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but how partial still was this ap- His wilfulness is whim, his ideas are proach! And how we feel, on reading longings and dreams. A poet's soul ir inem, that they would have needed the a scholar's head, both unfit for action, aid of public culture, and the aptitude and not harmonizing well together of national genius, which Goethe pos- discord within, and weakness without sessed! That which the whole of civ-in short, character_is wanting : it is ilization has alone developed in the German all over. By his side, what a Englishman, is energetic will and prac. man is Manfred! He is a man; there tical faculties. Here man has braced is no fitter word, or one which could himself up in his efforts, become con- depict him better. He will not, at the centrated in resistance, fond of action, sight of a spirit, “ quake like a craw! and hence shut out from pure specula- ing, cowering, timorous worm." tion, from wavering sympathy, and will not regret that "he has neither from disinterested art. 'In him meta- land, nor pence, nor worldly honors, physical liberty has perished under nor influence.” He will not let him: utilitarian preoccupation, and panthe self be duped by the devil like a schoolistic reverie under moral prejudices. boy, or go and amuse himself like a How would he frame and bend'his im- cockney with the phantasmagoria of agination so as to follow the number. the Brocken. He has lived like a feuless and fugitive outlines of existences, dal chief, not like a scholar who has especially of vague existences ? How taken his degree; he has fought, master would he leave his religion so as to re-ed others; he knows how to master produce indifferently the powers of in- himself. If he has studied magic arts, different nature ? And who is further it is not from an alchemist's curiosity, from fexibility and indifference than but from a spirit of revolt: he? The flowing water, which in Goethe takes the mould of all the contours of my youth upwards
My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men, the soil, and which we perceive in the Nor 'look'd upon the earth with human sinuous and luminous distance beneath the golden mist which it exhales, was in
The thirst of their ambition was not mine,
The aim of their existence was not mine ; Byron suddenly frozen into a mass of
My joys, my griets, my passions, and my pow ice, and makes but a rigid block of crystal. Here, as elsewhere, there is Made me a stranger; though I wore the but one character, the same as before. form, Men, gods, nature, all the changing
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh.
My joy was in the Wilderness, to breathe and multiplex world of Goethe, has The difficult air of the iced mountain's top, vanished. The poet alone subsists, as Where the birds dare not build, nor insect's expressed in his character. Inevitably
Filt o'er the herbless granite, or to plunge imprisoned within himself, he could
Into the torrent, and to roli along see aothing but himself; if he must On the swift whirl of the new breaking come to other existences, it is that they may reply to him; and through this To follow through the night the moving
moon, pretended epic he persisted in his eter
The stars and their development ; or catch nal monologue.
The dazzling lightnings till my eyes grey But how all these powers, assembled
dim; in a single being make him great!
Or to look, listning, on the scatter'd leaves,
While Autumn winds were at their evening Into what mediocrity and platitude
song. sinks the Faust of Goethe, compared These were my pastimes, and to be alone : to Manfred! As soon as we cease to For if the beings, of whom I was onc,
Hating to be so, -cross'd me in my path, see humanity in this Faust, what does
I felt myse!f degraded back to them, he become? Is he a hero? A sad And was all clay again. hero, who has no other task but to I could not tame m; nature down; for be speak, is afraid, studies the shades of Must serve who fain would sway-and sootho
-and such nis sensations, and walks about! His
And watch all time and pry into all placeworst action is to seduce a grisette, And be a living lic-who would become and to go and dance by night in bad A mighty thing amongst the mean, and rock company-two exploits which many a German student has accomplished. • Byron's Works, xi, ; Manfred ü. 2, Jh.
The mass are ; I disdain'd to mingle with Too much as I loved thee: we were not
Tc torture thus each other, though it were
The deadliest sin to love as we have loved. He lives alone, and he cannot live Say that thou loath'st me not-that I de alone. The deep source of love, cut
bear pff from its natural issues, then over.
This punishment for both--that thou wilt be
One of the blessed-and that I sball die flows and lays waste the heart which For hitherto all hateful things conspire refused to expand. He has loved, too To bind me in existence in a life well, one
oo near to him, his sister it Which makes me shrink from immortality may be; she has died of it, and impo
A future like the past. I cannot rest.
