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language, is baptised into the Greek Church, and, still a child in heart and conceptions, prepares to take the vows. One stormy autumn night, whilst the monks are prostrated in supplication round the altar, he disappears. Three days long they search for him in vain in the dark woods and on the borders of the mountains. At last they find him almost dying in the steppe, and take him home to the convent, where his death rapidly approaches. He answers to no question, until an old monk comes to give him the last sacraments of the Church. Then, listening proudly till the monk has done, and collecting his strength for a final effort, he speaks to him in the following strain :

“ I thank you for your zeal, pious naan ; you ask me to confess to you what I know. I believe that it may be a relief to men to unburden their hearts by words; but I, during my life, have done harm to none; it is of small avail to learn what has happened to such a one; and of my feelings, how could I tell the story? I have lived but little, and in slavery. Surely two such lives would I have given willingly for one full of liberty and struggles. One single uncontrollable passion has haunted, governed, and tormented me; and consumed by it, my life is coming to an end. It has eaten my heart like a worm ; it has led me forth, both when awake and in my dreams, from the dull sufferings in this cell to the noise of battles, to places where the high mountains tower above the clouds, where men live in liberty like the eagles. And to this fire, which has consumed me, I have given yet greater force by nursing my grief and agony. I will confess this before God and men, but not to ask forgiveness from either.”

He then tells the story of his hidden feelings : how he saw, from afar the snow of the Caucasus shining through the mists, and began to revive in his imagination the dear scenes of earliest childhood, the aoul* where his father's hut stood, the assembly of brown-faced warriors when they gathered in the cool of evening before the threshold of the house; his father with his proud glance and richly-ornamented arnis; his sisters with their mild eyes and the sweet songs which they sang at his cradle; his own childish plays, and the tales of heroic deeds to which he listened. And then he describes how he left the convent at last during that stormy night; how he loved the storm and wanted to embrace it, and to catch the lightning as it flashed through the dark; and, “Oh,” he exclaims, “what could you give me in compensation, here in this cradle of my sufferings, for that short life of communion between the storm and the stormy heart?”

He tells how, when the night vanishes, he finds himself at the edge of an abyss, through wbich a wild torrent rushes, and

* The name of the Circassian villages.

how all around him breathes beauty, how he found a rich vegetation yet trembling under the beneficent raindrops, and how the voices of solitude spoke to him more solemnly than the hymns of man; how he remains there lost in contemplation, until thirst forces him to climb from rock to rock down to the. refreshing waters; and how he hears a voice singing, which makes his heart thrill with sweet emotion, and he then sees a young Georgian girl advancing with a pitcher on her head. Her beauty and the depth of her dark eyes trouble his senses so much that he recovers only when hearing the sound of the water as it slowly gushes into the vessel ; and then he sees her leave the fountain and regain a distant hut, from which the blue smoke curls upwards, and in the door of which she disappears. Then he falls asleep, and again in his dreams sees the young Georgian, and sleeps until the moon is high and the silence of night, broken only by the torrent, has fallen around. He beholds a light dying away in the distant hut, and would fain have gone thither; but he has only one aim, one wish, to reach his own country; and therefore he wanders away and soon loses himself in the thick wood; the darkness of the virgin forest envelops him. Climbing up a tree, he discovers nothing but wood, endless wood. Shivering and despairing, he throws himself on the ground, and a flood of bitter tears flows from his eyes; for, though with men he has always been too proud to show his sufferings, here he may weep without shame, for the forest is his only witness. And then, all of a sudden, a shadow passes rapidly, from the bushes two lights sparkle, and, bounding forth, the tiger stretches out its mighty limbs close to him, and lifts its wild eyes to the moon. He breaks a thick branch from a tree in preparation for combat, and suddenly feels, in the glow of his heart, that if free and in the land of his fathers, he would not have been the least of its heroes. Then follows a graphic description of the struggle, in which at last the tiger succumbs, but not without leaving deep wounds in the breast of his adversary. At the time he is not mindful of these wounds, and going on, finds himself with the dawn of morning out of the forest; but when he looks around, the country seems well known

- he has come back to his prison, and the sound of the conventbell tells him that in vain he has nourished the dream of liberty and fatherland. Thus the monks find him; and now his last request is to be carried out to the convent-garden, where two white-flowered acacias stand, where the grass grows thick, the air is fresh and balmy, and the sunbeams play cheerfully through the leaves; for there he can see the Caucasus, and he fancies it will send him a last farewell in the evening breeze. He will feel as though a friend stooped down to him to take his



it was,

hand and wipe the last drop from his brow, and whisper sweet words from home into his ear. And in these thoughts he wishes to lie down, and, cursing none, will go to rest.

Such a sketch cannot give even the most imperfect idea of the beauty of this poem, of its touching simplicity and realism, as well as the sublimity of many of the pictures. Here, more than in any of the other epic works, we behold the poet's own individuality revealing at last the secret of his soul's life, which had been ever concealed from the eyes of men. The story of the free-born mountain-boy, who longs to get away from the place of formal barren piety, to throw himself upon the warm breast of Nature, and join the active life of men in liberty, with its struggles and its affections, is obviously the story of genius, which, while longing to realise an existence full of truth and ideal beauty, is yet doomed to live in a corrupt and enslaved society, and at last, with broken wings, is destined to feel that the struggle of a single individual against the great social necessity is vain. But when this last hour of consciousness has come, Lermontoff seems to say that his spirit likewise will curse none, and go to rest reconciled; for he has at last realised that, just such as

his life was his individual life; and as a remarkable woman has said, “if we could understand all, we should pardon all.”

