« FöregåendeFortsätt »
There, with a little tinge of phantasy,
VIII. And Neuha took her Torquil by the hand, And waved along the vault her kindled brand, And led him into each recess, and show'd The secret places of their new abode. Nor these alone, for all had been prepared Before, to soothe the lover's lot she shared : The mat for rest; for dress the fresh gnatoo, And sandal oil to fence against the dew ; For food the cocoa-nut, the yam, the bread Borne of the fruit; for board the plantain spread With its brond leaf, or turtle-shell which bore A banquet in the flesh it cover'd o'er; The gourd with water recent from the rill, The ripe banana from the mellow hill ; A pine-torch pile to keep undying light, And she herself, as beautiful as night, To fling her shadowy spirit o'er the scene, And make their subterranean world serene. She had foreseen, since first the stranger's sail Drew to their isle, that force or flight might fail, And form'd a refuge of the rocky den For Torquil's safety from his countrymen. Each dawn had wasted there her light canoe, Laden with all the golden fruits that grew; Each eve had seen her gliding through the hour With all could cheer or deck their sparry bower; And now she spread her little store with smiles, The happiest daughter of the loving isles.
And their companion, glorious by her side,
XL They landed on a wild but narrow scene, Where few but Nature's footsteps yet had been ; Prepared their arms, and with that gloomy eye, Stern and sustain'd, of man's extremity, When hope is gone, nor glory's self remains To cheer resistance against death or chains, They stood, the three, as the three hundred stood Who dyed Thermopylæ with holy blood. But, ah ! how different ! 't is the cause makes all, Degrades or hallows courage in its fall. O'er them no fame, eternal and intense, Blazed through the clouds of death and beckon'd hence; No grateful country, smiling through her tears, Begun the praises of a thousand years ; No nation's eyes would on their tomb be bent, No heroes envy them their monument ; However boldly their warm blood was spilt, Their life was shame, their epitaph was guilt. And this they knew and felt, at least the one, The leader of the band he had undone ;
IX. She, as he gazed with grateful wonder, press'd Her shelter'd love to her impassion'd breast; And suited to her soft caresses, told An olden tale of love, — for love is old, Old as eternity, but not outworn, With each new being born or to be born : 1 How a young chief, a thousand moons ago, Diving for turtle in the depths below, Had riscn, in tracking fast his ocean prey, Into the cave which round and v'er them lay; How in some desperate feud of after-time He shelter'd there a daughter of the clime, A foe beloved, and offspring of a foe, Saved by his tribe but for a captive's woe ; How, when the storm of war was still’d, he led His island clan to where the waters spread Their deep-green shadow o'er the rocky door, Then dived -- it seem'd as if to rise no more : His wondering mates, amazed within their bark, Or deemd him mad, or prey to the blue shark; Row'd round in sorrow the sea-girded rock, Then paused upon their paddles from the shock ; When, fresh and springing from the deep, they saw A goddess rise — so deem'd they in their awe;
1 The reader will recollect the epigram of the Greck an. tholozy, or its translation into most of the modern languages:
* Whoe'er thou art, thy master see —
lle was, or is, or is to be."
? The tradition is attached to the story of Eloisa, that when her body was lowered into the grave of Abelard (who had been buried twenty years), he opened his arms to receive her.
Who, born perchance for better things, had set His last ball had been aim'd, but from his breast His life upon a cast which linger'd yet :
He tore the topmost button from his vest,' But now the die was to be thrown, and all
Down the tube dash'd it, levellid, fired, and smiled The chances were in favour of his fall :
As his foe fell; then, like a serpent, coil'd And such a fall! But still he faced the shock, His wounded, weary form, to where the steep Obdurate as a portion of the rock
Look'd desperate as himself along the deep; Whereon he stood, and fix'd his leveli'd gun,
Cast one glance back, and clench'd his hand, and Dark as a sullen cloud before the sun.
His last rage 'gainst the earth which he forsook ; XII.