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek : tent remorse fills the soul which no
I feel but what thou art-ard what I am ; hurnan occupation could satisfy:
And I would hear yet once before I perish
The voice which was my music-Speak u
For I have call'd on thee in the still night, gnash'd
Startled the slumbering birds from the bush'd My teeth in darkness till returning morn,
boughs, Then cursed myself till sunset ;-I have And woke the mountain wolves, and orada pray'd
the caves For madness as a blessing— tis denied me.
Acquainted with thy vainly echoed name, I have affronted death--but in the war
Which answer'd me-many things answer'd Of elements the waters shrunk from me,
mc And fatal things pass'd harmless the cold
Spirits and men--but thou wert silent hand
all. Of an all-pitiless demon held me back,
Speak to me! I have wander'd o'er the Back by a single hair, which would not
And never found thy likeness--Speak to me! In fantasy, imagination, all
Look on the fiends around--they feel for me : The affluence of my soul. I plunged
I fear them not, and feel for thee alone deep,
Speak to me! though it be in wrath ;-but But, like an ebbing wave, it dashed me back
This once-once more.”
She speaks. What a sad and doubt
His torture tributary to his will.
Had he been one of us, he would have made cries of deep anguish! How he loves ! An awful spirit.” † With what yearning and effort all his downtrodden and outcrushed tender-Will is the unshaken basis of this soul. ness gushes out and escapes at the He did not bend before the chief of sight of those well-beloved eyes, which the spirits ; he stood firm and calm behe sees for the last time! With what fore the infernal throne, whilst all the enthusiasm his convulsive arms are demons were raging who would tear stretched towards that frail form which, him to pieces : now he dies, and they shuddering, has quitted the tomb assail him, but he still strives and contowards those cheeks in which the quers : blood, forcibly recalled, plants
Thou hast no power upon me, that I strange hectic-like the unnatural red feel; which Autumn plants upon the perish'd
Thou never shalt possess me, that I know : leaf.”
What I have done is donc ; I bear within
A torture which could nothing gain from Hear me, hear me
The mind which is immortal makes itseli
And its own place and time-its innata
sense When stripp'd of this mortality, derives
No colour from the deeting things withort; • Byron's Works, xi.; Manfred, iii. 1, gó. * Toid ü. 2, 35
• Thief ü. A 47
+ Ibid. ii. A
But is absorb'd in sufferance or in joy, announced. Owing to his title and
was more conspicuous than any other.
obscure parson sent him a prayer which The hand of death is on me-but not
his wife--a charming and pious lady,
recently dead, and who had secretly This ''I,” the invincible I, who suf- prayed to God for the conversion of fices to himself
, on whom nothing has the great sinner. Conservative and a hold, demuns or men, the sole author Protestant England, after a quarter of of his own good and ill, a sort of suffer.
a century of moral wars, and two cen. ing or fallen god, but god always, even turies of moral education, carried its in its quivering Aesh, amidst his soiled severity and rigor to extremes;, and and blighted destiny,--such is the hero Puritan intolerance, like Catholic inand the work of this mind, and of the tolerance previously in Spain, put remen of his race. If Goethe was the poet of the universe, Byron was the cusants out of the pale of the law. The
proscription of voluptuous or abanpoet of the individual ; and if in one doned life, the narrow observation of the German genius found its interpret- order and decency, the respect of all er, the English genius found its inter-police, human and divine; the neces, preter in the other.
sary bows at the mere name of Pitt, of
the king, the church, the God of the V.
Bible; the attitude of the gentleman in
a white tie, conventional, inflexible, imWe can well imagine that English-placable, --such were the customs then men clamored at and repudiated the met with across the Channel, a hun. monster. Southey, the poet-laureate, dred times more tyrannical than now-asaid of him, in good biblical style, that days; at that time, as Stendhal says, he savored of Moloch and Belial--most a peer at his fireside dared not cross of all of Satan; and, with the gener his legs, for fear of its being improper. osity of a brother poet, called the at- England held herself stiff, uncomforttention of Government to him. We ably laced in her stays of decorum. should fill many pages if we were to Hence arose two sources of misery: a copy the reproaches of the respectable man suffers, and is tempted to throw reviews against these “men of diseased down the ugly choking apparatus, when hearts and depraved imaginations, who, he is sure that it can be done secretly forming a system of opinions to suit On one side constraint, on the other their own unhappy course of conduct, hypocrisy—these are the two vices of have rebelled against the holiest ordi- English civilization ; and it was these nances of human society, and, hating which Byron, with his poet's discernthat revealed religion which, with all ment and his combative instincts, at. their efforts and bravadoes, they are tacked. unable entirely to disbelieve, labor to He had seen them from the first; make others as miserable as them- true artists are perspicacious : it is in selves, by infecting them with a moral this that they outstrip us; we judge virus that eats into the soul.” † This from hearsay and formulas, like cock. sounds like the emphasis of an episcopal neys; they, like eccentric beings, fros charge ani of scholastic pedantry: in accomplished facts, and things : at England the press does the duty of the twenty-two he perceived the tedium police, and it never did it more violently born of constraint desolating all high than at that time. Opinion backed the life: press Several times, in Italy, Lord Byron saw gentlemen leave a drawing
“ 'There stands the noble hostens, por sbal room with their wives, when he was
With the three-thousandth curtsy; .. • Byron's Works, si.; Mantero .
