Изображения страниц

warm ; .



a monument.

will behave himself decently. I con

Above ter brow, lay dreaming soft and fess that he may even there, when pro

One with her auburn tresses lightly bound, voked, go a gleaning in the conjugal And fair brows gently drooping, as the fruit gardens of the aristocracy; but in the Nods from the tree, was slumbering with soft end he will settle, go and pronounce

breath, moral speeches in Parliament, become

And lips apart, which show'd the pearls bea member of the Society for the Sup. A fourth as marble, statue-like and still, pression of Vice. If you wish absolute- Lay in a breathless, hush'd, and stony sleep ly to have him punished, we will White, cold, and ... a carved lady or. "make him end in hell, or in an un. happy marriage, not knowing which However, " the fading lamps waner would be the severest: the Spanish dim and blue;" Dudu is asleep, the tradition says hell: but it is probably innocent girl; and if she has cast a only an allegory of the other state."*

glance on her glass, At all events, married or damned, the good folk at the end of the piece will " 'Twas like the fawn, which, in the lake dis have the pleasure of knowing that he play'd, is burning all alive.

Beholds her own shy, shadowy image pase,

When first she starts, and then returns to Is not this a singular apology? Does peep, it not aggravate the fault Let us Admiring this new native of the deep." + wait; we know not yet the whole venom of the book : together with Juan there What will become now of Puritanic are Donna Julia, Haidée, Gulbeyaz, prudery? Can the proprieties prevent Dudu, and many more.

It is here the

beauty from being beautiful ? Will diabolical poet digs in his sharpest its nudity? What gives value to human

condemn a picture of Titian for claw, and he takes care to dig it into life, and 'nobility to human nature, if our weakest side. What will the clergymen and white-chokered reviewers not the power of attaining delicious and say? For, to speak the truth, there is sublime emotions? We have just had no preventing it: we must read on, in one-one worthy of a painter ; is it not spite of ourselves. Twice or three worth that of an alderman? Shall we times following we meet here with hap.

refuse to acknowledge the divine bepiness; and when I say happiness, I cause it appears in art and enjoyment, mean profound and complete happiness

and not only in conscience and action -not mere voluptuousness, not ob. There is a world beside ours, and a scene gayety; we are far removed civilization beside ours; our rules are from the nicely-written ribaldry of narrow, and our pedantry tyrannic; Dorat, and the unbridled license of the human plant can be otherwise Rochester. Beauty is here, southern developed than in our compartments deauty, resplendent and harmonious, and under our snows, and the fruits it spread over every thing, over the lumi- will then bear will not be less precions. nous sky, the calm scenery, corporal

We must confess it, since we relish nudity, artlessness of heart.' Is there them when they are offered to us. Who a thing it does not deify? All senti- has read the love of Haidée, and has

are exalted under its hands. had any other thought than to envy and What was gross becomes noble; even

pity her? She is a wild child who has in the nocturnal adventure in the ser.

picked up Juan-another child cast

She aglio, which seems worthy of Faublas, ashore senseless by the waves. poetry embellishes licentiousness. The has preserved him, nursed him like a girls are lying in the large silent apart: can blame her for loving him? Who,

mnother, and now she loves him : who ment, like precious flowers brought in presence of the splendid nature Gom all climates into a conservatory:

which smiles on and protects them, can One with her lush'd cheek laid on her wh'te imagine for them any thing else than And raven ringlets gather'd in dark crowd

the all-powerf al feeling which unites

[ocr errors]



them : Byron's Works, v. 137 ; Letter to Mr. * Byron's Works, Ivi. ; Don Juan, C. Th. m. Murray Ravenna, Feb. 16, 1891.

Ixvi. Ixvä.

& ibid. st. ix


. It was a wild and breaker-beaten coast, O admira üle muralists, you stand be

With cliffs above, and a broad sandy shore, fore these two flowers like patented Guarded by shoals and rocks as by an host, .

gardeners, holding in your hands a And rarely ceased the haughty billow's roar, model of the bloom sanctioned by your Save on the dead long summer days, which society of horticulture, proving that the

make The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake.

model has not been followed, and decid And all was stillness, save the sea-bird's cry, ing that the two weeds must be cast Add dolphin's leap, and little billow crost into the fire, which you keep burning By some low rock or shelve, that made it

to consume irregular growths. You fret Against the boundary it scarcely wet.

have judged well, and you know your

art. And thus they wander'd forth, and hand in

Besides British cant, there is unirer hand, Over the shining pebbles and the shells,

sal hypocrisy; besides English pedant. Glided along the smooth and harden'd sand, ry, Byron wars against human roguery. And is the worn and wild receptacles Here is the general aim of the poem, Work’il by the storms, yet work'd as it were

and to this his character and genius plann'd, In hollow halls, with sparry roofs and cells,

tended. His great and gloomy dreams They turn'd to rest; and, each clasp'd by of juvenile imagination have vanished ; an arm,

experience has come ; he knows man Yielded to the deep twilight's purple charm.

