« PreviousContinue »
our attention is again transferred to seized her to be the pretended bride Belshazzar, whom we find attended of their idol, but, in fact, to admi. by his Court, traversing the walls of nister to the impious lusts of the the city, and looking down with a chief priest, Kalassan. At first she somewhat unnatural and childish sinks to the earth, overwhelmed with contempt on the myriads of armed fear, shame, and horror ; but suddenfoes that encompass it about. The ly a momentary sight of the prophet following passage is not without con- Daniel rouses and encourages her. siderable merit; the latter part, in
Benina. Did ye not behold him particular, is skilfully versified, which Upon the terrace-top ? The man of God ! is what can be said of but very few The anointed prophet ! other passages in the work.
He whose lips
Burn with the fire from heaven! I saw Mitocris. Look down ! look down !
him, father : where, proud of his light conquest,
Alone he stood, and, in his proud comThe Persian rides-it is the youthful
Look'd down upon this pomp that blazed How skilfully he winds through all the
beneath him, ranks His steed, in graceful ease, as though he As one that sees a stately funeral.
Like words articulate, sate
His looks address'd my soul, and said, Cpon a firm-set throne, yet every motion Obedient to his slack and gentle rein,
Be of good cheer-and, like a robe of light, As though one will controlld the steed and rider!
A rapture fell upon me, and I caught Now leaps he down, and holds a brief Contagious scorn of earthly power; and
And bashful shame are gone. With yon helm'd captain ; like a stooping falcon,
Belshazzar's car, which had been Now vaults he to the patient courser's stopped by this incident, now adback.
vances; and the inspired and devoted Happy the mother of that noble youth ! maiden is led away, first uttering Belshazzar. Now, by great Bel! thou forth a prophetic anticipation of the dost abuse our patience.
events that are at hand. This is one Is that the rebel king to whom Belshazzar of the most vigorous and poetical Should veil his pride, and stoop to be his
passages in the work, and we will. Him with the brazen arms, that, dimlý ingly afford it a place among our
extracts. bright, Searcë boast distinction from the meaner
Go on, in awe host ?
And splendour, radiant as the morning Where are his golden attributes of power, star, The glorious ensigns of his sovereignty ; But as the morning star to be cast down The jeweld diadem, the ivory sceptre,
Into the deep of deeps Long, long the The satrap-circled throne, the kneeling
Hath bade his Prophets cry to all the Nitocris. Dost ask, my son, his marks
world, of sovereignty ?
That Babylon shall cease ! Their words The armies that behold his sign, and trust
of fire Their fate upon the wisdom of his rule,
Flash round my soul, and lighten up the Confident of accustom'd victory ;
depths The unconquerable valour, the proud love Of dim futurity! I hear the voice Of danger, and the scorn of silken ease;
Of the expecting grave !-I hear abroad The partnership in suffering and in want. The exultation of unfetter'd earth – Even with his meanest follower ; the dise From east to west they lift their trampled dain
necks, Of wealth, that wins the spoil but to be. Th' indignant nations : earth breaks out stow it,
in scorn ; Content with the renown of conquering The valleys dance and sing ; the moundeeds.
Their cedar-crowned tops! The stranIn the midst of this scene, the
gers crowd Jewish maiden, Benina, (who is be- To gaze upon the howling wilderness, trothed to Adonijah,) rushes in, föl- Where stood the Queen of Nations. Lo! lowed by the priests of Bel, who had even now,
Lazy Euphrates rolls his sullen waves the literary world, and quite as imThrough wastes, and but reflect his own politic as it is unjust. thick reeds.
