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Save what she gave,-the rest was nakedness,
Here closes our account of the We should remember Fortune can take Assyrian story; and though it will astonish the world, we will close it with a moral from the pen of Lord Byron!-Sardanapalus, parting for the last time from his wife, whom he has not seen for years, exclaims,
I must pay dearly for the desolation Now brought upon thee. Had I never loved
But thee, I should have been an unopposed
Monarch of honouring nations. To what gulphs
A single deviation from the track
Of human duties leads even those who claim
The homage of mankind as their born due, And find it, till they forfeit it themselves!"
We add not a syllable of comment. -The story of "The Two Foscari" is "brief as woman's love," and it is quite unnecessary for us to be more tedious. The son of a Doge of Venice, suspected of murder, and banished for his imputed crime; returning home, was again tortured, and again sent forth to exile, where he died. Lord Byron's tragedy embraces only the latter part of this tragic tale, and it's only incidents are Jacopo Foscari's renewed tortures, his second doom of banishment, and the deposing and death of his aged father, who is indeed the principal character of the drama. Like Sardanapalus, this tragedy very far exceeds any reasonable acting length, though it is certainly in every respect a far preferable poem ; and as we have space for but a few quotations, we select the best; commencing with the Doge's reply to his daughter-in-law's reproaches of apathy:
"Doge. I am what you behold. Marina. And that's a mystery. Dage. All things are so to mortals; who ean read them
Save he who made? or if they can, the few And gifted spirits, who have studied long That loathsome volume-man, and pored
And lusts, and appetites, and vanities,
Where hunger swallows all in one low want,
And the original ordinance, that man Must sweat for his poor pittance, keeps all passions
Aloof, save fear of famine! All is low, And false, and hollow,-clay from first to last,
The prince's urn no less than potter's vessel.
Our fame is in men's breath, our lives upon
Less than their breath; our durance upon
Our days on seasons; our whole being on Something which is not us!-So, we are slaves,
The greatest as the meanest,-nothing
Of death, the imprecation of despair! And yet for this I have return'd to Venice,
With some faint hope, 'tis true, that time, which wears
The marble down, had worn away the
Must I consume my own, which never beat
For Venice but with such a yearning as The dove has for her distant nest, when
High in the air on her return to greet Her callow brood. What letters are these
Are scrawl'd along the inexorable wall? Will the gleam let me trace them? Ah!
Of my sad predecessors in this place, The dates of their despair, the brief words of
A grief too great for many. This stone page
Holds like an epitaph their history,
And the poor captive's tale is graven on His dungeon barrier, like the lover's record
Upon the bark of some tall tree, which bears
His own and his beloved's name. Alas! I recognize some names familiar to me, And blighted like to mine, which I will add,
Fittest for such a chronicle as this,
Which only can be read, as writ, by
[He engraves his name."
His yearnings for Venice are also of the purest poetry :
his own feelings must, or he woefully belies them, be directly the reverse:
"That melody, which out of tones and
Collects such pasture for the longing
Of the sad mountaineer, when far away From his snow canopy of cliffs and clouds, That he feeds on the sweet, but poisonous thought,
And dies. You call this weakness! It is strength,
I say, the parent of all honest feeling, He who loves not his country, can love nothing!"
The Foscari die of grief, and it is with sorrow we say that we can select
nothing more which seems needful for our Review. There are no doubt many other speeches and descriptions of considerable merit, but they would only crowd our pages from a book which is in general circulation, and it's slight inaccuracies are not worth pointing out.-Lord Byron's long note about Politics and the Poet Laureate, is too little to our taste, and too unconnected with our present subject, to demand much notice. His Lordship appears to writhe with considerable uneasiness under Mr. Southey's meritorious attack upon "The Satanic School," and retorts in a way very unbecoming the peerage; to which Mr. S. has replied in the newspapers, certainly far more coolly than his Right Honourable an tagonist, and has summed up his arguments with this stinging conclusion:
:-" I have held up that School to public detestation, as enemies to the Religion, the Institutions, and the domestic morals of their country. I have given them a designation to which their founder and leader answers. I have sent a stone from my sling which has smitten their Goliah in the forehead. I have fastened his name upon the gibbet, for reproach and ignominy, as long as it shall endure. Take it down who can!" -Leaving Lord Byron to digest and answer this as he best may, we now come to the most powerful, but at the same time the worst portion of the Volume, as giving it's every claim to being a most legitimate offspring of the Satanic School,-the fearful mystery of " Cain."
