Vagram; was afterwards appointed The subject of Tasso has been renImperial chamberlain, and, marrying dered popular in Germany, by the in 1810, withdrew from the army, and play of Goëthe on the subject. Rau, devoted himself to literature. His pach, in The Death of Tasso, has furlyrical poems soon attracted attention, nished as it were a second part to although the best of these, entitled Goëthe's, to which he has endeavourTodten Kränze, (Garlands for the ed, in all respects, to conform the tone Dead,) did not appear till 1831, and of his own play. That of the Baron after his reputation as a dramatist had Von Zedlitz is a more independent been established. One little ballad of creation, though, as usual, Raupach's his, written with much force and ori. knowledge of stage effect renders his ginality, entitled Napoleon's Midnight play more effective in representation. Review, has been translated into sev- It must be admitted, however, that all eral languages, and has appeared, we these plays labour under one defectbelieve, more than once in English. that the subject is not dramatic.

The first of his plays, Turturell, ap. Deeply interesting as is the character peared in 1825. It was followed by of Tasso, that interest is not of a tragic Two Nights in Valladolid, (1825;) nature. The picture of a poetical Master and Slave, a tragedy; and Love temperament at war with the convenwill find a Way, a comedy, (1827;) tional restraints of its position, at first

The Star of Seville, (1830 ;) The Pric indulging in the dream that the nobison and the Crown, and The Queen's lity of genius must counterbalance Honour, (1834.) Of these, we should rank, and then taught by a cruel and say, The Star of Seville, the Two Nights unexpected reverse the folly of such in Valladolid, and the Prison and the expectations, though an affecting picCrown, are the best. In the first of ture in itself, affords but little room for these, which is an adaptation from a development either in sentiment or play of Lope de Vega, he has caught action. Still less does the closing porwith much success the spirit of the tion of Tasso's career-his imprison. Spanish romantic theatre, as in his ment in St Anne's, or his restless comedy of Love will find a Way, he has wanderings from one Italian court to very gracefully imitated the manner of another, after his liberation afford the Calderon's pieces of intrigue. The materials of strong dramatic interest. Star of Seville had the strange fortune The uniformity of melancholy becomes to be attacked equally by Liberals and monotonous. Any play which deals Absolutists. While the maxims of with this period of fretfulness, and comdevoted loyalty which the dramatist plaint, and despondency, assumes alhad put into the mouth of Don Sancho most unavoidably a lyrical rather than Ortis, drew down on the head of the a tragic tone. Tasso himself, in a Baron the charge of advocating a

beautiful chorus in his (almost un. servile submission to authority, the known) tragedy of Torrismond, has tone of the play, in other respects, ap- concentrated the whole spirit of his peared to some of the critical authori. own feelings and situation as he apties of Vienna far too liberal to be proached the close of his course, more safe; and it is even said that its repre- effectually than could be done by any sentation was prohibited.

attempt to develop them in dramatic While it may be said of all the plays action. of Zedlitz, that in knowledge of dra

Come alpestre rapido torrente, matic effect, and probably also in the

Come acceso baleno, delineation of character, he is inferior

In notturno sereno, to Raupách; yet in-fertility of imagery,

Come aura o fumo, o come stral repente, beauty of reflection, and harmony of Volan e nostre fame, ed ogni onore versification, he is fully his equal. His

Sembra languido fiore. diction has indeed been generally and justly admired throughout Germany.

Che piu si spera, ò che s'attende omai? How far we may succeed in conveying

Dopo trionfo e palma, any idea of these merits by our trans.

Sol qui restano all' alma,

Lutte e lamenti e lagrimosi lai ; lation, we know not. But, at least, the translation is executed line for line, and

Che piu giova amicizia o giova amore ?

Ahi lagrime ! ahi dolore! as nearly as possible word for wordeven the disposition of the pauses in Zedlitz has done as much, we think, the original being generally copied, o impart interest and variety to the subject as its essential uniformity Duke's sister, Lucretia, the Duchess would admit of, by placing beside the of Urbino, determines Leonora to poet, as the companion of his wander- make another and a last appeal to the ings, a young and innocent being, An- compassion of her brother, through gioletta, the niece of the keeper of the the Duke of Urbino, the Duke of Hospital, whose heart has unconsci. Mantua, and the Countess Sanvitale ously become devoted to him in his cell Scandiano, who are expected at the at St Anne's; and by throwing around court of Ferrara. Meantime she anthe last scene of his life the consoling nounces her resolution of seeing Tasso impression derived from the general once more-though without speaking acknowledgment of his greatness, and to him—in his cell; which she is inthe preparations for his coronation in formed by the keeper is possible, by the Capitol. His play opens with the placing herself in an upper gallery surseventh year of Tasso's imprisonment rounding the cells, whence she could in the Hospital of St Anne's, after many see without being seen by the object attempts had been made in vain to in. of her interest and pity. The fourth duce Alfonso to relax the rigour of scene introduces us to the Hospital of his confinement. The arrival of the St Anne's and Tasso's cell. A high vaulted room with two side-doors. Above, in the background, a large

Gothic glass door, leading out upon the gallery that surrounds the cells. Tasso and ANGIOLETTA, (the keeper's niece,) who sits at one side occupied with some female work, which she from time to time lays down and looks at Tasso.

