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To flatter their tormentors. Have they said
From those who know thee not!
Enter JUDGE with LUCRETIA and GIACOMO, guarded.
you give up
As their own hearts? Shall the light multitude Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity, Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse, Upon us as we pass to pass away,
And leave-what memory of our having been? Infamy, blood, terror, despair? O thou,
Who wert a mother to the parentless,
Kill not thy child! Let not her wrongs kill thee!
'T is but the falsehood it can wring from fear
What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother? The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel!
Torture your dog, that he may tell when last
Have I confessed? Is it all over now?
No hope! No refuge! O, weak, wicked tongue
The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent.
He frown'd, as if to frown had been the trick
Presenting the defences, which he tore
And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice: « Which among ye defended their old father Kill'd in his sleep? Then to another: Thou [Covers his face and weeps. Dost this in virtue of thy place; 't is well.» He turn'd to me then, looking deprecation,
To what a dreadful end are we all come! Why did I yield? Why did I not sustain
O, my child! And said these three words, coldly: «They must die..
Oh! that I were all dissolved
Into these fast and unavailing tears,
What 't was weak to do,
"T is weaker to lament, once being done;
Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and made
And yet you left him not?
I urged him still;
Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong
That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young
Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew,
O, God, not so! I did believe indeed
That all you said was but sad preparation
To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them,
May God in heaven be less inexorable
My God! Can it be possible I have
To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more
The Pope to grant our pardon.
It will be granted. We may all then live
Like the warm blood.
Yet both will soon be cold,
Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be Such the alleviation of worst wrongs.
No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world;
The wide, grey, lampless, deep unpeopled world!
His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down!
On Earth, and ever present? even though dead,
Trust in God's sweet love,
"T is past!
And whilst our murderers live, and hard, cold men,
Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death,
BERNARDO rushes in.
that looks, that hope pour'd forth in prayer,
Give yourself no unnecessary pain,
Though wrapt in a strange cloud of crime and shame, And yours I see is coming down. How often
Ill tongues shall wound me, and our common name
Ilave we done this for one another! now We shall not do it any more. My Lord, We are quite ready. Well, 't is very well.
A LYRICAL DRAMA IN FOUR ACTS.
Audisne hæc, Amphiarae, sub terram abdite?
THE Greek tragic writers, in selecting as their subject any portion of their national history or mythology, employed in their treatment of it a certain arbitrary discretion. They by no means conceived themselves bound to adhere to the common interpretation, or to imitate in story as in title their rivals and predecessors. Such a system would have amounted to a resignation of those claims to preference over their competitors which incited the composition. The Agamemnonian story was exhibited on the Athenian theatre with as many variations as dramas.
I have presumed to employ a similar licence. The Prometheus Unbound of Æschylus supposed the reconciliation of Jupiter with his victim as the price of the disclosure of the danger threatened to his empire by the consummation of his marriage with Thetis. Thetis, according to this view of the subject, was given in marriage to Peleus, and Prometheus, by the permission of Jupiter, delivered from his captivity by Hercules. Had I framed my story on this model, I should have done no more than have attempted to restore the lost drama of Æschylus; an ambition, which, if my preference to this mode of treating the subject had incited me to cherish, the recollection of the high comparison such an attempt would challenge might well abate. But, in truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as
unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary. The only imaginary being resembling in any degree Prometheus, is Satan; and Prometheus is, in my judgment, a more poctical character than Satan, because, in addition to courage, and majesty, and firm and patient opposition to omnipotent force, he is susceptible of being described as exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandisement, which, in the Hero of Paradise Lost, interfere with the interest. The character of Satan engenders in the mind a pernicious casuistry which leads us to weigh his faults with his wrongs, and to excuse the former because the latter exceed all measure. In the minds of those who consider that magnificent fiction with a religious feeling, it engenders something worse. But Prometheus is, as it were, the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature, impelled by the purest and the truest motives to the best and noblest ends.
This Poem was chiefly written upon the mountainous ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, among the flowery glades, and thickets of odoriferous blossoming trees, which are extended in ever-winding labyrinths upon its immense platforms and dizzy arches suspended in the air. The bright blue sky of Rome, and the effect of the vigorous awakening spring in that divinest climate, and the new life with which it drenches the spirits even to intoxication, were the inspiration of this drama.
