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tion;

a soul so alive to everything great and good, with the deepest relish for all that is valuable in life, and living in the love of others and for others, giving up all hope and all joy for the sake of others, and seeking death without a reluctant thought. Angelic benevolence and loveliness could do no more.

Yet we should have been better pleased if our author had painted Ion with more struggles when ready to cast life away; it would have given more human probability to his character, and would have shown, that he had counted the cost, and knew what it was to die. Here we come again to what we conceive to be an original and serious defect in our author's conception of Ion. As he himself says, his hero does not overcome evil by the force of will, but escapes it by insensibility to its approach. In other words, Ion does not partake of that part of human nature which renders our life on earth so important, susceptibility to tempta

and therefore needs no struggles of soul to resist it. His is not that virtue which “unshaken, unsubdued, unterrified, keeps its loyalty, its love, its zeal ;" but by a self-prompted, spontaneous instinct, he recoils from evil, or by an insensibility to it he can breathe it like some atmosphere of pestilence, without apprehension or danger. He is like a man who has lost the sense of feeling, and throws himself into the fire for some good end. What would the Romans have thought of Scevola if his arm had been of stone ? Now it is no sufficient bar to our objection, that the character of Ion is ideal. We do not quarrel with our author on that account. Let him paint a character as ideal as he will, it is thus only raised above ordinary human nature, and not withdrawn from its sphere. But our author exhibits a romantic goodness which has no base to rest upon. We take the difference between the ideal and the romantic in character, to be something like this,—the one is man approaching that perfection which is possible for a nature like his, and therefore equally beautiful and moral ; the other is man approaching a false standard of perfection, or approaching it without being under those laws which can or should guide our nature, and therefore only beautiful to the diseased eye, and moral to the unregulated moral sense.

We shall have more to say of this before we are through. At present we shall break the chain of our remarks, no doubt to the great satisfaction of our readers, by quoting one or two passages as samples of the whole. The first shall be the first interview between Ion and Clemanthe, beginning with her appeal to him against exposing himself to the plague, and ending with their confession of love :

ION.

• How fares my pensive sister ?

CLEMANTHE.
How should I fare but ill when the pale hand
Draws the black foldings of the eternal curtain
Closer and closer round us, Phocion absent-
And thou, forsaking all within thy home,
Wilt risk 'thy life with strangers, in whose aid
Even thou canst do but little ?

ION.

It is little : But in these sharp extremities of fortune, The blessings which the weak and poor can scatter Have their own season. 'Tis a little thing To give a cup of water ; yet its draught Of cool refreshment, drain d by fever'd lips, May give a shock of pleasure to the frame More exquisite than when nectarean juice Renews the life of joy in happiest hours. It is a little thing to speak a phrase Of common comfort which by daily use Has almost lost its sense; yet on the ear Of him who thought to die unmourn'd 'twill fall Like choicest music; fill the glazing eye With gentle tears ; relax the knotted hand To know the bonds of fellowship again; And shed on the departing soul a sense More precious than ihe benison of friends About the honor'd deathbed of the rich, To him who else were lonely, that another Of the great family is near and feels.

CLEMANTHE.

Oh, thou canst never bear these mournful offices !
So blithe, so merry once ! Will not the sight
Of frenzied agonies unfix thy reason,
Or the dumb woe congeal thee?

ION.

No, Clemanthe; They are the patient sorrows that touch nearest; If thou hadst seen the warrior, when he writhed In the last grapple of his sinewy frame, With conquering anguish, strive to cast a smile (And not in vain) upon his fragile wife, Waning beside hím, -and, his limbs composed, The widow of the moment fix her gaze Of longing, speechless love, upon the babe, The only living thing which yet was hers, Spreading its arms for its own resting-place, Yet with attenuated hand wave off The unstricken child, and so embraceless die, Stifling the mighty hunger of the heart; Thou couldst endure the sight of selfish grief In sullenness or frenzy ;-but to-day Another lot falls on me.

CLEMANTIE.

Thou wilt leave us !
I read it plainly in thy alter'd mien ;-
Is it for ever?

