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But recollect the people are without,
Doge. I speak to Time and to Eternity, 1
Upon you! Ye blue waves! which bore my banner,
1 [Sentence being passed upon the Doge, he is brought with much pomp to the place of execution. His last speech is a grand prophetic rant; something strained and elaborate — but eloquent and terrible. - JEFFREY.] 2 C
-" and Thou!
Who makest and destroyest suns !"- MS.]
3 Should the dramatic picture seem harsh, let the reader look to the historical, of the period prophesied, or rather of the few years preceding that period. Voltaire calculated their "nostre bene merite Meretrici" at 12,000 of regulars, without including volunteers and local militia, on what authority I know not; but it is, perhaps, the only part of the population not decreased. Venice once contained two hundred thousand inhabitants: there are now about ninety thousand; and THESE!! few individuals can conceive, and none could describe, the actual state into which the more than infernal tyranny of Austria has plunged this unhappy city. From the present decay and degeneracy of Venice under the Barbarians, there are some honourable individual exceptions. There is Pasqualigo, the last, and, alas! posthumous son of the marriage of the Doges with the Adriatic, who fought his frigate with far greater gallantry than any of his French coadjutors in the memorable action off Lissa. I came home in the squadron with the prizes in 1811, and recollect to have heard Sir William Hoste, and the other officers engaged in that glorious conflict, speak in the highest terms of Pasqualigo's behaviour. There is the Abbate Morelli. There is Alvise Querini, who, after a long and honourable diplomatic career, finds some consolation for the wrongs of his country, in the pursuits of literature with his nephew, Vittor Benzon, the son of the celebrated beauty, the heroine of "La Biondina in Gondoletta." There are the patrician poet Morosini, and the poet Lamberti, the author of the "Biondina," &c. and many other estimable productions; and, not least in an Englishman's estimation, Madame Michelli, the translator of Shakspeare. There are the young Dandolo and the improvvisatore Carrer, and Giuseppe Albrizzi, the accomplished son of an accomplished mother. There is Aglietti, and, were there nothing else, there is the immortality of Canova. Cicognara, Mustoxithi, Bucati, &c. &c. I do not reckon, because the one is a Greek, and the others were born at least a hundred miles off, which, throughout Italy, constitutes, if not a foreigner, at least a stranger forestiere).
4 ["Beggars for nobles,
lepers for a people!"-MS.]
I perish, but not unavenged; far ages
On her and hers for ever! ———— -Yes, the hours
Shedding so much blood in her last defence
Who shall despise her! 3-She shall stoop to be
[The following sketch of the indigent Venetian noble is by Gritti:
"Sono un povero ladro aristocratico
I crave, cringe, storm, and strive, through life's short
And vote friends, self, and country all "-ROSE.]
The chief palaces on the Brenta now belong to the Jews; who in the earlier times of the republic were only allowed to inhabit Mestri, and not to enter the city of Venice. The whole commerce is in the hands of the Jews and Greeks, and the Huns form the garrison.
7" It must be owned," says Bishop Heber, "that the Duke bears his calamities with a patience which would be more heroic if it were less wordy. It is possible that a condemned man might recollect his quarrel with the Bishop of Treviso, and the evil omen which accompanied his solemn landing at Venice. But there are not many condemned men who, during a last and stinted interview with a beloved wife, would have employed so much time in relating anecdotes of themselves; and we should least of all expect it in one whose fiery character would have induced him to hurry forward to his end. The same objection applies to his prophecy of the future miseries of Venice. Its language and imagery are, doubtless, extremely powerful and impressive; but we cannot allow that it is either dramatic or characteristic. A prophecy (which we know to be er post facto) is, under any circumstances, one of the cheapest and least artificial of poetical machines. But, under such circumstances as the present, no audience could have endured so long a speech without disgust and weariness; and Marino Faliero was most likely to have met his death like our own Sydney
Thy sons are in the lowest scale of being,
When all the ills of conquer'd states shall cling thee,
When these and more are heavy on thee, when
'Gainst which thou wilt not strive, and dar'st not
With no harangue idly proclaim'd aloud
We are surprised that Bishop Heber did not quote Andrew
"While round the armed bands
He nothing common did, or mean,
Upon that memorable scene;
But with his keener eye
The axe's edge did try;
Nor call'd the Gods with vulgar spight
But bow'd his comely head
[See APPENDIX: Marino Faliero, Note C.]
