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Sardanapalus, a Tragedy : The Two Foscari, a Tragedy ; Cain, a Mystery.

By Lord Byron. 8vo. pp. 439. London, 1821. We opened this new volume of It will not be among the least wonpoetry, bearing the noble name of ders that may hereafter be connected Byron as it's passport to celebrity, with this work, that a Mr. David with those mixed feelings of dread Lyndsay, but just preceding it's apand anticipation, which we believe pearance, published a volume of anare shared in common by all his Lord- cient dramas, two of which were Sarship's readers, except indeed the de- danapalus and Cain, the very subjects graded disciples of his obnoxious chosen by Lord Byron. That this was creeds, or the blinded worshippers of without any previous knowledge of his poetic infallibility. Admiration of such collision of study, is amply his powers, and regret for their abase- proved by a comparison of the two ment, have been so often expressed works; and we refer to Mr. Lyndsay's in our pages, that it is almost need- no further, at the present moment, less for us now to repeat, that our sen- than to state, that his composition of timents are still the same ; although Cain has proved that it was perfectly the present work excites a far deeper possible to write a poem upon the portion of the latter feeling, without first murder, which might be read 'even a proportionate share of that without fea of contamination, and talent, and of those beauties, which animadverted upon without disgrace we had hoped might, in some degree, to it's author. compensate and atone for it. Lord Proceed we now to notice his LordByron is indeed himself an enigma, ship's tragedies, the first of which has “ which he who solved the Sphinx's, so very few claims upon our attention, would die guessing." After becoming that were it not the work of the author the author of poems, in which religion, of Childe Harold," it might be very virtue, patriotism, and all the most readily permitted to pass unnoticed to ennobling aspirations of our nature the oblivion of the Assyrian empire to were scoffed at, and held up to shame, which it belongs, and the loss, we his Lordship has since come forward may fearlessly assert, would be felt as the champion of Pope's ethics, and by none but Mr. Murray. the satirist of immorality! and he, The tragedy of " Sardanapalus" is who in his dramatic mysticism of founded on an event that occurred “ Manfred” set even coherence at about eight hundred years before defiance, now steps forth the patron Christ, and recorded by Herodotus, of theatrical consistency, and writes Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus. Sara couple of dull tragedies with due danapalus, the fortieth and last King respect to the unities !--- It is not these of Assyria, was celebrated for luxury contradictious, however, that we care and voluptuousness; passing the prinabout, nor of this inconsistency that cipal part of his time among his wowe would complain ; but it is, that men, disguised in the habit oi a fcafter ridiculing all the feelings of our male, and . spinning wool for his humanity, and sneering at all the amusement; which effeminacy natuhopes of our pious faith, and striving rally irritating his officers, two of to degrade man in all that distinguishes them, Beleses and Arbaces, collected him from “ the brutes that perish,” a force to dethrone him. Sardanapahe should now appear unblusbingly lus, for a time, shook off bis indobefore the world the avowed author lence, and placing himself at the head of a work, in which Almighty wisdom of his troops, defeated the rebels in is blasphemed, and Almighty goodness three successive battles, but was at sneered at. This is indeed a consum- last beaten; when taking refuge in ma ion which we could not have anti- the cïty of Ninus, he defended it for cipated, even to the career of a Byron; two years : until at leogth, despairing and requires a castigation aud a con- of success, he burnt himself in his troul far more powerful than, we much palace, with his women, and treafear, any criticism can supply. This sures, and the empire of Assyria was part of the subject must, however, bc divided among the conspirators. Such again referred to, and it is not tempt. are the materials on which Lord Byron ing enough for us to write one word has constructed his tragic poem, reupon it unnecessarily.

ducing this story to all the dramatic


regularity of which it was capable, in He must be ronsed. Alas! there is no order to approach the unities, -" Con

sound ceiving," as his Lordship's Preface

Sost music heard from within, says, - that with any very distant de- To rouse him short of thunder. Hark! parture from them, there may be

the Inte, poetry, bat can be no drama.” Alas The lyre, the timbrel; the lascivious tink, for poor Shakspeare !

