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consulted concerning the mode of distinguishing the Catholics from the heretics, in order to save the former, • Kill all,' said he, • God will distinguish the faithful;' and at his word thirty thousand fell.
A mistake of a more ludicrous nature, is the following :-In his chapter on trade, M. Rubichon tells his readers that he is quite at home upon that subject, being born and bred in the business ; and apologizes for not sketching its history. But every merchant will excuse me, when I tell him that the first treaty of commerce, mentioned by the ancients, was the sale of Joseph by his brethren ; and that, from this earliest commercial transaction, down to the last loan, they have all been fatally alike.' Now a desire to be pert and witty has made him forget that Joseph was sold by his brethren to some Arabian merchants, who were carrying perfumes and other goods from Galaad into Egypt--at least so Josephus tells us from the authority of holy writ.
We remember to have seen an English edition of the first volume of this work printed some years ago in London. M. Rubichon, we are pretty confident, was his own translator --for who else indeed would have thought his nonsense worth translating ? and we must say, materiem superabat opus’; for a more conceited and presumptuous piece of absurdity we have seldom met with. But these French folks, as Praxinoe well observes-
πάλα ίσανε, και ως Ζεύς αγάγε9' “Ηρας. and many of them think they can teach the English nation the English language.*
M. Rubichon hopes that no breach of hospitality will be laid to his account for the freedom with which he delivers his opinion. Certainly not. The character of a nation is public property; and, if they who have studied it where alone it can be learned, are debarred by false delicacy from speaking of it, by whom shall we be taught the truth? We do not conceive that, in civilized times, the obligation contracted toward a nation that does not refuse to the subjects of other states the benefit of its laws, its air, and its protection, is so great as ever afterwards to impose superstitious silence upon the grateful traveller who leaves it. But we do think it the duty of every man who has a new idea, to
* In the feuilletou of a French journal (the. Bon Français of March 990) is this sentence-Chespire, que les Anglais écrivent Schakespeare.--Sonie years ago, a semiofficial relation of the alarm excited in England by the appearance of a small French squadron off our coast, stated that John Bull ran up and down exclaiming, · Here come the French dogs, huzza ! huzza ! huzza!' and this exclamation was thus translated into French, in a note. Voilà ces terribles Français ! Notre dernière heure est arrivée ! which we beg to retranslate for the amusement of our country gentlemen. the terrible French! our last hour is come !'-Now is it possible to hate a nation so die, verting?
• Here are
communicate it; and one such idea is compensation enough for many a dull volume. It is moreover no small satisfaction to us as Englishmen, that even foreigners can speak their minds conceming us, as freely in London as in Paris. We will venture to assert that, notwithstanding all the disparagement which his first volume contains, M. Rubichon never was insulted for his opinions in any society, never taken to account by any half-pay officer, never pur, sued by any ruffian of a political police, never informed against by any gentleman spy, and never experienced the least inconvenience or unpleasantness, during his long residence in this truly generous and enlightened island.
We had almost forgotten to mention that the general drift of M. Rubichon's two volumes is perfectly contradictory; the first bravely published in London, during his emigration, being unfavourable to England; the second, gallantly edited in Paris since his return, being just as hostile to France. We are told by Spallanzani, that the animal called vespertilio murinus, vulgo, bat, can fly in the darkest room, and backwards and forwards, an infinite number of times through a labyrinth of obstacles, without ever hitting against any of them. Now this seems to be Mr. Rubi, chon's case ; for notwithstanding his cecity and his perpetual flights from one absurdity to another, he never once has knocked against reason, or come in collision with one sound idea, either of which must have been fatal to his speculations, and his imagination has rambled, uncontrouled, yet we do not think he would make a better poet than he has shown himself a statist.
Art. X.—The Fall of Jerusalem, a Dramatic Poem. By the
Rev, H. H. Milman, Vicar of St. Mary's, Reading; and late
Fellow of Brazenose College, Oxford. Svo. London. 1820. THERE is scarcely, in the whole range of ancient or modern
history, a subject which embraces in itself so many circumstances of awful interest, as the last Jewish war, and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus.-Besides its political importance, as perhaps the most obstinate struggle in which the Roman empire was engaged with a foreign power, from the last Punic war to the Gothic invasion, no history or portion of history presents us with facts so variously interesting. In none, that we know of, are we made witnesses of so many strange and dreadful phenomena, of generous feelings exaggerated into crimes, or of the effects which may be produced on the mind and body by fanaticism and despair; by a resolution to refuse even pardon and peace from the hands of a triumphant and detested enemy; by an insane confidence in the protection of that Deity whose holiest laws are trampled on;
and by that pride of endurance which, when our suffering reaches a certain pitch of intensity and hopelessness, would seem to be, in itself, a source of gratification.
The more general picture of a small and divided nation, with.. out allies, without discipline, and almost without military equipments, making head against the whole weight of a mighty empire ; defending village after village, and wall after wall, with so much courage as to require a separate siege for the most insignificant bamlets, and with so much obstinacy as to make each of their own defeats a source of mourning to their invaders; their strength retreating as the extremities are cut off, to the heart and centre of their kingdom; and, at length, pent up like wild beasts in a net, within the ramparts of a single city:—the spectacle there offered of 600,000 souls, (at the lowest computation,) resisting still when no rational motive for resistance remained; exerting, at the same moment and with equal rage, their most furious passions against each other and their enemies; fighting, robbing, starving, disputing, blaspheming, murdering, and calling, with full confidence, on God to acknowledge them, by some signal deliverance, as his chosen people---must be ranked among the most awful scenes recorded of our nature, and one for which it is impossible to account without supposing some degree of judicial infatuation to have possessed a race so furious and so miserable. It is true that the physical endurance and mental obstinacy of the southern nations, and more particularly of the Jewish and Arabian family, seem in all ages to have surpassed, in seasons of hopeless misery, the more rational and phlegmatic darings of the tribes of northern Europe. But, making all due allowance for this national idiosyncrasy; and admitting, as may safely be admitted, that Josephus had been imperfectly informed, or was of himself inclined to exaggerate, in some slight degree, the horrors which his countrymen had suffered,—enough will still remain, even in the brief and half contemptuous narrative of Tacitus, to stamp the obstinacy of the Jews with something of a supernatural character, which will both correspond with, and render less improbable, the prodigies which are said to have preceded and aggravated the calamities of their city.
