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The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 65

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A SPIRIT PASSED BEFORE ME.

FROM JOB.

I.

A spirit passed before me: I beheld The face of Immortality unveiled-- Deep Sleep came down on every eye save mine-- And there it stood,--all formless--but divine: Along my bones the creeping flesh did quake; And as my damp hair stiffened, thus it spake:

II.

"Is man more just than God? Is man more pure Than he who deems even Seraphs insecure?

Creatures of clay--vain dwellers in the dust!

The moth survives you, and are ye more just?

Things of a day! you wither ere the night, Heedless and blind to Wisdom's wasted light!"

FOOTNOTES:

[287] {381} [In a manuscript note to a letter of Byron's, dated June 11, 1814, Wedderburn Webster writes, "I _did_ take him to Lady Sitwell's party.... He there for the first time saw his cousin, the beautiful Mrs.

Wilmot [who had appeared in mourning with numerous spangles in her dress]. When we returned to ... the Albany, he ... desired Fletcher to give him a _tumbler of brandy_, which he drank at once to Mrs. Wilmot's health.... The next day he wrote some charming lines upon her, 'She walks in beauty,' etc."--_Letters_, 1899, iii. 92, note 1.

Anne Beatrix, daughter and co-heiress of Eusebius Horton, of Catton Hall, Derbyshire, married Byron's second cousin, Robert John Wilmot (1784-1841), son of Sir Robert Wilmot of Osmaston, by Juliana, second daughter of the Hon. John Byron, and widow of the Hon. William Byron.

She died February 4, 1871.

Nathan (_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, pp. 2, 3) has a note to the effect that Byron, while arranging the first edition of the _Melodies_, used to ask for this song, and would not unfrequently join in its execution.]

[le] {382} _The Harp the Minstrel Monarch swept,_ _The first of men, the loved of Heaven,_ _Which Music cherished while she wept_.--[MS. M.]

[lf] {383} _It told the Triumph_----.--[MS. M.]

[288] ["When Lord Byron put the copy into my hand, it terminated with this line. This, however, did not complete the verse, and I asked him to help out the melody. He replied, 'Why, I have sent you to Heaven--it would be difficult to go further!' My attention for a few moments was called to some other person, and his Lordship, whom I had hardly missed, exclaimed, 'Here, Nathan, I have brought you down again;' and immediately presented me the beautiful and sublime lines which conclude the melody."--_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, p. 33.]

[lg]

_It there abode, and there it rings_, _But ne'er on earth its sound shall be;_ _The prophets' race hath passed away;_ _And all the hallowed minstrelsy_-- _From earth the sound and soul are fled_, _And shall we never hear again?_--[MS. M. erased.]

[289] [According to Nathan, the monosyllable "if" at the beginning of the first line led to "numerous attacks on the noble author's religion, and in some an inference of atheism was drawn."

Needless to add, "in a subsequent conversation," Byron repels this charge, and delivers himself of some admirable if commonplace sentiments on the "grand perhaps."-_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, pp. 5, 6.]

[lh] {384} ----_breaking link_.--[Nathan, 1815, 1829.]

[290] [Compare _To Ianthe_, stanza iv. lines 1, 2--

"Oh! let that eye, which, wild as the Gazelle's, Now brightly bold or beautifully shy."

Compare, too, _The Giaour_, lines 473, 474--

"Her eye's dark charm 'twere vain to tell, But gaze on that of the Gazelle."

_Poetical Works_, 1899, ii. 13; _et ante_, p. 108.]

[291] {387} [Nathan (_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, pp. 11, 12) seems to have tried to draw Byron into a discussion on the actual fate of Jephtha's daughter--death at her father's hand, or "perpetual seclusion"--and that Byron had no opinion to offer. "Whatever may be the absolute state of the case, I am innocent of her blood; she has been killed to my hands;"

and again, "Well, my hands are not imbrued in her blood!"]

[292] {388} ["In submitting the melody to his Lordship's judgment, I once inquired in what manner they might refer to any scriptural subject: he appeared for a moment affected--at last replied, 'Every mind must make its own references; there is scarcely one of us who could not imagine that the affliction belongs to himself, to me it certainly belongs.' 'She is no more, and perhaps the only vestige of her existence is the feeling I sometimes fondly indulge.'"--_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, p. 30. It has been surmised that the lines contain a final reminiscence of the mysterious Thyrza.]

[li] ----_in gentle gloom._--[MS. M.]

[lj]

_Shall Sorrow on the waters gaze_, _And lost in deep remembrance dream_, _As if her footsteps could disturb the dead._--[MS. M.]

[lk] {389} _Even thou_----.--[MS. M.]

[ll]

IV.

_Nor need I write to tell the tale_, _My pen were doubly weak;_ _Oh what can idle words avail_, _Unless my heart could speak?_

V.

_By day or night, in weal or woe_, _That heart no longer free_ _Must bear the love it cannot show_, _And silent turn for thee_.--[MS. M.]

[293] [Compare "Nay, now, pry'thee weep no more! you know, ... that 'tis sinful to murmur at ... Providence."--"And should not that reflection check your own, my Blanche?"--"Why are your cheeks so wet? Fie! fie, my child!"--_Romantic Tales_, by M. G. Lewis, 1808, i. 53.]

[294] [Compare "My soul is dark."--Ossian, "Oina-Morul," _The Works of Ossian_, 1765, ii. 279.]

[295] {390} ["It was generally conceived that Lord Byron's reported singularities approached on some occasions to derangement; and at one period, indeed, it was very currently asserted that his intellects were actually impaired. The report only served to amuse his Lordship. He referred to the circumstance, and declared that he would try how a _Madman_ could write: seizing the pen with eagerness, he for a moment fixed his eyes in majestic wildness on vacancy; when, like a flash of inspiration, without erasing a single word, the above verses were the result."--_Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, p. 37.]

[296] [Compare the first _Sonnet to Genevra_ (addressed to Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster), "Thine eye's blue tenderness."]

[lm] {392} _He stands amidst an earthly cloud_, _And the mist mantled o'er his floating shroud_.--[MS. erased.]

[ln] _At once and scorched beneath_----.--[MS. Copy (1, 2).]

[lo] _Bloodless are these bones_----.--[MS.]

[297] ["Since we have spoken of witches," said Lord Byron at Cephalonia, in 1823, "what think you of the witch of Endor? I have always thought this the finest and most finished witch-scene that ever was written or conceived; and you will be of my opinion, if you consider all the circumstances and the actors in the case, together with the gravity, simplicity, and dignity of the language."--_Conversations on Religion with Lord Byron_, by James Kennedy, M.D., London, 1830, p. 154.]

[lp] {393} _Heed not the carcase that lies in your path_.--[MS. Copy (1).]

[lq]

----_my shield and my bow_, _Should the ranks of your king look away from the foe_.--[MS.]

[lr] {394} _Heir to my monarchy_----.--[MS.]

Note to _Heir_--Jonathan.--[Copy.]

[ls]

_My father was the shepherd's son_, _Ah were my lot as lowly_ _My earthly course had softly run_.--[MS.]

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