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The last scene unites beauty, tenderness, and grandeur, in one harmonious and stately picture—as sublime as any single scene in the tragedies of ^Eschylus or of Shakespear.
Of the succeeding tragedians of England, the frigid imitators of the French Drama, it is necessary to say but little. The elevation of their plays is only on the stilts of declamatory language. The proportions and symmetry of their plots, are but an accordance with arbitrary rules. Yet was there no reason to fear that the sensibilities of their audience should be too strongly excited, without the alleviations of fancy or of grandeur, because their sorrows are unreal, turgid, and fantastic. Cato is a classical petrifaction. Its tenderest expression is, " Be sure you place his urn near mine," which comes over us like a sentiment frozen in the utterance. Congreve's Mourning Bride has a greater air of magnificence than most tragedies of his or of the succeeding time; but its declamations fatigue, and its labyrinthine plot perplexes. Venice Preserved is cast in the mould of dignity and of grandeur; but the characters want nobleness, the poetry coherence, and the sentiments truth.
The plays of Hill, Hughes, Philips, Murphy, and Rowe, are dialogues, sometimes ill and sometimes well written— occasionally stately in numbers, but never touching the soul. It would be unjust to mention Young and Thompson as the writers of tragedies.
The old English feeling of tender beauty has at last begun to revive. Lamb's John Woodvil, despised by the critics, and for a while neglected by the people, awakened those gentle pulses of deep joy which had long forgotten to beat. Here first, after long interval, instead of the pompous swellings of inane declamation, the music of humanity was heard in its sweetest tones. The air of freshness breathed over its forest scenes, the delicate grace of its images, its nice disclosure of consolations and venerablenesses in the nature of man, and the exquisite beauty of its catastrophe, where the stony remorse of the hero is melted into childlike tears, as he kneels on the little hassock where he had often kneeled in infancy, are truly Shakesperian. Yet this piece, with all its delicacies in the reading, wants that striking scenic effect, without which a tragedy cannot succeed on the stage. The Remorse of Coleridge is a noble poem; but its metaphysical clouds, though fringed with golden imaginations, brood too heavily over it. In the detached scenes of Barry Cornwall, passages of the daintiest beauty abound —the passion is every where breathed tenderly forth, in strains which are " silver sweet"—and the sorrow is relieved by tenderness the most endearing. Here may be enjoyed VOL. I. Pakt i. E
"a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, where no crude surfeit reigns." In these—and in the works of Shiel, and even of Maturin—are the elements whence a tragedy more noble and complete might be moulded, than any which has astonished the world since Macbeth and Lear. We long to see a stately subject for tragedy chosen by some living aspirant —the sublime struggle of high passions for the mastery, displayed—the sufferings relieved by glorious imaginations, yet brought tenderly home to our souls—and the whole conveying one grand and harmonious impression to the general heart. Let us hope that this triumph will not long be wanting, to complete the intellectual glories of our age.
Art. II. Itinerarium Germanics, Gallice, Anglice, Italia?; scriptum d Paulo Hentznero, J. C. &c. Breslce, 1627. A Journey into England, by Paul Hentzner, in 1598.—Printed at Strawberry Hill, 1757- Re-printed at the private press of T. E. Williams. Reading, 1807.
Books of travels, especially in the neighbouring countries of Europe, are now-a-days a history of the personal adventures of the traveller. Sheer information is no longer an object — we have become too well acquainted with our neighbours to tolerate a mere description of their habits— we require high-seasoned private histories, extraordinary incidents interspersed with agreeable anecdotes, not to forget philosophical sketches of national character, sparkling with wit and humour. Things were not so in Paul Hentzner's time—people were content with staying at home—the absence of international communication separated countries from each other more effectually than the physical boundaries of mountains, forests, and rivers. Honest Paul Hentzner sets down the peculiarities of an Englishman with the same accuracy that Captain Hall describes the new found inhabitants of the Loo Choo Islands. His end was to communicate the knowledge of manners and objects, of which it is manifest hi& countrymen had formed no previous idea. He borrows no aid from the adventitious interest of personal narrative. Paul himself seldom appears; but what appeared to him, was instantly put down as it occurred, with the scrupulous fidelity of a tradesman taking stock. All is fresh to him, and the result is, that the description which he gives comes as fresh upon us.
