Billeder på siden

Are dyed our laurels, that upon the brow Lys. Throughout all Greece They weigh a heavy burthen and a shaine. His mortal melancholy is the theme ful.

Of men's discourse ; its cause a mystery. Wrath is subdued by pity; and sound But here I judge, what elsewhere is unreason

known Prevails, alleging that 'tis utter folly Must be apparent. Kings are ever cirThrougli avaricious jealousy of state

cled To crust ourselves and desolate the earth. By vigilant observers, who explore Then since the enemy was first compelled Their every word, ay, every sigh and To wish for peace, wise Sparta grants thought. the boon,

- Then tell me, friend, what secret cause And I convey it bither. Nor alone

of gloom Do I bring peace, but with it liberty Has so much busy watclifulness discoTo such of ours as here in servitude

vered ? Are pining, chiedy to thyself, loved friend, Pal. Plainly, as it was told me, I'll reWho, howsoe'er regretted and desired,

late Three years, unhonoured, amidst hostile This most unhappy man's sad history. walls,

A fatal sickness laid Messenia waste, Hast languished, an illustrious prisoner. When for stern Pluto, Delphi's oracle, Palamedes. I joy to see thee once again, In horrid sacrifice, a virgin claimed, Lysander;

Of th' Epitean race. The lots were cast, And gladsomely through thee shall I re- And on Liciscus' daughter fell the doom. gain

The father, guiltily compassionate, My liberty ; unto the dear embraces By secret flight rescued his child from of friends and kin return, and hail again death, The light of day upon my country's soil : And the wronged people eagerly required Albeit not Fortune's self could have pro- Another victim. Then Aristodemus vided

Stood forward, to the sacrificing priest An easier slavery. Thou'st not to learn Willingly offering his proper child, That fair Cesira, old Talthibius' daughter, Dirce the beautiful. And in the place Is here my fellow-prisoner. But further Of her who fled, Dirce upon the altar Know, that such favour in the monarch's Was slain ; she quenched with her pure eye,

virgin blood Cesira's loveliness, her courteous speech, The thirst of the insatiable Avernus, And gentle bearing, have obtained, tliat And for the general safety gave her life.

Lys. All this I know; Fame bruited Have servile fetters by Aristodemus

it abroad, Been suffered to oppress her with their And of the mother's inauspicious fate weight;

Added dark rumours. Rather with lavish kindness does he load Pal. She, enduring ill

Her Dirce's loss, by grief, by rage imWhilst me, unbound, at pleasure he per- pelled, mits

Her bosom desperately gashed and tore, To wander o'er the palace, a partaker And lay, a bloody and disfigured corse, In her indulgencies.

The nuptial couch defiling, whilst i' the Lys. Aristodemus

realms Then loves this Spartan maiden, Pala- Of death, a raving but contented shade, medes?

Her daughter she rejoined. This was Pal. He loves her with paternal ten

the second derness;

Misfortune of the sad Aristodemus, And only by her side th' unfortunate And closely was it followed by the third, Feels sometimes in his breast a drop of The most disastrous chance of his Argia ; joy

She was her father's sole remaining hope, Soft penetrate, alleviating the grief A lovely, sportive infant, who as yet, That overwhelms him still. Without Tottering unsteadily on tender foot, Cesira

Had scarce seen half a lustre.* OftenNot ev’n the briefest lightning of a smile times Were seen to irradiate that melancholy Clasping her fondly to his breast, he felt And darksome countenance.

The recollection of his suffered woe


her ;

It is Monti, not we, who must answer for thus making Greeks compute time in Latin,



By little and by little hushed to rest; Mutely proclaim him living. This, LyWhilst once more sounded sweetly in his

sander, heart

Is of the miserable king the state. The name of father, brightening his dark Lys. In truth a wretched state! But brow.

what of that? A short-lived solace! Even of this last I came to serve my country, not to weep Sole remnant of his bliss, he was de- The sorrows of her foe. Upon this point spoiled.

