« PreviousContinue »
the play. But this inconsistency is greatly lessened by rendering the character of the wife, if not glaringly culpable, yet one on which, in the eye of the public, an imputation might be more plausibly fastened. It is difficult to cite passages from M. Delavigne's play to justify our commendations—but this is as it should be. The merit of a drama should consist less in description than in action, less in such passages as may be easily detached, than in the gradual developement of character, and the arrangement and connexion of all its parts. We are therefore saying nothing in disparagement of M. Delavigne's play, when we state that it contains few isolated
transcendent merit. We will, however, make one quotation. It shall not be any single speech, or specimen of description, but a scene which is very unlike any thing we had ever before met with in a French tragedy. Faliero is expecting the announcement of the sentence which the Council had pronounced on Steno.
(Fernando s'assied près d'une table.)
Ma main se glace.
Qu'ai je dit aux Génois ?
Fernando, à son oncle.
Passe, je sais son crime.
Pour ce lâche attentat !
Fernando à son oncle, que s'approche à la table.
Quoi, d'approuver l'injure?
(La plume tombe de ses mains.)
L'arrêt n'est pas signé.
Sortez donc. Here little is said,—but every word is the faithful, though involuntary, interpreter of the feeling which accompanies it. There may be more showy brilliancy in eloquent harangues and poetical descriptions; but it is in the brief and characteristic touches of a scene like this, that the essential requisites of dramatic composition are to be found. If M. Delavigne and his fellow-dramatists (of whom MM. Dumas, Victor Hugo, and De Vigny seem most worthy of commendation) will write always in this spirit, they may obtain for French dramatic literature a reputation more extensive and endurinn
has been gained even by Racine and Corneille.
ART. XII.-The Life of Major-General Sir Thomas Munro, Bart.
and K.C.B., late Governor of Madras, with Extracts from his Correspondence and Private Papers. By the Rev. G. R. GLEIG, M.A. M.R.S.L. 2 vols. 8vo. London. 1830.
ilton's imagination has bodied forth’ few more striking
scenes than the splendid panorama of great and glorious • Rome, with towers and temples proudly elevate.' Amidst the conflux issuing forth or entering in-Prætors, Proconsuls, to their * provinces hasting, or in return,' and the embassies in various • habits on the Appian Road, or on the Emilian'—the most prominent figures are those
• From India and the golden Chersonese,
Dusk faces, with white silken turbans wreath’d.' Julius Caesar would be scarcely more surprised than the poet of the Commonwealth, at learning that we barbarian Britons, in our utmost western isle, could now show something of a pendant to this imperial picture. It is true that the brick and sky of London do not afford matter for the same gorgeous description. But our architectural deficiency might be well made up by the philosophical poet, who would so far moralize his song as rightly to contemplate and compare the Tiber and the Thames, and unveil the thousand wonders of human art and enterprise which are contained, first or last, in the vulgar spectacle of an East Indiaman setting sail with her freight of Writers and Cadets.
