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P. 168, col. 1, 1. 20.
Milan was the centre of the resistance of the Lombard league against the Austrian tyrant. Frederick Barbarossa burnt the city to the ground, but liberty lived in its ashes, and it rose like an exhalation from its ruin.—See Sismondi's "Histoires ties Repubtiques Italiennes" a book which has done much towards awakening the Italians to an imitation of their great ancestors.
P. 1G9, col. 2, 1. 1.
The popular notions of Christianity are represented in this chorus as true in their relation to the worship they superseded, and that which in all probability they will supersede, without considering their merits in a relation more universal. The first stanza contrasts the immortality of the living and thinking beings which inhabit the planets, and, to use a common and inadequate phrase, clothe themselves in matter, with the transience of the noblest manifestations of the external world.
The concluding verses indicate a progressive state of more or less exalted existence, according to the degree of perfection which every distinct intelligence may have attained. Let it not be supposed that I mean to dogmatize upon a subject concerning which, all men are equally ignorant, or that I think the Gordian knot of the origin of evil can be disentangled by that or any similar assertions. The received hypothesis of a Being resembling men in the moral attributes of his nature, having called us out of non-existence, and after inflicting on us the misery 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 the 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 he produced than sophisms which disgrace the cause, this desire itself muBt remain the strongest and the only presumption that eternity is the inheritance of every thinking being.
P. 169, col. 2, 1. Al.
The Greek Patriarch, after having been compelled to fulminate an anathema against the insurgents, was put to death by tue Turks.
Fortunately the Greeks have been taught that they cannot buy security by degradation, and the Turks. though equally cruel, are leas cunning than the smoothfaced 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 men of comprehension and enlightened views on religion and politics.
P. 172, col. 2,1.30.
The freeman of a western poet ckitf.
A Greek who had been Lord Byron's servant commands the insurgents in Attica. This Greek, Lord 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 greatness, whose connexion with our character is determined by events.
P. 173, col. 1, L 10.
The Greeks expect a Saviour from ths vest.
It is reported that this Messiah had arrived at a seaport near Lacedemon 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.
P. 175, col 1, L ia
For the vision of Mahmud of the taking of Constantinople in 1445, see Gibbon's Decline and Fail of the Roman Empire, vol. xii. p. 223.
The manner of the invocation of the spirit of Mahomet the Second will be censured as overdrawn. I could easily have made the Jew a regular conjuror, and the Phantom an ordinary ghost. 1 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 sensation, through the confusion of thought, with the objects of thought, and excess of passion animating the creations of the 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.
P. 177, col- 3> 1. .r'.
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 nee 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 "lion shall lie down with the lamb," and "omnis fcret omnia tellus." Let these great names be my authority and excuse.
P. 177, col. , 1. 35.
Saturn and Love their long repose.
Saturn and Love were among the deities of a real or imaginary state of innocence and happiness. All those vhofell, or the Gods of Greece, Asia, and Egypt;
the One, who rose, or Jesus Christ, at whoso appearance the idols of the Pagan world were amerced of their worship; and the many unsubduedt0Ttln; monstrous objects of the idolatry of China, India, and 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 tho 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.
NOTE ON HELLAS. BY THE EDITOR.
The south of Europe was in a state of great political excitement at the beginning of the year 1821. The Spanish Revolution had been a signal to Italy—secret societies were formed—and when Naples rose to declare the Constitution, the call was responded to from Brundusium to the foot of the Alps. To crush these attempts to obtain liberty, early in 1821, the Austrians poured their armies into the Peninsula: at first their coming rather seemed to add energy and resolution to a people long enslaved. The Piedmontese asserted their freedom ; Genoa threw off the yoke of the King of Sardinia; and, as if in playful imitation, the people of the little state of Massa and Carrara gave the conge to their sovereign and set up a republic
Tuscany alone was perfectly tranquil. It was said, that the Austrian minister presented a list of sixty Carbonari to the grand-duke, urging their imprisonment ; and the grand-duke replied, "I do not know whether these sixty men are Carbonari, but I know if I imprison them, I shall directly have sixty thousand start up." But though the Tuscans had no desire to disturb the paternal government, beneath whose shelter they slumbered, they regarded the progress of the various Italian revolutions with intense interest, and hatred for the Austrian was warm in every
bosom. But they had slender hopes ; they knew that the Neapolitans would offer no fit resistance to the regular German troops, and that the overthrow of the Constitution in Naples would act as a decisive blow against all struggles for liberty in Italy.