And, when we still further consider that all this obstinacy, this infatuation, these sufferings, these portents, had been exactly foretold by the Founder of the Christian Religion, that He had appealed to this future destruction as to the seal and confirmation of his own Divine Authority; and that His prediction to this effect was known and notoriously acted on, to the preservation of their lives and properties, by the great body of His worshippers; when we consider, above all, the crime for which these sufferings were denounted by Him, as the appropriate punishment, it is no wonder that not only
the Jews, but the followers of Christ and Mabommed should regard the ruin of God's peculiar city and temple as one of the most remarkable epochs in the religious history of mankind, and as. one of the events to which the mind recurs with the deepest wonder and veneration.
Thus reverenced, and thus remarkable, we have sometimes thought it strange, that the Fall of Jerusalem has been a subject hitherto so little attempted either by painters or poets. None of the more eminent names among the former have exerted their talents on a theme which—if not too multifarious and extensive, (and who that kas seen Le Brun's Battles can make this objection?)--would seem to combine in itself more richness and variety of natural and architectural scenery, of costume, of grouping, of attitude, and of interest, than any other which history offers. No considerable poet has taken more than a transient and incidental notice of scenes so strange, so terrible, and, to Christians of every sect and country, so important:* nor has the subject been so much as alluded to any where else except in some of the Oxford and Cambridge Prize Poems.
It is not, however, to be overlooked that, as the subject of a poem of any length, the Fall of Jerusalem was attended with many difficulties,
difficulties so numerous and so great, as hardly to be surmounted by a share of genius and good taste less remarkable than the present author has brought forward to subdue them. It had, in the first place, the misfortune of being too well known, both in its event and its more conspicuous details, to leave any room for that suspended and anxious interest which (however some modern critics may affect to despise a plot) was well observed by Aristotle to be the most essential, because the most popular requisite of a narrative or dramatic poem. It is easy indeed for a poet, and it is one of the poet's most ancient and acknowledged prerogatives, to warp and mould historical events according to his fancy and to serve his airy purposes:' but if this is not done with a very gentle and judicious band, the reader is more apt to be disgusted with the departure from a known truth than delighted with the ingenuity of the fiction. This displeasure is felt even when the liberty in question has been taken, not with sober historic truth, but with an old and familiar fable. It has been one main cause of the total and signal failure of the different epics which have been
* There is a forgotten rhyming tragedy in two parts, called • The Destruction of Jerusalem.' 'It was written by Crowne, (the ridiculous rival of Dryden,) and is said to have been acted with applause about the year 1677. It does not appear that it ever fell into Mr. Milman's hands; nor, indeed, if it had, could he have turned it to any ad, vantage. Both parts are taken, in some measure, from the narrative of Josephus, but absurdly mixed up in the fashion of the day with court intrigue and party politics. They are however among the best of Crowne's dramas; and the first part is not without merit.
attempted on the subject of Arthur, that they have given us a hero formed on a classical model, instead of that.good king Arthur' of the romances and ballads, the favourite of our childhood, and the subject even now of innumerable popular tales among our peasantry: It is the same dilemma of being trite on the one hand, or of violating preconceived notions on the other, which constitutes the principal difficulty of those dramatic subjects which are taken from classical antiquity.—But in the Fall of Jerusalem this difficulty is greatly increased by the degree of religious importance which attaches to its leading circumstances. Alteration here becomes misrepresentation; and we resent, as a sort of heresy, any poetical license on topics of which, whatever may be the incidental beauty or singularity, the main interest and importance depend on their truth alone.
Nor is that a trifling embarrassment which arises from the overpowering interest and sublimity of the scenes or events to be described, a sublimity, in many instances, not only above the aid of poetical embellishment, but which makes it as much out of place as a collar of pearls round the neck of the Farnese Hercules. The fifth chapter of the sixth book of Josephus is not poetry, but it is something niore,-and the opening of the temple gate without hands, and the MΕΤΑΒΑΙΝΩΜΕΝ ΕΝΤΕΥΘΕΝ which resounded through the Holy of Holies, must be rather injured than ornamented by any attempt to describe the crash of the brazen hinges, and the thunders of the departing Deity.
The circumstance, bowever, which might seem to present the greatest difficulty of all, is the pervading and unqualified horror of the history and its details. There is, from the beginning of the siege to its conclusion, no turn in the tide of affairs, no point on which the eye can, even for a moment, repose with comfort. One deed of brutal and bloody cruelty, one instance of dismal and intolerable suffering succeeds its fellow, without respite or remission. We can feel no interest for the Romans, who are unjust and brutal oppressors, and whose leader Titus, with his long speeches and loaded gibbets, is, in spite of Suetonius and the praises of some Christian divines, more odious than a less philosophic ruffian would have been; and even the desperate courage and lofty enthusiasm of the Jews which, under other circumstances, would have been sublime, become, when exerted without any reasonable hope or motive, hideous and maniacal. In prose, these things are read with interest, because they are true as well as terrible and extraordinary: but, in poetry, which is professedly not the truth but its imitation, we require that the objects imitated should not be altogether frightful, and Mr. Shelley alone, since the days of Titus Andronicus and the