Jinys The priacipal characters in this Of lulling instruments, the softening tragedy are Sardanapalus, King of voices Nineveh and Assyria ; Arbaces, the Of women, and of beings less than Mede who aspired to the throne; women, Beleses, a Chaldean and soothsayer; Must chime in to the echo of his revel, Salemenes, the King's brother-in-law;

While the great king of all we know of Zarina, the Queen; and Myrrha, an Lolls crown'd with roses, and his diadem

earth lonjan female slave, and a favourite Lies negligently by to be caught up of Sardanapalus. The tragedy com

By the first manly hand which dares to mences with a fine soliloquy by Sale snatch it, medes, which, as it well describes the Lo, where they come ! already I perceive character of Sardanapalus, we shall The reeking odours of the perfumed trains, quote entire :

And see the bright gems of the glittering

girls, Salemenes.

Who are his comrades and his council,

flash * He hath wrong'd his queen, but still he is her lord ;

Along the gallery; and amidst the damHe hath wrong'd my sister, still he is my As femininely garbod, and scarce less

sels, brother ; He hath wrong d his people, still. he is the grandson of Semiramis, the man.

female, their sovereign, And I mast be his friend as well as sub- He comes! Shall I await bim ? yes, and ject :

front him, He most not perish thus. I will not see The blood of Nimrod and Semiramis

And tell him what all good men tell each Siak in the earth, and thirteen hundred Speaking of him and his. They come, the

other, Sears Of empire ending like a shepherd's tale: Led by the monarch subject to his

slaves, He most be roused. In his effeminate

slaves." heart There is a careles courage, which corrup.. tion

Salemenes remonstrates with the Has not all quench’d, and latent energies king on his effeminate amusement, and Represt by circumstance, but not de- the necessity there is to rouse himself stroy'd ;-

and see the danger that threatens him ; Stoep'd, but not drown'd, in deep volup- when the king replies, in a most distuousness.

graceful truth, which the history of all" If born a peasant, he had been a man ages has lamentably confirmed ; To have reach'd an empire ; to an empire born,

Thou seest He will bequeath none; nothing but a The populace of all the nations seize Dame,

Each calumny they can to sink their Which his sons will not prize in heri sovereigus.”

tage : Yet, not all lost, even yet he may redeem The second act opens with an interHis sloth and shame, by only being that view between the rebel leaders, at the : Which he should be, as easily as the thing portal of the palace ball, wbere SaHe should not be, and is. 'Were it less iemenes, who is invested with the 2 toil

king's signet, attempts to seize them. To sway his nations than consume his Beleses surrenders, but Arbace, delife?

fonds himself: wben Sardanapalus To head an aruy than to rule a harem? He sweats in palling pleasures, dalls his entoring with his train, pardons both soul,

the traitors. In the third act there is And sape bis goodly strength, in toils

a banquet, during which the king is. which yield not

apprized that the conspiracy has broHealth like the chase, nor glory like the ken out; to confirm which, Belcses and war,

Arbaces enter with the rebels; a con


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flict ensues, and they are ulimately The carcasses of Inde,-away! away! routed. From the opening of the

Where am I? Where the spectres ? fourth act we extract the following

Where,- no,-that portion of a scene, which, we regret to Is no false phantom : I should know it

'midst say, is by no means an insulated in

All that the dead dare gloomily raise up stance of that wordy expansion with

From their black gulf to daunt the living, which Lord Byron has found it neces

Myrrha ! sary to spin out bis unactable tragedy

Myr. Alas! thou art pale, and on thy to the requisite number of pages. brow the drops There are several other passages far Gather like night dew. My beloved, more diluted, for this scene appears hush,-the most ambitious of the tragedy. Calm thee. Thy speech seems of another

world, “ Myrrha gazing on Sardanapalus asleep. And thou art loved of this, Be of good

cheer; I have stolen upon his rest, if rest it be,

All will go well. Which thus convulses slumber : shall I

Sard, Thy hand,-60, 'tis thy: wake him? No, he seems calmer. Oh, thon God of 'Tis flesh; grasp,-clasp yet closer, till I Quiet!

feel Whose reign iş o'er seald eyelids and Myself that which I was. 'soft dreams,


At least know me Or deep, deep sleep, so as to be un.

For what I am and ever must be, -thine. fathom'd,

Sard. I know it now. I know this lite Look like thy brother, Death,

,-s0 still,

again. so stirless,

Ah, Myrrha ! I have been where we For then we are happiest, as it may be, shall be.

