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Nem. My power extends no further. Prince of air!
She is not of our order, but belongs
Hear me, hear me―
I have so much endured-so much endure-
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek:
And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves
Phantom of Astarte. Manfred!
(1) "Over this fine drama, a moral feeling hangs like a sombrous thunder-cloud. No other guilt but that so darkly shadowed out could have furnished so dreadful an illustration of the hideous aberrations of human nature, however noble and majestic, when left a prey to its desires, its passions, and its imagination. The beauty, at one time so innocently adored, is at last soiled, profaned, (2) The third Act, as originally written, being shown to the and violated. Affection, love, guilt, horror, remorse, and death, late Mr. Gifford, he expressed his unfavourable opinion of it very come in terrible succession, yet all darkly linked together. We distinctly; and Mr. Murray transmitted this to Lord Byron. The think of starte as young, beautiful, innocent-guilty-lost-result is told in the following extracts from his letters:murdered-buried-judged-pardoned; but still in her permitted "Venice, April 14, 1817.-The third Act is certainly d-d visit to earth, speaking in a voice of sorrow, and with a countenance yet pale with mortal trouble. We had but a glimpse of her in her beauty and innocence; but, at last, she rises up before us in all the mortal silence of a ghost, with fixed, glazed, and pas sionless eyes, revealing death, judgment, and eternity. The
bad, and, like the Archbishop of Grenada's homily (which savoured of the palsy) has the dregs of my fever during which it was written. It must on no account be published in its present state. I will try and reform it, or re-write it altogether; but the impulse is gone, and I have no chance of making any thing out of it. The
moral breathes and burns in every word,-in sadness, misery, insanity, desolation, and death. The work is 'instinct with spirit,'-and in the agony and distraction, and all its dimly-imagined causes, we behold, though broken up, confused, and shattered, the elements of a purer existence." Wilson.
It is well :
Thou mayst retire.
To be of all our vanities the motliest,
The merest word that ever fool'd the ear
Her. My lord, the Abbot of St. Maurice craves To greet your presence.
Enter the ABBOT OF ST. MAURICE. Peace be with Count Manfred! Man. Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls; Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those Who dwell within them
Abbot. Would it were so, Count! But I would fain confer with thee alone. Man. Herman, retire.-What would my reverend guest
Abbot. Thus, without prelude:-Age and zeal, my office,
And good intent, must plead my privilege;
speech of Manfred to the Sun is the only part of this Act I thought good myself; the rest is certainly as bad as bad can be, and I wonder what the devil possessed me. I am very glad, indeed, that you sent me Mr. Gifford's opinion without deduction. Do you suppose me such a booby as not to be very much obliged to him? or that I was not, and am not, convinced and convicted in my conscience of this same overt act of nonsense? I shall try at it again; in the mean time, lay it upon the shelf-the whole Drama I mean.— Recollect not to publish, upon pain of I know not what, until I have tried again at the third act. I am not sure that I shall try, and still less that I shall succeed if I do."
"Rome, May 5.—I have re-written the greater part, and returned what is not altered in the proof you sent me. The Abbot is become a good man, and the Spirits are brought in at the death. You will find, I think, some good poetry in this new Act, here and there; and if so, print it, without sending me farther proofs, under Mr. Gifford's correction, if he will have the goodness to overlook it."-E.
(1) Thus far the text stands as originally penned : we subjoin the sequel of the scene, as given in the first MS.:
"Abbot, Then, hear and tremble! For the headstrong wretch Who in the mail of innate hardihood
Would shield himself, and battle for his sins,
There is the stake on earth, and beyond earth eternal
Man, Charity, most reverend father,
To penance, and with gift of all thy lands
And of unholy nature, are abroad,
Proceed, I listen.
Abbot. 'Tis said thou holdest converse with the
Which are forbidden to the search of man;
Man. And what are they who do avouch these things?
Abbot. My pious brethren-the scared peasantryEven thy own vassals-who do look on thee With most unquiet eyes. Thy life's in peril.
Man. Take it. Abbot. I come to save, and not destroyI would not pry into thy secret soul; But if these things be sooth, there still is time For penitence and pity: reconcile thee With the true church, and through the church to Heaven.
Abbot. I fear thee not-hence-hence-
Man. Convey this man to the Shreckhorn-to its peak-
"Raven-stone (Rabenstein), a translation of the German word for the gibbet, which in Germany and Switzerland is permanent, and made of stone."
Abbot. My son! I did not speak of punishment,
His servant echoes back the awful word.
Man. Old man! there is no power in holy men, The enlightener of nations, and to rise
Nor charm in prayer-nor purifying form
Would make a hell of heaven-can exorcise
He deals on his own soul.
The victim of a self-inflicted wound,
It is too late-is this fidelity ?"
It never can be so,
To which frail twig they cling, like drowning men.
I knew not whither-it might be to fall;
And wherefore so? Man. I could not tame my nature down; for he Must serve who fain would sway-and soothe-and
And watch all time-and pry into all place-
Abbot. And why not live and act with other men?
I 'gin to fear that thou art past all aid
"It is too late!"
Man. No, this will serve for the present. Take him up.
