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the same thought, is here divided into two inimical semi-choruses, for the most part fighting and quarrelling with each other. But we must examine this piece more in detail. Although "Die Braüt von Messina" has not been, and is not likely to be translated, as it certainly would not take in this unæsthetische nation, it deserves some attention, both as the work of an author of superior genius, and as an elucidation, as well of his own theories, as of the excess to which the refining subtilty of German intellect is carried; a peculiarity that may perhaps arise from the same causes as the excess of susceptibility before mentioned. The play is preceded by a long preface, intended to prove the indispensableness of the chorus to tragedy; this is so indisputable, that we are told, en passant, the want of this essentially constituent part is the only reason why Shakspeare is not thoroughly and universally understood. The great advantage of the chorus is, according to our author, that it introduces life into the language, and tranquillity into the action, by which the audience may be saved from all danger of illusion, and from all undue agitation of their sensibility: an object fully attained in the tragedy under consideration.
The piece is opened by Isabella, the Dowager Princess of Messina, in a speech of one hundred lines, addressed to the Elders of the city. She first assures them that nothing but necessity would have brought her out, unveiled, from the retirement befitting a widow. She next proceeds to remind them that her two sons have hated each other from infancy; that the authority of their father, who had forbidden their ever sleeping in one place, or coming within reach of each other with arms, had prevented any bad effects of their enmity, but had left their disposition, which it seems he thought beneath his care, unchanged; that immediately upon his death, which had occurred two months since, their ill will had burst forth, and divided Messina into two hostile factions; that they, the elders, had then required her, in a harangue which she repeats to them verbatim, to put an end to all the troubles and bloodshed. She then informs them, that in consequence of this requisition she has sent to summon her sons to meet in her presence, and expects them forthwith; and concludes by desiring them to go, and prepare a suitable reception for both. The respectable old gentlemen, who have not presumed to address one word, even of assent, to the Princess now, whatever they did upon the former occasion she mentions, then, one and all, lay their hands upon their breasts, and depart. As they go out she calls an old servant, talks somewhat mysteriously about a painfully sweet and holy secret that he has kept for her, and that is now to be revealed, and bids him hasten to the well-known convent, and fetch thence the beloved treasure.-Diego obeys-she retires to meet her sons, and the two semi-choruses, consisting of the followers of the two brothers, come on from opposite sides of the stage. They begin by quarrelling in good set terms and various metres, sometimes classically lyrical, sometimes rhymed, and state that nothing but the sworn truce prevents their fighting. They next praise the beauty and fertility of their island, and regret the impossibility of its defending itself against foreign conquerors, a race of whom are their present princes. In this chorus we find the Eumenides, Ceres, &c. named with a serious veneration that would mix oddly with the convent, if we had not learned in the preface that such a combination of creeds was a form of
idealizing religion, and thus adapting it to the purposes of art. bella now returns with her two sons, Manuel and Cæsar, and after receiving the compliments of the chorus, harangues the brothers at great length, and, as the chorus observes, very sensibly, upon the folly and wickedness of their mutual hatred, the grief it occasions her, and the danger to which it exposes them in a conquered country. The brothers remain sullenly silent; she exclaims in despair that she can think of nothing more to say, that they have only to kill each other before her face, and goes away. The brothers then gradually approach, and compliment each other: Don Cæsar admires Manuel's likeness to their mother; Don Manuel discovers in Cæsar a yet dearer and very extraordinary likeness. At last they embrace. So do the two semi-choruses.
