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possess; and, unlike those works, it has little richness of detail or eloquence of language, and still less refinement or finish of detached parts. Upon the whole, if it is a work that deserves and will receive respect and attention, these will be accorded to it more from the nature of its subject, and the name and character of its author, than from
any either positive or even comparative merit of its own.
The plot of this poem comprises simply the last day of Belshazzar's life, including his impious feast, the taking of his city by the Medes and Persians, and his consequent dethronement and death. With these events are connected, by way of episode, the loves of the two Jewish captives, Adonijah and Benina. We shall not be very copious in our extracts, either from the exceptionable or the meritorious parts of this performance, because we do not think that in the one case we should contribute much to the edification, or in the other to the amusement, of the reader; for Mr. Milman's faults are, generally speaking, not glaring enough to serve as warning examples; and his good qualities are better to be appreciated and relished in connexion with each other, than when considered alone. Two or three examples of these latter, however, we will give, and those the best we can find, in order to shew that the poem is inferior to the one noticed in our number for April. But that these examples may have a fair chance of being justly appreciated, we will precede them by one or two of a different kind, in which it appears to us that Mr. Milman has exhibited more than his usual carelessness and haste. In the way of versification nothing can be much worse than the following passage, with which the poem opens. It is to the last degree heavy, inelegant, and monotonous.
The City of Babylon.—Morning.
elsewhere Jehovah's cup of vengeance." By the way, it may be here remarked that this destroying angel is an interpolation, as uncalled for as it is inefficient. It adds nothing to the interest and progress of the events, and indeed takes no part in them ; unless we are to receive it as the agency which produces the writing on the wall. And if we are to regard it in this light, it takes from, instead of adding to, the mysterious awfulness of that event.
Surely the following speeches of Belshazzar are neither poetical nor characteristic:
" oh! thou Lord of the hundred thrones, high Nabonassar
THE DESTROYING ANGEL,
And thou my father, Merodach! ye crown'd
Because thou hast been the dwelling of Belshazzar!
Oh ye, assembled Babylon ! fair youths
The height and pinnacle of human glory." To put such merely impudent boastings as these into the mouth of a mighty king, is not the way to create an interest in us either towards his life or his death. He should have been invested with at least a semblance of dignity of character; or if it was thought that this could not be done consistently with divine history, he should not have been chosen as a poetical hero at all : for the rise or the fall of such men as Belshazzar is here represented, are matters of equal indifference to us, in a poetical point of view. As a matter of mere history, it may be an impressive fact to know, that a human being was precipitated in a moment from such a height of external greatness. But when we know this as a matter of history, we can be made to feel little additional interest in it as a matter of poetical contemplation, unless the subject of it be represented to us as something essentially different from the rest of his species. Mere place and station will never make a poetical hero, any more than they can detract from one. We willingly contrast these passages with others of a different description. The following is, perhaps, the most poetical passage in the work, and certainly the versification of it, though far from perfect, is better than the author usually produces. The extract is a kind of prophetic anticipation of the fate that awaits Belshazzar; but it is put into the mouth, not very appropriately, of Benina, the Jewish maiden.
“ Go on, in awe And splendour, radiant as the morning star, But as the morning star to be cast down
Into the deep of deeps. Long, long the Lord
Even monuments are silent of Belshazzar!" The following is an animated and picturesque description of the illuminated city on the night of Belshazzar's feast:-
“ But lo! what blaze of light beneath me spreads
Of the blue river, ere it reach the walls.” Our next extract is a description of the prophet Daniel, on the appearance of those portents which indicate the downfall of the devoted city.
“ Till but lately he was girt
And sometimes doth he gaze upon the clouds,
To check his motion, or reprove his speech.”
“ The snowy light falls where she treads,
Harmonious." The last extract we shall give is from the scene which precedes the death of Belshazzar :
The Streets of Babylon in Flames.
I am alone: my slaves
Ev’n the priests spurn'd me, as abhorr'd of Hearen.” The foregoing extracts are doubtless not without merit; but when we say that they are the best we are able to select from the present work, it must be obvious to those who are acquainted with the previous productions of Mr. Milman, that there has been a great falling off in this. We are sincerely sorry that such should be the case, and earnestly advise Mr. Milman to look about him, if he would continue to deserve and retain that reputation which he at present possesses.
In conclusion, we cannot avoid noticing the following passage in the preface to this work :-“ May I presume to hope that this, as well as the preceding works of the same nature, may tend to the advancement of those interests, in subservience to which alone our time and talents can be worthily employed—those of piety and religion?” Surely this is altogether a gratuitous passage, at best--not to say an impertinent one. Mr. Milman may
presume to hope” thus, if he pleases; and there may be good ground for his hope : but to put forth that hope to the public, for no other reason than to make it an occasion of tacitly reproaching the pursuits and performances of every body but himself, and the particular class of persons to which he belongs, is what he may not presume” to do—at least, without being told of it.
“ I have done penance for contemning love;
say that “marriages are made in heaven." I don't know,but I think it not improbable, since many of those seemingly accidental encounters which should naturally leud to marriage, take place in that road which is declared by its frequenters to be the only one leading to beaven ; and which road lies directly through a Methodist meetinghouse. Let no one go about to persuade me that a place of this description is necessarily barren of poetical associations, even to those who are not absolutely satisfied as to the truth of the peculiar doctrines promulgated in it; and that even the anathemas of eternal damnation which are thundered forth there from time to time, from the stentorian lungs of an enthusiastic devotee, may not be made to fall upon the ear
memory with a sound “most musical,” howbeit “most melancholy.” In fact, there is an unseemly erection of the above kind, standing a little to the south of this metropolis, which is to me more redolent of the air of love than is the grotto of Egeria or the rocks of Meillerie; and the voice of its chief priest, though to other believing as well as unbelieving ears apt to grate
harsh discords," is to me
as musical as is Apollo's lute:"--for it was within those walls, and under the sound of that voice, I used to sit for two hours together, twice every Sunday during the space of four long years, secretly sighing away my soul, and fancying that I could actually see it, in the form of a pale lambent flame, borne along on the breath of my mouth, till it reached the shrine to which it was directed, where it became absorbed by the lips and interfused in the eyes that seemed to be unconsciously waiting and watching for it; or, when they were absent, seemed to hover restlessly over the spot where it was accustomed to find them, as if unwilling to remain there, and yet unable to return.
It would afford curious matter for speculation, to trace out the va-. rious causes which contribute to the production of those final opinions that we adopt on any given subject. It has been my lot to associate a good deal with persons who hold in particular aversion the religious sect of which I have just had occasion to speak, and who lose no opportunity of calling in question even the general sincerity of their opinions—to say nothing of the pernicious nature and tendency of those opinions. But it so happens that these persons have never been able