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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 4.djvu/363

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INTRODUCTION TO MARINO FALIERO.

Byron had no sooner finished the first draft of Malfnd than he began (February 25, 1817) to lay the foundation of another tragedy. Venice was new to him, and, on visiting the Doge’s Palace, the veiled space intended for the portrait of Mann Falier, and the " Giants' Staircase " where, as he believed “ hewas once crowned and afterwards deca itated," had laid hold of his imagination, while the leg; of the Cangiurz, “an old man jealous and conspinng against the state of which he was . . . Chief,” promised a subject which the “ devil himself " might have dramatized can anwre. But other interests and ideas claimed his attention, and for more than threeyeara the project slept. At length he sli into the postscript of a letter to Murray, dated, “ lgvenna, A il 9, 1810" (Lellers, 1901, v. 7), an intimation that he had agua "a tragedy on the subject of Marino Faliem, the Doge of Venice.” The “Imitation of Dante the Translation of Pulci, the Danticles,” etc., were worked oh, and, in prospectin for a new vein, a fresh lode of literary ore, he passed, gy a natural transition, from Italian literature to Italian history, from the romantic and humorous cfgu of Pulci and Berm, to the pseudoelassic drama of AlJeria.ndMon‘tiM nk" L _ had ld _std h_ (A ealonsy, as o ewis vi 1m u t, 1817), was an “exhausted passion” in the drama, and tglriy the scene in Venice was to provoke comparison with Shake- speare and Otway; but the man himself, the fiery DT; passionate but not a noble turned democrat pro vw, an old man greatly' finding “quarrel in a straw,” afforded a theme historically time-honoured, and yet unap- prolpriated by tragic art. _ here was, too, n living mterest in the story. For history was repeating itself and:fpolitics were swag: and un- certain. “Mischief was oot,” and the tra 'tion of a conspiracy which failed might find an historic parallel in