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useless to go into any inquiry here, as the title “ Mystery” is only a kind of envelope, under cover of which the author chose to send this strange performance into the world. Of its merits and demerits the public has heard a great deal, it having afforded a discussion in the highest court of the realm; but it would, notwithstanding, be improper in a biographer of Lord Byron, to pass over any of his works unnoticed, as well as apparently a shrinking from a duty which is necessarily imposed upon one in his situation. The work opens with the following Preface:-“ The following scenes are entitled · A Mystery,' in conformity with the ancient title annexed to dramas upon similar subjects, which were styled · Mysteries,' or · Moralities. The author has by no means taken the same liberties with his subject which were common formerly, as may be seen by any reader curious enough to refer to those very profane productions, whether in English, French, Italian, or Spanish. The author has endeavoured to preserve the language adapted to his character; and where it is (and this is but rarely) taken from actual Scripture, he has made as little alteration, even of words, as the rhythm would permit. The reader will recollect that the book of Genesis does not state that Eve was tempted by a Demon, but by the Serpent;' and that only because he was the most subtle of all the beasts of the field.' Whatever interpre
tation the Rabbins and the Fathers may have put upon this, I must take the words as I find them, and reply with Bishop Watson, upon similar occasions, when the Fathers were quoted to him, as Moderator in the schools of Cambridge Behold the book! holding up the Scripture. It is to be recollected that my present subject has nothing to do with the New Testament, to which no reference can be here made without anachronism. With the poems upon similar topics I have not been recently familiar. Since I was twenty I have never read Milton; but I had read him so frequently before, that this may make little difference. Gesner's • Death of Abel' I have never read since I was eight years of age, at Aberdeen. The general impression of my recollection is delight; but of the contents I remember only that Cain's wife was called Mahala, and Abel's Thirza. In the following pages I have called them. Adah" and • Zillah,' the earliest female names which occur in Genesis; they were those of Lamech's wives: those of Cain and Abel are not called by their names. Whether, then, a coincidence of subject may have caused the same in expression, I know. nothing, and care as little.
" The reader will please to bear in mind (what few choose to recollect) that there is no allusion to a future state in any of the books of Moses, nor indeed in the Old Testament. For a reason for this extraordinary omission, he may consult
· Warburton's Divine Legation ;' whether satisfactory or not, no better has yet been assigned. I have, therefore, supposed it new to Cain, without I hope any perversion of Holy Writ.
“ With regard to the language of Lucifer, it was difficult for me to make him talk like a clergyman upon the same subjects; but I have done what I could to restrain him within the bounds of spiritual politeness.
“ If he disclaims having tempted Eve in the shape of the serpent, it is only because the book of Genesis has not the most distant allusion to any thing of the kind, but merely to the serpent in his serpentine capacity.'
“ Note.-The reader will perceive that the author has partly adopted, in this poem, the notion of Cuvier, that the world had been destroyed several times before the creation of man. This speculation, derived from the different strata and bones of enormous and unknown animals found in them, is not contrary to the Mosaic account, but rather confirms it; as no human bones have yet been discovered in those strata, although those of many known animals are found near the remains of the unknown. The assertion of Lucifer, that the pre-Adamite world was also peopled by rational beings, much more intelligent than man, and proportionably powerful to the Mammoth, &c. &c. is, of course, a poetical fiction, to help him to make out his case."
· LUCIFER AND CAIN.
Adam and family offer a sacrifice, and pray to the Almighty, all but Cain, who alleges that he has no reason to be thankful for life when he must die. After fruitless remonstrances, the family depart, and Lucifer joins Cain, and acquaints him that his soul is immortal. Cain laments the ignorance of his family, and wishes to consort with spirits. The devil undertakes to be his instructor, on condition of Cain's worshipping him. He hesitates, and Adah joins them. She in vain endeavours to restrain Cain from going away with Lucifer, but the latter prevails. In the second act Lucifer carries Cain through boundless space. They enter Hades. The devil informs Cain that the spirits he sees were once men, material as himself. The whole of the scene tends only to raise in Cain a discontent at his state, and unthankfulness towards his Creator ; and, having effected his purpose, he bears him back to earth. The third act opens with Cain's lamentation over his infant, whilst Adah endeavours to comfort him, and to prevail on him to join in a sacrifice which his brother is about to offer. Here one passage occurs, so sublime, beautiful, touching, and, as respects Adah's speech, so pure, and devoid of every objectionable matter, that although resolved at first not to give a single extract, that resolution is overs powered by the temptation : « Cain.
I said, • Twere better that he ceased to live, than give
A PASSAGE OF PURE NATURE.
Life to so much sorrow as he must
Adah. Oh! do not say so! What were then the joys,
(She goes to the child.
“ O si sic omnia !” One passage of pure nature is of more value than cart-loads of metaphysical trash, which only leaves us as it found us, or worse! The sacrifices of Abel and Cain follow; the first is accepted-the second rejected. Cain, enraged, attempts to overturn the altars, and, being opposed by Abel, strikes him down with one of the firebrands. Eve curses Cain, who is sent wandering by an angel, and the faithful and affectionate Adah accompanies him.