Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Give way, ere he hath more!

Then what have I further to do with life, Abel.

In his great name, Since I have taken life from my own flesh? I stand between thee and the shrine which bath But he can not be dead!-Is silence death? Had his acceptance.

No: he will wake; then let me watch by him. Cain. If thou lovest thyself,

Life cannot be so slight, as to be quench'd Stand back till I have strew'd this turf along Thus quickly!-he hath spoken to me since Its native soil:--else

What shall I say to him ?--My brother!-No: Abel (opposing him). I love God far more

He will not answer to that name; for brethren Than life.(1)

Smite not each other. Yet-yet-speak to me. Cain (striking him with a brand, on the temples, Oh! for a word more of that gentle voice, which he snatches from the altar). Then take That I may bear to hear my own again!

thy life unto thy God, Since he loves lives.

Enter Zillan. Abel (falls). What hast thoa done, my brother? Zillah. I heard a heavy sound; what can it be! Cain. Brother!

| 'Tis Cain; and watching by my husband. What Abel.

Oh, God! receive thy servant, and Dost thou there, brother ? Doth he sleep? Ob, Heaven Forgive his slayer, for he knew not what

What means this paleness, and yon stream ?-No, no He did.--Cain, give me-give me thy hand; and tell It is not blood; for who would shed his blood ? | Poor Zillah

Abel! what's this?—who hath done this? He more Cain (after a moment's stupefaction). My hand! not; 't is all red, and with

He breathes not: and his hands drop down from mix What?

With stony lifelessness! Ah! cruel Cain! (A long pause. Looking slowly round. | Why camest thou not in time to save him from Where am I ? alone! Where's Abel? where This violence? Whatever hath assail'd him, Cain? Can it be that I am he? My brother, Thou wert the stronger, and shouldst have stepp'd á Awake!-why liest thou so on the green earth? Between him and aggression? Father!-Eve 'Tis not the hour of slumber:-why so pale? Adah!--come hither! Death is in the world! What hast thou! thou wert full of life this morn!

(Exit ZILLA!, calling on her Parents, etc. Abel! I pray thee, mock me not! I smote

Cain (solus). And who hath brought him there? Too fiercely, but not fatally. Ah, why (2)

1-who abhor Wouldst thou oppose me? This is mockery; The name of Death so deeply, that the thought And only done to daunt me:--'t was a blow

Empoison'd all my life, before I knew
And but a blow. Stir-stir-nay, only stir! His aspect-I have led him here, and given
Why, so--that's well!--thou breath'st! breathe upon My brother to his cold and still embrace,
Oh, God! Oh, God!

[me! | As if he would not have asserted his
Abel (very faintly). What's he who speaks of God? Jnexorable claim without my aid.
Cain. Thy murderer.

I am awake at last-a dreary dream Abel. Then may God forgive him! Cain, | Had madden'd me;-but he shall ne'er awake! Comfort poor Zillah :- she has but one brother

[Abei dies.(3)

Enter Adam, Eve, Aday, and ZILLE. Cain. And I none !-Who makes me brotherless ? | Adam. A voice of woe from Zillah brings me hereHis eyes are open ! then he is not dead!

| What do I see?—'Tis true!—My son !--my son! Death is like sleep; and sleep shuts down our lids. Woman, behold the serpent's work, and thine! His lips, too, are apart; why then he breathes;

(To Eu And yet I feel it not.- His heart!-his heart! - Eve. Oh! speak not of it now: the serpent's lang Let me see, doth it beat? methinks~--No!--no! Are in my heart. My best-beloved, Abel! This is a vision, else I am become

Jehovah! this is punishment beyond The native of another and worse world.

A mother's sin, to take him from me! The earth swims round me:--what is this?-'tis wet; Adam.

Who [Puts his hand to his brow, and then looks at it. Or what hath done this deed ?-speak, Cain, since the And yet there are no dews! 'Tis blood-my blood Wert present; was it some more hostile angel, My brother's and my own; and shed by me! Who walks not with Jehovah ? or some wild

Now.

