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for the present, and justly appreciated only by after times. The sense of the nation has pressed the abolition upon our rulers. Parliament has complied with the general feeling, after the eyes of all men were opened, and their voices lifted up against the combined impolicy and injustice of the slave trade. There are other cases of the same kind, which the country has begun to think upon. The state of the Irish Catholics-the policy pursued towards our East Indian possessions-and the propriety of a pacific system in Europe-are subjects on which men only differ, because they have not fully discussed them. The further diffusion of information respecting these important questions, will probably, in the course of a short time, leave as few enemies to the sound doctrines which sensible men hold upon them, as are now found to the abolition of the slave trade. This consideration should both encourage the government to do its duty, independent of the popular feeling, and animate the instructors of the people, whose sense of right may in the end sway their rulers.

ART. XIV. Saul: A Poem in Two Parts. By William Sotheby Esq. 4to. pp. 190. Caddel & Davies. London. 1807. A SCRIPTURAL subject treated in blank verse unfortunately brings Milton to the thoughts of most readers; and the name of the translator of Oberon raises expectations which it is not easy to answer. This poem has certainly disappointed us. It is not very like Milton; except in the multitude of Hebrew names and it is strikingly inferior to Mr Sotheby's other compositions, even in those points where we reckoned with certainty on improvement. There was great beauty of diction in the Oberon; and, considering the difficulty of the measure, an unusual flow and facility of versification. When we found the author writing in blank verse, therefore, we naturally looked for still greater freedom and variety of composition; and expected to be charmed with all those natural graces of expression, which are necessarily excluded to a certain degree by the bondage of an intricate stanza. The very reverse is the case, however, with the work now before us. Mr Sotheby's blank verse is as remarkable for harshness, constraint, and abruptness, as his stanzas were for ease and melody; and his muse, we are afraid, is like one of those old beauties, who, having been long accustomed to move gracefully in tight stays, high shoes, and hooped petticoats, feels her supports withdrawn when disencumbered of her shackles, and totters and stumbles when there are no longer any restraints on

her movements.


The name of the poem is Saul; but the hero is David; and it contains just so much of his history, as is comprehended within the period of his first appearance as a harper before the king, and the death of that monarch. In accommodating this story to poetry, Mr Sotheby has run into two opposite excesses: he has in many places adhered to the narrative, and to the very words of the scripture so closely, as to injure both the dignity and the interest of his composition; while, on other occasions, he has departed too widely from his original, and has used a much greater license both in suppressing and in interpolating, than we can easily pardon in the case of a narrative so familiar. The work, after all, however, is the work of a poet; or at least of one who possesses poetical taste and feeling. There is delicacy and grace in many of the descriptions; a sustained tone of gentleness and piety in the sentiments; and an elaborate, beauty in the diction, which frequently makes amends for the want of force and originality. The poem is divided, we do not well see why, into two parts, each consisting of four books; and each book is introduced with a proem, more or less connected with the feelings of the author or his subject. We shall now give our readers a short account of each of these books, with such specimens as we think deserving of their attention.

The first book opens with a long account of the symptoms of Saul's possession with the evil spirit. Mr Sotheby's theory of the case, though it derives no support from the scripture history, is poetical and ingenious. He supposes the unhappy king to be haunted by a spectre, which successively assumes his own form and character, as he was in the days of his shepherd innocence or aspiring youth, and tortures him with the aflicting contrast of those happy times, before he had tasted the cares of royalty, or known the pangs of remorse, for his disobedience of the divine commandment. The first form is that of a beautiful youth in: shepherd weeds, who addresses the entranced monarch in these '


"Up from thy couch of woe, and join my path;
And I will wreath thy fav'rite crook with flow'rŞ.
Lo! this thy crook, which from the flinty cleft
Sprung wild, where many a gurgling streamlet fell.
Pleafant the fpot wherein the fapling grew;
And pleasant was the hour, when o'er the rill
Thy fancy fhap'd its pliant growth; 'twas fpring:
Sweet came its fragrance from the vale beneath

Strow'd with fresh bloffoms, fhed from almond bow'rs
Still blooms the almond bow'er: the fragrance ftill
Floats on the gale: ftill gufh the crystal rills,
And Cedron rolls its current mufical.


Why droop'it thou here difconfolate and fad ?
Look up the glad hills caft the snow afide :
The rain is paft, the fresh flow'rs paint the field:
Each little bird calls to his anfwering mate;
The roes bound o'er the mountains. Hafte away!
Up from thy couch, and join my gladfome path,
Where thepherds carol on the funshine lawn!"

"I come, I come, fair angel." Saul exclaims.
"Give me my fhepherd's weeds ... my pipe... my crook ;
Aid me to caft thefe cumbrous trappings off.

Yet ftay;"-but fwift at once the vifion gone
Mocks him, evanishing. Groans then, and fighs,
And bitterness of anguish, fuch as felt

Of him, who on Helvetia's heights, a boy,
Sung to the Alpine lark; and faw, beneath,
Prone cataracts, and filver lakes, and vales
Romantic and now paces his night-watch,
Hoar veteran, on the tented field. Not him,
Fresh flaughter fuming on the plain,-not him
The groan of death, familiar to his ear,
Difquiet; but if, haply heard, the breeze
Bring from the diftant mountain low of kine,
With pipe of fhepherd leading on his flock
To fold: oh then, on his remembrance rush
Those days fo fweet; that roof, beneath the rock,
Which cradled him when sweeping fnow-ftorms burft :
And thofe within, the peaceful household hearth,
With all its innocent pleasures. Him, far off,
Regret confumes, and inly-wafting grief,
That knows no folace, till in life's laft hour,
When, o'er his gaze, in trance of blifs, once more
Helvetia and her piny fummits float.' P. 8-10.

