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age of Pericles, because each was living while Pericles was in power.
The Athenian rivals were formed under the influences of very different generations, and if Æschylus lived through a considerable portion of the career of the younger Sophocles, the accident of longevity by no means warrants us to consider them the children of the same age --the creatures of the same influences. Æschylus belonged to the race and the period from which emerged Themistocles and Aristides—Sophocles to those which produced Phidias and Pericles. Sophocles indeed, in the calmness of his disposition, and the symmetry and stateliness of his genius, might almost be entitled the Pericles of poetry. And as the statesman was called the Olympian, not from the headlong vehemence, but the serene majesty of his strength; so of Sophocles also it may be said that his power is visible in his repose, and his thunders roll from the depth of a clear sky.'-P. 436.
• A drawback to our admiration of the Philoctetes of Sophocles is the comparison it involuntarily courts with the Prometheus of Æschylus. Both are examples of fortitude under suffering of the mind's conflict with its fate. In either play a dreary waste, a savage solitude, constitute the scene. But the towering sublimity of the Prometheus dwarfs into littleness every image of hero or demi-god with which we contrast it. What are the chorus of mariners, and the astute Ulysses, and the boyish generosity of Neoptolemus ?—what is the lonely cave on the shores of Lemnos ? what the high-hearted old warrior, with his torturing wound, and his sacred how ? --what are all these to the vast Titan whom the fiends chain to the rock beneath which roll the rivers of hell, for whom the daughters of Ocean are ministers, to whose primeval birth the gods of Olympus are the upstart of a day, whose soul is the treasure-house of a secret which threatens the realm of Heaven, and for whose unimaginable doom Earth reels to its base, all the might of Divinity is put forth, and Hades itself trembles as it receives its indomitable and awful guest !
In the contrast between the Philoctetes and the Prometheus is condensed the contrast between Æschylus and Sophocles. They are both poets of the highest conceivable order"; but the one seems almost above appeal to our affections--his tempestuous gloom appals the imagination, the vidid glare of his thoughts pierces the innermost recesses, of the intellect, but it is only by accident that he strikes upon the heart. The other, in his grandest flights, remembers that men make his audience, and seems to feel as if art lost the breath of its life when aspiring beyond the atmosphere of human intellect and human passions. The difference between the creations of Æschylus and Sophocles is like the difference between the Satan of Milton and the Macbeth of Shakspeare.' P. 466.
The whole existing plays of Æschylus and Sophocles—for Euripides does not make his appearance in the present volume
are analyzed at greater or less length by Mr Bulwer. like best his skeleton of that inimitable dramaon which no one could write tamely—the “Edipus Tyrannus.' It is gracefully bedecked with a few poetical versions ; and those yearnings of fatherly tenderness, towards the close, never equalled except by Shakspeare, have not been forgotten :
For my fate, let it pass! My children, Creon!
Sobs! And do I,
They are thy children,
Blessings on thee!
There is also a good criticism, and a good translation (here and there a little overdone), of the great scene in another Sophoclean tragedy :
• Ajax appears again. His passions are now calm and concentrated, but they lead him on to death. He has been shamed, dishonoured, he has made himself a mockery to his foes. Nobly to live or nobly to die is the sole choice of a brave man. It is characteristic of the Greek temperament, that the personages of the Greek poetry ever bid a last, lingering, and half-reluctant farewell to the sun. There is a magnificent fulness of life in those children of the beautiful Hellas : the sun is to them as a familiar friend--the affliction or the terror of Hades is in the thought that its fields are sunless. The orb which animated their temperate heaven, which ripened their fertile earth, in which they saw the type of eternal youth, of surpassing beauty, of incarnate poetryhuman in its associations, and yet divine in its nature-is equally beloved and equally to be mourned by the maiden tenderness of Antigone, or the sullen majesty of Ajax. in a Chaldæan poem the hero would have bid farewell to the stars.