If the Doge's prophecy seem remarkable, look to the following, made by Alimanni two hundred and seventy years ago:-There is one very singular prophecy concerning Venice: If thou dost not change,' it says to that proud republic, thy liberty, which is already on the wing, will not reckon a century more than the thousandth year.' If we carry back the epocha of Venetian freedom to the establishment of the government under which the republic flourished, we shall find that the date of the election of the first Doge is 697; and if we add one century to a thousand, that is, eleven hundred years, we shall find the sense of the prediction to be literally this: Thy liberty will not last till 1797.' Recollect that
Streams on the wind like foam upon the wave! Now-now-he kneels-and now they form a circle Round him, and all is hidden - but I see The lifted sword in air — -Ah! hark! it falls! [The People murmur. Third Cit. Then they have murder'd him who would have freed us.
Fourth Cit. He was a kind man to the commons
Venice ceased to be free in the year 1796, the fifth year of the French republic; and you will perceive, that there never was prediction more pointed, or more exactly followed by the event. You will, therefore, note as very remarkable the three lines of Alamanni addressed to Venice; which, however, no one has pointed out:
'Se non cangi pensier, un secol solo Non conterà sopra 'l millesimo anno Tua libertà, che va fuggendo a volo.' Many prophecies have passed for such, and many men have been called prophets for much less."-GINGUENE', t. ix. p. 144.
3 Of the first fifty Doges, five abdicated —five were banished with their eyes put out-five were MASSACRED and nine deposed; so that nineteen out of fifty lost the throne by violence, besides two who fell in battle: this occurred long previous to the reign of Marino Faliero. One of his more immediate predecessors, Andrea Dandolo, died of vexation. Marino Faliero himself perished as related. Amongst his successors, Foscari, after seeing his son repeatedly tortured and banished, was deposed, and died of breaking a bloodvessel, on hearing the bell of Saint Mark's toll for the election of his successor. Morosini was impeached for the loss of Candia; but this was previous to his dukedom, during which he conquered the Morea, and was styled the Peloponnesian. Faliero might truly say,
"Thou den of drunkards with the blood of princes !"
4 [As a play, Marino Faliero is deficient in the attractive passions, in probability, and in depth and variety of interest;
Heaven and Earth:
FOUNDED ON THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE IN GENESIS, CHAP. VI.
"And it came to pass.... that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."
and revolts throughout, by the extravagant disproportion which the injury bears to the unmeasured resentment with which it is pursued. As a poem, though it occasionally displays great force and elevation, it obviously wants both grace and facility. The diction is often heavy and cumbrous, and the versification without sweetness or elasticity. generally very verbose, and sometimes exceedingly dull. Altogether, it gives us the impression of a thing worked out against the grain, and not poured forth from the fulness of the heart or the fancy;-the ambitious and elaborate work of a powerful mind engaged with an unsuitable task- not the spontaneous effusion of an exuberant imagination, sporting in the fulness of its strength. Every thing is heightened and enforced with visible effort and design; and the noble author is often contented to be emphatic by dint of exaggeration, and eloquent by the common topics of declamation. Lord Byron is, undoubtedly, a poet of the very first order, and has talents to reach the very highest honours of the drama. But he must not again disdain love, and ambition, and jealousy ; he must not substitute what is merely bizarre and extraordinary, for what is naturally and universally interesting, nor expect, by any exaggerations, so to rouse and rule our sympathies by the senseless anger of an old man, and the prudish proprieties of an untempted woman, as by the agency of the great and simple passions with which, in some of their degrees, all men are familiar, and by which alone the Dramatic Muse has hitherto wrought her miracles. - JEFFREY.