(1) “It is evident that Lord Byron had stadied his sub is heavy and clumsily managed. It can hardly fail to strike ject very deeply; and, though he has varied a little from, or reader as a defect in poetry, no less than a departure fra gone a little beyond, the letter of Scripture, which is very history, that the event which is the catastrophe of the dra concise, yet he has apparently entered with great exactness is no otherwise than incidentally, we may say accidental into the minds of Cain and Abel in this most interesting produced by those which precede it. Cain, whose w scene: and were it allowable to ascribe to tbe author of a character is represented in Scripture as envious and man dramatic work the principles or feelings of all or any of his cious, rather than impious ;-this Cajn, as painted by Lom characters, except as adopting them for his particular pur Byron, bas no quarrel with his brother whatever, nor, etre pose, one would be at a loss to say, whether Lord Byron in a single word, does he intimate any jealousy of him. 18 ought most to be identified with Cain, or with Abel; so acts, and half the third, are passed without our advaban! appropriately has he maintained the character of each." single step towards the conclusion; and Abel at length to Grant's Notes on Cain," p. 401.-L.E.

by a random blow given in a struggle of which the object (2) In the MS.

not his destruction, but the overthrow of Jehovah's altar."

we could suppose a reader to sit down to a perosal of all "Too hard, but it was not my purpose--why," etc.--LE.

drama in ignorance of its entastropbe, be could scarcely (3) “ The sacrifices of Abel and Cain follow: the first is ac less surprised by its termination in such a stroke of chance cepted, the second rejected by Jehovah. Cain, in wrath, 1 medley, than if Abel had been made to drop down in a attempts to throw down the altars, is opposed by Abel, and I plexy, or Cain to die of grief over his body. love. strikes him with a half burnt brand. As a whole, this scene

Ete.

Ere.

Brate of the forest?

A grave! the sun his light! and heaven her God!(2) Ere. Ah! a livid light

[Exit Eve. Breaks through, as from a thunder-cloud ! yon brand, Adam. Cain! get thee forth: we dwell no more Massy and bloody! snatch'd from off the altar, Depart! and leave the dead to me-I am (together. And black with smoke, and red with—

Henceforth alone-we never must meet more. Adam.

Speak, my son! Adah. Oh, part not with him thus, my father: do Speak, and assure us, wretched as we are,

Add thy deep curse to Eve's upon his head! (not That we are not more miserable still.

Adam. I curse him pot: his spirit be his curse. Adáh. Speak, Cain! and say it was not thou! Come, Zillah!

It was. Zillah. I must watch my husband's corse. I see it now—he hangs his guilty head,

Adam. We will return again, when he is gone And covers his ferccious eye with bands

Who hath provided for us this dread office. Incarnadine.

Come, Zillah! Adah. Mother, thou dost him wrong

Zillah. Yet one kiss on yon pale clay, Cain! clear thee from this horrible accusal,

And those lips once so warm-my heart! my heart ! Which grief wrings from our parent.

[Exeunt ADAM and ZILLA!, weeping.

Hear, Jehovah! | Adah. Cain thou hast heard, we must go forth. May the eternal serpent's curse be on him!

I am ready, For he was filter for his seed than ours.

So shall our children be. I will bear Enoch, May all his days be desolate! May

And you his sister. Ere the sun declines Adah.

Hold!

Let us depart, nor walk the wilderness Carse him not, mother, for he is thy son

Under the cloud of night.-Nay, speak to me. Curse him not, mother, for he is my brother,

To me--thine own. And my betroth'd.

Cain.

Leave me!
He bath left thee no brother

Adah

Why, ail have left thee. Zillah no husband---me no son !for this

Cain. And wherefore lingerest thou? Dost thou I curse him from iny sight for evermore!

To dwell with one who hath done this? (not fear Al bonds I break between us, as he broke

Adah.

I fear
Tato bis nature, in yon--Oh death! death! Nothing except to leave thee, much as I
Why didst thou not take me, who first incurr'd thee? Shrink from the deed which leaves thee brotherless.
Why dost thou not so now?

I must not speak of this—it is between thee
Eve! let not this, And the great God.
Thy natural grief, lead to impiety!

A Voice from within exclaims, Cain! Cain!
I heary doom was long forespoken to us;

Adah.

