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German all over. By his side, what a man is Manfred! He is a man; there is no fitter word, or one which could depict him better. He will not, at the sight of a spirit, "quake like a craw! ing, cowering, timorous worm." He will not regret that "he has neither land, nor pence, nor worldly honors, nor influence." He will not let him
tion; 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 them, 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 Englishman, is energetic will and practical faculties. Here man has braced himself up in his efforts, become concentrated in resistance, fond of action, and hence shut out from pure speculation, from wavering sympathy, and from disinterested art. In him metaphysical liberty has perished under 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 indifferent nature? And who is further from flexibility and indifference than he? The flowing water, which in Goethe takes the mould of all the contours of the soil, and which we perceive in the sinuous and luminous distance beneath the golden mist which it exhales, was in Byron suddenly frozen into a mass of ice, and makes but a rigid block of crystal. Here, as elsewhere, there is but one character, the same as before. Men, gods, nature, all the changing and multiplex world of Goethe, has vanished. The poet alone subsists, as expressed in his character. Inevitably imprisoned within himself, he could see nothing but himself; if he must come to other existences, it is that they may reply to him; and through this pretended epic he persisted in his eternal monologue.
But how all these powers, assembled in a single being make him great! Into what mediocrity and platitude sinks the Faust of Goethe, compared to Manfred! As soon as we cease to see humanity in this Faust, what does he become? Is he a hero? A sad hero, who has no other task but to speak, is afraid, studies the shades of nis sensations, and walks about! His worst action is to seduce a grisette, and to go and dance by night in bad company-two exploits which many a German student has accomplished.
himself. If he has studied magic arts, it is not from an alchemist's curiosity, but from a spirit of revolt:
"From my youth upwards
My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men,
The thirst of their ambition was not mine,
Made me a stranger; though I wore the
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh....
Filt o'er the herbless granite, or to plunge
On the swift whirl of the new breaking
To follow through the night the moving
The stars and their development; or catch
Or to look, list'ning, on the scatter'd leaves,
These were my pastimes, and to be alone:
I could not tame m, nature down; for be
The mass are; I disdain'd to mingle with A herd, though to be leader-and of wolves.
He lives alone, and he cannot live alone. The deep source of love, cut off from its natural issues, then overflows and lays waste the heart which refused to expand. He has loved, too well, one too near to him, his sister it may be; she has died of it, and impotent remorse fills the soul which no hurnan occupation could satisfy:
My solitude is solitude no more, But peopled with the Furies;-I have gnash'd
My teeth in darkness till returning morn,
For madness as a blessing-'tis denied me.
Of an all-pitiless demon held me back,
In fantasy, imagination, all
The affluence of my soul. I plunged deep,
But, like an ebbing wave, it dashed me back
And live, and live for ever." +
le only wishes to see her once more: o this sole and all-powerful desire flow All the energies of his soul. He calls her up in the midst of spirits; she appears, but answers not. He prays to her-with what cries, what doleful cries of deep anguish! How he loves! With what yearning and effort all his downtrodden and outcrushed tenderness gushes out and escapes at the sight of those well-beloved eyes, which he sees for the last time! With what enthusiasm his convulsive arms stretched towards that frail form which, shuddering, has quitted the tomb towards those cheeks in which the blood, forcibly recalled, plants "a strange hectic-like the unnatural red which Autumn plants upon the perish'd leaf."
Hear me, hear me
Astarte my beloved! speak to me:
I have so much endured-so much endureLook on me! the grave hath not changed thee more
Than I am changed for thee. Thou lovedst
Byron's Works, xi.; Manfred, iii. 1, 56. ↑ Ibid. ii. 2, 35.