Saloon, room, hall, o'erflow beyond then † Southey, Preface to A Vision of Fungen
brink, And long the latest of privalo balts,
'Midst royal dukes and dames condemn'd to ation; and it is the only answer they deserve climb,
Cant is the crying sin of this doubleAnd gain an inch of staircase at a time.” * dealing and false-speaking time of selfish spoil
ers. He wrote also :
“ He (the Count) ought to have been in the And ther, he wrote his masterpiece country during the hunting, season, with a Don Juan.t Kelect party of distinguished guests,' as the
All here was new, form as well as papers term it.
He ought to have seen the gentlemen after dinner (on the hunting days), substance; for he had entered into a and the soirée ensuing thereupon, and the new world. The Englishman, the women looking as if they had hunted, or rather Northman, transplanted amongst southbeen hunted ; and I could have wished that he had been at a dinner in town, which I recollect
ern manners and into Italian life, had pa Lord C**'s-small, but select, and com- become imbued with a new sap, which rosed of the most amusing people. The des made him bear new fruit. He had sert was hard y, on the table, when, out of been induced to read | the rather freo twelve, I counted five asleep."'t
satires of Buratti, and the more than As for the morals of the upper classes, voluptuous sonnets of Baffo. He lived this is what he says:
in the happy Venetian society, still ex “Went to my box at Covent Garden to empt from political animosities, where night. Casting my eyes round the house, care seemed a folly, where life was in the next box to me, and the next, and the looked upon as a carnival, pleasure next, were the most distinguished old and displayed itself openly, not timid and young Babylonians of quality. . . . It was as if the house had been divided between your hypocritical, but loosely arrayed and public and your understood courtesans ;--but commended. He amused himself here, mercenaries. Now, where lay the difference cient, even more than too much, and the intriguantes much outnumbered the regular impetuously at first, more than suffibetween Pauline and her mother, Lady * * and daughter ? except that the two almost killed himself by these amuselast may enter Carlton and any other house, ments; but after vulgar gallantries, and the two first are limited to the Opera and having felt a real feeling of love, he bhouse. How I do delight in observing life became a cavalier servante, after the as it really island myself, after all, the worst fashion of the country where he dwelt, of any!" I Decorum and debauchery; 'moral hy lady, offering his arm, carrying her
with the consent of the family of the pocrites, “qui mettent leurs vertus shawl, a little awkwardly at first, and en mettant leurs gants blancs ;”an wonderingly, but on the whole happier oligarchy which, to preserve its places than he had ever been, and fanned by and its sinecures, ravages Europe, a warm breath of pleasure and abandon. preys on Ireland, and excites the peo- | He saw in Italy the overthrow of all ple by making use of the grand words, English morality, conjugal infidelity esvirtue, Christianity, and liberty: there tablished as a rule, amorous fidelity was truth in all these invectives. I! It raised to a duty: “There is no conis only thirty years since the ascend- vincing a woman here that she is in the ency of the middle class diminished the smallest degree deviating from the privileges and corruptions of the great; rule of right or the fitness of things in but at that time hard words could with having an amoroso. g. Love (the justice be thrown at their heads. Byron sentiment of love) is not merely an exiaid, quoting from Voltaire :
cuse for it, but makes it an actual "La Pudeur s'est enfuie des cœurs, et s'est virtue, provided it is disinterested, and refugiée sur les lèvres.' ... Plus les meurs sont dépravées, plus les expressions deviennent not a caprice, and is confined to one mesurées ; on croit regagner en langage ce object.” || A little later he translated qu'on a perdu en vertu. This is the real fact, thé Morgante Maggiore of Pulci, to show as applicable to the degraded and hypocritical mass which leavens the present English gener- * Byron's Works, xvi. 15! ; Preface to Don
Juan, cantos vi. vii. and viir. * Byron's Works, xvii. ; Don Juan, c. 11, Don Fwan is a satire on the abuses in the st. lxvii.
present state of society, and not a eulogy a | Ibid. vi. 18; Letter 512, April 5, 1823. 1 Ibid. ji. 303 ; Journal, Dec. 17, 1813. *Stendhal, Mémoires sur Lord Byron. Alfred de Musset.
