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My death, and such a death, might settle all Between the state and me.
Ben. They shall be cared for; Even notwithstanding thine unheard-of crime. Doge. Unheard of! ay, there's not a history But shows a thousand crown'd conspirators Against the people; but to set them free One sovereign only died, and one is dying.
Ben. And who were they who fell in such a cause? Doge. The King of Sparta, and the Doge of VeniceAgis and Faliero!
To utter or to do ?
Hast thou more
May I speak ?
But recollect the people are without,
Doge. I speak to Time and to Eternity,
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).
["Beggars for nobles,
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
[The following sketch of the indigent Venetian noble is by Gritti:
"Sono un povero ladro aristocratico
Che i denti per il mio duro panatico
"I'm a poor peer of Venice loose among her
I crave, cringe, storm, and strive, through life's short
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 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 ez 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 these and more are heavy on thee, when
Have made thee last and worst of peopled deserts,
[Here the DOGE turns and addresses the Execu
1 [See APPENDIX: Marino Faliero, Note C.]
2 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
Second Cit. I cannot reach thee with mine utmost How is it? let us hear at least, since sight Is thus prohibited unto the people, Except the occupiers of those bars.
First Cit. One has approach'd the Doge, and now they strip
The ducal bonnet from his head and now
Swells up like mutter'd thunder; would we could
Second Cit. Hush! we perhaps may catch the
I cannot hear him. — How his hoary hair
Ah! hark! it falls!
Fourth Cit. He was a kind man to the commons
Fifth Cit. Wisely they did to keep their portals barr'd.
Would we had known the work they were preparing
Enter on the Balcony of the Palace which fronts Saint Mark's Place a CHIEF OF THE TEN, with a bloody sword. He waves it thrice before the People, and exclaims,
"Justice hath dealt upon the mighty Traitor!" [The gates are opened; the populace rush in towards the "Giants' Staircase," where the execution has taken place. The foremost of them exclaims to those behind, The gory head rolls down the Giants' Steps!
[The curtain falls. 4
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 !"
[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."
Chorus of Spirits of the Earth. Chorus of Mortals.
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. It is 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 —
Heaven and Earth.
A woody and mountainous district near Mount Ararat. Time, Midnight.
Enter ANAH and AHOLIBAMAH.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 : How my heart beats!
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
Which are not ominous of right.
Aho. Then wed thee Unto some son of clay, and toil and spin! There's Japhet loves thee well, hath loved thee long : Marry, and bring forth dust!
Of the poor child of clay which so adored him,
Less terrible; but yet I pity him:
His grief will be of ages, or at least
Mine would be such for him, were I the Seraph, And he the perishable.
That he will single forth some other daughter
Aho. If I thought thus of Samiasa's love,
In the eternal depths of heaven
Oh! think of her who holds thee dear! And though she nothing is to thee, Yet think that thou art all to her.
Thou canst not tell, and never be Such pangs decreed to aught save me, — The bitterness of tears.
Eternity is in thine years,
Unborn, undying beauty in thine eyes;
Except in love, and there thou must
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
Yet, Seraph dear! Oh hear !
For thou hast loved me, and I would not die Until I know what I must die in knowing, That thou forget'st in thine eternity
Her whose heart death could not keep from o'erflowing
For thee, immortal essence as thou art!
A war unworthy: to an Adamite
Forgive, my Seraph! that such thoughts appear, For sorrow is our element;
An Eden kept afar from sight,
Though sometimes with our visions blent.
Which tells me we are not abandon'd quite. — Appear! Appear!
My own Azaziel! be but here,
And leave the stars to their own light. Aho. Samiasa! Wheresoe' er Thou rulest in the upper air
Or warring with the spirits who may dare Dispute with Him
Who made all empires, empire; or recalling Some wandering star, which shoots through the
Whose tenants dying, while their world is falling,
Share the dim destiny of clay in this;
Or joining with the inferior cherubim, Thou deignest to partake their hymn Samiasa!
I call thee, I await thee, and I love thee.
Though I be form'd of clay,
More bright than those of day
With love more warm than mine
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 Of as eternal essence, and must war
With him if he will war with us: with thee
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
but descend, and prove
A mortal's love
For an immortal. If the skies contain
More joy than thou canst give and take, remain ! ! Anah. Sister! sister! I view them winging Their bright way through the parted night.
Aho. The clouds from off their pinions flinging,. As though they bore to-morrow's light.
Anah. But if our father see the sight!
Aho. He would but deem it was the moon
Anah. They come ! he comes ! — Azaziel !
To meet them! Oh! for wings to bear
My spirit, while they hover there,
To Samiasa's breast!
Anah. Lo! they have kindled all the west, Like a returning sunset ; —
On Ararat's late secret crest
A mild and many-colour'd bow,
The remnant of their flashing path,
Which the leviathan hath lash'd
When sporting on the face of the calm deep,
Enter IRAD and JAPHET.
Irad. Despond not: wherefore wilt thou wander
To add thy silence to the silent night, And lift thy tearful eye unto the stars? They cannot aid thee.
Japh. But they soothe me-now Perhaps she looks upon them as I look. Methinks a being that is beautiful Becometh more so as it looks on beauty, The eternal beauty of undying things. Oh, Anah! Irad.
But she loves thee not.
[This invocation is extremely beautiful: its chief beauty lies in the continuous and meandering flow of its impassioned versification. At its close, and it might well win down to earth erring angels from heaven, - the maidens disappear in the midnight darkness, hoping the presence of their celestial lovers. WILSON.]
2 [Lord Byron here takes a wide career, and is sometimes obscure and confused; but the flashes of fire continually break through, and illumine the clouds of smoke and vapour. The
Japh. Alas! Irad. And proud Aholibamah spurns me also. Japh. I feel for thee too. Irad. Let her keep her pride, Mine hath enabled me to bear her scorn: It may be, time too will avenge it. Japh.
Find joy in such a thought?
Nor joy, nor sorrow. I loved her well; I would have loved her better, Had love been met with love; as 't is, I leave her To brighter destinies, if so she deems them.
Japh. What destinies ?
She loves another.
Japh. What other? Irad.
No; her sister.
That I know not; but her air, If not her words, tells me she loves another. Japh. Ay, but not Anah: she but loves her God. Irad. Whate'er she loveth, so she loves thee not, What can it profit thee? 3
True, nothing; but
I have some cause to think
Irad. And so do I. Japh.
And now thou lov'st not, Or think'st thou lov'st not, art thou happier? Irad.
Japh. I pity thee.
Japh. 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. Japh.
And so would I
If I could rest.