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Clouds raining from the re-ascended skies),
Abbot. And why not live and act with other men?
- p. 59, 60.
There is also a fine address to the setting sun- and a singular miscellaneous soliloquy, in which one of the author's Roman recollections is brought in, we must say somewhat unnaturally.
"The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
I learn'd the language of another world!
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon! upon
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the great of old!"-p. 68, 69.
In his dying hour he is beset with Demons, who pretend to claim him as their forfeit; - but he indignantly and victoriously disputes their claim, and asserts his freedom from their thraldom.
Must crimes be punish'd but by other crimes,
No colour from the fleeting things without;
Born from the knowledge of its own desert.
Thou didst not tempt me, and thou couldst not tempt me.
But was my own destroyer, and will be
My own hereafter.- Back, ye baffled fiends!
[The Demons disappear."-p. 74, 75.
There are great faults, it must be admitted, in this poem; but it is undoubtedly a work of genius and originality. Its worst fault, perhaps, is, that it fatigues and overawes us by the uniformity of its terror and solemnity. Another is the painful and offensive nature of the circumstance on which its distress is ultimately founded. It all springs from the disappointment or fatal issue of an incestuous passion; and incest, according to our modern ideas for it was otherwise in antiquity is not a thing to be at all brought before the imagination. 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 deals in classical allusions a little too much. If we were to consider it as a proper drama, or even as a finished poem, we should be obliged to add, that it is far too indistinct and unsatisfactory. But this we take to be according to the design and conception of the author. He contemplated but a dim and magnificent sketch of a subject which did not admit of more accurate drawing,
NOT BORROWED FROM MARLOWE.
or more brilliant colouring.
Its obscurity is a part 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 general 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 Marlowe ; and a variety of passages are 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 terms of this conclusion; - 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,
Than have the white breasts of the Queene of Love."
And again, when the amorous sorcerer commands Helen of Troy to be revived, as his paramour, he addresses her, on her first appearance, in these rapturous lines —
"Was this the face that launcht a thousand ships,
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.
142 BYRON'S MANFRED
AKIN TO THE PROMETHEUS.
Faustus is gone! - regard his hellish fall,
But these, and many other smooth and fanciful verses in this curious old drama, prove nothing, we think, against the originality 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 Marlowe, though elegant and scholarlike, is weak and childish compared with the depth and force of much of what we have quoted from Lord Byron; and the disgusting buffoonery and low farce of which his piece is principally made up, place it much more in contrast, than in any terms of comparison, with that of his noble successor. In the tone and pitch of the composition, as well as in the character of the diction in the more solemn parts, the piece before us reminds us much more of the Prometheus of Eschylus, than of any more modern performance. The tremendous solitude of the principal person- the supernatural beings with whom alone he holds communion - the guiltthe 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.
Reliques of ROBERT BURNS, consisting chiefly of Original Letters, Poems, and Critical Observations on Scottish Songs. Collected and published by R. H. CROMEK.
8vo. pp. 450.
BURNS is certainly by far the greatest of our poetical prodigies from Stephen Duck down to Thomas Dermody. They are forgotten already; or only remembered for derision. But the name of Burns, if we are not mistaken, has not yet "gathered all its fame;" and will endure long after those circumstances are forgotten which contributed to its first notoriety. So much in
deed are we impressed with a sense of his merits, that we cannot help thinking it a derogation from them to consider him as a prodigy at all; and are convinced that he will never be rightly estimated as a poet, till that vulgar wonder be entirely repressed which was raised on his having been a ploughman. It is true, no doubt, that he was born in an humble station; and that much of his early life was devoted to severe labour, and to the society of his fellow-labourers. But he was not himself either uneducated or illiterate; and was placed in a situ ation more favourable, perhaps, to the development of great poetical talents, than any other which could have been assigned him. He was taught, at a very early age, to read and write; and soon after acquired a competent knowledge of French, together with the elements of Latin and Geometry. His taste for reading was encouraged by his parents and many of his associates; and, before he had ever composed a single stanza, he was not only familiar with many prose writers, but far more intimately acquainted with Pope, Shakespeare, and Thomson than nine-tenths of the youth that now leave our schools for the university. Those authors, indeed, with some old collections of songs, and the lives of Han