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Leave me to face the enemy alone!
Cas. [To Somerville.] He will do it, my lord. Promise him fair.
Somer. My liege, I but presumed
James. Do you speak for all? [Goes to Somerville.
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 ye 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?
Takes lessons from my heart. Ah, Seton-Seton!
Of men, of brothers, of true-hearted Scots;
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 represented, 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 passion— without any false straining after effect, or ambitious misuse of language. If he can so successfully handle a subject so unpromusing, we are justified in looking for a far greater triumph, when 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 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 e 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 flight, 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 Restalrig, for example-are powerfully concei ved. It is not, however, so well adapted for the stage as the
other drama. James the Sixth, according to our author's portraiture, is a far less personable individual than his grandsire; and the quaint mixture of Scots and Latin with which his speeches are decorated, would sound strangely and uncouthly in modern ears, even could a competent actor be found."
The "King of the Commons" is underlined for representation at the Park Theatre, Wednesday, the second of September, 1846; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean appearing in the parts of King James and Madeleine-a cast, which cannot fail to insure it a degree of success in the United States, equal to that which has already attended it in London and Edinburgh.
THE present play is one of a series on the Stuart Kings of Scotland. The only one hitherto published, "The Earl of Gowrie," was sent in manuscript to Barry Cornwall, and by him forwarded, with a very flattering judgment, to Mr. Macready. Though I was entirely unacquainted with both, they at once entered very warmly into my views; and I have now the grateful task of offering to Mr. Macready my thanks for his great kindness in suggesting such improvements in this drama, as render it more adapted for the stage than my theatrical inexperience would have enabled me to make it.
I shall always feel pleased with my dramatic attempt, as it has gained me some friends of whom I may well be proud, and shown me that if the Drama is at present sunk, it is from no unwillingness, on the part of those most interested in its success, to give every assistance to a new effort in the cause, and still less from any niggardliness of praise and encouragement, on the part of the critics, to an author who honestly applies himself to the task.
Bonchurch, Isle of Wight,
EDMUND PEEL, ESQ.
OF UNDERROCK, BONCHURCH;
A MARK OF FRIENDSHIP AND REGARD