The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 2/Childe Harold's Pilgrimage/Canto III
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
CANTO THE THIRD.
"Afin que cette application vous forçât à penser à autre chose. Il n'y a en vérité de remède que celui-là et le temps."—Lettres du Roi de Prusse et de M. D' Alembert. [Lettre cxlvi. Sept. 7, 1776.]
INTRODUCTION TO THE THIRD CANTO.
The Third Canto of Childe Harold was begun early in May, and finished at Ouchy, near Lausanne, on the 27th of June, 1816. Byron made a fair copy of the first draft of his poem, which had been scrawled on loose sheets, and engaged the services of "Claire" (Jane Clairmont) to make a second transcription. Her task was completed on the 4th of July. The fair copy and Claire's transcription remained in Byron's keeping until the end of August or the beginning of September, when he consigned the transcription to "his friend Mr. Shelley," and the fair copy to Scrope Davies, with instructions to deliver them to Murray (see Letters to Murray, October 5, 9, 15, 1816). Shelley landed at Portsmouth, September 8, and on the 11th of September he discharged his commission.
"I was thrilled with delight yesterday," writes Murray (September 12), "by the announcement of Mr. Shelley with the MS. of Childe Harold. I had no sooner got the quiet possession of it than, trembling with auspicious hope,... I carried it ... to Mr. Gifford.... He says that what you have heretofore published is nothing to this effort.... Never, since my intimacy with Mr. Gifford, did I see him so heartily pleased, or give one fiftieth part of the praise, with one thousandth part of the warmth."
The correction of the press was undertaken by Gifford, not without some remonstrance on the part of Shelley, who maintained that "the revision of the proofs, and the retention or alteration of certain particular passages had been entrusted to his discretion" (Letter to Murray, October 30, 1816).
When, if ever, Mr. Davies, of "inaccurate memory" (Letter to Murray, December 4, 1816), discharged his trust is a matter of uncertainty. The "original MS." (Byron's "fair copy") is not forthcoming, and it is improbable that Murray, who had stipulated (September 20) "for all the original MSS., copies, and scraps," ever received it. The "scraps" were sent (October 5) in the first instance to Geneva, and, after many wanderings, ultimately fell into the possession of Mrs. Leigh, from whom they were purchased by the late Mr. Murray.
The July number of the Quarterly Review (No. XXX.) was still in the press, and, possibly, for this reason it was not till October 29 that Murray inserted the following advertisement in the Morning Chronicle: "Lord Byron's New Poems. On the 23d of November will be published The Prisoners (sic) of Chillon, a Tale and other Poems. A Third Canto of Childe Harold...." But a rival was in the field. The next day (October 30), in the same print, another advertisement appeared : "The R. H. Lord Byron's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land.... Printed for J. Johnston, Cheapside.... Of whom may be had, by the same author, a new ed. (the third) of Farewell to England: with three other poems...." It was, no doubt, the success of his first venture which had stimulated the "Cheapside impostor," as Byron called him, to forgery on a larger scale.
The controversy did not end there. A second advertisement (Morning Chronicle, November 15) of "Lord Byron's Pilgrimage," etc., stating that "the copyright of the work was consigned" to the Publisher "exclusively by the Noble Author himself, and for which he gives 500 guineas," precedes Murray's second announcement of The Prisoners of Chillon, and the Third Canto of Childe Harold, in which he informs "the public that the poems lately advertised are not written by Lord Byron. The only bookseller at present authorised to print Lord Byron's poems is Mr. Murray...." Further precautions were deemed necessary. An injunction in Chancery was applied for by Byron's agents and representatives (see, for a report of the case in the Morning Chronicle, November 28, 1816, Letters, vol. iv., Letter to Murray, December 9, 1816, note), and granted by the Chancellor, Lord Eldon. Strangely enough, Sir Samuel Romilly, whom Byron did not love, was counsel for the plaintiff.
