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AIM. That which should shake me,—but I fear
I see a dusk and awful figure rise,
His tight may shock thine old limbs into palsy.
Abbot And I reply —
Smr—till I have battled with this fiend: —
Afea. Why—ay—what doth he here?
I did aot send for him,—he is unbidden. [these
Abbot. Alas ! lost mortal! what with guests like
A&s. Pronounce—what is thy mission?
.i'M. What art thou, unknown being? answer! —
Sprit. The genius of this mortal. — Come! 't is time.
Ma. I am prepared for all things, but deny Ihe pwer which summons me. Who dent thee here? Sprit Thou'It know anon—Come 1 come!
I have commanded Hiags of an essence greater far than thine, lad striven with thy masters. Get thee hence! Spirit. Mortal! thine hour is come — Away! I say.
Mm. I knew, and know my hour Is come, but not Tj render up my soul to such as thee: Any! IU die as I have lived—alone.
Spirit Then I must summon up my brethren. — Rise! [ Other Spirits rise up.
Abbot. Avaunt! ye evil ones!—Avaunt! I say; '= have no power where piety hath power, And I do charge ye in the name
Spirit Old man!
Te know ourselves, our mission, and thine order;
•Vera. I do defy ye,—though I feci my soul
Spirit. Reluctant mortal!
h this the Magian who would so pervade
J '[la the fim edition, this line was accidentally left out. ^= discovering the omission, Lord Bvron wrote to Mr. y^my—" Yon hare destroyed the whole effect and moral of poem,by omitting the last line of Manfred's speaking."} I 1 [In June. 1&2D, Lord Byron thus writes to Mr. Murray: Enclosed is something which will interest you ; to wit, <~* opinion of the greatest man in Germany — perhaps in Europe _ upon one of the great men of your advertisoSrBU (all ' famous hands,' as Jacob Tonson used to say of ~.t ragamuffins) — in short, a critique of Goethe's upon Manjt*1: There is the original, an English translation, and an iuuan one: keep them all in your archives ; for the opinions
The world invisible, and make himself
Man. Thou false fiend, thou llcst I
My life is in its last hour,—tAai I know.
But by superior science — penance — daring
And length of watching—strength of mind — and skill
In knowledge of our fathers — when the earth
Spirit. But thy many crimes
Have made thee
Man. What are they to such as thee?
Must crimes be punish'd but by other crimes,
I have not been thy dupe, nor am thy prey—
[ The Demons disappear. Abbot. Alas! how pale thou art — thy lips are white—
And thy breast heaves—and in thy gasping throat The accents rattle "• Give thy prayers to Heaven — Pray—albeit but in thought,—but die not thus.
Man. 'Tis over—my dull eyes cm fix thee not j But all things swim around me, and the earth Heaves as it were beneath me. Fare thee well— Give me thy hand.
Abbot. Cold—cold—even to the heart—
But yet one prayer—Alas! how fares it with thee?
Man. Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die.1
Abbot. He's gone—his soul hath ta'en his carthless flight—
Whither? I dread to think—but he is gone.
of such a man as Goethe, whether favourable or not, are always interesting — and this Is more so, as favourable. His Faust I never read, for I don't know German ; but Mattiiew Monk Lewis, in 181G, at Collgny, translated most of it to me viva voce, and I was naturally much struck with it: but it was the Steinbach and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than Faustus. that made me write Manfred. The first scene, however, and that of Faustus are very similar."
The following is the extract from Goethe's Kurut una" AlOtcrthunt (i. e. Art and Antiquity; which the above letter | enclosed: —
"Byron's tragedy, * Manfred,* was to me a wonderful pho
nomenon, and one that closely touched me. This singularly intellectual poet has taken my Faustus to himseir, and extracted from it the strongest nourishment for his hypochondriac humour. He has made use of the impelling principles in his own way, for his own purposes, so that no one of them remains the same; and it is particularly on this account that I cannot enough admire his genius. The whole is In this way so completely formed anew, that it would be an interesting task for the critic to point out, not only the alterations he has made, but their degree of resemblance with, or dissimilarity to, the original: In the course of which I cannot deny, that the gloomy heat of an unbounded and exuberant despair becomes at last oppressive to us. Vet is the dissatisfaction we feel always connected with esteem and admiration.
