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Title: The Works of Lord Byron
       Poetry, Volume V.

Author: Lord Byron

Editor: Ernest Hartley Coleridge

Release Date: November 14, 2007 [EBook #23475]

Language: English

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The Works


Poetry. Vol. V.





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The plays and poems contained in this volume were written within the space of two years—the last two years of Byron's career as a poet. But that was not all. Cantos VI.-XV. of Don Juan, The Vision of Judgment, The Blues, The Irish Avatar, and other minor poems, belong to the same period. The end was near, and, as though he had received a warning, he hastened to make the roll complete.

Proof is impossible, but the impression remains that the greater part of this volume has been passed over and left unread by at least two generations of readers. Old play-goers recall Macready as "Werner," and many persons have read Cain; but apart from students of literature, readers of Sardanapalus and of The Two Foscari are rare; of The Age of Bronze and The Island rarer still. A few of Byron's later poems have shared the fate of Southey's epics; and, yet, with something of Southey's persistence, Byron believed that posterity would weigh his [vi] "regular dramas" in a fresh balance, and that his heedless critics would kick the beam. But "can these bones live"? Can dramas which excited the wondering admiration of Goethe and Lamartine and Sir Walter Scott touch or lay hold of the more adventurous reader of the present day? It is certain that even the half-forgotten works of a great and still popular poet, which have left their mark on the creative imagination of the poets and playwrights of three quarters of a century, will always be studied by the few from motives of curiosity, or for purposes of reference; but it is improbable, though not impossible, that in the revolution of taste and sentiment, moribund or extinct poetry will be born again into the land of the living. Poetry which has never had its day, such as Blake's Songs of Innocence, the Lyrical Ballads, or Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyám, may come, in due time, to be recognized at its full worth; but it is a harder matter for a poem which has lost its vogue to recapture the interest and enthusiasm of the many.

Byron is only an instance in point. Bygone poetry has little or no attraction for modern readers. This poem or that drama may be referred to, and occasionally examined in the interests of general culture, or in support of a particular belief or line of conduct, as a classical or quasi-scriptural authority; but, with the rarest exceptions, plays and narrative poems are not read spontaneously or with any genuine satisfaction or delight. An old-world poem which will not yield up its secret to the idle reader "of an empty day" is more or less [vii] "rudely dismissed," without even a show of favour or hospitality.

And yet these forgotten works of the imagination are full of hidden treasures! There is not one of Byron's "impressionist studies" of striking episodes of history or historical legend, flung, as it were, with a "Take it or leave it" in the face of friend or foe, which does not transform names and shadows into persons and substance, which does not contain lines and passages of unquestionable beauty and distinction.

But some would have it that Byron's plays, as a whole, are dull and uninspiring, monotonous harpings on worn-out themes, which every one has mastered or wishes to forget. A close study of the text, together with some knowledge of the subject as it presented itself to the author and arrested his attention, may compel these impatient critics to a different conclusion. Byron did not scruple to refer the reader to his "sources," and was at pains to publish, in the notes and appendices to his dramas and poems, long extracts from old chronicles, from Plutarch's Lives, from French and Italian histories, which he had read himself, and, as he fondly believed, would be read by others, who were willing to submit themselves to his guidance. He expected his readers to take some trouble and to display some intelligence.

Poetry is successful only so far as it is intelligible. To a clear cry an answer comes, but not to a muffled call. The reader who comes within speaking distance[viii] of his author can hear him, and to bring the living within speaking distance of the dead, the living must know the facts, and understand the ideas which informed and inspired the dead. Thought and attention are scarcely to be reckoned among necromantic arts, but thought and knowledge "can make these bones live," and stand upon their feet, if they do not leap and sing.

I desire to renew my acknowledgments of the generous assistance of the officials of the British Museum, and, more especially, of Mr. Ernest Wallis Budge, Litt.D., M.A., Keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities; of Mr. Leonard W. King, M.A., of the same department; and of Mr. George F. Barwick, Superintendent of the Reading Room.

To Dr. Garnett, C.B., I am greatly indebted for invaluable hints and suggestions with regard to the interpretation of some obscure passages in The Age of Bronze and other parts of the volume, and for reading the proofs of the "Introduction" and "Note to the Introduction to Werner."

I have also to acknowledge the assistance and advice of Mr. W. Hale White, and of my friend Mr. Frank E. Taylor, of Chertsey.

For assistance during the preparation of the volume, and more especially in the revision of proofs, I desire to express my cordial thanks to Mr. John Murray.


December 3, 1901.



Preface to Vol. V. of the Poems v
Sardanapalus: A Tragedy.  
Introduction to Sardanapalus3
The Two Foscari: An Historical Tragedy.  
Introduction to The Two Foscari115
The Two Foscari121
Cain: A Mystery.  
Introduction to Cain199
Heaven and Earth; A Mystery.  
Introduction to Heaven and Earth279
Heaven and Earth285
Werner; or, The Inheritance: A Tragedy.  
Introduction to Werner325
Note to the Introduction to Werner329
Werner. [First Draft.]453
The Deformed Transformed: A Drama.  
Introduction to The Deformed Transformed469
The Deformed Transformed477
Fragment of the Third Part of The Deformed Transformed531
The Age of Bronze; or, Carmen Seculare et Annus haud Mirabilis.  
Introduction to The Age of Bronze537
The Age of Bronze541
The Island; or, Christian and his Comrades.  
Introduction to The Island581
The Island. Canto the First587
Canto the Second598
Canto the Third618
Canto the Fourth626




1. Lord Byron, from a Portrait in Oils by W. E. West, in the Possession of Mr. Percy Kent Frontispiece
2. Assur-Bani-Pal, from a Slab in the British Museum To face p. 12
3. The Lion of S. Mark's 138
4. Goethe, from a Drawing by D. Maclise, R.A., in the Victoria and Albert Museum 282
5. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, from the Mezzotint by Valentine Green, after Sir J. Reynolds, P.R.A. 330
6. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, from a Picture by R. Rothwell, R.H.A., in the National Portrait Gallery (1841) 474



[2] [Sardanapale, Tragédie Imitée de Lord Byron, par L. Alvin, was performed at the Théatre Royal at Brussels, January 13, 16, 1834.

Sardanapalus, a Tragedy, was played for the first time at Drury Lane Theatre, April 10, 1834, and (for the twenty-second time) June 5, 1834. Macready appeared as "Sardanapalus," Miss Phillips as "Zarina," and Miss Ellen Tree as "Myrrha." [In his diary for April 11, 1834 (see Reminiscences, 1875, i. 414, 415) Macready wrote, "On arriving at my chambers ... I found a letter without a signature; the seal was the head of Byron, and in the envelope was a folded sheet with merely the words, 'Werner, Nov., 1830. Byron, Ravenna, 1821,' and 'Sardanapalus, April 10th, 1834.' Encircling the name of Byron, etc., was a lock of grey hair fastened by a gold thread, which I am sure was Byron's, ... it surprised and pleased me."]

Sardanapalus, King of Assyria, was produced at the Princess's Theatre, June 13, 1853, and played till September 2, 1853. Charles Kean appeared as "Sardanapalus," Miss Heath as "Zarina," and Mrs. Charles Kean as "Myrrha."

Sardanapale, Opéra en Trois Actes, par M. Henry Becque, Musique de M. Victorin Joncières, was performed for the first time at the Thèatre Impérial-Lyrique, February 8, 1867.

Lord Byron's Tragedy of Sardanapalus, in four acts, was performed at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, March 31-April 28, 1877. Charles Calvert (the adapter) played "Sardanapalus," Miss Hathaway "Zarina," and Miss Fanny Ensor "Myrrha;" and June 26-July 27, 1877, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool. Calvert's adaptation was also performed at Booth's Theatre, New York.]



Byron's passion or infatuation for the regular drama lasted a little over a year. Marino Faliero, Sardanapalus, and the Two Foscari, were the fruits of his "self-denying ordinance to dramatize, like the Greeks ... striking passages of history" (letter to Murray, July 14, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 323). The mood was destined to pass, but for a while the neophyte was spell-bound.

Sardanapalus, a Tragedy, the second and, perhaps, the most successful of these studies in the poetry of history, was begun at Ravenna, January 13, 1821, "with all deliberate speed;" but, for a time, from laziness or depression of spirits, or, perhaps, from the counter-excitement of "the poetry of politics" (Letters, 1901, v. 205), that is, the revolutionary drama which had begun to run its course, a month went by before he had finished the first act (February 15). Three months later (May 28) he announces the completion of the drama, the last act having been "dashed off" in two or three days (Letters, 1901, v. 300).

For the story of Sardanapalus, which had excited his interest as a schoolboy, Byron consulted the pages of Diodorus Siculus (Bibliothecæ Historicæ, lib. ii. pp. 78, sq., ed. 1604), and, possibly to ward off and neutralize the distracting influence of Shakespeare and other barbarian dramatists, he "turned over" the tragedies of Seneca (Letters, 1901, v. 173). It is hardly necessary to remind the modern reader that the Sardanapalus of history is an unverified if not an unverifiable personage. Diodorus the Sicilian, who was contemporary with Cicero, derived his knowledge of Assyrian history from the Persica of Ctesias of Cnidos, who was private physician at the court of Artaxerxes Mnemon (B.C. 405-359), and is said to have had access to, and to have consulted, the "Persian authorities" (διφθέραι Βασιλικαὶ).

[4] The character which Ctesias depicted or invented, an effeminate debauchee, sunk in luxury and sloth, who at the last was driven to take up arms, and, after a prolonged but ineffectual resistance, avoided capture by suicide, cannot be identified. Asurbanipal (Ašur-bāni-apli), the son of Esarhaddon and grandson of Sennacherib, who ascended the throne B.C. 668, and reigned for about forty years, was, as the cuneiform records and the friezes of his palace testify, a bold hunter and a mighty warrior. He vanquished Tarku (Tirhakah) of Ethiopia, and his successor, Urdamane. Ba'al King of Tyre, Yakinlū King of the island-city of Arvad, Sandăsarmū of Cilicia, Teumman of Elam, and other potentates, suffered defeat at his hands. "The land of Elam," writes the king or his "Historiographer Royal," "through its extent I covered as when a mighty storm approaches; I cut off the head of Teumman, their king.... Beyond number I slew his warriors; alive in my hands I took his fighting men; with their corpses, as with thorns and thistles, I filled the vicinity of Susa; their blood I caused to flow in the Eulæus, and I stained its waters like wool." Clearly the Sardanapalus who painted his face and carded purple wool in the penetralia of his seraglio does not bear even a traditional resemblance to Ašur-bāni-apli the Conqueror.

All that can be affirmed with any certainty is that within twenty years of the death of Asurbanipal, the Assyrian Empire passed into the hands of the Medes;[1] but there is nothing to show whether the period of decay had already set in before the close of his reign, or under which of his two successors, Ăsur-etil-ilāni or Sin-šar-iškun, the final catastrophe (B.C. 606) took place (Encyclopedia Biblica, art. "Assyria," art. "Ăsur-bani-pal," by Leonard W. King).

"I have made," writes Byron (May 25, 1821), "Sardanapalus brave though voluptuous (as history represents him), and as amiable as my poor pen could make him." Diodorus, or rather Ctesias, who may have drawn upon personal reminiscences of his patron, Artaxerxes Mnemon (see Plutarch's Artaxerxes, passim), does not enlarge upon his amiability, and credits him only with the courage of despair. Byron's Sardanapalus, with his sudden transition from[5] voluptuous abandonment to heroic chivalry, his remorseful recognition of the sanctities of wedlock, his general good nature, his "sly, insinuating sarcasms" (Moore's Diary, September 30, 1821, Memoirs, iii. 282), "all made out of the carver's brain," resembles history as little as history resembles the Assyrian record. Fortunately, the genius of the poet escaped from the meshes which he had woven round himself, and, in spite of himself, he was constrained to "beat his music out," regardless of his authorities.

The character of Myrrha, which bears some resemblance to Aspasia, "a native of Phocea in Ionia—the favourite mistress of Cyrus" (see Plutarch's Artaxerxes, Langhorne's Translation, 1838, p. 699), was introduced partly to pacify the Countess Guiccioli, who had quarrelled with him for maintaining that "love was not the loftiest theme for true tragedy," and, in part, to prove that he was not a slave to his own ideals, and could imagine and delineate a woman who was both passionate and high-minded. Diodorus (Bibl. Hist., lib. iii. p. 130) records the exploits of Myrina, Queen of the Amazons, but it is probable that Byron named his Ionian slave after Mirra, who gives her name to Alfieri's tragedy, which brought on a convulsive fit of tears and shuddering when he first saw it played at Bologna in August, 1819 (Letters, 1900, iv. 339).

Sardanapalus, a Tragedy, was published together with The Two Foscari, a Tragedy, and Cain, a Mystery, December 19, 1821.

The three plays were reviewed by Heber in the Quarterly Review, July, 1822, vol. xxvii. pp. 476-524; by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review, February, 1822, vol. 36, pp. 413-452; in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, February, 1822, vol. xi. pp. 212-217; and in the Portfolio (Philadelphia), December, 1822, vol. xiv. pp. 487-492.








In publishing the following Tragedies[3] I have only to repeat, that they were not composed with the most remote view to the stage. On the attempt made by the managers in a former instance, the public opinion has been already expressed. With regard to my own private feelings, as it seems that they are to stand for nothing, I shall say nothing.

For the historical foundation of the following compositions the reader is referred to the Notes.

The Author has in one instance attempted to preserve, and in the other to approach, the "unities;" conceiving that with any very distant departure from them, there may be poetry, but can be no drama. He is aware of the unpopularity of this notion in present English literature; but it is not a system of his own, being merely an opinion, which, not very long ago, was the law of literature throughout the world, and is still so in the more civilised parts of it. But "nous avons changé tout cela," and are reaping the advantages of the change. The writer is far from conceiving that any thing he can adduce by personal precept or example can at all approach his regular, or even irregular predecessors: he is merely giving a reason why he preferred the more regular formation of a structure, however feeble, to an entire abandonment of all rules whatsoever. Where he has failed, the failure is in the architect,—and not in the art.

[10] In this tragedy it has been my intention to follow the account of Diodorus Siculus;[4] reducing it, however, to such dramatic regularity as I best could, and trying to approach the unities. I therefore suppose the rebellion to explode and succeed in one day by a sudden conspiracy, instead of the long war of the history.


Sardanapalus, king of Nineveh and Assyria, etc.
Arbaces, the Mede who aspired to the Throne.
Beleses, a Chaldean and Soothsayer.
Salemenes, the King's Brother-in-Law.
Altada, an Assyrian Officer of the Palace.
Zarina, the Queen.

Myrrha, an Ionian female Slave, and the Favourite Mistress of Sardanapalus.

Women composing the Harem of Sardanapalus, Guards, Attendants, Chaldean Priests, Medes, etc., etc.

Scene.—A Hall in the Royal Palace of Nineveh.




Scene I.—A Hall in the Palace.

Salemenes (solus). He hath wronged his queen, but still he is her lord;

He hath wronged my sister—still he is my brother;

He hath wronged his people—still he is their sovereign—[14]

And I must be his friend as well as subject:

He must not perish thus. I will not see

The blood of Nimrod and Semiramis

Sink in the earth, and thirteen hundred years

Of Empire ending like a shepherd's tale;

He must be roused. In his effeminate heart

There is a careless courage which Corruption10

Has not all quenched, and latent energies,

Repressed by circumstance, but not destroyed—

Steeped, but not drowned, in deep voluptuousness.

If born a peasant, he had been a man

To have reached an empire: to an empire born,

He will bequeath none; nothing but a name,

Which his sons will not prize in heritage:—

Yet—not all lost—even yet—he may redeem

His sloth and shame, by only being that

Which he should be, as easily as the thing20

He should not be and is. Were it less toil

To sway his nations than consume his life?

To head an army than to rule a harem?

He sweats in palling pleasures, dulls his soul,[a]

And saps his goodly strength, in toils which yield not

Health like the chase, nor glory like the war—

He must be roused. Alas! there is no sound

 [Sound of soft music heard from within.

To rouse him short of thunder. Hark! the lute—

The lyre—the timbrel; the lascivious tinklings

Of lulling instruments, the softening voices30

Of women, and of beings less than women,

Must chime in to the echo of his revel,

While the great King of all we know of earth

Lolls crowned with roses, and his diadem

Lies negligently by to be caught up

By the first manly hand which dares to snatch it.

Lo, where they come! already I perceive[15]

The reeking odours of the perfumed trains,

And see the bright gems of the glittering girls,[b]

At once his Chorus and his Council, flash40

Along the gallery, and amidst the damsels,

As femininely garbed, and scarce less female,

The grandson of Semiramis, the Man-Queen.—

He comes! Shall I await him? yes, and front him,

And tell him what all good men tell each other,

Speaking of him and his. They come, the slaves

Led by the monarch subject to his slaves.

Scene II.

Enter Sardanapalus effeminately dressed, his Head crowned with Flowers, and his Robe negligently flowing, attended by a Train of Women and young Slaves.

Sar. (speaking to some of his attendants). Let the pavilion[6] over the Euphrates

Be garlanded, and lit, and furnished forth

For an especial banquet; at the hour

Of midnight we will sup there: see nought wanting,

And bid the galley be prepared. There is

A cooling breeze which crisps the broad clear river:

We will embark anon. Fair Nymphs, who deign[16]

To share the soft hours of Sardanapalus,

We'll meet again in that the sweetest hour,

When we shall gather like the stars above us,10

And you will form a heaven as bright as theirs;

Till then, let each be mistress of her time,

And thou, my own Ionian Myrrha,[7] choose;

Wilt thou along with them or me?

Myr.My Lord—

Sar. My Lord!—my Life! why answerest thou so coldly?

It is the curse of kings to be so answered.

Rule thy own hours, thou rulest mine—say, wouldst thou

Accompany our guests, or charm away

The moments from me?

Myr.The King's choice is mine.

Sar. I pray thee say not so: my chiefest joy20

Is to contribute to thine every wish.

I do not dare to breathe my own desire,

Lest it should clash with thine; for thou art still

Too prompt to sacrifice thy thoughts for others.

Myr. I would remain: I have no happiness

Save in beholding thine; yet——

Sar.Yet! what yet?

Thy own sweet will shall be the only barrier

Which ever rises betwixt thee and me.

Myr. I think the present is the wonted hour

Of council; it were better I retire.30

Sal. (comes forward and says) The Ionian slave says well: let her retire.

Sar. Who answers? How now, brother?

Sal.The Queen's brother,

And your most faithful vassal, royal Lord.

Sar. (addressing his train). As I have said, let all dispose their hours

Till midnight, when again we pray your presence.

[The court retiring.[17]

(To Myrrha,[c] who is going.) Myrrha! I thought thou wouldst remain.

Myr.Great King,

Thou didst not say so.

Sar.But thou looked'st it:

I know each glance of those Ionic eyes,[d]

Which said thou wouldst not leave me.

Myr.Sire! your brother——

Sal. His Consort's brother, minion of Ionia!40

How darest thou name me and not blush?

Sar.Not blush!

Thou hast no more eyes than heart to make her crimson

Like to the dying day on Caucasus,

Where sunset tints the snow with rosy shadows,

And then reproach her with thine own cold blindness,

Which will not see it. What! in tears, my Myrrha?

Sal. Let them flow on; she weeps for more than one,

And is herself the cause of bitterer tears.

Sar. Curséd be he who caused those tears to flow!

Sal. Curse not thyself—millions do that already.50

Sar. Thou dost forget thee: make me not remember

I am a monarch.

Sal.Would thou couldst!

Myr.My sovereign,

I pray, and thou, too, Prince, permit my absence.

Sar. Since it must be so, and this churl has checked

Thy gentle spirit, go; but recollect

That we must forthwith meet: I had rather lose

An empire than thy presence. [Exit Myrrha.

Sal.It may be,

Thou wilt lose both—and both for ever!


I can at least command myself, who listen

To language such as this: yet urge me not60

Beyond my easy nature.

Sal.'Tis beyond

That easy—far too easy—idle nature,

Which I would urge thee. O that I could rouse thee![18]

Though 'twere against myself.

Sar.By the god Baal!

The man would make me tyrant.

Sal.So thou art.

Think'st thou there is no tyranny but that

Of blood and chains? The despotism of vice,

The weakness and the wickedness of luxury,

The negligence, the apathy, the evils

Of sensual sloth—produce ten thousand tyrants,70

Whose delegated cruelty surpasses

The worst acts of one energetic master,

However harsh and hard in his own bearing.

The false and fond examples of thy lusts

Corrupt no less than they oppress, and sap

In the same moment all thy pageant power

And those who should sustain it; so that whether

A foreign foe invade, or civil broil

Distract within, both will alike prove fatal:

The first thy subjects have no heart to conquer;80

The last they rather would assist than vanquish.

Sar. Why, what makes thee the mouth-piece of the people?

Sal. Forgiveness of the Queen, my sister wrongs;

A natural love unto my infant nephews;

Faith to the King, a faith he may need shortly,

In more than words; respect for Nimrod's line;

Also, another thing thou knowest not.

Sar. What's that?

Sal.To thee an unknown word.

Sar.Yet speak it;

I love to learn.


Sar.Not know the word!

Never was word yet rung so in my ears—90

Worse than the rabble's shout, or splitting trumpet:

I've heard thy sister talk of nothing else.

Sal. To change the irksome theme, then, hear of vice.

Sar. From whom?

Sal.Even from the winds, if thou couldst listen

Unto the echoes of the Nation's voice.

Sar. Come, I'm indulgent, as thou knowest, patient,[19]

As thou hast often proved—speak out, what moves thee?

Sal. Thy peril.

Sar.Say on.

Sal.Thus, then: all the nations,

For they are many, whom thy father left

In heritage, are loud in wrath against thee.100

Sar. 'Gainst me!! What would the slaves?

Sal.A king.

Sar.And what

Am I then?

Sal.In their eyes a nothing; but

In mine a man who might be something still.

Sar. The railing drunkards! why, what would they have?

Have they not peace and plenty?

Sal.Of the first

More than is glorious: of the last, far less

Than the King recks of.

Sar.Whose then is the crime,

But the false satraps, who provide no better?

Sal. And somewhat in the Monarch who ne'er looks

Beyond his palace walls, or if he stirs110

Beyond them, 'tis but to some mountain palace,

Till summer heats wear down. O glorious Baal!

Who built up this vast empire, and wert made

A God, or at the least shinest like a God

Through the long centuries of thy renown,

This, thy presumed descendant, ne'er beheld

As king the kingdoms thou didst leave as hero,

Won with thy blood, and toil, and time, and peril!

For what? to furnish imposts for a revel,

Or multiplied extortions for a minion.120

Sar. I understand thee—thou wouldst have me go

Forth as a conqueror. By all the stars

Which the Chaldeans read—the restless slaves[e]

Deserve that I should curse them with their wishes,

And lead them forth to glory.

Sal.Wherefore not?

Semiramis—a woman only—led[20]

These our Assyrians to the solar shores

Of Ganges.

Sar.Tis most true. And how returned?

Sal. Why, like a man—a hero; baffled, but

Not vanquished. With but twenty guards, she made130

Good her retreat to Bactria.

Sar.And how many

Left she behind in India to the vultures?

Sal. Our annals say not.

Sar.Then I will say for them—

That she had better woven within her palace

Some twenty garments, than with twenty guards

Have fled to Bactria, leaving to the ravens,

And wolves, and men—the fiercer of the three,

Her myriads of fond subjects. Is this Glory?

Then let me live in ignominy ever.

Sal. All warlike spirits have not the same fate.140

Semiramis, the glorious parent of

A hundred kings, although she failed in India,

Brought Persia—Media—Bactria—to the realm

Which she once swayed—and thou mightst sway.

Sar.I sway them—

She but subdued them.

Sal.It may be ere long

That they will need her sword more than your sceptre.

Sar. There was a certain Bacchus, was there not?

I've heard my Greek girls speak of such—they say

He was a God, that is, a Grecian god,

An idol foreign to Assyria's worship,150

Who conquered this same golden realm of Ind

Thou prat'st of, where Semiramis was vanquished.

Sal. I have heard of such a man; and thou perceiv'st

That he is deemed a God for what he did.

Sar. And in his godship I will honour him—

Not much as man. What, ho! my cupbearer!

Sal. What means the King?

Sar.To worship your new God

And ancient conqueror. Some wine, I say.


Enter Cupbearer.

Sar. (addressing the Cupbearer).

Bring me the golden goblet thick with gems,

Which bears the name of Nimrod's chalice. Hence,160

Fill full, and bear it quickly. [Exit Cupbearer.

Sal.Is this moment

A fitting one for the resumption of

Thy yet unslept-off revels?

Re-enter Cupbearer, with wine.

Sar. (taking the cup from him). Noble kinsman,

If these barbarian Greeks of the far shores

And skirts of these our realms lie not, this Bacchus

Conquered the whole of India,[8] did he not?

Sal. He did, and thence was deemed a Deity.[f]

Sar. Not so:—of all his conquests a few columns.[9]

Which may be his, and might be mine, if I

Thought them worth purchase and conveyance, are170

The landmarks of the seas of gore he shed,

The realms he wasted, and the hearts he broke.

But here—here in this goblet is his title

To immortality—the immortal grape

From which he first expressed the soul, and gave

To gladden that of man, as some atonement

For the victorious mischiefs he had done.

Had it not been for this, he would have been

A mortal still in name as in his grave;

And, like my ancestor Semiramis,180

A sort of semi-glorious human monster.

Here's that which deified him—let it now

Humanise thee; my surly, chiding brother,[22]

Pledge me to the Greek God!

Sal.For all thy realms

I would not so blaspheme our country's creed.

Sar. That is to say, thou thinkest him a hero,

That he shed blood by oceans; and no God,

Because he turned a fruit to an enchantment,

Which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires

The young, makes Weariness forget his toil,190

And Fear her danger; opens a new world

When this, the present, palls. Well, then I pledge thee

And him as a true man, who did his utmost

In good or evil to surprise mankind. [Drinks.

Sal. Wilt thou resume a revel at this hour?

Sar. And if I did, 'twere better than a trophy,

Being bought without a tear. But that is not

My present purpose: since thou wilt not pledge me,

Continue what thou pleasest.

(To the Cupbearer.)Boy, retire. [Exit Cupbearer.

Sal. I would but have recalled thee from thy dream;200

Better by me awakened than rebellion.

Sar. Who should rebel? or why? what cause? pretext?

I am the lawful King, descended from

A race of Kings who knew no predecessors.

What have I done to thee, or to the people,

That thou shouldst rail, or they rise up against me?

Sal. Of what thou hast done to me, I speak not.


Thou think'st that I have wronged the Queen: is't not so?

Sal. Think! Thou hast wronged her!

Sar.Patience, Prince, and hear me.

She has all power and splendour of her station,210

Respect, the tutelage of Assyria's heirs,

The homage and the appanage of sovereignty.

I married her as monarchs wed—for state,

And loved her as most husbands love their wives.

If she or thou supposedst I could link me

Like a Chaldean peasant to his mate,

Ye knew nor me—nor monarchs—nor mankind.

Sal. I pray thee, change the theme: my blood disdains

Complaint, and Salemenes' sister seeks not[23]

Reluctant love even from Assyria's lord!220

Nor would she deign to accept divided passion

With foreign strumpets and Ionian slaves.

The Queen is silent.

Sar.And why not her brother?

Sal. I only echo thee the voice of empires,

Which he who long neglects not long will govern.

Sar. The ungrateful and ungracious slaves! they murmur

Because I have not shed their blood, nor led them

To dry into the desert's dust by myriads,

Or whiten with their bones the banks of Ganges;

Nor decimated them with savage laws,230

Nor sweated them to build up Pyramids,

Or Babylonian walls.

Sal.Yet these are trophies

More worthy of a people and their prince

Than songs, and lutes, and feasts, and concubines,

And lavished treasures, and contemnéd virtues.

Sar. Or for my trophies I have founded cities:

There's Tarsus and Anchialus, both built

In one day—what could that blood-loving beldame,

My martial grandam, chaste Semiramis,

Do more, except destroy them?

Sal.'Tis most true;240

I own thy merit in those founded cities,

Built for a whim, recorded with a verse

Which shames both them and thee to coming ages.

Sar. Shame me! By Baal, the cities, though well built,

Are not more goodly than the verse! Say what

Thou wilt 'gainst me, my mode of life or rule,

But nothing 'gainst the truth of that brief record.

Why, those few lines contain the history

Of all things human: hear—"Sardanapalus,

The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes,250

In one day built Anchialus and Tarsus.

Eat, drink, and love; the rest's not worth a fillip."[10][24]

Sal. A worthy moral, and a wise inscription,

For a king to put up before his subjects![25]

Sar. Oh, thou wouldst have me doubtless set up edicts—

"Obey the king—contribute to his treasure—

Recruit his phalanx—spill your blood at bidding—

Fall down and worship, or get up and toil."

Or thus—"Sardanapalus on this spot

Slew fifty thousand of his enemies.260

These are their sepulchres, and this his trophy."

I leave such things to conquerors; enough

For me, if I can make my subjects feel

The weight of human misery less, and glide

Ungroaning to the tomb: I take no license

Which I deny to them. We all are men.

Sal. Thy Sires have been revered as Gods—

Sar.In dust

And death, where they are neither Gods nor men.

Talk not of such to me! the worms are Gods;[11]

At least they banqueted upon your Gods,270

And died for lack of farther nutriment.

Those Gods were merely men; look to their issue—

I feel a thousand mortal things about me,

But nothing godlike,—unless it may be

The thing which you condemn, a disposition

To love and to be merciful, to pardon

The follies of my species, and (that's human)

To be indulgent to my own.


The doom of Nineveh is sealed.—Woe—woe

To the unrivalled city!

Sar.What dost dread?280

Sal. Thou art guarded by thy foes: in a few hours

The tempest may break out which overwhelms thee,

And thine and mine; and in another day

What is shall be the past of Belus' race.

Sar. What must we dread?

Sal.Ambitious treachery,

Which has environed thee with snares; but yet

There is resource: empower me with thy signet[26]

To quell the machinations, and I lay

The heads of thy chief foes before thy feet.

Sar. The heads—how many?

Sal.Must I stay to number290

When even thine own's in peril? Let me go;

Give me thy signet—trust me with the rest.

Sar. I will trust no man with unlimited lives.

When we take those from others, we nor know

What we have taken, nor the thing we give.

Sal. Wouldst thou not take their lives who seek for thine?

Sar. That's a hard question—But I answer, Yes.

Cannot the thing be done without? Who are they

Whom thou suspectest?—Let them be arrested.

Sal. I would thou wouldst not ask me; the next moment300

Will send my answer through thy babbling troop

Of paramours, and thence fly o'er the palace,

Even to the city, and so baffle all.—

Trust me.

Sar.Thou knowest I have done so ever;

Take thou the signet. [Gives the signet.

Sal.I have one more request.

Sar. Name it.

Sal.That thou this night forbear the banquet

In the pavilion over the Euphrates.

Sar. Forbear the banquet! Not for all the plotters

That ever shook a kingdom! Let them come,

And do their worst: I shall not blench for them;310

Nor rise the sooner; nor forbear the goblet;

Nor crown me with a single rose the less;

Nor lose one joyous hour.—I fear them not.

Sal. But thou wouldst arm thee, wouldst thou not, if needful?

Sar. Perhaps. I have the goodliest armour, and

A sword of such a temper, and a bow,

And javelin, which might furnish Nimrod forth:

A little heavy, but yet not unwieldy.

And now I think on't, 'tis long since I've used them,

Even in the chase. Hast ever seen them, brother?320

Sal. Is this a time for such fantastic trifling?[27]

If need be, wilt thou wear them?

Sar.Will I not?

Oh! if it must be so, and these rash slaves

Will not be ruled with less, I'll use the sword

Till they shall wish it turned into a distaff.

Sal. They say thy Sceptre's turned to that already.

Sar. That's false! but let them say so: the old Greeks,

Of whom our captives often sing, related

The same of their chief hero, Hercules,

Because he loved a Lydian queen: thou seest330

The populace of all the nations seize

Each calumny they can to sink their sovereigns.

Sal. They did not speak thus of thy fathers.


They dared not. They were kept to toil and combat;

And never changed their chains but for their armour:

Now they have peace and pastime, and the license

To revel and to rail; it irks me not.

I would not give the smile of one fair girl

For all the popular breath[12] that e'er divided

A name from nothing. What are the rank tongues[13]340

Of this vile herd, grown insolent with feeding,

That I should prize their noisy praise, or dread

Their noisome clamour?

Sal.You have said they are men;

As such their hearts are something.

Sar.So my dogs' are;

And better, as more faithful:—but, proceed;

Thou hast my signet:—since they are tumultuous,

Let them be tempered, yet not roughly, till

Necessity enforce it. I hate all pain,

Given or received; we have enough within us,

The meanest vassal as the loftiest monarch,350

Not to add to each other's natural burthen[28]

Of mortal misery, but rather lessen,

By mild reciprocal alleviation,

The fatal penalties imposed on life:

But this they know not, or they will not know.

I have, by Baal! done all I could to soothe them:

I made no wars, I added no new imposts,

I interfered not with their civic lives,

I let them pass their days as best might suit them,

Passing my own as suited me.

Sal.Thou stopp'st360

Short of the duties of a king; and therefore

They say thou art unfit to be a monarch.

Sar. They lie.—Unhappily, I am unfit

To be aught save a monarch; else for me

The meanest Mede might be the king instead.

Sal. There is one Mede, at least, who seeks to be so.

Sar. What mean'st thou!—'tis thy secret; thou desirest

Few questions, and I'm not of curious nature.

Take the fit steps; and, since necessity

Requires, I sanction and support thee. Ne'er370

Was man who more desired to rule in peace

The peaceful only: if they rouse me, better

They had conjured up stern Nimrod from his ashes,

"The Mighty Hunter!" I will turn these realms

To one wide desert chase of brutes, who were,

But would no more, by their own choice, be human.

What they have found me, they belie; that which

They yet may find me—shall defy their wish

To speak it worse; and let them thank themselves.

Sal. Then thou at last canst feel?

Sar.Feel! who feels not380


Sal.I will not pause to answer

With words, but deeds. Keep thou awake that energy

Which sleeps at times, but is not dead within thee,[29]

And thou may'st yet be glorious in thy reign,

As powerful in thy realm. Farewell! [Exit Salemenes.

Sar. (solus).Farewell!

He's gone; and on his finger bears my signet,

Which is to him a sceptre. He is stern

As I am heedless; and the slaves deserve

To feel a master. What may be the danger,

I know not: he hath found it, let him quell it.390

Must I consume my life—this little life—

In guarding against all may make it less?

It is not worth so much! It were to die

Before my hour, to live in dread of death,

Tracing revolt; suspecting all about me,

Because they are near; and all who are remote,

Because they are far. But if it should be so—

If they should sweep me off from Earth and Empire,

Why, what is Earth or Empire of the Earth?

I have loved, and lived, and multiplied my image;400

To die is no less natural than those

Acts of this clay! 'Tis true I have not shed

Blood as I might have done, in oceans, till

My name became the synonyme of Death—

A terror and a trophy. But for this

I feel no penitence; my life is love:

If I must shed blood, it shall be by force.

Till now, no drop from an Assyrian vein

Hath flowed for me, nor hath the smallest coin

Of Nineveh's vast treasures e'er been lavished410

On objects which could cost her sons a tear:

If then they hate me, 'tis because I hate not:

If they rebel, 'tis because I oppress not.

Oh, men! ye must be ruled with scythes, not sceptres,

And mowed down like the grass, else all we reap

Is rank abundance, and a rotten harvest

Of discontents infecting the fair soil,

Making a desert of fertility.—

I'll think no more.—Within there, ho!

Enter an Attendant.

Sar.Slave, tell

The Ionian Myrrha we would crave her presence.420

Attend. King, she is here.


Myrrha enters.

Sar. (apart to Attendant).Away!

(Addressing Myrrha.)Beautiful being!

Thou dost almost anticipate my heart;

It throbbed for thee, and here thou comest: let me

Deem that some unknown influence, some sweet oracle,

Communicates between us, though unseen,

In absence, and attracts us to each other.

Myr. There doth.

Sar.I know there doth, but not its name:

What is it?

Myr.In my native land a God,

And in my heart a feeling like a God's,

Exalted; yet I own 'tis only mortal;430

For what I feel is humble, and yet happy—

That is, it would be happy; but—— [Myrrha pauses.

Sar.There comes

For ever something between us and what

We deem our happiness: let me remove

The barrier which that hesitating accent

Proclaims to thine, and mine is sealed.

Myr.My Lord!—

Sar. My Lord—my King—Sire—Sovereign; thus it is—

For ever thus, addressed with awe. I ne'er

Can see a smile, unless in some broad banquet's

Intoxicating glare, when the buffoons440

Have gorged themselves up to equality,

Or I have quaffed me down to their abasement.

Myrrha, I can hear all these things, these names,

Lord—King—Sire—Monarch—nay, time was I prized them;

That is, I suffered them—from slaves and nobles;

But when they falter from the lips I love,

The lips which have been pressed to mine, a chill

Comes o'er my heart, a cold sense of the falsehood

Of this my station, which represses feeling

In those for whom I have felt most, and makes me450

Wish that I could lay down the dull tiara,

And share a cottage on the Caucasus[31]

With thee—and wear no crowns but those of flowers.

Myr. Would that we could!

Sar.And dost thou feel this?—Why?

Myr. Then thou wouldst know what thou canst never know.

Sar. And that is——

Myr.The true value of a heart;

At least, a woman's.

Sar.I have proved a thousand—A

thousand, and a thousand.


Sar.I think so.

Myr. Not one! the time may come thou may'st.

Sar.It will.

Hear, Myrrha; Salemenes has declared—460

Or why or how he hath divined it, Belus,

Who founded our great realm, knows more than I—

But Salemenes hath declared my throne

In peril.

Myr.He did well.

Sar.And say'st thou so?

Thou whom he spurned so harshly, and now dared[g]

Drive from our presence with his savage jeers,

And made thee weep and blush?

Myr.I should do both

More frequently, and he did well to call me

Back to my duty. But thou spakest of peril

Peril to thee——

Sar.Aye, from dark plots and snares470

From Medes—and discontented troops and nations.

I know not what—a labyrinth of things—

A maze of muttered threats and mysteries:

Thou know'st the man—it is his usual custom.

But he is honest. Come, we'll think no more on't—

But of the midnight festival.

Myr.'Tis time

To think of aught save festivals. Thou hast not

Spurned his sage cautions?

Sar.What?—and dost thou fear?[32]

Myr. Fear!—I'm a Greek, and how should I fear death?

A slave, and wherefore should I dread my freedom?480

Sar. Then wherefore dost thou turn so pale?

Myr.I love.

Sar. And do not I? I love thee far—far more

Than either the brief life or the wide realm,

Which, it may be, are menaced;—yet I blench not.

Myr. That means thou lovest nor thyself nor me;

For he who loves another loves himself,

Even for that other's sake. This is too rash:

Kingdoms and lives are not to be so lost.

Sar. Lost!—why, who is the aspiring chief who dared

Assume to win them?

Myr.Who is he should dread490

To try so much? When he who is their ruler

Forgets himself—will they remember him?

Sar. Myrrha!

Myr.Frown not upon me: you have smiled

Too often on me not to make those frowns

Bitterer to bear than any punishment

Which they may augur.—King, I am your subject!

Master, I am your slave! Man, I have loved you!—

Loved you, I know not by what fatal weakness,

Although a Greek, and born a foe to monarchs—

A slave, and hating fetters—an Ionian,500

And, therefore, when I love a stranger, more

Degraded by that passion than by chains!

Still I have loved you. If that love were strong

Enough to overcome all former nature,

Shall it not claim the privilege to save you?

Sar. Save me, my beauty! Thou art very fair,

And what I seek of thee is love—not safety.

Myr. And without love where dwells security?

Sar. I speak of woman's love.

Myr.The very first

Of human life must spring from woman's breast,510

Your first small words are taught you from her lips,

Your first tears quenched by her, and your last sighs

Too often breathed out in a woman's hearing,

When men have shrunk from the ignoble care[33]

Of watching the last hour of him who led them.

Sar. My eloquent Ionian! thou speak'st music:

The very chorus of the tragic song

I have heard thee talk of as the favourite pastime

Of thy far father-land. Nay, weep not—calm thee.

Myr. I weep not.—But I pray thee, do not speak520

About my fathers or their land.

Sar.Yet oft

Thou speakest of them.

Myr.True—true: constant thought

Will overflow in words unconsciously;

But when another speaks of Greeks, it wounds me.

Sar. Well, then, how wouldst thou save me, as thou saidst?

Myr. By teaching thee to save thyself, and not

Thyself alone, but these vast realms, from all

The rage of the worst war—the war of brethren.

Sar. Why, child, I loathe all war, and warriors;

I live in peace and pleasure: what can man530

Do more?

Myr.Alas! my Lord, with common men

There needs too oft the show of war to keep

The substance of sweet peace; and, for a king,

'Tis sometimes better to be feared than loved.

Sar. And I have never sought but for the last.

Myr. And now art neither.

Sar.Dost thou say so, Myrrha?

Myr. I speak of civic popular love, self-love,

Which means that men are kept in awe and law,

Yet not oppressed—at least they must not think so,

Or, if they think so, deem it necessary,540

To ward off worse oppression, their own passions.

A King of feasts, and flowers, and wine, and revel,

And love, and mirth, was never King of Glory.

Sar. Glory! what's that?

Myr.Ask of the Gods thy fathers.

Sar. They cannot answer; when the priests speak for them,

'Tis for some small addition to the temple.

Myr. Look to the annals of thine Empire's founders.

Sar. They are so blotted o'er with blood, I cannot.[34]

But what wouldst have? the Empire has been founded.

I cannot go on multiplying empires.550

Myr. Preserve thine own.

Sar.At least, I will enjoy it.

Come, Myrrha, let us go on to the Euphrates:

The hour invites, the galley is prepared,

And the pavilion, decked for our return,

In fit adornment for the evening banquet,

Shall blaze with beauty and with light, until

It seems unto the stars which are above us

Itself an opposite star; and we will sit

Crowned with fresh flowers like—


Sar.No, like sovereigns,

The Shepherd Kings of patriarchal times,560

Who knew no brighter gems than summer wreaths,[h]

And none but tearless triumphs. Let us on.

Enter Pania.

Pan. May the King live for ever!

Sar.Not an hour

Longer than he can love. How my soul hates

This language, which makes life itself a lie,

Flattering dust with eternity.[i] Well, Pania!

Be brief.

Pan.I am charged by Salemenes to

Reiterate his prayer unto the King,

That for this day, at least, he will not quit

The palace: when the General returns,570

He will adduce such reasons as will warrant

His daring, and perhaps obtain the pardon

Of his presumption.

Sar.What! am I then cooped?

Already captive? can I not even breathe

The breath of heaven? Tell prince Salemenes,

Were all Assyria raging round the walls

In mutinous myriads, I would still go forth.

Pan. I must obey, and yet——[35]

Myr.Oh, Monarch, listen.—

How many a day and moon thou hast reclined

Within these palace walls in silken dalliance,580

And never shown thee to thy people's longing;

Leaving thy subjects' eyes ungratified,

The satraps uncontrolled, the Gods unworshipped,

And all things in the anarchy of sloth,

Till all, save evil, slumbered through the realm!

And wilt thou not now tarry for a day,—

A day which may redeem thee? Wilt thou not

Yield to the few still faithful a few hours,

For them, for thee, for thy past fathers' race,

And for thy sons' inheritance?

Pan.'Tis true!590

From the deep urgency with which the Prince

Despatched me to your sacred presence, I

Must dare to add my feeble voice to that

Which now has spoken.

Sar.No, it must not be.

Myr. For the sake of thy realm!


Pan.For that

Of all thy faithful subjects, who will rally

Round thee and thine.

Sar.These are mere fantasies:

There is no peril:—'tis a sullen scheme

Of Salemenes, to approve his zeal,

And show himself more necessary to us.600

Myr. By all that's good and glorious take this counsel.

Sar. Business to-morrow.

Myr.Aye—or death to-night.

Sar. Why let it come then unexpectedly,

'Midst joy and gentleness, and mirth and love;

So let me fall like the plucked rose!—far better

Thus than be withered.

Myr.Then thou wilt not yield,

Even for the sake of all that ever stirred

A monarch into action, to forego

A trifling revel.


Myr.Then yield for mine;[36]

For my sake!

Sar.Thine, my Myrrha!

Myr.'Tis the first610

Boon which I ever asked Assyria's king.

Sar. That's true, and, wer't my kingdom, must be granted.

Well, for thy sake, I yield me. Pania, hence!

Thou hear'st me.

Pan.And obey. [Exit Pania.

Sar.I marvel at thee.

What is thy motive, Myrrha, thus to urge me?

Myr. Thy safety; and the certainty that nought

Could urge the Prince thy kinsman to require

Thus much from thee, but some impending danger.

Sar. And if I do not dread it, why shouldst thou?

Myr. Because thou dost not fear, I fear for thee.620

Sar. To-morrow thou wilt smile at these vain fancies.

Myr. If the worst come, I shall be where none weep,

And that is better than the power to smile.

And thou?

Sar.I shall be King, as heretofore.

Myr. Where?

Sar.With Baal, Nimrod, and Semiramis,

Sole in Assyria, or with them elsewhere.

Fate made me what I am—may make me nothing—

But either that or nothing must I be:

I will not live degraded.

Myr.Hadst thou felt

Thus always, none would ever dare degrade thee.630

Sar. And who will do so now?

Myr.Dost thou suspect none?

Sar. Suspect!—that's a spy's office. Oh! we lose

Ten thousand precious moments in vain words,

And vainer fears. Within there!—ye slaves, deck

The Hall of Nimrod for the evening revel;

If I must make a prison of our palace,

At least we'll wear our fetters jocundly;

If the Euphrates be forbid us, and

The summer-dwelling on its beauteous border,

Here we are still unmenaced. Ho! within there!640

[Exit Sardanapalus.[37]

Myr. (solus).

Why do I love this man? My country's daughters

Love none but heroes. But I have no country!

The slave hath lost all save her bonds. I love him;

And that's the heaviest link of the long chain—

To love whom we esteem not. Be it so:

The hour is coming when he'll need all love,

And find none. To fall from him now were baser

Than to have stabbed him on his throne when highest

Would have been noble in my country's creed:

I was not made for either. Could I save him,650

I should not love him better, but myself;

And I have need of the last, for I have fallen

In my own thoughts, by loving this soft stranger:

And yet, methinks, I love him more, perceiving

That he is hated of his own barbarians,

The natural foes of all the blood of Greece.

Could I but wake a single thought like those

Which even the Phrygians felt when battling long

'Twixt Ilion and the sea, within his heart,

He would tread down the barbarous crowds, and triumph.660

He loves me, and I love him; the slave loves

Her master, and would free him from his vices.

If not, I have a means of freedom still,

And if I cannot teach him how to reign,

May show him how alone a King can leave

His throne. I must not lose him from my sight. [Exit.


Scene I.—The Portal of the same Hall of the Palace.

Beleses (solus).

The Sun goes down: methinks he sets more slowly,

Taking his last look of Assyria's Empire.

How red he glares amongst those deepening clouds,

Like the blood he predicts. If not in vain,

Thou Sun that sinkest, and ye stars which rise,[38]

I have outwatched ye, reading ray by ray

The edicts of your orbs, which make Time tremble[j]

For what he brings the nations, 'tis the furthest

Hour of Assyria's years. And yet how calm!

An earthquake should announce so great a fall—10

A summer's sun discloses it. Yon disk,

To the star-read Chaldean, bears upon

Its everlasting page the end of what

Seemed everlasting; but oh! thou true Sun!

The burning oracle of all that live,

As fountain of all life, and symbol of

Him who bestows it, wherefore dost thou limit

Thy lore unto calamity? Why not

Unfold the rise of days more worthy thine

All-glorious burst from ocean? why not dart20

A beam of hope athwart the future years,

As of wrath to its days? Hear me! oh, hear me!

I am thy worshipper, thy priest, thy servant—

I have gazed on thee at thy rise and fall,

And bowed my head beneath thy mid-day beams,

When my eye dared not meet thee. I have watched

For thee, and after thee, and prayed to thee,

And sacrificed to thee, and read, and feared thee,

And asked of thee, and thou hast answered—but

Only to thus much: while I speak, he sinks—30

Is gone—and leaves his beauty, not his knowledge,

To the delighted West, which revels in

Its hues of dying glory. Yet what is

Death, so it be but glorious? 'Tis a sunset;

And mortals may be happy to resemble

The Gods but in decay.

Enter Arbaces by an inner door.

Arb.Beleses, why

So wrapt in thy devotions? Dost thou stand

Gazing to trace thy disappearing God

Into some realm of undiscovered day?

Our business is with night—'tis come.[39]

Bel.But not40


Arb.Let it roll on—we are ready.


Would it were over!

Arb.Does the prophet doubt,

To whom the very stars shine Victory?

Bel. I do not doubt of Victory—but the Victor.

Arb. Well, let thy science settle that. Meantime

I have prepared as many glittering spears

As will out-sparkle our allies—your planets.

There is no more to thwart us. The she-king,

That less than woman, is even now upon

The waters with his female mates. The order50

Is issued for the feast in the pavilion.

The first cup which he drains will be the last

Quaffed by the line of Nimrod.

Bel.'Twas a brave one.

Arb. And is a weak one—'tis worn out—we'll mend it.

Bel. Art sure of that?

Arb.Its founder was a hunter—

I am a soldier—what is there to fear?

Bel. The soldier.

Arb.And the priest, it may be: but

If you thought thus, or think, why not retain

Your king of concubines? why stir me up?

Why spur me to this enterprise? your own60

No less than mine?

Bel.Look to the sky!

Arb.I look.

Bel. What seest thou?

Arb.A fair summer's twilight, and

The gathering of the stars.

Bel.And midst them, mark

Yon earliest, and the brightest, which so quivers,

As it would quit its place in the blue ether.

Arb. Well?

Bel.'Tis thy natal ruler—thy birth planet.

Arb. (touching his scabbard).

My star is in this scabbard: when it shines,

It shall out-dazzle comets. Let us think[40]

Of what is to be done to justify

Thy planets and their portents. When we conquer,70

They shall have temples—aye, and priests—and thou

Shalt be the pontiff of—what Gods thou wilt;

For I observe that they are ever just,

And own the bravest for the most devout.

Bel. Aye, and the most devout for brave—thou hast not

Seen me turn back from battle.

Arb.No; I own thee

As firm in fight as Babylonia's captain,

As skilful in Chaldea's worship: now,

Will it but please thee to forget the priest,

And be the warrior?

Bel.Why not both?

Arb.The better;80

And yet it almost shames me, we shall have

So little to effect. This woman's warfare

Degrades the very conqueror. To have plucked

A bold and bloody despot from his throne,

And grappled with him, clashing steel with steel,

That were heroic or to win or fall;

But to upraise my sword against this silkworm,[15]

And hear him whine, it may be——

Bel.Do not deem it:

He has that in him which may make you strife yet;

And were he all you think, his guards are hardy,90

And headed by the cool, stern Salemenes.

Arb. They'll not resist.

Bel.Why not? they are soldiers.


And therefore need a soldier to command them.

Bel. That Salemenes is.

Arb.But not their King.

Besides, he hates the effeminate thing that governs,

For the Queen's sake, his sister. Mark you not

He keeps aloof from all the revels?


Not from the council—there he is ever constant.

Arb. And ever thwarted: what would you have more[41]

To make a rebel out of? A fool reigning,100

His blood dishonoured, and himself disdained:

Why, it is his revenge we work for.


He but be brought to think so: this I doubt of.

Arb. What, if we sound him?

Bel.Yes—if the time served.

Enter Balea.

Bal. Satraps! The king commands your presence at

The feast to-night.

Bel.To hear is to obey.

In the pavilion?

Bal.No; here in the palace.

Arb. How! in the palace? it was not thus ordered.

Bal. It is so ordered now.

Arb.And why?

Bal.I know not.

May I retire?


Bel. (to Arb. aside).Hush! let him go his way.110

(Alternately to Bal.) Yes, Balea, thank the Monarch, kiss the hem

Of his imperial robe, and say, his slaves

Will take the crumbs he deigns to scatter from

His royal table at the hour—was't midnight?

Bal. It was: the place, the hall of Nimrod. Lords,

I humble me before you, and depart. [Exit Balea.

Arb. I like not this same sudden change of place;

There is some mystery: wherefore should he change it?

Bel. Doth he not change a thousand times a day?

Sloth is of all things the most fanciful—120

And moves more parasangs in its intents

Than generals in their marches, when they seek

To leave their foe at fault.—Why dost thou muse?

Arb. He loved that gay pavilion,—it was ever

His summer dotage.

Bel.And he loved his Queen—

And thrice a thousand harlotry besides—

And he has loved all things by turns, except[42]

Wisdom and Glory.

Arb.Still—I like it not.

If he has changed—why, so must we: the attack

Were easy in the isolated bower,130

Beset with drowsy guards and drunken courtiers;

But in the hall of Nimrod——

Bel.Is it so?

Methought the haughty soldier feared to mount

A throne too easily—does it disappoint thee

To find there is a slipperier step or two

Than what was counted on?

Arb.When the hour comes,

Thou shall perceive how far I fear or no.

Thou hast seen my life at stake—and gaily played for:

But here is more upon the die—a kingdom.

Bel. I have foretold already—thou wilt win it:140

Then on, and prosper.

Arb.Now were I a soothsayer,

I would have boded so much to myself.

But be the stars obeyed—I cannot quarrel

With them, nor their interpreter. Who's here?

Enter Salemenes.

Sal. Satraps!

Bel.My Prince!

Sal.Well met—I sought ye both,

But elsewhere than the palace.

Arb.Wherefore so?

Sal. 'Tis not the hour.

Arb.The hour!—what hour?

Sal.Of midnight.

Bel. Midnight, my Lord!

Sal.What, are you not invited?

Bel. Oh! yes—we had forgotten.

Sal.Is it usual

Thus to forget a Sovereign's invitation?

Arb. Why—we but now received it.150

Sal.Then why here?

Arb. On duty.

Sal.On what duty?

Bel.On the state's.[43]

We have the privilege to approach the presence;

But found the Monarch absent.[k]

Sal.And I too

Am upon duty.

Arb.May we crave its purport?

Sal. To arrest two traitors. Guards! Within there!

Enter Guards.

Sal. (continuing).Satraps,

Your swords.

Bel. (delivering his).My lord, behold my scimitar.

Arb. (drawing his sword). Take mine.

Sal. (advancing).I will.

Arb.But in your heart the blade—

The hilt quits not this hand.[l]

Sal. (drawing).How! dost thou brave me?

Tis well—this saves a trial, and false mercy.160

Soldiers, hew down the rebel!

Arb.Soldiers! Aye—

Alone, you dare not.

Sal.Alone! foolish slave—

What is there in thee that a Prince should shrink from

Of open force? We dread thy treason, not

Thy strength: thy tooth is nought without its venom—

The serpent's, not the lion's. Cut him down.

Bel. (interposing). Arbaces! Are you mad? Have I not rendered

My sword? Then trust like me our Sovereign's justice.

Arb.   No—I will sooner trust the stars thou prat'st of,

And this slight arm, and die a king at least170

Of my own breath and body—so far that

None else shall chain them.

Sal. (to the Guards).You hear him and me.

Take him not,—kill.

[The Guards attack Arbaces, who defends himself valiantly and dexterously till they waver.

Sal.Is it even so; and must[44]

I do the hangman's office? Recreants! see

How you should fell a traitor.

 [Salemenes attacks Arbaces.

Enter Sardanapalus and Train.

Sar.Hold your hands—

Upon your lives, I say. What, deaf or drunken?

My sword! O fool, I wear no sword: here, fellow,

Give me thy weapon. [To a Guard.

[Sardanapalus snatches a sword from one of the soldiers, and rushes between the combatants—they separate.

Sar.In my very palace!

What hinders me from cleaving you in twain,

Audacious brawlers?

Bel.Sire, your justice.


Your weakness.

Sar. (raising the sword). How?

Sal.Strike! so the blow's repeated

Upon yon traitor—whom you spare a moment,

I trust, for torture—I'm content.


Who dares assail Arbaces?



Prince, you forget yourself. Upon what warrant?

Sal. (showing the signet). Thine.

Arb. (confused).The King's!

Sal.Yes! and let the King confirm it.

Sar. I parted not from this for such a purpose.

Sal. You parted with it for your safety—I

Employed it for the best. Pronounce in person.

Here I am but your slave—a moment past190

I was your representative.

Sar.Then sheathe

Your swords.

[Arbaces and Salemenes return their swords to the scabbards.[45]

Sal.Mine's sheathed: I pray you sheathe not yours:

Tis the sole sceptre left you now with safety.

Sar. A heavy one; the hilt, too, hurts my hand.

(To a Guard.) Here, fellow, take thy weapon back. Well, sirs,

What doth this mean?

Bel.The Prince must answer that.

Sal. Truth upon my part, treason upon theirs.

Sar. Treason—Arbaces! treachery and Beleses!

That were an union I will not believe.

Bel. Where is the proof?

Sal.I'll answer that, if once200

The king demands your fellow-traitor's sword.

Arb. (to Sal.). A sword which hath been drawn as oft as thine

Against his foes.

Sal.And now against his brother,

And in an hour or so against himself.

Sar. That is not possible: he dared not; no—

No—I'll not hear of such things. These vain bickerings

Are spawned in courts by base intrigues, and baser

Hirelings, who live by lies on good men's lives.

You must have been deceived, my brother.


Let him deliver up his weapon, and210

Proclaim himself your subject by that duty,

And I will answer all.

Sar.Why, if I thought so—

But no, it cannot be: the Mede Arbaces—

The trusty, rough, true soldier—the best captain

Of all who discipline our nations——No,

I'll not insult him thus, to bid him render

The scimitar to me he never yielded

Unto our enemies. Chief, keep your weapon.

Sal. (delivering back the signet).

Monarch, take back your signet.

Sar.No, retain it;

But use it with more moderation.


I used it for your honour, and restore it

Because I cannot keep it with my own.[46]

Bestow it on Arbaces.

Sar.So I should:

He never asked it.

Sal.Doubt not, he will have it,

Without that hollow semblance of respect.

Bel. I know not what hath prejudiced the Prince

So strongly 'gainst two subjects, than whom none

Have been more zealous for Assyria's weal.

Sal. Peace, factious priest, and faithless soldier! thou

Unit'st in thy own person the worst vices230

Of the most dangerous orders of mankind.

Keep thy smooth words and juggling homilies

For those who know thee not. Thy fellow's sin

Is, at the least, a bold one, and not tempered

By the tricks taught thee in Chaldea.

Bel.Hear him,

My liege—the son of Belus! he blasphemes

The worship of the land, which bows the knee

Before your fathers.

Sar.Oh! for that I pray you

Let him have absolution. I dispense with

The worship of dead men; feeling that I240

Am mortal, and believing that the race

From whence I sprung are—what I see them—ashes.

Bel. King! Do not deem so: they are with the stars,


Sar.You shall join them ere they will rise,

If you preach farther—Why, this is rank treason.

Sal. My lord!

Sar.To school me in the worship of

Assyria's idols! Let him be released—

Give him his sword.

Sal.My Lord, and King, and Brother,

I pray ye pause.

Sar.Yes, and be sermonised,

And dinned, and deafened with dead men and Baal,250

And all Chaldea's starry mysteries.

Bel. Monarch! respect them.

Sar.Oh! for that—I love them;

I love to watch them in the deep blue vault,

And to compare them with my Myrrha's eyes;[47]

I love to see their rays redoubled in

The tremulous silver of Euphrates' wave,

As the light breeze of midnight crisps the broad

And rolling water, sighing through the sedges

Which fringe his banks: but whether they may be

Gods, as some say, or the abodes of Gods,260

As others hold, or simply lamps of night,

Worlds—or the lights of Worlds—I know nor care not.

There's something sweet in my uncertainty

I would not change for your Chaldean lore;

Besides, I know of these all clay can know

Of aught above it, or below it—nothing.

I see their brilliancy and feel their beauty[m]

When they shine on my grave I shall know neither.

Bel. For neither, Sire, say better.

Sar.I will wait,

If it so please you, Pontiff, for that knowledge.270

In the mean time receive your sword, and know

That I prefer your service militant

Unto your ministry—not loving either.

Sal. (aside). His lusts have made him mad. Then must I save him,

Spite of himself.

Sar.Please you to hear me, Satraps!

And chiefly thou, my priest, because I doubt thee

More than the soldier; and would doubt thee all

Wert thou not half a warrior: let us part

In peace—I'll not say pardon—which must be

Earned by the guilty; this I'll not pronounce ye,280

Although upon this breath of mine depends

Your own; and, deadlier for ye, on my fears.

But fear not—for that I am soft, not fearful—

And so live on. Were I the thing some think me,

Your heads would now be dripping the last drops

Of their attainted gore from the high gates

Of this our palace, into the dry dust,

Their only portion of the coveted kingdom

They would be crowned to reign o'er—let that pass.

As I have said, I will not deem ye guilty,290

Nor doom ye guiltless. Albeit better men[48]

Than ye or I stand ready to arraign you;

And should I leave your fate to sterner judges,

And proofs of all kinds, I might sacrifice

Two men, who, whatsoe'er they now are, were

Once honest. Ye are free, sirs.

Arb.Sire, this clemency——

Bel. (interrupting him). Is worthy of yourself; and, although innocent,

We thank——

Sar.Priest! keep your thanksgivings for Belus;

His offspring needs none.

Bel.But being innocent——

Sar. Be silent.—Guilt is loud. If ye are loyal,300

Ye are injured men, and should be sad, not grateful.

Bel. So we should be, were justice always done

By earthly power omnipotent; but Innocence

Must oft receive her right as a mere favour.

Sar. That's a good sentence for a homily,

Though not for this occasion. Prithee keep it

To plead thy Sovereign's cause before his people.

Bel. I trust there is no cause.

Sar.No cause, perhaps;

But many causers:—if ye meet with such

In the exercise of your inquisitive function310

On earth, or should you read of it in heaven

In some mysterious twinkle of the stars,

Which are your chronicles, I pray you note,

That there are worse things betwixt earth and heaven

Than him who ruleth many and slays none;

And, hating not himself, yet loves his fellows

Enough to spare even those who would not spare him

Were they once masters—but that's doubtful. Satraps!

Your swords and persons are at liberty

To use them as ye will—but from this hour320

I have no call for either. Salemenes!

Follow me.

[Exeunt Sardanapalus, Salemenes, and the Train, etc., leaving Arbaces and Beleses.


Bel.Now, what think you?

Arb. That we are lost.[49]

Bel.That we have won the kingdom.

Arb. What? thus suspected—with the sword slung o'er us

But by a single hair, and that still wavering,

To be blown down by his imperious breath

Which spared us—why, I know not.

Bel.Seek not why;

But let us profit by the interval.[n]

The hour is still our own—our power the same—

The night the same we destined. He hath changed330

Nothing except our ignorance of all

Suspicion into such a certainty

As must make madness of delay.

Arb.And yet—

Bel. What, doubting still?

Arb.He spared our lives, nay, more,

Saved them from Salemenes.

Bel.And how long

Will he so spare? till the first drunken minute.

Arb. Or sober, rather. Yet he did it nobly;

Gave royally what we had forfeited


Bel.Say bravely.

Arb.Somewhat of both, perhaps—

But it has touched me, and, whate'er betide,340

I will no further on.

Bel.And lose the world!

Arb. Lose any thing except my own esteem.

Bel. I blush that we should owe our lives to such

A king of distaffs!

Arb.But no less we owe them;

And I should blush far more to take the grantor's![16]

Bel. Thou may'st endure whate'er thou wilt—the stars

Have written otherwise.

Arb.Though they came down,

And marshalled me the way in all their brightness,

I would not follow.[50]

Bel.This is weakness—worse

Than a scared beldam's dreaming of the dead,350

And waking in the dark.—Go to—go to.

Arb. Methought he looked like Nimrod as he spoke,

Even as the proud imperial statue stands

Looking the monarch of the kings around it,

And sways, while they but ornament, the temple.

Bel. I told you that you had too much despised him,

And that there was some royalty within him—What

then? he is the nobler foe.

Arb.But we

The meaner.—Would he had not spared us!


Wouldst thou be sacrificed thus readily?360

Arb. No—but it had been better to have died

Than live ungrateful.

Bel.Oh, the souls of some men!

Thou wouldst digest what some call treason, and

Fools treachery—and, behold, upon the sudden,

Because for something or for nothing, this

Rash reveller steps, ostentatiously,

'Twixt thee and Salemenes, thou art turned

Into—what shall I say?—Sardanapalus!

I know no name more ignominious.


An hour ago, who dared to term me such370

Had held his life but lightly—as it is,

I must forgive you, even as he forgave us—

Semiramis herself would not have done it.

Bel. No—the Queen liked no sharers of the kingdom,

Not even a husband.[17]

Arb.I must serve him truly——

Bel. And humbly?

Arb.No, sir, proudly—being honest.

I shall be nearer thrones than you to heaven;

And if not quite so haughty, yet more lofty.

You may do your own deeming—you have codes,[51]

And mysteries, and corollaries of380

Right and wrong, which I lack for my direction,

And must pursue but what a plain heart teaches.

And now you know me.

Bel.Have you finished?


With you.

Bel.And would, perhaps, betray as well

As quit me?

Arb.That's a sacerdotal thought,

And not a soldier's.

Bel.Be it what you will—

Truce with these wranglings, and but hear me.


There is more peril in your subtle spirit

Than in a phalanx.

Bel.If it must be so—

I'll on alone.


Bel.Thrones hold but one.390

Arb. But this is filled.

Bel.With worse than vacancy—

A despised monarch. Look to it, Arbaces:

I have still aided, cherished, loved, and urged you;

Was willing even to serve you, in the hope

To serve and save Assyria. Heaven itself

Seemed to consent, and all events were friendly,

Even to the last, till that your spirit shrunk

Into a shallow softness; but now, rather

Than see my country languish, I will be

Her saviour or the victim of her tyrant—400

Or one or both—for sometimes both are one;

And if I win—Arbaces is my servant.

Arb. Your servant!

Bel.Why not? better than be slave,

The pardoned slave of she Sardanapalus!

Enter Pania.

Pan. My Lords, I bear an order from the king.

Arb. It is obeyed ere spoken.[52]


Let's hear it.

Pan.Forthwith, on this very night,

Repair to your respective satrapies

Of Babylon and Media.

Bel.With our troops?

Pan. My order is unto the Satraps and410

Their household train.


Bel.It must be obeyed:

Say, we depart.

Pan.My order is to see you

Depart, and not to bear your answer.

Bel. (aside).Aye[o]!

Well, Sir—we will accompany you hence.

Pan. I will retire to marshal forth the guard

Of honour which befits your rank, and wait

Your leisure, so that it the hour exceeds not.

[Exit Pania.

Bel. Now then obey!


Bel.Yes, to the gates

That grate the palace, which is now our prison—

No further.

Arb.Thou hast harped the truth indeed!420

The realm itself, in all its wide extension,

Yawns dungeons at each step for thee and me.

Bel. Graves!

Arb.If I thought so, this good sword should dig

One more than mine.

Bel.It shall have work enough.

Let me hope better than thou augurest;

At present, let us hence as best we may.

Thou dost agree with me in understanding

This order as a sentence?

