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2 [Of Lucifer, as drawn by Lord Byron, we absolutely know no evil on the contrary, the impression which we receive of him is, from his first introduction, most favourable. He is not only endued with all the beauty, the wisdom, and the unconquerable daring which Milton has assigned him, and which may reasonably be supposed to belong to a spirit of so exalted a nature, but he is represented as unhappy without a crime, and as pitying our unhappiness. Even before he appears, we are prepared (so far as the poet has had skill to prepare us) to sympathise with any spiritual being who is opposed to the government of Jehovah. The conversations, the exhibitions which ensue, are all conducive to the same conclusion, that whatever is is evil, and that, had the Devil been the Creator, he would have made his creatures happier. Above all, his arguments and insinuations are allowed to pass uncontradicted, or are answered only by overbearing force, and punishment inflicted not on himself on his disciple. Nor is he intention less apparent, nor the poison less subtle, because the language employed is not indecorous, and the accuser of the Almighty does not descend to rihaldry or scurrilous invective. - HEBER.]
The Satan of Milton is no half-human devil, with enough of earth about him to typify the malignant sceptic, and enough of heaven to throw a shade of sublimity on his very malignity. The Lucifer of Byron is neither a noble-fiend, nor yet a villain-fiend he does nothing, and he seems nothing- there is no poetry either of character or description about him- he is a poor, sneaking talking devil- a most wretched metaphysician, without wit enough to save him even from the damnation of criticism - he speaks neither poetry nor common
Thou look'st almost a god; and
Lucifer. They say—what they must sing and say, on pain
Of being that which I am- and thou art
Of spirits and of men.
And what is that? Lucifer. Souls who dare use their immortality - 3
sense. Thomas Aquinas would have flogged him more for his bad logic than his unbelief; and St. Dunstan would have caught him by the nose ere the purblind fiend was aware. -BLACKWOOD.]
The impiety chargeable on this Mystery consists mainly in this-that the purposeless and gratuitous blasphemies pur into the mouth of Lucifer and Cain are left unrefuted, so that they appear introduced for their own sake, and the design of the writer seems to terminate in them. There is no attempt made to prevent their leaving the strongest possible impression on the reader's mind. On the contrary, the arguments, if such they can be called, levelled against the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, are put forth with the utmost ingenuity. And it has been the noble poet's endeavour to palliate as much as possible the characters of the Evil Spirit and of the first Murderer; the former of whom is made an elegant, poetical, philcsophical sentimentalist, a sort of Manfred, the latter an ignorant, proud, and self-willed boy. Lucifer, too, is represented as denying all share in the temptation of Eve, which he throws upon the Serpent"in his serpentine capacity;" the author pleading, that he does so, only because the book of Genesis has not the most distant allusion to any thing of the kind, and that a reference to the New Testament would be an anachronism. - Eci. Rev.]
3 [In this long dialogue, the tempter tells Cain (who is thus far supposed to be ignorant of the fact) that the soul is immortal, and that "souls who dare use their immortality" are condemned by God to be wretched everlastingly. This sen timent, which is the pervading moral (if we may call it so) of the play, is developed in the lines which follow. - HEBER "There is nothing against the immortality of the soul in Cain' that I recollect. I hold no such opinions; but, in a drama, the first rebel and the first murderer must be made to talk according to their characters."- Byron Letters.]
Souls who dare look the Omnipotent tyrant in
As he saith-which I know not, nor believe
Creating worlds, to make eternity
Less burthensome to his immense existence
In visions through my thought: I never could
A watching shepherd boy, who offers up
[The poet rises to the sublime in making Lucifer first inspire Cain with the knowledge of his immortality a por tion of truth which hath the efficacy of falsehood upon the victim; for Cain, feeling himself already unhappy, knowing that his being cannot be abridged, has the less scruple to desire to be as Lucifer, "mighty." The whole of this speech is truly satanic; a daring and dreadful description given by everlasting despair of the Deity. — GALT.]
["Create, and re-create- perhaps he 'll make
3 ["Have stood before thee as I am; but chosen The serpent's charming symbol, as before." -MS.]
