ePub 版
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

half: the enervated Shah-Soofi shrunk term, a tyrant insatiable of blood and from a prolonged contest with the vengeance," appears on the first view energy and ferocity of Mourad; and too palpable a truth to be either denied a Persian envoy arrived at Constanti. or palliated. In utter recklessness of nople in September, bearing full powers human life, and in the sanguinary and to conclude a definitive treaty. The inexorable punishments which instantly pacification of 1555, between Soliman followed the smallest breach of his the Magnificent and Shah Tahmasp, mandates, even his ancestor Selim I., was assumed as the basis of the terri. though distinguished among the detorial arrangements. Eriwan was re scendants of Othman by the epithet of stored, as a frontier fortress, to Persia, Yavooz, or Ferocious, falls far short which solemnly ceded in perpetuity of him : and the catalogue of execuBag dad with its dependencies, and tions and massacres which mark his most of the other extensive territories reign, and particularly the last seven subdued by the Turks along the east years, after he had established his asern boundary: and the friendly rela- cendency over the janissaries, presents tions thus established remained undis. an appalling register of bloodshed. turbed for eighty years, till the over Yet justice requires, that before we conthrow of the house of Soofi by the Aff- sign Mourad to execration as a sullen ghans. But Mourad did not long sur. and brutal despot, (in which light the vive to enjoy the glory of having thus generality of European historians have victoriously terminated the tedious represented him,) we should take into strife between the Porte and her here. consideration the circumstances under ditary enemy. Early in the ensuing which he was placed on the throne, year he was seized with a fever, in and the state of the empire in the years consequence of a debauch of wine, a immediately preceding and following vice with which he had been infected his accession. By the murder of his from the example of the renegade Per brother Osman, (towards whom he is sian Khan of Eriwan, Emir-Gounah, said to have felt the strong attachment who had become, under the Turkish of a youthful mind,) and the deposiname of Yusuf. Pasha, one of his fa- tion of his uncle Mustapha, the nomivourite associates ; and, though the nal sovereignty devolved on him be. strength of his constitution at first fore he had passed his eleventh year ; promised to overcome the malady, the and his boyhood was spent amid scenes superstitious dread which overwhelmed of sedition and bloodshed from the unhim at an eclipse of the sun in the controlled violence of the soldiery, in same sign of the zodiac which it had which his friends and ministers were occupied at his birth, gave a fatal repeatedly sacrificed before his eyes, shock to his faculties; and, on Feb. and his own life more than once placed 9, 1640, “ Sultan Mourad," in the in the extremest peril : but he contiwords of the Turkish annalist, “ after nued to cherish a deep and deadly having been lord of the carpet (con- thirst for vengeance on the authors of fined to his bed) for fifteen days, quitted these outrages; and the dissimulation this transitory world for the kingdom which he was compelled for several of eternity” before he had completed years to practise, imparted a character the twenty-eighth year of his age. In of fierce and vindictive cruelty to the his last moments he gave peremptory retribution which he afterwards exorders for the death of his brother acted. Still his measures of severity, Ibrahim; but the execution of this sa- though unsparing even to exterminavage mandate, which would have ex. tion, were directed principally against tinguished at a blow the whole Impe. those guilty or suspected of offences rial family, was eluded by the contri. against the state : he is charged with vance of the officers of the palace and few of those wanton and capricious the Sultana-Walidah, and the eyes of acts of useless barbarity which stain Mourad were closed in death without the annals of the Seffavean monarchs his becoming conscious of the decep- of Persia ; and the new aspect which tion which had been practised. the administration assumed under the

The character and reign of Mourad. later years of his rule, shows that the Ghazi form a remarkable episode in searching and summary justice of the the drama of Ottoman history. That scimitar and bowstring had proved, at he was, as Von Hammer calls him, "a least for the time, an effectual remedy tyrant in the widest acceptation of the for the manifold disorders which the

[ocr errors]

imbecility of the sovereigns since Soli- distracted the provinces, every where man had suffered to take root, and disappeared or were crushed, and the which had reached their climax at this ancient frontiers were re-established juncture. The janissaries, who had by the conclusion of a triumphant disposed, according to their lawless peace with Persia. The Ottoman em. pleasure, alike of the throne of the pire, in a word, which seemed on the sultan and the property of the citizen, eve of disruption at the accession of were reduced to muteand awe-stricken Mourad, received, under his fierce but obedience: the spahis were reformed, energetic sway, an infusion of new life, and deprived of the public domains and continued to maintain its ancient which they had usurped: the profligate formidable aspect in the eyes of Europe peculation, before which the interior till the end of the century, when the revenues of the state had almost dis. defeat of Vienna, and the disastrous appeared, was checked by prompt war which succeeded, broke for ever punishment of the offenders, and by the spell of Turkish power, and prethe institution of a new and more accu. pared the gradual but inevitable derate system of finance regulation cline which marked its history during while the numerous revolts which had the course of the eighteenth century.


