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humour in the talk of the wrecking-folk on the coast, of which the less said the better. The second scene sketches the position of Harold, a prisoner in fact though not in show, at William's court, when he is exhorted by Malet, an old acquaintance, and by his young brother Wulfnoth, to comply with William's wishes, at least to temporise, if he would ever wish to see England again, or to preserve his life and liberty; Wulfnoth enforcing his arguments by a description of the penance of the 'oubliette,' which recalls some of the poet's old power of concentrated word-painting. The end to which the scene progresses is the celebrated oath extracted by William from Harold on the coffer containing the bones of the Norman saints; the manner in which Harold is pestered into the promise, William refusing categorically all subterfuge or conditional language, and Malet and Wulfnoth on either hand adding arguments from their own point of view, though, to say truth, it reads tamely enough, might be susceptible of effective stage treatment. The rage of Harold, when he is left alone, and finds himself bound by a promise which to him, a truth-loving, honest man, is even more than the oath he has been juggled into, is depicted with some force. We look in vain, however, for anything in the character of William which may account for the position he acquired, save merely his unrelenting and unscrupulous cruelty towards his opponents when in his power. Of the intellectual qualities of the Conqueror we find no adequate representation. Act III. takes us to the bedside of the dying king, Edward the Confessor, whose monkish character is brought before us in his feeble rhapsodies over the completion of the Abbey, and his warnings to Harold against marrying Edith, and luring her from the state of virginity in which he himself has lived, and to which he has sworn to dedicate Edith. King Edward waxes very prophetic on his death-bed, and his dream of the doom of England is expressed with a certain power, but its meaning is completely reflected from the present day; and as to his foreboding exclamations of Sanguelac—the arrow, the arrow!' which are again repeated to Harold in a vision the night before the battle, we hold that to introduce this sort of supernatural omen into a modern play only produces an unreality of colouring which defeats its own end, while it affects the modern reader no more than stage lightning. *
very much question whether the name of Senlac, or Sanguelac, was ever applied to the site of the battle before that event took place. The greater probability is that the hill or down was a howling wilderThe fourth act brings us to the result of Aldwyth’s and Morcar's machinations in the North, where Harold comes to quiet the insurrection which has been raised against Tostig, and is puzzled to find the people greet him with shouts of • Aldwyth l’explained by Morcar
'She hath won upon our people through her beauty,
And pleasantness among them.' There is a good deal of dry talk, but the scene where Harold summons Aldwyth, the manner in which he is represented as conscious of her duplicity, yet coldly determining to wed her out of policy, forms a passage of strong dramatic character:• Harold.
I doubt not but thou knowest
Why? I stay with these,
Canst thou love one
Oh! my lord,
Oh, ay-all Welsh-and yet
I had rather
ness with no name at all. Senlac is obviously a Norman name, and refers to the blood shed there. It is curious that the lower part of the main street at Battle still retains the name of The Lake.'
Aldwyth. I can, my lord, for mine own sake, for thine,
Harold. Canst thou love one who cannot love again?
Harold. Then in the name of the great God, so be it !
That all may see.' In the next scene comes the meeting between Harold and Tostig in which they part as enemies, and in the following scene the wedding banquet, after the battle of Stamford Bridge, in which Tostig was slain; and Aldwyth already finds she has not the confidence of her husband. The scene itself goes very heavily, till the entrance of the messenger
Caked and plastered with a hundred mires 'to tell how William had landed at Pevensey, which is brought in with considerable effect, and a strong touch of reality in Harold's exclamation, when the man observes that the wind had changed
'I felt it in the middle of that fierce fight
At Stamford-bridge.' Harold parts at once with Aldwyth, with a civil affectation of regret
“Harsh is the news, hard is our honeymoon 'and she sees him no more in life except on the eve of the battle, when Harold dismisses her, with the intimation that he knows she has been
'false to England and to me: As . . in some sort .. I have been false to thee'in allusion to his love for Edith. We are evidently to understand that the marriage never went beyond the ceremonial ; at least, it is only on this supposition that we can comprehend the position of Aldwyth in the final scene. Concerning the interview between Harold and the Monk Margot, where there is much cursing-almost as bad as the swearing of our armies in Flanders—we say nothing, and must pass over with a word the battle-scene, which is described in the conversation of Stigand and Edith who look on; the scene cannot be called dramatic, but there are touches of an epic grandeur here and there, and for one moment Edith seems to rise to the height of the situation, in her invocation on behalf of HaroldVOL. CXLV. NO. CCXCVIII.