Beautiful also, and even preferred by many to this one, is another of Lermontoff's epic poems, Ismail Bey, in which unfortunately many gaps are left, in consequence of the rude excisions of the censor. Lermontoff speaks of these with disgust in some of his verses; and it certainly was one of the reasons why he himself published but such a small number of his poems, the greater part having only been printed after his death. The subject of Ismail Bey is, again, borrowed from life in the Caucasus, and also bears witness to his admiration of the poetry and beauiy of a nature and of races which have preserved their wild originality and grace, unspoiled by the touch of that civilisation which became for him synonymous with corruption. The character of Ismaïl Bey himself has perhaps a little too much of the poet's own individuality, of his sceptical and speculative turn of mind, for a hero of the uncivilised world; but the

a description of Sarah, the Leshgian girl, is not surpassed in any of Lord Byron's most picturesque feminine sketches.

As we cannot, however, enter into an analysis of all his poems, we select another of the larger epics of which to say a few words, as it possesses great beauty and is thoroughly original. It is called The Demon, and begins with describing, from a new point of view, the so-called spirit of evil, who has been painted, so often by poets of the greatest genius that we cannot deny him at least a poetical existence. Whilst Goethe's Mephisto


philes especially represents the spirit of boundless dissatisfaction with finite enjoyments,—the negative spirit which is so often allied to great intellectual powers, and which seems to stir them on to continual progress; whilst Byron's Lucifer, in Cain, shows us the stern metaphysical scepticism which plunges into the depths of existence, and asks for the ultimate reason ;-Lermontoff's demon shows us rather the despairing side of evil, which has not quite lost the sense of agony at its perpetual exile from all that is good. Neither Mephistophiles nor Lucifer ever descend from the heights of their cold and satirical contempt for the existing order of things to a repentant word, nor indulge one longing for the unconscious and undoubting quietude of a soul whose belief has never been shaken; but Lermontoff's demon, on the contrary, represents expressly the anguish of evil. Through all his contempt, through all his revolt, breaks forth a deep longing for that which he has lost. Evil is, after all, unbearable to him; it is so easy to accomplish; nowhere on earth does it find opposition, and not even the pleasure of conquest diminishes the satiety which he feels after his facile triumphs. While looking down upon the enchanting plains of Georgia, he beholds Tamara, the daughter of a prince of one of the tribes. It is the evening before her wedding, and she stands on the roof of her father's house, in the circle of her friends who are gathered about her; while the richest gifts of the East which have been bestowed upon her are strewn all around. Music and songs are heard, when Tamara at last rises, seizes the tambourine, and begins a dance which is not merely a wild incoherent exertion of the

limbs like modern dancing, but a symbolic poetry, an oriental language of the soul. The eyes second the movement of her body, their fire now hidden under the veil of their silken lashes, now streaming forth. The demon sees her, and an unspeakable passion thrills through him, the fetters fall from his frozen heart, he feels again the happiness of mortal love and virtue, and images drawn from the felicity of heaven, which he has forfeited, recur to his mind. In vain he struggles against them; neither can they be banished, nor can that happiness be called back again ; it is his torment that he cannot forget. Even God cannot give him forgetfulness; and could He do so, the demon would not accept it. Meantime the bridegroom rides through the mountains, with a richly-laden caravan; when a troop of mountaineers of another tribe overtake, rob, and murder them all. The horse, carrying the body of his dead master, arrives at the castle, and changes the songs of mirth into lamentations. Tamara is prostrated with grief; but when alone on her couch in the silence of night, she hears a voice whispering words of consolation, hope, and love,-a voice so sweet that it goes to


her very heart, inspiring her with a grander, a more sublime feeling than that of the past, and promising, whenever darkness spreads its veil over the Caucasus, to come and comfort her till morning. When the voice ceases, Tamara looks round and sees nothing ; but a consuming fire is kindled in her, and amid over

a whelming emotions she at last falls asleep; when she sees in her dreams a man of such supernatural beauty that she knows he cannot be a son of this earth, yet neither is it the form of an angel. It is a wonderful vague image, like a serene evening, neither darkness nor sunshine. From that time a strange pain takes possession of her heart, and she entreats her father to send her to a convent, wishing to end her life in pious retirement. But in vain does she seek refuge in the sacred walls, the fire that consumes her heart is not quenched, her thoughts wander from her prayers to the Mother of God to very different objects; she is lost to the beauty of nature, and absorbed in endless dreams, seeing only one image, hearing only one voice; her face brightens only when hope tells her that he will come and bestow the happiness he has promised. In the mean while the demon dares not approach the sacred retreat; but every night he wanders around the convent, and his sighs move the leaves of the trees as though the night-wind shook them, until one evening he sees Tamara sitting all alone at her window, and hears a song as wonderful as though it came from heaven itself, bringing back all the happiness of the past. The demon weeps; his old hatred and contempt seem gone, he feels a new life and a new happiness in the future. This hope, stronger than his doubt, induces him to enter the open window, and before him stands an angel, all surrounded with light, spreading his wings over Tamara as if to protect her; and looking at the demon with a glance of recognition and reproach, he asks him what he has to do here in the sanctuary of his love. Then jealousy and humiliation awaken the old passions in the demon's heart, and he replies that his is the right to be here, that Tamara has long since belonged to him. The angel, looking sadly at her, leaves the polluted spot; and now begins a conversation between Tamara and the demon, in which the latter gives her a terrible description of his torments,-a description which seems to flow from the depth of the poet's own heart, and opens for us an insight into the degradation of the society in which he lived. Neither Goethe, who lived in an artistic and intellectual atmosphere, nor Byron, who was the free son of a free country, and had to contend only with those evils which are more or less general in human society, has expressed half so powerfully the misery which attends the satiety of evil.

Tamara, irresistibly attracted and touched by this tale of

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