Page images
PDF
EPUB

his indolence with St. Guerdun's Well, and its simple ftory.' Ad.
vertisement.

We are better pleased with the fi&tion of this poem, than with the
execution of it: there is an affected phraseology in it, which disa
pleases us.

« What time dank caverns and the bosky shade,
Alike the wolf, and boisterous chieftain, screened

From summer's heats,' &c.
The opening is confused; and the reader is not released till he has
read seven and forty lines, at the end of which the first period makes
it's appearance.

Suck affected words as the following, offend our ears; paly
lights;' beamy orb;'adown the vale; beleagured rock;' the

chale furceased the spell uprucund;' potence unopposeable ;' deadly
foughten field,' &c. The poem, however, contains some spirited
pallages; but, as we before observed, the fable is the best part of it.
ART. XX.

The Villain's Death-bed; or, The Times : a Poem, dedi.
cated to whom it may concern.

4to. 46 pages. Price 25. 6d,
Bell. 1798.
This poem contains a great deal of that sort of sublimity, the
essence of which is to be incomprehensible. Alexandrines abound,
and lines of every length are introduced, from one syllable to
twelve!

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Art. XXI.

Retribution, and other Poems. By H. Hughes. 8vo.
71 pages. Price 2s.

Clarke. 1798.
From the fall of ancient cities, the ruin of which was accelerated
by their vices, our author, in prophetic strains, anticipates the de-
struction of England: he urges the guilt of that tremendous war.
fare, which is now desolating Europe ; and invokes all orders of men,
“ to turn from their wickedness and live.” The same strain of piety
pervades the other poems,' which, though not remarkable for ge-
nius or animation, exhibit some portion of both. Two elegies, one
on the death of his father, and the other on that of his fifter, are
honourable to the feelings of their author.
ART. XXII. Arminius; a Tragedy. By Arthur Murphy, Esq. 8vo.

100 pages. Price 2s. 6d. Wright. 1798.

The object of this publication we shall state in the words of it's author; a gentleman extremely well known, but not better known than he is respected, in the literary world. It appears from the first page of the preface to this play, that the learned translator of Tacitus * has serired from the bustle of politics; and we hope, that he enjoys that literary leisure in his retirement, that otium cum dignitate, which he has so induftriously earned. It is not to be expected, however, and cera tainly it is not to be desired, that he or any man should remain altogether inattentive to the various events which in the latt seven years

* See our Review. Vols. XVII and XVIII.

have changed the face of Europe, and, continues Mr. Murphy, with very unbecoming intemperance, and with a grofs though no doubt an ignorant violation of truth, under the favage conduct of a nation of profefjed Aiheists, counteracted the order of providence in the formation of civil society.' Mr. M. was not inattentive to these events, as is very evident from his elaborate preface of nine and twenty pages, wherein is discussed with no unusual argument or acuteness, that itale unprofitable qucftion, Who were the aggreffors, the french or englih in the present war? In course of the discussion, the friends of freedom in this country are created with ro lenient language:

Pref. P. xxvi. - The REFORM projected by the JACOBINS of this country, would, beyond all doubt, rip up the conftitution by the roots. At such a time, the author of the following scenes thought, it he could recall the minds of men to the origin and antiquity of the confitution, under which the people have enjoyed their rights, their property, and their liberty for above five hundred years, his labours might have some tendency to stop the progress of the new philosophy, and check the spirit of innovation. Our form of government, as Montesquieu has truly observed, came to this country from the woods of Germany. Gaul was reduced to a state of slavery, while Germany displayed a spirit of independance. Arminius was the great hero of Germany. Tacitus tells us, “ That he fought with alternate vicissitudes of fortune: a man of warlike genius; and, beyond all question, the deliverer of Germany. He had not; like the kings and generals of a former day, the infancy of Rome to cope with; he had to struggle with a great and flourishing empire: he attacked the romans in the meridian of their glory; he stood at bay for a number of years with equivocal success, fometimes victorious, often defeated, but in the issue of the war, stiLL UNCONQUERED."

