Imágenes de páginas

The Deformed Transformed:



THIS production is founded partly on the story of a novel called "The Three Brothers 2," published many years ago, from which M. G. Lewis's "Wood Demon" was also taken, and partly on the "Faust" of the great Goethe. The present publication contains the two first Parts only, and the opening chorus of the third. The rest may, perhaps, appear hereafter.







Spirits, Soldiers, Citizens of Rome, Priests, Peasants, &c.

[This drama was begun at Pisa in 1821, but was not published till January, 1824. Mr. Medwin says,

"On my calling on Lord Byron one morning, he produced the Deformed Transformed.' Handing it to Shelley, he said Shelley, I have been writing a Faustish kind of drama tell me what you think of it.' After reading it attentively, Shelley returned it. 'Well,' said Lord B.,how do you like it?" 'Least,' replied he, of any thing I ever saw of yours. It is a bad imitation of Faust,' and besides, there are two entire lines of Southey's in it. Lord Byron changed colour immediately, and asked hastily, what lines?' Shelley repeated,

And water shall see thee,

And fear thee, and flee thee.' They are in the Curse of Kehama.' His Lordship instantly threw the poem into the fire. He seemed to feel no chagrin at seeing it consume-at least his countenance betrayed none, and his conversation became more gay and lively than usual. Whether it was hatred of Southey, or respect for Shelley's opinion, which made him commit the act that I considered a sort of suicide, was always doubtful to me. I was never more surprised than to see, two years afterwards, The Deformed Transformed' announced (supposing it to have perished at Pisa); but it seems that he must have had another copy of the manuscript, or that he had re-written it perhaps, without changing a word, except omitting the Kehama lines. His memory was remarkably retentive of his own writings. I be lieve he could have quoted almost every line he ever wrote."

Mrs. Shelley, whose copy of "The Deformed Transformed" lies before us, has written as follows on the fly-leaf:

"This had long been a favourite subject with Lord Byron. I think that he mentioned it also in Switzerland. I copied ithe sending a portion of it at a time, as it was finished, to me. At this time he had a great horror of its being said that he plagiarised, or that he studied for ideas, and wrote with difficulty. Thus he gave Shelley Aikin's edition of the British Poets, that it might not be found in his house by some English lounger, and reported home: thus, too, he always dated when he began and when he ended a poem, to prove hereafter how quickly it was done. I do not think that he altered a line in this drama after he had once written it down. He composed and corrected in his mind. I do not know how he meant to finish it; but he said himself, that the whole conduct of the story was already conceived." It was at this time that a brutal paragraph alluding to his lameness appeared, which he re

The Deformed Transformed.



A Forest.

Enter ARNOLD and his mother BERTHA.

Bert. OUT, hunchback!

Thou incubus! Thou nightmare!
The sole abortion !

Would that I had been so,

Arn. And never seen the light! Bert. I would so too! But as thou hast - hence, hence- and do thy best! That back of thine may bear its burthen; 'tis More high, if not so broad as that of others.

Arn. It bears its burthen; but, my heart! Will it Sustain that which you lay upon it, mother? I love, or, at the least, I loved you: nothing

I was born so, mother! 4 Out, Of seven sons,

to lest I should hear it first from some one else. No action of Lord Byron's life- scarce a line he has written - but was influenced by his personal defect."]

2 [Published in 1803, the work of a Joshua Pickersgill, jun.] 3 [A clever anonymous critic thus sarcastically opens his notice of this poem:-" The reader has no doubt often heard of the Devil and Dr. Faustus: this is but a new birth of the same unrighteous couple, who are christened, however, by the noble hierophant who presides over the infernal ceremony, Julius Cæsar and Count Arnold. The drama opens with a scene between the latter, who is to all appearance a well-disposed young man, of a very deformed person, and his mother: this good lady, with somewhat less maternal piety about her than adorns the mother-ape in the fable, turns her dutiful incubus of a son out of doors to gather wood. Arnold, upon this, proceeds incontinently to kill himself, by falling, after the manner of Brutus, on his wood-knife: he is, however, piously dissuaded from this guilty act, by whom does the reader think? A monk, perhaps, or a methodist preacher? no; - but by the Devil himself, in the shape of a tall black man, who rises, like an African water god, out of a fountain. To this stranger, after the exchange of a few sinister compliments, Arnold, without more ado, sells his soul, for the privilege of wearing the beautiful form of Achilles. In the midst of all this absurdity, we still, however, recognise the master-mind of our great poet: his bold and beautiful spirit flashes at intervals through the surrounding horrors, into which he has chosen to plunge after Goethe, his magnus Apollo."]

