Page images

Adam. Cain! get thee forth: we dwell no more together.

Depart! and leave the dead to me 1 am

Henceforth alone — we never must meet more, [not

Adah. Oh, part not with him thus, my father: do Add thy deep curse to Eve's upon his head!

Adam. I curse him not: his spirit be his curse. Come, Zillah!

Zillah. I must watch my husband's corse.

Adam. We will return again, when he is gone Who hath provided for us this dread office. Come, Zillah 1

Zillah. Tet one kiss on yon pale clay,

And those lips once so warm—my heart! my heart!

[Exeunt Adam and Zillah, weeping.

Adah. Cain! thou hast heard, we must go forth. I am ready, So shall our children be. I will bear Enoch, And you his sister. Ere the sun declines Let us depart, nor walk the wilderness Under the cloud of night —Nay, speak to me, To methine own.

Cain. Leave me I

Adah. Why, all have left thee.

Cain. And wherefore Ungerest thou? Dost thou not fear

To dwell with one who hath done this?

Adah. I fear

Nothing except to leave thee, much as I
Shrink from the deed which leaves thee brotherless.
I must not speak of this— it is between thee
And the great God.

A Voice from within exclaime, Cain! Cain!

Adah. Hearst thou that voice?

The Voice within. Cain I Cain I

Adah. It soundeth like an angel's tone.

Enter the Angel of the Lord. Angel. Where is thy brother Abel? Cain. Am I then

My brother's keeper?

Angel. Cain 1 what hast thou done?

The voice of thy slain brother's blood cries out, Even from the ground, unto the Lord 1—Now art thou

Cursed from the earth, which open'd late her mouth
To drink thy brother's blood from thy rash hand.
Henceforth, when thou shalt till the ground, it shall

Yield thee her strength j a fugitive shalt thou
Be from this day, and vagabond on earthI

Adah. This punishment Is more than he can bear.
Behold, thou driv'st him from the face of earth,
And from the face of God shall he be hid.
A fugitive and vagabond on earth,
'T will come to pass, that whoso findeth him
Shall slay him.

Cain. Would they could! but who are they

Shall slay me? Where are these on the lone earth As yet unpeopled?

Angel. Thou hast slain thy brother,

And who shall warrant thee against thy son?

speech. Let me know what Gilford thinks, for Z have a (rood opinion of the piece, as poetry; it is in my gay metaphysical style, and in the Manfred line."]

■ The "four sequently the only upon earth.

flowed round Eden, and conwith which Cain was acquainted

Adah. Angel of Light! be merciful, nor say
That this poor aching breast now nourishes
A murderer in my boy, and of his father.

Angel. Then he would but be what his father is.
Did not the milk of Eve give nutriment
To him thou now seest so besmearM with blood?
The fratricide might well engender parricides. —
But it shall not be so—the Lord thy God
And mine commandeth me to set his seal
On Cain, so that he may go forth in safety.
Who slayeth Cain, a sevenfold vengeance shall
Be taken on his head. Come hither!

Cain. What Wouldst thou with me?

Angel. To mark upon thy brow

Exemption from such deeds as thou hast done.

Cain. No, let me die 1

AngeL It must not be.

[ The Angel sets the mark on Cain's brw.

Cain. It burns

My brow, but nought to that which is within 1L
Is there more? let me meet it as I may.

Angel. Stern hast thou been and stubborn from the womb,

As the ground thou must henceforth till; but he
Thou slew'st was gentle as the flocks he tended.

Cain. After the fall too soon was I begotten j
Ere yet my mother's mind subsided from
The serpent, and my sire still mourn'd for Eden.
That which I am, I am; I did not seek
For life, nor did I make myself; but could I
With my own death redeem him from the dust—
And why not so? let him return to day,
And I lie ghastly! so shall be restored
By God the life to him he loved; and taken
From me a being I ne'er loved to bear.

Angel. Who shall heal murder? what is dor* h done;

Go forth! fulfil thy days! and be thy deeds Unlike the last I [ The Ancel ditappatn.

Adah. He's gone, let us go forth;

I hear our little Enoch cry within
Our bower.

Cain. Ah 1 little knows he what he weeps for!
And I who have shed blood cannot shed tears 1
But the four rivers 1 would not cleanse my soul.
Think'st thou my boy will bear to look on me?