In the midst of these caresses, news is brought to Don Cæsar that the lost beauty is found concealed in Messina; he promises to meet Don Manuel shortly in their mother's apartments, and hurries off with his own half of the chorus, or the second chorus, as it is regularly denominated in the piece. Don Manuel takes the opportunity of being thus left tête à tête, as it were, with his, or the first chorus, to disclose a secret. He confesses to this many-headed confidant that he has long been in love with, and beloved by a beautiful girl, brought up in a retired convent, in utter ignorance of her family and connexions; that the old domestic who had placed her there, had told her the preceding evening, that the present day would terminate the mystery; that he, afraid of losing her by any discovery, had carried her off in the night, concealed her in a garden in Messina, and meant to marry, and present her to his mother, before sun-set. He then gives very minute directions as to the purchase of her bridal attire, and the preparations for conducting her home in state, and leaves the first chorus to execute his orders. The chorus first considers every possible mode of pastime that can be had recourse to now, when the amusement of civil war is over; remarks that great reliance cannot be had on the newlymade peace, because a curse rests upon the family, the mother, Isabella, having been the promised bride of the grandfather, scandalously stolen from him and espoused by his son the late prince, in consequence of which crime the nuptial bed and its offspring had been cursed by the injured and disappointed old pretendû, and then goes about its or their
The scene now changes to the above-mentioned garden, Beatrice appears alone, and discusses her love, her remorse for having fled from her convent, and the knowledge of her family, her anxiety at her lover's prolonged absence, and her fears that she may have done wrong in going to the neighbouring church, where she may have been noticed, as she had before been by a fiery youth, when, unknown to her lover, she attended the funeral of the late Prince in about a hundred and thirty lines broken into varying stanzas. She is interrupted by the entrance of Don Cæsar and his chorus. She attempts to fly, but he detains her, declares his love at full length, according to the general fashion of the tragedy, tells her how he fell in love with her at the funeral, and who he is, and then charging his chorus to take care of her, leaves her to recover from her fright. She professes her horror of the two princely brothers who hate one another-of course she is ignorant of her lover's rank-and takes refuge in a pavilion; and the
second chorus, after observing upon the happiness of Princes who get the best of every thing, withdraws to guard the entrance of the garden. We now return to the palace, where we find the Princess and her two sons. She rejoices in their union, and informs them that they have a sister. They inquire why their sister's existence has been kept secret; and the Princess answers that prior to her daughter's birth both she and their father had remarkable dreams; that the father applied to an Arabian magician for the interpretation of his, and was told, that if the Princess bore a daughter, that daughter would occasion the death of his sons and the extinction of his race; that she, liking neither interpretation nor interpreter, had recourse with her dream to her confessor, who assured her that she would bear a daughter who would unite in ardent love the already estranged hearts of her sons; that she had borne a daughter, had deceived her husband as to the execution of his orders for destroying the child, and caused it to be reared in obscurity in a retired convent. The sons ask why she did not produce their sister immediately upon their father's death, to which she replies she wished first to see them reconciled. Each of the two brothers then announces to her another daughter in the person of his intended bride, Don Cæsar again telling the history of his falling in love. Old Diego arrives to interrupt him, with the news that Princess Beatrice had disappeared the preceding night, and was supposed to have been made captive by a Corsair vessel, which had been seen off the coast. Isabella charges her sons to seek their sister; and they depart separately, Manuel something disconcerted at all he has heard.
We are then carried back to Beatrice's garden, where the second chorus opposes the entrance of the first, that is bringing Don Manuel's presents. Manuel arrives, and the second chorus retires in submission to his authority. He now discovers his rank to Beatrice, who is not much delighted at finding her beloved one of the brothers whom she dreaded and hated. Their conversation is suddenly broken in upon by Don Cæsar, who, enraged at seeing his brother embracing his intended bride, kills him without waiting to ask any questions. Beatrice faints. He orders his chorus, who had followed him in, to carry her in his name to his mother, and goes away. His chorus obeys; and the first chorus, after lamenting Don Manuel, forms a bier upon which to convey him home.