In spite of the injunction, a volume entitled "Lord Byron's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a Poem in Two Cantos. To which is attached a fragment, The Tempest," was issued in 1817. It is a dull and, apparently, serious production, suggested by, but hardly an imitation of, Childe Harold. The notes are descriptive of the scenery, customs, and antiquities of Palestine. The Tempest, on the other hand, is a parody, and by no means a bad parody, of Byron at his worst; e.g.—
"There was a sternness in his eye,
Which chilled the soul—one knew not why—
But when returning vigour came,
And kindled the dark glare to flame,
So fierce it flashed, one well might swear,
A thousand souls were centred there."
It is possible that this Pilgrimage was the genuine composition of some poetaster who failed to get his poems published under his own name, or it may have been the deliberate forgery of John Agg, or Hewson Clarke, or C. F. Lawler, the pseudo Peter Pindar—"Druids" who were in Johnston's pay, and were prepared to compose pilgrimages to any land, holy or unholy, which would bring grist to their employer's mill. (See the Advertisements at the end of Lord Byron's Pilgrimage, etc.)
The Third Canto was published, not as announced, on the 23rd, but on the 18th of November. Murray's "auspicious hope" of success was amply fulfilled. He "wrote to Lord Byron on the 13th of December, 1816, informing him that at a dinner at the Albion Tavern, he had sold to the assembled booksellers 7000 of his Third Canto of Childe Harold...." The reviews were for the most part laudatory. Sir Walter Scott's finely-tempered eulogium (Quart. Rev., No. xxxi., October, 1816 [published February 11, 1817]), and Jeffrey's balanced and cautious appreciation (Edin. Rev., No. liv., December, 1816 [published February 14, 1817]) have been reprinted in their collected works. Both writers conclude with an aspiration—Jeffrey, that
"This puissant spirit
Yet shall reascend,
Self-raised, and repossess its native seat!"
Scott, in the "tenderest strain" of Virgilian melody—
"I decus, i nostrum, melioribus utere fatis!"
Note on MSS. of the Third Canto.
[The following memorandum, in Byron's handwriting, is prefixed to the Transcription:—
"This copy is to be printed from—subject to comparison with the original MS. (from which this is a transcription) in such parts as it may chance to be difficult to decypher in the following. The notes in this copy are more complete and extended than in the former—and there is also one stanza more inserted and added to this, viz. the 33d. B.
Byron. July l0th, 1816.
Diodati, near ye Lake of Geneva."
The "original MS." to which the memorandum refers is not forthcoming (vide ante, p. 212), but the "scraps" (MS.) are now in Mr. Murray's possession. Stanzas i.-iii., and the lines beginning, "The castled Crag of Drachenfels," are missing.
Claire's Transcription (C.) occupies the first 119 pages of a substantial quarto volume. Stanzas xxxiii. and xcix.-cv. and several of the notes are in Byron's handwriting. The same volume contains Sonnet on Chillon, in Byron's handwriting; a transcription of the Prisoners (sic) of Chilion (so, too, the advertisement in the Morning Chronicle, October 29, 1816); Sonnet, "Rousseau," etc., in Byron's handwriting, and transcriptions of Stanzas to ——, "Though the day of my destiny's over;" Darkness; Churchill's Grave; The Dream; The Incantation (Manfred, act ii. sc. 1); and Prometheus.]
CANTO THE THIRD.
Is thy face like thy mother's, my fair child!
Ada! sole daughter of my house and heart?
When last I saw thy young blue eyes they smiled,
And then we parted,—not as now we part,
But with a hope.—
Awaking with a start,
The waters heave around me; and on high
The winds lift up their voices: I depart,
Whither I know not; but the hour's gone by,
When Albion's lessening shores could grieve or glad mine eye.
Once more upon the waters! yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome to their roar!
Swift be their guidance, wheresoe'er it lead!
Though the strained mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvass fluttering strew the gale,
Still must I on; for I am as a weed,
Flung from the rock, on Ocean's foam, to sail
Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail.
