페이지 이미지


James. Too old
To feel a Scotsman's blood stream at his heart !
I know, I know,-but, as I live by bread,
I'll show the sceptre's not a willow wand !
Trust me, 'twere wise in you to join my banner

every spear you have. We've winked too long, But we have not been blind.

Max. My gracious lord,
Banish these harsh thoughts of your


pecrs, And listen to our humble suit.

James. Oh ! humble,Your humble suit,—now, curse on humble suits, Urged with false tongues ! I'd rather have rough words Ay! though against ourself, from the bold heart, Than these same humble suits. What is your suit ?

Max. That you would pause, ere you advance your banAgainst the English king, your loving kinsman. James. There spoke the recreant Scot ! The English

God pardon me! I think, is king of Scots.
My lords—my lords ! this is no time to pause ;
Our loving kinsman is our deadliest foe,
Plucking our wreathéd honours, one by one,
Not in brave fight, but slily, stealthily,-
Turning our nobles into gilded slaves,
And stripping this poor crown of all it had,
Not gold and jewels—they may go, and welcome,
But honour and the allegiance of true hearts,
That were its glory through three hundred years.
I looked not for it-I thought better things.

[A pausethe nobles look disconcerted.
If I had heard a man two ycars agone,
Say that the Scottish nobles would desert
Their king, when England dared them to come on,
I would have slain him as a slanderous liar ;-
But now !

(Goes up abruptla Somer. (To a Bishop.) Your lordship is a man of peace; Speak to the king: Bishop. (L.) What can I Somer. Tell him to spare his people. Bishop. Ah, my lord!

say to him?

I need not tell king James to spare his people ;
They know he loves them.

Somer. But he'll spill their blood. Bishop. Better to spill their blood than lose their souls Oh, there be times and causes, good my lords ! “ When the white Christian dove must seek her nest, “ And leave the murky clouds to be cleft through

By the strong pinioned eagle.” There be times
When Piely herself must gird the sword,
And meek Religion, like an Amazon,
Dart her fierce glances over fields of war.
James. (Advancing, R.] Well spoken, good Lord Bi-

shop! if the fire That warms your

heart, gave

but its sacred heat To other bosoms, there might yet be hope For me—and Scotland !

Kil. There was fire enough “ In Scottish hearts, that now are chilled.”

:.James." Now hear me, There shall no Douglas trample on this land, While there's a Stuart to defend his people. “ Where is the Douglas now? In Surrey's ranks, “Feeding on England's offals; nursing scaith “ To all our realm ; hounding the tyrant on, “The blustering braggart Henry ; let them go!" Scotland can face all Tudors on the earth, And all the Douglases to boot !

Somer. 'Twere wise
To see your royal uncle.

James, What to hear ?
His thronts, and worse than threats-his patronage ?
As if we stooped our sovran crown, or held it
As vassa! from tive greatest king alive.
No; we are poor-I know we are poor, my lords ;
Our realm is but a niggard in its soil,
And the fat fields of England wave their crops
In richer dalliance with the autumn winds,
Than our bleak plains ; but from our rugged dells,
Springs a far richer harvest-gallant hearts,
Stout hands, and courage that would think foul scorn
To quail before the face of mortal man.
We are our people's king. For you, my lords,

you saw

Leave me to face the enemy alone !
I care not for


silken company.
I'll to my stalwart men 1-I'll name my name,
And bid them follow Jamos. They'll follow me
Fear not—they'll follow !

Cas. [To Somerville. He will do it, my lord.
Promise him fair.

Somer. My liege, I but presumed
To advise delay. I speak for other peers-
If you give order to advance to the south,
We will obey you.

James. Do you speak for all ? [Goes to Somerville.
Lord Somerville, your hair is white with years ;
Our own is grizzled now, but not with age.
We have had griefs-we've had—but let it go;

may be harsh in tongue; but if
Our heart, you would give privilege to the words,
For the dear love they spring from. Sweetest wine
Gives strongest sour. My lords, you pardon us !

Somer. My liege, we are your loving subjects ever.

James. You'll meet me on the Boroughmuir as fixed; Armed for our war, with all your followings. We will not keep you now. Farewell, my lords, We have much yet before us— -fare


well! Exeunt lords, c., except Seton, who is following. James. To Seton.] Seton-good Seton !-stay with me.

