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branch of our Review to such productions of the drama as have not been submitted to a public audience, from a deficiency of interest with the managers.
He that begins to write a tragedy, should recollect (not so much for the purpose of damping ardour as of checking presumptuousness) that he is about to attempt a species of composition which holds a rank next to an epic poem. On the requisites for success we need not dwell for the infor. mation of the generality of our readers; but it may be worth while just to tell Mr. Monney, for his guidance in any future ambitious project, that one of those requisites is, that the author should be able to write English: we could have passed by perhaps without remark the disregard of some of the niceties and delicacies of grammar, but who can forgive the writer of a tragedy, who pens such lines as the following, in which the most ordinary rules of concordance are set at defiance. '
“ You, brave Osinus, who commands the posts.” (p. 48.) “ Rose from th' smiles of charming Cartismandua
I'll not sink by frowns from proud Venutius.” (p. 48.) “ What means you ? surely brave Vellocatus
You cannot mean offencement to my sex ?" (p. 78.) “ His bold heart chill'd and freez'd him into death.” (p. 96.) “ But now the difference of our fates stand thus.” (p. 110.) “ 'Twas him ; yes, I certainly did see him.” (p. 112.)
We might make the list three, or, for aught we know, thirty times as long, were we not tired of noting these blun. ders. We observed many errors of the same kind in the ins troductory forty or fifty pages; but we concluded at first that they were to be attributed to the carelessness of the compositor, and not, as it turned out, to the ignorance of the author. If we thought him capable of any improvement, we would take the liberty of recommending to bim the perusal of Dr. Lowth's or Lindley Murray's English grammars; or if these works be too far advanced for bis present state of knowledge, he may begin with a little book well known in nurseries, under the title of Reading made Easy.
Is it not more than ludicrous for such a man to attempt to produce a tragedy? Yet this is not all; for the author in the title-page, lets us know besides, that he has préfixed " Remarks upon English Dramatic Tragedy," " a Blankcerse Gamut," and " Strictures on Thealrical Committees, Managers, and Players.” A word or two upon each of
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these pre-eminent specimens of ignorance and incompetence. The first consists of some very important discoveries regarding the unities of time, place, and action, which, by some accident, he has heard were generally observed by the Greeks and Romans, and which, by some other accident, he has learnt were disregarded by Shakspeare: for several pages he flounders about among the unities, by turns confounding one with the other, (which, indeed, is the only real novelty he has succeeded in bringing forward,) and at last, for any thing we can perceive, arrives at no conclusion, excepting that there are such things as unities, which he does not understand : certainly his tragedy is a further illustration of this fact. The Strictures on Theatrical Committees, &c. as may be guessed, is only a little ebullition of bile against those persons who dared to think, as we do, that Mr. Monney's tragedy of Caractacus is the most errant stuff that ever insulted the public eye. He complains, that only a formal note was sent, stating, “ that it probably would not succeed in representation," without any reasons assigned: a man who could exhibit such a performance, and possess the ignorant presumption to send it to men even of the most vulgar acquirements for acceptance, would be incapable of comprehending any reasons why it was unfit to be acted. Mr. Monney recommends, that in future these works should be judged by dramatic authors of approved ability, and not left to the decision of individuals unconnected with literature. This is another absurdity, for the admitted objection at present is, that productions for the stage are accepted or rejected upon the opinion of rival authors.
But we now come to the most splendid absurdity of all, on which the author plumes himself not a little : one of our celebrated moralists says, that “ the presumptuousness of learning is humility itself to the presumptuousness of ignorance.” Mr. Monney is wonderfully vain of his blank-cerse gamut, as he calls it, and as this is a point on which he affects to be scientific, both in the name and the manner in which he applies it, he shall not complain that he is misre. presented : we cannot be more severe upon him than to quote his own words :
“ The next principle to be considered will be, the English Dramatic Blank Verse Gamut, the knowledge and use of which are indispensibly necessary for the assistance of a young poet and orator, as is that of music to a beginner in the knowledge of that science.