In my youth's summer I did sing of One,
The wandering outlaw of his own dark mind;
Again I seize the theme, then but begun,
And bear it with me, as the rushing wind
Bears the cloud onwards: in that Tale I find
The furrows of long thought, and dried-up tears,
Which, ebbing, leave a sterile track behind,
O'er which all heavily the journeying years
Plod the last sands of life,—where not a flower appears.
Since my young days of passion—joy, or pain—
Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string—
And both may jar: it may be, that in vain
I would essay as I have sung to sing:
Yet, though a dreary strain, to this I cling;
So that it wean me from the weary dream
Of selfish grief or gladness—so it fling
Forgetfulness around me—it shall seem
To me, though to none else, a not ungrateful theme.
He, who grown agèd in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life,
So that no wonder waits him—nor below
Can Love or Sorrow, Fame, Ambition, Strife,
Cut to his heart again with the keen knife
Of silent, sharp endurance—he can tell
Why Thought seeks refuge in lone caves, yet rife
With airy images, and shapes which dwell
Still unimpaired, though old, in the Soul's haunted cell.
'Tis to create, and in creating live
A being more intense that we endow
With form our fancy, gaining as we give
The life we image, even as I do now—
What am I? Nothing: but not so art thou,
Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
Invisible but gazing, as I glow
Mixed with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
And feeling still with thee in my crushed feelings' dearth.
Yet must I think less wildly:—I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became,
In its own eddy boiling and o'erwrought,
A whirling gulf of phantasy and flame:
And thus, untaught in youth my heart to tame,
My springs of life were poisoned. 'Tis too late!
Yet am I changed; though still enough the same
In strength to bear what Time can not abate,
And feed on bitter fruits without accusing Fate.
Something too much of this:—but now 'tis past,
And the spell closes with its silent seal—
Long absent Harold re-appears at last;
He of the breast which fain no more would feel,
Wrung with the wounds which kill not, but ne'er heal;
Yet Time, who changes all, had altered him
In soul and aspect as in age: years steal
Fire from the mind as vigour from the limb;
And Life's enchanted cup but sparkles near the brim.
His had been quaffed too quickly, and he found
The dregs were wormwood; but he filled again,
And from a purer fount, on holier ground,
And deemed its spring perpetual—but in vain!
Still round him clung invisibly a chain
Which galled for ever, fettering though unseen,
And heavy though it clanked not; worn with pain,
Which pined although it spoke not, and grew keen,
Entering with every step he took through many a scene.
Secure in guarded coldness, he had mixed
Again in fancied safety with his kind,
And deemed his spirit now so firmly fixed
And sheathed with an invulnerable mind,
That, if no joy, no sorrow lurked behind;
And he, as one, might 'midst the many stand
Unheeded, searching through the crowd to find
Fit speculation—such as in strange land
He found in wonder-works of God and Nature's hand.
But who can view the ripened rose, nor seek
To wear it? who can curiously behold
The smoothness and the sheen of Beauty's cheek,
Nor feel the heart can never all grow old?
Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o'er her steep, nor climb?
Harold, once more within the vortex, rolled
On with the giddy circle, chasing Time,
Yet with a nobler aim than in his Youth's fond prime.
But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with Man, with whom he held
Little in common; untaught to submit
His thoughts to others, though his soul was quelled
In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompelled,
He would not yield dominion of his mind
To Spirits against whom his own rebelled,
Proud though in desolation—which could find
A life within itself, to breathe without mankind.
Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends;
Where rolled the ocean, thereon was his home;
Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends,
He had the passion and the power to roam;
The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam,
Were unto him companionship; they spake
A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake
For Nature's pages glassed by sunbeams on the lake.
Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,
Till he had peopled them with beings bright
As their own beams; and earth, and earth-born jars,
And human frailties, were forgotten quite:
Could he have kept his spirit to that flight
He had been happy; but this clay will sink
Its spark immortal, envying it the light
To which it mounts, as if to break the link
That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us to its brink.
