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The Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor - Volume I, Number 1
by Stephen Cullen Carpenter
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"One of the best packs of hounds in England was most completely beat lately by a fox. The latter was turned out before them near Wold Newton, in Yorkshire, and after running rings for sometime, went off for Scarborough, near which place the hounds were so completely knocked up that he beat them in view, for the huntsman could not get them a yard further—a number of riders lost their horses in the cars, and were seen wading up to their necks to catch them again. The fox ran upwards of twenty miles.

"In the discussions which have arisen in and out of parliament in England about the abolition of the Briton's old favourite sports, it was conceded by all but a few, that from the custom of boxing, singlestick and backsword playing, wrestling, &c. arose the good temper which distinguishes that people—Englishmen being less subject to violent fits of anger than the people of any other nation in the world. In the compass of eighteen pages of a work now before us we have details of no less than two grand matches of singlestick, one Wiltshire against Somersetshire, and the other Somersetshire against all England, for large purses. In both cases the champions of Somerset county beat; and what must astonish those who hear it, the victors (though men in the lowest classes of life in one case) shared the prize with the vanquished. In the former, Somerset gave nine broken heads and received seven—in the latter, gave eight and received six. The Wiltshire men went to Trowbridge in Somersetshire, the appointed place of meeting, attended by some of the leading gentry of Wiltshire, and the gentleman who was appointed by them to preside, bore public testimony to the liberal and kind treatment his countrymen experienced.

"Any person who has seen the farce of Hob in the Well, performed, will remember to have seen a specimen of this kind of prize fighting, for which as well as wrestling, the people of Somersetshire have for ages been renowned. In Scotland they excel at the backsword—the Irish too are admirable hands—but neither have the temper of the English; "Oppression makes a wise man mad;" what should it do then with a poor peasantry? The tempers of the English have not had that to irritate them. We will close this subject with a letter from an intelligent Londoner, who was travelling through Hampshire.

"Passing, sometime since, through Rapley Dean, Hants, my attention being attracted by a crowd of rustics on a little green near the road I turned my horse thither, and arrived in the time when a lame elderly man, who I afterwards found was the knight marshal of the field, from the middle of a ring made by ropes, proclaimed, that "a hat worth one guinea was to be played for at backsword; the breaker of most heads to bear away the hat and honour," and inviting the youth there to contend for it. A little after, a young fellow threw his hat into the ring and followed, when the lame umpire called out "a challenge," and proceeded to equip the challenger for the game. His coat and waiscoat were taken off, his left hand tied by a handkerchief to his left thigh, and a stick, with basket hilt, put into his hand; he then walked round the ring till a second hat was thrown in, and the umpire called out, "the challenge is answered."

"As soon as prepared, the knights met, measured weapons, shook hands, walked once round, turned and began the contest. In about a minute, the umpire called out "About," when they dropped the points of their weapons and walked round, and this calling I observed, was repeated as often as the umpire judged either distressed. After some twenty minutes play, some blood trickled down the challenger's head; the umpire called "Blood;" and declared the other to have won a head.

"When both left the ring another hat was thrown in, and the challenge again accepted, and played off in the like manner, till the umpire announced there were four winners of heads, and proceeded to call the ties, that is, he called on the winners of the first two heads to play together, and afterwards on the winners of the third and fourth heads; after which the winners of two heads each played for the hat, and the proud victor (Morgan) thus to earn it, broke three heads. I was much struck with the amazing temper with which the game was played: not a particle of ill-will was shown, two young fellows, who played together forty-five minutes, and in the course of it gave each other many severe blows, one alone of which would have satisfied the most unconscionable taylor or man-milliner breathing, drank frequently together between the bouts, shaking hands as often as the weight of the blows given seemed to require it of their good-nature. Indeed it appeared to be a rule with each pair that played, to drink together after the contest, and a general spirit of harmony seemed to prevail. This game is certainly of great antiquity, and the only relick (with the exception of wrestling) of the ancient tournament. The knight defied with throwing down his hat or gauntlet—the rustic gamester does the same, and is equally courteous with the knight towards his opponent: nor were there in this instance village dames or damsels wanting, to animate the prowess of the youth.

"It has been asserted, that these exhibitions engender a ferocious spirit; but were I to judge from what I saw, and from the inquiries I made into the characters of the players at Ropley Dean, from the farmers on my right and left, I should pronounce quite the contrary; and think that as long as the sword is used by our cavalry and navy, and as long as we wish to entertain in the nation a fearless, generous, martial spirit, we should encourage the like pastimes at our fairs and revels."



MISCELLANY.

A general sense seems to pervade all the most intelligent men of Great Britain that a reformation is wanting in almost every department of life in that country. The corruption of public taste in dramatic literature and acting, and in most of the fashionable amusements of the high flyers cries aloud, no less than that of the state, for a heavy-handed scourge and receives it. Among other things, the musico-mania is attacked as having reached the highest acme of absurdity. The Covent Garden proprietors are very roughly handled, but not more roughly than they deserve, for hiring Madam Catalani at the enormous salary of four thousand pounds sterling and a free benefit for the season, with a provision annexed, which is thought insolent, degrading, and unjust; no less than that of her French husband putting what fiddlers he pleases into the orchestra. The public prints are filled with remonstrances to the people, whose attention is directed to the storm which was raised on a similar occasion in 1755 and 1756, and which burst with such tremendous mischief on the head of Garrick. One writer thus vehemently expresses himself: "Shall a judge of the land be required to exercise the faculties of his vigorous mind, which have been cultivated and matured by an expensive education and the most laborious study; shall he be continually employed in discriminating between right and wrong, in the adjustment of individual differences, and in protecting the persons and properties of the honest and peaceable part of his majesty's subjects from the assaults of violence and the stratagems of fraud; shall his sensibility be wounded, and his heart pierced by the painful necessity to which he is frequently reduced of passing on his fellow-man those awful sentences which the nature of their crimes, and the voice of Justice imperiously demand; shall he, in short, be compelled to discharge the duties of an office which necessarily renders his nights anxious and restless, and subjects him in the day to the most irksome fatigue—and shall he, for all this fatigue of body and unremitting solicitude of mind, receive a salary scarcely exceeding half the sum given to an ITALIAN CANTATRICE for the display of her vocal powers for a few nights?"

The fact is that the robust and vigorous appetite of the English has been worn down by the intemperate use of German dramas, and is so vitiated and enfeebled that it can swallow nothing but hot spiced trash, or water gruel spoon-meat. Are the French wrong in calling John Bull stupide barbare when they see him pouring thousands into the laps of foreign singers—and for what?—why, to sing such songs as this:

Tom Gobble was a grocer's son, Heigho! says Gobble; He gave a ven'son dinner for fun, And he had a belly as big as a tun, With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Ah, hah, says alderman Gobble.

The servants ushered the company in, Heigho! says Gobble; The dinner is ready, quoth Tom, with a grin, So he tucked a napkin under his chin, With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Ah, hah, says alderman Gobble,

Then Betty the cook-maid she gave a squall, Heigho! says Gobble; Poor John the footman has had a fall, And down stairs tumbled, ven'son and all, With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Alas! says alderman Gobble.

So down the alderman ran in a fright, Heigho! says Gobble; And there sat John in a terrible plight Astride on the ven'son bolt upright, With his handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Dear me! says alderman Gobble.

Was ever man so cruelly put on, Heigho! says Gobble; Get off the meat you rascally glutton, You've made my ven'son a saddle of mutton, With your handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Good lack, says alderman Gobble.

Lord, sir, says Betty, what a splash, Heigho! says Gobble; 'Tis a monstrous bad rumbistical crash, But tomorrow I'll tickle it up in a hash, With your handy dandy, bacon and gravy, Ay, do! says alderman Gobble.

This vile, low, degrading farrago is taken from an opera called the Russian Impostor, or Siege of Sloremskho.

After such trash it will be delightful to turn to some lines, written by lord Byron on this general subject of complaint. They are extracted from an excellent poem entitled "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, a Satire," with notes by the author.

Now to the DRAMA turn—oh, motley sight! What precious scenes the wondering eyes invite! Puns, and a prince within a barrel pent,[11] And Dibdin's nonsense yield complete content. Though now, thank heaven! the Roscio mania's o'er, And full-grown actors are endured once more; Yet, what avails their vain attempts to please, While British critics suffer scenes like these; While Reynolds vents his 'dammes, poohs' and 'zounds'[12] And common place, and common sense confounds? While Kenny's World just suffered to proceed, Proclaims the audience very kind indeed? And Beaumont's pilfer'd Caratach affords A tragedy complete in all but words?[13] Who but must mourn while these are all the rage, The degradation of our vaunted stage? Heavens! is all sense of shame and talent gone? Have we no living bard of merit?—none? Awake, George Colman! —Cumberland, awake! Ring the alarum bell, let Folly quake! Oh, Sheridan! if aught can move thy pen, Let Comedy resume her throne again, Abjure the mummery of German schools, Leave new Pizarros to translating fools; Give, as thy last memorial to the age, One classic drama, and reform the stage. Gods! o'er those boards shall Folly rear her head, Where Garrick trod, and Kemble lives to tread? On those shall Farce display Buffoonery's mask, And Hook conceal his heroes in a cask? Shall sapient managers new scenes produce From Cherry, Skeffington, and Mother Goose? While Shakspeare, Otway, Massinger, forgot, On stalls must moulder, or in closets rot? Lo! with what pomp the daily prints proclaim, The rival candidates for attic fame! In grim array though Lewis'[14] spectres rise, Still Skeffington and Goose divide the prize. And sure great Skeffington must claim our praise, For skirtless coats and skeletons of plays Renowned alike; whose Genius ne'er confines Her flight to garnish Greenwood's gay designs;[15] Nor sleeps with 'Sleeping Beauties,' but anon In five facetious acts comes thundering on,[16] While poor John Bull, bewildered with the scene, Keeps wondering what the devil it can mean; But as some hands applaud, a venal few! Rather than sleep, why John applauds it too. Such are we now, ah! wherefore should we turn To what our fathers were, unless to mourn? Degenerate Britons! are ye dead to shame, Or, kind to dulness, do you fear to blame? Well may the Nobles of our present race Watch each distortion of a Naldi's face; Well may they smile on Italy's buffoons, And worship Catalani's pantaloons,[17] Since their own drama yields no fairer trace Of wit than puns, of humour than grimace. Then let Ausonia, skill'd in ev'ry art To soften manners, but corrupt the heart, Pour her exotic follies o'er the town, To sanction Vice and hunt Decorum down: Let wedded strumpets languish o'er Deshayes, And bless the promise which his form displays; While Gayton bounds before the enraptured looks Of hoary marquises and stripling dukes: Let high-born lechers eye the lively Presle Twirl her light limbs that spurn the needless veil; Let Angiolini bare her breast of snow, Wave the white arm and point the pliant toe; Collini trill her love-inspiring song, Strain her fair neck and charm the listening throng!