$ Byron's Works, üi. 333 ; Letter to Murray i See his terrible satirical poem, The Vision | Venice, Jan. 2, 1817; of Judgment, against Southey, George IV., | Ibid. üi. 363 ; Lett # 10 Moore, Venica and official pomp.
March ag, 1817.
“What was permitted in a Catholic marriage tie strictly kept, a feeling of country and a bigoted age to a church- duty and self-command. In Italy the man on the score of religion, and to beauty of the climate, the innate sense silence those buffoons who accuse me of the beautiful, and the despotism of of attacking the Liturgy.". * He re- the government induced an idle life, joiced in this liberty and this ease, and loose manners, imaginative religion, resolved never to fall again under the the culture of the arts, and the search pedantic inquisition, which in his coun- after happiness. Each model has its try had condemned and damned him beauties and its blots,—the epicurean past forgiveness. He wrote his Beppo artist like the political moralist ;* each like an improvisatore, with a charming shows by its greatnesses the littlenesses freedom, a flowing and fantastic light of the other, and, to set in relief the ness of mood, and contrasted in it the disadvantages of the second, Lord recklessness and happiness of Italy Byron had only to set in relief the se with the prejudices and repulsiveness ductions of the first. of England:
Thereupon he went in search of a * I like ... to see the Sun set, sure he'll rise hero, and did not find one, which, in to morrow,
this age of heroes, is “ an uncommon Not through a misty morning twinkling weak want.' For lack of a better he chose A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sor.
“our ancient friend, Don Juan,”—a
scandalous choice: what an outcry the But with all Heaven i himself; that day English moralists will make! But, ta
will break as Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to bor-cap the horror, this Don Juan is not
. wicked, selfish, odious, like his fellows: That sort of farthing candlelight which glim- he does not seduce, he is no corrupter.
When an opportunity arises, he lets Where reeking London's smoky caldron sim- himself drift; he has a heart and
senses, and, under a beautiful sun, they I love the language, that soft bastard Latin, Which melts like kisses from a female mouth, cannot help himself, nor at twenty, nor
are easily touched : at sixteen a youth And sounds as if it should be writ on satin, With syllables which breathe of the sweet perhaps at thirty. Lay it to the charge South,
of human nature, my dear moralists; And gentle liquids gliding all 80 pat in, it is not I who made it as it is. If you That not a single accent seems uncouth, Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting will grumble, address yourselves highguttural,
er : we are here as painters, not as Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and makers of human puppets, and we do sputter all.
not answer for the inner structure of I like the women too (forgive my folly), our dancing-dolls. Our Don Juan From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy is now going about; he goes about in
bronze, And large black eyes that Aash on you a many places, and in all he is young; volley
we will not launch thunderbolts on his Of rays that say a thousand things at once, head because he is young; that fashion To the high dama's brow, more melancholy, is past: the green devils and their But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance, capers only come on the stage in the Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes, Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies." + last act of Mozart's Don Giovanni
And, moreover, Juan is so amiable ! With other manners there existed in After all, what has he done that other Italy another morality; there is one for don't do? He has been a lover ( every age, race, and sky-I mean that Catherine II., but he only followed the the ideal model varies with the circum- lead of the diplomatic corfs and the stances which fashion it. In England whole Russian army. Let him sow the severity of the climate, the warlike his wild oats ; five good grain will spring energy of the race, and the liberty of up in its time Once in England, he the institutions prescribe an active life, severe manners, Puritanic religion, the * See Stendhal, Vie de Giacomo Rossini,
and Dean Stanley's Life of Dr. Arnold. The • Byron's Works, iv. 279 ; Letter to Mur contrast is complete. See also Mad. de Stael's ray, Ravenna, Feb. 7, 1820.
Corinne, where this opposition is very clearly # Ibid. xi. ; Beppo, c. zlüi.-uy, 131. grasped.