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HIS PROUD BEARING AMONG THE IMMORTALS.

383

Sisters are again assembled before the throne of Ari-
manes, Manfred suddenly appears among them, and
refuses the prostrations which they require. The first
Destiny thus loftily announces him.
“ Prince of the Powers invisible! This man
Is of no common order, as his port
And presence here denote; his sufferings
Have been of an immortal nature, like
Our own; his knowledge and his powers and will,
As far as is compatible with clay,
Which clogs the etherial essence, have been such
As clay hath seldom borne; his aspirations
Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth,
And they have only taught him what we know-
That knowledge is not happiness; and science
But an exchange of ignorance for that
Which is another kind of ignorance.
This is not all ; — the passions, attributes
Of earth and heaven, from which no power, nor being,
Nor breath, from the worm upwards, is exempt,
Have pierced his heart; and in their consequence
Made him a thing, which I, who pity not,
Yet pardon those who pity. He is mine,
And thine, it may be — be it so, or not,
No other Spirit in this region hath
A soul like his

or power upon his soul.”—p. 47, 48. At his desire, the ghost of his beloved Astarte is then called up, and appears — but refuses to speak at the command of the Powers who have raised her, till Manfred breaks out into this passionate and agonizing address.

“ Hear me, hear me —
Astarte! my beloved ! speak to me!
I have so much endured so much endure -
Look on me! the grave hath not changed thee more
Than I am changed for thee. Thou lovedst me
Too much, as I loved thee: we were not made
To torture thus each other, though it were
The deadliest sin to love as we have loved.
Say that thou loath'st me not that I do bear
This punishment for both — that thou wilt be
One of the blessed — and that I shall die !
For hitherto all hateful things conspire
To bind me in existence --- in a life
Which makes me shrink from immortality-
A future like the past! I cannot rest.
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek :

384

MANFRED

- ASTARTE.

but say

I feel but what thou art — and what I am ;
And I would hear yet once, before I perish,
The voice which was my music. Speak to me!
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 answered me - many things answered me
Spirits and men — but thou wert silent still !
Yet speak to me! I have outwatch'd the stars,
And gazed o'er heaven in vain in search of thee.
Speak to me! I have wandered o'er the earth
And never found thy likeness. Speak to me!
Look on the fiends around they feel for me :
I fear them not, and feel for thee alone.
Speak to me! though it be in wrath ; —
I reck not what — but let me hear thee once
This once! — once more !

Phantom of Astarte. Manfred !
Man.

Say on, say on —
I live but in the sound – it is thy voice!

Phan. Manfred ! To-morrow ends thine earthly ills.
Farewell !

Man. Yet one word more am I forgiven?
Pham. Farewell!
Man.

Say, shall we meet again?
Phan. Farewell!
Man. One word for mercy! Say, thou lovest me!
Phan. MIanfied! [ The Spirit of Astarte disappears.

Nem. She's gone, and will not be recalled.”—p. 50—52. The last act, though in many passages very beautifully written, seems to us less powerful. It passes altogether in Manfred's castle, and is chiefly occupied in two long conversations between him and a holy abbot, who comes to exhort and absolve him, and whose counsel he repels with the most reverent gentleness, and but few bursts of dignity and pride. The following passages are full of poetry and feeling.

Ay— father! I have had those earthly visions
And noble aspirations in my youth;
To make my own the mind of other men,
The enlightener of nations; and to rise
I knew not whither — it might be to fall ;
But fall, even as the mountain-cataract,
Which having leapt from its more dazzling height,
Even in the foaming strength of its abyss,
(Which casts up misty columns that become

BYRON'S MANFRED— THE COLOSSEUM.

385

Clouds raining from the re-ascended skies),
Lies low but mighty still. — But this is past!
My thoughts mistook themselves.

Abbot. And why not live and act with other men?