We have seen the rise and progress of reform. But the Holy Alliance was alive and active in those days, and few could dream of the peaceful triumph of liberty. It seemed then that the armed assertion of freedom in the south of Europe was the only hope of the liberals, as, if it prevailed, the nations of the north would imitate the example. Happily the reverse has proved the fact. The countries accustomed to the exercise of the privileges of freemen, to a limited extent, have extended, and are extending these limits. Freedom and knowledge have now a chance of proceeding hand in hand; and if it continue thus, we may hope for the durability of both. Then, as I have said, in 1821, Shelley, as well as every other lover of liberty, looked upon the struggles in Spain and Italy as decisive of the destinies of the world, probably for centuries to come. The interest he took in the progress of affairs was intense. When Genoa declared itself free, his hopes were at their highest. Day after day, he read the bulletins of the Austrian army, and sought eagerly to gather tokens of its defeat. He heard of the revolt of Genoa with emotions of transport. His whole heart and soul were in the triumph of their cause. We were living at Pisa at that time ; and several well-informed Italians, at the head of whom we may place the celebrated Vacca, were accustomed to seek for sympathy in their hopes from Shelley: they did not find such for the despair they too generally experienced, founded on contempt for their southern countrymen.
While the fate of the progress of the Austrian armies then invading Naples was yet in suspense, the news of another revolution filled him with exultation. We had formed the acquaintance at Pisa of several Constantinopolitan Greeks, of the family of Prince Caradja, formerly Hospodar of Wallachia, who, hearing that the bowstring, the accustomed finale of his viceroyalty, was on the road to him, escaped with his treasures, and took up his abode in Tuscany. Among these was the gentleman to whom the drama of Hellas is dedicated. Prince Mavrocordato waB warmed by those aspirations for the independence of his country, which filled the hearts of many of his countrymen. He often intimated the possibility of an insurrection in Greece ; but we had no idea of its being so near at hand, when, on the 1st of April, 1821, he called on Shelley ; bringing the proclamation of his cousin Prince Ipsilanti, and, radiant with exultation and delight, declared that henceforth Greece would be free.
Shelley had hymned the dawn of liberty in Spain and Naples, in two odes, dictated by the warmest enthusiasm ;—he felt himself naturally impelled to decorate with poetry the uprise of the descendants of that people, whose works he regarded with deep admiration; and to adopt the vaticinatory character in prophesying their success. "Hellas" was written in a moment of enthusiasm. It is curious to remark how well he overcomes the difficulty of forming a drama out of such scant materials. His prophecies, indeed, came true in
their general, not their particular purport- He did not foresee the death of Lord Londonderry, which was to be the epoch of a change in English politics, particularly as regarded foreign affairs; nor that the navy of his country would fight for instead of against the Greeks; and by the battle of Navarino secure their enfranchisement from the Turks. Almost against reason, as it appeared to him, he resolved to believe that Greece would prove triumphant; and in this spirit, auguring I ultimate good, yet grieving over the vicissitudes to be endured in the interval, he composed his drama.
The chronological order to be observed in the arrangement of the remaining poems, is interrupted here, that his dramas may follow each other consecutively. "Hellas" was among the last of his compositions, and is among the most beautiful. The choruses are singularly imaginative, and melodious in their versification. There are some stanzas that beautifully exemplify Shelley's peculiar style; as, for instance, the assertion of the intellectual empire which must be for ever the inheritance of the country of Homer, Sophocles, and Plato:
But Greece and her foundations are
And again, that philosophical truth, felicitously imaged forth—
Hevenge and wrong bring forth their kind.
The conclusion of the last chorus is among the most beautiful of his lyrics; the imagery is distinct and majestic; the prophecy, such as poets love to dwell upon, the regeneration of mankind— and that regeneration reflecting back splendour on the foregone time, from which it inherits so much of intellectual wealth, and memory of past virtuous deeds, as must render the possession o( happiness and peace of tenfold value.
END OF UELLAS.
SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT.
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DORIC.
Choose Reform or Civil War,
When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs,
This Tragedy is one of a triad, or system of three Plays, (an arrangement according to which the Greeks were accustomed to connect their Dramatic representations,) elucidating the wonderful and appalling fortunes of the Swixlfoot dyuaBty. It was evidently written by some learned Theban, and from its characteristic dulness, apparently before the duties on the importation of Attic salt had been repealed by the Bo?otarchs. The tenderness with which he beats the Pigs proves him to have been a sus Bteotue; possibly Epicuri de grege porcus; for, as the poet observes,
"A fellow feeling makes us wond'rous kind."
No liberty has been taken with the translation of this remarkable piece of antiquity, except the suppressing a seditious and blasphemous chorus of the Pigs and Bulls at the last act. The word Hoydipouse, (or more properly (Edipus,) has been rendered literally Swellkoot, without its having been conceived necessary to determine whether a swelling of the bind or the fore feet of the Swinish Monarch is particularly indicated.
Should the remaining portions of this Tragedy be found, entitled, "Stcellfoot in Angaria" and M Chariti" the Translator might be tempted to give them to the reading Public.
A magnificent Temple, built of thigh-bones and death'sheads, and tiled with scalps. Over the Altar the statu? of Famine, veiled: a number 0/'boars, sows, andsuckingpigs, crowned with thistle, shamrock, and oak, sitting on the steps, and clinging round the Altar of the Temple.
Enter Swillfoot, in his royal robes, without perceiving (Ac Pigs.
Thou supreme Goddess! by whose power divine These graceful limbs are clothed in proud array
\Ue contemplates himself with satis/action. Of gold and purple, and this kingly paunch Swells like a sail before a favouring breeze, And these most sacred nether promontories Lie satisfied with layers of fat; and these Boeotian cheeks, like Egypt's pyramid, (Nor with less toil were their foundations laid,*) Sustain the cone of my untroubled brain, That point, the emblem of a pointless nothing! Thou to whom Kings and laurelled Emperors, Radical-butchers, Paper-money-millera, Bishops and deacons, and the entire army Of those fat martyrs to the persecution Of stifling turtle-soup, and brandy-devils, Offer their secret vows! Thou plenteous Ceres Of their Eleusis, hail!
THE SWINE. Eigh! eigh ! eigh 1 eigh!
Ha! what are ye, Who, crowned with leaves devoted to the Furies, Cling round this sacred shrine 1
Aigh! aigh ! aigh!
What! ye that are The very beasts that offered at her altar With blood and groans, salt-cake, and fat, and
inwards, Ever propitiate her reluctant will When taxes are withheld!
! Ugh! ugh! ugh!
What! ye who grub With filthy snouts my red potatoes up In Allan's rushy bog! Who cat the oats Up, from my cavalry in the Hebrides! Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks digest From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe-leather. Which should be given to cleaner Pigs than you?
* Bee Universal History for an account of the number of people who died, and the immense consumption of garlic by the wretched Egyptians, who mado a sepulchre I for the name as well as the bodies of their tyrants.
The same, alas! the same;
Though only now the name
Of pig remains to me.
If 'twere your kingly will
What should we yield to thee!
Why skin and bones, and some few hairs for mortar.
CHORUS OF SWINE.
I have heard your Laureate sing,
That pity was a royal thing;
Under your mighty ancestors, we pigs
Were bless'd as nightingales on myrtle sprigs,
Or grasshoppers that live on noon-day dew,
And sung, old annals tell, as sweetly too:
But now our sties are fallen in, we catch
The murrain and the mange, the scab and itch; Sometimes your royal dogs tear down our thatch,
And then we seek the shelter of a ditch;
First sow. My pigs, 'tis in vain to tug I
I could almost eat my litter I
I suck, but no milk will come from the dug.
Our skin and our bones would be bitter.
We fight for this rag of greasy rug,
Happier swine were they than we,
To bind your mortar with, or fill our colons With rich blood, or make brawn out of our gristles,,
In policy—ask else your royal Solons— You ought to give us hog-wash and clean straw, And sties well thatched; besides, it is the law!
This is sedition, and rank blasphemy!
Enter a Guaho.
Your sacred Majesty!