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tears)

Lalage, Poor Lalage ! and is it come to this ?
Thy servant-maid ! but courage ! 't is but a viper
Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!

(taking up the mirror)

Ha! here at least 's a friend too much a friend
In earlier days ; a friend will not deceive thee.
Fair mirror and true, now tell me (for thou canst)
A tale, a pretty tale, and heed thou not
Though it be rife with woe. It answers me,
It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,
And Beauty long deceased remembers me
Of Joy departed ; Hope, the Seraph Hope,
Inurned and entombed ; now, in a tone
Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible
Whispers of early grave untimely yawning
For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true, thou liest not !

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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

Thou hast no end to gain, no heart to break ;
Castiglione lied who said he loved
Thou true he false! false! false!

( While she speaks a Monk enters her apart"
mcnt, and approaches unobserved)

Monk, Refuge thou hast,

Sweet daughter, in heaven. Think of eternal things;
Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!

Lalage, (arising hurriedly) I cannot pray! My

soul is at war with God!
The frightful sounds of merriment below
Disturb my senses ; go ! I cannot pray ;
The sweet airs from the garden worry me ;
Thy presence grieves me : go ! thy priestly raiment
Fills me with dread ; thy ebony crucifix
With horror and awe !

Monk, Think of thy precious soul!

Lalage. Think of my early days ! think of my father
And mother in heaven ; think of our quiet home,
And the rivulet that ran before the door ;
Think of my little sisters; think of them!
And think of me ! think of my trusting love
And confidence his vows my ruin think, think
Of my unspeakable misery! begone!
Yet stay, yet stay, what was it thou saidst of prayer
And penitence ? Didst thou not speak of faith
And vows before the throne ?

Monk. I did.

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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

Lalage, 'T is well.

There is a vow were fitting should be made
A sacred vow, imperative and urgent,
A solemn vow !

Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well !

Lalage, Father, this zeal is anything but well !
Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing !
A crucifix whereon to register
This sacred vow ? (He hands her his own)
Not that oh, no! no! no! (shuddering)
Not that, not that! I tell thee, holy man,
Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me !
Stand back! I have a crucifix myself,
I have a crucifix! Methinks 't were fitting
The deed, the vow, the symbol of the deed,
And the deed's register should tally, father!

(Draws a cross 'handled dagger and raises it on

high)

Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine
Is written in heaven !

Monk, Thy words are madness, daughter,
And speak a purpose unholy ; thy lips are livid,
Thine eyes are wild ; tempt not the wrath divine !
Pause ere too late! oh, be not, be not rash!
Swear not the oath, oh, swear it not !

Lalage, 'T is sworn ! "

The coincidences here are too markedly peculiar to
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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

be gainsaid. The sitting at the table with books, etc.,
the flowers on the one hand, and the garden on the
other, the presence of the pert maid, the reading aloud
from the book, the pausing and commenting, the
plaintiveness of what is read in accordance with the
sorrow of the reader, the abstraction, the frequent
calling of the maid by name, the refusal of the maid
to answer, the jewels, the " begone ", the unseen en
trance of a third person from behind, and the drawing
of the dagger, are points sufficiently noticeable to es
tablish at least the imitation beyond all doubt.

Let us now compare the concluding lines of Mr.
Longfellow's Autumn with that of Mr. Bryant's Thana
topsis, Mr. B. has it thus :

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Mr. L. thus:

For him the wind, ay, and the yellow leaves,
Shall have a voice and give him eloquent teachings.
He shall so hear the solemn hymn that Death
Has lifted up for all, that he shall go
To his long resting-place without a tear.
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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

Again, in his Prelude to the Voices of the Night MX.
Longfellow says :

Look then into thine heart and write !
Sir Philip Sidney in the Asttophel and Stella has :
Foole, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart and write !
Again, in Longfellow's Midnight Mass we read :

And the hooded clouds, like friars.
The Lady in Milton's Comas says :

When the gray-hooded even
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weeds.