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To the palace! Knowest thou the peril-nay, the certain issue That waits thee? Death !--The tyrant has decreed it, Confirmed it with an oath ; and he has power To keep that oath ; for, hated as he is, The reckless soldiers who partake his riot Are swift to do his bidding

ION.

I know all;
But they who call me to the work can shield me,
Or make me strong to suffer.

CLEMANTHE.

Then the sword Falls on thy neck! O Gods! to think that thou, Who in the plenitude of youthful life Art now before me, ere the sun decline, Perhaps in one short hour, shalt lie cold, cold, To speak, smile, bless no more ! - Thou shalt not go !

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Till death in silence :-how affection grew
To this, I know not;day succeeded day,
Each fraught with the same innocent delights,
Without one shock to ruffle the disguise
Of sisterly regard which veil'd it well,
Till thy changed mien reveal'd it to my soul,
And thy great peril makes me bold to tell it.
Do not despise it in me!

ION.

With deep joy
Thus I receive it. Trust me, it is long
Since I have learn'd to tremble midst our pleasures,
Lest I should break the golden dream around me
With most ungrateful rashness. I should bless

The sharp and perilous duty which bath press'd
A life's deliciousness into these moments,
Which here must end. I came to say farewell,
And the word must be said.'

pp.

15–19.

Humanity and charity never were painted in lovelier colors, than in the beginning of this extract. It made us feel, when we read it, the words of Christ, that he who gives a cup of water in his name shall not lose his reward. With the declaration of love we are not entirely satisfied. The author seems afraid of himself, like a person upon the ice, and therefore represses the feelings which should have burst more freely from both parties. Clemanthe ought not to excuse, or half excuse her affection by what she says in her last speech; still less ought she to dream, that Ion can despise her for telling it. What noble person would think conventional reserve necessary at a crisis like this. Ion also, we think, might have manifested a little more strength of feeling, in perfect consistency with his enthusiastic pursuit of the object before him. Was it not right for him to feel a struggle, to hang for a moment poised between the sweet hope now assured to him and the strong call of duty ? One would think the fascination had deadened, to some degree, even his emotions. We should like to extract a deeply tender scene from the beginning of the third act, but our limits will only allow us to quote part of another, and, as we conceive, a very beautiful scene at the close of the play. It is the last interview between the same pair. Fate, having revealed to him his lineage, has made it necessary for him, if he will not break his oath, to destroy in himself the last scion of the Argive race of kings. He means to do it at the coronation, and conceals it by a disguise of coldness from Clemanthe, but yet must bid her farewell. In this interview, the weak disguise bursts apart : VOL. X.

22

ION.

What wouldst thou with me, lady?

CLEMANTHE.

Is it so? Nothing, my lord, save to implore thy pardon, That the departing gleams of a bright dream, From which I scarce had waken’d, made me bold To crave a word with thee ;-but all are fled And I have nought to seek.

ION.

A goodly dream;
But thou art right to think it was no more,
And study to forget it.

CLEMANTHE.

To forget it?
Indeed, my lord, I cannot wish to lose
What, being past, is all my future hath,
All I shall live for; do not grudge me this,
The brief space I shall need it.

ION.

Speak not, fair one,
In tone so mournful, for it makes me feel
Too sensibly the hapless wretch I am,
That troubled the deep quiet of thy soul
In that pure fountain which reflected heaven,
For a brief taste of rapture.

CLEMANTHE.

Dost thou yet Esteem it rapture, then ? My foolish heart, Be still! Yet wherefore should a crown divide us ? 0, my dear Ion !-let me call thee so This once at least-it could not in my thoughts Increase the distance that there was between us, When, rich in spirit, thou to strangers' eyes Seem's a poor foundling.

ION.

It must separate us ! Think it no harmless bauble, but a curse Will freeze the current in the veins of youth, And from familiar touch of genial hand, From household pleasures, from sweet daily tasks, From airy thoughts, free wanderer of the heavens, For ever banish me!

CLEMANTHE.

Thou dost accuse
Thy state too hardly. It may give some room,
Some little space, amidst its radiant cares,
For love and joy to breathe in.

ION.

Not for me :
My pomp must be most lonesome, far removed
From that sweet fellowship of human kind
The slave rejoices in: my solemn robes
Shall wrap me as a panoply of ice,

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