Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

not a single tragedy, derived from the Greek mythology, Jccep possession, of our stage, or is read in our closet.

The reasons which we have assigned above for the style which the Greeks adopted in their drama, will, we think justify a poet for using the same style in scriptural subjects. The characters are too well known to all, and too sanctified in our imaginations, to admit of any addition, or any thing that is not perfectly dignified and solemn. Accordingly, we have always considered Athaliah as the first production of the French drama, no doubt because we could there tolerate the French manner. While we have yawned, (we fairly confess it,) in the midst of all the elegance and well-wrought woes of Phedre and Andromaque,we have never risen from the perusal of Athaliah, but with feelings of the most sublime solemnity.

We are not sorry, therefore, to see Athaliah in an English dress; and we are, on the whole, not discontented with the dress in which the translator has chosen to present her to the public. We could have wished, indeed, that it had been a little more in the costume of our older dramatists, a little more in that flowing and peculiar style which we should find it difficult to describe, but no one, we are fully persuaded, who has competently admired Shakspeare and Massinger, will feel perfectly content with a tragedy in any style but our own, or will ever think any style our own, but that of our good old school. This style consists partly in the language, and partly in the flow of the verse, but is perfectly indescribable in both.

In this style, which, we think, is by no means unattainable in the present day, we have often wished for two or three volumes containing specimens of plays, not of parts of plays, from the Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and German writers. Would not this, it may be said, be transgressing against a rule we have so often laid down, that every translater should be as much as possible in the style of the original? We ask, in answer, whether the style of Massinger and Shakspeare be the same? whether Jonson's be like either? Whether, again, Beaumont and Fletcher did not adopt one entirely distinct from all three? What we recommend is, merely a kind of dialect of the English language aud a particular form of the English verse; to which, we think, a person who should make the above objection would be to the full as pedantical, as he who should translate a Greek play in Iambic alexandrines, with a proper mixture of acatalectic anapaestic dimeters, with their bases and proceleusmatic verses. This is as much the appropriate style of the English drama, as rhyming alexandrines are of the French. We should wish to see Shakspeare himselfin rhyme, when translated into French; certainly not for our own gratification, but because we are well aware that the French could enjoy him in no other than a national dress.

We sliall leave our readers to form their own estimate of one or two passages of the English Athaliah.

'ABNER.

But where that bright futurity foreshewn
To David, and to David's greafer son?
Alas, we trusted, that a line of Kings
Belov'd and glorious, should from him descend,
Till one, blest hope of mortals, stretching far
The rod of conquest, and the wand of peace,
Should calm the tumults of distracted earth,
While all her kneeling Monarchs own'd his sway.

JOAB.

And why renounce the hope which Heaven ensures?

ABNER.

Ah! whence shall David's promis'd offspring rise? Can Heaven itself a living branch bestow, —The royal stock uprooted,—wither'd,—dead? E'en cradled infancy partook the grasp Of Athaliah's vengeance. Shall we call Her victims from their eight years sleep of death i

■Oh ! .had her keen-eyed fury miss'd its aim, Were one rich drop of royal blood unspill'd——

Joab. What would my Abner then?

ABNER.

Oh joyous day!
With what devotion would I hail my King!With what loud loyalty the gathering tribes But hence, vain dream!' pp. 6, 7.

* Whate'er I did,
I deem'd expedient, Abner; nor will stoop
To vindicate my acts of sovereignty
At the base bidding of the clamorous herd.
Let it suffice them, that the powers above
Have been the patrons of a martial reign,
Prospering my arms, till the far sever'd shores
Of this broad continent, respect their strength.
Jerusalem hath peace. No vagrant horde
Of Arabs, nor the vaunting Philistine,
Whose inroads mock'd your Kings, now waste the vale
Of Jordan. Syria courts a brother's name. E'en Jehu, swift destroyer of my house,
Shrinks in his covert of Samarian hills.
To quell that murderer's force, my envoys rous'd
A near and potent foe, whose legions press
On all his frontier; while these realms enjoy,
In proud repose, the fruits of policy.
These are my triumphs; but their noon-day brightness,
Of late malignant clouds and mists obscure.

A dream shall Athaliah prate of dreams!

Ay—but those untold horrors haunt my soul,

And ye must give it rest. Thus was the dream:

—From thick unnatural midnight seem'd to start

My royal mother, bright with rich attire

As on her death-day; suffering had not chang'd

Her bold imperial aspect, and the tints

With which she cancell'd the reproach of years

Were fresh upon her cheek — These hollow sounds

Crept through mine ear: "Tremble, thou other self!"O'er thee too, Judah's wrathful God prevails.

"I mourn thy fate." And then the stately shade

Lent o'er my couch.' pp. 24>, 25.

First Voice. In this hour of fearful anguish,
Why the sacred crown prepare?
Though your impious foe ye vanquish,
Who shall regal honours wear?

Salomith.