ASHTAROTH disappears with the ABBOT, singing as follows:
A prodigal son, and a maid undone,
And a widow re-wedded within the year:
After the hurricane; the winds are still,
Man. Why would this fool break in on me, and force
My art to pranks fantastical?-no matter,
It was not of my seeking. My heart sickens,
I answer, with the Roman, I still would
Look on me! there is an order
Is no repose. My life hath been a combat,
(1) Otho, being defeated in a general engagement near Brixellum, stabbed himself. Plutarch says that, though he lived full as badly as Nero, his last moments were those of a philosopher. He comforted his soldiers, who lamented his fortune, and expressed his concern for their safety, when they solicited to pay him the last friendly offices. Martial says:
"Sit Cato, dum vivit, sane vel Cæsare major, Dum moritur, numquid major Othone fuit?"-E. (2) In the MS.
not loss of life, but the torments of a Choose between them."-E.
Of mortals on the earth, who do become
More than are number'd in the lists of Fate,
Old man! 1 ao respect
Think me not churlish; I would spare thyself,
Abbot. This should have been a noble creature:
(1) This speech has been quoted in more than one of the sketches of the poet's own life. Much earlier, when only twenty-three years of age, he had thus prophesied :-" It seems as if I were to experience in my youth the greatest misery of old age. My friends fall around me, and I shall be left a lonely tree before I am withered. Other men can always take refuge in their families-I have Do resource but my own reflections, and they present no prospect, here or bereafter, except the selfish satisfaction of surviving my betters. I am, indeed, very wretched. My days are listless, and my nights restless. I have very seldom any society; and when I bave, I run out of it. I don't know that I sha'n't end with insanity." B. Letters, 1811.
(2) "Of the immortality of the soul, it appears to me that there can be little doubt-if we attend for a moment to the action of mind. It is in perpetual activity. I used to doubt of it—but reflection has taught me better. How far our future state will be individual; or, rather, how far it will at all resemble our present existence, is another question; but that the mind is eternal seems as probable as that the body is not so." B. Diary, 1821.-"I have no wish to reject Christianity without investigation; on the contrary, I am very desirous of believing; for I have no happiness in my present unsettled notions on religion." B. Conversutions with Kennedy, 1823.
(3) "There are three only, even among the great poets of modern times, who have chosen to depict, in their full shape and vigour, those agonies to which great and meditative intellects are, in the present progress of human history, exposed by the eternal recurrence of a deep and discontented scepticism. But there is only one who has dared to represent himself as the victim of those nameless and undefinable sufferings. Goethe chose for bis doubts and his darkness the terrible disguise of the mysterious
Is to dare all things for a righteous end.
MANFRED and HERMAN.
Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset: He sinks behind the mountain.
Doth he so ?
I will look on him.
[MANFRED advances to the Window of the Hall.
Glorious orb! the idol
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief star!
Faustus. Schiller, with still greater boldness, planted the same anguish in the restless, haughty, and heroic bosom of Wallenstein. But Byron has sought no external symbol in which to embody the inquietudes of his soul. He takes the world, and all that it inherit, for his arena and his spectators; and he displays himse before their gaze, wrestling unceasingly and ineffectually with the demon that torments him. At times, there is something mournful and depressing in his scepticism; but oftener it is of a high and solemn character, approaching to the very verge of a confiding faith. Whatever the poet may believe, we, his readers, always feel ourselves too much ennobled and elevated, even by his melancholy, not to be confirmed in our belief by the very doubts so majestically conceived and uttered. His scepticism, if it ever approaches to a creed, carries with it its refutation in its grandeur. There is neither philosophy nor religion in those bitter and savage taunts which have been cruelly thrown out from many quarters, against those moods of mind which are involuntary, and will not pass away; the shadows and spectres which still haunt his imagination may once have disturbed our own;-through his gloom there are frequent flashes of illumi nation;-and the sublime sadness, which to him is breathed from the mysteries of mortal existence, is always joined with a longing after immortality, and expressed in language that is itself divine.." Wilson.
(4) "And it came to pass, that the Sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair," etc.-"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."—Genesis, ch. vi. vorses 2 and 4.
And those who dwell in them! for, near or far, ·
The Mountains-The Castle of Manfred at some distance-A Terrace before a Tower.-Time, Twilight.
HERMAN, MANUEL, and other Dependants of
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
To draw conclusions absolute of aught
Her. 'Tis strange enough; night after night, for Relate me some, to while away our watch:
Manuel. That was a night indeed! I do remember
Hush! who comes here?
Her. There be more sons in like predicament. But wherein do they differ?
I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits:
With books and solitude, nor made the night
Beshrew the hour,
(1) "Pray, was Manfred's speech to the Sun still retained in Act third? I hope so: it was one of the best in the thing, and better than the Coliseum." B. Letters, 1817.
(2) In the MS.
"Some strange things in these few years."-E.
(3) In its original shape the remainder of the third Act ran thus:
The tower's on fire. Oh, heavens and earth! what sound,
I then will stay behind; but, for my part,
I do not see precisely to what end.
'T is all in vain
Her. (within). Not so-even now methought he moved;
Re-enter MANUEL and HERMAN, bearing MANFRED in their arms.
Manuel. Hie to the castle, some of ye, and bring
[They sprinkle MANFRED with water; after a pause, gives some signs of life. Manuel. He seems to strive to speak-come-cheerly Count! He moves his lips-canst hear him? I am old, And cannot catch faint sounds.
[The servants, Vassals, and Peasantry approach, stupefied
If there be any of you who have heart,
[MANUEL goes in.
[HERMAN inalining his head and listening.
[MANFRED motions with his hand not to remove him. ↑
'T will soon be over.