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A TRAGEDY, IN FIVE ACTS, FROM THE GERMAN OF ERNEST HOUWALD.
THE modern dramatists of Germany have lately been accused, and we fear but too justly, of the besetting sins of mannerism and mechanism; of substituting to the bombastic inflation of their Sentimental, and the revolting extravagance of their Satanic school either mere melo-dramatic "sound and fury," or a puerile imitation of the gloomy fatalism of antiquity-bearing to the tremendous realities of its awful prototype no more resemblance than the fantastic nightmare of some visionary dreamer, to the terrible peine forte et dure of our own exploded criminal code.
Acquiescing, as we do, though in a modified degree, and with splendid exceptions, in the justice of this critique on what have been termed the playwrights of Germany, we are the more disposed to fulfil our intention of submitting to the fiat of the English reader another favourite modern German drama, whose faults (to which we do not pretend to be insensible) are at least of a totally opposite class from those ascribed to its contemporaries, while it has beauties amply sufficient to palliate, if not justify, the hazardous singularity of its construction.
It is the shrewd remark of a periodical critic on a late work of English fiction," that it belongs to that advanced period of literature, when the incidents of invention somewhat exhausted, make authors turn to sentiment, rather than adventure, and feelings are more dwelt upon than facts." Such a period there unquestionably is in the literature of all countries;
VOL. XXVI. NO. CLIV.
but, however successful the experiment of a detailed analysis of human feelings, almost unsupported by incident, may have frequently proved in the tales or novels of a refined ageits application to the drama would, à prior be declared not only hazardous, but fatal; and a tragedy without events be pronounced as unfit for dramatic representation as a disembodied spirit for the intercourse and collision of the "working-day world" we live in.
On the stage, we have no doubt, it would be found so-and it is not in that capacity we purpose to treat the exquisite poem which forms the subject of this article; though (notwithstanding a portentous length which might exhaust even German endurance) we believe, in the hands of highly-gifted performers, it would draw more legitimate tears than many dramas “horribly stuft with pomp and circumstance of war"-and "crammed out of all reasonable compass" with the playwrights' immemorial properties, of treasons, stratagems, and spoils."
Leaving, however, the debateable land of theatrical expediency, to its only legitimate arbiters, the managers and the public, we shall be content to rest on the general grounds of truth, nature, and poetry, the claims of a hitherto little known-though in its own country highly admired, domestic tragedy. The originality (whatever may be thought of their probability) of the circumstances on which it is founded, the deep and lofty interest which attaches to several of its drama