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than they would be in any other upon earth. Unaccompanied with the sense of these advantages, the mother country is an empty name; which may be employed by crafty tyrants to varnith the guilt of their own detestable paifions, and to mislead the ignorant prejudices of their wretched subjects.

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ART. IX. The Fatal Falsehood; a Tragedy. As it is acted at the

Theatre-Royalin Covent-Garden. By the Author of Percy*, 8vo. is, 6 d. Cadell. HIS Authoress seems to possess so many requisites effen

tial to excellence in dramatic poetry, that it would be unnatural, even for obdurate critics, not to be anxious for her success. She is, we think, a pupil, and no mean proficient, in the school of Otway. Many passages in this tragedy remind us of their source in the plays of the Orphan, ana Venice Preserved. Like her great master, though in an inferior degree, she is endowed with a facility of expreffion, and tenderness of sentiment. But she does not follow him with equal success in the delineation and preservation of character, in the management of particular incidents, or the general construction of the fable.

Her failure in these circumstances is, perhaps, in great measure owing to that very rich and easy vein, of which we grant she is pofféfred. Truiting to the rapidity of her execution, the begins to “ build the lotty rhime,” before she has well Jaid the foundation. A good tragedy, or indeed any excellent production, is a work of exquisite art, as well as genius; which might be proved not only from common sense, but even from the works of Shakspeare, whose example has been so often cited in support of the contrary doctrine. To the want of attention to this art, Horace ascribes the defects of the Roman dramatists, to whom he imputes no defect of natural talent for tragedy. The same thing may, perhaps, be truly said of many an English writer, whose plays have failed on the stage, merely froin an abuse of talent in the closet :

spirat tragicum fatis, & feliciter audet, Sed turpem putat in seriptis, metuitque lituram. Aristotle has juftly determined that perfect characters are less adapted to tragedy, than such whose good qualities are tinged with some frailties: but those frailties should appear to be congenial, if we may so term it, with their virtues. Macbeth is ambitious, yet " what he would highly, that would he bolily.His ambition prevails, yet his veneration for sanctity is never lott, nor can even the most horrid deeds of desperation and cruelty asimilate Macbeth to the remorseless Richard. The Fatal Falsehood is radically defective in this respect, Such a

* Hannah More.


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man as Orlando, open, noble, generous, and sensible, could never be guilty of such a falsehood as that on which the distress of this tragedy is founded—a falsehood commencing in the most capricious perfidy, proceeding to the basest treachery, and ending in the supposed assassination of his dearest friend.

To the truth of this representation let our Authoress herself bear witness ! Early in the play, Bertrand thus describes Os. lando; and it seems to be the idea the Poet herself wishes us to entertain of his natural character :

Orlando's noble:
He's of a tender, brave, and gallant nature,
of honour most romantic, with such graces,

As charm all womankind, Such is the original draught of Orlando at the opening of the play ; but before the conclusion of the first A&t she gives us his picture drawn by his own hand : Orlando. Thou know't I left my native Italy,

Directed hither by the noble Rivers,
To ease his father's fears, who thought he fell
In that engagement where we both were wounded;
His was a glorious wound, gained in the cause
Of generous friendship, for an hostile spear
Aim'd at my breast, Rivers in his receiy'd,

Sav'd my devoted life, and won my soul.
Bertrand, So far I knew, but what of Emmelina ?
Orl. Whether her gentle beauties first allor'd me,

Or whether peaceful scenes, and rural Mades,
Os leisure, or the want of other objects,
Or solitude, apt to engender love,
Engag'd my soul, I know not, but I lov'd her,
We were together always, till the habic
Grew into something like neceflity :
When Emmelina left me I was sad,
Nor knew a joy sill Emmelina came;
Her soft society amus'd my mind,
Fill'd up my vacant heart, and touch'd my

'Twas gratitude, 'twas friendship, 'twas esteem,

'Twas reason, 'was persuasion, nay 'twas love,
Ber. But where was Julia ?

Oh! too soon she came,
For when I saw that wond'rous form of beauty,
I ftood entranc'd, like some astronomer,
Who, as he views the bright expanse of heaven,
Finds a new ftar. I gaz'd, and was undone ;
Gaz'd, and forgot the tender Emmelina,
Gazd, and forgot the gen'rous, trufting Rivers,

Forgot my faish, my friendship, and my honour, The complicated baseness of this conduct we think we may venture to pronounce unnatural in a man naturally good, though occasionally blinded by passion. Inconstancy is not supposed

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to be the characteristic of Orlando, yet his inconstancy, is more unjuftifiable than that of any mad lover we ever remember in romance or' tragedy.” Baleness is so 'averse from his nature, that, ftruck with horror 'at his own perfidy, he confeffes and repents his crime; .and yet, immediately after that repentance, attempts the murder of the friend, whole forgiveness he has just implored. It is in vain to plead the instigation of Bertrand. Bertrand is a mere stage villain. His artifices only prevail, because it is convenient for the Author that they thould do 1o ; and Orlando and Rivers are unnaturally blind, merely because it would mar the plot, if they were to see like other people.

After the affecting scene between Orlando, Rivers, and Em. melina, towards the conclusion of the fourth Act, it is improbable, nay almoft impossible in nature, that the circumftances of the Fifth should ensue; and we think it will appear, by the following soliloquy, that it is but a poor, shallow, theatrical artifice, by which those circumitances, improbable as they seem, are produced : Bertrand. How's this? my fortune fails me, both alive!