now; and what is man, once known? They look'd up to the sky whose floating does the sublime abound in him ? Du

glcw Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright;

we think that the grand sentiments-. They yazed upon the glittering sea below,

those of Childe Harold, for instance,Whence the broad moon rose circling into are the ordinary course of life ? * The

sight; They Seard the wave's splash and the wind truth is, that man employs most of his so low,

time in sleeping, dining, yawning, workAnd saw each other's dark eyes darting light ing like a horse, amusing himself like Into each other-and, beholding this, an ape. According to Byron, he is an Their lips drew near, and clung into a animal; except for a few minutes, his

nerves, his blood, his instincts lead him. They were alone, but not alone as they Routine works over it all, necessity Who shut in chambers think it loneliness; The silent ocean, and the starlight bay,

whips him on, the animal advances. The twilight glow, which momently grew

As the animal is proud, and moreover less,

imaginative, it pretends to be marching The voiceless sand, and dropping caves that for its own pleasure, that there is no

lay Around then, made them to each other whip, that at all events this whip rarely

touches its flanks, that at least its stoic press, As il there were no life beneath the sky back can make-believe that it does not Save theirs, and that their life could never feel it. It thinks that it is decked with die."

the most splendid trappings, and thns An excellent opportunity to introduce struts on with measured steps, fancying aere your formularies and catechisms : that it carries relics and treads on car

Haidée spoke not of scruples, ask'd no vows, pets and flowers, whilst in reality it Nor offer d any : ••

tramples in the mud, and carries with She was all which parc ignorance allows, it the stains and bad smells of every And flew to her young mate like a young dunghill. What a pastime to touch bird.” 1

its mangy back, to set before its eyes the Nature suddenly expands, for she is sacks full of flower which it carries, and ripe, like a bud bursting into bloom, na- the goad which makes it go!t What ture in her fulness instinct, and heart: a pretty farce! It is the eternal farce; “ Alas! they were 80 young, so beautiful,

and not a sentiment thereof but proSo lonely, loving helpless, and the hour Was that in which the heart is always ful ,

* Byron says (v., Oct. 12, 1820), “Don Juan

is too true, and would, I suspect, live longer And, having o'er itself no further power, than Childe Harold. The women hate many Prompts deeds eternity can not annal.".

things which strip off the tinsel of sentiment.

Don Juan, c. vii. st. 2. I_hope it is no Byron's Works, I.; Don Juan, c. ii. st. crime to laugh at all things. For I wish to clxxvii.-clxxxviii.

# Ibid. st. cxc. know what, after all, are all things but 1 Ibid. c. ii. st. crcii.





vides him with an act : love in the first together and we laugh to see the brute, place. Certainly Donna Julia is very who is lying at the bottom. Here is Iovable, and Byron loves her ; but she our friend Juan reading Julia's last comes out of his hands, as rumpled letter, and swearing in a transport never as any other woman. She is virtuous, to forget the beautiful eyes which he of course ; and what is better still, she caused to weep so much. Was ever desires to be so. She plies herself, in feeling more tender or sincere? But connection with Don Juan, with the unfortunately Juan is at sea, and sick. anest arguments; what a fine thing are ness sets in. He cries out : arguments, and how suited they are to “ Sooner shall earth resolve itself to sea, check passion! Nothing can be more Than I resign thine image, oh, my fairl... bulid than a firm purpose, propped up (Here the ship gave a lurch, and he greu by logic, resting on the fear of the sea-sick.)

Sooner shall heaven kiss earth-There he world, the thought of God, the recol

fell sicker.) lection of duty; nothing can prevail Oh Julia ! what is every other woe ? against it, except a tête-à-tête in June, (For God's sake let me have a glass o on a moonlight evening. At last the liquor ; deed is done, and the poor timid lady is

Pedro, Battista, help me down below.)

Julia, my love !-(You rascal, Pedro, quick surprised by her outraged husband ; er) in what a situation! Let us look again

Oh, Julia!-(this curst vessel pitches so) at the book. Of course she will be

Beloved Julia, hear me still beseeching i

(Here he grew inarticulate with retching.) .. speechless, ashamed and full of tears, Love's a capricious power : and the moral reader duly reckons on Against all noble maladies he's bold, her remorse. My dear reader, you

But vulgar illnesses don't like to meet ; : .. have not reckoned on impulse and

Shrinks from the application of hot towels,

And purgatives are dangerous to his reign, To-morrow she will feel Sea-sickness death." * shame ; the business is now to overwhelm the husband, to deafen him, to Many other things cause the death of

Love : cunfound him, to save Juan, to save her. self, to fight. The war 'once begun, is

“ 'Tis melancholy, and a fearful sign waged with all kinds of weapons, and

Of human frailty, folly, also crime,

That love and marriage rarely cap combine, chiefly with audacity and insults. The Although they both are born in the same only idea is the present need, and this clime; absorbs all others; it is in this that

Marriage from love, like vinegar from winewoman is a woman. This Julia cries

A sad, sour, sober beverage.