Then plunged: the rock below received like glass The boat drew nigh, well arm'd, and firm the crew His body crush'd into one gory mass, To act whatever duty bade them do;
With scarce a shred to tell of hunian form, Careless of danger, as the onward wind
Or fragment for the sea-bird or the wor; Is of the leaves it strews, nor looks bebind.
A fair-hair'd scalp, besmear'd with blood and weeds, And yet perhaps they rather wish'd to go
Yet reek'd, the remnant of himself and decds; Against a nation's than a native foe,
Some splinters of his weapons (to the last, And felt that this poor victim of self-will,
As long as hand could hold, he held them fast) Briton no more, had once been Britain's still.
Yet glitter'd, but at distance - hurl'd away They hail'd him to surrender - no reply ;
To rust beneath the dew and dashing spray. Their arms were poised, and glitter'd in the sky.
The rest was nothing - save a life mis-spent, They hail'd again — no answer; yet once more
And soul - but who shall answer whcre it went ? They offer'd quarter louder than before.
'Tis ours to bear, not judge the dead; and they The echoes only, from the rock's rebound,
Who doom to hell, themselves are on the way, Took their last farewell of the dying sound.
Unless these bullies of eternal pains Then flash'd the fint, and blazed the volleying flame,
Are pardon'd their bad hearts for their worse brains. And the smoke rose between them and their aim, While the rock rattled with the bullets' knell, Which peal'd in vain, and flatten'd as they fell;
XIII. Then flew the only answer to be given
The deed was over! All were gone or ta'en, By those who had lost all hope in earth or heaven.
The fugitive, the captive, or the slain. After the first fierce peal, as they pulld nigher,
Chain'd on the deck, where once, a gallant crew, They heard the voice of Christian shout, “Now, fire !” They stood with honour, were the wretched few And ere the word upon the echo died,
Survivors of the skirmish on the isle; Two fell; the rest assail'd the rock's rough side,
But the last rock left no surviving spoil. And, furious at the madness of their foes,
Cold lay they where they fell, and weltering, Disdain'd all further efforts, save to close.
While o'er them flapp'd the sea-birds' dewy wing, But steep the crag, and all without a path,
Now wheeling nearer from the neighbouring surge, Each step opposed a bastion to their wrath,
And screaming high their harsh and hungry dirge : While, placed midst clefts the least accessible,
But calm and careless heaved the wave below, Which Christian's eye was train'd to mark full well,
Eternal with unsympathetic flow; The three maintain'd a strife which must not yield,
Far o'er its face the dolphins sported on, In spots where eagles might have chosen to build.
And sprung the flying fish against the sun, Their every shot told; while the assailant fell,
Till its dried wing relapsed from its brief height, Dash'd on the shingles like the limpet shell ;
To gather moisture for another fight.
"T was morn; and Neuha, who by dawn of day Enough for seizure, near enough to die,
Swam smoothly forth to catch the rising ray, The desperate trio held aloof their fate
And watch if aught approach'd the amphibious lair But by a thread, like sharks who have gorged the bait; Where lay her lover, saw a sail in air : Yet to the very last they battled well,
It Happ'd, it fill'd, and to the growing gale And not a groan inform'd their foes who fell.
Bent its broad arch: her breath began to fail Christian died last – twice wounded ; and once more With fluttering fear, her heart beat thick and high, Mercy was offer'd when they saw his gore;
While yet a doubt sprung where its course might lie. Too late for life, but not too late to die,
But no! it came not; fast and far away With, though a hostile hand, to close his eye.
The shadow lessen'd as it clear'd the bay. A limb was broken, and he droop'd along
She gazed, and Aung the sea-foam from her eyes, The crag, as doth a falcon rest of young.
To watch as for a rainbow in the skies. The sound revived him, or appcard to wake
On the horizon verged the distant deck, Somne passion which a weakly gesture spike :
Diminish'd, dwindled to a very speck He beckon'd to the foremost, who drew nigii.