[Footnote 11: In the melo-drama of Tekeli, that heroic prince is clapt into a barrel on the stage: a new asylum for distressed heroes!]

[Footnote 12: All these are favourite expressions of Mr. R. and prominent in his comedies, living and defunct.]

[Footnote 13: Mr. T. Sheridan, the new manager of Drury Lane Theatre, stripped the tragedy of Bonduca of the Dialogue, and exhibited the scenes as the spectacle of Caractacus. Was this worthy of his sire, or of himself?]

[Footnote 14: Oh, wonder-working Lewis! monk, or bard, Who fain would make Parnassus a church-yard! Lo! wreaths of yew, not laurel, bind thy brow, Thy Muse a sprite, Apollo's sexton thou! Whether on ancient tombs thou tak'st thy stand, By gibbering spectres hail'd, thy kindred band; Or tracest chaste descriptions on thy page, To please the females of our modest age. All hail, M.P.![a] from whose infernal brain Thin sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train; At whose command, "grim women" throng in crowds, And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds, With "small gray men," "wild yagers," and what not, To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott: Again, all hail! if tales like thine may please, [b]St. Luke's alone can vanquish the disease; Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell, And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.

[Footnote 14a: See a poem to Mr. Lewis, in the Statesman, supposed to be written by Mr. Jekyll.]

[Footnote 14b: St. Luke's is an hospital for lunatics in London. Editor of the Mirror.] ]

[Footnote 15: Mr. Greenwood is, we believe, scene-painter to Drury Lane Theatre—as such, Mr. S. is much indebted to him.]

[Footnote 16: Mr. S. is the illustrious author of the "Sleeping Beauty" and some Comedies, particularly "Maids and Bachelors." Baculaurii Baculo magis quam lauro digni.]

[Footnote 17: Naldi and Catalani require little notice—for the visage of the one and the salary of the other, will enable us long to recollect these amusing vagabonds; besides, we are still black and blue from the squeeze on the first night of the lady's appearance in trowsers.]

A London critic adds the following pertinent observations: "Thus far our author concerning the stage, to which we add an observation or two of our own. We certainly think the barrel a curious asylum for a distressed prince; but when we reflect on what kind of princes and heroes the modern stage and modern authors exhibit, (the seige of St. Quintin for instance, by the same author, Mr. Hook) we cannot help exclaiming (no plagiarism, we hope)

We with the sentence are indeed content, To see such princes in such barrels pent.

And as a barrel is described by our best lexicographers to be "any thing hollow," what vehicle more appropriate could be found? The ingenious author, was surely a favourite of the barrel, and well acquainted with the virtues of a cask; although according to sir Walter Raleigh, "some are so ill-seasoned and conditioned that a great part of the contents is ever lost and cast away."

Respecting Mr. Reynolds's indulgence of himself, in perpetual repetition of his vocables,[18] we should be glad to have it in our power to affirm that the beef and mutton[19] author was the only one who disgraced himself by such contemptible degradation; but, alas! the pages of our work have too often exhibited similar complaints against the majority of our great playwrights—many of these gentlemen being reduced to silence, without their auxiliary dammes!

[Footnote 18: Damme, pooh, zounds, &c.]

[Footnote 19: "Authors have lived and still live who write for what they call fame! —For my part I write for more substantial food—beef and mutton are the objects of my ambition." —Reynold's Preface to Begone Dull Care.]

We differ widely from our author respecting Mr. T. Sheridan's stripping of Bonduca—for we really think it worthy the son of that poet, who, neglecting his own genius and the duties of a regular practitioner, condescends to turn quack, and bedizen that high German doctor Pizarro, in an English dress!!

Apropos of awaking George Colman! —We beg the noble lord's pardon; but we are not in such a violent hurry to disturb this gentleman; for if, when awake, he should not acquit himself better than in his last production of the Africans, we think the sounder he sleeps the more solid will be his reputation. Therefore,

Sleep on, George Colman! prithee, don't awake! Nor let the alarum bell thy slumbers shake! Lest jokes like Mugg's[20] should make our senses quake!

[Footnote 20: One of Mr. Colman's witty characters in the Africans.]

Why our author has coupled John Kemble's name with that of Garrick we cannot conceive; but that there appears more rhyme than reason in it, we can safely aver. We have somewhere heard that "a live ass is better than a dead lion," which we quote, not as individually applicable, but as a general adage; for we disclaim personalities, and well know that J. K. is an eminent actor, and one whom we have not niggardly praised. Yet we will not disparage departed excellence for any person existing; and therefore cannot avoid wishing our young author had seen Garrick, and bearing in his "mind's eye" his natural acting of Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard, &c.—he might then go and witness the performances of Mr. Kemble—and judge!



CORRESPONDENCE.

The conductors of the Mirror of Taste, and Dramatic Censor, have already to make acknowledgments to correspondents. Scarcely had their intention been promulgated when they were favoured with a letter, which, in less than a week afterwards was followed by two more, all of them upon the same subject, though evidently written by different persons. It had before been the intention of the conductors to call the public attention very soon to that very point to which these letters are intended to direct them; and conceiving that a fairer occasion for doing so can hardly occur than these letters afford them, they hasten to lay the contents of them before the public.

"To the Conductors of the Dramatic Work to be published by Messrs. Bradford and Inskeep.

November 27.

"Sirs,

"From what I can learn about your intended publication I like the idea, and have no doubt it may be of great use. I have often said that such a thing was much wanting, for I look upon a playhouse to be a very good thing, often keeping young men from worse places, and young women from worse employment. But if our playhouse goes on as it does, it will soon be a worse place to go to than any I allude to. Last evening I brought my family to see the play, and I assure you, I often wished we were all away again, the scandalous talk in the gallery was so bad. The noise was so great that there was no hearing any thing else. The players' voices were ten or a dozen times interrupted so that they could not be heard, and two or three fellows in the gallery were particularly scandalous. Above all the rest there was one, a finished vagabond, who spoke smut and roared it out loud, directing it to the ladies in the boxes. If any of you was there, gentlemen, you must have noticed it; if not, I can't write such filthy words as was spoken the whole evening. My wife begged me to come away on our little girl's account who was with us. It is not the players you ought to criticise, they behave themselves—but it is those vagabonds that think they have a right to disturb the house because they pay their half dollar a piece. I think it your duty to take notice of this, and I beg you will.

A CITIZEN."

N.B. They in the pit were bad enough, and so was some in the boxes.

To the Editors of the Mirror, &c.

"Gentlemen,

"As your intended publication is to come out monthly, I am doubtful whether I should trouble you on the present occasion; more particularly as you may probably think of the matter yourselves without a hint from me. Besides, I am not sure whether it is not the duty of the editors of the daily papers rather than yours. For my part, I think it is the duty of all people who regard the credit of the city, or tender the peaceableness and comfort of society. Our theatre, gentlemen, has sunk to the worst state imaginable of licentiousness and savage riot. Don't mistake me—I don't mean behind the curtain; but before it. While we hold ourselves so proudly to the world, what must those foreigners think of us who visit our theatre. From a place of rational recreation, and improvement, it has become a mere bear-garden. The play is interrupted, and all enjoyment, save that of riot and brawling, killed in various ways. The very boxes themselves are no sanctuary from ruffianish incivility; while the ears are stunned, and the cheek of Decency crimsoned with the profaneness, obscenity, and senseless brawl of barbarians in the gallery, the sight is intercepted, and all comfort destroyed by the unmannerly and unjust conduct of intruders in the boxes and pit, who think they have a right to push in and even stand up before another who has been previously seated, provided they have bodily strength to make good their violence. I say, gentlemen, this ought to be stopped. The spirit of the manager at New-York, backed by the laws, has put an end to it there, so far, that no theatre in Europe precedes it in order and decency. The same power exists here and ought to be exercised. These things disgrace the city as well as annoy our audiences, and I think our daily editors on both sides would evince their regard for the public by giving a few lines every day to the reform of this evil till it shall be abated. The proprietors and manager ought to call a meeting, invoke the aid of the magistrates and the people, and come to some decisive resolutions on the subject.

Forensis."



COMMUNICATION.

For the Mirror, &c.

"The manager, or the magistrates, or somebody is greatly to blame about the playhouse. I brought my family to the pit to see that great actor, Cooper, play Zanga. We sat in the pit the whole time the blackguards were throwing down various kinds of things upon our heads. Scraps of apples, nutshells in handfulls, and what is worse something I can't well name—some about me said that brandy or strong grog was thrown down—it might be so once;—but it was not exactly that which fell on me and my family. Since then, I went to see him in Macbeth, and left my wife and daughter at home for fear; and the fellows above were as bad as before—and had not I luckily kept my hat on I should once have got my head broke with a hard heavy hiccory-nut that was thrown with all the force and spitefulness as if the person wanted to hurt somebody very severely."

We agree with our correspondents that some prompt and effectual remedy ought to be applied to the evils of which they complain: and we are surprised it has not yet been done, because every person with whom any of us converses, makes pretty nearly the same complaint, and expresses the very same wish.

In every country there exist multitudes as well disposed as those now alluded to, to disturb the playhouse, and bring brutal riot within its walls—but they will not be allowed. Any one who reads Colquhoun's account of London and its rabble, will perceive that there are people enough there ready to do offensive offices for the pure sake of offence and savageness; but not only the magistrates, but the audience themselves will not put up with it. The latter generally abate the nuisance in a summary way—they turn out the offender; and the law warrants, and if necessary aids them. If our audience suffer these encroachments what will be the fair conclusion, but that they concur with the offenders.