4 ["One of the few pages of Lord Byron's Memoranda,' which related to his early days, was where, in speaking of his own sensitiveness on the subject of his deformed foot, he described the feeling of horror and humiliation that came over him, when his mother, in one of her fits of passion, called him a lame brat!' It may be questioned, whether this drama was not indebted for its origin to this single recollection."- MOORE.

"Lord Byron's own mother, when in ill humour with him, used to make the deformity in his foot the subject of taunts and reproaches. She would (we quote from a letter written by one of her relations in Scotland) pass from passionate caresses to the repulsion of actual disgust; then devour him with kisses again, and swear his eyes were as beautiful as his father's. Quar. Rev.]

Save you, in nature, can love aught like me.
You nursed me-do not kill me!
Yes I nursed thee,
Because thou wert my first-born, and I knew not
If there would be another unlike thee,
That monstrous sport of nature.
And gather wood!

But get hence,

Arn. I will: but when I bring it, Speak to me kindly. Though my brothers are So beautiful and lusty, and as free

As the free chase they follow, do not spurn me; Our milk has been the same.

Bert. As is the hedgehog's, Which sucks at midnight from the wholesome dam Of the young bull, until the milkmaid finds The nipple next day sore and udder dry. 1 Call not thy brothers brethren! Call me not Mother; for if I brought thee forth, it was As foolish hens at times hatch vipers, by Sitting upon strange eggs. Out, urchin, out! [Exit BERTHA. Arn. (solus). Oh mother! She is gone, and I Her bidding; wearily but willingly [must do

I would fulfil it, could I only hope

A kind word in return. What shall I do?

[ARNOLD begins to cut wood: in doing this he
wounds one of his hands.

My labour for the day is over now.
Accursed be this blood that flows so fast;
For double curses will be my meed now
At home. What home? I have no home, no kin,
No kind-not made like other creatures, or
To share their sports or pleasures. Must I bleed too
Like them? Oh that each drop which falls to earth
Would rise a snake to sting them, as they have stung


[ocr errors]

Or that the devil, to whom they liken me,
Would aid his likeness! If I must partake
His form, why not his power? Is it because
I have not his will too? For one kind word
From her who bore me would still reconcile me
Even to this hateful aspect. Let me wash
The wound.

[ARNOLD goes to a spring, and stoops to wash his hand: he starts back.

They are right; and Nature's mirror shows me,
What she hath made me. I will not look on it
Again, and scarce dare think on't. Hideous wretch
That I am! The very waters mock me with
My horrid shadow-like a demon placed
Deep in the fountain to scare back the cattle
From drinking therein.
[He pauses.
And shall I live on,
A burden to the earth, myself, and shame
Unto what brought me into life! Thou blood,
Which flowest so freely from a scratch, let me
Try if thou wilt not in fuller stream
Pour forth my woes for ever with thyself
On earth, to which I will restore at once
This hateful compound of her atoms, and
Resolve back to her elements, and take
The shape of any reptile save myself,
And make a world for myriads of new worms!
This knife! now let me prove if it will sever
This wither'd slip of nature's nightshade- my

[This is now generally believed to be a vulgar error; the smallness of the animal's mouth rendering it incapable of the

Vile form -from the creation, as it hath The green bough from the forest.

[ARNOLD places the knife in the ground, with the point upwards.

Now 't is set,

And I can fall upon it. Yet one glance
On the fair day, which sees no foul thing like
Myself, and the sweet sun which warm'd me, but
In vain. The birds-how joyously they sing!
So let them, for I would not be lamented:
But let their merriest notes be Arnold's knell;
The fallen leaves my monument; the murmur
Of the near fountain my sole elegy.
Now, knife, stand firmly, as I fain would fall!

[As he rushes to throw himself upon the knife, his
eye is suddenly caught by the fountain, which
seems in motion.

The fountain moves without a wind: but shall
The ripple of a spring change my resolve?
No. Yet it moves again! The waters stir,
Not as with air, but by some subterrane
And rocking power of the internal world.
What's here? A mist! No more?

[A cloud comes from the fountain. He stands
gazing upon it; it is dispelled, and a tall
black man comes towards him.

What would you? Speak!

