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SOME ACCOUNT OF THE FAMOUSE page, and whose style at all tallies with
HISTORIE OF PETRONIUS MAXI- that of the play before us. There is MUS; A RARE TRAGEDY.
a greater degree of correctness in the
language and versification, and of reMR EDITOR,
gularity in the plot, than is common I FORWARD you some specimens of to the writers of that period. The a tragedy which, independently of its story has been also handled by Beauintrinsic merits, I consider a great li- mont and Fletcher, whose play of terary curiosity. It is not mentioned Valentinian contains some fine scenes, in the “ Biographia Dramatica,” or in and many splendid passages; but the any of the works of the dramatic bi- plot is defective, and the characters bliographers with which I am ac- ill drawn, and inconsistent. The quainted. The copy which I possess story of " the Famouse Tragedie” is was bound up in a volume of worth- this:- In the reign of Valentinian II. less tracts, and is in very fine preser- (a weak and luxurious prince, who is vation. If brought to the hammer, I supported on the throne by the valour have no doubt Mr Heber, or some and conduct of Ætius, to whose sister other voracious bibliomaniac, would he is married,) Maximus, a brave but gladly give as many
guineas for it as wayward youth, after serving some it cost me pence. The attention of time in the legions of Ætius, had left the public having been thoroughly attracted to our early drama by the excellent “ Specimens” of Mr Lamb,
In fierce resentmente that his merits past
without rewarde or prayse. and more recently by the admirable series of articles on this subject in the He soon after marries a young and “ Retrospective Review," I think beautiful wife, with whom he retires some account of this rare (perhaps into the country, and devotes himself unique) play may be acceptable to your to the cultivation of his paternal doreaders. The title is as follows: mains. The Emperor Valentinian, “The Famouse Historie of Petronius in one of his hunting excursions,
Maximus, with the tragicall deathe visits the abode of Maximus, and is of Ætius, the Roman General, and captivated by the beauty of his wife. the Misdeeds of Valentinian, the To facilitate his desires on the latter, Western Emperour, now attempt- he takes Maximus into his service, ed in blank verse, by W. S. Lone and dispatches him on a distant emdon: Printed by William Brent, bassy to Genseric, in Africa. During for Nathaniel Butter, and sold by his absence, the Emperor tries, but in him at his shop in Paule's Church- vain, every method of seducing Sayarde, 1619."
bina from her allegiance, and at I have been hitherto unable to dis- length effects his purpose by violence. cover any writer of that period whose Maximus returns in time to witness initials agree with those on the title the death of his wife, who would not
survive her dishonour. After a short salute Maximus with the title of Eminterval of anguish and rage, during peror, and march tumultuously for which his reason was almost unset Rome. Meanwhile, Valentinian, elated tled, Maximus repairs to court, with with his emancipation from the cona stern resolution to smother his re trol of Ætius, gives a sumptuous bansentment, till occasion should prompt quet in his palace, at which he gives him to a vengeance
" boundless as
a loose to triumph and revelry. The his wrongs.” Valentinian, deceived by riotous mirth of the feast is interrupthis apparent unconsciousness of his ed by the sudden entrance of Eudoinjuries, receives him graciously, and cia, who bitterly upbraids the EmMaximus exerts himself so effectually peror with the murder of her brother, as to rise rapidly in favour with his and denounces speedy and heavy venweak and indolent master. His first geance on his destroyer. She is forcare is to remove from the Emperor's cibly removed, and 'Valentinian reperson all those whose talents or fide sumes his arrogance and enjoyment. lity he dreaded, and to supply their ` A messenger arrives with the intelli. places with powerless or treacherous gence that the army is in revolt. Vadependants. He even endeavours to lentinian bids him seek Maximus, and win to his projects the Empress Eu- order him to put down the rebels. docia, who had long been neglected Maximus cannot be found, and it is by her husband. Encouraged by her soon rumoured that he is at the head apparent acquiescence, he ventures to of the insurgents. Valentinian, afhint his personal devotion to her ; but fecting resolution, orders Rufinus, the she indignantly spurns his overtures, prefect of the Prætorian guards, to and accuses him of this attempt to the defend the gates; but the latter shows Emperor. Maximus artfully retorts no promptitude in obeying; and on the charge, and contrives to convince being reproached by Valentinian, the Emperor that the accusation ori- leaves him with the undisguised inginates in revenge for his having shun- tention