« VorigeDoorgaan »
cows, three hundred purple cloaks, and three hundred fteeds fhould be delivered in at his palace, as an eric from that province. From this it becomes evident, that his father was murdered by a party, not killed in battle, fince there was no law or precedent to juftify this impost otherwife. In revenge for this, we read foon after, of his own palace in Meath's being burnt to the ground, and he himself with difficulty efcaping. Barring this, our annals loudly proclaim the uncommon bleffings of this reign.'
A. D. 46 Fearaidhach reigned in Ireland. His immediate predeceffor was not of the Milesian line, and had been placed on the throne amidst oppofition and anarchy; when he died the crown was offered to his fon Moran, who with unexampled heroism and conftancy, fays this Writer, refufed it. But he proves à fteady friend to Fearaidhach, who was called the moft juft, and to the interefts of his countrymen. Under fuch governors, as our Author quotes from Dr. Warner, to confirm his own account, Ireland could not be otherwise than happy. • So great, it is added, was the reputation of Moran for wisdom and juftice, that the gold collar he wore round his neck was used by all his fucceffors; and fo wonderful were the effects attributed to it, that the people were taught to believe, that whoever gave a wrong decree with this round his neck, was fure to be com preffed by it, in proportion to his diverging from the line of the truth, but in every other inftance it would hang loose and eafy.
The fuppofed virtue of this collar was a wonderful prefervative from perjury and prevarication; for no witness would venture into a court to fupport a bad caufe, as he apprehended the effects of it, if placed round his neck. This cannot be better illuftrated than by obferving, that, even at this day, to fwear-" Dar an Ioadh Mhoran; i. e. by the collar of Moran," is deemed a moft folemn appeal.'--Moran's collar is to be wifhed for in every fenate and court of juftice.
It is fingular enough, fays Mr. O'Halloran, that Cormoc, who reigned A. D. 259, and appears to have been a great prince, notwithstanding the many improvements he made in the police of Ireland; notwithstanding his reducing Connaught into an Irish province, and transferring in a manner the crown of it from the Damnonii to his own family, &c. yet ftill by the lofs of an eye, though in the cause of his country, he was judged unworthy of fovereign authority, and obliged to make a fur render of the crown,'
From the time of the establishment of chriftianity in Ireland under the direction of St. Patrick, the hiftory of this country is better known, and has been particularly treated by dif ferent writers. Here, therefore, we fhall take leave of this
Author; hoping that the extracts we have made from the more early part of the history will prove acceptable to our readers. Mr. O'Halloran has ufed great application, and he displays much learning in endeavouring to eftablifh the high antiquity of his country, and vindicate its honour. His English is fometimes rather defective; but his work, on the whole, is enter taining and inftructive.
ART. IV. The Law of Lombardy; a Tragedy. As it is performed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. Written by Robert Jephfon, Efq; Author of Braganza. 8vo. 1 s. 6 d. Evans. 1779. T was needlefs to inform us in the title-page, that this Tragedy is written by the Author of Braganza; not only because the name of Robert Jephfon, Efq; ftands prefixed to both plays, but because the ftyle and manner, the beauties and blemishes of both are fo extremely timilar. The fecond however is unequal to the firft; the merit even of which, in our eftimation, fell fhort of its tranfient popularity.
The Law of Lombardy, like Braganza, betrays more fymptoms of labour than genius. In Braganza however the labour was more amply rewarded; for we cannot difcover in the Law of Lombardy any dialogue at all comparable to the fcene between Velasquez and the Monk in our Author's first tragedy. The diction is, if poffible, ftill more laboured; and it would be easy to point out fervile imitations of Shakespeare in almost every page. Dryden fays of Milton or Ben Johnson, that you may every where "trace them in the fnow of the ancients." The fnow of Shakespeare would be too cold a phrase; unless we were to determine that the prototype (like the falfe Florimel in the Fairy Queen) became now in the imitation.
Mr. Jephfon is an acknowledged mimic. His tragedies are confeffedly pieces of literary mimickry; wherein the Author, like other mimics, multiplies the defects, and aggravates the beauties of his original. Tropes, metaphors, fimiles, and fentiments, are thick fown in every fcene; but, in our opinion, affected language, and fentimental dialogue, are as reprehensible in tragedy as in comedy. Paffion fhould be the prime mover of the firft, Humour of the laft, and Nature fhould govern both.