Spirit or man?
Say both in one?

As man is both, why not

Your form is man's, and yet

You may be devil.

So many men are that
Which is so call'd or thought, that you may add me
To which you please, without much wrong to either.
But come you wish to kill yourself; -pursue
Your purpose.


You have interrupted me.

Stran. What is that resolution which can e'er Be interrupted? If I be the devil

You deem, a single moment would have made you

Mine, and for ever, by your suicide;

And yet my coming saves you.

I said not
You were the demon, but that your approach
Was like one.

Unless you keep company
With him (and you seem scarce used to such high
Society) you can't tell how he approaches;
And for his aspect, look upon the fountain,
And then on me, and judge which of us twain
Look likest what the boors believe to be
Their cloven-footed terror.


Do you dare you To taunt me with my born deformity ? Strun. Were I to taunt a buffalo with this Cloven foot of thine, or the swift dromedary With thy sublime of humps, the animals Would revel in the complimer.t. And yet Both beings are more swift, more strong, more mighty In action and endurance than thyself,

And all the fierce and fair of the same kind

With thee. Thy form is natural: t'was only
Nature's mistaken largess to bestow
The gifts which are of others upon man.

mischief laid to its charge. For an amusing controversy on the subject, see Gent. Mag. vols. lxxx. and ixxxi.]

Arn. Give me the strength then of the buffalo's

When he spurs high the dust, beholding his
Near enemy; or let me have the long
And patient swiftness of the desert-ship,
The helmless dromedary!—and I'll bear
Thy fiendish sarcasm with a saintly patience.
Stran. I will.

Arn. (with surprise). Thou canst ?

Perhaps. Would you aught else?
Arn. Thou mockest me.
Not I. Why should I mock
What all are mocking? That's poor sport, methinks.
To talk to thee in human language (for

Thou canst not yet speak mine), the forester
Hunts not the wretched coney, but the boar,
Or wolf, or lion, leaving paltry game

To petty burghers, who leave once a year
Their walls, to fill their household caldrons with
Such scullion prey. The meanest gibe at thec, -
Now I can mock the mightiest.


Then waste not

[blocks in formation]

A little of your blood.
For what?
Stran. To mingle with the magic of the waters,
And make the charm effective.

This is a well-known German superstition - a gigantic shadow produced by reflection on the Brocken. [The Brocken is the name of the lottiest of the Hartz mountains, a picturesque range which lies in the kingdom of Hanover. From

[blocks in formation]


Arn. What do I see?


[Various Phantoms arise from the waters, and pass in succession before the Stranger and


No; I will not.
I must not compromise my soul.
What soul,
Worth naming so, would dwell in such a carcass ?
Arn. 'Tis an aspiring one, whate'er the tene-
In which it is mislodged. But name your compact;
Must it be sign'd in blood?

Not in your own.

Arn. Whose blood then?
We will talk of that hereafter.
But I'll be moderate with you, for I see
Great things within you. You shall have no bond
But your own will, no contract save your deeds.

Are you content?

I take thee at thy word.
Stran. Now then!


turns to ARNOLD.

[The Stranger approaches the fountain, and Be, that the man who shook the
And left no footstep?
There you err. His substance
Left graves enough, and woes enough, and fame
More than enough to track his memory;
But for his shadow, 'tis no more than yours,

The black-eyed Roman, with
The eagle's beak between those eyes which ne'er
Beheld a conqueror, or look'd along

The land he made not Rome's, while Rome became
His, and all theirs who heir'd his very name.

Arn. The phantom's bald; my quest is beauty.
Could I
Inherit but his fame with his defects!


Stran. His brow was girt with laurels more than
You see his aspect-choose it, or reject.

I can but promise you his form his fame
Must be long sought and fought for.

I will fight too,
But not as a mock Cæsar. Let him pass;
His aspect may be fair, but suits me not.

Stran. Then you are far more difficult to please
Than Cato's sister, or than Brutus's mother,
Or Cleopatra at sixteen-an age

When love is not less in the eye than heart.
But be it so! Shadow, pass on!

[The Phantom of Julius Cæsar disappears.
And can it
earth is gone,

the earliest periods of authentic history, the Brocken has been the seat of the marvellous. For a description of the pheno menon alluded to by Lord Byron, see Sir David Brewster's "Natural Magic," p. 128.]