Hear'st thou that voice? Ind, now that it begins, let it be borne

The Voice within. Cain! Cain! 1 such sort as may show our God that we

Adah.

It soundeth like an angel's tone. re faithful servants to his holy will. Ere (pointing to Cain). His will!! the will of yon

Enter the Angel of the Lord. incarnate spirit

Angel. Where is thy brother Abel ? I death, whom I have brought upon the earth

Cain

Am I then strew it with the dead. May all the curses My brother's keeper ? flife be on him! and his agonies

Angel.

Cain! what hast thou done? rive him forth o'er the wilderness, like us (1) The voice of thy slain brother's blood cries out, tom Eden, till his children do by him

Even from the ground, unto the Lord !-Now art thou 3 he did by his brother! May the swords

Cursed from the earth, which open'd late her mouth d wings of fiery cherubim parsue him

To drink thy brother's blood from thy rash hand. day and night-spakes spring up in his path Henceforth, when thou shalt till the ground, it shall arth's fruits be ashes in his mouth-the leaves Yield thee her strength; a fugitive shalt thou (not which he lays his head to sleep be strew'd

Be from this day, and vagabond on earth! Fith scorpions! May his dreams be of his victim! Adah. This punishment is more than he can bear. Tis waking a continual dread of death!

Behold, thou drivest him from the face of earth, Lay the clear rivers turn to blood as he

And from the face of God shall be be hid. loops down to stain them with his raging lip! A fugitive and vagabond on earth, lay every element shun or change to him!

'Twill come to pass, that whoso findeth him lay he live in the pangs which others die with ! Shall slay him. ad death itself wax something worse than death Cain. Would they could! but who are they phim who first acquainted him with man!

Shall slay me? Where are these on the lone earth, Leuce, fratricide! henceforth that word is Cain, As yet unpeopled ? brough all the coming myriads of mankind,

Angel. : Thou hast slain thy brother, bo shall abhor thee, though thou wert their sire! And who shall warrant thee against thy son ? lay the grass wither from thy feet! the woods

Adah. Angel of Light! be merciful, nor say beny thee shelter! earth a home! the dust

That this poor aching breast now nourishes

(1) In the MS.-
** Drive him forth o'er the world, as we were driven."-L. E.

4) The last three lines were not in the original MS. In urtarding them to Mr. Murray, to be added to Eve's speech, Red Byron says-“There's as pretty a piece of imprecation

for you, when joined to the lines already sent, as you may wish to meet with in the course of your business. But don't forget the addition of these three lines, which are clinchers to Eve's speech. Let me know what Gifford thinks, for I have a good opinion of the piece, as poetry; it is in my gay metapbysical style, and in the Manfred line."-LE.

NO

A murderer in my boy, and of his father.

Adah. If I thought that he would not, I would Angel. Then he would but be what his father is. I Cain (interrupting her). Did not the milk of Eve give nutriment

No more of threats : we have had too many of them To him thou now see'st so besmeard with blood ? Go to our children; I will follow thee. The fratricide might well engender parricides.-

Adah. I will not leave thee lonely with the dead But it shall not be so--the Lord thy God

Let us depart together. (2) And mine commandeth me to set his seal

Cain.

Ob! thou dead On Cain, so that he may go forth in safety.

And everlasting witness! whose unsinking Who slayeth Cain, a sevenfold vengeance shall Blood darkens earth and heaven! what thou now ai Be taken on his head. Come hither!

I know not! but if thou see'st what I am, Cain.

What

I think thou wilt forgive him, whom his God Wouldst thou with me?

Can ne'er forgive, nor his own soul.-Farewell! Angel.

To mark upon thy brow I must not, dare not, touch what I have made the Exemption from such deeds as thou hast done. I, who sprang from the same womb with thee, dram Cain. No; let me die!

The same breast, clasp'd thee often to my own Angel. It must not be.

In fondness brotherly and boyish, I [The Angel sets the mark on Carr's brow. Can never meet thee more, nor even dare Cain.

It burns To do that for thee, which thou shouldst have done My brow, but nought to that which is within it. For me--compose thy limbs into their grave Is there more ? let me meet it as I may.

