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I place in your hands, General Bianchetti,
[Goes up on to the bastion with Leonard.
LEONARD. The God of liberty will grant us strength.
For the first time the name of God has for the heart of Pancratius a meaning and a terror. PANCRATIUS. Speak'st thou of God ? 'T is slippery here with
Master, thou turnest pale. PANCRATIUS. Seest thou ? On high, on high ! LEONARD.
Above the cliff A cloud hangs, gilded by the setting sun.
PANCRATIUS. A dreadful sign burns on it.
Lean on me.
PANCRATIUS. A million heard my voice. Where are my people ? LEONARD. Dost thou not hear their shouts ? They call on thee. They wait for thee. O, turn away thy gaze ! Upon that rock thine eye will set in death. PANCRATIUS. He stands immovable. Three nails; three stars ! LEONARD. Who is it, master ? PANCRATIUS.
[Falls into the arms of Leonard, and dies. It is in this closing scene of the career of Pancratius, that the moral, the leading idea of the piece, is at once disclosed to us. In these dying words of the apostate emperor, - Galilæe, vicisti,* — we read the final ascendency of the faith of
* These words are attributed to the Emperor Julian.
Christ. Yet far different the triumph of the cross upon the field of battle over the fallen emperor, and the victory which, in the idea of the Christian poet, Christ wins in the humbled bosom of the baffled reformer of the world. The pagan saw in his defeat the manifest signs of the power of the Divinity he had assailed ; but over the skeptic of the age of reason Christianity gains no outward, sensible triumph. The visible church has fallen before him ; its ministers, its altars, have vanished at his fiat. It is in the hour of his victory that he is struck down by an invisible arm. It is when his genius has conducted all his projects to the very point of fulfilment, that the conviction of their nullity is forced upon him. Tbe punishment of the confident, unscrupulous leader of the people is the just and fitting one. Not cruel by nature, never sharing for an instant the fierce passions of the mob he controlled, he has walked calm and inflexible through his career of blood and ruin, his eye fixed upon the point when, this preparatory work accomplished, his all-controlling intellect shall reorganize the materials of the social fabric, and build up a new system upon the foundation of reason and equal justice. But this work is taken from his hands. He finds that he has been destined only to the office of the destroyer ; of the work of restoration he is unworthy.
Yet is the judgment which falls on this man of common mould less fearful than the doom which visits him on whom God had laid the most sacred of his gifts. The noble, the man of genius, he whose eyes had been opened to see the higher light, whose lips had been touched with a coal from the altar, but who had turned his gaze from heaven, who had refused to bear the messages of inspiration, dies obstinate and defying. The man of coarser senses has not seen the light, but he has not closed his eyes against it ; he has not known truth, but he has not defied it. It is in his dying hour that Heaven first offers him its grace. In the recognition of his errors he finds both his punishment and his pardon. In the instant of his prostration his former career passes before him, with all its crimes, its mistakes. He knows now that peace springs not from strife ; that mercy and equity are not born of violence and revenge. Confident in strength and in wisdom, he has dared to arrogate to himself the office of dispenser of destinies ; he would thrust himself, unbidden, into the counsels of Providence ; - now, in his new humility, he
owns that there is a power greater than that of a mighty intellect urged by a resolute will; he feels that, though the strong of head and arm, the stern of purpose, the violent in action, be mighty in their day, yet such are not the instruments by which God works out his highest ends; that though it be heroic to resist and to strive, it is greater yet to suffer and to wait. It is by his wounds that he recognizes the Redeemer :-“ Trzy gwoździe, trzy gwiazdy."
Thus pass from the scene the obstinate champion of the Past, the confident man of the Present ; heroes of a tragedy to be acted on another continent, in another time. Yet, as these visionary forms, called from the future of a distant land, glide by us, they pass not without a sign of monition. Not on the serf-tilled fields of the elder world alone is the battle fought between established prerogative and yet unrecognized claim. Wherever man has lived and is to live, there the memories of the past and the hopes of the future will sometimes come in conflict. Neither are these memories to be cherished with superstitious worship, nor with regardless impetuosity are these hopes to be pursued. Linked, period with period, as child and parent, are the successive stages of earth's history. We hold not from the past only its errors and its abuses; the high and noble thought, the generous aspiration, these also are its legacies, the fruit of its toil, its sacrifice, its pain. Let, then, the present lay a courageous but a reverent hand upon the relics of the dead time, and let the closing era cheer on its way, or check but with kindly counsel, the eager youthful age that presses forward, to be itself a past to the yet unborn aspirants for another future.
