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This highly gifted lady, whose works have been chiefly appreciated by the select few, was born in Glasgow, and was the daughter of Dr. Baillie, Professor of Divinity in the University of that city; her chief residence, however, from an early period of life, has been London, or its neighbourhood. Her principal work is a Series of Plays, each of which is confined to the illustration of a single passion; and they appeared in three volumes, published at intervals between 1798 and 1812; but on account of the artificial nature of such a plan, although they have charmed in the closet, they have never been produced on the stage. Miss Baillie is also the author of several miscellaneous Dramas, and minor Poems, and a collection of Metrical Legends of Eminent Characters, published in 1823.
Rosinberg. What does this shouting mean?
Voltomer. O! I have seen a sight, a glorious sight! Thou would'st have smiled to see it. Rosin. How smile! methinks thine eyes are wet with
tears. Volt. (Passing the back of his hand across his eyes) Faith, so they are; well, well, but I smiled too: You heard the shouting ?
Rosin, and Fred. Yes.
Volt. O! had you seen it!
Drawn out in goodly ranks, there stood our troops;
Here, in the graceful state of manly youth,
His dark face brighten'd with a generous smile,
Which to his eyes such flashing lustre gave,
As though his soul, like an unsheathed sword,
Had through them gleam'd, our noble general stood;
And to his soldiers, with heart-moving words,
The vet’ran showing, his brave deeds rehearsed;
Who by his side stood like a storm-scath'd oak,
Beneath the shelter of some noble tree,
In the green honours of its youthful prime.
Rosin. How look'd the veteran?
O! I cannot tell thee!
At first he bore it up with cheerful looks,
As one who fain would wear his honours bravely,
And greet the soldiers with a comrade's face;
But when Count Basil, in such moving speech,
Told o'er his actions past, and bade his troops
Great deeds to emulate, his count'nance changed;
High heaved his manly breast, as it had been
By inward strong emotion half convulsed;
Trembled his nether lip; he shed some tears.
The general paused, the soldiers shouted loud;
Then hastily he brush'd the drops away,
And waved his hand, and clear'd his tear-choked voice,
As though he would some grateful answer make;
When back with double force the whelming tide
Of passion came; high o'er his hoary head
His arm he tossd, and, heedless of respect,
In Basil's bosom hid his aged face,
Sobbing aloud. From the admiring ranks
A cry arose; still louder shouts resound.
I felt a sudden tightness grasp my throat
As it would strangle me; such as I felt,
I knew it well, some twenty years ago,
When my good father shed his blessing on me.
I hate to weep, and so I came away.
From Count Basil, a Tragedy.
O! were I conscious that within her breast
I held some portion of her dear regard,
Though pent for life within a prison's walls,
Where through my grate I yet might sometimes see
E'en but her shadow sporting in the sun;
Though placed by fate where some obstructing bound,
Some deep impassable between us roll’d,
And I might yet, from some high towering cliff,
Perceive her distant mansion from afar,
Or mark its blue smoke rising eve and morn;
Nay, though within the circle of the moon
Some spell did fix her, never to return,
And I might wander in the hours of night,
And upward turn mine ever-gazing eye,
Fondly to mark upon its varied disk
Some little spot that might her dwelling be;
My fond, my fixed heart would still adore,
And own no other Love.
From Count Basil, a Tragedy.
Page. Madam, there is a Lady in your hall, Who begs to be admitted to your presence.
Lady. Is it not one of our invited friends ?
Page. No, far unlike to them; it is a stranger.
Lady. How looks her countenance ?
Page. So queenly, so commanding, and so noble,
I shrunk at first in awe; but when she smiled,
For so she did to see me thus abash'd,
Methought I could have compass’d sea and land
To do her bidding.
Lady. Is she young or old ?
Page. Neither, if right I guess, but she is fair;
For time hath laid his hand so gently on her,
As he too had been awed.
The foolish stripling!
She hath bewitch'd thee. Is she large in stature ?
Page. So stately and so graceful is her form,
I thought at first her stature was gigantic;
But on a near approach I found, in truth,
She scarcely does surpass the middle size.
Lady. What is her garb?
Paye. I cannot well describe the fashion of it,
She is not deck'd in any gallant trim,
But seems to me clad in the usual weeds
Of high habitual state; for as she moves,
Wide flows her robe in many a waving fold,
As I have seen unfurled banners play
With the soft breeze.