It was but a few nights ago, a company (of perhaps ten,) converted the boxes into a grog shop—brought jug and bottle, and glass, and tumbler into the front seats, and there caroused, laughing, talking aloud, and swearing aloud, even during the performance. On the night the Revenge was performed, even while Mr. Cooper was engaged in a most interesting scene, a boy, not in mean clothes either, stood up at the front corner of the gallery, roaring out and speaking as loud as he could to some one on the opposite side. Yet this, were it not for the time it happened, was to the surrounding tumult, as a dying sigh to the roar of a northwester.

It cannot be doubted that in a civilized society like this, some legal means must exist to put an end to these grievances. There are other grievances, however, that cannot be so immediately made the subject of redress by the magistrate, but which, nevertheless, require correction, and would never occur if every one who can afford to wear such a coat as gentlemen wear, could imitate the manners of gentlemen as well as they can ape their dress. By a number of well-coated persons of this kind, the time immemorial privileges of the theatre are violated, and its customary rights denied. Provided they think themselves able to scuffle it out by bodily strength they will indulge themselves at the expense of others—one of those will sit before a lady and refuse to take off his hat—another coming late will force his way contrary to all right and usage, before a person who has an hour before taken his seat—and if spoken to, utter surly defiance. Against every such unmannered intruder, the whole audience ought, for the establishment of the general right and the good old custom, to make common cause, and thrust him out by force. No doubt there are drawcansirs enough to push this offence as far as it will go. Let them know that there have been and still are drawcansirs in England, Ireland and Scotland—that Dublin particularly was once full of them; but that they were soon brought to manners by the just resentment of the audience—the gripe of the constable, and the contempt of every body.



INDEX.

A Actors, animadversion on WOOD, in Rapid, 62 Rolla, 65 Reuben Glenroy, 67 Harry Dornton, 73 Bob Handy, 76 Alonzo, 229, 337 Jaffier, 337 Copper Captain, 339 Prince of Wales, 339 CONE, Alonzo, 65 Henry, 76 WARREN, Las Casas, 65 Abel Handy, 76 Falstaff, 344 Cacafogo, 344 JEFFERSON, Frank Oatland, 62 Orozimbo, 65 Cosey, 67 Goldfinch, 73 Farmer Ashfield, 75 M'KENZIE, Sir Hubert Stanley, 62 Pizarro, 65 Old Norval, 155 FRANCIS, Vortex, 62 Trot, 68 Mrs. WOOD, Jessy Oatland, 62 Cora, 66 Mrs. FRANCIS, Mrs. Vortex, 62 Dame Ashfield, 76 Mrs. SEYMOUR, 62 PAYNE, in Douglas, 145 Octavian, 220 Frederick, 221 Zaphna and Selim, 222 Tancred, 222 Romeo, 223 COOPER, Othello, 225 Zanga, 227 Richard, 230 Pierre, 230 Hamlet, 231 Macbeth, 231 Hotspur, 234 Michael Ducas, 234 Alexander, 422 Antony, Jul. Caes. 420 WEST, 68, bis DWYER, Belcour, 425 Tangent, 427 Ranger, 427 Vapid, 427 Liar, 427 Rapid, 427 Sir Charles Racket, 427 Advice to conductors of magazines, 402 AEschylus, 114, 189 Alleyn, the player, account of, 45 Anecdotes and good things Dick the Hunter, 92 Dr. Young, 181 Othello burlesqued, 181 Voltaire, 184 Louis XIV. 184 Mara and Florio, 185 Macklin, 247, 248, 397, 408, 409 Mozart, the composer, 257 Old Wignell, 343 Macklin and Foote, 397 Impertinent Petit Maitre, 406 Curious Slip Slop, 406 Specific for blindness, 407 Kemble and a stage tyro, 407 Kemble's bon mot on Sydney playhouse, 407 Irish forgery, 407 Woman and country magistrate, 408 French dramatic, 481 Bacon and cabbage, 485 Apparition, sable or mysterious bell-rope, 325 Aristophanes, 269 Authors' benefits see Southern, 502

B Barry, the great player, account of, 298 Bedford, duke of, monument, 317 Betterton, the great actor, 133, 213 Biography, 24, 118, 202, 357 Bull, a dramatic one, 505

C Carlisle, countess of, opinion of drama, 398 Catalani, madam, 96 Cibber, Colley, his merit, 506 Coffee and Chocolate, account of, 311 Cone, see actors Cooper, life of, 28 Cooper, see actors Cooper, account of his acting, 223 Correspondence on abuses of the Theatre, 103, 104 ——, from Baltimore on Theatricals, 157 ——, from New-York, ditto, 414

D Dramatic Censor, 49, 141, 220, 337, 414 Drama, Grecian, 109, 189, 269, 350 ——, lady Carlisle's opinion on, 398 Dwyer, actor, 235 ——, see actors. Dramaticus, 251, 328, 502 Dungannon, famous horse, 500

E Edenhall, luck of, old ballad, 487 Edward and Eleonora, remarks on, 502 English, parallel between English men and English mastiffs, by cardinal Ximenes, 88 Epilogues, humorous ones after tragedies censured, 400 Euripides, 195

F Francis, see actors ——, Mrs., ibid. Fullerton, actor, driven to suicide, 504

G German Theatre, vindication of, by Dramaticus, 251 Gifford, Wm. life of, 357, 447 Greek drama, 109, 189, 269, 350

H History of the stage, 9, 109, 189, 269, 350, 431 High Life below Stairs, account of, 506 Hodgkinson, biography of, 202, 283, 368, 457

I Irish bulls, specimen of, 455 Jefferson, see actors

L Lear, essay on the alterations of it, 391 Le Kain, the French actor, account of, 438 Lewis, his retirement from the stage, 185 Literary World, what is it? 406 Longevity, instance of, 496 Lover general, a rhapsody, 399

M Macklin checked practice of hissing, 504 Man and Wife, a comedy, 188 Menander, 350 Metayer Henry, anecdote of with Theobald, 503 M'Kenzie, see actors Milton and Shakspeare, comparison between, 248 Miscellany, 96, 173, 241, 307, 384, 467 Music, 81, 257 ——, Oh think not my spirits are always as light, a song by Anacreon Moore, 83 ——, Irish, 161 Musical performance, expectation of a grand one, 428

N New-York reviewers impeached, 505 Nokes, comedian, 381

O O'Kelly's horse Dungannon, 500 Originality in writing, Voltaire's idea of, 184 Otway, observations on, 502

P Payne, American young Roscius, criticised on, 141, 220, 241 ——, see actors Pedestrianism, humorous essay on, 262 Players celebrated compared with celebrated painters, 387 Plays, names of, attached to each No. Foundling of the Forest, No. I Man and Wife, No. II Venoni, No. III New Way to pay Old Debts, No. IV Alfonso, king of Castile, No. V The Free Knights, No. VI Plays criticised in the Censor Cure for the Heart-ach, 59 Pizarro, 62 Town and Country, 66 Ella Rosenberg, 69 Wood Demon, 71 Abaellino, 73 Road to Ruin, 73 Speed the Plough, 74 Man and Wife, 188 Foundling of the Forest, 80, 345 Africans, 418 Poetry Tom Gobble, 97 English bards and Scotch reviewers, extract from, 98 Occasional prologue on the first appearance of Miss Brunton, afterwards Merry and Warren, at Bath, 121 Latin verses on do. and translation, 124 Prologue on first appearance, of the same lady in London, by A. Murphy, 126 Duck shooting, 172 A true story, 183 Lewis's address on taking leave of Ireland, 187 On the death of Mrs. Warren, 246 Descent into Elisium, 253 Gracy Nugent, by Carolan, 261 O never let us marry, 324 Epilogue by Sheridan, censuring humourous ones after tragedies, 401 Logical poem on chesnut horse and horse chesnut, 404 Quin, an anecdote in verse, 409 Luck of Edenhall, 487 The parson and the nose, 495 Solitude, advantages of for study, 495 Soldier to his horse, 499 Prospectus, 1

R Reviews of New-York impeached, 505

S Seymour, Mrs. see actors She would and she would not, merit of, 506 Southern, 502 Socrates, death of, 280 Sophocles, 189 SPORTING, 85, 164, 262, 410, 499 Spain, divertissements in, 495 Strolling Player, a week's journal of, 396 Stage, history of, 8, 9, 109, 189, 269, 350

T Taylor, Billy, critique on ballad, 467 Thespis, account of, 113 Theobaldus Secundus, 173, 241, 307, 384 Theatre, misbehaviour there, 267 Theobald, his theft from Metayer, 503 Theatrical contest, Barry and Garrick, in Romeo, 507 Thornton, Col. his removal from York to Wilts, 164

V Voltaire, his idea of originality in writing, 184

W Warren, Mrs. life of, 118 Warren, actor, see actors West, see actors Wit, pedigree of, by Addison, 406 Wife, essay on the choice of, 477 Wood, actor, see actors ——, Mrs., ibid.

Y Young, celebrated actor, 236

Z Zengis, so unintelligible audience not understand it, 507

* * * * * * * * *

Errors and Inconsistencies: The Mirror of Taste

Spellings were changed only when there was an unambiguous error, or the word occurred elsewhere with the expected spelling.

Unchanged: But this can no more be alledged Congreve and other cotemporary authors melo-drame [most common spelling for this publication] the excressences of overloaded society Ella Rozenberg [this spelling is used in the header and first citation; later references use "Rosenberg"] put his hand to their heads and give them a lanch A poor fellow, half an ideot His coat and waiscoat were taken off

Corrected: From Edinburgh he went with the company [Edinburg] notwithstanding the difficulty [dfficulty] the reviewers spoke with decided approbation [appprobation] Is happy indeed if 'twas never deceiv'd in the adjustment of individual differences [idividual] While Reynolds vents his 'dammes, poohs' and 'zounds'[12] [word "and" italicized]

Index: Missing or inconsistent punctuation has been silently regularized.

Poetry Soldier to his horse, 499 [tohis] Zengis, so unintelligible audience not understand it [word missing in original]

* * * * * * * * *

THE FOUNDLING OF THE FOREST:

A PLAY.

By WILLIAM DIMOND, Esq.

Author of "Adrian and Orrila," "Hero of the North," "Hunter of the Alps," &c. &c.

"And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy." Beattie.

Published by Bradford and Inskeep, Philadelphia; Inskeep and Bradford, New-York; and William M'ilhennny, Boston.