The first grave yet dug for mortality. Angel. Stern hast thou been and stubborn from the But who hath dug that grave? Oh, earth! Oh, eart womb,

For all the fruits thou hast render'd to me, I As the ground thou must henceforth till; but he Give thee back this.--Now for the wilderness. I Thou slew'st was gentle as the flocks he tended.

[Adah stoops down and kisses the body of A8E1 Cain. After the fall too soon was I begotten; Adah. A dreary, and an early doom, my brother, Ere yet my mother's mind subsided from

Hlas been thy lot! Of all who mourn for the The serpent, and my sire still mourn'd for Eden. I alone must not weep. My office is That which I am, I am; I did not seek

Henceforth to dry up tears, and not to shed them; For life, nor did I make myself; but could I

But yet of all who mourn, none mourn like me With my own death redeem him from the cust Not only for thyself, but him who slew thee. And why not so ? let him return to day,

Now, Cain! I will divide thy burden with thee. And I lie ghastly! so shall be restored

Cain. Eastward from Eden will we take our si By God the life to him he loved; and taken

'Tis the most desolate, and suits my steps. From me a being I ne'er loved to bear.

Adah. Lead! thou shalt be my guide, and mayo Angel. Who shall heal murder? what is done is done; Be thine! Now let us carry forth our children. Go forth! fulfil thy days! and be thy deeds

Cain. And he who lieth there was childless. I Unlike the last!

[The ANGEL disappears. Have dried the fountain of a gentle race, Adah. He's gone, let us go forth;

Which might have graced his recent marriage-can I hear our little Enoch cry within

And might have temper'd this stern blood of mine Our bower.

Uniting with our children Abel's offspring! Cain. Ah! little knows he what he weeps for! O Abel! And I who have shed blood cannot shed tears!

Adah. Peace be with him! But the four rivers (1) would not cleanse my soul. Cain.

But with me Think'st thou my boy will bear to look on me?

(Ereant. of the hand which had murdered the righteous Abel; APPENDIX.

(1) The “four rivers” which flowed round Eden, and run away with me: like all imaginative men. I, of course, en consequently the only waters with which Cain was acquaint

myself with the character while I draw it, but not a means ed upon earth.

the pen is from off the paper." (2) “The catastrophe is brought about with great drama.

He thus alludes to the effects of the critical tempesty tic skill and effect. The murderer is sorrowful and confound

| cited by Cain, in the eleventh canto of Don Juan :ed,-his parents reprobate and renounce him,- his wife

In twice five years the greatest living poet," clings to him with eager and unhesitating affection; and

Like to the champion in the fisty ring. they wander forth together into the vast solitude of the uni.

Is call'd on to support his claim, or show it, verse.” Jeffrey.--L.E.

Although 't is an imaginary thing.

Even l-albeit I'm sure I did not know it, (3) The reader has seen what Sir Walter Scott's general

Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be kingopinion of Cain was, in the letter relative to the dedication,

Was reckon'd, a considerable time, antè, p. 506. Mr. Moore's was conveyed to Lord Byron in

The Grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme. these words :

** Bat Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero . I have read Foscari and Cain. The former does not please me

My Leipsic, and my Mont Saint Jean seems Cats so highly as Sardanapalus. It has the fault of all those violent Venetian stories; being unnatural and improbable, and therefore, in

We shall now present the reader with a few of the mag spite of all your fine management of them, appealing but remotely

elaborate summaries of the contemporary critics,-fard to one's sympathies. But Cain is wonderful-terrible-ever to be able and unfavourable beginning with the Edid forgotten. ir I am not mistaken, it will sink deep into the world's Review. Mr. Jeffrey says:heart; and while many will shudder at its blasphemy, all must fall prostrate before its grandeur. Talk of Æschylus and his Prometheus!

