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But that day was passed-gone down in clouds and darkness. Its morning had risen serenely, its evening had shut in storms. And, now, his daughter, who should have been heiress of the wide domains of de Weimar, whose estates had been withdrawn by a former occupant from the operation of the Salic law, was often seen with her father's flocks upon the hills, and in the glens, and in the valleys. Many an eye beheld her with compassion, all with pleasure. Those who gazed on her, in maiden loveliness, distinguished amidst her rustic employments, and her rural scenes, by the simple designation of the Shepherdess of the Mountains, often thought her lot was hard. They knew the prospects her father had had in more auspicious times, and they recollected when the name of de Guiscald, her maternal grandsire, struck terror into vassals numerous as the stars of heaven. Nor, perhaps, did they forget the hour when her mother had received the homage, and might have chosen between the alliance of nobles and princes. Could they, then, see her engaged with the child of the humblest peasant around her, and not give a sigh to the instability of all human things ? · Many, too, there were, who augured mysteriously of her future destiny. Such a being, they said, could not pass her days as others. One, whom circumstances so peculiar had combined in reducing to the lowly occupations of a shepherdess, could be the
guardian angels that ministered to her: thousands were around her path, and tens of thousands encamped about her bed. Her, the pestilence that walketh in darkness would not be permitted to approach : and from her bosom the arrow that flieth in noonday would be turned aside. No evil, surely, could come nigh her dwelling; and if joy and gladness were not her terrestial lot, yet peace-a better portion, perhaps, for erring humanity could not fail to attend her steps. Still, the ways of heaven were dark and dubious, and widely different from ours. God thought not as we did, and it might seem good to him to weave her doom in mystery, and appoint her a cup whose dregs were bitterness, and whose ingredients inscrutible to human eyes, might be attempered with no healing balm.
Such was the language of many who looked on Gertrude de Weimar. But there are secrets which belong not to man, and which no finite intellect may divine. Yet, the heart will ever cling to the marvellous. Deceitful itself above all thing, (so, alas! the pen of inspiration tells)-it is ever inclined to wander on forbidden ground. Lured once by the goodliness of a fruit
it is continually turning to subjects, from which, if no injunction be found to sever it, still in themselves unprofitable and vain. Conjecture might pardonably hang around the blossom of so beau-, teous a stem, yet beyond, there was gulf where human vision lost it
self in the wide, interminable range ; and the fate of Gertrude, the loveliest of the shepherdesses who fed their flocks upon her native hills, lay as it were, there hidden from every anxious, as from every careless gaze. And, there, reader, whoever thou art, whose eye may trace these pages, there lie concealed thy destiny and mine. Lacertitude involves us all. Dost thou, then, think of preparing to quit these passing scenes? The mutability of time, and the versatility of circumstances impend over us alike ; and He who inhabiteth eternity, and who dwelleth in a temple not made with hands, has only to speak, and from you, as from me, will be snatched the dearest tie that holds us to existence, and we shall be driven, like the loose weed of ocean, from shoal to shoal, and from rock to rock, until we attain that haven, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the head, everwhile aching and weary, is for ever laid to rest.
" Thus while the giants trampled friends and foes
In the vicinity of the glen, or at least at no considerable distance, was a castle which had once towered proudly over the adjacent lowlands, though now its halls were almost deserted, its bastions ruinous, and its turrets mouldering in decay. It belonged to one, who had long been regarded by the simple peasantry in his vicinity, with a sort of superstitious terror. He had reached an age, rarely attained even by the hardy and healthy mountaineer; and, now, his emaciated form, wrapped in a cloak made of the skins of bears killed by his own hand, and girded about his body with a strap interwoven with designs in needle work, an article which for centuries, as tradition said, had been worn by the lords of Col-derg: his meagre aspect; his high arched nose; his thin streaming hair; and his long dishevelled beard, imparted to the Baron of the gloomy castle, as he was generally styled in the neighbourhood, something of terrific sacredness, which preserved him from the insults even of the most ferocious of the bandits that occasionally visited the mountains on missions of robbery and plunder; events, it is is true, of unfrequent occurrence, even in those, less secure and less cultivated times. Switzerland, at a remoter period, offered but little inducement to those lawless freebooters; and, indeed, even at the present era, though arts and civilization have been introduced amongst its fastnesses with the happiest effects, and though its plains and its val
leys are now many of them the retreats of industry, frugality, and peace, it might still be deemed, in its more distant borders, as too inhospitable for any, save those who derive a precarious subsistence, in summer, from the pursuit of the chamois, and, in winter, of the wolf and the bear.* Besides, such is the character of the people, honest I would almost say by birth-right; averse to rapine and bloodshed ; attached even to a proverb to their own natal spot, however rude and wild; and unacquainted with the craft and cunning engendered by intercourse with the world ; that crimes are rare among them, and the traveller, as the sojourner, may feel himself (I speak from personal experience) safe with his door unbolted, and without either sword or pistol at his side. : - The lord of Col-derg had an only son. Advanced as he was himself in years, Conrade was now just opening into manhood.
His mother, one of the numerous daughters of a neighbouring chief, had scarcely left the nursery when she was demanded in marriage by the Baron of the gloomy castle, and was yielded to him by a mercenary father, who was alike unmoved by her intreaties and her tears. As might be imagined, the nuptials were the seal of her death-warrant. She entered the abode of Col-derg, and was there immured, a prey to every feeling that can embitter life, by the jealousy of a being whom she beheld with horrow. She lived to be the mother
Soon as her habe was born, she asked for it, and taking it in her arms, she kissed it, commended it to heaven, dropped a
its cheek, and died. But as her spirit fled, she was heard to whisper, “ Conrade.” None knew why, unless, perhaps, it might be the tyrant who had brought her thus prematurely to the grave. He was present at the mournful scene ; and catching some indistinct murmurs as the soul was severed from its mortal tenement he enquired of the servant who stood beside her, what it was. It was replied, “ Conrade.” He grew pale, so rumour said, and a slight tremor was observed to dart over his frame. But he answered - Let his name be Conrade,” and withdrew.
