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I saw, and could not hold his head,
A little talk of better days,
I know not why
I could not die,
I know not well-I never knew-
And then of darkness too: I had no thought, no feeling-noneAmong the stones I stood a stone, And was, scarce conscious what I wist, As shrubless crags within the mist; For all was blank, and bleak, and grey, It was not night-it was not day, It was not even the dungeon-light, So hateful to my beavy sight, But vacancy absorbing space, And fixedness—without a place; There were no stars -no earth-no timeNo check-no change-no good-no crimeBut silence, and a stirless breath Which neither was of life nor death; A sea of stagnant idleness, Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless!
(1) In the US.
(2) “The gentle decay and gradual extinction of the youngest life is the most lender and beautiful passage in the poem." Jeffrey.
"To break or blue, "-E.
A light broke in upon my brain,
It was the carol of a bird;
The sweetest song ear ever heard;
And lamer than upon the tree;
And seem'd to say them all for me!
Or broke its cage to perch on mine,
Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine!
A single cloud on a sunny day,
I know not what had made them so,
It was not therefrom to escape,.
Who loved me in a human shape; And the whole earth would henceforth be A wider prison unto me: No child-no sireno kin had I, No partner in my misery; I thought of this, and I was glad, For thought of them had made me mad; But I was curious to ascend To my barr'd windows, and to bend Once more, upon the mountains high, The quiet of a loving eye.
XIII. I saw them—and they were the same, They were not changed like me in frame; I saw their thousand years of snow On high-their wide long lake below, (1) And the blue Rhone in fullest flow; I heard the torrents leap and gush O'er channell’d rock and broken bush; I saw the white-wall'd distant town, And whiter sails go skimming down; And then there was a little isle, (2) Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;
Orgentle breath and hue.
(1) la the MS.
« I saw them with their lake below,
And their three thousand years of snow."-E.
(2) Between the entrances of the Rhone and Villeneuve, not far from Chillon, is a very small island; the ouly one I could perceive, in my voyage round and over the lake, wilhin its cir
The eagle rode the rising blast,
It was at length the same to me,
I learn'd to love despair :
It might be months, or years, or days,
I kept no count-I took no nole, I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote; At last men came to set me free,
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where:
cumference. It contains a few trees (I think not above three), ly possible to witness a sight more degrading to humanity than and from its singleness and diminutive size has a peculiar elfect this exhibition :-with matted hair, wild looks, and haggard seaupon the view.
tures, with eyes dazzled by the unwonted light of the sun, and (1) Here follow in MS.
ears deafened and astounded the sudden exchange of the silence “Nor slew 1 of my subjects one
of a dungeon for the busy hum of men, the wretches sit more like bath su little What sovereign
rude images fashioned to a fantastic imitation of humanity, than yet so much hatla
like living and reflecting beings. In the course of time we are (2) It has not been the purpose of Lord Byron to paint the po- assured they generally become either madmen or idiots, as mind or culiar character of Bonnivard. The object of the poem, like that matter happens to predominate, when the mysterious balance of Sterne's celebrated sketch of the prisoner, is to consider between them is destroyed. It will readily be allowed that this captivity in the abstract, and to mark its effects in gradually singular poem is more powerful than pleasing. The dungeon of lebilling the mental powers as it benumbs and freezes the ani- Bonnivard is, like that of the Ugolino, a subject too dismal for mal frame, until the unfortunate victim becomes, as it were, a even the power of the painter or poet to counteract its horrors. part of his dungeon, and identified with his chains. This trans. It is the more disagreeable as affording human hope no anchor to mulation we believe to be founded on fact: at least, in the Low res! upon, and describing the sufferer, though a man of talents Countries, where solitude for life is substiluted for capital pu- and virtues, as altogether inert and powerless under his accunishments, something like it may be witnessed. On particular mulated sufferings: yel, as a picture, however gloomy the codays in the course of the year, these victims of a jurisprudence louring, it may rival any which Lord Byron has drawn; nor is in
which calls itself bumane, are presented to the public eye, upon possible to read it without a sinking of the heart, corresponding a stage erected in the open market-place, apparently to prevent with that which he describes the victim to have suffered." Sir their guilt and their punishment fror being forgotten. It is scarce
“ There are more things in beaven and earth, Horatio,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But grief should be the instructor of the wise ;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.
I have essay'd, and in my mind there is
But they avail not: 1 have done men good,
and I have met with good even among men-
And none have baffled, many fallen before me
But this avail'd not :-Good, or evil, life,
Powers, passions, all I see in other beings,
Have been to me as rain unto the sands, MANFRED alone.--Scene, a Gothic Gallery.
Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread, Time, midnight.
