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prospects which religion unfolds to his view, sentiments of conscious dignity insinuate themselves into his mind, so as to purify his taste, and exalt his defires above the grofs and fleeting pleasures of this terrestrial state.'
We have allotted somewhat the larger compass to this arsi ticle, as the subject of it, at least in the copious and scientifical manner in which it is here treated, is new in this coun-. try. We are persuaded that a latent comparison between Mahometanism and Christianity, has done much, very much indeed, in fubferving the cause of deism. It is this parallel which constitutes the very pith and marrow of the so much vaunted tragedy of Voltaire. It is this parallel, commenced from a different point, which received a vogue from tbe labours of Mr. Sale, that has not yet subsided. Laftly, it is probably through the sides of Mahomet, that Mr. Gibbon is to give its death's wound to the “ reigning fuperftition," in the work, in several respects valuable no doubt, which he, has now in hand. It is not amiss, that the public should receive from the learned and masterly pen of Mr. White, an antidote, fully adequate to all the poison, that subtlety can brew, and elegant fophiftry recommend.
The essence of taste is discrimination; and, as Rosalind says, in As You Like It, “ I am nothing, if not critical.” The stile of our author, in its defects, resembles that of the historian last named. It has been observed of Mr. Gibbon, with some severity indeed, that “ his language is full of art, “ but perfectly exempt from fire. Learning, penetration, “ accuracy, polish ; any thing is rather the characteristic style “ of the historian, than the flow of eloquence, and the flaine " of genius.” The style of Mr. White is certainly elevated and poetical ; it is not simple, easy and unpremeditated. It does not however resemble that of Mr. Gibbon, in the politeness of turn and subtlety of thinking that form his chief peculiarities. It holds one uniform tenor of dignity, without stooping to wit, and without stepping aside for the language of the passions.
But if it be not qualified by its graces to allure the idle, it is at least calculated by the accuracy of its construction to yield an almost uninterrupted satisfaction to the man of letters. Mr. White's composition does honour to the strength and vigour of his understanding; and the penetration and manly sense he every where displays, are such, as not to need affiftance from the artificial flights of the orator, and the petty attentions of an llocrates, M.
ART. III The Carmelite: a Tragedy. Performed at the Theatre
Royal, Drury Lane. 8vo. 15. 6d. Dilly. 1784. THE story of this performance bears a striking resem
blance to the very successful tragedy of Douglas. The heroine of each is a widowed mother; in both there is a concealed fon; and in both the jealousy of a husband is excited by the apparent interest taken by the heroine in the fate of a stripling, while the ground of that intereft is cono cealed. But if the resemblances are leading, it must also be confessed that the differences are of some magnitude. In Douglas the female character, conceiving herself to be at once childless, and a widow, discovers a son in the course of the play; and this discovery is perhaps the principal event of the drama. In the Carmelite she is represented, as from his early infancy, voluntarily concealing her son ; and the hufband the mourns is at length restored to her. In Douglas the catastrophe is miferable ; in the Carmelite fortunate. In the latter the supposed murderer of the husband is a principal personage, a character totally unknown to the former. It may
in fome fense be affirmed that this last variation does not infringe upon the unity of the action. But if it do not that, it however intrenches upon the general principle, for the sake of which the subordinate one was invented, the unity of pathos. The remorses of a wounded conscience are, of all the sentiments that can be devised, the most uncongenial to the tender paffions, maternal tenderness, and conjugal fidelity. To pursue the parallel between the two dramas any farther, would, in our opinion, only redound to the disadvantage of that before us. It shall therefore be dropped.
The tragedy of the Carmelite seems much better calculated for theatrical representation than the dissection of the closet. Stage effect appears every where to be studied with much care and considerable success. There are situations, of which it is impoffible, that in the hands of a skilful performer, they should not command the loudest burits of applause. The interest is regularly accumulated; and the denouement is rapid, well prepared and natural. And yet, we know not how it is, with all these advantages, the Carmelite lias not been a popular drama. The wifeacres of the pit, who can always tell you by the name of the author, whether a play is worth hearing, know that the piece is Cumberland's, and took on with fage indifference and “ Parnassian neer."
