« 上一頁繼續 »
SIR OWEN DALE.
I took my dog and gun, but saw the brute
vol. i. p. 200, 261. “ The Maid's Story” is rather long — though it has many passages that must be favourites with Mr. Crabbe's admirers. “Sir Owen Dale” is too long also; but it is one of the best in the collection, and must not be discussed so shortly. Sir Owen, a proud, handsome man, is left a widower at forty-three, and is soon after jilted by a young lady of twenty; who, after amusing herself by encouraging his assiduities, at last meets his longexpected declaration with a very innocent surprise at finding her familiarity with “such an old friend of her father's” so strangely misconstrued! The knight, of course, is furious; - and, to revenge himself, looks out for a handsome young nephew, whom he engages to lay siege to her, and, after having won her affections, to leave her, - as he had been left. The lad rashly engages in the adventure; but soon finds his pretended passion turning into a real one – and entreats his uncle, on whom he is dependent, to release him from the unworthy part of his vow. Sir Owen, still mad for vengeance, rages at the proposal; and, to confirm his relentless
purpose, makes a visit to one, who had better cause, and had formerly expressed equal thirst for revenge. This was one of the higher class of his tenantry - an intelligent, manly, good-humoured farmer, who had married the vicar's pretty niece, and lived in great comfort and comparative elegance, till an idle youth seduced her from his arms, and left him in rage and misery. It is here that the interesting part of the story begins; and few things can be more powerful or striking than the scenes that ensue. Sir Owen inquires whether
he had found the objects of his just indignation.
He at first evades the question; but at length opens his heart, and tells him all. We can afford to give but a small part of the dialogue.
" Twice the year came round -
ere I my victims found :
Where all was desolate, defiled, unclean,
Forgot your wrongs, and made their suffering less !"
UTTER WRETCHEDNESS EXPIATES.
And now among her neighbours to explore,
Serv'd for the dress that hunger placed in pawn.
Their chairs had perish'd to support the flame
Vain instinct! for the fount without supply.
Where all was dismal, melancholy, mean,
that eye — the cold, the sunken cheekSpoke all ! — Sir Owen — fiercely miseries speak !
“ If hell's seducing crew
To give it up was Heav'n's own act to slight.'
I felt it written Vengeance is not ours !
Sure as I trust his mercy to receive,
or see! “Sir Owen softly to his bed adjourn'd!
Sir Owen quickly to his home return'd ;
PENALTIES OF WEAK INCONSTANCY.
How he, resenting first, forbore, forgave ;
36-46. We always quote too much of Mr. Crabbe :- perhaps because the pattern of his arabesque is so large, that there is no getting a fair specimen of it with taking in a good space. But we must take warning this time, and forbear - or at least pick out but a few little morsels as we pass hastily along. One of the best managed of all the tales is that entitled “ Delay has Danger;" which contains a very full, true, and particular account of the way in which a weakish, but well meaning young man, engaged on his own suit to a very amiable girl, may be seduced, during her unlucky absence, to entangle himself with a far inferior person, whose chief seduction is her apparent humility and devotion to him.
We cannot give any part of the long and finely converging_details by which the catastrophe is brought about: But we are tempted to venture on the catastrophe itself
, for the sake chiefly of the right English, melancholy, autumnal landscape, with which it concludes:
“In that weak moment, when disdain and pride,
- DULL AUTUMNAL LANDSCAPE.
On the right side the youth a wood survey'd,
Then met his Fanny with a borrow'd smile.” — vol. ii. p. 84, 85. The moral autumn is quite as gloomy, and far more hopeless.
The Natural Death of Love” is perhaps the best written of all the pieces before us.
It consists of a very spirited dialogue between a married pair, upon the causes of the difference between the days of marriage and those of courtship ; - in which the errors and faults of both parties, and the petulence, impatience, and provoking acuteness of the lady, with the more reasonable and reflecting, but somewhat insulting manner of the gentleman, are all exhibited to the life, and with more uniform delicacy and finesse than is usual with the author.
Lady Barbara, or the Ghost,” is a long story, and not very pleasing. A fair widow had been warned, or supposed she had been warned, by the ghost of a beloved brother, that she would be miserable if she contracted a second marriage and then, some fifteen years after, she is courted by the son of a reverend priest, to whose house she had retired — and upon whom, during all the years of his childhood, she had lavished the cares of a mother. She long resists his unnatural passion; but is at length subdued by his urgency and youthful beauty, and gives him her hand. There is something rather disgusting, we think, in this fiction - and certainly the worthy lady could have taken no way so likely to save the ghost's credit, as by entering into such a marriage – and she confessed as much, it seems, on her death-bed.