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portion. At the latter end of Elizabeth's reign, seven hundred pounds were such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a counterbalance to the affectation of Belinda. No poet will now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand. Clarissa Harlowe had but a moderate fortune.
In Sir John Vanbrugh's Confederacy, a woman of fashion is presented with a bill of millinery as long as herself.-Yet it only amounts to a poor fifty pounds! at present this sounds oddly on the stage. I have heard of a lady of quality and fashion, who had a bill of her fancy-dress maker, for the expenditure of one year, to the tune of, or rather, which closed in the deep diapason of, six thousand pounds!
THE EARLY DRAMA.
It is curious to trace the first rude attempts of the drama, in various nations; to observe at that moment, how crude is the imagination, and to trace the caprices it indulges; and that the resemblance in these attempts holds in the earliest essays of Greece, of France, of Spain, of England,
and, what appears extraordinary, even in China and Mexico.
The rude beginnings of the drama in Greece are sufficiently known, and the old mysteries of Europe have been exhibited in the third volume of this work. The progress of the French theatre has been this :
Etienne Jodelle, in 1552, seems to have been the first who had a tragedy represented of his own invention, entitled Cleopatra-it was a servile imitation of the form of the Grecian tragedy; but if this did not require the highest genius, it did the utmost intrepidity; for the people were, through long habit, intoxicated with the wild amusement they amply received from their farces and moralities.
The following curious anecdote, which followed this first attempt at classical imitation, is very observable. Jodelle's success was such, that his rival poets, touched by the spirit of the Grecian muse, showed a singular proof of their enthusiasm for this new poet, in a classical festivity which gave room for no little scandal in that day; yet as it was produced by a carnival, it was probably a kind of drunken bout. Fifty poets, during the carnival of 1552, went to Arcueil. Chance, says the writer of the life of the old French bard Ronsard, who was one of the present profane party, threw across their road a goat—which having caught, they ornamented the goat with chaplets of flowers, and carried it triumphantly to the hall of their festival, to appear to sacrifice to Bacchus, and to present it to Jodelle ; for the goat, among the ancients, was the prize of the tragic bards; the victim of Bacchus, who presided over tragedy.
Carmine, qui tragico, vilem certavit ob hircum.
This goat thus adorned, and his beard painted, was hunted about the long table, at which the fifty poets were seated; and after having served them for a subject of laughter for some time, he was hunted out of the room, and not sacrificed to Bacchus. Each of the guests made verses on the occasion, in imitation of the Bacchanalia of the ancients. Ronsard composed some dithyrambics to celebrate the festival of the goat of Etienne Jodelle; and another, entitled “ Our travels to Arcueil." However, this Bacchanalian freak did not finish as it ought, where it had begun, among the poets. Several ecclesiastics sounded the alarm, and one Chandieu accused Ronsard with having performed an idolatrous sacrifice; and it was easy to accuse the moral habits of fifty poets assembled together, who were far, doubtless from being irreproachable. They repented for
some time of their classical sacrifice of a goat to Tragedy.
Hardi, the French Lope de Vega, wrote 800 dramatic pieces from 1600 to 1637; his imagination was the most fertile possible; but so wild and unchecked, that though its extravagances are very amusing, they served as so many instructive lessons to his successors. One may
form a notion of his violation of the unities by his piece, “ La Force du Sang." In the first act Leocadia is carried off and ravished. In the second she is sent back with an evident sign of pregnancy. In the third she lies in, and at the close of this act, her son is about ten years old. In the fourth, the father of the child acknowledges him; and in the fifth, lamenting his son's unhappy fate, he marries Leocadia. Such are the pieces in the infancy of the drama !
Rotrou was the first who ventured to introduce several persons in the same scene; before his time they rarely exceeded two persons; if a third appeared, he was usually a mute actor, who never joined the other two. The state of the theatre was even then very rude; freedoms of the most lascivious embraces were publicly given and taken; and Rotrou even ventured to introduce a naked page in the scene, who in this situation holds a dialogue with one of his heroines. In another
piece, Scedase, ou l'hospitalité violeé,” Hardy makes two young Spartans carry off Scedase's two daughters, ravish them on the theatre, and, violating them in the side scenes, the spectators heard their cries and their complaints. Cardinal Richelieu made the theatre one of his favourite pursuits, and though not successful as a dramatic writer, he gave that encouragement to the drama, which gradually gave birth to genius. Scudery was the first who introduced the twenty-four hours from Aristotle; and Mairet studied the construc, tion of the fable, and the rules of the drama. They yet groped in the dark, and their beauties were yet only occasional; Corneille, Racine, Mo. liere, Crebillon, and Voltaire, perfected the French drama,
In the infancy of the tragic art in our country, the bowl and dagger were considered as the great instruments of a sublime pathos; and the “ Die all” and “ Die nobly" of the exquisite and affecting tragedy of Fielding were frequently realised in our popular dramas. Thomas Goff, of the university of Oxford, in the reign of James I. was considered as no contemptible tragic poet; he concludes the first part of his courageous Turk, by promising a second, thus :
If this first part, gentles ! do like you well,