*■ We find thus, in this tragedy, the quintessence of the most astonishing talent born to be its own tormentor. The character of Lord Byron's life and poetry hardly permits a just and equitable appreciation. He has often enough confessed what It is that torments him. He has repeatedly portrayed it; and scarcely any one feels compassion for this Intolerable suffering, over which he is ever laboriously ruminating. There are, properly speaking, two females whose phantoms for ever haunt him, and which* in this piece also, perform principal parts-—one under the name of Astarte, the other without form or actual presence, and merely a voice. Of the horrid occurrence which took place with the former, the following Is related: — When a bold and enterprising young man, no won the affections of a Florentine lady. * Her husband discovered the amour, and murdered his wife; but the murderer was the same night found dead In the street, and there was no one on whom any suspicion could be attached. Lord Byron removed from Florence, and these spirits haunted him all his life after.
"This romantic incident Is rendered highly probable by innumerable allusions to it in his poems. As, for instance, when turning his sad contemplations inwards, he applies to himself the fatal history of the king of Sparta. It Is as follows : — Pausanlas, a I^cedcmonlan general, acquires glory by the Important victory at Platssa, but afterwards forfeits the confidence of his countrymen through his arrogance, obstinacy, and secret intrigues with the enemies of his country. This man draws upon himself the heavy guilt of innocent blood, which attends him to his end ; for, while commanding the Meet of the allied Greeks, In the Black Sea, he is inflamed with a riolent passion for a Byxantlne maiden. After long resistance, he at length obtains her from her parents, and she is to be delivered up to him at night. She modestly desires the servant to put out the lamp, and, while groping her way in the dark, she overturns it. Pausanias is awakened from his sleep — apprehensive of an attack from murderers, he seizes his sword, and destroys his mistress. The horrid sight never leaves him. Her shade pursues him unceasingly, and he implores for aid in vain from the gods and the exorcising priests.
"That poet must have a lacerated heart who selects such a scene from antiquity, appropriates it to himself, and burdens his tragic image with it. The following soliloquy, which is overladen with gloom and a weariness of life, is, by this remark, rendered intelligible. We recommend it as an exercise to all friends of declamation. Hamlet's soliloquy appears improved upon here." — Goethe here subjoins Manfred s soliloquy, beginning, ** We arc the fools of time and terror," in which the allusion to Paussuiias occurs.
The reader will not be sorry to pass from this German criticism to that of the Edinburgh Review on Manfred.—" This Is, undoubtedly, a work of great genius and originality. Its worst fault, perhaps, is that ft fatigues and overawes us by the uniformlty of its terror and solemnity. Another, is the painful and offensive nature of the circumstance on which its distress is ultimately founded. 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 deaf* in classical allusions a little too much. If we were to consider it as a
* [" The grave confidence with which the venerable critic traces the fancies of his brother poet to real persons and events, making no difficulty even of a double murder at Florence to furnish grounds for his theory, affords an amusing Instance of the disposition so prevalent throughout Europe, to picture Byron as a man of marvels and mysteries, as well in nis life as his poetry. To these exaggerated, or wholly
false notions of him, the numerous fictions palmed upon the world of his romantic tours and wonderful adventures. In places he never saw, and with persons that never existed, nave, no doubt, considerably contributed; and the consequence is, so utterly out of truth and nature arc the representations of his life and character long current upon the Continent, that It may be questioned whether the real' flesh and blood' hero of these pages,— the social, practical-minded, and, with all his faults and eccentricities, Englith Lord Byron,
may not, to the over-exalted imaginations of most of his
foreign admirers, appear but an ordinary, unromantic, and prosaic personage."— Mooae.]
proper drama, or even as a finished poem, we should be obliged to add, that tt Is far too Indistinct and unsatisfactory. But this we take to be according to the design aod conception of the author. He contemplated but a dim and magnificent sketoh of a subject which did not admit of more accurate drawing or more brilliant colouring. Its obscurity is a put of its 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 grnpral 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 Marlow f; and a variety of passages arc 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 terras of the concluiion; 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 rerlve again to be 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 topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen I make roc Immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soule ! — see where it Ales.