On the whole, the Doge of Venice is the effect of a powerful and cultivated mind. It has all the requisites of tragedy, sublimity, terror, and pathos-all but that without which the rest are unavailing, interest! With many detached passages which neither derogate from Lord Byron's former fame, nor would have derogated from the reputation of our best ancient tragedians, it is, as a whole, neither sustained nor impressive. The poet, except in the soliloquy of Lioni, scarcely ever seems to have written with his own thorough good liking. He may be suspected throughout to have had in his eye some other model than nature; and we rise from his work with the same feeling as if we had been reading a translation. For this want of interest the subject itself is, doubtless, in some measure to blame; though, if the same subject had been differently treated, we are inclined to believe a very different effect would have been produced. But for the constraint and stiffness of the poetry, we have nothing to blame but the apparent reso. lution of its author to set (at whatever risk) an example of classical correctness to his uncivilised countrymen, and rather to forego success than to succeed after the manner of Shakspeare. HEBER.]
1 Heaven and Earth" was written at Ravenna, in October, 1821. In forwarding it to Mr. Murray, in the following month, Lord Byron says" Enclosed is a lyrical drama, entitled A Mystery. You will find it pious enough, I trust
A woody and mountainous district near Mount
Enter ANAH and АHOLIBAMAH. 2
Anah. OUR father sleeps; it is the hour when they Who love us are accustom'd to descend
Through the deep clouds o'er rocky Ararat : —
at least some of the chorus might have been written by Sternhold and Hopkins themselves for that, and perhaps for melody. As it is longer, and more lyrical and Greek, than I intended at first, I have not divided it into acts, but called what I have sent Part First; as there is a suspension of the action, which may either close there without impropriety, or be continued in a way that I have in view. I wish the first part to be published before the second; because, if it don't succeed, it is better to stop there, than to go on in a fruitless experiment." Though without delay revised by Mr. Gifford, and printed, this "First Part" was not published till 1822, when it appeared in the second number of the "Liberal." The " Mystery " was never completed.]
2 ["It is impossible to suppose two poems more nearly diametrically opposite to each other in object and execution, than the Loves of the Angels' by Mr. Moore, and Heaven and Earth, a Mystery,' by Lord Byron. The first is all glitter and point, like a piece of Derbyshire spar; and the other is dark and massy, like a block of marble. In the one, angels harangue each other, like authors wishing to make a great public impression; in the other, they appear silent and majestic, even when their souls have been visited with human passions. In the one, the women whom the angels love, although beautiful and amiable, are blue-stockingish and pedantic, and their sins proceed from curiosity and the love of knowledge. In the other, they are the gentle, or the daring, daughters of flesh and blood, dissolving in tenderness, or burning with passion for the Sons of the Morning. In the one, we have sighs, tears, kisses, shiverings, thril lings, perfumes, feathered angels on beds of down, and all the transports of the honey-moon; in the other, silent looks of joy or despair, passion seen blending in vain union between the spirits of mortal and immortal, love shrieking on the wild shore of death, and all the thoughts that ever agitated human hearts dashed and distracted beneath the blackness and amidst the howling of commingled earth and heaven. The one is extremely pretty, and the other is something ter rible. The great power of this Mystery' is in its fearless and daring simplicity. Lord Byron faces at once all the grandeur of his sublime subject. He seeks for nothing, but it rises before him in its death-doomed magnificence. Man, or angel, or demon, the being who mourns, or laments, or exults, is driven to speak by his own soul. The angels deign not to use many words, even to their beautiful paramours; and they scorn Noah and his sententious sons. The first scene is a woody and mountainous district, near Mount Ararat, and the time midnight. Mortal creatures, conscious of their own wickedness, have heard awful predictions of the threatened flood, and all their lives are darkened with terror. But the sons of God have been dwellers on earth. and women's hearts have been stirred by the beauty of these celestial visitants. Anah and Aholibamah, two of
Azaziel not less, were he mortal; yet
I am glad he is not. I can not outlive him.
