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Dolores, the second drama in the volume, is a work of more power than the Sculptor's Daughter, but less finished, and besides is objectionable in its slurs on the Inquisition. The author was not required to obtrude his religion, but he was required not to contradict it, and to avoid favoring the Protestant cant against it. If he really intended to represent the Devil, under the character of The Stranger, in his play, he should have, either first or last, more distinctly marked his meaning. There is too great an accumulation of murders, crimes, and horrors for one play, indeed enough for a dozen.
“Better Late than Never," an attempt at a comedy, is not very successful. It wants the genuine comic spirit, and its political satire is too broad. It is a cross between comedy and broad farce, and satisfies neither one's love of fun nor one's love of virtue. There are, however, a few good touches in Mrs. Allsides. Allsides is a merchant, somewhat involved, a vain, foolish, unprincipled, and consummate rascal, except that he has not ability enough to carry out his roguery. He has just pledged himself to three different and opposing parties, and fancies that he is sure of his election to Congress.
Enter Mrs. ALLSIDES.
Ah, now for the old story.
I hope you see I am.
Did you mean that for wit? Of course you did.
[Gives a paper. 'Tis the first Soirée of the season, and, If cost can make it such, shall be the finest.
You, to be sure.
By money, certainly.
O yes, by money.
I'm not disposed to say unpleasant things,
The last Drama in the volume is The Oath of Office, founded on a real incident, we believe, in the history of Galway. Walter, son of James Lynch Fitzstephen, mayor of the city, in a fit of jealousy, murders Gomez, a noble Spaniard, a guest in the house of his father, and his own dearest friend, whom he loves as a brother. His father is the judge and sentences him to death, and in spite of all entreaties insists upon the sentence being executed, and, finding no one who will execute it, he himself executes it with his own hand, rather than his oath of office to execute the laws should be broken. The struggle between parental affection and the stern sense of official duty is wrought up with a truly tragic interest. The Drama exhibits at times a most terrific power. But it is, we should think, too horrible for representation on the stage. It lacks relief, and revolts rather than pleases even the reader. We should like to copy the last scene, but we have not the space.
The author enlists indeed our sympathy with the unhappy father, but he does not secure our respect for him, and the reader condemns him for his slavery to what is made to appear as a punctilio, rather than venerate him for his stern integrity and high sense of justice. He has, we suspect, wished to enter his protest against capital punishment, a protest in which we do not share. In these dramas and in all the works we have read of the author we miss the stern moralist. The author often exhibits deep religious sensibility, but in his moral lessons he is very often not only defective but wrong. He writes as a man who has earnest Catholic faith combined with the moral notions of philanthropists, sentimentalists, and Transcendentalists. His tone is too Catholic for non-Catholics, and not Catholic enough for Catholics, and in this fact, we suspect, lies the secret of his not having met with that brilliant success to which he aspires. He has studied not enough the moral principles and sentiments that belong to his religion, yet we think no one can read the extracts we have liberally made, without feeling that the author has many of the elements of the true poet in his composition.
ART. V.-Souvenirs of Travel. By MADAME OCTAVIA
WALTON LE VERT. New York : Goetzel & Co. 1857. 2 vols. 12mo,
In these volumes Madame Le Vert gives us her recollections of two voyages to Europe and of her travels in Cuba, England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. She does not deviate much from the beaten track of fashionable tourists, and seldom describes any but familiar and often described objects; yet she has contrived to give us two very charming volumes, which interest the reader deeply in the amiable and accomplished author, if not in the incidents related and scenes and objects described. Madame Le Vert is the granddaughter of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, and perhaps is more widely known in society than any other American lady. She was born in Georgia, appears to have been brought up in Pensacola, and is the wife of Dr. Le Vert, of Mobile, where she resides. She is a lady of varied accomplishments, and highly esteemed and loved wherever known. She seems to have set out on her travels with the determination to enjoy herself, to look upon the bright side of every thing, and to be pleased with every land and with everybody. She evidently opened her heart to all friendly and gentle influences, and seems to have found warm and devoted friends wherever she went. Both tours, bating a little sea-sickness, against which she bore up resolutely, appear to have been marked by uninterrupted pleasure and enjoyment. She seems to have experienced scarcely an annoyance, scarcely a vexation, and scarcely any fatigue. The only drawback upon her enjoyment was her absence from her “darling mamma.” Her enjoyment exceeded all our powers of imagination, and we are puzzled to understand how one small body could survive the amount of pleasurable emotions she describes in her volumes. We are sure our own stalwart” frame would have broken down under them, and we should have gone off in a euthanasy. So much love, so much friendship, so much tenderness, so much pleasure, so much ecstasy of all sorts and kinds, was never, we are sure, crowded before into two volumes, or endured by one frail, delicate female body. We are amazed that she could live through it, or that the monotony of pleasure did not become painful.
Seriously Madame Le Vert has been a little too demonstrative in her volumes, and we should have been better pleased if she had sobered down a little their tone, which was all very well in writing to her near and dear friends, and restrained a little the expression of her feelings of the moment, when it came to the matter of publication. There are feelings which are too sacred to be paraded before the public, and he or she who loves or praises every one without discrimination renders his or her love or praise a little too cheap to be highly prized. It is pleasant, we grant, to meet a pure, warm, gushing heart, that speaks out from its fulness and lovingness every thought and emotion as it rises, but not to the cold and profane public. Much of the pure rich feeling displayed in these volumes should have been kept sacred for the author's husband, children, and most intimate friends, for the world is so ill-natured as to believe that one who expresses so much to strangers reserves little to be expressed in the narrower but dearer circle of home. Her volumes are principally made up of Letters which the lady wrote at the time to her friends at home, and regarded as Letters so addressed, or as a private journal in which she recorded her impressions at the moment they occurred, they are admirable, but there was a sort of profanation in publishing them to stran gers, and though they have given us a great amount o pleasure, we can hardly forgive the friends who persuaded her to print them.
The volumes are, no doubt, what they profess to be, Souvenirs of Travel, and consist of hasty and often felicitous sketches of what the accomplished, intellectual, and imaginative author saw and felt. They are the souvenirs of a graceful, highly cultivated, sprightly, loving woman, determined to see all she could of men and things, and tó impart and receive all the pleasure possible. She makes us her friends, wins our heart, fascinates us, and in spite of sympathies we do not share, of opinions we dislike, and errors of all kinds, historical, chronological, ethnological, topographical, and typographical, she carries us with her through her journeys, her interminable sight-seeings, everlasting visits to picture galleries, till we close her volumes with the sad feeling that there is one pleasure the less for us in this world. We do not understand nor investigate the secret
NEW YORK SERIES. —VOL. II. NO, IV