Then vanish'd. All was ocean, all was joy! But, as they near'd, he reard his weapon high Down plunged she through the cave to rouse her boy;
I In Thibault's account of Frederic the Second of Prussia, there is a sin zular relation of a young Frenchinan, who with his mistress appeared to be of some rank. He enlisted and deserted at Schweidnitz; and aiter a desperate resistance was retaken, having killed an otlicer, who attempted to seize liim alter he was wounded, by tlie discharrs of his musket loaded with a bulton ot' his uniform. Some circunstances on
his court-martial raised a great interest amongst his judges, who wished to discover his real situation in life, which he offered to disclose, but to the king only, to whom he requested permission to write. This was refused, and Frederic was filled with the greatest indignation, from bailte curiosity or some other motive, when he understood that his request had been denied.
Told all she had seen, and all she hoped, and all
No sullen ship lay bristling o'er the foam,
XV. Again their own shore rises on the view, No more polluted with a hostile hue;
(Byron! the sorcerer! He can do with me according to his will If it is to throw me headlong upon a desert Island ; if it is to place me on the summit of a dizzy cliffhis power is the same. I wish he had a friend or a servant, appointed to the otfice of the slave, who was to knock every morning at the chamber-door of Philip of Macedon, and remind bim he was mortal. – Dr. Parn.)
: The following extracts from Lord Byron's letters to Mr. Murray, are all we have to offer respecting the history of the composition of Janfred:
Venice, Feb. 15. 1817. -" I forgot to mention to you, that a kind of Poem in dialogue (in blank verse) or Drama, from which the Incantation' is an extract, begun last summer in Ssitzerland, is finished; it is in three arts, but of a very wild, tetaphysical, and inexplicable kind. Almost all the persons - but two or three care Spirits of the earth and air, or the waters, the scene is in the Alps; the hero a kind of magician, who is torinented by a species of remorse, the cause of which is kit hali uncxplained. He wanders about invoking these
Spirits, which appear to him, and are of no use; he at last goes to the very abode of the Evil Principle, in propria persona, to evocate a ghost, which appears, and gives him an ambiguous and disagreeable answer; and, in the third Act, he is found by his attendants dying in a tower where he had studied his art. You may perceive. by this outline, that I have no great opinion of this piece of fantasy ; but I have at least rendered it quite impossible for the stage, for which my inter. course with Drury Lanc has given me the greatest contempt. I have not even copied it off, and feel too lazy at present to attempt the whole ; but when I have, I will send it you, and you may either throw it into the fire or not."
March 3.-“ I sent you the other day, in two covers, the first act of Manfred,' a drama as mad as Nat Lee's Bedlam tragedy, which was in twenty-five acts and some odd scenes : mine is but in three acts."
March 9.-" In remitting the third act of the sort of dramatic poem of which you will by this time have received the two first, I have little to observe, except that you must
But grief should be the instructor of the wise ;
Have been to me as rain unto the sands,
not publish it (if it ever is published) without giving me muses and suffers from the beginning to the end. His disprevious notice. I have really and truly no notion whether tresses are the same at the opening of the scene and at its it is good or bad ; and as this was not the case with the closing, and the temper in which they are borne is the same. principal of my former publications, I am, therefore, inclined A hunter and a priest, and some domestics, are indeed intro. to rank it very humbly. You will submit it to Mr. Gifford, duced, but they have no connection with the passions or and to whomsoever you please besides. The thing, you will sufferings on which the interest depends; and Manfred is see at a glimpse, could never be attempted or thought of for substantially alone throughout the whole piece. He holds the stage; I much doubt if for publication even. It is too no communion but with the memory of the Being he had much in my old style ; but I composed it actually with a horror loved ; and the immortal Spirits whom he evokes to reproach of the stage, and with a view to render the thought of it with his misery, and their inability to relieve it. These unimpracticable, knowing the zeal of my friends that I should earthly beings approach nearer to the character of persons of try that for which I have an invincible repugnance, viz. a the drama – but still they are but choral accompaniments to representation. I certainly am a deril of a mannerist, and the performance; and Manfred is, in reality, the only actor must leave off ; but what could I do? Without exertion of and sufferer on the scene. To delineate his character in. some kind, I should have sunk under my imagination and deed - to render conceivable his feelings — is plainly the reality."