The imagery which I have employed will be found, in many instances, to have been drawn from the operations of the human mind, or from those external actions by which they are expressed. This is unusual in modern poetry, although Dante and Shakspeare are full of in
stances of the same kind: Dante indeed more than any other poet, and with greater success. But the Greek poets, as writers to whom no resource of awakening the sympathy of their contemporaries was unknown, were in the habitual use of this power; and it is the study of their works (since a higher merit would probably be denied me), to which I am willing that my readers should impute this singularity.
his mind should no longer be the mirror of all that is lovely in the visible universe, as exclude from his contemplation the beautiful which exists in the writings of a great contemporary. The pretence of doing it would be a presumption in any but the greatest; the effect, even in him, would be strained, unnatural, and ineffectual. A poet is the combined product of such internal powers as modify the nature of others; and of such external influences as excite and sustain these powers; he is not one, but both. Every man's mind is, in this respect, modified by all the objects of nature and art; by every word and every suggestion which he ever admitted to act upon his consciousness; it is the mirror upon which all forms are reflected, and in which they compose one form. Poets, not otherwise than philosophers, painters, sculptors, and musicians, are, in one sense, the creators, and, in another, the creations, of their age. From this subjection the loftiest do not escape. There is a similarity between Homer and Hesiod, between Eschylus and Euripides, between Vir
One word is due in candour to the degree in which the study of contemporary writings may have tinged my composition, for such has been a topic of censure with regard to poems far more popular, and indeed more deservedly popular, than mine. It is impossible that any one who inhabits the same age with such writers as those who stand in the foremost ranks of our own, can conscientiously assure himself that his language and tone of thought may not have been modified by the study of the productions of those extraordinary intellects. It is true, that, not the spirit of their genius, but the forms in which it has manifested itself, are due less to the peculiarities of their own minds than to the pecu-gil and Horace, between Dante and Petrarch, between liarity of the moral and intellectual condition of the minds among which they have been produced. Thus a number of writers possess the form, whilst they want the spirit of those whom, it is alleged, they imitate; because the former is the endowment of the age in which they live, and the latter must be the uncommunicated lightning of their own mind.
Shakspeare and Fletcher, between Dryden and Pope; each has a generic resemblance under which their specific distinctions are arranged. If this similarity be the result of imitation, I am willing to confess that I have imitated.
Let this opportunity be conceded to me of acknowledging that I have, what a Scotch philosopher characThe peculiar style of intense and comprehensive teristically terms, «< a passion for reforming the world: imagery which distinguishes the modern literature of what passion incited him to write and publish his book, England, has not been, as a general power, the product he omits to explain. For my part I had rather be of the imitation of any particular writer. The mass of damned with Plato and Lord Bacon, than go to Heaven capabilities remains at every period materially the with Paley and Malthus. But it is a mistake to suppose same; the circumstances which awaken it to action that I dedicate my poetical compositions solely to the perpetually change. If England were divided into direct enforcement of reform, or that I consider them forty republics, each equal in population and extent in any degree as containing a reasoned system on the to Athens, there is no reason to suppose but that, under theory of human life. Didactic poetry is my abhorinstitutions not more perfect than those of Athens, rence; nothing can be equally well expressed in prose each would produce philosophers and poets equal to that is not tedious and supererogatory in verse. My those who (if we except Shakspeare) have never been purpose has hitherto been simply to familiarize the surpassed. We owe the great writers of the golden age highly refined imagination of the more select classes of of our literature to that fervid awakening of the public | poetical readers with beautiful idealisms of moral exmind which shook to dust the oldest and most oppres-cellence; aware that until the mind can love, and sive form of the Christian religion. We owe Milton to admire, and trust, and hope, and endure, reasoned printhe progress and development of the same spirit: the ciples of moral conduct are seeds cast upon the highway sacred Milton was, let it ever be remembered, a repub- of life, which the unconscious passenger tramples into lican, and a bold inquirer into morals and religion. dust, although they would bear the harvest of his hapThe great writers of our own age are, we have reason piness. Should I live to accomplish what I purpose, to suppose, the companions and forerunners of some that is, produce a systematical history of what appear to unimagined change in our social condition or the me to be the genuine elements of human society, let opinions which cement it. The cloud of mind is dis- not the advocates of injustice and superstition flatter charging its collected lightning, and the equilibrium themselves that I should take Eschylus rather than between institutions and opinions is now restoring, or Plato as my model. is about to be restored.
As to imitation, poetry is a mimetic art. It creates, but it creates by combination and representation. Poetical abstractions are beautiful and new, not because the portions of which they are composed had no previous existence in the mind of man or in nature, but because the whole produced by their combination has some intelligible and beautiful analogy with those sources of emotion and thought, and with the contemporary condition of them: one great poet is a masterpiece of nature, which another not only ought to study but must study. He might as wisely and as easily determine that
The having spoken of myself with unaffected freedom will need little apology with the candid; and let the uncandid consider that they injure me less than their own hearts and minds by misrepresentation. Whatever talents a person may possess to amuse and instruct others, be they ever so inconsiderable, he is yet bound to exert them: if his attempt be ineffectual, let the punishment of an unaccomplished purpose have been sufficient; let none trouble themselves to heap the dust of oblivion upon his efforts; the pile they raise will betray his grave, which might otherwise have been unknown.