Smith and Maxwell, Printers.

1810.



THE FOUNDLING OF THE FOREST.



DRAMATIS PERSONAE.

Count De Valmont. Baron Longueville. Florian, a foundling adopted by De Valmont. Bertrand, valet to Longueville. L'Eclair, valet to Florian. Gaspard, an old domestic. Sanguine, } bravoes in the pay of Longueville. Lenoire, }

Geraldine, niece to De Valmont. Rosabelle, her woman. Monica, an old woman. Unknown Female. Domestics, Peasants, Dancers, &c. &c.

SCENE—The Chateau de Valmont and its environs, situate in the upper Alsace, near the River Rhine.



ACT I.

SCENE I.—A hall in the Chateau de Valmont.

Enter Bertrand, in agitation, followed by Longueville.

Ber. Forbear, my lord! to urge me further.—Would you tempt me to insure perdition?—my soul is heavy enough with weight of crimes already.

Long. Hypocrite! You, whom I have known in childhood—a villain, even from the cradle—committing crimes as pastimes—has your hand been exercised thus long in blood, to shake with conscience, and desert me now?

Ber. I have, indeed, deserved reproaches, but not from your lips, my lord! Remember, for you it was this hand was first defiled with blood—remember, too—

Long. Yes, villain! I do remember, that my misplaced bounty once gave you back a forfeit life. Twenty years past, when, as a deserter, you were sentenced, by the regiment under my command, to death, your fate was inevitable, had not I vouchsafed a pardon. Traitor! you, too, had best remember a solemn oath at that same period passed your lips, which bound you, soul and body, to my service ever—unscrupling to perform my pleasures, whether good or ill, and still to hold my secrets fast from earthly ears, though unabsolving priests renounced you on the death-bed.

Ber. (shuddering) Ay! ay! it was an oath of horror, and if you command, it must be kept. Well, then—the young, the brave, the good, kindhearted Florian—yes—he dies!

Long. Then only may your master be esteemed to live.

Ber. But whence this hatred to an unoffending youth?—one, whose form delights all eyes, and whose virtues are the theme of every tongue?

Long. Fool! that person and those virtues of which you vaunt, are with me his worst offences—they have undone my love and marred my fortunes—the easy heart of Geraldine is captivated by the stripling's specious outside, while his talents and achievements secure him with the uncle undivided favour.

Bert. Can nothing but his blood appease your enmity?

Long. Nothing—for now my worst suspicions stand confirmed. I have declared to De Valmont my passion for his niece, and the sullen visionary has denied my suit—nay, insolently told me "Geraldine's affections are another's right." —Curses on that minion's head!—'tis for Florian De Valmont's heiress is reserved—and shall I suffer this vile foundling, this child of charity, to lord it over those estates, for which my impatient soul has paid a dreadful earnest! No, by heavens! never!

Bert. Fatal avarice! already have we bartered for those curst estates our everlasting peace!—for those did midnight flames surprise the sleep of innocence—for those did the sacrificed Eugenia with her shrieking babe—

Long. Wretch! dare not repeat those names! Now, mark me: this night Florian returns a triumpher from his campaign—two of my trusty blood-hounds watch the road to give me timely note of his approach. One only follower attends the youth. In the thick woods 'twixt the chateau and Huningen, an ambush safely laid, may end my rival and my fears forever. In the west avenue, at sunset, I command your presence. Mark me! I command you by your oath. [Exit.

Bert. Miserable man! I am indeed a slave, soul and body—both are in the thrall! I know the fiend I serve. If I attempt to fly, his vengeful agency pursues me to the world's limit. No—my doom is fixed—I must remain the very wretch I am for life—and after life—Oh! let me not think of that!

Enter Rosabelle behind, who taps his shoulder.

Ros. Talking to yourself, Mr. Bertrand? that's not polite in a lady's company.

Bert. (starting) Ah! Rosabelle—good lass!—how art, Rosabelle?

Ros. Why, Mr. Bertrand, how pale you look, and your limbs quite tremble—I fear me you are ill.

Bert. Oh, no—I am well—quite well—never better.

Ros. Then you are out of spirits.

Bert. You mistake—I am all happiness—ha! ha!—all joy!

Ros. What! because the wars are over, and chevalier Florian returns to us?—'tis a blest hearing, truly—after all the hardships and dangers he has passed to see him once again in safety—

Bert. (involuntarily) Ah! would to heaven we might!

Ros. Can there be any doubt? He reaches the chateau this night—will he not be in safety then?

Bert. Yes, yes, with this night every danger certainly will cease.

Ros. Bertrand! why do you rub your hand before your eyes?—surely you are weeping.

Bert. No, 'tis a momentary pain that—but 'twill leave me soon. At night, Rosabelle, you shall see me jovial—joyous!—we'll dance together, wench—ay, and sing—then—ha! ha! ha!—then who so mirthful, who so mad, as Bertrand. [Exit.

Ros. What new spleen has bewitched the man? he is ever in some sullen mood, with scowling brows, or else in a cross-arm'd fit of melancholy; but I never marked such wildness in his looks and words before.

[Geraldine speaks without.

Ger. Rosabelle.

Ros. Here, my lady, in the hall.

Enter Geraldine.

Ger. Girl! I have cause to chide you; my toilette must be changed—you have dressed me vilely—here! remove these knots—I hate their fashion.

Ros. Yet they are the same your ladyship commended yesterday.

Ger. Then 'tis the colour of my robe offends me—these ornaments are a false match to it—either all the mirrors in the house have warped since yesterday, or never did I look so ill before.

Ros. Now, in my poor judgment, you rarely have looked better.

Ger. Out! fool; you have no judgment.

Ros. Well, fool or not, there's one upon the road who holds faith with me, or I'm a heretic. Your charms will shine bright enough, lady, to dazzle a soldier's eye.

Ger. Ah! no, Rosabelle—you would deceive your mistress. Florian returns not as he left us; his travelled eyes have gazed on beauties of the polished court—and now he will despise the wild untutored Geraldine.

Ros. Will he? Let him beware he shows not his contempt before me. What! my own beautiful and high-born mistress; the greatest heiress in all Alsace; to be despised by a foundling, picked up in a forest, and reared upon her uncle's charity?

Ger. Hush!—the mystery of my Florian's birth is his misfortune, but cannot be his reproach. Our countrymen may dispute his title to command, but our enemies have confessed his power to conquer; and trust me, girl, the brave man's laurel blooms with as fresh an honour in the poor peasant's cap as when it circles princely brows; nay, Justice deems it of a nobler growth, for Flattery often twines the laurel round a coronet, but Truth alone bestows it on the unknown head.

Ros. I confess the Chevalier is a proper gallant for any woman. Ay, and so is the Chevalier's man. I warrant me, that knave, L'Eclair, when he returns, will follow me about, wheedling and whining, to recollect certain promises. Well, well, let but the soldiers return with whole hearts from the war, and your ladyship and myself know how to reward fidelity. In sooth, the chateau has been but a doleful residence in their absence; the count never suffered his dwelling to be a merry one; but of late his strange humours have so increased, that the household might as well have lodged in purgatory.

Ger. Hold! I must not hear my uncle's name pronounced with levity. An angel at his birth, mingled the divine spirit with less than human frailty; but fiends have since defaced the noble work with more than human trials. That fatal night, when the fierce Huguenots fired his castle, and buried both his wife and infant in the blazing ruin; that night of horrors has to his shocked and shrinking fancy still been ever present; there still it broods—settled, perpetual and alone! Ah! Rosabelle! the petulancies of misfortune claim our pity, not resentment. My dear uncle is a recluse, but not a misanthrope; he rejects the society of mankind, yet is he solicitous for their happiness; and while his own heart breaks in silence under a weight of undivided sorrows, does he not seek incessantly to alleviate the burthen of his complaining brethren?

Ros. I know the count has an excellent heart; but surely his temper has its flaws.

Ger. And shall we deem the sun that cheers the season less gracious in its course, because a cloud at intervals may hide or chill its beams? (A bell rings). Hark! 'tis the bell of his chamber. Perhaps he will admit me now; for four days past I have applied at the door in vain. Ah me!—these constant growing maladies sometimes make me tremble for his life. Girl! if from the turret-top at distance you espy the hastening travellers, turn, swift as thought, and call me to partake your watch! [Exit.

Ros. If they arrive before sun-set, I'm sure I shall know L'Eclair a mile off by the saucy toss of his head: before that rogue went on the campaign, he certainly extorted some awkward kind of promises from me. As a woman of honour, I'm afraid it must be kept; I don't want a husband—oh! no, positively—to be sure, winter is coming on, my chamber faces the north, and when the nights are long, and dark, and cold, when the wind blusters, and the hail patters at the casement, then a solitary woman is apt to have strange fancies, and sometimes to wish that—well, well, my promise must be kept at all events.

SONG.—Rosabelle.

Oh! come away! my soldier boy, From war to peace incline thee; Thy laurel, Time shall ne'er destroy. But Love with roses twine thee. Come, come away, Love chides thy stay, Oh! prithee come my soldier!

Let fife and drum preserve their place, While softer sounds delight thee; The fiddle shall our wedding grace, But horns shall never fright thee. Come, come away, Love chides thy stay, Oh! prithee come my soldier!

[Exit.

SCENE II.—A saloon: a large window is open and discovers the gardens: the noise of song and dance is heard immediately below the window.

CHORUS.

Sing farewell labour, Blow pipe and beat tabor, Fly care far away; In light band advancing, Let music and dancing Proclaim holyday.

De Valmont opens the door of an inner chamber, and crosses the stage with a quick petulant step, to ring a bell in the saloon: no answer is immediately given, and he repeats the ring with increased fretfulness.

Enter Gaspard.

De Val. So! am I heard! old man! to what strange dwelling have I been borne while sleeping? and who is your new master?

Gas. Alack! your lordship is in your own fair castle, nor other master than yourself do I, or any of my fellows serve—a kind and noble master.

De Val. You tell me wonders; I thought the master in his house had borne command among his people, but here it seems, each groom is more absolute in his humours than the lord; how is't? do I clothe and feed a pampered herd, but to increase my torments? when I would muse in privacy, must I be baited still, and stunned with crowds and clamours? knave! drive the rabble from my gate, and rid my ears of discord.

