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screams of wounded horses, and the crash | Philip van Artevelde grew more and more of broken timbers. On the night before apprehensive of the supernatural as his cathe fatal battle, a still more ominous appa- reer darkened towards the close. The ration is granted him, the recounting of mind of Elena was but the reflex of his own; which to Elena is worked out with extraor- and their mutual insight into the future is dinary power. We extract a few lines: picturesquely recorded by Froissart.
Artevelde. The gibbous moon was in a wan
And all was silent as a sick man's chamber.
The fight at Rosebecque was fatally mismanaged, and more than twenty thousand of the popular side are said to have fallen. In the dramatic version of the day's events Elena having avenged Philip's death on the recreant Sir Fleureant of Heurlée, is herself killed on the great captain's corpse, in sight of Bourbon, her former treacherous lover. His voice is given for treating the remains of Artevelde with outrage; but this proposal is overruled by the generous Duke of Burgundy, who, while urging the concession of a soldier's funeral, sums up the character of the departed hero:
Dire rebel though he was,
These lines furnish a good example of the force and dignity of Mr. Taylor's style. Within quite recent times we have had the blank verse of Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley; of Mr. Tennyson, Mr. Matthew Arnold, and Mr. Henry Taylor. These examples are all of a perfectly distinct character, but all excellent. The last is equable, well sustained, and always vigorous; rising sometimes to a majestic flow of rhythm, and capable of sustaining an unusual weight of sententious apophthegm without being injuriously encumbered. The style is, in a word, the exactly fitting vehicle of the author's great conceptions. Philip van Artevelde is a philosophical poem of the most genuine kind. Mr. Taylor's reflections are not calculated to create a petty surprise, nor to disturb the feelings of a reader belonging to a less liberal school than his own. Sensation, in the acceptation which recent slang has bestowed upon the word, is about the last thing that a perusal of his poems would produce. His liberalism is not the clamorous and reiterated shibboleth of a party; it is the well weighed result of much revolving the thoughts and ways of men. His tone is, perhaps a little in excess, the tone of a scholar, of a writer in the closet. In most,
if not in all, of the plays, with the single | oniacal arts, a charge which (as Turner re-
So drinks the refuse, thins the material fibre
After an interval of eight years Philip van Artevelde was followed by Edwin the Fair. In selecting a subject from the tenth century, Mr. Taylor wisely allowed himself considerable latitude of treatment. The letter of history being so scanty and doubtful, he resolved to be true at any rate to its spirit. Characteristic incidents from bordering reigns have therefore been included in that of Edwin; and certain events such as the exile of St. Dunstan in Flanders which actually occurred society within that narrow space of time have, for the sake of compression, been omitted. The powerful impulse given to monachism in the tenth century by the spread of the Benedictine discipline throughout Europe was the origin of the collision which took place in Edwin's reign between the crown and the cowl. The feud between regulars and seculars occasioned great national exhaustion, and by far the larger part of the military strength of the country was arrayed on one side or the other. The Danes, who preferred the sack of a monastery to the storming of a castle, were on the alert; the prayer of the Anglo-Saxon liturgy, for deliverance a furore Northmannorum, proved futile to those who had renounced the duty of helping themselves; and the play ends with a rush of the enemy into the very precincts of the cathedral at Malpas, in Cheshire, where funeral rites are being performed over the body of Elgiva.
The stirring, stormy motion of the times has been perfectly conceived by Mr. Taylor, who has transferred the effect to his picture as the accessory colouring of one stupendously powerful central figure. It is on St. Dunstan, of course, that the main interest of the drama is fixed. The vast intellectual energy and acuteness of that extraordinary man can scarcely be over-estimated. He was so far ahead of his contemporaries at court in mathematical
It is this keen inward vision which keeps him always a march in advance of his enemies, and sustains in him that marvellous fertility of resource without which a leader in troubled times is nothing. Ethelwald, Bishop of Winchester, canvassing the prospects of the approaching synod, when the grave question is to be raised whether the
and liberal studies as to be accused of dem-private marriage of Edwin and Elgiva shall
In universal heaven. Such is the Church
As seen by faith; but otherwise regarded,
The body of the Church is searched in vain
be ratified by the Church, expresses a fore- | this: that, more than any single historian boding of opposition to the monastic influ- who had appeared before he wrote, he has ence. 'Tis said the synod, when it meets, clothed the figure of the saint with the garb will not be pure, nor of one mind.' To of reality, and made him live, move, and which St. Dunstan unhesitatingly replies: act before our eyes: bringing out in full relief his splendid mental endowments, his 'Tis ignorantly said: I am the synod's mind. magnificent aspirations, his natural tender ness, as shown by his bitter grief on the death of his aged mother
But like other men who have seen farther
My friend - I had but her- no more,
the operations of Providence. The ques-No sign is given. My mother! Oh, my mother
tion of ratifying the king's marriage within the prohibited degrees was one of vital importance to the regulars' cause. Earl Athulf, brother to Elgiva, was already threatening the capital; and Wulfstan the Wise, his aged chaplain, backed by a large muster of secular clergy, was to attend the synod, bringing the earl's conditions. St. Dunstan foresees what will be the natural bent of the majority in the council; to them the ratification will seem to be no great matter in itself, but an easy method of restoring peace. This is not the view of a man who lives rapt in the ideal of an everlasting Church. And as to its eventually becoming the resolution of the synod, cannot that be prevented by timely precaution? He has no misgiving about the voice which inwardly to himself declares the will of God. The problem is, how to cause the synod to hear the same voice manifestly coming from heaven. For the successful solution of this problem he is at length persuaded that Heaven would have him provide; and he provides accordingly.