And feel the curse to have no natural fear, Man. The lamp must be replenish'd, but even Norfluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes, then
Or lurking love of something on the earth.-It will not burn so long as I must watch:
Now to my task.My slumbers—if I slumber-are not sleep,
(1) The following are extracts from Lord Byron's lellers to “March 6.-]n remilliog the third act of the sort of dramatic Mr. Murray respecting the history of the composition of Man- poem of which you will by this time bave received the two tirsi, fred:
I have little to observe, except that you must not publish it (if it “Venice, Feb. 18, 1817.-1 forgot to mention to you, ever is published) without giving me previous police. I have kind of Poem in dialogue (in blank verse) or Drama, from which really and truly no notion whether it is good or bad; and as "the Incantation' is an extracı, begun last summer in Switzerland, this was not the case with the principal of my former publicais finished: it is in three acts, but of a very wild, metaphysical, tions, I am, therefore, inclined to rank it very humbly. You and inexplicable kind. Almost all the persons-bul iwo or three will submit it to Mr. Gifford, and to whomsoever you please -are Spirits of the earth and air, or the waters; the scene is in besides. The thing, you will see at a glimpse, could never be the Alps; the hero a kind of magician, who is tormented by a altempled or thought of for the stage; I much doubt if for publispecies of remorse, the cause of which is left half unexplained. cation even. It is too much in my old style; but I composed it He wanders about invoking these Spirits, which appear to him, actually with a horror of the stage, and withoa view to render and are of no use ; he at last goes to the very abode of the Evil the thought of it impracticable, knowing the zeal of my friends Priuciple, in proprid persond, lo evocale a ghust, which an :ha:: should try that for which I bave an invincible repugnance, pears, and gives him an ambiguous and disagreeable answer; and, viz. a representation. I certainly am a devil of a mannerist, and in the third act, he is found by his attendants dying in a lower must leave od ; but what could I do? Without exertion of some where he had studied his art. You may perceive, by this out- kind, I should have sunk under my imagination and reality." line, that I have no great opinion of this piece of fantasy; but I “ March 26.-With regard to the Witch Drama,'I repeal, have at least rendered it quite impossible for the stage, for which that I have not an idea if it is good or bad. If bad, it must, on my intercourse with Drury-lane has given me the greatest con no account, be risked in publication; is good, it is at your service. templ. I have not even copied it off, and feel 100 lazy at present 1 value it at three hundred guineas, or less, if you like it. 10 allempt the whole; but when I have, I will send it you, and Perhaps, ir published, the best way will be to add it to your winyou may either throw it into the fire or not."
ler volume, and not publish separately. The price will show “ March 3.—1 sent you the other day, in two covers, the first you I don't pique myself upon it; so speak out. You may put it act of Manfred, a drama as mad as Nat Lee's Bedlam tragedy, into the fire, if you like, and Gifford don't like." which was in twenty-five acts and some odd scenes: mine is but “ April 9-ds for Manfred, the two first acts are the best, in three acts."
he third so so; but I was blown with the first and second beads.
Ye spirits of the unbounded universe!
lery: il is stationary; and a voice is heard
FIRST SPIRIT. Mortal! to thy bidding bow'd, From my mansion in the cloud,
Which the breath of twilight builds,
Voice of the Second SPIRIT.
They crown'd him long ago
With a diadem of soow.
The avalanche in his hand;
Must pause for my command.
Moves onward day by day;
Or with its ice delay.
Could make the mountain bow
Voice of the THIRD SPIRIT.
Where the wave hath no strife,
You may call it a poem,' for it is no drama, and I do not choose the helps that could be derived from the majesty of nalure, or the to bave it called by so d-d a name,-a Poem in dialogue,' or dread of superstition. It is enough, therefore, if the situation in -Pantomime, if you will, any thing but a green-room syno- which he has placed him is conceivable, and if the supposition Dyme; and this is your moilo
of ils reality enhances our emotions and kindles our imagi• There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, nation ;-for it is Manfred only that we are required to fear, to Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.'
pily, or admire. If we can once conceive of him as a real exislThe annexed passages are extracted from the two ablest criti. ence, and enter into the depth and the height of his pride and his eismas that followed the publication of Manfred. “This celebrated sorrows, we may deal as we please with the means that have been piece is properly entilled a dramatic poem-for it is merely used to furnish us with this impression, or lo enable us to attain pretical, and is not at all a drama or play in the modern accep to this conception. We may regard them but as types, or melatalion of the term. It has no action, no plot, and no characters; phors, or allegories; but he the thing to be expressed, and Manfred merely muses and suffers from the beginning to the end. the feeling and the intellect of which all these are but shadows." His distresses are the same at the opening of the scene and at its -Jeffrey. closing, and the temper in which they are borne is the same. A “In this very extraordinary poem, Lord Byron has pursued bunter and a priest, and some domestics, are indeed introduced, the same course as in the third canto of Childe llarold, and put but they bave no connection with the passions or sufferings on out his strength upon the same objects. The action is laid which the interest depends; and Manfred is substantially alone among the mountains of the Alps-the characters are all, more throughout the whole piece. He holds no communion but with or less, formed and swayed by the operations of the magnificent the memory of the Being he had loved; and the immortal Spirits scenery around them, and every page of the poem teems with whom he evokes lo reproach with his misery, and their inability imagery and passion, though, at the same time, the mind of to relieve it. These unearthly beings approach nearer to the the poet is often overborne, as it were, by the strength and nocharacter of persons of the drama-but still they are but choral velty of its own conceptions; and thus the composition, as a accompaniments to the performance; and Manfred is, in reality, whole, is liable to many and fatal objections. But there is a still tbe only actor and sufferer on the scene. To delineate his cha- more novel exhibition of Lord Byron's powers in this remarkable racier indeed-lo render conceivable his feelings—is plainly the drama. He has here burst into the world of spirits; and, in the whole scope and design of the poem; and the conceplion and exe-wild delight with which the elements of nature seem to have culion are, in this respect, equally admirable. It is a grand and inspired him, he has endeavoured to embody and call up before terrific vision of a being invested with superhuman attributes, in him their ministering agents, and to employ these wild personiorder that he may be capable of more than human sufferings, fications, as he formerly employed the feelings and passions of and be sustained under them by more than human force and man. We are not prepared to say, that, in this daring attempt, pride. To object to the improbability of the fiction, is to mistake he has completely succeeded. We are inclined to think, that the end and aim of the author. Probabilities, we apprehend, did the plan he has conceived, and the principal character which be not enter at all into his consideration; his object was, to produce has wished to delineate, would require a fuller developement effect-o exalt and dilate the character through whom he was than is here given to them; and, accordingly, a sense of imperto imerest or appal us—and to raise our conception of il, by all lection, incompleteness, and confusion, accompanies the mind