Gas. Well-a-day! who could have foreseen this anger? my good lord 'tis but your tenantry rejoicing: this morning, I distributed your lordship's bounty among them to celebrate chevalier Florian's return; and now the honest grateful souls would fain thank their benefactor by the song that tells him they are happy.

De Val. Their thanks are hateful to me; ungenerous wretches! is it not enough that they are happy whilst I am miserable, but they must mock my anguish by a saucy pageant of their joys, and force my shrinking senses more keenly to remark the contrast of our fates? (Tabors, &c. without.) Quick! quick! begone and drive them from my gate (stamps imperatively).

Gas. (frighted) I am gone, my lord! —I am gone.

De Val. Hold! another word—perhaps the unthinking creatures might design this torture kindly, and I would not punish the mistakes of ignorance. Do not dismiss them harshly—I would have them indulge their gayety, but I cannot bear to be a witness of it. Gaspard, this house is Melancholy's chosen home; and its devoted master's heart, like a night-bird that abhors the animating sun, has been so long familiarized to misery, it sickens and recoils at the approach of mirth.

Gas. (pressing his hand) My kind, unfortunate, my beloved master!

De Val. (snatching it from him) Pshaw! I loathe pity— (shouts) —hark! again! go, go, send them from the gate, but not harshly.

[Exit Gaspard.

De Val. All hearts rejoicing; mine only miserable! every peasant yielding to delight, their lord alone devoted to despair; a subtle, slow despair that, drop by drop, congeals the blood of life, yet will not bid the creeping current quite forbear to flow; that has borne its victim just to the sepulchre 's tempting edge, but holds him there to envy, not partake its slumbers. Well, well, your own appointed hour, just heavens!—if it be the infirmity of man to repine here, it is the Christian's hope to rejoice hereafter.

Re-enter Gaspard.

Gas. I've sent them hence; they'll not be heard again; but since they may not thank, they are gone to pray for you—Mass! I had nigh forgotten—young Madam Geraldine is in the anti-room, and waits to see your lordship.

De Val. Admit her! (Exit Gaspard) My gentle one! my desolate, orphan maid, if any softening drop were yet permitted in my cup of bitters, I think the affectionate hand of Geraldine would mingle and prepare it for my lip.

Enter Geraldine.

Ger. (Tenderly embracing him) Ah! my dear, dear uncle! how am I rejoiced by a permission to visit you again; for four long days you have secluded yourself, and indeed I have been so distressed—but I will not speak of past anxieties now; war restores its hero to our vows; Florian returns to us—are not you quite happy, uncle?

De Val. Happy? I? my good child—do not mock me.

Ger. Nay, could I intend—

De Val. Well! let it pass; you it seems, my Geraldine, are really happy; your lips confess much, but your eyes still betray more—niece, you love my adopted Florian.

Ger. Love! fy, uncle—Oh yes, yes, I do certainly love him like a brother.

De Val. Something better.—Suppose I should offer this Florian to you as a husband

Ger. (looking down demurely.) I never presume to dispute my dear uncle's commands.

De Val. Little equivocator! answer me strictly: do you not wish to become his wife?

Ger. Indeed, I never yet have asked my heart that question.

De Val. But if Florian married any other woman, would you not hate the object of his preference?

Ger. (throwing herself upon his neck.) Ah! uncle, you have my secret: no, I would not hate my fortunate rival—I would pray for her happiness, but my heart would break while it breathed that prayer!

De Val. My excellent ingenuous child, indulge the virtuous emotions of your heart without disguise—Florian and Geraldine are destined for each other.

Ger. Generous benefactor! what delightful dazzling visions your words conjure up to my imagination; the universe will concentrate within the fairy circle of our hearth; a waking consciousness of bliss will ever freshly dress our day in flowers, and at nights, fancy will gild our pillow with the dream that merrily anticipates the future.

De Val. Enthusiast! you contemplate the ocean in a calm, nor dream how frightfully a tempest may reverse the picture.

Ger. Ambitious pride may tremble at the storm, but true love, uncle, never can be wrecked; its constancy is strengthened, not impaired by trials, and when adversity divorces us from common friendships, the chosen partners of each other's hearts a second time are married, and with dearer rites.

De Val. (averting his face with a look of anguish) Girl!

Ger. (unnoticing his emotion) Then if they have children, how surpassing is the bliss, while their own gay prime is mellowly subsiding into age, to trace the features and the virtues they adored in youth, renewed before their eyes, and feel themselves the proud and grateful authors of each other's joy—Ah! trust me, uncle! such a destiny is beyond the reach of fortune's malice; 'tis the anti-type of heaven.

De Val. (Grasping her hand suddenly, convulsed with agitation.) 'Tis the distracting mockery of hell that cheats us with an hour's ecstatic dream to torture us eternally: girl! girl! wouldst thou find happiness, die! seek it in the grave, only in the grave—a watchful fiend destroys it upon earth! Prat'st thou of love? Connubial and parental love? Ah! dear-lov'd objects of my soul! what are ye now—ashes, ashes, darkly scattering to the midnight winds. God! the flames yet blaze—here, here—my brain's on fire! [Rushes out.

Ger. Uncle! listen to your Geraldine! —Ah! ingrate that I am! the vulture that gnaws his generous heart, had slumbered for a moment, and I have waked it to renew its cruelty! my fault was unawares, yet I could chide it like a crime; my mounting spirits fall from their giddy height at once. Oh! uncle! noble, suffering uncle! would that my tears could wash away the recollection of my words. [Weeps.

De Valmont suddenly returns and embraces Geraldine.

De Val. Geraldine! dear child, forgive me! my violence has terrified your gentle nature. I would not pain you, love, for worlds; but I am not always master of myself, and my passions will sometimes break forth rebellious to my reason; pity and forgive the infirmities of grief.

Ger. Ah! Sir. (Attempts to kneel.)

_De Val._ (_Preventing her, and kissing her forehead._) Bless you, my good and innocent child; nay, do not speak to me, my happiness is lost forever, but I can pray for yours. Bless you, my child! bless you ever. [_Breaks from her, and exit.

Ger. My happiness! ah! if the exalted virtues of a soul like yours, my uncle, despair of the capricious boon, how shall the undeserving Geraldine presume to hope?

Enter Rosabelle.

Ros. Oh! my lady, such news, he's arrived, he's in the hall.

Ger. My Florian?

Ros. No, lady, not your Florian, but my L'Eclair, not quite so great a hero as his master to be sure, but yet a real, proper, mettlesome soldier every inch; he looks about him among the men so fierce and so warlike; then with the women, he's so impudent, and so audacious;—oh! he's a special fellow.

L'Eclair speaks without.

L'Ec. Here's a set of rascals! no discipline? no subordination in the house! eh! look to the baggage, curry down my charger! hem! ha!

Enter L'Eclair.

Your ladyship's devoted servant, ever in the foremost rank! never did a nine-pounder traverse the enemy's line with more promptitude than I, Phillippe L'Eclair, unworthy private of the fifth hussars, now fly to cast my poor person at your ladyship's gracious feet.

Ger. You are very welcome from the wars, L'Eclair, Fame has spoken of you in your absence.

L'Ec. Fy! my lady, you disorder me at the first charge,—a pestilence now upon that wicked, impertinent gossip, Fame,—will not her everlasting tongue suffer even so poor a fellow as L'Eclair, to escape? 'tis insufferable; may I presume to inquire then, what rumours have reached your ladyship's ear?

Ger. To a soldier's credit, trust me.—But your master, L'Eclair, where is he?

L'Ec. Ah! poor gentleman, he's in the rearguard, I left him four leagues off, at the fortress of Huningen, unexpectedly confined by——

Ger. Confined! heavens! by what complaint?

L'Ec. Only the complaint of old age; the general commissioned my master upon his route to deliver some instructions to the superannuated commandant of the fortress; now the old gentleman proving somewhat dull of apprehension, my master though dying of impatience, was constrained to a delay of some extra hours, despatching me, his humble ambassador, forward, to prevent alarms, and promise his arrival at the chateau before midnight.

Ger. Midnight! so late?—four leagues to travel—alone—his road through an intricate forest, and the sky already seeming to predict a tempest.

L'Ec. Why, as your ladyship remarks, the clouds seem making a sort of forced march over our heads; but a storm is the mere trifling of nature in a soldier's estimation; my master and his humble servant have faced a cannon-ball too frequently, to be disconcerted by a hail-stone.

Ger. Then you have often been employed upon dangerous service, L'Eclair?

L'Ec. Hay, I protest, your ladyship must excuse me there; a man has so much the appearance of boasting, when he becomes the reporter of his own achievements; I beg leave to refer your ladyship to the gazettes, though I confess the gazettes do but afford a soup-maigre, whip-syllabub sort of narrative, accurate enough, perhaps in the main, but plaguily incommunicative of particulars: for instance, in the recent affair at Nordlingen, I can defy you to find any mention in the gazette, that the chevalier Florian charged through a whole regiment of the enemy's grenadiers, drawn up in a hollow square, that Phillipe L'Eclair, singly followed the chevalier, and rode over all those his master had not time to decapitate, how a masked battery suddenly opened with twelve pieces of heavy ordnance, firing red-hot balls; how the chevalier's horse reared; how L'Eclair's neighed; but how both officer and private, neither a whit discouraged at this dilemma, galloped their chargers gracefully up to the flaming mouth of the danger; cleared a chevaux de frise of fifteen feet at a flying leap; then dismounting; carried the battery by a coup de main; spiked the guns; muzzled the gunners with their own linstocks; and, finally compelled the principal engineer to turn cook, and grill a calf's head at his own furnace, for the dinner of his conquerors! Now this affair which had no small influence in determining the fortune of the day, with many parallel traits, our gazetteers have unaccountably neglected to publish. My memory, perhaps, might remedy their deficiencies to any curious ear, but alas! an insurmountable modesty renders the task so painful, that I cast myself upon your ladyship's compassion, and beseech you to forbear from further inquiry.

Ger. Ha! ha! your sensitive delicacy shall be respected L'Eclair; Rosabelle, be it your care to make the defender of his country welcome—at midnight then.—Oh! hasten on your flight, dark-wing'd hours! through your close shadows once disclose my Florian, then if ye list, be motionless, and still retard the day. [Exit.