Adah. If I thought that he would not, I would—

Cain (interrupting her). No more of threats: we have had too many of them; Go to our children; I will follow thee.

Adah. I will not leave thee lonely with the dead; Let us depart together. •

Cain. Oh! thou dead

And everlasting witness! whose unsinking
Blood darkens earth and heaven! what thou nor art
I know not I but if thou seest what / am,
I think thou wilt forgive him, whom his God
Can ne'er forgive, nor his own soul.—Farewell I
I must not, dare not touch what I have made tber.
I, who sprung from the same womb with thee, drain'J
The same breast, clasp'd thee often to my own,

'fThe catastrophe is brought about with great dmuar..skill and effect. The murderer is sorrowful and confoundn — tils parents reprobate and renounce him,—his wife clin^ to him wtth eager and unhesitating affection; and tbev wanJ^ forth together into the vast solitude of the uoitene Jeffhby.]

[ocr errors][merged small]

In fondness brotherly and boyish, I

Can never meet thee more, nor even dare

To do that for thee, which thou shouldst have done

For me—compose thy limbs into their grave —

The first grate yet dog for mortality.

But who hath dug that grave? Oh, earth! Oh, earth!

For all the fruits thou hast render'd to me, I

Give thee back this. —Now for the wilderness.

[adah stoops down and kisses the body of

Adah. A dreary, and an early doom, my brother,
Has been thy lot! Of all who mourn for thee,
I alone must not weep. My office is
Henceforth to dry up tears, and not to shed them:
But yet, of all who mourn, none mourn like me,

1 1 [Tbc reader has seen what Sir Walter Scott'* general opinion of" Cain " was, in the letter appended to the Dedicacation, ante, p. 317. Mr. Moore'i was conveyed to Lord Byron m these words: — ■ I hare read Foscari and Cain. The former does not me so highly as Sardanapalus. It has the fault of all tbote violent Venetian stories; being unnatural and Improbable, and therefore, in spite of all your fine management of tb«n, appealing but remotely to one's sympathies. Rut Cain it wonderful —terrible — never to be forgotten. If I am not mistaken, it will sink deep Into the world's heart; and while many will shudder at Its blasphemy, all must fall prostrate t*fore its grandeur. Talk of JEschylus and his Prometheus 1 here U the true spirit both of the Poet — and the Devil."

Lord Byron's answer to Mr. Moore on this occasion contains the substance of all that he ever thought fit to advance in defence of the assaulted points in his " Mystery :" —.

"With respect to religion," he says, " can I never convince pu that / hold no such opinions as the characters in that , drama, which seems to have frightened every- body? My

o: like

&u of a character may run away with me: like all imaginative men, 1, of course, embody myself with the character, rkikldravj it, but not a the paper."

i moment after the pen is from ofT

He thus alludes to the effects of the critical tempest excited br " Cain," in the eleventh canto of ** Don Juan :" —

"In twice five years the ' greatest living poet,*
Like to the champion In the flsty ring,

I* call'd on to support his claim, or show it,
Although 'tis an imaginary thing.

Even I — albeit I'm sure I aid not know it,
Nor sought of foolscap subjects to be king —

"Was reckon'd, a considerable time,

The grand Napoleon of the realms of rhyme.

"But Juan was my Moscow, and Faliero

My Leipsic, and my Mont Saint Jean seems Cam."

We shall now present the reader with a few of the most elaborate summaries of the contemporary critics, *-favourable and unfavourable — beginning with the Edinburgh Eeriew.

Mr. Jeffrey says, "Though • Cain' abounds in beautiful

'F«*ie/m, and shows more power, perhaps, than any of the author's dramatical compositions, we regret very much that a should 'ever have been published... .Lord Byron has no ! pHcitlike cant or priestlike reviling to apprehend from us. we do not charge him with being either a disciple or an ivostle of Lucifer; nor do we describe his poetry as a mere impound of blasphemy and obscenity. On the contrary, we *rc indiued to believe that he wishes well to the happiness of mankind, and are glad to testify that his poems abound with t-rftinjeiits of great dignity and tenderness, as well as passages

infinite sublimity and beauty Philosophy and poetry

| art both very good things fn their way; but, in our opinion, I t^ey do not go very well together. It is but a poor and Kfisntic sort of poetry that seeks to embody nothing but raephysical subtleties and abstract deductions of reason — and **ery suspicious philosophy that alms at establishing its doctrines by appeals to the passions and the fancy. Though wch arguments, however, are worth little in the schools, it dots not follow that their effect is inconsiderable in the world. Oa the contrary, it is the mischief of all poetical paradoxes, that, from the very limits and end of poetry, which deals only In obvious and glancing views, they are never brought to the &r test of argument. An allusion to a doubtful topic will


Not only for thyself, but him who slew thee.
Now, Cain 1 I will divide thy burden with thee.