Arb.Why, what other

Interpretation should it bear? it is

The very policy of Orient monarchs—430

Pardon and poison—favours and a sword[53]

A distant voyage, and an eternal sleep.

How many Satraps in his father's time—

For he I own is, or at least was, bloodless—

Bel. But will not—can not be so now.

Arb.I doubt it.

How many Satraps have I seen set out

In his Sire's day for mighty Vice-royalties,

Whose tombs are on their path! I know not how,

But they all sickened by the way, it was

So long and heavy.

Bel.Let us but regain440

The free air of the city, and we'll shorten

The journey.

Arb.'Twill be shortened at the gates,

It may be.

Bel.No; they hardly will risk that.

They mean us to die privately, but not

Within the palace or the city walls,

Where we are known, and may have partisans:

If they had meant to slay us here, we were

No longer with the living. Let us hence.

Arb. If I but thought he did not mean my life—

Bel. Fool! hence—what else should despotism alarmed450

Mean? Let us but rejoin our troops, and march.

Arb. Towards our provinces?

Bel.No; towards your kingdom.

There's time—there's heart, and hope, and power, and means—

Which their half measures leave us in full scope.—


Arb.And I even yet repenting must

Relapse to guilt!

Bel.Self-defence is a virtue,

Sole bulwark of all right. Away, I say!

Let's leave this place, the air grows thick and choking,

And the walls have a scent of night-shade—hence!

Let us not leave them time for further council.460

Our quick departure proves our civic zeal;

Our quick departure hinders our good escort,

The worthy Pania, from anticipating[54]

The orders of some parasangs from hence:

Nay, there's no other choice, but——hence, I say[p].

 [Exit with Arbaces, who follows reluctantly.

Enter Sardanapalus and Salemenes.

Sar. Well, all is remedied, and without bloodshed,

That worst of mockeries of a remedy;

We are now secure by these men's exile.


As he who treads on flowers is from the adder

Twined round their roots.

Sar.Why, what wouldst have me do?470

Sal. Undo what you have done.

Sar.Revoke my pardon?

Sal. Replace the crown now tottering on your temples.

Sar. That were tyrannical.

Sal.But sure.

Sar.We are so.

What danger can they work upon the frontier?

Sal. They are not there yet—never should they be so,

Were I well listened to.

Sar.Nay, I have listened

Impartially to thee—why not to them?

Sal. You may know that hereafter; as it is,

I take my leave to order forth the guard.

Sar. And you will join us at the banquet?


Dispense with me—I am no wassailer:

Command me in all service save the Bacchant's.

Sar. Nay, but 'tis fit to revel now and then.

Sal. And fit that some should watch for those who revel

Too oft. Am I permitted to depart?

Sar. Yes——Stay a moment, my good Salemenes,

My brother—my best subject—better Prince

Than I am King. You should have been the monarch,

And I—I know not what, and care not; but

Think not I am insensible to all490

Thine honest wisdom, and thy rough yet kind,

Though oft-reproving sufferance of my follies.[55]

If I have spared these men against thy counsel,

That is, their lives—it is not that I doubt

The advice was sound; but, let them live: we will not

Cavil about their lives—so let them mend them.

Their banishment will leave me still sound sleep,

Which their death had not left me.

Sal.Thus you run

The risk to sleep for ever, to save traitors—

A moment's pang now changed for years of crime.500

Still let them be made quiet.

Sar.Tempt me not;

My word is past.

Sal.But it may be recalled.

Sar. 'Tis royal.

Sal.And should therefore be decisive.

This half-indulgence of an exile serves

But to provoke—a pardon should be full,

Or it is none.

Sar.And who persuaded me

After I had repealed them, or at least

Only dismissed them from our presence, who

Urged me to send them to their satrapies?

Sal. True; that I had forgotten; that is, Sire,510

If they e'er reached their Satrapies—why, then,

Reprove me more for my advice.

Sar.And if

They do not reach them—look to it!—in safety,

In safety, mark me—and security—

Look to thine own.

Sal.Permit me to depart;

Their safety shall be cared for.

Sar.Get thee hence, then;

And, prithee, think more gently of thy brother.

Sal. Sire, I shall ever duly serve my sovereign.

 [Exit Salemenes.

Sar. (solus). That man is of a temper too severe;

Hard but as lofty as the rock, and free520

From all the taints of common earth—while I

Am softer clay, impregnated with flowers:

But as our mould is, must the produce be.

If I have erred this time, 'tis on the side[56]

Where Error sits most lightly on that sense,

I know not what to call it; but it reckons

With me ofttimes for pain, and sometimes pleasure;

A spirit which seems placed about my heart

To count its throbs, not quicken them, and ask

Questions which mortal never dared to ask me,530

Nor Baal, though an oracular deity—[q]

Albeit his marble face majestical

Frowns as the shadows of the evening dim

His brows to changed expression, till at times

I think the statue looks in act to speak.

Away with these vain thoughts, I will be joyous—

And here comes Joy's true herald.

Enter Myrrha.

Myr.King! the sky

Is overcast, and musters muttering thunder,

In clouds that seem approaching fast, and show

In forkéd flashes a commanding tempest.[r]540

Will you then quit the palace?

Sar.Tempest, say'st thou?

Myr. Aye, my good lord.

Sar.For my own part, I should be

Not ill content to vary the smooth scene,

And watch the warring elements; but this

Would little suit the silken garments and

Smooth faces of our festive friends. Say, Myrrha,

Art thou of those who dread the roar of clouds?

Myr. In my own country we respect their voices

As auguries of Jove.[s]

Sar.Jove!—aye, your Baal—

Ours also has a property in thunder,550

And ever and anon some falling bolt

Proves his divinity,—and yet sometimes[57]

Strikes his own altars.

Myr.That were a dread omen.

Sar. Yes—for the priests. Well, we will not go forth

Beyond the palace walls to-night, but make

Our feast within.

Myr.Now, Jove be praised! that he

Hath heard the prayer thou wouldst not hear. The Gods

Are kinder to thee than thou to thyself,

And flash this storm between thee and thy foes,

To shield thee from them.

Sar.Child, if there be peril,560

Methinks it is the same within these walls

As on the river's brink.

Myr.Not so; these walls

Are high and strong, and guarded. Treason has

To penetrate through many a winding way,

And massy portal; but in the pavilion

There is no bulwark.

Sar.No, nor in the palace,

Nor in the fortress, nor upon the top

Of cloud-fenced Caucasus, where the eagle sits

Nested in pathless clefts, if treachery be:

Even as the arrow finds the airy king,570

The steel will reach the earthly. But be calm;

The men, or innocent or guilty, are

Banished, and far upon their way.

Myr.They live, then?

Sar. So sanguinary? Thou!

Myr.I would not shrink

From just infliction of due punishment

On those who seek your life: were't otherwise,

I should not merit mine. Besides, you heard

The princely Salemenes.

Sar.This is strange;

The gentle and the austere are both against me,

And urge me to revenge.

Myr.'Tis a Greek virtue.580

Sar. But not a kingly one—I'll none on't; or

If ever I indulge in't, it shall be

With kings—my equals.

Myr.These men sought to be so.[58]

Sar. Myrrha, this is too feminine, and springs

From fear——

Myr.For you.

Sar.No matter, still 'tis fear.

I have observed your sex, once roused to wrath,

Are timidly vindictive to a pitch

Of perseverance, which I would not copy.

I thought you were exempt from this, as from

The childish helplessness of Asian women[t].590

Myr. My Lord, I am no boaster of my love,

Nor of my attributes; I have shared your splendour,

And will partake your fortunes. You may live

To find one slave more true than subject myriads:

But this the Gods avert! I am content

To be beloved on trust for what I feel,

Rather than prove it to you in your griefs[u],

Which might not yield to any cares of mine.

Sar. Grief cannot come where perfect love exists,

Except to heighten it, and vanish from600

That which it could not scare away. Let's in—

The hour approaches, and we must prepare

To meet the invited guests who grace our feast.



Scene I.—The Hall of the Palace illuminatedSardanapalus and his Guests at Table.—A storm without, and Thunder occasionally heard during the Banquet.

Sar. Fill full! why this is as it should be: here

Is my true realm, amidst bright eyes and faces

Happy as fair! Here sorrow cannot reach.

Zam. Nor elsewhere—where the King is, pleasure sparkles.

Sar. Is not this better now than Nimrod's huntings,

Or my wild Grandam's chase in search of kingdoms

She could not keep when conquered?[59]

Alt.Mighty though

They were, as all thy royal line have been,

Yet none of those who went before have reached

The acme of Sardanapalus, who10

Has placed his joy in peace—the sole true glory.

Sar. And pleasure, good Altada, to which glory

Is but the path. What is it that we seek?

Enjoyment! We have cut the way short to it,

And not gone tracking it through human ashes,

Making a grave with every footstep.


All hearts are happy, and all voices bless

The King of peace—who holds a world in jubilee.

Sar. Art sure of that? I have heard otherwise;

Some say that there be traitors.

Zam.Traitors they20

Who dare to say so!—'Tis impossible.

What cause?

Sar.What cause? true,—fill the goblet up;

We will not think of them: there are none such,

Or if there be, they are gone.

Alt.Guests, to my pledge!

Down on your knees, and drink a measure to

The safety of the King—the monarch, say I?

The God Sardanapalus!

 [Zames and the Guests kneel, and exclaim

Mightier than

His father Baal, the God Sardanapalus!

 [It thunders as they kneel; some start up in confusion.

Zam. Why do you rise, my friends? in that strong peal

His father gods consented.

Myr.Menaced, rather.30

King, wilt thou bear this mad impiety?

Sar. Impiety!—nay, if the sires who reigned

Before me can be Gods, I'll not disgrace

Their lineage. But arise, my pious friends;

Hoard your devotion for the Thunderer there:

I seek but to be loved, not worshipped.


Both you must ever be by all true subjects.[60]

Sar. Methinks the thunders still increase: it is

An awful night.

Myr.Oh yes, for those who have

No palace to protect their worshippers.40

Sar. That's true, my Myrrha; and could I convert

My realm to one wide shelter for the wretched,

I'd do it.

Myr.   Thou'rt no God, then—not to be

Able to work a will so good and general,

As thy wish would imply.

Sar.And your Gods, then,

Who can, and do not?

Myr.Do not speak of that,

Lest we provoke them.

Sar.True—, they love not censure

Better than mortals. Friends, a thought has struck me:

Were there no temples, would there, think ye, be

Air worshippers?[v] that is, when it is angry,50

And pelting as even now.

Myr.The Persian prays

Upon his mountain.

Sar.Yes, when the Sun shines.

Myr. And I would ask if this your palace were

Unroofed and desolate, how many flatterers

Would lick the dust in which the King lay low?

Alt. The fair Ionian is too sarcastic

Upon a nation whom she knows not well;

The Assyrians know no pleasure but their King's,

And homage is their pride.

Sar.Nay, pardon, guests,

The fair Greek's readiness of speech.

Alt.Pardon! sire:60

We honour her of all things next to thee.

Hark! what was that?

Zam.That! nothing but the jar

Of distant portals shaken by the wind.

Alt. It sounded like the clash of—hark again!

Zam. The big rain pattering on the roof.

Sar.No more.[61]

Myrrha, my love, hast thou thy shell in order?

Sing me a song of Sappho[18]; her, thou know'st,

Who in thy country threw——

Enter Pania, with his sword and garments bloody, and disordered. The guests rise in confusion.

Pan. (to the Guards).Look to the portals;

And with your best speed to the walls without.

Your arms! To arms! The King's in danger. Monarch70

Excuse this haste,—'tis faith.

Sar.Speak on.

Pan.It is

As Salemenes feared; the faithless Satraps——

Sar. You are wounded—give some wine. Take breath, good Pania.

Pan. 'Tis nothing—a mere flesh wound. I am worn

More with my speed to warn my sovereign,

Than hurt in his defence.

Myr.Well, Sir, the rebels?

Pan. Soon as Arbaces and Beleses reached

Their stations in the city, they refused

To march; and on my attempt to use the power

Which I was delegated with, they called80

Upon their troops, who rose in fierce defiance.

Myr. All?

Pan.Too many.

Sar.Spare not of thy free speech,

To spare mine ears—the truth.

Pan.My own slight guard

Were faithful, and what's left of it is still so.

Myr. And are these all the force still faithful?


The Bactrians, now led on by Salemenes,

Who even then was on his way, still urged

By strong suspicion of the Median chiefs,

Are numerous, and make strong head against

The rebels, fighting inch by inch, and forming90[62]

An orb around the palace, where they mean

To centre all their force, and save the King.

(He hesitates.) I am charged to——

Myr.'Tis no time for hesitation.

Pan. Prince Salemenes doth implore the King

To arm himself, although but for a moment,

And show himself unto the soldiers: his

Sole presence in this instant might do more

Than hosts can do in his behalf.

Sar.What, ho!

My armour there.

Myr.And wilt thou?

Sar.Will I not?

Ho, there!—but seek not for the buckler: 'tis100

Too heavy:—a light cuirass and my sword.

Where are the rebels?

Pan.Scarce a furlong's length

From the outward wall the fiercest conflict rages.

Sar. Then I may charge on horseback. Sfero, ho!

Order my horse out.—There is space enough

Even in our courts, and by the outer gate,

To marshal half the horsemen of Arabia.

 [Exit Sfero for the armour.

Myr. How I do love thee!

Sar.I ne'er doubted it.

Myr. But now I know thee.

Sar. (to his Attendant). Bring down my spear too—

Where's Salemenes?

Pan.Where a soldier should be,110

In the thick of the fight.

Sar.Then hasten to him——Is

The path still open, and communication

Left 'twixt the palace and the phalanx?


When I late left him, and I have no fear;

Our troops were steady, and the phalanx formed.

Sar. Tell him to spare his person for the present,

And that I will not spare my own—and say,

I come.

Pan.There's victory in the very word. [Exit Pania.

Sar. Altada—Zames—forth, and arm ye! There[63]

Is all in readiness in the armoury.120

See that the women are bestowed in safety

In the remote apartments: let a guard

Be set before them, with strict charge to quit

The post but with their lives—command it, Zames.

Altada, arm yourself, and return here;

Your post is near our person.

 [Exeunt Zames, Altada, and all save Myrrha.

Enter Sfero and others with the King's Arms, etc.

Sfe.King! your armour.

Sar. (arming himself). Give me the cuirass—so: my baldric; now

My sword: I had forgot the helm—where is it?

That's well—no, 'tis too heavy; you mistake, too—

It was not this I meant, but that which bears130

A diadem around it.

Sfe.Sire, I deemed

That too conspicuous from the precious stones

To risk your sacred brow beneath—and trust me,

This is of better metal, though less rich.

Sar. You deemed! Are you too turned a rebel? Fellow!

Your part is to obey: return, and—no—

It is too late—I will go forth without it.

Sfe. At least, wear this.

Sar.Wear Caucasus! why, 'tis

A mountain on my temples.

Sfe.Sire, the meanest

Soldier goes not forth thus exposed to battle.140

All men will recognise you—for the storm

Has ceased, and the moon breaks forth in her brightness.

Sar. I go forth to be recognised, and thus

Shall be so sooner. Now—my spear! I'm armed.

 [In going stops short, and turns to Sfero.

Sfero—I had forgotten—bring the mirror[19].[64]

Sfe. The mirror, Sire?

Sar.Yes, sir, of polished brass,

Brought from the spoils of India—but be speedy.

 [Exit Sfero.

Sar. Myrrha, retire unto a place of safety.

Why went you not forth with the other damsels?

Myr. Because my place is here.

Sar.And when I am gone——150

Myr. I follow.

Sar.You! to battle?

Myr.If it were so,

'Twere not the first Greek girl had trod the path.

I will await here your return.

Sar.The place

Is spacious, and the first to be sought out,

If they prevail; and, if it be so,

And I return not——

Myr.Still we meet again.

Sar. How?

Myr.In the spot where all must meet at last—

In Hades! if there be, as I believe,

A shore beyond the Styx; and if there be not,

In ashes.

Sar.Darest thou so much?

Myr.I dare all things160

Except survive what I have loved, to be

A rebel's booty: forth, and do your bravest.


Re-enter Sfero with the mirror.

Sar. (looking at himself).

This cuirass fits me well, the baldric better,

And the helm not at all. Methinks I seem

 [Flings away the helmet after trying it again.

Passing well in these toys; and now to prove them.

Altada! Where's Altada?

Sfe.Waiting, Sire,

Without: he has your shield in readiness.

Sar. True—I forgot—he is my shield-bearer

By right of blood, derived from age to age.

Myrrha, embrace me;—yet once more—once more—170

Love me, whate'er betide. My chiefest glory

Shall be to make me worthier of your love.

Myr. Go forth, and conquer!

 [Exeunt Sardanapalus and Sfero.

Now, I am alone:

All are gone forth, and of that all how few

Perhaps return! Let him but vanquish, and

Me perish! If he vanquish not, I perish;

For I will not outlive him. He has wound

About my heart, I know not how nor why.

Not for that he is King; for now his kingdom

Rocks underneath his throne, and the earth yawns180

To yield him no more of it than a grave;

And yet I love him more. Oh, mighty Jove!

Forgive this monstrous love for a barbarian,

Who knows not of Olympus! yes, I love him

Now—now—far more than——Hark—to the war shout!

Methinks it nears me. If it should be so,

 [She draws forth a small vial.

This cunning Colchian poison, which my father

Learned to compound on Euxine shores, and taught me

How to preserve, shall free me! It had freed me

Long ere this hour, but that I loved until190

I half forgot I was a slave:—where all

Are slaves save One, and proud of servitude,

So they are served in turn by something lower

In the degree of bondage: we forget

That shackles worn like ornaments no less[66]

Are chains. Again that shout! and now the clash

Of arms—and now—and now——

Enter Altada.

Alt.Ho, Sfero, ho!

Myr. He is not here; what wouldst thou with him? How

Goes on the conflict?

Alt.Dubiously and fiercely.

Myr. And the King?

Alt.Like a king. I must find Sfero,200

And bring him a new spear with his own helmet.[w]

He fights till now bare-headed, and by far

Too much exposed. The soldiers knew his face,

And the foe too; and in the moon's broad light,

His silk tiara and his flowing hair

Make him a mark too royal. Every arrow

Is pointed at the fair hair and fair features,

And the broad fillet which crowns both.

Myr.Ye Gods,

Who fulminate o'er my father's land, protect him!

Were you sent by the King?

Alt.By Salemenes,210

Who sent me privily upon this charge,

Without the knowledge of the careless sovereign.

The King! the King fights as he revels! ho!

What, Sfero! I will seek the armoury—

He must be there. [Exit Altada.

Myr.'Tis no dishonour—no—

'Tis no dishonour to have loved this man.

I almost wish now, what I never wished

Before—that he were Grecian. If Alcides

Were shamed in wearing Lydian Omphale's

She-garb, and wielding her vile distaff; surely220

He, who springs up a Hercules at once,

Nursed in effeminate arts from youth to manhood,

And rushes from the banquet to the battle,

As though it were a bed of love, deserves[67]

That a Greek girl should be his paramour,

And a Greek bard his minstrel—a Greek tomb

His monument. How goes the strife, sir?

Enter an Officer.


Lost almost past recovery. Zames! Where

Is Zames?

Myr.Posted with the guard appointed

To watch before the apartment of the women.230

 [Exit Officer.

Myr. (sola). He's gone; and told no more than that all's lost!

What need have I to know more? In those words,

Those little words, a kingdom and a king,

A line of thirteen ages, and the lives

Of thousands, and the fortune of all left

With life, are merged; and I, too, with the great,

Like a small bubble breaking with the wave

Which bore it, shall be nothing. At the least,

My fate is in my keeping: no proud victor

Shall count me with his spoils.

Enter Pania.

Pan.Away with me,240

Myrrha, without delay; we must not lose

A moment—all that's left us now.

Myr.The King?

Pan. Sent me here to conduct you hence, beyond

The river, by a secret passage.


He lives——

Pan.And charged me to secure your life,

And beg you to live on for his sake, till

He can rejoin you.

Myr.Will he then give way?

Pan. Not till the last. Still, still he does whate'er

Despair can do; and step by step disputes

The very palace.

Myr.They are here, then:—aye,250[68]

Their shouts come ringing through the ancient halls,

Never profaned by rebel echoes till

This fatal night. Farewell, Assyria's line!

Farewell to all of Nimrod! Even the name

Is now no more.

Pan.Away with me—away!

Myr. No: I'll die here!—Away, and tell your King

I loved him to the last.

Enter Sardanapalus and Salemenes with Soldiers. Pania quits Myrrha, and ranges himself with them.

Sar.Since it is thus,

We'll die where we were born—in our own halls[x]

Serry your ranks—stand firm. I have despatched

A trusty satrap for the guard of Zames,

All fresh and faithful; they'll be here anon.

All is not over,—Pania, look to Myrrha.

 [Pania returns towards Myrrha.

Sal. We have breathing time; yet once more charge, my friends—

One for Assyria!

Sar.Rather say for Bactria!

My faithful Bactrians, I will henceforth be

King of your nation, and we'll hold together

This realm as province.

Sal.Hark! they come—they come.

Enter Beleses and Arbaces with the Rebels.

Arb. Set on, we have them in the toil. Charge! Charge!

Bel. On! on!—Heaven fights for us, and with us—On!

[They charge the King and Salemenes with their troops, who defend themselves till the arrival of Zames with the Guard before mentioned. The Rebels are then driven off, and pursued by Salemenes, etc. As the King is going to join the pursuit, Beleses crosses him.

Bel. Ho! tyrant—I will end this war.[69]

Sar.Even so,270

My warlike priest, and precious prophet, and

Grateful and trusty subject: yield, I pray thee.

I would reserve thee for a fitter doom,

Rather than dip my hands in holy blood.

Bel. Thine hour is come.

Sar.No, thine.—I've lately read,

Though but a young astrologer, the stars;

And ranging round the zodiac, found thy fate

In the sign of the Scorpion, which proclaims

That thou wilt now be crushed.

Bel.But not by thee.

[They fight; Beleses is wounded and disarmed.

Sar. (raising his sword to despatch him, exclaims)—

Now call upon thy planets, will they shoot280

From the sky to preserve their seer and credit?

[A party of Rebels enter and rescue Beleses. They assail the King, who in turn, is rescued by a Party of his Soldiers, who drive the Rebels off.

The villain was a prophet after all.

Upon them—ho! there—victory is ours.

 [Exit in pursuit.

Myr. (to Pan.) Pursue! Why stand'st thou here, and leavest the ranks

Of fellow-soldiers conquering without thee?

Pan. The King's command was not to quit thee.


Think not of me—a single soldier's arm

Must not be wanting now. I ask no guard,

I need no guard: what, with a world at stake,

Keep watch upon a woman? Hence, I say,290

Or thou art shamed! Nay, then, I will go forth,

A feeble female, 'midst their desperate strife,

And bid thee guard me there—where thou shouldst shield

Thy sovereign. [Exit Myrrha.

Pan.Yet stay, damsel!—She's gone.

If aught of ill betide her, better I

Had lost my life. Sardanapalus holds her

Far dearer than his kingdom, yet he fights

For that too; and can I do less than he,

Who never flashed a scimitar till now?[70]

Myrrha, return, and I obey you, though300

In disobedience to the monarch. [Exit Pania.

Enter Altada and Sfero by an opposite door.


What, gone? yet she was here when the fight raged,

And Pania also. Can aught have befallen them?

Sfe. I saw both safe, when late the rebels fled;

They probably are but retired to make

Their way back to the harem.

Alt.If the King

Prove victor, as it seems even now he must,

And miss his own Ionian, we are doomed

To worse than captive rebels.

Sfe.Let us trace them:

She cannot be fled far; and, found, she makes310

A richer prize to our soft sovereign

Than his recovered kingdom.

Alt.Baal himself

Ne'er fought more fiercely to win empire, than

His silken son to save it: he defies

All augury of foes or friends; and like

The close and sultry summer's day, which bodes

A twilight tempest, bursts forth in such thunder

As sweeps the air and deluges the earth.

The man's inscrutable.

Sfe.Not more than others.

All are the sons of circumstance: away—320

Let's seek the slave out, or prepare to be

Tortured for his infatuation, and[y]

Condemned without a crime. [Exeunt.

Enter Salemenes and Soldiers, etc.

Sal.The triumph is

Flattering: they are beaten backward from the palace,

And we have opened regular access

To the troops stationed on the other side

Euphrates, who may still be true; nay, must be,[71]

When they hear of our victory. But where

Is the chief victor? where's the King?

Enter Sardanapalus, cum suis, etc., and Myrrha.

Sar.Here, brother.

Sal. Unhurt, I hope.

Sar.Not quite; but let it pass.330

We've cleared the palace——

Sal.And I trust the city.

Our numbers gather; and I've ordered onward

A cloud of Parthians, hitherto reserved,

All fresh and fiery, to be poured upon them

In their retreat, which soon will be a flight.

Sar. It is already, or at least they marched

Faster than I could follow with my Bactrians,

Who spared no speed. I am spent: give me a seat.

Sal. There stands the throne, Sire.

Sar.Tis no place to rest on,

For mind nor body: let me have a couch,340

 [They place a seat.

A peasant's stool, I care not what: so—now

I breathe more freely.

Sal.This great hour has proved

The brightest and most glorious of your life.

Sar. And the most tiresome. Where's my cupbearer?

Bring me some water.

Sal. (smiling) 'Tis the first time he

Ever had such an order: even I,[z]

Your most austere of counsellors, would now

Suggest a purpler beverage.


But there's enough of that shed; as for wine,

I have learned to-night the price of the pure element:350

Thrice have I drank of it, and thrice renewed,

With greater strength than the grape ever gave me,

My charge upon the rebels. Where's the soldier

Who gave me water in his helmet?[20][72]

One of the Guards.Slain, Sire!

An arrow pierced his brain, while, scattering[aa]

The last drops from his helm, he stood in act

To place it on his brows.

Sar.Slain! unrewarded!

And slain to serve my thirst: that's hard, poor slave!

Had he but lived, I would have gorged him with

Gold: all the gold of earth could ne'er repay360

The pleasure of that draught; for I was parched

As I am now. [They bring water—he drinks.

I live again—from henceforth

The goblet I reserve for hours of love,

But war on water.

Sal.And that bandage, Sire,

Which girds your arm?

Sar.A scratch from brave Beleses.

Myr. Oh! he is wounded![ab]

Sar.Not too much of that;

And yet it feels a little stiff and painful,

Now I am cooler.

Myr.You have bound it with——

Sar. The fillet of my diadem: the first time

That ornament was ever aught to me,370[73]

Save an incumbrance.

Myr. (to the Attendants). Summon speedily

A leech of the most skilful: pray, retire:

I will unbind your wound and tend it.

Sar.Do so,

For now it throbs sufficiently: but what

Know'st thou of wounds? yet wherefore do I ask?

Know'st thou, my brother, where I lighted on

This minion?

Sal.Herding with the other females,

Like frightened antelopes.

Sar.No: like the dam

Of the young lion, femininely raging

(And femininely meaneth furiously,380

Because all passions in excess are female,)

Against the hunter flying with her cub,

She urged on with her voice and gesture, and

Her floating hair and flashing eyes,[21] the soldiers,

In the pursuit.


Sar.You see, this night

Made warriors of more than me. I paused

To look upon her, and her kindled cheek;

Her large black eyes, that flashed through her long hair

As it streamed o'er her; her blue veins that rose

Along her most transparent brow; her nostril390

Dilated from its symmetry; her lips

Apart; her voice that clove through all the din,

As a lute pierceth through the cymbal's clash,

Jarred but not drowned by the loud brattling; her

Waved arms, more dazzling with their own born whiteness

Than the steel her hand held, which she caught up

From a dead soldier's grasp;—all these things made

Her seem unto the troops a prophetess

Of victory, or Victory herself,

Come down to hail us hers.[22][74]

Sal. (aside).This is too much.400

Again the love-fit's on him, and all's lost,

Unless we turn his thoughts. (Aloud.) But pray thee, Sire,

Think of your wound—you said even now 'twas painful.

Sar. That's true, too; but I must not think of it.

Sal. I have looked to all things needful, and will now

Receive reports of progress made in such

Orders as I had given, and then return

To hear your further pleasure.

Sar.Be it so.

Sal. (in retiring). Myrrha!


Sal.You have shown a soul to-night,

Which, were he not my sister's lord——But now410

I have no time: thou lovest the King?

Myr.I love


Sal.But wouldst have him King still?

Myr. I would not have him less than what he should be.

Sal. Well then, to have him King, and yours, and all

He should, or should not be; to have him live,

Let him not sink back into luxury.

You have more power upon his spirit than

Wisdom within these walls, or fierce rebellion

Raging without: look well that he relapse not.

Myr. There needed not the voice of Salemenes420

To urge me on to this: I will not fail.

All that a woman's weakness can——

Sal.Is power

Omnipotent o'er such a heart as his:

Exert it wisely. [Exit Salemenes.

Sar.Myrrha! what, at whispers

With my stern brother? I shall soon be jealous.

Myr. (smiling). You have cause, Sire; for on the earth there breathes not

A man more worthy of a woman's love,

A soldier's trust, a subject's reverence,

A king's esteem—the whole world's admiration!

Sar. Praise him, but not so warmly. I must not430

Hear those sweet lips grow eloquent in aught[75]

That throws me into shade; yet you speak truth.

Myr. And now retire, to have your wound looked to,

Pray lean on me.

Sar.Yes, love! but not from pain.

 [Exeunt omnes.


Scene I.—Sardanapalus discovered sleeping upon a Couch, and occasionally disturbed in his slumbers, with Myrrha watching.

Myr. (sola, gazing). I have stolen upon his rest, if rest it be,

Which thus convulses slumber: shall I wake him?

No, he seems calmer. Oh, thou God of Quiet!

Whose reign is o'er sealed eyelids and soft dreams,

Or deep, deep sleep, so as to be unfathomed,

Look like thy brother, Death,[23]—so still, so stirless—

For then we are happiest, as it may be, we

Are happiest of all within the realm

Of thy stern, silent, and unwakening Twin.

Again he moves—again the play of pain10

Shoots o'er his features, as the sudden gust

Crisps the reluctant lake that lay so calm[ac]

Beneath the mountain shadow; or the blast

Ruffles the autumn leaves, that drooping cling

Faintly and motionless to their loved boughs.

I must awake him—yet not yet; who knows

From what I rouse him? It seems pain; but if

I quicken him to heavier pain? The fever

Of this tumultuous night, the grief too of

His wound, though slight, may cause all this, and shake20

Me more to see than him to suffer. No:

Let Nature use her own maternal means,[76]

And I await to second, not disturb her.

Sar. (awakening). Not so—although he multiplied the stars,

And gave them to me as a realm to share

From you and with you! I would not so purchase

The empire of Eternity. Hence—hence—

Old Hunter of the earliest brutes! and ye,[ad]

Who hunted fellow-creatures as if brutes!

Once bloody mortals—and now bloodier idols,30

If your priests lie not! And thou, ghastly Beldame!

Dripping with dusky gore, and trampling on

The carcasses of Inde—away! away!

Where am I? Where the spectres? Where—No—that

Is no false phantom: I should know it 'midst

All that the dead dare gloomily raise up

From their black gulf to daunt the living. Myrrha!

Myr. Alas! thou art pale, and on thy brow the drops

Gather like night dew. My beloved, hush—

Calm thee. Thy speech seems of another world,40

And thou art lord of this. Be of good cheer;

All will go well.

Sar.Thy hand—so—'tis thy hand;

'Tis flesh; grasp—clasp—yet closer, till I feel

Myself that which I was.

Myr.At least know me

For what I am, and ever must be—thine.

Sar. I know it now. I know this life again.

Ah, Myrrha! I have been where we shall be.

Myr. My lord!

Sar.I've been i' the grave—where worms are lords

And kings are——But I did not deem it so;

I thought 'twas nothing.

Myr.So it is; except50

Unto the timid, who anticipate

That which may never be.

Sar.Oh, Myrrha! if

Sleep shows such things, what may not Death disclose?

Myr. I know no evil Death can show, which Life

Has not already shown to those who live[77]

Embodied longest. If there be indeed

A shore where Mind survives, 'twill be as Mind

All unincorporate: or if there flits

A shadow of this cumbrous clog of clay.

Which stalks, methinks, between our souls and heaven,60

And fetters us to earth—at least the phantom,

Whate'er it have to fear, will not fear Death.

Sar. I fear it not; but I have felt—have seen—

A legion of the dead.

Myr.And so have I.

The dust we tread upon was once alive,

And wretched. But proceed: what hast thou seen?

Speak it, 'twill lighten thy dimmed mind.


Myr. Yet pause, thou art tired—in pain—exhausted; all

Which can impair both strength and spirit: seek

Rather to sleep again.

Sar.Not now—I would not70

Dream; though I know it now to be a dream

What I have dreamt:—and canst thou bear to hear it?

Myr. I can bear all things, dreams of life or death,

Which I participate with you in semblance

Or full reality.

Sar.And this looked real,

I tell you: after that these eyes were open,

I saw them in their flight—for then they fled.

Myr. Say on.

Sar.I saw, that is, I dreamed myself

Here—here—even where we are, guests as we were,

Myself a host that deemed himself but guest,80

Willing to equal all in social freedom;

But, on my right hand and my left, instead

Of thee and Zames, and our customed meeting,

Was ranged on my left hand a haughty, dark,

And deadly face; I could not recognise it,

Yet I had seen it, though I knew not where:

The features were a Giant's, and the eye

Was still, yet lighted; his long locks curled down

On his vast bust, whence a huge quiver rose

With shaft-heads feathered from the eagle's wing,90[78]

That peeped up bristling through his serpent hair.[ae]

I invited him to fill the cup which stood

Between us, but he answered not; I filled it;

He took it not, but stared upon me, till

I trembled at the fixed glare of his eye:

I frowned upon him as a king should frown;

He frowned not in his turn, but looked upon me

With the same aspect, which appalled me more,

Because it changed not; and I turned for refuge

To milder guests, and sought them on the right,100

Where thou wert wont to be. But——[He pauses.

Myr.What instead?

Sar. In thy own chair—thy own place in the banquet—

I sought thy sweet face in the circle—but

Instead—a grey-haired, withered, bloody-eyed,

And bloody-handed, ghastly, ghostly thing,

Female in garb, and crowned upon the brow,

Furrowed with years, yet sneering with the passion

Of vengeance, leering too with that of lust,

Sate:—my veins curdled.[24]

Myr.Is this all?


Her right hand—her lank, bird-like, right hand—stood110

A goblet, bubbling o'er with blood; and on

Her left, another, filled with—what I saw not,

But turned from it and her. But all along

The table sate a range of crownéd wretches,

Of various aspects, but of one expression.

Myr. And felt you not this a mere vision?


It was so palpable, I could have touched them.

I turned from one face to another, in

The hope to find at last one which I knew

Ere I saw theirs: but no—all turned upon me,120

And stared, but neither ate nor drank, but stared,[79]

Till I grew stone, as they seemed half to be,

Yet breathing stone, for I felt life in them,

And life in me: there was a horrid kind

Of sympathy between us, as if they

Had lost a part of death to come to me,

And I the half of life to sit by them.

We were in an existence all apart

From heaven or earth——And rather let me see

Death all than such a being!

Myr.And the end?130

Sar. At last I sate, marble, as they, when rose

The Hunter and the Crone; and smiling on me—

Yes, the enlarged but noble aspect of

The Hunter smiled upon me—I should say,

His lips, for his eyes moved not—and the woman's

Thin lips relaxed to something like a smile.

Both rose, and the crowned figures on each hand

Rose also, as if aping their chief shades—

Mere mimics even in death—but I sate still:

A desperate courage crept through every limb,140

And at the last I feared them not, but laughed

Full in their phantom faces. But then—then

The Hunter laid his hand on mine: I took it,

And grasped it—but it melted from my own;

While he too vanished, and left nothing but

The memory of a hero, for he looked so.

Myr. And was: the ancestor of heroes, too,

And thine no less.

Sar.Aye, Myrrha, but the woman,

The female who remained, she flew upon me,

And burnt my lips up with her noisome kisses;150

And, flinging down the goblets on each hand,

Methought their poisons flowed around us, till

Each formed a hideous river. Still she clung;

The other phantoms, like a row of statues,

Stood dull as in our temples, but she still

Embraced me, while I shrunk from her, as if,

In lieu of her remote descendant, I

Had been the son who slew her for her incest.[25][80]

Then—then—a chaos of all loathsome things

Thronged thick and shapeless: I was dead, yet feeling—160

Buried, and raised again—consumed by worms,

Purged by the flames, and withered in the air!

I can fix nothing further of my thoughts,

Save that I longed for thee, and sought for thee,

In all these agonies,—and woke and found thee.

Myr. So shalt thou find me ever at thy side,

Here and hereafter, if the last may be.

But think not of these things—the mere creations

Of late events, acting upon a frame

Unused by toil, yet over-wrought by toil—170

Such as might try the sternest.

Sar.I am better.

Now that I see thee once more, what was seen

Seems nothing.

Enter Salemenes.

Sal.Is the king so soon awake?

Sar. Yes, brother, and I would I had not slept;

For all the predecessors of our line

Rose up, methought, to drag me down to them.

My father was amongst them, too; but he,

I know not why, kept from me, leaving me

Between the hunter-founder of our race,

And her, the homicide and husband-killer,180

Whom you call glorious.

Sal.So I term you also,

Now you have shown a spirit like to hers.

By day-break I propose that we set forth,

And charge once more the rebel crew, who still

Keep gathering head, repulsed, but not quite quelled.

Sar. How wears the night?

Sal.There yet remain some hours

Of darkness: use them for your further rest.

Sar. No, not to-night, if 'tis not gone: methought

I passed hours in that vision.

Myr.Scarcely one;

I watched by you: it was a heavy hour,190

But an hour only.[81]

Sar.Let us then hold council;

To-morrow we set forth.

Sal.But ere that time,

I had a grace to seek.

Sar.'Tis granted.

Sal.Hear it

Ere you reply too readily; and 'tis

For your ear only.

Myr.Prince, I take my leave.

 [Exit Myrrha.

Sal. That slave deserves her freedom.

Sar.Freedom only!

That slave deserves to share a throne.

Sal.Your patience—

'Tis not yet vacant, and 'tis of its partner

I come to speak with you.

Sar.How! of the Queen?

Sal. Even so. I judged it fitting for their safety,200

That, ere the dawn, she sets forth with her children

For Paphlagonia, where our kinsman Cotta[26]

Governs; and there, at all events, secure

My nephews and your sons their lives, and with them

Their just pretensions to the crown in case——

Sar. I perish—as is probable: well thought—

Let them set forth with a sure escort.


Is all provided, and the galley ready

To drop down the Euphrates; but ere they

Depart, will you not see——

Sar.My sons? It may210

Unman my heart, and the poor boys will weep;

And what can I reply to comfort them,

Save with some hollow hopes, and ill-worn smiles?

You know I cannot feign.

Sal.But you can feel!

At least, I trust so: in a word, the Queen

Requests to see you ere you part—for ever.

Sar. Unto what end? what purpose? I will grant

Aught—all that she can ask—but such a meeting.[82]

Sal. You know, or ought to know, enough of women,

Since you have studied them so steadily[af],220

That what they ask in aught that touches on

The heart, is dearer to their feelings or

Their fancy, than the whole external world.

I think as you do of my sister's wish;

But 'twas her wish—she is my sister—you

Her husband—will you grant it?

Sar.'Twill be useless:

But let her come.

Sal.I go. [Exit Salemenes.

Sar.We have lived asunder

Too long to meet again—and now to meet!

Have I not cares enow, and pangs enow,

To bear alone, that we must mingle sorrows,230

Who have ceased to mingle love?

Re-enter Salemenes and Zarina.

Sal.My sister! Courage:

Shame not our blood with trembling, but remember

From whence we sprung. The Queen is present, Sire.

Zar. I pray thee, brother, leave me.

Sal.Since you ask it.

 [Exit Salemenes.

Zar. Alone with him! How many a year has passed[27],

Though we are still so young, since we have met,

Which I have worn in widowhood of heart.

He loved me not: yet he seems little changed—

Changed to me only—would the change were mutual!

He speaks not—scarce regards me—not a word,240

Nor look—yet he was soft of voice and aspect,

Indifferent, not austere. My Lord![83]


Zar. No, not Zarina—do not say Zarina.

That tone—That word—annihilate long years,

And things which make them longer.

Sar.'Tis too late

To think of these past dreams. Let's not reproach—

That is, reproach me not—for the last time——

Zar. And first, I ne'er reproached you.

Sar.'Tis most true;

And that reproof comes heavier on my heart

Than——But our hearts are not in our own power.250

Zar. Nor hands; but I gave both.

Sar.Your brother said

It was your will to see me, ere you went

From Nineveh with——(He hesitates.)

Zar.Our children: it is true.

I wish to thank you that you have not divided

My heart from all that's left it now to love—

Those who are yours and mine, who look like you,

And look upon me as you looked upon me

Once——but they have not changed.

Sar.Nor ever will.

I fain would have them dutiful.

Zar.I cherish

Those infants, not alone from the blind love260

Of a fond mother, but as a fond woman.

They are now the only tie between us.

Sar.Deem not

I have not done you justice: rather make them

Resemble your own line than their own Sire.

I trust them with you—to you: fit them for

A throne, or, if that be denied——You have heard

Of this night's tumults?

Zar.I had half forgotten,

And could have welcomed any grief save yours,

Which gave me to behold your face again.

Sar. The throne—I say it not in fear—but 'tis270

In peril: they perhaps may never mount it:

But let them not for this lose sight of it.

I will dare all things to bequeath it them;

But if I fail, then they must win it back[84]

Bravely—and, won, wear it wisely, not as I[ag]

Have wasted down my royalty.

Zar.They ne'er

Shall know from me of aught but what may honour

Their father's memory.

Sar.Rather let them hear

The truth from you than from a trampling world.

If they be in adversity, they'll learn280

Too soon the scorn of crowds for crownless Princes,

And find that all their father's sins are theirs.

My boys!—I could have borne it were I childless.

Zar. Oh! do not say so—do not poison all

My peace left, by unwishing that thou wert

A father. If thou conquerest, they shall reign,

And honour him who saved the realm for them,

So little cared for as his own; and if——

Sar. 'Tis lost, all Earth will cry out, "thank your father!"

And they will swell the echo with a curse.290

Zar. That they shall never do; but rather honour

The name of him, who, dying like a king,

In his last hours did more for his own memory

Than many monarchs in a length of days,

Which date the flight of time, but make no annals.

Sar. Our annals draw perchance unto their close;

But at the least, whate'er the past, their end

Shall be like their beginning—memorable.

Zar. Yet, be not rash—be careful of your life,

Live but for those who love.

Sar.And who are they?300

A slave, who loves from passion—I'll not say

Ambition—she has seen thrones shake, and loves;

A few friends who have revelled till we are

As one, for they are nothing if I fall;

A brother I have injured—children whom

I have neglected, and a spouse——

Zar.Who loves.

Sar. And pardons?

Zar.I have never thought of this,

And cannot pardon till I have condemned.[85]

Sar. My wife!

Zar.Now blessings on thee for that word!

I never thought to hear it more—from thee.310

Sar. Oh! thou wilt hear it from my subjects. Yes—

These slaves whom I have nurtured, pampered, fed,

And swoln with peace, and gorged with plenty, till

They reign themselves—all monarchs in their mansions—

Now swarm forth in rebellion, and demand

His death, who made their lives a jubilee;

While the few upon whom I have no claim

Are faithful! This is true, yet monstrous.


Perhaps too natural; for benefits

Turn poison in bad minds.

Sar.And good ones make320

Good out of evil. Happier than the bee,

Which hives not but from wholesome flowers.

Zar.Then reap

The honey, nor inquire whence 'tis derived.

Be satisfied—you are not all abandoned.

Sar. My life insures me that. How long, bethink you,

Were not I yet a king, should I be mortal;

That is, where mortals are, not where they must be?

Zar. I know not. But yet live for my—that is,

Your children's sake!

Sar.My gentle, wronged Zarina!

I am the very slave of Circumstance330

And Impulse—borne away with every breath!

Misplaced upon the throne—misplaced in life.

I know not what I could have been, but feel

I am not what I should be—let it end.

But take this with thee: if I was not formed

To prize a love like thine, a mind like thine,

Nor dote even on thy beauty—as I've doted

On lesser charms, for no cause save that such

Devotion was a duty, and I hated

All that looked like a chain for me or others340

(This even Rebellion must avouch); yet hear

These words, perhaps among my last—that none

E'er valued more thy virtues, though he knew not

To profit by them—as the miner lights[86]

Upon a vein of virgin ore, discovering

That which avails him nothing: he hath found it,

But 'tis not his—but some superior's, who

Placed him to dig, but not divide the wealth

Which sparkles at his feet; nor dare he lift

Nor poise it, but must grovel on, upturning350

The sullen earth.

Zar.Oh! if thou hast at length

Discovered that my love is worth esteem,

I ask no more—but let us hence together,

And I—let me say we—shall yet be happy.

Assyria is not all the earth—we'll find

A world out of our own—and be more blessed

Than I have ever been, or thou, with all

An empire to indulge thee.

Enter Salemenes.

Sal.I must part ye—

The moments, which must not be lost, are passing.

Zar. Inhuman brother! wilt thou thus weigh out360

Instants so high and blest?


Zar.He hath been

So gentle with me, that I cannot think

Of quitting.

Sal.So—this feminine farewell

Ends as such partings end, in no departure.

I thought as much, and yielded against all

My better bodings. But it must not be.

Zar. Not be?

Sal.Remain, and perish——

Zar.With my husband——

Sal. And children.


Sal.Hear me, sister, like

My sister:—all's prepared to make your safety

Certain, and of the boys too, our last hopes;370

'Tis not a single question of mere feeling,

Though that were much—but 'tis a point of state:

The rebels would do more to seize upon[87]

The offspring of their sovereign, and so crush——

Zar. Ah! do not name it.

Sal.Well, then, mark me: when

They are safe beyond the Median's grasp, the rebels

Have missed their chief aim—the extinction of

The line of Nimrod. Though the present King

Fall, his sons live—for victory and vengeance.

Zar. But could not I remain, alone?

Sal.What! leave380

Your children, with two parents and yet orphans—

In a strange land—so young, so distant?


My heart will break.

Sal.Now you know all—decide.

Sar. Zarina, he hath spoken well, and we

Must yield awhile to this necessity.

Remaining here, you may lose all; departing,

You save the better part of what is left,

To both of us, and to such loyal hearts

As yet beat in these kingdoms.

Sal.The time presses.

Sar. Go, then. If e'er we meet again, perhaps390

I may be worthier of you—and, if not,

Remember that my faults, though not atoned for,

Are ended. Yet, I dread thy nature will

Grieve more above the blighted name and ashes

Which once were mightiest in Assyria—than——

But I grow womanish again, and must not;

I must learn sternness now. My sins have all

Been of the softer order——hide thy tears—

I do not bid thee not to shed them—'twere

Easier to stop Euphrates at its source400

Than one tear of a true and tender heart—

But let me not behold them; they unman me

Here when I had remanned myself. My brother,

Lead her away.

Zar.Oh, God! I never shall

Behold him more!

Sal. (striving to conduct her).

Nay, sister, I must be obeyed.

Zar. I must remain—away! you shall not hold me.[88]

What, shall he die alone?—I live alone?

Sal. He shall not die alone; but lonely you

Have lived for years.

Zar.That's false! I knew he lived,

And lived upon his image—let me go!410

Sal. (conducting her off the stage).

Nay, then, I must use some fraternal force,

Which you will pardon.

Zar.Never. Help me! Oh!

Sardanapalus, wilt thou thus behold me

Torn from thee?

Sal.Nay—then all is lost again,

If that this moment is not gained.

Zar.My brain turns—

My eyes fail—where is he? [She faints.

Sar. (advancing).No—set her down;

She's dead—and you have slain her.

Sal.'Tis the mere

Faintness of o'erwrought passion: in the air

She will recover. Pray, keep back.—[Aside.] I must

Avail myself of this sole moment to420

Bear her to where her children are embarked,

I' the royal galley on the river.

 [Salemenes bears her off.

Sar. (solus).This, too—

And this too must I suffer—I, who never

Inflicted purposely on human hearts

A voluntary pang! But that is false—

She loved me, and I loved her.—Fatal passion!

Why dost thou not expire at once in hearts

Which thou hast lighted up at once? Zarina![ah]

I must pay dearly for the desolation

Now brought upon thee. Had I never loved430

But thee, I should have been an unopposed

Monarch of honouring nations. To what gulfs

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!


Enter Myrrha.

Sar. You here! Who called you?

Myr.No one—but I heard

Far off a voice of wail and lamentation,

And thought——

Sar.It forms no portion of your duties

To enter here till sought for.

Myr.Though I might,440

Perhaps, recall some softer words of yours

(Although they too were chiding), which reproved me,

Because I ever dreaded to intrude;

Resisting my own wish and your injunction

To heed no time nor presence, but approach you

Uncalled for:—I retire.

Sar.Yet stay—being here.

I pray you pardon me: events have soured me

Till I wax peevish—heed it not: I shall

Soon be myself again.

Myr.I wait with patience,

What I shall see with pleasure.

Sar.Scarce a moment450

Before your entrance in this hall, Zarina,

Queen of Assyria, departed hence.

Myr. Ah!

Sar.Wherefore do you start?

Myr.Did I do so?

Sar. 'Twas well you entered by another portal,

Else you had met. That pang at least is spared her!

Myr. I know to feel for her.

Sar.That is too much,

And beyond nature—'tis nor mutual[ai]

Nor possible. You cannot pity her,

Nor she aught but——

Myr.Despise the favourite slave?

Not more than I have ever scorned myself.460

Sar. Scorned! what, to be the envy of your sex,

And lord it o'er the heart of the World's lord?

Myr. Were you the lord of twice ten thousand worlds—

As you are like to lose the one you swayed[90]

I did abase myself as much in being

Your paramour, as though you were a peasant—

Nay, more, if that the peasant were a Greek.

Sar. You talk it well——

Myr.And truly.

Sar.In the hour

Of man's adversity all things grow daring

Against the falling; but as I am not470

Quite fall'n, nor now disposed to bear reproaches,

Perhaps because I merit them too often,

Let us then part while peace is still between us.

Myr. Part!

Sar.Have not all past human beings parted,

And must not all the present one day part?

Myr. Why?

Sar.For your safety, which I will have looked to,

With a strong escort to your native land;

And such gifts, as, if you had not been all

A Queen, shall make your dowry worth a kingdom.

Myr. I pray you talk not thus.

Sar.The Queen is gone:480

You need not shame to follow. I would fall

Alone—I seek no partners but in pleasure.

Myr. And I no pleasure but in parting not.

You shall not force me from you.

Sar.Think well of it—

It soon may be too late.

Myr.So let it be;

For then you cannot separate me from you.

Sar. And will not; but I thought you wished it.


Sar. You spoke of your abasement.

Myr.And I feel it

Deeply—more deeply than all things but love.

Sar. Then fly from it.

Myr.'Twill not recall the past—490

'Twill not restore my honour, nor my heart.

No—here I stand or fall. If that you conquer,

I live to joy in your great triumph: should

Your lot be different, I'll not weep, but share it.

You did not doubt me a few hours ago.[91]

Sar. Your courage never—nor your love till now;

And none could make me doubt it save yourself.

Those words——

Myr.Were words. I pray you, let the proofs

Be in the past acts you were pleased to praise

This very night, and in my further bearing,500

Beside, wherever you are borne by fate.

Sar. I am content: and, trusting in my cause,

Think we may yet be victors and return

To peace—the only victory I covet.

To me war is no glory—conquest no

Renown. To be forced thus to uphold my right

Sits heavier on my heart than all the wrongs[aj]

These men would bow me down with. Never, never

Can I forget this night, even should I live

To add it to the memory of others.510

I thought to have made mine inoffensive rule

An era of sweet peace 'midst bloody annals,

A green spot amidst desert centuries,

On which the Future would turn back and smile,

And cultivate, or sigh when it could not

Recall Sardanapalus' golden reign.

I thought to have made my realm a paradise,

And every moon an epoch of new pleasures.

I took the rabble's shouts for love—the breath

Of friends for truth—the lips of woman for520

My only guerdon—so they are, my Myrrha: [He kisses her.

Kiss me. Now let them take my realm and life!

They shall have both, but never thee!

Myr.No, never!

Man may despoil his brother man of all

That's great or glittering—kingdoms fall, hosts yield,

Friends fail—slaves fly—and all betray—and, more

Than all, the most indebted—but a heart

That loves without self-love! 'Tis here—now prove it.


Enter Salemenes.

Sal. I sought you—How! she here again?

Sar.Return not

Now to reproof: methinks your aspect speaks530

Of higher matter than a woman's presence.

Sal. The only woman whom it much imports me

At such a moment now is safe in absence—

The Queen's embarked.

Sar.And well? say that much.


Her transient weakness has passed o'er; at least,

It settled into tearless silence: her

Pale face and glittering eye, after a glance

Upon her sleeping children, were still fixed

Upon the palace towers as the swift galley

Stole down the hurrying stream beneath the starlight;540

But she said nothing.

Sar.Would I felt no more

Than she has said!

Sal.'Tis now too late to feel.

Your feelings cannot cancel a sole pang:

To change them, my advices bring sure tidings

That the rebellious Medes and Chaldees, marshalled

By their two leaders, are already up

In arms again; and, serrying their ranks,

Prepare to attack: they have apparently

Been joined by other Satraps.

Sar.What! more rebels?

Let us be first, then.

Sal.That were hardly prudent550

Now, though it was our first intention. If

By noon to-morrow we are joined by those

I've sent for by sure messengers, we shall be

In strength enough to venture an attack,

Aye, and pursuit too; but, till then, my voice

Is to await the onset.

Sar.I detest

That waiting; though it seems so safe to fight

Behind high walls, and hurl down foes into

Deep fosses, or behold them sprawl on spikes[93]

Strewed to receive them, still I like it not—560

My soul seems lukewarm; but when I set on them,

Though they were piled on mountains, I would have

A pluck at them, or perish in hot blood!—

Let me then charge.

Sal.You talk like a young soldier.

Sar. I am no soldier, but a man: speak not

Of soldiership, I loathe the word, and those

Who pride themselves upon it; but direct me

Where I may pour upon them.

Sal.You must spare

To expose your life too hastily; 'tis not

Like mine or any other subject's breath:570

The whole war turns upon it—with it; this

Alone creates it, kindles, and may quench it—

Prolong it—end it.

Sar.Then let us end both!

'Twere better thus, perhaps, than prolong either;

I'm sick of one, perchance of both.

 [A trumpet sounds without.


Sar.Let us

Reply, not listen.

Sal.And your wound!

Sar.'Tis bound—

'Tis healed—I had forgotten it. Away!

A leech's lancet would have scratched me deeper;[ak]

The slave that gave it might be well ashamed

To have struck so weakly.

Sal.Now, may none this hour580

Strike with a better aim!

Sar.Aye, if we conquer;

But if not, they will only leave to me

A task they might have spared their king. Upon them!

 [Trumpet sounds again.

Sal. I am with you.

Sar.Ho, my arms! again, my arms!




Scene I.-The same Hall in the Palace.

Myrrha and Balea.

Myr. (at a window)[28]

The day at last has broken. What a night

Hath ushered it! How beautiful in heaven!

Though varied with a transitory storm,

More beautiful in that variety!

How hideous upon earth! where Peace and Hope,

And Love and Revel, in an hour were trampled

By human passions to a human chaos,

Not yet resolved to separate elements—

'Tis warring still! And can the sun so rise,

So bright, so rolling back the clouds into10

Vapours more lovely than the unclouded sky,

With golden pinnacles, and snowy mountains,

And billows purpler than the Ocean's, making

In heaven a glorious mockery of the earth,

So like we almost deem it permanent;

So fleeting, we can scarcely call it aught[95]

Beyond a vision, 'tis so transiently

Scattered along the eternal vault: and yet

It dwells upon the soul, and soothes the soul,

And blends itself into the soul, until20

Sunrise and sunset form the haunted epoch

Of Sorrow and of Love; which they who mark not,

Know not the realms where those twin genii[al]

(Who chasten and who purify our hearts,

So that we would not change their sweet rebukes

For all the boisterous joys that ever shook

The air with clamour) build the palaces

Where their fond votaries repose and breathe

Briefly;—but in that brief cool calm inhale

Enough of heaven to enable them to bear30

The rest of common, heavy, human hours,

And dream them through in placid sufferance,

Though seemingly employed like all the rest

Of toiling breathers in allotted tasks[am]

Of pain or pleasure, two names for one feeling,

Which our internal, restless agony

Would vary in the sound, although the sense

Escapes our highest efforts to be happy.

Bal. You muse right calmly: and can you so watch

The sunrise which may be our last?

Myr.It is40

Therefore that I so watch it, and reproach

Those eyes, which never may behold it more,

For having looked upon it oft, too oft,

Without the reverence and the rapture due

To that which keeps all earth from being as fragile

As I am in this form. Come, look upon it,

The Chaldee's God, which, when I gaze upon,

I grow almost a convert to your Baal.

Bal. As now he reigns in heaven, so once on earth

He swayed.

Myr.He sways it now far more, then; never50[96]

Had earthly monarch half the power and glory

Which centres in a single ray of his.

Bal. Surely he is a God!

Myr.So we Greeks deem too;

And yet I sometimes think that gorgeous orb

Must rather be the abode of Gods than one

Of the immortal sovereigns. Now he breaks

Through all the clouds, and fills my eyes with light

That shuts the world out. I can look no more.

Bal. Hark! heard you not a sound?

Myr.No, 'twas mere fancy;

They battle it beyond the wall, and not60

As in late midnight conflict in the very

Chambers: the palace has become a fortress

Since that insidious hour; and here, within

The very centre, girded by vast courts

And regal halls of pyramid proportions,

Which must be carried one by one before

They penetrate to where they then arrived,

We are as much shut in even from the sound

Of peril as from glory.

Bal.But they reached

Thus far before.

Myr.Yes, by surprise, and were70

Beat back by valour: now at once we have

Courage and vigilance to guard us.

Bal.May they


Myr.That is the prayer of many, and

The dread of more: it is an anxious hour;

I strive to keep it from my thoughts. Alas!

How vainly!

Bal.It is said the King's demeanour

In the late action scarcely more appalled

The rebels than astonished his true subjects.

Myr. 'Tis easy to astonish or appal

The vulgar mass which moulds a horde of slaves;80

But he did bravely.

Bal.Slew he not Beleses?

I heard the soldiers say he struck him down.

Myr. The wretch was overthrown, but rescued to[97]

Triumph, perhaps, o'er one who vanquished him

In fight, as he had spared him in his peril;

And by that heedless pity risked a crown.


Myr. You are right; some steps approach, but slowly.

Enter Soldiers, bearing in Salemenes wounded, with a broken javelin in his side: they seat him upon one of the couches which furnish the Apartment.

Myr. Oh, Jove!

Bal.Then all is over.

Sal.That is false.

Hew down the slave who says so, if a soldier.

Myr. Spare him—he's none: a mere court butterfly,90

That flutter in the pageant of a monarch.

Sal. Let him live on, then.

Myr.So wilt thou, I trust.

Sal. I fain would live this hour out, and the event,

But doubt it. Wherefore did ye bear me here?

Sol. By the King's order. When the javelin struck you,

You fell and fainted: 'twas his strict command

To bear you to this hall.

Sal.'Twas not ill done:

For seeming slain in that cold dizzy trance,

The sight might shake our soldiers—but—'tis vain,

I feel it ebbing!

Myr.Let me see the wound;100

I am not quite skilless: in my native land

'Tis part of our instruction. War being constant,

We are nerved to look on such things.[an]

Sol.Best extract

The javelin.

Myr.Hold! no, no, it cannot be.

Sal. I am sped, then!

Myr.With the blood that fast must follow

The extracted weapon, I do fear thy life.

Sal. And I not death. Where was the King when you

Conveyed me from the spot where I was stricken?[98]

Sol. Upon the same ground, and encouraging

With voice and gesture the dispirited troops110

Who had seen you fall, and faltered back.

Sal.Whom heard ye

Named next to the command?

Sol.I did not hear.

Sal. Fly, then, and tell him, 'twas my last request

That Zames take my post until the junction,

So hoped for, yet delayed, of Ofratanes,

Satrap of Susa. Leave me here: our troops

Are not so numerous as to spare your absence.

Sol. But Prince——

Sal.Hence, I say! Here's a courtier and

A woman, the best chamber company.

As you would not permit me to expire120

Upon the field, I'll have no idle soldiers

About my sick couch. Hence! and do my bidding!

 [Exeunt the Soldiers.

Myr. Gallant and glorious Spirit! must the earth

So soon resign thee?

Sal.Gentle Myrrha, 'tis

The end I would have chosen, had I saved

The monarch or the monarchy by this;

As 'tis, I have not outlived them.

Myr.You wax paler.

Sal. Your hand; this broken weapon but prolongs

My pangs, without sustaining life enough

To make me useful: I would draw it forth130

And my life with it, could I but hear how

The fight goes.

Enter Sardanapalus and Soldiers.

Sar.My best brother!

Sal.And the battle

Is lost?

Sar. (despondingly). You see me here.

Sal.I'd rather see you thus!

 [He draws out the weapon from the wound, and dies.

Sar. And thus I will be seen; unless the succour,

The last frail reed of our beleagured hopes,[99]

Arrive with Ofratanes.

Myr.Did you not

Receive a token from your dying brother,

Appointing Zames chief?

Sar.I did.

Myr.Where's Zames?

Sar. Dead.

Myr.And Altada?


Myr.Pania? Sfero?

Sar. Pania yet lives; but Sfero's fled or captive.140

I am alone.

Myr.And is all lost?

Sar.Our walls,

Though thinly manned, may still hold out against

Their present force, or aught save treachery:

But i' the field——

Myr.I thought 'twas the intent

Of Salemenes not to risk a sally

Till ye were strengthened by the expected succours.

Sar. I over-ruled him.

Myr.Well, the fault's a brave one.

Sar. But fatal. Oh, my brother! I would give

These realms, of which thou wert the ornament,

The sword and shield, the sole-redeeming honour,150

To call back——But I will not weep for thee;

Thou shall be mourned for as thou wouldst be mourned.

It grieves me most that thou couldst quit this life

Believing that I could survive what thou

Hast died for—our long royalty of race.

If I redeem it, I will give thee blood

Of thousands, tears of millions, for atonement,

(The tears of all the good are thine already).

If not, we meet again soon,—if the spirit

Within us lives beyond:—thou readest mine,160

And dost me justice now. Let me once clasp

That yet warm hand, and fold that throbless heart

 [Embraces the body.

To this which beats so bitterly. Now, bear

The body hence.


Sar.To my proper chamber.

Place it beneath my canopy, as though

The King lay there: when this is done, we will

Speak further of the rites due to such ashes.

 [Exeunt Soldiers with the body of Salemenes.

Enter Pania.

Sar. Well, Pania! have you placed the guards, and issued

The orders fixed on?

Pan.Sire, I have obeyed.

Sar. And do the soldiers keep their hearts up?


Sar. I am answered! When a king asks twice, and has

A question as an answer to his question,

It is a portent. What! they are disheartened?

Pan. The death of Salemenes, and the shouts

Of the exulting rebels on his fall,

Have made them——

Sar.Rage—not droop—it should have been.

We'll find the means to rouse them.

Pan.Such a loss

Might sadden even a victory.


Who can so feel it as I feel? but yet,

Though cooped within these walls, they are strong, and we180

Have those without will break their way through hosts,

To make their sovereign's dwelling what it was—

A palace, not a prison—nor a fortress.

Enter an Officer, hastily.

Sar. Thy face seems ominous. Speak!

Offi.I dare not.

Sar.Dare not?

While millions dare revolt with sword in hand!

That's strange. I pray thee break that loyal silence

Which loathes to shock its sovereign; we can hear

Worse than thou hast to tell.

Pan.Proceed—thou hearest.[101]

Offi. The wall which skirted near the river's brink

Is thrown down by the sudden inundation190

Of the Euphrates, which now rolling, swoln

From the enormous mountains where it rises,

By the late rains of that tempestuous region,

O'erfloods its banks, and hath destroyed the bulwark.

Pan. That's a black augury! it has been said

For ages, "That the City ne'er should yield

To man, until the River grew its foe."

Sar. I can forgive the omen, not the ravage.

How much is swept down of the wall?


Some twenty stadia.[29]

Sar.And all this is left200

Pervious to the assailants?

Offi.For the present

The River's fury must impede the assault;

But when he shrinks into his wonted channel,

And may be crossed by the accustomed barks,

The palace is their own.

Sar.That shall be never.

Though men, and gods, and elements, and omens,

Have risen up 'gainst one who ne'er provoked them,

My father's house shall never be a cave

For wolves to horde and howl in.

Pan.With your sanction,

I will proceed to the spot, and take such measures210

For the assurance of the vacant space

As time and means permit.

Sar.About it straight,

And bring me back, as speedily as full

And fair investigation may permit,

Report of the true state of this irruption

Of waters. [Exeunt Pania and the Officer.

Myr.Thus the very waves rise up

Against you.

Sar.They are not my subjects, girl,

And may be pardoned, since they can't be punished.

Myr. I joy to see this portent shakes you not.

Sar. I am past the fear of portents: they can tell me220[102]

Nothing I have not told myself since midnight:

Despair anticipates such things.


Sar. No; not despair precisely. When we know

All that can come, and how to meet it, our

Resolves, if firm, may merit a more noble

Word than this is to give it utterance.

But what are words to us? we have well nigh done

With them and all things.

Myr.Save one deed—the last

And greatest to all mortals; crowning act

Of all that was, or is, or is to be—230

The only thing common to all mankind,

So different in their births, tongues, sexes, natures,

Hues, features, climes, times, feelings, intellects,[ao]

Without one point of union save in this—

To which we tend, for which we're born, and thread

The labyrinth of mystery, called life.

Sar. Our clue being well nigh wound out, let's be cheerful.

They who have nothing more to fear may well

Indulge a smile at that which once appalled;

As children at discovered bugbears.

Re-enter Pania.


As was reported: I have ordered there

A double guard, withdrawing from the wall,

Where it was strongest, the required addition

To watch the breach occasioned by the waters.

Sar. You have done your duty faithfully, and as

My worthy Pania! further ties between us

Draw near a close—I pray you take this key:

 [Gives a key.

It opens to a secret chamber, placed

Behind the couch in my own chamber—(Now

Pressed by a nobler weight than e'er it bore—250

Though a long line of sovereigns have lain down

Along its golden frame—as bearing for[103]

A time what late was Salemenes.)—Search

The secret covert to which this will lead you;

'Tis full of treasure;[30] take it for yourself

And your companions:[ap] there's enough to load ye,

Though ye be many. Let the slaves be freed, too;

And all the inmates of the palace, of

Whatever sex, now quit it in an hour.

Thence launch the regal barks, once formed for pleasure,260

And now to serve for safety, and embark.

The river's broad and swoln, and uncommanded,

(More potent than a king) by these besiegers.

Fly! and be happy!

Pan.Under your protection!

So you accompany your faithful guard.

Sar. No, Pania! that must not be; get thee hence,

And leave me to my fate.

Pan.'Tis the first time

I ever disobeyed: but now——

Sar.So all men

Dare beard me now, and Insolence within

Apes Treason from without. Question no further;270

'Tis my command, my last command. Wilt thou

Oppose it? thou!

