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the same ; love and jealousy, honour plain, simple, and well devised to the and revenge, gratitude for services reader, while the characters seem rendered, the obligations of loyalty the sport of malicious accident, and or friendship, appeals to generosity,
are lost in a maze of wonder, we which convert the foe for a time would point to the scene in the second into the friend, or make a
act of the Dama Duende-where lier encounter any risk to shield the Donna Angela_ is detected in her fame of a lady to whom he is chamber by Don Manuel, when an utter stranger. But herein lies the the secret of her visits in her goblin dramatic strength of Calderon, that
character seems about to be abruptly with characters which are little more disclosed to him, and yet where than fixed masks, and a set of themes Calderon, by an ingenious contrivance, of a very limited compass, his bound effects her escape, and leaves Don less invention enables him so to vary Manuel in deeper perplexity than be.. the incidents by which the charac. fore ;-and to the series of incidents ters are set in motion, and so to dis- in the house of Don Cæsar in Mejor criminate the shades of situations, esta que estava, where the interest of that, while the main theme may cor- the reader is constantly kept on the respond exactly in two plays, the stretch by the dangers which threaten details shall appear entirely new.
A Count Colonna, the fugitive who has fertile invention of incidents is, in- taken refuge there, and the happy and deed, characteristic of the Spanish natural turns by which they are evadstage. It was possessed in no ordi- ed. But, indeed, it is hardly possible nary degree by his predecessor Lopé. to refer to any of the Comedias de “ Among the many plays I have capa y Espada, without meeting with read,” says Lord Holland, “ I have instances of this mastery of invention, not fallen on one which does not both of serious and comic incident. strongly fix the attention; and, though In the serious class, Calderon's Casa many of his plots have been transfer- con dos puertas inala es guardar, ('Tis red to the French and English stage, ill guarding a house with two doors,) and rendered more correct and more which has only the fault of a needless probable, they have seldom or never complication of incidents, though of a been improved in the great article very ingenious kind ; Mananas de of exciting curiosity and interest." Abril y Mayo, (Mornings of April But what in Lopé we cannot help and May ;) El Encanto sin Encanto, thinking was accidental, is in Cal- (Enchantment without Magic,) a sort deron the result of the most inge- of pendant to his favourite Dama nious and artful combination. Lopé, Duende ; Los Empenos de un Acaso, while he fixes curiosity, startles, sur- (The complications of Accident,) a prises, and not unfrequently puzzles title which, indeed, might be applied us, by a maze of intrigue. Calde- to all his comedies, are conspicuous. ron, on the contrary, leads us on step Among the comic, Guardate de Agua by step, through a combination of Mansa, and La Senora y la Criada, incidents at once complicated and (Mistress and Maid,) particularly the clear ; the plot is involved in the latter, are proofs, that Calderon was most ingenious manner, so that, while not less successful in devising comic the actors themselves are in doubt, the distresses, or ludicrous mistakes, than spectator possesses the key to the whole, in the creation of those dilemmas, and enjoys their perplexities. Then, mysteries, and hairbreadth escapes, when the spectator or reader begins through which he delights to hurry to believe that the resources of the his more earnest and dignified charauthor are exhausted ; that he is fair- acters. ly driven to the wall, and that the A dull play, then, with Calderon is denouement must take place; he a phenomenon of rare occurrence-; infinds soine new loophole or means of deed, except in his merely religious escape, at once unexpected and yet pieces, when the object is rather to perfectly natural ; the mystery re- embody in a visible form some dogmains unsolved, or, as one doubt is matic doctrine of faith, or some subcleared up, another more puzzling and tile distinction of school divinity, than inextricable is found to arise. As
to present a picture of human life, models of these felicitous escapes and however conventional, it is scarcely masterpieces of a progressive dra. possible to take up any one of his matic interest, in which all appears many plays without being irresistibly