whole scope and design of the poem; and the conception and
execution are, in this respect, equally admirable. It is a March 25. — " With regard to the Witch Drama,' I repeat,
grand and terrific vision of a being invested with superhuman that I have not an idea if it is good or bad. ir bad, it must, on no account, be risked in publication ; if good, it is at your
attributes, in order that he may be capable of more than be
man sufferings, and be sustained under them by more than service. I value it at three hundred guineas, or less, if you
human force and pride. To ohject to the improbability of like it. Perhaps, if published, the best way will be to add it to
the fiction, is to mistake the end and aim of the author. your winter volume, and not publish separately. The price
Probabilities, we apprehend, did not enter at all into his conwill show you I don't pique myself upon it so speak out.
sideration ; his object was, to produce effect - to exalt and You may put it into the tire, if you like, and Gifford don't
dilate the character through whom he was to interest or appal like."
us – and to raise our conception of it, by all the helps that April 9. — " As for Manfred,' the two first acts are the could be derived from the majesty of nature, or the dread of best ; the third so so; but I was blown with the first and superstition. It is enough, therefore, if the situation in which second heats. You may call it' a Poem,' for it is no Drama, he has placed him is conceivable, and if the supposition of its and I do not choose to have it called by so d– a name - a reality enhances our emotions and kindles our imagination ; • Poem in dialogue,' or — Pantomime, if you will; any thing – for it is Manfred only that we are required to fear, to pity but a green-room synonyme; and this is your motto - or admire. If we can once conceire of him as a real existence,
and enter into the depth and the height of his pride and his * There are more things in hearen and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'"
sorrows, we may deal as we please with the means that hare
been used to furnish us with this impression, or to enable us The Third Act was re-written before publication; as to the
to attain to this conception. We may regard them but as particulars of which, the reader is referred to a subsequent
types, or metaphors, or allegories ; but he is the thing to be note. To avoid overloading the margin, we may give here the
expressed, and the feeling and the intellect of which all these most important paragraphs of the two ablest critiques that
are but shadows." – JEFFREY. immediately followed the appearance of Manfred : –
" In this very extraordinary poem, Lord Byron has pursued
the saine course as in the third canto of Childe Harold, and " In Manfred, we recognise at once the gloom and potency
put out his strength upon the same objects. The action is of that soul thich burned and blasted apduled upon itself, in
laid among the mountains of the Alps - the characters are Hirotd, and Conrad. and Lara — and which comes again in
all, more or less, formed and swayed by the operations of the this pleće, more in sorrow_than in anger - more proud, per
magnificent scenery around them, and every page of the poem baps, and more awful than ever-Dut with the fiercer traits of its misanthropy subdued, as it were, and queuched in the
teems with imagery and passion, though, at the same time,
the mind of the poet is often overborne, as it were, by the gloom of a deeper despondency. Manfred does not, like Conrad and Lara wreak the anguish of his burning heart in
strength and novelty of its own conceptions; and thus the
composition, as a whole, is liable to many and fatal objections. the dangers and daring of desperate and predatory war – nor
But there is a still more novel exhibition of Lord Byron's seek to drown bitter thoughts in the tumult of perpetual con
powers in this remarkable drama. He has here burst into tention; nor yet, like Harold, does he sweep over the peopled
the world of spirits ; and, in the wild delight with which the scenes of the earth with high disdain and arersion, and make
elements of nature seem to have inspired him, he has enhis survey of the business, and pleasures, and studies of man an occasion for taunts and sarcasms, and the food of an un
deavoured to embody and call up before him their ministering measurable spleen. He is fixed-by the genius of the poet in
agents, and to employ these wild personifications, as he forthe majestic solitudes of the central ps – where, from his merly employed the feelings and passions of man. We are
not prepared to say, that, in this daring attempt, he has comyouth us, he has lived in proud but calin seclusion from the
pletely succeeded." We are inclined to think, that the plan ways of men, conversing only with the magnificent forms and
he has conceived, and the principal character which he has aspects of nature by which he is surrounded, and with the
wished to delineate, would require a fuller developement than Spirits of the Elements over whom he has acquired dominion,
is here given to them; and, accordingly, a sense of imperfecby the secret and unhallowed studies of sorcery and magic.