The scene changes for the last time back to the Palace. Isabella, and her confidant Diego, appear in impatient anxiety. The second chorus brings the still insensible Beatrice, with Don Cæsar's message. Diego recognizes her, and the mother concludes her sons have been successful in their search. Beatrice recovers, and they play for some time at cross-purposes. The arrival of the first chorus with the dead body stops the impending explanation, and Isabella, in her grief, curses the murderer, his mother, and all his race, speaking as irreverently of oracles and prophecies as Jocasta did before her; all to the great horror of the whole chorus. Don Cæsar comes, and every thing is discovered. He resolves to kill himself in expiation of his crime; and after much argument against his determination from the chorus, much intreaty from his mother, who promises to forgive and never to reproach him if he will only live, and some expostulation from Beatrice, who wishes
to be killed in his stead,—an occasion, by the way, which produces the only thing like a burst of passion in the play, he says,
She cares not, mother, if we live or die,
So she may in the grave join her beloved!
he stabs himself, and the curtain falls.
It is evident from the analysis we have just given of this drama, that in the fable at least there is no deficiency of the proper elements of tragedy; and at first sight it does not seem very easy to make out how the author of such plays as "Die Räuber" and "Kabale und Liebe" could contrive to present such incidents to our sight, without in the slightest degree disturbing our peace of mind, almost without exciting a wish to know how it will all end. The chorus may do much, but clearly not all; for other tragic writers have, as we shall presently shew, accomplished the same desirable object without a chorus; and in some of the Greek tragedies the chorus does not prevent a very deep emotion of sympathy with the sufferings, of which that curiously composite personage appears to be joint spectator with the regular audience. We may observe, however, before we proceed, that the peculiarity which distinguishes the chorus in "Die Braüt von Messina" from its classical original, may perhaps increase rather more than is agreeable its power of destroying illusion. Instead of forming one body of calm, sympathizing, poetical spectators, it is here divided into two hostile squadrons, who come and go, fetch and carry, squabble and embrace, at the pleasure of their respective masters. They are, in fact, merely the favourite courtiers of the two princes, and bear less resemblance to the Greek chorus than to the French confidant, from whom, in fact, they only differ in their plurality and their poetry. So that Schiller seems to have devised the means of happily combining the improbabilities and inconveniences of two different systems. Something too is probably owing to the length of many of the speeches, and the regular and almost uniform alternation of those that are shorter. Our nerves are lulled into a state of soft repose by Isabella's first hundred lines, and by the silent unanimity of her ancient auditors with their hands on their breasts. But the great point seems to be, that the personages of the drama themselves appear thoroughly conscious of their own plastic nature; and except that Don Cæsar may be thought a little precipitate in killing his brother, go through their passions and misfortunes in a very correct, statue-like manner. And the grand secret by which all this is accomplished, we apprehend, is, that the poet, full of his theory of tranquillity, and of preserving the character of art in distinct vividness, kept his own mind calm, writing as a mere narrator or spectator, and carefully avoiding to identify himself with the fears and hopes, the passions and agonies of his Dramatis Persona.
Schiller has not himself informed us whether he regarded this play as the perfection of asthetische and tragic science, or thought he had been rather over-sparing of the sensibility of the audience. If we judge upon circumstantial evidence, we shall decide for the latter opinion. So much at least is certain, that he never again wrote upon the same plan, and that his next piece, "Wilhelm Tell," affords reason to believe it was, if not abandoned, very considerably modified. "Wil
helm Tell" abounds in situations of almost overpowering interest: though it must be owned they are occasionally varied by scenes, the prolixity of which recalls "Die Braüt von Messina." But we have neither time nor space for an analysis of the Swiss Patriot, which we the less regret, as we understand this tragedy is likely soon to make its appearance in an English garb; and indeed, upon looking back to the preceding pages, we observe that we have run into such length as must oblige us to reserve what we propose to say touching the asthetische schemes for tragic composition, adopted by Goethe, and by some authors of the present day of high poetical genius, for a future opportunity. M. M.
BALLAD FROM THE SPANISH.
THE hosts of Roderick took to flight, in terror and dismay,
To-day no foot of land is mine in all that wide domain:
Mine were these hills and dales, and mine was many a tower and town,
Ah! fuckless was the hour I ween, and luckless was the day,