attracted by the ingenuity of the inci. identical, to give a new turn to the situadents, the clear, rapid, and at the same tions, so as to give to the second time unexpected march of the story. version of the same theme all the Even into his mythological plays, charms of an oriyinal, it is necessary or those founded on subjects of an- to remind the reader, that certain poscient history, he throws the same tulates are assumed, as of constant spirit of adventure, love, and gallantry occurrence, to which it is not very which characterise those based on mo.. easy to accommodate our notions of dern or Spanish incidents. Ulysses, the probable. Secret doors and slidin El mayor Encantò Amor, and Semi- ing passages may be allowed as necesramis, in the Hija del Ayre, differ sary and not improbable instruments little, except in name, from the ena- for furthering those intrigues and moured dukes and princesses of the strange rencontres, on which many Secreto a l'ozes, L i Vunda y la Flor, of the Spanish plays turn; and, with and Nadie fie su Secreto; they are the aid of night and darkness, we may surrounded with nearly the same web allow also that some happy escapes of difficulties, misunderstandings, col- may be made, and some confusion lisions of duty and inclination, and naturally caused by the use of the inthe same fantastic array of Graciosos variable cloak, which is worn by the and waiting-women, which form the male personages of the play ; to which, chief source of interest in the latter indeed, along with the use of the class of plays ; while the points of re- mantilla on the part of the ladies, semblance between the rhodomontades Calderon laughingly alludes as part of Judus Maccubeus, and the heroes of of the indispensable machinery of his the Puente de Montible, are obvious. plays. Calderon has, in truth, treated subjects
Es comedia de Don Pedro of mythology and ancient history
Calderon donde ha de ser much in the same way as Scuderi,
Por fuerza, amante escondido Calprenede, and Gomberville, in their
Y rebozada muger. tedious romances; that is to say, he
-No ay Burlas con el Amor. has, like the French novelists, applied, But the extent to which, in broad withont ceremony, incidents, manners, daylight, the mere use of the veil is and conventional modes of expression, supposed to disguise the person, and borrowed from the romances of chival. to occasion those equivoques which ry, to the classic times; with just this
are necessary for the complication difference, that the French romances of the plot, we must fairly confess (the popularity of which is one of goes far beyond the concessions which the strangest phenomena in the history we think a dramatic poet is entitled to of literature) are unredeeined by any demand. Fathers are represented, ray of talent, while Calderon, by the notwithstanding the resemblance of magic of an exhaustless inveption, height, figure, &c., as unable to detect by the happy traits of comprehensive their own daughters, with whom they reflection and krowledge of human have just been talking balf an hour nature, which, without any elaborate before, (Peor esta que estava, Act I. ;) display, are scattered over even his brothers their sisters, lovers their misworst pieces, and by the glow and fire tresses, (Mejor esta que estava, Act of an imagination pouring forth III.)--and on this very simple, but we imagery almost spontaneously, and must be allowed to think not very proarraying its images in a rich attire of bable nodus, is suspended the denouepoetical and musical expression, im- ment of nearly one-half of Calderon's parts a species of unity and amalga- Comedias de Capa y Espada. At the mation even to these apparently conflic- same time, let us add, that nothing can ting elements ;-and, at all events, be more conspicuous than the skill with stamps the undoubted character of ge- which Calderon contrives, in such cases, nius upon many scattered scenes and to avoid the additional improbability passages of plays, which upon the which would arise if the disguised hewhole are little in harmony with a roines were allowed to speak : he cultivated taste.
contrives, with uncommon art, to fill V. Yet, in recognising Calderon's up the dialogue in such a way, as to astonishiog invention of incident, and allow them to remain entirely silent, that prodigious variety which enables aud ultimately to withdraw them from him, under circumstances which in the scene without subjeeting them to their general complexion are nearly any such ordeal; as he probably felt
that this would have been generally grievously against good feeling in considered a demand upon the cre- some of his plays, while Beaumont dulity of the spectator too violent to and Fletcher, Massinger, Ben Jonbe admitted-except, perhaps, in an son, and Shirley, set all decency, English farce or a French vaudeville.