The child was committed to the care of some inhabitants of the hills, and grew wild as the wildest of their tenants. It was his dedelight to follow the step of the chamois where chasms of a hundred fathoms yawned below. The wolf he feared not, and it was even said that he played with the bear in her fastness. Or if she dared him to the combat, bereaved though she was but yester evening of her whelps, he declined not to meet her, and several had already fallen a sacrifice to the undaunted courage, and superior adroitness of Conrade of Col-derg. I
(Concluded at page 257.)
of a son.
• The author, crossing the Alps in the middle of winter, observed along his route various places, which had been very recently visited by these marauders. Of bears, in particular, though they are more rarely met with amongst these mountains than wolves, the traces were extremely numerous.
+ In proof of this, we may mention the fact, that only one murder, and that, it would appear not deeply premiditated, was committed in Switzerland among a population of upwards of two millions, during the space of one and twenty years.
The author of this narrative, in the course of his researches amongst the Alps, was informed of a fact which almost exceeds belief. It was related to him, however, on the most credible testimony, and he will give it as he received it. The bear, as it is scarcely:
REMARKS ON DRAMATIC LITERATURE AND PERFORMANCES,
If the stage should be really what the generality of our polite writers tell us it ought to be, a school of agreeable morality, it naturally follows, that those plays are the best which afford us the most pleasing instruction, and that it is neither a strict adherence to the severity of critical discipline, nor a slavish imitation of the ancients, which can possibly constitute the excellence of dramatic literature.
Nothing is more necessary for an author to consider, who means to exhibit his productions upon the stage, than the genius of the people before whom they are to be represented; different countries have their different manners, and on this simple account—it is utterly impossible ever to establish a universal criterion for excellence in dramatic writing. The cold declamations, for instance, which suit the taste of a French audience, would make an Englishman yawn at Drury Lane; and on the other hand, that force of fable, that strength of plot, and variety of business, which is requisite to entertain an English spectator, would be deemed impertinent or pantomimical, barbarous or unnatural, according as the piece happened to be comic or tragic, by the refining criticism of a Parisian theatre,
It is whimsical enough to hear our modern critics commending the ancients to our imitation, as the great fathers of the drama, when they themselves acknowledge, that even the best tragedy of Sophocles would be banished indignantly from our stage, not as wanting either the fire of exalted genius, or the spirit of animated poetry, but as deficient in that redundancy of business, that complication of incident, which alone can keep a British audience from manifesting a public disapprobation. A fine poem may be a very bad play, and vice versa. Addison's Cato is the former. The versification is polished—the sentiment elevated—the characters marked—the manners consistent and the conduct critical. Yet with all these advantages, it languishes most miserably in the exhibition. All our reverence for the author is necessary to restrain our disgust, and had not the political circumstances attending its original appearance fortunately rendered it a favourite no less with the Tories than the Whigs, we are confident it could never have survived a second representation.
Yet even admitting that Sophocles, and the various celebrated tragic writers of antiquity, abounded as much in incident as they are notoriously deficient in that necessary article, there is one circumstance which would render them not only disagreeable, but ridiculous on our stage; the classical reader must see we allude to the choruses of these poets, which are always offensive to common sense, and constantly destroying every idea of probability. About sixty years ago a sensible satirical piece, entitled * The Wishes, or Harlequin's Mouth opened,” was performed in the summer season at Drury Lane Theatre, under the direction of Mr. Murphy and Mr. Foote. The author of this ingenious performance introduced an episode, which illustrates the present observation relative to the Greek chorus very happily. The episode consisted of a mock tragedy, which was called “ Gunpowder Treason,” and of which the supposed writer, Mr. Distress, made Guy Faux naturally enough the hero. When Guy comes to that passage where he proposes to blow up the Parliament-house, the chorus exhort him to reject so barbarous an enterprise, and make use of all the arguments which are obviously applicable in such a situation. Guy however continues immovably fixed, and prepares to execute his horVOL. 1. 16.-Second Edition.
rid resolution; on which, one of the spectators inquires, why the chorus does not iminediately send for a constable, and carry the villain before a justice of the peace ? Mr. Distress answers something to this effect, “ Pooh! pooh! that would be natural enough, but the chorus is never to discover a secret."
When we see, therefore, that the best of the Grecian tragedies are so generally destitute of business, as to be mostly dramatic conversations, and that the chorus, the vehicle through which the argumentative part of their plays is chiefly conveyed, is thus ridiculously fabricated, why are they eternally held up to us as objects of imitation? Are we to imitate what we know will be disapproved, or to copy an absurdity upon the authority of Sophocles and Euripides ? Are we to crowd our stage with choruses, when the chief person in the drama is perhaps talking in a soliloquy of something wholly improper for a second ear? or to tell a number of humane people our design to commit à murder without ever suffering their humanity to produce its natural effect? In fact, highly as the Greek stage may at present be admired by the affectation of criticism, our own is upon a much better establishment. It is not governed by the laws of composition, but by the principles of common sense. Whatever is repugnant to nature, is with us immediately condemned, and though we tolerate many scenes in favourite pieces, which are palpably unnatural, the beauties nevertheless must greatly exceed the imperfections, to obtain so considerable an indulgence at our hands.
TO MY HARP.
I'll wake a pleasant lay;
And made my spirits gay.
I seek thy cheering aid:
All sadness is allay'd.
Returns me sigh for sigh:
Far, far, from human kind;
Shouldst speak my tranquil mind.