Imatges de pàgina

She knew this, and desired, likewise, to show that

“Her husband the relator she preferred

Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute

With conjugal caresses." Is not that like Cleopatra, who could unite, without confusion, affairs of state with those of love? She withdraws not, but perversely bids her hero “ hear the ambassadors," in her presence, knowing he will not, and that, whatever be the message from Rome, that is—from Fulvia, she, Cleopatra herself, is Egypti; her heart her kingdom; Antony, enlisted on the side of her ambition, can love to listen to no voice but hers.

Eve bas but one lover, therefore she is constant. She has no rival, therefore she is not jealous. That the elements of both fickleness and envy lived in her breast, she shows us but too soon. Cleopatra could do no more. Eve's vision but inflames her curiosity for adventure, her self-deceiving confidence, that she can meet no danger which she shall not overcome, that she deserves to be trusted with independence. Her coquetry, and feminine arguments on this occasion degrade her even below Cleopatra, who, when Enobarbus says that her presence will unman the General, is self-willed but that she may stay near him, not, like Eve, that she may quit her Ruler's side.

Eve, though warned by a dream, yields to the first seducer who attacks her fidelity, and eats of the forbidden fruit. She has discovered that Wisdom has more might than beauty, and says of Adam

“Shall I to him make known

As yet my change, and give him to partake
Full happiness with me? or rather
Keep the odds of knowledge in my power,
Without co-partner?

The more to draw his love,
And render me more equal, and, perhaps,
Superior, for inferior who is free?

But what if God hath seen,
And death ensue?'
And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
Shall live with her, enjoying, I extinct ?
A death to think!
Adam shall share with me, in bliss or woe;
So dear I love him, that, with him, all deaths

I could endure, without him live no life!” Was ever Egypt's queen more selfishly wrong than this? The Wife, if this fruit can confer knowledge and happiness, would monopolize it, would not only be free herself, but enslave her former ruler, and raise herself above bim. Yet, if the fruit bring death, rather than, even when she shall be “ no more,” her blameless husband shall bless a second wife, she will include him in her guilt, her curse, conceiving that act a proof of love, and that, as she would suffer anything with him, he is ready to bear everything with her; nor is she disappointed, nor insensible to triumph in his passion for her, however vast the peril of the proof.

“ She for joy tenderly wept"

that he should

“ of choice incur Divine displeasure for her sake, or death." Yes, a will to be admired, an ingenious exercise of smiles, securing such a victory, will draw such tears from conquering eyes. Beauty alone, no, nor mere love, can ever thus enable such a mind as Eve's to trample on the high resolves of a superior soul. Deny it not, ye counterparts of Eve, at heart, both male and female, ye must plot and toil too, for a success so fatal !

Cleopatra (I am driven from branch to branch of her story, for the sake of comparisons,) never sought to soar beyond Antony, in any thing. She is above fancying a cause for jealousy. Real, though absent, " the married woman " so haunted her, that, when she hears even death announced, she asks,

Can Fulvia die?Scarcely hath she breathed after this reprieve, when she learns that Antony is wedded to Octavia. She is outrageous, but with great provocation, and from a slave; she, who was never more than wittily provoking, before Antony. Like Eve, she tempts her idol to his ruin, but not, like Eve, by deliberate design. Cleopatra, a mere woman, obeys a coward impulse, flies from the fight, forgetting that he is sure to follow; thus proving that she underrates her sway.

Eve, while “ nothing loath” to be found by Pleasure, for which she has sacrificed Happiness, is quite as full of douce ivresse as ever was our Gypsy, when with Antony, - she drunk him to his bed ;” and on the reaction of Eve's senses, she is, in her own style, as forgetful of temper as Cleopatra could be, for then

“ Began to rise high passions; anger, hate,

Mistrust, suspicion, discord.” Recriminating " mutual accusations” are added to the misery of the pair, neither of whom will yet turn self-accuser.

Cleopatra dares not defend herself, nor censure Antony. She wishes him to witness her penitence, knowing, indeed, how much it will affect him.

