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THE FALL OF TARQUIN:
AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY,
En Five Acts,
BY JOHN HOWARD PAYNE, Esq.
PRINTED FROM THE ACTING COPY, WITH REMARKS,
To which are added,
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COSTUME,-CAST OF THE CHARACTERS
RELATIVE POSITIONS OF THE PER
FORMERS ON THE STAGE, AND THE WHOLE OF THE STAGE
As now performed at the
THEATRES ROYAL, LONDON.
VARIOUS have been the opinions regarding the stoics. Eome have exclaimed
"And we shall find, trace passions to their root,
Small difference 'twixt the stoic and the brute;"
While others have pursued the opposite extreme, and elevated them amongst the gods. The course of the stoic, like the eagle's flight, is solitary and sublime. He has that painful pre-eminence
"Himself to view,
Above life's troubles, and its comforts too."
For, as pleasure and pain exist only in the contrast they present to each other, the stoic, by becoming insensible to both, may be equable, but never can be happy. Whether this be an enviable state of existence-whether it be nobler to look down upon the good and evil of life with equal indifference-to regard mankind with dignified apathy-to sacrifice every tie of nature, friendship, and feeling, to one arbitrary and undeviating rule of right-we leave to the decision of less sanguine temperaments than our own. We have not yet so much the Roman in us! But, if we were to venture an opinion, we should say
"Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul:
We think the Romans call it stoicism.”
Under such withering influence, every generous sentiment of the soul would be annihilated:
"The tear which pity taught to flow,
The heart that melts for others' woe,
But, exclaims a poet who had imbibed an ardent love for the virtues of Greece and Rome
"What think you 'twas set up
The Greek and Roman name in such a lustre,
When great, august, and godlike justice call'd?"
This, however, must be considered as a favourable picture of stoicisin; and foremost among the illustrious characters of antiquity that have achieved this hard triumph, stands Brutus, who
"The theme of all succeeding times,
Gave to the cruel axe a darling son !"
Such an example, however it may raise our veneration, must not be fixed as the standard of human excellence: it must be regarded as a prodigy, a moral wonder of the world, towering above the frailties and affections that are the mixed lot of humanity.
"Seven wealthy towns contend for Homer dead,"honour of having introduced this interesting subject to the stage. They are of various
and no fewer than seven plays contend for the
merit; but none possess sufficient action for dramatic representation. Mr. Howard Payne has made very judicious use of the ample mate. rials that were placed before him: he has strung the pearls, and successfully fashioned them to the public taste. He has followed history when she was likely to prove interesting; and varied her, without destroying her integrity or beauty. He has shortened long prolix dialogues-compressed and connected incidents-and availed himself of every legitimate opportunity of producing effect. No wonder, then, that the public approbation hailed a drama in which one of the brightest ornaments of Imperial Rome stood revealed in all his grandeur of soul. If the highest merit belong to original genius, there is one of another degree that must be assigned to correct judg ment, before whose tribunal even genius must appear,-that prunes its exuberances, and concentrates its beauties. Lustre and fragrance are the acknowledged properties of the flower; but the hand that tastefully plants the parterre, well deserves the praise of judicious selection and elegant arrangement.
Brutus, in this tragedy, is drawn with great power. His assumed idiotcy, in the early scenes, is an admirable cloak to his future designs, and contrasts well with the energy and pathos that burst forth as his character is further developed. Every other personage is tame and ineffectual, compared with this. Lucretia, who fills so glorious a space in history, has little to do or to say. The scene where she stabs her self, in the presence of Collatinus and Lucretius, is wisely omitted: it is weakly written, and altogether in bad taste. To expose Lucretia in her agony to the vulgar gaze, is indecorous: it is sufficient that we hear she died in a manner worthy of a Roman matron, with all her virtue, and with all her glory. We ask no profane hand to lift the veil from misery so sacred as hers. There is an affecting picture, "The dead Soldier," in which the painter, in despair of giving a true expression of unutterable grief to the countenance of the widow, has shrouded it in her mantle.
If the character of Brutus was written for the purpose of displaying Mr. Kean to the best advantage, the actor well repaid the author's confidence in his abilities. There were no inequalities to counterbalance the excellence of particular passages: the whole performance was marked by original genius. When he terribly denounced the house of Tarquin, and cried revenge for the death of Lucretia, every heart was with him: and when his unhappy son was called to receive death at his mandate, the audience could only answer him with their tears.