It not unfrequently happens that the close written pages, "what a world some modest youth, some third cousin of sentiment, and thought, and chaperhaps, or other indescribably far off racter, put together doubtless with inrelative, who has written, be it prose finite pains, and not without bursts of or poetry, play or novel, desires above triumph, by this industrious architect all things that we should condescend -and all for nothing !” We glanced to read his production, and give him at a line here and there, not with the our candid opinion upon its merits. design of forming any judgment on We, with as many turns and doubles its deserts—we looked on it as a as a frightened hare, endeavour to doomed thing—but with an idle curiomake our escape from the honour sity to see what it was that had been about to be conferred. If escape is so carefully penned, only to be deimpossible, we practise as many tricks stroyed. The style seemed to be, at and artifices in order to convey, in the least, without affectation, simple, and gentlest of all manners, some advice, not so far removed from the conversa. which in substance is extremely un. tion of men as to be dramatically im. palatable. Of these matters, however, probable ; the thoughts, too, were we shall not speak at present; for we intelligible, and there was a touch of are just now in the vein of amiable melody in the verse ; a matter which and indulgent criticism. Amongst our playwrights very wisely give the manuscripts which have come into themselves little concern about. "At our hands, there is one that has this last, as we continued this desultory singularity connected with it ; the perusal, we took the generous resolu. writer seems really, and in good faith, tion of extracting some fragments from to have no idea of publishing, to have the poem, and thus saving them from never contemplated the use of printer's that total oblivion for which they were ink. When we mention that this per- destined. Our readers must deterformance is a tragedy !-it will be said mine how far we have allowed a caat once that it would be mere nonsense price of good-nature to steal a march to print it; for all this he is not the upon our critical judgment. less singular in his abstinence.

The subject of this picce-it is call. The knowledge that this manuscript, ed “ King Edgar, a play”-is the well after lying a certain space of time in known story of the Lady Elfrida, desk or escritoire, will assuredly be whom Athelwold was sent to woo for one day torn up in a general massacre King Edgar, and whom he, by treachof papers, gave it, by one of those ca- erously decrying her beauty, obtained prices of feeling which even critics are for himself. Dunstan, of course, is a subject to, a species of interest in our conspicuous figure. Fortunately we eyes. “ What a world was here!" we have no account to give of the plot ; said pathetically, as we turned over it follows the history with great fide

lity. In the characters only is there fanatical, is portrayed in Dunstan; any attempt at invention ; and here, but his fanaticism is represented as as the historical narrative is very that of a man of deep reflection; and meagre, some recourse to imagination we are interested in him by reason of was unavoidable. Of Athelwold the those struggles which we see passing writer has made a young nobleman, in his own mind. who, having been educated at Rome, Amongst Edgar's amours, history is not only complete in all the accom. has recorded one with a fair nun, plishments of a thane, but in all the whom he contrived to earry off from a learning of his age; a man of honour, convent. She is here met with under whose last bitterness, when the king the name of Gilbertha; and the first discovers bis deceit, is not the loss of scene represents the monarch and his life, but remorse for the unworthy new mistress, who are interrupted in falsehood he had uttered. Edgar is their toying by the ghostly Dunstan. such as we suppose all men would The penance which this subtle priest figure him, brave, but ostentatious, thinks fit to inflict upon the king, is fond of power, but devoted to pleasure. matter of history. The priest, at once ambitious and

“Edgar and GilberTHA.
Edgar. Love thee, Gilbertha! By the mass, I do!
Art thou not fair?-good argument for love ;
And very gentle ?_which is love's own mood;
And stolen fruit withal, sweet vestal, pluck'd
With charming sin from consecrated walls?
Oh, be thou sure I love !

I will believe,
But still I fear thee.

Sweet Gilbertha,
Cast fear away. The mistress of a king
Should bear a royal heart, love whilst he loves,
And, if he slights, meet scorn with equal scorn.

Gilbertha. Meet scorn with scorn! Yes, when a woman's heart, .
Weighted with load of sorrow, has become
A weariness, when all her pride is lost
In unreturn'd affection, then her lord
Will bid her scorn him! If such fate be mine
How shall I scorn, and bitterly despise,
Hate, curse, and loathe, and execrate--

What now!
Gilbertha. Myself! myself !-that turn'd from loving God
To love his creature.- Weeps.)

No lears, my beautiful.
Come, I will kiss them.

Enter Dunstan.
Dunstan. Guilty woman, hence !-[GILBERTHA slowly withdraws.
It grieves me much that, like a second Nathan,
I come to chide my king.

Insolent man!
Why darest thou break upon my privacy?

Dunstan. I am God's messenger. What privacy
Shuts out the eye of heaven ?

Presumptuous priest!
-But say at once thy purpose. What new gift
Shall I bestow? What wealth or privilege,
What lands, what subtle claim or cruel power,
Dost thou now covet, now prepare to wring
Out of thy monarch's frailties ?

Gifts to me!
Think'st thou the baubles of thy giddy world
Are gifts to me, or thou my benefactor ?