[The tree of life was doubtless a material tree, producing material fruit, proper as such for the nourishment of the body; but was it not also set apart to be partaken of as a
For such companionship, I would not now
The reach of beings innocent, and curious
By their own innocence ? 5 I would have made ye
Lucifer. Then who was the demon? He Who would not let ye live, or he who would Have made ye live for ever in the joy
And power of knowledge?
The fruits, or neither!
But didst thou tempt my parents?
Would they had snatch'd both
One is yours already;
Saith that? It is not written so on high:
Cain. But the thing had a demon?
Lucifer. He but woke one In those he spake to with his forky tongue. I tell thee that the serpent was no more Than a mere serpent: ask the cherubim Who guard the tempting tree. When thousand ages Have roll'd o'er your dead ashes, and your seed's,
symbol or sacrament of that celestial principle which nourishes the soul to immortality? BISHOP HORNE.]
[The Eclectic reviewer, we believe the late Robert Hall, says, "Innocence is not the cause of curiosity, but has, in every stage of society, been its victim. Curiosity has ruined greater numbers than any other passion; and as, in its incipient actings, it is the most dangerous foe of innocence, so, when it becomes a passion, it is only fed by guilt. Innocence, indeed, is gone, when desire has conceived the sin. Cain, in this drama, is made, like the Faust of Goethe, to be the victim of curiosity; and a fine moral might have been deduced from it." Dr. Johnson, on the contrary, says, "A generous and elevated mind is distinguished by nothing more certainly than by an eminent degree of curiosity. This passion is, perhaps, regularly heightened in proportion as the powers of the mind are elevated and enlarged. Curiosity is the thirst of the soul; it inflames and torments us, and makes us taste every thing with joy, however otherwise insipid, by which it may be quenched."]
Lucifer. But must be undergone.
My father Says he is something dreadful, and my mother Weeps when he is named; and Abel lifts his eyes To heaven, and Zillah casts hers to the earth, And sighs a prayer; and Adah looks on me, And speaks not. Lucifer. Cuin. Thoughts unspeakable Crowd in my breast to burning, when I hear Of this almighty Death, who is, it seems, Inevitable. Could I wrestle with him? I wrestled with the lion, when a boy, In play, till he ran roaring from my gripe. Lucifer. It has no shape; but will absorb all things That bear the form of earth-born being.
I thought it was a being: who could do
I watch'd for what I thought his coming; for
[It may appear a very prosaic, but it is certainly a very obvious criticism on these passages, that the young family of mankind had, long ere this, been quite familiar with the death of animals-some of whom Abel was in the habit of offering
That is a grovelling wish, Less than thy father's, for he wish'd to know. Cain. But not to live, or wherefore pluck'd he not The life-tree?
He was hinder'd.
Deadly error! Not to snatch first that fruit: - but ere he pluck'd The knowledge, he was ignorant of death. Alas! I scarcely now know what it is, And yet I fear it. fear I know not what! Lucifer. And I, who know all things, fear nothing:
As I know not death,
Lucifer. To him?
What is true knowledge.
Thou dost fall down and worship me-thy Lord. Cain. Thou art not the Lord my father worships. Lucifer. No.
Cain. His equal?
Lucifer. No;-I have nought in common with him! Nor would I would be aught above - beneath — Aught save a sharer or a servant of His power. I dwell apart; but I am great : — Many there are who worship me, and more Who shall be thou amongst the first.
As yet have bow'd unto my father's God, Although my brother Abel oft implores That I would join with him in sacrifice :Why should I bow to thee?
Lucifer. Thou 'lt know here Cuin.
Hast thou ne'er bow'd
With Abel on an altar.
Be taught the mystery of my being.
Where I will lead thee.
Cain. To cull some first-fruits.
And what is that? and hereafter. Let me but
But I must retire To till the earth - for I had promised
To offer up
up as sacrifices; so that it is not quite conceivable that they should be so much at a loss to conjecture what Death was. - JEFFREY.]