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have opposed to Christianity the most is, that his performance concludes with beautiful and the most natural of hea- the highest interest of his story; then superstitions, the worship of the whereas in Valerius, the interest is Sun.”
not sustained on the same key with From all this it must be sufficiently the description of the bloody scenes in evident, that Mr Milman owes the the Roman Amphitheatre, at the close general idea of his new poem to the of the first volume. Thraso and romance of Valerius, and that in most Athanasia should have died together, of his leading conceptions, he follows and at the end of the book. the author of that on the whole splen- Thirdly, Mr Milman's plan has the did, although very unequal composi- merit of concentrating the interest on tion. The ideas of following the female the proper personages, much more than martyr into the struggles of the do- that of his predecessor. The father of mestic affections, wounded and dis. his Christian maiden is, in regard to turbed by the influence of the new the conception at least, much better religion, and of contrasting the simple than Athanasia's numerous tribe of faith of the Bible with the gorgeous relatives. And, in like manner, it is superstition of the God of Delos, are far better that Margarita should be common to both performances. The the priestess of Apollo herself, instead ancient Christian priest Fabius of the of occupying such an inferior place in poem, is the same being with the Au. his temple as Athanasia does. relius Felix of the novel, and speaks. Fourthly, The idea of representing in a great measure the same language; the Christian heroine as being beloved but indeed how could he speak any by the Roman Prefect, whose business other? The Margarita of the poem is it is to judge and condemn the disthe shadow of the Athanasia of the ro- ciples of the persecuted religion, is a mance; her conversion is discovered happy one, and of this Mr Milman almost in the same manner, and her might have made great use; but here conversations with her friends while we think he has failed very miserably, in confinement and expectation of and done no sort of justice to the indeath, are all conceived in precisely teresting dramatic situations his idea the same spirit. The Amphitheatre, brought within his reach. This Oly. with the laughing and cruel multitude bius, who tempts Margarita to aban. of spectators, is a copy, but a faint one don her religion by shewing her his it is true, of the magnificent picture of long suite of apartments and magnifithe Coliseum in Valerius, a picture cent furniture, and promising her that to which our prose literature possesses she shall be seated close by his side few things equal. The behaviour of on the throne of the Amphitheatre, the different martyrs is in like man- &c. is a very vulgar personage, and ner taken almost entirely from the quite unworthy of Mr Milman's imasame source. If Mr Milman's per- gination. There is nothing Roman in formance goes beyond Valerius, it such a character; nor does his hasty must therefore be in the management abdication, on hearing of Margarita's of its plot, and in the more judicious death, at all elevate him in our eyes. use which the poet may have made of The style in which he argues with the materials furnished ready to his Margarita can sanction no comparison hand by the learning or the invention with the scene between the senator of the novelist; and in many parti- Palma and Athanasia in Valerius; and culars we are of opinion, that such is this is the more astonishing, when one the case.
considers the superiority of the relative And, first of all, we think Mr Mil- situation in which the poet's interloman has exhibited great judgment in cutors are placed. Trajan and Palma giving to the story of his heroine a in the novel are beings whom we untermination altogether tragic. The derstand ; they speak like high-bred, Athanasia of Valerius ought to have enlightened, and compassionate men; died; and her preservation is a foolish but the Olybius of the poem is a percompliment to the prevailing taste of son whom it is difficult to imagine the young ladies, and other habitual either a man reverencing, or a woman novel-readers.
loving. He is vain, presumptuous, Secondly, Mr Milman, in conse- boastful, the one moment ; the next, quence of this his tragic catastrophe, nothing but weak and silly; and as for gains another great advantage, which his threatening and scolding the wo.