Angioletta. It is a mild and lovely day of spring,
The birds are twittering, and the flowers exhale
Sweet scents : soft airs come breathing through the window.

Tasso. Why speak to me of spring of flowers---perfumes
For me there comes no spring--there comes no aulumn ;
The wheels of time stand still above my head,
Year follows year, and still immovable
Upon the brazen dial of my sorrows
The index seems to stand !
I have forgotten the sweet scents of spring,
The tints which deck the swelling breast of autumn,
While stretch'd upon my torturing rack I lie,
A Titan fetter'd to the ground, and feel
A universe of suffering lies above me.

Ang. O sir, be patient, be composed : you know
How much this agitation injures you.

Tas. O would it did ! O would it could destroy me
But 'tis not so: Alas! of sevenfold steel
This frame is fashion'd, sickly as it seems :
Blows fall with giant force upon my head,
But cannot shatter it. 0 ! 'tis pitiful!

Ang. Here comes my uncle. He comes to announce that the Signor Montecatino, the bearer of a message from the Duke, is without, and demands admittance to the poet. Tasso refuses to see him, and bursts out into a strain of invective against his mingled pride and baseness, as a being who crawls in the dust before his superiors, and looks as if he disdained to breathe the same air with those beneath him. The Keeper replies

This touches you not. For you are his equal
A noble like himself,

You rave, methinks ;
These veins I would lay open on the spot
Were there one drop of blood within them which
Resembled him! What? I like him-10-never!
Thanks be to Heaven, that I am not his like!

Keep. I meant not that ; I only meant that you,
Like him, were noble.

Understand më rightly.
In sooth I am not proud. How should I be ?
I have indeed but little cause to be so.
I know myself, and to my God 'tis known
I look not with indulgence on my failings.


My faults are more than I have breath to utter;
Seven weary years of sad imprisonment
Are but the just atonement of my sins-
God lays the load on me, and I will bear.
But my tormentors may not be my judges,
To their tribunal I will never bend;
For were I black-black as a stormy night-
Yet, placed beside them, I were pure as snow.

Keep. Shall I admit the messenger ?

The what
The whisperer, the calumniator-him
Who still has been my bitterest enemy!--
Oh ! had he been an open foe, who face
To face, and sword to sword confronted me,
Though I had felt his steel within my breast,
I could have press'd his hand and pardon’d him:
But when I think how he has ever labour'd
To steal from me my honourable name,
By poison'd sneer, by malice, and by cunning-
No! by the devil! No! I will not see him-
I will not, though ten Dukes had sent him thither.

Ang. Torquato !

Well ?

Be calm, I pray. Is this
The promise that you made me yesterday ?
Tas. Sweet creature ! I am wrong.

But be not angry
It was my ancient waywardness o'ertook me.
Angioletta, you are right: I will be calm,
Were it for nothing but my promise to thee.
Now go-and let the-scoundrel come.

[The Keeper retires. Ang. (rising and approaching Tasso.) Tasso! with patience bear

this stranger's visit :
Remember, hate you as he may-he bears
His master's message.

Then receive him well.
Tas. Thou gentle flower! sure some propitious being
Sent thee to be my prison's comforter;
Looking on thee, I seem to breathe again
The mountain air fresh blowing—see once more
The wood, the fount, the field, the flower, the sunshine ;
While the soft echo of thy gentle voice
Sounds to me like the wood-note of a bird,
That through the forest's verdant covering rings,
And “Freedom ! Freedom !” is the song it sings.

[blocks in formation]

Mont. So, Tasso !-in God's name, how goes it with you ?
You made me wait a little, worthy sir-
A friend like me might enter unannounced.

Tas. Your pardon: I am sickly, as you know.
So it is said at least and it is possible
A visit may be unexpected-even
From friends like you. But to the point, so please you :
What happy chance confers on me the honour
Of seeing you within my prison walls ?

Mont. Your prison walls !- there now is another
Of your diseased imaginations. Prison !
The Duke, believe me, is your wellwisher;
And seeing that your present sickly state
Strict survey needs, and even present aid,
Has sent you hither to promote your cure,
Moved by the best advice of all your friends,
And wishing but your good,


A thousand thanks
Unto the gracious Duke.

You are pale, my friend
'Tis plain you are far from well. At court
They tell us you are often troubled with
These fits of melancholy.

How! my Lord ?
Mont. Yet the expression of your face has not
That frightful air such patients often have.

Tas. My Lord, I am not so mad as they may think
At court. At least I can distinguish still
The worthy man from But proceed—your errand?