[blocks in formation]

Stran. Be air, thou hemlock-drinker! [The shadow of Socrates disappears: another rises. Arn. What's here whose broad brow and whose curly beard

And manly aspect look like Hercules, 3
Save that his jocund eye hath more of Bacchus
Than the sad purger of the infernal world,
Leaning dejected on his club of conquest,
As if he knew the worthlessness of those
For whom he had fought.

It was the man who lost
The ancient world for love.
I cannot blame him,
Since I have risk'd my soul because I find not
That which he exchanged the earth for.

Stran. • Since so far You seem congenial, will you wear his features? Arn. No. As you leave me choice, I am difficult, If but to see the heroes I should ne'er Have seen else on this side of the dim shore Whence they float back before us.

Hence, triumvir!

Stran. Thy Cleopatra's waiting. [The shade of Anthony disappears: another rises.

1 [In one of Lord Byron's MS. Diaries we find the following passage: " Alcibiades is said to have been successful in all his battles' but what battles? Name them! If you mention Cæsar, or Hannibal, or Napoleon, you at once rush upon Pharsalia, Munda, Alesia, Cannæ, Thrasymene, Trebia, Lodi, Marengo, Jena, Austerlitz, Friedland, Wagram, Moskwa: but it is less easy to pitch upon the victories of Alcibiades ; though they may be named too, though not so readily as the Leuctra and Mantina of Epaminondas, the Marathon of Miltiades, the Salamis of Themistocles, and the Thermopyla of Leonidas. Yet, upon the whole, it may be doubted, whether there be a name of antiquity which comes down with such a general charm as that of Alcibiades. Why? cannot answer. Who can?"]

Who is this?
Who truly looketh like a demigod,
Blooming and bright, with golden hair, and stature,
If not more high than mortal, yet immortal

In all that nameless bearing of his limbs,
Which he wears as the sun his rays-a something
Which shines from him, and yet is but the flashing
Emanation of a thing more glorious still.

Was he e'er human only ? +

Let the earth speak,
If there be atoms of him left, or even

Of the more solid gold that form'd his urn.
Arn. Who was this glory of mankind?

The shame Of Greece in peace, her thunderbolt in warDemetrius the Macedonian, and

Taker of cities.


Yet one shadow more. Stran. (addressing the shadow). Get thee to Lamia's lap!

another rises.

[The shade of Demetrius Poliorcetes vanishes : I'll fit you still, Fear not, my hunchback: if the shadows of That which existed please not your nice taste, I'll animate the ideal marble, till

Your soul be reconciled to her new garment.

Arn. Content! I will fix here. Stran. I must commend Your choice. The godlike son of the sea-goddess, The unshorn boy of Peleus, with his locks As beautiful and clear as the amber waves Of rich Pactolus, roll'd o'er sands of gold, Soften'd by intervening crystal, and Rippled like flowing waters by the wind, All vow'd to Sperchius as they were-behold them! And him--as he stood by Polixena, With sanction'd and with soften'd love, before The altar, gazing on his Trojan bride, With some remorse within for Hector slain And Priam weeping, mingled with deep passion For the sweet downcast virgin, whose young hand Trembled in his who slew her brother. So He stood i' the temple! Look upon him as Greece look'd her last upon her best, the instant Ere Paris' arrow flew.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

["The outside of Socrates was that of a satyr and buffoon, king."- PLUTARCH.]

Come! Be quick!

As a youthful beauty

but his soul was all virtue, and from within him came such divine and pathetic things, as pierced the heart, and drew tears from the hearers." PLATO.]

3 ["His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck

A sun and moon; which kept their course, and lighted
The little O, the earth.

His legs bestrid the ocean: his rear'd arm Crested the world: his voice was propertied As all the tuned spheres," &c.— SHAKSPEARE.] 4["The beauty and mien of Demetrius Poliorcetes were so inimitable, that no statuary or painter could hit off a likeness. His countenance had a mixture of grace and dignity, and was at once amiable and awful, and the unsubdued and cager air of youth was blended with the majesty of the hero and the

Before her glass. You both see what is not,
But dream it is what must be.

Must I wait?

Stran. No; that were a pity. But a word or two: His stature is twelve cubits; would you so far Outstep these times, and be a Titan? Or (To talk canonically) wax a son

Of Anak?

Why not?



Glorious ambition!

