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than the natural affection which the young, the beautiful, and the gay, of both sexes-for such were among his visitors-must feel for a gentleman turned of eighty years, whose suavity and good breeding were not quite so remarkable as the frankness with which he expressed his opinions. If it were otherwise-if we thought the persons to whom we allude were actuated by any but the most amiable motives-we should rejoice that the will of Mr. Nollekens has disappointed their expectations.
Having attained the advanced age of 86, Mr. Nollekens died on the 23d of April, in the present year. Mr. Douce, an antiquary, and one of the commentators on Shakspeare, takes a large portion of his great wealth (greater than ever artist had before) as residuary legatee.
Of his merit as an artist little is to be said. It never soared above mediocrity, and is characterized by that stiffness and old-fashioned style which distinguish the best productions of the age of Louis XIV. If the ancients are models of excellence, and if modern sculpture is good in proportion as it approaches them, then Mr. Nollekeus' productions (not excepting his Venus and the Sandal, which is said to have cost him twenty years' labour) are very far from excellence; and we have little doubt that his reputation as a sculptor must entirely depend upon his busts, where to the importance of the original a large share of the interest must always be attributed.
ALVA: A TRADEGY IN FIVE ACTS.
THIS tragedy is evidently the production of a man having a very slender acquaintance with the rules of composition; and yet it possesses some poetical merit, and is remarkable for a simplicity, as well of fable as of style, which is by no means common. The Duke of Alva, who gives name to the tragedy, has been outrivalled in the king's favour by the Duke de Guzman, and is entirely occupied by his desire for vengeance on that nobleman and all his race. He has an only daughter, whom he has promised to a youth named Pedro, upon the condition that he shall aid his revenge-a condition which Pedro very willingly embraces, on account of some supposed wrong which Guzman has done his late father, and the memory of which Alva keeps up; he hates his name.
The opening scene, in which Alva's thirst for vengeance is described, is a favorable specimen of the author' style:
Saltina. Has not the lapse of nine successive years
To gain its object, oft has coolly looked,
Nay, turn'd disgustful from the dear lov'd youth,
In half that counted space. Our friends drop off
In quick succession, and we shed a tear
Then wipe our eyes, and smile on some new face
Mark'd this now worn visage. Have Le'er been
You will not damp the fire, but let it burn;
Whose frowns have blighted all my soul's best prospects.
Alva. Did the heavens
Open their gates of light, and to my soul
Display their brightest glories, I'd resign them
My footsteps to the grave; and then shall Guzman,
Of Guzman in his son: fame speaks of him
Of common men. Each purpose of the father
Has no hope but him to bear it down
Guzman's son has saved the life of Castiana, the daughter of Alva, and become enamoured of her he meets her in secret, but is discovered by the father, who resolves to make his passion the means of his destruction. As Guzman retires from his mistress, he sees a man attacked by two bravoes, whom he rescues, and changes swords with him as a pledge of friendship. Alva, pursuing his vengeance, makes Castiana write a letter, by which Guzman is lured to her father's house. Alva, having spirited Pedro up to the murder, enters while the lovers are together, and the following scene ensues:
'Tis pity so fair a form should ever die ;-
With the bright honours that his hand tore from me.
My son, let us embrace. Girl, give me thy hand-
Castiana. Oh, father! Spare me-spare me !
Look up, open again thy lovely eyes
'Tis Guzman presses thee to his fond heart.
Alva. Bear her to yon couch;
Her flurried spirits will subside to peace,
And life revolve to its forsaken spring.
(Guzman bears her off in his arms—retires through folding doors.)
Now all my hopes are brightened to a flame!
This moment all shall end. (Stamping).
Enter Pedro, disguised as a priest.
There-there's the spoiler !
Pedro. This this shall give thee all thy hopes at once,
And pay the ruffian for his entrance here.
(Draws a dagger, and runs towards the chamber as if listening, and returns,}
No, no ;-I cannot act the murd❜rer's part
The cool hired bravo-my inmost soul shrinks at it.
Alva (preventing him.) Hist! You're mad,
(Draws a curtain from before a large picture.)
Pedro. Oh, Nature, why within the breast of man
For now no beam of joy can light my soul,
But thro' the gap his death will leave in nature. (Rushes off. )
Pedro discovers that he has murdered the man who had saved his life; Castiana goes distracted, and dies; and, in a fierce altercation, Pedro stabs Alva, and is himself delivered up to justice.
