The Works of Lord Byron Volume V Part 74

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[130] {264}[Compare the following pa.s.sage from _La Rapresentatione di Abel et di Caino_ (in Firenze l'anno MDLIV.)--

"Abel parla a dio fatto il sacrifitio, Rendendogli laude.

Signor per cui di tanti bene abondo Liquali tu sommamente mi concedi Tanto mi piace, et tanto me' giocondo Quanto delle mie greggie che tu vedi El piu gra.s.so el migliore el piu mondo Ti do con lieto core come tu vedi Tu vedi la intentione con lequal vegno," etc.]

[ck] {265} _Which must be won with prayers--if he be evil_.--[MS. M.]

[131] {266}[See Gessner's _Death of Abel_.]

[132] {268}[Compare--

"How wonderful is Death-- Death and his brother Sleep!"

_Queen Mab_, i. lines 1, 2.]

[133] {271}[Compare--

"And Water shall hear me, And know thee and fly thee; And the Winds shall not touch thee When they pa.s.s by thee....

And thou shalt seek Death To release thee in vain."

_The Curse of Kehama_, by R. Southey, Canto II.]

[134] [The last three lines of this terrible denunciation were not in the original MS. In forwarding them to Murray (September 12, 1821, _Letters_, 1901, v. 361), to be added to Eve's speech, Byron says, "There's as pretty a piece of Imprecation for you, when joined to the lines already sent, as you may wish to meet with in the course of your business. But don't forget the addition of these three lines, which are clinchers to Eve's speech."]

[135] [If Byron had read his plays aloud, or been at pains to revise the proofs, he would hardly have allowed "corse" to remain in such close proximity to "curse."]

[136] {272}["I have avoided introducing the Deity, as in Scripture (though Milton does, and not very wisely either); but have adopted his angel as sent to Cain instead, on purpose to avoid shocking any feelings on the subject, by falling short of what all uninspired men must fall short in, viz. giving an adequate notion of the effect of the presence of Jehovah. The Old Mysteries introduced him liberally enough, and this is avoided in the New."--Letter to Murray, February 8, 1822, _Letters_, 1901, vi. 13. Byron does not seem to have known that in the older portions of the Bible "Angel of the Lord" is only a name for the Second Person of the Trinity.]

[cl] {273} _On thy brow_----.--[MS.]

[137] {274}[The "four rivers" which flowed round Eden, and consequently the only waters with which Cain was acquainted upon earth.]




"And it came to pa.s.s ... that the sons of G.o.d saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose."

"And woman wailing for her demon lover."

Coleridge [_Kubla Khan_, line 16]


_Heaven and Earth_ was begun at Ravenna October 9, 1821. "It occupied about fourteen days" (Medwin's _Conversations_, 1824, p. 231), and was forwarded to Murray, November 9, 1821. "You will find _it_," wrote Byron (_Letters_, 1901, v. 474), "_pious_ enough, I trust--at least some of the Chorus might have been written by Sternhold and Hopkins themselves for that, and perhaps for the melody." It was on "a scriptural subject"--"less speculative than _Cain_, and very pious" (_Letters_, 1901, v. 475; vi. 31). It was to be published, he insists, at the same time, and, if possible, in the same volume with the "others"

(_Sardanapalus_, etc.), and would serve, so he seems to have _reflected_ ("The moment he reflects, he is a child," said Goethe), as an antidote to the audacities, or, as some would have it, the impieties of _Cain_!

He reckoned without his publisher, who understood the temper of the public and of the Government, and was naturally loth to awaken any more "reasonable doubts" in the mind of the Chancellor with regard to whether a "scriptural drama" was irreverent or profane. The new "Mystery" was revised by Gifford and printed, but withheld from month to month, till, at length, "the fire kindled," and, on the last day of October, 1821, Byron instructed John Hunt to "obtain from Mr. Murray _Werner: a Drama_, and another dramatic poem called _Heaven and Earth_." It was published in the second number of _The Liberal_ (pp. 165-206), January 1, 1823.

The same subject, the unequal union of angelic lovers with the daughters of men, had taken Moore's fancy a year before Byron had begun to "dramatize the Old Testament." He had designed a long poem, but having discovered that Byron was at work on the same theme, he resolved to restrict himself to the production of an "episode," to "give himself the chance of ... an _heliacal rising_," before he was outshone by the advent of a greater luminary. Thanks to Murray's scruples, and the "translation" of MSS. to Hunt, the "episode" took the lead of the "Mystery" by eight days. The _Loves of the Angels_ (see _Memoirs_, etc., 1853, iv. 28) was published December 23, 1822. None the less, lyric and drama were destined to run in double harness. Critics found it convenient to review the two poems in the same article, and were at pains to draw a series of more or less pointed and pungent comparisons between the unwilling though not unwitting rivals.

Wilson, in _Blackwood_, writes, "The first [the _Loves, etc._] is all glitter and point like a piece of Derbyshire spar, and the other is dark and ma.s.sy like a block of marble.... Moore writes with a crow-quill, ...