An honest gentleman, at his retur, lustily. It is a regular storm : hard May not have the good fortune of Ulysses ; words and recriminations, mockery and The odds are that he finds a handsome urn challenges, fainting and tears. In a

To his memory-and two or three young

misses quarter of an hour she has gained Born to some friend, who holds his wife and twenty years' experience. You did not riches,know, nor she either, what an actress

And that' kis Argus bites him by - the

breeches." can emerge, all on a sudden, unfore. been, out of a simple woman.

These are the words of a skeptic, even know what can emerge from yourself? of a cynic. Skeptic and cynic, it is in You think yourself rational, humane; I this he ends. Skeptic through misan. admit it for today; you have dined, thropy, cynic through bravado, a sad and you are comfortable in a pleasant and combative humor always impels

Your human mechanism works him ; southern voluptuousness has not without getting into disorder, because conquered him ; he is only an epicurean the wheels are oiled and well regulated; through contradiction and for a moment. but place it in a shipwreck, a battle, let " Let us have wine and women, mirth and the failing or the plethora of blood for laughter,

Sermons and soda-water the day after. an instant derange the chief pieces, ard

Man, being reasonable must get drunk • we shall see you howling or drivelling The best of life is but intoxication." $ like a madman or an idiot. Civilization, education, reason, health, cloak us in * Byron's Works, xv. ; Dox fuas, c.me their smooth and polished cases ;


1 Ibid. c. ii. st. let

1 Ibid. c. üi. st. Qiü. us tear them away one by one, or all g Ibid. st. clxxviii., clxxix.

Do you


[ocr errors]



We see clearly that he is a ways the poetry? Of the divine mantle, the last same, going to extremes and unhappy, garment which a poet respects, ha bent on destroying himself. His Don makes a rag to trample upon, to wring, Juan, also, is a debauchery; in it he to make holes in, out of sheer wantondiverts himself outrageously at the ex- ness. At the most touching monient pense of all respectable things, as a of Haidée's love he vents a buffoonery bull in a china shop. He is always He concludes an ode with caricatures violent, and often ferocious ; a sombie He is Faust in the first verse, and imagii ation intersperses his love stories Mephistopheles in the second. He with horrors leisurely enjoyed, the des- employs, in the midst of tenderness +1 pair and famine of shipwrecked men, of murder, penny-print witticisms, triv. and the emaciation of the raging skele- ialities, gossip, with a pamphleteer's tons feeding on each other. He laughs vilification and a buffoon's whimsicaliat it horribly, like Swift ; he jests over ties. He lays bare the poetic method, i I ke Voltaire :

asks himself where he has got to, And next they thought upon the master's the Muse, Pegasus, and the whole epic

counts the stanzas already done, jokes As fattest; but he saved himself, because, stud, as though he wouldn't give twoBesides being much averse from such a fate, pence for them. Again, what remains ? There were some other reasons: the first Himself, he alone, standing amidst ali He had been rather indisposed of late ;

this ruin. It is he who speaks here ; And that which chiefly proved his saving his characters are but screens ; half the clause,

time even he pushes them aside, to Was a small present made to him at Cadiz, By general subscription of the ladies." +

occupy the stage. He lavishes upon

us his opinions, recollections, anger, With his specimens in hand, t Byron fol. tastes; his poem is a conversation, a lows with a surgeon's exactness all the confidence, with the ups and downs, the stages of death, gorging, rage, madness, rudeness and freedom of a conversahowling, exhaustion, stupor; he wishes tion and a confidence, almost like the to touch and exhibit the naked and holographic journal, in which, by night, ascertained truth, the last grotesque at his writing-table, he opened his heart and hideous element of humanity and discharged his feelings.

