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make him end in hell, or in an unhappy marriage, not knowing which would be the severest: the Spanish tradition says hell: but it is probably only an allegory of the other state."* At all events, married or damned, the good folk at the end of the piece will have the pleasure of knowing that he is burning all alive.
However, "the fading lamps waned dim and blue; " Dudu is asleep, the innocent girl; and if she has cast a glance on her glass,
""Twas like the fawn, which, in the lake dis play'd,
Beholds her own shy, shadowy image pass, When first she starts, and then returns to peep,
Admiring this new native of the deep." ↑
What will become now of Puritanic prudery? Can the proprieties prevent beauty from being beautiful?" Will its nudity? What gives value to human you condemn a picture of Titian for
Is not this a singular apology? Does it not aggravate the fault? Let us wait; we know not yet the whole venom of the book: together with Juan there are Donna Julia, Haidée, Gulbeyaz, Dudu, and many more. It is here the diabolical poet digs in his sharpest claw, and he takes care to dig it into our weakest side. What will the clergy-life, and nobility to human nature, if men and white-chokered reviewers say? For, to speak the truth, there is no preventing it: we must read on, in spite of ourselves. Twice or three times following we meet here with hap. piness; and when I say happiness, I mean profound and complete happiness -not mere voluptuousness, not obscene gayety; we are far removed from the nicely-written ribaldry of Dorat, and the unbridled license of Rochester. Beauty is here, southern Deauty, resplendent and harmonious, spread over every thing, over the luminous sky, the calm scenery, corporal nudity, artlessness of heart. Is there a thing it does not deify? All sentiments are exalted under its hands. What was gross becomes noble; even
in the nocturnal adventure in the ser
aglio, which seems worthy of Faublas,
from all climates into a conservatory:
And raven ringlets gather'd in dark crowd
Byron's Works, v. 127; Letter to Mr. Murray Ravenna, Feb. 16, 1821.
not the power of attaining delicious and sublime emotions? We have just had one-one worthy of a painter; is it not worth that of an alderman? Shall we refuse to acknowledge the divine because it appears in art and enjoyment, There is a world beside ours, and a and not only in conscience and action? civilization beside ours; our rules are narrow, and our pedantry tyrannic; the human plant can be otherwise developed than in our compartments and under our snows, and the fruits it will then bear will not be less precious. We must confess it, since we relish them when they are offered to us. Who has read the love of Haidée, and has had any other thought than to envy and Pity her? She is a wild child who has picked up Juan-another child cast has preserved him, nursed him like a ashore senseless by the waves. She can blame her for loving him? Who, mother, and now she loves him: who in presence of the splendid nature which smiles on and protects them, can imagine for them any thing else than the all-powerfal feeling which unites them:
* Byron's Works, xvi.; Don Juan, c. vi. s. lxvi. lxvii. + Ibid. st. ix
The outstretch'd ocean glitter like a lake.
Against the boundary it scarcely wet. . . .
And thus they wander'd forth, and hand in
Over the shining pebbles and the shells,
In hollow halls, with sparry roofs and cells,
Yielded to the deep twilight's purple charm.
Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright;
They heard the wave's splash and the wind
And saw each other's dark eyes darting
Besides British cant, there is univer sal hypocrisy; besides English pedant. ry, Byron wars against human roguery. Here is the general aim of the poem, and to this his character and genius tended. His great and gloomy dreams of juvenile imagination have vanished; experience has come; he knows man now; and what is man, once known? does the sublime abound in him? Du we think that the grand sentiments-those of Childe Harold, for instance,are the ordinary course of life?* The time in sleeping, dining, yawning, worktruth is, that man employs most of his lighting like a horse, amusing himself like an ape. According to Byron, he is an animal; except for a few minutes, his nerves, his blood, his instincts lead him. Routine works over it all, necessity whips him on, the animal advances. As the animal is proud, and moreover imaginative, it pretends to be marching for its own pleasure, that there is no whip, that at all events this whip rarely touches its flanks, that at least its stoic back can make-believe that it does not feel it. It thinks that it is decked with the most splendid trappings, and thus struts on with measured steps, fancying that it carries relics and treads on carpets and flowers, whilst in reality it tramples in the mud, and carries with it the stains and bad smells of every dunghill.
