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The second act still further discloses the machinations of Hadad, who stirs the ambitious jealousy of Absalom, by repeating the rumor that young Solomon has been appointed to the royal succession, and throws himself in the way of that young prince, for the purpose of corrupting his mind, and learning the truth of the report. His purpose is defeated by the sudden appearance of Nathan, which affords another opportunity of some obscure and mysterious intimations of Hadad's true character. This plan having failed, he persuades Absalom to make inquiry of an eastern magician. They accordingly meet him in the sepulchre of David, and there, in obedience to his incantations, a spirit rises in the vapour, and utters ambiguous prophecies, which inflame the prince's ambition, and precipitate him into immediate rebellion.
In the third act, the plot advances, and we are introduced into a meeting of the conspirators, who prepare for sudden action, and the crowning of Absalom the next day. The hurry, consternation, and tumult, which attend the out-breaking of the rebellion, are excellently pictured in the various following scenes, which, with several of a similar character in the remaining acts, have great dramatic power. They are living, moving, real representations. The calm and dignified demeanour of the king, the distraction of the attendants, the severity and impatience of Joab, whose character, little as he appears, is most admirably sketched ;-indeed all that attends the flight of the royal party, is depicted with great spirit and truth.
Tamar, in the mean time, half distracted by the shock she had received from the news of the rebellion, wanders forth for the purpose of joining David, and after a long search amidst the confusion of a tumultuous night, is restored to her father. On the approach of the battle, he gives her in charge to Hadad, who retires with her to a tent of Ishmaelites in the vicinity, where they remain during the heat and violence of the contest. The progress of the battle, and its issue, are known from the reports of Ishmaelites arriving from time to time at the tent; by which mode, most agreeably to truth and probability, the author has avoided the difficulty, not to say the impossibility, of presenting the details of battle on the stage, and has escaped the necessity of exhibiting David after the death of his son. The pathetic account in the Scriptures is too familiar to all, to allow of its being successfully introduced into a work like this. What remains, therefore, after the tidings of Absalom's discomfiture
and death, is only the dénouement of the action, as it relates to Hadad and Tamar. They retire from the tent, and he attempts to persuade her, by the most magnificent promises, to share his fortunes; but she resists ail solicitation. He reveals his true character and power, and she spurns him. He seizes her by force, and drags her away. She is rescued by some superior spirit, who destroys Hadad; and one of David's
generals approaching, conducts her to Jerusalem.
Different opinions will be entertained of this introduction of supernatural, demoniacal, and angelic agency into events so strictly historical. For ourselves, we could say much against it; especially the fiction of the demon dromedary, which is not only unnecessary, but an absolute blemish. And on the whole, we should have been better pleased, were the historical drama exclusively such, and had our author interwoven these spiritual appearances into some fable of his own invention. A certain feeling of dissatisfaction now intrudes upon the reader's pleasure, which would then have been avoided. But there can be no difference of opinion, we think, respecting the skill with which this very difficult matter is managed in all its parts. We do not think it, upon the whole, inferior, and, in some particulars, we conceive it to be superior, as we have before said, to that of any writer whom we remember to have made a similar attempt. It has a greater appearance of reality or possibility; and it is enveloped in the choicest graces of poetry; and, as the author seems to have written the whole for the sake of this part, we will quote a passage, which may enable our readers to judge of it. We refer particularly to the character of Hadad.
Tam. I shudder,
Had. You wrong them. They are bright Intelligences,
Tam. Good heavens !
Had. He bade me look on rugged Caucasus,
Of barren mountains, beaten by the storms
Tam. Unheard-of splendour!
Had. There they dwell, and muse,
Tam. Are they beautiful,
Had. Man's feeble heart cannot conceive it. When
Tam. Wondrous !--What intercourse have they with men ?
Had. Sometimes they deign to intermix with man, But oft with woman.
Tam. Ha! with woman?
Tam. That surpasses all
Had. This the Sage affirms; And Moses, darkly.
Tam. How do they appear?
Had. Sometimes 't is spiritual, signified
Tam. Frightful to be so beloved !
Had. Dark imaginations haunt me
Tam. O, tell them not-I would not be them.
Had. But why contemn a Spirit's love? so high,
Had. No-0, no-
Tam. Why dost thou speak so sadly now ?-And lo!
(He appears lost in thought.] Tell me, ascrib’st thou influence to the stars ?
Had. (starting.) The stars! What know'st thou of the stars ?
Tam. Speak not so wildly.-
but look into the void abyss With eyes experienced, unobscured by torments, Then mightst thou name it, name it feelingly.
Tam. What ails thee, Hadad ?-Draw me not so close.
Tam. Thy cheek is wet with tears—Nay, let us part-
[Breaks from him, and exit.] Had. Loved and abhorred !-Still, still accursed !
[He paces, twice or thrice, up and down, with passionate
gestures ; then turns his face to the sky, and stands a
Where, where, in what abyss shall I be groaning ? [Exit.] We have unavoidably passed without notice several characters and scenes not less deserving approbation than those, which we have mentioned. We refer the reader to the poem itself. Our opinion of it has been sufficiently expressed. We might point out some faults, but we have neither disposition nor room. We will only mark one or two blemishes of lan
guage, which we should be glad to see removed from a work deserving so high praise for its carefulness and purity in the use of words. It might easily be made almost immaculate.
• O pause, my Lord, ere such a covenant;
The pledge of amity?' p. 49.
In one instance thou and you are intermixed in the same sentence. p. 51.
• But such designs Require immediate action, cannot linger
An old man's ebbing sands.' p. 90. This is unusual, if not unauthorized.
We object to “bosom-free," p. 151 ; and to the expression “ Never saw I wrath so fell and followed ;” and “ fought from out a chariot.” p. 183.
This is a small list, after all. We had designed to extract a few passages merely for their poetical beauties, but are now straitened for room. We the less regret this, as we hope to see the work itself in the hands of every lover of poetry and of our country. The only obstacle to this will be its costly form; and we trust that this will be removed, by its immediate publication in a less expensive and more accessible shape.
THE STUDY OF BOTANY. The return of this charming season invites our attention to a study which has peculiar attractions at such a period. I allude to the study of Botany. The science of natural history partakes largely of the extraordinary advancement, to which every intellectual pursuit has been carried in the present age. Botany, beyond all its kindred branches of knowledge, deserves to be considered one of the popular and fashionable studies of the times. It has been the case in our own country, especially, where the rich abundance of the indigenous vegetable productions affords so