Too much as I loved thee: we were not made
To torture thus each other, though it were
This punishment for both-that thou wilt be
For I have call'd on thee in the still night, Startled the slumbering birds from the hush'd boughs,
And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves
Acquainted with thy vainly echoed name, Which answer'd me-many things answer'd
He mastereth himself, and makes His torture tributary to his will. Had he been one of us, he would have made An awful spirit." t
Will is the unshaken basis of this soul. He did not bend before the chief of the spirits; he stood firm and calm before the infernal throne, whilst all the demons were raging who would tear him to pieces: now he dies, and they assail him, but he still strives and con quers:
"... Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel;
Thou never shalt possess me, that I know:
The mind which is immortal makes itself
And its own place and time-its innate
announced. Owing to his title and
This I," the invincible I, who suffices to himself, on whom nothing has a hold, demons or men, the sole author of his own good and ill, a sort of suffering or fallen god, but god always, even in its quivering flesh, amidst his soiled and blighted destiny, such is the hero and the work of this mind, and of the men of his race. If Goethe was the poet of the universe, Byron was the poet of the individual; and if in one the German genius found its interpreter, the English genius found its inter-police, human and divine; the neces preter in the other.
met with across the Channel, a hundred times more tyrannical than now-adays; at that time, as Stendhal says, a peer at his fireside dared not cross his legs, for fear of its being improper. England held herself stiff, uncomfortably laced in her stays of decorum. Hence arose two sources of misery: a man suffers, and is tempted to throw down the ugly choking apparatus, when he is sure that it can be done secretly On one side constraint, on the other hypocrisy-these are the two vices of English civilization; and it was these which Byron, with his poet's discernment and his combative instincts, attacked.
sary bows at the mere name of Pitt, of the king, the church, the God of the 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 monster. Southey, the poet-laureate, said of him, in good biblical style, that he savored of Moloch and Belial-most of all of Satan; and, with the generosity of a brother poet, called the attention of Government to him. We should fill many pages if we were to copy the reproaches of the respectable reviews against these "men of diseased hearts and depraved imaginations, who, forming a system of opinions to suit their own unhappy course of conduct, have rebelled against the holiest ordinances of human society, and, hating that revealed religion which, with all their efforts and bravadoes, they are unable entirely to disbelieve, labor to make others as miserable as themselves, by infecting them with a moral virus that eats into the soul." This sounds like the emphasis of an episcopal charge and of scholastic pedantry in England the press does the duty of the police, and it never did it more violently than at that time. Opinion backed the press Several times, in Italy, Lord Byron saw gentlemen leave a drawingroom with their wives, when he was Byron's Works, xi.; Manfred, iii. + Southey, Preface to A Vision of Fudg 41 70.
He had seen them from the first; true artists are perspicacious: it is in this that they outstrip us; we judge from hearsay and formulas, like cockneys; they, like eccentric beings, from accomplished facts, and things: at twenty-two he perceived the tedium born of constraint desolating all high life:
"There stands the noble hostess, nor shal
With the three-thousandth curtsy; ..
And long the latest of arrivals 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 doubledealing and false-speaking time of selfish spoil
And gain an inch of staircase at a time." * He wrote also:
As for the morals of the upper classes, this is what he says:
"Went to my box at Covent Garden to night. Casting my eyes round the house, in the next box to me, and the next, and the next, were the most distinguished old and young Babylonians of quality. . . . It was as if the house had been divided between your public and your understood courtesans; but the intriguantes much outnumbered the regular mercenaries. Now, where lay the difference between Pauline and her mother, Lady ** and daughter? except that the two last may enter Carlton and any other house, and the two first are limited to the Opera and b-house. How I do delight in observing life as it really is!-and myself, after all, the worst of any! " +
And ther. he wrote his masterpiece Don Juan.†
All here was new, form as well as substance; for he had entered into a new world. The Englishman, the Northman, transplanted amongst south