Come, Helen, come give me my soule againe,
Here will I dwell, for heaven is on that Up,
And all Is dross that is not Helena.
O I thou art fairer than the evening ayre,
Clod in the beauty of a thousand starres;
More lovely than the monarch of the skyes.
In wanton Arethusa's azure arms 1* 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.
Faustus Is gone T — regard his hellish fall.
Whose findful torture may exhort the wise.
Only to wonder at unlawful things!' But these, and many other smooth and fanciful verses in this curious old drama, prove nothing, we think, against the orl* ginality of Manfred ; for there is nothing to be found there of the pride, the abstraction, and the heart-rooted misery in which that originality consists. Faustus is a vulgar sorcerer, tempted to sell his soul to the devil for the ordinary price of sensual pleasure, and earthly power and glory; and who shrinks and shudders in agony when the forfeit comes to be exacted. The style, too, of Marlow, though elegant and scholarlikc, is weak and childish compared with the depth and force of much of Lord Byron; and the disgusting buffoonery and low farce of which his piece Is principally made up, place it more in contrast, than in any terms of comparison, with that of his noble successor. In the tone sod pitch of the composition, as well as in the character of :he diction In the more solemn parts, Manfred reminds us much more of the * Prometheus * of JEschylus $, than of any roorv modern performance. The tremendous solitude of the principal person — the supernatural beings with whom aiorw ne holds communion — the guilt — the firmness — the misery — are all points of resemblance, to which the grandeur of the poetic imagery only gives a more striking effect. The chief differences are, that the subject of the Greek poet was sanctified and exalted by the established belief of his country, and that his terrors are nowhere tempered with the sweetness which breathes from so many passages of his English rivaL']
i TOn reading this. Lord Byron wrote from Venice . — "Jeffrey is very kind about Manfred, and defends its originality, which I did not know that any body had attacked. At to the germs of It, they may be found In the Journal which I sent to Mrs. Leigh, before I left Switzerland. I have the whole scene of Manfred before roe, as If It was hut yesterday, and could point it out, spot by spot, torrent and all."
J [" Of the ' Prometheus * of AUchylus I was ±
fond as a boy (It was one of the Greek plays we read thrice » year at Harrow); indeed, that and the 'Medea* were the onlj ones, except the ' Seven before Thebes,' which ever muct pleased me. The Prometheus, if not exactly in my plan, ha: always been so much in my head, that I can easily coorcni its influence over all or any thing that I have written; but deny Marlow and his progeny, and beg that you will do ih> same." — Byrutt Lcttcrt, 1817.3
Thi conspiracy of the Doge Marino Faliero is one of tae most remarkable events in the annals of the
1 [On the original MS. sent from Ravenna, Lord Byron ha written:—M Begun April 4th, 1830—completed July 16th, M-faUhed copying August 16th-17th, 1820; the which n?r&g mikes ten times the toil of composing, considering ''> wettber—thermometer 90 in the shade—and my domestic ivaa." He at the time intended to keep It by him for six nan before sending it to the press; but resolutions of this sat* ire, in modern days, very seldom adhered to. It was 1 fished in the end of the same year ; and, to the poet's pea fisgnst, and in spite of his urgent and repeated remonttiates, was produced on the stage of Drury Lane Theatre wkio 1821. The extracts from his letters sufficiently exr& hii feelings on this occasion, kariao Faliero was, greatly to his satisfaction, commended 1 nrmlj for the truth of its adhesion to Venetian history and swam, as well as the antique severity of its structure and !*aruage, by that eminent master of Italian and classical SFratore, the late Ugo Foscolo. Mr. Glfford also delighted by pronouncing It " English—genuine English.' It *a, however, little favoured by the contemporary critics. I There was, indeed, only one who spoke of it as quite worthy '1. Lord Byron's reputation. "Nothing," said he, " has for a '!«; time afforded us so much pleasure, as the rich promise of *aastie excellence unfolded in this production of Lord SfroTi. Without question, no such tragedy as Marino Faliero ~a appeared in English, since the day when Otway also was hfptnd to his masterpiece by the interests of a Venetian Kott tod a Venetian conspiracy. The story of which Lord liTTOQ has possessed himself is, we think, by far the finer of the two,—and we say possessed, because we believe he has tthered ahnoft to the letter of the transactions as they really Vms pUce." — The language of the Edinburgh and Quarterly £e<ieweri, Mr. Jeffrey and Bishop Heber, was In a far different strain. The former says — 'Mar.no Faliero has undoubtedly considerable beauties, Nth dramatic and poetical; and might have made the fortune | ov young aspirant for fame: but the name of Byron raises s which are not so easily satisfied; and, judging of ty standard which he himself has established, we