We have seen many books in our time, aimed by the infidel philosopher and the atheistical bard at the strong holds of the Christian faith; which
however, have rather confirmed us in the better doctrines of the wise and the good of all ages; but a more direct, more dangerous, or more frightful production, than this miscalled Mystery, it has never been our lot to encounter. God forbid that we should impute it to the Author that his intention was to aim at the subversion of all religious principle; but we must say, if such had been his purpose, he could not have laboured with greater ingenuity, diligence, and perversion to effect his object:
“ "Tis true, 'tis pity; pity 'tis, 'tis true." Lord Byron either was sensible of this, or had some kind of presentiment that such would be the impression on a large proportion of readers; for in his preface he tries to palliate the offence in a way peculiar to himself, that is, by an apology so like a jest, that it may be taken according to the dictates of fancy, as an excuse or as an aggravation. He tells us—
"With regard to the language of Lucifer, it was difficult for me to make hini talk life a Clergyman upon the same subjects; but I have done what I could to restrain him within the bounds of spiritual politeness."
Milton, a master genius among the brightest of immortal bards,-Milton, into the opposite scale with whom Lord Byron has had the boldness to thrust himself upon this occasion, did not try to make his Lucifer" talk like a Clergyman," or to restrain him within the bounds of spiritual politeness;" and why? because he felt the loftiness of his theme; because he knew it would be not merely derogatory but contemptible to make the "Archangel fallen" approach in language to so paltry an idea; and finally, because his imagination grasped the grandeur and immensity of his subject, and his elevated draught of the character was consonantly splendid: while that of his successor presents only the portrait of a miserable fiend, resembling a mortal sinner in his sophistry, his impiety, and his blasphemy. In the one it is the Prince of Darkness who speaks and acts in a manner becoming his still mighty though degraded nature; and in the other, except in one solitary passage, it is the quibbling demon, "the least erected spirit that fell from Heaven," abo repeats the stale arguments of Eur. Mag. Vol. 81. Jan. 1822,
mortal sceptics, on the original cause of evil, and the punishment of inherited sin. Milton was indeed a Levite worthy to touch the altar, a priest whose officiating prevented, and did not bring down, plague upon the peo ple; Byron is the stranger forbidden to meddle with holy things, the Uzzah to be smitten for daring but to put forth his hand into the Ark.-We are well aware of the ready apology for words and thoughts which man ought not to utter: we are told that a Devil or an Apostate are the Dialogists, and that they are made to say what is consistent with their attributes and characters, But this is a false position,-it cannot
it ought not to be tolerated, that any fictitious personage should, as Cain does, in broad and horrible language, directly curse not only the earthly author of his being, but the Almighty God himself, in language which wo dare not extract. Lord Byron has indeed given to Cain the sentiments and words of hell, but from whom do they come ?-from a writer, who to impart verisimilitude and energy to his lines, puts himself in the place of a Lucifer, and is for a season that which he imagines. It must certainly be confessed that the poet has suc-' ceeded beyond conception in assuming these shapes, for neither Satan, nor the First of Murderers in their own form, could have delivered more shocking profanations and more diabolical blasphemies. Aberrations the more lamentable in a poem in which there are, abstractedly, many beauties and proofs of genius, which might adorn the noblest and the purest themes.
The noble writer's daring opinions arc, unhappily, so well known, that while every well regulated mind must lament over the debasement of his mighty talents, as displayed in this series of heartless and indefensible tirades against the Almighty ;--every idle sceptic will seize with avidity ou the language of fiction, and interpret it as a text to his pernicious creed, Lord Byron is thus not likely to conciliate public opinion, which may be affected to be sneered at, but can never be despised, by this effort; and though the work doubtless boasts many beauties that are common to it's noble lineage, we are yet of opinion that considered as a whole it cannot contribute to his fame, His LordK
ship's genius is essentially romantic, and, when attempted to be contined by the trammels of truth, he is too apt to break forth into long metaphysical disquisitions, usually combining at once all that is most dry in prose, most pernicious in morals, and most aburd in poetry.
