Imágenes de páginas

Le sun

acquaintance with Mr. Townsend, a gentleman of the for a moment upheld their dogmatic nonsense of theo phi law, who was with me on business in Venice three lanthropy. The church of England, if overthrown, will years ago, for the purpose of obtaining any defama- | be swept away by the sectarians, and not by the sceptics. tory particulars of my life from this occasional visitor." People are too wise, too well-informed, too certain of Mr. Townsend is welcome to say what he knows. I men- their own immense importance in the realms of space, tion these particulars merely to show the world in gen-ever to submit to the impiety of doubt. There may be a eral what the literary lower world contains, and their few such diffident speculators, like water in the way of setting to work. Another charge made, I am hearn of human reason, but they are very few, and their told, in the "Literary Gazette" is, that I wrote the notes opinions, without enthusiasm or appeal to th, passions, to "Queen Mab;" a work which I never saw till some can never gain proselytes-unless, indeed, they are time after its publication, and which I recollect showing persecuted: that, to be sure, will increase any thing. to Mr. Sotheby as a poem of great power and imagi- Mr. S., with a cowardly ferocity, exults over the annation. I never wrote a line of the notes, nor ever saw ticipated "death-bed repentance" of the objects of his them except in their published form. No one knows dislike; and indulges himself in a pleasant “ Vision of better than their real author, that his opinions and Judgment," in prose as well as verse, full of impious mine differ materially upon the metaphysical portion impudence. What Mr. S.'s sensations or ours may be of that work; though, in common with all who are not blinded by baseness and bigotry, I highly admire the poetry of that and his other publications.

in the awful moment of leaving this state of existence, neither he nor we can pretend to decide. In common, I presume, with most men of any reflection, I have not Mr. Southey, too, in his pious preface to a poem whose waited for a "death-bed" to repent of many of my blasphemy is as harmless as the sedition of Wat Tyler, actions, notwithstanding the "diabolical pride" which because it is equally absurd with that sincere production, this pitiful renegado in his rancour would impute to calls upon the "legislature to look to it," as the tolera- those who scorn him. Whether, upon the whole, the tion of such writings led to the French Revolution: not good or evil of my deeds may preponderate, is not for such writings as Wat Tyler, but as those of the "Satanic me to ascertain; but, as my means and opportunities School." This is not true, and Mr. Southey knows it to be have been greater, I shall limit my present defence to an not true. Every French writer of any freedom was perse-assertion (easily proved, if necessary) that I, "in my de cuted; Voltaire and Rousseau were exiles, Marmontel gree," have done more real good in any one given year, and Diderot were sent to the Bastile, and a perpetual war since I was twenty, than Mr. Southey in the whole was waged with the whole class by the existing despotism. course of his shifting and turncoat existence. There are In the next place, the French Revolution was not occa-several actions to which I can look back with an honest sioned by any writings whatsoever, but must have occur- pride, not to be damped by the calumnies of a hireling. red had no such writers ever existed. It is the fashion to There are others to which I recur with sorrow and reattribute every thing to the French Revolution, and the pontance; but the only act of my life of which Mr. French Revolution to every thing but its real cause. Southey can have any real knowledge, as it was one That cause is obvious-the government exacted too which brought me in contact with a near connexion of much, and the people could neither give nor bear more. his own, did no dishonour to that connexion nor to me. Without this, the Encyclopedists might have written I am not ignorant of Mr. Southey's calumnies on a diftheir fingers off without the occurrence of a single alter-ferent occasion, knowing them to be such, which he ation. And the English Revolution—(the first, I mean) scattered abroad, on his return from Switzerland, against what was it occasioned by? The Puritans were surely me and others: they have done him no good in this as pious and moral as Wesley or his biographer? Acts-world; and, if his creed be the right one, they will do acts on the part of government, and not writings against them, have caused the past convulsions, and are tending to the future.

I look upon such as inevitable, though no revolutionist: I wish to see the English constitution restored, and not destroyed. Born an aristocrat, and naturally one by temper, with the greater part of my present property in the funds, what have I to gain by a revolution? Perhaps I have more to lose in every way than Mr. Southey, with all his places and presents for panegyrics and abuse into the bargain. But that a revolution is inevitable, I repeat. The government may exult over the repression of petty tumults; these are but the receding waves repulsed and broken for a moment on the shore, while the great tide is still rolling on and gaining ground with every breaker. Mr. Southey accuses us of attacking the religion of the country; and is he abetting it by writing lives of Wesley? One mode of worship is merely destroyed by another. There never was, nor ever will be, a country without a religion. We shall be told of France again: but it was only Paris and a frantic party, which

