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THE

EDINBURGH MAGAZINE,

AND

LITERARY MISCELLANY.

JULY 1821.

the army,

SOME ACCOUNT OF THE FAMOUSE page, and whose style at all tallies with

HISTORIE OF PETRONIUS MAXI that of the play before us. There is MUS; A RARE TRAGEDY.

a greater degree of correctness in the

language and versification, and of reMR EDITOR,

gularity in the plot, than is common I FORWARD you some specimens of to the writers of that period. The a tragedy which, independently of its story has been also handled by Beauintrinsic merits, I consider a great li- mont and Fletcher, whose play of terary curiosity. It is not mentioned Valentinian contains some fine scenes, in the “ Biographia Dramatica,” or in and many splendid passages; but the any of the works of the dramatic bi- plot is defective, and the characters bliographers with which I am ac ill drawn, and inconsistent. The quainted. The copy which I possess story of " the Famouse Tragedie” is was bound up in a volume of worth- this:- In the reign of Valentinian II. less tracts, and is in very fine preser- (a weak and luxurious prince, who is vation. If brought to the hammer, I supported on the throne by the valour have no doubt Mr Heber, or some and conduct of Ætius, to whose sister other voracious bibliomaniac, would he is married,) Maximus, a brave but gladly give as many guineas for it as wayward youth, after serving some it cost me pence. The attention of time in the legions of Ætius, had left the public having been thoroughly attracted to our early drama by the excellent “ Specimens” of Mr Lamb,

In fierce resentmente that his merits past

without rewarde or prayse. and more recently by the admirable series of articles on this subject in the He soon after marries a young and “ Retrospective Review," I think beautiful wife, with whom he retires some account of this rare (perhaps into the country, and devotes himself unique) play may be acceptable to your to the cultivation of his paternal doreaders. The title is as follows: mains. The Emperor Valentinian, “The Famouse Historie of Petronius in one of his hunting excursions,

Maximus, with the tragicall deathe visits the abode of Maximus, and is of Ætius, the Roman General, and captivated by the beauty of his wife. the Misdeeds of Valentinian, the To facilitate his desires on the latter, Western Emperour, now attempt- he takes Maximus into his service, ed in blank verse, by W. S. Lone and dispatches him on a distant emdon: Printed by William Brent, bassy to Genseric, in Africa. During for Nathaniel Butter, and sold by his absence, the Emperor tries, but in him at his shop in Paule's Church- vain, every method of seducing Sayarde, 1619."

bina from her allegiance, and at I have been hitherto unable to dis- length effects his purpose by violence. cover any writer of that period whose Maximus returns in time to witness initials agree with those on the title the death of his wife, who would not

survive her dishonour. After a short salute Maximus with the title of Eminterval of anguish and rage, during peror, and march tumultuously for which his reason was almost unset- Rome. Meanwhile, Valentinian, elated tled, Maximus repairs to court, with with his emancipation from the cona stern resolution to smother his re- trol of Ætius, gives a sumptuous bansentment, till occasion should prompt quet in his palace, at which he gives him to a vengeance “ boundless as a loose to triumph and revelry. The his wrongs.” Valentinian, deceived by riotous mirth of the feast is interrupthis apparent unconsciousness of his ed by the sudden entrance of Eudoinjuries, receives him graciously, and cia, who bitterly upbraids the EmMaximus exerts himself so effectually peror with the murder of her brother, as to rise rapidly in favour with his and denounces speedy and heavy venweak and indolent master. His first geance on his destroyer. Sbe is forcare is to remove from the Emperor's cibly removed, and Valentinian reperson all those whose talents or fide sumes his arrogance and enjoyment. lity he dreaded, and to supply their ` A messenger arrives with the intelliplaces with powerless or treacherous gence that the army is in revolt. Vadependants." He even endeavours to lentinian bids him seek Maximus, and win to his projects the Empress Eu- order him to put down the rebels. docia, who had long been neglected Maximus cannot be found, and it is by her husband. Encouraged by her soon rumoured that he is at the head apparent acquiescence, he ventures to of the insurgents. Valentinian, afhint his personal devotion to her; but fecting resolution, orders Rufinus, the she indignantly spurns his overtures, prefect of the Prætorian guards, to and accuses him of this attempt to the defend the gates; but the latter shows Emperor. Maximus artfully retorts no promptitude in obeying; and on the charge, and contrives to convince being reproached by Valentinian, the Emperor that the accusation ori- leaves him with the undisguised inginates in revenge for his having shun- tention of joining the enemy. The ned her attachment; and she is in con- parasites and attendants of the Empesequence rigorously immured. While ror disperse in consternation, and he these machinations are going 01, is left almost alone in his palace. In Ætius, having driven Attila from this state of desertion and despair, he Gaul, returns to Rome, and en is sinking under an agony of remorse ters the city with few attendants. and terror, when Eudocia enters, and On his arrival, Ætius inquires why exhorts him to meet his fate as behis sister is absent? Valentinian ac comes a man and a Cæsar. The foes cuses her of her intended infidelity. soon enter the palace-Maximus rushÆtius expresses his contempt and es in-drives back the soldiers, who disbelief of the accusation, and indige were furious to destroy the murderer nantly threatens Maximus, if he fail of their general-bitterly taunts Vato prove his assertions; and the la:- lentinian with his wrongs-fights with, ter replies to him with equal haugh- and kills him.-Finding the tenure tiness and defiance. Ætius hastens by which he held his authority exto his sister, and Maximus persuades tremely precarious, Maximus resolves the Emperor that his only chance of to espouse the widow of Valentinian. safety depends on the immediate de Eudocia indignantly rejects his love, struction of Ætius, while he is yet with- and contemns his threats. She, howin his power. Valentinian, accordingly, ever, suddenly changes her mind, and gives orders for the destruction of the the nuptials speedily take place. The General, who is attacked by some of the last scene of the play represents & Prætorian guards in the apartments of splendid banquet in honour of this the Empress, and slain after a despe- event. Maximus impatiently calls for rate resistance. Maximus, taking the wine, " to carouse to Rome and his body with him, leaves the city pri- Eudocia.” The Empress herself prevately, and proceeds to the camp of sents him with a bowl; he raises it Ætius. He arrives in the night, to his lips,--then suddenly pausing, rouses the troops, and exhibits the fixes his eye doubtfully on Eudocia, body of their beloved commander; ác and exclaims, “ Drink thou." She cuses Valentinian of his murder, and receives the bowl, and drinks without incites them to vengeance.