"He (the Count) ought to have been in the country during the hunting season, with a select party of distinguished guests,' as the papers term it. He ought to have seen the gentlemen after dinner (on the hunting days), and the soirée ensuing thereupon,-and the women looking as if they had hunted, or rather been hunted; and I could have wished that he had been at a dinner in town, which I recollectern manners and into Italian life, had Lord C**'s-small, but select, and com- become imbued with a new sap, which ¡osed of the most amusing people. The des- made him bear new fruit. He had sert was hardy on the table, when, out of been induced to read the rather free twelve, I counted five asleep." ↑ satires of Buratti, and the more than voluptuous sonnets of Baffo. He lived in the happy Venetian society, still ex empt from political animosities, where care seemed a folly, where life was looked upon as a carnival, pleasure displayed itself openly, not timid and hypocritical, but loosely arrayed and commended. He amused himself here, impetuously at first, more than sufficient, even more than too much, and almost killed himself by these amusements; but after vulgar gallantries, having felt a real feeling of love, he became a cavalier' servante, after the fashion of the country where he dwelt, with the consent of the family of the Decorum and debauchery; moral hy- lady, offering his arm, carrying her 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, virtue, Christianity, and liberty: there was truth in all these invectives. ! It is only thirty years since the ascendency of the middle class diminished the privileges and corruptions of the great; but at that time hard words could with justice be thrown at their heads. Byron said, quoting from Voltaire :
"La Pudeur s'est enfuie des cœurs, et s'est refugiée sur les lèvres.' 'Plus les mœurs sont dépravées, plus les expressions deviennent mesurées; on croit regagner en langage ce qu'on a perdu en vertu." This is the real fact, as applicable to the degraded and hypocritical mass which leavens the present English generByron's Works, xvii.; Don Juan, c. 11, st. lxvii.
↑ Ibid. vi. 18; Letter 512, April 5, 1823. Ibid. ii. 303; Journal, Dec. 17, 1813. Alfred de Musset.
See his terrible satirical poem, The Vision of Judgment, against Southey, George IV., and official pomp.
English morality, conjugal infidelity established as a rule, amorous fidelity raised to a duty: "There is no convincing a woman here that she is in the smallest degree deviating from the rule of right or the fitness of things in having an amoroso. §... Love (the sentiment of love) is not merely an excuse for it, but makes it an actual virtue, provided it is disinterested, and not a caprice, and is confined to one object." A little later he translated the Morgante Maggiore of Pulci, to show
Byron's Works, xvi. 131; Preface to Don Juan, cantos vi. vii. and vii.
t Don Juan is a satire on the abuses in the present state of society, and not a eulogy of
"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:
* I like.
to see the Sun set, sure he'll rise
to morrow, Not through a misty morning twinkling weak
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sor
But with all Heaven t' himself; that day
will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to bor
That sort of farthing candlelight which glim
Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and
I like the women too (forgive my folly),
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
With other manners there existed in
* Byron's Works, iv. 279; Letter to Murray, Ravenna, Feb. 7, 1820.
Ibid. xi.; Beppo, c. xliii.-xlv. 121.
Thereupon he went in search of a hero, and did not find one, which, in this age of heroes, is "an uncommon want." For lack of a better he chose
scandalous choice: what an outcry the our ancient friend, Don Juan,”—a English moralists will make! But, to cap the horror, this Don Juan is not. wicked, selfish, odious, like his fellows he does not seduce, he is no corrupter. When an opportunity arises, he lets himself drift; he has a heart and senses, and, under a beautiful sun, they are easily touched: at sixteen a youth cannot help himself, nor at twenty, nor perhaps at thirty. Lay it to the charge of human nature, my dear moralists; it is not I who made it as it is. If you will grumble, address yourselves higher: we are here as painters, not as makers of human puppets, and we do not answer for the inner structure of our dancing-dolls. Our Don Juan is now going about; he goes about in many places, and in all he is young; we will not launch thunderbolts on his head because he is young; that fashion is past: the green devils and their capers only come on the stage in the last act of Mozart's Don Giovanni And, moreover, Juan is so amiable ! After all, what has he done that other don't do? He has been a lover of Catherine II., but he only followed the lead of the diplomatic corps and the whole Russian army. Let him sow his wild oats; the good grain will spring up in its time Once in England, he
See Stendhal, Vie de Giacomo Rossini, and Dean Stanley's Life of Dr. Arnold. The contrast is complete. See also Mad. de Stael's Corinne, where this opposition is very clearly grasped.