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ΜΑΝΤΣ ΕΙΜ' ΕΣΘΛΩΝ ΑΓΩΝΩΝ.
TO HIS EXCELLENCY PRINCE ALEXANDER MAVROCORDATO,
LATE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE HOSPODAR OF WALLACHIA,
THE DRAMA OF HELLAS
IS INSCRIBED AS AN IMPERFECT TOKEN OF THE ADMIRATION, SYMPATHY, AND FRIENDSHIP OF
Pisa, November 1, 1821.
age have been performed by the Greeks—that they
have gained more than one naval victory, and that THE poem of Hellas, written at the suggestion of their defeat in Wallachia was signalized by circumthe events of the moment, is a mere improvise, and stances of heroism more glorious even than victory. derives its interest (should it be found to possess any) The apathy of the rulers of the civilized world, to solely from the intense sympathy which the Author the astonishing circumstances of the descendants of feels with the cause he would celebrate.
that nation to which they owe their civilizationThe subject in its present state is insusceptible of rising as it were from the ashes of their run, is somebeing treated otherwise than lyrically, and if I have thing perfectly inexplicable to a mere spectator of called this poem a drama from the circumstance of the shows of this mortal scene. We are all Greeks. its being composed in dialogue, the license is not Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have greater than that which has been assumed by other their root in Greece. But for Greece-Rome the poets, who have called their productions epics, only instructor, the conqueror, or the metropolis of our anbecause they have been divided into twelveor twenty- cestors, would have spread no illumination with her four books.
arms, and we might still have been savages and idol. The Persæ of Æschylus afforded me the first model aters; or, what is worse, might have arrived at such of my conception, although the decision of the glori- a stagnant and miserable state of social institution as ous contest now waging in Greece being yet suspend. China and Japan possess. ed, forbids a catastrophe parallel to the return of The human form and the human mind attained to Xerxes and the desolation of the Persians. I have, a perfection in Greece which has impressed its image therefore, contented myself with exhibiting a series on those faultless productions whose very fragmenis of lyric pictures, and with having wrought upon the are the despair of modern art, and has propagated curtain of futurity, which falls upon the unfinished impulses which cannot cease, through a thousand scene, such figures of indistinct and visionary delinea- channels of manifest or imperceptible operation, to tion as suggest the final triumph of the Greek cause ennoble and delight mankind until the extinction of as a portion of the cause of civilization and social the race. improvement.
The modern Greek is the descendant of those The drama (if drama it must be called) is, however, glorious beings whom the imagination almost refuses 80 inartificial that I doubt whether, if recited on the to figure to itself as belonging to our kind; and be Thespian wagon to an Athenian village at the Diony. inherits much of their sensibility, their rapidity of • siaca, it would have obtained the prize of the goat. conception, their enthusiasm, and their courage. If
I shall bear with equanimity any punishment greater in many instances he is degraded by moral and politi. than the loss of such a reward which the Aristarchi cal slavery to the practice of the basest vices it enof the hour may think fit to inflict.
genders, and that below the level of ordinary degraThe only goat-song which I have yet attempted dation ; let us reflect that the corruption of the best has, I confess, in spite of the unfavorable nature of produces the worst, and that habits which subsist the subject, received a greater and a more valuable only in relation to a peculiar state of social instituportion of applause than I expected, or than it de- tion may be expected to cease, ns soon as that relaserved.
tion is dissolved. In fact, the Greeks, since the adCommon fame is the only authority which I can mirable novel of “ Anastatius" could have been a allege for the details which form the basis of the poem, faithful picture of their manners, have undergone most and I must trespass upon the forgiveness of my read- important changes. The flower of their youth, reers for the display of newspaper erudition to which turning to their country from the universities of Italy, I have been reduced Undoubtedly, until the con- Germany and France, have communicated to their clusion of the war, it will be impossible to obtain fellow-citizens the latest results of that social peran account of it sufficiently auttentic for historical fection of which their ancestors were the original materials; but poets have their privilege, and it is source. The university of Chios contained before unquestionable that actions of the most exalted cour- the breaking out of the revolution eight hundred
Away, false shapes of sleep:
Clear, bright and deep!