so far as regards expression, at deAfter all, however, nothing on the fiance: and while Dryden, Shadwell, Spanish stage exceeds, if indeed it Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Etherege, approaches, in point of improbability, carry the license which their prethe equivoques and mistakes which decessors had applied to expresare attributed by Dryden and his sion into the whole body of the followers, of the close of the seven- drama itself, and represent society as teenth and commencement of the little better than a mass of intrigue, eighteenth century, to the use of unchastity, and brutality, in which masks in England. That this estab- the coarseness of the language is but lished piece of stage mechanism must the reflection of the general corruphave had its origin in the facilities tion of heart from which it flows; the which masks actually afforded to li- plays of Calderon scarcely contain an centious gallantry, and the occasional indecent allusion, and never a single escapes which they had facilitated, we scene of that licentious character which suppose admits of no doubt; but there deforms almost every play of Beaucan be just as little, that the effects mont and Fletcher, or Dryden. We attributed to them, as in the case of may revolt against the morality of the the Spanish basquiña and mantilla, Spanish stage, from the false notions are altogether disproportioned to the of honour which it inculcates, the cause. Nothing but wilful blindness, boundless toleration for sanguinary. perhaps, could, in either case, account revenge which it sanctions, the dangefor the result; but certainly a Mar- rous, nay, even detestable maxims riage in a Mask, which is a result not which it encourages, in regard to the uncommon in Shadwell, and we rather omnipotence of simple belief in matthink, though we have not time to ters of religion, though combined with verify the fact, in Dryden, is a pitch of the darkest crimes; but at least it improbability surpassing any of the contains nothing to inflame the pasdramatic postulates of the Spanish sions, and nothing to revolt the moral stage.
feeling in point of decency. Even het VI. And here, also, while referring the Graciosos, while indulging in the to our English comedies of the Spanish most reckless saturnalia of merriment, school, let us notice, to the honour of and laughing throughout (at the exthe Spanish stage, the infinite superi- pense of frequent drubbings) at the ority in point of decency and morality failings, misfortunes, or perplexities which the plays, both of Lopé and of their masters, cautiously abstain Calderon, (even those in which gallan- from those coarse equivoques, or sometry plays the most conspicuous part) times very unequivocal ribaldries, by possess over the whole of our English which even Shakspeare's clowns and comedies, from Shakspeare down- servants found it necessary to enliven ward. That the Spanish national the scene, and bespeak the favour of character was better than the Eng- the populace at the Globe or Blacklish in point of morality, we do not friars, and which seem to have bebelieve; if the Spaniards were more come the staple of the piece in the temperate in some respects, they time of Dryden. The same contrast were more passionate and unserupu- of a surface dramatic morality, with lous in others; the obligations of chas- great internal laxity of morals in real tity, the sanctity of the marriage tie, life, it may be observed, is afforded by were not merely more rigidly enfor- the French stage ; which, next to ced in England by public opinion, the Spanish, was (until lately) the but appear to have been more in har- most moral in Europe in point of exmony with our inborn northern no- pression, a phenomenon which certicns, which treated the female sex not tainly verifies to some extent the obwith a delusive gallantry, but a real servation of Voltaire, La pudeur s'est respect, and acknowledged in woman éffugiée des cæurs pour se refugier the " sanctum aliquid et providum," sur les lèvres ; and which seems to inwhich their Gothic ancestors recog- dicate a much earlier progress in civinised as their peculiar appanage. lisation and outward refinement in And yet, while even Shakspeare sins those nations, than Britain could
boast of either in the days of Eliza- Secreta Venganza, (Act I.,) the sonnet beth or of Charles II.
