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After this the business of the drama proceeds rapidly, and it is no common praise to say, that its interest does not decline. Simon and John come out in high exultation from the banquet, chide the desponding crowd to their homes, and retire to dreams of future glory and victory, leaving the stage for Miriam to deplore the infatuation of those most dear to her. As she is endeavouring to compose her soul to prayer, the storm bursts from heaven. The noise of the thunder blends with that of the Roman engines battering the walls, with the trumpets and shouts of the Gentiles mounting to the assault, and already victorious in the streets of the city, and with the clamours and outcries of the inhabitants, flying from the slaughter, or rallying in defence of the Temple.
Simon, indeed, instead of appearing, as might have been expected, at the head of his troops, the fiercest among the guardians of the sanctuary, comes forth unarmed and inactive, and, after thrusting himself on the stage from time to time, and interrupting the current of our feelings with his persevering anticipations of a supernatural deliverance, is, without resistance, taken prisoner by the Romans, and gravely gives up his last hopes of the redemption of Israel on perceiving that the thunder-storm abates, and that the flame kindled by the Gentiles has actually power over the Temple. But we turn from this strange failure in the delineation of one of Mr. Milman's principal characters—to his lovely heroine, who is still herself, and for whom all our fears and admiration are kept alive, while we follow her fight through the blazing streets, and amid all the horrors of
swords and men and furious faces,
Before her, and behind her, and around! Nor are other circumstances of terror wanting. She meets an old man, one of those who recollected Christ on earth, and had joined in the cry of Crucify him!'-He is now convinced, by the misery which has overtaken himself and his nation, of the divine authority of the person whom he had joined in condemning and blaspheming. But he is convinced too late of his error;-he believes only to despair; and aggravates his own misery and self-condemnation by calling to mind the many circumstances of awful sublimity which had attended the person and dignified the death of the Man of Nazareth,' and which now terrify and distract, though they had then no power to soften him. He disregards, in this temper, the intreaties of Miriam that he would still seek for salvation, and leaves her, shaking his grey locks, with curses on himself and her.
Salone now enters, the bridal crown yet hanging from her loose tresses, but pale, half-naked, and bleeding. Amariah had been roused from his nuptial bed by the noise of the assault, and' yet,'
says the poor lovesick enthusiast, there was no sound I heard. He had looked forth and seen the inevitable ruin of his nation. Salone. He came back and kiss'd me, and he said
I know not what he said-but there wias something
And I felt nothing but his burning tears.'—p. 141. While Miriam is yet weeping over her sister's body, a Gentile soldier, whom she had often before observed as having singled her out, but whose pursuit she had hitherto eluded, approaches to seize her. Escape is now impossible; ' every where are more;' and she has no resource but in a passionate appeal to his natural feeling-to his love for his own wife, his own child, his own sisterand by an adjuration in the name of Christ, of whatever evil thoughts might haunt him, to excite his compassion and veneration, and commit herself to his guidance. His mien is somewhat less savage than the rest : he makes, however, no answer, but grasps her arm and leads her away in silence, “ through darkling street and over smoking ruin,' to the fountain of Siloe and her accustomed trysting-place.
• We write not for that simple maid,
To whom it must in terms be said'-that this seeming Gentile is Javan, who has availed himself of a warlike disguise to save the object of his tenderest solicitude. In the embrace of her lover she blends her tears of joy with those of sorrow for her father and sister. Other Christians join them to take a last leave of the Holy City and its blazing sanctuary, and a splendid chorus follows, in which the Fall of Jerusalem is characterized as typical of the great and final consummation of all created things.,
Thus ends this most striking poem, on the merits and defects of which even the imperfect sketch which we have given will have enabled our readers to pass judgment. In the delineation of its characters we have detected no failure but that remarkable one of Simon; and this has arisen not from poverty of imagination, or ignorance of the stronger passions of the human heart, but from the author's having formed the idea of a more striking and less unamiable fanatic than history represented, while he neglected to alter those historical traits which are inconsistent with his own conception. In consequence we have two distinct and irrecon-. cileable Simons; the one, who is that of Josephus, a haughty,
remorseless zealot, a fiery warrior, and a crafty politician; the other a humble, a holy and well-meaning, though crazy and misguided enthusiast. The cure for this defect will be simply to divide the characters, and to assign, with some additions and alterations, to different individuals, those speeches and actions which now agree no otherwise than the plumage of different birds on the same nondescript animal. Of the other persons of the drama, John is well drawn, though not very fully developed; and he expresses himself in the defence of his heresy with an art and eloquence which we are almost sorry to see in Mr. Milman's
pages unaccompanied by such an antidote as he well knows how to supply, and which might be introduced with perfect propriety into the mouth either of the High Priest, of Simon or Eleazar. Of Amariah we rather hear than see any thing; and Javan is only so far important or interesting as he developes the character and influences the fortunes of Miriam. But the main attractions of the poem are to be found in Salone and Miriam, and the contrast which they offer to each other. Both are in love, both are actuated by strong religious as well as natural feelings; but the former only is an enthusiast; and, glowing as are the colours in which her peculiarities are drawn, it is no small praise to the distinctness and truth of the artist's pencil, that our admiration and our preference are uniformly directed to the chastened affections, the calm fervour, the resolute self-devotion and self-denial of her milder and more humble sister,
Of the plot-if that name can be given to an inartificial SUCcession of incidents no otherwise connected with each other than by the identity of the persons whom they befall-the Stagyrite would certainly not have spoken with approbation. And, even of those who do not require a more obvious dependance of events and causes than is usually found in nature, who can admire the beauty and sublimity of the separate links without too closely inquiring into their mutual connexion and coherence, there are many who will wish that the author had found for Miriam some more prominent and active share in the events of the siege and the fortunes of her family, than the mere secret conveyance of food to her father's mansion. Nor, deeply as we all are interested in our heroine's escape, will some of us fail to censure the contrivance by which Javan at first is made, out of pure tenderness, to keep his mistress in ignorance of his person and intentions, as if the apprehension of death, and outrage worse than death, were less intolerable than the sudden joy of finding herself in friendly hands.