Returning to our examination of I hear the bitterns shriek, the dragons the work before us, we now arrive at cry ;
what is, perhaps, the most vigorous I see the shadow of the midnight owl
and poetical scene it contains. It is Gliding where now are laughter-echoing that in which the priests of Bell,
palaces ! O'er the vast plain I see the mighty voted maiden, lead her through the
having gained possession of the detombs Of kings, in sad and broken whiteness
various chambers of the great Temple gleam
of their god, and at length leave her Beneath the o'ergrown cypress--but no
alone at the summit of it, to wait his tomb
descent and presence. There is a Bears record, Babylon, of thy last lord ;
loftiness of character about the folEven mountains are silent of Belshazzar! lowing extract which produces a poe
tical and impressive effect : We have now a long scene between Chosen of Bel, thou stand'st within the Imlah and Naomi, (the parents of Temple, Benina,) which is altogether super Within the first and lowest of our Halls, fluous; for it not only does not ad- Yet not least sumptuous. On the jasper vance the story a single step, but it pavement, contains little of either character, Each in his deep alcove, Chaldea's Kings passion, or poetry. There is no de- Stand on their carv'd pedestals. Behold nying that such scenes are much
them! too frequent in Mr Milman's works, Their marble brows still wear the coneven if there were no other objection
scious awe to them than the above ; and there Of sovereignty-the mightiest of the dead, is no forgetting that they contribute
As of the living. Eminent, in the centre, to lengthen out publications, which That in the plain of Dura, to the sound
The golden statue stands of Nabonassar, would be much too long and too
Of harp, and lute, and dulcimer, receiv'd dear, even if they were a great deal The homage of the world. The Scythian more unexceptionable than they are.
hills, Indeed, the inordinate price of the The margin of the Syrian sea, the Isles late works of this author, added to Of Ocean, their adoring tribes cast down ; the frequency of their recurrence, And the high sun, at noonday, saw no face would call for a little severity of cri- of all mankind turn'd upward from the ticism upon them, if nothing else dust, did. The volume before us is pub- Save the imperial brow of Nabonassar, lished at considerably more than That rose in lonely loftiness, as now half the price of Lord Byron's vo
Yon awe-crown'd image. lume of tragedies, though it contains This is the manner in which the no more than this one drama; which various halls or chambers of the is, at the utmost, not longer than the Temple are described. In the last first or second in that volume; and, of these, which is at the summit, if merit were to be made the criterion Benina, in a state of mingled fear of price, (which we are aware it can- and confidence, awaits the coming of not,) the difference ought to have Kalassan, who appears, for a mobeen striking indeed on the opposite ment, to lavish his impious admiraside ; for, with all its faults, there is tion on her, and then leaves her alone, no denying that Sardanapalus con to await the appointed hour of midtains more power, spirit, and poetry, night, when her pretended marriage than all Mr Milman's productions with the god is to be completed. put together. It is to be hoped that Benina, now left to herself, conthis short digression from the direct templates the gorgeous scene beneath line of our course will not be consi- her, in a strain of rich and high dedered as a departure from our duty; scriptive poetry. If we could have for certainly the inordinately increas- fixed on many such fine passages as ing price of books proceeding from a the following, we should have spoken certain quarter, particularly at a time in a much less qualified manner than when all other prices are falling, is a we have felt ourselves obliged to do great and crying evil, as it regards of this poem, as a whole :
Bat, lo! what blaze of light beneath me calling away Kalassan to attend the spreads
King, we are again called back to the O'er the wide city ? Like yon galaxy Hall of Banquet, where Daniel is Above mine head, each long and spacious introduced, to interpret the writing: street
Up the voiceless hall Becomes a line of silver light, the trees, in all their silent avenues, break out
He moves ; nor doth the white and ashen
fear, In flowers of fire. But chief around the
That paints all faces, change one line of his. Palace
Audacious slave ! walks he erect and firm, Whitens the glowing splendour ; every
When kings are grovelling on the earth ? court
-Give place! That lay in misty dimness indistinct,
Why do ye crowd around him ? Back : Is traced by pillars and high architraves Of crystal lamps that tremble in the wind : Each porta! arch gleams like an earthy
Is your King heard or hath he ceas'd to
rule ? rainbow, And o'er the front spreads an entablature Daniel having interpreted the fatal Of living gems of every hue, so bright, words, Belshazzar dismisses him in That the pale Moon, in virgin modesty, the following speech; which we give Retreating from the dazzling and the tu on account of the rich strain of poemult,
try that runs through it, not on acAfar upon the distant plain reposes count of its being, in the least deHer unambitious beams, or on the bosom gree, natural or characteristic from Of the blue river, ere it reach the walls.
the lips of the insane and insolent Hark! too, the sounds of revelry and song tyrant who is made to utter it: Upon the pinions of the breeze come up Even to this height. No eye is closed in
-Go-lead the Hebrew forth, array'd sleep;
In the proud robe ; let all the city hail None in vast Babylon but wakes to joy- The honour'd of Belshazzar. Oh! not long None- pone is sad and desolate but I. Will that imperial name command your Yet over all, I know not whence or how, A dim oppression loads the air, and sounds And, oh! ye bright and festal halls, whose As of vast wings do somewhere seem to brood
Were full of sweet sounds as the summer And hover on the winds; and I, that most groves, Should tremble for myself, the appointed Must ye be changed for chambers, where
prey or sin, am bow'd, as with enforced com
Of music sounds, nor melody of harp, passion,
Or lute, or woman's melting voice ?--My To think on sorrows not my own, to weep
mother ! O'er those whose laughter and whose song
And how shall we too meet the coming
ruin? upbraids My prodigality of mis-spent pity.