Of the poor child of clay which so adored him,
His grief will be of ages, or at least
Mine would be such for him, were I the Seraph, And he the perishable.
From thy sphere ! Whatever star contain thy glory;
In the eternal depths of heaven
Albeit thou watchest with " the seven,' Though through space infinite and hoary Before thy bright wings worlds be driven, Yet hear!
Oh think of her who holds thee dear!
Except in love, and there thou must
Thou walk'st thy many worlds, thou see'st The face of him who made thee great, As he hath made me of the least
Of those cast out from Eden's gate:
these angel-stricken maidens, come wandering along while others sleep, to pour forth their invocations to their demon lovers. They are of very different characters: Anah, soft, gentle, and submissive; Aholibainah, proud, impetuous, and
Thou rulest in the upper air
Or warring with the spirits who may dare
Who made all empires, empire; or recalling Some wandering star, which shoots through the abyss,
Whose tenants dying, while their world is falling,
Share the dim destiny of clay in this;
Or joining with the inferior cherubim,
I call thee, I await thee, and I love thee.
Though I be form'd of clay,
And thou of beams
More bright than those of day
Thine immortality can not repay
My love. There is a ray
In me, which, though forbidden yet to shine, I feel was lighted at thy God's and thine.
It may be hidden long: death and decay
Our mother Eve bequeath'd us- but my heart Defies it: though this life must pass away, Is that a cause for thee and me to part? Thou art immortal so am I: I feel
I feel my immortality o'ersweep
All pains, all tears, all time, all fears, and peal,
Into my ears this truth-" Thou liv'st for ever!"
I know not, nor would know;
That secret rests with the Almighty giver
Who folds in clouds the fonts of bliss and woe. But thee and me he never can destroy;
aspiring the one loving in fear, and the other in ambition. WILSON.]
1 The archangels, said to be seven in number, and to occupy the eighth rank in the celestial hierarchy.
Change us he may, but not o'erwhelm; we are
I can share all things, even immortal sorrow; For thou hast ventured to share life with me, And shall I shrink from thine eternity?
No! though the serpent's sting should pierce me thorough,
And thou thyself wert like the serpent, coil
And curse thee not; but hold
Thee in as warm a fold
For being happy,
Deprived of that which makes my misery.
Irad. I take thy taunt as part of thy distemper, And would not feel as thou dost for more shekels Than all our father's herds would bring if weigh'd Against the metal of the sons of Cain — The yellow dust they try to barter with us, As if such useless and discolour'd trash, The refuse of the earth, could be received For milk, and wool, and flesh, and fruits, and all Our flocks and wilderness afford. - Go, Japhet, Sigh to the stars, as wolves howl to the moonI must back to my rest.
If I could rest.
And so would I
Thou wilt not to our tents then?
Japh. No, Irad; I will to the cavern, whose
What wouldst thou there?
Soothe further my sad spirit
With gloom as sad: it is a hopeless spot, And I am hopeless.
Strange sounds and sights have peopled it with
I must go with thee.
extravagance is dictated by passion. His muse, even in her riddles and digressions, has a sybil-like, prophetic fury.— JEFFREY.]
3 [This is one of those bitter, taunting sarcasms that escape from Lord Byron's pen, in spite of himself. Japhet is afterwards introduced alone, in a mountainous cave; and his soliloquy, bemoaning his own fate, and the approaching destruction of mankind, is interrupted by a laugh of demons, rejoicing over the event. This scene is terrific. — JEFFREY.]