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In the very singulnr, and, we sus principles of belief on any subject to pect, very imperfect poem, of which be perpetually haunted by a dread of we are about to give a short account, the soul's mortality, and bewildered Lord Byron has pursued the same among dark and gloomy ideas concerncourse as in the third canto of Childe ing the existence of a First Cause. We Harold, and put out his strength upon cannot do better than let this mysterithe same objects. The action is laid ous personage speak for himself. In among the mountains of the Alps a conversation, which we find him holdthe characters are all, more or less, form- ing by the side of a mountain-cataract, od and swayed by the operations of with the “ Witch of the Alps," whom the magnificent scenery around them, he raises up by a spell “ beneath the and every page of the poem teems with arch of the sun-beam of the torrent," imagery and passion, though, at the we find him thus speaking :same time, the mind of the poet is “ Man. Well, though it torture me, 'tís often overborne, as it were, by the ' but the same; strength and novelty of its own con- My Pang shall tind a voice. From my ceptions; and thus the composition, youth upwards as a whole, is liable to many and fatal
mony and fatal My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men,
Nor look'd upon the earth with human eyes; objections.
The thirst of their ambition was not mine, But there is a still more novel exhi
The aim of their existence was not mine ; bition of Lord Byron's powers in this
My joys, my griefs, my passions, and my extraordinary drama. He has here ***
powers, burst into the world of spirits; and, in Made me a stranger; though I wore the the wild delight with which the ele
form, ments of nature seem to have inspired I had no sympathy with breathing flesh, him, he has endeavoured to embody Nor midst the creatures of clay that guided and call up before him their ministering me agents, and to employ these wild Per
and to employ these wild pero Was there but one who_but of her anon, sonifications, as he formerly employ
I said, with men, and with the thoughts of
men, ed the feelings and passions of man. I held but slight communion ; but instead, We are not prepared to say, that, in My joy was in the Wilderness, to breathe this daring attempt, he has complete. The difficult air of the iced mountain's top, ly succeeded. We are inclined to Where the birds dare not build, nor insect's think, that the plan he has conceived, wing and the principal Character which he Flit o'er the herbless granite ; or to plunge has wished to delineate, would require Into the torrent, and to roll along
Work On the swift whirl of the new-breaking wave a fuller developement than is here given to them; and accordingly, a
Of river, stream, or ocean, in their tiow. . In these my early strength exulted ; or
Y sense of imperfection, incompleteness, To follow through the night the moving and confusion, accompanies the mind moon, throughout the perusal of the poem, The stars and their developement ; or catch owing either to some failure on the The dazzling lightnings till my eyes grew part of the poet, or to the inherent mystery of the subject. But though · Or to look, list’ning, on the scattered leaves, on that account it is difficult to com. While Autumn winds were at their evening prehend distinctly the drift of the com- ,
song. position, and almost impossible to give
These were my pastimes, and to be alone ;
For if the beings, of whom I was one, any thing like a distinct account of it, Hating to be so-cross'd me in my path, it unquestionably exhibits many noble I felt myself degraded back to them, delineations of mountain scenery, And was all clay again. And then I dised, many impressive and terrible pictures In my lone wanderings, to the caves of death, of passion, and many wild and awful Searching its cause in its effect; and drew visions of imaginary horror.
From wither'd bones, and sculls, and heap'd Manfred, whose strange and extra
up dust, ordinary sufferings pervade the whole
Conclusions most forbidden. Then I pass'd
The nights of years in sciences untaught, drama, is a nobleman who has for
Save in the old time; and with time and toil, many years led a solitary life in his And terrible ordeal, and such penance castle among the Bernese Alps. From As in itself hath power upon the air, early youth he has been a wild mis. And spirits that do compass air and earth, anthrope, and has so perplexed him. Space and the peopled infinite, I made self with his views of human nature, Mine eyes familiar with Eternity.l'that he comes at last to have no fixed In another scene of the drama, where a pious old abbot vainly endeavours Man. I say 'tis blood-my blood ! the to administer to his troubled spirit the pure warm stream consolations of religion, he still farther Which ran in the veins of my fathers, and illustrates his own character.
When we were in our youth, and had one « Man. Ay.-Father! I have had those heart, earthly visions
And loved each other as we should not love, And noble aspirations in my youth,
And this was shed ; but still it rises up, To make my own the mind of other men, Colouring the clouds that shut me out from The enlightener of nations; and to rise.
