« EelmineJätka »
pieces which have not been made public. He has displayed respectable talents as a dramatist. David EvERET also a native of Massachusetts, wrote a tragedy called Daranzel, or the Persian Patriot, which was acted and published at Boston in 1800. It is said to be " deficient in accurate and striking representation of individual character, but has many eloquent passages and scenes of high dramatic interest." WILLIAM DUNLAP, a native of New Jersey, is the most voluminous writer of plays which the United States have ever produced, and many of his productions have been great favourites on the stage. He is the author among many others, of Fontainville Abbey, a tragedy ; Andre, a tragedy; Lover's Vows ; Italian Father; False Shame; and Force of Calumny. The four last are comedies. The dramatic efforts of JAMES N. BARKER, born in Philadelphia, are much celebrated. He wrote “ Tears and Smiles," a comedy, 1807; The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage, a melo drama; Marmion, dramatised from Scott; How to try a Lover, 1817, a comedy; and Superstition, a tragedy 1823. These are popular plays, and one of them
at least, Marmion, is said to keep possession of the stage.
M. M. Noah is the author of several plays that have been acted with great success. Among these appear The Grecian Captive; The Grand Canal; Marion, or The Hero of Lake George; She would be a Soldier ; and Paul and Alexis. SAMUEL WOODWORTH, a native of Massachusetts, is the writer of several dramatic pieces, viz. The Deed of Gift; La Fayette, or The Castle of Olmutz; The Widow's Son; and The Rose of the Forest. These have all been very successful on the stage. JAMES K. PAULDING, a native of the State of New York, wrote a comedy entitled The Lion of the West, which has been acted with great effect. JOHN HOWARD PAYNE, an actor as well as writer of plays, was born in the city of New York, where his fine powers were witnessed in very early life. He was remarkable for the precocity of his intellect. About the year 1812, he went to England, and continued abroad many years. He has contributed, both to the English and
* AN. ED.
American stage, several successful translations from French dramas. These, together with some original plays, have been popular, and continue to be, in both countries. Among them are Brutus, Oswali of Athens, Peter Smink, or Which is the Miller, Richlieu, and several others. *
JAMES A. HILLHOUSE, a native of Connecticut, has produced two dramatic poems, though they were not designed for representation. They are of a superior order, as is also his poetry generally. Percy's Masque, his first drama, was published originally in London, and in 1820, reprinted in the United States. Hadad, from a scriptural subject, made its appearance in 1825. Hadad is considered as his best effort, and is a master-piece of the kind. With true poetical feeling and discernment, he has appropriated to his purposes, one of the difficult but interesting themes of sacred story, and managed it with entire success. The poetry of this author is generally of a classic and finished character. It has a pointed polish, and yet is natural, animated, and warm. The enlightened reader perceives that taste and judgment have guided his pen. A few lines from Hadad will show Mr. Hillhouse's manner, in that elaborate production :
THE SAGE OF CAUCASUS.
Hadad. None knows his lineage, age, or name: his locks Are like the snows of Caucasus; his eyes Beam with the wisdom of collected ages. In green, unbroken years, he sees, 'tis said, The generations pass like autumn fruits, Garnered, consumed, and springing fresh to life, Again to perish, while he views the sun, The seasons roll, in rapt serenity, And high communion with celestial powers. Some say 'tis Shem, our father; some say Enoch, And some Melchisedek.
Tamar. I've heard a tale
Had. I have proved it, -
* Ax. ED.
Tam. But didst thou see him?
Had. Never did I view
Was musical as its bright guardian's songs.
NOVELISTS AND ROMANCERS.