Man. Because my nature was averse from life;
And yet not cruel ; for I would not make,
But find a desolation : - like the wind,
The red-hot breath of the most lone Simoom,
Which dwells but in the desert, and sweeps

o'er The barren sands which bear no shrubs to blast, And revels o'er their wild and arid waves, And seeketh not, so that it is not sought, But being met is deadly! Such hath been The course of my existence; but there came Things in my path which are no more.”—p. 59, 60. There is also a fine address to the setting sun - and a singular miscellaneous soliloquy, in which one of the author's Roman recollections is brought in, we must say somewhat unnaturally. “ The stars are forth, the moon above the tops

Of the snow-shining mountains. – Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn’d the language of another world!
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering —upon such a night
I stood within the Colosseum's wall,
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin ; from afar
The watchdog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near, from out the Cæsars' palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach
Appear'd to skirt the horizon; yet they stood
Within a bowshot.-
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon! upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which soften'd down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filld up,
As 'twere, anew, the gaps of centuries ;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,

And making that which was not, till the place
VOL. II.

CC

386

BYRON'S MANFRED

GENERAL CHARACTER.

Became religion, and the heart ran o'er With silent worship of the great of old !”—p. 68, 69. In his dying hour he is beset with Demons, who pretend to claim him as their forfeit;- but he indignantly and victoriously disputes their claim, and asserts his freedom from their thraldom. “ Must crimes be punish'd but by other crimes, And greater criminals ? — Back to thy hell ! Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel ; Thou never shalt possess me, that I know : What I have done is done; I bear within A torture which could nothing gain from thine : The mind which is immortal makes itself Requital for its good or ill — derives No colour from the fleeting things without ; But is absorb’d in sufferance or in joy, Born from the knowledge of its own desert. Thou didst not tempt me, and thou couldst not tempt me; I have not been thy dupe, nor am thy preyBut was my own destroyer, and will be My own hereafter. — Back, ye baffled fiends ! The hand of death is on me but not yours !

[The Demons disappear.”—p. 74, 75. There are great faults, it must be admitted, in this poem;— but it is undoubtedly a work of genius and originality. Its worst fault, perhaps, is, that it fatigues and overawes us by the uniformity of its terror and solemnity. Another is the painful and offensive nature of the circumstance on which its distress is ultimately founded. It all springs from the disappointment or fatal issue of an incestuous passion; and incest, according to our modern ideas — for it was otherwise in antiquity — is not a thing to be at all brought before the imagination. The lyrical songs of the Spirits are too long; and not all excellent. There is something of pedantry in them now and then; and even Manfred deals in classical allusions a little too much. If we were to consider it as a proper drama, or even as a finished poem, we should be obliged to add, that it is far too indistinct and unsatisfactory. But this we take to be according to the design and conception of the author. He contemplated but a dim and magnificent sketch of a subject which did not admit of more accurate drawing,

NOT BORROWED FROM MARLOWE.

387

or more brilliant colouring. Its obscurity is a part of it grandeur; - and the darkness that rests upon it, and the smoky distance in which it is lost, are all devices to increase its majesty, to stimulate our curiosity, and to impress us with deeper awe.

It is suggested, in an ingenious paper, in a late Number of the Edinburgh Magazine, that the general conception of this piece, and much of what is excellent in the manner of its execution, have been borrowed from " the Tragical History of Dr. Faustus” of Marlowe; and a variety of passages are quoted, which the author considers as similar, and, in many respects, superior to others in the

poem
before us.

We cannot agree in the general terms of this conclusion ;- but there is no doubt, a certain resemblance, both in some of the topics that are suggested, and in the cast of the diction in which they are expressed. Thus, to induce Faustus to persist in his unlawful studies, he is told that the Spirits of the Elements will serve him

“ Sometimes like women, or unwedded maids,

Shadowing more beauty in their ayrie browes

Than have the white breasts of the Queene of Love.” And again, when the amorous sorcerer commands Helen of Troy to be revived, as his paramour, he addresses her, on her first appearance, in these rapturous lines —

“ Was this the face that launcht a thousand ships,
And burn'd the toplesse towers of Ilium ?
Sweet Helen! make me immortal with a kiss!
Her lips sucke forth my soule ! — see where it flies !
Come, Helen, come, give me my soule againe!
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in that lip,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
O! thou art fairer than the evening ayre,
Clad in the beauty of a thousand starres ;
More lovely than the monarch of the skyes

In wanton Arethusa’s azure arms !" The catastrophe, too, is bewailed in verses of great elegance and classical beauty.

“ Cut is the branch that might have growne full straight,

And burned is Apollo's laurel bough
That sometime grew within this learned man.

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