3 by the lofty
w compelled to say, that we cannot but regard It as a failure, i Nxh at a poem and a play. This may be partly accounted for 'the Inherent difficulty of uniting these two sorts of nceUeoce—.of confining the daring and digressive genius of P'^try within the forms and limits of a regular drama, and, at :r* jam* time, imparting its warm and vivifying spirit to the :?i£tkal preparation and necessary details of a complete ■-'■airieai action. These, however, are difficulties with which ■fanatic adventurers have long had to straggle; and over *hicti, though they are incomparably most formidable to the Bs* powerful spirits, there is no reason to doubt that the ?*weri of Lord Byron would have triumphed. The true ■'Jinry of his failure, therefore, we conceive, and the actual -> J* of hit miscarriage on the present occasion, is to be fuund ^ the bad choice of his subject — his selection of a story which only gives no scope to the peculiar and commanding tnm of his genius, but runs continually counter to the master currents of his fancy. His great gifts are exquisite tenderness, ^ demoniacal sublimity; the power of conjuring up at ;;>wure those delicious visions or love and beauty, and pity ffd purity, which melt oar hearts within us with a thrilling etherial softm-M — and of wielding, at the same time, that jaf*mal fire which blasts and overthrows all things with the ^a and capricious fulroinatioMS of Its scorn, rancour, and r"enge. With the consciousn ss of these great powers, and : w if in wilful perversity to th« 'r suggestions, he has here a itory which, in a great measure, excludesthe agency * <*ither; and resolutely conducted it, so as to secure himself , 4?*isst their intrusion; — a story without love or hatred —
most singular government, city, and people of modern history. It occurred in the year 1355. Everything about Venice Is, or was, extraordinary — her aspect Is like a dream, and her history is like a romance.
misanthropy or pity— containing nothing voluptuous and nothing terrific —but depending, for its grandeur, on the anger of a very old and Irritable man; and, for Its attraction, on the elaborate representations of conjugal dignity and domestic honour, — the sober and austere triumphs of cold and untempted chastity, aud the noble propriety of a pure and disciplined understanding. These, we think, are not the most promising themes for any writer whose business is to raise powerful emotions; nor very likely, in any hands, to redeem the modern drama from the imputation of want of spirit. Interest, and excitement. But, for Lord Byron to select them for a grand dramatic effort, is as if a swift-footed racer were to tie his feet together at the starting, or a valiant knight to enter the lints without his arms. No mortal prowess could succeed under such disadvantages. — The story, In so far as it is original fn our drama, is extremely improbable, though, like most other very improbable stories, derived from authentic sources : but, in the main, it is original; being, indeed, merely another ' Venice Preserved,' and continually recalling, though certainly without eclipsing, the memory of the first. Except that Jaffier It driven to join the conspirators by the natural impulse of love and misery, and the Doge by a resentment so outrageous as to exclude all sympathy,—and that the disclosure, which Is produced by love in the old play. Is here ascribed to mere friendship,—the general action and catastrophe of the two pieces are almost Identical; while, with regard to the writing and management, it must be owned that, if Lord Byron has most sense and vigour, Otway has by fur the most passion and pathos; and that though his conspirators are better orators and reasoners than the gang of Pierre and Reyn&ult, the tenderness cf Bclvidere is as much more touching, as it is more natural, than the stoical and self-satisfied decorum of Angiollna."