Cain. Eastward from Eden will we take our way: Tis the most desolate, and suits my steps. [God

Adah. Lead! thou shait be my guide, and may our Be thine I Now let us carry forth our children.

Cain. And he who lieth there was childless. I Have dried the fountain of a gentle race, Which might have graced his recent marriage couch, And might have temper'd this stern blood of mine, Uniting with our children Abel's offspring! O Abel I

Adah. Peace be with him!

Cain. But with me! 1


often pass for a definitive conclusion on it; and, clothed in t>eautiful language, may leave the most pernicious impressions iu'liind. We therefore think that poets ought fairly to be confined to the established creed and morality of their country, or to the actual passions and sentiments of mankind; and that poetical dreamers and sophists who pretend to theorise according to their feverish fancies, without a warrant from authority or reason, ought to be banished the commonwealth of letters. In the courts of morality, poets are unexceptionable witnesses; they may give in the evidence, and depose to facts whether good or ill; but we demur to their arbitrary and self-pleaslug summing up; they are suspected judges, and not very often safe advocates, where questions are concerned, and universal principles "~ issue."

The Ileviewer in the Quarterly was the late Bishop Heber. His article ends as follows : —

"We do not think, indeed, that there is much vigour or poetical propriety in any of the characters of Lord Byron's Mystery. Ere, on one occasion, and one only, expresses herself with energy, and not even then with any great depth of that maternal feeling which the death of her favourite son was likely to excite in her. Adam moralises without dignity. Abel is as dull as he Is pious. Lucifer, though his first appearance is well conceived, is as sententious and sarcastic as a Scotch metaphysician ; and the gravamina which drive Cain Into Impiety are circumstances which could only produce a similar effect on a weak and sluggish mind, — the necessity of exertion and the fear of death: Vet, in the happiest climate of earth, and amid the early vigour of nature, it would be absurd to describe (nor has Lord Byron so described it) the toil to which Cain can have been subject as excessive or burdensome. And he is made too happy in his love, too extravagantly fond of his wife and his child, to have much leisure for those gloomy thoughts which belong to disappointed ambition and jaded licentiousness. Nor, though there are some passages in this drama of no common power, Is the general tone of its poetry so excellent as to atone for these imperfections of design. The dialogue is cold and constrained. The descriptions are like the shadows of a phantasmagoria, at once indistinct and artificial. Except Adah, there Is no person in whose fortunes we are Interested ; and we close the book with no distinct or clinging recollection of any- single passage in It, and with the general impression only that Lucifer has said much and done little, and that Cain has been unhappy without grounds and wicked without an object. But If, as a poem, Cain is little qualified to add to Lord Byron's reputation, we are unfortunately constrained to observe that its poetical defects are the very smallest of Its demerits. It is not, indeed, as some both of its admirers and its enemies appear to have supposed, a direct attack on Scripture and on the authority of Moses. The expressions of Cain and Lucifer are not more offensive to the ears of piety than such discourses must necessarily be, or than Milton, without offence, has put Into the mouths of beings similarly situated- And though the intention is evident which has led the Atheists and Jacobins (the terms are convertible) of our metropolis to circulate the work in a cheap form among the populace, wo are not ourselves of opinion that it possesses much power of active mischief, or that many persons will be very deeply or lastingly impressed by insinuations which lead to no practical result, and difficulties which so obviously transcend the range of human experience."

It is not unamusing to compare the above with the following paragraph in one of the Bishop's private letters at the time: —

"I have been very busy since I came home In reviewing Lord Byron's dramatic poems. Of course, I have had occasion to find a reasonable quantity of fault, but I do not think

[ocr errors][merged small]

that I have done him Injustice. 'Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.' I should have liked to have taken up the same ground In a great degree with Jeffrey ; but, as it will never do to build on another man's foundation, I have been obliged to break ground on a different side of the fortress, though not, I think, so favourable a one, and with the disadvantage of con. tending against a rival, who has conducted his attack with admirable taste and skill."

