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Slacken not sail yet
At inlet or island;
Straight for the beacon steer,
Straight for the high land;
Crowd all thy canvas on,
Cut through the foam—
Christian' cast anchor now—
Heaven is thy home!
HENRY HART MILMAN was born in London on the tenth of February, 1791, and was the youngest son of Sir FRANcis MILMAN, physician to the king. In 1801 he was sent to Eton, and in 1810 he entered Brazen Nose College, Oxford, where he gained the first honours in examinations, and received many prizes for English and Latin poems and essays. In 1815 he became a fellow of his college, and two years afterward entered into holy orders. The living of St. Mary's, in Reading, was bestowed upon him in 1817, and he devoted much of his attention to the duties of his profession, until he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford, in 1821. Mr. MILMAN commenced his course as a poet with the Judicium Regale, in which the people of the different nations of Europe pronounce their judgment against NApoleoN. This was followed by the tragedy of Fazio, which was performed before crowded houses at Drury Lane, and is still occasionally played in the British and American theatres. His next work, The Fall of Jerusalem, appeared in 1820. The basis of the story is a passage in Josephus, and the events, occupying a considerable time in the history, are in the play compressed into a period of thirty-six hours. The object of the author was to show the full completion of prophecy in the great event which he commemorates. The Martyr of Antioch, published in 1822, is founded on a legend related in the twentythird chapter of Gibbon, of the daughter of a priest of Apollo at Antioch, who was beloved by Olybrus, prefect of the East in the reign of Probus, converted to the Christian religion, and sacrificed to the unrelenting spirit of offended heathenism. It is an attempt to present in contrast the simple faith of Jesus and the most gorgeous yet most natural of pagan superstitions, the worship of the sun. The tale is similar to that of Lockh ART's fine romance of Valerius, by which it was probably suggested; and, except in its tragical termination and some minor characteristics, the plot of the drama is inferior to that of the novel. In the same year he finished Belshazzar. The
subject is one of the noblest and most poetical in the Scriptures, but Mr. MilmAN failed, as signally as some writers of less pretension, in its treatment. The characters are the Destroying Angel from Heaven, sent to complete the annihilation of Babylon; Belshazzar, his mother, Kalassan high-priest of Bel, the Captain of the Guard, and the eunuch Sabaris, Chaldeans; with Daniel, Imlah, his wife, his daughter Benina, and her betrothed lover, Hebrews. The story is that of the Handwriting on the Wall, with an underplot, in which Benina is seized as the virgin devoted to the pagan deity, but in fact destined for the chambers of Kalassan. The fall of the city intervenes to save her; the Chaldeans perish, and the Jews are restored to happiness. The time is one day, from the morning to the conflagration of the Assyrian capital. These actors and circumstances demand earnestness, force, tenderness, the grandest and most beautiful imagery, and a sustained enthusiasm; but the piece is tame and monotonous, inferior, even its lyrical portions, to the earlier works of the author. The latest of his dramas is Anne Boleyn, in which the characters of King Henry and the Jesuit Angelo Caraffa are well delineated and sustained, though the work has no great merit as a play or a poem. Besides his dramatic works, Mr. Milm AN is the author of Samor, the Lord of the Bright City, an epic in twelve books; and a volume of minor poems, none of which are equal to passages in his tragedies. He has likewise written the best History of the Jews in our language, and a History of Christianity, both of which have been republished by Messrs. Harper of New York. He now resides in London, and is prebendary of St. Peter's, and minister of St. Margaret's, Westminster. Mr. MILMAN's poems contain some spirited lyrics, and much vigorous declamation and fine description; but, though he is not perhaps a plagiarist, they embrace nothing new, and nothing to entitle him to the appellation of a great poet. They are simply the verses of a well-educated gentleman, who has little sym
Ceased the bold strain, then deep the Saxon
The ruddy cup, and savage joy uncouth
Lit his blue gleaming eyes: nor sate unmoved
The Briton chiefs; fierce thoughts began to rise
Of ancient wars, and high ancestral fame.
Sudden came floating through the hall an air
So strangely sweet, the o'erwrought sense scarce
Its rich excess of pleasure; softer sounds [felt
Melt never on the enchanted midnight cool,
By haunted spring, where elfin dancers trace
Green circlets on the moonlight dews; nor lull
Becalmed mariner from rocks, where basks
At summer noon the sea-maid; he his oar
Breathless suspends, and motionless his bark
Sleeps on the sleeping waters. Now the notes
So gently died away, the silence seem'd
Melodious; merry now, and light and blithe
They danced on air: anon came tripping forth
In frolic grace a maiden troop, their locks
Flower-wreathed, their snowy robes from clasped
Fell careless drooping, quick their glittering feet
Glanced o'er the pavement. Then the pomp of sound
Swell'd up, and mounted: as the stately swan,
Her milk-white neck embower'd in arching spray,
Queens it along the waters, entered in
The lofty hall a shape so fair, it lull'd
The music into silence, yet itself
Pour'd out, prolonging the soft ecstasy,
The trembling and the touching of sweet sound.
Her grace of motion and of look, the smooth
And swimming majesty of step and tread,
The symmetry of form and feature, set
The soul afloat, even like delicious airs
Of flute or harp; as though she trod from earth,
And round her wore an emanating cloud
Of harmony, the lady moved. Too proud
For less than absolute command, too soft
For aught but gentle, amorous thought: her hair
Cluster'd, as from an orb of gold cast out
A dazzling and o'erpowering radiance, save
Here and there on her snowy neck reposed
In a soothed brilliance, some thin, wandering tress.
The azure flashing of her eye was fringed
With virgin meekness, and her tread, that seem'd
Earth to disdain, as softly fell on it
As the light dew-shower on a tuft of flowers.
The soul within seem'd feasting on high thoughts,
That to the outward form and feature gave
A loveliness of scorn, scorn that to feel
Was bliss, was sweet indulgence. Fast sank back
Those her fair harbingers, their modest eyes,
Downcast, and drooping low their slender necks
In graceful reverence; she, by wondering gaze
Unmoved, and stifled murmurs of applause,
Nor yet unconscious, slowly won her way
To where the king, amid the festal pomp,
Sate loftiest; as she raised a fair-chased cup,
Something of sweet confusion overspread
Her features; something tremulous broke in
On her half-failing accents, as she said [up,
“Health to the king!”—the sparkling wine laugh'd
As eager 'twere to touch so fair a lip.
A moment, and the apparition bright
Had parted; as before, the sound of harps
Was wantoning about the festive hall.
LAMENTATION OVER JERUSALEM.
Then E have been tears from holier eyes than mine
Pour'd o'er thee, Zion | yea, the Son of Man
This thy devoted hour foresaw and wept.
And I-can I refrain from weeping? Yes,
My country, in thy darker destiny
Will I awhile forget mine own distress.
I feel it now, the sad, the coming hour;
The signs are full, and never shall the sun
Shine on the cedar roofs of Salem more;
Her tale of splendour now is told and done:
Her wine-cup of festivity is spilt,
And all is o'er, her grandeur and her guilt.
O ! fair and favour'd city, where of old
The balmy airs were rich with melody,
That led her pomp beneath the cloudless sky
In vestments flaming with the orient gold;
Her gold is dim, and mute her music's voice;
The heathen o'er her perish'd pomp rejoice.
How stately then was every palm-deck'd street,
Down which the maidens danced with tinkling feet!
How proud the elders in the lofty gate'
How crowded all her nation's solemn feasts
With white-robed Levites and high-mitred priests!
How gorgeous all her temple's sacred state,
Her streets are razed, her maidens sold for slaves,
Her gates thrown down, her elders in their graves;
Her feasts are holden mid the gentile's scorn,
By stealth her priesthood's holy garments worn:
And where her temple crown'd the glittering rock,
The wandering shepherd folds his evening flock.
When shall the work, the work of death begin?
When come the avengers of proud Judah's sin!
Aceldama! accursed and guilty ground,
Gird all the city in thy dismal bound;
Her price is paid, and she is sold like thou;
Let every ancient monument and tomb
Enlarge the border of its vaulted gloom,
Their spacious chambers all are wanted now.
But never more shall yon lost city need
Those secret places for her future dead;
Of all her children, when this night is pass'd,
Devoted Salem's darkest, and her last,
Of all her children none is left to her,
Save those whose house is in the sepulchre.
Yet, guilty city, who shall mourn for thee!
Shall Christian voices wail thy devastation!
Look down look down, avenged Calvary,
Upon thy late yet dreadful expiation.
O! long foretold, though slow accomplish'd fate,
“Her house is left unto her desolate;”
Proud Caesar's ploughshare, o'er her ruins driven,
Fulfils at length the tardy doom of Heaven;
The wrathful vial's drops at length are pour'd
On the rebellious race that crucified their Lord!
O Thou that wilt not break the bruised reed,
Nor heap fresh ashes on the mourner's brow
Nor rend anew the wounds that inly bleed,
The only balm of our afflictions thou,
Teach us to bear thy chastening wrath, O God!
To kiss with quivering lips—still humbly kiss thy
We bless thee, Lord, though far from Judah's land,
Though our worn limbs are black with stripes
Though for stern foes we till the burning sand;
And reap, for others' joy, the summer plains;
We bless thee, Lord, for thou art gracious still,
Even though this last black drop o'erflow our cup
We bless thee for our lost, our beauteous child;
The tears, less bitter, she hath made us weep;
The weary hours her graceful sports have 'guiled,
And the dull cares her voice hath sung to sleep!
She was the dove of hope to our lorn ark;
The only star that made the strangers' sky less dark!
Our dove is fallen into the spoiler's net;
Rude hands defile her plumes, so chastely white;
To the bereaved their one soft star is set,
And all above is sullen, cheerless night!
But still we thank thee for our transient bliss—
Yet, Lord, to scourge our sins remain’d no way but
As when our Father to Mount Moriah led
The blessing's heir, his age's hope and joy,
Pleased, as he roam'd along with dancing tread,
Chid his slow sire, the fond, officious boy,
And laugh’d in sport to see the yellow fire
Climb up the turf-built shrine, his destined funeral
Even thus our joyous child went lightly on;
Bashfully sportive, timorously gay,
Her white foot bounded from the pavement stone
Like some light bird from off the quivering spray;
And back she glanced, and smiled in blamless glee,
The cars, and helms, and spears, and mystic dance
By thee, O Lord, the gracious voice was sent
That bade the sire his murderous task forego:
When to his home the child of Abraham went,
His mother's tears had scarce begun to flow.
Alas! and lurks there, in the thicket's shade,
The victim to replace our lost, devoted maid!
Lord, even through thee to hope were now too bold;
Yet 'twere to doubt thy mercy to despair.
"Tis anguish, yet 'tis comfort, faint and cold,
To think how sad we are, how blest we were !
To speak of her is wretchedness, and yet
It were a grief more deep and bitterer to forget!
O Lord our God! why was she e'er our own?
Why is she not our own—our treasure still!
We could have pass'd our heavy years alone.
Alas! is this to bow us to thy will?
Ah! even our humblest prayers we make repine,
Nor prostrate thus on earth, our hearts to thee
For thou wert born of woman thou didst come,
0 Holiest' to this world of sin and gloom,
Not in thy dread omnipotent array;
And not by thunders strew'd
Was thy tempestuous road;
Nor indignation burnt before thee on thy way;
But thee, a soft and naked child,
Thy mother undefiled
In the rude manger laid to rest
From off her virgin breast.
The heavens were not commanded to prepare
A gorgeous canopy of golden air;
Nor stoop'd their lamps th' enthroned fires on high:
A single silent star
Came wandering from afar,
Gliding uncheck'd and calm along the liquid sky;
The eastern sages ieading on,
As at a kingly throne,
To lay their gold and odours sweet
Before thy infant feet.
The earth and ocean were not hush'd to hear
Bright harmony from every starry sphere;
Nor at thy presence brake the voice of song
From all the cherub choirs,
And seraphs' burning lyres,
Pour'd through the host of heaven the charmed
One angel-troop the strain began,
Of all the race of man
By simple shepherds heard alone,
That soft hosanna's tene.
And when thou didst depart, no car of flame
To bear thee hence in lambient radiance came;
Nor visible angels mourn'd with drooping plumes:
Nor didst thou mount on high
From fatal Calvary,
With all thine own redeem'd out bursting from
For thou didst bear away from earth
But one of human birth,
The dying felon by thy side, to be
In Paradise with thee.
Nor o'er thy cross the clouds of vengeance brake;
A little while the conscious earth did shake
At that foul deed by her fierce children done;
A few dim hours of day
The world in darkness lay;
Then bask'd in bright repose beneath the cloud-
While thou didst sleep within the tomb,
Consenting to thy doom;
Ere yet the white-robed angel shone
Upon the sealed stone.
And when thou didst arise, thou didst not stand
With devastation in thy red right hand,
Plaguing the guilty city's murderous crew:
But thou didst haste to meet
Thy mother's coming feet,
And bear the words of peace unto the faithful few.
To the sound of timbrels sweet
Moving slow our solemn feet,
We have borne thee on the road
To the virgin's blest abode;
With thy yellow torches gleaming,
And thy scarlet mantle streaming,
And the canopy above
Swaying as we slowly move.
Thou hast left the joyous feast,
And the mirth and wine have ceased;
And now we set thee down before
The jealously-unclosing door,
That the favour'd youth admits
Where the veiled virgin sits
In the bliss of maiden fear,
Waiting our soft tread to hear;
And the music's brisker din
At the bridegroom's entering in,
Entering in a welcome guest
To the chamber of his rest.