But in Man's dwellings he became a thing
Restless and worn, and stern and wearisome,
Drooped as a wild-born falcon with clipt wing,
To whom the boundless air alone were home:
Then came his fit again, which to o'ercome,
As eagerly the barred-up bird will beat
His breast and beak against his wiry dome
Till the blood tinge his plumage—so the heat
Of his impeded Soul would through his bosom eat.
Self-exiled Harold wanders forth again,
With nought of Hope left—but with less of gloom;
The very knowledge that he lived in vain,
That all was over on this side the tomb,
Had made Despair a smilingness assume,
Which, though 'twere wild,—as on the plundered wreck
When mariners would madly meet their doom
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,—
Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forbore to check.
Stop!—for thy tread is on an Empire's dust!
An Earthquake's spoil is sepulchred below!
Is the spot marked with no colossal bust?
Nor column trophied for triumphal show?
None; but the moral's truth tells simpler so.—
As the ground was before, thus let it be;—
How that red rain hath made the harvest grow!
And is this all the world has gained by thee,
Thou first and last of Fields! king-making Victory?
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo!
How in an hour the Power which gave annuls
Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too!—
In "pride of place" here last the Eagle flew,N1
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,
Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through;
Ambition's life and labours all were vain—
He wears the shattered links of the World's broken chain.
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit
And foam in fetters;—but is Earth more free?
Did nations combat to make One submit?
Or league to teach all Kings true Sovereignty?
What! shall reviving Thraldom again be
The patched-up Idol of enlightened days?
Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we
Pay the Wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze
And servile knees to Thrones? No! prove before ye praise!
If not, o'er one fallen Despot boast no more!
In vain fair cheeks were furrowed with hot tears
For Europe's flowers long rooted up before
The trampler of her vineyards; in vain, years
Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears,
Have all been borne, and broken by the accord
Of roused-up millions: all that most endears
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a Sword,
Such as HarmodiusN2 drew on Athens' tyrant Lord.
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's Capital had gathered then
The Dutchess of Richmond
in the possession of the Duke of Richmond & Gordon.
Her Beauty and her Chivalry—and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell;N3
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it?—No—'twas but the Wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street;
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet—
But hark!—that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer—clearer—deadlier than before!
Arm! Arm! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!
Within a windowed niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick's fated Chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deemed it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretched his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell;
He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro—
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness—
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste—the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war—
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the Morning Star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips—"The foe! They come! they come!"
And wild and high the "Cameron's Gathering" rose!
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:—
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's—Donald'sN4 fame rings in each clansman's ears!
And ArdennesN5 waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with Nature's tear-drops, as they pass—
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave,—alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living Valour, rolling on the foe
And burning with high Hope, shall moulder cold and low.
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life;—
Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay;
The Midnight brought the signal-sound of strife,
The Morn the marshalling in arms,—the Day
Battle's magnificently-stern array!
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,—friend,—foe,—in one red burial blent!
Their praise is hymned by loftier harps than mine;
Yet one I would select from that proud throng,
Partly because they blend me with his line,
And partly that I did his Sire some wrong,
And partly that bright names will hallow song;
And his was of the bravest, and when showered
The death-bolts deadliest the thinned files along,
Even where the thickest of War's tempest lowered,
They reached no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
And mine were nothing, had I such to give:
But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree,
Which living waves where thou didst cease to live,
And saw around me the wide field revive
With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring
Come forth her work of gladness to contrive,
With all her reckless birds upon the wing,
I turned from all she brought to those she could not bring.N6
I turned to thee, to thousands, of whom each
And one as all a ghastly gap did make
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake;
The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake
Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honoured but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
They mourn, but smile at length—and, smiling, mourn:
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruined wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone;
The bars survive the captive they enthral;
The day drags through though storms keep out the sun;
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
Even as a broken Mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies—and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same—and still the more, the more it breaks;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shattered guise; and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,
Yet withers on till all without is old,
Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.