Sleep, sleep! our song is laden
With the soul of slumber;
Who now keep
That calm sleep Whence none may wake, where none shall weep.
students, and among them several Germans and Americans. The munificence and energy of many of the Greek princes and merchants, directed to the renovation of their country with a spirit and a wisdom which has few examples, is above all praise.
The English permit their own oppressors to act according to their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and to brand upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance with the enemies of domestic happiness, of Christianity and civilization.
Russia desires to possess, not to liberate Greece; and is contented to see the Turks, its natural enemies, and the Greeks, its intended slaves, enfeeble each other, until one or both fall into its net. The wise and generous policy of England would have consisted in establishing the independence of Greece and in maintaining it both against Russia and the Turk;—but when was the oppressor generous or just ?
The Spanish Peninsula is already free. France is tranquil in the enjoyment of a partial exemption from the abuses which its unnatural and feeble gov. ernment is vainly attempting to revive. The seed of blood and misery has been sown in Italy, and a more vigorous race is arising to go forth to the harvest. The world waits only the news of a revolution of Germany, to see the tyrants who have pinnacled themselves on its supineness precipitated into the ruin from which they shall never arise. Well do these destroyers of mankind know their enemy, when they impute the insurrection in Greece to the same spirit before which they tremble throughout the rest of Europe ; and that enemy well knows the power and cunning of its opponents, and watches the moment of their approaching weakness and inevitable division, to wrest the bloody sceptres from their grasp.
I touch thy temples pale!
I breathe my soul on thee!
All my joy should be
i So thou mightst win one hour of quiet sleep.
Breathe low, low,
Life may change, but it may fly not ; Hope may vanish, but can die not ; Truth be veil'd, but still it burneth ;. Love repulsed,—but it returneth!
SEMICHORUS II. Yet were life a charnel, where Hope lay coffin'd with despair; Yet were truth a sacred lie, Love were lust
If Liberty Lent not life its soul of light, Hope its iris of delight, Truth its prophet's robe to wear, Love its power to give and bear.
SCENE, a Terrace on the Seraglio. MAHMUD (sleeping), an Indian Slave sitting beside his
CHORUS OP GREEK CAPTIVE WOMEN.
We strew these opiate flowers
On thy restless pillow,-
Be thy sleep
Calm and deep, Like theirs who fell—not ours who weep!
And all its banded anarchs fled,
Before an earthquake's treadSo from Time's tempestuous dawn Freedom's splendor burst and shone :Thermopylæ and Marathon Caught, like mountains beacon-lighted,
The springing fire.—The winged glory On Philippi half-alighted, Like an eagle on a promontory.
sts unwearied wings could fan The quenchless ashes of Milan.*
Dust let her glories be:
And a name, and a nation
Be forgotten, Freedom, with thee!
His brow grows darker-breathe not-move not From the West swift Freedom came,
He starts—he shudders;-ye that love not,
With your panting loud and fast
Have awaken'd him at last.
MAHMUD (starting from his sleep).
Man the Seraglio-guard ! make fast the gate! France, with all her sanguine steams, What! from a cannonade of three short hours ! Hid, but quench'd it not; again
"Tis false! that breach towards the Bosphorus
Cannot be practicable yet—Who stirs ?
Stand to the match; that when the foe prevails, As an eagle fed with morning
One spark may mix in reconciling ruin Scorns the embattled tempest's warning,
The conqueror and the conquer'd! Heave the tower When she seeks her airy hanging
Into the gap-wrench off the roof. · In the mountain cedar's hair, And her brood expect the clanging
Enter Hassax. of her wings through the wild air,
Ha! what! Sick with famine--Freedom so
The truth of day lightens upon my dream,
And I am Mahmud still.
Your Sublime Highness Her renovated nurslings play,
Is strangely moved.
The times do cast strange shadows
On those who watch and who must rule their course,
Lest they, being first in peril as in glory,
Be whelm'd in the fierce ebb:and these are of them
Thrice has a gloomy vision haunted me
As thus from sleep into the troubled day;
It shakes me as the tempest shakes the sea,
Leaving no figure upon memory's glass.
Would that—no matter. Thou didst say thou knewest
A Jew, whose spirit is a chronicle
Of strange and secret and forgotten things.
I bade thee summon him :-'t is said his tribe
Dream, and are wise interpreters of dreams.
