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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/114

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MANFRED.

foreseen, he did not "by any means like" the third act. It was, as its author admitted (Letter to Murray, April 14) "damnably bad," and savoured of the "dregs of a fever," for which the Carnival (Letter to Murray, February 28) or, more probably, the climate and insanitary "palaces" of Venice were responsible. Some weeks went by before there was either leisure or inclination for the task of correction, but at Rome the estro returned in full force, and on May 5 a "new third act of Manfred—the greater part rewritten," was sent by post to England. Manfred, a Dramatic Poem, was published June 16, 1817.

Manfred was criticized by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review (No. lvi., August, 1817, vol. 28, pp. 418-431), and by John Wilson in the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine (afterwards Blackwood's, etc.) (June, 1817, i. 289-295). Jeffrey, as Byron remarked (Letter to Murray, October 12, 1817), was "very kind," and Wilson, whose article "had all the air of being a poet's," was eloquent in its praises. But there was a fly in the ointment.—"A suggestion" had been thrown out, "in an ingenious paper in a late number of the Edinburgh Magazine [signed H. M. (John Wilson), July, 1817], that the general conception of this piece, and much of what is excellent in the manner of its execution, have been borrowed from the Tragical History of Dr. Faustus of Marlow (sic);" and from this contention Jeffrey dissented. A note to a second paper on Marlowe's Edward II. (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, October, 1817) offered explanations, and echoed Jeffrey's exaltation of Manfred above Dr. Faustus; but the mischief had been done. Byron was evidently perplexed and distressed, not by the papers in Blackwood, which he never saw, but by Jeffrey's remonstrance in his favour; and in the letter of October 12 he is at pains to trace the "evolution" of Manfred. "I never read," he writes, "and do not know that I ever saw the Faustus of Marlow;" and, again, "As to the Faustus of Marlow, I never read, never saw, nor heard of it." "I heard Mr. Lewis translate verbally some scenes of Goethe's Faust ... last summer" (see, too, Letter to Rogers, April 4, 1817), which is all I know of the history of that magical personage; and as to the germs of Manfred, they may be found in the Journal which I sent to Mrs. Leigh ... when I went over first the Dent, etc., ... shortly before I left Switzerland. I have the whole scene of Manfred before me."

Again, three years later he writes (à propos of Goethe's review of Manfred, which first appeared in print in his paper Kunst und Alterthum, June, 1820, and is republished in Goethe's Sämmtliche Werke ... Stuttgart, 1874, xiii. 640-