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Booming their sullen thunderstben ensued
The majesty of silence-on her throne
Each nation to those crowned peers' decree,
Lay mute and breathless as a summer's sea.' There is a little incorrectness in the second line, and some obscurity in the application of the two last; we object also to such expressions as majesty of silence, one of a thousand similar in these poems, and therefore principally objectionable: but when all this is said, still the whole passage remains a fine one; the few. incidents, which give us to understand that the present scene is the fruit of many battles, are happily chosen ; the metre too is of that slow and solemn cadence, which well accords with, and perhaps in part occasions, that sense of desolate sublimity, which it is impossible not to feel in reading the passage.
The introduction of the criminal is somewhat more in the ambitious style, but it contains great beauties; the epithet 'viewless, in the first of the lines which we are about to extract, excites a sensation of awe, as if the poet had placed us before an unearthly tribunal. The character which follows is to say the least) the most correct and most poetical which has yet been given of the late ruler of France. This is but moderate praise ; and yet the character of Bonaparte is surely as well adapted for the pen. cil of the poet, as his person for that of the artist.
· Then at some viewless summoner's stern call
Left withered splendour dim, nor old renown
But one to native lowliness cast down.
The hollow semblance of intrepid grief;
That e'en from misery wrings a proud relief,
That from the towering grandeur of their sin
Heedless of racking agony within ;
Nor memory of his fall from kingly state
Fortune his slave, and victory his mate.
The nations appear in order as accusers ; our limits will not allow us to add materially to our extracts from this part of the poem; yet we cannot forbear to quote the following lines from those devoted to Prussia, which so spiritedly and so delicately commemorate one, who seems to have been formed for rivetting the love and admiration of all who knew her, and whose memory we take delight in honouring, whenever it is in our power.
• Then blanch'd the soldier's bronz'd and furrow'd cheek
To ber the beautiful, the delicate,
To the cold comfort of the grave departed.' Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal follow; the introduction of the last is short, but touched with spirit; England succeeds, and however desirous the author may have been of outdoing himself on this occasion, we think, as is often the case, that this is much the least pleasing part of the poem; it is, with few exceptions, languid, and strained, and common-place. The lines which follow are, however, good.
· Then all at once did from all earth arise
Fierce imprecations on that man of sin,
And all the loaded winds came heavy in
Mingled the dismal concord, “ Blood for blood!” France arises, and at her supplications the life of the fallen tyrant is spared; the conclusion is somewhat impotent, but Mr. Milman must not be blamed for this : had that dismal concord' then been listened to, how many a gallant and beloved soul, who now sleeps
in the sad beauty of the hero's fate,' might have been shedding light and mirth upon his domestic circle; and how many a brave and thoughtless soldier might have escaped the reproach and the punishment of most disgraceful treason!
It is time to dismiss this poem; it is, we believe, little known, and we have made it part of our present article, because we think that it deserves to be more known ; it certainly displays as much talent as any thing written by the same author; but it is abundant in all his faults, and we protest, once for all, against a legion of such phrases as royalty of mein, majesty of silence,' pride of light," grace of grief,' sleep of madness,' drunkenness of pride’---which mean we hardly know what, certainly nothing that might not, in the common forms of language, have been as strongly and more simply expressed.
Fazio (as the author informs us in a prefatory advertisement) is an attempt to revive our old national drama with greater simplicity of plot. For our own parts we were not disposed to question that richness of plot, which it is yet possible that our elder dramatists may have in some instances carried to excess ; at all events we doubt whether the latter part of Mr. Milman's idea was judiciously conceived with reference to the stage. This is not the place to enter into the great questions relative to the drama; if it were, it might be a curious task to attempt the explanation of some very remarkable phenomena, which baffle all à priori reasoning, by running counter to the national character of the people, in which they are displayed. To what shall we attribute it, that the frivolous and ignorant audience of Paris, content with a dark and heavy house, a dirty scene, and six fiddlers, shall listen, with earnest attention, to a lifeless translation of Philoctetes, while the phlegmatic and reflecting citizens of London, in a gaudy house, glittering with innumerable lights, demand show, and song, and bustle, and procession, and supernumerary murders, even in the busy and animated plays of Shakspeare? Perhaps the authority of great talents may have given a decided cast to national taste, before it was yet fully confirmed in any habits; perhaps it may be, that to the one nation the theatre is a business, and to the other but a recreation and unbending from severer employments. But whatever the cause, the fact is undoubted, and whoever writes for the theatre must supmit to take it into the accompt. If Mr. Milman, or any one for him, should reply, that, disapproving in this respect of the national prejudices, he thought it unworthy to sacrifice his opinions of what was right to the desire of popular applause, we approve most highly of his manly feeling; it is such stuff we would have all poets made of; but we submit
, that this is rather an argument for declining to write entirely for the stage, than a justification of an hopeless attempt to oppose with success the inveterate opinions of the people. No audience, but least of all a British audience, can be Teasoned into liking; he indeed who appeals to a fairer tribunal, may rely on the goodness of his cause, and the strength of his talents, and though he may thwart many prejudices, that tribunal will do him justice at last; but the dramatist puts himself before a capricious and pampered tribunal of many heads, the sentence is by acclamation, and the cause decided at a single hearing.