Throughout the whole of the Preface, his Lordship shews a most industrious anxiety to assure us that he has not read Milton since he was twenty, nor Gesner's Abel since he was eight; thus anticipating any charges of plagiary with respect to which the Noble Poet appears most woefully sore and sensitive. We are much disposed indeed on internal evidence to credit his assertion of general ignorance of our great Poet, for the first family of Byron bear as little resemblance to our first parents of Milton, as to a modern family of the present day. The drama opens with a sacrifice offered up by Adam and his assisting family, in which Cain alone withholds the expression of gratitude, and is made at once to display the discontent and moroseness of a churlish ill-regulated spirit.-His following soliloquy speaks the temper of a mind well prepared for the baneful workings of the Prince of Darkness and unfortunately speaks volumes also of the tenets of it's author :"Cain.
And this is
Life!-Toil! and wherefore should I toil?
Whom have we here?-A shape like to
Yet of a sterner and a sadder aspect
Whom I see daily wave their fiery swords
Gardens which are my just inheritance, Ere the night closes o'er the inhibited walls
And the immortal trees which overtop
Why should I quail from him who now approaches?
Yet he seems mightier far than them, nor
Which speaks within you.
What immortal part? This has not been reveal'd: the tree of life
Was withheld from us by my father's folly,
While that of knowledge, by my mother's
Lucifer subsequently leads Cain to Hades, and shews him visions of a former world, which have the effect of rendering him yet more impious, and of inducing the fatal catastrophe of Abel's murder. However we may dissent from the entire aim and object of this piece, we must not, therefore, deny it the merit of containing much brilliant poetry, and the following dialogue certainly boasts considerable poetic splendour :
is sporting with him, and that his silence is mockery, is very happy; and had he passed from this delu'sion, by slow gradations, to the dreadful certainty that what he saw was death, the grandeur of the scene must have been considerably heightened. There is little dignity in the reproaches which the primitive family subsequently shower on Abel, when Zillah enters, and her grief brings the other human personages to the scene, amongst whom Eve pronounces a
Saith that he has beheld the God himself dreadfully emphatic curse on Cain.
Who made him and our mother.
Lee. Hast thou seen him?
Adah. Yes,-in his works.
Save in my father, who is God's own image;
Or in his angels, who are like to thee,And brighter, yet less beautiful and powerful
In seeming: as the silent sunny noon
All tight they look upon us; but thou seem'st Like an ethereal night, where long white clouds
Streak the deep purple, and unnumber'd
Spangle the wonderful mysterious vault
So beautiful, unnumber'd, and endearing,
Thou seem'st unhappy; do not make us so,
The idea of resembling Lucifer to stars, which look as if they would be suns, though highly fanciful, is not, perhaps, strictly appropriate; as it conveys a sense of the ambition of the fallen angel, far beyond the ken of Adah. The murder of Abel is also represented with remarkable infelicity; there is too much short and smart dialogue, a sort of wordy contest thrown about the act of blood; by which the fine opportunity for Lord Byron to have described the operation of the hue and aspect of Death on the first murderer is comparatively lost, by the injudicious expedient of making Abel speak to forgive his murderer, so long after he has been struck to the ground; and thus interrupting the grand and imposing contemplation of death on the part of Cain, so well adapted to call forth Lord Byron's best powers. The idea of Cain's conceiving that his brother
May all the curses
Of life be on him! and his agonies
Earth's fruits be ashes in his mouth,-the
On which he lays his head to sleep be strew'd
With scorpions! May his dreams be of his
His waking a continual dread of death!
May every element shun or change to him!
And death itself wax something worse than death
To him who first acquainted him with
A grave! the sun his light! and heaven her God!"
Adam, however, does not curse, but pronounces the doom of everlasting banishment upon his son ; when the angel of God ratifies the sentence, and brands the brow of the murderer. Adah's character is alone well preserved throughout; for she only keeps to the last her gentleness and her love unshaken; and presents that steadfast spirit of devotion to the object of her affection, that so peculiarly marks and elevates the character of woman. The going forth of Cain and his family is