The drama opens with the relief of the roman garrison by Cæcina, a general whom Germanicus had sent immediately on learning that it was besieged by Arminius; the dialogue is interesting, which takes place between Cæcina and Veleda, the wife of Arminius and the daughter of Segeltes, a german chief in the service of Rome, who had seized and imprisoned his daughter in the garrison which he com, manded. The scene lies before the castle, whence issue a number of women, and after them Veleda in pensive silence; she is most beautifully represented with hands strained to her bofom, and eyes fixed on her gravid womb : Segefles, Lo! Veleda!

You there behold my daughter. · Cæcina, There I fce

In that fair form, in that majestic mien,

Each blooming grace, and dignity of mind.
Segeftes. She was my only joy, iny best delight,

My lov'd Veleda, till with treach'rous arts,
Arminius stole her from her father's arms.

1

• • Inerant fæminæ nobiles, inter quas uxor Arminii, eademque filia Segestis, mariti magis quàm parentis animo, neque victa in lachrymas, neque voce fupplex, comprellis intra finum manibus, gravidum uterum intuens:'

Annal, i, S. 576 TOL, XXVIII,

Cecina, .

· Cæcina. Amicted fair! why does that cloud of sorrow

Obscure those eyes, and bend you to the earth,
Like some fair fower beneath the heating rain
That droops its languid head? Dispel your grief.

And let those eyes no more be dim'd with tears.
« Veleda. Tears have forgot to flow; their source is dry,

Despair is now the portion of a wretch,

Whom you have robb’d of all her soul holds dear.
Cæcina.

Why charge my conduct?
Veleda. Wedded to Arminius,

Why am I sever'd from him?
Cæcina. That, you know,

Was by your father's order.
Veleda. Even now

I bear the fruit of our connubial loves.
And must my infant, muft my blameless child

Be born in flavery?
Cecina. Germanicus

Will soon be here: The virtues of the prince,
His tender sympathy, bis social love

Will soften all your cares, and give you comfort.
Keleda. Think you a heart like mine, a german heart,

That without liberty deems lite a burthen,
Think you a mind so form'd will bear to live
A day, an hour in execrable bondage?

Is that the comfort Rome affords the wretched?
Cecina.' Ungen'rous thought! for you a fase retreat

Shall be assign'd in the delightful clime
Of Italy, where grief and busy care

No more shall cloud the sunshine of your days.
« Veleda. And can the charms of luxury and vice,

Can warmer suns, and foft italian seasons
Lull to repose a mind upon the rack?
Infuse a base oblivion of my friends,
And my lost husband ? In our boisterous clime
Fair liberty can soften all our cares.
'Midit forests, rocks, and fens, and hills of ice,

It is our fun: It gilds the horizon round.
« Cæcina. I see the fpirit of Arminius

[to Segefiles.
Not of her father, kindles in her breast,
And thus inilames a weak deluded mind.

Veleda, hear me.
Veleda. Must I hence be dragg'a

A wretched captive, with my babe unborn,
Far from my native land? And do you romans
Unsheath your swords to triumph o'er a woman?

Do you wage war with infants in the womb??
« Carina. Speak your request.
« Veleda. Restore me to my

husband.
· Cæcina. Segeftes, speak your will.
Segeftes. 'Tis yours to judge;
Yours to decide, which has the strongest claim

Her

1

[ocr errors]

Her husband, or her father. She is the wife

Of fierce Arminius, and she sprung from me.
Cecina. Since sprung from you, the merits gentle treatment :

Arminius will be struck with roman virtue.
Veleda, you are free; a chosen band
In safety shall conduct you to your friends.

[Exit with officers. &c. Mr. M. has introduced a variety of paffages into his drama, applicable to the relative political fituation of France and England: the dying exhortations of Arminius are too obviously made for the prefent times to appear natural. On the whole, though we cannot speak in terms of very high commendation concerning the merits of this tragedy, we have been pleased with particular passages, and consider it not Likely to discredit the reputation of it's author.

A. N.

[blocks in formation]

ART. xxut. The political Works of Fletcher of Salton; with Notes, &c.

To which is prefixed a Sketch of his Life, with Observations, moral, philosophical and political. By R. Watson, M.D. 12 mo. 252 pages. Price gs. sewed. Symonds. 1798.

The political works of Fletcher, one of the greatest men of his age, have been often republished; but we are here prelented with a new life of that great and independent statesinan.