Pan.But yet—not yet.

Sar.Well, then,

Swear that you will obey when I shall give

The signal.

Pan.With a heavy but true heart,

I promise.

Sar.'Tis enough. Now order here

Faggots, pine-nuts, and withered leaves, and such

Things as catch fire and blaze with one sole spark;

Bring cedar, too, and precious drugs, and spices,

And mighty planks, to nourish a tall pile;

Bring frankincense and myrrh, too, for it is280

For a great sacrifice I build the pyre![104]

And heap them round yon throne.

Pan.My Lord!

Sar.I have said it,

And you have sworn.

Pan.And could keep my faith

Without a vow. [Exit Pania.

Myr.What mean you?

Sar.You shall know

Anon—what the whole earth shall ne'er forget.

Pania, returning with a Herald.

Pan. My King, in going forth upon my duty,

This herald has been brought before me, craving

An audience.

Sar.Let him speak.

Her.The King Arbaces——

Sar. What, crowned already?—But, proceed.


The anointed High-priest——

Sar.Of what god or demon?290

With new kings rise new altars. But, proceed;

You are sent to prate your master's will, and not

Reply to mine.

Her.And Satrap Ofratanes——

Sar. Why, he is ours.

Her. (showing a ring). Be sure that he is now

In the camp of the conquerors; behold

His signet ring.

Sar.'Tis his. A worthy triad!

Poor Salemenes! thou hast died in time

To see one treachery the less: this man

Was thy true friend and my most trusted subject.


Her.They offer thee thy life, and freedom300

Of choice to single out a residence

In any of the further provinces,

Guarded and watched, but not confined in person,

Where thou shalt pass thy days in peace; but on

Condition that the three young princes are

Given up as hostages.[105]

Sar. (ironically).The generous Victors!

Her. I wait the answer.

Sar.Answer, slave! How long

Have slaves decided on the doom of kings?

Her. Since they were free.

Sar.Mouthpiece of mutiny!

Thou at the least shalt learn the penalty310

Of treason, though its proxy only. Pania!

Let his head be thrown from our walls within

The rebels' lines, his carcass down the river.

Away with him! [Pania and the Guards seizing him.

Pan.I never yet obeyed

Your orders with more pleasure than the present.

Hence with him, soldiers! do not soil this hall

Of royalty with treasonable gore;

Put him to rest without.

Her.A single word:

My office, King, is sacred.

Sar.And what's mine?

That thou shouldst come and dare to ask of me320

To lay it down?

Her.I but obeyed my orders,

At the same peril if refused, as now

Incurred by my obedience.

Sar.So there are

New monarchs of an hour's growth as despotic

As sovereigns swathed in purple, and enthroned

From birth to manhood!

Her.My life waits your breath.

Yours (I speak humbly)—but it may be—yours

May also be in danger scarce less imminent:

Would it then suit the last hours of a line

Such as is that of Nimrod, to destroy330

A peaceful herald, unarmed, in his office;

And violate not only all that man

Holds sacred between man and man—but that

More holy tie which links us with the Gods?

Sar. He's right.—Let him go free.—My life's last act

Shall not be one of wrath. Here, fellow, take

 [Gives him a golden cup from a table near.

This golden goblet, let it hold your wine,[106]

And think of me; or melt it into ingots,

And think of nothing but their weight and value.

Her. I thank you doubly for my life, and this340

Most gorgeous gift, which renders it more precious.

But must I bear no answer?

Sar.Yes,—I ask

An hour's truce to consider.

Her.But an hour's?

Sar. An hour's: if at the expiration of

That time your masters hear no further from me,

They are to deem that I reject their terms,

And act befittingly.

Her.I shall not fail

To be a faithful legate of your pleasure.

Sar. And hark! a word more.

Her.I shall not forget it,

Whate'er it be.

Sar.Commend me to Beleses;350

And tell him, ere a year expire, I summon

Him hence to meet me.


Sar.At Babylon.

At least from thence he will depart to meet me.

Her. I shall obey you to the letter. [Exit Herald.


Now, my good Pania!—quick—with what I ordered.

Pan. My Lord,—the soldiers are already charged.

And see! they enter.

Soldiers enter, and form a Pile about the Throne, etc.[31]

Sar.Higher, my good soldiers,

And thicker yet; and see that the foundation[107]

Be such as will not speedily exhaust

Its own too subtle flame; nor yet be quenched360

With aught officious aid would bring to quell it.

Let the throne form the core of it; I would not

Leave that, save fraught with fire unquenchable,

To the new comers. Frame the whole as if

'Twere to enkindle the strong tower of our

Inveterate enemies. Now it bears an aspect!

How say you, Pania, will this pile suffice

For a King's obsequies?

Pan.Aye, for a kingdom's.

I understand you, now.

Sar.And blame me?


Let me but fire the pile, and share it with you.370

Myr. That duty's mine.

Pan.A woman's!

Myr.'Tis the soldier's

Part to die for his sovereign, and why not

The woman's with her lover?

Pan.'Tis most strange!

Myr. But not so rare, my Pania, as thou think'st it.

In the mean time, live thou.—Farewell! the pile

Is ready.[108]

Pan.I should shame to leave my sovereign

With but a single female to partake

His death.

Sar.Too many far have heralded

Me to the dust already. Get thee hence;

Enrich thee.

Pan.And live wretched!

Sar.Think upon380

Thy vow:—'tis sacred and irrevocable.

Pan. Since it is so, farewell.

Sar.Search well my chamber,

Feel no remorse at bearing off the gold;

Remember, what you leave you leave the slaves

Who slew me: and when you have borne away

All safe off to your boats, blow one long blast

Upon the trumpet as you quit the palace.

The river's brink is too remote, its stream

Too loud at present to permit the echo

To reach distinctly from its banks. Then fly,—390

And as you sail, turn back; but still keep on

Your way along the Euphrates: if you reach

The land of Paphlagonia, where the Queen

Is safe with my three sons in Cotta's court,

Say what you saw at parting, and request

That she remember what I said at one

Parting more mournful still.

Pan.That royal hand!

Let me then once more press it to my lips;

And these poor soldiers who throng round you, and

Would fain die with you!

The Soldiers and Pania throng round him, kissing his hand and the hem of his robe.

Sar.My best! my last friends!400

Let's not unman each other: part at once:

All farewells should be sudden, when for ever,

Else they make an eternity of moments,

And clog the last sad sands of life with tears.

Hence, and be happy: trust me, I am not

Now to be pitied; or far more for what

Is past than present;—for the future, 'tis

In the hands of the deities, if such[109]

There be: I shall know soon. Farewell—Farewell.

 [Exeunt Pania and Soldiers.

Myr. These men were honest: it is comfort still410

That our last looks should be on loving faces.

Sar. And lovely ones, my beautiful!—but hear me!

If at this moment,—for we now are on

The brink,—thou feel'st an inward shrinking from

This leap through flame into the future, say it:

I shall not love thee less; nay, perhaps more,

For yielding to thy nature: and there's time

Yet for thee to escape hence.

Myr.Shall I light

One of the torches which lie heaped beneath

The ever-burning lamp that burns without,420

Before Baal's shrine, in the adjoining hall?

Sar. Do so. Is that thy answer?

Myr.Thou shalt see.

 [Exit Myrrha.

Sar. (solus). She's firm. My fathers! whom I will rejoin,

It may be, purified by death from some

Of the gross stains of too material being,

I would not leave your ancient first abode

To the defilement of usurping bondmen;

If I have not kept your inheritance

As ye bequeathed it, this bright part of it,

Your treasure—your abode—your sacred relics430

Of arms, and records—monuments, and spoils,

In which they would have revelled, I bear with me

To you in that absorbing element,

Which most personifies the soul as leaving

The least of matter unconsumed before

Its fiery workings:—and the light of this

Most royal of funereal pyres shall be[aq]

Not a mere pillar formed of cloud and flame,

A beacon in the horizon for a day,

And then a mount of ashes—but a light[ar]440

To lesson ages, rebel nations, and

Voluptuous princes. Time shall quench full many[110]

A people's records, and a hero's acts;

Sweep empire after empire, like this first

Of empires, into nothing; but even then

Shall spare this deed of mine, and hold it up

A problem few dare imitate, and none

Despise—but, it may be, avoid the life

Which led to such a consummation.

Myrrha returns with a lighted Torch in one Hand, and a Cup in the other.


I've lit the lamp which lights us to the stars.450

Sar. And the cup?

Myr.'Tis my country's custom to

Make a libation to the Gods.

Sar.And mine

To make libations amongst men. I've not

Forgot the custom; and although alone,

Will drain one draught in memory of many

A joyous banquet past.

Sardanapalus takes the cup, and after drinking and tinkling the reversed cup, as a drop falls, exclaims

And this libation

Is for the excellent Beleses.


Dwells thy mind rather upon that man's name

Than on his mate's in villany?

Sar.The other

Is a mere soldier, a mere tool, a kind460

Of human sword in a friend's hand; the other

Is master-mover of his warlike puppet;

But I dismiss them from my mind.—Yet pause,

My Myrrha! dost thou truly follow me,

Freely and fearlessly?

Myr.And dost thou think

A Greek girl dare not do for love, that which

An Indian widow braves for custom?[as][111]


We but await the signal.

Myr.It is long

In sounding.

Sar.Now, farewell; one last embrace.

Myr. Embrace, but not the last; there is one more.470

Sar. True, the commingling fire will mix our ashes.

Myr. And pure as is my love to thee, shall they,

Purged from the dross of earth, and earthly passion,

Mix pale with thine. A single thought yet irks me.

Sar. Say it.

Myr.It is that no kind hand will gather

The dust of both into one urn.

Sar.The better:

Rather let them be borne abroad upon

The winds of heaven, and scattered into air,

Than be polluted more by human hands

Of slaves and traitors. In this blazing palace,480

And its enormous walls of reeking ruin,

We leave a nobler monument than Egypt

Hath piled in her brick mountains, o'er dead kings,[32]

Or kine—for none know whether those proud piles

Be for their monarch, or their ox-god Apis:

So much for monuments that have forgotten

Their very record!

Myr.Then farewell, thou earth!

And loveliest spot of earth! farewell, Ionia!

Be thou still free and beautiful, and far

Aloof from desolation! My last prayer490

Was for thee, my last thoughts, save one, were of thee!

Sar. And that?

Myr.Is yours.

[The trumpet of Pania sounds without.[112]



Sar.Adieu, Assyria!

I loved thee well, my own, my fathers' land,

And better as my country than my kingdom.

I sated thee with peace and joys; and this

Is my reward! and now I owe thee nothing,

Not even a grave. [He mounts the pile.

Now, Myrrha!

Myr.Art thou ready?

Sar. As the torch in thy grasp.

 [Myrrha fires the pile.

Myr.'Tis fired! I come.

As Myrrha springs forward to throw herself into the flames, the Curtain falls.[33]


[1] {4}[For a description of the fall of Nineveh, see Nahum ii. 1, sqq.—"He that dasheth in pieces is come up before thy face.... The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet.... The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings. He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared. The gates of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dissolved," etc.]

[2] {7}["A manuscript dedication of Sardanapalus ... was forwarded to him, with an obliging inquiry whether it might be prefixed to the tragedy. The German, who, at his advanced age, was conscious of his own powers, and of their effects, could only gratefully and modestly consider this Dedication as the expression of an inexhaustible intellect, deeply feeling and creating its own object. He was by no means dissatisfied when, after long delay, Sardanapalus appeared without the Dedication; and was made happy by the possession of a facsimile of it, engraved on stone, which he considered a precious memorial."—Lebensverhältnik zu Byron, Werke, 1833, xlvi. 221-225. (See, too, for translation, Life, p. 593.)]

[3] {9}[Sardanapalus originally appeared in the same volume with The Two Foscari and Cain. The date of publication was December 19, 1821.]

[4] {10}["Sardanapalus, the Thirtieth from Ninus, and the last King of the Assyrians, exceeded all his Predecessors in Sloth and Luxury; for besides that he was seen of none out of his family, he led a most effeminate life: for wallowing in Pleasure and wanton Dalliances, he cloathed himself in Womens' attire, and spun fine Wool and Purple amongst the throngs of his Whores and Concubines. He painted likewise his Face, and decked his whole Body with other Allurements.... He imitated likewise a Woman's voice...; and proceeded to such a degree of voluptuousness that he composed verses for his Epitaph ... which were thus translated by a Grecian out of the Barbarian language—

Ταῦτ' ἔχω ὅσ' ἔφαγον καὶ ἐφύβρισα, καὶ μετ' ἔρωτος

Τέρπν' ἔπαθον' τὰ δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ὄλβια κεῖνα λέλειπται.

"What once I gorged I now enjoy,

And wanton Lusts me still employ;

All other things by Mortals prized

Are left as dirt by me despised."

The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian, made English by G. Booth, of the City of Chester, Esquire, 1700, p. 65.

"Another king of the sort was Sardanapalus.... And so, when Arbaces, who was one of the generals under him, a Mede by birth, endeavoured to manage by the assistance of one of the eunuchs, whose name was Sparamizus, to see Sardanapalus: and when ... he saw him painted with vermilion, and adorned like a woman, sitting among his concubines, carding purple wool, and sitting among them with his feet up, wearing a woman's robe, and with his beard carefully scraped, and his face smoothed with pumice stone (for he was whiter than milk, and pencilled under his eyes and eyebrows; and when he saw Arbaces he was putting a little more white under his eyes). Most historians, of whom Duris is one, relate that Arbaces, being indignant at his countrymen being ruled over by such a monarch as that, stabbed him and slew him. But Ctesias says that he went to war with him, and collected a great army, and then that Sardanapalus, being dethroned by Arbaces, died, burning himself alive in his palace, having heaped up a funeral pile four plethra in extent, on which he placed 150 golden couches."—The Deipnosophistæ ... of Athenæus, bk. xii. c. 38, translated by C. D. Yonge, 1854, iii. 847.]

[5] {13}[This prince surpassed all his predecessors in effeminacy, luxury, and cowardice. He never went out of his palace, but spent all his time among a company of women, dressed and painted like them, and employed like them at the distaff. He placed all his happiness and glory in the possession of immense treasures, in feasting and rioting, and indulging himself in all the most infamous and criminal pleasures. He ordered two verses to be put upon his tomb, signifying that he carried away with him all he had eaten, and all the pleasures he had enjoyed, but left everything else behind him,—an epitaph, says Aristotle, fit for a hog. Arbaces, governor of Media, having found means to get into the palace, and having with his own eyes seen Sardanapalus in the midst of his infamous seraglio, enraged at such a spectacle, and not able to endure that so many brave men should be subjected to a prince more soft and effeminate than the women themselves, immediately formed a conspiracy against him. Beleses, governor of Babylon, and several others, entered into it. On the first rumour of this revolt the king hid himself in the inmost part of his palace. Being afterwards obliged to take the field with some forces which he had assembled, he at first gained three successive victories over the enemy, but was afterwards overcome, and pursued to the gates of Nineveh; wherein he shut himself, in hopes the rebels would never be able to take a city so well fortified, and stored with provisions for a considerable time. The siege proved indeed of very great length. It had been declared by an ancient oracle that Nineveh could never be taken unless the river became an enemy to the city. These words buoyed up Sardanapalus, because he looked upon the thing as impossible. But when he saw that the Tigris, by a violent inundation, had thrown down twenty stadia (two miles and a half) of the city wall, and by that means opened a passage to the enemy, he understood the meaning of the oracle, and thought himself lost. He resolved, however, to die in such a manner as, according to his opinion, should cover the infamy of his scandalous and effeminate life. He ordered a pile of wood to be made in his palace, and, setting fire to it, burnt himself, his eunuchs, his women, and his treasures.—Diod. Sic., Bibl. Hist., lib. ii. pag. 78, sqq., ed. 1604, p. 109.]

[a] {14} He sweats in dreary, dulled effeminacy.—[MS. M. erased.]

[b] {15} And see the gewgaws of the glittering girls.—[MS. M. erased.]

[6] ["The words Queen (vide infra, line 83) and pavilion occur, but it is not an allusion to his Britannic Majesty, as you may tremulously (for the admiralty custom) imagine. This you will one day see (if I finish it), as I have made Sardanapalus brave (though voluptuous, as history represents him), and also as amiable as my poor powers could render him. So that it could neither be truth nor satire on any living monarch."—Letter to Murray, May 25, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 299.

Byron pretended, or, perhaps, really thought, that such a phrase as the "Queen's wrongs" would be supposed to contain an allusion to the trial of Queen Caroline (August-November, 1820), and to the exclusion of her name from the State prayers, etc. Unquestionably if the play had been put on the stage at this time, the pit and gallery would have applauded the sentiment to the echo. There was, too, but one "pavilion" in 1821, and that was not on the banks of the Euphrates, but at Brighton. Qui s'excuse s'accuse. Byron was not above "paltering" with his readers "in a double sense."]

[7] {16} "The Ionian name had been still more comprehensive; having included the Achaians and the Bœotians, who, together with those to whom it was afterwards confined, would make nearly the whole of the Greek nation; and among the Orientals it was always the general name for the Greeks."—Mitford's Greece, 1818. i. 199.

[c] {17} To Byblis——.—[MS. M.]

[d] I know each glance of those deep Greek-souled eyes.—[MS. M. erased.]

[e] {19}

——I have a mind

To curse the restless slaves with their own wishes.—[MS. M. erased.]

[8] {21}[For the occupation of India by Dionysus, see Diod. Siculi Bib. Hist., lib. ii, pag. 87, c.]

[f] He did, and thence was deemed a God in story.—[MS. M. erased.]

[9] [Strabo (Rerum Geog., lib. iii. 1807, p. 235) throws some doubt on the existence of these columns, which he suggests were islands or "pillar" rocks. According to Plutarch (Langhorne's Translation, 1838, p. 490), Alexander built great altars on the banks of the Ganges, on which the native kings were wont to "offer sacrifices in the Grecian manner." Hence, perhaps, the legend of the columns erected by Dionysus.]

[10] "For this expedition he took only a small chosen body of the phalanx, but all his light troops. In the first day's march he reached Anchialus, a town said to have been founded by the king of Assyria, Sardanapalus. The fortifications, in their magnitude and extent, still in Arrian's time, bore the character of greatness, which the Assyrians appear singularly to have affected in works of the kind. A monument representing Sardanapalus was found there, warranted by an inscription in Assyrian characters, of course in the old Assyrian language, which the Greeks, whether well or ill, interpreted thus: 'Sardanapalus, son of Anacyndaraxes, in one day founded Anchialus and Tarsus. Eat, drink, play; all other human joys are not worth a fillip.' Supposing this version nearly exact (for Arrian says it was not quite so), whether the purpose has not been to invite to civil order a people disposed to turbulence, rather than to recommend immoderate luxury, may perhaps reasonably be questioned. What, indeed, could be the object of a king of Assyria in founding such towns in a country so distant from his capital, and so divided from it by an immense extent of sandy deserts and lofty mountains, and, still more, how the inhabitants could be at once in circumstances to abandon themselves to the intemperate joys which their prince has been supposed to have recommended, is not obvious. But it may deserve observation that, in that line of coast, the southern of Lesser Asia, ruins of cities, evidently of an age after Alexander, yet barely named in history, at this day astonish the adventurous traveller by their magnificence and elegance amid the desolation which, under a singularly barbarian government, has for so many centuries been daily spreading in the finest countries of the globe. Whether more from soil and climate, or from opportunities for commerce, extraordinary means must have been found for communities to flourish there; whence it may seem that the measures of Sardanapalus were directed by juster views than have been commonly ascribed to him. But that monarch having been the last of a dynasty ended by a revolution, obloquy on his memory would follow of course from the policy of his successors and their partisans. The inconsistency of traditions concerning Sardanapalus is striking in Diodorus's account of him."—Mitford's Greece, 1820, ix. 311-313, and note 1.

[The story of the sepulchral monument with its cynical inscription rests on the authority of Aristobulus, who served under Alexander, and wrote his history. The passage is quoted by Strabo (lib. xiv. ed. 1808, p. 958), and as follows by Athenæus (lib. xii. cap. 40) in the Deipnosophistæ: "And Aristobulus says, 'In Anchiale, which was built by Sardanapalus, did Alexander, when he was on his expedition against the Persians, pitch his camp. And at no great distance was the monument of Sardanapalus, on which there is a marble figure putting together the fingers of its right hand, as if it were giving a fillip. And there was on it the following inscription in Assyrian characters:—


The king, and son of Anacyndaraxes,

In one day built Anchiale and Tarsus:

Eat, drink, and love, the rest's not worth e'en this.'

By 'this' meaning the fillip he was giving with his fingers."

"We may conjecture," says Canon Rawlinson, "that the monument was in reality a stele containing the king [Sennacherib] in an arched frame, with the right hand raised above the left, which is the ordinary attitude, and an inscription commemorating the occasion of its erection" [the conquest of Cilicia and settlement of Tarsus].—The Five Great Monarchies, etc., 1871, ii. 216.]

[11] {25}[Compare "Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us; and we fat ourselves for maggots."—Hamlet. act iv. sc. 3, lines 21-23.]

[12] {27}[Compare—"The fickle reek of popular breath." Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza clxxi. line 2.]

[13] Compare—"I have not flattered its rank breath." Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza cxiii. line 2.

Compare, too, Shakespeare, Coriolanus, act iii. sc. i, lines 66, 67.

[14] {28}["Rode. Winter's wind somewhat more unkind than ingratitude itself, though Shakespeare says otherwise. At least, I am so much more accustomed to meet with ingratitude than the north wind, that I thought the latter the sharper of the two. I had met with both in the course of the twenty-four hours, so could judge."—Extracts from a Diary, January 19, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 177.]

[g] {31}

——and even dared

Profane our presence with his savage jeers.—[MS. M.]

[h] {34} Who loved no gems so well as those of nature.—[MS. M.]

[i] Wishing eternity to dust——.—[MS. M.]

[j] {38}

Each twinkle unto which Time trembles, and

Nations grow nothing——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[15] {40}[Compare "these swoln silkworms," Marino Faliero, act ii. sc. 2. line 115, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 386, note 4.]

[k] {43} But found the Monarch claimed his privacy.—[MS. M. erased.]


——not else

It quits this living hand.—[MS. M. erased.]

[m]{47} I know them beautiful, and see them brilliant.—[MS. M. erased.]

[n] {49} ——by the foolish confidence.—[MS. M. erased.]

[16] [The first edition reads "grantor." In the MS. the word may be either "granter" or "grantor." "Grantor" is a technical term, in law, for one "who grants a conveyance."]

[17] {50}[According to Ælian, Var. Hist., vii. i, Semiramis, having obtained from her husband permission to rule over Asia for five days, thrust him into a dungeon, and obtained the sovereign power for herself (ed. Paris, 1858, p. 355).]

[o] {52} Aye—that's earnest!—[MS. M. erased.]

[p] {54} Nay, if thou wilt not——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[q] {56}

Nor silent Baal, our imaged deity,

Although his marble face looks frowningly,

As the dusk shadows of the evening cast

His trow in coming dimness and at times.—[MS. M. erased.]


In distant flashes { a wide-spread the approaching } tempest

[s] As from the Gods to augur.—[MS. M. erased.]

[t] {58} The weaker merit of our Asian women.—[MS. M. erased.]

[u] Rather than prove that love to you in griefs.—[MS. M. erased.]

[v] {60} Worshippers in the air.—[MS. M. erased.]

[18] {61}[Perhaps Grillparzer's Sappho was responsible for the anachronism. See "Extracts from a Diary," January 12, 1821, Letters, 1901, V. 171, note 1.]

[19] {63}["In the third act, when Sardanapalus calls for a mirror to look at himself in his armour, recollect to quote the Latin passage from Juvenal upon Otho (a similar character, who did the same thing: Gifford will help you to it). The trait is, perhaps, too familiar, but it is historical (of Otho, at least), and natural in an effeminate character."—Letter to Murray, May 30, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 301. The quotation was not made in the first edition, 1821, nor in any subsequent issue, till 1832. It is from Juvenal, Sat. ii. lines 199-203—

"Ille tenet speculum, pathici gestamen Othonis,

Actoris Aurunci spolium, quo se ille videbat

Armatum, cum jam tolli vexilla juberet.

Res memoranda novis annalibus, atque recenti

Historia, speculum civilis sarcina belli."

"This grasps a mirror—pathic Otho's boast

(Auruncan Actor's spoil), where, while his host,

With shouts, the signal of the fight required,

He viewed his mailed form; viewed, and admired!

Lo, a new subject for the historic page,

A mirror, midst the arms of civil rage!"


[w] {66} ——and his own helmet.—[MS. M. erased.]

[x] {68} We'll die where we were raised——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[y] {70} Tortured because his mind is tortured.—[MS. M. erased.]

[z] {71} He ever such an order——.—[MS. M. erased.]
He ever had that order——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[20] {72}["When 'the king was almost dying with thirst' ... the eunuch Satibarzanes sought every place for water.... After much search he found one of those poor Caunians had about two quarts of bad water in a mean bottle, and he took it and carried it to the king. After the king had drawn it all up, the eunuch asked him, 'If he did not find it a disagreeable beverage?' Upon which he swore by all the gods, 'That he had never drunk the most delicious wine, nor the lightest and clearest water with so much pleasure. I wish only,' continued he, 'that I could find the man who gave it thee, that I might make him a recompense. In the mean time I entreat the gods to make him happy and rich.'"—Plutarch's Artaxerxes, Langhorne's translation, 1838, p. 694. Poetry as well as history repeats itself. Compare the "water green" which Gunga Din brought, at the risk of his own life, to fill the wounded soldier's helmet (Barrack-Room Ballads, by Rudyard Kipling, 1892, p. 25). Compare, too—

"Arn.'Tis a scratch....

In the shoulder, not the sword arm—

And that's enough. I am thirsty: would I had

A helm of water!"

The Deformed Transformed, part ii sc. ii. 44, seq., vide post, p. 518.]


——ere they had time

To place his helm again.—[MS. M. erased.]

[ab] O ye Gods! wounded.—[MS. M.]

[21] {73}[Compare—"His flashing eyes, his floating hair." Kubla Khan, line 49.]

[22] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanzas lv., lvi., Poetical Works, 1898, i. 57, 58, and note II, pp. 91, 92.]

[23] {75}[Compare—

"How wonderful is Death,

Death and his brother Sleep!"

Shelley's Queen Mab, i. lines 1, 2]

[ac] Crisps the unswelling wave.—[MS. M. erased]

[ad] {76}

Old Hunter of mankind when baited and ye

All brutal who pursued both brutes and men.—[MS. M. erased.]

[ae] {78} With arrows peeping through his falling hair.—[MS. M. erased.]

[24] [In the diary for November 23, 1813 (Letters, 1898, ii. 334, 335), Byron alludes to a dream which "chilled his blood" and shook his nerves. Compare Coleridge's Pains of Sleep, lines 23-26—

"Desire with loathing strangely mixed,

On wild or hateful objects fixed.

Fantastic passions! maddening brawl!

And shame and terror over all!"]

[25] {79}[For the story of Semiramis and Ninya, see Justinus Hist., lib. i. cap. ii.]

[26] {81}[See Diod. Siculi Bibl. Hist., lib. ii. 80 c. Cotta was not a kinsman, but a loyal tributary.]

[af] {82} The MS. inserts—(But I speak only of such as are virtuous.)

[27] [Byron must often have pictured to himself an unexpected meeting with his wife. In certain moods he would write letters to her which were never sent, or never reached her hands. The scene between Sardanapalus and Zarina reflects the sentiments contained in one such letter, dated November 17, 1821, which Moore printed in his Life, pp. 581, 582. See Letters, 1901, v. 479.]

[ag] {84} Bravely and won wear wisely—not as I.—[MS. M, erased.]

[ah] {88}

Which thou hast lighted up at once? but leavest

One to grieve o'er the other's change—Zarina.-[MS. M, erased.]

[ai] {89} ——natural.—[MS. M. The first edition reads "mutual."]

[aj] {91} Is heavier sorrow than the wrong which—[MS. M. erased.]

[ak] {93} A leech's lancet would have done as much.—[MS. M. erased.]

[28] {94}[Myrrha's apostrophe to the sunrise may be compared with the famous waking vision of the "Solitary" in the Second Book of the Excursion (Works of Wordsworth, 1889, p. 439)—

"The appearance, instantaneously disclosed,

Was of a mighty city—boldly say

A wilderness of building, sinking far

And self-withdrawn into a boundless depth,

Far sinking into splendour—without end!

Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,

With alabaster domes, and silver spires,

And blazing terrace upon terrace, high


But the difference, even in form, between the two passages is more remarkable than the resemblance, and the interpretation, the moral of Byron's vision is distinct from, if not alien to, Wordsworth's. The "Solitary" sees all heaven opened; the revealed abode of spirits in beatitude—a refuge and a redemption from "this low world of care;" while Myrrha drinks in "enough of heaven," a medicament of "Sorrow and of Love," for the invigoration of "the common, heavy, human hours" of mortal existence. For a charge of "imitation," see Works of Lord Byron, 1832, xiii. 172, note I. See, too, Poetical Works, etc., 1891, p. 271, note 2.]

[al] {95}

Sunrise and sunset form the epoch of

Sorrow and love; and they who mark them not

{ Are fit for neither of those

Can ne'er hold converse with these two.—[MS. M. erased.]

[am] Of labouring wretches in alloted tasks.—[MS. M. erased.]

[an] {97} We are used to such inflictions.—[MS. M. erased.]

[29] {101} About two miles and a half.

[ao] {102} Complexions, climes, æras, and intellects.—[MS. M. erased.]

[30] {103}[Athenæus represents the treasures which Sardanapalus placed in the chamber erected on his funeral pile as amounting to a thousand myriads of talents of gold, and ten times as many talents of silver.]


Ye will find the crevice

To which the key fits, with a little care.—[MS. M. erased.]

[31] {106}["Then the king caused a huge pile of wood to be made in the palace court, and heaped together upon it all his gold, silver, and royal apparel, and enclosing his eunuchs and concubines in an apartment within the pile, caused it to be set on fire, and burned himself and them together."—Diod. Siculi Bibl. Hist., lib. ii. cap. 81A.

"And he also erected on the funeral pile a chamber 100 feet long, made of wood, and in it he had couches spread, and there he himself lay down with his wife, and his concubines lay on other couches around.... And he made the roof of the apartment of large stout beams, and there all the walls of it he made of numerous thick planks, so that it was impossible to escape out of it,... And ... he bade the slaves set fire to the pile; and it was fifteen days burning. And those who saw the smoke wondered, and thought that he was celebrating a great sacrifice, but the eunuchs alone knew what was really being done. And in this way Sardanapalus, who had spent his life in extraordinary luxury, died with as much magnanimity as possible."—Athenæus, Deipnosophistæ, bk. xii. cap. 38.

See Abydenus apud Eusebium, Præp. Ev. 9. 41. 4; Euseb., Chron., 1878, p. 42, ed. A. Schoene.

Saracus was the last king of Assyria, and being invaded by Cyaxares and a faithless general Nabopolassar ... "unable to resist them, took counsel of despair, and after all means of resistance were exhausted, burned himself in his palace."

"The self-immolation of Saracus has a parallel in the conduct of the Israelitish king Zimri, who, 'when he saw that the city was taken, went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him, and died' (1 Kings xvi. 18); and again in that of the Persian governor Boges, who burnt himself with his wives and children at Eion (Herod., vii. 107)."—The Five Great Monarchies, etc., by Rev. G. Rawlinson, 1871, ii. 232, note 4.]

[aq] {109} Funeréal——.—[MS. M.]

[ar] And strew the earth with, ashes——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[as] {110}

——And what is there

An Indian widow dares for custom which

A Greek girl——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[32] {111}[Bishop Heber (Quarterly Review, July, 1821, vol. xxvii. p. 503) takes exception to these lines on the ground that they "involve an anachronism, inasmuch as, whatever date be assigned to the erection of the earlier pyramids, there can be no reason for apprehending that, at the fall of Nineveh, and while the kingdom and hierarchy of Egypt subsisted in their full splendour, the destination of those immense fabrics could have been a matter of doubt.... Herodotus, three hundred years later, may have been misinformed on these points," etc., etc. According to modern Egyptology, the erection of the "earlier pyramids" was an event of remotest antiquity when the Assyrian Empire was in its infancy.]

[33] End of Act fifth.—B.

Ravenne. May 27th 1821.

Mem.—I began the drama on the 13th of January, 1821, and continued the two first acts very slowly and at long intervals. The three last acts were written since the 13th of May, 1821 (this present month, that is to say in a fortnight).



"The father softens, but the governor's resolved."—Critic.[36]


[The Two Foscari was produced at Drury Lane Theatre April 7, and again on April 18 and April 25, 1838. Macready played "Frances Foscari," Mr. Anderson "Jacopo Foscari," and Miss Helen Faucit "Marina."

According to the Times, April 9, 1838, "Miss Faucit's Marina, the most energetic part of the whole, was clever, and showed a careful attention to the points which might be made."

Macready notes in his diary, April 7, 1838 (Reminiscences, 1875, ii. 106): "Acted Foscari very well. Was very warmly received ... was called for at the end of the tragedy, and received by the whole house standing up and waving handkerchiefs with great enthusiasm. Dickens, Forster, Procter, Browning, Talfourd, all came into my room."]



The Two Foscari was begun on June 12, and finished, within the month, on July 9, 1821. Byron was still in the vein of the historic drama, though less concerned with "ancient chroniclers" and original "authorities" (vide ante, Preface to Marino Faliero, vol. iv. p. 332) than heretofore. "The Venetian play," he tells Murray, July 14, 1821, is "rigidly historical;" but he seems to have depended for his facts, not on Sanudo or Navagero, but on Daru's Histoire de la République de Vénise (1821, ii. 520-537), and on Sismondi's Histoire des Républiques ... du Moyen Age (1815, x. 36-46). The story of the Two Doges, so far as it concerns the characters and action of Byron's play, may be briefly re-told. It will be found to differ in some important particulars from the extracts from Daru and Sismondi which Byron printed in his "Appendix to the Two Foscari" (Sardanapalus, etc., 1821, pp. 305-324), and no less from a passage in Smedley's Sketches from Venetian History (1832, ii. 93-105), which was substituted for the French "Pièces justificatives," in the collected edition of 1832-1835, xiii. 198-202, and the octavo edition of 1837, etc., pp. 790, 791.

Francesco, son of Nicolò Foscari, was born in 1373. He was nominated a member of the Council of Ten in 1399, and, after holding various offices of state, elected Doge in 1423. His dukedom, the longest on record, lasted till 1457. He was married, in 1395, to Maria, daughter of Andrea Priuli, and, en secondes noces, to Maria, or Marina, daughter of Bartolommeo Nani. By his two wives he was the father of ten children—five sons and five daughters. Of the five sons, four died of the plague, and the fifth, Jacopo, lived to be the cause, if not the hero, of a tragedy.

The younger of the "Two Foscari" was a man of some cultivation, a collector and student of Greek manuscripts, well-mannered, and of ready wit, a child and lover of Venice, but indifferent to her ideals and regardless of her prejudices and restrictions. He seems to have begun life in a blaze of popularity, the admired of all admirers. His wedding with Lucrezia Contarini (January, 1441) was celebrated with a[116] novel and peculiar splendour. Gorgeous youths, Companions of the Hose (della calza), in jackets of crimson velvet, with slashed sleeves lined with squirrel fur, preceded and followed the bridegroom's train. A hundred bridesmaids accompanied the bride. Her dowry exceeded 16,000 ducats, and her jewels, which included a necklace worn by a Queen of Cyprus, were "rich and rare." And the maiden herself was a pearl of great price. "She behaved," writes her brother, "and does behave, so well beyond what could have been looked for. I believe she is inspired by God!"

Jacopo had everything which fortune could bestow, but he lacked a capacity for right conduct. Four years after his marriage (February 17, 1445) an accusation was laid before the Ten (Romanin, Storia, etc., iv. 266) that, contrary to the law embodied in the Ducal Promissione, he had accepted gifts of jewels and money, not only from his fellow-citizens, but from his country's bitterest enemy, Filippo Visconti, Duke of Milan. Jacopo fled to Trieste, and in his absence the Ten, supported by a giunta of ten, on their own authority and independently of the Doge, sentenced him to perpetual banishment at Nauplia, in Roumania. One of the three Capi di' dieci was Ermolao (or Veneticé Almoro) Donato, of whom more hereafter. It is to be noted that this sentence was never carried into effect. At the end of four months, thanks to the intervention of five members of the Ten, he was removed from Trieste to Treviso, and, two years later (September 13, 1447), out of consideration to the Doge, who pleaded that the exile of his only son prevented him from giving his whole heart and soul to the Republic, permitted to return to Venice. So ends the first chapter of Jacopo's misadventures. He stands charged with unlawful, if not criminal, appropriation of gifts and moneys. He had been punished, but less than he deserved, and, for his father's sake, the sentence of exile had been altogether remitted.

Three years went by, and once again, January, 1451, a charge was preferred against Jacopo Foscari, and on this occasion he was arrested and brought before the Ten. He was accused of being implicated in the murder of Ermolao Donato, who was assassinated November 5, 1450, on leaving the Ducal Palace, where he had been attending the Council of the Pregadi. On the morning after the murder Benedetto Gritti, one of the "avvogadori di Commun," was at Mestre, some five miles from Venice, and, happening to accost a servant of Jacopo's who was loading a barge with wood, asked for the latest news from Venice, and got as answer, "Donato has been murdered!" The possession of the news some hours before it had been made public, and the[117] fact that the newsmonger had been haunting the purlieus of the Ducal Palace on the previous afternoon, enabled the Ten to convict Jacopo. They alleged (Decree of X., March 26, 1451) that other evidence ("testificationes et scripturæ") was in their possession, and they pointed to the prisoner's obstinate silence on the rack—a silence unbroken save by "several incantations and magic words which fell from him," as a confirmation of his guilt. Moreover, it was "for the advantage of the State from many points of view" that convicted and condemned he should be. The question of his innocence or guilt (complicated by the report or tradition that one Nicolò Erizzo confessed on his death-bed that he had assassinated Donato for reasons of his own) is still under discussion. Berlan (I due Foscari, etc., 1852, p. 36) sums up against him. It may, however, be urged in favour of Jacopo that the Ten did not produce or quote the scripturæ et testificationes which convinced them of his guilt; that they stopped short of the death-penalty, and pronounced a sentence inadequate to the crime; and, lastly, that not many years before they had taken into consideration the possibility and advisability of poisoning Filippo Visconti, an event which would, no doubt, have been "to the advantage of the State from many points of view."

Innocent or guilty, he was sentenced to perpetual banishment to the city of Candia, on the north coast of the island of Crete; and, guilty or innocent, Jacopo was not the man to make the best of what remained to him and submit to fate. Intrigue he must, and, five years later (June, 1456), a report reached Venice that papers had been found in his possession, some relating to the Duke of Milan, calculated to excite "nuovi scandali e disordini," and others in cypher, which the Ten could not read. Over and above these papers there was direct evidence that Jacopo had written to the Imperatore dei Turchi, imploring him to send his galley and take him away from Candia. Here was a fresh instance of treachery to the Republic, and, July 21, 1456, Jacopo returned to Venice under the custody of Lorenzo Loredano.

According to Romanin (Storia, etc., iv. 284), he was not put to the torture, but confessed his guilt spontaneously, pleading, by way of excuse, that the letter to the Duke of Milan had been allowed to fall into the hands of spies, with a view to his being recalled to Venice and obtaining a glimpse of his parents and family, even at a risk of a fresh trial. On the other hand, the Dolfin Cronaca, the work of a kinsman of the Foscari, which records Jacopo's fruitless appeal to the sorrowful but inexorable Doge, and other incidents of a personal nature, testifies, if not to torture on[118] the rack, "to mutilation by thirty strokes of the lash." Be that as it may, he was once more condemned to lifelong exile, with the additional penalty that he should be imprisoned for a year. He sailed for Venice July 31, 1456, and died at Candia, January 12, 1457. Jacopo's misconduct and consequent misfortune overshadowed the splendour of his father's reign, and, in very truth "brought his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."

After his son's death, the aged Doge, now in his eighty-fifth year, retired to his own apartments, and refused to preside at Councils of State. The Ten, who in 1446 had yielded to the Doge's plea that a father fretting for an exiled son could not discharge his public duties, were instant that he should abdicate the dukedom on the score of decrepitude. Accounts differ as to the mode in which he received the sentence of deposition. It is certain that he was compelled to abdicate on Sunday morning, October 23, 1457, but was allowed a breathing-space of a few days to make his arrangements for quitting the Ducal Palace.

On Monday, October 24, the Great Council met to elect his successor, and sat with closed doors till Sunday, October 30.

On Thursday, October 27, Francesco, heedless of a suggestion that he should avoid the crowd, descended the Giants' Staircase for the last time, and, says the Dolfin Cronaca, "after crossing the courtyard, went out by the door leading to the prisons, and entered his boat by the Ponte di Paglia." "He was dressed," says another chronicle (August. Cod. I, cl. vii.), "in a scarlet mantle, from which the fur lining had been taken," surmounted by a scarlet hood, an old friend which he had worn when his ducal honours were new, and which he had entrusted to his wife's care to be preserved for "red" days and festivals of State. "In his hand he held his staff, as he walked very slowly. His brother Marco was by his side, behind him were cousins and grandsons ... and in this way he went to his own house."

On Sunday, October 30, Pasquale Malipiero was declared Doge, and two days after, All Saints' Day, at the first hour of the morning, Francesco Foscari died. If the interval between ten o'clock on Sunday night and one o'clock on Tuesday morning disproves the legend that the discrowned Doge ruptured a blood-vessel at the moment when the bell was tolling for the election of his successor, the truth remains that, old as he was, he died of a broken heart.

His predecessor, Tomaso Mocenigo, had prophesied on his death-bed that if the Venetians were to make Foscari Doge they would forfeit their "gold and silver, their honour and renown." "From your position of lords," said he, "you[119] will sink to that of vassals and servants to men of arms." The prophecy was fulfilled. "If we look," writes Mr. H. F. Brown (Venice, etc., 1893, p. 306), "at the sum-total of Foscari's reign ... we find that the Republic had increased her land territory by the addition of two great provinces, Bergamo and Brescia ... But the price had been enormous ... her debt rose from 6,000,000 to 13,000,000 ducats. Venetian funds fell to 18 ½.... Externally there was much pomp and splendour.... But underneath this bravery there lurked the official corruption of the nobles, the suspicion of the Ten, the first signs of bank failures, the increase in the national debt, the fall in the value of the funds. Land wars and landed possessions drew the Venetians from the sea to terra ferma.... The beginning of the end had arrived." (See Two Doges of Venice, by Alethea Wiel, 1891; I due Foscari, Memorie Storicho Critiche, di Francesco Berlan, 1852; Storia Documentata di Venezia, di S. Romanin, 1855, vol.iv.; Die beiden Foscari, von Richard Senger, 1878. For reviews, etc., of The Two Foscari, vide ante, "Introduction to Sardanapalus," p. 5.)

Both Jeffrey in the Edinburgh, and Heber in the Quarterly Review, took exception to the character of Jacopo Foscari, in accordance with the Horatian maxim, "Incredulus odi." "If," said Jeffrey, "he had been presented to the audience wearing out his heart in exile, ... we might have caught some glimpse of the nature of his motives." As it is (in obedience to the "unities") "we first meet with him led from the 'Question,' and afterwards ... clinging to the dungeon walls of his native city, and expiring from his dread of leaving them." The situation lacks conviction.

"If," argued Heber, "there ever existed in nature a case so extraordinary as that of a man who gravely preferred tortures and a dungeon at home, to a temporary residence in a beautiful island and a fine climate; it is what few can be made to believe, and still fewer to sympathize with."

It was, no doubt, with reference to these criticisms that Byron told Medwin (Conversations, 1824, p. 173) that it was no invention of his that the "young Foscari should have a sickly affection for his native city.... I painted the men as I found them, as they were—not as the critics would have them.... But no painting, however highly coloured, can give an idea of the intensity of a Venetian's affection for his native city."

Goethe, on the other hand, was "not careful" to note these inconsistencies and perplexities. He thought that the dramatic handling of The Two Foscari was "worthy of great praise," was "admirable!" (Conversations with Goethe, 1874, p. 265).


Francis Foscari, Doge of Venice.
Jacopo Foscari, Son of the Doge.
James Loredano, a Patrician.
Marco Memmo, a Chief of the Forty.
Barbarigo, a Senator.
Other Senators, The Council of Ten, Guards, Attendants, etc., etc.
Marina, Wife of young Foscari.
Scene—The Ducal Palace, Venice.




Scene I.—A Hall in the Ducal Palace.

Enter Loredano and Barbarigo, meeting.

Lor. Where is the prisoner?

Bar.Reposing from

The Question.

Lor.The hour's past—fixed yesterday

For the resumption of his trial.—Let us

Rejoin our colleagues in the council, and

Urge his recall.

Bar.Nay, let him profit by

A few brief minutes for his tortured limbs;

He was o'erwrought by the Question yesterday,

And may die under it if now repeated.[at][37][122]

Lor. Well?

Bar.I yield not to you in love of justice,

Or hate of the ambitious Foscari,10

Father and son, and all their noxious race;

But the poor wretch has suffered beyond Nature's

Most stoical endurance.

Lor.Without owning

His crime?

Bar.Perhaps without committing any.

But he avowed the letter to the Duke

Of Milan, and his sufferings half atone for

Such weakness.

Lor.We shall see.

Bar.You, Loredano,

Pursue hereditary hate too far.

Lor. How far?

Bar.To extermination.

Lor.When they are

Extinct, you may say this.—Let's in to council.20

Bar. Yet pause—the number of our colleagues is not

Complete yet; two are wanting ere we can


Lor.And the chief judge, the Doge?


With more than Roman fortitude, is ever

First at the board in this unhappy process

Against his last and only son.[38]


His last.[123]

Bar.   Will nothing move you?

Lor.Feels he, think you?

Bar. He shows it not.

Lor.I have marked that—the wretch!

Bar. But yesterday, I hear, on his return

To the ducal chambers, as he passed the threshold30

The old man fainted.

Lor.It begins to work, then.

Bar. The work is half your own.

Lor.And should be all mine—

My father and my uncle are no more.

Bar. I have read their epitaph, which says they died

By poison.[39]

Lor.When the Doge declared that he

Should never deem himself a sovereign till

The death of Peter Loredano, both

The brothers sickened shortly:—he is Sovereign.

Bar. A wretched one.

Lor.What should they be who make


Bar. But did the Doge make you so?


Bar. What solid proofs?

Lor.When Princes set themselves

To work in secret, proofs and process are[124]

Alike made difficult; but I have such

Of the first, as shall make the second needless.

Bar. But you will move by law?

Lor.By all the laws

Which he would leave us.

Bar.They are such in this

Our state as render retribution easier

Than 'mongst remoter nations. Is it true

That you have written in your books of commerce,

(The wealthy practice of our highest nobles)50

"Doge Foscari, my debtor for the deaths

Of Marco and Pietro Loredano,

My sire and uncle?"[40]

Lor.It is written thus.

Bar. And will you leave it unerased?

Lor.Till balanced.

Bar. And how?

[Two Senators pass over the stage, as in their way to "the Hall of the Council of Ten."

Lor.You see the number is complete.

Follow me.[Exit Loredano.

Bar. (solus). Follow thee! I have followed long

Thy path of desolation, as the wave

Sweeps after that before it, alike whelming[au]

The wreck that creaks to the wild winds, and wretch

Who shrieks within its riven ribs, as gush60

The waters through them; but this son and sire

Might move the elements to pause, and yet

Must I on hardily like them—Oh! would

I could as blindly and remorselessly!—

Lo, where he comes!—Be still, my heart! they are

Thy foes, must be thy victims: wilt thou beat

For those who almost broke thee?


Enter Guards, with young Foscari as Prisoner, etc.

Guard.Let him rest.

Signor, take time.

Jac. Fos.I thank thee, friend, I'm feeble;

But thou mayst stand reproved.

Guard.I'll stand the hazard.

Jac. Fos. That's kind:—I meet some pity, but no mercy;[av]70

This is the first.

Guard.And might be the last, did they

Who rule behold us.

Bar. (advancing to the Guard). There is one who does:

Yet fear not; I will neither be thy judge

Nor thy accuser; though the hour is past,

Wait their last summons—I am of "the Ten,"[41]

And waiting for that summons, sanction you

Even by my presence: when the last call sounds,

We'll in together.—Look well to the prisoner!

Jac. Fos. What voice is that?—'Tis Barbarigo's! Ah!

Our House's foe, and one of my few judges.80

Bar. To balance such a foe, if such there be,

Thy father sits amongst thy judges.

Jac. Fos.True,

He judges.

Bar.Then deem not the laws too harsh

Which yield so much indulgence to a sire,

As to allow his voice in such high matter

As the state's safety——

Jac. Fos.And his son's. I'm faint;

Let me approach, I pray you, for a breath

Of air, yon window which o'erlooks the waters.[126]

Enter an Officer, who whispers Barbarigo.

Bar. (to the Guard). Let him approach. I must not speak with him

Further than thus: I have transgressed my duty90

In this brief parley, and must now redeem it[aw]

Within the Council Chamber.[Exit Barbarigo.

 [Guard conducting Jacopo Foscari to the window.

Guard.There, sir, 'tis

Open.—How feel you?

Jac. Fos.Like a boy—Oh Venice!

Guard. And your limbs?

Jac. Fos.Limbs! how often have they borne me[42]

Bounding o'er yon blue tide, as I have skimmed

The gondola along in childish race,

And, masqued as a young gondolier, amidst

My gay competitors, noble as I,

Raced for our pleasure, in the pride of strength;

While the fair populace of crowding beauties,100

Plebeian as patrician, cheered us on

With dazzling smiles, and wishes audible,

And waving kerchiefs, and applauding hands,

Even to the goal!—How many a time have I

Cloven with arm still lustier, breast more daring,

The wave all roughened; with a swimmer's stroke

Flinging the billows back from my drenched hair,

And laughing from my lip the audacious brine,

Which kissed it like a wine-cup, rising o'er

The waves as they arose, and prouder still110

The loftier they uplifted me; and oft,

In wantonness of spirit, plunging down

Into their green and glassy gulfs, and making

My way to shells and sea-weed, all unseen

By those above, till they waxed fearful; then[127]

Returning with my grasp full of such tokens

As showed that I had searched the deep: exulting,

With a far-dashing stroke, and, drawing deep

The long-suspended breath, again I spurned

The foam which broke around me, and pursued120

My track like a sea-bird.—I was a boy then.

Guard. Be a man now: there never was more need

Of manhood's strength.

Jac. Fos. (looking from the lattice). My beautiful, my own,

My only Venice—this is breath! Thy breeze,

Thine Adrian sea-breeze, how it fans my face!

Thy very winds feel native to my veins,

And cool them into calmness! How unlike

The hot gales of the horrid Cyclades,

Which howled about my Candiote dungeon,[43] and

Made my heart sick.

Guard.I see the colour comes[ax]130

Back to your cheek: Heaven send you strength to bear

What more may be imposed!—I dread to think on't.

Jac. Fos. They will not banish me again?—No—no,

Let them wring on; I am strong yet.


And the rack will be spared you.

Jac. Fos.I confessed

Once—twice before: both times they exiled me.

Guard. And the third time will slay you.

Jac. Fos.Let them do so,

So I be buried in my birth-place: better

Be ashes here than aught that lives elsewhere.

Guard. And can you so much love the soil which hates you?140

Jac. Fos. The soil!—Oh no, it is the seed of the soil

Which persecutes me: but my native earth

Will take me as a mother to her arms.

I ask no more than a Venetian grave,

A dungeon, what they will, so it be here.


Enter an Officer.

Offi. Bring in the prisoner!

Guard.Signor, you hear the order.

Jac. Fos. Aye, I am used to such a summons; 'tis

The third time they have tortured me:—then lend me

Thine arm.[To the Guard.

Offi.Take mine, sir; 'tis my duty to

Be nearest to your person.

Jac. Fos.You!—you are he150

Who yesterday presided o'er my pangs—

Away!—I'll walk alone.

Offi.As you please, Signor;

The sentence was not of my signing, but

I dared not disobey the Council when


Jac. Fos. Bade thee stretch me on their horrid engine.

I pray thee touch me not—that is, just now;

The time will come they will renew that order,

But keep off from me till 'tis issued. As

I look upon thy hands my curdling limbs

Quiver with the anticipated wrenching,160

And the cold drops strain through my brow, as if——

But onward—I have borne it—I can bear it.—

How looks my father?

Offi.With his wonted aspect.

Jac. Fos. So does the earth, and sky, the blue of Ocean,

The brightness of our city, and her domes,

The mirth of her Piazza—even now

Its merry hum of nations pierces here,

Even here, into these chambers of the unknown

Who govern, and the unknown and the unnumbered

Judged and destroyed in silence,—all things wear170

The self-same aspect, to my very sire!

Nothing can sympathise with Foscari,

Not even a Foscari.—Sir, I attend you.

[Exeunt Jacopo Foscari, Officer, etc.[129]

Enter Memmo and another Senator.

Mem. He's gone—we are too late:—think you "the Ten"

Will sit for any length of time to-day?

Sen. They say the prisoner is most obdurate,

Persisting in his first avowal; but

More I know not.

Mem.And that is much; the secrets

Of yon terrific chamber are as hidden

From us, the premier nobles of the state,180

As from the people.

Sen.Save the wonted rumours,

Which—like the tales of spectres, that are rife

Near ruined buildings—never have been proved,

Nor wholly disbelieved: men know as little

Of the state's real acts as of the grave's

Unfathomed mysteries.

Mem.But with length of time

We gain a step in knowledge, and I look

Forward to be one day of the decemvirs.

Sen. Or Doge?

Mem.Why, no; not if I can avoid it.

Sen. 'Tis the first station of the state, and may190

Be lawfully desired, and lawfully

Attained by noble aspirants.

Mem.To such

I leave it; though born noble, my ambition

Is limited: I'd rather be an unit

Of an united and Imperial "Ten,"

Than shine a lonely, though a gilded cipher.—

Whom have we here? the wife of Foscari?

Enter Marina, with a female Attendant.

Mar. What, no one?—I am wrong, there still are two;

But they are senators.

Mem.Most noble lady,

Command us.

Mar.I command!—Alas! my life200

Has been one long entreaty, and a vain one.[130]

Mem. I understand thee, but I must not answer.

Mar. (fiercely). True—none dare answer here save on the rack,

Or question save those——

Mem. (interrupting her). High-born dame![44] bethink thee

Where thou now art.

Mar.Where I now am!—It was

My husband's father's palace.

Mem.The Duke's palace.

Mar. And his son's prison!—True, I have not forgot it;

And, if there were no other nearer, bitterer

Remembrances, would thank the illustrious Memmo

For pointing out the pleasures of the place.210

Mem. Be calm!

Mar. (looking up towards heaven). I am; but oh, thou eternal God!

Canst thou continue so, with such a world?

Mem. Thy husband yet may be absolved.

Mar.He is,

In Heaven. I pray you, Signer Senator,

Speak not of that; you are a man of office,

So is the Doge; he has a son at stake

Now, at this moment, and I have a husband,

Or had; they are there within, or were at least

An hour since, face to face, as judge and culprit:

Will he condemn him?

Mem.I trust not.[131]

Mar.But if220

He does not, there are those will sentence both.

Mem. They can.

Mar.And with them power and will are one

In wickedness;—my husband's lost!

Mem.Not so;

Justice is judge in Venice.

Mar.If it were so,

There now would be no Venice. But let it

Live on, so the good die not, till the hour

Of Nature's summons; but "the Ten's" is quicker,

And we must wait on't. Ah! a voice of wail!

 [A faint cry within.

Sen. Hark!

Mem.'Twas a cry of—

Mar.No, no; not my husband's—

Not Foscari's.

Mem.The voice was—

Mar.Not his: no.230

He shriek! No; that should be his father's part,

Not his—not his—he'll die in silence.

 [A faint groan again within.



Mar.   His voice! it seemed so: I will not

Believe it. Should he shrink, I cannot cease

To love; but—no—no—no—it must have been

A fearful pang, which wrung a groan from him.

Sen. And, feeling for thy husband's wrongs, wouldst thou

Have him bear more than mortal pain in silence?

Mar. We all must bear our tortures. I have not

Left barren the great house of Foscari,240

Though they sweep both the Doge and son from life;

I have endured as much in giving life

To those who will succeed them, as they can

In leaving it: but mine were joyful pangs:

And yet they wrung me till I could have shrieked,

But did not; for my hope was to bring forth

Heroes, and would not welcome them with tears.

Mem. All's silent now.[132]

Mar.Perhaps all's over; but

I will not deem it: he hath nerved himself,

And now defies them.

Enter an Officer hastily.

Mem.How now, friend, what seek you?250

Offi. A leech. The prisoner has fainted.[Exit Officer.


'Twere better to retire.

Sen. (offering to assist her), I pray thee do so.

Mar. Off! I will tend him.

Mem.You! Remember, lady!

Ingress is given to none within those chambers

Except "the Ten," and their familiars.


I know that none who enter there return

As they have entered—many never; but

They shall not balk my entrance.

Mem.Alas! this

Is but to expose yourself to harsh repulse,

And worse suspense.

Mar.Who shall oppose me?


Whose duty 'tis to do so.

Mar.'Tis their duty

To trample on all human feelings, all

Ties which bind man to man, to emulate

The fiends who will one day requite them in

Variety of torturing! Yet I'll pass.

Mem. It is impossible.

Mar.That shall be tried.[ay]

Despair defies even despotism: there is

That in my heart would make its way through hosts

With levelled spears; and think you a few jailors

Shall put me from my path? Give me, then, way;270

This is the Doge's palace; I am wife

Of the Duke's son, the innocent Duke's son,

And they shall hear this!

Mem.It will only serve[133]

More to exasperate his judges.


Are judges who give way to anger? they

Who do so are assassins. Give me way.[Exit Marina.

Sen. Poor lady!

Mem.'Tis mere desperation: she

Will not be admitted o'er the threshold.


Even if she be so, cannot save her husband.

But, see, the officer returns.

[The Officer passes over the stage with another person.

Mem.I hardly280

Thought that "the Ten" had even this touch of pity,

Or would permit assistance to this sufferer.

Sen. Pity! Is't pity to recall to feeling

The wretch too happy to escape to Death

By the compassionate trance, poor Nature's last

Resource against the tyranny of pain?

Mem. I marvel they condemn him not at once.

Sen. That's not their policy: they'd have him live,

Because he fears not death; and banish him,

Because all earth, except his native land,290

To him is one wide prison, and each breath

Of foreign air he draws seems a slow poison,

Consuming but not killing.


Confirms his crimes, but he avows them not.

Sen. None, save the Letter, which, he says, was written

Addressed to Milan's duke, in the full knowledge

That it would fall into the Senate's hands,

And thus he should be re-conveyed to Venice.[45][134]

Mem. But as a culprit.

Sen.Yes, but to his country;

And that was all he sought,—so he avouches.300

Mem. The accusation of the bribes was proved.

Sen. Not clearly, and the charge of homicide

Has been annulled by the death-bed confession

Of Nicolas Erizzo, who slew the late

Chief of "the Ten."[46]

Mem.Then why not clear him?


They ought to answer; for it is well known

That Almoro Donato, as I said,

Was slain by Erizzo for private vengeance.

Mem. There must be more in this strange process than

The apparent crimes of the accused disclose—310

But here come two of "the Ten;" let us retire.

 [Exeunt Memmo and Senator.

Enter Loredano and Barbarigo.

Bar. (addressing Lor.).

That were too much: believe me,'twas not meet

The trial should go further at this moment.

Lor. And so the Council must break up, and Justice

Pause in her full career, because a woman

Breaks in on our deliberations?


That's not the cause; you saw the prisoner's state.

Lor. And had he not recovered?

Bar.To relapse

Upon the least renewal.

Lor.'Twas not tried.

Bar. 'Tis vain to murmur; the majority320

In council were against you.

Lor.Thanks to you, sir,[135]

And the old ducal dotard, who combined

The worthy voices which o'er-ruled my own.

Bar. I am a judge; but must confess that part

Of our stern duty, which prescribes the Question,[47]

And bids us sit and see its sharp infliction,

Makes me wish——


Bar.That you would sometimes feel,

As I do always.

Lor.Go to, you're a child,

Infirm of feeling as of purpose, blown

About by every breath, shook[48] by a sigh,330

And melted by a tear—a precious judge

For Venice! and a worthy statesman to

Be partner in my policy.

Bar.He shed

No tears.

Lor.He cried out twice.

Bar.A Saint had done so,

Even with the crown of Glory in his eye,

At such inhuman artifice of pain

As was forced on him; but he did not cry[az]

For pity; not a word nor groan escaped him,

And those two shrieks were not in supplication,

But wrung from pangs, and followed by no prayers.340

Lor. He muttered many times between his teeth,

But inarticulately.[49]

Bar.That I heard not:

You stood more near him.

Lor.I did so.[136]


To my surprise too, you were touched with mercy,

And were the first to call out for assistance

When he was failing.

Lor.I believed that swoon

His last.

Bar.And have I not oft heard thee name

His and his father's death your nearest wish?

Lor. If he dies innocent, that is to say,

With his guilt unavowed, he'll be lamented.350

Bar. What, wouldst thou slay his memory?

Lor.Wouldst thou have

His state descend to his children, as it must,

If he die unattainted?

Bar.War with them too?

Lor. With all their house, till theirs or mine are nothing.

Bar. And the deep agony of his pale wife,

And the repressed convulsion of the high

And princely brow of his old father, which

Broke forth in a slight shuddering, though rarely,

Or in some clammy drops, soon wiped away

In stern serenity; these moved you not?360

 [Exit Loredano.

He's silent in his hate, as Foscari

Was in his suffering; and the poor wretch moved me

More by his silence than a thousand outcries

Could have effected. 'Twas a dreadful sight

When his distracted wife broke through into

The hall of our tribunal, and beheld

What we could scarcely look upon, long used

To such sights. I must think no more of this,

Lest I forget in this compassion for

Our foes, their former injuries, and lose370

The hold of vengeance Loredano plans

For him and me; but mine would be content

With lesser retribution than he thirsts for,

And I would mitigate his deeper hatred

To milder thoughts; but, for the present, Foscari

Has a short hourly respite, granted at

The instance of the elders of the Council,[137]

Moved doubtless by his wife's appearance in

The hall, and his own sufferings.—Lo! they come:

How feeble and forlorn! I cannot bear380

To look on them again in this extremity:

I'll hence, and try to soften Loredano.[ba]

 [Exit Barbarigo.


Scene I.—A hall in the Doge's Palace.

The Doge and a Senator.

Sen. Is it your pleasure to sign the report

Now, or postpone it till to-morrow?


I overlooked it yesterday: it wants

Merely the signature. Give me the pen—

 [The Doge sits down and signs the paper.

There, Signor.

Sen. (looking at the paper). You have forgot; it is not signed.

Doge. Not signed? Ah, I perceive my eyes begin

To wax more weak with age. I did not see

That I had dipped the pen without effect.[bb]

Sen. (dipping the pen into the ink, and placing the paper

before the Doge). Your hand, too, shakes, my Lord: allow me, thus—

Doge. 'Tis done, I thank you.

Sen.Thus the act confirmed10

By you and by "the Ten" gives peace to Venice.

Doge. 'Tis long since she enjoyed it: may it be

As long ere she resume her arms!

Sen.'Tis almost

Thirty-four years of nearly ceaseless warfare[138]

With the Turk, or the powers of Italy;

The state had need of some repose.

Doge.No doubt:

I found her Queen of Ocean, and I leave her

Lady of Lombardy; it is a comfort[bc]

That I have added to her diadem

The gems of Brescia and Ravenna; Crema[50]20

And Bergamo no less are hers; her realm

By land has grown by thus much in my reign,

While her sea-sway has not shrunk.

Sen.'Tis most true,

And merits all our country's gratitude.

Doge. Perhaps so.

Sen.Which should be made manifest.

Doge. I have not complained, sir.

Sen.My good Lord, forgive me.

Doge. For what?

Sen.My heart bleeds for you.

Doge.For me, Signor?

Sen. And for your——


Sen.It must have way, my Lord:

I have too many duties towards you

And all your house, for past and present kindness,30

Not to feel deeply for your son.

Doge.Was this

In your commission?

Sen.What, my Lord?

Doge.This prattle

Of things you know not: but the treaty's signed;

Return with it to them who sent you.


Obey. I had in charge, too, from the Council,

That you would fix an hour for their reunion.

Doge. Say, when they will—now, even at this moment,[139]

If it so please them: I am the State's servant.

Sen. They would accord some time for your repose.

Doge. I have no repose, that is, none which shall cause40

The loss of an hour's time unto the State.

Let them meet when they will, I shall be found

Where I should be, and what I have been ever.

 [Exit Senator. The Doge remains in silence.

Enter an Attendant.

Att. Prince!

Doge.Say on.

Att.The illustrious lady Foscari

Requests an audience.

Doge.Bid her enter. Poor


 [Exit Attendant. The Doge remains in silence as before.

Enter Marina.

Mar.I have ventured, father, on

Your privacy.

Doge.I have none from you, my child.

Command my time, when not commanded by

The State.

Mar.I wished to speak to you of him.

Doge. Your husband?50

Mar.And your son.

Doge.Proceed, my daughter!

Mar. I had obtained permission from "the Ten"

To attend my husband for a limited number

Of hours.

Doge.You had so.

Mar.'Tis revoked.

Doge.By whom?

Mar. "The Ten."—When we had reached "the Bridge of Sighs,"[51][140]

Which I prepared to pass with Foscari,

The gloomy guardian of that passage first

Demurred: a messenger was sent back to

"The Ten;"—but as the Court no longer sate,

And no permission had been given in writing,

I was thrust back, with the assurance that60

Until that high tribunal reassembled

The dungeon walls must still divide us.


The form has been omitted in the haste

With which the court adjourned; and till it meets,

'Tis dubious.

Mar.Till it meets! and when it meets,

They'll torture him again; and he and I

Must purchase by renewal of the rack

The interview of husband and of wife,

The holiest tie beneath the Heavens!—Oh God!

Dost thou see this?


Mar. (abruptly).Call me not "child!"70

You soon will have no children—you deserve none—

You, who can talk thus calmly of a son

In circumstances which would call forth tears

Of blood from Spartans! Though these did not weep

Their boys who died in battle, is it written

That they beheld them perish piecemeal, nor

Stretched forth a hand to save them?

Doge.You behold me:

I cannot weep—I would I could; but if

Each white hair on this head were a young life,

This ducal cap the Diadem of earth,80

This ducal ring with which I wed the waves

A talisman to still them—I'd give all

For him.

Mar. With less he surely might be saved.

Doge. That answer only shows you know not Venice.

Alas! how should you? she knows not herself,

In all her mystery. Hear me—they who aim

At Foscari, aim no less at his father;

The sire's destruction would not save the son;

They work by different means to the same end,[141]

And that is—but they have not conquered yet.90

Mar. But they have crushed.

Doge.Nor crushed as yet—I live.

Mar. And your son,—how long will he live?

Doge.I trust,

For all that yet is past, as many years

And happier than his father. The rash boy,

With womanish impatience to return,

Hath ruined all by that detected letter:

A high crime, which I neither can deny

Nor palliate, as parent or as Duke:

Had he but borne a little, little longer

His Candiote exile, I had hopes—he has quenched them—100

He must return.

Mar.To exile?

Doge.I have said it.