L'Ec. There, you hear young woman!—you are to make the defender of his country welcome.

Ros. I'll do my best towards your pleasure,—what service can I lend you first.

L'Ec. Dress my wounds.

Ros. Wounds! gramercy! I never should have guessed you had any.

L'Ec. Deep, dangerous, desperate,—here! (affectedly pressing his heart) here, Rosabelle! here's the malady; 'tis an old hurt, I took it 'ere I went on my campaign; time and absence had clapped an awkward sort of plaster on't; but now—oh! those eyes!—the wound breaks out afresh;—must I expire?—Rosabelle! prithee, be my surgeon.

Ros. I have not the skill to prescribe, but I could administer a remedy by directions; what salve will you try first.

L'Ec. Lip-salve, you gipsy! (Kisses her furiously.)

Ros. Now, shame upon your manners, master soldier, was this a trick taught you by the wars?

L'Ec. Yes, faith! saluting is one of the first lessons in a soldier's trade, so my dear, tempting, provoking. (Catches her round.)

Ros. Hay, keep your hands off, you have taught me enough of the manual exercise already; but say now, were you indeed so great a hero in the battle as you told my lady?

L'Ec. Pshaw! I did'nt tell her half, my modesty forbade, but for thee, my pretty Rosabelle—

Ros. Ay, with me, I'm certain your modesty will be no obstacle.

L'Ec. None, for while I gaze upon the face of an angel, the devil himself can't put me out of countenance.

DUETTO.—Rosabelle and L'Eclair.

Ros. Tell, soldier, tell! and mark you tell me truly, How oft in battle have you slain a foe?

L'Ec. Go, count the leaves when winds are heard unruly, In autumn that from mighty forests blow.

Ros. Did e'er a captain, worth a costly ransom, Own you his conqueror in the deadly broil?

L'Ec. I've twigg'd field-marshals, pickings snug and handsome, Twelve waggons now are loaded with my spoil.

Both. Oh! loudly, proudly, sound the soldier's fame! Oh! flashy, dashy, flaunt the soldier's dame!

Ros. Tell, soldier, tell! and mark, you tell me truly, Did foreign maids ne'er win your roving vow?

L'Ec. O! blood and fire! —I swear I can't speak coolly, By Mars! to you, and only you, I bow.

Ros. Say, shall love's chain of blossoms hold for ever? Nor time, nor absence, bid its bloom depart?

L'Ec. Not sword, or gun, such magic links can sever, Or rend from Rosabelle her hero's heart.

Both. O! loudly, proudly, &c.

SCENE III.—A front wood, stage very dark, thunder and lightning.

Enter Longueville and Bertrand, the latter disguised and masqued.

Long. Come, sir, to your post! what! a coward even to the last? you tremble.

Bert. I do indeed, the storm is terrible, it seems as if heaven's own voice were clamoring to forbid the deed. [Thunder.

Long. This tumult of the night assists our enterprise; its thunders will drown your victim's dying groan. Where have you placed the bravoes?

Bert. Hard by—just where the horse-road sinks into a hollow dell, and over-spreading branches almost choke the pass, there we may rush upon the wretched youth securely, and there our poniards—

Long. Hush!—a footstep!—who passes there?

Enter 1st Bravo.

1st Br. Sanguine!

Long. Wherefore are you here, and parted from your fellow?

1st Br. I left him lurking in the hollow, while I sought you out to ask advice. Just now, a horse without a rider, burst furiously through the thicket where we lay; the lightning flashed brightly at the time, and I plainly marked the steed to be the very same young Florian rode, when we dogged him from the last inn, at sunset.

Bert. (involuntarily) merciful God! then thou hast preserved him.

Long. Villain! you may find your transports premature; perchance he has dismounted to seek on foot some shelter from the increasing fury of the storm; but 'tis impossible he should escape; one only path conducts to the chateau. Quick! bestow yourselves on either side, and your victim's fate is certain. I must return to avoid suspicion.

Bert. (catching his arm.) Yet, my lord, once more reflect.

Long. (throwing him off.) Recollect your oath.

Bert. (desperately.) Yes, yes, it must be written on my memory in characters of blood. [Exeunt separately.

SCENE IV.—Another part of the forest more entangled and intricate, the tempest becomes violent, and the stage appears alternately illumined by the lightning, and enveloped in utter darkness. Florian is seen advancing cautiously through the thickets from a distance.

Flor. A plague upon all dark nights, foul ways, and runaway horses! a mettlesome madcap, to start at the lightning and plunge with me head over heels in the brushwood; in scrambling out of that thicket, I certainly turned wrong, and have missed my road—how to regain it? 'sdeath! I could as soon compose an almanac as and a clue to this puzzle. Well, I was found in a wood when a baby, and have just lived to years of discretion to be lost in a wood again! Fortune! Fortune! thou spiteful gipsy! was this an honest trick to pass upon a faithful servant, who has worn thy livery from his cradle, and taken off thy hands a thousand knocks and buffetings without a murmur? Just at this moment too, when hope and fancy were dancing merrily, and had made the prettiest ball-room of my heart—just too when the image of my Geraldine— (rain, storm increases) but a truce with meditation, this pelting shower rather advises action— (turns to an opening) —No; that can't be the path; which ever way I turn I may only get farther entangled; then there are pit-falls, wolves, bears—yes! I've the prospect of a delectable night before me; what if I exercise my lungs and call for help? oh! there's scarcely a chance of being heard; well, 'tis my forlorn hope and shall e'en have a trial. Holloa! Holloa! Holloa! [a whistle answers from the right] Huzza! somebody whistles from the right! kind lady Fortune! never will I call thee names again. [another whistle from the opposite side.] Ha! answered from the left too! —Lucky fellow!—where are you my dear boys—where are you?

Florian runs toward the right—a very vivid flash of lightning at that instant gleams upon the path before him, and displays the figure of a masqued bravo, Sanguine, with an unsheathed poniard advancing between the trees, Florian recoils.

Flor. Ha! a man armed and masqued!—perhaps some ruffian!—'sdeath! I am defenceless, my pistols were left in the saddle!

Sanguine. (advancing) Who called?

Flor. If I return no answer in the darkness I may retreat unseen.

[He creeps silently to the left as the bravo advances.

San. Speak! where are you?

[2d bravo emerges from the gloom and directly crosses the path by which Florian is about to escape.

Len. Here! [Thunder.

[Florian at the second voice discovers himself to be exactly between the ruffians, and stops.

Flor. God!

[He recedes a single step, and strikes his hand against a tree immediately behind him, the trunk of which is hollowed by time, and open towards the audience.

Ha! a tree!

[By his touch he discovers the aperture, and glides into the hollow, at the very instant the two bravoes stepping forward quickly from either side of the tree, encounter each other's extended hands in front.

San. (raising his poniard) Die!

Len. Hold! 'tis I—your comrade!

San. Why did you not answer before, I took you for—hark?

[Bertrand comes through the trees from the top of the stage.]

Bert. Hist! Sanguine?—Lenoire?

San. Here!—both of us.

Bert. (coming forward) Why did you whistle?

San. In answer to your call—you hallooed to us.

Bert. When?

San. But now—a minute back.

Bert. I never spoke.

San. I'll swear I heard a voice—no doubt then but 'twas he that—

Bert. From what quarter did the cry proceed?

San. I thought it sounded hereabouts, but the storm kept such a confounded patter at the time—

Bert. Well—let us take the left-hand path; and if we hear the call repeated—

San. Ay!—our daggers meet all questions with a keen reply.

[Exeunt to the left.

Flor. (extricating himself cautiously from the tree.) Eternal Providence, what have I heard! Murderers then are upon the watch for me! no, no—not for me. I cannot be the destined victim. I never yet offended a human being, and fiends themselves would not destroy without a cause for hatred. Heaven guard the threatened one, whoe'er he be! Well, Prudence at least admonishes me to avoid the left-hand path; faith any turn but that must prove the right for me. Ha! unless my eyes are cheated by a Will-o'-th'-Wisp, a friendly light now peeps out through yonder coppice. (looking out) Perhaps some woodman's hut, with a fresh faggot just crackling on the hearth. Oh, for a seat in such a chimney corner. (Whistle again at a distance) I hear you, gentlemen, a pleasant ramble to you. Adieu, Messieurs! space be between us! yours is a left-handed destiny; I'll seek mine to the right. [Exit.

SCENE V.—The outside of a cottage in the wood; a light burning in a casement.

Enter Monica, supporting herself on a crutch, and carrying a basket of flax.

Mon. Praise to the virgin! my old limbs have reached their resting place at last: what a tempest! my new cardinal is quite drenched. Well, I've kept the flax dry, however, that's some comfort, (strikes against the door.) Ho, there, within—open quickly.

[The door opens, and a female wildly dressed, appears; she catches Monica's hand with affection, and kisses it.]

Mon. Ah, my poor Silence! thou hast watched and fretted for me preciously, I'll warrant: but the road from Brisac is long, and this rough night half crippled me.

[The female feels her damp garments, and seems with quick tenderness to invite her into the house.]

Well, well, never fright thyself, if I shiver now, a cup of warm Rhenish will soon make me glow again: 'faith I am weary though; wilt lend an arm to an old woman?

[The female embraces and supports her.]

Ah, there's my kind Silence.

[Exeunt into the cottage.

Enter Florian running and out of breath, from the left hand.

Flor. I'm right, by all the household gods! 'Twas no goblin of the fen that twinkled to deceive, but a real substantial weatherproof tenement shining with invitation to benighted travellers. Oh, blessings on its hospitable threshold; my heart luxuriates already by anticipation, and pants for a fireside, a supper, and a bed. Hold though—just now I was on the point of shaking hands with a cutthroat; who knows but here I may introduce myself upon visiting terms with his family? 'faith I'll reconnoitre the position before I establish my quarters. This casement is commodiously low. (Steps to the casement on tiptoe.) I protest, a vastly neat, creditable sort of mansion! Yes—it will do! on one side blazes an excellent fire; in the middle stands a table ready covered; that's for supper: then just opposite is a door left ajar; ay, that must lead to a bed. Ha! now the door opens; who comes forward? by all my hopes a woman! Enough; here will I pitch my tent. Whenever doubts and fears perplex a man, the form of woman strikes upon his troubled spirit like the rainbow stealing out of clouds—the type of beauty and the sign of hope! (he knocks) Now Venus send her with a kindly smile!—she comes—she comes.