Myr. My lord ! Are happiest of all within the realm

Sard. I've been i’ the grave, where Of thy stern, silent, and unwakening

worms are lords, twin. Again he moves,--again the play of pain I thought 'twas nothing.

And kings are,—but I did not deem it so; Sloots o'er his features, as the sudden

gust Crisps the reluctant lake, that lay so calm Bepeath the mountain shadow, or the I saw,-that is, I dream'd myself blast

Here,-bere,--even where we are, guests Ruffies the autumn leaves, that drooping

as we were, cling

Myself a host that deem'd himself but Faintly and motionless to their loved

guest, boughs.

Willing to eqnal all in social freedom; I must awake him,--yet not yet : who' But, on my right hand and my left, knows

instead From what I rouse him? It seems pain; Of thee and Zames, and our custom'd but if +++

meeting, Į quicken him to heavier pain? The Was rang?d on my left hand a haughty, fever

dark, Of this tumultuous night, the grief too of And deadly face.--I could not recognize His wound, 'though slight, may cause all

it, this, and shake

Yet I had seen it, though I knew not Me more to see than him to suffer. No:

where; Let Nature use her own 'maternal means, The features were a giant's, and the eye And I await to second, not disturb her. Was still, yet lighted ; his long locks Sardanapalus awakening.

curl'd down Not so,-although ye multiplied the stars, On his vast bust, whence a huge quiver And gave theit to me as a realm to share

rose From you and with you! I would not so With shaft-heads feather'd from the eagle's purchase

wing, The empire of eternity. Hence !-hence, That peep'd ap bristling through his ser. Old hunter of the earliest brutés ! and ye, Who hunted fellow-creatures as if brutes ; I invited him to fill the cup which stood Once bloody mortals,-and now bloodier Between us, but he answer'd not;-I

fill'd it, If your priests lie not! And thou, He took it not, but stared upon me till ghastly beldame !

I trembled at the fix'd glare of his eye! Dripping with dusky gore, and trampling I frown'd upon him as a king should



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He frown'd not in his torn, but look'd The hunter smild upon me, I should upon me

say, With the same aspect, which appall'd me His lips, for his eyes moved not,-and the more

woman's Becanse it chang'd not;, and I turn'd for Thin lips relax'd to something like a refuge

smile, To milder guests, and sought them on the Both rose, and the crown'd figures on right,

each hand Where thou wert wont to be. But, Rose also, as if aping their chief shades, Myr.

What instead? Mere mimics even in death,-but I sate Sard. In thy own chair,-thy own place

still : in the banquet,

A desperate courage crept through every I sought thy sweet face in the circle, limb, but

And, at the last, I fear'd them not, but Instead,-a grey-hair'd, wither'd, bloody laugh'd eyed,

Full in their phantom faces. But then, And bloody-banded, ghastly, ghostly then thing,

The hunter laid his hand on mine: 1 Female in garb, and crown'd upon the took it, brow,

And grasp'd it, but it melted from my Furrow'd with years, yet sneering with own, the passion

While he too vanish’d, and left nothing Of vengeance, leering too with that of but last,

The memory of a bero, for he look'd so. Sate :--my veins curdled.

Myr. And was : the ancestors of heroes, Is this all ?

too, Sard.


And thine no less. Her right hand,—her lank, bird-like right Sard. Ay, Myrrha, but the wohand,-stood

man, A goblet, bubbling o'er with blood ; and The female who remain'd ; - she few on

upon me, Her left, another, fill'd with,—what I And burnt my lips with her noisome şaw pot,

kisses, But turn'd from it and her. But all along And, flinging down the goblets on each The table sate a range of crowned hand, wretches,

Methought their poisons flow'd around of various aspects, but of one expression.

Each form’d a hideous river. Still she Myr. And felt you got this a mere clung vision ?

The other phantoms, like a row of sta- · Sard.


tues, It was so palpable, I could have touch'd Stood dull as in our temples, but she still them.