"Thongh Cain abounds in beautiful passages, and shout -here is tbe true spirit both of the Poet-and the Devil."

power, perhaps, than any of the author's dramatical

tions, we regret very much that it should ever have been Lord B.'s answer to Mr. Moore on this occasion contains

lished. It will give very great scandal and offence to pro the substance of all that he ever thought fit to advance in sons in general, and may be the means of suggesting defence of the assaulted points in his Mystery

painful doubts and distressing perplexities to hundreda el

that might never otherwise have been exposed to such can “With respect to religion," he says, “ can I never convince yon disturbance. Lord Byron has no priestlike cant or priest that I hold no such opinions as the characters in that drama, which

habite et

ing to apprehend from us. We do not charge him with DIN seems to have frightened every body? My ideas of a character may a disciple or an apostle of Lucifer: nor do we describe bis purus

and he guided his father. “The fir branches drop upon thee, my son." — " Yea, pleasantly, father, for I

ran fast and eagerly to bring thee the pitcher and the THE WANDERINGS OF CAIN.

cake, and my body is not yet cool. How happy the

squirrels are that feed on these fir-trees! they leap A FRAGMENT.

from bough to bough, and the old squirrels play round BY S. T. COLERIDGE, ESQ.

their young ones in the nest. I clomb a tree yester

day at noon, O my father, that I might play with * A LITTLE further, O my father, yet a little further, them; but they leapt away from the branches, even and we shall come into the open moonlight!” Their to the slender twigs did they leap, and in a moment road was through a forest of fir-trees; at its en- I beheld them on another tree. Why, O my father, trance the trees stood at distances from each other,

would they not play with me? Is it because we are and the path was broad, and the moonlight and the

not so happy as they? Is it because I groan somemoonlight shadows reposed upon it, and appeared

times even as thou groapest ?” Then Cain stopped, quietly to inhabit that solitude. But soon the path

and, stilling his groans, he sank to the earth, and the winded and became narrow; the sun at high noon

| child Enos stood in the darkness beside him, and sometimes speckled but never illumined it, and now | Cain lifted up his voice, and cried bitterly, and said, it was dark as a cavern.

"The Mighty One that persecuteth me is on this side "It is dark, O my father!" said Enos, “but the

and on that; he pursueth my soul like the wind, like path under our feet is smooth and soft, and we shall |

the sand-blast he passeth through me; he is around | son come out into the open moonlight. Ah! why

me even as the air; 0 that I might be utterly no more! dest thou groan so deeply?”

I desire to die !-yea, the things that never had life, "Lead on, my child," said Cain; “guide me, little

neither move they upon the earth-behold they seem child." And the innocent little child clasped a finger

precious to mine eyes. O that a man might live with

mit eompound of blasphemy and obscenity. On the contrary,

e inclined to believe that he wishes well to the happiness of Sead, and are glad to testify that his poems abound with senthesis of great dignity and tenderness, as well as passages of infiHe sublimity and beauty...... Philosophy and poetry are both Hry pad things in tbeir way; but, in our opinion, they do not go

Tall together. It is but a poor and pedautic sort of poetry that A bebody nothing but metaphysical subtleties and abstract Sections of reason--and a very suspicious philosophy that aims at

ng its doctrines by appeals to the passions and the laney. Bu sach argoments, however, are worth little in the schools, as not follow that their effect is inconsiderable in the world.

the contrary, it is the mischief of all poetical paradoxes, that, was the very limits and end of poetry, which deals only in obvious - glancing views, they are never brought to the fair test of argu.

Skal da allasion to a doubtful topic will often pass for a detinitive
Hidasion on it; and, clothed in beautiful language, may leave the

pernicious impressions bebind. We therelore think that poets

fairly to be confined to the established creed and morality of Muir ouuntry, or to the actual passions and sentiments of inankind;

al poetical dreamers and sophists who pretend to theorise ac. og to their leverisb fancies, without a warrant from authority Tasca, ought to be banished the commonwealth of letters. In carts of morality, poets are unexceptionable witnesses: they ose in the evidence, and depose to lacts whether good or ill,

We demer to their arbilary and sell-pleasing summing up; they ar lospected judres, and not very often safe advocates, where great pastics are concerned and universal principles brought to issue."