After an elaborate disquisition on the Unities, Bishop Heber thus concludes: —
** We cannot conceive a greater instance of the efficacy of system to blind the most acute perception, than the fact that Lord Byron, fn works avowedly and exclusively intended for the closet, has piqued himself on the observance of rules, which (be their advantage on the stage what it may) are evidently, off the stage, a matter of perfect Indifference. The only object of adhering to the unities Is to preserve the Illusion of the scene. To the reader they are obviously useless. It is true, that, in the closet, not only are their supposed advantages destroyed, but their inconveniences are also, in a great measure,neutralised : and it Is true also, that poetry so splendid has often accompanied them, as to make us wholly overlook, in the blaze of greater excellences, whatever inconveniences result from them, either in the closet or the theatre. But even diminished difficulties arc not to be needlessly courted, and though. In the strength and dexterity of the combatant, we soon lose sight of the cumbrous trappings by which he has chosen to distinguish himself; yet, it those trappings are at once cumbersome and pedantic, not only will his difficulty of success be increased, but his failure, if he fails, will be rendered the more signal and ridiculous.
"Marino- Faliero has, we believe, been pretty generally pronounced a failure by the public voice, and we see no reason to call for a revision of their sentence. It contains, beyond all doubt, many passages of commanding eloquence, and some of genuine poetry; and the scenes, more particularly, In which Lord Byron has neglected the absurd creed of his pseudoHellenic writers, are conceived and elaborated with great tragic effect and dexterity. But the subject is decidedly illchosen. In the main tissue of the plot, and in all the busiest and most interesting parts of it. It Is, fn fact, no more than another 4 Venice Preserved,' In which the author has had to The story of this Doge Is to be found in all her Chronicles, and particularly detailed in the "Lives of the Doges," by Marin Sanuto, which is given in the Appendix. It is simply and clearly related, and Is perhaps more dramatic in itself than any scenes which can be founded upon the subject.
Marino Faliero appears to have been a man of talents and of courage. I find him commander in chief of the land forces at the siege cf Zara, where he beat the King of Hungary and his army of eighty thousand men, killing eight thousand men, and keeping the besieged at the same time in check; an exploit to which I know none similar in history,
contend (nor has he contended successfully) with our recollections of a former and deservedly popular play on the same subject. And the only respect in which It differs Is, that the JafHer of Lord ByronS plot is drawn In to Join the conspirators, not by the natural and intelligible motives of poverty, aggravated by the sufferings of a beloved wife, and a deep and well-grounded resentment of oppression, but by his outrageous anger for a private wrong of no very atrocious nature. The Doge of Venice, to chastise the vulgar libel of a foolish boy, attempts to overturn that republic of which he is the first and most trusted servant; to massacre all his ancient friends and fellow soldiers, the magistracy and nobility of the land. With such a resentment as this, thus simply stated and taken singly, who ever sympathised, or who but Lord Byrou would have expected in such a cause to be able to awaken sympathy i It is little to the purpose to say that this is all historically true. A thing may be true without being probable ; and such a case of Idiosyncrasy as is implied in a resentment so sudden and extravagant, is no more a fitting subject for the poet, than an animal with two heads would be for an artist of a different description.