The characters in the tragedy of the Law of Lombardy, are but poorly difcriminated. King, Duke, Princess, Lover, Hero, Villain, Shepherd, Forefter, Squire, &c. all converfe in the -fame unnatural dialect. The fable alfo, after the third Act, takes an unfortunate turn; the fourth creating horror and dif guft rather than a pleafing intereft: and two-thirds of the fifth being made up of circumstances evidently introduced for the purpose of protracting the piece, which of course becomes proportionably languid. We have felected the conclufion of
the third Act as the most favourable specimen of the performance. The Princefs, convicted on the perjury of Bireno, breaks out thus:
If e'er thy interpofing Providence
Dash'd the audacious councils of the wicked;
Look down, and fuccour me! I kneel before thee,
By all deferted, and my life befet;
The man, my foul adores, traduc'd, and wrong'd:
While the envenom'd rancour of this fiend
King. Ha, have a care, rafh girl! nor turn my grief
A love fo pure,
What bofom might not feel, what tongue not own?
I'll tell thee how to arm thee for the combat:
With fcaffolds, wheels, and engines, virgin's heads
Scorn thou the mean device of vulgar knights,
Who fight for what they reverence, truth and honour;
Brac'd by my wrongs to more than mortal strength,
Let frenzy take its course-When next we meet,
SCENE VII. KING, PRINCESS.
Than thus to fold thee; pour thefe fcalding tears,
To fee that reverend frame thus torn with anguish;
And go to death like fleep, did no foft forrow
King. Thou art my subject, Lucio! and my foldier;
Draw forth thy fword, and ftrike it through my heart.
Prin. No; let our grief be facred: if we weep,
Let them not fee, and triumph in our tears.
Meet fate as firmly, and tranfcend their daring. [Exeunt. The Prologue and Epilogue are both written by the Author of the piece: the firft heavy and phlegmatic, and the laft aiming at levity, and the manner of the late Mr. Garrick, but with far lefs pleafantry than the much lamented original.
ART. V. A Vindication of fome Paffages in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the Hiftory of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By the Author. 8vo. 2s. 6d. Cadell. 1779.
N our Review for September laft, we gave an account of IN Mr. Mr. Davis's Examination of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of Mr. Gibbon's Hiftory, wherein he charges the Hiftorian with perverting the ancients, and tranfcribing the moderns,
with grofs ignorance, and wilful falfehood; with betraying the confidence, and feducing the faith of thofe Readers, who may heedlessly ftray in the flowery paths of his diction, without perceiving the poifonous fnake that lurks concealed in the grass.
Thefe weighty charges have prevailed over Mr. Gibbon's averfion to controverfy, and have given rife to the elegant, fprightly, and fpirited Vindication now before us.
He fets out with telling his Readers that Mr. Davis's titlepage is a declaration of war; that in the profecution of his religious crufade, he affumes a privilege of difregarding the ordinary laws which are refpected in the moft hoftile tranfactions between civilized men, or civilized nations; that fome of the harfheft epithets in the English language, are repeatedly applied to the Hiftorian, a part of whose work Mr. Davis has chofe for the object of his criticism.
He goes on to tell us, that when he delivered to the world the first Volume of an important Hiftory, in which he had been obliged to connect the progrefs of Chriftianity with the civil state and revolutions of the Roman empire, he could not be ignorant that the result of his enquiries might offend the intereft of fome, and the opinions of others; that if the whole work was favourably received by the Public, he had the more reason to expect that this obnoxious part would provoke the zeal of those who confider them felves as the watchmen of the holy city; that his expectations were not difappointed, and that a fruitful crop of Anfwers, Apologies, Remarks, Examinations, &c. fprung up with all convenient speed.
He read with attention, he fays, feveral criticisms which were published against the two laft Chapters of his Hiftory, and, unless he much deceives himself, weighed them in his own mind without prejudice, and without refentment. After he had clearly fatisfied himself that their principal objections were founded on mifrepresentation or mistake, he declined with fincere and difinterested reluctance the odious task of controverfy, and almoft formed a tacit refolution of committing his intentions, his writings, and his adverfaries to the judgment of the Public, of whofe favourable difpofition he had received the moft flattering proofs.
'I should have confulted my own cafe, continues he, and perhaps I should have acted in ftricter conformity to the rules of prudence, if I had ftill perfevered in patient filence, but Mr. Davis may, if he pleafes, affume the merit of extorting from me the notice which I had refused to more honourable foes. I had declined the confideration of their literary objections, but he has compelled me to give an anfwer to his criminal accufations. Had he confined himself to the ordinary, and indeed obfolete charges of impious principles, and mifchievous intentions, I fhould have acknowledged with readiness and pleasure that the religion of Mr. Davis appeared to be very different