Mar. And can I not go with him?

Doge.You well know

This prayer of yours was twice denied before

By the assembled "Ten," and hardly now

Will be accorded to a third request,

Since aggravated errors on the part

Of your Lord renders them still more austere.

Mar. Austere? Atrocious! The old human fiends,

With one foot in the grave, with dim eyes, strange

To tears save drops of dotage, with long white[bd]110

And scanty hairs, and shaking hands, and heads

As palsied as their hearts are hard, they counsel,

Cabal, and put men's lives out, as if Life

Were no more than the feelings long extinguished

In their accurséd bosoms.

Doge.You know not——

Mar. I do—I do—and so should you, methinks—

That these are demons: could it be else that

Men, who have been of women born and suckled—

Who have loved, or talked at least of Love—have given

Their hands in sacred vows—have danced their babes120

Upon their knees, perhaps have mourned above them—

In pain, in peril, or in death—who are,[142]

Or were, at least in seeming, human, could

Do as they have done by yours, and you yourself—

You, who abet them?

Doge.I forgive this, for

You know not what you say.

Mar.You know it well,

And feel it nothing.

Doge.I have borne so much,

That words have ceased to shake me.

Mar.Oh, no doubt!

You have seen your son's blood flow, and your flesh shook not;

And after that, what are a woman's words?130

No more than woman's tears, that they should shake you.

Doge. Woman, this clamorous grief of thine, I tell thee,

Is no more in the balance weighed with that

Which——but I pity thee, my poor Marina!

Mar. Pity my husband, or I cast it from me;

Pity thy son! Thou pity!—'tis a word

Strange to thy heart—how came it on thy lips?

Doge. I must bear these reproaches, though they wrong me.

Couldst thou but read——

Mar.'Tis not upon thy brow,

Nor in thine eyes, nor in thine acts,—where then140

Should I behold this sympathy? or shall?

Doge (pointing downwards). There.

Mar.In the earth?

Doge.To which I am tending: when

It lies upon this heart, far lightlier, though

Loaded with marble, than the thoughts which press it

Now, you will know me better.

Mar.Are you, then,

Indeed, thus to be pitied?

Doge.Pitied! None

Shall ever use that base word, with which men

Cloak their soul's hoarded triumph, as a fit one

To mingle with my name; that name shall be,

As far as I have borne it, what it was150

When I received it.

Mar.But for the poor children[143]

Of him thou canst not, or thou wilt not save,

You were the last to bear it.

Doge.Would it were so!

Better for him he never had been born;

Better for me.—I have seen our house dishonoured.

Mar. That's false! A truer, nobler, trustier heart,

More loving, or more loyal, never beat

Within a human breast. I would not change

My exiled, persecuted, mangled husband,

Oppressed but not disgraced, crushed, overwhelmed,160

Alive, or dead, for Prince or Paladin

In story or in fable, with a world

To back his suit. Dishonoured!—he dishonoured!

I tell thee, Doge, 'tis Venice is dishonoured;

His name shall be her foulest, worst reproach,

For what he suffers, not for what he did.

'Tis ye who are all traitors, Tyrant!—ye!

Did you but love your Country like this victim

Who totters back in chains to tortures, and

Submits to all things rather than to exile,170

You'd fling yourselves before him, and implore

His grace for your enormous guilt.

Doge.He was

Indeed all you have said. I better bore

The deaths of the two sons[52] Heaven took from me,

Than Jacopo's disgrace.

Mar.That word again?

Doge. Has he not been condemned?

Mar.Is none but guilt so?

Doge. Time may restore his memory—I would hope so.

He was my pride, my——but 'tis useless now—

I am not given to tears, but wept for joy

When he was born: those drops were ominous.180

Mar. I say he's innocent! And were he not so,

Is our own blood and kin to shrink from us

In fatal moments?

Doge.I shrank not from him:

But I have other duties than a father's;

The state would not dispense me from those duties;[144]

Twice I demanded it, but was refused:[53]

They must then be fulfilled.

Enter an Attendant.

Att.A message from

"The Ten."

Doge.Who bears it?

Att.Noble Loredano.

Doge. He!—but admit him.[Exit Attendant.

Mar.Must I then retire?

Doge. Perhaps it is not requisite, if this190

Concerns your husband, and if not——Well, Signor,

 [To Loredano entering.

Your pleasure?

Lor.I bear that of "the Ten."


Have chosen well their envoy.

Lor.'Tis their choice

Which leads me here.

Doge.It does their wisdom honour,

And no less to their courtesy.—Proceed.

Lor. We have decided.


Lor."The Ten" in council.

Doge. What! have they met again, and met without

Apprising me?

Lor.They wished to spare your feelings,

No less than age.

Doge.That's new—when spared they either?

I thank them, notwithstanding.

Lor.You know well200

That they have power to act at their discretion,

With or without the presence of the Doge.

Doge. 'Tis some years since I learned this, long before

I became Doge, or dreamed of such advancement.

You need not school me, Signor; I sate in

That Council when you were a young patrician.

Lor. True, in my father's time; I have heard him and[145]

The Admiral, his brother, say as much.

Your Highness may remember them; they both

Died suddenly.[54]

Doge.And if they did so, better210

So die than live on lingeringly in pain.

Lor. No doubt: yet most men like to live their days out.

Doge. And did not they?

Lor.The Grave knows best: they died,

As I said, suddenly.

Doge.Is that so strange,

That you repeat the word emphatically?

Lor. So far from strange, that never was there death

In my mind half so natural as theirs.

Think you not so?

Doge.What should I think of mortals?

Lor. That they have mortal foes.

Doge.I understand you;

Your sires were mine, and you are heir in all things.220

Lor. You best know if I should be so.

Doge.I do.

Your fathers were my foes, and I have heard

Foul rumours were abroad; I have also read

Their epitaph, attributing their deaths

To poison. 'Tis perhaps as true as most

Inscriptions upon tombs, and yet no less

A fable.

Lor.Who dares say so?

Doge.I!——'Tis true

Your fathers were mine enemies, as bitter

As their son e'er can be, and I no less

Was theirs; but I was openly their foe:230

I never worked by plot in Council, nor

Cabal in commonwealth, nor secret means

Of practice against life by steel or drug.

The proof is—your existence.

Lor.I fear not.

Doge. You have no cause, being what I am; but were I

That you would have me thought, you long ere now[146]

Were past the sense of fear. Hate on; I care not.

Lor. I never yet knew that a noble's life

In Venice had to dread a Doge's frown,

That is, by open means.

Doge.But I, good Signor,240

Am, or at least was, more than a mere duke,

In blood, in mind, in means; and that they know

Who dreaded to elect me, and have since

Striven all they dare to weigh me down: be sure,

Before or since that period, had I held you

At so much price as to require your absence,

A word of mine had set such spirits to work

As would have made you nothing. But in all things

I have observed the strictest reverence;

Not for the laws alone, for those you have strained250

(I do not speak of you but as a single

Voice of the many) somewhat beyond what

I could enforce for my authority,

Were I disposed to brawl; but, as I said,

I have observed with veneration, like

A priest's for the High Altar, even unto

The sacrifice of my own blood and quiet,

Safety, and all save honour, the decrees,

The health, the pride, and welfare of the State.

And now, sir, to your business.

Lor.'Tis decreed,260

That, without further repetition of

The Question, or continuance of the trial,

Which only tends to show how stubborn guilt is,

("The Ten," dispensing with the stricter law

Which still prescribes the Question till a full

Confession, and the prisoner partly having

Avowed his crime in not denying that

The letter to the Duke of Milan's his),

James Foscari return to banishment,

And sail in the same galley which conveyed him.270

Mar. Thank God! At least they will not drag him more

Before that horrible tribunal. Would he

But think so, to my mind the happiest doom,

Not he alone, but all who dwell here, could[147]

Desire, were to escape from such a land.

Doge. That is not a Venetian thought, my daughter.

Mar. No, 'twas too human. May I share his exile?

Lor. Of this "the Ten" said nothing.

Mar.So I thought!

That were too human, also. But it was not


Lor.It was not named.

Mar. (to the Doge).Then, father,280

Surely you can obtain or grant me thus much:

 [To Loredano.

And you, sir, not oppose my prayer to be

Permitted to accompany my husband.

Doge. I will endeavour.

Mar.And you, Signor?


'Tis not for me to anticipate the pleasure

Of the tribunal.

Mar.Pleasure! what a word

To use for the decrees of——

Doge.Daughter, know you

In what a presence you pronounce these things?

Mar. A Prince's and his subject's.



It galls you:—well, you are his equal, as290

You think; but that you are not, nor would be,

Were he a peasant:—well, then, you're a Prince,

A princely noble; and what then am I?

Lor. The offspring of a noble house.

Mar.And wedded

To one as noble. What, or whose, then, is

The presence that should silence my free thoughts?

Lor. The presence of your husband's Judges.


The deference due even to the lightest word

That falls from those who rule in Venice.


Those maxims for your mass of scared mechanics,300

Your merchants, your Dalmatian and Greek slaves,

Your tributaries, your dumb citizens,[148]

And masked nobility, your sbirri, and

Your spies, your galley and your other slaves,

To whom your midnight carryings off and drownings,

Your dungeons next the palace roofs, or under

The water's level;[55] your mysterious meetings,

And unknown dooms, and sudden executions,

Your "Bridge of Sighs," your strangling chamber, and

Your torturing instruments, have made ye seem310

The beings of another and worse world!

Keep such for them: I fear ye not. I know ye;[be]

Have known and proved your worst, in the infernal

Process of my poor husband! Treat me as

Ye treated him:—you did so, in so dealing

With him. Then what have I to fear from you,

Even if I were of fearful nature, which

I trust I am not?

Doge.You hear, she speaks wildly.

Mar. Not wisely, yet not wildly.

Lor.Lady! words

Uttered within these walls I bear no further320

Than to the threshold, saving such as pass

Between the Duke and me on the State's service.

Doge! have you aught in answer?

Doge.Something from

The Doge; it may be also from a parent.

Lor. My mission here is to the Doge.

Doge.Then say

The Doge will choose his own ambassador,

Or state in person what is meet; and for

The father——

Lor.I remember mine.—Farewell!

I kiss the hands of the illustrious Lady,

And bow me to the Duke.[Exit Loredano.

Mar.Are you content?330

Doge. I am what you behold.

Mar.And that's a mystery.

Doge. All things are so to mortals; who can read them

Save he who made? or, if they can, the few[149]

And gifted spirits, who have studied long

That loathsome volume—man, and pored upon

Those black and bloody leaves, his heart and brain,[bf]

But learn a magic which recoils upon

The adept who pursues it: all the sins

We find in others, Nature made our own;

All our advantages are those of Fortune;340

Birth, wealth, health, beauty, are her accidents,

And when we cry out against Fate, 'twere well

We should remember Fortune can take nought

Save what she gave—the rest was nakedness,

And lusts, and appetites, and vanities,

The universal heritage, to battle

With as we may, and least in humblest stations,[bg]

Where Hunger swallows all in one low want,[bh]

And the original ordinance, that man

Must sweat for his poor pittance, keeps all passions350

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 days[bi]

Our days on seasons; our whole being on

Something which is not us![56]—So, we are slaves,

The greatest as the meanest—nothing rests

Upon our will; the will itself no less[bj]

Depends upon a straw than on a storm;360

And when we think we lead, we are most led,[57][150]

And still towards Death, a thing which comes as much

Without our act or choice as birth, so that

Methinks we must have sinned in some old world,

And this is Hell: the best is, that it is not


Mar.These are things we cannot judge

On earth.

Doge.And how then shall we judge each other,

Who are all earth, and I, who am called upon

To judge my son? I have administered

My country faithfully—victoriously—370

I dare them to the proof, the chart of what

She was and is: my reign has doubled realms;

And, in reward, the gratitude of Venice

Has left, or is about to leave, me single.

Mar. And Foscari? I do not think of such things,

So I be left with him.

Doge.You shall be so;

Thus much they cannot well deny.

Mar.And if

They should, I will fly with him.

Doge.That can ne'er be.

And whither would you fly?

Mar.I know not, reck not—

To Syria, Egypt, to the Ottoman—380

Any where, where we might respire unfettered,

And live nor girt by spies, nor liable

To edicts of inquisitors of state.

Doge. What, wouldst thou have a renegade for husband,

And turn him into traitor?

Mar.He is none!

The Country is the traitress, which thrusts forth

Her best and bravest from her. Tyranny

Is far the worst of treasons. Dost thou deem

None rebels except subjects? The Prince who

Neglects or violates his trust is more390

A brigand than the robber-chief.

Doge.I cannot

Charge me with such a breach of faith.

MarNo; thou[151]

Observ'st, obey'st such laws as make old Draco's

A code of mercy by comparison.

Doge. I found the law; I did not make it. Were I

A subject, still I might find parts and portions

Fit for amendment; but as Prince, I never

Would change, for the sake of my house, the charter

Left by our fathers.

Mar.Did they make it for

The ruin of their children?

Doge.Under such laws, Venice400

Has risen to what she is—a state to rival

In deeds, and days, and sway, and, let me add,

In glory (for we have had Roman spirits

Amongst us), all that history has bequeathed

Of Rome and Carthage in their best times, when

The people swayed by Senates.

Mar.Rather say,

Groaned under the stern Oligarchs.

Doge.Perhaps so;

But yet subdued the World: in such a state

An individual, be he richest of

Such rank as is permitted, or the meanest,410

Without a name, is alike nothing, when

The policy, irrevocably tending

To one great end, must be maintained in vigour.

Mar. This means that you are more a Doge than father.

Doge. It means, I am more citizen than either.

If we had not for many centuries

Had thousands of such citizens, and shall,

I trust, have still such, Venice were no city.

Mar. Accurséd be the city where the laws

Would stifle Nature's!

Doge.Had I as many sons420

As I have years, I would have given them all,

Not without feeling, but I would have given them

To the State's service, to fulfil her wishes,

On the flood, in the field, or, if it must be,

As it, alas! has been, to ostracism,

Exile, or chains, or whatsoever worse

She might decree.[152]

Mar.And this is Patriotism?

To me it seems the worst barbarity.

Let me seek out my husband: the sage "Ten,"

With all its jealousy, will hardly war430

So far with a weak woman as deny me

A moment's access to his dungeon.


So far take on myself, as order that

You may be admitted.

Mar.And what shall I say

To Foscari from his father?

Doge.That he obey

The laws.

Mar.And nothing more? Will you not see him

Ere he depart? It may be the last time.

Doge. The last!—my boy!—the last time I shall see

My last of children! Tell him I will come.[Exeunt.


Scene I.—The prison of Jacopo Foscari.

Jac. Fos. (solus). No light, save yon faint gleam which shows me walls

Which never echoed but to Sorrow's sounds,[58]

The sigh of long imprisonment, the step

Of feet on which the iron clanked the groan

Of Death, the imprecation of Despair!

And yet for this I have returned to Venice,

With some faint hope, 'tis true, that Time, which wears[153]

The marble down, had worn away the hate

Of men's hearts; but I knew them not, and here

Must I consume my own, which never beat10

For Venice but with such a yearning as

The dove has for her distant nest, when wheeling

High in the air on her return to greet

Her callow brood. What letters are these which

 [Approaching the wall.

Are scrawled along the inexorable wall?

Will the gleam let me trace them? Ah! the names

Of my sad predecessors in this place,[59]

The dates of their despair, the brief words of

A grief too great for many. This stone page

Holds like an epitaph their history;20

And the poor captive's tale is graven on

His dungeon barrier, like the lover's record

Upon the bark of some tall tree,[60] which bears

His own and his belovéd's name. Alas!

I recognise 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 wretches.[bk]

 [He engraves his name.

Enter a Familiar of "the Ten."

Fam. I bring you food.

Jac. Fos.I pray you set it down;

I am past hunger: but my lips are parched—30

The water!


Jac. Fos. (after drinking). I thank you: I am better.

Fam. I am commanded to inform you that

Your further trial is postponed.

Jac. Fos.Till when?

Fam. I know not.—It is also in my orders

That your illustrious lady be admitted.

Jac. Fos. Ah! they relent, then—I had ceased to hope it:

'Twas time.

Enter Marina.

Mar.My best belovéd!

Jac. Fos. (embracing her).My true wife,

And only friend! What happiness!

Mar.We'll part

No more.

Jac. Fos. How! would'st thou share a dungeon?


The rack, the grave, all—any thing with thee,40

But the tomb last of all, for there we shall

Be ignorant of each other, yet I will

Share that—all things except new separation;

It is too much to have survived the first.

How dost thou? How are those worn limbs? Alas!

Why do I ask? Thy paleness——

Jac. Fos.'Tis the joy

Of seeing thee again so soon, and so

Without expectancy, has sent the blood

Back to my heart, and left my cheeks like thine,

For thou art pale too, my Marina!


The gloom of this eternal cell, which never

Knew sunbeam, and the sallow sullen glare

Of the familiar's torch, which seems akin[bl]

To darkness more than light, by lending to

The dungeon vapours its bituminous smoke,

Which cloud whate'er we gaze on, even thine eyes—

No, not thine eyes—they sparkle—how they sparkle![155]

Jac. Fos. And thine!—but I am blinded by the torch.

Mar. As I had been without it. Couldst thou see here?

Jac. Fos. Nothing at first; but use and time had taught me60

Familiarity with what was darkness;

And the grey twilight of such glimmerings as

Glide through the crevices made by the winds

Was kinder to mine eyes than the full Sun,

When gorgeously o'ergilding any towers

Save those of Venice; but a moment ere

Thou earnest hither I was busy writing.

Mar. What?

Jac. Fos.   My name: look, 'tis there—recorded next

The name of him who here preceded me,—

If dungeon dates say true.

Mar.And what of him?70

Jac. Fos. These walls are silent of men's ends; they only

Seem to hint shrewdly of them. Such stern walls

Were never piled on high save o'er the dead,

Or those who soon must be so.—What of him?

Thou askest.—What of me? may soon be asked,

With the like answer—doubt and dreadful surmise—

Unless thou tell'st my tale.

Mar.I speak of thee!

Jac. Fos. And wherefore not? All then shall speak of me:

The tyranny of silence is not lasting,

And, though events be hidden, just men's groans80

Will burst all cerement, even a living grave's!

I do not doubt my memory, but my life;

And neither do I fear.

Mar.Thy life is safe.

Jac. Fos. And liberty?

Mar.The mind should make its own!

Jac. Fos. That has a noble sound; but 'tis a sound,

A music most impressive, but too transient:

The Mind is much, but is not all. The Mind

Hath nerved me to endure the risk of death,

And torture positive, far worse than death[156]

(If death be a deep sleep), without a groan,90

Or with a cry which rather shamed my judges

Than me; but 'tis not all, for there are things

More woful—such as this small dungeon, where

I may breathe many years.

Mar.Alas! and this

Small dungeon is all that belongs to thee

Of this wide realm, of which thy sire is Prince.

Jac. Fos. That thought would scarcely aid me to endure it.

My doom is common; many are in dungeons,

But none like mine, so near their father's palace;

But then my heart is sometimes high, and hope100

Will stream along those moted rays of light

Peopled with dusty atoms, which afford

Our only day; for, save the gaoler's torch,

And a strange firefly, which was quickly caught

Last night in yon enormous spider's net,

I ne'er saw aught here like a ray. Alas!

I know if mind may bear us up, or no,

For I have such, and shown it before men;

It sinks in solitude: my soul is social.

Mar. I will be with thee.

Jac. Fos.Ah! if it were so!110

But that they never granted—nor will grant,

And I shall be alone: no men; no books—

Those lying likenesses of lying men.

I asked for even those outlines of their kind,

Which they term annals, history, what you will,

Which men bequeath as portraits, and they were

Refused me,—so these walls have been my study,

More faithful pictures of Venetian story,

With all their blank, or dismal stains, than is

The Hall not far from hence, which bears on high120

Hundreds of Doges, and their deeds and dates.

Mar. I come to tell thee the result of their

Last council on thy doom.

Jac. Fos.I know it—look!

[He points to his limbs, as referring to the Question
which he had undergone.

Mar. No—no—no more of that: even they relent[157]

From that atrocity.

Jac. Fos.What then?

Mar.That you

Return to Candia.

Jac. Fos.Then my last hope's gone.

I could endure my dungeon, for 'twas Venice;

I could support the torture, there was something

In my native air that buoyed my spirits up

Like a ship on the Ocean tossed by storms,130

But proudly still bestriding[61] the high waves,

And holding on its course; but there, afar,

In that accurséd isle of slaves and captives,

And unbelievers, like a stranded wreck,

My very soul seemed mouldering in my bosom,

And piecemeal I shall perish, if remanded.

Mar. And here?

Jac. Fos.At once—by better means, as briefer.[bm]

What! would they even deny me my Sire's sepulchre,

As well as home and heritage?

Mar.My husband!

I have sued to accompany thee hence,140

And not so hopelessly. This love of thine

For an ungrateful and tyrannic soil

Is Passion, and not Patriotism; for me,

So I could see thee with a quiet aspect,

And the sweet freedom of the earth and air,

I would not cavil about climes or regions.

This crowd of palaces and prisons is not

A Paradise; its first inhabitants

Were wretched exiles.

Jac. Fos.Well I know how wretched!

Mar. And yet you see how, from their banishment150

Before the Tartar into these salt isles,

Their antique energy of mind, all that[158]

Remained of Rome for their inheritance,

Created by degrees an ocean Rome;[62]

And shall an evil, which so often leads

To good, depress thee thus?

Jac. Fos.Had I gone forth

From my own land, like the old patriarchs, seeking

Another region, with their flocks and herds;

Had I been cast out like the Jews from Zion,

Or like our fathers, driven by Attila[63]160

From fertile Italy, to barren islets,

I would have given some tears to my late country

And many thoughts; but afterwards addressed

Myself, with those about me, to create

A new home and fresh state: perhaps I could

Have borne this—though I know not.

Mar.Wherefore not?

It was the lot of millions, and must be

The fate of myriads more.

Jac. Fos.Aye—we but hear

Of the survivors' toil in their new lands,[159]

Their numbers and success; but who can number170

The hearts which broke in silence at that parting,

Or after their departure; of that malady[64]

Which calls up green and native fields to view

From the rough deep, with such identity

To the poor exile's fevered eye, that he

Can scarcely be restrained from treading them?

That melody,[65] which out of tones and tunes[bn]

Collects such pasture for the longing sorrow

Of the sad mountaineer, when far away

From his snow canopy of cliffs and clouds,180

That he feeds on the sweet, but poisonous thought,

And dies.[66] You call this weakness! It is strength,

I say,—the parent of all honest feeling.

He who loves not his Country, can love nothing.

Mar. Obey her, then: 'tis she that puts thee forth.[160]

Jac. Fos. Aye, there it is; 'tis like a mother's curse

Upon my soul—the mark is set upon me.

The exiles you speak of went forth by nations,

Their hands upheld each other by the way,

Their tents were pitched together—I'm alone.190

Mar. You shall be so no more—I will go with thee.

Jac. Fos. My best Marina!—and our children?


I fear, by the prevention of the state's

Abhorrent policy, (which holds all ties

As threads, which may be broken at her pleasure),

Will not be suffered to proceed with us.

Jac. Fos. And canst thou leave them?

Mar.Yes—with many a pang!

But—I can leave them, children as they are,

To teach you to be less a child. From this

Learn you to sway your feelings, when exacted200

By duties paramount; and 'tis our first

On earth to bear.

Jac. Fos.Have I not borne?

Mar.Too much

From tyrannous injustice, and enough

To teach you not to shrink now from a lot,

Which, as compared with what you have undergone

Of late, is mercy.

Jac. Fos.Ah! you never yet

Were far away from Venice, never saw

Her beautiful towers in the receding distance,

While every furrow of the vessel's track

Seemed ploughing deep into your heart; you never210

Saw day go down upon your native spires[bo]

So calmly with its gold and crimson glory,

And after dreaming a disturbéd vision

Of them and theirs, awoke and found them not.

Mar. I will divide this with you. Let us think

Of our departure from this much-loved city,

(Since you must love it, as it seems,) and this

Chamber of state, her gratitude allots you.

Our children will be cared for by the Doge,

And by my uncles; we must sail ere night.220[161]

Jac. Fos. That's sudden. Shall I not behold my father?

Mar. You will.

Jac. Fos.Where?

Mar.Here, or in the ducal chamber—

He said not which. I would that you could bear

Your exile as he bears it.

Jac. Fos.Blame him not.

I sometimes murmur for a moment; but

He could not now act otherwise. A show

Of feeling or compassion on his part

Would have but drawn upon his agéd head

Suspicion from "the Ten," and upon mine

Accumulated ills.


What pangs are those they have spared you?

Jac. Fos.That of leaving

Venice without beholding him or you,

Which might have been forbidden now, as 'twas

Upon my former exile.

Mar.That is true,

And thus far I am also the State's debtor,

And shall be more so when I see us both

Floating on the free waves—away—away—

Be it to the earth's end, from this abhorred,

Unjust, and——

Jac. Fos.Curse it not. If I am silent,

Who dares accuse my Country?

Mar.Men and Angels!240

The blood of myriads reeking up to Heaven,

The groans of slaves in chains, and men in dungeons,

Mothers, and wives, and sons, and sires, and subjects,

Held in the bondage of ten bald-heads; and

Though last, not least, thy silence! Couldst thou say

Aught in its favour, who would praise like thee?

Jac. Fos. Let us address us then, since so it must be,

To our departure. Who comes here?


Enter Loredano attended by Familiars.

Lor. (to the Familiars).Retire,

But leave the torch.[Exeunt the two Familiars.

Jac. Fos.   Most welcome, noble Signor.

I did not deem this poor place could have drawn250

Such presence hither.

Lor.'Tis not the first time

I have visited these places.

Mar.Nor would be

The last, were all men's merits well rewarded.

Came you here to insult us, or remain[bp]

As spy upon us, or as hostage for us?

Lor. Neither are of my office, noble Lady!

I am sent hither to your husband, to

Announce "the Ten's" decree.

Mar.That tenderness

Has been anticipated: it is known.

Lor. As how?

Mar.I have informed him, not so gently,260

Doubtless, as your nice feelings would prescribe,

The indulgence of your colleagues; but he knew it.

If you come for our thanks, take them, and hence!

The dungeon gloom is deep enough without you,

And full of reptiles, not less loathsome, though

Their sting is honester.

Jac. Fos.I pray you, calm you:

What can avail such words?

Mar.To let him know

That he is known.

Lor.Let the fair dame preserve

Her sex's privilege.

Mar.I have some sons, sir,

Will one day thank you better.

Lor.You do well270

To nurse them wisely. Foscari—you know

Your sentence, then?

Jac. Fos.Return to Candia?


For life.[163]

Jac. Fos. Not long.

Lor.I said—for life.

Jac. Fos.And I

Repeat—not long.

Lor.A year's imprisonment

In Canea—afterwards the freedom of

The whole isle.

Jac. Fos.Both the same to me: the after

Freedom as is the first imprisonment.

Is't true my wife accompanies me?


If she so wills it.

Mar.Who obtained that justice?

Lor. One who wars not with women.

Mar.But oppresses280

Men: howsoever let him have my thanks

For the only boon I would have asked or taken

From him or such as he is.

Lor.He receives them

As they are offered.

Mar.May they thrive with him

So much!—no more.

Jac. Fos.Is this, sir, your whole mission?

Because we have brief time for preparation,

And you perceive your presence doth disquiet

This lady, of a house noble as yours.

Mar. Nobler!

Lor.How nobler?

Mar.As more generous!

We say the "generous steed" to express the purity290

Of his high blood. Thus much I've learnt, although

Venetian (who see few steeds save of bronze),[67]

From those Venetians who have skirred[68] the coasts

Of Egypt and her neighbour Araby:

And why not say as soon the "generous man?"

If race be aught, it is in qualities[164]

More than in years; and mine, which is as old

As yours, is better in its product, nay—

Look not so stern—but get you back, and pore

Upon your genealogic tree's most green300

Of leaves and most mature of fruits, and there

Blush to find ancestors, who would have blushed

For such a son—thou cold inveterate hater!

Jac. Fos. Again, Marina!

Mar.Again! still, Marina.

See you not, he comes here to glut his hate

With a last look upon our misery?

Let him partake it!

Jac. Fos.That were difficult.

Mar. Nothing more easy. He partakes it now—

Aye, he may veil beneath a marble brow

And sneering lip the pang, but he partakes it.310

A few brief words of truth shame the Devil's servants

No less than Master; I have probed his soul

A moment, as the Eternal Fire, ere long,

Will reach it always. See how he shrinks from me!

With death, and chains, and exile in his hand,

To scatter o'er his kind as he thinks fit;

They are his weapons, not his armour, for

I have pierced him to the core of his cold heart.

I care not for his frowns! We can but die,

And he but live, for him the very worst320

Of destinies: each day secures him more

His tempter's.

Jac. Fos.This is mere insanity.

Mar. It may be so; and who hath made us mad?

Lor. Let her go on; it irks not me.

Mar.That's false!

You came here to enjoy a heartless triumph

Of cold looks upon manifold griefs! You came

To be sued to in vain—to mark our tears,

And hoard our groans—to gaze upon the wreck

Which you have made a Prince's son—my husband;

In short, to trample on the fallen—an office330

The hangman shrinks from, as all men from him!

How have you sped? We are wretched, Signor, as

Your plots could make, and vengeance could desire us,[165]

And how feel you?

Lor.As rocks.

Mar.By thunder blasted:

They feel not, but no less are shivered. Come,

Foscari; now let us go, and leave this felon,

The sole fit habitant of such a cell,

Which he has peopled often, but ne'er fitly

Till he himself shall brood in it alone.

Enter the Doge.

Jac. Fos. My father!

Doge (embracing him). Jacopo! my son—my son!340

Jac. Fos. My father still! How long it is since I

Have heard thee name my name—our name!

Doge.My boy!

Couldst thou but know——

Jac. Fos.I rarely, sir, have murmured.

Doge. I feel too much thou hast not.

Mar.Doge, look there!

 [She points to Loredano.

Doge. I see the man—what mean'st thou?



The virtue which this noble lady most[bq]

May practise, she doth well to recommend it.

Mar. Wretch! 'tis no virtue, but the policy

Of those who fain must deal perforce with vice:

As such I recommend it, as I would350

To one whose foot was on an adder's path.

Doge. Daughter, it is superfluous; I have long

Known Loredano.

Lor.You may know him better.

Mar. Yes; worse he could not.

Jac. Fos.Father, let not these

Our parting hours be lost in listening to

Reproaches, which boot nothing. Is it—is it,

Indeed, our last of meetings?

Doge.You behold

These white hairs![166]

Jac. Fos.And I feel, besides, that mine

Will never be so white. Embrace me, father!

I loved you ever—never more than now.360

Look to my children—to your last child's children:

Let them be all to you which he was once,

And never be to you what I am now.

May I not see them also?

Mar.No—not here.

Jac. Fos. They might behold their parent any where.

Mar. I would that they beheld their father in

A place which would not mingle fear with love,

To freeze their young blood in its natural current.

They have fed well, slept soft, and knew not that

Their sire was a mere hunted outlaw. Well,370

I know his fate may one day be their heritage,

But let it only be their heritage,

And not their present fee. Their senses, though

Alive to love, are yet awake to terror;

And these vile damps, too, and yon thick green wave

Which floats above the place where we now stand—

A cell so far below the water's level,

Sending its pestilence through every crevice,

Might strike them: this is not their atmosphere,

However you—and you—and most of all,380

As worthiest—you, sir, noble Loredano!

May breathe it without prejudice.

Jac. Fos.I had not

Reflected upon this, but acquiesce.

I shall depart, then, without meeting them?

Doge. Not so: they shall await you in my chamber.

Jac. Fos. And must I leave them—all?

Lor.You must.

Jac. Fos.Not one?

Lor. They are the State's.

Mar.I thought they had been mine.

Lor. They are, in all maternal things.

Mar.That is,

In all things painful. If they're sick, they will

Be left to me to tend them; should they die,390

To me to bury and to mourn; but if

They live, they'll make you soldiers, senators,[167]

Slaves, exiles—what you will; or if they are

Females with portions, brides and bribes for nobles!

Behold the State's care for its sons and mothers!

Lor. The hour approaches, and the wind is fair.

Jac. Fos. How know you that here, where the genial wind

Ne'er blows in all its blustering freedom?

Lor.'Twas so

When I came here. The galley floats within

A bow-shot of the "Riva di Schiavoni."400

Jac. Fos. Father! I pray you to precede me, and

Prepare my children to behold their father.

Doge. Be firm, my son!

Jac. Fos.I will do my endeavour.

Mar. Farewell! at least to this detested dungeon,

And him to whose good offices you owe

In part your past imprisonment.

Lor.And present


Doge.He speaks truth.

Jac. Fos.No doubt! but 'tis

Exchange of chains for heavier chains I owe him.

He knows this, or he had not sought to change them,

But I reproach not.

Lor.The time narrows, Signor.410

Jac. Fos. Alas! I little thought so lingeringly

To leave abodes like this: but when I feel

That every step I take, even from this cell,

Is one away from Venice, I look back

Even on these dull damp walls, and——

Doge.Boy! no tears.

Mar. Let them flow on: he wept not on the rack

To shame him, and they cannot shame him now.

They will relieve his heart—that too kind heart—

And I will find an hour to wipe away

Those tears, or add my own. I could weep now,420

But would not gratify yon wretch so far.

Let us proceed. Doge, lead the way.

Lor. (to the Familiar).The torch, there!

Mar. Yes, light us on, as to a funeral pyre,

With Loredano mourning like an heir.[168]

Doge. My son, you are feeble; take this hand.

Jac. Fos.Alas!

Must youth support itself on age, and I

Who ought to be the prop of yours?

Lor.Take mine.

Mar. Touch it not, Foscari; 'twill sting you. Signor,

Stand off! be sure, that if a grasp of yours

Would raise us from the gulf wherein we are plunged,430

No hand of ours would stretch itself to meet it.

Come, Foscari, take the hand the altar gave you;

It could not save, but will support you ever.[Exeunt.


Scene I.—A Hall in the Ducal Palace.

Enter Loredano and Barbarigo.

Bar. And have you confidence in such a project?

Lor. I have.

Bar.'Tis hard upon his years.

Lor.Say rather

Kind to relieve him from the cares of State.

Bar. 'Twill break his heart.

Lor.Age has no heart to break.

He has seen his son's half broken, and, except

A start of feeling in his dungeon, never


Bar.In his countenance, I grant you, never;

But I have seen him sometimes in a calm

So desolate, that the most clamorous grief

Had nought to envy him within. Where is he?10

Lor. In his own portion of the palace, with

His son, and the whole race of Foscaris.

Bar. Bidding farewell.

Lor.A last! as, soon, he shall

Bid to his Dukedom.

Bar.When embarks the son?

Lor. Forthwith—when this long leave is taken. 'Tis

Time to admonish them again.[169]


Retrench not from their moments.

Lor.Not I, now

We have higher business for our own. This day

Shall be the last of the old Doge's reign,

As the first of his son's last banishment,20

And that is vengeance.

Bar.In my mind, too deep.

Lor. 'Tis moderate—not even life for life, the rule

Denounced of retribution from all time;

They owe me still my father's and my uncle's.

Bar. Did not the Doge deny this strongly?


Bar. And did not this shake your suspicion?


Bar. But if this deposition should take place

By our united influence in the Council,

It must be done with all the deference

Due to his years, his station, and his deeds.30

Lor. As much of ceremony as you will,

So that the thing be done. You may, for aught

I care, depute the Council on their knees,

(Like Barbarossa to the Pope,) to beg him

To have the courtesy to abdicate.

Bar. What if he will not?

Lor.We'll elect another,

And make him null.

Bar.But will the laws uphold us?[69]

Lor. What laws?—"The Ten" are laws; and if they were not,

I will be legislator in this business.

Bar. At your own peril?

Lor.There is none, I tell you,40

Our powers are such.

Bar.But he has twice already

Solicited permission to retire,

And twice it was refused.[170]

Lor.The better reason

To grant it the third time.


Lor.It shows

The impression of his former instances:

If they were from his heart, he may be thankful:

If not, 'twill punish his hypocrisy.

Come, they are met by this time; let us join them,

And be thou fixed in purpose for this once.

I have prepared such arguments as will not50

Fail to move them, and to remove him: since

Their thoughts, their objects, have been sounded, do not

You, with your wonted scruples, teach us pause,

And all will prosper.

Bar.Could I but be certain

This is no prelude to such persecution

Of the sire as has fallen upon the son,

I would support you.

Lor.He is safe, I tell you;

His fourscore years and five may linger on

As long as he can drag them: 'tis his throne

Alone is aimed at.

Bar.But discarded Princes60

Are seldom long of life.

Lor.And men of eighty

More seldom still.

Bar.And why not wait these few years?

Lor. Because we have waited long enough, and he

Lived longer than enough. Hence! in to council!

 [Exeunt Loredano and Barbarigo.

Enter Memmo[70] and a Senator.

Sen. A summons to "the Ten!" why so?

Mem."The Ten"[171]

Alone can answer; they are rarely wont

To let their thoughts anticipate their purpose

By previous proclamation. We are summoned—

That is enough.

Sen.For them, but not for us;

I would know why.

Mem.You will know why anon,70

If you obey: and, if not, you no less

Will know why you should have obeyed.

Sen.I mean not

To oppose them, but——

Mem.In Venice "but"'s a traitor.

But me no "buts" unless you would pass o'er

The Bridge which few repass.[71]

Sen.I am silent.


Thus hesitate? "The Ten" have called in aid

Of their deliberation five and twenty

Patricians of the Senate—you are one,

And I another; and it seems to me

Both honoured by the choice or chance which leads us80

To mingle with a body so august.

Sen. Most true. I say no more.

Mem.As we hope, Signor,

And all may honestly, (that is, all those

Of noble blood may,) one day hope to be

Decemvir, it is surely for the Senate's[br]

Chosen delegates, a school of wisdom, to

Be thus admitted, though as novices,

To view the mysteries.

Sen.Let us view them: they,

No doubt, are worth it.

Mem.Being worth our lives

If we divulge them, doubtless they are worth90

Something, at least to you or me.

Sen.I sought not

A place within the sanctuary; but being[172]

Chosen, however reluctantly so chosen,

I shall fulfil my office.

Mem.Let us not

Be latest in obeying "the Ten's" summons.

Sen. All are not met, but I am of your thought

So far—let's in.

Mem.The earliest are most welcome

In earnest councils—we will not be least so.[Exeunt.

Enter the Doge, Jacopo Foscari, and Marina.

Jac. Fos. Ah, father! though I must and will depart,

Yet—yet—I pray you to obtain for me100

That I once more return unto my home,

Howe'er remote the period. Let there be

A point of time, as beacon to my heart,

With any penalty annexed they please,

But let me still return.

Doge.Son Jacopo,

Go and obey our Country's will:[72] 'tis not

For us to look beyond.

Jac. Fos.But still I must

Look back. I pray you think of me.


You ever were my dearest offspring, when

They were more numerous, nor can be less so110

Now you are last; but did the State demand

The exile of the disinterréd ashes

Of your three goodly brothers, now in earth,[73]

And their desponding shades came flitting round

To impede the act, I must no less obey

A duty, paramount to every duty.

Mar. My husband! let us on: this but prolongs[173]

Our sorrow.

Jac. Fos.But we are not summoned yet;

The galley's sails are not unfurled:—who knows?

The wind may change.

Mar.And if it do, it will not120

Change their hearts, or your lot: the galley's oars

Will quickly clear the harbour.

Jac. Fos.O, ye Elements!

Where are your storms?

Mar.In human breasts. Alas!

Will nothing calm you?

Jac. Fos.Never yet did mariner

Put up to patron saint such prayers for prosperous

And pleasant breezes, as I call upon you,

Ye tutelar saints of my own city! which

Ye love not with more holy love than I,

To lash up from the deep the Adrian waves,

And waken Auster, sovereign of the Tempest!130

Till the sea dash me back on my own shore

A broken corse upon the barren Lido,

Where I may mingle with the sands which skirt

The land I love, and never shall see more!

Mar. And wish you this with me beside you?

Jac. Fos.No—

No—not for thee, too good, too kind! May'st thou

Live long to be a mother to those children

Thy fond fidelity for a time deprives

Of such support! But for myself alone,

May all the winds of Heaven howl down the Gulf,140

And tear the vessel, till the mariners,

Appalled, turn their despairing eyes on me,

As the Phenicians did on Jonah, then

Cast me out from amongst them, as an offering

To appease the waves. The billow which destroys me

Will be more merciful than man, and bear me

Dead, but still bear me to a native grave,

From fishers' hands, upon the desolate strand,

Which, of its thousand wrecks, hath ne'er received

One lacerated like the heart which then150

Will be.—But wherefore breaks it not? why live I?

Mar. To man thyself, I trust, with time, to master[174]

Such useless passion. Until now thou wert

A sufferer, but not a loud one: why

What is this to the things thou hast borne in silence—

Imprisonment and actual torture?

Jac. Fos.Double,

Triple, and tenfold torture! But you are right,

It must be borne. Father, your blessing.


It could avail thee! but no less thou hast it.

Jac. Fos. Forgive——


Jac. Fos.My poor mother, for my birth,160

And me for having lived, and you yourself

(As I forgive you), for the gift of life,

Which you bestowed upon me as my sire.

Mar.   What hast thou done?

Jac. Fos.Nothing. I cannot charge

My memory with much save sorrow: but

I have been so beyond the common lot

Chastened and visited, I needs must think

That I was wicked. If it be so, may

What I have undergone here keep me from

A like hereafter!

Mar.Fear not: that's reserved170

For your oppressors.

Jac. Fos.Let me hope not.

Mar.Hope not?

Jac. Fos. I cannot wish them all they have inflicted.

Mar. All! the consummate fiends! A thousandfold

May the worm which never dieth feed upon them!

Jac. Fos. They may repent.

Mar.And if they do, Heaven will not

Accept the tardy penitence of demons.

Enter an Officer and Guards.

Offi. Signor! the boat is at the shore—the wind

Is rising—we are ready to attend you.

Jac. Fos. And I to be attended. Once more, father,

Your hand!

Doge.Take it. Alas! how thine own trembles!180[175]

Joe. Fos. No—you mistake; 'tis yours that shakes, my father.


Doge.Farewell! Is there aught else?

Jac. Fos.No—nothing.

 [To the Officer.

Lend me your arm, good Signor.

Offi.You turn pale—

Let me support you—paler—ho! some aid there!

Some water!

Mar.Ah, he is dying!

Jac. Fos.Now, I'm ready—

My eyes swim strangely—where's the door?


Let me support him—my best love! Oh, God!

How faintly beats this heart—this pulse!

Jac. Fos.The light!

Is it the light?—I am faint.

 [Officer presents him with water.

Offi.He will be better,

Perhaps, in the air.

Jac. Fos.I doubt not. Father—wife—190

Your hands!

Mar.There's death in that damp, clammy grasp.[74]

Oh, God!—My Foscari, how fare you?

Jac. Fos.Well![He dies.

Offi. He's gone!

Doge.He's free.

Mar.No—no, he is not dead;

There must be life yet in that heart—he could not[bs]

Thus leave me.


Mar.Hold thy peace, old man![176]

I am no daughter now—thou hast no son.

Oh, Foscari!

Offi.We must remove the body.

Mar. Touch it not, dungeon miscreants! your base office

Ends with his life, and goes not beyond murder,

Even by your murderous laws. Leave his remains200

To those who know to honour them.

Offi.I must

Inform the Signory, and learn their pleasure.

Doge. Inform the Signory from me, the Doge,

They have no further power upon those ashes:

While he lived, he was theirs, as fits a subject—

Now he is mine—my broken-hearted boy![Exit Officer.

Mar. And I must live!

Doge.Your children live, Marina.

Mar. My children! true—they live, and I must live

To bring them up to serve the State, and die

As died their father. Oh! what best of blessings210

Were barrenness in Venice! Would my mother

Had been so!

Doge.My unhappy children!


You feel it then at last—you!—Where is now

The Stoic of the State?

Doge (throwing himself down by the body). Here!

Mar.Aye, weep on!

I thought you had no tears—you hoarded them

Until they are useless; but weep on! he never

Shall weep more—never, never more.

Enter Loredano and Barbarigo.

Lor.What's here?

Mar. Ah! the Devil come to insult the dead! Avaunt!

Incarnate Lucifer! 'tis holy ground.

A martyr's ashes now lie there, which make it220

A shrine. Get thee back to thy place of torment!

Bar. Lady, we knew not of this sad event,

But passed here merely on our path from council.

Mar. Pass on.[177]

Lor.We sought the Doge.

Mar. (pointing to the Doge, who is still on the ground

by his son's body)He's busy, look,

About the business you provided for him.

Are ye content?

Bar.We will not interrupt

A parent's sorrows.

Mar.No, ye only make them,

Then leave them.

Doge (rising).Sirs, I am ready.

Bar.No—not now.

Lor. Yet 'twas important.

Doge.If 'twas so, I can

Only repeat—I am ready.

Bar.It shall not be230

Just now, though Venice tottered o'er the deep

Like a frail vessel. I respect your griefs.

Doge. I thank you. If the tidings which you bring

Are evil, you may say them; nothing further

Can touch me more than him thou look'st on there;

If they be good, say on; you need not fear

That they can comfort me.

Bar.I would they could!

Doge. I spoke not to you, but to Loredano.

He understands me.

Mar.Ah! I thought it would be so.

Doge. What mean you?

Mar.Lo! there is the blood beginning240

To flow through the dead lips of Foscari—

The body bleeds in presence of the assassin.

 [To Loredano.

Thou cowardly murderer by law, behold

How Death itself bears witness to thy deeds!

Doge. My child! this is a phantasy of grief.

Bear hence the body. [To his attendants] Signors, if it please you,

Within an hour I'll hear you.

[Exeunt Doge, Marina, and attendants with the body.
Loredano and Barbarigo.

Bar.He must not

Be troubled now.


Lor.He said himself that nought

Could give him trouble farther.

Bar.These are words;

But Grief is lonely, and the breaking in250

Upon it barbarous.

Lor.Sorrow preys upon

Its solitude, and nothing more diverts it

From its sad visions of the other world,

Than calling it at moments back to this.

The busy have no time for tears.

Bar.And therefore

You would deprive this old man of all business?

Lor. The thing's decreed. The Giunta[75] and "the Ten"

Have made it law—who shall oppose that law?

Bar. Humanity!

Lor.Because his son is dead?

Bar. And yet unburied.

Lor.Had we known this when260

The act was passing, it might have suspended

Its passage, but impedes it not—once passed.

Bar. I'll not consent.

Lor.You have consented to

All that's essential—leave the rest to me.

Bar. Why press his abdication now?

Lor.The feelings

Of private passion may not interrupt

The public benefit; and what the State

Decides to-day must not give way before

To-morrow for a natural accident.

Bar. You have a son.

Lor.I have—and had a father.270

Bar. Still so inexorable?


Bar.But let him

Inter his son before we press upon him[179]

This edict.

Lor.Let him call up into life

My sire and uncle—I consent. Men may,

Even agéd men, be, or appear to be,

Sires of a hundred sons, but cannot kindle

An atom of their ancestors from earth.

The victims are not equal; he has seen

His sons expire by natural deaths, and I

My sires by violent and mysterious maladies.280

I used no poison, bribed no subtle master

Of the destructive art of healing, to

Shorten the path to the eternal cure.

His sons—and he had four—are dead, without

My dabbling in vile drugs.

Bar.And art thou sure

He dealt in such?

Lor.Most sure.

Bar.And yet he seems

All openness.

Lor.And so he seemed not long

Ago to Carmagnuola.

Bar.The attainted

And foreign traitor?

Lor.Even so: when he,

After the very night in which "the Ten"290

(Joined with the Doge) decided his destruction,

Met the great Duke at daybreak with a jest,

Demanding whether he should augur him

"The good day or good night?" his Doge-ship answered,

"That he in truth had passed a night of vigil,

In which" (he added with a gracious smile)

"There often has been question about you."[76]

'Twas true; the question was the death resolved

Of Carmagnuola, eight months ere he died;

And the old Doge, who knew him doomed, smiled on him300[180]

With deadly cozenage, eight long months beforehand—

Eight months of such hypocrisy as is

Learnt but in eighty years. Brave Carmagnuola

Is dead; so is young Foscari and his brethren—

I never smiled on them.

Bar.Was Carmagnuola

Your friend?

Lor.He was the safeguard of the city.

In early life its foe, but in his manhood,

Its saviour first, then victim.

Bar.Ah! that seems

The penalty of saving cities. He

Whom we now act against not only saved310

Our own, but added others to her sway.

Lor. The Romans (and we ape them) gave a crown

To him who took a city: and they gave

A crown to him who saved a citizen

In battle: the rewards are equal. Now,

If we should measure forth the cities taken

By the Doge Foscari, with citizens

Destroyed by him, or through him, the account

Were fearfully against him, although narrowed

To private havoc, such as between him320

And my dead father.

Bar.Are you then thus fixed?

Lor. Why, what should change me?

Bar.That which changes me.

But you, I know, are marble to retain

A feud. But when all is accomplished, when

The old man is deposed, his name degraded,

His sons all dead, his family depressed,

And you and yours triumphant, shall you sleep?

Lor. More soundly.

Bar.That's an error, and you'll find it

Ere you sleep with your fathers.

Lor.They sleep not

In their accelerated graves, nor will330

Till Foscari fills his. Each night I see them

Stalk frowning round my couch, and, pointing towards

The ducal palace, marshal me to vengeance.

Bar. Fancy's distemperature! There is no passion[181]

More spectral or fantastical than Hate;

Not even its opposite, Love, so peoples air

With phantoms, as this madness of the heart.

Enter an Officer.

Lor. Where go you, sirrah?

Offi.By the ducal order

To forward the preparatory rites

For the late Foscari's interment.


Vault has been often opened of late years.

Lor. 'Twill be full soon, and may be closed for ever!

Offi. May I pass on?

Lor.You may.

Bar.How bears the Doge

This last calamity?

Offi.With desperate firmness.

In presence of another he says little,

But I perceive his lips move now and then;

And once or twice I heard him, from the adjoining

Apartment, mutter forth the words—"My son!"

Scarce audibly. I must proceed.[Exit Officer.

Bar.This stroke

Will move all Venice in his favour.


We must be speedy: let us call together

The delegates appointed to convey

The Council's resolution.

Bar.I protest

Against it at this moment.

Lor.As you please—

I'll take their voices on it ne'ertheless,

And see whose most may sway them, yours or mine.

 [Exeunt Barbarigo and Loredano.



Scene I.—The Doge's Apartment.

The Doge and Attendants.

Att. My Lord, the deputation is in waiting;

But add, that if another hour would better

Accord with your will, they will make it theirs.

Doge. To me all hours are like. Let them approach.

 [Exit Attendant.

An Officer. Prince! I have done your bidding.

DogeWhat command?

Offi. A melancholy one—to call the attendance


Doge.True—true—true: I crave your pardon. I

Begin to fail in apprehension, and

Wax very old—old almost as my years.

Till now I fought them off, but they begin10

To overtake me.

Enter the Deputation, consisting of six of the Signory and the Chief of the Ten.

Noble men, your pleasure!

Chief of the Ten. In the first place, the Council doth condole

With the Doge on his late and private grief.

Doge. No more—no more of that.

Chief of the Ten.Will not the Duke

Accept the homage of respect?

Doge.I do

Accept it as 'tis given—proceed.

Chief of the Ten."The Ten,"

With a selected giunta from the Senate

Of twenty-five of the best born patricians,

Having deliberated on the state

Of the Republic, and the o'erwhelming cares20

Which, at this moment, doubly must oppress

Your years, so long devoted to your Country,[183]

Have judged it fitting, with all reverence,

Now to solicit from your wisdom (which

Upon reflection must accord in this),

The resignation of the ducal ring,

Which you have worn so long and venerably:

And to prove that they are not ungrateful, nor

Cold to your years and services, they add

An appanage of twenty hundred golden30

Ducats, to make retirement not less splendid

Than should become a Sovereign's retreat.

Doge. Did I hear rightly?

Chief of the Ten.Need I say again?

Doge. No.—Have you done?

Chief of the Ten.I have spoken. Twenty four[77]

Hours are accorded you to give an answer.

Doge. I shall not need so many seconds.

Chief of the Ten.We

Will now retire.

Doge.Stay! four and twenty hours

Will alter nothing which I have to say.

Chief of the Ten. Speak!

Doge.When I twice before reiterated

My wish to abdicate, it was refused me:40

And not alone refused, but ye exacted

An oath from me that I would never more

Renew this instance. I have sworn to die

In full exertion of the functions, which

My Country called me here to exercise,

According to my honour and my conscience—

I cannot break my oath.

Chief of the Ten.Reduce us not

To the alternative of a decree,

Instead of your compliance.


Prolongs my days to prove and chasten me;50

But ye have no right to reproach my length[184]

Of days, since every hour has been the Country's.

I am ready to lay down my life for her,

As I have laid down dearer things than life:

But for my dignity—I hold it of

The whole Republic: when the general will

Is manifest, then you shall all be answered.

Chief of the Ten. We grieve for such an answer; but it cannot

Avail you aught.

Doge.I can submit to all things,

But nothing will advance; no, not a moment.60

What you decree—decree.

Chief of the Ten.With this, then, must we

Return to those who sent us?

Doge.You have heard me.

Chief of the Ten. With all due reverence we retire.

 [Exeunt the Deputation, etc.

Enter an Attendant.

Att.My Lord,

The noble dame Marina craves an audience.

Doge. My time is hers.

Enter Marina.

Mar.My Lord, if I intrude—

Perhaps you fain would be alone?


Alone, come all the world around me, I

Am now and evermore. But we will bear it.

Mar. We will, and for the sake of those who are,

Endeavour——Oh, my husband!

Doge.Give it way:70

I cannot comfort thee.

Mar.He might have lived,

So formed for gentle privacy of life,

So loving, so beloved; the native of

Another land, and who so blest and blessing

As my poor Foscari? Nothing was wanting

Unto his happiness and mine save not

To be Venetian.[185]

Doge.Or a Prince's son.

Mar. Yes; all things which conduce to other men's

Imperfect happiness or high ambition,

By some strange destiny, to him proved deadly.80

The Country and the People whom he loved,

The Prince of whom he was the elder born,


Doge.Soon may be a Prince no longer.


Doge. They have taken my son from me, and now aim

At my too long worn diadem and ring.

Let them resume the gewgaws!

Mar.Oh, the tyrants!

In such an hour too!

Doge.'Tis the fittest time;

An hour ago I should have felt it.


Will you not now resent it?—Oh, for vengeance!

But he, who, had he been enough protected,90

Might have repaid protection in this moment,

Cannot assist his father.

Doge.Nor should do so

Against his Country, had he a thousand lives

Instead of that——

Mar.They tortured from him. This

May be pure patriotism. I am a woman:

To me my husband and my children were

Country and home. I loved him—how I loved him!

I have seen him pass through such an ordeal as

The old martyrs would have shrunk from: he is gone,

And I, who would have given my blood for him,100

Have nought to give but tears! But could I compass

The retribution of his wrongs!—Well, well!

I have sons, who shall be men.

Doge.Your grief distracts you.

Mar. I thought I could have borne it, when I saw him

Bowed down by such oppression; yes, I thought

That I would rather look upon his corse

Than his prolonged captivity:—I am punished

For that thought now. Would I were in his grave!

Doge. I must look on him once more.[186]

Mar.Come with me!

Doge. Is he——

Mar.Our bridal bed is now his bier,110

Doge. And he is in his shroud!

Mar.Come, come, old man!

 [Exeunt the Doge and Marina.

Enter Barbarigo and Loredano.

Bar. (to an Attendant). Where is the Doge?

Att.This instant retired hence,

With the illustrious lady his son's widow.

Lor. Where?

Att.To the chamber where the body lies.

Bar. Let us return, then.

Lor.You forget, you cannot.

We have the implicit order of the Giunta

To await their coming here, and join them in

Their office: they'll be here soon after us.

Bar. And will they press their answer on the Doge?

Lor. 'Twas his own wish that all should be done promptly.120

He answered quickly, and must so be answered;

His dignity is looked to, his estate

Cared for—what would he more?

Bar.Die in his robes:

He could not have lived long; but I have done

My best to save his honours, and opposed

This proposition to the last, though vainly.

Why would the general vote compel me hither?

Lor. 'Twas fit that some one of such different thoughts

From ours should be a witness, lest false tongues

Should whisper that a harsh majority130

Dreaded to have its acts beheld by others.

Bar. And not less, I must needs think, for the sake

Of humbling me for my vain opposition.

You are ingenious, Loredano, in

Your modes of vengeance, nay, poetical,

A very Ovid in the art of hating;

'Tis thus (although a secondary object,

Yet hate has microscopic eyes), to you[187]

I owe, by way of foil to the more zealous,

This undesired association in140

Your Giunta's duties.

Lor.How!—my Giunta!


They speak your language, watch your nod, approve

Your plans, and do your work. Are they not yours?

Lor. You talk unwarily. 'Twere best they hear not

This from you.

Bar.Oh! they'll hear as much one day

From louder tongues than mine; they have gone beyond

Even their exorbitance of power: and when

This happens in the most contemned and abject

States, stung humanity will rise to check it.

Lor. You talk but idly.

Bar.That remains for proof.150

Here come our colleagues.

Enter the Deputation as before.

Chief of the Ten.Is the Duke aware

We seek his presence?

Att.He shall be informed.

 [Exit Attendant.

Bar. The Duke is with his son.

Chief of the Ten.If it be so,

We will remit him till the rites are over.

Let us return. 'Tis time enough to-morrow.

Lor. (aside to Bar.) Now the rich man's hell-fire upon your tongue,

Unquenched, unquenchable! I'll have it torn

From its vile babbling roots, till you shall utter

Nothing but sobs through blood, for this! Sage Signors,

I pray ye be not hasty.[Aloud to the others.

Bar.But be human!160

Lor. See, the Duke comes!

Enter the Doge.

Doge.I have obeyed your summons.

Chief of the Ten. We come once more to urge our past request.[188]

Doge. And I to answer.

Chief of the Ten.What?

Doge.My only answer.

You have heard it.

Chief of the Ten.Hear you then the last decree,

Definitive and absolute!

Doge.To the point—

To the point! I know of old the forms of office,

And gentle preludes to strong acts.—Go on!

Chief of the Ten. You are no longer Doge; you are released

From your imperial oath as Sovereign;

Your ducal robes must be put off; but for170

Your services, the State allots the appanage

Already mentioned in our former congress.

Three days are left you to remove from hence,

Under the penalty to see confiscated

All your own private fortune.

Doge.That last clause,

I am proud to say, would not enrich the treasury.

Chief of the Ten. Your answer, Duke!

Lor.Your answer, Francis Foscari!

Doge. If I could have foreseen that my old age

Was prejudicial to the State, the Chief

Of the Republic never would have shown180

Himself so far ungrateful, as to place

His own high dignity before his Country;

But this life having been so many years

Not useless to that Country, I would fain

Have consecrated my last moments to her.

But the decree being rendered, I obey.[bt][78]

Chief of the Ten. If you would have the three days named extended,

We willingly will lengthen them to eight,

As sign of our esteem.

Doge.Not eight hours, Signor,[189]

Not even eight minutes—there's the ducal ring,190

 [Taking off his ring and cap.

And there the ducal diadem! And so

The Adriatic's free to wed another.

Chief of the Ten. Yet go not forth so quickly.

Doge.I am old, sir,

And even to move but slowly must begin

To move betimes. Methinks I see amongst you

A face I know not.—Senator! your name,

You, by your garb, Chief of the Forty!


I am the son of Marco Memmo.


Your father was my friend.—But sons and fathers!

What, ho! my servants there!

Atten.My Prince!

Doge.No Prince—200

There are the princes of the Prince!

[Pointing to the Ten's Deputation


To part from hence upon the instant.

Chief of the Ten.Why

So rashly? 'twill give scandal.

Doge. (To the Ten).Answer that;

It is your province.

[To the Servants.

—Sirs, bestir yourselves:

There is one burthen which I beg you bear

With care, although 'tis past all farther harm—

But I will look to that myself.

Bar.He means

The body of his son.

Doge.And call Marina,

My daughter!

Enter Marina.

Doge.Get thee ready, we must mourn


Mar.And everywhere.

Doge.True; but in freedom,210

Without these jealous spies upon the great.

Signers, you may depart: what would you more?[190]

We are going; do you fear that we shall bear

The palace with us? Its old walls, ten times

As old as I am, and I'm very old,

Have served you, so have I, and I and they

Could tell a tale; but I invoke them not

To fall upon you! else they would, as erst

The pillars of stone Dagon's temple on

The Israelite and his Philistine foes.220

Such power I do believe there might exist

In such a curse as mine, provoked by such

As you; but I curse not. Adieu, good Signers!

May the next Duke be better than the present!

Lor. The present Duke is Paschal Malipiero.

Doge. Not till I pass the threshold of these doors.

Lor. Saint Mark's great bell is soon about to toll

For his inauguration.

Doge.Earth and Heaven!

Ye will reverberate this peal; and I

Live to hear this!—the first Doge who e'er heard230

Such sound for his successor: happier he,

My attainted predecessor, stern Faliero—

This insult at the least was spared him.


Do you regret a traitor?

Doge.No—I merely

Envy the dead.

Chief of the Ten.   My Lord, if you indeed

Are bent upon this rash abandonment

Of the State's palace, at the least retire

By the private staircase, which conducts you towards

The landing-place of the canal.

Doge.No. I

Will now descend the stairs by which I mounted240

To sovereignty—the Giants' Stairs, on whose

Broad eminence I was invested Duke.

My services have called me up those steps,

The malice of my foes will drive me down them.[79]

There five and thirty years ago was I

Installed, and traversed these same halls, from which[191]

I never thought to be divorced except

A corse—a corse, it might be, fighting for them—

But not pushed hence by fellow-citizens.

But come; my son and I will go together—250

He to his grave, and I to pray for mine.

Chief of the Ten. What! thus in public?

Doge.I was publicly

Elected, and so will I be deposed.

Marina! art thou willing?

Mar.Here's my arm!

Doge. And here my staff: thus propped will I go forth.

Chief of the Ten. It must not be—the people will perceive it.

Doge. The people,—There's no people, you well know it,

Else you dare not deal thus by them or me.

There is a populace, perhaps, whose looks

May shame you; but they dare not groan nor curse you,260

Save with their hearts and eyes.

Chief of the Ten.You speak in passion,


Doge. You have reason. I have spoken much

More than my wont: it is a foible which

Was not of mine, but more excuses you,

Inasmuch as it shows, that I approach

A dotage which may justify this deed

Of yours, although the law does not, nor will.

Farewell, sirs!

Bar.You shall not depart without

An escort fitting past and present rank.

We will accompany, with due respect,270

The Doge unto his private palace. Say!

My brethren, will we not?

Different voices.Aye!—Aye!

Doge.You shall not

Stir—in my train, at least. I entered here

As Sovereign—I go out as citizen

By the same portals, but as citizen.

All these vain ceremonies are base insults,[192]

Which only ulcerate the heart the more,

Applying poisons there as antidotes.

Pomp is for Princes—I am none!—That's false,

I am, but only to these gates.—Ah!


 [The great bell of St. Mark's tolls.

Bar. The bell!

Chief of the Ten. St. Mark's, which tolls for the election

Of Malipiero.

Doge.Well I recognise

The sound! I heard it once, but once before,

And that is five and thirty years ago;

Even then I was not young.

Bar.Sit down, my Lord!

You tremble.

Doge.'Tis the knell of my poor boy!

My heart aches bitterly.

Bar.I pray you sit.

Doge. No; my seat here has been a throne till now.

Marina! let us go.

Mar.Most readily.

Doge. (walks a few steps, then stops).

I feel athirst—will no one bring me here290

A cup of water?


Mar.And I——

Lor.And I——

 [The Doge takes a goblet from the hand of Loredano.

Doge. I take yours, Loredano, from the hand

Most fit for such an hour as this.[bu]

Lor.Why so?

Doge. 'Tis said that our Venetian crystal has

Such pure antipathy to poisons as

To burst, if aught of venom touches it.

You bore this goblet, and it is not broken.

Lor. Well, sir!

Doge.Then it is false, or you are true.

For my own part, I credit neither; 'tis[193]

An idle legend.

Mar.You talk wildly, and300

Had better now be seated, nor as yet

Depart. Ah! now you look as looked my husband!

Bar. He sinks!—support him!—quick—a chair—support him!

Doge. The bell tolls on!—let's hence—my brain's on fire!

Bar. I do beseech you, lean upon us!


A Sovereign should die standing. My poor boy!

Off with your arms!—That bell![80]

 [The Doge drops down and dies.

Mar.My God! My God!

Bar. (to Lor.). Behold! your work's completed!

Chief of the Ten.Is there then

No aid? Call in assistance!

Att.'Tis all over.

Chief of the Ten. If it be so, at least his obsequies310

Shall be such as befits his name and nation,

His rank and his devotion to the duties

Of the realm, while his age permitted him

To do himself and them full justice. Brethren,

Say, shall it not be so?

Bar.He has not had

The misery to die a subject where[bv]

He reigned: then let his funeral rites be princely.[81]

Chief of the Ten. We are agreed, then?

All, except Lor., answer,Yes.[194]

Chief of the Ten. Heaven's peace be with him!

Mar. Signers, your pardon: this is mockery.320

Juggle no more with that poor remnant, which,

A moment since, while yet it had a soul,

(A soul by whom you have increased your Empire,

And made your power as proud as was his glory),

You banished from his palace and tore down

From his high place, with such relentless coldness;

And now, when he can neither know these honours,

Nor would accept them if he could, you, Signors,

Purpose, with idle and superfluous pomp,

To make a pageant over what you trampled.330

A princely funeral will be your reproach,

And not his honour.

Chief of the Ten.Lady, we revoke not

Our purposes so readily.

Mar.I know it,

As far as touches torturing the living.

I thought the dead had been beyond even you,

Though (some, no doubt) consigned to powers which may

Resemble that you exercise on earth.

Leave him to me; you would have done so for

His dregs of life, which you have kindly shortened:

It is my last of duties, and may prove340

A dreary comfort in my desolation.[bw]

Grief is fantastical, and loves the dead,

And the apparel of the grave.

Chief of the Ten.Do you

Pretend still to this office?

Mar.I do, Signor.

Though his possessions have been all consumed

In the State's service, I have still my dowry,

Which shall be consecrated to his rites,

And those of——[She stops with agitation.

Chief of the Ten.Best retain it for your children.

Mar. Aye, they are fatherless, I thank you.

Chief of the Ten.We

Cannot comply with your request. His relics350

Shall be exposed with wonted pomp, and followed

Unto their home by the new Doge, not clad[195]

As Doge, but simply as a senator.

Mar. I have heard of murderers, who have interred

Their victims; but ne'er heard, until this hour,

Of so much splendour in hypocrisy

O'er those they slew.[82] I've heard of widows' tears—

Alas! I have shed some—always thanks to you!

I've heard of heirs in sables—you have left none

To the deceased, so you would act the part360

Of such. Well, sirs, your will be done! as one day,

I trust, Heaven's will be done too![bx]

Chief of the Ten.Know you, Lady,

To whom ye speak, and perils of such speech?

Mar. I know the former better than yourselves;

The latter—like yourselves; and can face both.

Wish you more funerals?

Bar.Heed not her rash words;

Her circumstances must excuse her bearing.

