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In the dialogue with the Witch of the Alps, the Count speaks of the unhappy young lady as having been his own counterpart, and as having had the same lone thoughts and wanderings, and confesses that he loved and destroyed her;" that his heart had broken hers; that he had shed blood, but not hers; nevertheless, that "her blood was shed"—he "saw it-and could not staunch it."
In a subsequent scene we have the phantom of Astarte, the injured lady, produced to the view of Manfred. The spirit is conjured to speak to him, but nothing can be obtained from her, except that on the morrow the Count is to die. Some attempts are afterwards made by an old Abbot, to soften the obduracy of the Count; but neither the secret of his soul, nor any avowal of penitent feelings, escapes from his lips. The nature of his great crime is, however, somewhat further developed, in a conversation between two of the Count's dependants, on the terrace before the castle.
"HER. Come, be friendly;
Relate me some to while away our watch:
I've heard thee darkly speak of an event
Which happened hereabouts, by this same tower.
MANUEL. That was a night indeed; I do remember 'Twas twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening;-yon red cloud, which rests
On Eigher's pinnacle, so rested then,-
And watchings-her, whom of all earthly things
A spirit now arrives to summon the forfeited soul of Manfred away, his hour being come. The desolate man, with his usual haughtiness, defies the spirit, and denies his authority; but after a short dialogue, in which the old Abbot takes a very friendly, but ineffectual part, the man of blood, impurity, magic, and magnanimity, is seized with a rattling in his throat, and dies in good earnest, quite in the ordinary way, like any other gentleman. And thus ends this new deformed bantling of Lord Byron's muse, scarcely better than an abortion in moral form and structure, but nourished, and cradled, and rocked, as all this progeny have been, by the hand of a fostering genius, and the lullabies of melodious song. The mischief that lurks in all Lord Byron's productions is
this-they are lying representations of human nature; they bring qualities of a most contradictory kind into close alliance; and so shape them into seeming union as to confound sentiments, which, for the sake of sound morality and social security, should for ever be kept contrasted, and at polar extremities with respect to each other. Manfred is represented to have loved but one, and the heart of that one he cruelly broke; his very love, too, appears to have been of that sort which lies under a natural interdict. He also confesses himself to have been a man of crime and blood; and yet a certain air of native nobleness, a mysterious grandeur of character, an elevation far above ordinary humanity, all these qualities are made to throw a sort of brilliance around him, and to seem, like the sun-bow of the mountain cataract, the still and magnificent product of the conflict beneath it. These representations go beyond mere contradictoriness of character; they involve a confusion of principle, and operate very fatally and very diffusively in strengthening prejudices, which are at the bottom of our falsest estimations of men and things. In Lord Byron's own mind, we perceive this proneness to childishly erroneous impressions of human worth. The agents of a mild and regular government; those by whom the great machine of society is kept in repair, and peaceful limits imposed upon passion and ambition, or what may be called by some the privileges of genius, receive but little quarter from his muse, while the fate of a sanguinary tyrant, whose present restraint is the pledge of security and peace to the world, has been lamented in the third canto of the Child Harolde, with ludicrous sensibility.
It would be an idle parade of criticism to enter into the merits of this performance, as a specimen of dramatic composition. It has none of the properties of this kind of writing, but the division into scenes, and the conduct of the story by the means of dialogue. It affords, indeed, a pretty good ground for inferring the unfitness of the poet for this province of the art.
His peasant converses in the same language and sentiment as his nobleman; and to make up the complement of characters essential to the prosecution of the story, he throws in an old Abbot, whose province it is only to ask questions and offer advice: a couple of domestic servants, who talk together for the sake of the reader, and half a score of spirits and witches, distinguished only by their ordinal descriptions of first spirit and second spirit, first destiny and second destiny. One only character has absorbed the whole of Lord Byron's creative power. "The steady aspect of one clear large star," of demoniac influence, has fascinated his genius, and we perfectly despair of ever seeing the spell broken, and a natural, free, and wholesome exercise of those very superior talents which he unquestionably possesses.
The present poem is certainly not without specimens of those talents, of which few have been greater admirers than ourselves, and none have more feelingly lamented the waste and abuse. The following address of Manfred to the "Witch of the Alps," rising beneath the arch of the sun-beam of the torrent, is full of Lord Byron's descriptive vigour.
"MAN. Beautiful Spirit! with thy hair of light,
The charms of Earth's least-mortal daughters grow
Of purer elements; while the hues of youth,-
The blush of earth embracing with her heaven,-
The beauties of the sunbow which bends o'er thee.
The account which Manfred gives of himself, and his early addictions, it is impossible not to admire, notwithstanding it has so much of the mannerism of the
"MAN. Well, though it torture me, 'tis but the same;
My pang shall find a voice. From my youth upwards
My spirit walk'd not with the souls of men,
Nor look'd upon the earth with human eyes;
On the swift whirl of the new breaking wave
Of river-stream, or ocean, in their flow.
Such as, before me, did the Magi.-" (P. 33-35.)
The effect of the Coloseum and surrounding scene of storied ruins, in a starry night, is the passage most laboured, and perhaps most successfully so, in the poem, and it would be scarcely just towards Lord Byron not to give it a place.
"SCENE IV.-Interior of the Tower.
MAN. The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains.-Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn'd the language of another world.
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
And thou didst shine, thou rolling moon, upon
We trust we have done justice to this little poem, which, as a drama, or as a whole, we cannot praise; as a repetition of the old story of one of Lord Byron's pleasant fellows, full of crime, and yet full of conscious superiority, we cannot but condemn; but which, for its particular passages of poetical excellence, we consider as worthy of the fame of the author.
ART. VI.-A Physiological System of Nosology; with a corrected and simplified Nomenclature. By John Mason Good, F. R. S. &c. 8vo. pp. 566. Cox and Son. London, 1817.
It is not often that we carry our remarks into the regions of the healing art; but the present work has a claim upon our attention, as well from the sanction under which it appears before the world, being dedicated by permission (which permission is, we understand, never granted but upon examination of the work) to the royal college of physicians of London, as, from the extensive range it takes into the wider and more open tracks of physiology and general science.
"The main object of the present attempt is not so much to interfere with any existing system of nosology as to fill up a niche that still seems unoccupied in the great gallery of physiological study. It