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nonsense in verse, it is in his situation the most innocuous mode of venting it. He can have
« Left no calling for this idle trade,
No duty broke, no father disobey'd." Thus he can afford to dispose of a moderate edition (printed but not published,) in presentation copies, each of which will of course produce a note of admiration from the receiver. Thus encouraged, he may comply with the earnest requests of his friends, and prepare a small impression for the public use, in which, if fashion permitted, the notes aforesaid might occupy the room of the commendatory verses, so conspicuous in the bulky and forgotten folios of old time. His tenants and dependents will buy up a fair proportion of this impression with a reasonable hope that his honour's poems, well bound and fairly lettered, exhibited to view in their scanty libraries, will have a very favourable effect, whenever it may be needful to plead the badness of the times.' So, with the assistance of the provincial newspapers, the happy author may within a reasonable period, display his third edition, on his study table, and in the bow-window of his bookseller.
Now, surely all this is vastly inoffensive, and the critic who should indulge his plebeian spleen, by mortifying the harmless vanity of a gentleman, would incur the suspicion of something worse than vanity or dullness. But Sir Aubrey de Vere Hunt (who is happily distinguished by his title and his chivalric proenomen from certain namesakes, with whom he would not perhaps like to be confoundeů,) is not to be considered as belonging to the privileged class of patrician scribblers, of whom it can only be said, that they do no harm to themselves or others. He has shewn powers that entitle him to a high rank in that court where intellect alone confers dignity. He writes like a poet and a gentleman, but not like a gentleman poet. We shall therefore treat him as a common author, and speak of his faults with the less relactance, as we think him so capable of amending them.
In a modest and manly introduction he states, that “Julian the Apostate” is a first effort, and may, he would hope, lead to better things. Thus considered, it is indeed a very promising performance. It is written with much vigour of imagination, with a general purity of style, and a perfect purity of sentiment. It is of no school-it aims at the excellencies of all; and if it does not escape the defects of all, it certainly affects the peculiarities of none. One thing, and one only, Sir Aubrey has contracted from a perusal of our elder writers, whicb he would do well to follow the moderns in avoiding. We allude to the ungraceful use of the expletives do and did, which, like the flowing periwig, and the hoop petticoat, were always ugly, and are now ridiculous.
He sometimes likewise ends a line with a weak word, or one which could under no condition conclude any portion of a sentence. This, whether chance or choice, is not to be justified by authority. If ever tolerable, it can only be in the colloquial blank verse of the old comedy. It increases the tendency, always too great, in rhimeless measures, to break up into other divisions than those prescribed—the last clause of the foregoing, and the first of the ensuing line, compose a more marked and perfect verse, than either of those wbereof they are parts. The reader is compelled to sacrifice either sense or metre. The verse of Shakspeare is much more fluent and continuous than that of any other dramatist, yet in his more finished productions we rarely find conjunction, adverb, or preposition at the close of a line. Sir Aubrey sometimes isolates a single word at the end or at the beginning of a verse without sufficient reason; and indeed bis versification in toto admits of improvement.
It betrays no weakness, no affectation, no general lack of the power and spirit of melody; but it is sometimes rugged and overloaded—it wants rapidity. It has however no faults which diligence may not remedy, and it has merits which mere diligence can never attain. His diction (always excepting the do's and did's,) is almost faultless. It is purely modern, without being modish: not often prosaic, and not more poetical than is consistent with good sense.
It has no foreign idiomis, none of those gallicisms, which originating in the hasty translations of the newspapers, pass into the senate, and bave infected almost every department of literature, none of the Scotticisms, which are unfortunately, though not unnaturally, sanctioned by far higher authorities. There are few forced inversions or eliptics, and not very much useless verbiage. It is the result of good education, good society, good books, and good taste. Sir Aubrey has, however, something to gain in point of force and compression. His language is rather descriptive than passionate-it is the language of a poet at leisure, not of a man hurried in action, or struggling with his own emotions. It is not, therefore, strictly dramatic.
The story of Julian is sufficiently known, and a sketch of its outlines is contained in the introduction. His escape from the proscription of his family, by the interference of Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, his Christian education, bis studies at Athens, the jealousy of Constantias, the favour shewn him by the Empress Eusebia, his promotion to the rank of Cæsar in Gaul, the events which led to his assumption of independent sovereignty, his attachment to Paganism first concealed, and afterwards avowed, the opportune death of his rival Constantius, the reform which he introduced into the civil, and the revulsion which he endeavoured to produce in the religious state of the empire, bis purposed restoration of the Jewish temple, bis Persian expedition, his valour, victories, misfortunes, and death, are events which few can be ignorant of.