Chief of the Ten. We will not note them down.

Bar. (turning to Lor., who is writing upon his tablets).

What art thou writing,

With such an earnest brow, upon thy tablets?

Lor. (pointing to the Doge's body). That he has paid me![83][196]

Chief of the Ten. What debt did he owe you?370

Lor. A long and just one; Nature's debt and mine.[84]

[Curtain falls[85]


[34] {113}[The MS. of The Two Foscari is now in the possession of H.R.H. the Princess of Wales.]

[35] [Begun June the 12th, completed July the 9th, Ravenna, 1821.—Byron MS.]

[36] [Gov. "The father softens—but the governor is fixed." Dingle. "Aye that antithesis of persons is a most established figure."—Critic, act ii. sc. 2.

Byron may have guessed that this passage would be quoted against him, and, by taking it as a motto, hoped to anticipate or disarm ridicule; or he may have selected it out of bravado, as though, forsooth, the public were too stupid to find him out.]

[at]{121} ——too soon repeated.—[MS. erased.]

[37] [It is a moot point whether Jacopo Foscari was placed on the rack on the occasion of his third trial. The original document of the X. (July 23, 1456) runs thus: "Si videtur vobis per ea quæ dicta et lecta sunt, quod procedatur contra Ser Jacobum Foscari;" and it is argued (see F. Berlan, I due Foscari, etc., 1852, p. 57), (1) that the word procedatur is not a euphemism for "tortured," but should be rendered "judgment be given against;" (2) that if the X had decreed torture, torture would have been expressly enjoined; and (3) that as the decrees of the Council were not divulged, there was no motive for ambiguity. S. Romanin (Storia Documentata, etc., 1853, iv. 284) and R. Senger (Die beiden Foscari, 1878, p. 116) take the same view. On the other hand, Miss A. Wiel (Two Doges of Venice, 1891, p. 107) points out that, according to the Dolfin Cronaca, which Berlan did not consult, Jacopo was in a "mutilated" condition when the trial was over, and he was permitted to take a last farewell of his wife and children in Torricella. Goethe (Conversations, 1874, pp. 264, 265) did not share Eckermann's astonishment that Byron "could dwell so long on this torturing subject." "He was always a self-tormentor, and hence such subjects were his darling theme."]

[38] {122}[It is extremely improbable that Francesco Foscari was present in person at the third or two preceding trials of his son. As may be gathered from the parte of the Council of Ten relating to the first trial, there was a law which prescribed the contrary: "In ipsius Domini Ducis præsentiâ de rebus ad ipsum, vel ad filios suos tangentibus non tractetur, loquatur vel consulatur, sicut non potest (fieri) quando tractatur de rebus tangentibus ad attinentes Domini Ducis." The fact that "Nos Franciscus Foscari," etc., stood at the commencement of the decree of exile may have given rise to the tradition that the Doge, like a Roman father, tried and condemned his son. (See Berlan's I due Foscari, p. 13.)]

[39] {123}[Pietro Loredano, admiral of the Venetian fleet, died November 11, 1438. His death was sudden and suspicious, for he was taken with violent pains and spasms after presiding at a banquet in honour of his victories over the Milanese; and, when his illness ended fatally, it was remembered that the Doge had publicly declared that so long as the admiral lived he would never be de facto Prince of the Republic. Jacopo Loredano chose to put his own interpretation on this outburst of impatience, and inscribed on his father's monument in the Church of the Monastery of Sant' Elena, in the Isola della Santa Lena, the words, "Per insidias hostium veneno sublatus." (See Ecclesiæ Venetæ, by Flaminio Cornaro, 1749, ix. 193, 194; see, too, Cicogna's Inscrizioni Veneziane, 1830, iii. 381.)

Not long afterwards Marco Loredano, the admiral's brother, met with a somewhat similar fate. He had been despatched by the X. to Legnano, to investigate the conduct of Andrea Donate, the Doge's brother-in-law, who was suspected of having embezzled the public moneys. His report was unfavourable to Donato, and, shortly after, he too fell sick and died. It is most improbable that the Doge was directly or indirectly responsible for the death of either brother; but there was an hereditary feud, and the libellous epitaph was a move in the game.]

[40] {124}[Daru gives Palazzi's Fasti Ducales and L'Histoire Vénitienne of Vianolo as his authorities for this story.]


——checked by nought

The vessel that creaks——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[av] {125} ——much pity.—[MS. M. erased.]

[41] ["This whole episode in the private life of the Foscari family is valuable chiefly for the light it throws upon the internal history of Venice. We are clearly in an atmosphere unknown before. The Council of Ten is all-powerful; it even usurps functions which do not belong to it by the constitution. The air is charged with plots, suspicion, assassination, denunciation, spies,—all the paraphernalia which went to confirm the popular legend as to the terrible nature of the Dieci."—Venice, etc., by Horatio F. Brown, 1893, p. 305.]

[aw] {126} In this brief colloquy, and must redeem it.—[MS. M.]

[42] [Compare—

"And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy

Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be

Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy

I wantoned with thy breakers."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza clxxxiv. lines 1-4,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 461, note 2.]

[43] {127}[The climate of Crete is genial and healthy; but the town of Candia is exposed to winds from the north and north-west.]

[ax] I see your colour comes.—[MS. M.]

[44] {130}["She was a Contarini (her name was Lucrezia, not Marina)—

'A daughter of the house that now among

Its ancestors in monumental brass

Numbers eight Doges.'

On the occasion of her marriage the Bucentaur came out in its splendour; and a bridge of boats was thrown across the Canal Grande for the bridegroom and his retinue of three hundred horse."—Foscari, by Samuel Rogers, Poems, 1852, ii. 93, note.

According to another footnote (ibid., p. 90), "this story (Foscari) and the tragedy of the Two Foscari were published within a few days of each other, in November, 1821." The first edition of Italy was published anonymously in 1822. According to the announcement of a corrected and enlarged edition, which appeared in the Morning Chronicle, April 11, 1823, "a few copies of this poem were printed off the winter before last, while the author was abroad."]

[ay] {132} Do not deem so.—[MS. M.]

[45] {133}[Jacopo's plea, that the letter to the Duke of Milan was written for the express purpose of being recalled to Venice, is inadmissible for more reasons than one. In the first place, if on suspicion of a letter written but never sent, the Ten had thought fit to recall him, it by no means followed that they would have granted him an interview with his wife and family; and, secondly, the fact that there were letters in cypher found in his possession, and that a direct invitation to the Sultan to rescue him by force was among the impounded documents ("Quod requirebat dictum Teucrum ut mitteret ex galeis suis ad accipiendum et levandum eum de dicto loco"), proves that the appeal to the Duke of Milan was bonâ fide, and not a mere act of desperation. (See The Two Doges, pp. 101, 102, and Berlan's I due Poscari, p. 53, etc.)]

[46] {134}[There is no documentary evidence for this "confession," which rests on a mere tradition. (Vide Sanudo, Vita Ducum Venetorum, apud Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., 1733, xxii. col. 1139; see, too, Berlan, I due Foscari, p. 37.) Moreover, Almoro Donato was not chief of the "Ten" at the date of his murder. The three "Capi" for November, 1450, were Ermolao Vallaresso, Giovanni Giustiniani, and Andrea Marcello (vide ibid., p. 25).]

[47] {135}["Examination by torture: 'Such presumption is only sufficient to put the person to the rack or torture' (Ayliffe's Parergon)."—Cent. Dict., art. "Question."]

[48] [Shakespeare, Milton, Thompson, and others, use "shook" for "shaken."]

[az] As was proved on him——.—[MS. M.]

[49] [The inarticulate mutterings are probably an echo of the "incantation and magic words" ("incantationem et verba quas sibi reperta sunt de quibus ad funem utitur ... quoniam in fune aliquam nec vocem nec gemitum emittit sed solum inter dentes ipse videtur et auditur loqui" [Die beiden Foscari, pp. 160, 161]), which, according to the decree of the Council of Ten, dated March 26, 1451, Jacopo let fall "while under torture" during his second trial.]

[ba] {137} I'll hence and follow Loredano home.—[MS. M.]

[bb] That I had dipped the pen too heedlessly.—[MS. M.]

[bc] {138} Mistress of Lombardy—'tis some comfort to me.—[MS. M.]

[50] [Compare "Ce fut l'époque, où Vénise étendit son empire sur Brescia, Bergame, Ravenne, et Crème; où elle fonda sa domination de Lombardie," etc. (Sismondi's Histoire des Républiques, x. 38). Brescia fell to the Venetians, October, 1426; Bergamo, in April, 1428; Ravenna, in August, 1440; and Crema, in 1453.]

[51] {139}[The Bridge of Sighs was not built till the end of the sixteenth century. (Vide ante, Marino Faliero, act i. sc. 2, line 508, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 363, note 2; see, too, Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza i. line 1, et post, act iv. sc. 1, line 75.)]

[bd] {141} To tears save those of dotage——.—[MS. M.]

[52] {143}[Five sons were born to the Doge, of whom four died of the plague (Two Doges, etc., by A. Wiel, 1891, p. 77).]

[53] {144}[The Doge offered to abdicate in June, 1433, in June, 1442, and again in 1446 (see Romanin, Storia, etc., 1855, iv. 170, 171, note 1).]

[54] [Vide ante, p. 123.]

[55] {148}[For the Pozzi and Piombi, see Marino Faliero, act i. sc. 2, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 363, note 2.]

[be] Keep this for them——.—[MS. M.]

[bf] {149} The blackest leaf, his heart, and blankest, his brain.—[MS. M.]

[bg]and best in humblest stations.—[MS. M.]


Where hunger swallows all—where ever was

The monarch who could bear a three days' fast?—[MS. M.]

[bi] Their disposition——.—[MS. M.]

[56] [It would seem that Byron's "not ourselves" by no means "made for" righteousness.]


——the will itself dependent

Upon a storm, a straw, and both alike

Leading to death——.—[MS. M.]

[57] [Compare—"The boldest steer but where their ports invite." Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza Ixx. lines 7-9; and Canto IV. stanza xxxiv., Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 260, 353, and 74, note 1.]

[58] {152}[Compare—

"Our voices took a dreary tone,

An echo of the dungeon stone."

Prisoner of Chillon, lines 63, 64.

Compare, too—

"——prisoned solitude.

And the Mind's canker in its savage mood,

When the impatient thirst of light and air

Parches the heart."

Lament of Tasso, lines 4-7.]

[59] {153}[For inscriptions on the walls of the Pozzi, see note 1 to Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto IV., Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 465-467. Hobhouse transferred these "scratchings" to his pocket-books, and thence to his Historical Notes; but even as prison inscriptions they lack both point and style.]

[60] [Compare—

"Run, run, Orlando; carve on every tree

The fair, the chaste and unexpressive she."

As You Like It, act iii. sc. 2, lines 9, 10.]


Which never can be read but, as 'twas written,

By wretched beings.—[MS.]

[bl] {154}

Of the familiar's torch, which seems to love

Darkness far more than light.—[MS.]

[61] {157}[Compare—

"Once more upon the waters! yet once more!

And the waves bound beneath me as a steed

That knows his rider."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza ii. lines 1-3,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 217, note 1.]

[bm] At once by briefer means and better.—[MS.]

[62] {158} In Lady Morgan's fearless and excellent work upon Italy, I perceive the expression of "Rome of the Ocean" applied to Venice. The same phrase occurs in the "Two Foscari." My publisher can vouch for me, that the tragedy was written and sent to England some time before I had seen Lady Morgan's work, which I only received on the 16th of August. I hasten, however, to notice the coincidence, and to yield the originality of the phrase to her who first placed it before the public.

[Byron calls Lady Morgan's Italy "fearless" on account of her strictures on the behaviour of Great Britain to Genoa in 1814. "England personally stood pledged to Genoa.... When the British officers rode into their gates bearing the white flag consecrated by the holy word of 'independence,' the people ... 'kissed their garments.'... Every heart was open.... Lord William Bentinck's flag of 'Independenza' was taken down from the steeples and high places at sunrise; before noon the arms of Sardinia blazoned in their stead; and yet the Genoese did not rise en masse and massacre the English" (Italy, 1821, i. 245, 246). The passage which Byron feared might be quoted to his disparagement runs as follows: "As the bark glides on, as the shore recedes, and the city of waves, the Rome of the ocean, rises on the horizon, the spirits rally; ... and as the spires and cupolas of Venice come forth in the lustre of the mid-day sun, and its palaces, half-veiled in the aërial tints of distance, gradually assume their superb proportions, then the dream of many a youthful vigil is realized" (ibid., ii. 449).]

[63] [Compare Marino Faliero, act ii. sc. 2, line 110, Poetical Works, 901, iv. 386, note 3.]

[64] {159} The Calenture.—[From the Spanish Calentura, a fever peculiar to sailors within the tropics—

"So, by a calenture misled,

The mariner with rapture sees,

On the smooth ocean's azure bed,

Enamelled fields and verdant trees:

With eager haste he longs to rove

In that fantastic scene, and thinks

It must be some enchanted grove;

And in he leaps, and down he sinks."

Swift, The South-Sea Project, 1721, ed. 1824, xiv. 147.]

[65] Alluding to the Swiss air and its effects.—[The Ranz des Vaches, played upon the bag-pipe by the young cowkeepers on the mountains:—"An air," says Rousseau, "so dear to the Swiss, that it was forbidden, under the pain of death, to play it to the troops, as it immediately drew tears from them, and made those who heard it desert, or die of what is called la maladie du païs, so ardent a desire did it excite to return to their country. It is in vain to seek in this air for energetic accents capable of producing such astonishing effects, for which strangers are unable to account from the music, which is in itself uncouth and wild. But it is from habit, recollections, and a thousand circumstances, retraced in this tune by those natives who hear it, and reminding them of their country, former pleasures of their youth, and all their ways of living, which occasion a bitter reflection at having lost them." Compare Byron's Swiss "Journal" for September 19, 1816, Letters, 1899, ii. 355.]

[bn] That malady, which——.—[MS. M.]

[66] [Compare Don Juan, Canto XVI. stanza xlvi. lines 6, 7—

"The calentures of music which o'ercome

The mountaineers with dreams that they are highlands."]

[bo]{160} ——upon your native towers.—[MS. M.]

[bp] {162} Come you here to insult us——.—[MS. M.]

[67] {163}[For "steeds of brass," compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xiii. line I, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 338, and 336, note 1.]

[68] [The first and all subsequent editions read "skimmed the coasts." Byron wrote "skirred," a word borrowed from Shakespeare. Compare Siege of Corinth, line 692, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 480, note 4.]

[bq] {165} ——which this noble lady worst,—[MS. M.]

[69] {169}[According to the law, it rested with the six councillors of the Doge and a majority of the Grand Council to insist upon the abdication of a Doge. The action of the Ten was an usurpation of powers to which they were not entitled by the terms of the Constitution.]

[70] {170}[A touching incident is told concerning an interview between the Doge and Jacopo Memmo, head of the Forty. The Doge had just learnt (October 21, 1457) the decision of the Ten with regard to his abdication, and noticed that Memmo watched him attentively. "Foscari called to him, and, touching his hand, asked him whose son he was. He answered, 'I am the son of Messer Marin Memmo.'—' He is my dear friend,' said the Doge; 'tell him from me that it would be pleasing to me if he would come and see me, so that we might go at our leisure in our boats to visit the monasteries'" (The Two Doges, by A. Weil, 1891, p. 124; see, too, Romanin, Storia, etc., 1855, iv. 291).]

[71] {171}[Vide ante, p. 139, note 1.]

[br] Decemvirs, it is surely——.—[MS. M.]

[72] {172}[Romanin (Storia, etc., 1855, iv. 285, 286) quotes the following anecdote from the Cronaca Dolfin:—

"Alla commozione, alle lagrime, ai singulti che accompagnavano gli ultimi abbraciamenti, Jacopo più che mai sentendo il dolore di quel distacco, diceva: Padre ve priego, procurè per mi, che ritorni a casa mia. E messer lo doxe: Jacomo va e obbedisci quel che vuol la terra e non cerear più oltre. Ma, uscito l'infelice figlio dalla stanza, più non resistendo alla piena degli affetti, si getto piangendo sopra una sedia e lamentando diceva: O pietà grande!"]

[73] [Vide ante, act ii. sc. I, line 174, p. 143, note 1.]

[74] {175}[So, too, Coleridge of Keats: "There is death in that hand;" and of Adam Steinmetz: "Alas! there is death in that dear hand." See Table Talk for August 14, 1832, and Letter to John Peirse Kennard, August 13, 1832, Letters of S. T. C., 1895, ii. 764. Jacopo Foscari was sent back to exile in Crete, and did not die till February, 1457. His death at Venice, immediately after his sentence, is contrived for the sake of observing "the unities."]


——he would not

Thus leave me.—[MS. M.]

[75] {178}[It is to be noted that the "Giunta" was demanded by Loredano himself—a proof of his bona fides, as the addition of twenty-five nobles to the original Ten would add to the chance of opposition on the part of the supporters and champions of the Doge (see The Two Doges, and Romanin, Storia, etc., iv. 286, note 3).]

[76] {179} An historical fact. See Daru [1821], tom. ii. [pp. 398, 399. Daru quotes as his authorities Sabellicus and Pietro Giustiniani. As a matter of fact, the Doge did his utmost to save Carmagnola, pleading that his sentence should be commuted to imprisonment for life (see The Two Doges, p. 66; and Romanin, Storia, etc., iv. 161).]

[77] {183}[By the terms of the "parte," or act of deposition drawn up by the Ten, October 21, 1457, the time granted for deliberation was "till the third hour of the following day." This limitation as to time was designed to prevent the Doge from summoning the Grand Council, "to whom alone belonged the right of releasing him from the dukedom." (The Two Doges, p. 118; Diebeiden Foscari, 1878, pp. 174-176).]

[bt] {188} The act is passed—I will obey it.—[MS. M.]

[78] [For this speech, see Daru (who quotes from Pietro Giustiniani, Histoire, etc., 1821, ii. 534).]

[79] {190}[See Daru's Histoire, etc., 1821, ii. 535. The Cronaca Augustini is the authority for the anecdote (see The Two Doges, 1891, p. 126).]

[bu] {192}

I take yours, Loredano—'tis the draught

Most fitting such an hour as this.—[MS. M.]

[80] {193}[Vide ante, Introduction to The Two Foscari, p. 118.]

[bv] The wretchedness to die——.—[MS. M.]

[81] ["A decree was at once passed that a public funeral should be accorded to Foscari, ... and the bells of St. Mark were ordered to peal nine times.... The same Council also determined that on Thursday night, November 3, the corpse should be carried into the room of the 'Signori di notte,' dressed in a golden mantle, with the ducal bonnet on his head, golden spurs on his feet, ... the gold sword by his side." But Foscari's wife, Marina (or Maria) Nani, opposed. "She declined to give up the body, which she had caused to be dressed in plain clothes, and she maintained that no one but herself should provide for the funeral expenses, even should she have to give up her dower." It is needless to add that her protest was unavailing, and that the decree of the Ten was carried into effect.—The Two Doges, 1891, pp. 129, 130.]

[bw] {194} ——comfort to my desolation.—[MS. M.]

[82] {195} The Venetians appear to have had a particular turn for breaking the hearts of their Doges. The following is another instance of the kind in the Doge Marco Barbarigo: he was succeeded by his brother Agostino Barbarigo, whose chief merit is here mentioned.—"Le doge, blessé de trouver constamment un contradicteur et un censeur si amer dans son frère, lui dit un jour en plein conseil: 'Messire Augustin, vous faites tout votre possible pour hâter ma mort; vous vous flattez de me succéder; mais, si les autres vous connaissent aussi bien que je vous connais, ils n'auront garde de vous élire.' Là-dessus il se leva, ému de colere, rentra dans son appartement, et mourut quelques jours après. Ce frère, contre lequel il s'etait emporté, fut précisement le successeur qu'on lui donna. C'était un mérite don't on aimait à tenir compte; surtout à un parent, de s'être mis en opposition avec le chef de la république."—Daru, Hist, de Vénise, 1821, in. 29.

[bx] I trust Heavens will be done also.—[MS.]

[83] "L'ha pagata." An historical fact. See Hist. de Vénise, par P. Daru, 1821, ii. 528, 529.

[Daru quotes Palazzi's Fasti Ducales as his authority for this story. According to Pietro Giustiniani (Storia, lib. viii.), Jacopo Loredano was at pains to announce the decree of the Ten to the Doge in courteous and considerate terms, and begged him to pardon him for what it was his duty to do. Romanin points out that this version of the interview is inconsistent with the famous "L'hapagata."—Storia, etc., iv. 290, note i.]

[84] {196}[Here the original MS. ends. The two lines which follow, were added by Gifford. In the margin of the MS. Byron has written, "If the last line should appear obscure to those who do not recollect the historical fact mentioned in the first act of Loredano's inscription in his book, of 'Doge Foscari, debtor for the deaths of my father and uncle,' you may add the following lines to the conclusion of the last act:—

Chief of the Ten. For what has he repaid thee?

Lor.For my father's

And father's brother's death—by his son's and own!

Ask Gifford about this."]

[85] [The Appendix to the First Edition of The Two Foscari consisted of (i.) an extract from P. Daru's Histoire de la République Française, 1821, ii. 520-537; (ii.) an extract from J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi's Histoire des Républiques Italiennes du Moyen Age, 1815, x. 36-46; and (iii.) a note in response to certain charges of plagiarism brought against the author in the Literary Gazette and elsewhere; and to Southey's indictment of the "Satanic School," which had recently appeared in the Preface to the Laureate's Vision of Judgement (Poetical Works of Robert Southey, 1838, x. 202-207). See, too, the "Introduction to The Vision of Judgment," Poetical Works, 1891, iv. pp. 475-480.]



"Now the Serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made."

Chapter 3rd, verse 1.




Cain was begun at Ravenna, July 16, and finished September 9, 1821 (vide MS. M.). Six months before, when he was at work on the first act of Sardanapalus, Byron had "pondered" Cain, but it was not till Sardanapalus and a second historical play, The Two Foscari, had been written, copied out, and sent to England, that he indulged his genius with a third drama—on "a metaphysical subject, something in the style of Manfred" (Letters, 1901, v. 189).

Goethe's comment on reading and reviewing Cain was that he should be surprised if Byron did not pursue the treatment of such "biblical subjects," as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Conversations, etc., 1879, p. 62); and, many years after, he told Crabb Robinson (Diary, 1869, ii. 435) that Byron should have lived "to execute his vocation ... to dramatize the Old Testament." He was better equipped for such a task than might have been imagined. A Scottish schoolboy, "from a child he had known the Scriptures," and, as his Hebrew Melodies testify, he was not unwilling to turn to the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration. Moreover, he was born with the religious temperament. Questions "of Providence, foreknowledge, will and fate," exercised his curiosity because they appealed to his imagination and moved his spirit. He was eager to plunge into controversy with friends and advisers who challenged or rebuked him, Hodgson, for instance, or Dallas; and he responded with remarkable amenity to the strictures and exhortations of such orthodox professors as Mr. Sheppard and Dr. Kennedy. He was, no doubt, from first to last a heretic, impatient, not to say contemptuous, of authority, but he was by no means indifferent to religion altogether. To "argue about it and about" was a necessity, if not an agreeable relief, to his intellectual energies. It would appear from the Ravenna diary (January 28, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 190,191), that the conception of Lucifer was working in his brain[200] before the "tragedy of Cain" was actually begun. He had been recording a "thought" which had come to him, that "at the very height of human desire and pleasure, a certain sense of doubt and sorrow"—an amari aliquid which links the future to the past, and so blots out the present—"mingles with our bliss," making it of none effect, and, by way of moral or corollary to his soliloquy, he adds three lines of verse headed, "Thought for a speech of Lucifer in the Tragedy of Cain"—

"Were Death an Evil, would I let thee live?

Fool! live as I live—as thy father lives,

And thy son's sons shall live for evermore."

In these three lines, which were not inserted in the play, and in the preceding "thought," we have the key-note to Cain. "Man walketh in a vain shadow"—a shadow which he can never overtake, the shadow of an eternally postponed fruition. With a being capable of infinite satisfaction, he is doomed to realize failure in attainment. In all that is best and most enjoyable, "the rapturous moment and the placid hour," there is a foretaste of "Death the Unknown"! The tragedy of Manfred lies in remorse for the inevitable past; the tragedy of Cain, in revolt against the limitations of the inexorable present.

The investigation of the "sources" of Cain does not lead to any very definite conclusion (see Lord Byron's Cain und Seine Quellen, von Alfred Schaffner, 1880). He was pleased to call his play "a Mystery," and, in his Preface (vide post, p. 207), Byron alludes to the Old Mysteries as "those very profane productions, whether in English, French, Italian, or Spanish." The first reprint of the Chester Plays was published by the Roxburghe Club in 1818, but Byron's knowledge of Mystery Plays was probably derived from Dodsley's Plays (ed. 1780, l., xxxiii.-xlii.), or from John Stevens's Continuation of Dugdale's Monasticon (vide post, p. 207), or possibly, as Herr Schaffner suggests, from Warton's History of English Poetry, ed. 1871, ii. 222-230. He may, too, have witnessed some belated Rappresentazione of the Creation and Fall at Ravenna, or in one of the remoter towns or villages of Italy. There is a superficial resemblance between the treatment of the actual encounter of Cain and Abel, and the conventional rendering of the same incident in the Ludus Coventriæ, and in the Mistère du Viel Testament; but it is unlikely that he had closely studied any one Mystery Play at first hand. On the other hand, his recollections of Gessner's Death of Abel which "he had never read since he was eight years old," were clearer than he imagined. Not[201] only in such minor matters as the destruction of Cain's altar by a whirlwind, and the substitution of the Angel of the Lord for the Deus of the Mysteries, but in the Teutonic domesticities of Cain and Adah, and the evangelical piety of Adam and Abel, there is a reflection, if not an imitation, of the German idyll (see Gessner's Death of Abel, ed. 1797, pp. 80, 102).

Of his indebtedness to Milton he makes no formal acknowledgment, but he was not ashamed to shelter himself behind Milton's shield when he was attacked on the score of blasphemy and profanity. "If Cain be blasphemous, Paradise Lost is blasphemous" (letter to Murray, Pisa, February 8, 1822), was, he would fain believe, a conclusive answer to his accusers. But apart from verbal parallels or coincidences, there is a genuine affinity between Byron's Lucifer and Milton's Satan. Lucifer, like Satan, is "not less than Archangel ruined," a repulsed but "unvanquished Titan," marred by a demonic sorrow, a confessor though a rival of Omnipotence. He is a majestic and, as a rule, a serious and solemn spirit, who compels the admiration and possibly the sympathy of the reader. There is, however, another strain in his ghostly attributes, which betrays a more recent consanguinity: now and again he gives token that he is of the lineage of Mephistopheles. He is sometimes, though rarely, a mocking as well as a rebellious spirit, and occasionally indulges in a grim persiflage beneath the dignity if not the capacity of Satan. It is needless to add that Lucifer has a most lifelike personality of his own. The conception of the spirit of evil justifying an eternal antagonism to the Creator from the standpoint of a superior morality, may, perhaps, be traced to a Manichean source, but it has been touched with a new emotion. Milton's devil is an abstraction of infernal pride—

"Sole Positive of Night!

Antipathist of Light!

Fate's only essence! primal scorpion rod—

The one permitted opposite of God!"

Goethe's devil is an abstraction of scorn. He "maketh a mock" alike of good and evil! But Byron's devil is a spirit, yet a mortal too—the traducer, because he has suffered for his sins; the deceiver, because he is self-deceived; the hoper against hope that there is a ransom for the soul in perfect self-will and not in perfect self-sacrifice. Byron did not uphold Lucifer, but he "had passed that way," and could imagine a spiritual warfare not only against the Deus of the Mysteries or of the Book of Genesis, but against what he[202] believed and acknowledged to be the Author and Principle of good.

Autres temps, autres mœurs! It is all but impossible for the modern reader to appreciate the audacity of Cain, or to realize the alarm and indignation which it aroused by its appearance. Byron knew that he was raising a tempest, and pleads, in his Preface, "that with regard to the language of Lucifer, it was difficult for me to make him talk like a clergyman," and again and again he assures his correspondents (e.g. to Murray, November 23, 1821, "Cain is nothing more than a drama;" to Moore, March 4, 1822, "With respect to Religion, can I never convince you that I have no such opinions as the characters in that drama, which seems to have frightened everybody?" Letters, 1901, v. 469; vi. 30) that it is Lucifer and not Byron who puts such awkward questions with regard to the "politics of paradise" and the origin of evil. Nobody seems to have believed him. It was taken for granted that Lucifer was the mouthpiece of Byron, that the author of Don Juan was not "on the side of the angels."

Little need be said of the "literature," the pamphlets and poems which were evoked by the publication of Cain: A Mystery. One of the most prominent assailants (said to be the Rev. H. J. Todd (1763-1845), Archdeacon of Cleveland, 1832, author inter alia of Original Sin, Free Will, etc., 1818) issued A Remonstrance to Mr. John Murray, respecting a Recent Publication, 1822, signed "Oxoniensis." The sting of the Remonstrance lay in the exposure of the fact that Byron was indebted to Bayle's Dictionary for his rabbinical legends, and that he had derived from the same source his Manichean doctrines of the Two Principles, etc., and other "often-refuted sophisms" with regard to the origin of evil. Byron does not borrow more than a poet and a gentleman is at liberty to acquire by way of raw material, but it cannot be denied that he had read and inwardly digested more than one of Bayle's "most objectionable articles" (e.g. "Adam," "Eve," "Abel," "Manichees," "Paulicians," etc.). The Remonstrance was answered in A Letter to Sir Walter Scott, etc., by "Harroviensis." Byron welcomed such a "Defender of the Faith," and was anxious that Murray should print the letter together with the poem. But Murray belittled the "defender," and was upbraided in turn for his slowness of heart (letter to Murray, June 6, 1822, Letters, 1901, vi. 76).

Fresh combatants rushed into the fray: "Philo-Milton," with a Vindication of the "Paradise Lost" from the charge of exculpating "Cain: A Mystery," London, 1822; "Britannicus," with a pamphlet entitled, Revolutionary Causes, etc., and A Postscript containing Strictures on "Cain," etc., [203]London, 1822, etc.; but their works, which hardly deserve to be catalogued, have perished with them. Finally, in 1830, a barrister named Harding Grant, author of Chancery Practice, compiled a work (Lord Byron's "Cain," etc., with Notes) of more than four hundred pages, in which he treats "the proceedings and speeches of Lucifer with the same earnestness as if they were existing and earthly personages." But it was "a week too late." The "Coryphæus of the Satanic School" had passed away, and the tumult had "dwindled to a calm."

Cain "appeared in conjunction with" Sardanapalus and The Two Foscari, December 19, 1821. Last but not least of the three plays, it had been announced "by a separate advertisement (Morning Chronicle, November 24, 1821), for the purpose of exciting the greater curiosity" (Memoirs of the Life, etc. [by John Watkins], 1822, p. 383), and it was no sooner published than it was pirated. In the following January, "Cain: A Mystery, by the author of Don Juan," was issued by W. Benbow, at Castle Street, Leicester Square (the notorious "Byron Head," which Southey described as "one of those preparatory schools for the brothel and the gallows, where obscenity, sedition, and blasphemy are retailed in drams for the vulgar"!).

Murray had paid Byron £2710 for the three tragedies, and in order to protect the copyright, he applied, through counsel (Lancelot Shadwell, afterwards Vice-Chancellor), for an injunction in Chancery to stop the sale of piratical editions of Cain. In delivering judgment (February 12, 1822), the Chancellor, Lord Eldon (see Courier, Wednesday, February 13), replying to Shadwell, drew a comparison between Cain and Paradise Lost, "which he had read from beginning to end during the course of the last Long Vacation—solicitæ jucunda oblivia vitæ." No one, he argued, could deny that the object and effects of Paradise Lost were "not to bring into disrepute," but "to promote reverence for our religion," and, per contra, no one could affirm that it was impossible to arrive at an opposite conclusion with regard to "the Preface, the poem, the general tone and manner of Cain." It was a question for a jury. A jury might decide that Cain was blasphemous, and void of copyright; and as there was a reasonable doubt in his mind as to the character of the book, and a doubt as to the conclusion at which a jury would arrive, he was compelled to refuse the injunction. According to Dr. Smiles (Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 428), the decision of a jury was taken, and an injunction eventually granted. If so, it was ineffectual, for Benbow issued[204] another edition of Cain in 1824 (see Jacob's Reports, p. 474, note). See, too, the case of Murray v. Benbow and Another, as reported in the Examiner, February 17, 1822; and cases of Wolcot v. Walker, Southey v. Sherwood, Murray v. Benbow, and Lawrence v. Smith [Quarterly Review, April, 1822, vol. xxvii. pp. 120-138].

"Cain," said Moore (February 9, 1822), "has made a sensation." Friends and champions, the press, the public "turned up their thumbs." Gifford shook his head; Hobhouse "launched out into a most violent invective" (letter to Murray, November 24, 1821); Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh, was regretful and hortatory; Heber, in the Quarterly, was fault-finding and contemptuous. The "parsons preached at it from Kentish Town to Pisa" (letter to Moore, February 20, 1822). Even "the very highest authority in the land," his Majesty King George IV., "expressed his disapprobation of the blasphemy and licentiousness of Lord Byron's writings" (Examiner, February 17, 1822). Byron himself was forced to admit that "my Mont Saint Jean seems Cain" (Don Juan, Canto XI. stanza lvi. line 2). The many were unanimous in their verdict, but the higher court of the few reversed the judgment.

Goethe said that "Its beauty is such as we shall not see a second time in the world" (Conversations, etc., 1874, p. 261); Scott, in speaking of "the very grand and tremendous drama of Cain," said that the author had "matched Milton on his own ground" (letter to Murray, December 4, 1821, vide post, p. 206); "Cain," wrote Shelley to Gisborne (April 10, 1822), "is apocalyptic; it is a revelation never before communicated to man."

Uncritical praise, as well as uncritical censure, belongs to the past; but the play remains, a singular exercise of "poetic energy," a confession, ex animo, of "the burthen of the mystery, ... the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world."

For reviews of Cain: A Mystery, vide ante, "Introduction to Sardanapalus," p. 5; see, too, Eclectic Review, May, 1822, N.S. vol. xvii. pp. 418-427; Examiner, June 2, 1822; British Review, 1822, vol. xix. pp. 94-102.

For O'Doherty's parody of the "Pisa" Letter, February 8, 1822, see Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, February, 1822, vol. xi. pp. 215-217; and for a review of Harding Grant's Lord Byron's Cain, etc., see Fraser's Magazine, April, 1831, iii. 285-304.






The following scenes are entitled "A Mystery," in conformity with the ancient title annexed to dramas upon similar subjects, which were styled "Mysteries, or Moralities."[87] The author has by no means taken the same liberties with his subject which were common formerly, as may be seen by any reader curious enough to refer to those very profane productions, whether in English, French, Italian, or Spanish. The author has endeavoured to preserve the language adapted to his characters; and where it is (and this is but rarely) taken from actual Scripture, he has made as little alteration, even of words, as the rhythm would permit. The reader will recollect that the book of Genesis does not state[208] that Eve was tempted by a demon, but by "the Serpent[88];" and that only because he was "the most subtil of all the beasts of the field." Whatever interpretation the Rabbins and the Fathers may have put upon this, I take the words as I find them, and reply, with Bishop Watson[89] upon similar occasions, when the Fathers were quoted to him as Moderator in the schools of Cambridge, "Behold the Book!"—holding up the Scripture. It is to be recollected, that my present subject has nothing to do with the New Testament, to which no reference can be here made without anachronism.[90] With the poems upon similar topics I have not been recently familiar. Since I was twenty I have never read Milton; but I had read him so frequently before, that this may make little difference. Gesner's "Death of Abel" I have never read since I was eight years of age, at Aberdeen. The[209] general impression of my recollection is delight; but of the contents I remember only that Cain's wife was called Mahala, and Abel's Thirza; in the following pages I have called them "Adah" and "Zillah," the earliest female names which occur in Genesis. They were those of Lamech's wives: those of Cain and Abel are not called by their names. Whether, then, a coincidence of subject may have caused the same in expression, I know nothing, and care as little. [I[91] am prepared to be accused of Manicheism,[92] or some other hard name ending in ism, which makes a formidable figure and awful sound in the eyes and ears of those who would be as much puzzled to explain the terms so bandied about, as the liberal and pious indulgers in such epithets. Against such I can defend myself, or, if necessary, I can attack in turn. "Claw for claw, as Conan said to Satan and the deevil take the shortest nails" (Waverley).[93]]

The reader will please to bear in mind (what few choose to recollect), that there is no allusion to a future state in any of the books of Moses, nor indeed in the Old Testament. For a reason for this extraordinary omission he may consult Warburton's "Divine Legation;"[94][210] whether satisfactory or not, no better has yet been assigned. I have therefore supposed it new to Cain, without, I hope, any perversion of Holy Writ.

With regard to the language of Lucifer, it was difficult for me to make him talk like a clergyman upon the same subjects; but I have done what I could to restrain him within the bounds of spiritual politeness. If he disclaims having tempted Eve in the shape of the Serpent, it is only because the book of Genesis has not the most distant allusion to anything of the kind, but merely to the Serpent in his serpentine capacity.

Note.—The reader will perceive that the author has partly adopted in this poem the notion of Cuvier,[95] that the world had been destroyed several times before the creation of man. This speculation, derived from the different strata and the bones of enormous and unknown animals found in them, is not contrary to the Mosaic account, but rather confirms it; as no human bones have yet been discovered in those strata, although those of many known animals are found near the remains of the unknown. The assertion of Lucifer, that the pre-Adamite world was also peopled by rational beings much more intelligent than man, and proportionably powerful to the mammoth, etc., etc., is, of course, a poetical fiction to help him to make out his case.

I ought to add, that there is a "tramelogedia" of[211] Alfieri, called "Abele."[96] I have never read that, nor any other of the posthumous works of the writer, except his Life.

Ravenna, Sept. 20, 1821.


Angel of the Lord.




Scene I.—The Land without Paradise.—Time, Sunrise.

Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Adah, Zillah, offering a Sacrifice.

Adam. God, the Eternal! Infinite! All-wise!—

Who out of darkness on the deep didst make

Light on the waters with a word—All Hail!

Jehovah! with returning light—All Hail!

Eve. God! who didst name the day, and separate

Morning from night, till then divided never—

Who didst divide the wave from wave, and call

Part of thy work the firmament—All Hail!

Abel. God! who didst call the elements into

Earth, ocean, air and fire—and with the day10

And night, and worlds which these illuminate,

Or shadow, madest beings to enjoy them,

And love both them and thee—All Hail! All Hail!

Adah. God! the Eternal parent of all things!

Who didst create these best and beauteous beings,

To be belovéd, more than all, save thee—

Let me love thee and them:—All Hail! All Hail!

Zillah. Oh, God! who loving, making, blessing all,

Yet didst permit the Serpent to creep in,

And drive my father forth from Paradise,330[214]

Keep us from further evil:—Hail! All Hail!

Adam. Son Cain! my first-born—wherefore art thou silent?

Cain. Why should I speak?

Adam.To pray.

Cain.Have ye not prayed?

Adam. We have, most fervently.

Cain.And loudly: I

Have heard you.

Adam.So will God, I trust.


Adam. But thou my eldest born? art silent still?

Cain. 'Tis better I should be so.

Adam.Wherefore so?

Cain. I have nought to ask.

Adam.Nor aught to thank for?


Adam. Dost thou not live?

Cain.Must I not die?


The fruit of our forbidden tree begins30

To fall.

Adam.   And we must gather it again.

Oh God! why didst thou plant the tree of knowledge?

Cain. And wherefore plucked ye not the tree of life?

Ye might have then defied him.

Adam.Oh! my son,

Blaspheme not: these are Serpent's words.

Cain.Why not?

The snake spoke truth; it was the Tree of Knowledge;

It was the Tree of Life: knowledge is good,

And Life is good; and how can both be evil?

Eve. My boy! thou speakest as I spoke in sin,

Before thy birth: let me not see renewed40

My misery in thine. I have repented.

Let me not see my offspring fall into

The snares beyond the walls of Paradise,

Which even in Paradise destroyed his parents.

Content thee with what is. Had we been so,

Thou now hadst been contented.—Oh, my son!

Adam. Our orisons completed, let us hence,[215]

Each to his task of toil—not heavy, though

Needful: the earth is young, and yields us kindly

Her fruits with little labour.

Eve.Cain—my son—50

Behold thy father cheerful and resigned—

And do as he doth.[Exeunt Adam and Eve.

Zillah.Wilt thou not, my brother?

Abel. Why wilt thou wear this gloom upon thy brow,

Which can avail thee nothing, save to rouse

The Eternal anger?

Adah.My belovéd Cain

Wilt thou frown even on me?

Cain.No, Adah! no;

I fain would be alone a little while.

Abel, I'm sick at heart; but it will pass;

Precede me, brother—I will follow shortly.

And you, too, sisters, tarry not behind;60

Your gentleness must not be harshly met:

I'll follow you anon.

Adah.If not, I will

Return to seek you here.

Abel.The peace of God

Be on your spirit, brother!

 [Exeunt Abel, Zillah, and Adah.

Cain (solus).And this is

Life?—Toil! and wherefore should I toil?—because

My father could not keep his place in Eden?

What had I done in this?—I was unborn:

I sought not to be born; nor love the state

To which that birth has brought me. Why did he

Yield to the Serpent and the woman? or70

Yielding—why suffer? What was there in this?

The tree was planted, and why not for him?

If not, why place him near it, where it grew

The fairest in the centre? They have but

One answer to all questions, "'Twas his will,

And he is good." How know I that? Because

He is all-powerful, must all-good, too, follow?

I judge but by the fruits—and they are bitter—

Which I must feed on for a fault not mine.

Whom have we here?—A shape like to the angels80[216]

Yet of a sterner and a sadder aspect

Of spiritual essence: why do I quake?

Why should I fear him more than other spirits,

Whom I see daily wave their fiery swords

Before the gates round which I linger oft,

In Twilight's hour, to catch a glimpse of those

Gardens which are my just inheritance,

Ere the night closes o'er the inhibited walls

And the immortal trees which overtop

The Cherubim-defended battlements?90

If I shrink not from these, the fire-armed angels,

Why should I quail from him who now approaches?

Yet—he seems mightier far than them, nor less

Beauteous, and yet not all as beautiful

As he hath been, and might be: sorrow seems

Half of his immortality.[97] And is it

So? and can aught grieve save Humanity?

He cometh.

Enter Lucifer.


Cain.Spirit, who art thou?

Lucifer. Master of spirits.

Cain.And being so, canst thou

Leave them, and walk with dust?

Lucifer.I know the thoughts100

Of dust, and feel for it, and with you.


You know my thoughts?

Lucifer.They are the thoughts of all

Worthy of thought;—'tis your immortal part[98][217]

Which speaks within you.

Cain.What immortal part?

This has not been revealed: the Tree of Life

Was withheld from us by my father's folly,

While that of Knowledge, by my mother's haste,

Was plucked too soon; and all the fruit is Death!

Lucifer. They have deceived thee; thou shalt live.

Cain.I live,

But live to die; and, living, see no thing110

To make death hateful, save an innate clinging,

A loathsome, and yet all invincible

Instinct of life, which I abhor, as I

Despise myself, yet cannot overcome—

And so I live. Would I had never lived!

Lucifer. Thou livest—and must live for ever. Think not

The Earth, which is thine outward cov'ring, is

Existence—it will cease—and thou wilt be—

No less than thou art now.

Cain.No less! and why

No more?

Lucifer.It may be thou shalt be as we.120

Cain. And ye?

Lucifer.Are everlasting.

Cain.Are ye happy?

Lucifer. We are mighty.

Cain.Are ye happy?

Lucifer.No: art thou?

Cain. How should I be so? Look on me!

Lucifer.Poor clay!

And thou pretendest to be wretched! Thou!

Cain. I am:—and thou, with all thy might, what art thou?

Lucifer. One who aspired to be what made thee, and

Would not have made thee what thou art.


Thou look'st almost a god; and——

Lucifer.I am none:

And having failed to be one, would be nought[218]

Save what I am. He conquered; let him reign!130

Cain. Who?

Lucifer.Thy Sire's maker—and the Earth's.

Cain.And Heaven's,

And all that in them is. So I have heard

His Seraphs sing; and so my father saith.

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.

Cain.And what is that?

Lucifer. Souls who dare use their immortality—

Souls who dare look the Omnipotent tyrant in

His everlasting face, and tell him that

His evil is not good! If he has made,140

As he saith—which I know not, nor believe—

But, if he made us—he cannot unmake:

We are immortal!—nay, he'd have us so,

That he may torture:—let him! He is great—

But, in his greatness, is no happier than

We in our conflict! Goodness would not make

Evil; and what else hath he made? But let him

Sit on his vast and solitary throne—

Creating worlds, to make eternity

Less burthensome to his immense existence150

And unparticipated solitude;[99]

Let him crowd orb on orb: he is alone

Indefinite, Indissoluble Tyrant;

Could he but crush himself, 'twere the best boon

He ever granted: but let him reign on!

And multiply himself in misery!

Spirits and Men, at least we sympathise—

And, suffering in concert, make our pangs[219]

Innumerable, more endurable,

By the unbounded sympathy of all160

With all! But He! so wretched in his height,

So restless in his wretchedness, must still

Create, and re-create—perhaps he'll make[100]

One day a Son unto himself—as he

Gave you a father—and if he so doth,

Mark me! that Son will be a sacrifice!

Cain. Thou speak'st to me of things which long have swum

In visions through my thought: I never could

Reconcile what I saw with what I heard.

My father and my mother talk to me170

Of serpents, and of fruits and trees: I see

The gates of what they call their Paradise

Guarded by fiery-sworded Cherubim,

Which shut them out—and me: I feel the weight

Of daily toil, and constant thought: I look

Around a world where I seem nothing, with

Thoughts which arise within me, as if they

Could master all things—but I thought alone

This misery was mine. My father is

Tamed down; my mother has forgot the mind180

Which made her thirst for knowledge at the risk

Of an eternal curse; my brother is

A watching shepherd boy,[101] who offers up

The firstlings of the flock to him who bids

The earth yield nothing to us without sweat;[by]

My sister Zillah sings an earlier hymn

Than the birds' matins; and my Adah—my

Own and belovéd—she, too, understands not

The mind which overwhelms me: never till[220]

Now met I aught to sympathise with me.190

'Tis well—I rather would consort with spirits.

Lucifer. And hadst thou not been fit by thine own soul

For such companionship, I would not now

Have stood before thee as I am: a serpent

Had been enough to charm ye, as before.[bz]

Cain. Ah! didst thou tempt my mother?

Lucifer.I tempt none,

Save with the truth: was not the Tree, the Tree

Of Knowledge? and was not the Tree of Life

Still fruitful? Did I bid her pluck them not?

Did I plant things prohibited within200

The reach of beings innocent, and curious

By their own innocence? I would have made ye

Gods; and even He who thrust ye forth, so thrust ye

Because "ye should not eat the fruits of life,

And become gods as we." Were those his words?

Cain.   They were, as I have heard from those who heard them,

In thunder.

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?

Cain.Would they had snatched both210

The fruits, or neither!

Lucifer.One is yours already,

The other may be still.

Cain.How so?

Lucifer.By being

Yourselves, in your resistance. Nothing can

Quench the mind, if the mind will be itself

And centre of surrounding things—'tis made

To sway.

Cain.But didst thou tempt my parents?


Poor clay—what should I tempt them for, or how?

Cain. They say the Serpent was a spirit.


Saith that? It is not written so on high:

The proud One will not so far falsify,220

Though man's vast fears and little vanity

Would make him cast upon the spiritual nature

His own low failing. The snake was the snake—

No more;[102] and yet not less than those he tempted,

In nature being earth also—more in wisdom,

Since he could overcome them, and foreknew

The knowledge fatal to their narrow joys.

Think'st thou I'd take the shape of things that die?

Cain. But the thing had a demon?

Lucifer.He but woke one

In those he spake to with his forky tongue.230

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 rolled o'er your dead ashes, and your seed's,

The seed of the then world may thus array

Their earliest fault in fable, and attribute

To me a shape I scorn, as I scorn all

That bows to him, who made things but to bend

Before his sullen, sole eternity;

But we, who see the truth, must speak it. Thy240

Fond parents listened to a creeping thing,

And fell. For what should spirits tempt them? What

Was there to envy in the narrow bounds

Of Paradise, that spirits who pervade

Space——but I speak to thee of what thou know'st not,

With all thy Tree of Knowledge.

Cain.But thou canst not

Speak aught of Knowledge which I would not know,

And do not thirst to know, and bear a mind

To know.

Lucifer.   And heart to look on?

Cain.Be it proved.

Lucifer. Darest thou look on Death?

Cain.He has not yet250

Been seen.

Lucifer. But must be undergone.

Cain.My father[222]

Says he is something dreadful, and my mother

Weeps when he's 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.And thou?

Cain.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,260

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

Such evil things to beings save a being?

Lucifer. Ask the Destroyer.


Lucifer.The Maker—Call him

Which name thou wilt: he makes but to destroy.

Cain. I knew not that, yet thought it, since I heard

Of Death: although I know not what it is—

Yet it seems horrible. I have looked out270

In the vast desolate night in search of him;

And when I saw gigantic shadows in

The umbrage of the walls of Eden, chequered

By the far-flashing of the Cherubs' swords,

I watched for what I thought his coming; for

With fear rose longing in my heart to know

What 'twas which shook us all—but nothing came.

And then I turned my weary eyes from off

Our native and forbidden Paradise,

Up to the lights above us, in the azure,280

Which are so beautiful: shall they, too, die?

Lucifer. Perhaps—but long outlive both thine and thee.

Cain. I'm glad of that: I would not have them die—

They are so lovely. What is Death? I fear,

I feel, it is a dreadful thing; but what,

I cannot compass: 'tis denounced against us,[223]

Both them who sinned and sinned not, as an ill—

What ill?

Lucifer. To be resolved into the earth.

Cain. But shall I know it?

Lucifer.As I know not death,

I cannot answer.[103]

Cain.Were I quiet earth,290

That were no evil: would I ne'er had been

Aught else but dust!

Lucifer.That is a grovelling wish,

Less than thy father's—for he wished to know!

Cain. But not to live—or wherefore plucked he not

The Life-tree?

Lucifer.He was hindered.

Cain.Deadly error!

Not to snatch first that fruit:—but ere he plucked

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; see300

What is true knowledge.

Cain.Wilt thou teach me all?

Lucifer. Aye, upon one condition.

Cain.Name it.


Thou dost fall down and worship me—thy Lord.

Cain. Thou art not the Lord my father worships.


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.[224]

Cain.I never310

As yet have bowed 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.Hast thou ne'er bowed

To him?

Cain.Have I not said it?—need I say it?

Could not thy mighty knowledge teach thee that?

Lucifer. He who bows not to him has bowed to me.[104]

Cain. But I will bend to neither.

Lucifer.Ne'er the less,

Thou art my worshipper; not worshipping

Him makes thee mine the same.

Cain.And what is that?320

Lucifer. Thou'lt know here—and hereafter.

Cain.Let me but

Be taught the mystery of my being.


Where I will lead thee.

Cain.But I must retire

To till the earth—for I had promised——


Cain. To cull some first-fruits.


Cain.To offer up

With Abel on an altar.

Lucifer.Said'st thou not

Thou ne'er hadst bent to him who made thee?


But Abel's earnest prayer has wrought upon me;

The offering is more his than mine—and Adah——

Lucifer. Why dost thou hesitate?

Cain.She is my sister,330[225]

Born on the same day, of the same womb; and

She wrung from me, with tears, this promise; and

Rather than see her weep, I would, methinks,

Bear all—and worship aught.

Lucifer.Then follow me!

Cain. I will.

Enter Adah.

Adah.My brother, I have come for thee;

It is our hour of rest and joy—and we

Have less without thee. Thou hast laboured not

This morn; but I have done thy task: the fruits

Are ripe, and glowing as the light which ripens:

Come away.

Cain.Seest thou not?

Adah.I see an angel;340

We have seen many: will he share our hour

Of rest?—he is welcome.

Cain.But he is not like

The angels we have seen.

Adah.Are there, then, others?

But he is welcome, as they were: they deigned

To be our guests—will he?

Cain (to Lucifer).Wilt thou?

Lucifer.I ask

Thee to be mine.

Cain.I must away with him.

Adah. And leave us?


Adah.And me?

Cain.Belovéd Adah!

Adah. Let me go with thee.

Lucifer.No, she must not.


Art thou that steppest between heart and heart?

Cain. He is a God.

Adah.How know'st thou?

Cain.He speaks like

A God.

Adah. So did the Serpent, and it lied.410[226]

Lucifer. Thou errest, Adah!—was not the Tree that

Of Knowledge?

Adah.Aye—to our eternal sorrow.

Lucifer. And yet that grief is knowledge—so he lied not:

And if he did betray you, 'twas with Truth;

And Truth in its own essence cannot be

But good.

Adah.But all we know of it has gathered

Evil on ill; expulsion from our home,

And dread, and toil, and sweat, and heaviness;

Remorse of that which was—and hope of that360

Which cometh not. Cain! walk not with this Spirit.

Bear with what we have borne, and love me—I

Love thee.

Lucifer.More than thy mother, and thy sire?

Adah. I do. Is that a sin, too?

Lucifer.No, not yet;

It one day will be in your children.


Must not my daughter love her brother Enoch?

Lucifer. Not as thou lovest Cain.

Adah.Oh, my God!

Shall they not love and bring forth things that love

Out of their love? have they not drawn their milk

Out of this bosom? was not he, their father,370

Born of the same sole womb,[105] in the same hour

With me? did we not love each other? and

In multiplying our being multiply

Things which will love each other as we love

Them?—And as I love thee, my Cain! go not

Forth with this spirit; he is not of ours.

Lucifer. The sin I speak of is not of my making,

And cannot be a sin in you—whate'er

It seem in those who will replace ye in[227]


Adah.What is the sin which is not380

Sin in itself? Can circumstance make sin

Or virtue?—if it doth, we are the slaves


Lucifer. Higher things than ye are slaves: and higher

Than them or ye would be so, did they not

Prefer an independency of torture

To the smooth agonies of adulation,

In hymns and harpings, and self-seeking prayers,

To that which is omnipotent, because

It is omnipotent, and not from love,

But terror and self-hope.


Must be all goodness.

Lucifer.Was it so in Eden?

Adah. Fiend! tempt me not with beauty; thou art fairer

Than was the Serpent, and as false.

Lucifer.As true.

Ask Eve, your mother: bears she not the knowledge

Of good and evil?

Adah.Oh, my mother! thou

Hast plucked a fruit more fatal to thine offspring

Than to thyself; thou at the least hast passed

Thy youth in Paradise, in innocent

And happy intercourse with happy spirits:

But we, thy children, ignorant of Eden,400

Are girt about by demons, who assume

The words of God, and tempt us with our own

Dissatisfied and curious thoughts—as thou

Wert worked on by the snake, in thy most flushed

And heedless, harmless wantonness of bliss.

I cannot answer this immortal thing

Which stands before me; I cannot abhor him;

I look upon him with a pleasing fear,

And yet I fly not from him: in his eye

There is a fastening attraction which410[228]

Fixes my fluttering eyes on his; my heart

Beats quick; he awes me, and yet draws me near,

Nearer and nearer:—Cain—Cain—save me from him!

Cain. What dreads my Adah? This is no ill spirit.

Adah. He is not God—nor God's: I have beheld

The Cherubs and the Seraphs; he looks not

Like them.

Cain.But there are spirits loftier still—

The archangels.

Lucifer.And still loftier than the archangels.

Adah. Aye—but not blesséd.

Lucifer.If the blessedness

Consists in slavery—no.

Adah.I have heard it said,420

The Seraphs love most—Cherubim know most[107]

And this should be a Cherub—since he loves not.

Lucifer. And if the higher knowledge quenches love,

What must he be you cannot love when known?[ca]

Since the all-knowing Cherubim love least,

The Seraphs' love can be but ignorance:

That they are not compatible, the doom

Of thy fond parents, for their daring, proves.

Choose betwixt Love and Knowledge—since there is

No other choice: your sire hath chosen already:430

His worship is but fear.

Adah.Oh, Cain! choose Love.

Cain. For thee, my Adah, I choose not—It was

Born with me—but I love nought else.

Adah.Our parents?

Cain. Did they love us when they snatched from the Tree

That which hath driven us all from Paradise?

Adah. We were not born then—and if we had been,

Should we not love them—and our children, Cain?[229]

Cain. My little Enoch! and his lisping sister!

Could I but deem them happy, I would half

Forget——but it can never be forgotten440

Through thrice a thousand generations! never

Shall men love the remembrance of the man

Who sowed the seed of evil and mankind

In the same hour! They plucked the tree of science

And sin—and, not content with their own sorrow,

Begot methee—and all the few that are,

And all the unnumbered and innumerable

Multitudes, millions, myriads, which may be,

To inherit agonies accumulated

By ages!—and I must be sire of such things!450

Thy beauty and thy love—my love and joy,

The rapturous moment and the placid hour,

All we love in our children and each other,

But lead them and ourselves through many years

Of sin and pain—or few, but still of sorrow,

Interchecked with an instant of brief pleasure,

To Death—the unknown! Methinks the Tree of Knowledge

Hath not fulfilled its promise:—if they sinned,

At least they ought to have known all things that are

Of knowledge—and the mystery of Death[cb].460

What do they know?—that they are miserable.

What need of snakes and fruits to teach us that?

Adah. I am not wretched, Cain, and if thou

Wert happy——

Cain.Be thou happy, then, alone—

I will have nought to do with happiness,

Which humbles me and mine.

Adah.Alone I could not,

Nor would be happy; but with those around us

I think I could be so, despite of Death,

Which, as I know it not, I dread not, though

It seems an awful shadow—if I may470

Judge from what I have heard.

Lucifer.And thou couldst not

Alone, thou say'st, be happy?

Adah.Alone! Oh, my God![230]

Who could be happy and alone, or good?

To me my solitude seems sin; unless

When I think how soon I shall see my brother,

His brother, and our children, and our parents.

Lucifer. Yet thy God is alone; and is he happy?

Lonely, and good?

Adah.He is not so; he hath

The angels and the mortals to make happy,

And thus becomes so in diffusing joy.480

What else can joy be, but the spreading joy?[cc]

Lucifer. Ask of your sire, the exile fresh from Eden;

Or of his first-born son: ask your own heart;

It is not tranquil.

Adah.Alas! no! and you—

Are you of Heaven?

Lucifer.If I am not, enquire

The cause of this all-spreading happiness

(Which you proclaim) of the all-great and good

Maker of life and living things; it is

His secret, and he keeps it. We must bear,

And some of us resist—and both in vain,490

His Seraphs say: but it is worth the trial,

Since better may not be without: there is

A wisdom in the spirit, which directs

To right, as in the dim blue air the eye

Of you, young mortals, lights at once upon

The star which watches, welcoming the morn.

Adah. It is a beautiful star; I love it for

Its beauty.

Lucifer.And why not adore?

Adah.Our father

Adores the Invisible only.

Lucifer.But the symbols

Of the Invisible are the loveliest500

Of what is visible; and yon bright star

Is leader of the host of Heaven.

Adah.Our father

Saith that he has beheld the God himself

Who made him and our mother.

Lucifer.Hast thou seen him?[231]

Adah. Yes—in his works.

Lucifer.But in his being?


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 light, they look upon us; but thou seem'st510

Like an ethereal night[108], where long white clouds

Streak the deep purple, and unnumbered stars

Spangle the wonderful mysterious vault

With things that look as if they would be suns;

So beautiful, unnumbered, and endearing,

Not dazzling, and yet drawing us to them,

They fill my eyes with tears, and so dost thou.

Thou seem'st unhappy: do not make us so,

And I will weep for thee.

Lucifer.Alas! those tears!

Couldst thou but know what oceans will be shed——520

Adah. By me?

Lucifer.By all.

Adah.What all?

Lucifer.The million millions—

The myriad myriads—the all-peopled earth—

The unpeopled earth—and the o'er-peopled Hell,

Of which thy bosom is the germ.

Adah.O Cain!

This spirit curseth us.

Cain.Let him say on;

Him will I follow.


Lucifer.To a place

Whence he shall come back to thee in an hour;

But in that hour see things of many days.

Adah. How can that be?

Lucifer.Did not your Maker make

Out of old worlds this new one in few days?530

And cannot I, who aided in this work,[232]

Show in an hour what he hath made in many,

Or hath destroyed in few?

Cain.Lead on.

Adah.Will he,

In sooth, return within an hour?

Lucifer.He shall.

With us acts are exempt from time, and we

Can crowd eternity into an hour,

Or stretch an hour into eternity:

We breathe not by a mortal measurement—

But that's a mystery. Cain, come on with me.

Adah. Will he return?

Lucifer.Aye, woman! he alone540

Of mortals from that place (the first and last

Who shall return, save One), shall come back to thee,

To make that silent and expectant world

As populous as this: at present there

Are few inhabitants.

Adah.Where dwellest thou?

Lucifer. Throughout all space. Where should I dwell? Where are

Thy God or Gods—there am I: all things are

Divided with me: Life and Death—and Time—

Eternity—and heaven and earth—and that

Which is not heaven nor earth, but peopled with550

Those who once peopled or shall people both—

These are my realms! so that I do divide

His, and possess a kingdom which is not

His[109]. If I were not that which I have said,

Could I stand here? His angels are within

Your vision.

Adah.So they were when the fair Serpent

Spoke with our mother first.

Lucifer.Cain! thou hast heard.

If thou dost long for knowledge, I can satiate

That thirst; nor ask thee to partake of fruits

Which shall deprive thee of a single good560[233]

The Conqueror has left thee. Follow me.

Cain. Spirit, I have said it.

 [Exeunt Lucifer and Cain.

Adah (follows exclaiming).  Cain! my brother! Cain!


Scene I.—The Abyss of Space.

Cain. I tread on air, and sink not—yet I fear

To sink.

Lucifer.   Have faith in me, and thou shalt be

Borne on the air[110], of which I am the Prince.

Cain. Can I do so without impiety?

Lucifer. Believe—and sink not! doubt—and perish! thus

Would run the edict of the other God,

Who names me Demon to his angels; they

Echo the sound to miserable things,

Which, knowing nought beyond their shallow senses,

Worship the word which strikes their ear, and deem10

Evil or good what is proclaimed to them

In their abasement. I will have none such:

Worship or worship not, thou shalt behold

The worlds beyond thy little world, nor be

Amerced for doubts beyond thy little life,

With torture of my dooming. There will come

An hour, when, tossed upon some water-drops[cd],

A man shall say to a man, "Believe in me,

And walk the waters;" and the man shall walk

The billows and be safe. I will not say,20

Believe in me, as a conditional creed

To save thee; but fly with me o'er the gulf

Of space an equal flight, and I will show

What thou dar'st not deny,—the history

Of past—and present, and of future worlds.[234]

Cain. Oh God! or Demon! or whate'er thou art,

Is yon our earth?

Lucifer.Dost thou not recognise

The dust which formed your father?

Cain.Can it be?

Yon small blue circle, swinging in far ether[ce],

With an inferior circlet purpler it still[111],30

Which looks like that which lit our earthly night?

Is this our Paradise? Where are its walls,

And they who guard them?

Lucifer.Point me out the site

Of Paradise.

Cain.How should I? As we move

Like sunbeams onward, it grows small and smaller,

And as it waxes little, and then less,

Gathers a halo round it, like the light

Which shone the roundest of the stars, when I

Beheld them from the skirts of Paradise:

Methinks they both, as we recede from them,40

Appear to join the innumerable stars

Which are around us; and, as we move on,

Increase their myriads.

Lucifer.And if there should be

Worlds greater than thine own—inhabited

By greater things—and they themselves far more

In number than the dust of thy dull earth,

Though multiplied to animated atoms,[235]

All living—and all doomed to death—and wretched,

What wouldst thou think?

Cain.I should be proud of thought

Which knew such things.

Lucifer.But if that high thought were50

Linked to a servile mass of matter—and,

Knowing such things, aspiring to such things,

And science still beyond them, were chained down

To the most gross and petty paltry wants,

All foul and fulsome—and the very best

Of thine enjoyments a sweet degradation,

A most enervating and filthy cheat

To lure thee on to the renewal of

Fresh souls and bodies[112], all foredoomed to be

As frail, and few so happy——

Cain.Spirit! I60

Know nought of Death, save as a dreadful thing

Of which I have heard my parents speak, as of

A hideous heritage I owe to them

No less than life—a heritage not happy,

If I may judge, till now. But, Spirit! if

It be as thou hast said (and I within

Feel the prophetic torture of its truth),

Here let me die: for to give birth to those

Who can but suffer many years, and die—

Methinks is merely propagating Death,70

And multiplying murder.

Lucifer.Thou canst not

All die—there is what must survive.

Cain.The Other

Spake not of this unto my father, when

He shut him forth from Paradise, with death

Written upon his forehead. But at least

Let what is mortal of me perish, that

I may be in the rest as angels are.

Lucifer. I am angelic: wouldst thou be as I am?[236]

Cain. I know not what thou art: I see thy power,

And see thou show'st me things beyond my power,80

Beyond all power of my born faculties,

Although inferior still to my desires

And my conceptions.

Lucifer.What are they which dwell

So humbly in their pride, as to sojourn

With worms in clay?

Cain.And what art thou who dwellest

So haughtily in spirit, and canst range

Nature and immortality—and yet

Seem'st sorrowful?

Lucifer.I seem that which I am;

And therefore do I ask of thee, if thou

Wouldst be immortal?

Cain.Thou hast said, I must be90

Immortal in despite of me. I knew not

This until lately—but since it must be,

Let me, or happy or unhappy, learn

To anticipate my immortality.

Lucifer. Thou didst before I came upon thee.


Lucifer. By suffering.

Cain.And must torture be immortal?

Lucifer. We and thy sons will try. But now, behold!

Is it not glorious?

Cain.Oh thou beautiful

And unimaginable ether! and

Ye multiplying masses of increased100

And still-increasing lights! what are ye? what

Is this blue wilderness of interminable

Air, where ye roll along, as I have seen

The leaves along the limpid streams of Eden?

Is your course measured for ye? Or do ye

Sweep on in your unbounded revelry

Through an aërial universe of endless

Expansion—at which my soul aches to think—

Intoxicated with eternity[113]?[237]

Oh God! Oh Gods! or whatsoe'er ye are!110

How beautiful ye are! how beautiful

Your works, or accidents, or whatsoe'er

They may be! Let me die, as atoms die,

(If that they die), or know ye in your might

And knowledge! My thoughts are not in this hour

Unworthy what I see, though my dust is;

Spirit! let me expire, or see them nearer.

Lucifer. Art thou not nearer? look back to thine earth!

Cain. Where is it? I see nothing save a mass

Of most innumerable lights.

Lucifer.Look there!120

Cain. I cannot see it.

Lucifer.Yet it sparkles still.

Cain. That!—yonder!


Cain.And wilt thou tell me so?

Why, I have seen the fire-flies and fire-worms

Sprinkle the dusky groves and the green banks

In the dim twilight, brighter than yon world

Which bears them.

Lucifer.Thou hast seen both worms and worlds,

Each bright and sparkling—what dost think of them?

Cain. That they are beautiful in their own sphere,

And that the night, which makes both beautiful,

The little shining fire-fly in its flight,130

And the immortal star in its great course,

Must both be guided.