in which Leonora appears to be conveyVII. The whole diction of Calderon ing to her husband the assurances of the is as different from that of Shakspeare, tenderest affection, is so ingeniously as is the relative importance they attach constructed, as at the same time to conto character and incident. In Shak vey to her former lover, who stands disspeare there is abundance of imagery, guised as a merchant in the backbut it is the imagery which passion ground, a pretty decisive intimation not only tolerates but creates, spring, that she has not forgotten her early ing out of the predominant feeling, passion. The masterpiece, however, and appearing as its natural language. of this species of contrivance, is perhaps In Calderon, on the contrary, it is im- El Secreto a Vozes, where two lovers possible not to feel that the long communicate with each other aloud in descriptions, the accumulation of in- the presence of jealous rivals by means genious comparisons and analogies, of a cipher, which consists in selectthe point and subtlety of the thoughts ing the first word of every line as and reasonings, the careful musical conveying the meaning, the rest being arrangement of the verses, the undis- mere remplissage to deceive the byguised lyrical passages, such as glosses, standers. sonnets, &c., which are of perpetual oc- These subtile discussions, which apcurrence, all show that the natural pear to have been great favourites on results of strong feeling have been the Spanish stage, as well as the long subjected to a process of reflection in descriptive narratives, of which one the poet's mind; that the thoughts or two seem to have been considered have been turned in every point of as indispensable in every Spanish view ; that all the aids of fancy and play, and on which the actors invarilearning have been called in to deck ably bestowed their most elaborate them out in a more ornate form than and finished efforts of declamation, nature would ever have dictated. can only be accounted for, first, The only play of Shakspeare which from the avowed and understood prinhas any analogy in its diction to ciple of composition to which we those of Calderon, is the early one have alluded—namely, that the lanof Love's Labour Lost, which, in its guage was not supposed to represent sublimity and point, reminds us occa- the immediate effusions of passion, but sionally of those dialectic passages rather the finished and refined results in which Calderon discusses specu- of judgment, reflection, and fancy, exlative questions of love; as for in- erted upon the natural dictates of the stance, “What is the greatest pain in feelings; and secondly, because they loving ?” a theme which is debated formed points of repose amidst the with much ingenuity and grace, in the incessant hurry and bustle of a comfirst act of El Secreto a Vozes, (The plicated action, and allowed the poet Secret told Aloud,) and again with per- to recapitulate, and to show the confect novelty in Act I. of Hombre Pobre nexion of incidents which, in the rapid Todo es Trazas-or, “ Which is the movement of the piece, might have most difficult-to feign or to conceal?” escaped the notice even of the praca question which is handled in the tised Spaniard, skilful as he is said to same ingeniously sophistical spirit by be in following the most involved Ulysses and his companions, in Act thread of intrigue, and finding order II. of El mayor Encantò Amor, (Love and sequence where a foreigner perthe greatest of Enchantments.) ceives nothing but confusion. In these discussions in the style
Yet fertile and inventive as we ad. of courts of love, Calderon certain- mit Calderon's fancy to be, we cannot ly manifests extraordinary resour- give him credit for that variety of
There is one, for instance, of imagery which is ascribed to him by singular beauty, on the respective Schlegel. On the contrary, though merits of blue and green, in the from the vast mass of his works a Vanda y la Flor, (the Scarf and the rich collection of images and compaFlower.) He occasionally places risons, which are at once approprihis characters too in such situations, ate and novel, might be selected, we that, while apparently conveying one
have seldom met with
distinmeaning to one individual, another of guished poet who repeats the same a very different kind is conveyed to image, in nearly the same words, so another. Thus, in A Secreto Agravio often or with so little ceremony as
Calderon. Indeed, nothing but the which an ingenious comparison, and
Like the aspic,
Bien como el aspid,
Tambien la triaca sale.
Una vibora, no tiene
La ponzoña y la triaca ? And a third and fourth time in No hay burlas con el Amor, and Las Armas de • la Hermosura.
Donna ANGELA, in the Dama Duende, Act. III,
my form two different lights, &c.
lo muerto informa
Dos luces que en mi teneis, &c.
Don MANUEL, Dama Duende, Act II.
My ills are hydras, since they still contrive
Al renacer de sus ceñizas frias.
And again, with a slight variation of the idea, they are like the Phoenix, because when one dies another springs from its ashes.
-La Vida es Sueno, Act I.