In arms ! thou say'st ; but with what
arms, to front After an animated chorus, sung by The Invisible, that in the silent air the Babylonian people, in honour of Wars on us ? Shall we seek some place the great festival of their King, we of silence, are now introduced to the Hall of Where the cold cypress shades our Fa. Banquet, in which the scene of the thers' tombs, hand-writing on the wall takes place. And grow familiar with the abode of In this scene which must doubtless
Death ? be considered as furnishing the ordeal
And yet how calm, how fragrant, how of the poet who may choose to write a drama on this subject-we cannot but The night !-When empires fall, and Fate
thrusts down think Mr Milman has altogether fail
The monarchs from their ancient thrones, ed. It contains very little of vigo
'tis said, rous description, and still less of the dark stars meet, with ominous, hostile character and passion, and is, more
fires ; over, broken off in the middle, most
And the red vault of Heaven flames all injudiciously, as we think, for the purpose of carrying the reader back with meteors; and the conscious earth to the summit of the Temple, where is rock'd ; Benina is confined. Here, after dis. And foaming rivers burst their shores ! missing Benina from her peril, by
Save in my soul, there is no prescient Imlah. More pale, and more intent, he dread:
looks abroad Nought but my fear-struck brow is dark Into the ruin, as though he felt a pride and sad.
Even in the splendour of the desolation ! All sleeps in moonlight silence : ye can Belshazzar. The hand - the unbodied wave,
hand-it moves-look there! Oh happy gardens ! in the cool night airs Look where it points!—my beautiful paYour playful branches ; ye can rise to laceHeaven,
Nitocris. Look And glitter, my unconscious palace-towers; The Temple of great BelNo gliding hand, no Prophet's voice, to you Belshazzur. Our halls of joy! Hath rent the veil that hides the awful Nitocris. Earth's pride and wonder ! future !
Imlah. Aye, o'er both the fire Well, we'll go rest once more on kingly Mounts like a conqueror: here, o'er spacouches,
cious courts, My mother, and we'll wake and feel that And avenues of pillars, and long roofs, earth
From which red streams of molten gold Still trembles at our nod, and see the slaves pour down, Reading their fate in our imperial looks! It spreads, till all, like those vast fabrics, And then and then-Ye gods! that I had still
Built of the rich clouds round the setting Nought but my shuddering and distracting fears;
All the wide heavens, one bright and sha. That those dread letters might resume dowy palace !
But terrible here-th' Almighty's wrath. Their dark and unintelligible brightness; ful band Or that 'twere o'er, and I and Babylon Every where manifest !_There the tem. Were—what a few short days or hours ple stands, will make us !
Tower above tower, one pyramid of flame; The poem now hastens to a con
To which those kingly sepulchres by Nile
Were but as hillocks to vast Caucasus ! clusion. The army of the Medes, having succeeded in turning the Aloof, the wreck of Nimrod's impious course of the Euphrates, enter the Alone is dark; and something like a cloud, city, and devote it to the flames.
But gloomier, hovers o'er it. All is mute : Benina descends unimpeded from the Man's cries, and clashing steel, and brayTemple, and is rescued from Kalas
ing trumpet-san by the sudden appearance of her The only sound the rushing noise of fire ! lover, Adonijah ; and Belshazzar and Now, hark! the universal crash-at once Nitocris perish together in the streets, They fall— they sink after having witnessed their palaces Adonijah. And so do those that ruld in flames, and their temples levelled them! with the dust.