And again, these lines by Professor Longfellow will
be remembered by everybody :

Art is long, and time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

But if any one will turn to page 66 of John Sharpe's
edition of Henry Headley's Select Beauties of Ancient
English Poetry > published at London in 1810, he will
there find an Exequy on the death of his wife by Henry
King, Bishop of Chichester, and therein also the fol
lowing lines, where the author is speaking of follow
ing his wife to the grave :

But hark! my pulse, like a soft drum,
Beats my approach tells thee I come !
And slow howe'er my marches be,
I shall at last sit down by thee.

2I 5



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

Were I disposed, indeed, to push this subject any
further, I should have little difficulty in culling, from
the works of the author of Outre Met, a score or two
of imitations quite as palpable as any upon which I
have insisted. The fact of the matter is, that the
friends of Mr. Longfellow, so far from undertaking to
talk about my " carping littleness " in charging Mr.
Longfellow with imitation, should have given me
credit, under the circumstances, for great modera
tion in charging him with imitation alone. Had I
accused him, in loud terms, of manifest and contin
uous plagiarism, I should but have echoed the senti
ment of every man of letters in the land beyond the
immediate influence of the Longfellow coterie. And
since I, " knowing what I know and seeing what I
have seen," submitting in my own person to accu
sations of plagiarism for the very sins of this
gentleman against myself since I contented myself,
nevertheless, with simply setting forth the merits of
the poet in the strongest light, whenever an oppor
tunity was afforded me, can it be considered either
decorous or equitable on the part of Professor Long
fellow to beset me, upon my first adventuring an
infinitesimal sentence of dispraise, with ridiculous
anonymous letters from his friends, and, moreover,
with malice prepense, to instigate against me the
pretty little witch entitled " Miss Walter," advising
her and instructing her to pierce me to death with the

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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

needles of innumerable epigrams, rendered unneces
sarily and therefore cruelly painful to my feelings by
being first carefully deprived of the point ?

It should not be supposed that I feel myself indi
vidually aggrieved in the letter of Outis. He has
praised me even more than he has blamed. In re
plying to him, my design has been to place fairly and
distinctly before the literary public certain principles
of criticism for which I have been long contending,
and which, through sheer misrepresentation, were in
danger of being misunderstood.

Having brought the subject, in this view, to a close,
I now feel at liberty to add a few words, by way of
freeing myself of any suspicion of malevolence or
discourtesy. The thesis of my argument, in general,
has been the definition of the grounds on which a
charge of plagiarism may be based, and of the species
of ratiocination by which it is to be established: that
is all. It will be seen by any one who shall take the
trouble to read what I have written, that I make no
charge of moral delinquency against either Mr. Long
fellow, Mr. Aldrich, or Mr. Hood; indeed, lest in the
heat of argument, I may have uttered any words
which may admit of being tortured into such inter
pretation, I here fully disclaim them upon the spot.

In fact, the one strong point of defence for his
friends has been unaccountably neglected by Outis.
To attempt the rebutting of a charge of plagiarism

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Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

by the broad assertion that no such thing as pla
giarism exists, is a sotticism, and no more ; but there
would have been nothing of unreason in rebutting
the charge, as urged either against Mr. Longfellow,
Mr. Aldrich, or Mr. Hood, by the proposition that no
true poet can be guilty of a meanness; that the con
verse of this proposition is a contradiction in terms.
Should there be found any one willing to dispute with
me this point, I would decline the disputation on the
ground that my arguments are no arguments to him,

It appears to me that what seems to be the gross
inconsistency of plagiarism as perpetrated by a poet,
is very easily thus resolved: the poetic sentiment
(even without reference to the poetic power) implies
a peculiarly, perhaps an abnormally, keen apprecia
tion of the beautiful, with a longing for its assimila
tion, or absorption, into the poetic identity. What
the poet intensely admires becomes thus, in very fact,
although only partially, a portion of his own intellect.
It has a secondary origination within his own soul, an
origination altogether apart, although springing from
its primary origination from without. The poet is
thus possessed by another's thought, and cannot be
said to take of it, possession. But, in either view, he
thoroughly feels it as his own, and this feeling is
counteracted only by the sensible presence of its true,
palpable origin in the volume from which he has
derived it, an origin which, in the long lapse of years