He seems to have outlived a world's decay;
The hoary mountains and the wrinkled ocean
Seem younger still than he ;-his hair and beard
Are whiter than the tempest-sifted snow;
His cold pale limbs and pulseless arteries
Are like the fibres of a cloud instinct
With light, and to the soul that quickens them
Are as the atoms of the mountain-drift
To the winter wind :- but from his eye looks forth
A life of unconsumed thought, which pierces
The present, and the past, and the to-come.
Some say that this is he whom the great prophet
Jesus, the son of Joseph, for his mockery
Mock'd with the curse of immortality.
He was pre-adamite, and has survived * Milan was the centre of the resistance of the Lombard league against the Austrian tyrant. Frederic Barbarossa Cycles of generation and of ruin. burnt the city to the ground, but liberty lived in its ashes. The sage, in truth, by dreadful abstinence and it rose like an exhalation from its ruin.-See Sis. And conquering penance of the mutinous flesh, MONDIN “ Histoires des Républiques Italiennes," a book Deep contemplation, and unwearied study, which has done much towards a wakening the Italians to In years outstretch'd beyond the date of man, an imitation of their great ancestors.
May have obtain'd to sovereignty and science
Over those strong and secret things and thoughts
I would talk
And Death's dark chasm hurrying to and fro,
Clothe their unceasing flight
In the brief dust and light
New shapes they still may weave,
New Gods, new laws receive;
On Death's bare ribs had cast.
With this old Jew.
Thy will is even now
(A shout without
Evil, doubtless.; like all human sounds. Let me converse with spirits.
A power from the unknown God;
A Promethean conqueror came;
A mortal shape to him
Was like the vapor dim
Hell, Sin and Slavery came,
Like blood-hounds mild and tame,
The moon of Mahomet
Arose, and it shall set :
The cross leads generations on.
Swift as the radiant shapes of sleep
From one whose dreams are paradise,
So fleet, so faint, so fair,
The powers of earth and air
Apollo, Pan, and Love,
And even Olympian Jove
Our hills, and seas, and streams,
Dispeopled of their dreams,
Wail'd for the golden years.
That shout again!
This Jew whom thou hast summond
And shall I sell it for defeat ?
DAOOD. He, I, and all things, shall compel-enough.
The Janizars Silence those mutineers-that drunken crew
Clamor for pay.
Go! bid them pay themselves Kings are like stars—they rise and set, they have
With Christian blood! Are there no Grecian virgins The worship of the world, but no repose.
[Exeunt severally. or less exalted existence, according to the degree of perfection
which every distinct intelligence may have attained. Let it not CHORUS.*
be supposed that I mean to dogmatize upon a subject concernWorlds on worlds are rolling ever
ing which all men are equally ignorant, or that I think the From creation to decay,
Gordian knot of the origin of evil can be disentangled by that Like the bubbles on a river,
or any similar assertions. The received hypothesis of a Being Sparkling, bursting, borne away;
resembling men in the moral attributes of his nature, having
called us out of non-existence, and after inflicting on us the But they are still immortal
misery of the cominision of error, should superadd that of the Who, through birth's orient portal,
punishment and the privations consequent upon it, still would remain inexplicable and incredible. That there is a true solu
tion of the riddle, and that in our present state that solution is • The popular notions of Christianity are represented in this unattainable by us, are propositions which may be regarded as choros 38 true in their relation to the worship they superseded, equally certain ; meanwhile, as it is the province of the poet to and that which in all probability they will supersede, without attach himself to those ideas which exalt and ennoble humanity, considering their merits in a relation more universal. The first let him be permitted to have conjectured the condition of that stanza contrasts the immortality of the living and thinking futurity towards which we are all inpelled by an inextinguishbeings which inhabit the planets, and, to use a common and able thirst for immortality. Until better arguments can be proinadequate phrase, clothe themselves in matter, with the tran- duced than soplisms which disgrace the cause, this desire itself sience of the noblest manifestations of the external world.
must remain the strongest and the only presumption that eter The concluding verse indicates a progressive state of more l nity is the inheritance of every thinking being.
Whose shrieks and spasms and tears they may enjoy? If night is mute, yet the returning sun
Kindles the voices of the morning birds ;
Nor at thy bidding less exultingly
Than birds rejoicing in the golden day,
Their tempest-winged cities of the sea,
To speak in thunder to the rebel world.