• It is thus that Ajax concludes his celebrated soliloquy :
* And thou that mak'st high heaven thy chariot-course, O sun ! —when gazing on my father-land,
Draw back thy golden rein, and tell my woes
'Tis the DAY,
Present and breathing round me, and the car
We cannot resist the pleasure of annexing another specimen of criticism on a well-known stroke of art in the Electra :
At length the pretended Phocians enter, bearing the supposed ashes of Orestes; the chief of the train addresses himself to Electra, and this is the most dramatic and touching scene in the whole tragedy. When the urn containing, as she believes, the dust of her brother, is placed in the hands of Electra, we can well overleap time and space, and see before us the great actor who brought the relics of his own son upon the stage, and shed no mimic sorrows—we can well picture the emotions that circle round the vast audience-pity itself being mingled with the consciousness to which the audience alone are admitted, that lamentation will soon be replaced by joy, and that the living Orestes is before his sister. It is by a most subtle and delicate art that Sophocles permits this struggle between present pain and anticipated pleasure, and carries on the passion of the spectators to wait breathlessly the moment when Orestes shall be discovered. We now perceive why the poet at once, in the opening of the play, announced to us the existence and return of Orestes-why he disdained the vulgar source of interest, the gross suspense we should have felt, if we had shared the ignorance of Electra, and not been admitted to the secret we impatiently long to be communicated to her. In this scene, our superiority to Electra, in the knowledge we possess, refines and softens our compassion, blending it with hope.
And most beautifully here does Sophocles remove far from us the thought of the hard hatred that hitherto animates the mourner-the strong, proud spirit is melted away the woman and the sister alone appear. He whom she had loved more dearly than a mother-whom she had nursed, and saved, and prayed for, iš “ a nothing, in her hands; and the last rites it had not been hers to pay. He had been
“ By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned."
All things had vanished with him" vanished in a day”- vanished as by a hurricane”-she is left with her foes alone.
1 Admit me” (she cries) “ to thy refuge--make room for me in thy home.”
In these lamentations, the cold, classic drama seems to warm into actual life. Art, exquisite because invisible, unites us at once with imperishable nature--we are no longer delighted with poetry-we are weeping with Truth.'
Agreeable it is to know, that one who sees and shows, with such clear vision, the subtle charms of poesy, intends to touch on Love, as an element of the Grecian female character. We have our own notions on that theme, and shall wait to compare them hereaster with Mr Bulwer's. Meanwhile we shall suggest, as before, a few points for reconsideration.
In the trial of Orestes,* we hold with Müller, that the votes are equal before the presiding goddess gives her ballot for acquittal. Compare the future apósbńsouces (v. 705) with v. 723. This, indeed, is the right significance of the calculus Minerve. It means—when judgments are balanced, mercy is wisdom.
Sophocles, as reported by Athenæus, seems to us to insin uate most correctly that Æschylus was not so great an artist as himself. We cannot concede to Mr Bulwer that this is the criticism
of ignorance.' (p. 466.) Says Mr Bulwer:-* Æschylus is artful as a dramatist to be read, Sophocles as a dramatist to be acted.' On this very principle, Æschylus was an inferior artist. He wrote, as he was perfectly aware, for a non-reading public.
• Longinus,' says the author, ' rightly considers pathos a part of the sublime, for pity ought to elevate us.' (p. 465.) The pathos of Longinus is passion, and should not be confounded with pitij, as one source of the interest awakened by the tragic Muse.
Comedy still demands some words. But since Aristophanes is merely approached by Mr Bulwer, in the part of his work now published, we must tarry for the promised sequel.
The accomplished author will pardon us for closing the present paper with a protest against certain pecularities of idiom, which we were sorry to find countenanced by so popular a pen. A few of these may plead in their behalf the rare authority of old writers in our tongue. They belong, however, in actual usage, either to the North American dialect, or to such assassins of her Majesty's English at home, as a master of composition must regret to have upon his side.
We complain, for instance, of expressions like these :-Irregulated-in stealth-reverent for reverend—tò
Æsch. Eumen. 722,
neighbour—to concentre, as a verb active—to prodigalize—to border, for to border on. We think that impatient of conquest cannot mean impatient to conquer. We don't like arriving to the things we have been in the habit of arriving at. The adverbs both and only are now and then misplaced. False antithesis is too frequently admitted. Cause is once at least put for effect (p. 345.) A verb of one number is often forced to do duty with a nominative of another.* Mr Bulwer is not yet talented—a pseudo-participle which no one will use who is not ripe for any atrocity—but he progresses at a fearful rate. These are, it is true, slight matters in themselves; but at a time when purity of taste is not in the ascendant—at a time when a single class of readers is able to push · Poems' into the fourteenth edition, and Prize Essays' into the ninth or tenth thousand, which are not more repulsive from the impudent extravagance of their doctrine than from the base tinsel of their style—at such a time, the man of real genius should be more than ever on his guard against sanctioning, by his negligence, the adulteration of our noble language.
* In such sentences as the air is serene, the climate healthful, the seasons temperate,' and a hundred of the same cast. This fault is fast spreading in modern composition, though the very sensible Grammar of Cobbett, if we recollect aright, strongly condemns it.
VOL. LXV. No. CXXXII.