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regards Mabel in the proposed marriage as the victim of her father's selfish policy, and conceives that he frees her from a hateful tie by rejecting her alliance. Still, words which suffice for the reader of a drama, will sometimes escape the spectator; the motives which influence Mordaunt in the fourth act have therefore now received fuller exposition. It may also be borne in mind that the play represents a period when the fierce class animosities excited by the first Reform Bill had by no means subsided.
Passing to the tragedy of “Marie* de Méranie,” it should be stated that although some of the most stirring events of a stirring reign are there introduced, much of the domestic interest springs solely from the writer's invention. It is true, for instance, that Philip Augustus forestalled, from motives of outraged pride, the decision of the Church on his marriage ; true, also, that his voluntary repudiation of Marie de Méranie was cruel in its selfish policy. But it is right to say that the dishonouring proposals which he addresses to her in the fourth act have no historical basis, and that the unfavourable light thrown, for the purposes of the story, upon Ingerburge of Denmark (a lady of whom little is known) is equally without warrant.
The exciting struggles of the period are used chiefly to frame a mental interest. It is less the astute politician,
* This lady is by some writers called Agnes ; but nomine Mariam are the express words of Rigord.
than the Philip capable of the noblest and most benevolent impulses, yet weak, and even cruel, before his ambition, that is here sought to be portrayed. Marie, who may be said to impersonate for the King the ideal to which his “ divided nature” vainly aspires, is purely a creature of the imagination. In a work of this kind the licence * always accorded in a measure to dramatic poets may perhaps be claimed with some confidence,
Some other plays in this collection,t though based on public events, are in their details the mere coinage of the brain ; " their connection with history is too slight to need comment.
So many years have elapsed, so many changes transpired, since some of these dramas saw the light, that the original dedications, if now reprinted, would in some cases be mournful in their suggestiveness; in others even inappropriate. The author, however, may still record the connection with his works of distinguished friends
* As a further example of this licence, I may refer to the independent attitude given in the tragedy to the Bishop of Paris, in order to depict the ecclesiastical domination of the period; though in point of fact nothing could have been more servile than the attitude of the clergy towards the King previous to the interdict.
+ Some misconception having prevailed on the point, it may be desirable to state that the acting right in all the following dramas (with some reservations affecting “The Wife's Portrait"
Borough Politics”) is the exclusive property of the author.
and contemporaries, some of whom were his associates in dramatic art. “Strathmore ” was inscribed to Sir William Allan, late President of the Royal Scottish Academy; “ The Patrician's Daughter” to Mr Macready; “ Marie de Méranie" to Miss Helen Faucit ; “ Anne Blake"
to Mr and Mrs Charles Kean; “A Life's Ransom ” to Dr Forbes Winslow ; “ The Heart and the World” to Mr Sheridan Knowles ; and the dramatic poem entitled “Gerald” to the late Mr Charles Dickens. The two latter efforts were, it must be confessed, too immature to justify reproduction ; they are represented in these pages only by a few extracts.
LONDON, January 1876.