction to the retaliation (though not unprovoked) by which Mordaunt asserts the doctrine, The hero of the piece, indeed, is clearly represented as man who, deluded by the sophistry of wounded pride, has unconsciously indulged a passion in the belief that he was vindicating a principle. To one charge, however, that of revenging himself upon his betrothed, this much-erring Mordaunt may fairly plead—Not guilty. It is against the Patrician House, which has wronged and humiliated him— not against the daughter of that house- that his retaliation is levelled.

The language of the play clearly shows that Mordaunt


« PreviousContinue »