The God of Israel spake.
But can ye pierce the veil opaque,
Which shrouds his deep decree?
Comes he to punish or defend ?—
Say will his warrior angel be
Our destroyer or our friend?—

All the Chorus. Stupendous cloud, thy judgments lower;
But rays of love alternate shine.
Oh fearful hope! mysterious hour!
Can wrath and mercy thus combine?

First Voice. Sion falls! Heav'ns wrath enfolds her
In its desolating fires!

Second Voice. Sion lives, till time expires! Heav'n's eternal truth upholds her!

First Voice.
I see the gloom of her funereal flames.

Second Voice.
On me the sunrise of her glory beams.

First Voice.
She sinks engulph'd in woes profound!

Second Voice.
She rises with celestial splendour crown'd!

First Voice.
Fatal fall!

Second Voice.
Immortal birth!

First Voice.
Shrieks of death my heart appal!

Second Voice.
Shouts of triumph fill the earth!

Third Voice. Break off your troubled strain!
Hath Jehovah ceas'd to reign?
He, in his appointed hour,
The mysterious veil shall rend.

Three Voices. Bow before his vengeful power,
Own your everlasting friend I

First Voice.

Friend and father, God of love,
If our hearts that union know,
If our will be one with thine,
Who shall break the bond divine?
And what else of joy below?
And what other bliss above?
No pure drops on earth beside,
Ana all Heaven's eternal tide Is the ocean of thy love!' pp. 62 — 64°.

Art. XIII. Private Hours of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his Earliest
Years to the period of his Marriage toith the Arch-Duchess Maria
Louisa. Written by Himself, during his residence in the Isle of
Elba. 2 Vols. 12mo. Price 10s. 6d. No English Publisher's

is a publication, which so outrages both decency and common sense, and which carries on its face so obvious an air of imposition, that nothing but an insatiate appetite for slander could, we should imagine, reconcile any one to its perusal We should entertain no hope as to the moral character of the person who has endeavoured, without sufficient ability to support the deception, to impose these coarse and puerile effusions upon the public as the production of Napoleon Bonaparte; were it not that in withholding his name from this despicable performance, he gives some indication of a sense of shame. The »oA-disant Editor pretends that a Duke, whose name we are left to guess, brought him the manuscript, with an injunction to print it!

It is perfectly unnecessary to attempt to prove that this is not the performance of Napoleon Bonaparte. The ignorance of the Author, with respect both to the character it professes to delineate, and to the human character in general, appears in every page. Napoleon is made not only to accuse himself of crimes at nine years of age, which not the laxest morality would hold venial in manhood, but to argue coolly in their

defence upon the ground of moral and physical considerations. The work does not contain a single interesting anecdote or trait of character; it consists merely of a succession of vulgar excesses vulgarly narrated, and might just as well have been an account of the private hours of the Editor himself, as of Bonaparte. But the strongest terms of reprobation are due to the deliberate wickedness of an author, whose apparent object in the polluting details of his narrative, is to do as much mis•chief as comes within the slender compass of his ability.

We cannot forbear severely to reprehend the translator, and all who have been concerned in ushering into public notice this silly and impure performance.

Art. XIV. The Spirit of Prayer; or a Di>eot<rse an the Nature of Prayer, fyc. With directions for attaining the Gift of Prayer. By Nathaniel Vincent, M.A. a Non-Conformist Minister. A new Edition, carefully Revised and Corrected. To which a Memoir of the Author is prefixed By J. H. Hopkins. iSmo. pp. xviii, 168. Price 2s Conder

judicious effort to preserve the remains of the Nonconfonnist ministers from oblivion, is highly deserving of •commend ition They were men, not only pre-eminent as judicious divines, but for the most part of highly respectable and Tery soht attainments in learning, and many of them were distingui.-v.ed as scholars and as pulpit orators. The name of Nathaniel Vincent is by ho moans one of the least venerable. Wood, in his Athens Oxononienses, mentions him as a considerable scholar.

This little work, which on its first publication 'went through 'at least five editions,' had become exceedingly scarce, and almost unknown. Its intrinsic excellence, as a plain and useful treatise on the subject of Prayer, rendered its publication very desirable, and the public are indebted to Mr. Hopkins for the cheap form in which he has printed this edition, in the hope of its obtaining a wide circulation.

Art. XV. Considerations sur Geneve, dam sei Rapportt avcc PAugleterre et les Etats Protestants, Suivies d'un Ditewtrt prtatonai 2 Geneve sur la Philosophic de fffistoire. Par J. C. L. Sismonde de Sismondi. 8vo. pp. 47. Murray. 18H.

'T'HESE two short pieces bear the characteristics that distin

-•- guish the larger works of the Author, which have made him

*o advantageously known, on the Continent and in this country. They display liberality and comprehension of views, powers of language, and a certain warmth and benevolence of fcclinj,

« ForrigeFortsett »