[The female opens the door, but on seeing Florian recoils with trepidation—he catches her hand, and forcibly detains her.]

Flor. My dear madam! no alarm, for Heaven's sake. You have thieves in your neighbourhood, but, upon my soul, I don't belong to their fraternity. No, madam, I'm an unlucky fellow, but with the best morals in the world: the fact is, I have lost myself in the forest; the storm rages—and as I am no knight-errant to court unnecessary hardships, respectfully I entreat the hospitality of this roof for the remainder of the night.

[The female surveys his figure with suspicion and timidity.]

Flor. I fear 'tis my misfortune to be disbelieved; nay then, let my dress declare my character! (he releases her hand to throw open his riding-cloak, and discovers the regimental under it.) Behold! I am a soldier.

[The female shrieks violently; for an instant she covers her eyes with both hands shudderingly, and then with the look and action of sudden insanity, darts away into the thicket of the wood.]

Flor. (calling after her.) Madam! my dear madam! only hear me, madam! she's gone! absolutely vanished! I wish I had a looking-glass; certainly I must have changed my face when I lost my road—no scare-crow could have terrified the poor woman more. What's to be done? If I follow her, I shall but increase her terrors and my own difficulties. Shall I enter the cottage and wait her return? the door stands most invitingly open, and to a wet and weary wanderer, that fire sparkles so provokingly—'faith, I can't resist the temptation—Adventure seems the goddess of the night, and I'll e'en worship the divinity at a blazing shrine! [Exit into the house.

SCENE VI.—The interior of the cottage—the entrance, door, and casements are on one side—opposite is the fireplace—and a staircase in the back scene conducts to an upper chamber—a table with a lamp burning, and a frugal supper stands in the middle of the stage.—Florian is discovered when the scene draws, kneeling at the hearth and chaffing his hands before the fire.

Flor. Eternal praise to the architect who first invented chimney-corners? the man who built the pyramids was a dunce by comparison. [rises and looks round him.] All solitary and silent: faith, my situation here is somewhat whimsical. Well, I am left in undisturbed possession, and that's a title in law, if not in equity. [he takes off his cloak and hangs it on a chair] Yes, this shall be my barrack for the night. What an unsocial spirit must the fair mistress of this cottage possess. Egad, she seemed to think it necessary, like the man and woman in the weather-house, that one sex should turn forth into the storm, so soon as the other sought a shelter from its peltings: a plague on such punctilio.

[Monica enters down the staircase from her chamber.]

Mon. [speaking as she descends.] There, my garments are changed, and we may now enjoy our supper.

Flor. Ha! another woman! but old, by the mother of the Graces!

Mon. A stranger!

Flor. Not an impertinent one, I trust. One, who in the darkness of the storm has missed his road, despairs of regaining it till morning, and craves of your benevolence a shelter for the night. You shall be soon convinced I am no dangerous guest.

Mon. [with a voluble civility.] Nay, young gentleman, never trouble yourself to inform me of your rank; you have told me your necessity, and that's a sufficient claim to every comfort my little cabin can afford; pray, sir, take a seat: I am much honoured by your presence: we have a little supper toward; you must partake it, sir: here! my good Silence! come hither. Ah! I do not see—[looking anxiously round the cottage.]

Flor. I am afraid, my good madam, you miss one of your family.

Mon. I do, indeed, sir; and—

Flo. It was my misfortune to drive a female out of your house at the moment I entered it.

Mon. Sir!

Flor. But not intentionally, I protest. The fact is, though I have always esteemed myself as a well-manufactured person, yet something in my appearance so terrified the lady that—

Mon. Ah, I comprehend; you wear the habit of a soldier, sir, and my poor Silence never can abide to look upon that dress.

Flor. Indeed! that's rather a singular antipathy for a female. May I inquire—is she a daughter of yours?

Mon. Not by blood, sir; but she is the child of misfortune, and as such may claim a parent in every heart that has itself experienced sorrow; but come, sir, take a seat, I beseech you; my alarm ceases now I know the cause of her absence. She is accustomed to wander in the woods by night when any thing disturbs her mind. She'll return to me anon calm and passive as before: I have known it with her often thus. You look fatigued, sir; let me recommend this flask of Rhenish: pray drink, sir; it will do you good; it always does me good.

Flor. Madam, since you are so pressing, my best services to you—a very companionable sort of old gentlewoman this (aside); I protest, madam, I feel myself interested for this unfortunate under your protection; there was a wild and melancholy sweetness in her eye that touched me at our first exchange of looks with awe and pity; is her history a secret?

Mon. Oh, no—not a secret, but quite a mystery, you know nearly as much of it as I do; but since we are on the subject—another draught of wine, sir!

Flor. Madam, you will pledge me. And now for the mystery.

Mon. Well, sir, about sixteen years ago when I lived in Languedoc, for you must know I am but newly settled here, a stranger in Alsace, ay! about sixteen or seventeen years ago, there came a rumour to our village, of a wild woman, that had been caught by some peasants in the woods near Albi, following quite a savage and unchristian life; gathering fruits and berries for her food by day, and sleeping in the mossy hollows of a rock at night. She was brought round the country as a show. All the world in our parts went to look upon the prodigy, and you may be sure I made one among the crowd. Well, sir, this wild woman was the very creature you beheld but now. At that time she was in truth a piteous object; her form was meagre and wasted, and her wretched garment hung over it in filthy tatters; her fine hair fell in matted heaps, and the sun and the wind together had changed her skin like an Indian's. Yet even in the midst of all this misery, there was a something so noble and so gentle in her air, that the moment I looked upon her, my curiosity was lost at once in pity and respect. The people by whom she was surrounded, were stunning her with coarse and vulgar questions, but never an answer did she deign to give, though some wheedled and some threatened; still 'twas to all alike: so most persons concluded she was dumb.

Flor. And a very natural conclusion it was, when a female remained silent, who had so excellent an opportunity of exercising her tongue.

Mon. Well, Sir, presently my turn came to approach her, when somehow my heart swelled quite painfully, to see the gracious image of our Maker degraded, and one's own fellow creature treated like the brutes of the field, so, that when I touched her, my tears started unawares and fell upon her trembling hand. Would you believe it, sir? the poor desolate statue felt the trickling drops, and reason was rekindled by the warmth of pity. Suddenly her eyes, so lately dull and vacant, flashed with recovered brightness. She cast herself at my feet—clasped my knees—and cried out, in tones that might have moved a heart of rock—"Angel of compassion! save me from disgrace?" All present started as if a miracle were worked. "Will you preserve me?" cried the suppliant. I was a widowed and a childless woman; in an instant I raised the forlorn one to my arms, as a companion, as an adopted daughter. Her keepers were ignorant men, but not cruel; their hearts were softened by the scene, and they yielded their claims to my entreaties. I led the unfortune to my dwelling; from that moment, she has shared my mat and partaken of my morsel. I love her with the affection of a real parent, and were I now to lose her, I think my heart would break upon the grave that robbed it of its darling.

Flor. By heavens, I reverence your feelings! in truth 'tis a melancholy story.

Mon. Yes, sir; and melancholy stories make people dry, so let me recommend another cup of wine.

Flor. Madam, I can't refuse the challenge— (aside) the old lady certainly designs to send me under the table. But pray, madam, have you never discovered the cause of that distress, from which you first relieved this suffering woman?

Mon. Never. On the subject of her early adventures she remains inflexibly silent. I have often tried to win the secret from her, but though she is mild and rational enough upon all other themes, yet, let but a hint remind her of her former wretchedness, her wits directly start into disorder, and for whole hours, nay, sometimes days together, she remains a lunatic. I do not even know her name, but call her Silence, because her voice is heard so very rarely. I think her dejection has increased since we quitted Languedoc, for about two months since, a kinsman of mine died, and bequeathed me this cottage with some land here in Alsace; 'tis a lone house, and the thick woods about I fear remind my poor Silence too much of her former way of life, sometimes she wanders in them half the night.

Flo. Are you not fearful of her safety? these woods are full of danger; within this half hour, I myself have encountered three ruffians lurking for their prey.

Mon. Ruffians! young gentleman. Blessed Mary save us!—'tis true, I am a stranger in these parts, but never did I hear of such neighbours. Well, well, I fear not for my child, she has no wealth to tempt a plunderer. Poverty is the mother of ills, but her offspring generally respect each other. Come, sir, finish the flask; and now let me prepare your chamber for the night. (rises.)

Flor. Kind hostess! I am bounden to you ever. (rises and fills his glass) Here's woman! beauteous, generous woman! admired when we are happy, but in our adversity adored! (drinks.)

Mon. (curtseying) Sweet sir, down to the very ground I return your gallantry.

Flor. Hist!—don't I hear footsteps in the wood?

Mon. (listening) Ah, yes, perhaps my child returns to us.

[The casement is thrust open, and Bertrand with the two bravoes look into the cottage.]

Mon. Ah! men in masks!

Bert.'Tis he! (they disappear from the casement.)

Flor. Swift! help me swift to bar the door!

Mon. Ah! 'tis forced already! (noise at door.)

[The door is burst, the two bravoes instantly spring upon Florian and grapple with him. Bertrand seizes the woman.]

Mon. Murder! murder!

Bert. Silence, or you die!

[Florian struggles towards the centre of the stage in front, and is there forced down upon one knee.]

Flo. Is it plunder that you seek? what is your purpose with me? speak!

San. Learn it by this! (raises his dagger.)

Bert. Hold! not here, drag him into the wood, despatch him there!

Flo. Inhuman villains! by your soul's best hope—I charge you—I implore you—

Bert. (stamping furiously, and casting Monica from him) Toward the wood! —Follow me!

[Bertrand turns to the door, and the bravoes struggle to force Florian after him, at that instant, the unknown female enters from the wood, and pauses in the door-way exactly opposite to Bertrand, his advanced arm falls back nerveless by his side, his limbs shake with strong convulsion, and he reels backwards.]

Bert. Support me, ah! save me, or I die!

[The bravoes release Florian to fly towards Bertrand, who sinks in their arms. The female, with a light and rapid step crosses in front of the group to the middle of the stage where Florian remains kneeling, she spreads her wild drapery before the victim, and places herself between him and the ruffians in the attitude of protection.]