Considered too, as a practical question, another argument strikes us as not without weight in it. The national drama will form the national actors; our great dramatists, those on the representation of whose characters great actors must build their fame, have but little declamation; they paint life in too real a manner, and with too absolute a verity to have much; the consequence is very visible upon our stage we doubt if the oldest of our readers remembers a tolerable decłaimer on it. Now, though we shall hardly be supposed advocates of the wretched system of writing particular parts for particular players, yet it seems unwise, with a view to the stage at least, to neglect entirely the characteristics of national acting. Fazio appears to us so written, that neither at present could players be found, who would do it justice, nor is there hope that in any future time our green-rooms should produce such. The extraordinary man, who in scenes of violent passion produces an effect which has perhaps never been equalled, and that attractive woman, who in the playful chiding of undoubting love, or in the deepest fervency of female fondness, in uncomplaining and unyielding sorrow, or in ungoverned agony, embodies, to painful reality, the richest conceptions of the child of natureboth these equally fail in mere declamation, and would risk some portion of their well-earned fame, in attempting to represent the principal personages of Fazio.
We shall, therefore, beg leave to consider it rather as a poem to be read, than a play to be acted. The story may be told in a few words. A young Florentine (Fazio) of slender fortunes becomes enamoured of Aldabella, the admired of all beholders,' who, after suffering him to swell her train for some time, finally dismisses him with scorn. An interval, we presume, elapses before he addresses himself to a more amiable and more indul. gent lady, whom he marries. The play opens two years after this event, and the first scene exhibits Fazio, devoted to his wife, (Bianca,) and to the pursuit of the philosopher's stone. His mid. night labours in philosophy are unfortunately disturbed. Bartolo, an old miser of enormous wealth, who lives near to him, attacked and mortally wounded by robbers, takes refuge in his house, and dies. Fazio is poor, and in the pursuit of wealth that continually eludes his grasp; the temptation to arrive at it by a shorter road is too strong to be resisted : he buries the dead body, rifles the house, and appears, in the second act, lacquied with servants and parasites, the rich and fortunate philosopher Lord Fazio. Wealth and flattery have corrupted stronger natures; but Lord Fazio's was feeble and worthless indeed : he had begun in robbery; another temptation now awaited him in the person of Al. dabella, who seems determined to regain her lover at any price. Why, without any love for him, she should so easily yield to, or rather invite his first solicitations; she, the cold and capricious lady,
whom all Florence beside worshipped in vain ; or how Fazio contrives to love two such women as his wife and his mistress so des. perately at the same moment, are mysteries which we do not pretend to explain; but certainly, after a short courtship, we leave them at the end of the second act in most unambiguous circumstances. The third opens with a soliloquy hy Bianca, of the rarest merit ; with all the softness she unites all the vehemence of female love; and her jealousy seems gradually to work her on to distraction. In this fearful state of mind she casually hears, that the Duke and Senators are sitting in debate upon the mysterious disappearance of Bartolo, and the emptiness of his coffers; she catches at the news; and, solely intent on separating her husband from her rival, she rushes to the council, and accuses her husband of the robbery and murder. The unfortunate man is dragged before the tribunal, and over. powered at once by his own conscience and the sight of his ac cuser, makes no defence, and is sentenced to death. The story may
here be said to end, the two succeeding acts being solely employed in the vain attempts of Bianca to obtain remission of the sentence, the exposure of Aldabella, and her own death.
Such is the skeleton of this tragedy, and such are the advantages to be derived from an increased simplicity of plot: one moral, and the other economical. The moral, that we so early get rid of all distressing interest ;--and the economical, that the work is done by the fewest possible hands. But if the construction of his plot had been faultless, for which of his personages does Mr. Milman expect that we should feel a tragic interest; for Aldabella, a proud, heartless and wanton coquette ; for Fazio, a weak and wicked man, a duped and spiritless lover, a faithless husband and a thief; or for Bianca, the accuser, and the murderess of her husband ? We do not mean to say, that the weaknesses of human nature will deprive a dramatic personage of interest, but their weaknesses should be amiable, or at least not inconsistent with amiable qualities.
Where then, we shall be asked, are the merits of Fazio, that entitle it to so large a space in our journal, when to the plot and characters, those important ingredients, we show so little mercy? If our readers will bear with us a little longer, we will try to inform them. It is among the high and incommunicable privileges of true genius to derive the most brilliant successes from the conquest of the greatest difficulties, and no wonder, perhaps on that account, that it is among the wanton frolics of her pride to create them.--There is a peculiar gratification in making that attractive which, in feebler hands, would be offensive, or at best uninteresting. Mr. Southey, we imagine, was not insensible to this feeling, when he wandered into the most cumbrous and unpoetical of