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was grand or beautiful glanced away the fires of Vesuvius could not be from his memory without making seen in the day was that they were any impression, the absurd and the lighted up in the evening and put out monstrous ate into it like aquafortis, in the morning, &c. &c. Their conand remained fixed for ever. Almost versations were sometimes amusing every tale which he told us was enough, but most commonly consistevidently the extravagance of some ed, merely of outrageous liés on the grave jester, but our honest friend one side, and thick-headed simplicity treasured it up as the most precious on the other. The drollest as well as gem of history or science, and we the silliest things that took place apprehend before he returns to Scar were the conversations which borough he will have stock enough the Englishman, would resolutely to set up for a western Sindbad. hold with the captain, while after "The silliness of this man was at supper we sat smoking round the first diverting enough, but mere fac cabin fire; the apropos and malaprotuity soon grows tiresome ; – the pos remarks and replies which passed German, however, never ceased to be between them, neither understanding amused with a credulity which re a word the other said, often afforded volted from no absurdity, which us a hearty laugh. could believe that the reason why
SARDANAPALUS, THE TWO FOSCARI, AND CAIN,
BY LORD BYRON.* « ONCE a jacobin, always a jaco-established opinions and prejudices, bim," was formerly a paradox; “but he dared scarcely less as a lord than now the time gives it proof.”
as a poet. In his very scorn of kings an aristocrat, always an aristocrat” and rulers, there has been little remight pass, with as little question, gard for the common sorrows of the into a proverb. Lord Byron, whó people; but a high feeling of injured has sometimes sought to wrap him- dignity, a sort of careless ferocity, self in impenetrable mystery, who like that of Cataline amidst his hated has wom the fantastic disguises of foes and his despised supporters. On corsairs, giaours, and motley jesters, a lonely rock amidst the storm, in trow comes out in all the dignity of the moonlight shadows of the Coloshis birth, arrayed in a court suit of seum, or pensively musing on the the old French fashion, with the star sad and silent shores of Greece, his glittering on his breast, and the co- nobility is ever with him. And now ronet overtopping his laurels. The this Alcibiades of our literature, who costume only has been changed, the has set all rules at defiance, who man has been the same from the first. thought it sport to drag the critics He has played off his most romantic panting after him in vain," whose vagaries from mere recklessness of whole course has been one marvelous will, in legitimate defiance of the deviation from the beaten track of world. When he sneered at human laureled bards, comes forth with his glory, at patriotism and virtue, put eulogies on Pope, and is pleased religion aside as an empty name, and to patronize the unities! He who scoffed at immortality as a “ tale breathed about “ Manfred” its that is told,” his rank gave him mighty mysticism, and there mingled confidence and success. If he ranged in splendid confusion the spirits of over the mournful scenes of classic various superstitions, now appears as desolation, and called up the spirit the champion of dramatic coherence of their old magnificence, he appeal- after the straitest sect in criticism. ed almost exclusively to aristocratic The “chartered libertine,” who has sympathies. If he sought to repre- made humanity a jest—who has sent the violence of passion as jus scoffed not only at the forms and tifying its own excesses - to com- creeds of the pious, but at all which mand admiration for the darkest spi- raises man above the dust on which rits-or to bid a proud defiance to all he tramples-to whom the spirit of
Sardanapalus, a Tragedy; the Two Foscari, a Tragedy; Cain, a Mystery. By Lord Byron. London. Murray, 1821.
