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and troops moving about, I could not imagine my beautiful prisoner would be recaptured; but, sad to relate, either the same Cossacks returned, or others more savage and determined, and perceiving my faithful orderly hussar and prize, fell upon him, and nearly annihilating him re-seized their victim; and although the strictest investigation was made throughout his whole army, the Emperor of Russia, to whom I immediately repaired, and related the melancholy tale (and who heard it with all that compassion and interest it could not fail to inspire), the beautiful and interesting Frenchwoman never reappeared again. I drop a veil over the horrible sequel which imagination might conjure up, and I took much blame for my neglect of a sufficient escort. My hussar crawled to me next morning, half dead from ill usage ; and his pathetic tale placed me in a state of mind scarcely less deplorable.'-pp. 289, 290.
As the allied armies approached Paris, a letter written by the Empress of France to Buonaparte was intercepted. The noble Marquess describes it as an unaffected effusion of affection; it detailed the impressions made on the Parisians by the reverses which the French arms sustained-and it ended with the account of a dream, by which the young King of Rome was greatly disturbed a short time before. The child in his sleep began to cry bitterly, and frequently called on his papa. When awoke, he could not be prevailed on to give the slightest explanation of the nature of the dream. It is satisfactory to have Lord Londonderry's testimony to the laudable conduct of the empress during difficulties almost unexampled. With whatever reluctance she first yielded to the state reasons, that called for her acquiescence in a marriage with Buona parte, she never remembered that repugnance afterwards, but discharged her duties as a wife and mother, ' in a manner, says our author, that must hand her name down to posterity as a character of the first order.' Nothing very novel or interesting is related by Lord Londonderry respecting the occupation of Paris by the allies, with an account of which the work closes ; but he notices an incident which, though apparently trivial, manifests in a most striking manner the utter confusion which reigned at the time in the Councils of Great Britain. It will be remembered, that the Conferences at Chatillon were terminated on the 18th of March, up to which day the British Government was willing to treat with France upon terms honourable to the latter, that is to say, upon the basis of Napoleon's keeping the throne. And yet we find that upon the 2d of February previously, the Duke of Wellington issued a proclamation, which distinctly pointed to the restoration of the Bourbons! That the English Cabinet resolved originally upon the demolition of the imperial throne, and on restoring the Bourbons, there is every reason to believe;'and if Lord Castlereagh, at Chatillon, consented to a termination of the war upon conditions short of these results, he must bave been either intimidated, or wheedled into such an agreement by Metternich; and as he was compelled to form his resolution hastily, there was not time sufficient to communicate with the Duke of Wellington. What can
be clearer, indeed, than that the fall of Napoleon,-speaking of it in a human sense—was a work of the merest chance ? Our astonishment at the repetition of the negociations between him and the allies, is only exceeded by our wonder that those negociations should have as often failed; sometimes being broken off, no one almost knows why. Not one of the sovereigns engaged in the alliance ever dreamt, when he first unsheathed the sword, that Paris would have been the place where he should return it to its scabbard. At every step we almost see a perfect reconciliation on the eve of taking place; and when the catastrophe does at length occur, we imagine the whole to be a dream, so little are our senses prepared for such an abrupt termination of this singular drama.
So far as the warlike events of the period to which it relates are concerned, this work will be deemed an invaluable contribution to the fund of materials out of which the genuine history of this momentous war is to be written. We could only wish, that to the clear and elaborate details of military operations which it contains, Lord Londonderry had added an ample and honest exposition of the secret springs and motives of the transactions which he records. Much of the knowledge which the noble writer has deliberately hid from us, is essential to the just illustration of what he has disclosed. It is a great mistake for official men to leave the filling up of historical pictures to ignorant and incapable hands. By far the safest and most prudent course, as it is certainly the simplest, is for public servants to leave as little as possible to conjecture; for they may be assured that the truth will never be so bad as what the prejudices of mankind will induce them to suppose, in the absence of explanation, to have been the conduct of any government.
Art IV.—The Fall of Nineveh, a Poem. By Edwin Atherstone, Author
of a “Midsummer Day's Dream," “ 'The Last Days of Herculaneum," &c.
Vol. II. Containing seven books. London: Baldwin and Cradock. 1830. The first six books of this poem we recollect having read about two years ago, when we took leave to ask the author in a friendly way, whether, in singing to us the fall of the old City of Nimrod, he was not wasting his time and bis powers in a very unprofitable attempt ? He has answered our question by publishing seven books more; and as he seems delighted with his labour, and has not yet brought the Median army even to the siege, we have no idea as to the number of additional cantos which he may still choose to send to his printer. If the foe may be kept beating about the bush, advancing and retreating, talking and planning, looking about for allies, and enjoying at intervals the fresh air of the hills, through seven long books, we dare not say what may come to pass before the Assyrian king leaps into the fire, and the · bloody city' be destroyed." In his poem on Herculaneum, Mr. Atherstone, if we rightly remember, assigned to almost every
particular rock that issued from the volcano, and to every individual cloud of ashes which fell on the devoted town, a diversified effect in doing the work of ruin. It is very clear that his love of amplification has led him into similar mistakes in the labour which he is now pursuing. Many incidents that are supposed to have happened during the siege of Troy, the hostilities between Æneas and Turnus, and the crusade against Jerusalem, -as told by Homer, Virgil, and Tasso, we find faintly imitated in the war against Nineveh. To these Mr. Atherstone adds a few of his own invention; he cares not how trivial they may be, provided only that they swell the number of his lines; and we verily believe that he will not reach the catastrophe, until he shall have described every lane and alley, every old man and woman, of the ancient rival of Babylon.
With respect to Mr. Atherstone's versification, we think still, as we have said on a former occasion, that it abounds in echoes, although subdued, of Miltonic song. We have seen many specimens of modern blank verse which are inferior to the best passages in the poem now before us. In his earlier efforts, our author, prompted doubtless by the ambition of his untried wings, was more bombastical, if possible, than Robert Montgomery himself. He literally roared in verse, as if he had been in an intellectual convulsion.
- "A meteor, huge
“O'er the coursers' heads
And heave and foam in their deep bed below." These are but moderate examples of the stormy language in which the gentle Edwin made some of his first essays. But time has laid his chastening hand upon our poet's brow; his tones are not yet quite as silvery as those of Nestor, but they have become much less astounding than they were, and promise, if he continue to versify many years longer, to die away in a gentlemanly quiet cadence, which, though not always particularly capable of engaging the ear of taste, may perhaps not frequently offend it. We do not at all hesitate to admit, that Mr. Atherstone is a poet, as poets now go. He displays in some passages a fine sensibility to the voices which nature, through all her works, is continually uttering to the soul of man, if he have but the time and the temperament to listen to and appreciate them. We fancy that our Edwin would have succeeded in pastorals. Lyrics are altogether out of his way, for we strongly suspect that he never was in love ; and without having been enamoured of some hundred or two of dear girls, no man, as we know from Horace and Moore, can, from
the lyre, awaken passionate sounds. The epic line also, we should have said, was not altogether in our poet's way; but we must vevertheless concede, that, with all his defects, he now and then cuts a respectable figure in the council and in the field. Some of his speeches are infinitely more pointed than those of Mr. Hume or Sir Charles Wetherell; and though his battles are rather cloudy and confused, yet they are relieved by episodical digressions, some of which might bear comparison with any blank-Ferse poem in our language below that of Milton.
We must ask the reader, in opening Mr. Atherstone's seventh book, to recal for a moment the awful menaces which the inspired Elkoshite uttered against Nineveh. “The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” “ The shield of His mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet; the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken. The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways; they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. He shall recount his worthies; they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be pepared. The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. And her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts." The conclusion of the prophecy is, if possible, still more magnificent. “ Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. Thy shepherds slumber, O King of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous; all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually ?” These indeed are sounds that strike the heart, and bring Nineveh before us in all its grandeur and crime, trembling over the abyss into which it was about to be hurled by the wrath of the offended God. Nothing like the mingled sublimity and beauty of these prophetic warnings shall we find in Mr. Atherstone's work : they aitach, however, a character of importance and interest to the subject he has chosen, and give a unity to his design, which is the grand desideratum of an epic poem.
We have no recollection whatever of the number of battles which were won and lost between Arbaces, the commander of the Medes, and the Assyrian monarch, in the first six books. The night which succeeded the last of those engagements is thus poetically painted at the commencement of the present volume.
• Night hangs o'er Nineveh : the winds are still,
The rain hath ceased,—the thunders are gone by.
From out the rocky, slowly rolling clouds,
And of the things to come.'—p. 3.
· Like the dead stillness of the corse
To the cold moon-beam gleaming.'—p.7.
. In his heart
To gentlest music, that thy wounded mind,
• To her the king,-upon her cheek a kiss