"It is true that, when a long course of mutual nickering had preceded, when the mind of the prince had been prepared, by due degrees, to bate the oligarchy with which he was surrounded and over-ruled, and to feci or suspect, In every act of the senate, a studied and persevering design to wound and degrade him, avery slight addition of injury might make the cup of anger overflow . and the insufficient punishment of Steno (though to most men this punishment seems not unequal to the offence) might have opened the last floodgate to that torrent which had been long gathering strength from innumerable petty insults and aggressions.
"It is also possible that an old man, doatingly fond of a young and beautiful wife, yet not insensible to the ridicule of such an unequal alliance, might lor months or years have been
„ himself with the suspected suspicions of his countrymen ; have smarted, though convinced of his consort's purity, under the idea that others were not equally candid, and nave attached, at length, the greater importance to Steno's ribaldry, from apprehending this last to be no more than an overt demonstration of the secret thoughts of half the little world oLVenlce.
41 And we etnnot but believe that. If the story of Faliero (unpromising as we regard it In every way of telling) had fallen Into the hands of the barbarian Shnkspeare, the commencement of the play would have been placed considerably earlier ; that time would have been given for the gradual developement of those strong lines of character which were to decide the fate of the hero, and for the working of those subtle but not Instantaneous poisons which were to destroy the peace, and embitter the feelings, and confuse the under, standing, of a brave and high-minded but proud and Irritable
But the misfortune Is, (and it is in a great measure, as we conceive, to be ascribed to Lord Byron s passion for the unities,) that. Instead of placing this accumulation of painful feelings before our eyes, even our ears are made very imperfectly acquainted with them. Of the previous encroachments of the oligarchy on the ducal power we see nothing. Kay, we only hear a very, little of it, and that in general terms, and at the conclusion of the piece; in the form of an apology for the Doge's past conduct, not as the constant and painful feeling which we ought to have shared with him in the first instance, if we were to sympathise in his views and wish success to his enterprise. The fear that his wife might be an object of suspicion to his countrymen is, fn like manner, scarcely hinted at; and no other reason for such a fear Is i than that which, simply taken, could never have proit — a libel scribbled on the back of a chair. We are.
except that of Caesar at Alesia, and of Prince Eugene I at Belgrade. He was afterwards commander of the
fleet in the same war. He took Capo d'Istria. He was ambassador at Genoa and Rome,—at which last he received the news of his election to the dukedom; his absence being a proof that he sought it by no intrigue, since he was apprized of his predecessor's death and his own succession at the same moment But he appears to have been of an ungovernable temper. A story is told by Sanuto, of his having, many years before, when podesta and captain at Trevlso, boxed the ears of the bishop, who was somewhat tardy in bringing the Host. For this, honest
petrator than to wound the object; and we cannot pity a death incurred in such a quarrel."
The following extract from a letter of January, 1821, will show the author's own estimate of the piece thus criticised. After repeating his hope, that no manager would be so si- | dacious as to trample on his feelings by producing it on the stage, he thus proceeds : —
"It Is too regular — the time, twenty-four hours — the change of place not frequent — nothing meto-dramatic — no surprises — no starts, nor trap-doors, nor opportunities ' for \ tossing their heads and kicking their heels'—and no lore, the grand Ingredient of a modern play. I am persuaded that a great tragedy Is not to be produced by following the old dramatists— who are full of gross faults, pardoned only for the beauty of their language, — but by writing naturally tod rcgular'ly, and producing regular tragedies, like the Greek*; but not In imitation, — merely the outline of their conduct adapted to our owu times and circumstances, and of court? no chorus. You will laugh, and say," Why don't you do so?' I have, you see, tried a sketch in Marino Faliero ; but many ■ • and Ism
people think my talent * euentiaity
not at all clear that they are not right. If Marino Faliero don't fail — In the perusal— I shall, perhaps, try again (but not for the stage); and as 1 think that tore is not the principal passion for tragedy (and yet most of ours turn upon it), you will not find me a popular writer. Unless it is love>rious, criminal, and hapten, it ought not to make a tragic subject. When It Is melting and maudlin. It don, but it ought not to do ; it is then for the gallery and second-price boxes. If you want to have a notion of what I am trying, take up a translation of any of the Greek tragedians. If I said the original, it would be an impudent presumption oi mine: but the translations are so inferior to the original*, that I think I may risk it Then judge of the 1 simplicity of plot,' and do not judge me by your old mad dramatist* i which is like drinking usquebaugh, and then proving a fountain. Yet, after all, 1 suppose you do not mean that spiriu b a nobler element than a clear spring bubbling up in the lun? and this I take to be the difference between the Greeks and those turbid mountebanks — always excepting Ben Joo*on, who was a scholar and a classic Or, take up a translation of Alfieri, and try the Interest, &c of these my new attempt* in the old line, by him in Kngllsh; and then tell me fairly jour opinion. But don't measure me by Youa own old or n^f tailor's yard. Nothing so easy as intricate confusion of pint and rant. Mrs. Centlivre, in comedy, has ten times the bustle of Congreve; but arc they to be compared? and yet she drove Congreve from the theatre."