Heaven, I knew not whither-it might be to fall; Where thou art not—and I shall never be." But fall, even as the mountain-cataract, He afterwards says: Which having leapt from its more dazzling “My injuries came down on those who height,
loved meEven in the foaming strength of its abyss, On those whom I best loved- I never quelled (Which cast up misty columns, that become An enemy save in my just defence, Ciouds raining from the re-ascended skies,) But my embrace was fatal.” Lies low, but mighty still.—But this is past, In the conversation formerly referMy thoughts mistook themselves.
ed to with the “ Witch of the Alps," Abbot. And wherefore so ?
he alludes still darkly to the same Man. I could not tame my nature down;
event. for he Must serve who fain would sway-and
66 Man. But to my task. I have not soothe and suc
named to thee, And watch all time and pryinto all place
Father or mother, mistress, friend, or being,
With whom I wore the chain of human ties; And be a living lie—who would become A mighty thing amongst the mean, and such
If I had such, they seem'd not such to me The mass are; I disdain to mingle with
Yet there was oneA herd, though to be leader and of wolves.
Witch. Spare not thyself-proceed. The lion is alone, and so am I.
Man. She was like me in lineaments_her Abbot. And why not live and act with other
Her hair, her features, all, to the very tone men ? Man. Because my nature was averse from
Even of her voice, they said were like to life,
mine; And yet not cruel ; for I would not make,
But soften'd all, and temper'd into beauty ; But find a desolation ;-like the wind,
She had the same lone thoughts and wand. The red-hot breath of the most lone Simoom,
erings, Which dwells but in the desert, and sweeps
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind
To comprehend the universe; nor these o'er The barren sands which bear no shrubs to
Alone, but with them gentler powers than blast,
mine, And revels o'er their wild and arid waves,
Pity, and smiles, and tears--which I had not;
And tenderness, but that I had for her ; And secketh not, so that it is not sought, But being met is deadly; such hath been
Humility--and that I never had. The course of my existence ; but there came
Her faults were mine her virtues were her
own Things in my path which are no more."
Plov'd her, and destroy'd her! But besides the anguish and pertur
Witch. With thy hand ? . bation produced by his fatal scepticism Man. Not with my hand, but heart. in regard to earth and heaven, vice and which broke her heart virtue, man and God, -Manfred's soul It gazed on mine, and withered. I have has been stained by one secret and
shed dreadful sin, and is' bowed down by Blood, but not hers_and yet her blood was the weight of blood. It requires to
shed read the drama with more than ordi
I saw-and could not staunch it." ;
From these, and several other passe. nary attention, to discover the full import of those broken, short, and dark ages,
ages, it seems that Manfred had con
s expressions, by which he half con
ceived a mad and insane passion for his fesses, and half conceals, even from
sister, named Astartè, and that she had,
in consequence of their mutual guilt, himself, the perpetration of this inexpiable guilt. În a conversation with
committed suicide. This is the terrible
catastrophe which for ever haunts his a chamois-hunter, in his Alpine cot
soul-drives him into the mountaina tage, he thus suddenly breaks out:“ Man. Away, away! there's blood upon
wilderness--and, finally, by the poigthe brim ?
nancy of unendurable anguish, forces Will it then never-never sink in the earth? C. Hun. What dost thou mean ? thy • See - Sketch of a Tradition related by a - senses wander from thee.
Monk in Switzerland,' page 270.
hiin to seek intercourse with the language of his supernatural beings, Prince of the Air, witches, demons, which is, upon the whole, very wild destinies, spirits, and all the tribes of and spirit-like. From these Powers immaterial existences. From them he requests that they will wring out he tries to discover those secrets into from the hidden realms, forgetfulness which his reason cannot penetrate. He and self-oblivion. This, we find, is commands them to tell him the mys- beyond their power. He then says, tery of the grave. The only being he
“ I hear ever loved has by his means been de- Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds, stroyed. Is all her beauty gone for As music on the waters--and I see ever-annihilated and with it has her The steady aspect of a clear large star, spirit faded into nonentity? or is she But nothing more." lost, miserably lost, and suffering the The spirit of this star (the star of punishment brought on her by his own his nativity) appears in the shape of sin ? We believe, that by carrying in a beautiful female figure ; and Manthe mind a knowledge of this one hor- fred exclaims, rid event and along with that, those “ Oh God! if it be thus, and Thou ideas of Manfred's character, which, Art not a madness and a mockery, . by the extracts we have given, better I yet might be most happy-I will clasp than any words of our own, the reader may be enabled to acquire,-the con- Ar
on And we again will be- [The figure vanishes.) duct of the drama, though certainly
My heart is crushed.
(Manfred falls senseless." imperfectly and obscurely managed, may be understood, as well as its chief A voice is then heard singing an ins end and object.
cantation and a curse,-stanzas which At the opening of the drama, we were published in the noble Lord's find Manfred alone, at midnight, in a last volume, and full of a wild and Gothic gallery of his castle, in posses- unearthly energy. sion of a mighty spell, by which he In the second scene, Manfred is can master the seven spirits of Earth, standing alone on a cliff on the mighty Ocean, Air, Night, the Mountains, mountain Jungfrau, at sunrise; and the Winds, and the Star of his nati- this is part of his morning soliloquy. vity. These spirits all appear before " Man. My mother Earth! him, and tell him their names and And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, se employment. The Mountain Spirit Mountains, thus speaks:
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye. “ Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains, And thou, the bright eye of the universe, They crowned him long ago
That openest over all, and unto all. O On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
Art a delight--thou shin'st not on my heart. With a diadem of snow.