poetry even in himself has been a ever present, " a simple product of thing to mock at-now plays the the common day.” rhetorician's part; discovers ethical We believe that we may safely repoetry to be the finest thing in the fer to one or other of these classes of world; and the author of that piece beauty and grandeur almost every of shallowest philosophy, the Essay passage in the tragedies before us on Man, to be the first of ethic poets! which deserves a place in the meThis is the natural course of a man mory. Excepting where these ocwho has great powers, and great cur, the plays appear to us " coldly pride, with rank to sustain his ex correct, and critically dull.” They cesses, and without that presiding abound in elaborate antitheses, frigid and majestic faculty which would disputations, stately common places, enable him to be master in his own and all the lofty trifling of those heart, and to dispose into harmo- English tragedies which are badly nious creations the vast elements modeled on the bad imitations of within him. His present change, from the Greeks by the French. There the wild to the austere, is not the re- is little strongly marked character, sult of any principle harmonizing his little picturesque grouping, and faculties ; but only a rash excursion scarcely any action. For pages tointo another style. Like a military gether of laboured dialogue, the faadventurer drunk with glory, he ble makes no progress-but the perrushes with half his forces into a sons develope their own characters strange country, trusting to his for- with the most edifying minuteness. tune and his name to defend him. We almost wish the rule of our law,
There are two of Lord Byron's that no man shall be a witness for or characteristic excellencies which he against himself, were rigidly applied never leaves behind in his most fan- to the drama. In the French courts tastic expeditions, and which he has of justice, and on the French stage, accordingly brought into his new do- the rule is otherwise ; but we need main of classic tragedy. One of these not desire to imitate the taste of our is his intense feeling of the loveliness neighbours in criminal jurisprudence of woman-his power, not only of or in tragedy. picturing individual forms, but of in TI poverty of the piece, on the fusing into the very atmosphere striking history of Sardanapalus, has which surrounds them the spirit of really surprised us. It afforded such beauty and of love. A soft roseate room for towering luxury, such hints light is spread over them, which for the embodying in the person of seems to sink into the soul. The the hero a mighty hunger and thirst other faculty to which we allude is after enjoyment, such fitting space his comprehensive sympathy with for a great picture of Assyrian pomp, the vastest_objects in the material ennobled by the striking spectacle of universe. There is scarcely any pure the brave sensualist leaping from the description of individual scenes in dreamy deliciousness of his regal all his works; but the noblest allu- couch into a fiery grave, that we ansions to the grandeurs of earth and ticipated from the title a splendid heaven.
no allegiance wonder. How would some of our but to the elements.” The moon, old poets have rioted in such a theme! the stars, the ocean, the mountain How would their verses have breathed desart, are endowed by him with of the spicy east-how would they, new “ speech and language," and with liberal hand, have showered on send to the heart their mighty voices. us “barbaric pearl and gold”! But Ile can interpret between us and the Lord Byron has been a very niggard firmament, or give us all the sen- of his Asiatic stores. His hero is a timent of an everlasting solitude. gentle epicurean philosopher, who is His power in this respect differs es- slothful on system, buries himself in sentially from that of Wordsworth, his palace in mercy to his subjects, who does not require an over-power- and is actually distinguished only ing greatness in his theme, whom from the class of sovereigns by his the “ meanest flower” can move to love for a lady to whom he is not sweetest thoughts, to whom all earth married, and his neglect of his Queen. is redolent with divinest associations, His tremulous abhorrence of even and in whose lowliest path beauty is necessary bloodshed is utterly out of
character in an oriental sensualist Myrrha. (At a window.) The day at who can have no sense of the value last las broken. What a night of human existence, and is belied by Hath usher'd it! How beautiful in heaven! the very carelessness with which he Though varicd with a transitory storm, resigns his own. There is no feeling How hideous upon earth! where peace and
More beautiful in that variety ! of luxury communicated to the mind of the reader ; for the whole pomp. And love and reyel, in an hour were tram
hope, hinted at in the course of the play, if
pled faithfully copied, would hardly fur- By human passions to a human chaos, nish one scene for a Covent Garden Not yet resolved to separate elements. show. Even its catastrophe does not 'Tis warring still ! And can the sun so rise, astonish or appal us; but happens So bright, so rolling back the clouds into almost as a thing of course. How Vapours more lovely than the unclouded sky little action it comprises, may be With golden pinnacles, and snowy mounshortly known by a mere recapitu
tains, lation of its scenes. The first act is And billows purpler than the ocean's, mak. occupied by the attempt of Sale
ing menes, the brother of the Queen, to
In heaven a glorious mockery of the earth,
So like we almost deem it permanent; rouse Sardanapalus to a sense of his
So fleeting, we can scarcely call it aught danger, and to prevent him from Beyond a vision, 'tis so transiently supping in a pavilion on the Eu- Scatter'd along the eternal vault : and yet phrates; and, by some fond dis- It dwells upon the soul, and soothes the soul, courses between the King and his fa- And blends itself into the soul, until vorite Myrrha, an Ionian slave. In Sunrise and sunset form the haunted epoch the second, a priest and a nobleman Of sorrow and of love ; which they who hold long and leisurely conversations
mark not, about a scheme of dethroning the Know not the realms where those twin genii King are detected by Salemenes, (Who chasten and who purify our hearts, and rescued by the King from his So that we would not change their sweet re
bukes sword, forgiven, and ordered to their for all the boisterous joys that ever shook satrapies: they renew their plots- The air with clamour), build the palaces and the King and Myrrha return to Where their fond votaries repose and breathe their philosophy and their love. The Briefly;—but in that brief cool calm inhale third act shows us the breaking out Enough of heaven to enable them to bear of this conspiracy. Sardanapalus is The rest of common, heavy, human hours, alarmed in the midst of a banquet, And dream them through in placid suffer. and, throwing off his weakness, arms ance; himself for the combat, which rages Though seemingly employed like all the rest with various success, till the rebels Of toiling breathers in allotted tasks are driven from the city. In the Of pain or pleasure, two names for one feel. fourth act, Myrrha is discovered which our internal, restless agony
ing, watching the troubled slumbers of Would vary in the sound, although the the king, who, on waking, relates to her a frightful dream, which is the Escapes our highest efforts to be happy. most ambitious piece of writing in the play; but it seems to us quite The greater part of this speech is artificial and frigid.