There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison,—a quick root
Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were
As nothing did we die; but Life will suit
Itself to Sorrow's most detested fruit,
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore,N7
All ashes to the taste: Did man compute
Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er
Such hours 'gainst years of life,—say, would he name threescore?
The Psalmist numbered out the years of man:
They are enough; and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo!
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say—
"Here, where the sword united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!"
And this is much—and all—which will not pass away.
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose Spirit, antithetically mixed,
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixed;
Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been;
For Daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st
Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And shake again the world, the Thunderer of the scene!
Conqueror and Captive of the Earth art thou!
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who wooed thee once, thy Vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness—till thou wert
A God unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deemed thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.
Oh, more or less than man—in high or low—
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An Empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skilled,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of War,
Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest Star.
Yet well thy soul hath brooked the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it Wisdom, Coldness, or deep Pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;—
When Fortune fled her spoiled and favourite child,
He stood unbowed beneath the ills upon him piled.
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steeled thee on too far to show
That just habitual scorn, which could contemn
Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To wear it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn the instruments thou wert to use
Till they were turned unto thine overthrow:
'Tis but a worthless world to win or lose;
So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.
If, like a tower upon a headlong rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had helped to brave the shock;
But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy throne,
Their admiration thy best weapon shone;
The part of Philip's son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy Purple had been thrown)
Like stern Diogenes to mock at men—
For sceptred Cynics Earth were far too wide a den.N8
But Quiet to quick bosoms is a Hell,
And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire
And motion of the Soul which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire
Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.
This makes the madmen who have made men mad
By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings,
Founders of sects and systems, to whom add
Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things
Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs,
And are themselves the fools to those they fool;
Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings
Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school
Which would unteach Mankind the lust to shine or rule:
Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste
With its own flickering, or a sword laid by,
Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.
He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the Sun of Glory glow,
And far beneath the Earth and Ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.
Away with these! true Wisdom's world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal Nature! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine,
And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells
From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.
And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind,
Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd,
All tenantless, save to the crannying Wind,
Or holding dark communion with the Cloud
There was a day when they were young and proud;
Banners on high, and battles passed below;
But they who fought are in a bloody shroud,
And those which waved are shredless dust ere now,
And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.
Beneath these battlements, within those walls,
Power dwelt amidst her passions; in proud state
Each robber chief upheld his arméd halls,
Doing his evil will, nor less elate
Than mightier heroes of a longer date.
What want these outlaws conquerors should haveN9
But History's purchased page to call them great?
A wider space—an ornamented grave?
Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as brave.
In their baronial feuds and single fields,
What deeds of prowess unrecorded died!
And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields,
With emblems well devised by amorous pride,
Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide;
But still their flame was fierceness, and drew on
Keen contest and destruction near allied,
And many a tower for some fair mischief won,
Saw the discoloured Rhine beneath its ruin run.
But Thou, exulting and abounding river!
Making thy waves a blessing as they flow
Through banks whose beauty would endure for ever
Could man but leave thy bright creation so,
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow
With the sharp scythe of conflict,—then to see
Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know
Earth paved like Heaven—and to seem such to me,
Even now what wants thy stream?—that it should Lethe be.
A thousand battles have assailed thy banks,
But these and half their fame have passed away,
And Slaughter heaped on high his weltering ranks:
Their very graves are gone, and what are they?
Thy tide washed down the blood of yesterday,
And all was stainless, and on thy clear stream
Glassed, with its dancing light, the sunny ray;
But o'er the blacken'd memory's blighting dream
Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they seem.
Thus Harold inly said, and passed along,
Yet not insensible to all which here
Awoke the jocund birds to early song
In glens which might have made even exile dear:
Though on his brow were graven lines austere,
And tranquil sternness, which had ta'en the place
Of feelings fierier far but less severe—
Joy was not always absent from his face,
But o'er it in such scenes would steal with transient trace.
Nor was all Love shut from him, though his days
Of Passion had consumed themselves to dust.
It is in vain that we would coldly gaze
On such as smile upon us; the heart must
Leap kindly back to kindness, though Disgust
Hath weaned it from all worldlings: thus he felt,
For there was soft Remembrance, and sweet Trust
In one fond breast, to which his own would melt,
And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt.