They hesitation. Maximus re-assured, unanimously vow to revenge Ætius, quaffs the wine, and exultingly ad

dresses the assembled nobles on his bound him to his species. He takes plans of ambition and empire. He refuge from intense and intolerable then turns to the Empress, who re- feeling in the indulgence of his only pulses him with horror, denounces remaining passions, ambition and rehim as the murderer of her brother venge. His revenge receives an adand her husband, tells him he has ditional stimulus from his ambition, imbibed inevitable death in the wine, and his ambition is rendered remorseand dies exulting at having avenged less by his revenge. This complicaÆtius and mankind. Maximus, in tion of passion appears to me an injua speech of mingled remorse, triumph, dicious choice, and somewhat difficult and justification, hurriedly adverts to of delineation. W. S. however, has his wrongs, and expires.

managed it better than might have The author has evidently bestowed been expected in a coup d'essai, as much pains on the character of Maxi- this I imagine to be, from some exmus. This usurper is represented as pressions in the author's dedication not by nature bloody and treacherous; os to his looving uncle, T. S. Gent.” but the milk of human kindness in But it is time to give a few specimens him had been soured by injury. Hav- of this curious production. The foling received a deep and irreparable lowing is the foreboding soliloquy of wrong, be seemed to feel himself Ætius on coming within sight of emancipated from all the ties that Rome :

O thou imperiouse Citie ! once againe
I see thee, glitteringe in thy long arai
Of gorgeous domes and skie-aspiring toures:
Thou home of mightie men, thou mart of greatnes,
Thie sunne is sette for aye: the fletinge lightes
That gleame upon thy darke and drearie annales,
Are but the passing meteors of an houre,
That blaise and are not. Ev'n such is Ætius !
I cannot rolle the tide of conqueste backeward,
That wins with everie surge upon thy boundes,
And saps the moulderinge pillers of thy strengthe:
I can but propp awhile thy cumbrous weight,
That topples to its fall. The storme of fate
(jathers and blackens round theem-soone, proud Rome,
Twil burst and overwheline thy giante pride.

And was it but for this the Decii died ?
And was it but for this great Julius conquered ?
Have heros, sages, chiefs, bled, councelled, toyled,
All but for this?
0! Rome, how gloriouse in thy hardie youthe,
How mightie in the manhoode of thy state ;
But O! how tame, how base, how impotente,
In thy despised olde age! Thou canst not falle
With dignitie, but must remaine a scoffe
And bye-worde to the churles that climbe to empire
Upon thy ruines, and with barbarouse tongue
Propbane the temples and majestick halles
Where honei-tonged Virgilius sang of Troye,

And Tullye fulmined forthe immortale wordes ! Maximus's description of his first interview with the Emperor, after the death of his wife, is rather striking, though the manner in which Valentinian serutinizes the man whom he had so deeply injured, indicates a hardihood in villany not in keeping with the character of that voluptuous prince,

I found the base purloyner of my honour
Revelling in the fulnes of his pride,
And surfeiting on pleasure
His eye met mine, and shrunk abashed; the blood
Fled from that visage which defy'd the heavens,

*

And his proude lip was blanch'd with gilty feare.
But soon the cloude past offe, for he was girt
With thronging courtiers, and I stood alone,
Defenceless and unarmed :-That thoughte rekindled
His wonted pride: he fixte on me a looke
Of hesitatinge doubte, that seemed to ask-
Know'st thou thus much ?-He gazed on me, Sabinus,
As he woulde search my verye inwarde soule
To finde its secret: then a looke, a tone,
The quiv'ring lippe, the shrinking eye, that told
Of consciousness, had doom'd me to a deathe
Instante and unreveng'da tyrant's feare
Is deadly as his hate-I brav'd his glance
With steady apathy, (for I had mann'd
My bosom for its task,) and not a feature

Betwray'd the troubled workings of my soule.
The following scene takes place on the day of the expected arrival of Ætius.

