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the limbs and appurtenances of strength and beauty, but, huddling them together unartificially, the result was a monster.
Coleridge criticized Bertram with great skill, but with too much severity. He regretted the introduction of German metaphysics into English literature, and reproached Sheridan for having translated Pizarro. We agree with his conclusion, but dissent from his reasoning. Pizarro ought not to have been translated, because it is nothing better than a piece of stilted mediocrity. It strutted its little hour upon the stage, simply because John Kemble declaimed the part of Rolla. Coleridge finds the germ of Bertram in The Robbers. Without denying that there is a strong analogy between the dominant thoughts in both productions, we must say that there is very little similarity in the developments. Maturin's metaphysics are not so explicit as those of Schiller; he is more passionate and less declamatory. Schiller, we are told, in the latter end of his life lamented his authorship of The Robbers. He was right; for, in spite of its temporary popularity, the piece is destitute of poetic value, and should never range on the same shelf with Don Carlos, Wallenstein, and Mary Stuart. The ideas, which in Schiller assume the form of a grave dissertation, or at best a fragmentary essay, become in Maturin's hands living legends, glowing with the superhuman and the terrible. Bertram's style wants the nature and simplicity suited to the stage; the defect is compensated by the brilliancy of the images, the boldness of the metaphors, by the burning lights with which the poet occasionally illumines the secret and mysterious workings of the human conscience. The action of the piece belongs rather to the irregular epic of the middle age, than to the definite and rapid deductions required by the exigencies of the modern drama. As a whole, we cannot admit Bertram to the lofty elevation once claimed for it, but it contains scenes and situations not unworthy of Hamlet or Macbeth, What we have said of Bertram as a play, is equally applicable to Melmoth as a romance; Maturin's example is therefore indifferent to the issue; instead of being both a novelist and a dramatist, if we adhere to strict form and definition, we must deny him to be either one or the other.
Another example, not mentioned by M. Planche, merits a little of our attention. Salathiel and “ Pride shall have a Fall,” were written by the same powerful author, and both commanded intense admiration in the closet and on the stage. Much that we have said respecting Maturin is applicable to the case of the Rev. Dr. Croly. Like his countryman he possesses a wide grasp of genius, an overflowing abundance of imagery, and a gorgeous style, whose march is impeded by its own richness. But Salathiel is not a romance, and “ Pride shall have a Fall” is not a comedy. Both are the untrammelled epics of Ariosto's school, written by an Irishmạn, not by an Italian, and consequently dashing onward with an Hibernian recklessness which leaves even the Orlando Furioso far behind. Criticism on such works is like a legal writ sent into the wilds of Connaught; it is laughed to scorn, and well it is if the reviewer be not compelled to eat his own article, just as ministers of the law, when caught with writs in Connemara, are forced to devour the obnoxious parchment, steeped in whisky however, in order to assist their powers of deglutition.
Let us now attend to the example on the other side, Sir Walter Scott; as a novelist he has no equal, as a dramatist he is below contempt. Yet there are few writers who have displayed so much conversational power, or whose characters, to use his own phrase, made themselves better known by their talk, Nay, his novels when dramatized by some professional play-wright have had considerable success; we have ourselves enjoyed Baillie Nicol Jarvie far more in Drury Lane than in our own chambers. Is then Scott's failure in dramatic literature an inexplicable anomaly? We trow not; he had all the elements of a successful writer for the stage but one, and that one was form. The management of the story in a romance differs essentially from its management in a play; the novelist can insert explanations, introductions, and preparations; the dramatic hero must enter unannounced on the stage. What the novelist can directly state in his own words, the dramatist must rely upon the actor to intimate by look or gesture, and the mechanist to exhibit by contrivances more or less clumsy. How powerfully might the chase of the Wild Huntsman be de. scribed in words; how paltry and insignificant is its show on a screen in the incantation scene of Der Freischütz. Practical stage knowledge is requisite to the production of a successful drama; the secrets of the green-room must be understood, the scene-painters must be consulted, the scene-shifters examined, and every trap-door intimately known. The stage, not metaphorically, but literally, from the foot-lights to the remotest scene, must be thoroughly understood by any one who aspires to produce a successful drama. Let us not forget that Shakspeare was himself an actor. That Ben Jonson was the boon companion of the players, and that Molière almost lived in the theatre. It was not from any want of genius that Scott failed as a dramatist, it was simply from a meaner want; he knew not how to manage contrivances for helping out his story. As a novelist he had all these subsidiary means at his own command, but he knew not where to seek for them in the theatre.
Scott had the principal share in the revolution that, in our opinion, overthrew the drama, by substituting the novel in three volumes for the play in five acts. He put an extinguisher on historic tragedy. The fashionable novelists will perform the same office for genteel comedy; and, if Boz has many followers, we may bid a long farewell to the whole generation of farces. It would be the most absurd thing in the world to enter on the investigation of the relative claims of novels and plays; the matter is already settled ; that most obstinate and puzzling of all personifications, “ the reading public,” has pronounced its fiat, and has recorded its opinions in such a practical shape, that he who runs may read. Circulating libraries flourish, and theatres are ruinous speculations; publishers are sending forth fleets of literary ventures, managers are contracting their issues, and setting their houses in order. It is all nonsense to say that there is no dramatic talent in the present age; the plain fact is, that there is no demand for the article in the market. We generously spare our readers a learned dissertation on the laws that regulate demand and supply; political economy is rather too heavy a subject to be introduced into the free gossip in which we are indulging with our gentle companions.
