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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 hercafter 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 volune 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 bas 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 fear 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 contradictions, 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 of a feafter 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 tbat 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 his indobefore the world the avowed author lence, and placing himself at the head of a work, in wbich Almighty wisdom of his troops, defeated the rebels in is blaspbemed, 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 bave anti- the city of Ninus, le 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 roused. 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 po drama.” Alas The lyre, the timbrel; the lascivious tinkfor poor Shakspeare !
lings The principal characters in this Of lulliug 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
earth Larina, the Queen ; and Myrrha, an loojan female slave, and a favourite Lies negligently by to be caught up
Lolls crown'd with roses, and his diadem of Sardanapalus. The tragedy commences with a fine soliloquy by Sale By the first manly hand which dares to
snatch it, medes, which, as it well describes the
Lo, where they come! already I perceive ebaracter of Sardanapalus, we shall The reeking odours of the perfumed trains, quote entire :
And see the bright gems of the glittering Salemenes.
Who are lis comrades and his council,
flash " He hath wrong'd his queen, but still he is her lord ;
Along the gallery ; and amidst the dam
sels, He hath wrong'd my sister, still he is my As femininely garbod, and scarce less brother ;
female, He hath wrong'd his people, still he is the grandson of Semiramis, the man
their sovereign, And I mast be his friend as well as sub. He comes !. Shall I await bim? yes, and
qucen. ject :
front him, He must not perish thus. I will not see The blood of Nimrod and Semiramis
And tell him what all good men tell each
other, Siak in the earth, and thirteen hundred Speaking of him and his. They come, the
years Of empire ending like a shepherd's tale ; Led by the monarch subject to his
slaves, He must be roused. In his effeminate
slaves." heart There is a careles courage, which corrupe 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 ; Steep'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 name,
Each calumny they can to sink their Whicle 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 hall, wbere SaHe should not be, and is. 'Were it less iemenes, who is invested with the a toil
king's signet, attempts to seize them. To sway his nations than consume his Beleses surrenders, but Arbaces de
life? To head an aruy than to rule a harem?
fonds himself: when Sardanapalus He sweats in palling pleasures, dalls his the traitors. In the thirù act there is
cntering with his train, pardons both soul, And sapa his 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, Beleses and war,
Arbaces enter with the rebels; a con
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 say, is by no means an insulated in- all that the dead dare gloomily raise up
'midst 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 his 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 npon his rest, if rest it be,
All will go well. Which thus convulses slumber : shall I
Sard. Thy hand, -80, 'tis thy wake him?
hand ; No, he seems calmer. Oh, thou God of 'Tis flesh; grasp,-clasp yet closer, till I Quiet!
feel Whose reign iş o'er seal’d 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,For then we are happiest, as it may be, Ah, Myrrha ! I have been where we
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 Beneath the mountain shadow, or the “ I saw,-that is, I dream'd myself blast
Here,-here,--even where we are, guests Ruffles 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 equal 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 16
meeting, I 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 hér. Was still, yet lighted ; his long locks Sardanapalus awakening.
curl'd down Not so,--although ye moltiplied the stars, On his vast bust, whence a huge quiver And gave them to me as a realm to share 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 serOld hunter of the earliest brutes! and ye,
pent hair. 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 idols,
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_mpon him as a king should
He frowe'd not in his turn, but look'o The hunter smil'd npon 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 Because 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 thon wert wont to be. But,- Rose also, as if aping their chief shades, Mgr.
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,
And, at the last, I fear'd them not, but Instead,-a grey-hair'd, wither'd, bloody- laugh’a eyed,
Fall in their phantom faces. But then, And bloody-handed, ghastly, ghostly then thing,
The hunter laid his hand on mine: I Female in garb, and crown'd upon the took it, brow,
And grasp'd it, but it melted from my Forrow'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, Myr. Is this all ?
Upon 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
upon me, Her left, another, fill?d with,—what I And burnt my lips with her noisome şaw not,
kisses, Bot 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 ņot this a mere clung vision ?
The other phantoms, like a row of staSard.
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 torn'd from one face to another, in
as if, The hope to find at last one which I knew Ip 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 but stared,
things Till I grew stone, as they seem'd half to Throng'd thick and shapeless : I was
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 beaven 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 hunter and the crew; and snailing on
Salemenes is mortally wounded, and me,
dies immediately after reaeiving the Yes, the enlarged but noble aspect of royal palace; and we now hasten to
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 acts ; for his last adieu :
Sweep empire after empire, like this first
Of empires, into nothing ; but even then “ Sard.
My best, my last friends! Shall spare this deed of mine, and hold it Let's not unman each other, - part at
A problem few dare imitate, and none All farewells should be sudden, 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. [E.reunt Pania and Soldiers. Nyr. 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 locely 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
Noro! 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 poWhich most personifies the soul as leaving thing, The least of matter unconsumed before
Not even a grave.
[He mounts the pile. It's fiery workings:---and the light of this
Now, Myrrha! Most royal of funeral pyres shall be
Myr. Art thou ready? Not a mere pillar form'd of cloud and Sard. As the torch in thy grasp. flame,
[Myrrka fires the pile. A beacon in the horizon for a day,
Myr. "Tis fired! I come. And t'ien a mount of ashes, but a light [. is Myrrha springs forward to throw her. To lesson ages, rebel nations, and
self into the flumes, the curtain falls.