« הקודםהמשך »
With none to listen and reply
And as thou knowest that for me
Soon turns the haram’s grating key,
The reader of the poem, who is not yet informed of the true relation that subsists between Giaffir and Selim, is shocked at hearing a father speak to a son in terms, not of salutary, parental rebuke, por even of indignant severity, but of malignant reproach, indica ting a settled abhorrence and contempt.
“Son of a slave!” the Pacha said,
Apd burl the dart, and curb the steed,
Thou Greek in soul, if not in creed,
As the nature of young Selim is beautifully disclosed in the bold candour with which he assumes to himself the blame of taking Zuleika abroad, and in the refined sensibility to the beauties of nature, which he urges as his motives for doing it--so is the character of Giaffir at once unfolded by his speech, and particularly by the reference in the last line to the bow-string.
The indignation of Selim, which, though suppressed in speech, breaks forth from his eye, and is perceived by Giaffir, gives rise to a most admirable scene, in which the perception of some mystery of “occulted guilt” begins to dawn upon the reader.
“No sound from Selim's lip was heard,
At least that met old Giaffir's ear,
Son of a slave ! -reproach'd with fear-
Thus held his thoughts their dark career,
And started—for within his eye
• Come hither boy!What, no reply?
“ As sneeringly these accents fell,
That eye returned him glance for glance,
Till Giafir's quailed and turn’d askance-
And why-he felt, but durst not tell.” FOL. III. Nen Serică.
We have more than once heard it asked, by persons who acknowledged the pleasure they had received from Lord Byron's poetry, wherein consisted their instruction?-a question which could only have been suggested by a very narrow and a partial view of the nature of that mode of instruction peculiar to certain kinds of poetry and works of fiction. Were there no other kind of instruction but the preceptive communication of moral truth, many of the most valuable productions of the muse, in every language, must renounce their claim to utility: but if, in poetry, or any other works of invention, incidents and human actions are so finely imagined, and so judiciously conducted to interesting results, as to awaken the nobler passions, to animate and inflame the finer feelings, and to give to our affections a tendency favourable to virtue and hostile to vice, they, surely are instructive, and in the most successful way too; insinuating through the fascination of pleasure, the improvement of our moral and intellectual faculties. The poem before us is replete with this. In what possible form of words could the firm confidence and unabashed courage, resulting from conscious rectitude, be more attractively displayed than in the conduct of young Selim; or the meanness and timidity into which authority and power themselves are sunk by secret guilt than by that of Giaffir, in the six lines last quoted. The very same has, in many instances of secret guilt, been presented in different shapes, by our best poets-by Shakspeare frequently; and we recollect a very beautiful passage to that effect, in Scott's Marmion, where the Palmer outlooks Marmion.
“ Rising upon his pilgrim staff
Right opposite the palmer stood,
Half hidden by his hood;
Strove by a frown to quell."
A beautiful passage, but which we think outdone by that between Giaffir and Selim-though Mr. Scott has generalized bis into a fine moral reflection.
“ Thus oft it ħaps that when within
A feather daunts the brave;
Before their meanest slave.”
In the works of Lord Byron there are too many passages indicative of secret sorrow, to leave a doùbt in the reader's mind that his heart is a prey to melancholy; while the topics upon which these break out, show that the root of that melancholy is love robbed by death of its hopes; and the warmth with which his imagination glows in his many effusions upon female beauty and excellence, evinces the depth to which his heart was engaged. Of those we offer the following to justify our remarks :
“Who hath not proved-how feebiy words essay
That this exquisite picture is drawn from the remembrance of her whose loss causes his melancholy, appears from a note affixed to the words “ Music breathing from her face," which note, by the way, contains a more exquisitely poetical figure than any in the
“ After all, (says he, this is rather to be felt than described-still I think there are some who will understand it, at least they would have done had they beheld the countenance whose speaking harmony suggested the idea; for this passage is not drawn from imagination, but memory—that mirror which affliction dashes to the earth, and looking down upon the fragments only beholds the reflection multiplied."
After some strong expressions of tenderness for his daughter, Giaffir informs her that she must prepare to receive as her husband Osman, a Bey of the House of Carasman, and leaves her, accompanied only by Haroun and Selim.
In the scene which follows, Lord Byron evinces a clear insight into the human heart, and the most happy method of approaching it. Sunk in horror at the sentence passed upon Zuleika by the pacha, Selim stands absorbed in sullen silence, almost proof against all her tender blandishments, till, ignorant of the real cause, she suggests the idea that the Bey to whom she is betrothed is an enemy of Selim's, in which case she swears by Mecca's shrine that he shall not have her hand. Roused by this tender avowal, he presses her till he obtains her consent to leave the haram at twilight, and walk with him to the seaside, in order that he may in privacy unfold to her a secret of importance to them both, and emphatically tells her that he is not what he appears.
Lord Byron upon many occasions discloses the softness, the warmth, and the sweet plaintiveness of Ovid, though it cannot be said of him, as it was of that poet when he was living in exile at Pontus, that his sorrows depress his genius-we doubt whether at any time more rapturous effusions of tenderness ever escaped the Roman poet than some which enrich the production we are considering. For instance, when Zuleika is endeavouring to reconcile him to himself, and make him speak to her:
“ O, Selim dear! 0, more than dearest!
My love thou surely knew'st before,
And hate the night, I know not why;
I dare not to my hope deny :