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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 5.djvu/307

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INTRODUCTION TO HEAVEN AND EARTH. HEAVEN and Earth was begun at Ravenna October 9,1821. "It occupied about fourteen days" (Medwin's Conversations, 1824, p. 231), and was forwarded to Murray, November 9, 1821. "You will find it," wrote Byron (Letters, 1921, v. 474), "ftious enough, I trust—at least some of the Chorus might have been written by Sternhold and Hopkins themselves for that, and perhaps for the melody." It was on "a scriptural subject "— 'less speculative than Cain, and very pious" (Letters, 19ot, v. 475 ; vi. 31). It was to be published, he insists, at the same time, and, if possible, in the same volume with the "others "(Sardanafialles, etc.), and would serve, so he seems to have reflected ("The moment he reflects, he is a child," said Goethe), as an antidote to the audacities, or, as some would have it, the impieties of Cain / He reckoned without his publisher, who understood the temper of the public and of the Government, and was naturally loth to awaken any more " reasonable doubts " in the mind of the Chancellor with regard to whether a "scriptural drama" was irreverent or profane. The new " Mystery" was revised by Gifford and printed, but withheld from month to month, till, at length, "the fire kindled," and, on the last day of October, 182,1, Byron instructed John Hunt to "obtain from Mr. Murray Werner: a Drama, and another dramatic poem called Heaven and Earth." It was published in the second number of The Liberal (pp. 165-206), January t, 1823. The same subject, the unequal union of angelic lovers with the daughters of men, had taken Moore's fancy a year before Byron had begun to "dramatize the Old Testament." He had designed a long poem, but having discovered that Byron was at work on the same theme, he resolved to restrict himself to the production of an " episode," to "give himself the chance of . . . an heliatal rising," before he was outshone by the advent of a greater luminary. Thanks to