The Reviewer in the Quarterly was the late Bishop Heber. Es article ends as follows:

Se do not think, indeed, that there is much vigour or poetical propriety in any of the characters of Lord Byron's Mystery. Eve, Se occasion, and one only, expresses herself with energy, and

even then with any great depth of that maternal feeling which

teath of her favourite son was likely to excite in her. Adam Sinalists without dignity. Abel is as dull as he is pious. Lucifer,

go his Grst appearance is well conceived, is as sententious and

stic as a Scotcb metaphysician, and the gravamina which drive 4 sato impiety are circumstances which could only produce a iar effect on a weak and sluggish mind, the necessity of exerand the fear of death! Yet, in the bappiest climate of earth, amid the early vigour of nature, it would be absurd to describe er bas Lord Byron so described it the toil to which Cain can have

sabject as excessive or burthensome. And he is made too Py in his love, too extravagantly fond of his wife and his child, lave much leisure for those gloomy thoughts which belong to dis. punted ambition and jadrd licentiousness. Nor, though there are

e passages in this drama of no common power, is the general we of its poetry so excellent as to alone for these imperfections of

The dialogue is cold and constrained. The descriptions are We shadows of a phantasınagoria, at once indistinct and arti. 2. Except Adah, there is no person in whose fortunes we are werested and we close the book with a distinct or clinging re.

lion of any single passage in it, and with the general impresanaly that Laciter has said much and done little, and that Cain

ween unhappy without grounds and wicked without an object. ", as a poeto, Cain is little qualified to add to Lord Byron's rewon, we are unfortunately constrained to observe that its poetic ejects are the very smallest of its demerits. It is not, indeed, yine both of its admirers and its enemies appear to have sup1, a direct attack on Scripture and on the authority of Moses.

The expressions of Cain and Lucifer are not more offensive to the ears of piety than such discourses must necessarily be, or than Mil. ton, without offence, has put into the mouths of brings similarly situated. And though the intention is evident which has led the Atheists and Jacobins (the terms are convertible) of our metro. polis to circulate the work in a cheap form among the populace, we are not ourselves of opinion that it possesses much power of active mischief, or that many persons will be very deeply or lastingly im. pressed by insinuations which lead to no practical result, and difficulties which so obviously transcend the range of human experience."

It is not unamusing to compare the above with the fol lowing paragraph in one of the Bishop's private letters at the time :

"I have been very busy since I came home in reviewing Lord Byron's dramatic poems. Of course, I have had occasion to find a reasonable quantity of fault, but I do not think that I have done him injustice. • Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.' I should have liked to have taken up the same ground in a great degree with Jeffrey; but, as it will never do to build on another man's foundation, I have been obliged to break ground on a different side of the fortress, though not, I think, so favourable a one, and with the disadvantage of contending against a rival, wbo has conducted his attack with admirable taste and saill."

The following extract is from Mr. Campbell's Maga. sine ;

"Cain, a Mystery, is altogether of a bigher order than Sardane. palus and the Two Foscari. Lord Byron, has not, indeed, fulilled our expectations of a gigantic picture of the first murderer; for there is scarcely any passion, except the immediate agony of rage, which brings on the catastrophe; and Cain himself is little more than the subject of supernatural agency. This piece is essentially nothing but a vehicle for striking allusions to the mighty abstrac tions of Death and Life, Eternity and Time; for vast but dim de. scriptions of the regions of space, and for daring disputations on that great problem, the origin of evil. The groundwork of the ar. guments on the awful subjects handled is very common-place; but they are arra yed in great majesty of language, and conducted with a frightful audacity. The direct attacks on the goodness of God are not, perhaps, taken apart, bolder than some passages of Milton: but they inspire quite a different sensation ; because, in thinking of Paradise Lost, we never regard the Deity, or Satan, as olber than great adverse powers, created by the imagination of the poet, The personal identity which Milton has given to his spiritual in. telligences,-the local babitations which he has assigned them, the material beauty with which he has invested their forms, all these remove the idea of impurity from their discourses. But we know nothing of Lord Byron's Lucifer, except his speeches : he is invented only that he may utter them: and the whole appears an abstract discussion, held for its own sake, not maintained in order to serve the dramatic consistency of the persons. He has made no attempt to imitate Milton's plastic power that power by which our great poet has made his Heaven and Hell, and the very regions of space, sublime realities, palpable to the imagination, and has traced the lineaments of his angelic messengers with the precision of a sculptor. The Lucifer of Cain is a mere bodiless abstraction, --the shadow of a dugma; and all the scenery over which he presides is dim, vague, and seen only in faint outline. There is no doubt, a very uncommon power displayed, even in this shadowing