I love thee most in dwarfs ! A mortal of
Philistine stature would have gladly pared
His own Goliath down to a slight David:
But thou, my manikin, wouldst soar a show
Rather than hero. Thou shalt be indulged,
If such be thy desire; and yet, by being
A little less removed from present men
In figure, thou canst sway them more; for all
Would rise against thee now, as if to hunt
A new-found mammoth; and their cursed engines,
Their culverins, and so forth, would find way
Through our friend's armour there, with greater case
Than the adulterer's arrow through his heel,
Which Thetis had forgotten to baptize
In Styx.

Arn. Then let it be as thou deem'st best. [seest, Stran. Thou shalt be beauteous as the thing thou And strong as what it was, and


I ask not

For valour, since deformity is daring. 1
It is its essence to o'ertake mankind
By heart and soul, and make itself the equal —
Ay, the superior of the rest. There is
A spur in its halt movements, to become
All that the others cannot, in such things
As still are free to both, to compensate
For stepdame Nature's avarice at first.

They woo with fearless deeds the smiles of fortune,
And oft, like Timour the lame Tartar, win them. 2
Stran. Well spoken! And thou doubtless wilt

Form'd as thou art. I may dismiss the mould Of shadow, which must turn to flesh, to incase This daring soul, which could achieve no less Without it.

Arn. Had no power presented me The possibility of change, I would Have done the best which spirit may to make Its way with all deformity's dull, deadly, Discouraging weight upon me, like a mountain, In feeling, on my heart as on my shouldersAn hateful and unsightly molehill, to The eyes of happier man. I would have look'd On beauty in that sex which is the type Of all we know or dream of beautiful Beyond the world they brighten, with a sighNot of love, but despair; nor sought to win, Though to a heart all love, what could not love me

!["Whosoever," says Lord Bacon, " hath any thing fixed in his person that doth induce contempt, hath also a perpetual spur in himself to rescue and deliver himself from scorn; therefore, all deformed persons are extreme bold; first, as in their own defence, as being exposed to scorn, but in process of time by a general habit: also it stirreth in them industry, and especially of this kind, to watch and observe the weakness of others, that they may have somewhat to repay. Again, in their superiors, it quencheth jealousy towards them, as persons that they think they may at pleasure despise: and it layeth their competitors and emulators asleep, as never believing they should be in possibility of advancement till they

In turn, because of this vile crooked clog,
Which makes me lonely. Nay, I could have borne
It all, had not my mother spurn'd me from her.
The she-bear licks her cubs into a sort

Of shape;-my dam beheld my shape was hopeless.
Had she exposed me, like the Spartan, ere
I knew the passionate part of life, I had
Been a clod of the valley,-happier nothing
Than what I am. But even thus, the lowest,
Ugliest, and meanest of mankind, what courage
And perseverance could have done, perchance
Had made me something—as it has made heroes
Of the same mould as mine. You lately saw me
Master of my own life, and quick to quit it;
And he who is so is the master of
Whatever dreads to die.

Decide between
What you have been, or will be.
I have done so.
You have open'd brighter prospects to my eyes,
And sweeter to my heart. As I am now,

I might be fear'd, admired, respected, loved
Of all save those next to me, of whom I
Would be beloved. As thou showest me
A choice of forms, I take the one I view.
Haste! haste!

And what shall I wear?


Surely, he
Who can command all forms will choose the highest,
Something superior even to that which was
Pelides now before us. Perhaps his

Who slew him, that of Paris: or-still higher-
The poet's god, clothed in such limbs as are
Themselves a poetry.


Less will content me;

Your aspect is

For I, too, love a change.
Dusky, but not uncomely.

If I chose,

I might be whiter; but I have a penchant
For black-it is so honest, and besides

Can neither blush with shame nor pale with fear;
But I have worn it long enough of late,
And now I'll take your figure.


Arn. Stran. Yes. You Shall change with Thetis' son, and I with Bertha, Your mother's offspring. People have their tastes: You have yours - I mine.

[blocks in formation]

2 ["Lord Byron's chief incentive, when a boy, to distinction, was that mark of deformity, by an acute sense of which he was first stung into the ambition of being great. In one of his letters to Mr. Hunt, he declares it to be his own opinion that an addiction to poetry is very generally the result of an uneasy mind in an uneasy body; disease or deformity,' he adds, have been the attendants of many of our best: Collins mad-Chatterton. I think, mad- Cowper mad- l'ope crooked-Milton blind,' &c. &c." - MOORE]

« AnteriorContinuar »