Bert. (pursuing her with his eye deliriously) Look! look! she rises from the grave! she blasts me with her frown! away! away! heaven itself forbids the deed!

[The ruffians rush forth into the wood again. Florian and Monica catch the hands of the unknown to their lips in transport, and the curtain falls suddenly upon the scene.]

End of act I.



ACT II.

SCENE I.—A gallery in the chateau.

Enter Longueville and Bertrand.

Long. Traitor! infamous, unblushing traitor! Florian has arrived, arrived in safety: every way I have been betrayed; and now to screen your perfidy from punishment, you dare insult my ear with forgeries too monstrous and too gross for patience.

Bert. Hear me, my lord! as I have life, as I have a soul, so have I spoken truly, the grave yawned asunder to forbid the blow, it was no vision of my cowardice—I saw—distinctly saw-it was Eugenia! as in her days of nature, entire and undecayed, the spectre-form stood terribly before me, it moved—it gazed—it frowned me into madness!

Long. Villain! still would you deceive me!

Bert. Ah, my lord, you would deceive yourself. I swear it was Eugenia, her shadowy arms were stretched between the lifted dagger and the prostrate youth; while her swift dark eye flashed on mine with brightness insupportable: such was her dreadful look, when, with her bleeding infant clinging to her breast, she sprang into the flames, and—

Long. Hush! [the doors of an inner chamber open, and De Valmont appears conversing with Florian and Geraldine.] We are interrupted; quick! change those ruffled features into smiles, quick! mark me, wretch!

De Val. (coming forward) My boy, your preservation was indeed a miracle. Ascribe not to the vague results of chance, that which belongs to Providence alone. Ah, here is my kinsman—one, whose anxious fears on your account, have held him a sleepless watcher through the night.

Long. (with affected fervency) Florian! a thousand welcomes: the return of friends at all times is a joy, but when they come through dangers to our arms, there's transport in the meeting. Tell me—what strange tale is this I catch imperfectly from every lip? can it be possible you were assailed last night by ruffians in the wood?

Flor. Yes, my dear baron, yes! but morning has chased away night, and I am out of the wood now; therefore let us banish gloomy retrospections, and yield the present hour to bliss without alloy.

De Val. Not so: in this your friends must claim an interest dearer than your own: these men of blood shall be pursued to justice, if Alsace yet hold them.

Long. Be that my task. (to Flor.) Should you recognize their persons?

Flo. Positively no—their disguises were impenetrable.

Ger. But their voices, Florian, you heard them speak?

Flo. True, sweet Geraldine, a few broken sentences; but their accents were not framed like thine, to touch the ear but once, yet vibrate on the memory forever.

Long. Indulge my curiosity, how were you preserved?

Flo. Well, baron, since you will force me to act the hero in my own drama, thus runs my story: I was defenceless, helpless, hopeless: two sturdy knaves had mastered my struggling arms, and the dagger of a third gleamed against my throat, when suddenly a female form appeared before us; in an instant, as if by magic, the murderers relaxed their hold, shuddered, recoiled, uttered cries, and fled the spot, the female mute and motionless remained.

Bert. (aside to Longueville.) You mark.

Long. (repulsing him.) Silence!

Flo. Cowardice is ever found the mate of Cruelty: this stranger was doubtless regarded by the villains as a preternatural agent, she proved however, a mere mortal, frail and palpable as ourselves.

Bert. (listening with tremulous attention.) God! living!

Long. (not regarding Bertrand, who has drawn behind.) Whence came this woman? What was she?

Flo. Alas! the most pitiable object in nature—an unhappy maniac; she resides at the same cottage where I found shelter from the storm.

Bert. (as if electrified by a sudden thought.) Direct me, heaven!

[He glides silently out of the gallery unobserved by all.]

Long. Were not any other circumstances linked with this adventure?

Flo. None of consequence: but I suspect one of the ruffians was known to this wretched woman; her incoherent words implied that she recognized in him an ancient enemy; but her frail remains of intellect, were, for a time, quite unsettled by the terror of the scene; she fled from me to her chamber in dismay, and at daybreak I left the cottage without a second interview.

Long. Florian! it is necessary this woman should be interrogated further— (with much emotion) not a moment must be lost—dear count, excuse me for an hour, my anxiety admits not of delay. I will myself visit this cottage instantly. [Exit.

Ger. (half aside to De Valmont) Uncle, if the baron tarries beyond the hour, we must not wait for his return, recollect it is to be at noon exactly.

Flo. (overhearing.) And what at noon, dear Geraldine?

De Val. (smiling) Florian, you are destined to be our hero in peace as well as war—my niece has planned a little fete in compliment to the conquerors of Nordlingen.

Ger. Fy, uncle, Florian was not to have known of it till the moment, you have betrayed my secret, now as a due punishment for the treason, I impose upon you to appear at our fete in person.

De Val. What a demand! —I, who never—

Ger. Nay, if it be only for a minute, positively you must come among us—nay, I will not be denied.

De Val. Well, you reign a fairy sovereign for the day, and if it be your will to play the despot, your subjects, though they murmur, must obey.

Ger. (embracing him) There's my kindest uncle! thanks! Florian I warn you not to stir towards the terrace till I summon you, beware of disobedience, I have the power to punish.

Flor. And to reward also.

Ger. Ah! at least I have the inclination, it will be your own fault if ever my actions and my wishes dissociate, or Geraldine refuse a boon when Florian is the suitor. [Exit.

Flor. (looking after her) Geraldine! too kind, too lovely Geraldine, ah! sir, is she not admirable?

De Val. She has been accounted so by many in your absence. I cannot estimate her beauty, but I know her virtue; and the last fond wish left clinging to this heart is Geraldine's felicity. I shall endeavour to secure it, by uniting her in marriage with a worthy object.

Flor. Sir!—marriage did you say? Gracious heaven! Marriage!

De Val. What is it that surprizes you? I can assure you, Geraldine already has been addressed by lovers.

Flor. To doubt it were a blasphemy against perfection. Oh! Sir, it is not that—oh! no.

De Val. Wherefore, my dear Florian, so much emotion? Does the idea of Geraldine's marriage afflict you?

Flor. I am not such an ingrate—her happiness is the prayer of my soul to heaven, and I would perish to insure it.

De Val. (after a pause, during which he regards the agitated Florian with tender earnestness.) Young man, I have long since determined to address you with a brief recital of circumstances necessary to your future decisions in life. Every word of that recital must draw with it a life-drop from my heart, for I shall speak to you of the past, and recollection to me is agony. The trial we once have considered as inevitable, it is fruitless to defer. Draw yourself a seat, and afford me for a few minutes your fixt attention.

(Florian presents a chair to the Count, and then seats himself.)

De Val. Florian, you now behold me, such as I have seemed, even from your infancy—a suffering, querulous, cheerless, hopeless, broken-hearted man—one who has buried all the energies of his nature, and only preserves a few of its charities tremblingly alive. It was not with me always thus—I once possessed a mind and a body vigorously moulded, a heart for enterprize, and an arm for achievement. Grief, not time, has palsied those endowments. Born to exalted rank, and luxuriously bread, like the new-fledged eaglet rushing from his nest at once against the sun, eager, elate, and confident, I entered upon life.

Flor. Ah! that malignant clouds should obscure so bright a dawn!

De Val. My spirit panted for a career of arms—civil war then desolated France, and, at the age of twenty, I embraced the cause of my religion and my king. Fortune, prodigal of her flatteries, twined my brow with clustering laurels, and at the close of my first campaign, my sovereign's favor and the people's love already hailed me by a hero's title. Fatigued with glory—then—ah! Florian! then it was I welcom'd love!—a first, a last, an only and eternal passion! (Pauses with emotion.)

Flor. Nay, sir, desist—these recollections shake your mind too strongly.

De Val. No, no—let me proceed. I can command myself—Florian! I wooed and won an angel for my bride—my expression is not a lover's rhapsody—at this distant period, seriously I pronounce it—Eugenia approached as closely to perfection as the Creator has permitted to his creature! Such as she was, to say I loved her were imperfect phrase! my passion was enthusiasm—was idolatry! Our marriage-bed was early blessed with increase—and as my lip greeted with a father's kiss the infant, my heart bounded with a new transport towards its mother.—My felicity seemed perfect! Now, Florian, mark! My country a second time called me to her battles; I left my kinsman, Longueville, to guard the dear-ones of my soul at home, then sped to join our army in a distant province. I was wounded and made prisoner by the enemy. When I recovered health and liberty, I found a rumour of my death had in the interval prevailed through France. I trembled lest Eugenia should receive the tale, and flew in person to prevent her terrors. It was evening when I reached the hills of Languedoc, and looked impatiently towards my cheerful home beneath. I looked—the last sunbeam glared redly upon smoking ruins! Oh! oh! the blood now chills and curdles round my heart—the wolves of war had rushed by night upon my slumbering fold—fire and sword had desolated all. I called upon my wife and my infant. I trembled on their ashes while I called! (he sinks back exhausted in his chair.)

Flo. Tremendous hour! so dire a shock might well have paralized a Roman firmness.

De Val. (resuming faintly.) Florian, there is a grief that never found its image yet in words. I prayed for death—nay, madness! but heaven, for its own best purposes, denied me either boon. I was ordained still to live, and still be conscious of my misery. For many weeks I wandered through the country, silent, sullen, stupified! My people watched, but dared not comfort me. Abjuring social life, I plunged into the deepest solitudes, to shun all commerce with my kind. 'Twas at the close of a sultry day, the last of August, that I entered a forest at the foot of the Cevennes, and worn with long fatigue and misery, stretched myself upon the moss for momentary rest. On the sudden, a faint and feeble moan pierced my ear; instinctively I moved the branches at my side, and at the foot of a rude stone-cross beheld a desolate infant, unnaturally left to perish in the wilderness! It was famishing—expiring. I raised it to my breast, and its little arms twined feebly round my neck Florian! thou wert heaven's gracious instrument to reclaim a truant to his duties! Welcome! I cried to thee, young brother in adversity!—"thou art deserted by thy mortal parents, and my heavenly father has forsaken me!" From that moment I felt I had a motive left to cherish life, since my existence could be useful to a fellow-being—my wanderings finished, and I settled in Alsace. Eighteen years have followed that event; but I shall not comment on their course.

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