His speech before the synod begins in a tone of tottering mistrust:
- together with those darker hues of char acter which fell upon him as the shadow of the age he lived in, and which remind us that, though he was in truth a mighty leader, a son of the genus Deorum, he was a child of the tenth century also.
If Philip Van Artevelde is the greatest of Mr. Taylor's works, and Edwin perhaps the best studied, and the most forcibly impressive, St. Clement's Eve is, beyond question, the most carefully finished. And though departing from chronological sequence, we shall proceed to notice it here, as our space forbids more than a few words on Isaac Comnenus, our author's earliest drama, and on The Virgin Widow (henceforward to be called A Sicilian Summer) which appeared in 1850.
The scenes of St. Clement's Eve are laid
in the year 1407, at a period when political disorder and ecclesiastical schism had combined to reduce society in France to about the worst condition of which the middle ages afford an example. The intermittent madness of Charles VI. le bien-aimé, placed the reins of government nominally in the power of the Council; but they were in reality tossed from hand to hand through the rivalry of Lewis, Duke of Orleans, the king's brother, and Jean Sans Peur, Duke of Burgundy, son to Philippe le Hardi, the king's late uncle. France, as in the vision of Robert the Hermit, resembled — A woman's body, whereupon were perched Two birds, a falcon and a kite, whose heads Bore each a crown, and each had bloody beaks, And blood was on the claws of each, which clasped
This the right breast and that the left, and each
Fought with the other, nor for that they ceased To tear the body.
The central figure in the drama is the 'falcon' of the vision-the Duke of Orleans. Rien si chevaleresque... D'allieurs étoit aimable, agréable et doux dans ses manières, son language étoit facile, raisonnable et séduisant; il savoit s'entretenir mieux qu'au cun prince avec les docteurs et les hommes
'habiles des conseils du roi.' To complete and most distinctly drawn in all Mr. Taythe concurrent testimony to the fascination lor's compositions. With the further exof the character, in personal beauty he re- ception of Theodora in Isaac Comnenus, sembled his brother (le bien-aimé) and sapi- and of Elena, his female creations fall natebat sicut angelus Domini. In the Convent urally into two groups. There are the of the Celestines in Paris, there is at the blindly, fondly loving-so fondly as to bortime of the play a novice, possessed of won- der on the insipid- Anna Comnena, Roderful grace and beauty, but of the loftiest salba, and (in a less degree) Adriana; and devotion, by name Jolande St. Rémy. A the sarcastically brusque, as Clara van Arretainer of Jean Sans Peur, named Montar- tevelde, Emma, daughter of Wulfstan the gis, the Iago of the play, who has already Wise, and Fiordeliza. Flos is the most hopelessly ensnared Flos de Flavy, Jolande's genuine woman throughout the play, and bosom friend, is possessed with a wanton Clara the noblest female character. Here whim to seize the latter, and forms the de- is her answer to Van Aeswyn, the emissary sign of carrying her off to a distant château of her devoted lover, Sir Walter D'Arlon, of his own, on her return from vespers who begs that she will fly from the famine in the Celestine Chapel in the Rue Bar- and the pestilence of Ghent to one of his bette. Tidings of this villany reached the castles, and ventures to hint that her removal ear of the Duke of Orleans, who disguis- might be a relief to her brother Philip : ing himself and five picked retainers in pilClara. grims' weedsNo, sir, you mistake, meets and baffles the party Knowing nor him nor me: we two have grown of Montargis, whom he disarms and wounds, From birth on my side, boyhood upon his, and having rescued Jolande is himself led Inseparably together, as two grafts captive by the grace and loveliness of her Out of the self-same stock; we've shared alike character. The following are his opening The sun and shower and all that Heaven hath words in the interview which he obtains with her on the day after the affray ;
Once in a midnight 'twas when the war
Her music thrilled the bosom of the wood,
Can you divine? or must I tell you why?
