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sight of llyssus, by his likeness to Nicander, she conceives an instinctive fondness for the youth. The oracle declares him heir to the throne of Athens; but this is accompanied with a rumour of bitter intelligence to Creusa, that he is really the son of Xuthus. Her Athenians are indignant at the suspicion of Xuthus's collusion with the oracle, to entail the sceptre of their kingdom on his foreign offspring. Her confidant (like the tutor in Euripides) rouses her pride as a queen, and her jealousy as a mother, against this intruder. He tries every artifice to turn her heart against Ilyssus ; still she retains a partiality for him, and resists the proposal of attempting his life. At length, however, her husband insults her with expressing his triumph in his new-found heir, and reproaches her with the plebeian grave of the first object of her affection. In the first transport of her wrath she meets the Athenian enemy of Ion, and a guilty assent is wrung from her, that Ilyssus shall be poisoned at the banquet. Aletes, ignorant of the plot, had hitherto dreaded to disclose himself to Creusa, lest her agitation should prematurely interfere with his project of placing his son on the throne of Athens. He meets her, however, at last, and she swoons at recognizing him to be Nicander. When he tells her that llyssus is her son, she has in turn to unfold the dreadful confession of having consented to his death. She flies to the banquet, if possible, to avert his fate; and arrives in time to snatch tbe poisoned chalice from his hand. But though she is thus rescued from remorse, she is not extricated from despair. To Nicander she has to say, “ Am “ I not Xuthus' wife: and what art thou!” She anticipates that the kingdom of Athens must be involved in bloodshed for her sake: one victim she deems would suffice, and determines that it shall be herself. Having, therefore, exacted an oath from Xuthus and the Athenians, that Ilyssus shall succeed to the throne of her fathers, she drinks of the fatal goblet.
The piece contains some strong situations ; its language is unaffected; and it fixes the attention (if I may judge from my own experience) from the first to the last scene. The pure and holy character of the young Ilyssus is brought out, I have no hesitation to say, more interestingly than in Euripides, by the display of his reverential gratitude to the queen, upon the first tenderness which she shows him, and by the agony of his ingenuous spirit, on beholding it withdrawn. And, though Creusa's character is not unspotted, she draws our sympathy to some of the deepest conceivable agonies of human nature. I by no means wish to deny that the tragedy has many
defects, or to speak of it as a great production; but it does not deserve to be consigned to oblivion,
The exhibition of Creusa was hardly over, when Whitehead was called upon to attend his pupil and Viscount Nuneham, son to Earl Harcourt, upon their travels. The two young noblemen were nearly of an age, and had been intimate from their childhood. They were both so much attached to Whitehead,
as to congratulate each other on his being appointed their common tutor. They continued abroad for about two years, during which they visited France, Italy, and Germany. In his absence, Lady Jersey made interest to obtain for him the offices of secretary and registrar of the order of the Bath. On his return to England, he was pressed by Lord Jersey to remain with the family; and he continued to reside with them for fourteen years, except during his visits to the seat of Lord Harcourt. His pupils, who had now sunk the idea of their governor in the more agreeable one of their friend, showed him through life unremitted marks of affection.
Upon the death of Cibber, in 1757, he succeeded to the place of poet laureate. The appointment had been offered to Gray as a sinecure; but it was not so when it was given to Whitehead. Mason wonders why this was the case, when George the Second had po taste for poetry. His wonder is quite misplaced. If the king had had a taste for poetry, he would have abolished the laureate odes. As he had not, they were continued. Our author's official lyrics are said by Mason to contain no fulsome panegyric, a fact for which I hope his word may be taken; for, to ascertain it by perusing the strains themselves, would be an alarming undertaking. But the laurel was to Whitehead no very enviable distinction. He had something more to pay for it than
“ His quit-rent ode, his peppercorn of praise." At first he was assailed by the hostility of all the petty tribe, among whom it is lamentable, as Gray remarks, to find beings capable of envying even a poet laureate. He stood their attacks for some time, without à sensible diminution of character; and his comedy of the “ School for Lovers,” which was brought out in 1762, before it was the fashion to despise him, was pretty well received, as an easy and chaste imitation of the manners of well-bred life. But in the same year the rabid satire of Churchill sorely smote his reputation. Poor Whitehead made no reply. Those who, with Mason, consider his silence as the effect of a pacific disposition, and not of imbecility, will esteem him the more for this forbearance, and will apply to it the maxim, Rarum est eloquenter
tarices loqui varias eloquenter tacere. Among his unpublished
compliment to Churchill's talents. There is some-
lection might be made from his works, that would discover his talents to be no legitimate object of contempt; and there is not a trait of arrogance or vanity, in any one of his compositions, that deserved to be publicly humiliated. He was not a satirist ; but he wanted rather the gall than the ingenuity that is requisite for the character. If his heart had been full of spleen, he was not so wholly destitute of humour, as not to have been able to deal some hard blows at Churchill, whose private character was a broad mark; and even whose writings had many vapid parts that were easily assailable. Had Whitehead done so, the world would probably have liked him the better for his pugnacity. As it was, his name sunk into such a by-word of contempt, that Garrick would not admit his “ Trip to Scotland” on the stage, unless its author was concealed. He also found it convenient to publish his pleasing tale, entitled “ Variety," anonymously. The public applauded both his farce and his poem, because it was not known that they were Whitehead's.
In 1769 he obtained an unwilling permission from Lord Jersey to remove to private lodgings; though he was still a daily expected guest at his lordship's table in town; and he divided his summers between the country residences of the Jersey and Harcourt farnilies. His health began to decline about his seventieth year, and in 1785 he was carried off by a complaint in his chest. His death was sudden, and his peaceable life was closed without a groan.