And you, ye Crags, upon whose extreme Around his waist are forests braced,
edge The Avalanche in his hand;
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath, But ere it fall, that thundering ball
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs, Must pause for my command.
In dizziness of distance ; when a leap, The Glacier's cold and restless mass
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring Moves onward day by day;
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed But I am he who bids it pass,
To rest for ever-wherefore do I pause ? Or with its ice delay.
I feel the impulse- yet I do not plunge; . I am the spirit of the place,
I see the peril-yet do not recede ; Could make the mountain bow
And my brain reels and yet my foot is And quiver to its caverned base
firm. And what with me wouldst Thou?" There is a power upon me which withholds. The Storm Spirit says, with equal
And makes it my fatality to live ;
If it be life to wear within myself energy, " I am the Rider of the Wind,
This barrenness of spirit, and to be The Stirrer of the Storm ;
My own soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased The hurricane I left behind
To justify my deeds unto myself Is yet with lightning warm.
The last infirmity of evil. Ay,
Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister, i To speed to thee o'er shore and sea
(An eagle passes. I swept upon the blast: The fleet i inet sailed well, and yet
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven, "Twill sink ere night be past."
Well may'st thou swoop so near me
should be These may be considered fair speci- Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou mens of the general character of the art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine The first scene of the second act is Yet pierces downward, onward, or above, in the chamois-hunter's cottage, and With a pervading vision. Beautiful! with the exception of the few lines How beautiful is all this visible world !
formerly quoted, and some others, it How glorious in its action and itself! But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns,
is very unlike Lord Byron, for it is
incredibly dull and spiritless; and the we, Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
chamois-hunter, contrary to truth, naTo sink or soar, with our mixed essence ture, and reason, is a heavy, stupid, make
elderly man, without any conversationA conflict of its elements, and breathe al talents. The following lines, howThe breath of degradation and of pride,
ever, may redeem even a worse scene Contending with low wants and lofty will,
than this. Manfred speaks Till our mortality predominates,
“ Think'st thou existence doth depend on And men are what they name not to them
It doth : but actions are our epochs. Mine And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,
Have made my days and nights imperish. [The shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard.
able, The natural níusic of the mountain reed
Endless, and all alike, as sands on the shore,
Endless and all alike. ne For here the patriarchal days are not
Innumerable atoms; and one desert, A pastoral fable-pipes in the liberal air,
Barren and cold, on which the wild waves Mixed with the sweet bells of the sauntering
break, herd ;
But nothing rests, save carcases and wrecks, My soul would drink those echoes. -Oh,
Rocks, and the salt-surf weeds of bitterness." that I were
Scene second gives us Manfred's The viewless spirit of a lovely sound, A living voice, a breathing harmony,
first interview with the Witch of the A bodiless enjoyment-born and dying
Alps, and he pours out liis soul to her With the blest tone which made me!” in a strain of very wild and empas
sioned poetry. Her appearance is deHe is then, when standing on the scribed in a style different from the toppling cliff, seized with an irresistible rest of the poem, and nothing can be desire to fling himself over, but a cha- more beautiful. mois-hunter very opportunely comes “ Man. Beautiful Spirit ! with thy hair in, and by force prevents him from ef
of light fecting his purpose. This interven- And dazzling eyes of glory, in whose form tion is, we think, altogether absurd. The charms of Earth's least-mortal daugh.
ters grow They descend from the cliff quietly To an un
To an unearthly stature, in an essence together; and so the scene, very dully of purer elements; while the bues of and unnaturally, comes to a conclu
youth, sion. It has been remarked of sui- Carnation'd like a sleeping infant's cheek, cides, that if they are hindered from Rock'd by the beating of her mother's heart, committing the crime in the very mode Or the rose-tints which summer's twilight which they have determined upon,
leaves the strong desire of death may con
Upon the lofty glacier's virgin snow, tinue upon them, and yet the miser
The blush of earth embracing with her
heaven, able beings have no power to adopt a Tinge thy celestial aspect, and make tame different scheme of destruction. If, The beauties of the sunbow which bends therefore, Manfred had been suddenly o'er thee. forced away from cliff and precipice, we Beautiful Spirit ! in thy calm clear brow, can suppose that he might, in another Wherein is glass'd serenity of soul, scene, have forborne his suicidal in Which of itself shows immortality,
ne. but it seems most unnatural. I read that thou wilt pardon to a son that he shall continue to descend caus Of Earth, whom the abstruser powers permit
At times to commune with them if that he tiously the very rocks over which he
Avail him of his spells—to call thee thus, had a moment before determined to
And gaze on thee a moment. fling himself, accept of assistance from
The Witch, however, cannot do any the chamois-hunter, and exhibit every
thing for him, and is commanded to symptom of a person afraid of losing
yanish, and the scene ends with a sohis footing, and tumbling down the
liloquy. In this he says is. crags. Besides, Manfred was not an
• I have one resource ordinary character; and this extreme still in my science I can call the dead,.. irresolution, after he had worked him- And ask them what it is we dread to be ; self up to frenzy, is wholly inconsist. The sternest answer can but be the grave, ent with his nature.