Again, February 16., he thus writes,—
"You say the Doge will not be popular: did I ever write for popularity? I defy you to show a work of mine (except a tale or two) of a popular style or complexion. It appean to me that there is room for a different style of the drama! neither a servile following of the old drama, which is a grossly erroneous one, nor yet too French, like those who succeeded the older writers, ft appears to me that good English, ami a severer approach to the rules, might combine something wit dishonourable to our literature. I have also attempted to make a play without love; and there are neither rings, nor mistakes, nor starts, nor outrageous canting villains, nor melodrama in it. All this will prevent its popularity, but does not persuade me that it Is there/ore faulty, fault It has will arise from deficiency in 11 than in the conception, which Is simple and severe.
"Reproach is useless always, and irritating —but my feel* ings were very much hurt, to be dragged like a gladiator to the fate of a gladiator by that ' retiarttu,* Mr. Elliston. A' to his defence and offers of compensation, what is all this to the purpose? It Is like Louis XIV. who insisted upon buying at any price Algernon Sydney's horse, and, on his refusal, on taking it by force, Sydney shot his horse, I could not shoot my tragedy, but 1 would have flung it into the fire rather thss have had iti
MARINO FALIERO. 195 I
Sinuto " saddles hlin with a judgment," as Thwackum i!id Square; but be does not tell us whether he was punished or rebuked by the Senate for this outrage it the time of its commission. He seems, indeed, to | hire been afterwards at peace with the church, for i i; find him ambassador at Rome, and invested with I tie fief of Val di Marino, in the march of Treviso, sad with the title of Count, by Lorenzo Count-bishop Ceneda. For these facts my authorities are Sanuto, Tetter Sandi, Andrea Navagcro, and the account of ! (x siege of Zara, first published by the Indefatigable Abate Moreili, in his " Monument! Venetian! dl varia Letteratura," printed In I"!)6, all of which I have looked over in the original language. The moderns, Darii, Sismondi, and Laugier, nearly agree with the indent chroniclers. Sismondi attributes the con. =jajrr to Ms jealouty; but I find this nowhere asserted by the national historians. Vettor Sandi,
! indeed, says, that "Altrl scrissero che
allagelosa suspizion di esso Doge siasi fatto (Michel 5teno) staccar con violenia," (kc. &c.; but this I win to have been by no means the general opinio, nor is it alluded to by Sanuto, or by Navagero: wd Sandi himself adds, a moment after, that " per E i!tn Teneziane raemorie traspiri, che non il eolo itstato di vendetta lo dispose alia congiura ma Bd» la lnnata abituale ambizion sua, per cui anclava | i fmi principe independent*." The first motive I quean to have been excited by the gross affront of tie words written by Michel Steno on the ducal cbalr, and by the light and inadequate sentence of the Forty on the offender, who was one of their " tre Capi." The attentions of Steno himself appear to bve been directed towards one of her damsels, and M to the " Dogaressa" herself, against whose fame oot the slightest insinuation appears, while she is praised for her beauty, and remarked for her youth. Neither do I find it asserted (unless the hint of Sandi h as assertion), that the Doge was actuated by jealousy of his wife; but rather by respect for her, «od for his own honour, warranted by his past strrices and present dignity.