The Palace, and the Temple, and the race The last extract we shall give forms
Of Nabonassar, are at once extinct ! the concluding passage of the poem,
Babylon and her kings are fallen for ever! and describes the death of Belshazzar
I'mlah. Without a cry, without a groan, and his mother, and the final fulfil
behold them, ment of the doom pronounced on
Th’ Imperial mother and earth-ruling son
Stretch'd out in death! Nor she without their city. It is but justice to con
a gleam fess, that the passage exhibits consi
Of joy, expiring with her cheek on his : derable power and pathos, as well as
Nor he unconscious that with him the great descriptive skill:
pride Adonijah. How like a lioness,
And terror of the world is fallen-th' a. Robb’d of her kingly brood, she glares ! bode She wipes
And throne of universal empire-now From her wan brow the gray discolour'd A plain of ashes round the tombless dead!
locks, Where used to gleam Assyria's diadem ;
We now take leave of Mr Milman And now and then her tenderesi glance what we cannot but consider as the
for the present, impressed, even by To him that closer to her bleeding heart comparatively inferior work before She clasps, as self-reproachful that aught us, with the lighest adıniration for earthly
his talents and acquirements, and the Distracts her from her one maternal care. sincerest hope that he may continue
to delight and instruct us by the em FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE'. ployment of them ; but not without the feeling that he might employ I would not have a slave to till my them in a course that would be more
ground, beneficial to all parties, and in all To carry me, to fan me while I sleep, senses, than the one he has lately And tremble when I wake, for all the chosen. That there are a vast num
wealth ber of scripture subjects which are,
That sinews, bought and sold, have ever
carn'd. abstractedly speaking, in the highest degree susceptible of poetical treat
'Tis THE CAUSE OF MAX. ment, no one can doubt; but it is by no means so certain that they can
There dwell the most forlorn of humansafely or wisely be so treated, while
kind, any others are to be found. We
Immur'd, though unaccus'd, condemn'd have, all of us, whatever inay be our
untried, babits of thought and feeling, al- Cruelly spar'd, and hopeless of escape.
Cow PER. ready acquired certain associations connected with these subjects, which The attention of Parliament havwill not bear to be touched and tam. ing been so recently called to the subpered with, even by the most skill- ject of the FOREIGN Slave Trade, ful and accomplished hand. Ilow- and to the enereased and encreasing ever splendid may be the pageant enormities perpetrated against the that is placed before us, on occasions ill-fated Africans, under cover of the of this kind, it is sure to displace one American, Spanish, Portuguese, and which is probably more splendid, French flags, and in violation of the (for there is no poet like the uncheck- most solemn Treaties, we deem it a ed imagination,) but which is cer- duty, both to Justice and Humanity, tainly more dear to us than any other to lay before our readers a portion of that can be made, partly on account
the authentic information received of early-acquired habit, and partly up to the date of the Report of the from its having been raised and peo- Select Committee of the blouse of pled by ourselves. In conclusion, if Commons, in May 1821, relative to Mr Milman is not prepared to accept this nefarious traffic ; pledging ourour advice, and abstain from the use selves, at the same time, to resume of such subjects as these, at least let the subject as soon as the result of us earnestly, but respectfully, urge the renewed " Representations and him not to undertake them lightly Remonstrances” of our Government and hastily; and, above all, not to to the Five Great Continental Powers, believe that he can either maintain in pursuance of Mr Wilberforce's or deserve the public favour by any motion of the 27th June, shall be other than the most strenuous exer
laid on the table of the House. We tions. We have, in the beginning enter upon this discussion with the of this article, expressed our opinion greater earnestness and zeal, because that he is not one of those poets who we are convinced that the British write by a kind of inspiration. Such public, whose enlightened humaForks as he is qualified to produce nity has never been appealed to cannot be thrown off at a heat, or by in vain, in favour of the suffering fits and starts; they must be deeply and oppressed, are still but imperpondered on, and carefully and stu- fectly informed of the horrid airodiously elaborated. Without these cities of the Foreign Contraband precautions, they are very likely to Slave Trade, openly and daringly become tedious and unimpressive ; carried on, under the flags of Goand will, at best, display richness vernments bound by the most sowithout either choice or rarity, and lemn obligations to abolish for ever, power, unattended by what ought to
SCOURGE WHICH," to use be its corresponding effects.
the eloquent words of Mr Clark
Abstract of the Information recently laid on the table of the House of Commons on the subject of the Slave Trade; being a Report made by a Committee specially ap. pointed for the purpose, to the Directors of the African Institution, on the 18th of May 1821. London, 1821.