Page images
PDF
EPUB

which however it was not solely confined, but extended to no less than forty or fifty of the most common words which occur in conversation, and bearing not the least affinity whatever to the former expreflions.

• This new language every inhabitant is under the necessity of adopting; as any negligence or contempt of it is punished with the greatest severity. Their former expressions were, however, retain. ed in their recollection; and, for our better communication, were, I believe, permitted to be used in conversation with lis, without incurring displeasure. Pomurrey however would frequently correct me on my accidentally using the former mode of expression, fay. ing, I knew it was wrong, and ought not to practise it. Were such a pernicious innovation to take place, generally, at the arbi. trary will of the sovereigns throughout the South Sea islands, it would be attended with insurmountable difficulties to strangers ; but it appears to be a new regulation, and, as yet, confined to these islands, or it would be impossible to reconcile the affinity which has been hitherto found to subsist in the language of different parts of the Great South-Sea nation. The new-falliioned words produce a very material difference in those tables of comparative affinity which have been constructed with so much attention and labour; and may, possibly, when the reasons for the alteration are known and developed, be a matter of interesting political inquiry. This, however, required more leisure, and a more intimate knowledge of the language, than I possessed. Circumstances of greater importance to the expediting the various services, which the grand object of our voyage here demanded, and 'on which my mind was every hour anxiously engaged ; augmented by the difficulties we had to encounter, in the new modification of so many terms; rendered most of my inquiries ineffectual. These perplexities and disadvantages were also materially increased, by the difficulty of obtaining the truth from a race who have a constant desire to avoid, in the flightest degree, giving offence; infomuch, that, on the least appearance of displeasure, even in conversation ; to disengage themselves from any such inconvenience, they would often, by that extensive and specious comprehenfion, which their languade admits of, seemingly fo qualify, what they before had asserted, as to contradict, according to our acceptation, a positive inatter of fact; or, what amounted to nearly the same thing, a completely different construction was by us very frequently put on a second conversation, from that which we had conceived from, or had attributed to, the first. Had we been more competent linguists, we might, in all probability, have found both their modes of expreffion tending to the same point, and differing only in the figurative relation of the circumstances, to which these people are much accustomed.' Vol. i. p. 135.

Here we must pause for a time, as the importance of the work requires a continuation of our remarks in another number.

A Series of Plays, in which it is attempted to delineate the

Aronger Passions of the Mind ; each Pasion being the Subjext of a Tragedy and a Comedy. 8vo. 6s. Boards. Cadell and Davies. 1798.

THIS title impressed us with no favourable prepoffeffion; we were inclined to smile at a plan so methodical and so arduous. The preface, however, gave us a better opinion of the author, whose good sense and modesty it strongly exhibits ; we perused the volume with attention and delight ; and it is with fincere pleasure that we announce this commencement of a work which, we trust, will not only be honourable to the writer, but to the literature of our country.

Three plays only of the intended feries now appear, and the author afsigns a distrust of his own powers as the reason.

To bring forth only three plays of the whole,' he says) and the last without its intended companion, may seem like the haste of those vain people, who, as soon as they have written a few pages of a discourse, or a few couplets of a poem, cannot be easy till every body has seen ihem. I do protest, in honeft fimplicity! it is distrust and not confidence, that has led me at this early stage of the undertaking, to bring it before the publick. To labour in uncertainty is at all times unpleasant; but to proceed in a long and difficult work with any impression upon your mind that your labour may be in vain, that the opinion you have conceived of your ability to perform it may be a delusion, a false suggestion of self-love, the fantasy of an aspiring temper, is molt discouraging and cheerless. I have not proceeded so far, indeed, merely upon the strength of my own judgment; but the friends to whom I have fnewn my manuscripts are partial to me, and their approbation which in the case of any indifferent person would be in my mind completely decisive, goes but a little way in relieving me from these apprehensions. To step beyond the circle of my own immediate friends in quest of opinion, from the particular temper of my mind I feel an uncominon repugnance : I can with less pain to myself bring them before the publick at once, and submit to its decision. It is to my countrymen at large that I call for assistance. If this work is fortunate enough to attract their attention, let their strictures as well as their praise come to my aid: the one will encourage me in a long and arduous undertaking, the other will teach me to improve it as I advance. For there are many errours that may be detected, and improvements that may be fuggefted in the prosecution of this work, which from the observations of a great varieiy of readers are more likely to be pointed out to me, than from those of a small number of persons, even of the best judge ment.' P. 67.

Love is the passion of which the progress is traced in the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

first and second of these plays; but it is not the common-place love of the drama. It is grafted not on those open communicative impetuous characters, who have so long occupied the dramatic station of lovers, but on men of a firm, thoughtful, reserved turn of mind, with whom it commonly makes the longest stay, and maintains the hardest struggle.'

The scene of the first tragedy lies in Mantua. Count Basil is upon his march through that town, to join the imperial general Pescara. The duke of Mantua is in the French interest; and, knowing that an engagement is on the point of taking place, he endeavours to delay the march of Bafil. With this view he employs his daughter Victoria to detain the count one day in Mantua.