man who has just confessed that she derstand the reasons which led him to loves him, and telling her to recollect adopt it notwithstanding. that if she will not marry him he has A nd, secondly, it appears to us that the power of torturing and slaying Mr Milman is altogether inferior to her--this is so perfectly unworthy the novelist in regard to his concepeither of a Roman or of a man, that tions of what the state of feeling really we are quite ashamed in finding that was in the heathen world at the time such a poor conception could have en when the light of Christianity first tered into any cultivated mind. We broke upon it. He probably imagined, venture to say, that there is not one that, by painting nothing but the conreader who, were he to judge from that flict of two violent faiths, he should passage alone, would not say to himself, produce a more striking effect; but the manwhowrites this has never known the truth of history, as well as the what it is either to be in authority or truth of poetry, is against him. The to be in love. Rant, fustian, extrava- superstitions of heathendom were worn gance, are things which admit of easy out, or almost entirely so, long before forgiveness in the works of a young the time of Trajan, to say nothing of man; but such a fault as this speaks the time of Probus. Tbe day had poverty of spirit, coldness of blood and long gone by when men of rank and heart, deadness of imagination, and education trembled in their closets betrays but too plainly how much Mr over stories of imperfect entrails, and Milman has neglected the study of squeamish chickens, and reluctant that great volume which, in the words heifers, and attributed earthquakes to of a very different sort of poet, the wrath of Neptune. The author
of Valerius has indeed contrasted the “ Life, force, and beauty, must to all im faith of the early Christians with the part,
dark superstition of the vulgar heathen At once the source, and end, and test of mind; but in regard to characters of
a loftier order, he has wisely found
his materials of contrast not in imMr Milman's plan, therefore, pos- penetrable dogged superstition, but in sesses several advantages over that of that temperament of listless scornful the original which suggested to him indifference which had been too effechis subject, and is in many important tually nourished by the whole strain particulars more dramatically concei- of classical literature, and by the vaved. This is principally owing to the rious sects of their philosophers; above inore limited nature of his piece, and all, those of the Garden and the Porch, to the necessity of concentration im- --these two operating, it is true, in two posed on him by the species of his different methods upon the minds of composition. In so far we are of opi- their disciples. The persecutions of the nion that the Martyr of Antioch goes Christians in the time of the Roman beyond Valerius ; in every other partie emperors, chiefly arose, it is quite evicular we are compelled to acknowledge dent, from motives of political alarm that it appears to us to be very inferior and suspicion ; for had they arisen from to that romance.
the genuine hatred of a sincere domiAnd, in the first place, Antioch is a nant superstition, it is impossible to very inferior scene to Rome. Conver- imagine that they should have been sions and martyrdoms occurred every- interrupted by so many long intervals where; but no one can doubt, that of quiet and toleration. Who will bewhere the object was to represent the lieve that Trajan or Probus sacrificed contrast between themild opening light innocent virgins and venerable old of the Gospel and the sullen dying men to their own personal reverer.ee glare of heathen superstition, a bold for Neptune, Apollo, and Diana? The imagination would have decidedly pre Roman politicians were shrewd enough ferred making the Eternal City itself, to perceive in Christianity the germne of that great centre of all human power, a new set of feelings which must tend and all human wickedness, and all to overthrow the whole fabric of that human luxury, the scene in which to dark tyranny; and they hated Chrisexhibit the most strange and pictu- tianity and persecuted it on that acresque struggle that ever shook the in- count. And Mr Milman, who is a tellect and heart of man. In this re- scholar, should not have read the Rospect Mr Milman's alteration is much man authors from Tacitus dowuwards, for the worse; but we can easily un, without picking up knowledge enough
to enable him to distinguish the real ter and the Prefect, the old Christian motives of imperial violence from those priest, by whose means he supposes superficial pretences and disguises, the conversion of the young lady to which deceived nobody but the mere have been brought about, and he advulgar, even in the days when they dresses him thus : were really employed. Moreover, by the view which our poet has taken of Callias.
Wizard! Sorcerer! the subject, he has cut himself off from What hast thou done to witch my child representing one of the things which a from me ? poet, handling this theme, ought to
nicht to What potent herbs dug at the full of moon,
What foul Thessalian charms dost bear have considered as among the finest
about thee? within his reach-we mean the natural Hast thou made league with Hecate, or want of religion implanted in the hu- *** man breast. There is nothing more From the unwilling dead the accursed se. beautifully touched in the novel, from cret which he has so largely borrowed, than That gives thee power o'er human souls ? the melancholy with which the gentle Fabius.
Thou'st err'd Athanasia listens to the elegant de- Into a truth : the dead hath risen, and clamations of the Epicurean, her un
on walk'd cle; and one cannot read that scene
The unconscious earth; and what he taught, without feeling how much of meta
Callias. Away with him !-he doth con. physical truth is embodied in its con
fess-away! ception. The open, ingenuous, ardent
Olybius. Off' with him to the torturers ! mind of youthful innocence, must Fabins. Hear me, Prefect ; have panted after something more sub- Hear me, I charge thee by the eternal God, stantial than the fine-spun sophistries Him whom thou know'st not, yet whose which could satisfy spirits worn out name o'erawes thee; with false thinking, and unstrung by Nor think ye that I speak to sue for mercy the weary contemplation of the ways Upon these children or myself: expend of the heathen world. But it is by Your subtlest tortures, nought can ye inno means so clear, that the beautiful flict dreams of the Pagan poets, sincerely
But what we are proud to suffer. For yourbelieved, never questioned, habituali.
selves zed from infancy, would all evaporate
rote I speak, in mercy to your forfeit souls.