Mont. See now, I always told his highness, when
We spoke of your misfortune, it was nothing
But some corporeal malady that springs
From bile diseased, and which at times breaks out
In fancies.

Tas. (aside.) Patience !-grant me patience, Heaven!

Mont. Yourself are much to blame for your condition.
In many good gifts you are not deficient-
Gifts that are known and praised as they deserve ;
But, pardon me, you have indulged too much
A vain and overweening fantasy,
And hopes, which, if they were not criminal,
At least were foolish.

Tas. (Sighing.) That is true!

You poets
Are, it is said, an irritable race-
All things offend you. Now, confess it fairly,
The Della Crusca's censure of your poem
Has given you more vexation than it ought.

Tas. Not so, fair sir! If what I write be good,
'Tis not the critic's voice can make it ill.
Try it, indeed, they may! A voice within
Tells me to trust the spirit that inspires me.
I have given delight to many a feeling heart ;
I've seen the tear in many an eye, which, raised
Above this low existence by my strain,
Soar'd on my fancy's wing, and many thanks
From worthy men and noble dames were mine
What care I for the Crusca or its censure !
Mont. Ha! ha! I give you joy, good friend.

Laugh on.
The art which God bas given me, is to me
A blessing, which for none on earth I'd barter.
Not folly, dulness, envy, persecution,
Not even imprisonment, can tear it from me.
The rescued treasure rests within my breast,
And sleeps secure against a better time.
The gift of God I never have degraded-
I never courted mean applause ; my strain
Kas sounded only for the great and good.
Humble me-persecute me :-

Be it so:
Laugh at my dreams, if laughable they seem-
I leave you your advantage in the world ;
But leave me mine, which you need little envy.

Mont. I grudge it not, Torquato ; nor desire
My dreams should ever lead me to St Anne's.

Tas. Right ! very right! And yet, Montecatino,
Far as you stand in fortune's light before me,
At court so favour'd, so esteem'd ; so much
Of honour gain'd, and hoping more to win,
In all the sunshine of a master's favour-
While I am banish'd by his wrath, to dwell
Forsaken, sick, calumniated, here ;

I cherish this persuasion, when my spirit
O'erlooks the future with prophetic eye ;
That immortality shall yet surround me,
And Tasso's name live on in other times,
When yours with all its pomp shall be forgotten.

Mont. In this, methinks, your dreams go something far!

Tas. It may be so; I am, they say, at court
Not always master of my perfect mind,
Construe my words, then, as the place suggests
In which you hear them. And now, once for all,

Explain the message which his Highness sends.
The message is far enough from

warded of which he approves.

Last being consolatory. In answer to a comes the unkindest cut of all-even letter which the poet had addressed to the Princess returns his letter unopenthe Duke, the courtier bears a verbal ed.

Montecatino retires, accompaanswer, strictly prohibiting every such nied by the keeper; a scene of pasapplication in future, under the penalty sionate explosion on the part of Tasof having his imprisonment rendered so, followed by exhaustion, succeeds. more close and rigorous than before; Angioletta sings him to sleep, and rethe letters which he may write to tires into the side apartment. Leonora others are to be submitted to Monteca- and the keeper appear in the gallery tino's inspection, and those only for above.

Keep. He sleeps, so please your Highness ;
Now you may see him undisturb’d. He slumbers.

Leon. (contemplating Tusso-after a pause.)
O God, how pale ! how sadly he is alter'd-
Ah! what a melancholy tearful look!
Is that Torquato? O, Eternal Powers !
Who knows if this be slumber-or be death ?

Keep. Ah! lady, he is worthy of your pity-
Far worthier of compassion than all these
That round about lie prison'd in their cells.
They are unconscious of their wretched lot,
For their brain wanders, and their eye is clouded
With phantoms of their own creation. They
Dream on, and happier often are their dreams
Than the reality ; his suffering
Is doubled, for he feels how much ke suffers.

Leon. Oh! treat him well. Do for him what you can-
Alleviate as you may his destiny-
I will reward you for it.

None is needed,
For we already love him; and my niece,
A child when he came here, and motherless,
Is always near him, bears him company,
And tends him lovingly. He loves the child too,
Has grown accustom'd to her, teaches her,
And she has grown beneath his eye.
He wakes, he moves.

O God! one glance alone !-
My knees give way.

Tas. (looking up, exclaims, with a wild cry.) Ha !
[At the same moment the Keeper closes the glass door, and Angioletta

rushes in from the side-room.

What is this, good Heaven ?
Tas. 'Twas she-'twas she herself! It was no dream,
I am myself—my senses do not wander-
That was herself- [Sinks on his knee, and stretches out his arms.

That was my Leonora ! Act Second opens in Tasso's cham- sion of the imagination. The poet ber, as before. The Keeper is attempts tells him his efforts are in vain; that he ing to persuade Tasso that the appear- knows it was the Princess herself who ance of the Princess was a mere delu- had visited his cell; he infers that his

But see,

« VorigeDoorgaan »