The following extract Is from Mr. Campbell's Magazine :— "' Cain' Is altogether of a higher order than * Sardanapalus ' and the ' Two Foscari.' Lord Byron has not, indeed, fulfilled our expectations of a gigantic picture of the first murderer; for there is scarcely any passion, except the immediate agony of rage, which brings' on the catastrophe; and Cain himself is little more than the subject of supernatural agency. This piece is essentially nothing but a vehicle for striking allusions to the mighty abstractions of Death and Life, Eternity and Time ; for vast but dim descriptions of the regions of space, and for daring disputations on that great problem, the origin of evil. The groundwork of the arguments on the awful subjects handled Is very common-place; but they arc arrayed In great majesty of language, and conducted with a frightful audacity. The direct attacks on the goodness of God are not, perhaps, taken apart, bolder than some passages of Milton; but they inspire quite a different sensation ; because, in thinking or Paradise Lost, we never regard the Deity, or Satan, as other than great adverse power*, created by tho imagination of the poet The personal identity which Milton has given to his spiritual intelligences, — the local habitations which he has assigned them, — the material beauty with which he has invested their forms,— all these remove the idea of impurity from their discourses. But we know nothing of Lord Byron's Lucifer, except his speeches: he is invented only that he may utter them; and the whole appears an abstract discussion, hold for its own sake, not maintained In order to serve the dramatic consistency of the persons. He has made no attempt to imitate Milton's plastic power; — that power by which our great poet has made his Heaven and Hell, and the very regions of space, sublime realities, palpable to the imagination, and has traced the lineaments of his angelic messengers with the precision of a sculptor. The Lucifer of' Cain ' is a mere bodiless abstraction,— the shadow of a dogma; and all the scenery over which he presides Is dim, vague, and seen only in faint outline. There Is, no doubt, a very uncommon power displayed, even in this shadowing out of the ethereal journey of the spirit and his victim, and in the vast sketch of the world of phantasms at which thev arrive: but they are utterly unlike the massive grandeurs of Milton's creation. We are far from imputing intentional irapfety to Lord Byron for this Mystery ; nor, though Its language occasionally shocks, do we apprehend any danger will arise from its perusal."

So much for tho professed Reviewers. We shall conclude with a passage from Sir Egcrton Brydpes's " Letters on the Character and Genius of Lord Byron : " —

"One of the pieces which have had the effect of throwing the most unfavourable hues, not upon the brilliancy of Lord Byron's poetry, but upon its results to society, is * Cain.' Yet, it must be confessed, that there is no inconsiderable portion of that poem which is second only to portions of similar import in Milton, — and many of them not tecond; in a style still sweeter and more eloquent, and with equal force, grandeur, and purity of sentiment and conception; such as the most rigidly-religious mind would have read, if it had come from Milton, or any other poet whose piety was not suspected, as the effusion of something approaching to holy inspiration.

"Let us then task our candour, and inquire of ourselves, whether he who could write such passages could mean wrong? Let us recollect, that as the rebellious and blasphemous speeches he has put into the mouths of Lucifer and Cain are warranted by Milton's example, and the fact of Cain's transgression recorded in the Bible, tho omission of the design and filling up a character who should answer all those speeches might be a mere defect in the poet's judgment. He might think that Lucifer's known character as an Evil Spirit precluded hfs arguments from the sanction of authority; and that Cain's punishment, and the denunciations which accompanied it, were a sufficient warning. I know not that any objection has been made to * Heaven and Earth.' It has the same cast of excellence as the more perfect parts of* Cain,' but, perhaps, not quite so intuuse in degree.