Jolande stands alone among Mr. Taylor's female characters. She is in fact little more than a lay figure, momentarily diverted from the devotion which is the natural life of her spirit by a passion for the duke, but restored to herself during the effort she makes to cure the king's insanity by a miracle, the failure of which hufries on the duke's death and her own. Flos de Flavy, though a slight character, is one of the best
I've loved him much and quarrelled with him oft,
And all our loves and quarrels past are links
Clara. Alas, poor D'Arlon! did I then say
The Eve of Pentecost, when he was seen
Whiles the dead bodies, swinging in the wind,
Passac. At midnight on the Eve of Pentecost
with mine eyes
Ranging and scouring round about the gibbet, At midnight chimes; yea, with mine eyes I saw thee.
Thou hadst put on the body of a cur,
Two monks in Edwin the Fair, conversing about St. Dunstan in the monastery of Sheen, are scarcely more rational:
And the popular impeachment of Isaac
in the same vein:
Cæsar, and holds your clubs are no better than oaten straws, and will not frighten the flies from lighting on your noses. But mark you thisDid Cæsar ever consort with wicked magians? Did Cæsar ever hit St. Basil in the eye?
Citizens. No, no.
1st Citizen. And though I think he be neither a saint nor a martyr, yet I'll be bound for him he was no blood-thirsty heretic. Why then, if Cæsar was no heretic, a heretic can be no Cæsar. And look ye, what I say is this,— shall all Constantinople be starved to death be
Isaac Comnenus, though overloaded with
Twice he cough'd
1st Monk. He slept two hours -no more; sententious speeches, and cumbered with a then raised his head, very ill digested scheme of action, is one of And said, Methinks it raineth.' the most remarkable first works that have 2nd Monk. ever been produced. The hero, Isaac, who And then he spat. is a blighted man before he appears on the 1st Monk. He raised himself and said scene, says virtually in every deed and 'Methinks it raineth,'-pointing with his hand. movement The word was even as though an angel's tongue Had spoken, and when I look'd it rain'd apace. I myself must mix with action, lest I wither by
All. We know it. We know it. 1st Citizen. Ay, and you know too the holy image of the blessed St. Basil, in the niche over the monks of St. Conon's gate. Now this Comnenus, no farther back than one night I know not when, riding past like a madman with two or three more such heathen pagan knights from over-sea, puts me his lance in the rest with the butt end to the onset, and drives it two inches and a half into St. Basil's eye.
2nd Monk. Anathema esto!
1st Citizen. But they'll tell you, they of the green faction, that he's a very Socrates, a second
All. Never, never. Burn his house. Cut his throat.
1st Citizen. Then look ye, what I say is this, if he be not already fled forth the city gates
Citizens. Stop him, seize him, secure the gates.
2nd Monk. Smite him hip and thigh, hew him in pieces before the Lord.
1st Citizen. But how did Comnenus bring it about, answer me that? -You're dumb,-ye Now hear me. You all know that some years by-gone this Comnenus was out in the Persian war, fighting in as Christian-like a manner as I myself or any of you. Now mark; after he was taken prisoner, there comes to
He has lost his early love, Irene, and is now, to use his own expression, riding his heart with spurs'; in which mood he is persecuted by the passionate attachment of Theodora, daughter of the reigning Emperor Nicephorus, who like another Scylla — would gladly make common cause with the foe of her tottering sire. steadily rejects her advances; and, in the family, when the moody Isaac has handed moment of triumph for the Comnenian over the reins of empire to his younger and more popular brother, Alexius-when
him in his tent one evening an old man, wrapped
in a flowing mantle, and holding, look ye, a cup in one hand and a mighty volume in the other. He was as wicked a magian as you shall see in all Persia; and he said to him, look ye, he said the aged patriarch is dead, and the de. . . . by the sweat of St. Isidore I have for-posed Nicephorus has perished in prison gotten what he said. But ever since, this Com- by his own hand-she seeks an interview nenus has been one of your bloody schismatics with the man who has set her aside, and and heretical murdering villains. stabs him in the heart. There is something about the tragedy of Isaac Comnenus which reminds one more forcibly of the unflinching Nemesis in the Greek dramatists than of any modern conception. The fall of Isaac after the successful capture of Constantinople and the magnanimous rejection of power on his own behalf, if it resembles anything in art at all, can only be likened in its suddenness and its horror to the fall of Agamemnon after the capture of Troy.
The motto of Leviore plectro has been justly prefixed to A Sicilian Summer