Lucifer.But by whom or what?

Cain. Show me.

Lucifer.Dar'st thou behold?

Cain.How know I what

I dare behold? As yet, thou hast shown nought

I dare not gaze on further.

Lucifer.On, then, with me.[238]

Wouldst thou behold things mortal or immortal?

Cain. Why, what are things?

Lucifer.Both partly: but what doth

Sit next thy heart?

Cain.The things I see.

Lucifer.But what

Sate nearest it?

Cain.The things I have not seen,

Nor ever shall—the mysteries of Death.140

Lucifer. What, if I show to thee things which have died,

As I have shown thee much which cannot die?

Cain. Do so.

Lucifer.Away, then! on our mighty wings!

Cain. Oh! how we cleave the blue! The stars fade from us!

The earth! where is my earth? Let me look on it,

For I was made of it.

Lucifer.'Tis now beyond thee,

Less, in the universe, than thou in it;

Yet deem not that thou canst escape it; thou

Shalt soon return to earth, and all its dust:

'Tis part of thy eternity, and mine.150

Cain. Where dost thou lead me?

Lucifer.To what was before thee!

The phantasm of the world; of which thy world

Is but the wreck.

Cain.What! is it not then new?

Lucifer. No more than life is; and that was ere thou

Or I were, or the things which seem to us

Greater than either: many things will have

No end; and some, which would pretend to have

Had no beginning, have had one as mean

As thou; and mightier things have been extinct

To make way for much meaner than we can160

Surmise; for moments only and the space

Have been and must be all unchangeable.

But changes make not death, except to clay;

But thou art clay—and canst but comprehend

That which was clay, and such thou shall behold.

Cain. Clay—Spirit—what thou wilt—I can survey.[239]

Lucifer. Away, then!

Cain.But the lights fade from me fast,

And some till now grew larger as we approached,

And wore the look of worlds.

Lucifer.And such they are.

Cain. And Edens in them?

Lucifer.It may be.

Cain.And men?170

Lucifer. Yea, or things higher.

Cain.Aye! and serpents too?[cf]

Lucifer. Wouldst thou have men without them? must no reptiles

Breathe, save the erect ones?

Cain.How the lights recede!

Where fly we?

Lucifer.To the world of phantoms, which

Are beings past, and shadows still to come.

Cain. But it grows dark, and dark—the stars are gone!

Lucifer. And yet thou seest.

Cain.'Tis a fearful light!

No sun—no moon—no lights innumerable—

The very blue of the empurpled night

Fades to a dreary twilight—yet I see180

Huge dusky masses; but unlike the worlds

We were approaching, which, begirt with light,

Seemed full of life even when their atmosphere

Of light gave way, and showed them taking shapes

Unequal, of deep valleys and vast mountains;

And some emitting sparks, and some displaying

Enormous liquid plains, and some begirt

With luminous belts, and floating moons, which took,

Like them, the features of fair earth:—instead,

All here seems dark and dreadful.

Lucifer.But distinct.190

Thou seekest to behold Death, and dead things?

Cain. I seek it not; but as I know there are

Such, and that my sire's sin makes him and me,

And all that we inherit, liable

To such, I would behold, at once, what I

Must one day see perforce.[240]


Cain.'Tis darkness!

Lucifer. And so it shall be ever—but we will

Unfold its gates!

Cain.Enormous vapours roll

Apart—what's this?


Cain.Can I return?

Lucifer. Return! be sure: how else should Death be peopled?200

Its present realm is thin to what it will be,

Through thee and thine.

Cain.The clouds still open wide

And wider, and make widening circles round us!

Lucifer. Advance!

Cain.And thou!

Lucifer.Fear not—without me thou

Couldst not have gone beyond thy world. On! on!

 [They disappear through the clouds.

Scene II.—Hades.

Enter Lucifer and Cain.

Cain. How silent and how vast are these dim worlds!

For they seem more than one, and yet more peopled

Than the huge brilliant luminous orbs which swung

So thickly in the upper air, that I

Had deemed them rather the bright populace

Of some all unimaginable Heaven,

Than things to be inhabited themselves,[cg]

But that on drawing near them I beheld

Their swelling into palpable immensity

Of matter, which seemed made for life to dwell on,10

Rather than life itself. But here, all is

So shadowy, and so full of twilight, that

It speaks of a day past.

Lucifer.It is the realm[241]

Of Death.—Wouldst have it present?

Cain.Till I know

That which it really is, I cannot answer.

But if it be as I have heard my father

Deal out in his long homilies, 'tis a thing—

Oh God! I dare not think on't! Curséd be

He who invented Life that leads to Death!

Or the dull mass of life, that, being life,20

Could not retain, but needs must forfeit it—

Even for the innocent!

Lucifer.Dost thou curse thy father?

Cain. Cursed he not me in giving me my birth?

Cursed he not me before my birth, in daring

To pluck the fruit forbidden?

Lucifer.Thou say'st well:

The curse is mutual 'twixt thy sire and thee—

But for thy sons and brother?

Cain.Let them share it

With me, their sire and brother! What else is

Bequeathed to me? I leave them my inheritance!

Oh, ye interminable gloomy realms30

Of swimming shadows and enormous shapes,

Some fully shown, some indistinct, and all

Mighty and melancholy—what are ye?

Live ye, or have ye lived?

Lucifer.Somewhat of both.

Cain. Then what is Death?

Lucifer.What? Hath not he who made ye

Said 'tis another life?

Cain.Till now he hath

Said nothing, save that all shall die.


He one day will unfold that further secret.

Cain. Happy the day!

Lucifer.Yes; happy! when unfolded,

Through agonies unspeakable, and clogged40

With agonies eternal, to innumerable

Yet unborn myriads of unconscious atoms,

All to be animated for this only!

Cain. What are these mighty phantoms which I see

Floating around me?—They wear not the form[242]

Of the Intelligences I have seen

Round our regretted and unentered Eden;

Nor wear the form of man as I have viewed it

In Adam's and in Abel's, and in mine,

Nor in my sister-bride's, nor in my children's:50

And yet they have an aspect, which, though not

Of men nor angels, looks like something, which,

If not the last, rose higher than the first,

Haughty, and high, and beautiful, and full

Of seeming strength, but of inexplicable

Shape; for I never saw such. They bear not

The wing of Seraph, nor the face of man,

Nor form of mightiest brute, nor aught that is

Now breathing; mighty yet and beautiful

As the most beautiful and mighty which60

Live, and yet so unlike them, that I scarce

Can call them living.[114]

Lucifer.Yet they lived.



Thou livest.


Lucifer.On what thou callest earth

They did inhabit.

Cain.Adam is the first.

Lucifer. Of thine, I grant thee—but too mean to be

The last of these.

Cain.And what are they?

Lucifer.That which

Thou shalt be.

Cain.But what were they?

Lucifer.Living, high,

Intelligent, good, great, and glorious things,

As much superior unto all thy sire

Adam could e'er have been in Eden, as70

The sixty-thousandth generation shall be,[243]

In its dull damp degeneracy, to

Thee and thy son;—and how weak they are, judge

By thy own flesh.

Cain.Ah me! and did they perish?

Lucifer. Yes, from their earth, as thou wilt fade from thine.

Cain. But was mine theirs?

Lucifer.It was.

Cain.But not as now.

It is too little and too lowly to

Sustain such creatures.

Lucifer.True, it was more glorious.

Cain. And wherefore did it fall?

Lucifer.Ask him who fells.[115]

Cain. But how?

Lucifer.By a most crushing and inexorable80

Destruction and disorder of the elements,

Which struck a world to chaos, as a chaos

Subsiding has struck out a world: such things,

Though rare in time, are frequent in eternity.—

Pass on, and gaze upon the past.

Cain.'Tis awful!

Lucifer. And true. Behold these phantoms! they were once

Material as thou art.

Cain.And must I be

Like them?

Lucifer.Let He[116] who made thee answer that.

I show thee what thy predecessors are,

And what they were thou feelest, in degree90

Inferior as thy petty feelings and

Thy pettier portion of the immortal part

Of high intelligence and earthly strength.

What ye in common have with what they had

Is Life, and what ye shall have—Death: the rest

Of your poor attributes is such as suits[244]

Reptiles engendered out of the subsiding

Slime of a mighty universe, crushed into

A scarcely-yet shaped planet, peopled with

Things whose enjoyment was to be in blindness—100

A Paradise of Ignorance, from which

Knowledge was barred as poison. But behold

What these superior beings are or were;

Or, if it irk thee, turn thee back and till

The earth, thy task—I'll waft thee there in safety.

Cain. No: I'll stay here.

Lucifer.How long?

Cain.For ever! Since

I must one day return here from the earth,

I rather would remain; I am sick of all

That dust has shown me—let me dwell in shadows.

Lucifer. It cannot be: thou now beholdest as110

A vision that which is reality.

To make thyself fit for this dwelling, thou

Must pass through what the things thou seest have passed—

The gates of Death.

Cain.By what gate have we entered

Even now?

Lucifer.By mine! But, plighted to return,

My spirit buoys thee up to breathe in regions

Where all is breathless save thyself. Gaze on;

But do not think to dwell here till thine hour

Is come!

Cain.And these, too—can they ne'er repass

To earth again?

Lucifer.Their earth is gone for ever—120

So changed by its convulsion, they would not

Be conscious to a single present spot

Of its new scarcely hardened surface—'twas—

Oh, what a beautiful world it was!

Cain.And is!

It is not with the earth, though I must till it,

I feel at war—but that I may not profit

By what it bears of beautiful, untoiling,

Nor gratify my thousand swelling thoughts

With knowledge, nor allay my thousand fears[245]

Of Death and Life.

Lucifer.What thy world is, thou see'st,130

But canst not comprehend the shadow of

That which it was.

Cain.And those enormous creatures,

Phantoms inferior in intelligence

(At least so seeming) to the things we have passed,

Resembling somewhat the wild habitants

Of the deep woods of earth, the hugest which

Roar nightly in the forest, but ten-fold

In magnitude and terror; taller than

The cherub-guarded walls of Eden—with

Eyes flashing like the fiery swords which fence them—140

And tusks projecting like the trees stripped of

Their bark and branches—what were they?

Lucifer.That which

The Mammoth is in thy world;—but these lie

By myriads underneath its surface.


None on it?

Lucifer.No: for thy frail race to war

With them would render the curse on it useless—

'Twould be destroyed so early.

Cain.But why war?

Lucifer. You have forgotten the denunciation

Which drove your race from Eden—war with all things,

And death to all things, and disease to most things,150

And pangs, and bitterness; these were the fruits

Of the forbidden tree.

Cain.But animals—

Did they, too, eat of it, that they must die?

Lucifer. Your Maker told ye, they were made for you,

As you for him.—You would not have their doom

Superior to your own? Had Adam not

Fallen, all had stood.

Cain.Alas! the hopeless wretches!

They too must share my sire's fate, like his sons;

Like them, too, without having shared the apple;

Like them, too, without the so dear-bought knowledge!160

It was a lying tree—for we know nothing.

At least it promised knowledge at the price[246]

Of death—but knowledge still: but what knows man?

Lucifer. It may be death leads to the highest knowledge;

And being of all things the sole thing certain,[ch]

At least leads to the surest science: therefore

The Tree was true, though deadly.

Cain.These dim realms!

I see them, but I know them not.


Thy hour is yet afar, and matter cannot

Comprehend spirit wholly—but 'tis something170

To know there are such realms.

Cain.We knew already

That there was Death.

Lucifer.But not what was beyond it.

Cain. Nor know I now.

Lucifer.Thou knowest that there is

A state, and many states beyond thine own—

And this thou knewest not this morn.

Cain.But all

Seems dim and shadowy.

Lucifer.Be content; it will

Seem clearer to thine immortality.

Cain. And yon immeasurable liquid space

Of glorious azure which floats on beyond us,

Which looks like water, and which I should deem[ci]180

The river which flows out of Paradise

Past my own dwelling, but that it is bankless

And boundless, and of an ethereal hue—

What is it?

Lucifer.   There is still some such on earth,

Although inferior, and thy children shall

Dwell near it—'tis the phantasm of an Ocean.

Cain. 'Tis like another world; a liquid sun—

And those inordinate creatures sporting o'er

Its shining surface?

Lucifer.Are its inhabitants,

The past Leviathans.

Cain.And yon immense190[247]

Serpent, which rears his dripping mane and vasty

Head, ten times higher than the haughtiest cedar,

Forth from the abyss, looking as he could coil

Himself around the orbs we lately looked on—

Is he not of the kind which basked beneath

The Tree in Eden?

Lucifer.Eve, thy mother, best

Can tell what shape of serpent tempted her.

Cain. This seems too terrible. No doubt the other

Had more of beauty.

Lucifer.Hast thou ne'er beheld him?

Cain. Many of the same kind (at least so called)200

But never that precisely, which persuaded

The fatal fruit, nor even of the same aspect.

Lucifer. Your father saw him not?

Cain.No: 'twas my mother

Who tempted him—she tempted by the serpent.

Lucifer. Good man! whene'er thy wife, or thy sons' wives,

Tempt thee or them to aught that's new or strange,

Be sure thou seest first who hath tempted them!

Cain. Thy precept comes too late: there is no more

For serpents to tempt woman to.

Lucifer.But there

Are some things still which woman may tempt man to,210

And man tempt woman:—let thy sons look to it!

My counsel is a kind one; for 'tis even

Given chiefly at my own expense; 'tis true,

'Twill not be followed, so there's little lost.[117]

Cain. I understand not this.

Lucifer.The happier thou!—

Thy world and thou are still too young! Thou thinkest

Thyself most wicked and unhappy—is it

Not so?

Cain. For crime, I know not; but for pain,

I have felt much.

Lucifer.First-born of the first man!

Thy present state of sin—and thou art evil,220

Of sorrow—and thou sufferest, are both Eden[248]

In all its innocence compared to what

Thou shortly may'st be; and that state again,

In its redoubled wretchedness, a Paradise

To what thy sons' sons' sons, accumulating

In generations like to dust (which they

In fact but add to), shall endure and do.—

Now let us back to earth!

Cain.And wherefore didst thou

Lead me here only to inform me this?

Lucifer. Was not thy quest for knowledge?

Cain.Yes—as being230

The road to happiness!

Lucifer.If truth be so,

Thou hast it.

Cain.Then my father's God did well

When he prohibited the fatal Tree.

Lucifer. But had done better in not planting it.

But ignorance of evil doth not save

From evil; it must still roll on the same,

A part of all things.

Cain.Not of all things. No—

I'll not believe it—for I thirst for good.

Lucifer. And who and what doth not? Who covets evil

For its own bitter sake?—None—nothing! 'tis240

The leaven of all life, and lifelessness.

Cain. Within those glorious orbs which we behold,

Distant, and dazzling, and innumerable,

Ere we came down into this phantom realm,

Ill cannot come: they are too beautiful.

Lucifer. Thou hast seen them from afar.

Cain.And what of that?

Distance can but diminish glory—they,

When nearer, must be more ineffable.

Lucifer. Approach the things of earth most beautiful,

And judge their beauty near.

Cain.I have done this—250

The loveliest thing I know is loveliest nearest.

Lucifer. Then there must be delusion.—What is that

Which being nearest to thine eyes is still

More beautiful than beauteous things remote?[249]

Cain. My sister Adah.—All the stars of heaven,

The deep blue noon of night, lit by an orb

Which looks a spirit, or a spirit's world—

The hues of twilight—the Sun's gorgeous coming—

His setting indescribable, which fills

My eyes with pleasant tears as I behold260

Him sink, and feel my heart float softly with him

Along that western paradise of clouds—

The forest shade, the green bough, the bird's voice—

The vesper bird's, which seems to sing of love,

And mingles with the song of Cherubim,

As the day closes over Eden's walls;—

All these are nothing, to my eyes and heart,

Like Adah's face: I turn from earth and heaven

To gaze on it.

Lucifer.'Tis fair as frail mortality,

In the first dawn and bloom of young creation,270

And earliest embraces of earth's parents,

Can make its offspring; still it is delusion.

Cain. You think so, being not her brother.


My brotherhood's with those who have no children.

Cain. Then thou canst have no fellowship with us.

Lucifer. It may be that thine own shall be for me.

But if thou dost possess a beautiful

Being beyond all beauty in thine eyes,

Why art thou wretched?

Cain.Why do I exist?

Why art thou wretched? why are all things so?280

Ev'n he who made us must be, as the maker

Of things unhappy! To produce destruction

Can surely never be the task of joy,

And yet my sire says he's omnipotent:

Then why is Evil—he being Good? I asked

This question of my father; and he said,

Because this Evil only was the path

To Good. Strange Good, that must arise from out

Its deadly opposite. I lately saw

A lamb stung by a reptile: the poor suckling290

Lay foaming on the earth, beneath the vain

And piteous bleating of its restless dam;[250]

My father plucked some herbs, and laid them to

The wound; and by degrees the helpless wretch

Resumed its careless life, and rose to drain

The mother's milk, who o'er it tremulous

Stood licking its reviving limbs with joy.

Behold, my son! said Adam, how from Evil

Springs Good![118]

Lucifer.What didst thou answer?

Cain.Nothing; for

He is my father: but I thought, that 'twere300

A better portion for the animal

Never to have been stung at all, than to

Purchase renewal of its little life

With agonies unutterable, though

Dispelled by antidotes.

Lucifer.But as thou saidst

Of all belovéd things thou lovest her

Who shared thy mother's milk, and giveth hers

Unto thy children——

Cain.Most assuredly:

What should I be without her?

Lucifer.What am I?

Cain. Dost thou love nothing?

Lucifer.What does thy God love?310

Cain. All things, my father says; but I confess

I see it not in their allotment here.

Lucifer. And, therefore, thou canst not see if I love

Or no—except some vast and general purpose,

To which particular things must melt like snows.

Cain. Snows! what are they?

Lucifer.Be happier in not knowing

What thy remoter offspring must encounter;[251]

But bask beneath the clime which knows no winter.

Cain. But dost thou not love something like thyself?

Lucifer. And dost thou love thyself?

Cain.Yes, but love more320

What makes my feelings more endurable,

And is more than myself, because I love it!

Lucifer. Thou lovest it, because 'tis beautiful,

As was the apple in thy mother's eye;

And when it ceases to be so, thy love

Will cease, like any other appetite.[119]

Cain. Cease to be beautiful! how can that be?

Lucifer. With time.

Cain.But time has passed, and hitherto

Even Adam and my mother both are fair:

Not fair like Adah and the Seraphim—330

But very fair.

Lucifer.All that must pass away

In them and her.

Cain.I'm sorry for it; but

Cannot conceive my love for her the less:

And when her beauty disappears, methinks

He who creates all beauty will lose more

Than me in seeing perish such a work.

Lucifer. I pity thee who lovest what must perish.

Cain. And I thee who lov'st nothing.

Lucifer.And thy brother—

Sits he not near thy heart?

Cain.Why should he not?

Lucifer. Thy father loves him well—so does thy God.340

Cain. And so do I.

Lucifer.'Tis well and meekly done.

Cain. Meekly!

Lucifer.He is the second born of flesh,

And is his mother's favourite.[252]

Cain.Let him keep

Her favour, since the Serpent was the first

To win it.

Lucifer.And his father's?

Cain.What is that

To me? should I not love that which all love?

Lucifer. And the Jehovah—the indulgent Lord,

And bounteous planter of barred Paradise—

He, too, looks smilingly on Abel.


Ne'er saw him, and I know not if he smiles.350

Lucifer. But you have seen his angels.



Sufficiently to see they love your brother:

His sacrifices are acceptable.

Cain. So be they! wherefore speak to me of this?

Lucifer. Because thou hast thought of this ere now.

Cain.And if

I have thought, why recall a thought that——

(he pauses as agitated)—Spirit!

Here we are in thy world; speak not of mine.

Thou hast shown me wonders: thou hast shown me those

Mighty Pre-Adamites who walked the earth

Of which ours is the wreck: thou hast pointed out360

Myriads of starry worlds, of which our own

Is the dim and remote companion, in

Infinity of life: thou hast shown me shadows

Of that existence with the dreaded name

Which my sire brought us—Death;[cj] thou hast shown me much

But not all: show me where Jehovah dwells,

In his especial Paradise—or thine:

Where is it?

Lucifer.Here, and o'er all space.

Cain.But ye

Have some allotted dwelling—as all things;

Clay has its earth, and other worlds their tenants;370

All temporary breathing creatures their

Peculiar element; and things which have[253]

Long ceased to breathe our breath, have theirs, thou say'st;

And the Jehovah and thyself have thine—

Ye do not dwell together?

Lucifer.No, we reign

Together; but our dwellings are asunder.

Cain. Would there were only one of ye! perchance

An unity of purpose might make union

In elements which seem now jarred in storms.

How came ye, being Spirits wise and infinite,380

To separate? Are ye not as brethren in

Your essence—and your nature, and your glory?

Lucifer. Art not thou Abel's brother?

Cain.We are brethren,

And so we shall remain; but were it not so,

Is spirit like to flesh? can it fall out—

Infinity with Immortality?

Jarring and turning space to misery—

For what?

Lucifer.To reign.

Cain.Did ye not tell me that

Ye are both eternal?


Cain.And what I have seen—

Yon blue immensity, is boundless?


Cain. And cannot ye both reign, then?—is there not

Enough?—why should ye differ?

Lucifer.We both reign.

Cain. But one of you makes evil.


Cain.Thou! for

If thou canst do man good, why dost thou not?

Lucifer. And why not he who made? I made ye not;

Ye are his creatures, and not mine.

Cain.Then leave us

His creatures, as thou say'st we are, or show me

Thy dwelling, or his dwelling.

Lucifer.I could show thee

Both; but the time will come thou shalt see one[254]

Of them for evermore.[120]

Cain.And why not now?400

Lucifer. Thy human mind hath scarcely grasp to gather

The little I have shown thee into calm

And clear thought: and thou wouldst go on aspiring

To the great double Mysteries! the two Principles![121]

And gaze upon them on their secret thrones!

Dust! limit thy ambition; for to see

Either of these would be for thee to perish!

Cain. And let me perish, so I see them!


The son of her who snatched the apple spake!

But thou wouldst only perish, and not see them;410

That sight is for the other state.

Cain.Of Death?

Lucifer. That is the prelude.

Cain.Then I dread it less,

Now that I know it leads to something definite.

Lucifer. And now I will convey thee to thy world,

Where thou shall multiply the race of Adam,

Eat, drink, toil, tremble, laugh, weep, sleep—and die!

Cain. And to what end have I beheld these things

Which thou hast shown me?

Lucifer.Didst thou not require

Knowledge? And have I not, in what I showed,

Taught thee to know thyself?

Cain.Alas! I seem420


Lucifer. And this should be the human sum

Of knowledge, to know mortal nature's nothingness;

Bequeath that science to thy children, and

'Twill spare them many tortures.

Cain.Haughty spirit!

Thou speak'st it proudly; but thyself, though proud,

Hast a superior.

Lucifer.No! By heaven, which he

Holds, and the abyss, and the immensity

Of worlds and life, which I hold with him—No!

I have a Victor—true; but no superior.[123]

Homage he has from all—but none from me:430

I battle it against him, as I battled

In highest Heaven—through all Eternity,

And the unfathomable gulfs of Hades,

And the interminable realms of space,

And the infinity of endless ages,

All, all, will I dispute! And world by world,

And star by star, and universe by universe,

Shall tremble in the balance, till the great

Conflict shall cease, if ever it shall cease,

Which it ne'er shall, till he or I be quenched!440

And what can quench our immortality,

Or mutual and irrevocable hate?

He as a conqueror will call the conquered[256]

Evil; but what will be the Good he gives?

Were I the victor, his works would be deemed

The only evil ones. And you, ye new

And scarce-born mortals, what have been his gifts

To you already, in your little world?

Cain. But few; and some of those but bitter.


With me, then, to thine earth, and try the rest450

Of his celestial boons to you and yours.

Evil and Good are things in their own essence,

And not made good or evil by the Giver;

But if he gives you good—so call him; if

Evil springs from him, do not name it mine,

Till ye know better its true fount; and judge

Not by words, though of Spirits, but the fruits

Of your existence, such as it must be.

One good gift has the fatal apple given,—

Your reason:—let it not be overswayed460

By tyrannous threats to force you into faith

'Gainst all external sense and inward feeling:

Think and endure,—and form an inner world

In your own bosom—where the outward fails;

So shall you nearer be the spiritual

Nature, and war triumphant with your own.

 [They disappear.


Scene I.—The Earth, near Eden, as in Act I.

Enter Cain and Adah.

Adah. Hush! tread softly, Cain!

Cain.I will—but wherefore?

Adah. Our little Enoch sleeps upon yon bed

Of leaves, beneath the cypress.

Cain.Cypress! 'tis

A gloomy tree, which looks as if it mourned

O'er what it shadows; wherefore didst thou choose it

For our child's canopy?[257]

Adah.Because its branches

Shut out the sun like night, and therefore seemed

Fitting to shadow slumber.

Cain.Aye, the last—

And longest; but no matter—lead me to him.

 [They go up to the child.

How lovely he appears! his little cheeks,10

In their pure incarnation,[124] vying with

The rose leaves strewn beneath them.

Adah.And his lips, too,

How beautifully parted! No; you shall not

Kiss him, at least not now: he will awake soon—

His hour of mid-day rest is nearly over;

But it were pity to disturb him till

'Tis closed.

Cain.You have said well; I will contain

My heart till then. He smiles, and sleeps!—sleep on,

And smile, thou little, young inheritor

Of a world scarce less young: sleep on, and smile!20

Thine are the hours and days when both are cheering

And innocent! thou hast not plucked the fruit—

Thou know'st not thou art naked! Must the time

Come thou shalt be amerced for sins unknown,

Which were not thine nor mine? But now sleep on!

His cheeks are reddening into deeper smiles,

And shining lids are trembling o'er his long

Lashes,[125] dark as the cypress which waves o'er them;

Half open, from beneath them the clear blue

Laughs out, although in slumber. He must dream—30

Of what? Of Paradise!—Aye! dream of it,

My disinherited boy! 'Tis but a dream;

For never more thyself, thy sons, nor fathers,

Shall walk in that forbidden place of joy!

Adah. Dear Cain! Nay, do not whisper o'er our son

Such melancholy yearnings o'er the past:[258]

Why wilt thou always mourn for Paradise?

Can we not make another?


Adah.Here, or

Where'er thou wilt: where'er thou art, I feel not

The want of this so much regretted Eden.40

Have I not thee—our boy—our sire, and brother,

And Zillah—our sweet sister, and our Eve,

To whom we owe so much besides our birth?

Cain. Yes—Death, too, is amongst the debts we owe her.

Adah. Cain! that proud Spirit, who withdrew thee hence,

Hath saddened thine still deeper. I had hoped

The promised wonders which thou hast beheld,

Visions, thou say'st, of past and present worlds,

Would have composed thy mind into the calm

Of a contented knowledge; but I see50

Thy guide hath done thee evil: still I thank him,

And can forgive him all, that he so soon

Hath given thee back to us.

Cain.So soon?

Adah.'Tis scarcely

Two hours since ye departed: two long hours

To me, but only hours upon the sun.

Cain. And yet I have approached that sun, and seen

Worlds which he once shone on, and never more

Shall light; and worlds he never lit: methought

Years had rolled o'er my absence.

Adah.Hardly hours.

Cain. The mind then hath capacity of time,60

And measures it by that which it beholds,

Pleasing or painful[126]; little or almighty.[259]

I had beheld the immemorial works

Of endless beings; skirred extinguished worlds;

And, gazing on eternity, methought

I had borrowed more by a few drops of ages

From its immensity: but now I feel

My littleness again. Well said the Spirit,

That I was nothing!

Adah.Wherefore said he so?

Jehovah said not that.

Cain.No: he contents him70

With making us the nothing which we are;

And after flattering dust with glimpses of

Eden and Immortality, resolves

It back to dust again—for what?

Adah.Thou know'st—

Even for our parents' error.

Cain.What is that

To us? they sinned, then let them die!

Adah. Thou hast not spoken well, nor is that thought

Thy own, but of the Spirit who was with thee.

Would I could die for them, so they might live!

Cain. Why, so say I—provided that one victim80

Might satiate the Insatiable of life,

And that our little rosy sleeper there

Might never taste of death nor human sorrow,

Nor hand it down to those who spring from him.

Adah. How know we that some such atonement one day

May not redeem our race?

Cain.By sacrificing

The harmless for the guilty? what atonement[127]

Were there? why, we are innocent: what have we

Done, that we must be victims for a deed

Before our birth, or need have victims to90

Atone for this mysterious, nameless sin—

If it be such a sin to seek for knowledge?

Adah. Alas! thou sinnest now, my Cain: thy words

Sound impious in mine ears.

Cain.Then leave me!


Though thy God left thee.

Cain.Say, what have we here?

Adah. Two altars, which our brother Abel made

During thine absence, whereupon to offer

A sacrifice to God on thy return.

Cain. And how knew he, that I would be so ready

With the burnt offerings, which he daily brings100

With a meek brow, whose base humility

Shows more of fear than worship—as a bribe

To the Creator?

Adah.Surely, 'tis well done.

Cain. One altar may suffice; I have no offering.

Adah. The fruits of the earth,[128] the early, beautiful,

Blossom and bud—and bloom of flowers and fruits—

These are a goodly offering to the Lord,

Given with a gentle and a contrite spirit.

Cain. I have toiled, and tilled, and sweaten in the sun,

According to the curse:—must I do more?110

For what should I be gentle? for a war

With all the elements ere they will yield

The bread we eat? For what must I be grateful?

For being dust, and grovelling in the dust,

Till I return to dust? If I am nothing—

For nothing shall I be an hypocrite,

And seem well-pleased with pain? For what should I

Be contrite? for my father's sin, already

Expiate with what we all have undergone,

And to be more than expiated by120

The ages prophesied, upon our seed.

Little deems our young blooming sleeper, there,

The germs of an eternal misery

To myriads is within him! better 'twere

I snatched him in his sleep, and dashed him 'gainst

The rocks, than let him live to——

Adah.Oh, my God![261]

Touch not the child—my child! thy child! Oh, Cain!

Cain. Fear not! for all the stars, and all the power

Which sways them, I would not accost yon infant

With ruder greeting than a father's kiss.130

Adah. Then, why so awful in thy speech?

Cain.I said,

'Twere better that he ceased to live, than give

Life to so much of sorrow as he must

Endure, and, harder still, bequeath; but since

That saying jars you, let us only say—

'Twere better that he never had been born.

Adah. Oh, do not say so! Where were then the joys,

The mother's joys of watching, nourishing,

And loving him? Soft! he awakes. Sweet Enoch!

 [She goes to the child.

Oh, Cain! look on him; see how full of life,140

Of strength, of bloom, of beauty, and of joy—

How like to me—how like to thee, when gentle—

For then we are all alike; is't not so, Cain?

Mother, and sire, and son, our features are

Reflected in each other; as they are

In the clear waters, when they are gentle, and

When thou art gentle. Love us, then, my Cain!

And love thyself for our sakes, for we love thee.

Look! how he laughs and stretches out his arms,

And opens wide his blue eyes upon thine,150

To hail his father; while his little form

Flutters as winged with joy. Talk not of pain!

The childless cherubs well might envy thee

The pleasures of a parent! Bless him, Cain!

As yet he hath no words to thank thee, but

His heart will, and thine own too.

Cain.Bless thee, boy!

If that a mortal blessing may avail thee,

To save thee from the Serpent's curse!

Adah.It shall.

Surely a father's blessing may avert

A reptile's subtlety.

Cain.Of that I doubt;160

But bless him ne'er the less.[262]

Adah.Our brother comes.

Cain. Thy brother Abel.

Enter Abel.

Abel.Welcome, Cain! My brother,

The peace of God be on thee!

Cain.Abel, hail!

Abel. Our sister tells me that thou hast been wandering,

In high communion with a Spirit, far

Beyond our wonted range. Was he of those

We have seen and spoken with, like to our father?

Cain. No.

Abel.Why then commune with him? he may be

A foe to the Most High.

Cain.And friend to man.

Has the Most High been so—if so you term him?170

Abel. Term him! your words are strange to-day, my brother.

My sister Adah, leave us for awhile—

We mean to sacrifice[129].

Adah.Farewell, my Cain;

But first embrace thy son. May his soft spirit,

And Abel's pious ministry, recall thee

To peace and holiness![Exit Adah, with her child.

Abel.Where hast thou been?

Cain. I know not.

Abel.Nor what thou hast seen?

Cain.The dead—

The Immortal—the Unbounded—the Omnipotent—

The overpowering mysteries of space—

The innumerable worlds that were and are—180

A whirlwind of such overwhelming things,

Suns, moons, and earths, upon their loud-voiced spheres

Singing in thunder round me, as have made me

Unfit for mortal converse: leave me, Abel.

Abel. Thine eyes are flashing with unnatural light[263]

Thy cheek is flushed with an unnatural hue—

Thy words are fraught with an unnatural sound—

What may this mean?

Cain.It means—I pray thee, leave me.

Abel. Not till we have prayed and sacrificed together.

Cain. Abel, I pray thee, sacrifice alone—190

Jehovah loves thee well.

Abel.Both well, I hope.

Cain. But thee the better: I care not for that;

Thou art fitter for his worship than I am;

Revere him, then—but let it be alone—

At least, without me.

Abel.Brother, I should ill

Deserve the name of our great father's son,

If, as my elder, I revered thee not,

And in the worship of our God, called not

On thee to join me, and precede me in

Our priesthood—'tis thy place.

Cain.But I have ne'er200

Asserted it.

Abel.The more my grief; I pray thee

To do so now: thy soul seems labouring in

Some strong delusion; it will calm thee.


Nothing can calm me more. Calm! say I? Never

Knew I what calm was in the soul, although

I have seen the elements stilled. My Abel, leave me!

Or let me leave thee to thy pious purpose.

Abel. Neither; we must perform our task together.

Spurn me not.

Cain.If it must be so——well, then,

What shall I do?

Abel.Choose one of those two altars.210

Cain. Choose for me: they to me are so much turf

And stone.

Abel.Choose thou!

Cain.I have chosen.

Abel.'Tis the highest,

And suits thee, as the elder. Now prepare

Thine offerings.

Cain.Where are thine?[264]

Abel.Behold them here—

The firstlings of the flock, and fat thereof—

A shepherd's humble offering.

Cain.I have no flocks;

I am a tiller of the ground, and must

Yield what it yieldeth to my toil—its fruit:

 [He gathers fruits.

Behold them in their various bloom and ripeness.

 [They dress their altars, and kindle aflame upon them[130].

Abel. My brother, as the elder, offer first220

Thy prayer and thanksgiving with sacrifice.

Cain. No—I am new to this; lead thou the way,

And I will follow—as I may.

Abel (kneeling).Oh, God!

Who made us, and who breathed the breath of life

Within our nostrils, who hath blessed us,

And spared, despite our father's sin, to make

His children all lost, as they might have been,

Had not thy justice been so tempered with

The mercy which is thy delight, as to

Accord a pardon like a Paradise,230

Compared with our great crimes:—Sole Lord of light!

Of good, and glory, and eternity!

Without whom all were evil, and with whom

Nothing can err, except to some good end

Of thine omnipotent benevolence!

Inscrutable, but still to be fulfilled!

Accept from out thy humble first of shepherds'

First of the first-born flocks—an offering,

In itself nothing—as what offering can be

Aught unto thee?—but yet accept it for240[265]

The thanksgiving of him who spreads it in

The face of thy high heaven—bowing his own

Even to the dust, of which he is—in honour

Of thee, and of thy name, for evermore!

Cain (standing erect during this speech).

Spirit whate'er or whosoe'er thou art,

Omnipotent, it may be—and, if good,

Shown in the exemption of thy deeds from evil;

Jehovah upon earth! and God in heaven!

And it may be with other names, because

Thine attributes seem many, as thy works:—250

If thou must be propitiated with prayers,

Take them! If thou must be induced with altars,

And softened with a sacrifice, receive them;

Two beings here erect them unto thee.

If thou lov'st blood, the shepherd's shrine, which smokes

On my right hand, hath shed it for thy service

In the first of his flock, whose limbs now reek

In sanguinary incense to thy skies;

Or, if the sweet and blooming fruits of earth,

And milder seasons, which the unstained turf260

I spread them on now offers in the face

Of the broad sun which ripened them, may seem

Good to thee—inasmuch as they have not

Suffered in limb or life—and rather form

A sample of thy works, than supplication

To look on ours! If a shrine without victim,

And altar without gore, may win thy favour,

Look on it! and for him who dresseth it,

He is—such as thou mad'st him; and seeks nothing

Which must be won by kneeling: if he's evil[ck],270

Strike him! thou art omnipotent, and may'st—

For what can he oppose? If he be good,

Strike him, or spare him, as thou wilt! since all

Rests upon thee; and Good and Evil seem

To have no power themselves, save in thy will—

And whether that be good or ill I know not,

Not being omnipotent, nor fit to judge

Omnipotence—but merely to endure

Its mandate; which thus far I have endured.[266]

[The fire upon the altar of Abel kindles into a column of the brightest flame, and ascends to heaven; while a whirlwind throws down the altar of Cain, and scatters the fruits abroad upon the earth.[131]

Abel (kneeling). Oh, brother, pray! Jehovah's wroth with thee.280

Cain. Why so?

Abel.Thy fruits are scattered on the earth.

Cain. From earth they came, to earth let them return;

Their seed will bear fresh fruit there ere the summer:

Thy burnt flesh-offering prospers better; see

How Heaven licks up the flames, when thick with blood!

Abel. Think not upon my offering's acceptance,

But make another of thine own—before

It is too late.

Cain.I will build no more altars,

Nor suffer any——

Abel (rising).Cain! what meanest thou?

Cain. To cast down yon vile flatterer of the clouds,290

The smoky harbinger of thy dull prayers—

Thine altar, with its blood of lambs and kids,

Which fed on milk, to be destroyed in blood.

Abel (opposing him).

Thou shalt not:—add not impious works to impious

Words! let that altar stand—'tis hallowed now

By the immortal pleasure of Jehovah,

In his acceptance of the victims.


His pleasure! what was his high pleasure in

The fumes of scorching flesh and smoking blood,

To the pain of the bleating mothers, which300

Still yearn for their dead offspring? or the pangs

Of the sad ignorant victims underneath

Thy pious knife? Give way! this bloody record

Shall not stand in the sun, to shame creation!

Abel. Brother, give back! thou shalt not touch my altar

With violence: if that thou wilt adopt it,

To try another sacrifice, 'tis thine.[267]

Cain. Another sacrifice! Give way, or else

That sacrifice may be——

Abel.What mean'st thou?


Give way!—thy God loves blood!—then look to it:—310

Give way, ere he hath more!

Abel.In his great name,

I stand between thee and the shrine which hath

Had his acceptance.

Cain.If thou lov'st thyself,

Stand back till I have strewed this turf along

Its native soil:—else——

Abel (opposing him).I love God far more

Than life.

Cain (striking him with a brand, on the temples, which

he snatches from the altar). Then take thy life unto thy God,

Since he loves lives.

Abel (falls).What hast thou done—my brother?

Cain. Brother!

Abel.Oh, God! receive thy servant! and

Forgive his slayer, for he knew not what

He did—Cain, give me—give me thy hand; and tell320

Poor Zillah—

Cain (after a moment's stupefaction).

My hand! 'tis all red, and with——

What?[A long pause.—Looking slowly round.

Where am I? alone! Where's Abel? where

Cain? Can it be that I am he? My brother,

Awake!—why liest thou so long on the green earth?

'Tis not the hour of slumber:—why so pale?

What hast thou!—thou wert full of life this morn!

Abel! I pray thee, mock me not! I smote

Too fiercely, but not fatally. Ah, why

Wouldst thou oppose me? This is mockery;

And only done to daunt me:—'twas a blow—330

And but a blow. Stir—stir—nay, only stir!

Why, so—that's well!—thou breathest! breathe upon me!

Oh God! Oh God!

Abel (very faintly).  What's he who speaks of God?

Cain. Thy murderer.[268]

Abel.Then may God forgive him! Cain,

Comfort poor Zillah:—she has but one brother

Now.[Abel dies.

Cain.  And I none!—Who makes me brotherless?

His eyes are open! then he is not dead!

Death is like sleep[132]; and sleep shuts down our lids.

His lips, too, are apart; why then he breathes;

And yet I feel it not.—His heart!—his heart!—340

Let me see, doth it beat? methinks——No!—no!

This is a vision, else I am become

The native of another and worse world.

The earth swims round me:—what is this?—'tis wet;

 [Puts his hand to his brow, and then looks at it.

And yet there are no dews! 'Tis blood—my blood—

My brother's and my own! and shed by me!

Then what have I further to do with life,

Since I have taken life from my own flesh?

But he can not be dead!—Is silence death?

No; he will wake; then let me watch by him.350

Life cannot be so slight, as to be quenched

Thus quickly!—he hath spoken to me since—

What shall I say to him?—My brother!—No:

He will not answer to that name; for brethren

Smite not each other. Yet—yet—speak to me.

Oh! for a word more of that gentle voice,

That I may bear to hear my own again!

Enter Zillah.

Zillah. I heard a heavy sound; what can it be?

'Tis Cain; and watching by my husband. What

Dost thou there, brother? Doth he sleep? Oh, Heaven!360

What means this paleness, and yon stream?—No, no!

It is not blood; for who would shed his blood?

Abel! what's this?—who hath done this? He moves not;

He breathes not: and his hands drop down from mine[269]

With stony lifelessness! Ah! cruel Cain!

Why camest thou not in time to save him from

This violence? Whatever hath assailed him,

Thou wert the stronger, and shouldst have stepped in

Between him and aggression! Father!—Eve!—

Adah!—come hither! Death is in the world!370

 [Exit Zillah, calling on her Parents, etc.

Cain (solus) And who hath brought him there?—I—who abhor

The name of Death so deeply, that the thought

Empoisoned all my life, before I knew

His aspect—I have led him here, and given

My brother to his cold and still embrace,

As if he would not have asserted his

Inexorable claim without my aid.

I am awake at last—a dreary dream

Had maddened me;—but he shall ne'er awake!

Enter Adam, Eve, Adah, and Zillah.

Adam. A voice of woe from Zillah brings me here—380

What do I see?—'Tis true!—My son!—my son!

Woman, behold the Serpent's work, and thine![To Eve.

Eve. Oh! speak not of it now: the Serpent's fangs

Are in my heart! My best beloved, Abel!

Jehovah! this is punishment beyond

A mother's sin, to take him from me!


Or what hath done this deed?—speak, Cain, since thou

Wert present; was it some more hostile angel,

Who walks not with Jehovah? or some wild

Brute of the forest?

Eve.Ah! a livid light390

Breaks through, as from a thunder-cloud! yon brand

Massy and bloody! snatched from off the altar,

And black with smoke, and red with——

Adam.Speak, my son!

Speak, and assure us, wretched as we are,

That we are not more miserable still.

Adah. Speak, Cain! and say it was not thou!

Eve.It was![270]

I see it now—he hangs his guilty head,

And covers his ferocious eye with hands


Adah.Mother, thou dost him wrong—

Cain! clear thee from this horrible accusal,400

Which grief wrings from our parent.

Eve.Hear, Jehovah!

May the eternal Serpent's curse be on him!

For he was fitter for his seed than ours.

May all his days be desolate! May——


Curse him not, mother, for he is thy son—

Curse him not, mother, for he is my brother,

And my betrothed.

Eve.He hath left thee no brother—

Zillah no husband—me no son! for thus

I curse him from my sight for evermore!

All bonds I break between us, as he broke410

That of his nature, in yon——Oh Death! Death!

Why didst thou not take me, who first incurred thee?

Why dost thou not so now?

Adam.Eve! let not this,

Thy natural grief, lead to impiety!

A heavy doom was long forespoken to us;

And now that it begins, let it be borne

In such sort as may show our God, that we

Are faithful servants to his holy will.

Eve. (pointing to Cain).

His will! the will of yon Incarnate Spirit

Of Death, whom I have brought upon the earth420

To strew it with the dead. May all the curses

Of life be on him! and his agonies

Drive him forth o'er the wilderness, like us

From Eden, till his children do by him

As he did by his brother! May the swords

And wings of fiery Cherubim pursue him

By day and night—snakes spring up in his path—

Earth's fruits be ashes in his mouth—the leaves

On which he lays his head to sleep be strewed

With scorpions! May his dreams be of his victim!430

His waking a continual dread of Death![271]

May the clear rivers turn to blood as he[133]

Stoops down to stain them with his raging lip!

May every element shun or change to him!

May he live in the pangs which others die with!

And Death itself wax something worse than Death

To him who first acquainted him with man!

Hence, fratricide! henceforth that word is Cain,

Through all the coming myriads of mankind,

Who shall abhor thee, though thou wert their sire!440

May the grass wither from thy feet! the woods

Deny thee shelter! earth a home! the dust

A grave! the sun his light! and heaven her God[134]!

 [Exit Eve.

Adam. Cain! get thee forth: we dwell no more together.

Depart! and leave the dead to me—I am

Henceforth alone—we never must meet more.

Adah. Oh, part not with him thus, my father: do not

Add thy deep curse to Eve's upon his head!

Adam. I curse him not: his spirit be his curse.

Come, Zillah!

Zillah.I must watch my husband's corse[135].450

Adam. We will return again, when he is gone

Who hath provided for us this dread office.

Come, Zillah!

Zillah.Yet one kiss on yon pale clay,[272]

And those lips once so warm—my heart! my heart!

 [Exeunt Adam and Zillah weeping.

Adah.   Cain! thou hast heard, we must go forth. I am ready,

So shall our children be. I will bear Enoch,

And you his sister. Ere the sun declines

Let us depart, nor walk the wilderness

Under the cloud of night.—Nay, speak to me.

To me—thine own.

Cain.Leave me!

Adah.Why, all have left thee.460

Cain. And wherefore lingerest thou? Dost thou not fear

To dwell with one who hath done this?

Adah.I fear

Nothing except to leave thee, much as I

Shrink from the deed which leaves thee brotherless.

I must not speak of this—it is between thee

And the great God.

A Voice from within exclaims. Cain! Cain!

Adah.Hear'st thou that voice?

The Voice within. Cain! Cain!

Adah.It soundeth like an angel's tone.

Enter the Angel of the Lord.[136]

Angel. Where is thy brother Abel?

Cain.Am I then

My brother's keeper?

Angel.Cain! what hast thou done?

The voice of thy slain brother's blood cries out,470

Even from the ground, unto the Lord!—Now art thou

Cursed from the earth, which opened late her mouth[273]

To drink thy brother's blood from thy rash hand.

Henceforth, when thou shalt till the ground, it shall not

Yield thee her strength; a fugitive shalt thou

Be from this day, and vagabond on earth!

Adah. This punishment is more than he can bear.

Behold thou drivest him from the face of earth,

And from the face of God shall he be hid.

A fugitive and vagabond on earth,480

'Twill come to pass, that whoso findeth him

Shall slay him.

Cain.Would they could! but who are they

Shall slay me? Where are these on the lone earth

As yet unpeopled?

Angel.Thou hast slain thy brother,

And who shall warrant thee against thy son?

Adah. Angel of Light! be merciful, nor say

That this poor aching breast now nourishes

A murderer in my boy, and of his father.

Angel. Then he would but be what his father is.

Did not the milk of Eve give nutriment490

To him thou now seest so besmeared with blood?

The fratricide might well engender parricides.—

But it shall not be so—the Lord thy God

And mine commandeth me to set his seal

On Cain, so that he may go forth in safety.

Who slayeth Cain, a sevenfold vengeance shall

Be taken on his head. Come hither!


Wouldst thou with me?

Angel.To mark upon thy brow[cl]

Exemption from such deeds as thou hast done.

Cain. No, let me die!

Angel.It must not be.

 [The Angel sets the mark on Cain's brow.

Cain.It burns500

My brow, but nought to that which is within it!

Is there more? let me meet it as I may.

Angel. Stern hast thou been and stubborn from the womb,

As the ground thou must henceforth till; but he[274]

Thou slew'st was gentle as the flocks he tended.

Cain. After the fall too soon was I begotten;

Ere yet my mother's mind subsided from

The Serpent, and my sire still mourned for Eden.

That which I am, I am; I did not seek

For life, nor did I make myself; but could I510

With my own death redeem him from the dust—

And why not so? let him return to day,

And I lie ghastly! so shall be restored

By God the life to him he loved; and taken

From me a being I ne'er loved to bear.

Angel. Who shall heal murder? what is done, is done;

Go forth! fulfil thy days! and be thy deeds

Unlike the last![The Angel disappears.

Adah.He's gone, let us go forth;

I hear our little Enoch cry within

Our bower.

Cain.Ah! little knows he what he weeps for!520

And I who have shed blood cannot shed tears!

But the four rivers[137] would not cleanse my soul.

Think'st thou my boy will bear to look on me?

Adah. If I thought that he would not, I would——

Cain (interrupting her).No,

No more of threats: we have had too many of them:

Go to our children—I will follow thee.

Adah. I will not leave thee lonely with the dead—

Let us depart together.

Cain.Oh! thou dead

And everlasting witness! whose unsinking

Blood darkens earth and heaven! what thou now art530

I know not! but if thou seest what I am,

I think thou wilt forgive him, whom his God

Can ne'er forgive, nor his own soul.—Farewell!

I must not, dare not touch what I have made thee.

I, who sprung from the same womb with thee, drained

The same breast, clasped thee often to my own,

In fondness brotherly and boyish, I

Can never meet thee more, nor even dare

To do that for thee, which thou shouldst have done[275]

For me—compose thy limbs into their grave—540

The first grave yet dug for mortality.

But who hath dug that grave? Oh, earth! Oh, earth!

For all the fruits thou hast rendered to me, I

Give thee back this.—Now for the wilderness!

 [Adah stoops down and kisses the body of Abel.

Adah. A dreary, and an early doom, my brother,

Has been thy lot! Of all who mourn for thee,

I alone must not weep. My office is

Henceforth to dry up tears, and not to shed them;

But yet of all who mourn, none mourn like me,

Not only for thyself, but him who slew thee.550

Now, Cain! I will divide thy burden with thee.

Cain. Eastward from Eden will we take our way;

'Tis the most desolate, and suits my steps.

Adah. Lead! thou shalt be my guide, and may our God

Be thine! Now let us carry forth our children.

Cain. And he who lieth there was childless! I

Have dried the fountain of a gentle race,

Which might have graced his recent marriage couch,

And might have tempered this stern blood of mine,

Uniting with our children Abel's offspring!560

O Abel!

Adah.Peace be with him!

Cain.But with me!——



[86] {205}[On the 13th December [1821] Sir Walter received a copy of Cain, as yet unpublished, from Murray, who had been instructed to ask whether he had any objection to having the "Mystery" dedicated to him. He replied in these words—

"Edinburgh, 4th December, 1821.

"My Dear Sir,—I accept, with feelings of great obligation, the flattering proposal of Lord Byron to prefix my name to the very grand and tremendous drama of 'Cain.'[*] I may be partial to it, and you will allow I have cause; but I do not know that his Muse has ever taken so lofty a flight amid her former soarings. He has certainly matched Milton on his own ground. Some part of the language is bold, and may shock one class of readers, whose line will be adopted by others out of affectation or envy. But then they must condemn the 'Paradise Lost,' if they have a mind to be consistent. The fiend-like reasoning and bold blasphemy of the fiend and of his pupil lead exactly to the point which was to be expected,—the commission of the first murder, and the ruin and despair of the perpetrator.

"I do not see how any one can accuse the author himself of Manicheism. The Devil talks the language of that sect, doubtless; because, not being able to deny the existence of the Good Principle, he endeavours to exalt himself—the Evil Principle—to a seeming equality with the Good; but such arguments, in the mouth of such a being, can only be used to deceive and to betray. Lord Byron might have made this more evident, by placing in the mouth of Adam, or of some good and protecting spirit, the reasons which render the existence of moral evil consistent with the general benevolence of the Deity. The great key to the mystery is, perhaps, the imperfection of our own faculties, which see and feel strongly the partial evils which press upon us, but know too little of the general system of the universe, to be aware how the existence of these is to be reconciled with the benevolence of the great Creator.

"To drop these speculations, you have much occasion for some mighty spirit, like Lord Byron, to come down and trouble the waters; for, excepting 'The John Bull,'[**] you seem stagnating strangely in London.

"Yours, my dear Sir,

"Very truly,

"Walter Scott.

"To John Murray, Esq."-Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, by J. G. Lockhart, Esq., 1838, iii. 92, 93.]

[[*] "However, the praise often given to Byron has been so exaggerated as to provoke, perhaps, a reaction in which he is unduly disparaged. 'As various in composition as Shakespeare himself, Lord Byron has embraced,' says Sir Walter Scott, 'every topic of human life, and sounded every string on the divine harp, from its slightest to its most powerful and heart-astounding tones.... In the very grand and tremendous drama of Cain,' etc.... 'And Lord Byron has done all this,' Scott adds, 'while managing his pen with the careless and negligent ease of a man of quality.'"—Poetry of Byron, chosen and arranged by Matthew Arnold, 1881, p. xiii.

Scott does not add anything of the kind. The comparison with Shakespeare was written after Byron's death in May, 1824; the appreciation of Cain in December, 1821 (vide supra); while the allusion to "a man of quality" is to be found in an article contributed to the Quarterly Review in 1816!]

[[**] The first number of John Bull, "For God, the King, and the People," was published Sunday, December 17, 1820. Theodore Hook was the editor, and it is supposed that he owed his appointment to the intervention of Sir Walter Scott. The raison d'être of John Bull was to write up George IV., and to write down Queen Caroline. "The national movement (in favour of the Queen) was arrested; and George IV. had mainly John Bull to thank for that result."—A Sketch, [by J. G. Lockhart], 1852, p. 45.] ]

[87] {207}["Mysteries," or Mystery Plays, were prior to and distinct from "Moralities." Byron seems to have had some acquaintance with the archæology of the drama, but it is not easy to divine the source or extent of his knowledge. He may have received and read the Roxburghe reprint of the Chester Plays, published in 1818; but it is most probable that he had read the pages devoted to mystery plays in Warton's History of Poetry, or that he had met with a version of the Ludus Coventriæ (reprinted by J. O. Halliwell Phillipps, in 1841), printed in Stevens's continuation of Dugdale's Monasticon, 1722, i. 139-153. There is a sixteenth-century edition of Le Mistère du Viel Testament, which was reprinted by the Baron James de Rothschild, in 1878 (see for "De la Mort d'Abel et de la Malediction Cayn," pp. 103-113); but it is improbable that it had come under Byron's notice. For a quotation from an Italian Mystery Play, vide post, p. 264; and for Spanish "Mystery Plays," see Teatro Completo de Juan del Encina, "Proemio," Madrid, 1893, and History of Spanish Literature, by George Ticknor, 1888, i. 257. For instances of the profanity of Mystery Plays, see the Towneley Plays ("Mactacio Abel," p. 7), first published by the Surtees Society in 1836, and republished by the Early English Text Society, 1897, E.S. No. lxxi.]

[88] {208}[For the contention that "the snake was the snake"—no more (vide post, p. 211), see La Bible enfin Expliquée, etc.; Œuvres Complètes de Voltaire, Paris, 1837, vi. 338, note. "La conversation de la femme et du serpent n'est point racontée comme une chose surnaturelle et incroyable, comme un miracle, ou conune une allégorie." See, too, Bayle (Hist. and Crit. Dictionary, 1735, ii. 851, art. "Eve," note A), who quotes Josephus, Paracelsus, and "some Rabbins," to the effect that it was an actual serpent which tempted Eve; and compare Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures, by the Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D., 1800, p. 42.]

[89] [Richard Watson (1737-1816), Bishop of Llandaff, 1782, was appointed Moderator of the Schools in 1762, and Regius Professor of Divinity October 31, 1771. According to his own story (Anecdotes of the Life of Richard Watson, 1817, p. 39), "I determined to study nothing but my Bible.... I had no prejudice against, no predilection for, the Church of England, but a sincere regard for the Church of Christ, and an insuperable objection to every degree of dogmatical intolerance. I never troubled myself with answering any arguments which the opponents in the Divinity Schools brought against the articles of the Church, ... but I used on such occasions to say to them, holding the New Testament in my hand, 'En sacrum codicem! Here is the foundation of truth! Why do you follow the streams derived from it by the sophistry, or polluted by the passions, of man?'" It may be conceived that Watson's appeal to "Scripture" was against the sentence of orthodoxy. His authority as "a school Divine" is on a par with that of the author of Cain, or of an earlier theologian who "quoted Genesis like a very learned clerk"!]

[90] [Byron breaks through his self-imposed canon with regard to the New Testament. There are allusions to the doctrine of the Atonement, act i. sc. I, lines 163-166: act iii. sc. I, lines 85-88; to the descent into Hades, act i. sc. I, lines 541, 542; and to the miraculous walking on the Sea of Galilee, act ii. se. i, lines 16-20.]

[91] {209}[The words enclosed in brackets are taken from an original draft of the Preface.]

[92] [The Manichæans (the disciples of Mani or Manes, third century A.D.) held that there were two co-eternal Creators—a God of Darkness who made the body, and a God of Light who was responsible for the soul—and that it was the aim and function of the good spirit to rescue the soul, the spiritual part of man, from the possession and grasp of the body, which had been created by and was in the possession of the spirit of evil. St. Augustine passed through a stage of Manicheism, and in after-life exposed and refuted the heretical tenets which he had advocated, and with which he was familiar. See, for instance, his account of the Manichæan heresy "de duplici terrâ, de regno lucis et regno tenebrarum" (Opera, 1700, viii. 484, c; vide ibid., i. 693, 717; x. 893, d. etc.).]

[93] [Conan the Jester, a character in the Irish ballads, was "a kind of Thersites, but brave and daring even to rashness. He had made a vow that he would never take a blow without returning it; and having ... descended to the infernal regions, he received a cuff from the arch-fiend, which he instantly returned, using the expression in the text ('blow for blow')." Sometimes the proverb is worded thus: "'Claw for claw, and the devil take the shortest nails,' as Conan said to the devil."—Waverley Novels, 1829 (notes to chap. xxii. of Waverley), i. 241, note 1; see, too, ibid., p. 229.]

[94] [The full title of Warburton's book runs thus: The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated on the Principles of a Religious Deist; from the omission of the Doctrine of a Future State of Reward and Punishment in the Jewish Dispensation. (See, more particularly (ed. 1741), Vol. II. pt. ii. bk. v. sect. 5, pp. 449-461, and bk. vi. pp. 569-678.) Compare the following passage from Dieu et les Hommes (Œuvres, etc., de Voltaire, 1837, vi. 236, chap. xx.): "Notre Warburton s'est épuisé a ramasser dans son fatras de la Divine légation, toutes les preuves que l'auteur du Pentateuque, n'a jamais parlé d'une vie a venir, et il n'a pas eu grande peine; mais il en tire une plaisante conclusion, et digne d'un esprit aussi faux que le sien."]

[95] {210}[See Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles, par M. le Bon G. Cuvier, Paris, 1821, i., "Discours Préliminaire," pp. iv., vii; and for the thesis, "Il n'y a point d'os humaines fossiles," see p. lxiv.; see, too, Cuvier's Discours sur les révolutions de la surface du globe, ed. 1825, p. 282: "Si l'on peut en juger par les differens ordres d'animaux dont on y trouve les dépouilles, ils avaient peut-être subi jusqu' á deux ou trois irruptions de la mer." It is curious to note that Moore thought that Cuvier's book was "a most desolating one in the conclusions to which it may lead some minds" (Life, p. 554).]

[96] {211}[Alfieri's Abele was included in his Opere inediti, published by the Countess of Albany and the Abbé Calma in 1804.

"In a long Preface ... dated April 25, 1796, Alfieri gives a curious account of the reasons which induced him to call it ... 'Tramelogedy.' He says that Abel is neither a tragedy, a comedy, a drama, a tragi-comedy, nor a Greek tragedy, which last would, he thinks, be correctly described as melo-tragedy. Opera-tragedy would, in his opinion, be a fitting name for it; but he prefers interpolating the word 'melo' into the middle of the word 'tragedy,' so as not to spoil the ending, although by so doing he has cut in two ... the root of the word—τραγοςThe Tragedies of Vittorio Alfieri, edited by E. A. Bowring, C. B., 1876, ii. 472.

There is no resemblance whatever between Byron's Cain and Alfieri's Abele.]

[97] {216}[Compare—

" ... his form had not yet lost

All her original brightness, nor appears

Less than Arch-angel mind, and the excess

Of glory obscure."

Paradise Lost, i. 591-593.

Compare, too—

" ... but his face

Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care

Sat on his faded cheek."

Ibid., i., 600-602.]

[98] [According to the Manichæans, the divinely created and immortal soul is imprisoned in an alien and evil body. There can be no harmony between soul and body.]

[99] {218}[Compare—

"Let him unite above

Star upon star, moon, Sun;

And let his God-head toil

To re-adorn and re-illume his Heaven,

Since in the end derision

Shall prove his works and all his efforts vain."

Adam, a Sacred Drama, by Giovanni Battista Andreini;
Cowper's Milton, 1810, iii. 24, sqq.]

[100] {219}[Lines 163-166 ("perhaps" ... "sacrifice"), which appear in the MS., were omitted from the text in the first and all subsequent editions. In the edition of 1832, etc. (xiv. 27), they are printed as a variant in a footnote. The present text follows the MS.]

[101] [According to the Encyclopædia Biblica, the word "Abel" signifies "shepherd" or "herdman." The Massorites give "breath," or "vanity," as an equivalent.]


A drudging husbandman who offers up

The first fruits of the earth to him who made

That earth——.—[MS. M. erased.]

[bz] {220}

Have stood before thee as I am; but chosen

The serpents charming symbol.—[MS. M. erased.]

[102] {221}[Vide ante, "Preface," p. 208.]

[103] {223}[Compare—

"If, as thou sayst thine essence be as ours,

We have replied in telling thee, the thing

Mortals call Death hath nought to do with us."

Manfred, act i. sc. 1, lines 161-163, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 90.]

[104] {224}[Dr. Arnold, speaking of Cain, used to say, "There is something to me almost awful in meeting suddenly, in the works of such a man, so great and solemn a truth as is expressed in that speech of Lucifer, 'He who bows not to God hath bowed to me'" (Stanley's Life of Arnold, ed. 1887, i. 263, note). It may be awful, but it is not strange. Byron was seldom at a loss for a text, and must have been familiar with the words, "He that is not with Me is against Me." Moreover, he was a man of genius!]

[105] {226}["The most common opinion is that a son and daughter were born together; and they go so far as to tell us the very name of the daughters. Cain's twin sister was called Calmana (see, too, Le Mistère du Viel Testament, lines 1883-1936, ed. 1878), or Caimana, or Debora, or Azzrum; that of Abel was named Delbora or Awina."—Bayle's Dictionary, 1735, ii. 854, art. "Eve," D.]

[106] {227}[It is impossible not to be struck with the resemblance between many of these passages and others in Manfred. e.g. act ii. sc. 1, lines 24-28, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 99, note 1.]

[ca] {228} What can he be who places love in ignorance?—[MS. M.]

[107] ["One of the second order of angels of the Dionysian hierarchy, reputed to excel specially in knowledge (as the seraphim in love). See Bacon's Advancement of Learning, i. 28: 'The first place is given to the Angels of loue, which are tearmed Seraphim, the second to the Angels of light, which are tearmed Cherubim,'"-N. Eng. Dict., art. "Cherub."]

[cb] {229} But it was a lie no doubt.—[MS. M. erased.]

[cc]{230} What else can be joy?——.—[MS. M.]

[108] {231}[Compare—"She walks in Beauty like the night." Hebrew Melodies, i. 1, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 381.]

[109] {232}[Lucifer was evidently indebted to the Manichæans for his theory of the duplex terra—an infernal as well as a celestial kingdom.]

[110] {233}["According to the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. ii. 2).]

[cd] An hour, when walking on a petty lake.—[MS. M. erased.]

[ce] {234}

Yon round blue circle swinging in far ether

With an inferior circlet dimmer still.—[MS. M. erased.]

[111] [Compare—

"And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain,

This pendent World, in bigness as a star

Of smallest magnitude, close by the moon."

Paradise Lost, ii. 1051-1053.

Compare, too—

"The magic car moved on.

Earth's distant orb appeared

The smallest light that twinkles in the heavens;

Whilst round the chariot's way

Innumerable systems rolled,

And countless spheres diffused

An ever-varying glory."

Shelley's Queen Mab, Poetical Works, 1829, p. 106.]

[112] {235}["Several of the ancient Fathers, too much prejudiced in favour of virginity, have pretended that if Man had persevered in innocence he would not have entered into the carnal commerce of matrimony, and that the propagation of mankind would have been effected quite another way." (See St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, xiv. cap. xxi.; Bayle's Dictionary, art. "Eve," 1735, ii. 853, note C.)]

[113] {236}[Compare—

"Below lay stretched the universe!

There, far as the remotest line

That bounds imagination's flight,

Countless and unending orbs

In many motions intermingled,

Yet still fulfilled immutably

Eternal Nature's laws."

Shelley's Queen Mab, ii. ibid., p. 107.]

[cf] {239} And with serpents too?—[MS. M.]

[cg] {240} Rather than things to be inhabited.—[MS. M.]

[114] {241}["I have ... supposed Cain to be shown in the rational pre-Adamites, beings endowed with a higher intelligence than man, but totally unlike him in form, and with much greater strength of mind and person. You may suppose the small talk which takes place between him and Lucifer upon these matters is not quite canonical."—Letter to Moore, September 19, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 368.]

[115] {243}[Compare the "jingle between king and kine," in Sardanapalus, act v. sc. I, lines 483, 484. It is hard to say whether Byron inserted and then omitted to erase these blemishes from negligence and indifference, or whether he regarded them as permissible or even felicitous.]

[116] ["Let He." There is no doubt that Byron wrote, or that he should have written, "Let Him."]

[ch] {246} And being of all things the sole thing sure.—[MS. M.]

[ci] Which seems like water and which I should deem.—[MS. M.]

[117] {247}[Lucifer's candour and disinterested advice are "after" and in the manner of Mephistopheles.]

[118] {250}["If you say that God permitted sin to manifest His wisdom, which shines the more brightly by the disorders which the wickedness of men produces every day, than it would have done in a state of innocence, it may be answered that this is to compare the Deity to a father who should suffer his children to break their legs on purpose to show to all the city his great art in setting their broken bones; or to a king who should suffer seditions and factions to increase through all his kingdom, that he might purchase the glory of quelling them.... This is that doctrine of a Father of the Church who said, 'Felix culpa quæ talem Redemptorem meruit!'"—Bayle's Dictionary, 1737, art. "Paulicians," note B, 25, iv. 515.]

[119] {251}[Lucifer does not infect Cain with his cynical theories as to the origin and endurance of love. For the antidote, compare Wordsworth's sonnet "To a Painter" (No. II), written in 1841—

"Morn into noon did pass, noon into eve,

And the old day was welcome as the young,

As welcome, and as beautiful—in sooth

More beautiful, as being a thing more holy," etc.

Works, 1889, p. 772.]

[cj] {252} Which my sire shrinks from—Death——.—[MS. erased.]

[120] {254}[In Byron's Diary for January 28, 1821, we find the following entry—

"Thought for a speech of Lucifer, in the Tragedy of Cain.

"Were Death an evil, would I let thee live?

Fool! live as I live—as thy father lives.

And thy sons' sons shall live for evermore!"