Lady. Thine eyes deceive thee, boy;
It is an apparition thou hast seen.
From De Montfort, a Tragedy.
SCENE FROM CONSTANTINE PALEOLOGUS.
Enter Rodrigo, with Ella hanging fondly upon him, and continuing their way
as if intending to pass, when a trumpet sounds without, and they stop short.
Rodrig. It is the sound that summons us to meet; There is no farther grace: therefore, sweet Ella, My pretty Ella, my good loving Ella, My gentle little one that hang'st upon me With such fond hold, in good sooth we must part. Here bid Heaven bless
and no farther go. Ella. Must it be so ? I will bid Heaven bless thee, And all good saints watch o'er thy precious life;
And they will bless and guard thee in the hour
Of fearful death. In this I have true faith;
Yet, on the very brink, to hold thee thus
Clasp'd in my grasp, and think how soon—Alas!
From many points will fly the whizzing balls,
And showering darts, and javelins sent afar,
Aim'd by fell strength; wilt thou escape all this?
Rodrig. Fear not, sweet Ella! whizzing balls there be
That, in midway, are from their course declined
By the poor orphan's little lisped prayer;
And there be arrows that are turn'd aside,
In their swift flight, by the soft sighs of love,
Unheard of earthly ears. This is a creed,
In the good faith of which poor seamen climb
Their rocking masts, in the full roar of battle,
And we'll believe it.
Ella. It is a blessed one: I would believe it.
Rodrig. Yes, we'll believe it. Whilst our battle roars,
Thou'lt think of me in thy lone distant tower,
And be to me a gallant armed mate,
With prayers and wishes striving powerfully.
Give me thy hand : we will not weep and wail :
We will part cheerfully.—God bless thee, Ella !
Nay, hang not on me thus!
Thou lov'st a brave man: be thou valiant then,
As suits a brave man's love.
Ella. O no! I've fondly fix'd myself upon thee,
Most worthless and unsuited to thy worth.
Like a poor weed on some proud turret's brow,
I wave, and nod, and kiss the air around thee,
But cannot be like thee.
Rodrig. Heaven bless thee, little flower! I prize thee
Than all the pride of female stateliness.
Ella. Dost thou? then I am happy: I am proud:
I will not wish me other than I am.
Rodrig. Ah, if we part not instantly, my Ella,
I feel, in faith, rude as my nature is,
I soon shall be like thee !-My friends approach :
Let us not meet their gaze-It must be so-
Sweet one, farewell! - Wilt thou still cling to me?
Ella. O no, I go: they shall not see thee weep,
Though I do bless thee for it.
Enter the Keeper of the Prison.
Keeper (to Ohio). Thou canker-worm! thou black
envenom'd toad! Art thou a playing thy malicious tricks? Get from my sight, thou pitchy viper, go! [Exit Ohio. Hardibrand. What black thing is it? it appears,
methinks, Not worth thine anger. Keeper. That man, may't please you, sir, was born a
Hardibrand. I do not catch thy jest.
Keeper. I do not jest, I speak in sober earnest;
He is an Afric prince of royal line.
Hardibrand. What say'st thou! that poor
wretch who sneaketh yonder Upon those two black shanks? Keeper.
Yes, even he:
When but a youth, stolen from his noble parents,
He for a slave was sold, and many hardships
By sea and land hath pass’d.
Hardibrand. And now to be the base thing that he is ! Well, well, proceed.
Keeper. At last a surly master brought him here,
Who, thinking him unfit for further service,
As then a fest'ring wound wore hard upon him,
With but a scanty sum to bury him
Left him with me. He ne'ertheless recover'd;
And though full proud and sullen at the first,
Tamed by the love of wine which strongly tempts him,
He by degrees forgot his princely pride,
And has been long establish'd in these walls
To carry liquor for the prisoners :
But such a cursed, spite-envenom’d toad !-
Hardibrand. Out on't! thou'st told a tale that wrings
Of royal line; born to command, and dignified
By sufferings and dangers past, which makes
The meanest man ennobled: yet behold him;
How by the wall he sidelong straddles on
With his base tankard !-0, the sneaking varlet!
It makes me weep to hear his piteous tale,
Yet my blood boils to run and cudgel him.
From Rayner, a Tragedy.