very beautiful, though the description Salemenes then begs his brother- of the sun rolling back the vapours is in-law to grant his sister an inter- apparently imitated from a magnificent view, in which her patience and en scene in the second book of Wordsduring love revive his old affection worth's Excursion which far surwithin him. This is the most beau- passes it; and the closing lines are tiful and affecting scene m the play ; obscure. Salemenes is brought in to but too long to be extracted. After die; Sardanapalus enters defeated ; another scene with Myrrha, begin- news arrives that the Euphrates has ning in coldness and ending in love, swept down the bulwark; and the and a consultation with Salemenes king, after providing for the safety on the posture of affairs, the monarch of his friends, and ordering a funeral hastens again to battle. The fifth pyre to be heaped round the throne, act opens with the following speech dismisses all but Myrrha, who reof Myrrha, who is gazing on the sun solves to die with him. Nothing is as it rises :
then left them but to perish: Sar
danapalus ascends the throne, and Myrrha.
"Tis fired! I come Myrrha fires the pile and prepares to (As Myrrha springs forward to throw her. rush into the flames, when the cur
self into the flames, the Curtain falls.) tain falls. We will give the close of Can any thing be more ill-timed this scene, that the reader may de- than the moralizing of the dying cide on the justice of our opinion re- king about the Egyptian pyramids? specting its singular feebleness.
The last thought in the speech, too,
is taken from Fuller, the Church Sardanapalus.
Then We but await the signal.
Historian, who quaintly observes, Myrrha.
It is long
“the pyramids, doting with age, In sounding
have forgotten the names of their Sardana palus. Now, farewell; one last founders.” When we consider, that einbrace.
this play is nearly twice the length of Myrrha. Embrace, but not the last; any acted tragedy, we shall scarcely there is one more.
wonder that these incidents, expanded Sardanapalus. True, the commingling into such a length, are weakened by fire will mix our ashes.
the plenitude of words. The following Myrrha. And pure as is my love to little dialogue, respecting the irrupa thee, shall they,
tion of the river, may serve as a spePurged from the dross of earth, and earthly cimen of the expansive art of writ
With your sanction Sardanapalus. Say it.
I will proceed to the spot, and take such Myrrha. It is that no kind hand will gather
For the assurance of the vacant space The dust of both into one urn.
As time and means permit. Sardanapalus. The better:
Sandanapalus. About it straight, Rather let them be borne abroad upon And bring me back as speedily as full The winds of heaven, and scatter'd into air, And fair investigation may permit Than be polluted more by human hands Report of the true state of this irruption Of slaves and traitors , in this blazing pa. Of waters. lace,
The “ Two Foscari” is founded And its enormous walls of reeking ruin, We leave a nobler monument than Egypt
on the interesting story of the Son of a Hath piled in her brick mountains, o'er of murder, and sentenced to exile; and
Venetian Doge, who was suspected dead kings, Or kine, for none know whether those proud who returned to his beloved home, piles
only to be tortured and sent back into Be for their monarch, or their ox-god Apis : banishment, where he died broken So much for monuments that have forgotten hearted. Lord Byron has only taken Their very record !
the latter part of the tale : his piece Myrrha. Then farewell, thou earth! opens with the sufferings of the young And loveliest spot of earth ! farewell Ionia! Foscari, after his return, and conBe thou still free and beautiful, and far tains no incidents, except the repetiAloof from desolation! My last prayer
tion of his tortures, his second senWas for thee, my last thoughts, save one,
sence of banishment, his death, and were of thee! Sardanapalus. And that ?
the deposition and death of his faMyrrha.
ther. There is no character in it, (The trumpet of Pania sounds without) except that of the old Doge, who is Sardanapalus. Hark!
admirably depicted ;-the quiet digMyrrha.