of joining the enemy. The ned her attachment; and she is in con- parasites and attendants of the Empesequence rigorously immured. While ror disperse in consternation, and he these machinations are going on, is left almost alone in his palace. In Ætius, having driven Attila from this state of desertion and despair, he Gaul, returns to Rome, and en- is sinking under an agony of remorse ters the city with few attendants. and terror, when Eudocia enters, and On his arrival, Ætius inquires why exhorts him to meet his fate as behis sister is absent? Valentinian ac comes a man and a Cæsar. The foes cuses her of her intended infidelity: soon enter the palace-Maximus rushÆtius expresses his contempt and es in-drives back the soldiers, who disbelief of the accusation, and indig were furious to destroy the murderer nantly threatens Maximus, if he fail of their general-bitterly taunts Vato prove his assertions; and the lat- lentinian with his wrongs-fights with, ter replies to him with equal haugh- and kills him.-Finding the tenure tiness and defiance. Ætius hastens by which he held his authority exto his sister, and Maximus persuades tremely precarious, Maximus resolves the Emperor that his only chance of to espouse the widow of Valentinian. safety depends on the immediate de- Eudocia indignantly rejects bis love, struction of Ætius, while he is yet with- and contemns his threats. She, howin his power. Valentinian, accordingly, ever, suddenly changes her mind, and gives orders for the destruction of the the nuptials speedily take place. The General, who is attacked by some of the last scene of the play represents a Prætorian guards in the apartments of splendid banquet in honour of this the Empress, and slain after a despe- event. Maximus impatiently calls for rate resistance. Maximus, taking the wine, " to carouse to Rome and his body with him, leaves the city pri- Eudocia.". The Empress herself prevately, and proceeds to the camp of sents him with a bowl; he raises it Ætius. He arrives in the night, to his lips,-then suddenly pausing, rouses the troops, and exhibits the fixes his eye doubtfully on Eudocia, body of their beloved commander ; àc- and exclaims, “ Drink thou.” She cuses Valentinian of his murder, and receives the bowl, and drinks without incites them to vengeance.
They hesitation. Maximus re-assured, unanimously vow to revenge Ætius, quaffs the wine, and exultingly ad
dresses the assembled nobles on his bound him to his species. He takes plans of ambition and empire. He refuge from intense and intolerable then turns to the Empress, who re- feeling in the indulgence of his only pulses him with horror, denounces remaining passions, ambition and rehim as the murderer of her brother venge. His revenge receives an adand her husband, tells him he has ditional stimulus from his ambition, imbibed inevitable death in the wine, and his ambition is rendered remorseand dies exulting at having avenged less by his revenge. This complicaÆtius and mankind. Maximus, in tion of passion appears to me an injua speech of mingled remorse, triumph, dicious choice, and somewhat difficult and justification, hurriedly adverts to of delineation. W. S. however, has his wrongs, and expires.
managed it better than might have The author has evidently bestowed been expected in a coup d'essai, as much pains on the character of Maxi- this I imagine to be, from some exmus. This usurper is represented as pressions in the author's dedication not by nature bloody and treacherous; os to his looving uncle, T. S. Gent.” but the milk of human kindness in But it is time to give a few specimens him had been soured by injury. Hav- of this curious production. The foling received a deep and irreparable lowing is the foreboding soliloquy of wrong, be seemed to feel himself Ætius on coming within sight of emancipated from all the ties that Rome :
O thou imperiouse Citie ! once againe
And was it but for this the Decii died ?
And Tullye fulmined forthe immortale wordes ! Maximus's description of his first interview with the Emperor, after the death of his wife, is rather striking, though the manner in which Valentinian serutinizes the man whom he had so deeply injured, indicates a hardihood in villany not in keeping with the character of that voluptuous prince,
I found the base purloyner of my honour
And his proude lip was blanch'd with gilty feare.
Betwray'd the troubled workings of my soule.
EUDOCIA AND CLAUDINA.
brother's armes !
Cla. The consul Maximus
I will avoid him.
Cla. He is alreadie here.
Max. Imperiale ladie, if I rudelie presse
Eud. Say that Ætius comes, and it is pardoned.
Max. Another houre, and gratefulle Rome will banquette
My valiante brother
And yet the senate
Max. I would my feares were groundless ;
The fayrest vertues of your brother's life
Max. There was a time when I, indeed, might boaste
This to me!
None !--my love,
Mar. Little, alas ! availes the soldier's faulchion
If it be false
O save him, save him !