Take a map and a pair of compasses-our Indian empire is astonishing enough. But the more we reflect on the strangeness of the connexion in all its circumstances, there will be found nothing similar to it in history, and nothing more improbable in romance. The great anomaly is the empire itself. Among all its incidents, however, none is more anomalous than that its administration should have been exclusively carried on by successive supplies of civil and military Mamelukes, recruited from year to year into their master caste, out of our schools at home. Burke's statement is in great measure true at the present day. These servants have almost universally been sent out to begin their
progress and career in active occupation, and in the exercise of • high authority, at that period of life which, in all other places, • has been employed in the course of a rigid education. To put
the matter in a few words, they are transferred from slippery 'youth to perilous independence, from perilous independence to • inordinate expectations, from inordinate expectations to bound• less power. Schoolboys without tutors, minors without guar
dians, the world is let loose upon them with all its temptations ; . and they are let loose upon the world with all the powers that • despotism involves. Under such a system, insufficiencies of all kinds, moral and intellectual, must have of necessity all along existed, and do still exist. It is a wonderful proof of the forming power of circumstances, that the patronage of such boy-appointments should not have impeded the machine to an infinitely greater extent than was ever surmised even by Burke himself in the worst of times. The very pressure of a responsibility so tremendous forces out of the character whatever latent power it may possess. Nor is it only extraordinary that the downright and declared failures should be so few. It bas been the singular good fortune of the Company, that men of uncommon merit have from time to time risen up under this reign of accident and favour. Among their own servants, thus educated by India for Indian objects, three characters stand out as far more eminent than the rest. There was a Clive to lay deep the foundation of their empire; a Warren Hastings to build it up with equal intelligence and spirit. In another part of the Peninsula, and in our own days, arose Munro,-a man evidently in himself equal to every exigence, and wanting only opportunities to have left a name as celebrated as that of either predecessor. He toiled slowly up from obscurity to distinction, and earned, letter by letter, every syllable of that glowing praise, which was not the less cherished for coming late ;-coming, as it did, publicly, and in his country's name, from one who had a kindred sympathy with genius. • Europe never produced a more accomplished statesman, nor • India, so fertile in heroes, a more skilful soldier.' *
The origin and progress of our Indian empire may some day become an object of national interest. It is satisfactory to know that, in that event, the most important period of its history may be studied in the writings of the two principal actors in those singular transactions. The same materials will exhibit a biographical representation of these eminent individuals, drawn in the only way in which it can be worth having,-naturally and unconsciously, by themselves. We should like to hold Sir John Malcolm to a sort of promise given in the Preface to his Political History of India. After mentioning that all the papers, public and private, of Lord Clive, had been unreservedly confided
* Canning's Speech on the Mahratta War. In a private letter, Munro thus notices another speech by Mr Canning, at the dinner given on his going out to Madras : It is worth while to be a governor, to be spoken of in such a manner, by such a man.'
to him by Lord Powis, he adds, 'a separate work may probably • be formed from this interesting collection, which will throw
equal light upon the history of our rise to political power in • India, and the character of that great man who may be called 'its founder. If, on his return to Europe, this active officer would set apart a portion of his well-earned leisure to the execution of this work, it is nearly the greatest favour he could add to those which he has already bestowed upon Indian history. Few men have a stronger personal interest than himself, in making our Oriental annals accessible, and, if possible, popular, at home. Warren Hastings also left behind him an ample store of documents. The task of turning them into Memoirs is fortunately in the hands of the very person, who is, above all others, best qualified by hereditary attachment, and accurate knowledge, for the successful discharge of so difficult a trust. Sir Thomas Munro, although, in point of date and sphere, the last and least of this remarkable triumvirate, has found his biographer the first. The collection of the correspondence and confidential papers, which form the peculiar attraction of this species of literaiure, was the work principally of Mr Ravenshaw. The selection of that portion of them which is communicated in these volumes, devolved, with the responsible editorship, upon Mr Gleig. Munro wrote with as much facility as beauty. Fortunately there are still preserved more of his original letters from an early period than it has been thought advisable to introduce at present. Foro tunately, also, the editor is already in the enjoyment of a literary reputation sufficiently well established, to allow of his passing over the opportunity of self-display which the office of editor affords. Munro is left, therefore, in possession of his own pulpit. No cold narrative is set before us in the place of that animated story which the son and brother had already related to his family circle much more originally himself. Mr Gleig appears very little; and when he does come forward, it is in so unassuming a manner, that the presence of a third person on the scene is scarcely observed. His share is merely that of furnishing the useful string which holds the pearls together. The life of a great and good man, in circumstances of peculiar novelty and importance, is placed unreservedly before us. To our nation of Eastern magistrates and placemen the model is invaluable. An example of this sort, thus impressively presented to the youthful rulers of her distant provinces, is a present which a parent empire could not buy, and whose worth is not to be calculated by money, though the money were all the riches of that East. The encouraging exhortation, Go thou, and do likewise,' can scarcely be stilled to silence by the languor of an oppressive