Now ! nity, the deep, silent agony, scarcely Sardanapalus. Adieu, Assyria ! perceived amidst the careful disa I loved thee well, my own, my fathers’ land, charge of his great office, the noiseAnd better as my country than my king- less attention to all forms and obdom.
servances, while his aged heart is I satiated thee with peace and joys; and breaking; and the withering of the
this Is my reward! and now I owe thee no.
last support at the toll of the bell
for the installation of his successor, thing, Not even a grave. (He mounts the pile.)
form a fine Titian-like picture. But Now, Myrrha! young Foscari, and his wife Marina, Myrtha.
Art thou ready? are merely the creatures of circumSardanapalus. As the torch in thy grasp. stance, excepting that he is a gentle,
(Myrrha fires the pile.) and she a vociferous sufferer. There Vol. V.
are a few splendid speeches, and “Cain, a Mystery," is altogether many choice felicities of expression of a higher order than these classical in this piece ; but, like Sardanapalus, tragedies. Lord Byron has not, init is far too much diluted. The reflec- deed, fulfilled our expectations of a tions of poor Jacopo Foscari, on look- gigantic picture of the first murderer; ing on the sea, while enjoying a short for there is scarcely any passion, esrespite from torture, are very pic- cept the immediate agony of rage, turesque and intense. The guard which brings on the catastrophe ; opens a window in the prison, and and Cain himself is little more than addresses him:
the subject of supernatural agency. Guard.
This piece is essentially nothing but
There, sir, 'tis Open—How feel you ?
a vehicle for striking allusions to the Jacopo Foscari. Like a boy-Oh Ve. mighty abstractions of Death and nice!
Life, Eternity and Time, for vast Guard. And your limbs ?
but dim descriptions of the regions Jacopo Foscari. Limbs! how often have of space, and for daring disputations they borne me
on that great problem, the origin of Bounding o'er yon blue tide, as I have evil. Lucifer meets Cain, doubting skimm'd
and troubled, and “ breathes his The gondola along in childish race, And, masqued as a young gondolier, amidst spirit in his ear," till he consents to
accompany him through the abyss of My gay competitors, noble as I, Raced for our pleasure in the pride of strength, space to Hades
. There he sees the While the fair populace of crowding beau: phantasms of an earlier and mightier ties,
world, destroyed by the crushing of Plebeian as patrician, cheer'd us on
the elements. He returns to earth, With dazzling smiles, and wishes audible,
but his soul is unfitted for devotion; And waving kerchiefs, and applauding his prayers are impious, and his sahands,
crifice is scattered to the winds ; he Even to the goal !-How many a time have I rushes with wild rage to pull down Cloven with arm still lustier, breast more the altar of his accepted brother, and daring,
kills him, because he resists his purThe wave all roughen’d; with a swimmer's pose. The ground-work of the arstroke
guments, the awful subjects Flinging the billows back from my drench'd
handled, is very common place; but hair, And laughing from my lip the audacious they are arrayed in great majesty of brine,
language, and conducted with Which kiss' it like a wine-cup, rising o'er frightful audacity. The direct atThe waves as they arose, and prouder still tacks on the goodness of God are The loftier they uplifted me; and oft,
such as we dare not utter or tran. In wantonness of spirit, plunging down scribe. They are not, perhaps, taken Into their green and glassy gulfs, and making apart, bolder than some passages of My way to shells and sea-weed, all unseen Milton; but they inspire quite a difBy those above, till they wax'd fearful; ferent sensation, because, in think
then Returning with my grasp full of such tokensing of Paradise Lost, we never rea As show that i had search'd the deep: gard the Deity, or Satan, as other exulting,
than great adverse powers, created With a far-dashing stroke, and drawing by the imagination of the poet. God deep
is only the name for the King of The long-suspended breath, again I spurn'd Heaven, not for the Father of all. The foam which broke around me, and The personal identity which Milton pursued
has given to his spiritual intelliMy track like a sea-bird. I was a boy then. gences,—the local habitations which Guard. Be a man now: there never he has assigned them,-the material was more need
beauty with which he has invested Of manhood's strength.
their forms,-all these remove the. Jacopo Foscari (looking from the lattice.) idea of impiety from their discourses.
My beautiful, my own, My only Venice—this is breath! Thyron's Lucifer, except his speeches;
But we know nothing of Lord Bybreeze, Thine Adrian sea-breeze, how it fans my he is invented only that he may utter face!
them; and the whole appears an abThy very winds feel native to my veins, stract discussion, held for its own And cool them into calmness!
sake, not maintained in order to pre