Letters, 1901, v. 191.]

[121] [Matthew Arnold (Poetry of Byron, 1881, p. xxii.) quotes these lines as an instance of Byron's unknowingness and want of humour. It cannot be denied that he leaves imbedded in his fabric lumps of unshapen material, which mar the symmetry of his art. Lucifer's harangue involves a reference to "hard words ending in ism." The spirit of error, not the Manichæan heresy, should have proceeded out of his lips.]

[122] ["Cain is a proud man: if Lucifer promised him kingdoms, etc., it would elate him: the object of the Demon is to depress him still further in his own estimation than he was before, by showing him infinite things and his own abasement, till he falls into the frame of mind that leads to the catastrophe, from mere internal irritation, not premeditation, or envy of Abel (which would have made him contemptible), but from the rage and fury against the inadequacy of his state to his conceptions, and which discharges itself rather against Life, and the author of Life, than the mere living."—Letter to Moore, November 3, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 470. Here, no doubt, Byron is speaking in propriâ personâ. It was this sense of limitation, of human nothingness, which provoked an "internal irritation ... a rage and fury against the inadequacy of his state to his conceptions." His "spirit beats its mortal bars," not, like Galahad, to be possessed by, but to possess the Heavenly Vision.]

[123] {255}[Compare—

"What though the field be lost,

All is not lost; th' unconquerable will

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield."

Paradise Lost, i. 105-108.]

[124] {257}[An obsolete form of carnation, the colour of "flesh."]

[125] [Compare—

"Her dewy eyes are closed,

And on their lids, whose texture fine

Scarce hides the dark-blue orbs beneath,

The baby Sleep is pillowed."

Shelley's Queen Mab, i., ibid., p. 104.]

[126] {258}["Time is our consciousness of the succession of ideas in our mind.... One man is stretched on the rack during twelve hours, another sleeps soundly in his bed. The difference of time perceived by these two persons is immense: one hardly will believe that half an hour has elapsed, the other could credit that centuries had flown during his agony."—Shelley's note to the lines—

" ... the thoughts that rise

In time-destroying infiniteness."

Queen Mab, viii., ibid., p. 136.]

[127] {259}[Vide ante, p. 208.]

[128] {260}[It is Adah, Cain's wife, who suggests the disastrous compromise, not a "burnt-offering," but the "fruits of the earth," which would cost the giver little or nothing—an instance in point of Lucifer's cynical reminder (vide ante, act ii. sc. 2, line 210, p. 247) "that there are some things still which woman may tempt man to."]

[129] {262}["From the beginning" the woman is ineligible for the priesthood—"He for God only, she for God in him" (Paradise Lost, iv. 299). "Let the women keep silence in the churches" (Corinthians, i. xiv. 34).]

[130] {264}[Compare the following passage from La Rapresentatione di Abel et di Caino (in Firenze l'anno mdliv.)—

"Abel parla a dio fatto il sacrifitio,

Rendendogli laude.

Signor per cui di tanti bene abondo

Liquali tu sommamente mi concedi

Tanto mi piace, et tanto me' giocondo

Quanto delle mie greggie che tu vedi

El piu grasso el migliore el piu mondo

Ti do con lieto core come tu vedi

Tu vedi la intentione con lequal vegno," etc.]

[ck] {265} Which must be won with prayers—if he be evil.—[MS. M.]

[131] {266}[See Gessner's Death of Abel.]

[132] {268}[Compare—

"How wonderful is Death—

Death and his brother Sleep!"

Queen Mab, i. lines 1, 2.]

[133] {271}[Compare—

"And Water shall hear me,

And know thee and fly thee;

And the Winds shall not touch thee

When they pass by thee....

And thou shalt seek Death

To release thee in vain."

The Curse of Kehama, by R. Southey, Canto II.]

[134] [The last three lines of this terrible denunciation were not in the original MS. In forwarding them to Murray (September 12, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 361), to be added to Eve's speech, Byron says, "There's as pretty a piece of Imprecation for you, when joined to the lines already sent, as you may wish to meet with in the course of your business. But don't forget the addition of these three lines, which are clinchers to Eve's speech."]

[135] [If Byron had read his plays aloud, or been at pains to revise the proofs, he would hardly have allowed "corse" to remain in such close proximity to "curse."]

[136] {272}["I have avoided introducing the Deity, as in Scripture (though Milton does, and not very wisely either); but have adopted his angel as sent to Cain instead, on purpose to avoid shocking any feelings on the subject, by falling short of what all uninspired men must fall short in, viz. giving an adequate notion of the effect of the presence of Jehovah. The Old Mysteries introduced him liberally enough, and this is avoided in the New."—Letter to Murray, February 8, 1822, Letters, 1901, vi. 13. Byron does not seem to have known that in the older portions of the Bible "Angel of the Lord" is only a name for the Second Person of the Trinity.]

[cl] {273} On thy brow——.—[MS.]

[137] {274}[The "four rivers" which flowed round Eden, and consequently the only waters with which Cain was acquainted upon earth.]




Founded on the Following Passage in Genesis, Chap. vi. 1, 2.

"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 woman wailing for her demon lover."

Coleridge [Kubla Khan, line 16]




Heaven and Earth was begun at Ravenna October 9,1821. "It occupied about fourteen days" (Medwin's Conversations, 1824, p. 231), and was forwarded to Murray, November 9, 1821. "You will find it," wrote Byron (Letters, 1901, v. 474), "pious enough, I trust—at least some of the Chorus might have been written by Sternhold and Hopkins themselves for that, and perhaps for the melody." It was on "a scriptural subject"—"less speculative than Cain, and very pious" (Letters, 1901, v. 475; vi. 31). It was to be published, he insists, at the same time, and, if possible, in the same volume with the "others" (Sardanapalus, etc.), and would serve, so he seems to have reflected ("The moment he reflects, he is a child," said Goethe), as an antidote to the audacities, or, as some would have it, the impieties of Cain!

He reckoned without his publisher, who understood the temper of the public and of the Government, and was naturally loth to awaken any more "reasonable doubts" in the mind of the Chancellor with regard to whether a "scriptural drama" was irreverent or profane. The new "Mystery" was revised by Gifford and printed, but withheld from month to month, till, at length, "the fire kindled," and, on the last day of October, 1821, Byron instructed John Hunt to "obtain from Mr. Murray Werner: a Drama, and another dramatic poem called Heaven and Earth." It was published in the second number of The Liberal (pp. 165-206), January 1, 1823.

The same subject, the unequal union of angelic lovers with the daughters of men, had taken Moore's fancy a year before Byron had begun to "dramatize the Old Testament." He had designed a long poem, but having discovered that Byron was at work on the same theme, he resolved to restrict himself to the production of an "episode," to "give himself the chance of ... an heliacal rising," before he was outshone by the advent of a greater luminary. Thanks to[280] Murray's scruples, and the "translation" of MSS. to Hunt, the "episode" took the lead of the "Mystery" by eight days. The Loves of the Angels (see Memoirs, etc., 1853, iv. 28) was published December 23, 1822. None the less, lyric and drama were destined to run in double harness. Critics found it convenient to review the two poems in the same article, and were at pains to draw a series of more or less pointed and pungent comparisons between the unwilling though not unwitting rivals.

Wilson, in Blackwood, writes, "The first [the Loves, etc.] is all glitter and point like a piece of Derbyshire spar, and the other is dark and massy like a block of marble.... Moore writes with a crow-quill, ... Byron writes with an eagle's plume;" while Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh, likens Moore to "an aurora borealis" and Byron to "an eruption of Mount Vesuvius"!

There is, indeed, apart from the subject, nothing in common between Moore's tender and alluring lyric and Byron's gloomy and tumultuous rhapsody, while contrast is to be sought rather in the poets than in their poems. The Loves of the Angels is the finished composition of an accomplished designer of Amoretti, one of the best of his kind, Heaven and Earth is the rough and unpromising sketch thrown off by a great master.

Both the one and the other have passed out of the ken of readers of poetry, but, on the whole, the Loves of the Angels has suffered the greater injustice. It is opined that there may be possibilities in a half-forgotten work of Byron, but it is taken for granted that nothing worthy of attention is to be found in Moore. At the time, however, Moore scored a success, and Byron hardly escaped a failure. It is to be noted that within a month of publication (January 18, 1823) Moore was at work upon a revise for a fifth edition—consulting D'Herbelot "for the project of turning the poor 'Angels' into Turks," and so "getting rid of that connection with the Scriptures," which, so the Longmans feared, would "in the long run be a drag on the popularity of the poem" (Memoirs, etc., 1853, iv. 41). It was no wonder that Murray was "timorous" with regard to Byron and his "scriptural dramas," when the Longmans started at the shadow of a scriptural allusion.

Byron, in his innocence, had taken for his motto the verse in Genesis (ch. vi. 2), which records the intermarriage of the "sons of God" with the "daughters of men." In Heaven and Earth the angels are angels, members, though erring members, of Jehovah's "thundering choir," and the daughters of men are the descendants of Cain. The question[281] had come up for debate owing to the recent appearance of a translation of the Book of Enoch (by Richard Laurence, LL.D., Oxford, 1821); and Moore, by way of safeguarding himself against any suspicion of theological irregularity, is careful to assure his readers ("Preface" to Loves of the Angels, 1823, p. viii. and note, pp. 125-127) that the "sons of God" were the descendants of Seth, and not beings of a supernatural order, as a mis-translation by the LXX., assisted by Philo and the "rhapsodical fictions of the Book of Enoch" had induced the ignorant or the profane to suppose. Nothing is so dangerous as innocence, and a little more of that empeiria of which Goethe accused him, would have saved Byron from straying from the path of orthodoxy.

It is impossible to say for certain whether Laurence's translation of the whole of the Book of Enoch had come under Byron's notice before he planned his new "Mystery," but it is plain that he was, at any rate, familiar with the well-known fragment, "Concerning the 'Watchers'" [Περὶ των Ἐγρηγόρων], which is preserved in the Chronographia of Georgius Syncellus, and was first printed by J. J. Scaliger in Thes. temp. Euseb. in 1606. In the prophecy of the Deluge to which he alludes (vide post, p. 302, note 1), the names of the delinquent seraphs (Semjâzâ and Azâzêl), and of the archangelic monitor Raphael, are to be found in the fragment. The germ of Heaven and Earth is not in the Book of Genesis, but in the Book of Enoch.

Medwin, who prints (Conversations, 1824, pp. 234-238) what purports to be the prose sketch of a Second Part of Heaven and Earth (he says that Byron compared it to Coleridge's promised conclusion of Christabel—"that, and nothing more!"), detects two other strains in the composition of the "Mystery," an echo of Goethe's Faust and a "movement" which recalls the Eumenides of Æschylus. Byron told Murray that his fourth tragedy was "more lyrical and Greek" than he at first intended, and there is no doubt that with the Prometheus Vinctus he was familiar, if not at first hand, at least through the medium of Shelley's rendering. But apart from the "Greek choruses," which "Shelley made such a fuss about," Byron was acquainted with, and was not untouched by, the metrical peculiarities of the Curse of Kehama, and might have traced a kinship between his "angels" and Southey's "Glendoveers," to say nothing of their collaterals, the "glumms" and "gawreys" of Peter Wilkins (see notes to Southey's Curse of Kehama, Canto VI., Poetical Works, 1838, viii. 231-233).

Goethe was interested in Heaven and Earth. "He preferred it," says Crabb Robinson (Diary, 1869, ii. 434),[282] "to all the other serious poems of Byron.... 'A bishop,' he exclaimed, though it sounded almost like satire, 'might have written it.' Goethe must have been thinking of a German bishop!" (For his daughter-in-law's translation of the speeches of Anah and Aholibamah with their seraph-lovers, see Goethe-Jahrbuch, 1899, pp. 18-21 [Letters, 1901, v. Appendix II. p. 518].)

Heaven and Earth was reviewed by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review, February, 1823, vol. 38, pp. 42-48; by Wilson in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, January, 1823, vol. xiii. pp. 71, 72; and in the New Monthly Magazine, N.S., 1823, vol. 7, pp. 353-358.



Raphael, the Archangel.
Noah and his Sons.

Chorus of Spirits of the Earth.—Chorus of Mortals.




Scene I.—A woody and mountainous district near Mount Ararat.—Time, midnight.

Enter Anah and Aholibamah.[138]

Anah. Our father sleeps: it is the hour when they

Who love us are accustomed to descend

Through the deep clouds o'er rocky Ararat:—

How my heart beats!

Aho.Let us proceed upon

Our invocation.

Anah.But the stars are hidden.

I tremble.

Aho.So do I, but not with fear

Of aught save their delay.

Anah.My sister, though

I love Azaziel more than——oh, too much!

What was I going to say? my heart grows impious.

Aho. And where is the impiety of loving10

Celestial natures?

Anah.But, Aholibamah,

I love our God less since his angel loved me:

This cannot be of good; and though I know not

That I do wrong, I feel a thousand fears[286]

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!

Anah.I should have loved

Azaziel not less were he mortal; yet

I am glad he is not. I cannot outlive him.20

And when I think that his immortal wings

Will one day hover o'er the sepulchre

Of the poor child of clay[139] which so adored him,

As he adores the Highest, death becomes

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.

Aho.Rather say,

That he will single forth some other daughter

Of earth, and love her as he once loved Anah.30

Anah. And if it should be so, and she loved him,

Better thus than that he should weep for me.

Aho. If I thought thus of Samiasa's love,

All Seraph as he is, I'd spurn him from me.

But to our invocation!—'Tis the hour.



From thy sphere!

Whatever star contain thy glory;

In the eternal depths of heaven

Albeit thou watchest with "the seven,"[140]40[287]

Though through space infinite and hoary

Before thy bright wings worlds be driven,

Yet hear!

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,50

Unborn, undying beauty in thine eyes;

With me thou canst not sympathise,

Except in love, and there thou must

Acknowledge that more loving dust

Ne'er wept beneath the skies.

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:

Yet, Seraph dear!60

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'er-flowing

For thee, immortal essence as thou art!

Great is their love who love in sin and fear;

And such, I feel, are waging in my heart

A war unworthy: to an Adamite

Forgive, my Seraph! that such thoughts appear,70

For sorrow is our element;


An Eden kept afar from sight,

Though sometimes with our visions blent.

The hour is near

Which tells me we are not abandoned quite.—

Appear! Appear!


My own Azaziel! be but here,

And leave the stars to their own light!80[288]




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 abyss,

Whose tenants dying, while their world is falling,

Share the dim destiny of clay in this;

Or joining with the inferior cherubim,90

Thou deignest to partake their hymn—


I call thee, I await thee, and I love thee.

Many may worship thee, that will I not:

If that thy spirit down to mine may move thee,

Descend and share my lot!

Though I be formed of clay,

And thou of beams

More bright than those of day

On Eden's streams,100

Thine immortality can not repay

With love more warm than mine

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 bequeathed 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—110

I feel my immortality o'ersweep

All pains, all tears, all fears, and peal,

Like the eternal thunders of the deep,

Into my ears this truth—"Thou liv'st for ever!"

But if it be in joy

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;

Change us he may, but not o'erwhelm; we are120

Of as eternal essence, and must war[289]

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

Around me still! and I will smile,

And curse thee not; but hold

Thee in as warm a fold130

As——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 moon140

Rising unto some sorcerer's tune

An hour too soon.[141]

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;—lo!

On Ararat's late secret crest

A mild and many-coloured bow,150[290]

The remnant of their flashing path,

Now shines! and now, behold! it hath

Returned to night, as rippling foam,

Which the Leviathan hath lashed

From his unfathomable home,

When sporting on the face of the calm deep,

Subsides soon after he again hath dashed

Down, down, to where the Ocean's fountains sleep.

Aho. They have touched earth! Samiasa!

Anah.My Azaziel!


Scene II.—Enter Irad and Japhet.

Irad. Despond not: wherefore wilt thou wander thus

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.


Irad. And proud Aholibamah spurns me also.10

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.Canst thou

Find joy in such a thought?

Irad.Nor joy nor sorrow.

I loved her well; I would have loved her better,

Had love been met with love: as 'tis, I leave her

To brighter destinies, if so she deems them.

Japh. What destinies?

Irad.I have some cause to think

She loves another.


Irad.No; her sister.

Japh. What other?

Irad.That I know not; but her air,20

If not her words, tells me she loves another.

Japh. Aye, but not Anah: she but loves her God.

Irad. Whate'er she loveth, so she loves thee not,

What can it profit thee?

Japh.True, nothing; but

I love.

Irad. And so did I.

Japh.And now thou lov'st not,

Or think'st thou lov'st not, art thou happier?


Japh. I pity thee.

Irad.Me! why?

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 shekels30

Than all our father's herds would bring, if weighed

Against the metal of the sons of Cain—[142]

The yellow dust they try to barter with us,

As if such useless and discoloured 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 moon—

I must back to my rest.

Japh.And so would I

If I could rest.

Irad.Thou wilt not to our tents then?40

Japh. No, Irad; I will to the cavern,[143] whose

Mouth they say opens from the internal world,[292]

To let the inner spirits of the earth

Forth when they walk its surface.

Irad.Wherefore so?

What wouldst thou there?

Japh.Soothe further my sad spirit

With gloom as sad: it is a hopeless spot,

And I am hopeless.

Irad.But 'tis dangerous;

Strange sounds and sights have peopled it with terrors.

I must go with thee.

Japh.Irad, no; believe me

I feel no evil thought, and fear no evil.50

Irad. But evil things will be thy foe the more

As not being of them: turn thy steps aside,

Or let mine be with thine.

Japh.No, neither, Irad;

I must proceed alone.

Irad.Then peace be with thee!

 [Exit Irad.

Japh. (solus).

Peace! I have sought it where it should be found,

In love—with love, too, which perhaps deserved it;

And, in its stead, a heaviness of heart,

A weakness of the spirit, listless days,

And nights inexorable to sweet sleep

Have come upon me. Peace! what peace? the calm60

Of desolation, and the stillness of

The untrodden forest, only broken by

The sweeping tempest through its groaning boughs;

Such is the sullen or the fitful state

Of my mind overworn. The Earth's grown wicked,

And many signs and portents have proclaimed

A change at hand, and an o'erwhelming doom

To perishable beings. Oh, my Anah!

When the dread hour denounced shall open wide

The fountains of the deep, how mightest thou70

Have lain within this bosom, folded from

The elements; this bosom, which in vain

Hath beat for thee, and then will beat more vainly,

While thine—Oh, God! at least remit to her

Thy wrath! for she is pure amidst the failing[293]

As a star in the clouds, which cannot quench,

Although they obscure it for an hour. My Anah!

How would I have adored thee, but thou wouldst not;

And still would I redeem thee—see thee live

When Ocean is earth's grave, and, unopposed80

By rock or shallow, the Leviathan,

Lord of the shoreless sea and watery world,

Shall wonder at his boundlessness of realm.[Exit Japhet.

Enter Noah and Shem.

Noah. Where is thy brother Japhet?

Shem.He went forth,

According to his wont, to meet with Irad,

He said; but, as I fear, to bend his steps

Towards Anah's tents, round which he hovers nightly,

Like a dove round and round its pillaged nest;

Or else he walks the wild up to the cavern

Which opens to the heart of Ararat.90

Noah. What doth he there? It is an evil spot

Upon an earth all evil; for things worse

Than even wicked men resort there: he

Still loves this daughter of a fated race,

Although he could not wed her if she loved him,

And that she doth not. Oh, the unhappy hearts

Of men! that one of my blood, knowing well

The destiny and evil of these days,

And that the hour approacheth, should indulge

In such forbidden yearnings! Lead the way;100

He must be sought for!

Shem.Go not forward, father:

I will seek Japhet.

Noah.Do not fear for me:

All evil things are powerless on the man

Selected by Jehovah.—Let us on.

Shem. To the tents of the father of the sisters?

Noah. No; to the cavern of the Caucasus.

 [Exeunt Noah and Shem.


Scene III.—The mountains.—A cavern,[144] and the rocks of Caucasus.

Japh. (solus). Ye wilds, that look eternal; and thou cave,

Which seem'st unfathomable; and ye mountains,

So varied and so terrible in beauty;

Here, in your rugged majesty of rocks

And toppling trees that twine their roots with stone[145]

In perpendicular places, where the foot

Of man would tremble, could he reach them—yes,

Ye look eternal! Yet, in a few days,

Perhaps even hours, ye will be changed, rent, hurled

Before the mass of waters; and yon cave,10

Which seems to lead into a lower world,

Shall have its depths searched by the sweeping wave,

And dolphins gambol in the lion's den!

And man——Oh, men! my fellow-beings! Who

Shall weep above your universal grave,

Save I? Who shall be left to weep? My kinsmen,

Alas! what am I better than ye are,

That I must live beyond ye? Where shall be[295]

The pleasant places where I thought of Anah

While I had hope? or the more savage haunts,20

Scarce less beloved, where I despaired for her?

And can it be!—Shall yon exulting peak,

Whose glittering top is like a distant star,

Lie low beneath the boiling of the deep?

No more to have the morning sun break forth,

And scatter back the mists in floating folds

From its tremendous brow? no more to have

Day's broad orb drop behind its head at even,

Leaving it with a crown of many hues?

No more to be the beacon of the world,30

For angels to alight on, as the spot

Nearest the stars? And can those words "no more"

Be meant for thee, for all things, save for us,

And the predestined creeping things reserved

By my sire to Jehovah's bidding? May

He preserve them, and I not have the power

To snatch the loveliest of earth's daughters from

A doom which even some serpent, with his mate,

Shall 'scape to save his kind to be prolonged,

To hiss and sting through some emerging world,40

Reeking and dank from out the slime, whose ooze

Shall slumber o'er the wreck of this, until

The salt morass subside into a sphere

Beneath the sun, and be the monument,

The sole and undistinguished sepulchre,

Of yet quick myriads of all life? How much

Breath will be stilled at once! All beauteous world!

So young, so marked out for destruction, I

With a cleft heart look on thee day by day,

And night by night, thy numbered days and nights.50

I cannot save thee, cannot save even her

Whose love had made me love thee more; but as

A portion of thy dust, I cannot think

Upon thy coming doom without a feeling

Such as—Oh God! and canst thou—[He pauses.

[A rushing sound from the cavern is heard, and shouts
of laughter—afterwards a Spirit passes.

Japh.In the name

Of the Most High, what art thou?[296]

Spirit (laughs).Ha! ha! ha![146]

Japh. By all that earth holds holiest, speak!

Spirit (laughs).Ha! ha!

Japh. By the approaching deluge! by the earth

Which will be strangled by the ocean! by

The deep which will lay open all her fountains!60

The heaven which will convert her clouds to seas,

And the Omnipotent who makes and crushes!

Thou unknown, terrible, and indistinct,

Yet awful Thing of Shadows, speak to me!

Why dost thou laugh that horrid laugh?

Spirit.Why weep'st thou?

Japh. For earth and all her children.

Spirit.Ha! ha! ha!

 [Spirit vanishes.

Japh. How the fiend mocks the tortures of a world,

The coming desolation of an orb,

On which the sun shall rise and warm no life!

How the earth sleeps! and all that in it is70

Sleep too upon the very eve of death!

Why should they wake to meet it? What are here,

Which look like death in life, and speak like things

Born ere this dying world? They come like clouds!

 [Various Spirits pass from the cavern.



The abhorréd race

Which could not keep in Eden their high place,

But listened to the voice

Of knowledge without power,

Are nigh the hour,80

Of Death!

Not slow, not single, not by sword, nor sorrow,

Nor years, nor heart-break, nor Time's sapping motion,[297]

Shall they drop off. Behold their last to-morrow!

Earth shall be Ocean!

And no breath,

Save of the winds, be on the unbounded wave!

Angels shall tire their wings, but find no spot:

Not even a rock from out the liquid grave

Shall lift its point to save,90

Or show the place where strong Despair hath died,

After long looking o'er the ocean wide

For the expected ebb which cometh not:

All shall be void,


Another element shall be the lord

Of life, and the abhorred

Children of dust be quenched; and of each hue

Of earth nought left but the unbroken blue;

And of the variegated mountain100

Shall nought remain

Unchanged, or of the level plain;

Cedar and pine shall lift their tops in vain:

All merged within the universal fountain,

Man, earth, and fire, shall die,

And sea and sky

Look vast and lifeless in the eternal eye.

Upon the foam

Who shall erect a home?

Japh. (coming forward).

My sire!110

Earth's seed shall not expire;

Only the evil shall be put away

From day.

Avaunt! ye exulting demons of the waste!

Who howl your hideous joy

When God destroys whom you dare not destroy:

Hence! haste!

Back to your inner caves!

Until the waves

Shall search you in your secret place,120[298]

And drive your sullen race

Forth, to be rolled upon the tossing winds,

In restless wretchedness along all space!


Son of the saved!

When thou and thine have braved

The wide and warring element;

When the great barrier of the deep is rent,

Shall thou and thine be good or happy?—No!

Thy new world and new race shall be of woe—

Less goodly in their aspect, in their years130

Less than the glorious giants, who

Yet walk the world in pride,

The Sons of Heaven by many a mortal bride.

Thine shall be nothing of the past, save tears!

And art thou not ashamed

Thus to survive,

And eat, and drink, and wive?

With a base heart so far subdued and tamed,

As even to hear this wide destruction named,

Without such grief and courage, as should rather140

Bid thee await the world-dissolving wave,

Than seek a shelter with thy favoured father,

And build thy city o'er the drowned earth's grave?

Who would outlive their kind,

Except the base and blind?


Hateth thine

As of a different order in the sphere,

But not our own.

There is not one who hath not left a throne150

Vacant in heaven to dwell in darkness here,

Rather than see his mates endure alone.

Go, wretch! and give

A life like thine to other wretches—live!

And when the annihilating waters roar

Above what they have done,

Envy the giant patriarchs then no more,

And scorn thy sire as the surviving one!

Thyself for being his son!


Chorus of Spirits issuing from the cavern.


No more the human voice

Shall vex our joys in middle air

With prayer;

No more

Shall they adore;

And we, who ne'er for ages have adored

The prayer-exacting Lord,

To whom the omission of a sacrifice

Is vice;

We, we shall view the deep's salt sources poured170

Until one element shall do the work

Of all in chaos; until they,

The creatures proud of their poor clay,

Shall perish, and their bleached bones shall lurk

In caves, in dens, in clefts of mountains, where

The deep shall follow to their latest lair;

Where even the brutes, in their despair,

Shall cease to prey on man and on each other,

And the striped tiger shall lie down to die

Beside the lamb, as though he were his brother;180

Till all things shall be as they were,

Silent and uncreated, save the sky:

While a brief truce

Is made with Death, who shall forbear

The little remnant of the past creation,

To generate new nations for his use;

This remnant, floating o'er the undulation

Of the subsiding deluge, from its slime,

When the hot sun hath baked the reeking soil

Into a world, shall give again to Time190

New beings—years, diseases, sorrow, crime—

With all companionship of hate and toil,


Japh. (Interrupting them).

The eternal Will

Shall deign to expound this dream

Of good and evil; and redeem

Unto himself all times, all things;

And, gathered under his almighty wings,[300]

Abolish Hell!

And to the expiated Earth

Restore the beauty of her birth,200

Her Eden in an endless paradise,

Where man no more can fall as once he fell,

And even the very demons shall do well!

Spirits. And when shall take effect this wondrous spell?

Japh. When the Redeemer cometh; first in pain,

And then in glory.

Spirit. Meantime still struggle in the mortal chain,

Till Earth wax hoary;

War with yourselves, and Hell, and Heaven, in vain,

Until the clouds look gory210

With the blood reeking from each battle-plain;

New times, new climes, new arts, new men; but still,

The same old tears, old crimes, and oldest ill,

Shall be amongst your race in different forms;

But the same moral storms

Shall oversweep the future, as the waves

In a few hours the glorious giants' graves[148].

Chorus of Spirits.

Brethren, rejoice!

Mortal, farewell!

Hark! hark! already we can hear the voice220

Of growing Ocean's gloomy swell;

The winds, too, plume their piercing wings;

The clouds have nearly filled their springs;

The fountains of the great deep shall be broken,

And heaven set wide her windows[149]; while mankind

View, unacknowledged, each tremendous token—

Still, as they were from the beginning, blind.

We hear the sound they cannot hear,

The mustering thunders of the threatening sphere;

Yet a few hours their coming is delayed;230[301]

Their flashing banners, folded still on high,

Yet undisplayed,

Save to the Spirit's all-pervading eye.

Howl! howl! oh Earth!

Thy death is nearer than thy recent birth;

Tremble, ye mountains, soon to shrink below

The Ocean's overflow!

The wave shall break upon your cliffs; and shells,

The little shells, of ocean's least things be

Deposed where now the eagle's offspring dwells[150]240

How shall he shriek o'er the remorseless sea!

And call his nestlings up with fruitless yell,

Unanswered, save by the encroaching swell;—

While man shall long in vain for his broad wings,

The wings which could not save:—

Where could he rest them, while the whole space brings

Nought to his eye beyond the deep, his grave?

Brethren, rejoice!

And loudly lift each superhuman voice—

All die,250

Save the slight remnant of Seth's seed—

The seed of Seth,

Exempt for future sorrow's sake from death.

But of the sons of Cain

None shall remain;

And all his goodly daughters

Must lie beneath the desolating waters;

Or, floating upward, with their long hair laid

Along the wave, the cruel heaven upbraid,

Which would not spare260

Beings even in death so fair.

It is decreed,

All die!

And to the universal human cry

The universal silence shall succeed!

Fly, brethren, fly!

But still rejoice!

We fell![302]

They fall!

So perish all270

These petty foes of Heaven who shrink from Hell!

 [The Spirits disappear, soaring upwards.

Japh. (solus).

God hath proclaimed the destiny of earth;

My father's ark of safety hath announced it;

The very demons shriek it from their caves;

The scroll[151] of Enoch prophesied it long[303]

In silent books, which, in their silence, say

More to the mind than thunder to the ear:

And yet men listened not, nor listen; but

Walk darkling to their doom: which, though so nigh,

Shakes them no more in their dim disbelief,280

Than their last cries shall shake the Almighty purpose,

Or deaf obedient Ocean, which fulfils it.

No sign yet hangs its banner in the air;

The clouds are few, and of their wonted texture;

The Sun will rise upon the Earth's last day

As on the fourth day of creation, when

God said unto him, "Shine!" and he broke forth

Into the dawn, which lighted not the yet

Unformed forefather of mankind—but roused

Before the human orison the earlier290

Made and far sweeter voices of the birds,

Which in the open firmament of heaven

Have wings like angels, and like them salute

Heaven first each day before the Adamites:

Their matins now draw nigh—the east is kindling—

And they will sing! and day will break! Both near,

So near the awful close! For these must drop

Their outworn pinions on the deep; and day,

After the bright course of a few brief morrows,—

Aye, day will rise; but upon what?—a chaos,300

Which was ere day; and which, renewed, makes Time

Nothing! for, without life, what are the hours?

No more to dust than is Eternity

Unto Jehovah, who created both.

Without him, even Eternity would be

A void: without man, Time, as made for man,

Dies with man, and is swallowed in that deep

Which has no fountain; as his race will be

Devoured by that which drowns his infant world.—

What have we here? Shapes of both earth and air?310

No—all of heaven, they are so beautiful.

I cannot trace their features; but their forms,

How lovelily they move along the side

Of the grey mountain, scattering its mist!

And after the swart savage spirits, whose

Infernal immortality poured forth[304]

Their impious hymn of triumph, they shall be

Welcome as Eden. It may be they come

To tell me the reprieve of our young world,

For which I have so often prayed.—They come!320

Anah! oh, God! and with her——

Enter Samiasa, Azaziel, Anah, and Aholibamah.



A son of Adam!

Aza.What doth the earth-born here,

While all his race are slumbering?

Japh.Angel! what

Dost thou on earth when thou should'st be on high?

Aza. Know'st thou not, or forget'st thou, that a part

Of our great function is to guard thine earth?

Japh. But all good angels have forsaken earth,

Which is condemned; nay, even the evil fly

The approaching chaos. Anah! Anah! my

In vain, and long, and still to be, beloved!330

Why walk'st thou with this Spirit, in those hours

When no good Spirit longer lights below?

Anah. Japhet, I cannot answer thee; yet, yet

Forgive me——

Japh. May the Heaven, which soon no more

Will pardon, do so! for thou art greatly tempted.

Aho. Back to thy tents, insulting son of Noah!

We know thee not.

Japh.The hour may come when thou

May'st know me better; and thy sister know

Me still the same which I have ever been.

Sam. Son of the patriarch, who hath ever been340

Upright before his God, whate'er thy gifts,

And thy words seem of sorrow, mixed with wrath,

How have Azaziel, or myself, brought on thee


Japh.Wrong! the greatest of all wrongs! but, thou

Say'st well, though she be dust—I did not, could not,

Deserve her. Farewell, Anah! I have said

That word so often! but now say it, ne'er[305]

To be repeated. Angel! or whate'er

Thou art, or must be soon, hast thou the power

To save this beautiful—these beautiful350

Children of Cain?

Aza.From what?

Japh. And is it so,

That ye too know not? Angels! angels! ye

Have shared man's sin, and, it may be, now must

Partake his punishment; or, at the least,

My sorrow.

Sam.Sorrow! I ne'er thought till now

To hear an Adamite speak riddles to me.

Japh. And hath not the Most High expounded them?

Then ye are lost as they are lost.

Aho.So be it!

If they love as they are loved, they will not shrink

More to be mortal, than I would to dare360

An immortality of agonies

With Samiasa!

Anah.Sister! sister! speak not


Aza. Fearest thou, my Anah?

Anah.Yes, for thee:

I would resign the greater remnant of

This little life of mine, before one hour

Of thine eternity should know a pang.

Japh. It is for him, then! for the Seraph thou

Hast left me! That is nothing, if thou hast not

Left thy God too! for unions like to these,

Between a mortal and an immortal, cannot370

Be happy or be hallowed. We are sent

Upon the earth to toil and die; and they

Are made to minister on high unto

The Highest: but if he can save thee, soon

The hour will come in which celestial aid

Alone can do so.

Anah.Ah! he speaks of Death.

Sam. Of death to us! and those who are with us!

But that the man seems full of sorrow, I

Could smile.

Japh.I grieve not for myself, nor fear.[306]

I am safe, not for my own deserts, but those

Of a well-doing sire, who hath been found380

Righteous enough to save his children. Would

His power was greater of redemption! or

That by exchanging my own life for hers,

Who could alone have made mine happy, she,

The last and loveliest of Cain's race, could share

The ark which shall receive a remnant of

The seed of Seth!

Aho.And dost thou think that we,

With Cain's, the eldest born of Adam's, blood

Warm in our veins,—strong Cain! who was begotten390

In Paradise[152],—would mingle with Seth's children?

Seth, the last offspring of old Adam's dotage?

No, not to save all Earth, were Earth in peril!

Our race hath always dwelt apart from thine

From the beginning, and shall do so ever.

Japh. I did not speak to thee, Aholibamah!

Too much of the forefather whom thou vauntest

Has come down in that haughty blood which springs

From him who shed the first, and that a brother's!

But thou, my Anah! let me call thee mine,400

Albeit thou art not; 'tis a word I cannot

Part with, although I must from thee. My Anah!

Thou who dost rather make me dream that Abel

Had left a daughter, whose pure pious race

Survived in thee, so much unlike thou art

The rest of the stem Cainites, save in beauty,

For all of them are fairest in their favour——

Aho. (interrupting him).

And would'st thou have her like our father's foe

In mind, in soul? If I partook thy thought,

And dreamed that aught of Abel was in her!410

Get thee hence, son of Noah; thou makest strife.[307]

Japh. Offspring of Cain, thy father did so!


He slew not Seth: and what hast thou to do

With other deeds between his God and him?

Japh. Thou speakest well: his God hath judged him, and

I had not named his deed, but that thyself

Didst seem to glory in him, nor to shrink

From what he had done.

Aho.He was our father's father;

The eldest born of man, the strongest, bravest,

And most enduring:—Shall I blush for him420

From whom we had our being? Look upon

Our race; behold their stature and their beauty,

Their courage, strength, and length of days——

Japh.They are numbered.

Aho. Be it so! but while yet their hours endure,

I glory in my brethren and our fathers.

Japh. My sire and race but glory in their God,

Anah! and thou?——

Anah.Whate'er our God decrees,

The God of Seth as Cain, I must obey,

And will endeavour patiently to obey.

But could I dare to pray in his dread hour430

Of universal vengeance (if such should be),

It would not be to live, alone exempt

Of all my house. My sister! oh, my sister!

What were the world, or other worlds, or all

The brightest future, without the sweet past—

Thy love, my father's, all the life, and all

The things which sprang up with me, like the stars,

Making my dim existence radiant with

Soft lights which were not mine? Aholibamah!

Oh! if there should be mercy—seek it, find it:440

I abhor Death, because that thou must die.

Aho. What, hath this dreamer, with his father's ark,

The bugbear he hath built to scare the world,

Shaken my sister? Are we not the loved

Of Seraphs? and if we were not, must we

Cling to a son of Noah for our lives?

Rather than thus——But the enthusiast dreams

The worst of dreams, the fantasies engendered[308]

By hopeless love and heated vigils. Who

Shall shake these solid mountains, this firm earth,450

And bid those clouds and waters take a shape

Distinct from that which we and all our sires

Have seen them wear on their eternal way?

Who shall do this?

Japh.He whose one word produced them.

Aho. Who heard that word?

Japh.The universe, which leaped

To life before it. Ah! smilest thou still in scorn?

Turn to thy Seraphs: if they attest it not,

They are none.

Sam.Aholibamah, own thy God!

Aho. I have ever hailed our Maker, Samiasa,

As thine, and mine: a God of Love, not Sorrow.460

Japh. Alas! what else is Love but Sorrow? Even

He who made earth in love had soon to grieve

Above its first and best inhabitants.

Aho. 'Tis said so.

Japh.It is even so.

Enter Noah and Shem.

Noah.Japhet! What

Dost thou here with these children of the wicked?

Dread'st thou not to partake their coming doom?

Japh. Father, it cannot be a sin to seek

To save an earth-born being; and behold,

These are not of the sinful, since they have

The fellowship of angels.

Noah.These are they, then,470

Who leave the throne of God, to take them wives

From out the race of Cain; the sons of Heaven,

Who seek Earth's daughters for their beauty?


Thou hast said it.

Noah.Woe, woe, woe to such communion!

Has not God made a barrier between Earth

And Heaven, and limited each, kind to kind?

Sam. Was not man made in high Jehovah's image?

Did God not love what he had made? And what[309]

Do we but imitate and emulate

His love unto created love?

Noah.I am480

But man, and was not made to judge mankind,

Far less the sons of God; but as our God

Has deigned to commune with me, and reveal

His judgments, I reply, that the descent

Of Seraphs from their everlasting seat

Unto a perishable and perishing,

Even on the very eve of perishing[153]?—world,

Cannot be good.

Aza.What! though it were to save?

Noah. Not ye in all your glory can redeem

What he who made you glorious hath condemned.490

Were your immortal mission safety, 'twould

Be general, not for two, though beautiful;

And beautiful they are, but not the less


Japh.Oh, father! say it not.

Noah.Son! son!

If that thou wouldst avoid their doom, forget

That they exist: they soon shall cease to be,

While thou shalt be the sire of a new world,

And better.

Japh.Let me die with this, and them!

Noah. Thou shouldst for such a thought, but shalt not: he

Who can, redeems thee.

Sam.And why him and thee,500

More than what he, thy son, prefers to both?

Noah. Ask him who made thee greater than myself

And mine, but not less subject to his own

Almightiness. And lo! his mildest and

Least to be tempted messenger appears!

Enter Raphael[154] the Archangel.



Whose seat is near the throne,[310]

What do ye here?

Is thus a Seraph's duty to be shown,

Now that the hour is near510

When Earth must be alone?


Adore and burn,

In glorious homage with the elected "Seven."

Your place is Heaven.



The first and fairest of the sons of God,

How long hath this been law,

That Earth by angels must be left untrod?

Earth! which oft saw520

Jehovah's footsteps not disdain her sod!

The world he loved, and made

For love; and oft have we obeyed

His frequent mission with delighted pinions:

Adoring him in his least works displayed;

Watching this youngest star of his dominions;

And, as the latest birth of his great word,

Eager to keep it worthy of our Lord.

Why is thy brow severe?

And wherefore speak'st thou of destruction near?530


Had Samiasa and Azaziel been

In their true place, with the angelic choir,

Written in fire

They would have seen

Jehovah's late decree,

And not enquired their Maker's breath of me:

But ignorance must ever be

A part of sin;

And even the Spirits' knowledge shall grow less

As they wax proud within;540

For Blindness is the first-born of Excess.

When all good angels left the world, ye stayed,

Stung with strange passions, and debased

By mortal feelings for a mortal maid:

But ye are pardoned thus far, and replaced[311]

With your pure equals. Hence! away! away!

Or stay,

And lose Eternity by that delay!


And thou! if Earth be thus forbidden

In the decree550

To us until this moment hidden,

Dost thou not err as we

In being here?


I came to call ye back to your fit sphere,

In the great name and at the word of God,

Dear, dearest in themselves, and scarce less dear—

That which I came to do[155]: till now we trod

Together the eternal space; together

Let us still walk the stars[156]. True, Earth must die!

Her race, returned into her womb, must wither,560

And much which she inherits: but oh! why

Cannot this Earth be made, or be destroyed,

Without involving ever some vast void

In the immortal ranks? immortal still

In their immeasurable forfeiture.

Our brother Satan fell; his burning will

Rather than longer worship dared endure!

But ye who still are pure!

Seraphs! less mighty than that mightiest one,—

Think how he was undone!570

And think if tempting man can compensate

For Heaven desired too late?

Long have I warred,

Long must I war

With him who deemed it hard

To be created, and to acknowledge him

Who midst the cherubim

Made him as suns to a dependent star,

Leaving the archangels at his right hand dim.

I loved him—beautiful he was: oh, Heaven!580

Save his who made, what beauty and what power[312]

Was ever like to Satan's! Would the hour

In which he fell could ever be forgiven!

The wish is impious: but, oh ye!

Yet undestroyed, be warned! Eternity

With him, or with his God, is in your choice:

He hath not tempted you; he cannot tempt

The angels, from his further snares exempt:

But man hath listened to his voice,

And ye to woman's—beautiful she is,590

The serpent's voice less subtle than her kiss.

The snake but vanquished dust; but she will draw

A second host from heaven, to break Heaven's law.

Yet, yet, oh fly!

Ye cannot die;

But they

Shall pass away,

While ye shall fill with shrieks the upper sky

For perishable clay,

Whose memory in your immortality600

Shall long outlast the Sun which gave them day.

Think how your essence differeth from theirs

In all but suffering! why partake

The agony to which they must be heirs—

Born to be ploughed with years, and sown with cares,

And reaped by Death, lord of the human soil?

Even had their days been left to toil their path

Through time to dust, unshortened by God's wrath,

Still they are Evil's prey, and Sorrow's spoil.


Let them fly!610

I hear the voice which says that all must die,

Sooner than our white-bearded patriarchs died;

And that on high

An ocean is prepared,

While from below

The deep shall rise to meet Heaven's overflow—

Few shall be spared,

It seems; and, of that few, the race of Cain

Must lift their eyes to Adam's God in vain.

Sister! since it is so,620

And the eternal Lord

In vain would be implored[313]

For the remission of one hour of woe,

Let us resign even what we have adored,

And meet the wave, as we would meet the sword,

If not unmoved, yet undismayed,

And wailing less for us than those who shall

Survive in mortal or immortal thrall,

And, when the fatal waters are allayed,

Weep for the myriads who can weep no more.630

Fly, Seraphs! to your own eternal shore,

Where winds nor howl, nor waters roar.

Our portion is to die,

And yours to live for ever:

But which is best, a dead Eternity,

Or living, is but known to the great Giver.

Obey him, as we shall obey;

I would not keep this life of mine in clay

An hour beyond his will;

Nor see ye lose a portion of his grace,640

For all the mercy which Seth's race

Find still.


And as your pinions bear ye back to Heaven,

Think that my love still mounts with thee on high,


And if I look up with a tearless eye,

'Tis that an angel's bride disdains to weep,—

Farewell! Now rise, inexorable deep!


And must we die?650

And must I lose thee too,


Oh, my heart! my heart!

Thy prophecies were true!

And yet thou wert so happy too!

The blow, though not unlocked for, falls as new:

But yet depart!

Ah! why?

Yet let me not retain thee—fly!

My pangs can be but brief; but thine would be660

Eternal, if repulsed from Heaven for me.

Too much already hast thou deigned

To one of Adam's race![314]

Our doom is sorrow: not to us alone,

But to the Spirits who have not disdained

To love us, cometh anguish with disgrace.

The first who taught us knowledge hath been hurled

From his once archangelic throne

Into some unknown world:

And thou, Azaziel! No—670

Thou shall not suffer woe

For me. Away! nor weep!

Thou canst not weep; but yet

May'st suffer more, not weeping: then forget

Her, whom the surges of the all-strangling deep

Can bring no pang like this. Fly! fly!

Being gone, 'twill be less difficult to die.


Oh say not so!

Father! and thou, archangel, thou!

Surely celestial mercy lurks below680

That pure severe serenity of brow:

Let them not meet this sea without a shore,

Save in our ark, or let me be no more!


Peace, child of passion, peace!

If not within thy heart, yet with thy tongue

Do God no wrong!

Live as he wills it—die, when he ordains,

A righteous death, unlike the seed of Cain's.

Cease, or be sorrowful in silence; cease

To weary Heaven's ear with thy selfish plaint.690

Wouldst thou have God commit a sin for thee?

Such would it be

To alter his intent

For a mere mortal sorrow. Be a man!

And bear what Adam's race must bear, and can.


Aye, father! but when they are gone,

And we are all alone,

Floating upon the azure desert, and

The depth beneath us hides our own dear land,

And dearer, silent friends and brethren, all700

Buried in its immeasurable breast,

Who, who, our tears, our shrieks, shall then command?

Can we in Desolation's peace have rest?

Oh God! be thou a God, and spare[315]

Yet while 'tis time!

Renew not Adam's fall:

Mankind were then but twain,

But they are numerous now as are the waves

And the tremendous rain,

Whose drops shall be less thick than would their graves,710

Were graves permitted to the seed of Cain.

Noah. Silence, vain boy! each word of thine's a crime.

Angel! forgive this stripling's fond despair.

Raph. Seraphs! these mortals speak in passion: Ye!

Who are, or should be, passionless and pure,

May now return with me.

Sam.It may not be:

We have chosen, and will endure.

Raph. Say'st thou?

Aza.He hath said it, and I say, Amen!



Then from this hour,720

Shorn as ye are of all celestial power,

And aliens from your God,


Japh.Alas! where shall they dwell?

Hark, hark! Deep sounds, and deeper still,

Are howling from the mountain's bosom:

There's not a breath of wind upon the hill,

Yet quivers every leaf, and drops each blossom:

Earth groans as if beneath a heavy load.

Noah. Hark, hark! the sea-birds cry!730

In clouds they overspread the lurid sky,

And hover round the mountain, where before

Never a white wing, wetted by the wave,

Yet dared to soar,

Even when the waters waxed too fierce to brave.

Soon it shall be their only shore,

And then, no more!

Japh.The sun! the sun[157]!

He riseth, but his better light is gone;

And a black circle, bound740

His glaring disk around,

Proclaims Earth's last of summer days hath shone![316]

The clouds return into the hues of night,

Save where their brazen-coloured edges streak

The verge where brighter morns were wont to break.

Noah. And lo! yon flash of light,

The distant thunder's harbinger, appears!

It cometh! hence, away!

Leave to the elements their evil prey!

Hence to where our all-hallowed ark uprears750

Its safe and wreckless sides!

Japh. Oh, father, stay!

Leave not my Anah to the swallowing tides!

Noah. Must we not leave all life to such? Begone!

Japh.Not I.

Noah.Then die

With them!

How darest thou look on that prophetic sky,

And seek to save what all things now condemn,

In overwhelming unison760

With just Jehovah's wrath!

Japh. Can rage and justice join in the same path?

Noah. Blasphemer! darest thou murmur even now!

Raph. Patriarch, be still a father! smooth thy brow:

Thy son, despite his folly, shall not sink:

He knows not what he says, yet shall not drink

With sobs the salt foam of the swelling waters;

But be, when passion passeth, good as thou,

Nor perish like Heaven's children with man's daughters.

Aho. The tempest cometh; heaven and earth unite770

For the annihilation of all life.

Unequal is the strife

Between our strength and the Eternal Might!

Sam. But ours is with thee; we will bear ye far

To some untroubled star,

Where thou, and Anah, shalt partake our lot:

And if thou dost not weep for thy lost earth,

Our forfeit Heaven shall also be forgot.

Anah. Oh! my dear father's tents, my place of birth,

And mountains, land, and woods! when ye are not,780

Who shall dry up my tears?

Aza.Thy spirit-lord.

Fear not; though we are shut from Heaven,[317]

Yet much is ours, whence we can not be driven.

Raph. Rebel! thy words are wicked, as thy deeds

Shall henceforth be but weak: the flaming sword,

Which chased the first-born out of Paradise,

Still flashes in the angelic hands.

Aza. It cannot slay us: threaten dust with death,

And talk of weapons unto that which bleeds.

What are thy swords in our immortal eyes?790

Raph. The moment cometh to approve thy strength;

And learn at length

How vain to war with what thy God commands:

Thy former force was in thy faith.

Enter Mortals, flying for refuge.

Chorus of Mortals.

The heavens and earth are mingling—God! oh God!

What have we done? Yet spare!

Hark! even the forest beasts howl forth their prayer!

The dragon crawls from out his den,

To herd, in terror, innocent with men;

And the birds scream their agony through air.800

Yet, yet, Jehovah! yet withdraw thy rod

Of wrath, and pity thine own world's despair!

Hear not man only but all nature plead!

Raph. Farewell, thou earth! ye wretched sons of clay,

I cannot, must not, aid you. 'Tis decreed!

 [Exit Raphael.

Japh. Some clouds sweep on as vultures for their prey,

While others, fixed as rocks, await the word

At which their wrathful vials shall be poured.

No azure more shall robe the firmament,

Nor spangled stars be glorious: Death hath risen:810

In the Sun's place a pale and ghastly glare

Hath wound itself around the dying air.

Aza. Come, Anah! quit this chaos-founded prison,

To which the elements again repair,

To turn it into what it was: beneath

The shelter of these wings thou shall be safe,

As was the eagle's nestling once within

Its mother's.—Let the coming chaos chafe[318]

With all its elements! Heed not their din!

A brighter world than this, where thou shalt breathe820

Ethereal life, will we explore:

These darkened clouds are not the only skies.

[Azaziel and Samiasa fly off, and disappear
Anah and Aholibamah.

Japh. They are gone! They have disappeared amidst the roar

Of the forsaken world; and never more,

Whether they live, or die with all Earth's life,

Now near its last, can aught restore

Anah unto these eyes.

Chorus of Mortals.

Oh son of Noah! mercy on thy kind!

What! wilt thou leave us all—all—all behind?

While safe amidst the elemental strife,830

Thou sitt'st within thy guarded ark?

A Mother (offering her infant to Japhet).

Oh, let this child embark!

I brought him forth in woe,

But thought it joy

To see him to my bosom clinging so.

Why was he born?

What hath he done—

My unweaned son—

To move Jehovah's wrath or scorn?

What is there in this milk of mine, that Death840

Should stir all Heaven and Earth up to destroy

My boy,

And roll the waters o'er his placid breath?

Save him, thou seed of Seth!

Or curséd be—with him who made

Thee and thy race, for which we are betrayed!

Japh. Peace! 'tis no hour for curses, but for prayer!

Chorus of Mortals.

For prayer!!!

And where[319]

Shall prayer ascend,850

When the swoln clouds unto the mountains bend

And burst,

And gushing oceans every barrier rend,

Until the very deserts know no thirst?


Be he who made thee and thy sire!

We deem our curses vain; we must expire;

But as we know the worst,

Why should our hymns be raised, our knees be bent

Before the implacable Omnipotent,860

Since we must fall the same?

If he hath made Earth, let it be his shame,

To make a world for torture.—Lo! they come,

The loathsome waters, in their rage!

And with their roar make wholesome nature dumb!

The forest's trees (coeval with the hour

When Paradise upsprung,

Ere Eve gave Adam knowledge for her dower,

Or Adam his first hymn of slavery sung),

So massy, vast, yet green in their old age,870

Are overtopped,

Their summer blossoms by the surges lopped,

Which rise, and rise, and rise.

Vainly we look up to the lowering skies—

They meet the seas,

And shut out God from our beseeching eyes.

Fly, son of Noah, fly! and take thine ease,

In thine allotted ocean-tent;

And view, all floating o'er the element,

The corpses of the world of thy young days:880

Then to Jehovah raise

Thy song of praise!

A Mortal.

Blesséd are the dead

Who die in the Lord!

And though the waters be o'er earth outspread,

Yet, as his word,

Be the decree adored!

He gave me life—he taketh but

The breath which is his own:

And though these eyes should be for ever shut,890[320]

Nor longer this weak voice before his throne

Be heard in supplicating tone,

Still blessed be the Lord,

For what is past,

For that which is:

For all are his,

From first to last—


The vast known and immeasurable unknown.

He made, and can unmake;900

And shall I, for a little gasp of breath,

Blaspheme and groan?

No; let me die, as I have lived, in faith,

Nor quiver, though the Universe may quake!

Chorus of Mortals.

Where shall we fly?

Not to the mountains high;

For now their torrents rush, with double roar,

To meet the Ocean, which, advancing still,

Already grasps each drowning hill,

Nor leaves an unsearched cave.910

Enter a Woman.


Oh, save me, save!

Our valley is no more:

My father and my father's tent,

My brethren and my brethren's herds,

The pleasant trees that o'er our noonday bent,

And sent forth evening songs from sweetest birds,

The little rivulet which freshened all

Our pastures green,

No more are to be seen.

When to the mountain cliff I climbed this morn,920

I turned to bless the spot,

And not a leaf appeared about to fall;—

And now they are not!—

Why was I born?


To die! in youth to die!

And happier in that doom,[321]

Than to behold the universal tomb,

Which I

Am thus condemned to weep above in vain.

Why, when all perish, why must I remain?

[The waters rise; Men fly in every direction; many are overtaken by the waves: the Chorus of Mortals disperses in search of safety up the mountains: Japhet remains upon a rock, while the Ark floats towards him in the distance.[158]


[138] {285}[Aholibamah ("tent of the highest") was daughter of Anah (a Hivite clan-name), the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife, Gen. xxxvi. 14. Irad was the son of Enoch, and grandson of Cain, Gen. iv. 18.]

[139] {286}[Compare Manfred, act i. sc. I, line 131, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 89, and note i.]

[140] The archangels, said to be seven in number, and to occupy the eighth rank in the celestial hierarchy.

[Compare Tobit xii. 15, "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints." The Book of Enoch (ch. xx.) names the other archangels, "Uriel, Rufael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqâêl, and Gabriel, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the cherubin." In the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite, a chapter is devoted to archangels, but their names are not recorded, or their number given. On the other hand, "The teaching of the oracles concerning the angels affirms that they are thousand thousands and myriad myriads."—Celestial Hierarchy, etc., translated by the Rev. J. Parker, 1894, cap. xiv. p. 43. It has been supposed that "the seven which are the eyes of the Lord" (Zech. iv. 10) are the seven archangels.]

[141] {289}["The adepts of Incantation ... enter the realms of air, and by their spells they scatter the clouds, they gather the clouds, they still the storm.... We may adduce Ovid (Amor., bk. ii., El., i. 23), who says, 'Charmers draw down the horns of the blood-red moon,' ... Here it is to be observed that in the opinion of simple-minded persons, the moon could be actually drawn down from heaven. So Aristophanes says (Clouds, lines 739, 740), 'If I should purchase a Thessalian witch, and draw down the moon by night;' and Claudian (In Ruffin., bk. i. 145), 'I know by what spell the Thessalian sorceress snatches away the lunar beam.'"—Magic Incantations, by Christianus Pazig (circ. 1700), edited by Edmund Goldsmid, F.R.H.S., F.S.A. (Scot.), 1886, pp. 30, 31. See, too, Virgil, Eclogues, viii. 69, "Carmina vel cœlo possunt de ducere Lunam."]

[142] {291}["Tubal-Cain [the seventh in descent from Cain] was an instructor of every artificer of brass and iron" (Gen. iv. 22). According to the Book of Enoch, cap. viii., it was "Azazel," one of the "sons of the heavens," who "taught men to make swords, and knives, and skins, and coats of mail, and made known to them metals, and the art of working them, bracelets and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyebrows, and the most costly and choicest stones, and all colouring tincture, so that the world was changed."]

[143] [Vide post, p 294.]

[144] {294}[Byron's knowledge of Mount Ararat was probably derived from the following passage in Tournefort: "It is a most frightful sight; David might well say such sort of places show the grandeur of the Lord. One can't but tremble to behold it; and to look on the horrible precipices ever so little will make the head turn round. The noise made by a vast number of crows [hence the 'rushing sound,' vide post, p. 295], who are continually flying from one side to the other, has something in it very frightful. To form any idea of this place you must imagine one of the highest mountains in the world opening its bosom, only to show the most horrible spectacle that can be thought of. All the precipices are perpendicular, and the extremities are rough and blackish, as if a smoke came out of the sides and smutted them."—A Voyage in the Levant, by M. [Joseph Pitton de] Tournefort, 1741, iii. 205, 206.

Kitto also describes this "vast chasm," which contained "an enormous mass of ice, which seems to have fallen from a cliff that overhangs the ice" (Travels in Persia, 1846, i. 34); but Professor Friedrich Parrot, who was the first to ascend Mount Ararat, does not enlarge upon the "abyss" or chasm.—Journey to Ararat, translated by W. D. Cowley, 1845, p. 134.]

[145] [Compare the description of the "roots like snakes," which "wind out from rock and sand," in the scene on the Hartz Mountains in Goethe's Faust.]

[146] {296} [Medwin (Conversations, 1824, p. 233) compares the laughter of the fiends in the cave of Caucasus with the snoring of the Furies in the Eumenides of Æschylus—

Ῥέγκουσι δ' oὐ πλατοῖσι φυσιάμασιν (line 53).

("Their snoring nostrils blow fearsome breath.")

There is a closer parallel with—

Γελᾶ δὲ δαίμων ἐπ' ἀνδρὶ θερμῶ (line 560).

("The spirit mocketh the headlong soul.")]

[147] {297}[Matthew Arnold, Poetry of Byron, 1881, xiv., xv., quotes this line in proof of Byron's barbarian insensibility, "to the true artist's fine passion for the correct use and consummate management of words."]

[148] {300} "[And] there were giants in the earth in those days; and ... after, ... mighty men, which were of old, men of renown."—Genesis [vi. 4].

[149] "The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened."—Genesis [vii. II].

[150] {301}[Byron falls in with the popular theory as to the existence of fossil remains of marine animals at a height above the level of the sea. The "deluge" accounted for what was otherwise inexplicable.]

[151] {302} The book of Enoch, preserved by the Ethiopians, is said by them to be anterior to the flood.

[Some fragments of the Book of Enoch (vide ante, Introduction to Heaven and Earth, p. 281), which were included by Georgius Syncellus (a Byzantine writer of the eighth century A.D.) in his Chronographia, pp. ii, 26 (Corpus Script. Hist. Byzantintæ, 1829, i. 20), were printed by J. J. Scaliger in 1606. They were, afterwards, included (i. 347-354) in the Spicilegium SS. Patrum of Joannes Ernestus Grabius, which was published at Oxford in 1714. A year after (1715) one of the fragments was "made English," and published under the title of The History of the Angels and their Gallantry with the Daughters of Men, written by Enoch the Patriarch.

In 1785 James Bruce, the traveller, discovered three MSS. of the Book of Enoch. One he conveyed to the library at Paris: a second MS. he presented to the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Travels, ii. 422, 8vo ed. 1805). In 1801 an article entitled, "Notice du Libre d'Enoch," was contributed by Silvestre de Sacy to the Magasin Encyclopédique (An. vi. tom. i. p. 369); and in 1821 Richard Laurence, LL.D., published a translation "from the Ethiopic MS. in the Bodleian Library." This was the first translation of the book as a whole.

The following extracts, which were evidently within Byron's recollection when he planned Heaven and Earth, are taken from The Book of Enoch, translated from Professor Dillman's Ethiopic Text, by R. H. Charles, Oxford, 1892:—

"Chap. vi. [1. And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied in those days that beautiful and comely daughters were born unto them. [2. And the angels, the sons of the Heavens, saw and lusted after them, and spake one to another, 'Come now, let us choose us wives from among the children of men, and beget children.' [3. And Semjâzâ, who was the leader, spake unto them: I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed.... [6. And they descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon....

"Chap. viii. [i. And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, etc.

"Chap. x. Then spake the Most High, the Great, the Holy One, and sent Arsjalâljûr (= Uriel) to the son of Lamech, and said to him, 'Tell him in My Name to hide thyself!' and reveal to him that the end is approaching; for the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge will presently cover up the whole earth, and all that is in it will be destroyed. [3. And now instruct him that he may escape, as his seed may be preserved for all generations. [4. And again the Lord spake to Rafael; Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and place him in darkness; make an opening in the desert which is in Dudâêl and place him therein. [5. And place upon him rough and ragged rocks," etc.]

[152] {306}[This does not correspond with Cain's statement—"After the fall too soon was I begotten," Cain, act. iii. sc. I, line 506 (vide ante).

Bayle (Hist. and Crit. Dict., 1735, art. "Eve," note B) has a great deal to say with regard to the exact date of the birth of Cain. He concludes with Cornelius à Lapide, who quotes Torniellus, "Cain genitum ease mox post expulsionem Adee et Evæ ex Paradiso."]

[153] {309}[Byron said that it was difficult to make Lucifer talk "like a clergyman." He contrived to make Noah talk like a street-preacher.]

[154] [In the original MS. "Michael."—"I return you," says Byron, "the revise. I have softened the part to which Gifford objected, and changed the name of Michael to Raphael, who was an angel of gentler sympathies."—July 6, 1822, Letters, vi. 93.]

[155] {311}[That is, "to call you back." His ministry and function of clemency were almost as dear to him as his ministry and function of adoration and obedience.]

[156] [For the connection of stars with angels, see Book of Enoch, xxv. 1.]

[157] {315}[Compare Darkness, lines 2-5, Poetical Works, 1891, iv. 42, 43.]

[158] {321}[Sketch of Second Part of Heaven and Earth, as reported by Medwin (Conversations, 1824, pp. 234-237)—

"Azazael and Samiasa ... rise into the air with the two sisters.... The appearance of the land strangled by the ocean will serve by way of scenery and decorations. The affectionate tenderness of Adah for those from whom she is parted, and for ever, and her fears contrasting with the loftier spirit of Aholibamah triumphing in the hopes of a new and greater destiny will make the dialogue. They, in the meantime, continue their aërial voyage, everywhere denied admittance in those floating islands over the sea of space, and driven back by guardian-spirits of the different planets, till they are at length forced to alight on the only peak of the earth uncovered by water. Here a parting takes place between the lovers.... The fallen angels are suddenly called, and condemned, their destination and punishment unknown. The sisters cling to the rock, the waters mounting higher and higher. Now enter Ark. The scene draws up, and discovers Japhet endeavouring to persuade the Patriarch, with very strong arguments of love and pity, to receive the sisters, or at least Adah, on board. Adah joins in his entreaties, and endeavours to cling to the sides of the vessel. The proud and haughty Aholibamah scorns to pray either to God or man, and anticipates the grave by plunging into the waters. Noah is still inexorable. [Adah] is momentarily in danger of perishing before the eyes of the Arkites. Japhet is in despair. The last wave sweeps her from the rock, and her lifeless corpse floats past in all its beauty, whilst a sea-bird screams over it, and seems to be the spirit of her angel lord. I once thought of conveying the lovers to the moon or one of the planets; but it is not easy for the imagination to make any unknown world more beautiful than this; besides, I did not think they would approve of the moon as a residence. I remember what Fontenelle said of its having no atmosphere, and the dark spots having caverns where the inhabitants reside. There was another objection: all the human interest would have been destroyed, which I have even endeavoured to give my angels."]





[Werner was produced, for the first time, at the Park Theatre, New York, in 1826. Mr. Barry played "Werner."

Werner was brought out at Drury Lane Theatre, and played, for the first time, December 15, 1830. Macready appeared as "Werner," J. W. Wallack as "Ulric," Mrs. Faucit as "Josephine," and Miss Mordaunt as "Ida." According to the Times, December 16, 1830, "Mr. Macready appeared to very great advantage. We have never seen him exert himself more—we have never known him to exert himself with more powerful effect. Three of his scenes were masterpieces." Genest says that Werner was acted seventeen times in 1830-31.

There was a revival in 1833. Macready says (Diary, March 20) that he acted "'Werner' with unusual force, truth, and collectedness ... finished off each burst of passion, and, in consequence, entered on the following emotion with clearness and earnestness" (Macready's Reminiscences, 1875, i 36.6).

Werner was played in 1834, 5, 6, 7, 9; in 1841; in 1843-4 (New York, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Montreal); in 1845 (Paris, London, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin); in 1846, 1847; in America in 1848; in the provinces in 1849; in 1850; and, for the last time, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, January 14, 1851. At the farewell performance Macready appeared as "Werner," Mr. Davenport as "Ulric," Mrs. Warner as "Josephine," Mrs. Ryder as "Ida." In the same year (1851) a portrait of Macready as "Werner," by Daniel Maclise, R.A., was on view at the Exhibition at the Royal Academy. The motto was taken from Werner, act i. sc. 1, lines 114, sq. (See, for a detailed criticism of Macready's "Werner," Our Recent Actors, by Westland Marston, 1881, i. 89-98; and for the famous "Macready burst," in act ii. sc. 2, and act v. sc. 1, vide ibid., i. 97.)

Werner was brought out at Sadler's Wells Theatre, November 21, 1860, and repeated November 22, 23, 24, 28, 29; December, 3, 4, 11, 13, 14, 1860. Phelps appeared as "Werner," Mr. Edmund Phelps as "Ulric," Miss Atkinson as "Josephine." "Perhaps the old actor never performed the part so finely as he did on that night. The identity between the real and ideal relations of the characters was as vivid to him as to the audience, and gave a deeper intensity, on both sides, to the scenes between father and son." (See The London Stage, by H. Barton Baker, 1889, ii. 217.)

On the afternoon of June 1, 1887, Werner (four acts, arranged by Frank Marshall) was performed at the Lyceum Theatre for the benefit of Westland Marston. [Sir] Henry Irving appeared as "Werner," Miss Ellen Terry as "Josephine," Mr. Alexander as "Ulric." (See for an appreciation of Sir Henry Irving's presentation of Werner, the Athenæum, June 4, 1887.)]



Werner; or, The Inheritance, was begun at Pisa, December 18, 1821, and finished January 20, 1822. At the end of the month, January 29, Byron despatched the MS., not to Murray, but to Moore, then in retreat at Paris, intending, no doubt, that it should be placed in the hands of another publisher; but a letter from Murray "melted him," and on March 6, 1822 (Letters, 1901, vi. 34), he desired Moore to forward the packet to Albemarle Street. The play was set up in type, and revised proofs were returned to Murray at the end of June; but, for various reasons, publication was withheld, and, on October 31, Byron informed John Hunt that he had empowered his friend Douglas Kinnaird to obtain Werner, with other MSS., from Murray. None the less, milder counsels again prevailed, and on Saturday, November 23, 1822, Werner was published, not in the same volume with Heaven and Earth, as Byron intended and expected, nor by John Hunt, as he had threatened, but by itself, and, as heretofore, by John Murray. Werner was "the last of all the flock" to issue from Murray's fold.