God-at whose word the vast creation and lose their charm before one single
e spectacle of Christian resolution in a Exulting in its light and harmony,
sprang, grey-haired martyr; and this, above From the blank silence of the void abyss; all, in the case of a beautiful enthusi- At whose command at once the unpeopled astic maiden, who had never breathed world any air but that of the gardens of a Brake out in life, and man, the lord of all, Daphne. In this particular, therefore, Walk'd that pure Paradise, from which his we think the view Mr Milman has sin chosen to give, is neither so consonant Expell’d him--God, that to the elder world with historical truth, nor so rich in mo- Spake with the avenging voice of rolling ral instruction, as that of his original.
waters, We shall now proceed to give a very
• When the wide deluge swept from all the
earth few specimens of the performance on The giant-born-He that in thunder-peals which we have been saying so much; Held dreadful converse with his chosen and in selecting these, we shall follow people; our old rule of laying before our read- And made the potent-teeming elements, ers what we conceive to be the best And the rapt souls of Prophets, to proclaim things in the book before us, leaving His will almighty_in our latter days it to the author himself to profit or not That God hath spoken by his Son. He as he pleases, by the critical remarks . came, we have thrown out: and trusting From the dark ages of the infant world that we have already said enough to Foretold, the Prophets' everlasting Burmake him understand in what parti
! The Virgin bare the Son, the angelic hosts culars we conceive both this and his Burst out in song-the Father from his preceding works to be defective.
clouds The following is one of the most Declared him. To his miracles of might elaborate passages in the whole poem. Consenting, Nature own'd her Lord. His The father of the heroine, for the first power, time, sees, in the presence of his daugh. His sorrows, all his glory, all his shame,
His cross, his death, his broken tomb baré Maiden herself the witness of all that witness,
fearful tumult. And the bright clouds that wrapt him to - the Sire .
Sweet Margarita, Ascending. And again he comes, again; Give me thine hand for once-Oh! snowy But not as then, not clad in mortal Alesh,
treasure, To live the life, or die the death of man: That shall be mine thus fondly clasp'd for Girt with his own omnipotence, his throne The wreck of worlds, the glory of his pre
pre. Now, Margarita, cast thine eyes below sence
What seest thou ? Lighting infinity, he comes to assume
Margarita. Here Apollo's temple rests Th' eternal Judgment Seat. Then thou Its weight upon its snow-wlite columns.
and I, Olybius, and thy armed satellites, The massy shades of Daphne, with its And these thy meek and lowly followers; streams, Thou, that art there enthroned in purple
That with their babbling sounds allure the robes,
sight, The thrice-triumphant Lord of all our Where their long dim-seen tracts of silvery Asia,
whiteness And I, a nameless, weak, unknown old Now gleam, and now are lost again: Bes man,
yond, That stand an helpless criminal before thee. The star-lit city in its wide repose ; Shall meet once more. The earth shall cast Each tall and silent tower in stately darkus up,
ness The winds shall waft our thin and scatter'd Distinct against the cloudless sky. ashes,
Margarita. A dim and narrow court throne
I see, where shadows as of hurrying men Before the face of him, whose awful bright. Pass and repass; and now and then their
ness Shall be the sun of that dread day, in which Wander on shapeless heaps, like funeral The thousand thousands of the angelic piles. hosts,
And there are things of strange distorted And all the souls of all mankind shall bask, shape, Waiting their doom eternal. Thou and í On which the torches cast a colder hue, Shall there give in the accompt of this As though on iron instruments of torture. day's process,
A little farther, there are moving lamps And Christ shall render each his due re
In the black amphitheatre, that glance, ward.
And as they glance, each narrow aperture Now, sir, your sentence.
Is feebly gilded with their slanted light. Margarita. Merciful Jesus ! melt
It is the quick and busy preparation His spirit in its hardness.
For the dark sacrifice of to-morrow. Macer. By our Gods !
There, The very soldiers lean their pallid cheeks
If thou canst add the scorn, and shame, and Upon their spears; and at his every pause
pain, The panting of their long suppressed breath
The infuriate joy of the fierce multtiude, Is audible.