His character not good enough to justify his blind panegyrists, not sufficiently atrocious to please his bigoted revilers, is of the cast most fitted for philosophic tragedy, Whether it has ever been dramatized before the present essay, we know not; but it is certainly a tempting and an arduous field. Sir Aubrey has done so much, tbąt we cannot but wish he had done more; that he had unfolded more of the mystery of the Apostate's mind; and given a somewbat deeper colouring to his thoughts and passions. Noble bints there are throughout the Drama, which excite the reader's curiosity, and vouch for the Author's powers; but this curiosity is balked, these powers are fettered, by a needless timi. dity, which strongly contrasts with the presumption of far inferior minds. We are, indeed, obliged to Sir Aubrey, not only for what he has done, but for what he has left undone, There are who would have dealt far otherwise with such a theme; making the dramatic liberty a cloak for slander and blasphemy. But we suspect, that the workings of Julian's mind might have been fully represented without the slightest offence to piety. He was no infidel of the modern school. He certainly had no objection to miracles or mysteries. Our Author insinuates, indeed, that he was at heart a Deist; making use of popular superstitions for the attainment of political objects. But for this opinion there seems to be no sufficient ground. Julian was probably as sincere in Heathenism, as James the second in Popery: "It is difficult,” says Sir Aubrey, “ to imagine a man surrendering his senses to the delusions of the Heathen Mythology;" but he should remember that the philosophy which educates the senses, was unknown, or disregarded, for many ages after Julian ; that uneducated senses are at the mercy of imagination; that imagination is swayed by the ruling passions ; and that the passions of Julian, the love of fame, and the desire of re. vedge, were far more Heathen than Christian. What arts the Priests of Eleusis might employ to impose on the senses of the novice, by circumstances of terror, or by availing themselves of natural secrets, known only to themselves, cannot now be ascertained. That they worked on his passions, we may conclude without being told. We know that the Apostate was son of a murdered father: that his fatber was murdered, his family proscribed, himself persecuted and endangered by a Christian. That his spirit was checked, his doubts rebuked, not answered ; his inquiries forbidden by his Christian preceptors, is very probable. And it is certain that Christianity, in the age of Constantius, the age of Arian intrigues and Donatist assassinations, presented no very favourable exterior. Much and admirable virtue was doubtless to be found in the Church, but Julian would neither look nor wish to find it. To a deep, searching, and excursive mind, the faith which is imposed as a duty, will ever be a yoke intolerable, if it be not first recommended to the heart, and confirmed by the conscience. In those days, it would have been hard to pursue any question into the purlieus of controversy, without incurring ecclesiastical censures at least, if not the pains and penalties of heresy. Yet the dissensions which agitated the Christian world continually, led men into the very heart and mysteries of the Greek philosophy. They were invited to discuss what they were prohibited from doubting. To this tantalizing restraint the young Julian would naturally contrast the philosophic freedom of Athens. He would eagerly grasp at the licence of thought: for to licence of manners he seems to have been little inclined.
He was disposed to live as austerely, and to believe as much, as the strictest Catholic could require, but he could not bear that either the acquiescence of bis understanding, or the denial of his appetites, should wear the likeness of humility and submission. With such a spirit to work upon, it must have been an easy task for -a Heathen sophist, employing those arts which proselyte-makers have not always deemed unjustifiable, to make him disbelieve a religion which he disliked already; which condemned the ambition he cherished, and forbad the revenge he thirsted for. Such a preceptor would cautiously conceal from him, that the ancient worship was but lately allied with philosophy; that it had no better foundation than vague and varying tradition ; that it was sometimes a substitute for morals, but not often their auxiliary; and that whatever physical or metaphysical truths it might conceal, it concealed them most effectually • from all who had not learned them from other sources. But he would industriously avail himself of the pliant and elastic quality of Polytheism, which contracts or enlarges, according to the measure of each man's faith, wherein, as in a magio mirror, each may behold his own thought, the fair ideal of his heart's desire.
He would expatiate on that latitude of toleration, within which the Stoio and the Epicurean could dwell together; which allowed the Platonist bis guardian demon, the Roman citizen his lares and penates, and the Egyptian his leeks, onions, and crocodiles : which permitted the devout Plebeian to bring the gods into his cottage, and the polished disciple of Epicurus to send them quietly out of the world ; wbich demanding, in short, only a few outward shows and observances, or, at the most, a prudent silence in mixed companies, left the mind at liberty to choose its own religion, and its own morals. He would represent nature as pleading in favour of a system which gave a life, a soul, a sacred history, and a prophetic meaning, to all her works and all her changes. But chiefly would he call to his aid the past: the poets, the sages, the heroes, and the fame of antiquity. The glory of Rome was the best advocate for the Roman religion; and, were religions to be approved by their effects, and were glory and worldly empire indeed the crown of the true faith, the argument would be hard to answer. Under the auspices of that religion, the village of Romulus subdued the world. This was a marvel, indeed ; so far beyond the calculations of human probability, that it might well appear to justify the many prodigies that were recorded, as attending and foreboding its accomplishment. Showers of blood, speaking oxen, voices in the air, Sybilline oracles, all seemed due to such a consummation. But Christianity bad no earthly glories to boast of, it bred no Roman thoughts; it was not Roman, and that was itself enough to determine the mind of Julian. Its growth had been coeval and almost commensurate with Rome's decline. Might not a plausible enemy denounce it as a canker, a disease in ber vitals, an eyesore, and an abomination to her patron Deities? " On its establishment,” might he not say, “ the old republican spirit (which Julian, though a Cæsar, seems to have imbibed,) long opprest by military violence, was in danger of being lost under an organized despotism. The very imperial presence departed from the scene of ancient grandeur. Slavery, ashamed to dwell in the seat of freedom, inclined towards her native east, and there entrenched herself, amid eastern luxury, eastern politics, and an eastern religion." Coincidences of this sort, however trifling, would strongly influence a mind Jike Julian's, whose natural superstition was fostered by the