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daughter is drawn with firm, lifelike, and natural linéaments. The portrait of James, though unquestionably graphic enough, is overcharged. The colouring of falsehood, meanness, treachery, and cowardice, is laid on too thickly. We wonder that Mr White did not perceive, that the character is in itself so essentially repulsive, that its traits required rather to be softened and shaded away than brought forward into prominent relief. These ungainly outlines would have answered admirably had Mr White's object been to produce à Comedy, or to connect the Scottish monarch with a charm of ludicrous distresses and equivokes, as Sir Walter Scott has done in the Fortunes of Nigel; but in a Drama dealing with conspiracy and death, the too elaborate exhibition of pure meannesses of character, unredeemed even by any of the more imposing vices, becomes simply wearisome and revolting.
The best drama character of the play, however, is the old Countess of Gowrie. There is something really grand and impressive in this picture of the gloomy lady, brooding over a murdered husband, and a banished family, amidst the solitudes of Athol; breeding up her son to vengeance on his royal oppressor; on the eve, as she thinks, by means of a fortunate chance, of obtaining her long-cherished revenge, but doomed to see that hope blasted through an idle scruple of honour on the part of her son, and compelled to stand by, a helpless and horror-struck spectator, while her ancient house is involved in the whirlwind of a mysterious and sweeping ruin.
The following passage from a scene between Beatrix Ruthven, the sister of Gowrie, and Catherine Logan, the object of his attachment, will prove that if Mr White does not generally indulge in the vein of contemplative and descriptive poetry, it is not from any incapacity to deal with such themes. Catherine is describing to her friend her solitary life in her father's rocky fastness at Fast Castle:
Ah! Beatrix, though from my window latticé,
And shakes the glory of his golden hair
On the other side of the world, where morning light
Of old primeval forests, fill'd with birds
Bright pinion'd, and wild lions, and strange sounds;
And see no real, breathing, moving life,
You are a dreamy girl! 'Twill do you good
Indeed? What did you do the livelong day?
We walk'd beside the sea; we clomb the hill;
We sat at night upon the bartizan,
And watch'd the twinkling stars above our heads,
And listen'd to John's voice-I mean Lord Gowrie's
That fell so musical beneath the sky,
It seem'd as if it were strange melody
Drawn from the golden spheres.. Ah me! 'twas sweet.
Leaning o'er marble balconies at night,
His sword, and-oh! I cannot tell the rest!
And did you weep when Gowrie told the tale?
Oh! sweetly; for, dear friend, the tears we shed
Oh! it was worth all tears that I could shed,
Sweet Kate! I love you like a sister.'
Our next extract is in a different strain; and will exhibit in a favourable light the variety of Mr White's powers, and the vigorous dramatic diction which he can employ. James, in search of the hoped for treasure, ventured into Gowrie's house. He has seated himself on a bench in the hall, and is already in imagination gloating over the promised gold.
"(The great door of the hall is opened; armed men enter and arrange themselves on each side.)
[Enter COUNTess Gowrie.
JAMES (alarmed and trying to conceal his fear.)
Cousin, we are your loving guest to-day,
And give you here our royal hand to kiss.
Once more, and all these fleshless arms shall rise
To hold the dagger to your heart. Sir! know you Who stands before you? Name that name no more. It once was mine, e'er sorrow and deep wrong Unwoman'd me, and made me what I am.
Fair cousin, pray you harbour not such thoughts. I'm your true loving kinsman; your kind king.
You are a kinsman, but no loving one;
It was the law, fair cousin; 'twas the law;
He would not look so: he would talk more kindly,-
And ope your lips, damp from your crimson grave, And give him fitter welcome to your hall
Than my poor voice can utter !
Pray you, madam,
Look not so wildly; there is nothing there;
COUNTESS. (To the Guard.)
Nor feel a blush upon your craven cheek? 'Twas here his heel was planted.
That such a deed was mine! Arran is dead,
I pray you let me go to Restalrig,
He'll think I'm long of coming.
Let him think.
You go not hence. Twill be my life-long joy
Ha! no, it cannot be.
To keep me 'gainst my
You think not, madam,
Your mother, sir,
Found careful nurse in stout old Margaret Douglas,
I thought not this. I came but as a friend
It was not you that came, 'twas Heaven that sent you,'Twas Scotland's guardian angel moved you here;
For from these rugged walls-or ruggeder—
You budge not;-Oh! your time were wondrous short In prison bonds, if I had power as will!
For heaven's sake! madam. Oh! for mercy's sake,
It was a jest-Oh! tell me 'twas a jest!
You mean not to detain me.
I have told you,
If I might shape my actions to my wish,