Edgar. Oh, perfect priest! and priestly most of all
In bold ingratitude. So good a man

Scorns to acknowledge favours from bis kind :



He takes the boon, and saves his thanks for Heaven.
Dunstan, we know your services- know ours.
If you did help us to this throne of England
Some years before our title had accrued,
It was your own most pious, proud ambition
That prompted you; and in return bave we
Built and endow'd, proclaim'd, controll’d, ordain'd,
Just as your righteous will has dictated.
My private life, I pray thee, leave in peace,
I am the king!

Dunstan. Thou art the king,
Edgar the Great, the monarch of this land.
I, Dunstan, am a miserable worm
Whom you may crush and trample. I stand here
A weak old man, wither'd and full of pains,
And your rude vassal, at a lordly hint,
Might thrust me with his staff into the grave.
But this poor Dunstan, clad in sackcloth rags,
Is God's vicegerent, and his trembling voice
Shall chide and rule his sovereign. Private life!
Kings have no private life. A monarch's home.
Is public government;-is strong as laws
To give a nation manners. I do urge
The scandal of your reign; I bring reproof,
Censure, and penance : if it be your wish
I deal them publicly, I will retire.

Edgar. Proceed, divine ambassador! Thy power,
At least, is certain; for the strongest man
Must yield to him whom all the weak obey.
I cannot blame thee who am king myself
By the same public folly makes thee priest.
On with thy schooling.

Thou hast robb'd the church
Of treasure above gold, of a pure soul
That pledged itself to manifest on earth
The perfect holiness of Christian faith,
Revealing, for encouragement of all,
A living saint amidst this troubled world. .
Was't not enough to fill your palaces
With ministrants of lewdness, and to stretch
O'er city, camp, and court, your free desires;
But you must rush within the sanctuary,
Drag from the cloister the chaste spouse of Christ,
And print lascivious kisses upon lips
Sacred to prayer ? What answer dost thou make ?

Edgar. Humanity is weak—at least mine is.
To you, in visions blest with angel forms,
Frail woman is as dust : to some of us
The painted dust is angel fair enough.
Lo, I am penitent. Deal gently, priest.
Let me remind you that your church has not
A more devoted son ; and such a son
Should find a gentle parent. .

And he shall.
But love is better shown in chastisement
Than ruinous neglect. You must do penance ;
You must abstain

Consider, righteous saint'Twere well the people knew I was submiss Pronounce some sentence that I can obey.

Dunstan. You must abstain, for seven whole years

Art mad?
Dunstan. From wearing, save on necessary days,
That regal vanity, your crown.

I bow,

I yield to the strict sentence of the church.
Let it be known, I pray, to all the world
With what humility I kiss the rod.

Dunstan. You must fast, too; nor may you slack your hand
In bounty to the church; thus shall you show
To all mankind example eminent
Of penitential sorrow.

I will fill
All England with right noble edifices,
Churches and monasteries. I will fast-
Fast publicly, devoutly, till the appetite
O’errule the better purpose. Let no priest
Forget to name this in his homilies."

In the second act the characters, influence at the court of Edgar. He both of Dunstan and Athelwold, are endeavours to persuade the young thane made to reveal themselves in a dia. that the studies to which he is partial logue they sustain together. The may be pursued with more advantage saint endeavours to gain over to the in the church; while, if he continues church the young nobleman, whose separate from the ecclesiastical body, talents and elevation of character mark his learning will expose him to suspihim out as a worthy champion of her cion-amongst the clergy, of heresy, cause, and in whom, whilst a layman, amongst the people, of magic and unDunstan sees an obstacle to his own lawful studies.

Dunstan. You are a scholar, have been bred at Rome,
The seat of scholarship; can civil life
Present a scene of labour, or of ease,
Like that a Benedictine monastery
Holds out to such as you ?

Athelwold. I am a scholar,
At least have spent some hours in solitude
With books and meditation.— Pleasant hours !
Take whoso will the pomp of happiness,
Wealth, and dominion, give me quiet thoughts
And studious labours, and I rest content
With the pale heritage. I balance not
Ev'n woman's love, and all its dear results,
Of home so populous with sprightly joys,
With the rapt leisure of the student's cell.
But 'tis because I have some scholarship,
Have somewhat ponder'd upon God and man,
I could not join with Holy Church. Start not!
I am no busy heretic. If man,
In his worst madness, bid me expiate
With pangs of martyrdom my quest of truth,
Lo, I am ready-bear me to the stake!
I have no fear-I would not live in fear-
I would not hold existence on the bond,
That, like a coward, I must lie for life.
This for myself; but for mankind at large,
I leave them where I found them-it may be
With errors of some service, in a state
So full of errors-nor would teach a truth
Might work like falsehood on perverted minds.
The toiling world, in mazy movement-vast
Beyond all reach of vision--complicate
Beyond all skill of mine to tamper with
Moves, or revolves, as God ordains. My task
Is with my single heart, and its own truth.
I cannot struggle with mankind in arms,
Nor find out truth for all.

Such neutrality,
Young thane, I cannot, must not, tolerate,
Who is not with me is against.

« 上一頁繼續 »