M. Planche takes another view of this question, in his sketch of Henry Fielding; he thinks that there are essential psychological differences between the novelist and the dramatist ; the former he regards as an investigator, the latter as one who skims the surface of things, and seizes only the broad outline of events. We must allow him to join our social circle, and share in the conversation :
“ To certain intelligences that mingle with the world and regard it attentively, that collect the numerous and almost imperceptible anecdotes which form the tissue of life, that take pleasure in studying the most minute details of character, that never witness the most trivial incident without scrutinizing physiognomies, to discover the sentiments wbich they reveal, or which they try to hide,--to such sorts of intelligence, I say, the narrative form of romance is particularly suited. ... Spirits of a more energetic temperament, who think less but act more, who study parts rather than characters, and limit their attention to the external aspect of events, require an action to be definite and rapid. They strip from it every episode, whether real or probable, that does not lead directly to the accomplishment of a dominant and defined event ; they use a dialogue concise and pointed, proceeding straight to its object, obeying the laws of an irresistible fatality, like a hero of Æschylus or a Mussulman soldier ; such are the minds that Nature has designed for the drama.”
Now we think that, on a very cursory examination, it will appear that the first class of intelligences described by Planche, no more possesses the characteristics of novelists than of dramatists, and that the second class includes the authors of both species of fiction. It is true that a knowledge of mental anatomy is necessary to the writer of romance, but an ostentatious display of his science will be fatal to his success. He must not tell the secrets of his dissecting-room ; he must not present the component parts of character separate, he must give the results, not the actual operations of his moral analysis. He is not so much fettered by space as the dramatist, but he cannot support his illusions by direct appeals to the eye and the ear, and when descriptions of scenery and action are removed from the romance, he will be found to have little more room given to the actual working out of his fiction than the dramatist. Take Ivanhoe ; it is to regular romance what melodrama is to the legitimate drama. Suppose all its scenes painted instead of being described, and all the actions of the characters directly represented; you at once feel that it would become a melodrama of no very inconvenient length. On the other hand, the Tempest might very easily be changed into a romance of three volumes. We hold, then, to our opinion, that the novel and the drama differ not in essence but in form; that they vary in their developments rather than in their nature, and that the popularity of the circulating library has been a principal cause of the decline of the stage.
To come more immediately to the case of Fielding; we grant that very few of his dramatic pieces survive, but we must remember that they were literally written for bread. He had neither time por opportunity for study; his play was his only chance of support; detaining it for revisal a week, or even a day, might have consigned him to a prison and starvation. Still we think that in Fielding's dramas there is sufficient merit to prove that he would have been a successful writer for the stage, had he confined himself to that path of literature. Fielding has been styled the English Cervantes ; and there is more justice in the epithet than is usually found in these complimentary appellations. His Joseph Andrews, written to ridicule a forgotten folly, won a victory over Pamela as decisive as Don Quixote's triumph over books of chivalry. The story is curious, and highly characteristic of the English nation, where the man who sets up a wooden idol is lauded to the echo, until some hardy wight breaks the false deity to pieces, when the destroyer inherits the fame of the maker. About a century ago, Richardson was confessedly the chief of English novelists; it is questionable if the Great Unknown ever attained an equal share of popularity. His Pamela, indisputably the weakest and worst of his novels, had a success which was absolutely astonishing. Not only was it vaunted as a finished model of perfection, but ministers cited it from the pulpit, just as Hannah More and Wordsworth have been quoted at a later
period. This mania roused the parodying spirit of Fielding; he had already demolished some score of mock tragedies by the admirable burletta of Tom Thumb, and he now attacked Richardson in Joseph Andrews. The parody is immortal, but Pamela has sunk into utter neglect. Like Gifford's Baviad and Mæviad, the satire has survived the folly, and some modern critics have even blamed Fielding for wasting his strength on such ignoble game. Before passing to any other example, we must notice Planche's warm testimony to the merits of Tom Jones :
“ Tom Jones is a constant truth; a probability which never contradicts itself; it is nature caught in the fact, keenly observed, and depicted with unexampled delicacy. It is in this respect especially that this book is distinguished from all books of the same kind that have preceded or followed it. .... Considered as a mere romance, it is as spirituel as Gil Blas, and as amusing as Don Quixote, and unites to this double advantage an interest more judiciously and constantly sustained."
To Henry Mackenzie, a writer of a very different order, our French critic awards higher praise than modern readers of the Man of Feeling and Julia de Roubigné. But it would be of little use and less interest to raise a controversy about works which have long lost their importance; we turn, then, to Planche's account of E. L. Bulwer, or perhaps we should rather say, the author of Pelham. In examining the merits of Pelham, M. Planche avoids the common error of identifying the author with the hero; he very justly remarks that a novelist, like a biographer, must more or less have a personal interest in the character of his hero, and nothing is more common than to believe that the fiction, which is thus invested with the attributes of life, must have a real existence. It was thus with Byron and Childe Harold ; the poet loved the creature of his imagination, and invested the imaginary wanderer with much of his own feelings and remembrances. Hence it was concluded that he designed to draw an ideal portrait of himself, and much virtuous indignation was wasted on the personal faults of the imaginary Childe. The same injustice, but in a lighter degree, has been dealt to Pelham ; the hero of the fiction is assailed as if he were a living man, and the novel reviewed as if it were a biography. Even Rienzi was exposed to this extraordinary species of criticism, and it was gravely asserted that Mr. Bulwer wrote with the prepense purpose of recommending himself to the vacant office of Tribune of the English people. To us Pelham has always appeared a clever personification of aristocratic exclusiveness, drawn with a satirical design, and as effective for its purpose as