218



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists

it is almost impossible not to forget, for in the mean
time the thought itself is forgotten. But the frailest
association will regenerate it; it springs up with all
the vigor of a new birth; its absolute originality is
not even a matter of suspicion; and when the poet
has written it and printed it, and on its account is
charged with plagiarism, there will be no one in the
world more entirely astounded than himself. Now,
from what I have said it will be evident that the
liability to accidents of this character is in the direct
ratio of the poetic sentiment, of the susceptibility to
the poetic impression ; and, in fact, all literary history
demonstrates that, for the most frequent and palpable
plagiarisms, we must search the works of the most
eminent poets.




219




Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Willis,
and the Drama




BIOGRAPHIST of Berryer calls him 1'
homme qui, dans sa description demande
le plus grand e quantite possible d'anti'
these, but that ever recurring topic, the decline of
the drama, seems to have consumed, of late, more
of the material in question than would have sufficed
for a dozen prime ministers, even admitting them to
be French. Every trick of thought and every harle
quinade of phrase have been put in operation for the
purpose de nier ce qui est, et d'expliquer ce qui n'est
pas,

Ce qui n'est pas t for the drama has not declined.
The facts and the philosophy of the case seem to be
these. The great opponent to progress is conserva
tism. In other words, the great adversary of in
vention is imitation: the propositions are in spirit
identical. Just as an art is imitative, is it stationary.

220



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

The most imitative arts are the most prone to repose ;
and the converse. Upon the utilitarian, upon the busi
ness arts, where necessity impels, invention, necessity's
well-understood offspring, is ever in attendance. And
the less we see of the mother the less we behold of
the child. No one complains of the decline of the
art of engineering. Here the reason, which never
retrogrades, or reposes, is called into play. But let us
glance at sculpture. We are not worse here than the
ancients, let pedantry say what it may (the Venus of
Canova is worth, at any time, two of that of Cleom-
enes), but it is equally certain that we have made,
in general, no advances ; and sculpture, properly con
sidered, is perhaps the most imitative of all arts which
have a right to the title of art at all. Looking next at
painting, we find that we have to boast at progress
only in the ratio of the inferior imitativeness of paint
ing when compared with sculpture. As far, indeed,
as we have any means of judging, our improvement
has been exceedingly little, and did we know anything
of ancient art, in this department, we might be aston
ished at discovering that we had advanced even far
less than we suppose. As regards architecture,
whatever progress we have made has been precisely
in those particulars which have no reference to imi
tation; that is to say, we have improved the utilita
rian and not the ornamental provinces of the art.
Where reason predominated, we advanced; where

221



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

mere feeling or taste was the guide, we remained as
we were.

Coming to the drama, we shall see that in its
mechanisms we have made progress, while in its
spirituality we have done little or nothing for centuries
certainly, and, perhaps, little or nothing for thou
sands of years. And this is because what we term
the spirituality of the drama is precisely its imitative
portion, is exactly that portion which distinguishes it
as one of the principal of the imitative arts.

Sculptors, painters, dramatists, are, from the very
nature of their material, their spiritual material, imi
tators, conservatists, prone to repose in old feeling
and in antique taste. For this reason, and for this
reason only, the arts of sculpture, painting, and the
drama, have not advanced, or have advanced feebly,
and inversely in the ratio of their imitativeness.

But it by no means follows that either has declined.
All seem to have declined, because they have remained
stationary while the multitudinous other arts (of rea
son) have flitted so rapidly by them. In the same
manner the traveller by railroad can imagine that
the trees by the wayside are retrograding. The trees
in this case are absolutely stationary, but the drama
has not been altogether so, although its progress has
been so slight as not to interfere with the general
effect, that of seeming retrogradation or decline.

This seeming retrogradation, however, is to all prac-

222



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

mere feeling or taste was the guide, we remained as
we were.