The remorses of Hildebrand, which seem more immediately the property of the author, than any other branch of the drama, are, after all, feeble and uncharacteristic.There is none of the ardent and artlefs language of nature :
there are none of those prominent lines, that fix an indelible impression on the memory: The madness of lady St. Valori, is not happy. It is neither the frenzy of Lear nor of Clementina : it is neither a delirium, which cafts every object in the mould of a few unalterable sentiments ; nor the un protected and pity-demanding distress, ftill more pathetic than the former, and which the pen of Richardson only could describe. It consists more in the enumeration of symptoms, than the expression of ideas. The heroine tells us in so many words, that she is mad, oftener than the convinces us fhe is fo by displaying the attributes of madness. Hildebrand, and lady St. Valori, however, with all their defects, have more in them than the husband and the son.
The language of the Carmelite may, we are afraid, fo far as prescription goes, put in its claim to the epithet of theatrical; it has no pretensions to be the language of real lite. Its defects cannot be better exemplified than from the first page of the performance.
Fitz-Allan and Raymond meeting.
Sleeps the fun yet?
Methinks the winds,
Unmask the weeping day.” Lady St. Valori, feeling an access of delirium, discharges her feelings in these phrases-Her husband was supposed to have been assassinated in the Pyrenees-“ Matilda.
Stop there! I charge thee, stop !
If I advance. Oh, shield me from the fight! The heroine having discovered to her fon his high defcent, thus proceeds: 66 Matilda.
Thou hart been
Sported with infant playfulness; my blood
I fhrunk, recoil'd, and started into reason.”
prea sented with the lady upon “ Glendarlock's roof,” her ladyThip's country feat in the isle of Wight. - She looks over " the giddy edge of the projecting battlement,” and “cafts her eye
below, measuring the fearful leap.” She sees her child---Good : his nurse was taking the air with him upon the beach--No; She sees him, Sporting upon the pavement.”---Oh, I comprehend. Lady St. Valori was not about to put an end to her existence by leaping into the sea. She intended to leap from the top of a tower into a paved court below, which would do her business full as effe&tually. ---Neither is this conjecture right, for the child is Sporting “ Upon the pavement underneath her feet.”---Mon Dieu ? What need of all this preparation for such a tom-fool of a business? Her leap should seem as harmless, as that of Glofter in the play ;'ạnd her 6 fearful" prospect as fictitious, as that of his guide. But we will not be barbarous enough to desert her in fo paradoxical a fituation. Half a line further we find her “ suspended, poised, high hung in air.” Here the is upon a rope. The next words are, with outstretched arms I stood." "Here she is upon her feet; or (God knows) perhaps in the posture of a school-boy standing upon his head. We believe most of our readers will, by this time, agree with the judgment passed upon the whole by her son, and from so sensible a remark be apt to augur well of his future abilities.
“ Oh terrible to thought! Oh pictur'd horror! It pierces to my brain. There's madne/s in it." The following are tolerable specimens either of Ovidian prettiness, or of that form of speech commonly called the mixed metaphor :
66 Now to the castle! Dout both ears and eyes : Hear without noting ; see, but not observe.”
“ How time's revolving wheel wears down the edge
" What can counsel give ?
" I will extract
6. If I dare atk a little earth to cover me,
That were too much-My tears will fink a grave.”
Have damp'd his wings, till he scarce crept along." But we have no pleasure in remarking the defects of a veteran in the dramatic line, and one who in some instances has deserved well of the literary republic. We will therefore proceed to introduce to our readers some passages which, if we are not greatly mistaken, bear upon them the stamp of genuine merit. There is the soul of poetry in the rejoinder of Lady St. Valori to the intercessions of Fildebrand.
Mercy! and dare thy tongue pronounce the name ?-
And thro' the pleading angel pierc'd his heart.” The scene of altercation between St. Valori (thé Carmelite) and his unknown son, immediately after the death of Hildebrand, is fpirited and dramatical :
“ Montgomeri. You now alone survive the morning's wreck;
Saint Valori. You think he was a murderer ; have a care
you incline too rafhly to such tales:
Saint Valori. Away, vain boy, away!
Vain let me be,
Worthy to be her champion, by that title Enc. Rev. JAN. 1785. Vol. V.