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which at first is a mere painful invocation of Apollo, becomes more and more distinct, till the spirit of prophecy bursts forth.

"Dwelling accursed of God,

Dark scene of murder and foul suicide,
The lord lies slaughtered in that drear abode,
And the wet floor with bloody dew is dyed.

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Away! away!-from his fell mate
Lead the lordly bull away,
Entangled in his fraudful vest

Lo! now they strike the black-horn'd beast-
And in the bath the mangled corpse they lay.”

What a sublime way of making known to an audience a deed too horrid to place before them. The catastrophe is worthy the piece; Clytemnestra appears, and boldly justifies her impious act, and on this subject let us add an observation of M. Schlegel's, for the instruction of our tragedians. "Si le poete est condamnè a nous peindre des actions atroces, il ne faut en aucune maniere, qu'il cherche a les pallier, ou a en adoucir l'honneur. Qu'y a-t-il de plus révoltant, qui montre une corruption plus profonde, que d'admettre les crimes odieux au sein de la plus lâche foiblesse." Thus Clytemnestra is represented great in her sins, and thus bursts out the dreadful fate of this royal race of crime and misfortune. The poet, in the second part of his Trilogy, which these three plays undoubtedly form, represents the same calamitous destiny urging Orestes to matricide, in the third delivers him to the Eumenides. In the opening of this last play the importance of Orestes is admirably raised. The ghost of his murdered mother is permitted to revisit the open day, to reproach his terrible tormentors with their slumber, and no less a deity than Apollo descends as his defender. The Eumenides awake, and their nature, tremendous in sleep, becomes tenfold more so in the wild mixture of anger and ferocious joy which characterize their language. A French critic would, no doubt, consider the dispute between Apollo and these formidable beings as a most flagrant violation of bienseance: to us, whose nerves of taste, if we may so speak, are less sensitive and shrinking, it is energetic and dreadful. We may observe that the scene shifts from Delphi to Athens, so much for the unity of place. The close is calm, solemn, and majestic, the Areopagus absolve the victim, the indignant furies are conciliated, for such is the will of destiny, by the cession of an asylum near Athens. It is the attribute of high minds, that their flatteries enoble and aggrandize what, from our pigmy authors of modern days, sounds to our English ears like a paltry claptrap, from Eschylus to Athens

is the tribute of an independent spirit to his country's glory. We pass to the Prometheus, the most daring, perhaps the most sublime, production of antiquity, which is nearer allied to our northern darkness and solemnity, and to which Milton owes more than to any other foreign source, not of modes of expression and forms of language, but of mysterious and awful majesty. What, however, was the purport of the poet in this drama, where unconquerable disobedience to the gods is set in so exalted a point of view, and where the crime, which calls forth all the vengeance of Heaven, is a' benefaction to the human race? We profess not to admire the allegorizing the pictures of poetry, but in this dearth of solution, which even baffles M. Schlegel, let us attempt a flight into the regions of mystification. Is Prometheus an emblem of the human mind, which has stolen light from Heaven (that is wisdom) by which it has learnt to examine and detect the falsehood of Jove and "all his fabled host.?" But the cause of Jove is supported by the failure of his faculties, and strength, and force, the types of those viewless powers which arrest his career, enchain him on a desolate spot above the earth, whose grosser pleasures he is now debarred the enjoyment of, yet unable to attain the height to which he aspires. Still he struggles against the bondage, but the destiny of Jove preponderates, and he is cast into perfect darkness, that is a state of utter doubt and uncertainty; but his constancy is supported by a consciousness of his immortality, and a sort of innate prescience that the despotism of false deities will one day have an end. Such is our dream, whether from the gate of ivory or horn, let our readers judge. Dare we attempt to give an idea of the strongly figurative language in which the fable is clothed, by a literal version. It is the final defiance of Prometheus.

"Aye! let him on my innocent head

His curling rings of lightning shed.
The sky let thunder and the wild winds shake,
Earth in its deep foundations quake.—

The sea in restless whirl be driven

To mad confusion with the stars of heaven-→→
And let him hurl amid the storm,

To hell my miserable form.
Plunged in the whirlpool of necessity,
Yet never, never can he bid me die."

We cheerfully subscribe to the truism with which M. Schle gel prefaced his work, howbeit therein differing from our cotemporaries, namely, that the chief requisite of a critic is a strong sensibility of what is beautiful, rather than a keen perception of

VOL. V. MARCH, 1816.

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what is defective. Never was a claim to this title more clearly made on these grounds, than by M. Schlegel in his account of Sophocles, and we flatter ourselves, that we too are not unworthy of the same honourable appellation.

"Il sembloit que la Providence eu voulu, par l'exemple d'un seul homme, montrer a la race humaine toute entiere, combien sa vocation terrestre étoit susceptible de dignitè et de bonheur. Elle orna Sophocle de tous les dons celestes, et y ajouta encore toutes les benedictions de la vie."

An Athenian, of a noble family, beautiful in person and mind, the happy promise of youth, the most perfect fruits of manhood, the lofty enjoyments of genius, serenity of soul, the love and honour of his countrymen, a brilliant renown among strangers, the constant protection of heaven distinguish the life of this wise and holy poet. His ideal was the perfection of our nature, he conceived and embodied it. Less bold than Eschylus, he preserves a solemn reverence for the gods, the Furies whom the former openly introduced, our poet in his Edipus at Colonæ alludes to with a mysterious awe, and inculcates their viewless presence by their dark appellations. We cannot but quote an observation on some improbabilities, which are detected. in the celebrated Edipus.