Eve, at length, regretting her offence, not as against God, but as depriving her of Adam's love

“ With tears,
And tresses all disordered, at his feet
Fell humble, and, embracing them, besought

His peace.” She prays that the whole punishment may fall on her. He knows she cannot mean this, and relents but little. She offers next Divorce, a proof of contrition which she is confident he cannot accept; then anticipates his refusal, by proposing Suicide as an easier way to end their woes; aware that he will never resort to means so impious. Finally, she deplores her banishment from Eden, less because she has earned that sentence, than as it drives her from the comforts of a home where she has reigned supreme, over nature, animate and inanimate, and over a husband whom she must never govern more.

Cleopatra's horror of being shown in Rome by Cæsar is nobler ; again she depreciates her power over Antony; trusts the report of her death may effect a reconciliation; it prompts him to real selfslaughter; and she to whom Octavius seems ready to play the suitor, though Antony's self bids her “ of Cæsar seek her honour with her safety,"-she, who, since she first met her dying lover, has had no other joy in life,—will have none after his death, nay, grudges her maid's release, crying

“ If she first meet the curled Antony,

She'll get that kiss, which 'tis my heaven to have !" and, with a fortitude which much I doubt if Eve could have evinced, exclaims

“ Husband I come!

Now to that pame my courage gives me right." These two immortal beauties, I think, represent more faithfully than do any other pictures, the realities of Wonianhood; as do the Satires of Pope and Young the artificialities thrust on Women by that “deformed thing Fashion,” but, as fashions change, those sketches may become obsolete ; humanity can never so alter that Eve or Cleopatra shall appear unnatural. They show us both sides of the medal. Classic readers find that some of the Ancients portray fiends in female form. Isabella (“Measure for Measure”) and the Lady in “Comus" seem “emanations of all beauteous mind,” towering pillars of Chastity's own ice, beings “ too bright and good for human nature's daily food.” Rosalind and Imogen, Constance and Volumnia, are glorious specimens of the gay, the tender, the impassioned, the noble; but Cleopatra, in herself, is "every thing by turns, and nothing long;" the impression she, like Eve, makes on man's mind, forces me to quote George Colman :

“A balm to wound, calamity to bless him,
Pleasing to plague, and comforting distress him,
A source of joy to drown the world in tears,
A dove that with the branch of Peace appears
To set mankind together by the ears!
To make the greybeard dote, the youth grow sad,
Enervate heroes, drive e'en stoicks mad,
Like ivy's noxious elegance to spring,
Born to be propp'd, adorn, destroy, and cling,

To be-in short a Woman was the thing !" Our reason may be grateful that there are rational disinterested women on earth; but wayward fancy goes over to the enemy. Mary of Scots remains more interesting than Jane Grey, and will, to the end of time, though all Miss Edgeworth's heroines of “ well regulated minds" should preach against her and her admirers. But Eve and Cleopatra ! I drank in their discourses with a thirsty ear. I gazed till so oppressed by splendour, that I fear I have mirrored them in a most sigh-dimmed glass. Let these pages, however, induce you, reader, to re-peruse the chef d'euvre of our blind Homer, and the seldom acted tragedy of our incomparable Shakspeare,-may you enjoy both as I did, on that sunny afternoon, and dilate more worthily on their abundant graces.


A FRAGMENT. Oh, bring the robe of Tyrian hue, and the gems to gird the hair, And the gold wove vest, to bind the breast, and deck my lady fair ; But haste thee! haste thee ! maiden bright, before it be too late, I hear him shout, I see him come, ho! Death is nigh the gate! He comes ! He comes! with wings of speed upon the hurrying blast, Hurrah! Hurrah ! how wild he shouts, how wild he comes and fast !

Oh thou, the virgin of beauty bright, to whom the mighty bowed, .
The gorgeous garments of thy pride will serve thee for thy shroud, -
The gems that decked thee when alive, look well upon thee dead,
And thou look'st beauteously and bright in thy garments richness

spread,Ah me! but I could weep o'er one so spotless and so pure, But dim-seen Death hath struck the blow, and the blow he strikes is


The masquers are abroad, the carnival is high,
Joy rushes on with gleeful shout, through the city and the sky:
The careless masquers spurn the way they tread so lightly o’er,
Peasant and peer are levelled here, they'll soon be levelled more!
For hark! Death comes, he.sweeps along on the malaria blast,
Hurrah ! Hurrah! how wild he shouts, how wild he comes and fast !

And where are they, who lately thronged the palace and the street ?
Ye cannot go abroad a yard, but the spotted corpse ye meet !
Oh Death! thou dost distinguish not; for lo! the prince and peer,
The brigand and the peasant all, lie low together here!
Oh Death! thou dost distinguish not between the Pope and priest,
But mixeth the greatness of the great, with the meanness of the least.

We stand high with the Sultan upon his palace tower,
And look abroad on a thousand plains that feed his pride and power;
Below is the city's vast array and the myriad sounding hum,-
But exult no more, thy power is o'er, their voice shall soon be dumb !
Exult no more, thy power is o'er, for Death is hurrying past,
Hurrah! Hurrah ! how wild he shouts, how wild he comes and fast!

Ho! there is famine in the land, there is famine and despair!
Oh for the grain and blessed rain, but they find none anywhere !
The dead are lying in the street above their brethren dead,
And beauty sinks in agony upon that putrid bed!
There is famine in the land, through all that region wide,
Where a thousand mighty forests grew in stateliness and pride!

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“Men were deceivers ever."-SHAKSPERE.

“ Throw a bit of coal on the fire to burn up, Hannah, this terrible cold night, and then we'll go and see all the doors and windows safe."

“There then, Jane, and I'll just put a good chump of wood at the back, for it isn't eight o'clock yet, and it's no use our going to bed so uncommon early as we did last night. I wish the family were here with all my heart and soul! I can't abear the notion of two poor helpless women, like you and I, left all alone in such a large house as this, on a great staring common, and not a single neighbour nigh enough to hear ye if you called ten thousand murders !”

“ Lord love 'e, Hannah, don't talk that way. Cry out indeed! I'm sure I shouldn't be able to make the least noise if any thing terrible was a going to happen. So bless your dear heart, do leave off talking about such things.”

“ Well, child, I only said what I have said afore, 'tis a burning shame to leave a couple of weak, innocent creatures, like you and I, to take care of this ramshackle place, without any thing in the shape of a man to keep us company, and be a sort of protector at the same time.--I know a certain person you'd like uncommon well to have here, but then you two would have all the talk to yourselves, and · poor me be 'bliged to sit mumchance. I say, Jane, if our young man,--your young man I should say, was here, wouldn't we have a junket, now and then ?"

“How can ye, Cook, talk so foolish-Not but what I must say that the Footman is a nice, civil, well-spoken young man, as you'll see in a thousand, but Henry is a thought too quiet for me—it's my belief he was brought up in a Methodize family, and don't like a bit o' innocent fun."

" He'll mend of that, my dear, as he grows up, why he ain't one and twenty yet ; and mark my words, I shall live to see you Mrs. Marsh before many years are over my head, and who knows but I may cook your wedding dinner, and dance with the bridegroom after it. I've seen a precious sight stranger things come to pass !"

“ How you do run on, Hannah, me marry indeed, 'tisn't likely !" and saying this Jane tossed up her head, and caught sight of her own pretly face in a looking glass, hanging on the kitchen wall close by where she was sitting, and stealing a momentary glance, a smile contradicting the unlikelihood she had just asserted, encircled her rosy lips. “Come you and I musn't sit talking a pack o' nonsense,” she continued, "let's go and see all the tiresome windows and doors safe, and then we can sit down and do a bit of work. I've a cap to finish this blessed night."

Now whilst Mrs. Cook, and Jenny the Housemaid are taking their VOL. XCVI.

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