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than herself, which have the advantage of a far better climate, a richer soil, and above all of free property in land and the full results of free labour. At this moment, the corn of Southern Russia is undersold by the farmers of the United States, and she has to compete at a great disadvantage with California and the valley of the Mississippi. The trade of Russia with England in linseed, which was an export of immense consequence, has been annihilated by the increasing production of oleaginous grains in India and Egypt. The textile fibres of India, especially jute, have also seriously impaired the trade in Russian hemp and flax. The Russian trade in hides and tallow has powerful rivals in the boundless cattle ranges of South America and Australia. And in these countries she is opposed by the ardour and enterprise of the freest and most energetic races of the world. Can Russia support an increasing foreign debt, with decreasng profits of foreign trade ?" Can she even in peace maintain her credit in Europe, let alone the cost of mobilised armies, and wars carried on against. wild or empoverished nations, from whom no milliards can be extracted by victory ? Mr. Wallace should have endeavoured to answer these questions. The whole structure of Russian society, and the course of her internal and external policy, might be measured by the standard of finance, correctly applied. That alone can give us the secret of her weakness or her strength. Down to the smallest village community and the brandy-shop, it is, as we have seen, the operation of her fiscal system which retains men in shackles and in debauchery; and as if this were not enough to check the progress of a nation, she adds to it the most burdensome military establishment that ever existed. Mr. Wallace lays it down as an axiom that the finances of Russia are sound, though the peasantry are heavily taxed, and the revenue is inelastic. We wish he had favoured us with the ground on which he rests
* The official returns of the trade of Russia for 1875, just published, show a decrease of about 50 million roubles in her exports, over the exports of 1874, though an increase on the exports of 1873. The articles which have fallen off are corn, timber, flax, and linseed. The imports of 1875, on the contrary, largely increased, to the amount of about 60 million roubles. The total value of the exports of 1875 was 382,000,000 roubles; and of the imports 534,056,000, leaving an adverse balance of 152,000,000 to be paid in money or bills. As the borrowing power of Russia in foreign countries is for the present exhausted, she will probably be able to spend less in purchases and imports from foreign markets; and must pay for what she wants in her own produce or in gold.
this opinion; which is, we confess, exactly opposed to that we have been led to form.
We turned with some interest to Mr. Wallace's chapter on what he terms the New Law Courts,' by which he means, not any new edifices, but the new system of judicature established in the present reign, which is no doubt an improvement on that which previously existed. But we infer from the loose and inaccurate language in which Mr. Wallace describes legal proceedings, that he has but little acquaintance with the subject. Thus he uses the term · Court of Revision ’instead of the familiar English term · Court of Review,' and says he can find no better English expression to convey his meaning. It is clear, however, from his account of the matter that justice must be very imperfectly administered in a country where there is no bar, and that the persons who plead before these Courts are ignorant and corrupt. Trial by jury has been introduced, but Mr. Wallace gives an amusing account of the manner in which a jury of Russian peasants takes the proceedings into its own hands, with a total disregard of the rules of evidence and the obligations of law, acquitting or condemning prisoners according to the view they may take of the general merits of each case.
Upon the whole, although we took up this book with great expectations, we have laid it down with considerable disappointment. Much more might have been made of the materials Mr. Wallace has taken pains to collect, part of which he still holds in reserve. The style is diffuse, and the work clumsily .put together, with strange digressions, which, though sometimes amusing, are inappropriate. But we think highly of Mr. Wallace's candour and veracity—the more so as his statements of fact frequently destroy the effect of his reasoning and his opinions. `In his zeal to study the peculiar condition of the peasantry, he has left untouched the principal elements of the power and policy of the Russian Empire; and there still remains a wide field for his inquiries and observations before he can claim to have made Russia known to the British public.
Art. IV.-1. Queen Mary, a Drama. By ALFRED TEN
NYSON. London : 1875. 2. Harold, a Drama. By ALFRED TENNYSON. London :
1876. Without disturbing the repose of the Unities (which
are to modern drama what the Orders are to modern architecture), it is certainly not undesirable to recall to readers of the present day the real characteristics implied in the expression dramatic,' which has suffered a licentious and multifarious usage of late, as if it were a mere synonyme for • forcible' or 'impassioned.'* But let it be distinctly recognised that “drama' is an act, a thing done—that dramatic poetry is poetry manifested through action, and it is obvious that the application of the epithet to any poetry which does not include the development of an action can only be justifiable in a limited and conventional sense. No doubt, so soon as a poet quits the purely reflective order of poetry for that which consists in the expression, not of his own sentiments, but of those of imaginary characters totally distinct from himself, as in the poems called by Mr. Browning Dramatic Lyrics’-S0
so many utterances of so many imaginary persons not mine-he has made an important step in the
direction of dramatic writing; the complete self-effacement of the author being an essential condition of drama. But it is not by the mere collocation, in consecutive scenes, of a set of personages, however characteristically delineated in themselves, that anything worth calling a drama can be realised. No mere combination of life studies' can make a great picture. We must be able in a drama to distinguish clearly the predominant end of the action, the mainspring which sets it going, and the bearing of the speech and action of the several characters in relation to that main end, or to some minor action which is included in or depends upon the principal one. Without this consistent unity of aim and purpose the best wrought and most spirited delineation of separate characters can only take rank as a series of tubleuux vivants, or characteristic scenes. A composition of such a nature, whether in prose or verse, may have very high
It is even applied to music, and we have · dramatic symphonies' and dramatic concertos ;' a use of the epithet which, if it mean anything, must mean merely what Beethoven intended by such terms as 'pathétique,' appassionata,' &c., affixed to some of his compositions.
