Mr. Standish has married a French lady, accomplished, clever, and pretty. Intermarriages between French and English are now not unfrequent; and it is pleasant to observe the French politeness and bon ton ingrafted on English sincerity and good sense. Of this, Mr. Standish offers a very good example; for, while he has acquired all the Parisian ruse of manner, he has retained all the English good qualities for which he has always been esteemed.
Charles Kemble dined here yesterday, and in the evening read to us his daughter Fanny’s Tragedy of Francis the First—a very wonderful production for so young a girl. There is considerable vigour in many parts of this work, and several passages in it reminded me of the old dramatists. The character of “Louisa of Savoy” is forcibly drawn—wonderfully so, indeed, when considered as the production of so youthful a person. The constant association with minds deeply imbued with a love of the old writers, must have greatly influenced the taste of Miss Kemble.
Francis the First bears irrefragable evidence that her reading has lain much among the old poets, and that Shakspeare is one of her most favourite ones. “Triboulet,” the king’s jester, may be instanced as an example of this; and “Margaret of Valois” furnishes another. “Francoise de Foix” is a more original conception; timid, yet fond, sacrificing her honour to save her brother’s life, but rendered wretched by remorse; and not able to endure the presence of her affianced husband, who, believing her pure and sinless as he left her, appeals to her, when “Gonzales” reveals her shame.
This same “Gonzales,” urged on by vengeance, and ready to do aught—nay, more than “may become a man,”—to seek its gratification, is a boldly drawn character.
The introduction of the poet “Clement Marot” is no less happy than judicious; and Miss Kemble gives him a very beautiful speech, addressed to his master “Francis the First,” in which the charm that reigns about the presence of a pure woman is so eloquently described, as to have reminded me of the exquisite passage in Comus, although there is not any plagiary in Miss Kemble’s speech.
A poetess herself, she has rendered justice to the character of Clement Marot, whose honest indignation at being employed to bear a letter from the amorous “Francis” to the sister of “Lautrec,” she has very gracefully painted.
The “Constable Bourbon” is well drawn, and has some fine speeches assigned to him; and “Gonzales” gives a spirited description of the difference between encountering death in the battle-field, surrounded by all the spirit-stirring “pomp and circumstance of glorious war,” and meeting the grisly tyrant on the scaffold, attended by all the ignominious accessories of a traitor’s doom.
This Tragedy, when given to the public, will establish Miss Kemble’s claims to distinction in the literary world, and add another laurel to those acquired by her family.