IT is our wish, in imitation of other newswritters, to give now and then an account of such new publications as deserve the attention of the public; but in a paper, published only twice a week, where so much naturally occurs under the article of temporary news, it is but seldom we can find room for this purpose:–when, however, any ting remarkable appears in the literary world, we never fail to notice it, although it may not be in our power to give an extensive and critical account of its excellencies. We take up the pen with real pleasure at present to announce the publication of a tragedy, intitled THE INDIANS, the reputed offspring of a learned Professor in this University. The great applause with which this play was received, when performed at Richmond Theatre, has raised the expectations of those who were not present at the performance to the highest pitch; and we think we may take upon ourselves to assert, that upon perusing it, even their highest expetations will not be disappointed.– The plot of the piece is taken from a well known story published at the end of a volum of poems, written by the same gentleman. In the choice of a plot, where so many dramatic writers of respectable talents have erred, our author is peculiarly happy. He ha strictly observed the advice of Horace:
Denique sit quid vis, simplex dumtaxat et unum.
It is simple, and yet it does not disgust by an appearance of nakedness.–It is one, for the complaints of Maraino, and the return of Oniyo, form a beginning; the machinations of Yerdal and Neidan to prevent their meeting a middle; and defeat of those arts, an end, which combined wake up a compleat and connected whole. In the delineation of character the author has, on alevery occasion, attended to the ” quid quemque decent “–there are hoever some few parts, which the critic halts to consider, but which amidst so many beauties, he blushes to censure–Some lines, for instance in the character of Ononthio, do not strike us at first as strictly natural. Is so much humanity found inthe breast of an Inan Sachem, as to prompt him to spare a victim, about to be destroyed accoridng to the custom of the country; that victim a captive of war, and not only so, but a Briton, who has been fighting against his countrymen, amongst whom was his only son, whom he bleived slain? Would he exert himself so much in favour of a stranger and a foe, at the risk of displeasing the village, and consequently of losing his power? Or is it likely that he would have greater influence with the superstitious crowd, than he, who was deemed of skill to bend to his purpose the demons that sway the fortune of mankind?–Another question concenring Ononthio, and we leave him. Is it consistent with the philosophic firmness of the Sachem, so to despair on receiving news of his son’s death, as to declare that he should know no comfort, but to die? or is it consistent with his humanity to leave Maraino at such a period of distress, when she most stood in need of his kind offices?–The first, and best supported character in the piece is that of Maraino. Her mind seems intended as the seat of every amiable virtue. Her grateful reverence of Ononthio, her unaffected piety, and her humanity, in interfering to save an unknown captive from death, are pleasing??? which give???an insight into her nature. In the breast of Mariano every thing is subordinate to her love for Onaiyo: this leading feature in her caracter is properly kept in view during the course of the piece. But even in this master-piece the author, has, perhaps, once deviated a little from nature. The sentiments Maraino utters during the conversation with Sydney, in the fifth act, are rather those of a Phiosopher and Divine, than a young creature, the chorus of whole heart are tuned to the sweetest strains of tenderness and love. Can she, who had lately discovered a long lost brother, talk so coldly in his presence; Can she, who had so lately heard of the safety of an adored-husband, so entirely banish his image from her mind, as to converse on matters so indifferent? Can the gentle Maraino become the cold moralist?–With this one exception, the part of which we are speaking is finely drawn and highly interesting.–The language of the piece is every where elegant, and in many places, where the sentiment requires it, sublime. The author has frequently dignified his verse by the introduction of obsolete words; this in general produces a good effect–but there is a danger of using them too often, and of chusing them too ancient. it is a dangerous and difficult talk where all is so excellent, to refer to any particular passage of scene as deserving most notice: it requires no small degree of taste and judgement. If there is any preference to be given, it is perhaps to that scene in the 2d act, where Onaiyo gives an account of the battle at Quebec; and the scene in the 4th act, where Maraino is prompted by Neidan to slay her brother,–who proves his innocence by the production of her husband’s belt, the sight of which draws an elegant speech from the enraptured fair. This scene, however, would be improved did it conclude with something more apt to the joyful moment, than the solemn sounds of Ononthio: a speech excellent in itself, and containing a very fine sentiment, Sed nunc non erat his locus.–
Upon the whole, the tragedy, upon which we have, guided by impartiality, spoken so freely, is in our opinion far superior to most of those plays which have appeared of late years:–it is devoid of bombast:–it is nature–and she must inevitably please.
Citation: Glasgow Advertiser (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 13 December 1790, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/85.