literary value,-witness, for example, Landor's 'Imaginary • Conversations ; ' but it is not drama. Nor can these requirements be evaded or relaxed merely on the plea that a drama is intended for private reading, not for the stage. There is no distinction in principle between written and acted drama; the distinction lies in proportion, detail, and mechanism.
To the class of dramas intended for reading only we must refer both the poems before us. • Queen Mary, it is true, has been produced on the stage, but only after such adaptation and excision as materially to change the face of the poem, the length of which alone precludes the idea that it was originally meant for the theatre; while in regard to the later drama internal evidence points to the same conclusion. therefore dismiss the idea of suitability for the stage in estimating the two dramatic poems before us. It may, in the first instance, however, be of some interest, in considering this new venture of the Poet Laureate, to note whether, and in what degree, his earlier poems gave any indications of dramatic expression. In the earliest volumes this can hardly be said to be perceptible at all
. Even the poems in which the element of human feeling is perceptible, belong to the idyllic type, the figures are merely additions to the landscape. But as we follow the poet through his subsequent productions we find distinct indications of an increasing interest in the definition of human character in a manner more or less tinged with dramatic power. It is true that . Maud,'the poem which, fantastic as it is in design, contains some of the keenest pathos to be found in all Tennyson's works, is completely subjective, in spite of its utterance through the mouth of the principal actor in the story, but Maud herself is a real flesh-and-blood heroine ; and in the Idylls ’ the figures of Lancelot, Elaine, Guinevere, and Vivien, stand out with a degree of realism and distinctness which places them in a very different category from the fantastic shadows that hover in the retinue of · The Princess.' Even in these portraits, however (and still more in some of the later additions to the Arthurian · Idylls '), there is too much of that spirit of antiquarianism which, in the case of Scott, Carlyle stigmatised as the buff-jerkin business, and which tends to efface the real humanity of the stories, just as the figures in Cattermole's drawings are lost amid old armour and medieval bric-à-brac. It is a welcome contrast to turn to · Enoch Arden.' In this and its companion poem, “Aylmer's Field,' a far more steady and concentrated light is thrown upon the personages of the narrative a more successful effort is made to realise individual character. But even these pieces are surpassed
by the Northern Farmer,' a piece of character-painting for which we can hardly find a match in any non-dramatic English poet save Chaucer. That is a typical poem, which can never lose its interest; and in reference to the present subject it is certainly not insignificant.
The nature of the subject chosen is a more important factor in the success or non-success of drama than in most other forms of poetry. We say chosen,' since few dramas of the higher order have been written on a completely imaginative basis, and the adoption of historic characters and incidents has been so frequent a resource as to indicate a general persuasion among dramatic poets that their business is not so much invention as the exhibition in action of characters which, when merely read of in history, come home but faintly and partially to our imagination. When the subject chosen is not purely pre-historic or traditional, the relation preserved between the historical facts and the dramatic colouring, as well as the inherent interest of the facts themselves, may have an important influence for or against the success of the poet. The extent of this influence depends of course, in some measure, on the proximity of the date of events, the greater or less fulness of the historic record. When dealing with a period and personages which, however historic, are distant in point of time and imperfectly recorded, the dramatist has almost the free scope of an original inventor, with merely the main lines of his plot or fable laid down for him. The same freedom cannot be attempted in regard to events nearer to the poet's own time, or of which the records are exceptionally full, without leading to such a conflict with known and accepted truths as to produce, instead of a stronger realisation, a disagreeable impression of trick and unreality. As, for instance, in the silly attempt made some little time since to cook the characters of Charles I. and Cromwell, for purposes of stage effect, into what every tolerably instructed schoolboy knew to be an absurd contradiction of historical fact.
Looking at the matter in the first instance from this point of view, it must be confessed that Mr. Tennyson saddled himself with great, perhaps almost insuperable, difficulties in his selection of the subject for his first essay in drama. He adopted a period of English history of peculiar and vivid interest certainly, and to which increased attention has been attracted of late years by the most brilliant and eloquent of contemporary historians. He was thus tied not only to the main incidents but even to the details of history, and compelled to take them as they came, so as not to clash with the