Coming to the drama, we shall see that in its
mechanisms we have made progress, while in its
spirituality we have done little or nothing for centuries
certainly, and, perhaps, little or nothing for thou
sands of years. And this is because what we term
the spirituality of the drama is precisely its imitative
portion, is exactly that portion which distinguishes it
as one of the principal of the imitative arts.

Sculptors, painters, dramatists, are, from the very
nature of their mat^a^the^^tu^jgagterial, imi
tators, conservatists, prone to repose in old feeling
and in antique taste. For this reason, and for this
reason only, the arts of sculpture, painting, and the
drama, have not advanced, or have advanced feebly,
and inversely in the ratio of their imitativeness.

But it by no meaJM f^Jknw ^Mrt tHiwr h*i declined.
All seem to have dechiwd, taMHt tfctr have remained
stationary while the flRMtttftkMR HHF arts (of rea
son) have flitted m r*p&iy by item. la the same
manner the traveller by railroad out imagine that
the trees by the wayside are retrograding. The trees
in this case are absolutely stationary, but the drama
has not been altogether so, although its progress has
been so slight as not to interfere with the general
effect, that of seeming retrogradation or decline.

This seeming retrogradation, however, is to all prac-

222



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

tical intents an absolute one. Whether the drama
has declined, or whether it has merely remained
stationary, is a point of no importance, so far as con
cerns the public encouragement of the drama. It is
unsupported, in either case, because it does not de
serve support.

But if this stagnation, or deterioration, grows out
of the very idiosyncrasy of the drama itself, as one
of the principal of the imitative arts, how is it possible
that a remedy shall be applied, since it is clearly im
possible to alter the nature of the art, and yet leave it
the art which it now is ?

We have already spoken of the improvements
effected in architecture, in all its utilitarian depart
ments, and in the drama at all the points of its
mechanism. " Wherever reason predominates we ad
vance; where mere feeling or taste is the guide, we
remain as we are." We wish now to suggest that,
by the engrafting of reason upon feeling or taste, we
shall be able, and thus alone shall be able, to force
the modern drama into the production of any profit
able fruit.

At present, what is it we do ? We are content if,
with feeling and taste, a dramatist does as other
dramatists have done. The most successful of the
more immediately modern playwrights has been
Sheridan Knowles, and to play Sheridan Knowles
seems to be the highest ambition of our writers for

223



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

the stage. Now the author of The Hunchback pos
sesses what we are weak enough to term the true
" dramatic feeling " ; and this true dramatic feeling
he has manifested in the most preposterous series of
imitations of the Elizabethan drama by which ever
mankind were insulted and beguiled. Not only did
he adhere to the old plots, the old characters, the old
stage conventionalities throughout, but he went even
so far as to persist in the obsolete phraseologies of the
Elizabethan period, and just in proportion to his ob
stinacy and absurdity at all points did we pretend to
like him the better, and pretend to consider him a
good dramatist.

Pretend for every particle of it was pretence.
Never was enthusiasm more utterly false than that
which so many " respectable audiences " endeavored
to get up for these plays endeavored to get up, first,
because there was a general desire to see the drama
revive ; and, secondly, because we had been all along
entertaining the fancy that " the decline of the drama "
meant little, if anything, else than its deviation from
the Elizabethan routine, and that, consequently, the
return to the Elizabethan routine was, and of necessity
must be, the revival of the drama.

But if the principles we have been at some trouble in
explaining are true, and most profoundly do we feel
them to be so, if the spirit of imitation is, in fact, the
real source of the drama's stagnation, and if it is so

224



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

because of the tendency in all imitation to render
reason subservient to feeling and to taste, it is clear
that only by deliberate counteracting of the spirit,
and of the tendency of the spirit, we can hope to
succeed in the drama's revival.

The first thing necessary is to burn or bury the
" old models," and to forget, as quickly as possible,
that ever a play has been penned. The second thing
is to consider de tiovo what are the capabilities of
the drama, not merely what hitherto have been its
conventional purposes. The third and last point has
reference to the composition of a play (showing to
the fullest extent these capabilities) conceived and
constructed with feeling and with taste, but with
feeling and taste guided and controlled in every par
ticular by the details of reason, of common sense
in a word, of natural art.