· The love of our country,' says the biographer, and the approbation of our friends, during the early part of our lives, operate more powerfully than the love of money; and our first resolution is a fixed determination to deserve well of mankind. This inclination, which has been more or less felt by every individual, in every age, is never entirely rooted out. The prisoner, in his cell, if conscious of the rectitude of his intentions, fooths his misfortunes with the hopes, that posterity will at least do justice to his memory; and neither the love of liberty nor of life can prevail upon him to renounce his opinions, or degrade his character.' Public censure is more tremendous than the approach of death.'

After some prefatory observations of a similar nature, he continues thus :

• The present mort sketch of Fletcher's life will not be confined to a dry narrative of sieges and battles, nor will it dwell long upon the change of whigs and tories, of hunting parties and voluptuous feasts.

That task is reserved for the worshippers of kings: their blood-cemented thrones require advocates of a particular mould. We have a 'nobler object in view; it is to strew the to.ıb of the patriot with wreaths of laurel, and raise a monument to departed greatness--to fhew the rising generation, that lasting fame is only allied to virtue; and that the good man will find admirers in every age and every country. From what has been premised, it is almoft unnecessary to add, that the thoughtless and ditsipated will find little recreation here. In respectful imitation of Fletcher, the language is serious and grave; the remarks, the effect of observation and experience. And in an eventful crisis like the present, it is hoped they will meet with a careful peruial from the friends of genuine liberty,

G 2

• Andrew

[ocr errors]

Andrew Fletcher, of Salton, the subject of these memoirs, was the eldest son of fir Robert Fletcher, of Salton and Innerpeffer *. The name is french, and his ancestors are said to have been amongst the followers of William the Conqueror. His mother was the daughier of fir Henry Bruce, of Clackmannan, a descendant of the fame family with Robert de Bruce, king of the fcots. He was born in the year 1653, and had the misfortune to lose his father at a very early age, when he was entrusted to the care of Dr. Burnet, rector of Salton, and afterwards bishop of Salisbury, a man well known to the political and literary - world, for his exertions in the revolution of 1688, and his elaborate writings.

· The loss of a father, alike distinguished for his generosity and patriotism, was, in a great measure, supplied by the attention of an affectionate mother, and a diligent faithtul preceptor, so that he made rapid progre's in his studies, discovering a inarked predilection for the ancients, and a defire of imitating their

actions. He was a boy of an obfti. nate persevering disposition, the natural effect of a vigorous mind. He never gave an insult, nor did he ever receive one with impunity. Bold as a lion, he rushed upon his antagonist without calculating the danger, which frequently involved him in considerable difficulties. Notwithstanding this unaccommodating temper it was ealy to govern him, provided his judgment was convinced ; but neither threats nor punishments could make the least impreslion, if he thought himself in the right. His manner of expressing himself was blunt, but itrong. He did not attempt to apologize for his errors, and bore reproof with becoming firmness. A itranger to lying, he disdained to avoid chastisement by any subterfuge. Though apparently furly, he was gentle and humane to the unfortunate, kind and obliging to the poor. Inquisitive in the extreme, he was not satisfied with superficial answers; and whilst he seemed pleased with those who gave bim instruction, he looked with fullen contempt on all who deceived him, or evaded his questions. These qualities, although auftere and uncommon in a boy, had some. thing attractive in them, and procured him the esteem and regard of his acquaintance.

• In his youth, Fletcher had the mortification of seeing his country dragooned by the fanguinary ministers of Charles 11; and the people, instead of uniting against the common enemy, occupied their time with religicus quibbles, and metaphysical jargon. The scots were enthusiastic in the cause of liberty ; yet it was only the liberty of preaching and praying they had in view. Their folemn league and covenant was idolized as a God; and hundreds, mertly for daring to think for themselves, were led to the scaffold, glorying in their martyrdom, and embracing death with transports of joy.

During this puritanical phrcnzy, the doctrines of Buchanan, the father of modern politics and modern karning, were neglected. The

* The authorities, when not otherwise distinguished, are taken from the writings and information of the ingenious carl of Buchan, to whom the editor returns his grateful acknowledgments for the polite manner . in which he conveyed intelligence. Buchan is one of the few scotsmen

of fortune, who possess a rafte for literature, a love of liberty, and an ardent affection for his native country.'

people

« PreviousContinue »