lem, tools of Spaity and"sions to Piece is

in gre subjects evil. For darin vast

out the breath of his nostrils, so I might abide in for a moment like a dazzling portal. Enos ran be darkness and blackness, and an empty space! Yea I fore and stood in the open air; and when Cain, his would lie down, I would not rise, neither would I stir father, emerged from the darkness, the child was afmy limbs till I became as the rock in the den of the frighted, for the mighty limbs of Cain were wasted lion, on which the young lion resteth his head whilst as by fire; his hair was black, and matted into loathly he sleepeth. For the torrent that roareth far off hath curls, and his countenance was dark and wild, and a voice; and the clouds in heaven look terribly on me; | told, in a strange and terrible language, of agonies that the Mighty One who is against me speaketh in the had been, and were, and were still to continue to be wind of the cedar-tree; and in silence am I dried up." The scene around was desolate; as far as the eye Then Enos spake to his father,—“Arise, my father, could reach, it was desolate; the bare rocks faced arise; we are but a little way from the place where I each other, and left a long and wide interval of their found the cake and the pitcher.” And Cain said, | white sand. You might wander on and look round “How knowest thou?" and the child answered—“Be and hold, the bare rocks are a few of thy strides distant and discover nothing that acknowledged the influence from the forest; and while even now thou wert lifting of the seasons. There was no spring, no summer, up thy voice, I heard the echo." Then the child no autumn; and the winter's snow, that would bare took hold of his father, as if he would raise him; been lovely, fell not on these hot rocks and scorching and Cain, being faint and feeble, rose slowly on his sands. Never morning lark had poised himself orer knees and pressed himself against the trunk of a fir, this desert; but the huge serpent often hissed there and stood upright and followed the child. The path beneath the talons of the valture, and the vulture was dark till within three strides' length of its ter- screamed, his wings imprisoned within the coils of mination, when it turned suddenly: the thick black the serpent. The pointed and shattered sammits trees formed a low arch, and the moonlight appeared of the ridges of the rocks made a rude mimicry op

the cres

Did he deal, as minor poets deal, in mere splendour words, is poetry would be no proof of this; bot he never does sa-hent always a breathing soul bencath his words,

That o'er-informs the tenement of clay:' it is like the fragrant vapour that rises in incense from the car through the inorning dew: and when we listen to his lyre,

Less than a god we think there cannot dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That sings so sweetly and so well!

is orain of the first-Bergy and the order,

out of the ethereal journey of the spirit and his victim, and in the vast sketch of the world of phantasms at which they arrive: but they are utterly unlike the massive grandeurs of Milton's creation. We are far from imputing intentional impiety to Lord Byron for this Mystery ; nor, though its language occasionally shocks, do we apprebend any danger will arise from its perusal."

[The following is Mr. Galt's opinion :- This performance in point of conception is of a sublime order. The object of the poem is to illustrate the energy and the art of Lucifer in accomplishing the ruin of the first-born. By an unfair misconception the arguments of Lucifer bave been represented as the sentiments of the author, upon some imaginary warranty derived from the exaggerated freedom of his life, and yet the moral tendency of the reflections is framed in a mood of reverence as awful towards Omnipotence as the austere divinity of Milton. It would be presumption in mne, however, to undertake the defence of any question in theology; but I have not been sensible to the imputed impiety, whilst I have felt in many passages influences that bave their being amidst the shadows and twllights of old religion.'" -PE.]