The king at laft refolves to diffipate his defpondence in the tumult of war, and proclaims a campaign against the Philistines. Samuel exhorts him to repentance, and predicts his discomfiture and death at Gilboa.

The fecond book opens with this proem.

Fain would I turn my deftin'd path, awhile,
From tumult, and contention of fierce foes
In arms, and Canaan's realm clanging beneath
Th' array of battle. Other fcenes delight
Me more, and draw my willing spirit forth,
In fhadow, and faint imag'ry of fong,
Accompanying, celeftial Mufe! thy courfe
Where Siloim's fountains flow: to seek fome spot
Yet unprofan'd, where the meek Hermit chants
His orifons, and, heard at twilight, breathes

The hymn of peace; more grateful to the bard,
Than war's loud pæan, or trimphant shouts
That echo o'er the dying. Yet, awhile,
On Sion, or lone Carmel's height, repofe
My brow, and to my wiftful gaze unfold,
Rude tho' the realm and defolate, the waste
Whofe champaigns wild the paftoral times recal
Primeval; when the Patriarch, firm of faith,
Paft from Chaldæan Ur through lands unknown,
A fojourner, 'and pitch'd his tent, the flock
And herd befide, where'er green valley gave
Fresh pafture, or cool well the noon-thirst flak'd:
And lead me, deeply mufing, to each mount,
And high hill top, where patriarch fires fent up
The flame of facrifice, and angel guests
Alighted, and Jehovah not difdain'd
Familiar converse with the fons of earth.

Ah! confecrated haunts! pure scenes of peace,

Farewell! dire ftrife and conteft claim the fong.' p. 25.26. He then proceeds to enumerate the army of the heathen,Cufhanites, Ammonites and Philistines,-and of the twelve tribes of Ifrael, drawn out in battle-order against them. The approach of Saul and his guards is about the moft magnificent paffage in the


• Hark! hark! the clash and clang

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Of fhaken cymbals cadencing the pace
Of martial movement regular; the fwell
Sonorous, of the brazen trump of war:
Shrill twang of harps, footh'd by melodious chime
Of beat on filver bars and fweet, in paufe

Of harfher inftrument, continuous flow

Of breath, through flutes, in fymphony with fong,
Choirs, whofe match'd voices fill'd the air afar

With jubilee, and chant of triumph hymn :
And ever and anon irregular burst

Of loudest acclamation, to each hoft

Saul's ftately advance proclaim'd. Before him, youths
In robes fuccinct for swiftness: oft they struck

Their ftaves against the ground, and warn'd the throng
Backward to diftant homage. Next, his ftrength
Of chariots roll'd with each an armed band;
Earth groan'd afar beneath their iron wheels:
Part arm'd with scythe for battle, part, adorn'd
For triumph. Nor there wanting a led train
Of fteeds in rich caparison, for show

Of folemn entry. Round about the King,
Warriors, his watch and ward, from every Tribe
VOL. X. NO. 19.


Drawn out. Of these a thousand, each selects,
Of fize and comeliness above their peers,

Pride of their race. Radiant their armour: fome
In filver cas'd, fcale over fcalc, that play'd
All pliant to the lithenefs of the limb:
Some, mail'd in twifted gold, link within link
Flexibly ring'd and fitted, that the eye
Beneath the yielding panoply pursued,
When act of war the ftrength of man provok❜d,
The motion of the mufcles, as they work'd
In rife and fall. On each left thigh a fword
Swung in the broider'd baldric: each right hand
Grafp'd a long-fhadowing fpear. Like them, their chiefs
Array'd; fave on their fhields of folid ore,

And on their helm, the graver's toil had wrought
Its fubtlety in rich device of war:

And o'er their mail, a robe, Punicean dye,
Gracefully play'd: where the wing'd fhuttle, thot
By cunning of Sidonian virgins, wove

Broidure of many colour'd figures rare.

Bright glow'd the fun, and bright the burnish'd mail
Of thoufands, rang'd, whofe pace to fong kept time;
And bright the glare of fpears, and gleam of crefts,
And flaunt of banners flashing to and fro

The noon-day beam. Beneath their coming, earth
Wide glitter'd. Seen afar, amidft the pomp,
Gorgeoufly mail'd, but more by pride of port
Known, and fuperior ftature, than rich trim
Of war and regal ornament, the King,
Thron'd in triumphal car, with trophies grac'd,
Stood eminent. The lifting of his lance
Shone like a fun-beam. O'er his armour flow'd
A robe, imperial mantle, thickly ftarı'd

With blaze of orient gems: the clasp that bound
Its gather'd folds his ample cheft athwart,

Sapphire; and o'er his cafque, where rubies burnt,
A cherub flam'd, and wav'd his wings in gold. p. 44-46.
Then comes Goliah, whose panoply is thus faithfully describ
ed from the book of Chronicles.

The champion's front was helmeted with brass:
Of brafs his greaves: the ponderous target's ftrength
That fpread between his fhoulders, burnish'd brass:
The coat of mail that compafs'd him before,

Wrought brafs: five thousand fhekels fumm'd its weight.
His fpear, the ftretch of whofe portended staff
Seem'd like a weaver's beam, was iron, all. p. 52.
Saul, after running away from Goliah, is more tormented in

spirit than before, and, by a needless deviation from the truth of


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