I thought by ftirring Rivers to this quarrel,
There was at least an equal chance against him.
I work invisible, and like the tempter,
My agency is seen in its effects.
Well, honeft Bertrand ! now for Julia's letter.

(Takes out a lettera
This find epiftle of a lave frik maid,
I've sworn to give, but did' NOT SWEAR TO WHOM.
Give it my love, said the, my dearest lord :
Rivers me meant; there's no address—THAT'S LUCKY !
Then where's the harm Orlando is a lord,
As well as Rivers, loves her too as well.

[Breaks open the letter.
I must admire your ftile-your pardon, fair one,

[Runs over it.
Do I not tread in air, and walk on stars?
There's not a word but fits Orlando's caje
As well as Rivers';-tender to excels-
Ni rame-'twill do; his faith in me is boundless;
Then, as the brave are still, he's unsuspecting,
And creduloks beyond a woman's weakness.

[Going out he /pies the dagger.
Orlando's dagger-ha! 'tis greatly thought.
This may do noble service ; juch a scheme !
My genius ca:ches fire! the bright idea

Is form’d at once, and fit for glorious action. Phrenzy, properly introduced, and ably pourtrayed, is a fora cible engine of tragedy. Madness is not ill pictured in the ravings of Emmelina ; yet they have but little effect on the



reader, because her phrenzy and death are too evidently introduced as a stage trick, not necessarily flowing from the circumftances of the fable, and too suddenly produced to be natural. In a word, the whole of the fifth Act is; in our opinion, indefensible.

Our remarks may perhaps appear to be severe; but they are delivered with a warmth of friendly reprehenfion, not with the least spirit of acrimony. We deliver our censures, in this inftance, with more freedom, because we really think the fair Writer bleft with genius, which she permits, from hafte and carelessness, to run to waste. Ladies who write for the stage, as well as many gentlemen,, do not sufficiently consider the are duousness of the task:

To write a play! why 'tis a bold pretence

To learning, knowledge, genius, wit, and sense! Not to take leave of our Authoress without shewing her claim to such “ a bold pretence,

shall fubmit to our Readers the beginning of the fourth Act, which we esteem to be one of the happiest passages in the play: Emmelina. How many ways there are of being wretched !

The avenues to happiness how few !
When will this busy, futtering heart be fill?
When will it cease to feel,, and bea; no more?
Ev'n now it shudders with a dire presage
Of something terrible it fears to know.
Ent'ring I saw my venerable father,
In earnest conference with the Count Orlando :
Shame and confusion fillid Orlando's eye,
While ftern resentment fir'd my father's cheek.
And look, he comes, with terror on his brow!
He sees me, he beholds his child, and now
The terror of his look is lost in love,
In fond, paternal love.


Come to my arms,
And there conceal, that sweet, that asking eye,
Left it shou'd read what I wou'd hide for ever,
Wou'd hide from all, but most wou'd hide from thee,

Thy father's grief, his shame, his rage, his tears.
Em. Tears! heaven and earth! behold my father weeps!
Guild. He who has drawn this forrow from my eyes,

Shall pay me back again in tears of blood.

'Tis for thy fake, my child.

For me, for me?
Hear, heaven, and judge; hear, heaven, and punish me!

If any crime of mine

Thou art all innocence,
Juft what a parent's fondest wish wou'd frame ;
No fault of thine e'er fain'd thy father's cheek,
For if I blush'd it was to hear thy virtues,


And think that thou wast mine ; and if I wept
It was from joy and gratitude to heaven,
That made me father of a child like thee.


What of him?

I cannot tell thee;
An honeft shame, a virtuous pride forbids.
Em. Speak.
Guild, Canst thou not guess and spare thy father?
Em. Perhaps-perhaps I can-and yet I will not :

Tell me the worst while I have sense to hear.
Thou wilt not speak-nay never turn away;
Dost thou not know that fear is worse than grief?
'There may be bounds to grief, fear knows no bounds;
In grief we know the worft of what we feel,
“ But who can tell the end of what we fear ?"
Grief mourns some sorrow part, and therefore known,

But fear runs.wild with horrible conjecture.
Guild. Then hear the woril, and arm thy soul to bear it.
He has-he has-Orlando has refused thee.

EMMELINA (ifrer a long pause.) 'Tis well---'tis very well-'uis as it hould be. Guild. Oh, there's an eloquence in that mure woe,

Which mocks all language. Speak, relieve thy heart,
Thy bursting heart; thy father cannot bear it.
Am I a mani no more of this, fond eyes!
I am grown weaker than a chidden infant,

While no: a figh efcapes to tell thy pain,
Em. See, I am calm ; I do not shed a tear;
The warrior weeps, the woman is a hero!

GUILDFORD. (Embraces her.).
My glorious child! now thou art mine indeed!
Forgive me, if I thought thee fond and weak,
I have a Roman matron for my daughter,
And not a feeble girl. And yet I fear,
For oh! I know thy tenderness of soul,
I fear this filent anguish but portends

Some dread convulsion fatal to thy peace.
Em. I will not Mame thy blood; and yet, my father,

Methinks thy daughier shou'd not be sefus'a ?
Refus’d? It has a harm, ungrateful sound;
Thou shoud'st have found a softer term ; refus'd ?
And have I then been held so cheap? Refus'd ?
Been treated like the light ones of my sex,

Held up to sale? been offer'd, and refus d ?
Guild. Long have I known ihy love, I thought it mutual ;

To spare thy blushes met the Count-

No more :
I am content to know I am rejected;
Eut save my pride the mortifying tale,
Spare me particulars of how, and when,
And do not parcel out thy daughter's shame.


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