Bafil is represented as a severe character, ardent for military fame, rigid in command, yet beloved by those who are under him. The princess paties near his troops in a proceffion; and he recognises in her the female whom he had seen hunting two years before. He says,

< Her name and state I knew not;
Yet, like a beauteous vision from the blest,
Her form has oft upon my mind return’d;
And tho this day the fight had ne'er restord,

It ne'er had been forgotten.' P. 100.
The count's passion is discovered in a masterly manner. His
officers, in his presence, are converting of the proceffion, the
offerings, and the princess.

Fred. Nay, it is treason but to call her woman;
She's a divinity, and should be worshipp'd.
But on my life, since now we talk of worship,
She worshipp'd Francis with right noble gifts !
They sparkled fo with gold and precious gems
Their value must be great; some thousand crowns ?

Rof. I would not rate then at a price so mean;
The cup alone, with precious fones beset,
Would fetch a sum as great. That olive branch
The princess bore herself, of fretted gold,
Was exquisitely wrought. I mark'd it more,
Because she held it in fo white a hand.
Bafil, in a quick wcice. Mark'd you her hand ? I did

not see her hand,
And yet she wav'd it twice.' P. 83.
A scene ensues between Basil and Rofinberg, his friend and
kinsinan. · The former is praising Victoria's person.

her eyes smild too;
O! how they smild! 'twas like the leams of heav'n!

[ocr errors]

I felt

my

roused soul within me start, Like something wak'd from fleep.

Rof. Ah! many a slumb'rer heav'n's beains do wake
To care and misery!
Baf. There's something grave and folemn in your

voice
As you pronounce these words.

What dost thou mean?
Thou wouldst not found

my

knell ?
Rof. No, not for all beneath the vaulted sky!
But to be plain, thus earnest from your lips
Her praise displeases me. To men like you
If love should come, he proves no easy guest.

Baf. What doft thou think I am beside myself,
And cannot view the fairness of perfection
With that delight which lovely beauty gives,
Without tormenting me with fruitless wishes;
Like the poor child who sees its brighten'd face,
And whimpers for the moon? Thou art not serious ?
From early youth, war has my mistress been,
And tho' a rugged one, I'll constant prove,
And not forsake her now. There may be joys
Which to the strange o'erwhelming of the foul,
Visit the lover's breast beyond all others;
E'en now, how dearly do I feel there
But what of them ? they are not made for memo
The hasty flashes of contending steel
Must serve instead of glances from my love,
And for soft breathing sighs the cannon's roar.

Rof, taking his hand. Now am I satisfied. Forgive

may!

me, Bafil.

[ocr errors]

Baf. I'm glad thou art, we'll talk of her no more, Why should I vex my friend?

Rof. Thou hast not giv’n orders for the march.

Baf. I'll do it soon; thou need’st not be afraid.
To morrow's sun shall bear us far from hence,
Never perhaps to pass these gates again.
' Rof. With last night's close did you not curse this

town
That would one single day your troops retard ?
And now, methinks, you talk of leaving it,
As though it were the place that gave you birth ;
As tho' you had around these strangers' walls
Your infant gambols play'd.

Baf. The fight of what may be but little prizid,
Doth cause a folemn sadness in the mind,
When view'd as that we ne’er shall see again.

Rof. No, not a whit to wand'ring men like us,
No, not a whit! what custom hath endear'd

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

We part with fadly, tho? we prize it not ;
But what is new some pow'rful charm must own,
Thus to affect the mind.
Baf. hastily. Yes, what is new, but-No, thou art

impatient;
We'll let it pass-It hath no consequence.

Rof. I'm not impatient. 'Faith, I only wish
Some other route our destin'd march had been,
That still thou mightft thy glorious course pursue
With an untroubled mind.

Baf. O! wish it, wish it not! bless'd be that route !
What we have seen to-day I must remember
I should be brutish if I could forget it,
Oft in the watchful post, or weary march,
Oft in the nightly filence of my tent,
My fixed mind tall gaze upon it still ;.
But it will pass before my fancy's eye,
Like fome delightful vision of the foul,
To soothe, not trouble it.

Rof. What, midst the dangers of eventful war,
Still let thy mind be haunted by a woman?
Who would, perhaps, hear of thy fall in battle,
As Dutchmen read of earthquakes in Calabria,
And never stop to cry alack-a-day !
For me there is but one of all the sex,
Who still fall hold her ftation in my breast,
Midst all the changes of inconstant fortune;
Because I'm pafling sure the loves me well,
And for my fake a sleepless pillow finds
When runour tells bad tidings of the war ;
Because I know her love will never change,
Nor make me prove uneasy jealousy.

Baf. Happy art thou ! who is this wond'rous woman?
Rof. It is mine own good mother, faith and truth!
Baf. smiling. Give me thy hand; I love her dearly

too.
Rivals we are not, though our love is one.

Rof. And yet I might be jealous of her love, For the bestows too much of it on thee, Who haft no claim but to a nephew's Mare.

Baf. going. I'll meet thee some time hence. I must

[ocr errors]

to court.

[ocr errors]

Rof. A private conf'rence will not stay thee long. I'll wait thy coming near the palace gate. Baf. 'Tis to the public court I mean to go.

Rof. I thought you had determin'd otherwise.

Bas. Yes, but on farther thought it did appear As though it would be failing in respect

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »