Page images

A fort of creeping kind of lethargy.

Are you e'er leiz'd thus? Hah! here comes my antidote. Titus. Brutus! true; he's a doctor for the fpleen.

You mention'd Delphos; when we two went thither
Through the unknown feas of Greece, fent by our father
T'enquire the meaning of the prodigy,

The fnake portentous, which with dreadful creft
Appearing in his palace hifs'd aloud

A direful omen! Brutus then went with us.
Oh! I remember well the precious scenes
Of folly which he acted. When we gave
Rich presents to the God: He offer'd him
A walking-ftick; as if the god would walk,
And take the air, but that the god was lame.
Coming from out the temple, gazing back,
As loth to leave a place fo fine, he fell
Over the threshold, and plough'd up the grounds
Fixing his face i' th' earth.



The oracle too faid,

Chief fway in Rome,

You may remember

that he should bear

who firft should kiss his mother.

When we came home, both at one time we kifs'd her.
In that I think we are at least before

Our brother Sextus, jointly we reign
After our father.

Brutus, where fo falt ?

Why, thou art running like a loaded horfe.
Aruns. Or like a flave with fetters on his legs.
What! have the Rutili attack'd the camp,
That thou art pofting in this plaguy hurry?
Brutus. Pray,' my Lords, ftop me not; I'm fent to you
On fpecial ord'nance from the king; farewel,

I mult return again.


But wert thou fent

Only to fee us? Tell the king our father

We're in good health; we thank him for the meffage,
Which thou haft well remembered to deliver.



Oh! my good Lord, I had forgot indeed.

But in the multitude of public cares

And daily business-if my memory fails
A little 'tis no wonder-and you know

Memory is fuch a thing as

As a cart-wheel.

Brutus. Indeed, my Lord, you've hit it; mine turns round,
And round-fometimes I think my head is turn'd.

Aruns. I too have thought it oft.


Have you, my Lord ?

I'm always glad when you and I agree:

You have juft fuch a wit as I should choose.—
Would I could purchase fuch an one, and put it

A a 4


Into my brain! Yet so I fear 'twould split

My head, as air fhut up does water bubbles.

Titus. Thou haft spoke wittier, Brute, than thou'rt aware. Aruns. But what wilt give me now for a recipe

To make a wit? I had it from the Sibyl,

Her thou faw'ft t'other day, who fold to th' king
Her books at fuch a rate.


Pray let me fee it ;
What will I give!-Ten acres of my land.
Thy land! where lies it?




[ocr errors]

Afk the king my cousin :

He knows full well: I thank him, he's my fleward,
And takes the trouble off my hạnds.

Who told thee fo?

Brutus. The king himself.-Now twenty years are paft, And more, when he fent for me from the farm Where I had liv'd fome time ftudying philofophy, And fuch like serious matters.


Noble fophift,
I bend with the profoundest admiration
Of thy rare, hidden knowledge,


Yes, yes, all men
Muft grant that I have no fmall fmattering.
But where was I? Oh-Kinfman, fays the king,
Says he, and fmiled moft graciously upon me,
For deeds of blackeft and moft treasonous nature,
Thy father and thy brother were accused of,
They've paid the forfeit with their lives: for thee,
Who knew't not of their crimes, as I love mercy,
Nor take delight in wanton deeds of cruelty,
Live, and be happy; the ingenuous heart,
And fimple manners fpeaking in thy face-
Aruns. Aye, 'tis a fimple manners-fpeaking face.
Brutus. Nay, is it right to interrupt me thus ?
Aruns. Pardon, most noble Brutus.


Thefe thy qualities,
Promife, fays he, thou ne'er wilt form a plot

Of damn'd confpiracy against thy fovereign

Titus. Indeed for that, I'll be thy bondfman, Brutus.
Brutus. Live in my houfe, companion of my children,
As for thy land, to eafe thee of all care,


I'll take it for thy ufe; all that I ask

Of thee, is gratitude.

And art thou not

Grateful for goodnefs fo unmerited?

Brutus. Am I not? Never, by the holy Gods,
Will I forget it! 'tis my conftant prayer

To heaven, that I may one day have the power
Το pay the debt I owe him.-But the charm
For wit you told me of.

Oh-take it gratis➡

First then; attend with caution-But the message
You brought from Tarquin.--


Father Romulus,

That I fhould loiter thús! Why would you keep me
Engaged in talk? The king your father calls
A council, to confider of the fiege
Of Ardea, and the future operations
Against the stubborn Rutili: your prefence
Is afk'd immediately; fhall I before,

And fay you're coming?


If thou wilt, good Brutus ;
Or elfe behind; or otherwife in th' middle:
Come, we'll all go together; or stay there,
And follow at thy leifure.

[Exeunt Aruns and Titus.

Brutus alone. Yet, 'tis not this which ruffles me-the gibes
And fcornful mockeries of ill-govern'd youth-
Or flouts of painted fycophants and jefters,
Reptiles, who lay their bellies on the daft
Before the frown of majefty. All this
I but expect, nor grudge to bear; the face
I carry too demands it.—But what then?
Is my mind fashion'd to the livery
Of dull ftupidity, which I have worn

These many a day? Is't bent afide, and warp'd
From its true native dignity? Elfe why,
How is't that vengeance now hath flept fo long?
O prudence! ill delayer of great deeds,
And noble enterprizes!-Yet-not fo.
Chance may, and accidental circumftance
Crown bold and lucky rafhnefs with fuccefs-
But oftener not. There is perhaps a time,
A certain point, which waited for with patience,
Seiz'd on, and urg'd with vigour, will go near
To banish chance, and introduce affurance
And fixedness in human actions.-

T'avenge my father's and my brother's murder!
(And fweet I must confefs would be the draught)
Had this been all, oft hath the murderer's life
Been in my hands; a thoufand opportunities
I've had to ftrike the blow-and my own life
I had not valued as a rush.-But ftill-
There's fomething farther to be done-my foul!
Enjoy the strong conception; Oh! 'tis glorious
To free a groaning country from oppreffion;
To vindicate man's common rites, and crush
The neck of arrogance.-To fee Revenge
Spring like a lion from his den, and tear
Thefe hunters of mankind!-Give but the time,
Give but the moment, gods! If I am wanting,
May I drag out this ideot-feigned life
To late old age; and may posterity

[ocr errors]

Ne'er know me by another name, but that
Of Brutus, and the Tarquin's household fool.




We confefs ourselves to be in the number of thofe, who with that the lefs ftudied diction, and more plain and level metre of the school of that immortal poet (which seems to have ended with Southern) had been continued to the prefent time.' And as far as our Author has adopted the diction of the school of Shakespeare, we approve of his dialogue, which is often flowing, eafy, nervous, and characteristic; but it cannot be denied that it often finks into grofs familiarity and meanness, and fometimes goes in fuch a hobbling pace, and falls into fuch low expreffions, that it cannot with juftice be termed even ́ meafured profe.'

A diverfification of character' hath not only been attempted in this play, but in many inftances fuccefsfully executed : nor can we think with the Writer, that his piece is, on that account, lefs proper for the ftage, or lefs adapted to the multitude. The stage and the multitude are equally favourable to pieces of character, and receive, with equal coldness, such dramas as are void of that ingredient; which is the chief reason why fo many tragedies (ince the days of Southern) have "ftrutted and fretted their short hour upon the stage, and then been heard no more!"

It is a very unfortunate circumftance for an Author to indulge his felf-complacency fo far, as to take it for granted that his taste and abilities are fuperior to the age in which his works are published. This idea is the parent of flovenliness and inaccuracy; and there is in the piece before us, if we may hazard the expreffion, a kind of laboured incorrectnefs; the Author feeming to disdain the trouble of giving the neceffary compactness to his fable, or the laft polifh to his ftyle.

Notwithstanding thefe defects, which it was our duty to obferve, this hiftorical tragedy abounds with uncommon beauties of language and fituation, and much exquifite delineation of character; all which excellencies would be ftill heightened, if the Author would vouchlafe to amend the irregularities, and fupply the deficiencies, which would, in its prefent ftate, prove the only obftacles to its fuccefs in theatrical representation. Such corrections would alfo render it still more pleafing in the closet.

ART. VIII. The Hiftory of Edinburgh. By Hugo Arnot, Efq; Advocate. 4to. 11. 5 s. Boards. Edinburgh printed; fold by Murray in London. 1779.


N the viciffitudes and accidents which characterife the hiftory of towns, we find, in general, many important objects of research and curiofity; but when the towns described have the peculiarity of being the capitals of a nation, the inftruction communicated is of the greater moment, and the materials

of the author are the more connected with great events. The plan of the work before us was originally of a limited nature; and we are informed, by Mr. Arnot, that it grew into its prefent magnitude from his attention to a variety of matter which tended to illuftrate the ftate of manners in Scotland, and to throw a new light upon its public tranfactions. There is nothing, indeed, which appears more certain, than that the affairs of a kingdom and its capital are deeply interwoven. To give a wide range to inquiry and inveftigation is, of confequence, the most instructive method which can be adopted in works of this kind.

The minutenefs of this Hiftorian will, perhaps, be confidered, by fome readers, as a merit. The search which he acknowledges was made by him into moft of the public records of Scotland, was highly proper. The colleges of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh confented to afford him the aids he required; and to feveral private gentlemen he returns his acknowledgments for the politeness of their communications.

Whatever has a particular relation to the city of Edinburgh, in the civil and ecclefiaftical hiftory of Scotland, is detailed by this laborious Inquirer, and furnishes fuch materials as are the most capable of compofition and ornament. The manners of the Scottish nation, the prices of provifrons, and the value of money, engage his attention. He describes the public buildings of Edinburgh, its religious houses, its population, and its amufements. He treats of the legislative and the judicial affemblies; and, on this subject, he advances the evidence of many improper acts of magiftrates. His freedom and fpirit, in this particular, are worthy of praise, as they have in view the promotion of the interests of liberty and mankind.

The account he has given of the Court of Jufticiary in Scotland will afford entertainment to our Readers, and will be accepted as a specimen from which they may form a judgment of the abilities of the Author:

It has been already explained, that the Juftice-ayre, or Court of Jufticiary, was the fupreme court, civil as well as criminal, over the barons, and thofe refiding within their domains. After the original Court of Seffion was inftituted, it ftill retained its civil jurisdiction; but, upon the erection of the College of Juftice, the authority of the Court of Jufticiary was reftricted to criminal affairs. The judges were the Lord Juftice General, Juftice Clerk, and certain affeffors added to them by the Privy Council, who were chofen from among perfons not verfant in the laws, and whofe commiffions only latted during the particular trials upon which they were appointed to prefide. A conftitution fo highly improper, was altered by Charles II. and the court modelled into its prefent form. It now confifts of the

Charles II. parl, 2. feff. 3. c. 16.'


« PreviousContinue »