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hardly consistent with Mr. Milman's general conception of Simon's character. His very title of 'assassin,'-the colour in which he is represented by Javan, by John, and his own daughters, as a man of blood and violence, but a valiant, a wise, and renowned warrior, accord with his own language in public, and, more particularly, when justifying the murder of Matthias and his sons, to designate him as a fanatic rather than a pure enthusiast. The zeal of such a man may burn like fire, and he may fancy himself the object of supernatural care and illumination. But it is himself in whom his prospects terminate,-and it is in his own cause that he expects to enlist the ministry of angels and the visible hand of Providence. He calls on God to help his people, but it is through his own agency, as a chosen instrument, that he expects their deliverance to be brought about; and he, therefore, is always piously anxious to extend his own power and influence, and to remove, by fair means or foul, whatever curbs his greatness.
It belongs to a different character to look forward with delight to an immediate advent of the Deity, and there is too much of humble as well as holy hope in the lonely reveries of Simon. It would have better suited his frame of mind to fancy himself the Messiah; and, in fact, Mr. Milman, with more knowledge of the disposition which he describes than is exhibited here,-las, in another part of the drama, made him associate the coming of the Messiah with the future glories of his own family. But the misfortune is that, while he is a Burley with the rest of the world,— he is, in his private meditations, a Macbriar, and we are not sure but it is this impropriety which makes us welcome with some undue eagerness the interruption of John, Eleazar, and the High-Priest, who now appear, and in altercation with whom, Simon soon resumes the spirit and tone of the 'assassin.'
In the discussion which follows, the irreligious mockery of the Sadducee John is powerfully contrasted with the sanctimonious haughtiness of his rival, and the boiling impetuosity of Amariah, son of John, a fiery youth, who, without interesting himself in religious discussions, is fond of war for its own sake, and from an instinctive appetite for blood and danger. It is at length determined to accept a fresh parley, to which the trumpets of the Romans invite them; to accept it, however, in no desire of peace, but in order to insult and defy the Gentiles. Titus calls upon the defenders of Jerusalem to submit on the promise of mercy; a promise which John meets with bitter taunts on the cruelty which had been already exercised on the Jewish fugitives. Simon next speaks, and addresses the Captain of the Gentiles in a most eloquent and characteristic detail of the privileges granted to their nation by the Almighty, of the deliverances on former occasions vouchsafed
vouchsafed to them, and of the speedy destruction to be apprehended by Titus and his army, over whose heads the whirlwinds yet paused which were destined to sweep them from the earth, and in whose anticipated fate the inhabitants of the grave and the nethermost hell exulted in ghastly laughter. At length Joseph, the Jewish historian, now a captive among the Romans, is introduced as addressing his countrymen in nearly the same terms with those which he himself has recorded. He is interrupted by a wound from the javelin of Amariah, and the scene closes with a declared resolution on the part of Titus to cast off mercy to the winds, and to content himself with nothing less than the utter destruction of Jerusalem and its inhabitants.
The reader is now transported to a street adjoining the inner wall, on whose height Salone is hastening to take her customary seat,' the spectatress and, as it were, the queen of the battle beneath her. Disregarding the intreaties of her milder sister, that she will rather join the virgins who are about to move in suppliant procession to the temple, she binds up her dark locks, lest they shall intercept her view of the gleaming arms and flashing banners of the combatants, and describes, in a strain of splendid poetry, the appearance of the hostile army, and the advance of those engines which menace destruction against the ramparts. A sally of her own people calls forth all her enthusiasm, as she notices the successive appearance of Eleazar, John, Ben-Cathla and his Edomites.
And thou! oh thou, that movest to the battle
Salone! is't our father that thou seest?
The glory of his presence awes the conflict!
Miriam. Alas! what means she? Hear me yet a word!
Require our soft and healing hands to soothe them.
Lift up thy hands and pray.
To gaze on him--
She hears, she heeds me not.'-p. 59, 60.
Milman's Fall of Jerusalem.)
The daughters of Sion now enter in procession, and Miriam declares her intention of joining their devotions, though through a name by them unknown or scorned.'-A most beautiful hymn follows, in which the Song of Moses on the passage of the Red Sea is imitated and adapted to the present circumstances of the Israelites.
Evening is now come, and Miriam, returned from the Temple, laments the slow approaches of that darkness which was to terminate, for a time, the horrible scene of mutual slaughter, and again favour and conceal her return to the fountain and to Javan. On a sudden Salone bursts in, her veil thrown back, her hair streaming, as she flies in terror from her late seat on the ramparts. The Gentiles have triumphed; the defenders of Israel are driven back: the last and strongest wall alone resists the violence of the engines; but Amariah stands his ground amid flames and havoc, like an angel in the burning orb of the sun. The angry voice of Simon is heard without, rallying the fugitives, and nothing can be more exquisitely characteristic, or more happily contrasted with her sister's speech, than the exclamation of the affectionate Miriam-'Tis my father's voice! It sounds in wrath, perhaps in blasphemyYet 'tis my living father's!'
The rival tyrants now enter in fierce dispute, each laying on the other the blame of the late discomfiture. Simon charges the misfortunes of the nation on the crimes of John, his profaneness, adulteries, and Sadducean tenets. John retorts on the cruelties and hypocrisy of the Pharisee, and, in a powerful and characteristic strain of sophistry, vindicates his own opinions from the imputation of rendering men backward in the hour of danger. While they thus wrangle, Miriam is struck by the exhausted appearance and tremulous voice of her father. She recollects that there is no food at home, and goes out, determined, at all hazards, to repair to the fountain. In her absence, and while the disputants are preparing to decide their difference by sharper arguments than words, the High-Priest enters, and conjures them to lay aside for a moment their private animosities, in order to revenge an affont which God has received in his own temple. During the solemn service of the day, and while the maidens were singing the hymn of Moses to 'him who triumph'd gloriously,' he had heard, from among their number, a single, soft, melodious voice,' which lingered on the concluding note with a solemn invocation of the pretended Son of God, the Man of Nazareth.' He demands, therefore, that they join him in detecting and punishing the unknown blasphemer and apostate.
The information is received with such emotions as might be expected
pected from the principles of those to whom it is communicated. Simon declares that, if the offender were his own child, his Sarah's child, whom she died blessing,' his own hand should be the first to cast a stone at her. The enthusiastic Salone murmurs to herself, Miriam! Miriam !-imputes her disappearance to conscious guilt, and at length rushes forwards to denounce her, but stops short in the circle of warriors, oppressed by the unaccustomed gaze of so many men, while she is shaken by her remaining tenderness for the criminal, and the recollection that their dying mother had exhorted them to mutual love. Before she can recover herself, the false prophet Abiram enters, and announces as the will of God that a reconciliation should take place between John and Simon, and that, in order to this end, Salone and Amariah should be joined in marriage. The command is acquiesced in by all parties, Simon declaring it to be from heaven ;'-John, indifferent as to its divine authority, but referring the matter to his boy; Amariah eagerly assuring Salone that her beauty and dark locks, as she sate on the rampart, had been his strength and banner in the battle, and Salone finding it impossible to resist the will of heaven and Amariah. The nuptial feast, if the means of feasting may be found, is appointed to be solemnized forthwith, and Simon throws out some hints to Abiram for a future prophecy, by asking him whether it be not probable, that an union so auspicions and contracted under such awful circumstances, may be destined to give birth to the promised Redeemer of Israel.
This mixture of enthusiasm and credulity with worldly ambition and cunning is happily conceived, and far more accordant with Simon's character than the pious soliloquies which we have already noticed. The speech, too, of the false prophet, particularly the lyrical part of it, is in a glorious strain of poetry, and it is a judicious aggravation and contrast to the miseries which Jerusalem is already suffering, and the greater horrors which are impending over her, to represent her leaders looking on to distant days, and engaged in jollity and merriment. But if the entrance of Abiram be regarded as a contrivance to save Miriam from impeachment, we cannot but condemn it as extremely clumsy and inefficient. If Salone could so far overcome her natural feelings as to rush forward with the intention of denouncing her sister to death, it is not very likely, that even the prospect of being united to the object of her affections could have entirely driven from her mind the discharge of what she must have esteemed a duty. It is still more improbable, that so strange an exhibition as that of a noble virgin, exposing herself unveiled to the gaze of the world in the midst of a solemn assembly of the elders and warriors of her people, should have been allowed to pass without inquiry into its motives, either
from the high-priest, her lover, or her father. And it is utterly preposterous to represent the high-priest and rulers of the land, after solemnly pledging themselves to search out and punish the blasphemer, so entirely engrossed with the marriage of Amariah and Salone, as to have no room left in their memories for a fact at once so recent and so shocking to all their strongest prejudices.
It must be owned, however, that the danger which the lovely Miriam incurs is, to say the least, a very strange one. Was the custom of mental prayer so perfectly unknown to the early Christians as that they should think it necessary to utter all their heavenward aspirations in an audible voice? Or where is the likelihood that a maiden who had so long concealed her faith from her own family, even under circumstances where she was strongly led to attempt their conversion, should volunteer so unnecessary a risk as that of singing a hymn in honour of Christ, in the very Temple? or that an additional stave to this effect, introduced in the public service, should not draw the eyes of the whole congregation, as well as the high-priest, on the daring melodist who should venture on such an innovation? We could wish, therefore, that Mr. Milman, (if he is anxious to expose his heroine to danger on account of her religion) would contrive some more probable occasion of risk, and some more plausible mode of deliverance and get rid of an incident which has, literally, no recommendation to counterbalance its improbability; which neither accelerates nor impedes the march of events, nor has even the advantage of proving the constancy and firmness of Miriam, since the danger commences in her absence, and is over before she again appears. If it were necessary to make Salone throw aside her veil, it would be better to make her, instead of the high-priest, rush forwards as a mediator between the swords of John and her father.
Miriam, meanwhile, unconscious of transactions in which herself and her family are so deeply interested, has reached the fountain, in defiance of a threatening thunder-storm, and of the Roman sentinels, whose circle is now concentrated immediately beneath the walls of the city, and whose increased alertness, together with the notes of awful preparation heard in their camp, indicate an intention on the part of their leaders of speedily bringing the war to a conclusion. These prognostics are described by Javan, who, in a scene of admirable pathos and beauty, again urges her, even as a point of duty, and in compliance with the known injunction laid by Christ on his followers, to recognise the manifest signs of desolation, and take their best opportunity of escaping with him to the mountains. Her reply is exquisitely characteristic of tenderness and firmness