But in spite of these defects, and of some few instances of heaviness and inflation in Mr. Milman's language, we do not envy those critics who can read his work without abundant delight, or speak of
it without warm admiration. To ourselves, who have watched for some years back, with no unfriendly eyes, the improvement of his taste and the development of his genius, it is an additional source of pleasure to find our most favourable prognostics confirmed, and the promise of the youth so completely answered by the ripened fruits of the man.
His juvenile lines on the Apollo Belvidere, with more originality than such productions commonly exhibit, had nevertheless all the characteristics, good or bad, of juvenile poetry. In his • Fazio,' with many remarkable proofs of genius, there was much to prune away, and much yet wanting which care and cultivation might supply; and his . Samor' was so overloaded with beauties, that the attention was lost and wearied amid a maze of fragrance, and required some sterner and more naked features from which to derive new vigour aud refreshment.
Τρές μέν ορέξατ' ιών, το δε τετρατον He has now produced a poem in which the peculiar merits of his earlier efforts are heightened, and their besetting faults, even beyond expectation, corrected ;-a poem to which, without extravagant encomiuin it is not unsafe to promise whatever immortality the English language can bestow, and which may, of itself, entitle its author to a conspicuous and honourable place in our poetical pantheon, among those who have drunk deep at the fountain-bead of intellect, and enriched themselves with the spoils, without encumbering themselves with the trammels of antiquity. But he must not stop eren here. He has yet something to unlearn; he has yet much to add to his own reputation and that of his
country. Remarkably as Britain is now distinguished by its living poetical talent, our time has room for him; and has need of him. For sacred poetry, (a walk which Milton alone has hitherto successfully trodden,) his taste, his peculiar talents, his education, and his profession appear alike to designate him; and, while, by a strange predilection for the worser balf of manicheism, one of the mightiest spirits of the age has, apparently, devoted himself and his genius to the adornment and extension of evil, we may be well exhilarated by the accession of a new and potent ally to the cause of human virtue and happiness, whose example may furnish an additional evidence that purity and weakness are not synonymous, and that the torch of genius never burns so bright as when duly kindled at the Altar.
Art. XI.-Voyage dans l'Intérieur de l'Afrique aur Sources du
Sénégal el de la Gambie, fuit en 1818, par ordre du Gouvernement Français. Par G. Mollien. Paris. - 1820. BEFORE we attend to M. Mollien, « hosé" voyage' will occasion us little trouble, we must advert to a subject which we
VOL. XXIII. NO. XLV.
have much at heart, and which indeed is somewhat more interesting than any which his book supplies.
We have the painful task of recording the sacrifice of another victim to the cause of African discovery Mr. Ritchie (the person of whom we speak) was, perhaps, only inferior to Mr. Burckhardt in those qualifications which are peculiarly requisite for conducting researches in a quarter of the globe of which so little is known accurately, and so much remains to be investigated; in some respects, indeed, he might be said to have the advantage of him, being a good practical astronomer, and well acquainted with the use of mathematical and philosophical instruments. He had also a competent knowledge of medicine, having served his apprenticeship with a regular surgeon. At the conclusion of the late war, he went to Paris, and was received into the family of Sir Charles Stuart, in the capacity, we believe, of private secretary. Here he had an opportunity of attending the polytechnic schools; and the progress which he made in natural history, astronomy, chemistry, and other branches of science, joined to his situation in the British Embassy, brought him acquainted with most of the leading men in that capital. Among other eminent characters, he was particularly noticed by the Baron de Humboldt; and when it was publicly reported, that his Majesty's government intended to avail itself of the favourable disposition of the Bashaw of Tripoly to encourage the prosecution of discovery in the interior of Africa, this celebrated traveller, who was then in England, took an opportunity of recommending Mr. Ritchie as a person highly qualified for such an undertaking
On the first intimation given to Mr. Ritchie of what was in contemplation, he immediately resigned the situation which he held in the ambassador's household, and came over to England. From Lord Bathurst he received the most liberal encouragement. To give more weight to the mission, and to contribute, it was hoped, to his personal security, he was invested with the official character of vice-consul of Mourzouk, the capital of Fezzan. An ample sum was allotted for his expenses, for the purchase of instruments connected with the various objects of science, and for presents to the native chiefs and others. In the spring of 1818 he returned to Paris, where he remained for about six months studying the Arabic language, under the instructions of an Arab whom he met with in that city; and in daily attendance at the observatory, in order to acquire a readiness in the use of astronomical instruments.
Though the principal object of the mission was the determination of the leading geographical features of the interior of Africa, yet, anxious to render the results of the enterprize as useful as possible to the progress of general science, he engaged a young French