It is obvious, in the meantime, that toward the good
end in view much may be effected by discriminative
criticism on what has already been done. The field,
thus stated, is of course practically illimitable, and to
Americans the American drama is the special point of
interest. We propose, therefore, in a series of papers,
to take a somewhat deliberate survey of some few of
the most noticeable American plays. We shall do this
without reference either to the date of the compo
sition, or its adaptation for the closet or the stage.
We shall speak with absolute frankness both of merits

VOL. viii. 15. 225



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

and defects, our principal object being understood not
as that of mere commentary on the individual play,
but on the drama in general, and on the American
drama in especial, of which each individual play is a
constituent part. We will commence at once with

"TORTESA, THE USURER"

This is the third dramatic attempt of Mr. Willis,
and may be regarded as particularly successful, since
it has received, both on the stage and in the closet,
no stinted measure of commendation. This success,
as well as the high reputation of the author, will
justify us in a more extended notice of the play than
might, under other circumstances, be desirable.

The story runs thus : Tortesa, an usurer of Florence,
and whose character is a mingled web of good and
evil feelings, gets into his possession the palace and
lands of a certain Count Falcone. The usurer would
wed the daughter (Isabella) of Falcone not through
love, but, in his own words,

To please a devil that inhabits him ;

in fact, to mortify the pride of the nobility, and avenge
himself of their scorn. He therefore bargains with
Falcone (a narrow-souled villain) for the hand of
Isabella. The deed of the Falcone property is restored
to the Count upon an agreement that the lady shall
marry the usurer, this contract being invalid should

226



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

Falcone change his mind in regard to the marriage,
or should the maiden demur, but valid should the
wedding be prevented through any fault of Tortesa,
or through any accident not springing from the will
of the father or child. The first scene makes us
aware of this bargain, and introduces us to Zippa, a
glover's daughter, who resolves, with a view of be
friending Isabella, to feign a love for Tortesa (which,
in fact, she partially feels), hoping thus to break off
the match.

The second scene makes us acquainted with a young
painter (Angelo), poor, but of high talents and am
bition, and with his servant (Tomaso), an old bottle-
loving rascal, entertaining no very exalted opinion of
his master's abilities. Tomaso does some injury to a
picture, and Angelo is about to run him through the
body, when he is interrupted by a sudden visit from
the Duke of Florence, attended by Falcone. The
Duke is enraged at the murderous attempt, but ad
mires the paintings in the studio. Finding that the
rage of the great man will prevent his patronage if
he knows the aggressor as the artist, Angelo passes
off Tomaso as himself (Angelo), making an exchange
of names. This is a point of some importance, as it
introduces the true Angelo to a job which he had long
coveted, the painting of the portrait of Isabella, of
whose beauty he had become enamored through re
port. The Duke wishes the portrait painted. Falcone,

227



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama

however, on account of a promise to Tortesa, would
have objected to admit to his daughter's presence the
handsome Angelo, but in regard to Tomaso has no
scruple. Supposing Tomaso to be Angelo and the
artist, the Count writes a note to Isabella, requiring
her to " admit the painter Angelo." The real Angelo
is thus admitted. He and the lady love at first sight
(much in the manner of Romeo and Juliet), each
ignorant of the other's attachment.

The third scene of the second act is occupied with a
conversation between Falcone and Tortesa, during
which a letter arrives from the Duke, who, having
heard of the intended sacrifice of Isabella, offers to
redeem the Count's lands and palace, and desires him
to preserve his daughter for a certain Count Julian.
But Isabella, who, before seeing Angelo, had been will
ing to sacrifice herself for her father's sake, and who,
since seeing him, had entertained hopes of escaping the
hateful match through means of a plot entered into by
herself and Zippa, Isabella, we say, is now in despair.
To gain time, she at once feigns a love for the usurer,
and indignantly rejects the proposal of the Duke. The
hour for the wedding draws near. The lady has


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