tion, incompleteness, and confusion accompanies the mind He is averse, indeed, from mankind, and scorns the low and
throughout the perusal of the poem, owing either to some frivolous nature to which he belongs ; but he cherishes no
failure on the part of the poet, or to the inherent mystery of animosity or hostility to that feeble race. Their concerns excite no interest - their pursuits no sympathy — their jors
the subject. But though, on that account, it is didicult to
comprehend distinctly the drift of the composition, it unquespo envy. It is irksome and vexatious for him to be crossed by
tionably exhibits many noble delineations of mountain scethem in his melancholy musings, - but he treats them with
nery, - many impressive and terrible pictures of passion, gentleness and pity; and, except when stung to impatience
- and many wild and awful visions of imaginary horror." by too importunate an intrusion, is kind and considerate to the comforts of all around him. – This piece is properly en
PROFESSOR Wilson.] titled a dramatic poem – for it is merely poetica, and is not
Ç“ Eternal Agency ! at all a drama or play in the modern acceptation of the term.
Ye spirits of the inmortal Universe!" - MS.) It has no action, no plot, and no characters; Manfred merely [" or inaccessible mountains are the haunts.” — M9.)
Where the roots of the Andes
Strike deep in the earth,
Shoot soaringly forth;
Thy bidding to bide -
FIFTH Spirit. I am the Rider of the wind,
The Stirrer of the storm ; The hurricane I left behind
Is yet with lightning warm ; To speed to thee, o'er shore and sea
I swept upon the blast: The fleet I met sail'd well, and yet
'T will sink ere night be past.
Sixth SPIRIT. My dwelling is the shadow of the night, Why doth thy magic torture me with light?
Which gives me power upon you
Rise ! appear!
[A pause. They come not yet. Now by the voice of him Who is the first among you - by this sign, Which makes you tremble -- by the claims of him Who is undying, — Rise ! appear ! Appear!
Voice of the Second SPIRIT.
They crown'd him long ago
With a diadem of snow.
The Avalanche in his hand;
Must pause for my command.
Moves onward day by day;
Or with its ice delay. 2
Could make the mountain bow
Voice of the Third SPIRIT.
Where the wave hath no strife,
And the sea-snake hath life,
Her green hair with shells;
Came the sound of thy spells ;
The deep echo rollid -
Lies pillow'd on fire,
Rise boilingly higher;
SEVENTH SPIRIT. The star which rules thy destiny Was ruled, ere earth began, by me : It was a world as fresh and fair As e'er revolved round sun in air; Its course was free and regular, Space bosom’d not a lovelier star. The hour arrived — and it became A wandering mass of shapeless flame, A pathless comet, and a curse, The menace of the universe ; Still rolling on with innate force, Without a sphere, without a course, A bright deformity on high, The monster of the upper sky! And thou ! beneath its influence born Thou worm! whom I obey and scorn Forced by a power (which is not thine, And lent thee but to make thee mine) For this brief moment to descend, Where these weak spirits round thee bend And parley with a thing like thee — What wouldst thou, Child of Clay! with me ?
The Seven SPIRITS. Earth, ocean, air, night, mountains, winds, thy star,
Are at thy beck and bidding, Child of Clay!
What wouldst thou with us, son of mortals - say ?
Man. Of that which is within me; read it there-
Oblivion, self-oblivion -
(* Which is lit for my pavilion." — MS.)
[“ Or makes its icc delay." --MS.)