I have important matters to disclose; For then it was our armies suddenly But for such speech a season must be Won the tremendous battle at Anfea,

found And the precipitous Ithomé press’d More free from interruption. Some one With all a siege's horrors. Fearing then The city's loss, Aristodemus gave Who might o’érhear us. His daughter from his arms, intrusting her Pat. Mark, it is Cesira. Unto Eumaeus' oft-tried loyalty,

Although we certainly do not in geTo Argos secretly to be convey'd;

neral consider dialogues between the Oft hesitating, and a thousand times

minor personages of a drama as best Commending to his care so dear a life.

calculated for selection in a review, Alas, in vain! Upon Alpheus' banks

which can, necessarily, afford space A troop of Spartans, either of the flight Privately warned, or thither led by only for a small proportion of any

piece, we have been induced to extract chance, Fell on the little band, unsparingly

the preceding scene at full length, Slaught’ring her guards, and in the mas

because it appears to us a fair, and not

unhappy specimen of our author's The royal infant died.

dramatic talents. It communicates, Lys. Of this adventure

not unnaturally, all that can be known Know'st thou aught further?

concerning Aristodemus, prior to his Pal. Nothing more.

own disclosures, and, by awakening Lys. Then learn.

an interest in his sorrows, prepares Lysander was the leader of those forces, the mind to receive those disclosures, The conqu’ror of Eumaeus.

when made, with a sympathy which, Pal. What, art thou

did they come upon us abruptly, their The slayer of Argia ? Should that deed

horrible nature might repress.

We Here be discovered

are aware, nevertheless, that fastidiLys. With thy history

ous critics might carp at the very anProceed.— The rest to more convenient ti-laconic loquacity of Palainedes, and

might wonder, perhaps, that the SparShall be reserved.

tan ambassador should have had noPal. After Argia's loss,

thing more important to discuss with Aristodemus gave himself a prey his friend than the gossip of a foreign To his affliction. Never since has joy

court. With respect to this last obShone on his heart, or if it shone, ’twas jection, it will hereafter appear that merely

Lysander bore a private and especial In guise of lightning's flash, that, fur

hate to Aristodemus, which, joined to rowing

other secret reasons, might naturally The darkness, vanishes. Thoughtful and

enough make him wish for informasad,

tion concerning the king's 'state of In solitary places now he strays,

mind. Had his curiosity been thus And from his inmost soul laments and

explained and justified, for which a Then madly hurrying onward, howls in

word or two would have sufficed, we anguish,

should have thought the exposition of Calls upon Dirce's name, and at the foot

the subject a very able one. To proof yonder monument that holds her

ceed : ashes,

Cesira now enters and inquires af, He flings himself, and with convulsive ter her father, but pays little attensobs

tion to Lysander's account of the old Embracing it, remains immovable ; man's anxiety for her return ; appearAy, so immovable, he might be deem'd ing to be wholly engrossed with the A marble image, were't not that the tears, kindness she has received from ArisWhich, streaming down his cheeks, de- todemus, and her regrets at leaving luge the tomb,

him a prey to melancholy. The party



my locks

is presently joined by Gonippus, the To hurl me from my throne? amongst King's confidant, who, after descri. bing the royal mourner as nearly de

To twist their fingers, tearing off my lirious with agony, desires his compa

crown? nions to withdraw, because Aristode

Or hast thou heard, for ever echoing mus wishes, in this spot,


Those frightful accents, · Die, barbarian, Once more to look upon the light of die ?' day;

Yes, I will die; here is my ready breast, a wish that would seem more germane

My ready blood; shed, shed it all, and to the matter were the scene laid in a

spare not!

Avenge offended nature, and at length garden. The three Spartans, however,

Relieve me from thine aspect; cruel comply with the courtier's request,

shade! and the hero of the piece appears.

The next scene is one of high im. portance, but we bardly know how to

These expressions, whilst they fill deal with it. To give it at full length, Gonippus with terror, strongly excite as it might deserve, is impossible his curiosity; and he presses AristoFor some of the details upon which demus with supplications until the the Italian poet dwells, apparently latter reluctantly promises to reveal with a sort of incomprehensible de his secret to him. The king first dislight, are so revolting to British delic plays a blood-stained dagger, declares cacy of every various kind, whether that the blood which discolours it mental or personal, of fancy, of sto

once flowed in Dirce's veins, and asks mach, or of nerves, that we can scarce

Gonippus if he knows what hand ly bring ourselves even to insinuate drew it thence ? The shuddering contheir nature to our readers. We shall fidant now shrinks from the fearful discharge this disagreeable part of our

tale, but the gloomy narrator resoluteduty, when we come to it, as inoffin- ly goes on with it. He begins, as did sively and as briefly as may be.

Palamedes, with the required sacrifice The dialogue begins with com

of a virgin of the Epitean race, and plaints upon the part of Aristodemus,

the flight of Liciscus with his devoted and remonstrancés upon that of Goa daughter. Then reminding his hearer nippus, who observes that his master's that the throne was vacant during mind appears to be occupied with some

those dreadful days, he subjoins, that horrid thought. The King replies, ambition had suggested the idea of

gaining all suffrages to himself, by Gonippus, yes, the thought is horrible, the seemingly generous, voluntary Thou can'st not know how murderous- proffer of his own daughter to the saly dreadful.

crificial axe. He further relates, that Thy glances cannot penetrate my heart, having so offered her, the lover of Nor view the tempest that convulses it. Dirce had endeavoured to prevent the Thou faithful friend, believe me, I am

execution of his purpose, and finding wretched,

entreaties and menaces alike inefficaImmeasurably wretched ! Sacrilegious,

cious, had declared the sacrifice to be Impious, accurs’d of Heav'n, nature's abhorrence,

impossible, since Dirce no longer an

swered to the description given by the Yet more mine own!

oracle of the victim required; she had Gonip. Alas! What strange disorder!

yielded to his passion, and bore withSorrow bewilders sure thy faculties,

iu her bosom the pledge of love ; à And from inflam'd and false imaginings

statement confirmed by the mother of Thy melancholy springs.

the intended victim; and that he, Arist. Would that were all!

Aristodemus, maddened by disapBut dost thou know me! Dost thou pointed ambition, and impending, apev'n conjecture

parently, inevitable disgrace, had rushWhose blood is ever trickling o'er my

ed to the chamber of his daughter, hands?

and stabbed her to the heart, as she Hast thou beheld the bursting sepulchre lay asleep, exhausted by previous agiFrom out its dark profundity send spec

Gonippus here interrupts the tale

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

with expressions of horror, which dubitably, is the disgusting mangling Aristodemus desires him to reserve of his murdered child's corse by the until he shall have ampler cause for father. Her immaculate purity would them; a request which we might well have been sufficiently established by address to our readers, notwithstand- her dying mother's testimony; and ing our purpose of sparing them and Aristodemus would have had ample ourselves as much as possible of what cause for remorse, melancholy, bloody the monarch, in the plenitude of his hands, and ghost-seeing, in the simple sovereign power, inflicts upon his fact of his filiæcide, --if we may coin humble friend.

a name for a crime that scarcely seems The father had opened his daughter to have entered into the contemplation to seek for the evidence of her frailty, of legislators. A question arises with and had convinced himself of her in- respect to this ultra-atrocity of trage.

The mother, entering un- dy, under the management of writers expectedly, and overpowered by the whose national theatre has been habispectacle before her, had snatched up tually charged

with tameness, or maudthe fallen dagger, and plunged it into lin softness, which we cannot pass over her own bosom. The priests, gained unnoticed, although our present lei. to his interest, had conveyed the mur- sure serves not for its full investigadered Dirce privately to the temple,

tion. Does so violent a change proand spread the report that she had ceed merely from the reaction which been offered up in sacrifice during the we see constantly taking place in all night, and Aristodemus had obtained things, physical and moral, around the crown. But he is tortured by re- us? Or is it a sort of volcanic erupmorse, and nightly a horrid spectre tion of a naturally blood-thirsty dis

-Gonippus again interrupts him, position, previously restrained, upon refuses to listen to ghost-stories, as- the stage at least, by the arbitrary laws sures the King that his remorse has of dramatic decorum, and of the scenic abundantly expiated his crime, and fitness of things ? This doubt first urges him to attend to state affairs, presented itself to our minds during and to receive the Spartan envoy. the perusal of Voltaire's “ Mort de Aristodemus rouses himself, with an Cesar," in which, it will be recollected, evidently painful effort, to consent, Cæsar discovers himself to Brutus as and the first Act concludes.

his father, accompanying the declaraWe must here pause for a remark tion of their consanguinity with all or two.Monti asserts that the pre- the documents requisite to substanceding details are taken, without al- tiate his paternal claims; whereupon teration, from Pausanias. We write- Brutus first requires that Cæsar, like Proh pudor! That critics should have a dutiful father, should instantly comto confess such degeneracy from the ply with his wishes, and lay down the book-worm habits of their predeces- dictatorship; which when Cæsar, persors ! But so it is; and the confession sisting with unparalleled obstinacy, is wrung from us by the necessity of refuses, the inflexibly virtuous son, the case.