Embraced me, while I shrank from her, I turn'd from one face to another, in

as if, The hope to find at last one which I knew In lieu of her remote descendant, I Ere I saw theirs; but no,--all turn'd Had been the son who slew her for her upon me,

incest. And stared, but neither ate nor drank, Then,-then,-a chaos of all loathsome bat stared,

things Till I grew stone, as they seem'd half to

Throng'd thick and shapeless : I was be,

dead, yet feeling, Yet breathing stone, for I felt life in

Buried, and raised again,-consumed by them,

worms, And life in me: there was a horrid kind

Párged by the flames, and wither'd in the Of sympathy between us, as if they

air! Had lost a part of death to come to me, 'I can fix nothing further of my thoughts, And I the half of life to sit by them. Save that I long'd for thee, and sought We were in an existence all apart

for thee, From heaven or earth, - And rather let In all these agonies, and woke and found me see

thee !" Death all, than such a being! Myr.

And the end ? Sard. At last I sate marble as they, when rose

In the last struggle the faithful The bunter and the crew; and smiling on

Salemenes is mortally wounded, and me,

dies immediately after reaching the Yes, the enlarged but noble aspect of royal palace; and we now hasten to

us, till

full many.


once :

say it:

the closing scene of the tragedy, the Voluptuous princes. Time shall quench death of Sardanapalus. The soldiers are crowding around their sovereign A people's records, and a hero's arts; for his last adieu :

Sweep empire after empire, like this first

Of empires, into nothing ; but even then My best, my last friends! Shall spare this deed of mine, and hold it Let's not unman each other, - part at up

A problem few dare imitate, and none All farewells should be sadden, when for Despise, - but, it may be, avoid the life ever,

Which led to such a consummation. Else they make an eternity of moments, Myrrha returns with a lighted torch in her And clog the last sad sands of life with hand, and a cup in the other. tears.


Lo! Hence, and be happy: trust me I am not I've lit the lamp which lights us to the Now to be pitied; or far more for what

stars. Is past than present;-for the future, 'tis In the hands of the deities, if such

Myr. A single thought yet irks me, There be: I shall know soon. Farewell Sard. Say it.

farewell. [Exeunt Pania and Soldiers. Myr. It is that no kind hand will gather Myr. These men were honest : it is The dust of both into one urn. comfort still


The better : That our last looks should be on loving Rather let them be borne abroad upon faces.

The winds of heaven, and scatter'd into Sard. And lovely ones, my beautiful !

air, but hear me !

Than be polluted more by human hands If at this moment, for we now are on Of slaves and traitors; in this blazing The brink, thou feel'st an inward shrink' palace, ing from

And it's enormous walls of reeking ruin, This leap through flame into the future, We leave a nobler monument than Egypt

Hath piled in her brick mountains, o'er I shall not love thee less ; nay, perhaps dead kings, more,

Or kine, for none know whether those For yielding to thy nature : and there's proud piles time

Be for their monarch or their ox-god Yet for thee to escape hence.

Apis : Myr.

Shall I light So much for monuments that have for. One of the torches which lie heap'd be

gotten neath

Their very record ! The ever-burning lamp that burns without, Myr. Then farewell, thou earth! Before Baal's shrine, in the adjoining And loveliest spot of earth! farewell hall ?

Ionia ! Sard.' Do so. Is that thy answer? Be thon still free and beautiful, and far Myr.

That shalt see. (Exit. Aloof from desolation! My last prayer Sard. She's firm. My fathers ! whom Was for thee, my last thoughts, save one, I will rejoin,

were of thee! It may be, purified by death from some Sard. And that? Of the gross stains of too material being. Myr. Is yours. I would not leave your ancient first abode [The trumpet of Pania sounds without. To the defilement of usurping bondmen; Sard.

Hark! If I have not kept your inheritance


Now! As ye bequeath'd it, this bright part of it, Sard.

Adien, Assyria! Your treasure, your abode, your sacred' I loved thee well, my own, my father's relics

land, Of arms, and records, monuments, and And better as my country than my kingspoils,

dom. In which they would have revell’d, I bear I satiated thee with peace and joys; and with me.

this To you in that absorbing element,

Is my reward ! and now I owe thee noWhich most personifies the soul as leaving thing, The least of matter unconsumed before Not even a grave.

[He monnts the pile. It's fiery workings :--and the light of this

Now, Myrrha! Most royal of funeral pyres shall be


Art thou ready? Not a mere pillar form’d of cloud and Sard. As the torch in thy grasp. flame,

[Myrrha fires the pile. A beacon in the horizon for a day,


'Tis fired! I come. And t'en a mount of ashes, but a light [. is Myrrha springs forward to throw her. To lessou ages, rebel nations, and

self into the flames, the curtain falls..

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