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exposes him, there are assuredly few who will deserve a more distinguished place in the file of literary fame. We should have taken infinite pleasure in tracing him from Philaster,' his most poetical work, and · The Maid's Tragedy,' his most energetically dramatic, to those comic plays of later life, in which he exhibits his own peculiar manner as completely formed, and his skill in composition as having reached its utmost limit. As merè comic pieces for the stage, there can be little doubt that the voice of the public has pronounced a sound judgment, in retaining in its favour two of his latest works ;--- The Chances,' and Rule a • Wife and Have a Wife.' But both of these are; in point of poetical and real dramatic merit, greatly inferior to several of his other pieces : and among all his comedies, none seems to us either so good in itself, or so full a specimen of his various qualities, as the admirable one of The Spanish Curate.' hardly any of Fletcher's distinctive characteristics, either good or evil, that cannot here be detected; and there is, perhaps, none of his works in which these characteristics are brought into so effective a harmony. Our space is nearly exhausted; but upon this amusing and animated play we may still afford to bestow a few words ; with which we shall bring this article to a close.
We have no great curiosity to discover whether the poet contented himself, as usual, with borrowing both the plots of this drama from the novels in which they are to be found; or whether, in this instance, he was assisted by a Spanish play, which, however, is not likely. Nor can we perceive any great cause for commendation in the manner in which the subordinate plot and the main one are tacked together. The connexion seems to us to be as loose as in most of his other works; and in this respect, as in so many else, we would consider the work as characteristic. Each plot by itself, however, is managed with excellent skill, until we reach the point immediately preceding the conclusion.
The introductory dialogue of the first scene is very inartificial. Some of the minor characters relate to each other facts which it is desirable that the spectators should understand ;-Don Henrique's childless marriage with Violante, his hatred and oppression of his brother Don Jamie, Jamie's patronage of the amiable youth Ascanio, and Ascanio's poor parentage. Ascanio's figure belongs to a class which Fletcher takes great delight in painting; but it is, perhaps, as far inferior to the more poetical cast which, in his earlier plays, he gives to his young pages, (especially when they are women in disguise,) as the sturdy, indomitable, warmhearted independence of Jamie's character is superior to such caricatures as Fletcher had drawn, many years before, in Gondarino or the Captain Jacomo. The scene of defiance and threatening between Jamie and Henrique is in one of Fletcher's best keys;- not unlike a similar scene in The Two Noble Kingmen.' It is followed by the whimsical passion which the rich, young, and open-handed heir, Leandro, conceives on hearsay for the wife of Bartolus, and which is to form the underplot of the play: On the serious passages which conclude the first act, we have not time to dwell; but we must not omit to indicate their apta ness by way of preparation for what is to follow. Jacintha, the mother of the youth Ascanio, hints that she has just claims of some sort upon Don Henrique ; Don Henrique hints some strange revenge which, at the cost of his own reputation, he is to take upon his brother for his insolence.
The second act is full of Fletcher's happiest comie vein--wit of the sort to which we formerly alluded-extravagant caricature of character, (for no better name is deserved either by Lopez or Diego)-tricks played by some of the personages upon othersand a half kind of consent by the ridiculous persons to aid in making themselves laughing-stocks. Leandro, disguised like ä young lawyer's clerk, appears for the purpose of prosecuting his licentious pursuit of the wife of Bartolus. The curate Lopez comes on the stage with his sexton Diego; and Leandro, standing aside, listens with great amusement to the dialogue, in which the two worthies lament over the lack of fees and business-of births, marriages, and deaths. In what follows,= the presentation of the forged letter—the natural disclamation by the priest and his official—the struggle of avarice with the fear of detection, which ensues when they discover that money may be made by a lie--the cool impudence with which, when they suppose they have discovered Leandro to be easily gullible, they adopt the lie, and make him furnish them with the proofs of its truth,-in all this there is, we must be allowed to think, much more of genuine and natural humour, than in most of Fletcher's attempts in this broadest path of the comic. The prec'eding part of the dialogue is burlesque, farce, caricature : this is comedy, truth, something of what we may all have seen, in real life, à distant resemblance. Among all the contemporary dramatists, Jonson alone could have conceived the features of the scene ; but he would have clothed them with colours less gay and arch. The miser Bartolus, who next comes on the stage, is much less to our liking: he seems to be very common-place; but his wife is one of those female characters whom Fletcher paints so well—a union of the angelic, the feminine, and the brutal. It used to be said that Fletcher's female characters are superior to Shakspeare's: no man who understands and feels the essence of beauty, poetical and moral, can make such an assertion. Fletcher's women bear nearly the same relation to Shakspeare's, that Rubens's Dutchwomen bear to Raffaelle's Madonnas.
In the third act, the scene between the priest and his parishioners is another in Fletcher's favourite comic style ; and the game at chess is a specimen of a higher class, in which also he is often very successful. The trial in court is one of those pieces of poetical declamation, so very fine in themselves, in which the poet's works abound, and which throughout this play keep the tone at the ideal height. Henrique's plan of revenge is explained; he deprives his brother of his chance of the inheritance, by declaring that the boy Ascanio is his son; that Jacintha had been secretly contracted to him as his wife. Jamie indignantly proclaims the story to be false; but it is not so; Jacintha reluctantly admits its truth, and Ascanio is carried off by his father. All this is finely contrived.