"It seems as if Lord Byron persuaded himself, with regard to his own being, that he had always within him two contrary spirits of good and evil contending for the dominion over hint, and thus reconciled those extraordinary flights of intellectual elevation and purity with a submission to the pride, the fe. rocity, the worldly passions, the worldly enjoyments, the cor. poreal pastimes, the familiar humour, the vulgarism!, the rough and coarse manliness, to which he alternately »nrrendcred himself, and which the eood-natured public chore to consider as the sole attributes of his personal character. Much of his time, however, must have been spent in the musings by which these high poems, so compacted of the essence of thought, were produced ; and, in all this large portion oi Im existence here, his imagination must have borne him up on Its wings into ethereal regions, far above the gross and sen. sual enjoyments of this grovelling earth. Did he deal, at minor poets deal, in mere splendour of words, his poetry would be no proof of this ; but he never docs so: — there u always a breathing soul beneath his words,

* That o'er-informi the tenement of clay

It is like the fragrant vapour that rises in incense from tht earth through the morning dew; and when we listen to his lyre,

* Less than a God we think there cannot dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,

That sings so sweetly aud so well !*

** If Lord Bvron thought that, however loudly noisy voices might salute him with a rude aud indiscriminate clamour o( applause, his poems were not received with the taste and judgment they merited, and that severe and cruel comment* were attached to them by those who assumed to thenuetvcf authority, and who seldom allowed the genius without perverting ft Into a cause of censure, that more than outweighed the praise; those fumes of flattery which are imputed as the causes of a delirium that led him into extravagancies, outraging decorum aud the respect due to the public, never, in fact, reached him. To confer ' faint praise' is 4 to damn;' to confer praise in a wrong place is to insult and provoke. Lord Byron, therefore, had not, after all, the encouragement that it most favourable to ripen the richest fruit; and it was a firm and noble courage that still prompted him to persevere.

"For this reason, as well as for others, I think his foreign residences were more propitious to the energies of his 3lu*e than a continued abode In England would have been. The poison of the praises that were insidious did not reach hin so soon ; and he was not t>eset by treacherous companion*, mortifying gossip, and that petty intercourse with ordlnarv society which tames and lowers the tone of the miori. To mingle much with the world U to be infallibly degraded l<y familiarity ; not to mingle, at least, among the busy and the known, is to incur the disrespect to which ^significance is subjected. I.old Byron's foreign residence exempted him from these evils : he saw a few intimate friends, and hi' corresponded with a few others; but such an Intercourse doe* not expose to similar effects. The necessary knowledge and necessary hints may thus be conveyed; but not all the patient chills which general society Is so officious to unveil.

"If Lord Bvron had not had a mind with a strong springot virtue within it, 1 think that he would have thrown down hi* pen at some of the attacks he received, and given himself up to the sensual pleasures of his rank for the remainder of hi* life. The finer parts of his poems were of such spiritual splendour, and so pure, though passionate, an elevation, that they ought to have redeemed any parti which were open I" doubt from a malevolent construction, and even bave cchpsed and rendered unnoticeable many positive faults. Lord By. ron's style, like his thoughts, had every variety : it did no* attempt (as is the common practice) to make poetry by the metaphorical and the figurative; it followed his thought*, and was a part of them : it did not fatigue itself to rendrr clear by illustration or important by ornament, because the thought was clear or important in irieJt

"I remember, when 1 first read ' Cain,' I thought it, as a composition, the most enchanting and irresistible of all Lord Byron's works ; and 1 think so still. Some of the taken detachedly, and left unanswered, are no d©'_. ous, and therefore ought not to have been so left; but the of readers whom this poem is likely to interest are of so very elevated a cast, and the effect of tho poetry is to refine, sp>ritualitc, and illumine the imagination with such a sort «< unearthly sublimity, that the mind of these, 11 will become too strong to incur any taint thus p the defect which has been to much insisted on."3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


The folio-wing drama is taken entirely from the ■ German's TaU, Kruitzner" published many years ago in Lees Canterbury Tales; written (I believe) by two sisters, of whom one furnished only this story ind another, both of which are considered superior to the remainder of the collection. * I have adopted the characters, plan, and even the language, of many parts of this story. Some of the characters are modified or altered, a few of the names changed, and one character, Ida of Stralenheim, added by myself: but In the rest the original is chiefly followed. When I To young (about fourteen, I think,) I first read this tale, which made a deep impression upon me; and may, indeed, be said to contain the germ of much that I have since written. I am not sure that it ever wxs very popular; or, at any rate, its popularity has «dnce been eclipsed by that of other great writers in the same department. But I have generally found that those who had read it, agreed with me in their of the singular power of mind and conception It developes. I should also add conception,