We write at a fashionable never for a moment putting nature in watering-place, whither il Cavaliere the balance against patriotism, hurries Vincenzo Monti has, at our especial back to his fellow-conspirators, to invitation, accompanied us, but where make the final arrangements for the we have no possible means of refer- assassination of his newly recognized ring to Greek authorities. We are parent. Assuredly no British audience, willing, however, to take our friend hardened to sanguinary representathe Cavaliere's word for the accuracy tions as our nerves and hearts are by of his version of Pausanias; and still foreigners supposed to be, could sit we must observe to him, that a poet is out such a deliberate parricide, any not bound to such strict historical truth more than the descriptions put by --more particularly when his subject Monti into the mouth of Aristodemus. is one of remote antiquity--as should But, as we have already said, we canpreclude him from softening down, if not now go into all the pros and cons not omitting, any minor, or rather un- of this difficult question ; and thereessential circumstances, that happen fore, recommending it to the reader's to be absolutely irreconcilable with serious consideration, we return to the the common natural fealings of man- business in hand. kind. Of this description, most in- The second Act, like the first, opens VOL. XIX.


[ocr errors]

She was,

with a conversation between our two And by another powerful feeling, wakenSpartan acquaintance, Lysander and ing Palamedes. In this it appears, as may Inexplicable tumalts in my soul. have been anticipated, that Cesira is

Arist. Our hearts have sympathized. the lost Argia, whom Lysander, in the But to thy father, hope of thus obtaining some unex

To him alone, these tender sentiments

Are due.-To hiin return; comfort his plained advantage over the detested

age. Aristodemus, had saved, together with

Most fortunate old man! Thou, at the her guardian Eumaeus, intrusting both

least, to the faith of Talthibius, the one to

Art not of those whom, in their indignabe educated as his child, the other to

tion, be kept a close prisoner

. Palamedes

The gods made fathers ! Thou upon thy would fain reveal the secret to comfort

death-bed the bereaved and sorrowing father ;

Shalt have a filial hand to close thine eyesbut Lysander insists upon its conceal

Shalt feel thine icy cheeks new-warm'd ment, and hurries away his friend, to

by kisses convince him elsewhere of the patriotic Given by a daughter's lips. Alas! had duty of silence, upon seeing Cesira and

fate Gonippus approach. The last-named

But spared her to mine anguish, I, ev'n I persons have scarcely succeeded to the Might well have hoped to taste such vacated stage, and exchanged a few happiness, sentences about Aristodemus, ere the Might in her arms have laid the burthen hero himself joins them, and dis- down patches his confidant to summon and

Of all my woes. introduce the Spartan ambassador. We Ces. Whom speak'st thou of ? shall give the scene of unconscious na- Arist. Argia. tural affection between the mutually Forgive that I so oft remember her. unknown father and daughter, that

thou know'st, the last remainfills up the period of his absence. The ing treasure spectator's previous knowledge of their Whence mine age once hoped solace. All actual relationship gives it a peculiarly

things now touching charm.

Recall her. Everywhere does an illu

sion, Arist. If Heav'n, Cesira, favour mine Cruelly flattering, depict her. Thee attempts,

When I behold, on her I seem to gaze. This day shall close the long hostilities My heart, meanwhile, trembles and pal"Twixt Sparta and Messenia--shall be. pitates, stow

And of mine idle tenderness the gods Peace on the nations. And of smiling Make mockery. peace,

Ces. Most pitiable father! The firstling, bitter fruit, must be thy loss. Arist. Her years would equal thine, and Infirm and sorrowful shall I be left,

nor in beauty, Whilst thou, delighted, hurriest to greet Nor virtue, should she thine inferior Thy native Spartan walls.

prove. Ces. Erroneously

Ces. Oh wherefore would the gods My heart thou readest,-better do the deprive thee of her ! gods

Arist. They sought the consummation Read and interpret it.

of my griefs. Arist. On, generous maid !

Ces. Were she yet living, wert thou so Wouldst thou remain with me?-Is't content? possible

Arist. Cesira, could I once embrace Thou shouldst desire it? Hast thou then

her, once,

I'd ask no more.
The father who expects thee, and but lives Ces. Oh, would I were Argia !
On the sweet hope of seeing thee?

Arist. Wert thou-Oh, daughter ! Ces. My father

Ces. Wherefore call me daughter ! Dwells in my heart, but thou art also Arist. My heart resistlessly inspired there;

the name. For thee that heart speaks strongly, Ces. Me, likewise, me, oft-times my urging still

heart impels That thou to its affection art entitled To call thee father. Entitled by my gratitude, thy sorrows, Arist. Do so-call me father ;

« ForrigeFortsæt »