I know not that the historical facts are alluded to in English, unless by Dr. Moore In his View of Italy. I Hi account is false and flippant, full of stale jests 1 about old men and young wives, and wondering at so ; rat an effect from so slight a cause. How so acute ■M severe an observer of mankind as the author of 1 Zeluco could wonder at this is Inconceivable. He j taew that a basin of water spilt on Mrs. Masham's P»n deprived the Duke of Marlborough of his com| "and, and led to the inglorious peace of Utrecht— tint Loins XIV. was plunged Into the most desolating vars, because his minister was nettled at his finding fruit with a window, and wished to give him another wcupation—that Helen lost Troy—that Lucretia spelled the Tarqulns from Rome—and that Cava bought the Moors to Spain — that an Insulted kusband led the Gauls to Clusium, and thence to kroe—that a single verse of Frederick II. of Prussia w the Abbe de Bernls, and a jest on Madame de
'[The Abbe's biographer denies the correctness of this itMonrat—" Quelques ecrivalns," he sari, "qui trouvaient wu doule piquant d'attribucr dc grands effets d de petitea taues. ont pretendu que 1'Abbt* avait instate dans le conaeil f"«r taire declarer la guerre a U Prusse, par retientiment °**tre Frederic, et pour venger sa vanity poetlque, humille I t* I* Twi dn monarque bel-csprit et pocte — 'Erites de Bemts la sterile abondance.'
Tompadour, led to the battle of Rosbach • —that the
"Tho young man's wrath is like straw on fire,
"Young men toon give and soon forget affronts.
Laugler's reflections are more philosophical: — "Tale fu il fine ignominioso dl un' uomo, che la sua nascita, la sua eta, 11 sue- carattere dovevano tencr lontano dalle passion! produttrici di grandi dclitti. I suol talenli per lungo tempo esercitatl ne' maggiori impieghi, la sua capaclta sperimentata ne' govern! e nelle ambasciate, gli avevano acquistato la stlma e la flducia de' clttadinl, ed avevano uniti I suffragj per collocarlo alia testa dclla republica. Innalzato ad un grado che tcrminava glorlosamente la sua vita, il rlsentimento dl un' ingluria leggiera inslnud nel suo cuore tal veleno che bastd a corrompere le antlche sue qualita, e a condurlo al termine dei scellerati; serio escmpio, che prova non ettervi etd, in cui la prudenza ] umana tia sicura, e che net's" uomo rettano temprcpas- i tioni capaci a disonorarh, quando non invigili topra I se ateiso,"*
Where did Dr. Moore find that Marino Faliero begged his life? I have searched the chroniclers, and find nothing of the kind; it is true that he I avowed all. He was conducted to the place of torture, but there is no mention made of any application for mercy on his part; and the very circumstance of their having taken him to the rack seems to argue anything but his having shown a want of firmness, which would doubtless have been also mentioned by those minute historians, who by no means favour him: such, indeed, would be contrary to his character as a soldier, to the age in which he lived, and at which he died, as it Is to the truth of history. I know no justification, at any distance of time, for calumniating an historical character: surely truth belongs to the dead, and to the unfortunate; and they who have died upon a scaffold have generally had faults enough of their own, without attributing to them that which the very Incurring of the perils which conducted them to their violent death renders, of all others, the most improbable. The black veil
Je ne m'amuserai point d refuter cette opinion ridicule; elle tombe par le fait, si l'aboe, comme dit lluclos, se declara au contraire, dans le conseil, constamment pour l'alliance avec la Prussc, contre lc sentiment meme de Louis XV. et de Madame de Pompadour." — Bib. Univ.'}
* Laugier, Hist de la Repub. de Veniae, Italian translation,
voL iv. p. 30.