• O God of battles, make his battle-axe keen
Charged with the weight of Heaven wherefrom they fall!' A Latin hymn, sung by the monks from Waltham, alternates with Stigand's description and Edith's prayers, but with no effect; certainly none to compensate for the inherent improbability of the incident. In the closing scene, already referred 10, we have the singular, and in some sense almost ludicrous, incident of the two women, each claiming (though on very different grounds) to be par excellence the wife of Harold, and each searching for his body. As it is almost certain historically that Aldwyth was sent away immediately the battle was lost, the poet must take the responsibility of this incident. Which wife has the most real claim is practically shown when the supposed body is found, stripped of all the armour, and Aldwyth says:
• They have so maimed and murdered all his face,
There is no man can swear to him.' • But one woman,' exclaims Edith. The entry of William and Malet, the questioning of the former about Edith, and her answer, remind one somewhat of the last scene in Philip van
Artevelde.' Edith dies Alinging herself on the corpse of Harold :
* Thy wife am I for ever and evermore.' William utters a rough eulogy on the slain warriors and their chief, concluding with certain prophetic words as to the future powers of the Norman-English people, whom he will rule over, which are purely and entirely the personal expression of the poet's own patriotism, and the poem concludes with Aldwyth's single sentence:
. My punishment is more than I can bear'a verse which, considering her position and the part she has played, and that she is represented as having had a real, though utterly selfish passion for Harold, has perhaps more coucentrated meaning than any other single line in the poem.
In regard to the singular contrast, already noted, between the style of the two dramas, it may be that the comparative monotony and lack of distinctive character in the language of Harold' is partly the result of a deliberate effort to assume a broad and monochrone style, as more suitable for drama. There is no doubt that drama ought to be free from mannerisms of diction; but it appears to us that in Harold'
we have lost the brilliancy and colour of Mr. Tennyson's characteristic style of diction, and got nothing adequate in its place; and while we miss much of his curiosa felicitas of expression, we are not without specimens, in both poems, of curiosa infelicitas. We may know what is intended to be conveyed when Morcar says the people are ready to · Molochize' their children as a sacrifice to the comet, or when Harold says of the Norse Raven that they have 'dumb'd his carrion croak * from the gray sea for ever, but how to reconcile the expressions with any logical use of English we know not. In · Queen • Mary' the tendency to strain epithets leads to a curious slip, where Gardiner observes that the exchequer is at neap-ebb, the expression neap' being of course intended as intensitive, the author apparently forgetting that though the neap-flood is not so high as the spring-flood, the neap-ebb, for the same reason, is not so low as the spring-ebb. We notice the use of adverbs descriptive of the way in which the characters are to be supposed to speak; one slyly, another dreamily; William in one place savagely, and Alva, when Philip tells him he must break the Netherlands or they will break him, replies proudly, • the first !! We should have hoped the “ Anti-Jacobin ’ had put an end to this for ever; at all events we must observe that when a dramatist thinks it necessary to add these sign-posts, he proves a want of confidence, either in his own power of delineation, or in his reader's power of comprehension.
A singular mannerism disfigures · Harold' repeatedly, a sort of jingle on the same word in different senses, ex. gr.:
King of the world without it.' And worst of all :
Tostig. The king hath made me Earl; make me not fool ! Nor make the king a fool, who made me Earl !
Harold. No Tostig-lest I make myself a fool
Who made the king who made thee, make thee Earl.' Such tricks of wording in a drama annoy us just in the same way as the tricks of voice and manner of a bad actor, who cannot lose his own personal manner in that of his assumed part. For one thing, however, we may be grateful to the poet. In his preface he professes to have based his drama