The author could not have given a greater proof of his inexperience than in attempting to write a tragedy-the very highest achievement of human intellect. He unquestionably possesses talents, and in some other style of composition would, we think, not fail to succeed; but in the present instance he has essayed an eagle's flight upon the pinions of a wren.
WE opened this volume with a strong predilection in its favour: its title, the imitation of Rochefoucault, at which it confesses to have aimed, led us to suppose that it would have considerable claims to our notice; but really we have been egregiously deceived, and for the ten thousandth time we made a vow never again to believe in a name. The preface is the only part of the volume which appears to be the writing of a sensible man; and even here, while he shows that he is well enough aware in what style the species of composition which he affects ought to be executed, he proves, beyond question, that it is out of his reach. He says:
"There is only one point in which I dare even allude to a comparison with Rochefoucault-I have had no theory to maintain; and have endeavoured to set down each thought as it occurred to me, without bias or prejudice of any sort.'
Now this is a piece of insincerity, which it is less easy to pardon than the weakness with which the work is written. Are we to be told now-a-day that Rochefoucault had no theory to maintain? That the author of the Characteristics has none we are very willing to believe.
It is extremely difficult to select from such a bundle of crudities as lies before us. The best things are common-place, and the worst are insignificant. We wonder at the folly of any man who could write such stuff. We wonder still more at the temerity of publishers who thought the world would read it.
It is impossible to imagine any thing more false or childish than some of the Characteristics, or more common-place than others. For example :
6 Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope; and few are reduced so low as that.' This certainly never was said before. In the next:
'Death is the greatest evil; because it cuts off hope,'
There is an obvious falsehood. It may be true as applies to infidels, to deists, or to atheists, but is it true of mankind in general ? Let the universe reply : whether creeds be right or wrong, at least hope, the hope of a future existence, is exactly that thing, and that alone, which death cannot destroy.
But we should lose time if we were to select instances for the purpose of showing their falsehood. Let our readers take them in a lump, good and bad, for as much as they are worth:
'It makes us proud when our love of a mistress is returned: it ought to make us prouder that we can love her for herself alone, without the aid of any such selfish reflection. This is the religion of love.'
An English officer who had been engaged in an intrigue in Italy, going home one night, stumbled over a man fast asleep on the stairs. It was a bravo who had been hired to assassinate him. Such, in this man, was the force of conscience!'
'An eminent artist having succeeded in a picture which drew crowds to admire it, received a letter from a shuffling old relation in these terms, "Dear Cousin, now you may draw good bills with a vengeance." Such is the force of habit! This man only wished to be Raphael that he might carry on his old trade of drawing bills.'
'Mankind are a herd of knaves and fools. It is necessary to join the crowd, or get out of their way, in order not to be trampled to death by them.'
Among other proofs of good sense which the author gives is the contemptible opinion he entertains of women:
A coxcomb is generally a favorite with women. To a certain point his self-complacency is agreeable in itself; and beyond that, even if it grows fulsome, it only piques their vanity the more to make a conquest of his. He becomes a sort of rival to them in his own good opinion, so that his conceit has all the effect of jealousy in irritating their desire to withdraw his admiration from himself.'
6 Nothing is more successful with women than that sort of condescending patronage of the sex, which goes by the name of general gallantry. It has the double advantage of imposing on their weakness and flattering their pride. By being indiscriminate, it tantalizes and keeps them in suspense; and by making a profession of an extreme deference for the sex in general, naturally suggests the reflection, what a delightful thing it must be to gain the exclusive regard of a man who has so high an opinion of what is due to the female character! It is possible for a man, by talking continually of what is feminine or unfeminine, vulgar or genteel, by saying how shocking such an article of dress is, or that no lady ought to touch a particular kind of food, fairly to starve or strip a whole circle of simpletons half-naked, by mere dint of impertinence, and an air of common-place assurance. How interesting to be acquainted with a man whose every thought turns upon the sex! How charming to make a conquest of one who sets up for a consummate judge of female perfections!'
There is some naiveté in the following:
Livery-servants (I confess it) are the only people I do not like to sit in company with. They offend not only by their own meanness, but by the ostentatious display of the pride of their masters.'
Now we confess there are a great many persons besides livery-servants with whom we should not like to sit in company, upon the same principle that we do not like to haunt dirty places, or touch reptiles.