The fourth act brings us rapidly towards the development of both plots. Henrique has a second wife-the imperious Violante-who, although she had consented to her husband's scheme, now reproaches him with the slur it has cast upon her. Ascanio yields to the storm, and returns to the poor dwelling of his mother. And it must be observed that the softening of Henrique's feelings towards his son, prepares us for expecting his character to turn out more amiable than it had at first appeared. This skilful foresight is but too rare with our old dramatists ; and there is great beauty in the thought of making paternal affection the instrument of the moral cure. We cannot stop to detail the admirable scene of drollery in which Diego the sexton makes his mock will. The wit which the fellow displays, is altogether out of character; but, if we overlook this glaring fault, the scene is one of the best instances of Fletcher's favourite class of jests. The purpose of the imposition is the effecting of the lawyer's dishonour; and, although nothing is expressly said, yet, neither here nor in the scene of the fifth act, are we allowed for a moment to doubt that the end had been effected. We repeat what we formerly hinted. Twenty years before Fletcher wrote this scene, he would not have dared to state, even thus cautiously, so gross a violation of morality.
Up to this point there are few plays that could be considered to have been more judiciously managed. The fifth act is enough to spoil all, as far as it is possible to spoil any thing otherwise so good. There were but two things to be yet effected in the actionthe satisfying of Bartolus as to his wife's innocence the reunion of Henrique with Jacintha. The first end seemed not easily attainable; the second probably is one, in regard to which it may be safely said, that no reader wishes so well to the faithless husband as to desire that it should be attained. The former purpose is not attained; but the lawyer is forced to feign contentment, after he has in part revenged himself upon his tormentors by a scheme which the poet borrows from the feast in “Timon of Athens.' The second end is, however, effected; but most awkwardly and abruptly. Violante tempts her brother-in-law to kill her husband; she is exposed, by his pretended acquiescence, to her husband's anger; and (by a sort of justice which may be called poetical, if poetry be that which is nowhere to be found in real life) her fortune is confiscated for the building of a nunnery, in which she is to spend the remainder of her days. But still she was Henrique's wife, and he could not fulfil his contract to Jacintha. By no means: the poet disposes of the difficulty in two lines. Henrique declares that he had never married her, waiting for the death of Jacintha. They join hands, receive felicitations, and the curtain drops with a twofold moral, of which the former half is utterly unprincipled, and the latter has no application to the events from which it professes to be drawn.
ART. X.- The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic
of Texas. By WILLIAM KENNEDY, Esq. 8vo. London ; 184).
R KENNEDY was one of the gentlemen who accompanied the
late Lord Durham to Canada, in 1838. After the abrupt termination of his Lordship's mission, he took the opportunity of visiting the greater part of the United States; and was induced to extend his journey to Texas, by invitations from some of the leading persons of the new Republic. His residence there lasted for several months, under circumstances very favourable to his acquiring information on the various points of the social and political condition of the country; and the results of his enquiry and observation are contained in the present work, which makes its appearance at a very seasonable period. The strange and eventful history of the foundation of the new Republic, together with the impression long prevalent of its vast resources and great capacity for improvement, have for some time rendered it an object of interest to the British public; and the important step recently adopted by our government, in the recognition of its independence, gives at the present moment a peculiar value to any information that may enable us to estimate the necessity, the wisdom, and the future consequences of that measure. On all these points Mr Kennedy's book will be found to contain ample materials,
VOL, LXXIII. NO, CXLVII.
collected with great industry, and presented in an agreeable and perspicuous form. The author writes, it is true, with a feeling evidently favourable to the Anglo-American colonists of Texas; he paints in glowing colours the glorious land which they have. settled; he vindicates them against the misrepresentations which have, in his opinion, clouded their relations with Mexico: with undissembled pride in the progress of this great offset of the Enga lish race, he depicts the energy of their industry, and the wisdom of their free institutions; and he advocates the policy by which our Minister for Foreign Affairs has formed an alliance, fruitful with the most useful influences on the character of Texas, and the political and commercial interests of Great Britain. But the decision, which Mr Kennedy does not dissemble or modify, appears to have been formed with impartiality. And we have no hesitation in expressing our belief, that the appearance of this useful publication will give much valuable historical and statistical information to all who may consult it; and will succeed in removing from most minds misconceptions which must be very mischievous, however generous the sympathies in which they have very naturally had their origin.
The Republic of Texas, as must be well known to our readers, was comprised till a recent period in the dominions of the Spanish crown ; and subsequently, for a few years, formed a portion of the Republic of Mexico. The ancient province of Texas formed the north-east angle of the viceroyalty of New Spain, and of the Republic of Mexico, which extended over the same portion of country, and then contained an area nearly as large as that of France. But the boundaries of the new Republic, limited on the north and north-east, as those of the ancient province were, by the frontier of the United States, have, by the Act of its Congress, passed on the 19th of December 1836, been extended, in a southern and western direction, over a considerable portion of the adjoining provinces of Mexico. The present Republic occupies about four hundred miles of the northern and western shores of the Gulf of Mexico; and from this extends back into the Continent, which here greatly increases in breadth, as far as that great chain of mountains, which, being the continuation of the Cordillera and the Rocky Mountains, divides the waters of the Gulf from those which flow into the Pacific. On the north-east the river Sabine separates Texas from the State of Louisiana : the long course of the Rio Grande del Norte, from its mouth to its source, forms its south-western and western boundary. A considerable angle at the north-west extends as far as the forty-second degree of north latitude; but the greater portion of the northern boundary is formed by the Red River, which joins the Mississippi at Natchitoches in Louisiana.