1 [The tragedy of 14 Werner" was begun at Pisa, De•-ember Iftth, 1821, completed January 20th, 1822, and publi*.Vd in London in the November following. The reviews at ** Werner" were, without exception, unfavourable. One croOque at the time thus opena: —

"Who oouM be to absurd as to think, that a dramatist has no right to make free with other people's fables? On the contrary, we are quite aware that that particular species of gains which ft exhibited in the construction of plots, never mt any period flourished In England. Wo all know that Shaktj»e*re himself took his stories from Italian novel*, Dan Ufa saga*, English Chronicles, Plutarch's Lives — from asrr where rather than from his own invention. But did he sue the whole of Hamlet, or Juliet, or Richard tho Third, or Ac tony and Cleopatra, from any of these foreign sources V DtA he not iswaf, in the noblest sense of the word, all the sMmrwesers of his pieces? Who dreams that any old Italian aamettflt, or ballad-maker, could have formed the imagination at*soco ■ creator* as Juliet? Who dreams that the MAMi-tr of Shakspeare, the princely enthusiast, the melancholy phl, that spirit refined even to pain, that most incombto and unapproachable of all the creations of human , W the tame being, in any thing but the name, with rough, strong-hearted, bloody-handed Amlbtt of the tb ? Who is there that supposes Goethe to have taken the r of Mis Kauri from the nursery rhymes and penny t the Devil and Doctor Faustus? Or who, to , Imagines that Lord Byron himself found 1 In Dlonytius of Halicarnassus? 'But here Lord Byron has invented nothing — absolutely Itjsg. There is not one incident in his play, not even the L trivia], that Is not to be found In Miss Lee's novel, ocrartnsj exactly in the same manner, brought about by exactly 1 agents, and producing exactly the same effects on And then as to the characters —not only is every

rather than execution; for the story might, perhaps, have been developed with greater advantage. Amongst those whose opinions agreed with mine upon this story, I could mention some very high names: but it is not necessary, nor indeed of any use; for every one must judge according to his own feelings. I merely refer the reader to the original story, that he may see to what extent I have borrowed from It; and am not unwilling that he should find much greater pleasure in perusing it than the drama which is founded upon its contents.

I had begun a drama upon this tale so far back as 1815, (the first I ever attempted, except one at thirteen years old, called *' XJlric and Ilvina" which I had sense enough to burn,) and had nearly completed an act, when I was Interrupted by circumstances. This is somewhere amongst my papers in England; but as it has not been found, I have re-written the first, and added the subsequent acts.

The whole is neither intended, nor in any shape adapted, for the stage. 3

Pisa, February, 1822.

one of them to be found In ' Kruitzner,* but every one is to be found there more fully and powerfully developed. Indeed, but for the preparation which we had received from our old familiarity with Miss Lee's own admirable work, we rather incline to think that we should have been unable to comprehend the gist of her noble imitator, or rather copier, in several of what seem to be meant for his most elaborate delineations. The fact is, that this undeviating closeness, this humble fidelity of imitation, is a thing so perfectly new in any thing worthy of the name of literature, that we are sure no one, who has not read the Canterbury Tales, will be able to form the least conception of what it amounts to.

"Those who have never read Miss Lee's book, will, however, be pleased with this production; for, in truth, the story is one of the most powerfully conceived, one of the most picturesque, and at tne same time instructive stories, that we are acquainted with,

'Krultzner, or the German's Tale,' possesses mystery, and yet clearness, as to its structure; strength of characters, and admirable contrast of characters; nnd, above all, the most lively interest, blended with and subservient to the moat affecting of moral lessons."

The reader will find a minute analysis, introduced by the above remarks, in Blackwood, vol. xil. p. 710. ]

* [This Is not correct. "The Young Lady's Tale, or the Two Emily's," and "the Clergyman's Tale, or Pembroke," were contributed by Sophia Lee, the author of" Tho Recess," the comedy of " Tne Chapter of Accidents," and "Almedya, a Tragedy," who died in 1824. The " German's Tale," and all the others in the Canterbury Collection, were written by Harriet, the younger of the sisters.]

3 [Werner is, however, the only one of Lord Byron's dramas that proved successful in representation. It is still (1836) in possession of the stage.]

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


The Hatt of a decayed Palace near a small Town on the Northern Frontier of Silesia the Night tempestuous.

