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same time carried out in every part, and set forth with such glorious poetical coloring. Lord Byron's “ Sardanapalus” would give perhaps a more just idea of the manner in which Grillparzer treats a dramatic subject, than any thing else in our literature to which I could compare him.
Sappho is the type of the woman of genius. She enters crowned with the Olympic laurel, surrounded by the shouts of gratulating crowds, and shrinks within herself to find that they bring her incense, not happiness-applause, not sympathy-fame, not love. She would fain renew her youth, the golden dreams of her morning of life, before she had sounded the depths of grief and passion, before experience had thrown its shadow over her heart, in the love of the youthful, inexperienced, joyous Phaon; and it is well imagined too, that while we are filled with deepest admiration and compassion for Sappho, betrayed and raging like a Pythoness, we yet have sympathy for the boy Phaon, who leaves the love of his magnificent mistress-love rather bestowed than yielded—for that of the fair, gentle slave Melitta. His first love is the woman to whom he does homage ; his second, the woman to whom he gives protection. Nothing can be more natural ; it is the common course of things.
Learned and unlearned agree in admiring Grillparzer s versification of Sappho's celebrated ode
“Golden-Thronende Aphrodite!” It sounds to my unlearned ears wonderfully grand and Greek, and musical and classical; and when Schroeder recites these lines in the theatre, you might hear your own heart beat in the breathless silence around.*
German critics consider the “Medea” less perfect than the “ Sappho” in point of style, and, considered merely as a work of art, inferior. Of this I eannot so well judge, but I shall nerer forget reading it for the first time, I think of it as an era in my poetic reminiscences. It is the only conception of the character in which we understand the neces„sity for Medea's murder of her children. In the other tragedies on the same subject, we must take it for granted; but Grillparzer conducts us to the appalling catastrophe through such a linked chain of motives and feelings, that when it comes, it comes as something inevitable.
Medea is the type of the woman of instinct and passion. Contrasted with the elegant, subdued Greek females, she is a half savage, all devotion and obedience one moment, a tameless tigress in the next; first subdued by the masculine valor, then revolted by the moral cowardice of Jason. Grillparzer has wisely kept the virago and the sorceress, with whom we hardly sympathize, out of
* The translation of the same ode by Ambrose Phillips,
“Venus! beauty of the skies,
Is well known. In spite of the commendation bestowed on it by Addison, it appears very trivial and affected, compared with that of Grillparzer.
sight as much as possible; while the human being, humanly acted upon and humanly acting and feeling, is forever before us. There is a dreadful truth and nature in the whole portrait, which is perfectly finished throughout. Placed beside the Medea of Euripides, it is the picturesque compared with the statuesque delineation.
The subject of the “Medea” has a strange fascination around it, like that of the terrible agonized beauty of the “Medusa,” on which we must gaze though it turn us to stone. It has been treated in every possible style, in I know not how many tragedies and operas, ancient and modern. I remember, at Vienna, a representation of a singular kind given by Madame Schroeder; it was a monologue in prose, with musical symphonies, composed by George Benda, about 1755. After every two or three spoken sentences came a strain of music, which the actress accompanied by expressive pantomime. The prose text (by Gotter) appeared to me a string of adjurations, exclamations, and imprecations, without any coloring of poetry; and the music interrupted rather than aided the flow of the passion. Still it was a most striking exhibition of Schroeder's peculiar talent; her fine classical attitudes were a study for an artist, and there were bursts of pathos, and flashes of inconceivable majesty, which thrilled me. The fierceness was better expressed than the tenderness of the woman, and the adjuration to Hecate recalled for a moment Mrs. Siddons's voice and look when she read the witch-scene in “ Macbeth ;” yet, take her altagether, she was not so fine as Pasta in the same character. Schroeder's Lady Macbeth I remember thinking insufferable.
The number of the “Foreign Review” for February contains, among other things, a notice of Baron Sternberg's popular and eloquent novels. It is not very well done. It is true, as far as it goes; but it gives no sufficient idea of the general character of his works, some of which display the wildest and most playful fancy, and others again, pictures, not very attractive ones, of every day social life.
Sternberg, whom I knew in Germany, is a young nobleman of Livonia, handsome in person, and of quiet, elegant manners. Yet I remember that in our first interview, even while he interested and fixed my attention, he did not quite please me; there was in his conversation something cold, guarded, not flowing; and in the expression of his dark, handsome features, something too invariable and cynical; but all this thawed or brightened away, and I became much interested in him and his works.
Sternberg, as an author, may be classed, I think,
many other accomplished and popular authors of the day, flourishing here, in France, and in England, simultaneously—signs of the times in which we live, taking the form and pressure of the age, not informing it with their own spirit. They are a set of men who have drunk deep, even to license, of the follies, the pleasures, and the indulgences of society, even while they struggled (some of them at least) with its most bitter, most vulgar cares. From this gulf the intellect rises, perhaps, in all its primeval strength, the imagination in all its brilliance, the product of both as luxuriant as ever ; but we are told,
“ That every gift of noble origin,
And a breath of a different kind has gone over the works of these writers-a breath as from a lazarhouse. A power is gone from them which nothing can restore,—the healthy, the clear vision, with which a fresh, pure mind looks round upon the social and the natural world, perceiving the due relations of all things one with another, and beholding the “soul of goodness in things evil;" these authors, if we are to believe their own account of themselves, given in broad hints, and very intelligible mysterious allusions, have suffered horribly from the dominion of the passions, from the mortifications of wounded self-love, betrayed confidence, ruined hopes, ill-directed and ill-requited affertions, and a long et cetera of miseries. They