« 이전계속 »
Douglas is written by Home, the only living author of a living tragedy. This is the play, which Garrick refused for its simplicity of fable, incident, and poetry. Choice simplicity' on which has been founded its best claim to longevity. To what particular cause can this dramatic false judgment of our great Roscius be attributed? Not, assuredly, to his want of taste to admire the work,+ but to his want of reverence for the taste of the public. He conjectured, that, because his audience loved the common pomp of common tragedies, they would reluctantly yield the splendid scene of courts, or the camp of military tyrants, with high-sounding words and verse, in exchange for domestic interest, plain sense, and true poetical composition. He did not consider, that, deceived or depraved as public opinion too frequently is, there is yet a certain magic in all that is near perfection, by which even ignorance and prejudice are charmed. Such was the event, when Douglas was first brought upon a London stage, after having passed its ordeal at the theatre of Edinburgh; not far distant from those very domains which the poet has signalized—Balarmo and the Grampian Hills. The passions of grief, joy, fear, and bitter woe, which this tragedy pourtrayed, found instant accesss to every heart, from the aged to the youthful, either by the avenue of parental or of filial love. Although Douglas be one of those plays worthy of a reader's, as well as of a spectator's literary hours, yet, perhaps, few classical plays have been more indebted for admirers to the art of acting. Lady Randolph has been distinguished by most eminent representatives. Mrs. Crawford (the once famed Mrs. Bary) displayed, in this part, dramatic powers, which, at times, electrified her audience. Of this effect was
her simple interrogation, consisting of three words,
“Was he alive?” But to Mrs. Siddons it is given to unite the same bursts of pathetic tenderness, so wonderful in her predecessor, to that matronal beauty of person, and dignity of action, wherein it was denied Mrs. Craw
ford, to paint this exquisite drawing, by Home, in
faithful colours. To the reader, who is not in the habit of attending theatres, and of estimating the effects of theatric genius, it may not be unnecessary to say,+that the short and seemingly inferior part of Glenalvon may be rendered a conspicuous character upon the stage by the actor's skill, though Cooke, in Glenalvon, is the
* See page 25. *
sole evidence that can be adduced to substantiate this fact. The fairies, who preside over the Norval of young Betty, protect him from rational criticism, till time shall have chased away all tiny agency, and have left him to engage on equal ground with his giant com: petitors. This tragedy of Douglas, extolled by Gray as a work, that had “ retrieved the true language of the stage, lost for three hundred years,”—this play, written with the minutest attention to morality in fable, incident, and dialogue, drew upon its meritorious author (who was a minister of the church of Scotland) anathemas from the elders of the Kirk, and bitterest persecution from all the laity of that christian sect. It may be supposed that the church of Scotland would have been less severe on a less moral production; but, for a dramatist to encroach on their exclu
sive prerogative of teaching virtue, was not to be for
given. Stripped of his benefices, and wholly repudiated for this enormous presumption, Home took shelter in England. His present Majesty, then Prince of Wales—and not less compassionate for being strictly religious, moved by the author's misfortunes, and impressed by his genius, bestowed on him a pension, which to this day he enjoys.
Douglas Master Betty. LoRD RANDolph Mr. Murray. GLENALvoN Mr. Cooke. NorvaL Mr. Hargrave, STRANGER Mr. Truman. LADY RANDolph Mrs. Litchfield. ANNA Mrs. Humphries,
DO U GLAS
ACT THE FIRST.
The court of a castle, surrounded with woods.
Enter LADY RANDolph,
Lady R. Ye woods and wilds, whose melancholy gloom
Accords with my soul's sadness, and draws forth