« AnteriorContinuar »
of the commission of error, should superadd that of the punishment and the privations consequent upon it, still would remain inexplicable and incredible. That there is a true solution of the riddle, and that in our present state that solution is unattainable by us, are propositions which may be regarded as equally certain : meanwhile, as it is the province of the poet to attach himself to those ideas which exalt and ennoble humanity, let him be permitted to have conjectured the condition of that futurity towards which we are all impelled by an inextinguishable thirst for immortality. "Until better arguments can be produced than sophisms which disgrace the cause, this desire itself must remain the strongest and the only presumption that eternity is the inheritance of every thinking being.
(3) No hoary priests after that Patriarch (line 245).
The Greek Patriarch after having been compelled to fulminate an anathema against the insurgents was put to death by the Turks.
Fortunately the Greeks have been taught that they cannot buy security by degradation, and the Turks, though equally cruel, are less cunning than the smooth-faced tyrants of Europe. As to the anathema, his Holiness might as well have thrown his mitre at Mount Athos for any effect that it produced. The chiefs of the Greeks are almost all wen of comprehension and enlightened views on religion and politics.
(4) The freedman of a western poet chief [line 563).
A Greek who had been Lord Byron's servant commands the insurgents in Attica. This Greek, Lord
1 The lamentable break-down of syntax is of course attributable to the haste with which Shelley threw off his book and the lack of opportunity to see proofs of it. That Williams and Gisborne both passed the slip is astonishing. I do not venture to substitute superadding for should superadd, because Shelley would not improbably have remedied the error by changing the construction of the sentence, had he seen it in print. -ED.
Byron informs me, though a poet and an enthusiastic patriot, gave him rather the idea of a timid and unenterprising person. It appears that circumstances make men what they are, and that we all contain the germ of a degree of degradation or of greatness whose connexion with our character is determined by events.
(5) The Greeks expect a Saviour from the
West (line 598). It is reported that this Messiah had arrived at a seaport near Lacedæmon in an American brig. The association of names and ideas is irresistibly ludicrous, but the prevalence of such a rumour strongly marks the state of popular enthusiasm in Greece.
(6) The sound as of the assault of an Imperial
City (line 815). For the vision of Mahmud of the taking of Constantinople in 1453, see Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. xii. p. 223.
The manner of the invocation of the spirit of Mahomet the Second will be censured as over subtle. I could easily have made the Jew a regular conjuror, and the Phantom an ordinary ghost. I have preferred to represent the Jew as disclaiming all pretension, or even belief, in supernatural agency, and as tempting Mahmud to that state of mind in which ideas may be supposed to assume the force of sensations through the confusion of thought with the objects of thought, and the excess of passion animating the creations of imagination.
It is a sort of natural magic, susceptible of being exercised in a degree by any one who should have made himself master of the secret associations of another's thoughts.
(7) The Chorus (line 1060 et seq.). The final chorus is indistinct and obscure, as the event of the living drama whose arrival it foretells. Prophecies of wars, and rumours of wars, &c., may safely be made by poet or prophet in any age ; but to anticipate however darkly a period of regeneration and happiness is a more hazardous exercise of the faculty which bards possess or feign. It will remind the reader “magno nec proximus intervallo” of Isaiah and Virgil, whose ardent spirits, overleaping the actual reign of evil which we endure and bewail, already saw the possible and perhaps approaching state of society in which the ro lion shall lie down with the lamb," and “omnis feret omnia tellus.” Let these great names be my authority and my excuse.
(8) Saturn and Love their long repose shall
burst (line 1090]. Saturn and Love were among the deities of a real or imaginary state of innocence and happiness. All those who fell, or the Gods of Greece, Asia, and Egypt; the one who rose, or Jesus Christ, at whose appearance the idols of the Pagan World were amerced of their worship ; and the many unsubdued, or the monstrous objects of the idolatry of China, India, the Antarctic islands, and the native tribes of America, certainly have reigned over the understandings of men in conjunction or in succession, during periods in which all we know of evil has been in a state of portentous, and, until the revival of learning and the arts, perpetually increasing activity. The Grecian gods seem indeed to have been personally more innocent, although it cannot be said that, as far as temperance and chastity are concerned, they gave so edifying an example as their successor. The sublime human character of Jesus Christ was deformed by an imputed identification with a power, who tempted, betrayed, and punished the innocent beings who were called into existence by his sole will ; and for the period of a thousand years, the spirit of this most just, wise, and benevolent of men, has been propitiated with myriads of hecatombs of those who approached the nearest to his innocence and wisdom, sacrificed under every aggravation of atrocity and variety of torture. The horrors of the Mexican, the Peruvian, and the Indian superstitions are well known.
ᏢᎪᎡᎢ L. " . RE was a youth who, as with toil and
travel, į grown quite weak and grey before his
time; · any could the restless griefs unravel rich burned within him, withering up his
prime -od goading him, like fiends, from land to
land. it his the load of any secret crime,
r naught of ill his heart could understand, at pity and wild sorrow for the same ;this the thirst for glory or command
affled with blast of hope-consuming shame; 10 ur evil joys which fire the vulgar breast End quench in speedy smoke its feeble flame,
lad left within his soul their dark unrest: Vor what religion fables of the grave Feared he,-Philosophy's accepted guest.