" The Iambic, or blank verse (the latter appellation should be preferred, at least in the English acceptation of it), that is, without rhyme, and which, if correctly written, should contain only ten syllables in each line, or be reduced to that number by contraction; and, in so contracting it, care should be taken that the vowel dropped from the word contracted be such as will least disturb the barmony of the line; however, blank verse resembles, in some degree, the lambic; for, in the proper pronunciation of it, the first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth syllables should be articulated in a lower and rather quicker tone of voice than the second, fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth: again, a stronger articulation on the second and eighth syllables in each line will be required thau on the fourth, sixth, and tenth; these rules, properly attended to by poet or player, will produce that bold, musical, and expressive effect which blank verse is generally used to convey; and in the absence of the observance of them, it will frequently be found that the harmony of the line will be injured, as well as the sense of it disordered.
" It occasionally happens, that, in dramatic writings, the last line in a speech breaks off short of the proper number of syllables; and, in that case, the commencing line of the next should be composed of exactly such number of syllables as, together, would make up a whole line; aud if written or spoken with care, and properly managed by poet or player, it will often be found susceptible of giving great effect and energy to the dialogue.
“The foregoing gamut, however, must be regarded rather as of use to assist or correct the works of young poets, than to govern them in the freedom of conception or writing; and when poets may have written out of proper measure, or neglected to harmonize it, the reader and the player inust be allowed to exercise their own talents in the best way they may be able, to assist and convey the sense of such line, so written, in the most convenient manner to themselves, and so as to aid the harmony of the expression of it.
“ The adoption of the use of this gamut will, for a short time, be found by the pupil stiff and difficult, as indeed are the rudiments, in some degree, of all the sciences; but a short perseverance in its lise will soon convince him of its utility.” (p. 17–19.)
The ridiculousness of this attempt at systematizing would be very amusing, if it were not mixed up with a feeling of com passion at the miserable state of delusion in which the author seems wrapped as to bis own abilities; and we should think that we were performing a very uncharitable office in thus pointing out his incompetence, had we any notion that what we say could make the least impression upon him: our observations may be vinegar, but they are encountered by the oil of his self-complacency, which allows no admixture of diffidence; we only wonder that he admits, that his new invention is not “ to govern” young poets “ in freedom of conception.” The whole is so laughable, that we need waste no more time upon it: we shall see presently how Mr. Monney applies these admirable rules to produce " that bold, musical, and expressive effect which blank verse is generally used to convey;" and he has a right to expect, that, in order to establish the assertions we have made, we should give some extracts from this rare and unequalled effort of his muse.
The story of Caractacus is known to every body, as well from history, as from Mason's beautiful and regular tragedy upon the Greek model; but Mr. Monney, who starts as a rival, not only of Mason, but of Shakespeare, defies all rules, and, by his tragedy, gives a solution of the doubt we before expressed; for not only one, but all the unities of time, place, and action, are disregarded as the fetters of a soaring genius. Some of his Dramatis Persona are, however, new and amusing; such as two Druids and a Druidess, called Presageus, Mirabundus, and Presaguria. It ought also to be mentioned, before we begin our specimens, that our readers must not expect any uniformity in the pronun. ciation or quantities of the names; thus, Galgacus is as often pronounced Galgācus as Galgăcus, &c.: Cartisman. dua, the Queen of the Brigantes, is a name in which Mr. Monney delights, because, like him, it seems to set at nought all rythmical proportion. Our readers will bear in mind, also, Mr. Monney's blank-verse gamut, and mark the great use he has made of it in communicating har. mony and correctness to his lines-such harmony and correctness as never before were witnessed.
The tragedy opens with a druidical dialogue on the subject of a human sacrifice to be made for a victory gained by Caractacus over the Romans. Presageus and Mirabundus teem with omens and wonders as well as the lady Druid, Presaguria. This serves to introduce a love scene between Galgacus, a British warrior, and Junia; but first some fine lines pass between Junia and her confidante.
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« Enter JUNIA and CORDICA.
“ Cor. Her Majesty requir'd I'd tell you, yes;
" Jun. I shall attend; say su to my mother;
But, by that prince, I no command receivid
« Jun. Thanks for the trouble you have taken, Prince,
“Gal. I gladly shall convey your dut'ous answer.
“ Jun. In doing so I shall be much oblig'd,
« Gal. Oh, lovely Princess, one sweet look of love,
“Jun. Oh, fie, Galgacus; th' soldier's better theme
" Gal. Alas! dear Princess, sweetest, lovely maid,
“ Jun. You know, Galgacus, 'tis my father's will
“ Gal. Can I behold you, and not speak of love?
And crave a feeling in your tender heart.