Like sulphurous clouds half-shatter'd by the storm And yet the harvest to the sickle-men
They sweep the pale Ægean, while the Queen Is as a grain to each.
Of Ocean, bound upon her island throne,
Far in the west sits mourning that her sons,
Who frown on Freedom, spare a smile for thee : Unlock the seventh chamber, in which lie
Russia still hovers, as an eagle might The treasures of victorious Solyman.
Within a cloud, near which a kite and crane An empire's spoils stored for a day of ruin
Hang tangled in inextricable fight, O spirit of my sires! is it not come ?
To stoop upon the victor;—for she fears The prey-birds and the wolves are gorged and sleep. The name of Freedom, even as she hates thine . But these, who spread their feast on the red earth,
But recreant Austria loves thee as the grave Hunger for gold, which fills not.--See them fed ;
Loves pestilence, and her slow dogs of war, Then lead them to the rivers of fresh death.
Flesh'd with the chase, come up from Italy,
[Exit Daood. And howl upon their limits; for they see Oh! miserable dawn, after a night
The panther Freedom fled to her old cover More glorious than the day which it usurp'd !
'Mid seas and mountains, and a mightier brood O, faith in God! 0, power on earth! 0, word
Crouch around. What anarch wears a crown or noite, Of the great Prophet, whose overshadowing wings
Or bears the sword, or grasps the key of gold, Darken'd the thrones and idols of the west,
Whose friends are not thy friends, whose foes tb, foew! Now bright!-For thy sake cursed be the hour,
Our arsenals and our armories are full; Even as a father by an evil child,
Our forts defy assaults; ten thousand cannon When the orient moon of Islam roll'd in triumph
Lie ranged upon the beach, and hour by hour From Caucasus to white Ceraunia!
Their earth-convulsing wheels affright the city ; Ruin above, and anarchy below;
The galloping of fiery steeds makes pale Terror without, and treachery within ;
The Christian merchant, and the yellow Jew The chalice of destruction full, and all
Hides his hoard deeper in the faithless earth. Thirsting to drink; and who among us dares
Like clouds, and like the shadows of the clouds To dash it from his lips ? and where is Hope ?
Over the hills of Anatolia,
Swift in wide troops the Tartar chivalry
Sweep;—the far-flashing of their starry lances The lamp of our dominion still rides high;
Reverberates the dying light of day. One God is God-Mahomet is his Prophet.
We have one God, one King, one Hope, one Law Four hundred thousand Moslems, from the limits
But many-headed Insurrection stands
Divided in itself, and soon mast fall.
Proud words, when deeds come short, are seasonable Wakes earthquake, to consume and overwhelm,
Look, Hassan, on yon crescent moon, emblazon'd And reign in ruin. Phrygian Olympus,
Upon that shatter'd flag of fiery cloud Tymolus, and Latmos, and Mycale, roughen
Which leads the rear of the departing day, With horrent arms, and lofty ships, even now, Wan emblem of an empire fading now! Like vapors anchor'd to a mountain's edge,
See how it trembles in the blood-red air, Freighted with fire and whirlwind, wait at Scala
And like a mighty lamp whose oil is spent, The convoy of the ever-veering wind.
Shrinks on the horizon's edge, while, from above. Samos is drunk with blood ;-the Greek has paid
One star with insolent and victorious light Brief victory with swift loss and long despair.
Hovers above its fall, and with keen beams, The false Moldavian serfs fled fast and far
Like arrows through a fainting antelope,
Strikes its weak form to death.
Evén as that moon So were the lost Greeks on the Danube's day! Renews itself
MAHMUD • The Greek Patriarch, after having been compelled to ful
Shall we be not renew'd' minate an anathema against the insurgents, was put to death by the Turks.
Far other bark than ours were needed now Fortunately the Greeks have been taught that they cannot To stem the torrent of descending time: buy security by degradation, and the Turks, though equally The spirit that lifts the slave before its lord cruel, are less conning than the smooth-faced tyrants of Europe. Stalks through the capitals of armed kings,
As to the anathema, his Holiness might as well have thrown And spreads his ensign in the wilderness ; his mitre at Mount Athos, for any effect that it produced. The chiefs of the Greeks are almost all men of comprehension and Exults in chains; and when the rebel falls, enlightened views on religion and politics.
Cries like the blood of Abel from the dust;