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قراءة كتاب The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 539, March 24, 1832

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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Volume 19, No. 539, March 24, 1832

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 539, March 24, 1832

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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BURIAL PLACE IN TONGATABU.

BURIAL PLACE IN TONGATABU.

This is another of Mr. Bennett's sketches made during his recent visit to several of the Polynesian Islands. It represents the burial-place of the Chiefs of Tongatabu: over this "earthly prison of their bones," we may say with Titus Andronicus:

In pence and honour rest you here my sons:

(The) readiest champions, repose you here,

Secure from worldly chances and mishaps:

Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,

Here grow no damned grudges: here are no storms,

No noise, but silence and eternal sleep.

Mr. Bennett thus describes the spot, with some interesting circumstances:

"July 29th. I visited this morning a beautiful spot named Maofanga, at a short distance from our anchorage; here was the burial-place of the chiefs. The tranquillity of this secluded spot, and the drooping trees of the casuarina equisetifolia, added to the mournful solemnity of the place. Off this place, the Astrolabe French discovery ship lay when, some time before, she fired on the natives. The circumstances respecting this affair, as communicated to me, if correct, do not reflect much credit on the commander of the vessel. They are as follow: During a gale the Astrolabe drove on the reef, but was afterwards got off by the exertion of the natives; some of the men deserting from the ship, the chiefs were accused of enticing them away, and on the men not being given up the ship fired on the village; the natives barricaded themselves on the beach by throwing up sand heaps, and afterwards retired into the woods. The natives pointed out the effects of the shot; on the trees, a large branch of a casuarina tree in the sacred enclosure was shot off, several coco-nut trees were cut in two, and the marks of several spent shots still remain on the trees: three natives were killed in this attack. A great number of the flying-fox, or vampire bat, hung from the casuarina trees in this enclosure, but the natives interposed to prevent our firing at them, the place being tabued. Mr. Turner had been witness to the interment here, not long previously, of the wife of a chief, and allied to the royal family. The body, enveloped in mats, was placed in a vault, in which some of her relations had been before interred, and being covered up, several natives advanced with baskets of sand, &c. and strewed it over the vault; others then approached and cut themselves on the head with hatchets, wailing and showing other demonstrations of grief. Small houses are erected over the vaults. All the burial-places are either fenced round or surrounded by a low wall of coral stones, and have a very clean, neat, and regular appearance.

"I observed that nearly the whole of the natives whom I had seen, were deficient in the joints of the little finger of the left hand, and some of both; some of the first joint only, others two, and many the whole of both fingers. On inquiry, I found that a joint is chopped off on any occasion of the illness or death of a relation or chief, as a propitiatory offering to the Spirit. There is a curious analogy between this custom and one related by Mr. Burchell as existing among the Bushmen tribe in Southern Africa, and performed for similar superstitious reasons to express grief for the loss of relations.

"Near this place was the Hufanga, or place of refuge, in which a person in danger of being put to death is in safety as long as he remains there; on looking in the enclosure, it was only a place gravelled over, in which was a small house and some trees planted." 2


THE SELECTOR; AND LITERARY NOTICES OF NEW WORKS.


FRANCIS THE FIRST.

An Historical Drama. By Frances Ann Kemble.

This extraordinary production has awakened an interest in the dramatic and literary world, scarcely equalled in our times. We know of its fortune upon the stage by report only; but, from our acquaintance with the requisites of the acting drama, we should conceive its permanence will be more problematical in the theatre than in the closet; and considering the conditions upon which dramatic fame is now attainable, we think the clever authoress will not have reason to regret these inequalities of success. That Miss Kemble's tragedy possesses points to be made, and passages that will tell on the stage, cannot be denied; but its interest for representation requires to be concentrated; it "wants a hero, an uncommon thing." It is well observed in the Quarterly Review, (by the way, the only notice yet taken of the tragedy, that merits attention,) that "the piece is crowded with characters of the greatest variety, all of considerable importance in the piece, engaged in the most striking situations, and contributing essentially to the main design. Instead of that simple unity of interest, from which modern tragic writers have rarely ventured to depart, it takes the wider range of that historic unity, which is the characteristic of our elder drama; moulds together, and connects by some common agent employed in both, incidents which have no necessary connexion; and—what in the present tragedy strikes us as on many accounts especially noticeable—unites by a fine though less perceptible moral link, remote but highly tragic events with the immediate, if we may so speak, the domestic interests of the play." This language is finely characteristic of the drama. Again, the interest has "so much Shakspearianism in the conception as to afford a remarkable indication of the noble school in which the young authoress has studied, and the high models which, with courage, in the present day, fairly to be called originality, she has dared to set before her. In fact, Francis the First is cast entirely in the mould of one of Shakspeare's historical tragedies." The drama too was written without any view to its representation, as the Quarterly reviewer has been "informed by persons who long ago perused the manuscript, several years before Miss Kemble appeared upon the stage, and at a time when she little anticipated the probability that she herself might be called upon to impersonate the conceptions of her own imagination. We believe that we are quite safe when we state that the drama, in its present form, was written when the authoress was not more than seventeen." Yet it should be added that the above statement is not made by way of extenuation; for, to say the truth, it needs no such adventitious aid.

A mere outline of the story will convince the reader that, as the Reviewer states, "the tragedy is alive from the beginning to the end;" and our extracts will we trust show the language to be bold and vigorous; the imagery sweetly poetical; and the workings of the passions which actuate the personages to be evidently of high promise if not of masterly spirit.

The tragedy opens with the recall of the Constable De Bourbon from Italy, through the supposed political intrigue, but really, the secret love, of the mother of Francis, Louisa of Savoy, Duchess of Angouleme, whom Miss Kemble calls the Queen Mother. In the second scene the Queen Mother communicates to Gonzales, a monk in disguise, but in, reality an emissary of the Court of Spain, her secret passion for De Bourbon, and her design in his recall.

Francis is introduced at a tourney, where he not only triumphs in the jousts, but over the heart of the beautiful Françoise de

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