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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having been long accustomed to move gracefully in tight stays, high shoes, and hooped petticoats, feels her supports withdrawn when disencumbered of her shackles, and totters and stumbles when there are no longer any restraints on
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;
Strow'd with fresh bloffoms, fhed from almond bow'rs
Why droop'it thou here difconfolate and fad ?
"I come, I come, fair angel." Saul exclaims.
Yet ftay;"-but fwift at once the vifion gone
Of him, who on Helvetia's heights, a boy,
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,
The hymn of peace; more grateful to the bard,
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
Of fhaken cymbals cadencing the pace
Of harfher inftrument, continuous flow
Of breath, through flutes, in fymphony with fong,
With jubilee, and chant of triumph hymn :
Of loudest acclamation, to each hoft
Saul's ftately advance proclaim'd. Before him, youths
Their ftaves against the ground, and warn'd the throng
Of folemn entry. Round about the King,
Drawn out. Of these a thousand, each selects,
Pride of their race. Radiant their armour: fome
And on their helm, the graver's toil had wrought
And o'er their mail, a robe, Punicean dye,
Broidure of many colour'd figures rare.
Bright glow'd the fun, and bright the burnish'd mail
The noon-day beam. Beneath their coming, earth
With blaze of orient gems: the clasp that bound
Sapphire; and o'er his cafque, where rubies burnt,
The champion's front was helmeted with brass:
Wrought brafs: five thousand fhekels fumm'd its weight.
spirit than before, and, by a needless deviation from the truth of