The flowing blood, and limbs that writhe
in flame, This passage was, of course, sug- Thou 'seest what thou preparest for thy. gested by one which our readers will remember in the romance ; but we think there is no doubt that Mr Mil
We stop here, because we would man has here much improved upon
willingly spare our readers the pain of
wituessing how ignobly this scene, so his model. Some of the finest scenes in the book
admirably begun, is made to termiare those which represent Margarita in
nate; and pass on to page 117, where
we have the Maiden alone. Her soliprison on the night before her martyr. dom takes place. Nothing can be more
loquy is very beautiful. powerful than Valerius's description
The Prison. of the nocturnal preparations for the
Margarita. Oh Lord ! thou oft hast sent bloody shows of the Amphitheatre;
Ows of the Amphitheatre; thy plumed angels, but it will not escape our reader's ob- And with their silent presence they have servation, that Mr Milman has shewn awed great skill in rendering his Martyr The Heathen's violence to a placid peace.
The ravening beasts have laid their fawn. Their God; we answer through our prison ing heads
grates. In love upon the lap of him whom man Hark! Had cast them for their prey: and fires
Then follows a lyrical piece, which have burn'd, Unharming, like the glory of a star,
our readers will probably agree with Round the pale brows of maidens; and the us in thinking too artificially got up chains
and arranged. It is nevertheless a Have dropt, like wither'd flax, from the splendid passage.
gall’à limbs; And whom the infuriate people led to death,
Chorus of Heathen Maidens. They have fallen down, and worshipp'd as Now glory to the God, who breaks, a deity.
The monarch of the realms on high ; But thou hast sent a kindlier boon to me, And with his trampling chariot shakes A soft prophetic peace, that soothes my soul, The azure pavement of the sky. Like music, to an heavenly harmony. The steeds, for human eyes too bright, For in my slumber a bright being came, Before the yoke of chrysolite And with faint steps my father follow'd Pant, while he springs upon his way, him
The beardless youth divine, who bathes the Up through the argent fields, and there we world in day.
met And felt the joy of tears without the pain.
pain. Chorus of Christians (from the Prison.) • What's here? the bridal vestments, and Now glory to the God, whose throne, the veil
Far from this world obscure and dim, Of saffron, and the garland flowers. Oly. Holds its eternal state alone bius,
Beyond the flight of Seraphim : Dost think to tcmpt me now, when all my The God, whose one omnific word thoughts,
Yon orb of flame obedient heard, Like the soft dews of evening, are drawn up And from the abyss in fulness sprang, To heaven, but not to fall and taint them. While all the blazing heavens with shouts selves
of triumphs rang With earth again ? My inmost soul last Heathens. Now glory to the God that still
Through the pale, Signs his car hath Was wrung to think of our eternal part
Nor aught but his imperious will But now my voice may tremble while I say, E'er those rebellious steeds controll'a. * God's will be done!" yet I have strength Nor ever from the birth of time to say it.
Ceased he from forth the Eastern clime, But thou, oh Morn! the last that e'er Heaven's loftiest steep his way to make shall dawn
To where his flaming wheels the Hesperian Through earthly mists on my sad eyes waters slake. Oh blue,
Christians. Now glory to the God that laid And beautiful eyen here, and fragrant His mandate on yon king of days Morn,
The master-call the Sun obey'd, Mother of gentle airs and blushing bues ! And forced his headlong steeds to stay, That bearest, too, in thy fair hand, the key To pour a long unbroken noon To which the harmonious gates of Paradise O'er the red vale of Ajalon : Unfold ;-bright opening of immortal day! By night uncheck'd fierce Joshua's sword That ne'er shall know a setting, but shalt A double harvest reap'd of vengeance for shine
the Lord. Round me for ever on the crystal floors Heathens. Now glory to the God, whose Where Blessed Spirits tread. My bridal blaze morn,
The scatter'd hosts of darkness fly; In which my soul is wedded to its Lord, The stars before his conquering rays I may not hail thee in a mourner's garb : Yield the dominion of the sky; * Mine earthly limbs shall wear their nuptial Nor e'er doth ancient Night presume robes,
Her gloomy state to re-assume, · And my locks bloom once more with flowers While he the wide world rules alone, that fade.
And high o'er men and Gods drives on his But I must haste, I hear the trumpet's
fire-wheel'd throne. voice.
Chris. Now glory to the Lord, whose Acclaiming thousands answer-yet I fear Cross not.
Consenting Nature shrinking saw; O Lord support me, and I shall not fear! Mourning the dark world's heavier loss, But hark! the maidens are abroad to hail The conscious Sun in silent awe