EUDOCIA AND CLAUDINA.
Eud. How heavily the lagging houres creepe on
That yet divide me from my

brother's armes !
O that thy steede, Ætius, could keep pace
With my swift-winged desires ! This widow'd hearte,
That cherishes its solitarie woe
When all around are gay, at thy approache
Feels lightened of its griefs. Come, quicklie come,
Thou brother of my soul, and lette me claspe thee,
Crown'd with the victor's laurel, bravelie wonne
From all the rugged warriors of the north.

Cla. The consul Maximus
Eud.

I will avoid him.
I like not that bolde man ; he is too forwarde
And lavish of his zeale-Awaye, and leave him.

Cla. He is alreadie here.

Max. Imperiale ladie, if I rudelie presse
Upon your privacie, my duteouse zeale-

Eud. Say that Ætius comes, and it is pardoned.

Max. Another houre, and gratefulle Rome will banquette
Her eyes on her deliverer. Populouse streetes,
The common hauntes of man, silent and empty,
Shew like a deserte, while the peopled walls
Groane with their loade, and the Flaminian waye
Chokes with the eager thronge. The mighty Julius,
Whose life was but one victorie, yet knew not
A prouder day than this!
Eud.

My valiante brother
Hathe served his country well.
Max.

And yet the senate
Hathe in its bosume traitors that conspire
To cloude that glorye, whose exceeding lighte
Showes to the worlde their own deformitie.
I tremble for Ætius.
Eud.

For Ætius!
The love or hate of coward senators,
The pamperde sons of peace, is much beneathe
Ætius' care; and thy officious feare
Dishonours him.

Max. I would my feares were groundless ;
But mightie men and mightie states have fallen
By mean and trivial foes. The curst Heraclius
(That smoothe and subtle ministere of ille)
With devilish ingenuite distorts

The fayrest vertues of your brother's life
To usurpation and rebellious pryde:
And Cæsar's credulous mind imbibes the poison
Of dark distruste and hatrede, which will worke
The fall of one or both.
Eud.

It
may

be so
But why of this to me? Have I the power
To crush these reptiles? If they dared to crosse
Thy lightest humoure, thy revengfulle hande
Would sweepe them from thy pathe: but if theire malice
Would undermine the bulwarke of the state,
Would worke the downfalle of the Roman champion,
And peril Cesar in his overthrowe,
The great all-potent Maximus (whose will
Is more than law in Rome) resortes to me,
(A weeke and powerlesse woman,) to complain
Ìhat such men are :- they are but by thy sufferance,

Max. There was a time when I, indeed, might boaste
Some share of power, (perhaps too much for me
To keepe or lose with safetie,) but 'tis past :
My foolish honestie aspired to serve
The state and not myself ; it was a brighte
But idle dreame. It is a crime with Cæsar
To be or but seeme vertuous.
Eud.

This to me!
The wife of Cæsar, and from Cæsar's vassall !
Hast thou no feeres, presumptous-
Max.

None !--my love,
(My zeale I would have saydemy duteous zeale,)
Dares brave even your rebuke........
Sister of great Ætius, on this houre
The fate of nations hangs. Treason and murder
Have wette their daggers for the bloodiest deede
That ever stained the annales of our tyrantes.
If Ætius enter Rome-he dies
Eud.

Ætius!
The conqueroure of Attila, with all
His thousands rounde him! Treason would recoil
In hopelessnesse from such unequal daring!

Mar. Little, alas ! availes the soldier's faulchion
Against the assassin's dagger,-but he comes
Alone to Rome, with nothinge but his vertues
To fence his dauntlesse breast. Domestic treacherie,
Aud his own recklesse confidence, have severed
His faithfulle legions from him. Cæsar's hate
Hathe mark'd him for the grave; and e'er the sunné,
That now is climbinge his meridiane heighte,
Hath reached his western goal, Ætius falls,
Or Cæsar's reign is o'er.
Eud.

Petronius Maximus,
If thou dost speake it unadvisedlie,
If thou dost speake it false
Mar.

If it be false
My life shall answere it. In one shorte houre
The horrors which my wordes have feeblie shadowed
Will with their palpable and bloodie formes
Appal the eye and hearte. Is this a time
To doubt and waver, when your brother's fate
Trembles 'twixt life and deathe?
Eud.

O save him, save him !
But thou-thou knewst of all their hellishe plotte-
Thou too wert leagued to slaie him.-0! what hope

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