Byron writes with an eagle's plume;" while Jeffrey, in the _Edinburgh_, likens Moore to "an _aurora borealis_" and Byron to "an eruption of Mount Vesuvius"!

There is, indeed, apart from the subject, nothing in common between Moore's tender and alluring lyric and Byron's gloomy and tumultuous rhapsody, while contrast is to be sought rather in the poets than in their poems. The _Loves of the Angels_ is the finished composition of an accomplished designer of Amoretti, one of the best of his kind, _Heaven and Earth_ is the rough and unpromising sketch thrown off by a great master.

Both the one and the other have pa.s.sed out of the ken of readers of poetry, but, on the whole, the _Loves of the Angels_ has suffered the greater injustice. It is opined that there may be possibilities in a half-forgotten work of Byron, but it is taken for granted that nothing worthy of attention is to be found in Moore. At the time, however, Moore scored a success, and Byron hardly escaped a failure. It is to be noted that within a month of publication (January 18, 1823) Moore was at work upon a revise for a fifth edition--consulting D'Herbelot "for the project of turning the poor 'Angels' into Turks," and so "getting rid of that connection with the Scriptures," which, so the Longmans feared, would "in the long run be a drag on the popularity of the poem"

(_Memoirs, etc._, 1853, iv. 41). It was no wonder that Murray was "timorous" with regard to Byron and his "scriptural dramas," when the Longmans started at the shadow of a scriptural allusion.

Byron, in his innocence, had taken for his motto the verse in _Genesis_ (ch. vi. 2), which records the intermarriage of the "sons of G.o.d" with the "daughters of men." In _Heaven and Earth_ the angels _are_ angels, members, though erring members, of Jehovah's "thundering choir," and the daughters of men are the descendants of Cain. The question had come up for debate owing to the recent appearance of a translation of the _Book of Enoch_ (by Richard Laurence, LL.D., Oxford, 1821); and Moore, by way of safeguarding himself against any suspicion of theological irregularity, is careful to a.s.sure his readers ("Preface" to _Loves of the Angels_, 1823, p. viii. and note, pp. 125-127) that the "sons of G.o.d" were the descendants of Seth, and not beings of a supernatural order, as a mis-translation by the LXX., a.s.sisted by Philo and the "rhapsodical fictions of the _Book of Enoch_" had induced the ignorant or the profane to suppose. Nothing is so dangerous as innocence, and a little more of that _empeiria_ of which Goethe accused him, would have saved Byron from straying from the path of orthodoxy.

It is impossible to say for certain whether Laurence's translation of the whole of the _Book of Enoch_ had come under Byron's notice before he planned his new "Mystery," but it is plain that he was, at any rate, familiar with the well-known fragment, "Concerning the 'Watchers'" [?e??

t?? ????????? [Peri ton E)grego/ron]], which is preserved in the _Chronographia_ of Georgius Syncellus, and was first printed by J. J.

Scaliger in _Thes. temp. Euseb._ in 1606. In the prophecy of the Deluge to which he alludes (_vide post_, p. 302, note 1), the names of the delinquent seraphs (Semjaza and Azazel), and of the archangelic monitor Raphael, are to be found in the fragment. The germ of _Heaven and Earth_ is not in the _Book of Genesis_, but in the _Book of Enoch_.

Medwin, who prints (_Conversations_, 1824, pp. 234-238) what purports to be the prose sketch of a Second Part of _Heaven and Earth_ (he says that Byron compared it to Coleridge's promised conclusion of _Christabel_--"that, and nothing more!"), detects two other strains in the composition of the "Mystery," an echo of Goethe's Faust and a "movement" which recalls the _Eumenides_ of aeschylus. Byron told Murray that his fourth tragedy was "more lyrical and Greek" than he at first intended, and there is no doubt that with the _Prometheus Vinctus_ he was familiar, if not at first hand, at least through the medium of Sh.e.l.ley's rendering. But apart from the "Greek choruses," which "Sh.e.l.ley made such a fuss about," Byron was acquainted with, and was not untouched by, the metrical peculiarities of the _Curse of Kehama_, and might have traced a kinship between his "angels" and Southey's "Glendoveers," to say nothing of _their_ collaterals, the "glumms" and "gawreys" of _Peter Wilkins_ (see notes to Southey's _Curse of Kehama_, Canto VI., _Poetical Works_, 1838, viii. 231-233).

Goethe was interested in _Heaven and Earth_. "He preferred it," says Crabb Robinson (_Diary_, 1869, ii. 434), "to all the other serious poems of Byron.... 'A bishop,' he exclaimed, though it sounded almost like satire, 'might have written it.' Goethe must have been thinking of a _German_ bishop!" (For his daughter-in-law's translation of the speeches of Anah and Aholibamah with their seraph-lovers, see _Goethe-Jahrbuch_, 1899, pp. 18-21 [Letters, 1901, v. Appendix II. p.


_Heaven and Earth_ was reviewed by Jeffrey in the _Edinburgh Review_, February, 1823, vol. 38, pp. 42-48; by Wilson in _Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine_, January, 1823, vol. xiii. pp. 71, 72; and in the _New Monthly Magazine_, N.S., 1823, vol. 7, pp. 353-358.







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