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don about the end of the year 1749, and offered it to Mr Garrick, for representation at Drury-Lane, of which that great actor had recently become manager. But that gentleman did not think it well adapted to the stage, and declined bringing it on, much to the mortification of its author, who, with the feeling natural to such a situation, wrote the following verses on the tomb of Shakespeare, in Westminster-Abbey: .
Verses written by Mr Home, with a Pencil, on Shakespeare's
Monument in Westminster Abbey.
Image of Shakespeare! To this place I come
After this unsuccessful expedition to London, he turned his mind to the composition of the tragedy of Douglas, of which he had, as his friends believed, sketched the plan some time before.
From certain notes and hints, relating to this tragedy, in my possession, it appears to have undergone material alteration from the original design, or rather, indeed, composition ; for the plot, which was suggested to the author by the old popular ballad of Gil Morice, seems not to have been materially altered. The names of the persons of the drama appear to have been changed during the time in which the author perfected his piece. That of Norval in those fragments is Norman. Even after the first representations, the name Randolph was substituted for Barnet, the name in the old ballad, which had struck some of the English part of the audience as producing a bad effect, from its being the same with that of the village near London.
With the tragedy of Douglas in his pocket, Mr Home set off on horseback for London, from his · house in East-Lothian, in February 1755. The
ideas of his friends as to its excellence and success were very sanguine indeed, as appears from the warm expressions used by Dr Carlyle in describing some incidents at the beginning of the author's journey, who was accompanied, to a certain distance on his way, by some of his most intimate friends, of whom Dr Carlyle was one. The habitual carelessness of Mr Home (another quality, I am afraid I must say failing, which I might, perhaps, have enumerated among those allied to the poetical character,) was strongly shewn by his having thought of no better conveyance for this MS., by which he
was to acquire all that fame and future success of which his friends were so confident, than the pocket of the great-coat in which he rode. Dr Carlyle and his other friends trembled for the safety of this drama, their admiration of which he describes as approaching to idolatry, and turned a little out of their road to procure from a clergyman of their acquaintance the loan of a pair of saddle-bags, in which to deposit the MS. Having thus, by the provident care of his friends, secured it from the accidents of the weather, he rode on to London, full of those sanguine hopes which every man in his situation indulges, and presented his play to Garrick, to whom he had procured an introduction ; but Garrick did not see those merits which have since rendered Douglas so popular, and returned it to the author, with the mortifying declaration, that it was totally unfit for the stage. Neither Mr Home nor his friends were at all satisfied with this decision, and immediately conceived the plan of bringing it out at the Edinburgh Theatre, then under the management of Digges, an actor of very great powers, (though with many defects,) and of great popularity in Scotland. Its rehearsals were attended by that literary party who were the constant companions of the author, and then the chief arbiters of taste and literature in EdinburghLord Elibank, David Hume, Mr Wedderburn,
Dr Adam Ferguson, and others. Dr Carlyle, who sometimes witnessed those rehearsals, expresses, in his Memoirs, his surprise and admiration at the acting of Mrs Ward, who performed Lady Randolph. Digges was the Douglas of the piece, his supposed father was played by Hayman, and Glenalvon, by Love; actors of very considerable merit, and afterwards of established reputation on the London stage. But Mrs Ward's beauty (for she was very beautiful,) and feeling, tutored with the most zealous anxiety by the author and his friends, charmed and affected the audience as much, perhaps, as has ever been accomplished by the very superior actresses of after times. I was then a boy, but of an age to be sometimes admitted as a sort of page to the tea-drinking parties of Edinburgh. I have a perfect recollection of the strong sensation which Douglas excited among its inhabitants. The men talked of the rehearsals; the ladies repeated what they had heard of the story ; some had procured, as a great favour, copies of the most striking passages, which they recited at the earnest request of the company. I was present at the representation; the applause was enthusiastic ; but a better criterion of its merits was the tears of the audience, which the tender part of the drama drew forth unsparingly. “ The town,” says Dr Carlyle, (and I can vouch how truly,) " was in an uproar of exulta
tion, that a Scotsman should write a tragedy of the first rate, and that its merits were first submitted to them.”
But the most remarkable circumstance attending its representation, was the clerical contest which it excited, and the proceedings of the Church of Scotland with regard to it. Religious zeal, and a jealousy of any infringement on the established doctrines of the Presbyterian Kirk, seem to have. been more than usually predominant at the time of the appearance of Douglas. About this time was published, “ England's Alarm,” a complaint of the gross impiety and atheism of the times, applicable to Great Britain in general, but particularly referring to the corruptions of religion in Scotland ; among which were specified the breach of the National Covenant, the subsistence of Episcopacy, and the adoption of Episcopal forms of worship, which the author severely condemns, such as kneeling at receiving the sacrament, ecclesiastical habits, (not moral habits, but the dress and costume of the church,) the Liturgy, &c. On the other hand, Lord Kames had just published a small metaphysical treatise, entitled, “ Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion.” This was supposed by some of the clergy to contain principles and positions derogatory to the Christain faith, and the rules of morality contained in the Gospel. A zealous clergyman, Mr George Anderson, minister