In his Preface to Werner (vide post, p. 337) Byron disclaims all pretensions to originality. "The following drama," he writes, "is taken entirely from the 'German's Tale, Kruitzner,' published ... in Lee's Canterbury Tales.... I have adopted the characters, plan, and even the language, of many parts of this story." Kruitzner seems to have made a deep impression on his mind. When he was a boy of thirteen (i.e. in 1801, when the fourth volume of the Canterbury Tales was published), and again in 1815, he set himself to turn the tale into a drama. His first attempt, named Ulric and Ilvina, he threw into the fire, but he had nearly completed the first act of his second and maturer adaptation when he was "interrupted by circumstances," that is, no doubt, the circumstances which led up to and ended in[326] the separation from his wife. (See letter of October 9, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 391.)

On his leaving England for the Continent, April 25, 1816, the fragment was left behind. Most probably the MS. fell into his sister's hands, for in October, 1821, it was not forthcoming when Byron gave directions that Hobhouse should search for it "amongst my papers." Ultimately it came into the possession of the late Mr. Murray, and is now printed for the first time in its entirety (vide post, pp. 453-466: selections were given in the Nineteenth Century, August, 1899). It should be borne in mind that this unprinted first act of Werner, which synchronizes with the Siege of Corinth and Parisina, was written when Byron was a member of the sub-committee of management of Drury Lane Theatre, and, as the numerous stage directions testify, with a view to stage-representation. The MS. is scored with corrections, and betrays an unusual elaboration, and, perhaps, some difficulty and hesitation in the choice of words and the construction of sentences. In the opening scene the situation is not caught and gripped, while the melancholy squalor of the original narrative is only too faithfully reproduced. The Werner of 1821, with all its shortcomings, is the production of a playwright. The Werner of 1815 is the attempt of a highly gifted amateur.

When Byron once more bethought himself of his old subject, he not only sent for the MS. of the first act, but desired Murray "to cut out Sophia Lee's" (vide post, p. 337) "German's Tale from the Canterbury Tales, and send it in a letter" (Letters, 1901, v. 390). He seems to have intended from the first to construct a drama out of the story, and, no doubt, to acknowledge the source of his inspiration. On the whole, he carried out his intention, taking places, characters, and incidents as he found them, but recasting the materials and turning prose into metre. But here and there, to save himself trouble, he "stole his brooms ready made," and, as he acknowledges in the Preface, "adopted even the language of the story." Act ii. sc. 2, lines 87-172; act iii. sc. 4; and act v. sc. 1, lines 94-479, are, more or less, faithful and exact reproductions of pp. 203-206, 228-232, and 252-271 of the novel (see Canterbury Tales, ed. 1832, vol. ii.). On the other hand, in the remaining three-fourths of the play, the language is not Miss Lee's, but Byron's, and the "conveyance" of incidents occasional and insignificant. Much, too, was imported into the play (e.g. almost the whole of the fourth act), of which there is neither hint nor suggestion in the story. Maginn's categorical statement (see "O'Doherty on Werner," Miscellanies, 1885, i. 189) that "here Lord Byron has invented[327] nothing—absolutely, positively, undeniably nothing;" that "there is not one incident in his play, not even the most trivial, that is not to be found in the novel," etc., is "positively and undeniably" a falsehood. Maginn read Werner for the purpose of attacking Byron, and, by printing selected passages from the novel and the play, in parallel columns, gives the reader to understand that he had made an exhaustive analysis of the original and the copy. The review, which is quoted as an authority in the editions of 1832 (xiv. pp. 113, 114) and 1837, etc., p. 341, is disingenuous and misleading.

The original story may be briefly retold. The prodigal and outlawed son of a Bohemian noble, Count Siegendorf, after various adventures, marries, under the assumed name of Friedrich Kruitzner, the daughter of an Italian scholar and man of science, of noble birth, but in narrow circumstances. A son, Conrad, is born to him, who, at eight years of age, is transferred to the charge of his grandfather. Twelve years go by, and, when the fortunes of the younger Siegendorf are at their lowest ebb, he learns, at the same moment, that his father is dead, and that a distant kinsman, the Baron Stralenheim, is meditating an attack on his person, with a view to claiming his inheritance. Of Conrad, who has disappeared, he hears nothing.

An accident compels the count and the baron to occupy adjoining quarters in a small town on the northern frontier of Silesia; and, again, another accident places the usurping and intriguing baron at the mercy of his poverty-stricken and exiled kinsman. Stralenheim has fallen asleep near the fire in his easy-chair. Papers and several rouleaux of gold are ranged on a cabinet beside the bed. Kruitzner, who is armed with "a large and sharp knife," is suddenly confronted with his unarmed and slumbering foe, and though habit and conscience conspire to make murder impossible, he yields to a sudden and irresistible impulse, and snatches up "the portion of gold which is nearest." He has no sooner returned to his wife and confessed his deed, than Conrad suddenly appears on the scene, and at the very moment of an unexpected and joyous reunion with his parents, learns that his father is a thief. Kruitzner pleads "guilty with extenuating circumstances," and Conrad, who either is or pretends to be disgusted at his father's sophistries, makes the best of a bad business, and undertakes to conceal his father's dishonour and rescue him from the power of Stralenheim. The plot hinges on the unlooked-for and unsuspected action of Conrad. Unlike his father, he is not the man to let "I dare not wait upon I would," but murders Stralenheim in cold blood, and, at the same time, diverts suspicion from his father and[328] himself to the person of his comrade, a Hungarian soldier of fortune, who is already supposed to be the thief, and who had sought and obtained shelter in the apartments of the conscience-stricken Kruitzner.

The scene changes to Prague. Siegendorf, no longer Kruitzner, has regained his inheritance, and is once more at the height of splendour and prosperity. A service of thanksgiving is being held in the cathedral to commemorate the signature of the Treaty of Prague (1635), and the count is present in state. Suddenly he catches sight of the Hungarian, and, "like a flash of lightning" feels and remembers that he is a thief, and that he might, however unjustly, be suspected if not accused of the murder of Stralenheim. The service is over, and the count is recrossing "Muldau's Bridge," when he hears the fatal word Kruitzner, "the seal of his shame," spoken in his ear. He returns to his castle, and issues orders that the Hungarian should be arrested and interrogated. An interview takes place, at which the Hungarian denounces Conrad as the murderer of Stralenheim. The son acknowledges the deed, and upbraids the father for his weakness and credulity in supposing that his escape from Stralenheim's machinations could have been effected by any other means. If, he argues, circumstances can palliate dishonesty, they can compel and justify murder. Common sense even now demands the immediate slaughter of the Hungarian, as it compelled and sanctioned the effectual silencing of Stralenheim. But Siegendorf knows not "thorough," and shrinks at assassination. He repudiates and denounces his son, and connives at the escape of the Hungarian. Conrad, who is banished from Prague, rejoins his former associates, the "black bands," which were the scandal and terror of the neighbouring provinces, and is killed in a skirmish with the regular troops. Siegendorf dies of a broken heart.

The conception of The German's Tale, as Byron perceived, is superior to the execution. The style is laboured and involved, and the narrative long-winded and tiresome. It is, perhaps, an adaptation, though not a literal translation, of a German historical romance. But the motif—a son predestined to evil by the weakness and sensuality of his father, a father punished for his want of rectitude by the passionate criminality of his son, is the very key-note of tragedy.

If from haste or indolence Byron scamped his task, and cut up whole cantles of the novel into nerveless and pointless blank verse, here and there throughout the play, in scattered lines and passages, he outdoes himself. The inspiration is fitful, but supreme.[329]

Werner was reviewed in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, December, 1822, vol. xii. pp. 710-719 (republished in Miscellanies of W. Maginn, 1885, i. 189); in the Scots Magazine, December, 1822, N.S. vol. xi. pp. 688-694; the European Magazine, January, 1823, vol. 83, pp. 73-76; and in the Eclectic Review, February, 1823, N.S. vol. xix. pp. 148-155.

Note to the Introduction to Werner.

In an article entitled, "Did Byron write Werner?" which appeared in the Nineteenth Century (August, 1899, vol. 46, pp. 243-250), the Hon. F. Leveson Gower undertakes to prove that Werner was not written by Lord Byron, but by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (born June 9, 1757, died March 30, 1806). He adduces, in support of this claim, (1) a statement made to him by his sister, the late Lady Georgiana Fullerton, to the effect that their grandmother, the duchess, "wrote the poem and gave the MS. to her niece, Lady Caroline Ponsonby (better known as Lady Caroline Lamb), and that she, some years later, handed it over to Lord Byron, who, in 1822, published it in his own name;" (2) a letter written in 1822 by his mother, Lady Granville, to her sister, Lady Carlisle, which asserts that their mother, the duchess, "wrote an entire tragedy from Miss Lee's Kreutzner the Hungarian (sic)," and that the MS. had been sent to her by Lady Caroline's brother, Mr. William Ponsonby, and was in her possession; (3) another letter of Lady Granville's, dated December 3, 1822, in which she informs her sister that her husband, Lord Granville, had promised to read Werner aloud to her (i.e. Byron's Werner, published November 23, 1822), a promise which, if fulfilled, must have revealed one of two things—the existence of two dramas based on Miss Lee's Kruitzner, or the identity of Byron's version with that of the duchess. Now, argues Mr. Leveson Gower, if Lady Granville had known that two dramas were in existence, she would not have allowed her daughter, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, to believe "that the duchess was the author of the published poem."

I will deal with the external evidence first. Practically it amounts to this: (1) that Lady Granville knew that her[330] mother, the Duchess of Devonshire, dramatized Miss Lee's Kruitzner; and (2) that Lady Georgiana Fullerton believed that the duchess gave the MS. of her play to Lady Caroline Ponsonby, and that, many years after, Lady Caroline handed it over to Byron.

The external evidence establishes the fact that the Duchess of Devonshire dramatized Kruitzner, but it does not prove that Byron purloined her adaptation. It records an unverified impression on the part of the duchess's granddaughter, that the MS. of a play written between the years 1801-1806, passed into Byron's hands about the year 1813; that he took a copy of the MS.; and that in 1821-22 he caused his copy to be retranscribed and published under his own name.

But Mr. Leveson Gower appeals to internal as well as external evidence, (1) He regards the great inferiority of Werner to Byron's published plays, and to the genuine (hitherto) unpublished first act, together with the wholesale plagiarisms from Miss Lee's story, as an additional proof that the work was none of his. (2) He notes, as a suspicious circumstance, that "while the rough copies of his other poems have been preserved, no rough copy of Werner is to be found."

In conclusion, he deals with two possible objections which may be brought against his theory: (1) that Byron would not have incurred the risk of detection at the hands of the owners of the duchess's MS.; and (2) that a great poet of assured fame and reputation could have had no possible motive for perpetrating a literary fraud. The first objection he answers by assuming that Byron would have counted on the reluctance of the "Ponsonby family and the daughters of the Duchess" to rake up the ashes of old scandals; the second, by pointing out that, in 1822, he was making "frantic endeavours to obtain money, not for himself, but to help the cause of Greece."

(1) With regard to the marked inferiority of Werner to Byron's other plays, and the relative proportion of adapted to original matter, Mr. Leveson Gower appears to have been misled by the disingenuous criticism of Maginn and other contemporary reviewers (vide the Introduction, etc., p. 326). There is no such inferiority, and the plagiarisms, which were duly acknowledged, are confined to certain limited portions of the play. (2) There is nothing unusual in the fact that the rough draft of Werner cannot be found. In fact, but few of the early drafts of the dramas and other poems written in the later Italian days ever reached Murray's hands, or are still in existence. The fair copy for the printer alone was sent home. The time had gone by when Byron's publisher, who was also his friend, would stipulate that "all the original [331] MSS., copies and scraps" should fall to his share. But no argument can be founded on so insignificant a circumstance.

Finally, the argument on which Mr. Leveson Gower dwells at some length, that Byron's "motive" for perpetrating a literary fraud was the necessity for raising money for the cause of Greek independence, is refuted by the fact that Werner was begun in December, 1821, and finished in January, 1822, and that it was not till the spring of 1823 that he was elected a member of the Greek Committee, or had any occasion to raise funds for the maintenance of troops or the general expenses of the war. So far from attempting to raise money by Werner, in letters to Murray, dated March 6, October 24, November 18, 1822, he emphatically waives the question of "terms," and makes no demand or request for money whatever. It was not till December 23, 1823 (Letters, 1901, vi. 287), two years after the play had been written, that he speaks of applying the two or three hundred pounds which the copyright of Werner might be worth, to the maintenance of armed men in the service of the Provisional Government. He could not have "purloined" and palmed off as his own the duchess's version of Miss Lee's story in order to raise money for a purpose which had not arisen. He had no intention at first or last of presenting the copyright of Werner to Murray or Hunt, but he was willing to wait for his money, and had no motive for raising funds by an illegal and dishonourable trick.

That Byron did not write Werner is, surely, non-proven on the external and internal evidence adduced by Mr. Leveson Gower. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence, both external and internal, that, apart from his acknowledged indebtedness to Miss Lee's story, he did write Werner.

To take the external evidence first. On the first page of Mrs. Shelley's transcript of Werner, Byron inserted the date, "Dec. 18, 1821," and on the last he wrote "[The End] of fifth act of the Drama. B. P[isa]. Jy 21. 1822."

Turning to the journal of Edward Williams (Shelley's Prose Works, 1880, iv. 318), I find the following entries:—

"December 21, 1821. Lord B. told me that he had commenced a tragedy from Miss Lee's German Tale ('Werner'), and had been fagging at it all day."

"January 8, 1822. Mary read us the first two acts of Lord B.'s Werner."

Again, in an unpublished diary of the same period it is recorded that Mrs. Shelley was engaged in the task of copying on January 17, 1822, and the eight following days, and that on January 25 she finished her transcript.

Again, Medwin (Conversations, 1824, p. 409) records the fact[332] that Byron told him "that he had almost finished another play ... called Werner;" and (p. 412) "that Werner was written in twenty-eight days, and one entire act at a sitting." It is almost incredible that Byron should have recopied a copy of the duchess's play in order to impose on Mrs. Shelley and Williams and Medwin; and it is quite incredible that they were in the plot, and lent themselves to the deception. It is certain that both Williams and Medwin believed that Byron was the author of Werner, and it is certain that nothing would have induced Mrs. Shelley to be particeps criminis—to copy a play which was not Byron's, to be published as Byron's, and to suffer her copy to be fraudulently endorsed by her guilty accomplice.

The internal evidence of the genuineness of Werner is still more convincing. In the first place, there are numerous "undesigned coincidences," allusions, and phrases to be found in Werner and elsewhere in Byron's Poetical Works, which bear his sign-manual, and cannot be attributed to another writer; and, secondly, scattered through the play there are numerous lines, passages, allusions—"a cloud of witnesses" to their Byronic inspiration and creation.

Take the following parallels:—

Werner, act i. sc. 1, lines 693, 694—

"... as parchment on a drum,

Like Ziska's skin."

Age of Bronze, lines 133, 134—

"The time may come,

His name shall beat the alarm like Ziska's drum."

Werner, act ii. sc. 2, lines 177, 178—

"... save your throat

From the Raven-stone."

Manfred, act iii. (original version)—

"The raven sits

On the Raven-stone."

Werner, act ii. sc. 2, line 279—

"Things which had made this silkworm cast his skin."

Marino Faliero, act ii. sc. 2, line 115—

"... these swoln silkworms masters."

("Silkworm," as a term of contempt, is an Italianism.)

Werner, act iii. sc. 1, lines 288, 289—

"I fear that men must draw their chariots, as

They say kings did Sesostris'."


Age of Bronze, line 45—

"The new Sesostris, whose unharnessed kings."

Werner, act iii. sc. 3, lines 10, 11—

"... while the knoll

Of long-lived parents."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xcvi. lines 5, 6—

"... is the knoll

Of what in me is sleepless."

(Byron is the authority for the use of "knoll" as a substantive.)

Or, compare the statement (see act i. sc. 1, line 213, sq.) that "A great personage ... is drowned below the ford, with five post-horses, A monkey and a mastiff—and a valet," with the corresponding passage in Kruitzner and in Byron's unfinished fragment; and note that "the monkey, the mastiff, and the valet," which formed part of Byron's retinue in 1821, are conspicuous by their absence from Miss Lee's story and the fragment.

Space precludes the quotation of further parallels, and for specimens of a score of passages which proclaim their author the following lines must suffice:—

Act i. sc. 1, lines 163-165—

"... although then

My passions were all living serpents, and

Twined like the Gorgon's round me."

Act iii. sc. 1, lines 264-268—

"... sound him with the gem;

'Twill sink into his venal soul like lead

Into the deep, and bring up slime and mud.

And ooze, too, from the bottom, as the lead doth

With its greased understratum."

Did Byron write Werner, or was it the Duchess of Devonshire?

(For a correspondence on the subject, see Literature, August 12, 19, 26, September 9, 1899.)







The following drama is taken entirely from the German's Tale, Kruitzner, published many years ago in "Lee's Canterbury Tales" written (I believe) by two sisters, of whom one furnished only this story and another, both of which are considered superior to the remainder of the collection.[159] I have adopted the characters, plan, and even the language of many parts of this story. Some of the characters are modified or altered, a few of the names changed, and one character (Ida of Stralenheim) added by myself: but in the rest[338] the original is chiefly followed. When I was young (about fourteen, I think,) I first read this tale, which made a deep impression upon me; and may, indeed, be said to contain the germ of much that I have since written. I am not sure that it ever was very popular; or, at any rate, its popularity has since been eclipsed by that of other great writers in the same department. But I have generally found that those who had read it, agreed with me in their estimate of the singular power of mind and conception which it developes. I should also add conception, rather than execution; for the story might, perhaps, have been developed with greater advantage. Amongst those whose opinions agreed with mine upon this story, I could mention some very high names: but it is not necessary, nor indeed of any use; for every one must judge according to his own feelings. I merely refer the reader to the original story, that he may see to what extent I have borrowed from it; and am not unwilling that he should find much greater pleasure in perusing it than the drama which is founded upon its contents.

I had begun a drama upon this tale so far back as 1815, (the first I ever attempted, except one at thirteen years old, called "Ulric and Ilvina," which I had sense enough to burn,) and had nearly completed an act, when I was interrupted by circumstances. This is somewhere amongst my papers in England; but as it has not been found, I have re-written the first, and added the subsequent acts.

The whole is neither intended, nor in any shape adapted, for the stage[cm].



Ida Stralenheim.

Scene—Partly on the Frontier of Silesia, and partly in Siegendorf Castle, near Prague.

Time—The Close of the Thirty Years' War[160].




Scene I.—The Hall of a decayed Palace near a small Town on the Northern Frontier of Silesia—the Night tempestuous.

Werner and Josephine, his Wife.

Jos. My love, be calmer!

Wer.I am calm.

Jos.To me—

Yes, but not to thyself: thy pace is hurried,

And no one walks a chamber like to ours,

With steps like thine, when his heart is at rest.

Were it a garden, I should deem thee happy,

And stepping with the bee from flower to flower;

But here!

Wer.'Tis chill; the tapestry lets through

The wind to which it waves: my blood is frozen.

Jos. Ah, no!

Wer. (smiling). Why! wouldst thou have it so?

Jos.I would

Have it a healthful current.

Wer.Let it flow10

Until 'tis spilt or checked—how soon, I care not.

Jos. And am I nothing in thy heart?[342]


Jos. Then canst thou wish for that which must break mine?

Wer. (approaching her slowly).

But for thee I had been—no matter what—

But much of good and evil; what I am,

Thou knowest; what I might or should have been,

Thou knowest not: but still I love thee, nor

Shall aught divide us.

 [Werner walks on abruptly, and then approaches Josephine.

The storm of the night,

Perhaps affects me; I'm a thing of feelings,

And have of late been sickly, as, alas!20

Thou know'st by sufferings more than mine, my Love!

In watching me.

Jos.To see thee well is much—

To see thee happy——

Wer.Where hast thou seen such?

Let me be wretched with the rest!

Jos.But think

How many in this hour of tempest shiver

Beneath the biting wind and heavy rain,

Whose every drop bows them down nearer earth,

Which hath no chamber for them save beneath

Her surface.

Wer.And that's not the worst: who cares

For chambers? rest is all. The wretches whom30

Thou namest—aye, the wind howls round them, and

The dull and dropping rain saps in their bones

The creeping marrow. I have been a soldier,

A hunter, and a traveller, and am

A beggar, and should know the thing thou talk'st of.

Jos. And art thou not now sheltered from them all?

Wer. Yes. And from these alone.

Jos.And that is something.

Wer. True—to a peasant.[cn]

Jos.Should the nobly born

Be thankless for that refuge which their habits

Of early delicacy render more40[343]

Needful than to the peasant, when the ebb

Of fortune leaves them on the shoals of life?

Wer. It is not that, thou know'st it is not: we

Have borne all this, I'll not say patiently,

Except in thee—but we have borne it.


Wer. Something beyond our outward sufferings (though

These were enough to gnaw into our souls)

Hath stung me oft, and, more than ever, now.

When, but for this untoward sickness, which

Seized me upon this desolate frontier, and50

Hath wasted, not alone my strength, but means,

And leaves us—no! this is beyond me!—but

For this I had been happy—thou been happy—

The splendour of my rank sustained—my name—

My father's name—been still upheld; and, more

Than those——

Jos. (abruptly). My son—our son—our Ulric,

Been clasped again in these long-empty arms,

And all a mother's hunger satisfied.

Twelve years! he was but eight then:—beautiful

He was, and beautiful he must be now,60

My Ulric! my adored!

Wer.I have been full oft

The chase of Fortune; now she hath o'ertaken

My spirit where it cannot turn at bay,—

Sick, poor, and lonely.

Jos.Lonely! my dear husband?

Wer. Or worse—involving all I love, in this

Far worse than solitude. Alone, I had died,

And all been over in a nameless grave.

Jos. And I had not outlived thee; but pray take

Comfort! We have struggled long; and they who strive

With Fortune win or weary her at last,70

So that they find the goal or cease to feel

Further. Take comfort,—we shall find our boy.

Wer. We were in sight of him, of every thing

Which could bring compensation for past sorrow—

And to be baffled thus!

Jos.We are not baffled.[344]

Wer. Are we not penniless?

Jos.We ne'er were wealthy.

Wer. But I was born to wealth, and rank, and power;

Enjoyed them, loved them, and, alas! abused them,

And forfeited them by my father's wrath,

In my o'er-fervent youth: but for the abuse80

Long-sufferings have atoned. My father's death

Left the path open, yet not without snares.

This cold and creeping kinsman, who so long

Kept his eye on me, as the snake upon

The fluttering bird, hath ere this time outstept me,

Become the master of my rights, and lord

Of that which lifts him up to princes in

Dominion and domain.

Jos.Who knows? our son

May have returned back to his grandsire, and

Even now uphold thy rights for thee?

Wer.'Tis hopeless.90

Since his strange disappearance from my father's,

Entailing, as it were, my sins upon

Himself, no tidings have revealed his course.

I parted with him to his grandsire, on

The promise that his anger would stop short

Of the third generation; but Heaven seems

To claim her stern prerogative, and visit

Upon my boy his father's faults and follies.

Jos. I must hope better still,—at least we have yet

Baffled the long pursuit of Stralenheim.100

Wer. We should have done, but for this fatal sickness;—

More fatal than a mortal malady,

Because it takes not life, but life's sole solace:

Even now I feel my spirit girt about

By the snares of this avaricious fiend:—

How do I know he hath not tracked us here?

Jos. He does not know thy person; and his spies,

Who so long watched thee, have been left at Hamburgh.

Our unexpected journey, and this change

Of name, leaves all discovery far behind:110

None hold us here for aught save what we seem.

Wer. Save what we seem! save what we are—sick beggars,[345]

Even to our very hopes.—Ha! ha!


That bitter laugh!

Wer.Who would read in this form

The high soul of the son of a long line?

Who, in this garb, the heir of princely lands?

Who, in this sunken, sickly eye, the pride

Of rank and ancestry? In this worn cheek

And famine-hollowed brow, the Lord of halls

Which daily feast a thousand vassals?


Pondered not thus upon these worldly things,

My Werner! when you deigned to choose for bride

The foreign daughter of a wandering exile.

Wer. An exile's daughter with an outcast son,

Were a fit marriage: but I still had hopes

To lift thee to the state we both were born for.

Your father's house was noble, though decayed;

And worthy by its birth to match with ours.

Jos. Your father did not think so, though 'twas noble;

But had my birth been all my claim to match130

With thee, I should have deemed it what it is.

Wer. And what is that in thine eyes?

Jos.All which it

Has done in our behalf,—nothing.


Jos. Or worse; for it has been a canker in

Thy heart from the beginning: but for this,

We had not felt our poverty but as

Millions of myriads feel it—cheerfully;

But for these phantoms of thy feudal fathers,

Thou mightst have earned thy bread, as thousands earn it;

Or, if that seem too humble, tried by commerce,140

Or other civic means, to amend thy fortunes.

Wer. (ironically). And been an Hanseatic burgher? Excellent!

Jos. Whate'er thou mightest have been, to me thou art

What no state high or low can ever change,

My heart's first choice;—which chose thee, knowing neither[346]

Thy birth, thy hopes, thy pride; nought, save thy sorrows:

While they last, let me comfort or divide them:

When they end—let mine end with them, or thee!

Wer. My better angel! Such I have ever found thee;

This rashness, or this weakness of my temper,150

Ne'er raised a thought to injure thee or thine.

Thou didst not mar my fortunes: my own nature

In youth was such as to unmake an empire,

Had such been my inheritance; but now,

Chastened, subdued, out-worn, and taught to know

Myself,—to lose this for our son and thee!

Trust me, when, in my two-and-twentieth spring,

My father barred me from my father's house,

The last sole scion of a thousand sires

(For I was then the last), it hurt me less160

Than to behold my boy and my boy's mother

Excluded in their innocence from what

My faults deserved-exclusion; although then

My passions were all living serpents,[161] and

Twined like the Gorgon's round me.

 [A loud knocking is heard.


Wer.A knocking!

Jos. Who can it be at this lone hour? We have

Few visitors.

Wer.And poverty hath none,

Save those who come to make it poorer still.

Well—I am prepared.

 [Werner puts his hand into his bosom, as if to search for some weapon.

Jos.Oh! do not look so. I

Will to the door. It cannot be of import170

In this lone spot of wintry desolation:—

The very desert saves man from mankind.

 [She goes to the door.


Enter Idenstein.

Iden. A fair good evening to my fair hostess

And worthy——What's your name, my friend?

Wer.Are you

Not afraid to demand it?

Iden.Not afraid?

Egad! I am afraid. You look as if

I asked for something better than your name,

By the face you put on it.

Wer.Better, sir!

Iden. Better or worse, like matrimony: what

Shall I say more? You have been a guest this month180

Here in the prince's palace—(to be sure,

His Highness had resigned it to the ghosts

And rats these twelve years—but 'tis still a palace)—

I say you have been our lodger, and as yet

We do not know your name.

Wer.My name is Werner[162].

Iden. A goodly name, a very worthy name,

As e'er was gilt upon a trader's board:

I have a cousin in the lazaretto

Of Hamburgh, who has got a wife who bore

The same. He is an officer of trust,190

Surgeon's assistant (hoping to be surgeon),

And has done miracles i' the way of business.

Perhaps you are related to my relative?

Wer. To yours?

Jos.Oh, yes; we are, but distantly.

(Aside to Werner.) Cannot you humour the dull gossip till

We learn his purpose?

Iden.Well, I'm glad of that;

I thought so all along, such natural yearnings[348]

Played round my heart:—blood is not water, cousin;

And so let's have some wine, and drink unto

Our better acquaintance: relatives should be200


Wer.You appear to have drunk enough already;

And if you have not, I've no wine to offer,

Else it were yours: but this you know, or should know:

You see I am poor, and sick, and will not see

That I would be alone; but to your business!

What brings you here?

Iden.Why, what should bring me here?

Wer. I know not, though I think that I could guess

That which will send you hence.

Jos. (aside).Patience, dear Werner!

Iden. You don't know what has happened, then?

Jos.How should we?

Iden. The river has o'erflowed.

Jos.Alas! we have known210

That to our sorrow for these five days; since

It keeps us here.

Iden.But what you don't know is,

That a great personage, who fain would cross

Against the stream and three postilions' wishes,

Is drowned below the ford, with five post-horses,

A monkey, and a mastiff—and a valet[163].

Jos. Poor creatures! are you sure?

Iden.Yes, of the monkey,

And the valet, and the cattle; but as yet

We know not if his Excellency's dead

Or no; your noblemen are hard to drown,220

As it is fit that men in office should be;

But what is certain is, that he has swallowed

Enough of the Oder[164] to have burst two peasants;

And now a Saxon and Hungarian traveller,

Who, at their proper peril, snatched him from[349]

The whirling river, have sent on to crave

A lodging, or a grave, according as

It may turn out with the live or dead body.

Jos. And where will you receive him? here, I hope,

If we can be of service—say the word.230

Iden. Here? no; but in the Prince's own apartment,

As fits a noble guest:—'tis damp, no doubt,

Not having been inhabited these twelve years;

But then he comes from a much damper place,

So scarcely will catch cold in't, if he be

Still liable to cold—and if not, why

He'll be worse lodged to-morrow: ne'ertheless,

I have ordered fire and all appliances

To be got ready for the worst—that is,

In case he should survive.

Jos.Poor gentleman!240

I hope he will, with all my heart.


Have you not learned his name? (Aside to his wife.) My Josephine,

Retire: I'll sift this fool.[Exit Josephine.

Iden.His name? oh Lord!

Who knows if he hath now a name or no?

'Tis time enough to ask it when he's able

To give an answer; or if not, to put

His heir's upon his epitaph. Methought

Just now you chid me for demanding names?

Wer. True, true, I did so: you say well and wisely.

Enter Gabor.[165]

Gab. If I intrude, I crave——

Iden.Oh, no intrusion!250

This is the palace; this a stranger like

Yourself; I pray you make yourself at home:

But where's his Excellency? and how fares he?

Gab. Wetly and wearily, but out of peril:

He paused to change his garments in a cottage[350]

(Where I doffed mine for these, and came on hither),

And has almost recovered from his drenching.

He will be here anon.

Iden.What ho, there! bustle!

Without there, Herman, Weilburg, Peter, Conrad!

 [Gives directions to different servants who enter.

A nobleman sleeps here to-night—see that260

All is in order in the damask chamber—

Keep up the stove—I will myself to the cellar—

And Madame Idenstein (my consort, stranger,)

Shall furnish forth the bed-apparel; for,

To say the truth, they are marvellous scant of this

Within the palace precincts, since his Highness

Left it some dozen years ago. And then

His Excellency will sup, doubtless?


I cannot tell; but I should think the pillow

Would please him better than the table, after270

His soaking in your river: but for fear

Your viands should be thrown away, I mean

To sup myself, and have a friend without

Who will do honour to your good cheer with

A traveller's appetite.

Iden.But are you sure

His Excellency——But his name: what is it?

Gab. I do not know.

Iden.And yet you saved his life.

Gab. I helped my friend to do so.

Iden.Well, that's strange,

To save a man's life whom you do not know.

Gab. Not so; for there are some I know so well,280

I scarce should give myself the trouble.


Good friend, and who may you be?

Gab.By my family,


Iden.Which is called?

Gab.It matters little.

Iden. (aside). I think that all the world are grown anonymous,

Since no one cares to tell me what he's called![351]

Pray, has his Excellency a large suite?


Iden. How many?

Gab.I did not count them.

We came up by mere accident, and just

In time to drag him through his carriage window.

Iden. Well, what would I give to save a great man!290

No doubt you'll have a swingeing sum as recompense.

Gab. Perhaps.

Iden.Now, how much do you reckon on?

Gab. I have not yet put up myself to sale:

In the mean time, my best reward would be

A glass of your[166] Hockcheimer—a green glass,

Wreathed with rich grapes and Bacchanal devices,

O'erflowing with the oldest of your vintage:

For which I promise you, in case you e'er

Run hazard of being drowned, (although I own

It seems, of all deaths, the least likely for you,)300

I'll pull you out for nothing. Quick, my friend,

And think, for every bumper I shall quaff,

A wave the less may roll above your head.

Iden. (aside). I don't much like this fellow—close and dry

He seems,—two things which suit me not; however,

Wine he shall have; if that unlocks him not,

I shall not sleep to-night for curiosity.[Exit Idenstein.

Gab. (to Werner). This master of the ceremonies is

The intendant of the palace, I presume:

'Tis a fine building, but decayed.

Wer.The apartment310

Designed for him you rescued will be found

In fitter order for a sickly guest.

Gab. I wonder then you occupied it not,

For you seem delicate in health.

Wer. (quickly).Sir!


Excuse me: have I said aught to offend you?

Wer. Nothing: but we are strangers to each other.[352]

Gab. And that's the reason I would have us less so:

I thought our bustling guest without had said

You were a chance and passing guest, the counterpart

Of me and my companions.

Wer.Very true.320

Gab. Then, as we never met before, and never,

It may be, may again encounter, why,

I thought to cheer up this old dungeon here

(At least to me) by asking you to share

The fare of my companions and myself.

Wer. Pray, pardon me; my health——

Gab.Even as you please.

I have been a soldier, and perhaps am blunt

In bearing.

Wer.I have also served, and can

Requite a soldier's greeting.

Gab.In what service?

The Imperial?

Wer. (quickly, and then interrupting himself).

I commanded—no—I mean330

I served; but it is many years ago,

When first Bohemia[167] raised her banner 'gainst

The Austrian.

Gab.Well, that's over now, and peace

Has turned some thousand gallant hearts adrift

To live as they best may: and, to say truth,

Some take the shortest.

Wer.What is that?


They lay their hands on. All Silesia and

Lusatia's woods are tenanted by bands

Of the late troops, who levy on the country

Their maintenance: the Chatelains must keep340

Their castle walls—beyond them 'tis but doubtful

Travel for your rich Count or full-blown Baron.

My comfort is that, wander where I may,[353]

I've little left to lose now.

Wer.And I—nothing.

Gab. That's harder still. You say you were a soldier.

Wer. I was.

Gab.You look one still. All soldiers are

Or should be comrades, even though enemies.

Our swords when drawn must cross, our engines aim

(While levelled) at each other's hearts; but when

A truce, a peace, or what you will, remits350

The steel into its scabbard, and lets sleep

The spark which lights the matchlock, we are brethren.

You are poor and sickly—I am not rich, but healthy;

I want for nothing which I cannot want;

You seem devoid of this—wilt share it?

 [Gabor pulls out his purse.


Told you I was a beggar?

Gab.You yourself,

In saying you were a soldier during peace-time.

Wer. (looking at him with suspicion). You know me not.

Gab.I know no man, not even

Myself: how should I then know one I ne'er

Beheld till half an hour since?

Wer.Sir, I thank you.360

Your offer's noble were it to a friend,

And not unkind as to an unknown stranger,

Though scarcely prudent; but no less I thank you.

I am a beggar in all save his trade;

And when I beg of any one, it shall be

Of him who was the first to offer what

Few can obtain by asking. Pardon me.[Exit Werner.

Gab. (solus). A goodly fellow by his looks, though worn

As most good fellows are, by pain or pleasure,

Which tear life out of us before our time;370

I scarce know which most quickly: but he seems

To have seen better days, as who has not

Who has seen yesterday?—But here approaches

Our sage intendant, with the wine: however,

For the cup's sake I'll bear the cupbearer.


Enter Idenstein.

Iden. 'Tis here! the supernaculum![168] twenty years

Of age, if 'tis a day.

Gab.Which epoch makes

Young women and old wine; and 'tis great pity,

Of two such excellent things, increase of years,

Which still improves the one, should spoil the other.380

Fill full—Here's to our hostess!—your fair wife!

 [Takes the glass.

Iden. Fair!—Well, I trust your taste in wine is equal

To that you show for beauty; but I pledge you


Gab.Is not the lovely woman

I met in the adjacent hall, who, with

An air, and port, and eye, which would have better

Beseemed this palace in its brightest days

(Though in a garb adapted to its present

Abandonment), returned my salutation—

Is not the same your spouse?

Iden.I would she were!390

But you're mistaken:—that's the stranger's wife.

Gab. And by her aspect she might be a Prince's;

Though time hath touched her too, she still retains

Much beauty, and more majesty.

Iden.And that

Is more than I can say for Madame Idenstein,

At least in beauty: as for majesty,

She has some of its properties which might

Be spared—but never mind!

Gab.I don't. But who

May be this stranger? He too hath a bearing

Above his outward fortunes.

Iden.There I differ.400

He's poor as Job, and not so patient; but

Who he may be, or what, or aught of him,[355]

Except his name (and that I only learned

To-night), I know not.

Gab.But how came he here?

Iden. In a most miserable old caleche,

About a month since, and immediately

Fell sick, almost to death. He should have died.

Gab. Tender and true!—but why?

Iden.Why, what is life

Without a living? He has not a stiver.[co]

Gab. In that case, I much wonder that a person410

Of your apparent prudence should admit

Guests so forlorn into this noble mansion.

Iden. That's true: but pity, as you know, does make

One's heart commit these follies; and besides,

They had some valuables left at that time,

Which paid their way up to the present hour;

And so I thought they might as well be lodged

Here as at the small tavern, and I gave them

The run of some of the oldest palace rooms.

They served to air them, at the least as long420

As they could pay for firewood.

Gab.Poor souls!


Exceeding poor.

Gab.And yet unused to poverty,

If I mistake not. Whither were they going?

Iden. Oh! Heaven knows where, unless to Heaven itself.

Some days ago that looked the likeliest journey

For Werner.

Gab.Werner! I have heard the name.

But it may be a feigned one.

Iden.Like enough!

But hark! a noise of wheels and voices, and

A blaze of torches from without. As sure

As destiny, his Excellency's come.430

I must be at my post; will you not join me,

To help him from his carriage, and present

Your humble duty at the door?

Gab.I dragged him[356]

From out that carriage when he would have given

His barony or county to repel

The rushing river from his gurgling throat.

He has valets now enough: they stood aloof then,

Shaking their dripping ears upon the shore,

All roaring "Help!" but offering none; and as

For duty (as you call it)—I did mine then,440

Now do yours. Hence, and bow and cringe him here!

Iden. I cringe!—but I shall lose the opportunity—

Plague take it! he'll be here, and I not there!

 [Exit Idenstein hastily.

Re-enter Werner.

Wer. (to himself). I heard a noise of wheels and voices. How

All sounds now jar me![Perceiving Gabor.

Still here! Is he not

A spy of my pursuer's? His frank offer

So suddenly, and to a stranger, wore

The aspect of a secret enemy;

For friends are slow at such.

Gab.Sir, you seem rapt;

And yet the time is not akin to thought.450

These old walls will be noisy soon. The baron,

Or count (or whatsoe'er this half drowned noble

May be), for whom this desolate village and

Its lone inhabitants show more respect

Than did the elements, is come.

Iden. (without).This way—

This way, your Excellency:—have a care,

The staircase is a little gloomy, and

Somewhat decayed; but if we had expected

So high a guest—Pray take my arm, my Lord!

Enter Stralenheim, Idenstein, and Attendants—partly his own, and partly Retainers of the Domain of which Idenstein is Intendant.

Stral. I'll rest here a moment.

Iden. (to the servants).Ho! a chair!460

Instantly, knaves. [Stralenheim sits down.[357]

Wer. (aside).Tis he!

Stral.I'm better now.

Who are these strangers?

Iden.Please you, my good Lord,

One says he is no stranger.

Wer. (aloud and hastily). Who says that?

 [They look at him with surprise.

Iden. Why, no one spoke of you, or to you!—but

Here's one his Excellency may be pleased

To recognise.[Pointing to Gabor.

Gab.I seek not to disturb

His noble memory.

Stral.I apprehend

This is one of the strangers to whose aid[cp]

I owe my rescue. Is not that the other?

 [Pointing to Werner.

My state when I was succoured must excuse470

My uncertainty to whom I owe so much.

Iden. He!—no, my Lord! he rather wants for rescue

Than can afford it. 'Tis a poor sick man,

Travel-tired, and lately risen from a bed

From whence he never dreamed to rise.


That there were two.

Gab.There were, in company;

But, in the service rendered to your Lordship,

I needs must say but one, and he is absent.

The chief part of whatever aid was rendered

Was his: it was his fortune to be first.480

My will was not inferior, but his strength

And youth outstripped me; therefore do not waste

Your thanks on me. I was but a glad second

Unto a nobler principal.

Stral.Where is he?

An Atten.   My Lord, he tarried in the cottage where

Your Excellency rested for an hour,

And said he would be here to-morrow.


That hour arrives, I can but offer thanks,

And then—[358]

Gab.I seek no more, and scarce deserve

So much. My comrade may speak for himself.490

Stral. (fixing his eyes upon Werner: then aside).

It cannot be! and yet he must be looked to.

'Tis twenty years since I beheld him with

These eyes; and, though my agents still have kept

Theirs on him, policy has held aloof

My own from his, not to alarm him into

Suspicion of my plan. Why did I leave

At Hamburgh those who would have made assurance

If this be he or no? I thought, ere now,

To have been lord of Siegendorf, and parted

In haste, though even the elements appear500

To fight against me, and this sudden flood

May keep me prisoner here till——

 [He pauses and looks at Werner: then resumes.

This man must

Be watched. If it is he, he is so changed,

His father, rising from his grave again,

Would pass by him unknown. I must be wary:

An error would spoil all.

Iden.Your Lordship seems

Pensive. Will it not please you to pass on?

Stral. 'Tis past fatigue, which gives my weighed-down spirit

An outward show of thought. I will to rest.

Iden. The Prince's chamber is prepared, with all510

The very furniture the Prince used when

Last here, in its full splendour.

(Aside). Somewhat tattered,

And devilish damp, but fine enough by torch-light;

And that's enough for your right noble blood

Of twenty quarterings upon a hatchment;

So let their bearer sleep 'neath something like one

Now, as he one day will for ever lie.

Stral. (rising and turning to Gabor).

Good night, good people! Sir, I trust to-morrow

Will find me apter to requite your service.

In the meantime I crave your company520

A moment in my chamber.

Gab.I attend you.[359]

Stral, (after a few steps, pauses, and calls Werner).



Iden.Sir! Lord—oh Lord! Why don't you say

His Lordship, or his Excellency? Pray,

My Lord, excuse this poor man's want of breeding:

He hath not been accustomed to admission

To such a presence.

Stral. (to Idenstein). Peace, intendant!


I am dumb.

Stral. (to Werner). Have you been long here?


Stral.I sought

An answer, not an echo.

Wer.You may seek

Both from the walls. I am not used to answer

Those whom I know not.

Stral.Indeed! Ne'er the less,530

You might reply with courtesy to what

Is asked in kindness.

Wer.When I know it such

I will requite—that is, reply—in unison.

Stral. The intendant said, you had been detained by sickness—

If I could aid you—journeying the same way?

Wer. (quickly). I am not journeying the same way!

Stral.How know ye

That, ere you know my route?

Wer.Because there is

But one way that the rich and poor must tread

Together. You diverged from that dread path

Some hours ago, and I some days: henceforth540

Our roads must lie asunder, though they tend

All to one home.

Stral.Your language is above

Your station.

Wer. (bitterly). Is it?

Stral.Or, at least, beyond

Your garb.

Wer. 'Tis well that it is not beneath it,[360]

As sometimes happens to the better clad.

But, in a word, what would you with me?

Stral. (startled).I?

Wer. Yes—you! You know me not, and question me,

And wonder that I answer not—not knowing

My inquisitor. Explain what you would have,

And then I'll satisfy yourself, or me.550

Stral. I knew not that you had reasons for reserve.

Wer. Many have such:—Have you none?

Stral.None which can

Interest a mere stranger.

Wer.Then forgive

The same unknown and humble stranger, if

He wishes to remain so to the man

Who can have nought in common with him.


I will not balk your humour, though untoward:

I only meant you service—but good night!

Intendant, show the way! (To Gabor.) Sir, you will with me?

 [Exeunt Stralenheim and Attendants; Idenstein and Gabor.

Wer. (solus). 'Tis he! I am taken in the toils. Before560

I quitted Hamburg, Giulio, his late steward,

Informed me, that he had obtained an order

From Brandenburg's elector, for the arrest

Of Kruitzner (such the name I then bore) when

I came upon the frontier; the free city

Alone preserved my freedom—till I left

Its walls—fool that I was to quit them! But

I deemed this humble garb, and route obscure,

Had baffled the slow hounds in their pursuit.

What's to be done? He knows me not by person;570

Nor could aught, save the eye of apprehension,

Have recognised him, after twenty years—

We met so rarely and so coldly in

Our youth. But those about him! Now I can

Divine the frankness of the Hungarian, who

No doubt is a mere tool and spy of Stralenheim's,[361]

To sound and to secure me. Without means!

Sick, poor—begirt too with the flooding rivers,

Impassable even to the wealthy, with

All the appliances which purchase modes580

Of overpowering peril, with men's lives,—

How can I hope! An hour ago methought

My state beyond despair; and now, 'tis such,

The past seems paradise. Another day,

And I'm detected,—on the very eve

Of honours, rights, and my inheritance,

When a few drops of gold might save me still

In favouring an escape.

Enter Idenstein and Fritz in conversation.


Iden. I tell you, 'tis impossible.

Fritz.It must

Be tried, however; and if one express590

Fail, you must send on others, till the answer

Arrives from Frankfort, from the commandant.

Iden. I will do what I can.

Fritz.And recollect

To spare no trouble; you will be repaid


Iden.The Baron is retired to rest?

Fritz. He hath thrown himself into an easy chair

Beside the fire, and slumbers; and has ordered

He may not be disturbed until eleven,

When he will take himself to bed.


An hour is past I'll do my best to serve him.600

Fritz. Remember![Exit Fritz.

Iden.The devil take these great men! they

Think all things made for them. Now here must I

Rouse up some half a dozen shivering vassals

From their scant pallets, and, at peril of

Their lives, despatch them o'er the river towards

Frankfort. Methinks the Baron's own experience

Some hours ago might teach him fellow-feeling:

But no, "it must" and there's an end. How now?[362]

Are you there, Mynheer Werner?

Wer.You have left

Your noble guest right quickly.

Iden.Yes—he's dozing,610

And seems to like that none should sleep besides.

Here is a packet for the Commandant

Of Frankfort, at all risks and all expenses;

But I must not lose time: Good night![Exit Iden.

Wer."To Frankfort!"

So, so, it thickens! Aye, "the Commandant!"

This tallies well with all the prior steps

Of this cool, calculating fiend, who walks

Between me and my father's house. No doubt

He writes for a detachment to convey me

Into some secret fortress.—Sooner than620


[Werner looks around, and snatches up a knife
lying on a table in a recess.

Now I am master of myself at least.

Hark,—footsteps! How do I know that Stralenheim

Will wait for even the show of that authority

Which is to overshadow usurpation?

That he suspects me 's certain. I'm alone—

He with a numerous train: I weak—he strong

In gold, in numbers, rank, authority.

I nameless, or involving in my name

Destruction, till I reach my own domain;

He full-blown with his titles, which impose630

Still further on these obscure petty burghers

Than they could do elsewhere. Hark! nearer still!

I'll to the secret passage, which communicates

With the——No! all is silent—'twas my fancy!—

Still as the breathless interval between

The flash and thunder:—I must hush my soul

Amidst its perils. Yet I will retire,

To see if still be unexplored the passage

I wot of: it will serve me as a den

Of secrecy for some hours, at the worst.640

[Werner draws a panel, and exit, closing it after him.[363]

Enter Gabor and Josephine.

Gab. Where is your husband?

Jos.Here, I thought: I left him

Not long since in his chamber. But these rooms

Have many outlets, and he may be gone

To accompany the Intendant.

Gab.Baron Stralenheim

Put many questions to the Intendant on

The subject of your lord, and, to be plain,

I have my doubts if he means well.


What can there be in common with the proud

And wealthy Baron, and the unknown Werner?

Gab. That you know best.

Jos.Or, if it were so, how650

Come you to stir yourself in his behalf,

Rather than that of him whose life you saved?

Gab. I helped to save him, as in peril; but

I did not pledge myself to serve him in

Oppression. I know well these nobles, and

Their thousand modes of trampling on the poor.

I have proved them; and my spirit boils up when

I find them practising against the weak:—

This is my only motive.

Jos.It would be

Not easy to persuade my consort of660

Your good intentions.

Gab.Is he so suspicious?

Jos. He was not once; but time and troubles have

Made him what you beheld.

Gab.I'm sorry for it.

Suspicion is a heavy armour, and

With its own weight impedes more than protects.

Good night! I trust to meet with him at day-break.

 [Exit Gabor.

Re-enter Idenstein and some Peasants. Josephine retires up the Hall.

First Peasant. But if I'm drowned?

Iden.Why, you will be well paid for 't,[364]

And have risked more than drowning for as much,

I doubt not.

Second Peasant. But our wives and families?

Iden. Cannot be worse off than they are, and may670

Be better.

Third Peasant. I have neither, and will venture.

Iden. That's right. A gallant carle, and fit to be

A soldier. I'll promote you to the ranks

In the Prince's body-guard—if you succeed:

And you shall have besides, in sparkling coin,

Two thalers.

Third Peasant. No more!

Iden.Out upon your avarice!

Can that low vice alloy so much ambition?

I tell thee, fellow, that two thalers in

Small change will subdivide into a treasure.

Do not five hundred thousand heroes daily680

Risk lives and souls for the tithe of one thaler?

When had you half the sum?

Third Peasant.Never—but ne'er

The less I must have three.

Iden.Have you forgot

Whose vassal you were born, knave?

Third Peasant.No—the Prince's,

And not the stranger's.

Iden.Sirrah! in the Prince's

Absence, I am sovereign; and the Baron is

My intimate connection;—"Cousin Idenstein!

(Quoth he) you'll order out a dozen villains."

And so, you villains! troop—march—march, I say;

And if a single dog's ear of this packet690

Be sprinkled by the Oder—look to it!

For every page of paper, shall a hide

Of yours be stretched as parchment on a drum,

Like Ziska's skin,[169] to beat alarm to all

Refractory vassals, who can not effect

Impossibilities.—Away, ye earth-worms!

 [Exit, driving them out.

Jos. (coming forward).

I fain would shun these scenes, too oft repeated,[365]

Of feudal tyranny o'er petty victims;

I cannot aid, and will not witness such.

Even here, in this remote, unnamed, dull spot,700

The dimmest in the district's map, exist

The insolence of wealth in poverty

O'er something poorer still—the pride of rank

In servitude, o'er something still more servile;

And vice in misery affecting still

A tattered splendour. What a state of being!

In Tuscany, my own dear sunny land,

Our nobles were but citizens and merchants,[170]

Like Cosmo. We had evils, but not such

As these; and our all-ripe and gushing valleys710

Made poverty more cheerful, where each herb

Was in itself a meal, and every vine

Rained, as it were, the beverage which makes glad

The heart of man; and the ne'er unfelt sun

(But rarely clouded, and when clouded, leaving

His warmth behind in memory of his beams)

Makes the worn mantle, and the thin robe, less

Oppressive than an emperor's jewelled purple.

But, here! the despots of the north appear

To imitate the ice-wind of their clime,720

Searching the shivering vassal through his rags,

To wring his soul—as the bleak elements

His form. And 'tis to be amongst these sovereigns

My husband pants! and such his pride of birth—

That twenty years of usage, such as no

Father born in a humble state could nerve

His soul to persecute a son withal,

Hath changed no atom of his early nature;

But I, born nobly also, from my father's

Kindness was taught a different lesson. Father!730

May thy long-tried and now rewarded spirit

Look down on us and our so long desired

Ulric! I love my son, as thou didst me!

What's that? Thou, Werner! can it be? and thus?


Enter Werner hastily, with the knife in his hand, by the secret panel, which he closes hurriedly after him.

Wer. (not at first recognising her).

Discovered! then I'll stab—(recognising her). Ah! Josephine

Why art thou not at rest?

Jos.What rest? My God!

What doth this mean?

Wer. (showing a rouleau).

Here's goldgold, Josephine,

Will rescue us from this detested dungeon.

Jos. And how obtained?—that knife!

Wer.'Tis bloodless—yet.

Away—we must to our chamber.

Jos.But whence comest thou?740

Wer. Ask not! but let us think where we shall go—

This—this will make us way—(showing the gold)—I'll fit them now.

Jos. I dare not think thee guilty of dishonour.

Wer. Dishonour!

Jos.I have said it.

Wer.Let us hence:

'Tis the last night, I trust, that we need pass here.

Jos. And not the worst, I hope.

Wer.Hope! I make sure.

But let us to our chamber.

Jos.Yet one question—

What hast thou done?

Wer. (fiercely).Left one thing undone, which

Had made all well: let me not think of it!


Jos.Alas that I should doubt of thee!750




Scene I.—A Hall in the same Palace.

Enter Idenstein and Others.

Iden. Fine doings! goodly doings! honest doings!

A Baron pillaged in a Prince's palace!

Where, till this hour, such a sin ne'er was heard of.

Fritz. It hardly could, unless the rats despoiled

The mice of a few shreds of tapestry.

Iden. Oh! that I e'er should live to see this day!

The honour of our city's gone for ever.

Fritz. Well, but now to discover the delinquent:

The Baron is determined not to lose

This sum without a search.

Iden.And so am I.10

Fritz. But whom do you suspect?

Iden.Suspect! all people

Without—within—above—below—Heaven help me!

Fritz. Is there no other entrance to the chamber?

Iden.   None whatsoever.

Fritz.Are you sure of that?

Iden. Certain. I have lived and served here since my birth,

And if there were such, must have heard of such,

Or seen it.

Fritz.Then it must be some one who

Had access to the antechamber.


Fritz. The man called Werner's poor!

Iden.Poor as a miser[171].

But lodged so far off, in the other wing,20

By which there's no communication with

The baron's chamber, that it can't be he.

Besides, I bade him "good night" in the hall,[368]

Almost a mile off, and which only leads

To his own apartment, about the same time

When this burglarious, larcenous felony

Appears to have been committed.

Fritz.There's another,

The stranger——

Iden.The Hungarian?

Fritz.He who helped

To fish the baron from the Oder.


Unlikely. But, hold—might it not have been30

One of the suite?

Fritz.How? We, sir!

Iden.No—not you,

But some of the inferior knaves. You say

The Baron was asleep in the great chair—

The velvet chair—in his embroidered night-gown;

His toilet spread before him, and upon it

A cabinet with letters, papers, and

Several rouleaux of gold; of which one only

Has disappeared:—the door unbolted, with

No difficult access to any.

Fritz.Good sir,

Be not so quick; the honour of the corps40

Which forms the Baron's household's unimpeached

From steward to scullion, save in the fair way

Of peculation; such as in accompts,

Weights, measures, larder, cellar, buttery,

Where all men take their prey; as also in

Postage of letters, gathering of rents,

Purveying feasts, and understanding with

The honest trades who furnish noble masters[cq];

But for your petty, picking, downright thievery,

We scorn it as we do board wages. Then50

Had one of our folks done it, he would not

Have been so poor a spirit as to hazard

His neck for one rouleau, but have swooped all;

Also the cabinet, if portable.

Iden. There is some sense in that——

Fritz.No, Sir, be sure[369]

'Twas none of our corps; but some petty, trivial

Picker and stealer, without art or genius.

The only question is—Who else could have

Access, save the Hungarian and yourself?

Iden. You don't mean me?

Fritz.No, sir; I honour more60

Your talents——

Iden.And my principles, I hope.

Fritz. Of course. But to the point: What's to be done?

Iden. Nothing—but there's a good deal to be said.

We'll offer a reward; move heaven and earth,

And the police (though there's none nearer than

Frankfort); post notices in manuscript

(For we've no printer); and set by my clerk

To read them (for few can, save he and I).

We'll send out villains to strip beggars, and

Search empty pockets; also, to arrest70

All gipsies, and ill-clothed and sallow people.

Prisoners we'll have at least, if not the culprit;

And for the Baron's gold—if 'tis not found,

At least he shall have the full satisfaction

Of melting twice its substance in the raising

The ghost of this rouleau. Here's alchemy

For your Lord's losses!

Fritz.He hath found a better.

Iden. Where?

Fritz.In a most immense inheritance.

The late Count Siegendorf, his distant kinsman,

Is dead near Prague, in his castle, and my Lord80

Is on his way to take possession.

Iden.Was there

No heir?

Fritz. Oh, yes; but he has disappeared

Long from the world's eye, and, perhaps, the world.

A prodigal son, beneath his father's ban

For the last twenty years; for whom his sire

Refused to kill the fatted calf; and, therefore,

If living, he must chew the husks still. But

The Baron would find means to silence him,

Were he to re-appear: he's politic,[370]

And has much influence with a certain court.90

Iden. He's fortunate.

Fritz.'Tis true, there is a grandson,

Whom the late Count reclaimed from his son's hands,

And educated as his heir; but, then,

His birth is doubtful.

Iden.How so?

Fritz.His sire made

A left-hand, love, imprudent sort of marriage,

With an Italian exile's dark-eyed daughter:

Noble, they say, too; but no match for such

A house as Siegendorf's. The grandsire ill

Could brook the alliance; and could ne'er be brought

To see the parents, though he took the son.100

Iden. If he's a lad of mettle, he may yet

Dispute your claim, and weave a web that may

Puzzle your Baron to unravel.


For mettle, he has quite enough: they say,

He forms a happy mixture of his sire

And grandsire's qualities,—impetuous as

The former, and deep as the latter; but

The strangest is, that he too disappeared

Some months ago.

Iden.The devil he did!

Fritz.Why, yes:

It must have been at his suggestion, at110

An hour so critical as was the eve

Of the old man's death, whose heart was broken by it.

Iden. Was there no cause assigned?

Fritz.Plenty, no doubt,

And none, perhaps, the true one. Some averred

It was to seek his parents; some because

The old man held his spirit in so strictly

(But that could scarce be, for he doted on him);

A third believed he wished to serve in war,

But, peace being made soon after his departure,

He might have since returned, were that the motive;120

A fourth set charitably have surmised,

As there was something strange and mystic in him,

That in the wild exuberance of his nature[371]

He had joined the black bands[172], who lay waste Lusatia,

The mountains of Bohemia and Silesia,

Since the last years of war had dwindled into

A kind of general condottiero system

Of bandit-warfare; each troop with its chief,

And all against mankind.

Iden.That cannot be.

A young heir, bred to wealth and luxury,130

To risk his life and honours with disbanded

Soldiers and desperadoes!

Fritz.Heaven best knows!

But there are human natures so allied

Unto the savage love of enterprise,

That they will seek for peril as a pleasure.

I've heard that nothing can reclaim your Indian,

Or tame the tiger, though their infancy

Were fed on milk and honey. After all,

Your Wallenstein, your Tilly and Gustavus,

Your Bannier, and your Torstenson and Weimar[173],140[372]

Were but the same thing upon a grand scale;

And now that they are gone, and peace proclaimed,

They who would follow the same pastime must

Pursue it on their own account. Here comes

The Baron, and the Saxon stranger, who

Was his chief aid in yesterday's escape,

But did not leave the cottage by the Oder

Until this morning.

Enter Stralenheim and Ulric.

Stral.Since you have refused

All compensation, gentle stranger, save

Inadequate thanks, you almost check even them,150

Making me feel the worthlessness of words,

And blush at my own barren gratitude,

They seem so niggardly, compared with what

Your courteous courage did in my behalf——

Ulr. I pray you press the theme no further.


Can I not serve you? You are young, and of

That mould which throws out heroes; fair in favour;

Brave, I know, by my living now to say so;

And, doubtlessly, with such a form and heart,

Would look into the fiery eyes of War,160

As ardently for glory as you dared

An obscure death to save an unknown stranger,

In an as perilous, but opposite, element.

You are made for the service: I have served;

Have rank by birth and soldiership, and friends,

Who shall be yours. 'Tis true this pause of peace

Favours such views at present scantily;

But 'twill not last, men's spirits are too stirring;

And, after thirty years of conflict, peace

Is but a petty war, as the time shows us170

In every forest, or a mere armed truce.

War will reclaim his own; and, in the meantime,

You might obtain a post, which would ensure[373]

A higher soon, and, by my influence, fail not

To rise. I speak of Brandenburgh, wherein

I stand well with the Elector[174]; in Bohemia,

Like you, I am a stranger, and we are now

Upon its frontier.

Ulr.You perceive my garb

Is Saxon, and, of course, my service due

To my own Sovereign. If I must decline180

Your offer, 'tis with the same feeling which

Induced it.

Stral.Why, this is mere usury!

I owe my life to you, and you refuse

The acquittance of the interest of the debt,

To heap more obligations on me, till

I bow beneath them.

Ulr.You shall say so when

I claim the payment.

Stral.Well, sir, since you will not—

You are nobly born?

Ulr.I have heard my kinsmen say so.

Stral. Your actions show it. Might I ask your name?

Ulr. Ulric.

Stral.Your house's?

Ulr.When I'm worthy of it,190

I'll answer you.

Stral. (aside).   Most probably an Austrian,

Whom these unsettled times forbid to boast

His lineage on these wild and dangerous frontiers,

Where the name of his country is abhorred.

 [Aloud to Fritz and Idenstein.

So, sirs! how have ye sped in your researches?

Iden. Indifferent well, your Excellency.


I am to deem the plunderer is caught?

Iden. Humph!—not exactly.

Stral.Or, at least, suspected?

Iden. Oh! for that matter, very much suspected.

Stral. Who may he be?[374]

Iden.Why, don't you know, my Lord?200

Stral. How should I? I was fast asleep.

Iden.And so

Was I—and that's the cause I know no more

Than does your Excellency.


Iden.Why, if

Your Lordship, being robbed, don't recognise

The rogue; how should I, not being robbed, identify

The thief among so many? In the crowd,

May it please your Excellency, your thief looks

Exactly like the rest, or rather better:

'Tis only at the bar and in the dungeon,

That wise men know your felon by his features;210

But I'll engage, that if seen there but once,

Whether he be found criminal or no,

His face shall be so.

Stral. (to Fritz). Prithee, Fritz, inform me

What hath been done to trace the fellow?


My Lord, not much as yet, except conjecture.

Stral. Besides the loss (which, I must own, affects me

Just now materially), I needs would find

The villain out of public motives; for

So dexterous a spoiler, who could creep

Through my attendants, and so many peopled220

And lighted chambers, on my rest, and snatch

The gold before my scarce-closed eyes, would soon

Leave bare your borough, Sir Intendant!


If there were aught to carry off, my Lord.

Ulr. What is all this?

Stral.You joined us but this morning,

And have not heard that I was robbed last night.

Ulr. Some rumour of it reached me as I passed

The outer chambers of the palace, but

I know no further.

Stral.It is a strange business:

The Intendant can inform you of the facts.230

Iden. Most willingly. You see——

Stral. (impatiently).Defer your tale,[375]

Till certain of the hearer's patience.


Can only be approved by proofs. You see——

Stral. (again interrupting him, and addressing Ulric).

In short, I was asleep upon my chair,

My cabinet before me, with some gold

Upon it (more than I much like to lose,

Though in part only): some ingenious person

Contrived to glide through all my own attendants,

Besides those of the place, and bore away

A hundred golden ducats, which to find240

I would be fain, and there's an end. Perhaps

You (as I still am rather faint) would add

To yesterday's great obligation, this,

Though slighter, yet not slight, to aid these men

(Who seem but lukewarm) in recovering it?

Ulr. Most willingly, and without loss of time—

(To Idenstein.) Come hither, mynheer!

Iden.But so much haste bodes

Right little speed, and——

Ulr.Standing motionless

None; so let's march: we'll talk as we go on.

Iden. But——

Ulr.Show the spot, and then I'll answer you.250

Fritz. I will, sir, with his Excellency's leave.

Stral. Do so, and take yon old ass with you.


Ulr. Come on, old oracle, expound thy riddle!

 [Exit with Idenstein and Fritz.

Stral. (solus). A stalwart, active, soldier-looking stripling,

Handsome as Hercules ere his first labour,

And with a brow of thought beyond his years

When in repose, till his eye kindles up

In answering yours. I wish I could engage him:

I have need of some such spirits near me now,

For this inheritance is worth a struggle.260

And though I am not the man to yield without one,

Neither are they who now rise up between me

And my desire. The boy, they say, 's a bold one;

But he hath played the truant in some hour[376]

Of freakish folly, leaving fortune to

Champion his claims. That's well. The father, whom

For years I've tracked, as does the blood-hound, never

In sight, but constantly in scent, had put me

To fault; but here I have him, and that's better.

It must be he! All circumstance proclaims it;270

And careless voices, knowing not the cause

Of my enquiries, still confirm it.—Yes!

The man, his bearing, and the mystery

Of his arrival, and the time; the account, too,

The Intendant gave (for I have not beheld her)

Of his wife's dignified but foreign aspect;

Besides the antipathy with which we met,

As snakes and lions shrink back from each other

By secret instinct that both must be foes

Deadly, without being natural prey to either;280

All—all—confirm it to my mind. However,

We'll grapple, ne'ertheless. In a few hours

The order comes from Frankfort, if these waters

Rise not the higher (and the weather favours

Their quick abatement), and I'll have him safe

Within a dungeon, where he may avouch

His real estate and name; and there's no harm done,

Should he prove other than I deem. This robbery

(Save for the actual loss) is lucky also;

He's poor, and that's suspicious—he's unknown,290

And that's defenceless.—True, we have no proofs

Of guilt—but what hath he of innocence?

Were he a man indifferent to my prospects,

In other bearings, I should rather lay

The inculpation on the Hungarian, who

Hath something which I like not; and alone

Of all around, except the Intendant, and

The Prince's household and my own, had ingress

Familiar to the chamber.

Enter Gabor.

Friend, how fare you?

Gab. As those who fare well everywhere, when they300

Have supped and slumbered, no great matter how—[377]

And you, my Lord?

Stral.Better in rest than purse:

Mine inn is like to cost me dear.

Gab.I heard

Of your late loss; but 'tis a trifle to

One of your order.

Stral.You would hardly think so,

Were the loss yours.

Gab.I never had so much

(At once) in my whole life, and therefore am not

Fit to decide. But I came here to seek you.

Your couriers are turned back—I have outstripped them,

In my return.


Gab.I went at daybreak,310

To watch for the abatement of the river,

As being anxious to resume my journey.

Your messengers were all checked like myself;

And, seeing the case hopeless, I await

The current's pleasure.

Stral.Would the dogs were in it!

Why did they not, at least, attempt the passage?

I ordered this at all risks.

Gab.Could you order

The Oder to divide, as Moses did

The Red Sea (scarcely redder than the flood

Of the swoln stream), and be obeyed, perhaps320

They might have ventured.

Stral.I must see to it:

The knaves! the slaves!—but they shall smart for this.

 [Exit Stralenheim.

Gab. (solus). There goes my noble, feudal, self-willed Baron!

Epitome of what brave chivalry

The preux Chevaliers of the good old times

Have left us. Yesterday he would have given

His lands[175] (if he hath any), and, still dearer,[378]

His sixteen quarterings, for as much fresh air

As would have filled a bladder, while he lay

Gurgling and foaming half way through the window