him less in the next. What his "death-bed" may be, it is not my province to predicate: let him settle it with his Maker, as I must do with mine. There is something at once ludicrous and blasphemous in this arrogant serbbler of all works sitting down to deal damnation and destruction upon his fellow-creatures, with Wat Tyler, the Apotheosis of George the Third, and the Elegy on Martin the regicide, all shuffled together in his writing-desk. One of his consolations appears to be a Latin note from a work of a Mr. Landor, the author of “ Gebir,” whose friendship for Robert Southey will, it seems, "be an honour to him when the ephemeral disputes and ephemeral reputations of the day are forgotten." I for one neither envy him "the friendship," nor the glory in reversion which is to accrue from it, like Mr. Thelusson's fortune in the third and fourth generation.— This friendship will probably be as memorable as his own epics, which (as I quoted to him ten or twelve years ago in English Bards) Porson said "would be remem bered when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, and not till then." For the present, I leave him.



Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.-Gen. iii. 1.





Old Testament. For a reason for this ex raordinary omission, he may consult "Warburton's Divine Legation;" 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 any thing of the kind, but merely to the Serpent in his serpentine capacity.

THE following scenes are intitled "a Mystery," in conformity with the ancient title annexed to dramas upon similar subjects, which were styled "Mysteries," or "Moralities." 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 Note. The reader will perceive that the author has reader will recollect that the book of Genesis does not partly adopted in this poem the notion of Cuvier, that state that Eve was tempted by a demon, but by "the the world had been destroyed several times before the Serpent;" and that only because he was "the most creation of man. This speculation, derived from the subtil of all the beasts of the field." Whatever interpre- different strata and the bones of enormous and unlation the Rabbins and the Fathers may have put upon known animals found in them, is not contrary to the thus, I must take the words as I find them, and reply Mosaic account, but rather confirms it; as no human with Bishop Watson upon similar occasions, when the bones have yet been discovered in those strata, alFathers were quoted to him, as Moderator in the Schools though those of many known animals are found near of Cambridge, "Behold the Book!"-holding up the the remains of the unknown. The assertion of Lucifer, Scripture. It is to be recollected that my present sub- that the Pre-Adamite world was also peopled by rational ject has nothing to do with the New Testament, to beings much more intelligent than man, and propor tionably powerful to the mammoth, etc., etc., is, of course, a poetical fiction, to help him to make out his case.

which no reference can be here made without anachronism. 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 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.

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

I ought to add, that there is a "Tramelogedia" of Alfieri, called "Abel."—I have never read that nor any other of the posthumous works of the writer, except

his life.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

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? or,
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, "'t was 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 angels,
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?

If I shrink not from these, the fire-arm'd 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

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

I am:-and thou, with all thy might, what art thou!


One who aspired to be what made thee, and Would not have made thee what thou art.


Thou look'st almost a god; and



I am none: And having fail'd to be one, would be nought Save what I am. He conquer'd; let him reign: Who?



Thy sire's Maker, and the earth's.


And heaven s

And all that in them is. So I have heard His seraphs sing; and so my father saith.


They say what they must sing and say, on pain
Of being that which I am-and thou art-
Of spirits and of men.


And what is that? LUCIFER.

Souls who dare use their immortality-
Souls who dare look the Omnipotent tyrant in
His everlasting face, and tell him, that

His evil is not good! If he has made.

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.

[blocks in formation]

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 me

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 mind
Which made her thirst for knowledge at the risk
Of an eternal curse; my brother is
A watching shepherd boy, who offers up
The firstlings of the flock to him who bids
The earth yield nothing to us without sweat
My sister Zillah sings an earlier hymn
Than the bird's matins; and my Adah, my
Own and beloved, she too understands not
The mind which overwhelms me: never till
Now met I aught to sympathize with me.
Jis well-I rather would consort with spirits.



[blocks in formation]

Yourselves, in your resistance. Nothing can
Quench the mind, if the mind will be itself
And centre of surrounding things-'t is made
To sway.


But didst thou tempt my parents?


Poor clay! what should I tempt them for, or how?


They say the serpent was a spirit.


Saith that? It is not written so on high:
The proud One will not so far falsify,
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; 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


But the thing had a demon?


He but woke one
In those he spake to with his forky tongue.
I tell thee that the serpent was no more
Than a mere serpent: ask the cherubim
Who guard the tempting tree. When thousand ages
Have roll'd o'er your dead ashes and your seed's,
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. Thy
Fond parents listen'd 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.


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.

« AnteriorContinuar »