Never Let us read again the assault on Ismail, was seen in such a clear glass the birth --the grape-shot and the bayonet, the of lively thought, the tumult of great street massacres, the corpses used as genius, the inner life of a genuine poet, fascines, and the thirty-eight thousand always impassioned, inexhaustibly ferslaughtered Turks. There is blood tile and creative, in whom suddenly, enough to satiate a tiger, and this blood successively, finished and adorned, flows amidst an accompaniment of bloomed all human emotions and ideas, jests ; it is in order to rail at war, and -sad, gay, lofty, low, hustling one anthe butcheries dignified with the name other, mutually impeding one another of exploits. In this pitiless and uni- like swarms of insects who go hum. versal demolition of all human vanities, ming and feeding on flowers and in the what remains ? What do we know ex- mud. He may say what he likes ; wil. pept that life is “a scene of all con- I lingly or unwillingly, we listen to him; less'd inanity,” and that men are, let him leap from sublime to burlesque, Dogs, or men l-for I flatter you in saying

we leap with him. He has so much That ye are dogs-your betters far-ye may wit, so fresh a wit, so sudden, so bit Read, or read pot, what I am now essaying ing, such a prodigality of knowledge, ye are in every way?"

ideas, images picked up from the fou What does he find in science but defi- corners of the Eorizon, in heaps and ciencies, and in religion but mummer. masses, that we are captivated, trang ies ? & Does he so much as preserve ported beyond all limits; we cannot

• Pyron's Works, XV. ; Don Juan, c. ü. st. dream of resisting. Too vigor Jus, and Ixxxi.

hence unbridled, -that is the word + Byron had before him a dozen authentic which ever recurs when we speak of descriptions. 1 Byron's Works, xvi. ; Don Juan, c. vii. Byron ; too vigorous against other

$ See his Vision of Judgment. and himself, and so unbridled, that

To show



xt. 70


“ Make you.

after spending his life in setting the skeptic for his doubt. The plebeian, world at defiance, and his poetry in like the sceptic, attacked by a preca depicting revolt, he can only find the cious melancholy, and withered by a fulfilment of his talent and the satis- premature experience, abandoned his faction of his heart, in a poem waging sympathies and his conduct to the

on all human and poetic conven- poets, who declared happiness impostions. When a man lives in such a sible, truth unattainable, society illmanner he must be great, but he be arranged, man abortive or marred. comes also morbid. There is a malady From this unison of voices an idea of heart and mind in the style of Don arose, the centre of the literature, the Juan, as in Swift. When a man jests arts, the religion of the age, to wit, that amidst his tears, it is because he has a there is a monstrous disproportion be. poisoned imagination. This kind of tween the different parts of our social laughter is a spasm, and we see in one structure, and that human destiny is man a hardening of the heart, or mad- vitiated by this disagreement. ness; in another, excitement or disgust. What advice have they given us to Byro.a was exhausted, at least the poet cure this? They were great; were they was exhausted in him. The last cantos wise ? “Let deep and strong sensaof Don Fuan drag : the gayety became tions rain upon you; if the human meforced, the escapades became digres-chanism breaks, so much the worse ! sions ; the reader began to be bored. “Cultivate your garden, bury yourself A new kind of poetry, which he had in a little circle, re-enter the flock, be a attempted, had given way in his hands : beast of burden.” “ Turn believer in the drama he only attained to power again, take holy water, abandon your ful declamation, his characters had no mind to dogmas, and your conduct t life; when he forsook poetry, poetry manuals of devotion.' forsook him; he went to Greece in way; aspire to power, honors, wealth." search of action, and only found death. Such are the various replies of artists

and citizens, Christians and men of the VI.

world. Are they replies ? And what

do they proposé but to satiate one's So lived and so died this unhappy self, to become stupid, to turn aside, to great man; the malady of the age had forget? There is another and a deeper no more distinguished prey. Around answer, which Goethe was the first to him, like a hecatomb, lie the others, give, the truth of which we begin to wounde

also by the greatness of their conceive, in which issue all the labor faculties and their immoderate desires, and experience of the age, and which -some ending in stupor or drunken- may perhaps be the subject-matter of ness, others worn out by pleasure or future literature: “Try to understand work; these driven to madness or sui- yourself, and things in general." A ride; those beaten down by impotence, strange reply, which seems hardly new, 01 lying on a sick-bed; all agitated by whose scope we shall only hereafter their too acute or aching nerves; the discover. For a long time yet men will strongest carrying their bleeding wound feel their sympathies thrill at the sound to old age, the happiest having suffered of the sobs of their great poets. For as much as the rest, and preserving a long time they will rage against a their scars, though healed. The con- destiny which opens to their aspiracert of their lamentations has filled tions the career of limitless space, to their century, and we od around shatter them, wit! two steps of the them, hearing in our hearts the low goal, against a wretched post which echo of their cries. We were sad like they had not seen. For a long time them, and like them inclined to revolt. they will bear like fetters the necessiThe reign of democracy excited our ties which they ought to have em. ambitions without satisfying them ; the braced as laws. Our generation, lika proclamation of philosophy kindled the preceding, has been tainted by the our curiosity without satisfying it. In malady of the age, and will never more tnis wide open career, the plebeian than half get rid of it. We shall ar. suffered for his mediocrity, and the Iriva ga truth, not at tranquilljay. All

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »