Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

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,
Lest some dark Minister be near us now.

Had. You wrong them. They are bright Intelligences,
Robbed of some native splendour, and cast down,
'T is true, from Heaven; but not deformed, and foul,
Revengeful, malice-working Fiends, as fools
Suppose. They dwell, like Princes, in the clouds ;
Sun their bright pinions in the middle sky;
Or arch their palaces beneath the hills,
With stones inestimable studded so,
That sun or stars were useless there.

Tam. Good heavens !

Had. He bade me look on rugged Caucasus,
Crag piled on crag beyond the utmost ken,
Naked, and wild, as if creation's ruins
Were caped in immeasurable chain

Of barren mountains, beaten by the storms
Of everlasting winter. But, within
Are glorious palaces, and domes of light,
Irradiate halls, and crystal colonnades,
Vaults set with gems the purchase of a crown,
Blazing with lustre past the noon-tide beam,
Or, with a milder beauty, mimicking
The mystic signs of changeful Mazzaroth.

Tam. Unheard-of splendour!

Had. There they dwell, and muse,
And wander; Beings beautiful, immortal,
Minds vast as heaven, capacious as the sky,
Whose thoughts connect past, present, and to come,
And glow with light intense, imperishable.
Thus, in the sparry chambers of the Sea
And Air-Pavilions, rainbow Tabernacles,
They study Nature's secrets, and enjoy
No poor dominion.

Tam. Are they beautiful,
And powerful far beyond the human race?

Had. Man's feeble heart cannot conceive it. When
The sage described them, fiery eloquence
Flowed from his lips, his bosom heaved, his eyes
Grew bright and mystical; moved by the theme,
Like one who feels a deity within.

Tam. Wondrous !--What intercourse have they with men ?

Had. Sometimes they deign to intermix with man, But oft with woman.

Tam. Ha! with woman?

Had. She
Attracts them with her gentler virtues, soft,
And beautiful, and heavenly, like themselves.
They have been known to love her with a passion
Stronger than human.

Tam. That surpasses all
You yet have told me.

Had. This the Sage affirms; And Moses, darkly.

Tam. How do they appear?
How manifest their love?

Had. Sometimes 't is spiritual, signified
By beatific dreams, or more distinct
And glorious apparition.—They have stooped
To animate a buman form, and love
Like mortals.

Tam. Frightful to be so beloved !
Who could endure the horrid thought!-What makes
Thy cold hand tremble? or is 't mine
That feels so deathy ?

Had. Dark imaginations haunt me
When I recall the dreadful interview.

Tam. O, tell them not-I would not be them.

Had. But why contemn a Spirit's love? so high,
So glorious, if he haply deigned ?-

Tam. Forswear
My Maker! love a Demon !

Had. No-0, no-
My thoughts but wandered-Oft, alas ! they wander.

Tam. Why dost thou speak so sadly now ?-And lo!
Thine eyes are fixed again upon Arcturus.
Thus ever, when thy drooping spirits ebb,
Thou gazest on that star. Hath it the power
To cause or cure thy melancholy mood ?-

(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. I know that they were made to rule the night.
Had. Like palace lamps ! Thou echoest well thy grandsire.
Woman! the stars are living, orious,
Amazing, infinite !

Tam. Speak not so wildly.-
I know them numberless, resplendent, set
As symbols of the countless, countless years
That make eternity.

Had. Eternity!-
Oh! mighty, glorious, miserable thought!
Had ye endured like those great sufferers,
Like them, seen ages, myriad ages roll;
Could

ye

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.
Had. Tamar! I need thy love-more than thy love-

Tam. Thy cheek is wet with tears—Nay, let us part-
'T is late-I cannot, must not linger.-

[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
moment in silence.]

-Oh! where,
In the illimitable space, in what
Profound of untried misery, when all
His worlds, his rolling orbs of light, that fill
With life and beauty yonder infinite,
Their radiant journey run, for ever set,

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;
Heaven frowns on them, our Law allows them not.' p. 27.
* All my hopes are so ingraft to yours.' p. 44.
• Assents he to the alliance, which would rest

The pledge of amity?' p. 49.
This is obscure, and not made clear by the connexion.

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.

MISOELLANY.

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

« НазадПродовжити »