So much for the professed Reviewers. We shall conclude with a passage from Sir Egerton Brydges's Letters on the Character and Genius of Lord Byron

One of the pieces which have had the effect of throwing the most unfavourable hues, not upon the brilliancy of Lord Byron's poetry, but upon its results to society, is Cain. Yet, it must be confessed, that there is no inconsiderable portion of that poem which is second only to portions of similar import in Milton,-and many of them not second; in a style still sweeter and more eloquent, and with equal force, grandeur, and purity of sentiment and conception, such as the most rigidly-religious mind would have read, had it come from Milton, or any other poet whose piety was not suspected, as the effusion of something approaching to holy inspiration,

"Let us then reconsider this extraordinary poem, which we have abandoned a little too hastily; let us task our candour afresh, and inquire of ourselves, whether he who could write such passages could mean wrong? Let us recollect, that as the rebellious and blas. phemous speeches be has put into the mouths of Lucifer and Cain are warranted by Milton's example, and the fact of Cain's transgression recorded in the Bible, the omission of the design and filling up a character who should answer all those speeches might be a mere defect in the poet's judgment. He might think that Lucifer's known character as an Evit Spirit precluded his arguments from the sanction of authority; and that Cain's punishment, and the denunciations which accompanied it, were a suflcient warning.

“I know not that any objection has been made to Heaven and Earth. It has the same cast of excellence as the more persect parts of Cain, but, perhaps, not quite so intense in degree.

" It seems as if Lord Byron persuaded himself, with regard to his own being, that he had always within him two contrary spirits of good and evil contending for the dominion over him, and thus recon. ciled those extraordinary flights of intellectual elevation and purity with a submission to the pride, the ferocity, the worldly passions, the worldly enjoyments, the corporeal pastimes, the familiar humour, the vulgarisms, the rough and coarse manliness, to which he alter. nately surrendered himself, and which the good-natured public chose to consider as the sole attributes of his personal character Much of his time, however, must have been spent in the musings by which these high poems, so compacted of the essence of thought, were produced; and, in all this large portion of his existence here, his ima. gination must have borne him up on its wings into etherial regions, far above the gross and sensual enjoyments of this grovelling earth.

"If Lord Byron thought that, however loudly noisy volons mit salute him with a rude and indiscriminate clamour of applaure, poems were not received with the taste and judgment they men and that severe and cruel comments were attached to them by me who assumed to themselves authority, and who seldom allowed genius without perverting it into a cause of censure, that more outweighed the praise; those furnes of dattery which are imputada the causes of a delirium that led bim into extravagancies, in decorum and the respect due to the public, never, in fact, him. To confer "faint praise' is to damn;' to confer pula a wrong place is to insult and provoke. Lord Byron, therefore, not, after all, the encouragement that is most favourable to the richest fruit; and it was a firm and noble courage thal prompted him to persevere.

For this reason, as well as for others, I think his foreign to dences were more propitious to the energies of his Muse than tinued abode in England would have been. The poison praises that were insidious did not reach him $0 soon; and he not beset by treacherous companions, mortifying gosip, petty intercourse with ordinary society which lames and lowers tone of the mind. To mingle much with the world is to be infall degraded by familiarity; not to mingle, at least, among the busy the known, is to incur the disrespect to which insigniocance is jected. Lord Byron's foreign residence exempted him from the evils: be saw a few intimate friends, and he corresponded w few others; but such an intercourse does not expose to similares The necessary knowledge and necessary hints may thus be consta but not all the pestilent chills which general society is so obci unveil.

"If Lord Byron had not had a mind with a strong spring of in within it, I think that he would have thrown down his pen staan of the attacks he received, and given hinsell up lu the sensual sures of his rank for the remainder of his life. The fine parts his poems were of such spiritual splendour, and so pure, though si onate, an elevation, that they ought to have redeemed as part which were open to donbt from a malevolent construction, even have eclipsed and rendered unnoticeable many positive and

"Lord Byron's style, like his thoughts, had every variety: not attempt (as is the common practice to make poetry bs the taphorical and the figurative: it followed his thoughts, and we part of them: it did not fatigue itself to render clear by illustras or important by ornament, because the thought was clear or 1sp ant in itself.

“I remember, when I first read Cain, I thought it, as a comp. tion, the most enchanting and irresistible of all Lord Byron's work and I think so still. Some of the sentiments, taken detachediy, left unanswered, are no donbt dangerous, and therefore oubt have been so left; but the class of readers whom this poem is to interest are of so very elevated a cast, and the effect of the poeng to refine, spiritualise, and illumine the imagination with such as unearthly sublimity, that the mind of these, I am pergadiu. come too strong to incur any taint thus predicted, from the which has been so much insisted on."-L. E.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »