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James. Too old
every spear you have. We've winked too long, But we have not been blind.
Max. My gracious lord,
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
[A pause—the nobles look disconcerted.
(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 ;
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
shop! if the fire That warms your
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
James, What to hear ?
Leave me to face the enemy alone !
Cas. [To Somerville. He will do it, my lord.
Somer. My liege, I but presumed
James. Do you speak for all ? [Goes to Somerville.
may be harsh in tongue; but if
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,
James. Well, man, and wherefore not?
Seton. Never! But why this tone ?
James. Because my tongue
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