The English novel, which took its rise from Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne, in the reign of George II., was not cultivated with great success during the earlier years of his successor. The works of this kind, which appeared between 1760 and 1790, are generally poor imitations of the various styles of the eminent writers just named, and claim no notice in the present work. Among the few exceptions, the most conspicuous are the Evelina (1777) and Cecilia (1782) of Miss Frances Burney, afterwards MADAME D'ARBLAY, who has since written Camilla, and The Wanderer of Norway, besides a memoir of her father, the author of the History of Music. The first of these novels was composed by stealth, it is said, at the age of seventeen, and only acknowledged by the author to her parents, when they, in common with the public, had discovered its extraordinary merits. So high a reputation did Madame D'Arblay obtain by her prose fictions, that for one of the last she received three thousand pounds. Their most prominent merit lies in the lively and just pictures of character with which they are filled. Another, but less important exception may be instanced in The Recess (1783), by Miss Sophia LEE ; a tale of the time of Elizabeth, in which there is much romantic interest. Mrs. CHARLOTTE SMITH (1749–1806), a gentlewoman, who was forced by severe misfortunes to resort to her
* Ax. ED.
pen for subsistence, may be said to have revived the novel of modern times, after it had for some time been dormant. Her Emmeline, Celestina, and Old English Manor House, not to speak of other works of scarcely inferior merit, made that impression upon the public which is usually produced by something different from, or superior to, what has previously been familiar: they were tales of passion, related in an interesting manner, with a happy mixture of pathos and humour, and a lively and varied exhibition of natural character.
In 1789, Dr. John Moore, a native of Scotland, published the first of a series of novels by which he acquired considerable celebrity. Zeluco displays a knowledge of human nature, and a force of moral painting, which entitle the author to a high place among the British novelists. It was followed by Edward (1796), and Mordaunt (1800), which, though betraying a gradual decline of power in the writer, are works of no inconsiderable merit. The Simple Story (1791), and Nature and Art (1796), by Mrs. INCHBALD, an actress and dramatic writer, are novels of this period which have likewise obtained an established reputation. The author has not distinguished herself more honourably by her talents than by some circumstances in her private life. In a profession which more than most others exposes its votaries to extravagance, to vice, and to poverty, she lived with the simplicity and purity of an anchorite, and thus was able to succour many distressed friends, and to realize an independency for herself. She was the editor of a large collection of plays, to which she contributed critical remarks of much judgment.
About the time when Mrs. Smith was reviving the novel, that species of fiction called the romance, which we have already described as taking its rise with Mr. Walpole and Mrs. Reeve, and as being devoted to the description of scenery and character of the middle or gothic ages, was improved by the genius of Mrs. ANN RADCLIFFE (1764-1823), the wife of a gentleman who
conducted a newspaper in London. Her first work, The Castles of Athlyn and Dunbayne, produced in her twenty-fifth year, gave little promise of excellence; but she soon after issued in rapid succession, The Sicilian Romance, The Romance of the Forest, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian, (the last in 1797), all of which powerfully arrested public attention. Mrs. Radcliffe may be said to have been the first to take full advantage, for a literary purpose, of fear and mystery, whether depending on natural circumstances, or on the superstition of the reader. She lays the scene of her stories in some place, with which her readers associate ideas of awe and romantic terror—the recesses of an unfrequented forest in France, the dungeons of a Sicilian castle, or the dark and long-drawn aisles of an Italian monastery. These scenes she peoples with characters, not marked particularly by any individual features, but belonging to certain classes ---a tyrannical and guiltladen count, an aged and garrulous house-keeper, a gentle and gallant hero, a soft and sentimental heroine, a pert but superstitious waiting-maid, a subordinate villain either from the cloister or the guard-room, and a variety of other persons who act either for good or ill, and help to develop the plot. Sights and noises, apparently supernatural, occur throughout her tales, and awaken a sense of wonder mixed with fear, which keeps the interest of the reader alive to the conclusion, when they are generally explained as having been caused by natural circumstances. The effect likely to be produced by such compositions upon the minds of at least young readers, may be somewhat questionable ; but it is not to be disputed, that they manifest high powers of fancy and description on the part of the author, and are calculated to afford a delight of no ordinary kind to those who are disposed to indulge in the pleasures of the imagination.
The French Revolution, which was contemporary with the first efforts of Smith, Moore, Inchbald, and Radcliffe, was the immediate cause of directing into this department of literature the infinitely more powerful and original mind of William Godwin, originally a dissenting clergyman, but who for some years had culti