They were alone, but not alone as they
The voiceless sand, and dropping caves that
As if there were no life beneath the sky
An excellent opportunity to introduce
She was all which pure ignorance allows, And flew to her young mate like a young bird." t
Nature suddenly expands, for she is
So lonely, loving helpless, and the hour
What a pastime to touch its mangy back, to set before its eyes the sacks full of flower which it carries, and the goad which makes it go! What a pretty farce! It is the eternal farce; and not a sentiment thereof but pro
*Byron says (v., Oct. 12, 1820), "Don Juan is too true, and would, I suspect, live longer than Childe Harold. The women hate many things which strip off the tinsel of sentiment."
+ Don Juan, c. vii. st. 2. I hope it is no crime to laugh at all things. For I wish to know what, after all, are all things-but show!
our friend Jua: reading Julia's last
Sooner shall heaven kiss earth-here he
Oh Julia! what is every other woe?
Pedro, Battista, help me down below.)
Oh, Julia!-(this curst vessel pitches so)
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 lovable, and Byron loves her; but she comes out of his hands, as rumpled as any other woman. She is virtuous, of course; and what is better still, she desires to be so. She plies herself, in connection with Don Juan, with the ânest arguments; what a fine thing are arguments, and how suited they are to check passion! Nothing can be more olid than a firm purpose, propped up by logic, resting on the fear of the world, the thought of God, the recollection of duty; nothing can prevail against it, except a tête-à-tête in June, on a moonlight evening. At last the deed is done, and the poor timid lady is surprised by her outraged husband; in what a situation! Let us look again at the book. Of course she will be speechless, ashamed and full of tears, and the moral reader duly reckons on her remorse. My dear reader, you have not reckoned on impulse and nerves. To-morrow she will feel shame; the business is now to overwhelm the husband, to deafen him, to Many other things cause the death of confound him, to save Juan, to save herself, to fight. The war once begun, is waged with all kinds of weapons, and chiefly with audacity and insults. The only idea is the present need, and this absorbs all others; it is in this that woman is a woman. This Julia cries lustily. It is a regular storm: hard words and recriminations, mockery and challenges, fainting and tears. In a quarter of an hour she has gained twenty years' experience. You did not know, nor she either, what an actress can emerge, all on a sudden, unforeseen, out of a simple woman. know what can emerge from yourself? You think yourself rational, humane; I admit it for to-day; you have dined, and you are comfortable in a pleasant 100m. Your human mechanism works without getting to disorder, because the wheels are oiled and well regulated; but place it in a shipwreck, a battle, let the failing or the plethora of blood for an instant derange the chief pieces, ar d we shall see you howling or drivelling like a madman or an idiot. Civilization, education, reason, health, cloak us in their smooth and polished cases; let us tear them away one by one, or all
""Tis melancholy, and a fearful sign
That love and marriage rarely can combine,
Marriage from love, like vinegar from wine-
Born to some friend, who holds his wife and
And that his Argus bites him by-the breeches." +
These are the words of a skeptic, even
Sermons and soda-water the day after.
Byron's Works, xv.; Don Juan, c. i.
We see clearly that he is a ways the poetry? Of the divine mantle, the last same, going to extremes and unhappy, garment which poet respects, he 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 moment pense of all respectable things, as a bull in a china shop. He is always violent, and often ferocious; a sombre imagination intersperses his love stories with horrors leisurely enjoyed, the despair and famine of shipwrecked men, and the emaciation of the raging skeletons feeding on each other. He laughs at it horribly, like Swift; he jests over it 1 ke Voltaire :
He had been rather indisposed of late;
Was a small present made to him at Cadiz, By general subscription of the ladies." With his specimens in hand,† Byron follows with a surgeon's exactness all the stages of death, gorging, rage, madness, howling, exhaustion, stupor; he wishes to touch and exhibit the naked and ascertained truth, the last grotesque and hideous element of humanity. Let us read again the assault on Ismail, --the grape-shot and the bayonet, the street massacres, the corpses used as fascines, and the thirty-eight thousand slaughtered Turks. There is blood enough to satiate a tiger, and this blood flows amidst an accompaniment of jests; it is in order to rail at war, and the butcheries dignified with the name of exploits. In this pitiless and universal demolition of all human vanities, what remains? What do we know except that life is "a scene of all conless'd inanity," and that men are,
Dogs, or men !-for I flatter you in saying That ye are dogs-your betters far-ye may Read, or read not, what I am now essaying To show ye what ye are in every way?" t What does he find in science but deficiencies, and in religion but mummer ies? § Does he so much as preserve * Pyron's Works, xv.; Don Juan, c. ii. st.
