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My very mother - Jove! I cannot bear
To speak it now — look'd freezingly upon me!


But thy brother


Died. Thou hast heard the lie,
The common lie that every peasant tells
Of me his master,

that I slew the boy.
'Tis false! One summer's eve,

below a crag
Which, in his wilful mood, he strove to climb,
He lay a mangled corpse : the very slaves,
Whose cruelty had shut him from my heart,
Now coin'd their own injustice into proofs
To brand me as his murderer.


Did they dare

Accuse thee?


Not in open speech :— they felt
I should have seized the miscreant by the throat,
And crush'd the lie half-spoken with the life
Of the base speaker; — but the tale look'd out
From the stolen gaze of coward eyes, which shrank
When mine have met them; murmur'd through the crowd
That at the sacrifice, or seast, or game
Stood distant from me; burnt into my soul
When I beheld it in my father's shudder !


pp. 30, 31,

Didst not declare thy innocence?This resembles, but in manner only, the following ; Edipus. Whence came the boy ? Was he thy own, or who

Did give him to thee?
Shepherd. From another hand

I had received him.
Ed. Say, what hand ? from whom?

Whence came he ?

Do not, by the gods I beg thee,
Do not inquire.
Ed. Force me to ask again,

And thou shalt die.

In Laius' palace born.
@d. Son of a slave or of the king ?

'Tis death for me to speak,” &c.

Other passages in the “Edipus Coloneus” and “Antigone,” would sustain the same comparison.

Another striking characteristic in the Attic dialogue is this. The victim of fate is often made to use expressions, which, unknown to himself, foreshadow his destiny, or describe his present condition.

As the story was generally known to the assembled people, these passages must often have had a thrilling effect. In the play already referred to, Edipus, in a speech to the Theban people, declares his purpose to avenge the murder of the fallen king, that king being his own father and slain by his own hand.

“Wherefore I will avenge him as he were

My father." A hundred other examples of the same thing might easily be adduced. This characteristic turn has not escaped the eye of Mr. Talfourd, but he has repeatedly introduced it, with great effect. Thus Ion, after dedicating himself to the destruction of the king, at the altar;

And if he has a child Whose blood is necdful to the sacrifice

My country asks, harden my soul to shed it!” These are examples of small traits, that would not perhaps generally be observed. They serve to show the minuteness of Mr. Talfourd's classical knowledge, and the delicacy of his imitation. Many more might be cited, but it is unnecessary.

We have heard it objected to "Ion,” that the characters are not distinctly drawn ; that there is more declamation than dramatic effect, in the poem. We think this objection arises from a misconception. It will not do to compare a play, constructed upon the principles of the ancients, with one of Shakspeare's, either in character or plot. The modern master, no doubt, is a more correct delineator of life and the passions, as they have been actually displayed. The Shakspearean drama is the world in miniature. To his eye “all the world is a stage”; and the variety of his characters, the complexity of motives by which they are actuated, the blending of tragedy, comedy, and farce in the same piece, are copied froin real life. But not so the ancients. Shakspeare resembles them, but it is in the expression of passions common to the whole race of man. They are alike true to nature, but only to the Universal Nature. In every thing else, they are at VOL. XLIV. NO. 95.


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an infinite distance apart. The ancients raised their characters to an ideal elevation above any actual form of human life. The heroes, demigods, and gods of a far off and fabulous age, blend with the mere human actors, just as the simple but majestic forms that have an ideal life in the memory of our childhood, mingle with the throng of beings that live and breathe around us in our manhood. The characters drawn and represented upon such a principle of art must of necessity be simple and grand. They must resemble the work of the sculptor; and it would be as absurd to try either the plot or characters of Sophocles by the dramatic standard of Shakspeare, as to compare the Medicean Venus with the portrait of Elizabeth, in the gorgeous costume of her age.

We do not see that Mr. Talfourd has failed in the point which the criticism above referred to would indicate. His characters, though simple, seem to us perfectly distinct. King Adrastus is finely and firmly drawn. Ion is a beautiful conception, and consistently carried out. His language is in the strictest keeping with the circumstances in which he is placed, and the traits unfolded by his actions. Clemanthe is a being, who, once known, becomes a part of our mind. Her delightful character appears at intervals in the mournful progress of the action, like a soft light gleaming through the broken clouds of a stormy day.