Seton. My liege,
You honour me.

James. Well, man, and wherefore not?
Do you not know I mean to honour you?
Stand not so coldly, Seton; come more near.
Seton, I thought I that had gathered to me
Love, trust, obedience, from-but let them go!
I have you left. You'll never leave me, Seton !

Seton. Never! But why this tone ?

James. Because my tongue
Takes lessons from my heart. Ah, Seton-Seton !
I was the proudest king-too proud, perhaps-
I thought I was but foremost in a band
Of men, of brothers, of true-hearted Scots ;
But, pshaw !-it shall not move me.

Seton. My good liege,


although the denouement is rather too obvious throughout. On the fall of the curtain, Mr. Macready was called for, and cheered with shouts of congratulation ; and then “some noisy persons persevered in bawling for the author, till he was compelled to shew himself in the stage-box, and bow his thanks to these obstreperous claqueurs of the Commons.” The play was subsequently repeated a number of nights with undiminished success.

The " King of the Commons” is full of indications of a high order of genius for dramatic writing. The faults are those of inexperience, and an ignorance of the requisitions of the modern stage. The character of James is boldly sketched, and sustained with spirit throughout. The author has evidently bestowed upon it the most elaborate touches, and it is no unworthy addition to the dramatic portrait-gallery of English literature. The comic portions of the play, though not unpleasing upon the stage when well repi ed, betray the hand of the novice. The lovers, too, are somewhat after the old, conventional pattern of novelists and play-wrights ; although Malcolm has one or two fine bursts of emotion in his last interview with his reprobate kinsman, Sir Adam.

The author deserves our admiration for the skill with which he has wrought out, from materials apparently slight, and a plot of remarkable simplicity, so pleasing and effective a drama; and this without any far-fetched incident or exaggerated passionwithout any false straining after effect, or ambitious misuse of language. If he can so successfully handle a subject so unpronising, we are justified in looking for a far greater triumph, wnen he shall try his hand upon a story of more suggestive opportunities and more exciting interest.

“ Were we to venture,” says the critic in Blackwood's Magazine, from whose remarks we have already quoted, “ upon any I road criticism, after a careful perusal of this play, and of The Earl of Gowrie, we should be inclined to say that Mr. White sins rather upon the side of reserve, than that of abandonment. We think he might well afford to give a freer rein to his genius -to scatter before us more of the flowers of poesy—to elevate the tone of his language and the breadth of his imagery, more especially in the principal scenes. It may be--and we almost


believe it—that he entertains a theory contrary to ours : that his effort throughout has been to avoid all exaggeration, and to imitate, as nearly as the vehicle of verse will allow, not only the transactions, but the dialogue of actual life. But, is this theory, after all, substantially correct ? A play, according to our ideas, is not intended to be a mere daguerreotype of what has passed or is passing around us; it is also essentially a poem, and never can be damaged by any of the arts which the greatest masters in all times have used for the composition of their poetry. Much must be said in a play, which in real life would find no utterance ; for passion, in most of its phases, does not usually speak aloud; and therefore it is that we not only forgive, but actually require, some exaggeration on the stage, in order to bring out more clearly the thoughts which in truth would have remained unspoken.

• In the matter of ornament, much must be left to the discretion and the skill of the author. We are as adverse as any man can be, to overflowing diction—to a smothering of thoughts in verbiage—to images which distract the mind by their over-importance to the subject. But the dramatic author, if he carefully considers the past annals of his craft, can hardly fail to remark, that no play has ever yet achieved a permanent reputation, unless, in addition to general equable excellence, it contains some scenes or passages of more than common beauty or power, into the composition of which the highest species of poetry enterswhere the imagination is allowed its unchecked fight, and the fancy its utmost range.

Thus it was, at all events, that Shakspeare wrote ; and if our theory should be by any deemed erroneous, we are contented to take shelter under his mighty name, and appeal to his practice, artless as it may have been, as the highest authority of the world.

“ But, after all, we are content to take the play as we find it. Of The Earl of Gowrie, Mr. White's earlier production, we have left ourselves in this article little room to speak. In some points, it is of a higher and more ambitious caste than the other -written with more apparent freedom ; and some of the charac ters--Logan of Kestalrig, for example-are powerfully concei ved. It is not, however, so well adapted for the stage as the

« 이전계속 »