And that is nothing--if they answer not."* Vol, I.
In scene third, which is again on of them; and there follows a scene of the summit of the Jungfrau moun- a wild and wailing pathos, in which tain, Manfred does not appear at all, the misery and despair of Manfred but it is wholly occupied by the Des bursts forth in the most empassioned tinies and Nemesis. These very aw, exclamations, fearfully contrasted with ful abstractions exult together over the the fixed and mortal silence of the miseries and marlness of the world; ghost. . and one of them sings either a trium- Man. - " Thou lovedst mc phal song upon Buonaparte's return Too much, as I loved thee; we were not from Elba, and the bloody field of
made Waterloo,-or a prophetic strain on To torture thus each other, though it were his destined escape from St Helena, The deadliest sin to love as we have loved. and the rivers of blood which are yet Say that thou loath'sť me not that I do beat to overflow France.--His Lordship’s This punishment for both-that thou wilt be imagination seems to be possessed by
One of the blessed and that I shall die,
For hitherto all hateful things conspire this throne-shattering emperor. The
To bind me in existence in a life following passage is a specimen of the
Which makes me shrink from immortality song in which the Destinies express A future like the past. I cannot rest, themselves.
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek: ! “ First Destiny.
I feel but what thou art and what I am; “ The moon is rising broad, and round, And I would hear yet once before I perish, and bright;
The voice which was my musis_Speak to And here on snows, where never human foot
me! Of common mortal trod, we nightly tread, For I have called on thee in the still night, And leave no traces ; o'er the savage sea, Startled the slumbering birds from the husbThe glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
ed boughs, We skim its rugged breakers, which put on And woke the mountain wolves, and made The aspect of a tumbling tempest's foam,
the caves Frozen in a moment a dead whirlpool's Acquainted with thy rainly echoed name, image ;
Which answered memany things answer: And this most steep fantastic pinnacle,
ed me The fret work of some earthquake--where Spirits and men--but thou wert silent all..
Yet speak to me! I haveoutwatched the stars, Pause to repose themselves in passing by- And gazed o'er Heaven in vain in search of Is sacred to our revels, or our vigils.”
thee! Nemesis utters a higher strain.
Speak to me! I have wandered o'er the earth Nem. “I was detained repairing shattered
And never found thy likeness Speak to me!
Look on the fiends around they feel for me; thrones,
I fear them not, and feel for thee alono Marrying fools, restoring dynasties, Avenging men upon their enemies,
Speak to me! though it be in wrath ;-but
say And making them repent their own revenge, Goading the wise to madness; from the duli
si I reck not what but let me hear thee onde
This once Shaping out oracles to rule the world
once more! Afresh, for they were waxing out of date,
Phantom of Astartè. Manfred! And mortals dared to ponder for themselves,
Say on, say on , To weigh kings in the balance, and to speak
I live but in the sound-it is thy voice ! Of freedom, the forbidden fruit.-Away!
Phan. Manfred ! To-morrow ends thine We have outstaid the hour-mount we our
Farewell ! clouds”
Man. Yet one word more--am I forgiven? In scene fourth we are introduced
| Phan. Farewell! into the hall of Arimanes, Prince of
Man Say, shall we meet again ? Earth and Air, who is sitting, sur- Phan. Farewell! rounded by the Spirits, on his throne, Man. One word for mercy ! Say, thor a globe of fire. The seven spirits
lovest me , chaunt a wild song in his praise, the Phan. Manfred !”. Destinies and Nemesis join in the
[The Spirit of Astarte disappears. glorification; and meanwhile Man There is nothing very striking in the fred enters, unappalled by the threat first scenes of the last act, excepting ening visages of this dread assemblage. that conversation between Manfred and Nemesis asks,
in the Abbot, of which we have already .. , Whom wouldst thou, quoted a part. In that scene it seems Uncharnel ? .',.
to us that the moral purpose of the Man. One without a tomb.call up draina, appears--the explanation, as it Astartè.” I h ,
were, of all Manfred's misery, wickedAt the invocation of a spirit, her ness, and delusion. The Abbot offers phantom rises and stands in the midst him that which alone can save the