The travels of a German tutor in England in 1598, must indeed be matter of curiosity, to those who wish to know what impression the manners, habits, and amusements, and the general character of their country, made upon a foreigner more than two hundred years ago. To a stranger thus circumstanced, the commonest things would be novelties, and the oldest and most trifling customs, subjects of wonder— which would exact as much attention, and excite as much interest as the most important—for the mind of the traveller, struck with the contrast, would seize with avidity the things most opposed to his peculiar modes of thinking and acting. The portraits or descriptions of ourselves thus sketched out from the feeling of the moment, surprise us by the new light injwhich we are exhibited—we notonly wish to know what we really are, but what others think of us. There is no part of our history which has been more the theme of panegyric, or the source of our national pride, than the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It was in her time that this matter-of-fact traveller landed on our shores; and we think our readers will be glad to see what he said of that illustrious sovereign and her subjects, with the other curious particulars we shall extract from his book.
"We arrived next at the Royal Palace of Greenwich, reported to have been originally built by Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, and to have received very magnificent additions from Henry VIII. It wag here Elizabeth, the present Queen, was born—and here she generally resides, particularly in summer, for the delightfulness of the situation. We were admitted, by an order Mr. Rogers had procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the presence chamber, hung with rich tapestry, and the floor after the English fashion, strewed with hay,* through which the Queen commonly passes in her way to the chapel. At the door stood a gentleman dressed in velvet, with a gold chain, whose office was to introduce to the Queen any person of distinction that came to wait on her: it was Sunday, when there is usually the greatest attendance of nobility. In the same hall were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great many Counsellors of State, Officers of the Crown, and Gentlemen who waited the Queen's coming out—which she did from her own apartment, when it was time to go to prayers, attended in the following manner:
'♦ First went Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Knights of the Garter, all richly dressed and bare headed; next came the Chancellor, bearing the seals in a silk purse, between two, one of which carried the Royal sceptre, the other the sword of state in a red scabbard, studded with golden Fleurs-de-Lis, the point upwards; next came the Queen, in the fifty-sixth year of her age, (as we were told) very majestic; her face oblong, fair, but wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little hooked, her lips narrow, and her teeth black, (a defect the English seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar); she had in her ears two very rich pearls with drops; she
* Probably rushes.
wore false hair, and that red; upon her head she had a small crown, reported to have been made of some of the gold of the celebrated Lnnebourg table; her bosom was uncovered, as all the English ladies have it till they marry; and she had on a necklace of exceeding fine jewels; her hands were small, her fingers long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, her manner of speaking mild and obliging. That day she was dressed in white silk, bordered with pearls of the size of beans, and over it a mantle of black silk shot with silver threads; her train was very long, the end of it borne by a marchioness; instead of a chain, she had an oblong collar of gold and jewels. As she went along in all this state and magnificence, she spoke very graciously, first to one, then to another, (whether foreign ministers, or those who attend for different reasons) in English, French, and Italian; for besides being well skilled in Greek and Latin, and the languages I have mentioned, she is mistress of Spanish, Scotch, and Dutch. Whoever speaks to her, it is kneeling; now and then she raises some with her hand. While we were there, William Slawator, a Bohemian Baron, bad letters to present to her, and she after pulling off her glove, gave him her right hand to kiss, sparkling with rings and jewels, a mark of particular favour. Wherever she turned her face as she was going along, everybody fell down on their knees. The ladies of the Court followed next to her, very handsome and well shaped, and for the most part dressed in white. She was guarded on each side by the Gentlemen Pensioners, fifty in number, with gilt battle-axes. In the anti-chamber next the hall, where we were, petitions were presented to her, and she received them most graciously, which occasioned the exclamation of God Save The Queen Elizabeth! She answered it with, 1 Thancke Youe Myne Good Peupel. In the chapel was excellent music; as soon as it and the service was over, which scarce exceeded half an hour, the Queen returned in the same state and order, and prepared to go to dinner.
"A gentleman entered the room bearing a rod, and along with him another bearing a table cloth, which, after they had both kneeled three times with the utmost veneration, he spread upon the table, and after kneeling again they both retired; then came two others, one with the rod again, the other with a salt-seller, a plate and bread; when they had kneeled as the others had done, and placed what was brought upon the table, they too retired with the same ceremonies performed by the first; at last came an unmarried lady, (we were told she was a Countess) and along with her a married one, bearing a tasting knife: the former was dressed in white silk, who when she had prostrated herself three times, in the most graceful manner approached the table, and rubbed the table with bread and salt, with as much awe as if the Queen had been present. When they had waited there a little while, the yeomen of the guard entered, bare headed, clothed in scarlet, with a golden rose upon their backs, bringing in at each turn a course of dishes, served in plate, most of it gilt—these dishes were received by a gentleman in the ssyne order they were brought, and placed upon the table, while the lady taster gave to each guard a mouthful to eat of the particular dish he had brought, for fear of any poison. During the time that this guard (which consists of the tallest and stoutest men that . can be found in all England, being carefully selected for this service) were bringing dinner, twelve trumpets and two kettle drums made the hall ring for half an hour together. At the end of all this ceremonial a number of unmarried ladies appeared, who with particular solemnity lifted the meat from the table, and conveyed it to the Queen's inner and more private chamber, where after she had chosen for herself, the rest goes to the ladies of the Court."
"The Queen dines and sups alone, with very few attendants; and it is very seldom that any body, foreigner or native, is admitted at that time, and then only at the intercession of somebody in power." p. 138.
This is a true Dutch painting.
Our traveller, mentioning the tower which formerly stood on London Bridge, adds a curious fact.
'.' Ponti Londinensi turris inedificata est, in cujus summitate reornm laesae majestatis et patriae proditorum capita, perticis affixa conspiciuntur, ultra triginta nos horum numeravimus." Anno 1598. 115.
The literary reputation of this country seems to have been established among foreigners, even at this early period.
"Mira eruditissimorum virorum cum in universa Britannia, turn in hac potissimum Urbe semper extitit fertilitas, qui inter Scriptores celebratissimi enituerunt." p. 159.
At the time of Paul Hentzner's visit to London, all the six gates of the city were standing. He thus describes Ludgate:
"Ludgate, a Luddo rege, omnium antiquissima, cujus nomen etiamnum hodie, supra portum incisum extat; sive Flutgate quorundam opinione, a fluviolo subjecto, (ut porta Fluentana Romae) nunc a Regina Elisabethil renovata, cujus statua, ab altera quoque parte videtur." 116.
Such will be the future speculations, minute descriptions, and ingenious etymologies of antiquaries yet to come, when London becomes what Rome is.
Paul Hentzner attended Bartholomew fair, and describes the sports of the mob, and the state of the mayor, to whom he seems to look up with great reverence. It is amusing to find, that in those early times the light-fingered knights of the post were as active as in these days of crime and punishment.
'* While we were at this shew (says Paul) one of our company, Tobias Solander, had his pocket picked of his purse, with nine crowns du soleil, which, without doubt, was so cleverly taken from him by an Englishman who always kept very close to him, that the Doctor did not in the least perceive it."
We wish that our traveller had said*more of the theatres; at the time he visited London it is probable Shakespear's first productions were being daily exhibited.
"Without the city are some theatres, where English actors represent almost every day tragedies and comedies to very numerous audiences;