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HIS PROUD BEARING AMONG THE IMMORTALS.
Sisters are again assembled before the throne of Ari-
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 —
I feel but what thou art — and what I am ;
Phantom of Astarte. Manfred !
Say on, say on —
Phan. Manfred ! To-morrow ends thine earthly ills.
Man. Yet one word more am I forgiven?
Say, shall we meet again?
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
BYRON'S MANFRED— THE COLOSSEUM.
Clouds raining from the re-ascended skies),
Abbot. And why not live and act with other men?
Man. Because my nature was averse from life;
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!
And making that which was not, till the place
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.
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
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,
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