The faith that the Christian poet would inculcate is faith in the power of love and of patience. Yet no inactive love, no sluggish patience. To every man upon God's earth it is given to work for the coming of his kingdom. But let those who would labor for God labor godlike. Let them forbear the unwise zeal, the hot impatience, of those who would sow the seed and reap the harvest within the hour ; unmindful that through long days and nights the sun must warm, the dews must water, before the humblest plant can struggle into life. The true reformer deems not with these. He has marked how slowly, and with what patience, even the Allpowerful works out his ends. Reverently, then, and with a patient hope, he trusts to the earth's bosom the seed of the future tree, careless that his eye shall not rest on its maturity; faithful that, when he shall have gone hence, the powers of nature will yet do their work on it. Great and noble is this lofty calm, this holy trustfulness ; – how nobler than the fiery zeal, the impetuous rage, with which the lesser spirits of the earth rush on to battle with its ill and error. These, also, have, under God's providence, their office ; but it is as that of the tempest and the lightning, not of the genial rain and quickening sunshine. These, too, have their reward ; they shall be noted in their time ; for a season the world shall count them with its doers of great deeds. Vainly may such, earth's heroes of a day, aspire to stand among those chosen ones called to be fellow-workers with the Eternal.
ART. III. – 1. Shakspeare's Plays, with his Life. Il
lustrated with many hundred Wood-cuts, executed by H. W. Hewet, after Designs by Henry Meadows, Harvey, and others. Edited by GULIAN C. VERPLANCK, 'LL. D., with Critical Introductions, Notes, etc., Original and Selected. New York: Harper & Brothers.
3 vols. 8vo. 2. Lectures on Shakspeare. By H. N. Hudson. New
York: Baker & Scribner. 2 vols. 12mo.
Those who consider the science of criticism nothing more than a collection of arbitrary rules, and the art of criticism but their dexterous or declamatory application, rejoice in a system of admirable simplicity and barren results. It has the advantage of judging every thing and accounting for nothing, thus gratifying the pride of intellect without enjoining any intellectual exertion. By a steady adherence to its doctrines, a dunce may exalt himself to a pinnacle of judgment, from which the first authors of the world appear as splendid madmen, whose enormous writhings and contortions, as they occasionally blunder into grace and grandeur of motion, show an undisciplined strength, which would, if subjected to rule, produce great effects. A Bond-Street exquisite complacently surveying a thunder-scarred Titan
through an opera-glass is but a type of a Grub-Street critic, measuring a Milton or a Shakspeare with his three-foot rule.
But the golden period of this kind of criticism, when mediocrity sat cross-legged on the body of genius, and sagely delivered its oracular nonentities, has happily passed away. The fat bishop of the elder time, who discovered that the Paradise Lost was a licentious and blasphemous poem, and the lean authorling who first informed the world that Shakspeare was an inspired idiot, have both departed into the void inane. The period has gone by when France could dismiss Shakspeare from the company of Corneille and Racine as a clever barbarian, or England herself rate him as a sort of miraculous monstrosity, neither so elegant as Waller nor so correct as Mr. Pope. The old antithesis between genius and judgment, taste and creative power, which has sparkled and rung in so many glittering sentences, has now lost most of its point, and is enjoyed only as a gem from the antique. It is no longer the fashion for beauty to be tested by elegance, or truth by mechanical correctness, or nature by convention, or art by artifice. Mr. Prettyman, with his conceited lisp, and Sir Artegal's Talus, with his iron flail, have both been banished from the gardens of the Hesperides.
This substitution of a philosophy of criticism for an anarchy of dogmas is especially seen in the recent editions of Shakspeare. Fifty years ago, he was compared, in reference to his commentators, to Actæon hunted to death by his own dogs. But the present generation has witnessed a marked change in the spirit and principles of the criticism by which he has been tried. Could all those Sir Francis Wrongheads of the last century, who undertook to patronize Shakspeare as a wild, unregulated genius, and kindly volunteered their praise on the score of his great faults being balanced by great beauties, suddenly start up in the present age, we may well imagine with what a stare of blank amazement they would observe his elevation to the throne of art. It might reasonably be supposed that old John Dennis and Mr. Rymer would retire in disgust to their tombs, rather than accept the boon of life in a generation devoted to so Egyptian an adoration of deformities. The difference between an old critic picking flaws in Shakspeare's expression