And he had learned to love,—I know not why,
For this in such as him seems strange of mood,—
The helpless looks of blooming Infancy,
Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued,
To change like this, a mind so far imbued
With scorn of man, it little boots to know;
But thus it was; and though in solitude
Small power the nipped affections have to grow,
In him this glowed when all beside had ceased to glow.
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
Which unto his was bound by stronger ties
Than the church links withal; and—though unwed,
That love was pure—and, far above disguise,
Had stood the test of mortal enmities
Still undivided, and cemented more
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
But this was firm, and from a foreign shore
Well to that heart might his these absent greetings pour!
The castled Crag of DrachenfelsN10
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine,
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me.
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
And hands which offer early flowers,
Walk smiling o'er this Paradise;
Above, the frequent feudal towers
Through green leaves lift their walls of gray;
And many a rock which steeply lowers,
And noble arch in proud decay,
Look o'er this vale of vintage-bowers;
But one thing want these banks of Rhine,—
Thy gentle hand to clasp in mine!
I send the lilies given to me—
Though long before thy hand they touch,
I know that they must withered be,
But yet reject them not as such;
For I have cherished them as dear,
Because they yet may meet thine eye,
And guide thy soul to mine even here,
When thou behold'st them drooping nigh,
And know'st them gathered by the Rhine,
And offered from my heart to thine!
The river nobly foams and flows—
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round:
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here;
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To Nature and to me so dear—
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!
By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground,
There is a small and simple Pyramid,
Crowning the summit of the verdant mound;
Beneath its base are Heroes' ashes hid—
Our enemy's—but let not that forbid
Honour to Marceau! o'er whose early tomb
Tears, big tears, gushed from the rough soldier's lid,
Lamenting and yet envying such a doom,
Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.
Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career,—
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes;
And fitly may the stranger lingering here
Pray for his gallant Spirit's bright repose;—
For he was Freedom's Champion, one of those,
The few in number, who had not o'erstept
The charter to chastise which she bestows
On such as wield her weapons; he had kept
The whiteness of his soul—and thus men o'er him wept.N11
Here Ehrenbreitstein,N12 with her shattered wall
Black with the miner's blast, upon her height
Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball
Rebounding idly on her strength did light:—
A Tower of Victory! from whence the flight
Of baffled foes was watched along the plain:
But Peace destroyed what War could never blight,
And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rain—
On which the iron shower for years had poured in vain.
Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long delighted
The stranger fain would linger on his way!
Thine is a scene alike where souls united
Or lonely Contemplation thus might stray;
And could the ceaseless vultures cease to prey
On self-condemning bosoms, it were here,
Where Nature, nor too sombre nor too gay,
Wild but not rude, awful yet not austere,
Is to the mellow Earth as Autumn to the year.
Adieu to thee again! a vain adieu!
There can be no farewell to scene like thine;
The mind is coloured by thy every hue;
And if reluctantly the eyes resign
Their cherished gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine!
'Tis with the thankful glance of parting praise;
More mighty spots may rise—more glaring shine,
But none unite in one attaching maze
The brilliant, fair, and soft,—the glories of old days,
The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom
Of coming ripeness, the white city's sheen,
The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom,
The forest's growth, and Gothic walls between,—
The wild rocks shaped, as they had turrets been,
In mockery of man's art; and these withal
A race of faces happy as the scene,
Whose fertile bounties here extend to all,
Still springing o'er thy banks, though Empires near them fall.
But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
The Palaces of Nature, whose vast walls
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps,
And throned Eternity in icy halls
Of cold Sublimity, where forms and falls
The Avalanche—the thunderbolt of snow!
All that expands the spirit, yet appals,
Gather around these summits, as to show
How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man below.
