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dramatic feeling and conception. The subject is taken from the “ Ion" of Euripides; but with bold, and sometimes interesting alterations. In the Greek story, Creusa, Princess of Athens, who had been violated by Apollo, had concealed her shame by exposing her infant. She had afterwards married Xuthus, a military stranger, who, at her father's death, succeeded, in her right, to the throne of Athens. But their marriage-bed having proved fruitless, they arrive at Delphi, to consult the oracle for an heir. The oracle pronounces, that the first whom Xuthus shall meet in going out of the temple is his son. He meets with lon, a youth of unknown parentage, who had been reared as a servant in the holy place, and who, in fact, is the child of Creusa, whom she had exposed. Xuthus embraces Ion for his son ; and, comparing his age with the date of a love adventure, which he recollected in former times, concludes that Ion is the offspring of that amour. It is no sooner known that Xuthus has found a son of his own blood, than the tutor of Creusa exhorts the queen to resent this indignity on her childless state, and to rid herself of a stepson, who may embitter and endanger her future days. The tutor attempts to poison Ion, but fails
-Creusa is pursued to the altar by her own son, who is with difficulty prevented from putting her to death ; but a discovery of their consanguinity takes place-Minerva descends from heaven to contirm the proofs of it; and having predicted that Ion shall
reign in Athens, and prudently admonished the mother and son to let King Xuthus remain in the old belief of his being father to lon, leaves the piece to conclude triumphantly.„Such is the bare outline of the ancient drama. Whitehead's story is entirely tragical, and stripped of miraculous agency. He gives a human father (Nicander) to (llyssus) the secret child of Creusa. This Nicander, the first lover of the lady, had, on the discovery of their attachment, been driven into banishment by Creusa's father, but had carried with him their new-born offspring : and both he and the infant were supposed to have been murdered in their flight from Athens. Nicander, however, had made his way to Delphi, had entrusted his child to the temple; and, living in the neighbourhood, passed (under the name of Aletes) for the tutor of the mysterious orphan. Having obtained a high character for sagacity, he was consulted by the priestess Pythia herself; and he is represented as having an influence upon her responses : (it is an English poet, we must recollect, and not a Greek one, who is telling the story). Meanwhile, Creusa having been forced to give her hand, without her heart, to Xuthus, is still a mourner, like Lady Randolph', when, at the end of eighteen years from the birth of Ilyssus, she comes to consult the oracle. Struck at the first
* If any recollection of Home's tragedy should occur to the reader of Whitehead's, it is but fair to remind him, that the play of Crensa was produced, a year or two earlier than that of Dorglas.
sight of Ilyssus, by his bikeness to Nicander, sbe conceives an instinctive fondness for the youth. The oracle declares him beir to the throne of Athens; but this is accompanied with a rumour of bitter intelligence to Creusa, that he is really the son of Xuthus, Her Athenians are indignant at the suspicion of Xuthus's collusion with the oracle, to entail the sceptre of their kingdom on his foreign offspring. Her confidant (like the tutor in Euri. pides) rouses her pride as a queen, and her jealousy as a mother, against this intruder. He tries every artifice to turn her heart against Ilyssus; still she retains a partiality for him, and resists the proposal of attempting his life. At length, however, her husband insults her with expressing his triumph in his new-found heir, and reproaches her with the plebeian grave of the first object of her affection, In the first transport of her wrath she meets the Athenian enemy of Ion, and a guilty assent is wrung from her, that Ilyssus shall be poisoned at the ban. quet. Aletes, ignorant of the plot, had hitherto dreaded to disclose himself to Creusa, lest her agitation should prematurely interfere with his project of placing his son on the throne of Athens. He meets her, however, at last, and she swoons at recognizing him to be Nicander. When he tells her that llyssus is her son, she has in turn to unfold the dreadful confession of having consented to his death. She flies to the banquet, if possible, to avert his fate; and arrives in time to snatch the poisoned chalice from his hand, But though she
is thus rescued from remorse, she is not extricated from despair. To Nicander she has to say, “ Am “ I not Xuthus' wife: and what art thou!” She anticipates that the kingdom of Athens must be involved in bloodshed for her sake: one victim she deems would suffice, and determines that it shall be herself. Having, therefore, exacted an oath from Xuthus and the Athenians, that Ilyssus shall succeed to the throne of her fathers, she drinks of the fatal goblet. : The piece contains some strong situations; its language is unaffected; and it fixes the attention (if I may judge from my own experience) from the first to the last scene. The pure and holy character of the young
Ilyssus is brought out, I have no hesitation to say, more interestingly than in Euripides, by the display of his reverential gratitude to the queen, upon the first tenderness which she shows him, and by the agony of his ingenuous spirit, on beholding it withdrawn. And, though Creusa's character is not unspotted, she draws our sympathy to some of the deepest conceivable agonies of human nature. I by no means wish to deny that the tragedy has many defects, or to speak of it as a great production; but it does not deserve to be consigned to oblivion,
The exhibition of Creusa was hardly over, when Whitehead was called upon to attend his pupil and Viscount Nuneham, son to Earl Harcourt, upon their travels. The two young noblemen were nearly of an age, and had been intimate from their childhood. They were both so much attached to Whitehead,
residemain with nd, he was her of the Ba
as to congratulate each other on his being appointed their common tutor. They continued abroad for about two years, during which they visited France, Italy, and Germany. In his absence, Lady Jersey made interest to obtain for him the offices of secretary and registrar of the order of the Bath. On his return to England, he was pressed by Lord Jersey to remain with the family; and he continued to reside with them for fourteen years, except during his visits to the seat of Lord Harcourt. His pupils, who had now sunk the idea of their governor in the more agreeable one of their friend, showed him through life unremitted marks of affection.
Upon the death of Cibber, in 1757, he succeeded to the place of poet laureate. The appointment had been offered to Gray as a sinecure; but it was not so when it was given to Whitehead. Mason wonders why this was the case, when George the Second had po taste for poetry. His wonder is quite misplaced. If the king had had a taste for poetry, he would have abolished the laureate, odes. As he had not, they were continued. Our author's official lyrics are said by Mason to contain no fulsome panegyric, a fact for which I hope his word may be taken; for, to ascertain it by perusing the strains themselves, would be an alarming undertaking. But the laurel was to Whitehead no very enviable distinction. He had something more to pay for it than
“ His quit-rent ode, his peppercorn of praise." At first he was assailed by the hostility of all the