chapter  50
12 Pages

Mazzini on Byron and Liberty

[1839] 1870

Giuseppe Mazzini, the Italian patriot, revolutionary and man of letters, wrote his essay on Lord Byron and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe' in 1839. Byron was the poet of the first, Goethe of the last. In Byron the Ego is revealed in all its pride of power, freedom, and desire, in the uncontrolled plenitude of all its faculties; inhaling existence at every pore, eager to seize 'the life of life.' The world around him neither rules nor tempers him. The emptiness of the life and death of solitary individuality, has never been so powerfully and efficaciously summed up as in the pages of Byron. The political schools of the epoch had proclaimed the sole basis of civil organization to be the right to liberty and equality, but they had encountered social anarchy by the way. Byron, from the solitude of his exile, turns his eyes again towards England; he sings.