The appearance of this poem has convinced us of several things, which many people began to doubt. It has shown that however great may be the temporary admiration bestowed upon the hastily-written productions of the day, a true work of genius and art, carefully wrought out, and finished to the last degree, will at once outrank them. This single work of Mr. Talfourd has given more pleasure to the reader, and more fame to the writer, than all the red-hot productions of the intense school, which some are pleased to call poetry, put together. It has also shown that the theory, first propounded we believe by Mr. John Neal, and gravely repeated by Mr. Bulwer, that verse must give way to rhythmical prose in this enlightened age, has no real foundation. It is true that finished poetry

has been almost frightened out of the literary world of late, by the abundance of prose run mad, let loose by Bulwer, D’Israeli, and others, just as sober gentlemen are driven from the streets by rabid dogs. But the “ dogstar” has almost ceased to “rage,” and “all Bedlam ” will soon be shut up again.


Harmony and melody are natural expressions of the mind of man in its higher moods, and will remain so until he becomes another being. Rhythmical prose can no more take the place of verse, than rhythmical reading can supplant singing. Prose is no more poetry, than oratory is music. A discourse is not a song, any more than a talk on 'Change is an opera.


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Art. IX. - 1. Abstract of Massachusetts School Returns,

for 1836. Prepared for the Use of the Legislature. By John P. BIGELOW, Secretary of the Commonwealth. Boston ; Dutton & Wentworth, Printers to the State.

1837. 2. History of Massachusetts, for two hundred years, from

1620 to 1820. By ALDEN BRADFORD, an Original Member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Honorary Member of the Historical Society of New York. Boston ; Hilliard, Gray, & Co. 1835. 8vo. pp. 480.

. .

pp. 47.

The Abstract of Massachusetts School Returns for the last year, digested by the accurate and intelligent Secretary, agreeably to a resolve of the Legislature of the year 1826, embraces statements from 289 cities and towns, being the whole number of municipal corporations, with the exception of about twenty. They are divided into 2,517 School Districts, employing 2,154 male, and 2,816 female instructers. The schools were attended last year by 146,539 children, between four and sixteen years of age, (75,552 boys, and 70,987 girls,) and were supported by a tax levied by the towns and cities, respectively, amounting to $391,993-96, and by voluntary contributions amounting to $47,593-44; besides which, many towns (about 90,) have funds, the income of which is devoted to this object, all have their share of the $20,000 interest of the State School Fund, and in many, the teacher derives part of his compensation from board furnished by families of the district. The additional amount paid for tuition in private schools

. and academies, is estimated at $326,642.53, giving a total of $726,229.93 raised last year in the towns reported, for the support of Common Schools, and Private Schools and Acad

emies. The number of scholars attending these latter institutions is rated at 28,752, making the whole number of children at the public and private schools to be 175,291. Other matters of valuable information are embraced in the Abstract; in particular, lists are affixed to the names of the towns, of books used in their schools respectively.

This common-school system, of which the government continues to take so much care, is known to most of our readers to be one of the most ancient institutions of Massachusetts. Indeed, it is only since the period of Independence, that any other schools have been known to our laws, the earliest incorporation of an establishment for instruction, below the rank of the University, being that of Phillips's Academy at Andover, in 1780. The first free school of the colony was that of Boston, where in 1635, five years from the settlement of that peninsula, the inhabitants voted in town meeting, “on the thirteenth of the second month," " that our brother Philernon Pormont shall be entreated to become schoolmaster for the teaching and nurturing of youth among us." Twelve years after, the General Court of the Commonwealth, having accomplished the very serious enterprise of founding the College, turned their attention to the sources whence its supplies of competent preparatory knowledge were to be drawn, and to the still wider exigency of competent instruction for the whole people. One of their first acis under the charter bad been to order, that “ forasmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoof and benefit to any commonwealth, and whereas many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent in that kind, the selectmen of every town in the several precincts and quarters where they dwell, shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbours, to see that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families, as not to endeavour to teach,

themselves or others, their children and apprentices, so much learning, as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue, and knowledge of the capital laws." In 1647, being now strong enough to do better, they proceeded to enact, as follows;

“ It being one chief project of Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scripture, as in former times keeping them in unknown tongues, so in these latter times, by persuading from

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