"Mais ce n'etoit pas a une raison prosaïque et calculatrice que les anciens soumettoient le dessein d'un ouvrage de l'art, et une invraisemblance que l'analyse seule decouvroit, et qu'elle decouvroit, avant l'action representée plutot que dans la piece meme, ne leur paroissoit pas meriter ce nom."

We hasten to our favourite Antigone, and feel no slight pleasure, and indeed some little pride to find our own preconceived notions of excellence coincide with those of M. Schlegel. In Theseus (in the Edipus at Colone) Sophocles had given us his ideal of a hero, a being surpassing the pagan divinities of grosser conceptions, the benefactor of his country, whose happiness he beholde with a stern and serene enjoyment, terrible to his enemies, pious to the gods. In Antigone we have his ideal of woman. Fervent in her natural affections, patient and courageous in their cause, too modest to betray her love for Hæmon, too soft not to feel it, it is not till the hour of death, that the mildness of her nature breaks out in fond lamentations for the loss of earth and earth's delights.

"Dear sisters of my heart and home,
Come to behold me, weeping come→→
Set forth on her sad journey see
Your poor forlorn Antigone.

Watching

Watching with fond and lingering gaze,
Her last, last sun's expiring rays,
Never to see it, never more

For down to Acheron's dread shore,
A living victim am I led,
All unenjoyed my bridal bed,
Nor e'er hath song of bridal glee
Breathed out for sad Antigone,

But death, cold death, her wedded lord shall be."

How different in effect, yet similar in circumstance, and how equally admirable are the dying words of Ajax. The calm melancholy of a stern spirit, bent and fixed on leaving the world, of which he was the honour and is become the laughing stock. All is slow, solemn, tranquil. From a mind so stern and unalterable the simple mention of his mother, and the anticipation of her "shrilling shriek" through the whole city would alone immortalize Sophocles.

We were proceeding to arraign our author most vehemently for his sentence against Euripides, but on weighing his arguments we suspect there is more truth in them than our prejudices were willing to allow. In Euripides, he asserts, the decay of tragedy is manifest, the sublime notion of the over-ruling destiny is enfeebled or lost, the characters are less ideal, the chorus forgets its office of the severe and powerful moralist. We are forced fairly to concede that the men in Euripides generally want that loftiness, which they shew in the tragedies of his predecessors, some indeed are heedlessly vicious, as Menelaus in the Orestes. The gods are introduced in prologues and denouements, till they become divested of their dignity, and prove most forcibly the truth of the vulgar proverb, "familiarity breeds contempt." His choice songs are full of fine poetry, but frequently that poetry is alien to the subject, neither aiding the developement, nor commenting on the moral progress of the fable. It appears to us the fact, that there are certain qualities of our nature in themselves so exquisite as to baffle the refinement of the imagination. No idea of them can be conceived more than adequate to the reality. The heightening colours of poetry adorn them not, simple and naked they come home to the heart, and hold intercourse with our most pure and delicious feelings. ln painting these Euripides excels, and the excellence is not incompatible with his other failings. The devotion of Alcestis is somewhat beyond unidealized truth, but her petty cares, her recollections, her allusion to her nuptial bed are nature itself. It is the same with the modest and affectionate Polyxena, the motherly tenderness of Megara, above all with the delicate, the timid, the fond Iphigenia. Nothing can be more simple or more true than the Antigone in the Phoenisse, fearful at first to ac

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company her mother to the field of battle, because her bashfulness shrinks from being the gaze of the whole army, but when the death of her favourite Polynices is announced, she casts off her veil and cries,

My streaming locks I scatter wide,
The saffron mantle of my pride,
Floating to the winds, I lead

The frantic pageant of the dead.”

It is certainly extraordinary that a poet, capable of delineating such females could be a woman-hater, though certainly many of his sententious dogmas tend to support the tradition, and Medea and Phædra are no very amiable types of the sex. It is the other chief excellence of Euripides, his power of presenting a mind distracted and wandering with passion; the dark and wounded spirit of Medea, lightened by a transient gleam of motherly affection, only to settle into a deeper and fiercer gloom, and Phædra haunted with a hopeless passion, which she scarcely dares reveal to herself. In spite, however, of these wonderful beauties, we fear that we must confess Euripides to be rather admirable in passages than in any entire composition; provided he excited a strong emotion, he was careless in what manner, hence his inequality and falling off from the harmonious perfection of his predecessors. We must mention another fault, which our author has but incidentally hinted, though perhaps we may draw on our heads all the erudite collectors of yvwua; it is the eternal moral sentences, which are appended to almost every speech, like the moral to Æsop's Fables, and which appear to us not merely flat and tame, but from a person under the influence of strong passion totally unnatural. One of these truisms is the lame and impotent conclusion of that exquisite speech in the Iphigenia, beginning à μèv rov Ogpews.-In his estimate of the several plays we generally agree with our author, especially with regard to the simplicity and religious quiet in the opening of the Ion. Has he sufficiently felt the contrast of painful mirth in the light songs of Cassandra with the settled and hopeless misery of Hecuba in the Troades? It will no doubt delight our lovers of melo-drama to hear M. Schlegel's opinion, that this play ended like the Miller and his Men, with the stage being wrapt in a blaze of fire. We think higher of the Iphigenia in Tauris than our author, in spite of her murtherous office we have yet sympathy with the priestess, her tender recollections of her country, and her wild joy at the discovery of her brother, are passages of delightful pathos. We thank him for his notion of the picturesque Bacchantes with their floating hair and drapery, and their glittering cymbals, and no doubt shall read that

terrible

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