+ Byron had before him a dozen authentic descriptions. Byron's Works, xvi.; Don Juan, c. vii. See his Vision of Judgment.
of Haidée's love he vents a buffoonery He concludes an ode with caricatures He is Faust in the first verse, and Mephistopheles in the second. He employs, in the midst of tenderness of murder, penny-print witticisms, triv ialities, gossip, with a pamphleteer's vilification and a buffoon's whimsicalities. He lays bare the poetic method, asks himself where he has got to, the Muse, Pegasus, and the whole epic counts the stanzas already done, jokes stud, as though he wouldn't give twopence for them. Again, what remains? Himself, he alone, standing amidst ali this ruin. It is he who speaks here; his characters are but screens; half the time even he pushes them aside, to Occupy the stage. He lavishes upon us his opinions, recollections, anger, tastes; his poem is a conversation, a confidence, with the ups and downs, the rudeness and freedom of a conversation and a confidence, almost like the holographic journal, in which, by night, at his writing-table, he opened his heart and discharged his feelings. Never was seen in such a clear glass the birth of lively thought, the tumult of great genius, the inner life of a genuine poet, always impassioned, inexhaustibly fertile and creative, in whom suddenly, successively, finished and adorned, bloomed all human emotions and ideas, -sad, gay, lofty, low, hustling one another, mutually impeding one another like swarms of insects who go hum ming and feeding on flowers and in the mud. He may say what he likes; wil lingly or unwillingly we listen to him; let him leap from sublime to burlesque, we leap with him. He has so much wit, so fresh a wit, so sudden, so bit ing, such a prodigality of knowledge, ideas, images picked up from the four corners of the horizon, in heaps and masses, that we are captivated, trans ported beyond all limits; we cannot dream of resisting. Too vigor us, and hence unbridled,-that is the word which ever recurs when we speak of Byron; too vigorous against other and himself, and so unbridled, that
like the septic, attacked by a preco cious melancholy, and withered by a premature experience, abandoned his sympathies and his conduct to the poets, who declared happiness impossible, truth unattainable, society illarranged, man abortive or marred. From this unison of voices an idea arose, the centre of the literature, the arts, the religion of the age, to wit, that there is a monstrous disproportion between the different parts of our social structure, and that human destiny is vitiated by this disagreement.
after spending his life in setting the | skeptic for his doubt. The plebeian, world at defiance, and his poetry in depicting revolt, he can only find the fulfilment of his talent and the satisfaction of his heart, in a poem waging wai ɔn all human and poetic conventions. When a man lives in such a manner he must be great, but he becomes also morbid. There is a malady of heart and mind in the style of Don Juan, as in Swift. When a man jests amidst his tears, it is because he has a poisoned imagination. This kind of laughter is a spasm, and we see in one man a hardening of the heart, or madness; in another, excitement or disgust. What advice have they given us to Byron 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 Juan 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 conduct t your life; when he forsook poetry, poetry manuals of devotion." "Make your 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 world. Are they replies? And what do they propose but to satiate one's self, to become stupid, to turn aside, to forget? There is another and a deeper answer, which Goethe was the first to give, the truth of which we begin to conceive, in which issue all the labor and experience of the age, and which may perhaps be the subject-matter of future literature: "Try to understand yourself, and things in general." strange reply, which seems hardly new, whose scope we shall only hereafter discover. For a long time yet men will feel their sympathies thrill at the sound of the sobs of their great poets. For a long time they will rage against a destiny which opens to their aspirations the career of limitless space, to shatter them, within two steps of the goal, against a wretched post which they had not seen. For a long time they will bear like fetters the necessities which they ought to have embraced as laws. Our generation, like the preceding, has been tainted by the malady of the age, and will never more than half get rid of it. We shall ar rive at truth, not at tranquillity. All
So lived and so died this unhappy great man; the malady of the age had no more distinguished prey. Around him, like a hecatomb, lie the others, wounded also by the greatness of their faculties and their immoderate desires, -some ending in stupor or drunkenness, others worn out by pleasure or work; these driven to madness or suide; those beaten down by impotence, o lying on a sick-bed; all agitated by their too acute or aching nerves; the strongest carrying their bleeding wound to old age, the happiest having suffered as much as the rest, and preserving their scars, though healed. The concert of their lamentations has filled their century, and we stood around them, hearing in our hearts the low echo of their cries. We were sad like them, and like them inclined to revolt. The reign of democracy excited our "mbitions without satisfying them; the proclamation of philosophy kindled our curiosity without satisfying it. In this wide-open career, the plebeian suffered for his mediocrity, and the