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The conclusion of this work abounds with improbabilities and lucky chances; and the ultimate success of the Scottish Adventurers is not so deducible from their talents and industry as the author seems to have intended, or as the moral of the tale required.
THE republican sentiments animating the characters of this celebrated play, are conveyed in a language forcible yet not gorgeous, simple yet imposing. Notwithstanding this, the ear is more affected than the heart; and passion is less excited than. admiration. It is easy to perceive, that the success and great reputation of this tragedy, were, in a great measure, owing to the revolutionary spirit which at the time pervaded all the ranks of Europe. The censure of royalty and the outcry against majesty were then too grateful not to be well received. Now, however, that the fever has subsided, and we are arrived at the age of manhood and dearly-bought experience, we can no longer be pleased with the glittering toy; unless we find, upon examination, that it shines with genuine gold and not with tinsel, -The plot of Brutus is regular and well constructed, yet somewhat scanty, and but negligently relieved from its monotony. The character of the Roman Father is sustained with the greatest strength and dramatic consistency; yet it seems ferocious, dull, and by no means congenial to human nature. He feels no apparent sorrow, expresses no audible regret; but, wrapt up in his own gloomy pride, seems more pleased with the opportunity of proving his sanguinary zeal for Rome, than grieved at the loss of his favourite son. He receives the news of Tiberinus’s defection with a few dry exclamations, and in the next soliloquy mentions him only as a foil to Titus, who was also found implicated in treason, and whom he seems to lament not because he was his son, but because his bravery and other energetic qualities were most likely to gratify the truly Roman ambition of his Father, - y In the opinion of La Harpe, the author has shown here a great talent, by leaving the grief of Brutus to the imagination of the audience, and by forbidding the language to touch, except very slightly, upon his sufferings; if this observation be correct, the whole credit must be due to the actor and not the author; and if silence be the most skilful method of describing nature, writers of less capacity would find it very easy to attain Voltaire's reputation. The painter may as well withdraw his pencil from the picture, and leave it a blank to be filled up by the spectator’s VOL. VIII. 2 q_
imagination. Brutus is made to express his supposed sorrows by a dumb show, and therefore very gracefully faints in the arms of his friends; but a pantomime in such a moment is but a poor substitute for language. I would rather hear him speak, than see the sternest of the Roman Neroes, in the affected attitude of a tragic heroine.
The character of Tullia belongs rather to an artful jilt than a dignified princess; though it is to be presumed, the author never intended to represent her in the former light. She talks with such studied eloquence, urges with so great a zeal, that a design to deceive and seduce, or, at least, to obtain her purpose, and to promote her own interest at the expense of her lover's, is more discernible in her than any real affection or nobleness of soul. Her coalition or co-operation with an intriguing minister makes her still less entitled to the character of tenderness which the author designed for her.
Titus is the most interesting of all the characters, yet perhaps the least consistent. His hatred of royalty is too strongly, too uniformly expressed, and too long protracted, to be subdued in one moment. Besides, a Roman hero falling a victim to love, at the time when the enervating effect of this passion was scarcely known to those stubborn and barbarous republicans, is of itself a subject not very happily or judiciously chosen. But it is managed with still less skill. Titus ought to have had other motives besides love to make his fall probable. The disappointment of consular dignity was not sufficient; for he himself lays ho great stress on it, and his age kept him at too great a distance from the office to make it an object of ambition or desire strong enough to overcome every principle of honour. If love alone were to prevail, he ought to have been softened by degrees, and insensibly charmed into forgetfulness; until, like wax, gradually heated, he should melt away at the wished-for moment, and still remain unconscious of his own transformation. Instead of this, however, he appears a rock of adamant, which having successfully resisted the fiercest power of fire, dissolves in a moment when it was the least probable, that is, when the trial was nearly over, and when no additional heat was applied. He, moreover sees his danger, yet runs headlong into it; his conscience warns him, yet in spite of self conviction he plunges into the gulf of destruction.
What leads to the catastrophe is too long deferred, too abruptly introduced, and as abruptly dismissed. Four acts of the play are devoted to politics, and only one to the main event; much to the national pride; but very little to paternal struggles and filial contrition, which should have been the chief subject pervading the whole.
SPIRIT OF MAGAZINES.
from TRE week LY REGISTER}
Account of THE wałIABITEs.
THE foundations of this sect were laid about fifty years ago by Mohammed, son of Abdel Wahab, and grandson ef Solyman, a poor Arab of the tribe of Negedi. It is said, that Solyman dreamed a flame issued from his body, that consumed both the tents of the desert, and the houses of the city: and that the Sheiks, to whom he related it, predicted, that his son, Abdel Wahab, would be the founder of a new religion, to which all the Arabs would submit. From this son the sect derived its name, though the prediction was not accomplished by him, but by the . grandson of Solyman. Sheik Mohammed adopted the Koran as the basis of his doctrine, rejecting, however, the tradition and glosses of its commentators, and reducing the Mohammedan religion to pure deism. He declared all those who paid any devotion to Mohammed, and dared to give God a companion, blasphemers and idolators; forbade the addressing of prayers to saints or prophets; and enjoined all Mussulmen to be put to death, who persisted in their idolatry. These new and intolerant principles were not very favourably received in the towns. Expelled from Mecca, Damascus, Bagdad, and Bussorah, he addressed himself to Ebn Seoud, prince of Dreyeh, in Yemen, and found in him a partizan capable of rendering his doctrine triumphant. This chief, ambitious, brave, able, and wary, saw in them the means of accomplishing his desire of aggrandizement. He assumed the title of general of the Wahabites, and Mohammed that of pontiff; and the sovereignty thus participated, they incessantly laboured to make proselytes, and extend their conquests. From Dreyeh, their capital, surrounded by sands, Ebn Seoud sent out parties to subjugate the neighbouring tribes; and the rapidity of their marches and the impracticability of attacking them in the great desert, ensured their success.
But it was reserved for his son Abdelazis to render the standard of the Wahabites triumphant, throughout the peninsula. His practice was to send the Koran to any tribe he wished to subjugate and convert, with a letter to the following purport: “Abdelazis to the Arabs of the tribe of , health. It is your duty to believe the book I send you. Be not like the idolatrous Turks, who give God a companion. If you be believers, you are safe; if not, I declare against you a war of extermination.” All the tribes of the Bedoweens were subdued in succession by the arms of Abdelazis. They who resisted, were plundered and massacred: they who submitted, were to pay him a tenth of their cattle, of their money, and of all their goods; and to send one man in ten to serve in his army. Thus in a short time this army numbered a hundred thousand men. These were mounted every two of them on a dromedary ; and armed with sabres, lances, darts, and bucklers. Some of them had match-lock muskets. A skin filled with water, and another with barley meal, sufficed for the subsistence of two Arabs, and their dromedaries, twenty days. Officers and soldiers were equally abstemious. Abdelazis went so far as to prohibit coffee, and the use of the pipe ; and the Wahabites obeyed. Following the traces of their enemies to take them by surprize, and retire without fighting when they were pursued, they harassed and destroyed them without any loss. When they captured a town, they destroyed the minarets and domes of the mosques, overturned the tombs, . that were objects of the greatest veneration to the Mussulmen, and seized all the treasure, and all the spoil, they could find in the temples or private houses.
As Abdelazis succeeded his father Ebn Seoud in the post of generalissimo, Sheik Hussein, the eldest son of the reformer Mohammed, succeeded him as head of the law ; and these two dignities have continued hereditary in their families. The intolerance of these sectaries towards the Mussulmen is greater than towards Christians or Jews: a circumstance for which the author accounts on the principle, that the animosity between sects is greater, in proportion as their creeds approach each other. When these reformers captured the town of Emaun Hussein, fifteen miles from Bagdad, they put to death every person they found, man, woman, and child, to the number of three thousand. Vast treasures were taken from the tomb of the Emaun, and two hundred camels were loaded with the spoil.
It was not till 1798, that the Porte paid any serious attention to the increase of the Wahabites. The bashaw of Bagdad was then directed to send an army against them: but the expedition did not take place, as Abdelazis bribed his enemies by presents. Inriched by the capture of Emaun Hussein, Abdelazis was next
tempted by the wealth of Mecca, the holy city, that contains the tomb of Abraham. Availing himself of a dispute between the sherif and his brother, he ordered the former to resign his office, which was by birth the right of his brother; and on his refusal he sent against him his eldest son Seoud, at the head of a hundred thousand men. Seoud, having defeated the troops of the sherif, was preparing to enter Mecca, when the caravan appeared. It was with difficulty the Ameer IHadgy, or chief of the pilgrims, obtained permission to enter, and remain there three days; after which the army of Seoud seized on the city. The Cady and twenty. Sheiks were put to death, for refusing to embrace the new doctrines; the rest became converts. The Caaba was not destroyed, but the rich tapestry of the tomb of Abraham was taken away, and a mat of palm leaves substituted in its place. All the other tombs were destroyed. Seoud then went against Jidda and Medina, but not with equal success. The resistance of the inhabitants, and the breaking out of the plague among his troops, obliged him to return to Dreyeh. At the very moment that the Wahabites were triumphing in the possession of Mecca, their generalissimo was assassinated by a dervise, who had escaped from the massacre at Emaun Hussein. Abdelazis, was the first who established the power of the Wahabites on a solid basis, by important victories. He had introduced a certain degree of discipline among tribes jealous of their liberty, and compelled them to an implicit obedience. Brave, strict, patient, indefatigable, bold in his projects, and plain and frugal in his habits as his Arabs, notwithstanding the treasures he had amassed, he left at his death a post difficult to fill; and accordingly his death removed for a time the apprehensions of the Porte. But Seoud proved no unworthy successor of his father. So early as 1803, he sent some troops against Bagdad; but on this attack he set little stress, as its object was solely to ravage the country. A more important design he entertained, was that of rendering himself master of the coasts of the Persian gulf, with which view he built several ships, and gradually found himself possessed of a force sufficient to prohibit its navigation. The allies of the Wahabites seized on all the vessels that traded from India to Bussorah and the ports of Persia, so that a stop was put to all intercourse. The English themselves had several of their vessels taken by the Arabs; and their endeavours to recover them, and punish the pirates, were fruitless. Before the time of Seoud, the English messengers, in their jourmey through the Great Desert from Bussorah to Aleppo, had been respected by the Wahabites, agreeably to the promise Abdelazis had given to the British resident. Once indeed, it happened, that a messenger was robbed : but the culprit was disco