Werner I and Josephine his wife.

Jos. My love, be calmer 1
Wer. I am calm.

Jos. To me—

Tes, but not to thyself: thy pace is hurried,
And no one walks a chamber like to ours
With steps like thine when his heart is at rest.
Were it a garden, I should deem thee happy,
And stepping with the bee from flower to flower;
But here I

Wer. 'Tis chill; the tapestry lets through
The wind to which it waves: my blood is frozen.
Jos. Ah, no!

Wer. (smiling). Why! wouidst thou have it so?

Jos. I would

Have it a healthful current.

Wer. Let it flow

Until 'tis spilt or check'd—how soon, I care not.

Jos. And am I nothing in thy heart?

1 [Werner — we mean Kruitzner— Is admirably drawn. Who does not recognise in him the portrait of too common a character? The man of shining talent, ardent mind, powerful connections, brilliant prospects, who, after squandering away all in wanton self- Indulgence, baring lived only for himself, finds himself bankrupt in fortune and character, the prey of bitter regret, yet unrepentant, as selfish in remorse as in his gaiety. All that is Inconsistent in the character of Kruitzner is rendered still more so In the Werner of the drama Ed. AY;, j

1 [In this play. Lord Byron adopts the same nerveless and pointless kind of blank verse, which was a sorrow to everybody in his former dramatic essays. It is. Indeed, M most unmusical, most melancholy." — "Ofs," "cos," "ands," "fors," "bys," "butt," and the like, are the most common

Wer. Ail-all. Jos. Then canst thou wish for that which must

break mine? Wer. (approaching her slowly). But for thee I bad been—no matter what, But much of good and evil; what I am, Thou knowest; what I might or should have been. Thou knowest not: but still 1 love thee, nor Shall aught divide us.

[werner walks on abruptly, and then approaches

The storm of the night
Perhaps affects me; I am a thing of feelings,
And have of late been sickly, as, alas!
Thou know'st by sufferings more than mine, my lovel
In watching me.

Jos. To see thee well is much— To see thee happy

Wer. Where hast thou seen such?

Let me be wretched with the rest!

Jos. But think

Hpw many in this hour of tempest shiver
Beneath the biting wind and heavy rain.
Whose every drop bows them down nearer earth,
Which hath no chamber for them save beneath
Her surface.

Wer. And that's not the worst: who cares

For chambers? rest is all. The wretches whom
Thou namest— ay, the wind howls round them, and
The dull and dropping rain saps in their bones
The creeping marrow. I have been a soldier,
A hunter, and a traveller, and am
A beggar, and should know the thing thou talk'st oC

Jos. And art thou not now shelter'd from them ail?

Wer. Tes. And from these alone.

Jos. And that is something.

Wer. True—to a peasant

Jos. Should the nobly born

Be thankless for that refuge which their habits
Of early delicacy render more
Needful than to the peasant, when the ebb
Of fortune leaves them on the shoals of life?

Wer. It Is not that, thou know'st it is not: we
Have borne all this, 111 not say patiently,
Except in thee—but we have borne it.

Jos. Well?

Wer. Something beyond our outward sufferings (though

These were enough to gnaw into our souls)
Hath stung me oft, and, more than ever, now.
When, but for this untoward sickness, which
Seized me upon this desolate frontier, and -
Hath wasted, not alone my strength, but means,
And leaves us—no 1 this is beyond me ! — but
For this I had been happy ' — thou been happy—
The splendour of my rank sustain'd—my name —

conclusions of a line; there is no ease, no flow, no harmony. "in linked sweetness long drawn out:" neither is there any thing of abrupt fiery vigour to compensate for these defects. — Blackwood*]

3 [In this drama there Is absolutely no poetry to be fi and if the measure of verse which is here dealt to us be s sample of what we are to expect for the future, we have on!* to entreat that Lord Byron will drop the ceremony of cutting up his prose into lines of ten, eleven, or twelve syllables vf>>r he Is not very punctilious on this head), and favour us wit!) it in its natural state. It requires no very cunning alchemy to transmute his verse into prose, nor, reversing the experiment, to convert his plain sentences into verses like hii own— " When," says Womer, "but for this untoward sickness, which seized me upon this desolate frontier, and hath

« PreviousContinue »