But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
There is a spot should not be passed in vain,—
Morat! the proud, the patriot field! where man
May gaze on ghastly trophies of the slain,
Nor blush for those who conquered on that plain;
Here Burgundy bequeathed his tombless host,
A bony heap, through ages to remain,
Themselves their monument;—the Stygian coast
Unsepulchred they roamed, and shrieked each wandering ghost.N13
While Waterloo with Cannæ's carnage vies,
Morat and Marathon twin names shall stand;
They were true Glory's stainless victories,
Won by the unambitious heart and hand
Of a proud, brotherly, and civic band,
All unbought champions in no princely cause
Of vice-entailed Corruption; they no land
Doomed to bewail the blasphemy of laws
Making Kings' rights divine, by some Draconic clause.
By a lone wall a lonelier column rears
A gray and grief-worn aspect of old days;
'Tis the last remnant of the wreck of years,
And looks as with the wild-bewildered gaze
Of one to stone converted by amaze,
Yet still with consciousness; and there it stands
Making a marvel that it not decays,
When the coeval pride of human hands,
Levelled Aventicum,N14 hath strewed her subject lands.
And there—oh! sweet and sacred be the name!—
Julia—the daughter—the devoted—gave
Her youth to Heaven; her heart, beneath a claim
Nearest to Heaven's, broke o'er a father's grave.
Justice is sworn 'gainst tears, and hers would crave
The life she lived in—but the Judge was just—
And then she died on him she could not save.
Their tomb was simple, and without a bust,
And held within their urn one mind—one heart—one dust.N15
But these are deeds which should not pass away,
And names that must not wither, though the Earth
Forgets her empires with a just decay,
The enslavers and the enslaved—their death and birth;
The high, the mountain-majesty of Worth
Should be—and shall, survivor of its woe,
And from its immortality, look forth
In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow,N16
Imperishably pure beyond all things below.
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
The mirror where the stars and mountains view
The stillness of their aspect in each trace
Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue:
There is too much of Man here, to look through
With a fit mind the might which I behold;
But soon in me shall Loneliness renew
Thoughts hid, but not less cherished than of old,
Ere mingling with the herd had penned me in their fold.
To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind:
All are not fit with them to stir and toil,
Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
Deep in its fountain, lest it overboil
In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
Of our infection, till too late and long
We may deplore and struggle with the coil,
In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong."
There, in a moment, we may plunge our years
In fatal penitence, and in the blight
Of our own Soul turn all our blood to tears,
And colour things to come with hues of Night;
The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
To those that walk in darkness: on the sea
The boldest steer but where their ports invite—
But there are wanderers o'er Eternity
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchored ne'er shall be.
Is it not better, then, to be alone,
And love Earth only for its earthly sake?
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,N17
Or the pure bosom of its nursing Lake,
Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
A fair but froward infant her own care,
Kissing its cries away as these awake;—
Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
Than join the crushing crowd, doomed to inflict or bear?
I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture: I can see
Nothing to loathe in Nature, save to be
A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
Classed among creatures, when the soul can flee,
And with the sky—the peak—the heaving plain
Of Ocean, or the stars, mingle—and not in vain.
And thus I am absorbed, and this is life:—
I look upon the peopled desert past,
As on a place of agony and strife,
Where, for some sin, to Sorrow I was cast,
To act and suffer, but remount at last
With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring,
Though young, yet waxing vigorous as the Blast
Which it would cope with, on delighted wing,
Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being cling.
And when, at length, the mind shall be all free
From what it hates in this degraded form,
Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be
Existent happier in the fly and worm,—
When Elements to Elements conform,
And dust is as it should be, shall I not
Feel all I see less dazzling but more warm?
The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?
Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?
Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part
Of me and of my Soul, as I of them?
Is not the love of these deep in my heart
With a pure passion? should I not contemn
All objects, if compared with these? and stem
A tide of suffering, rather than forego
Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
Of those whose eyes are only turned below,
Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?
But this is not my theme; and I return
To that which is immediate, and require
Those who find contemplation in the urn,
To look on One, whose dust was once all fire,—
A native of the land where I respire
The clear air for a while—a passing guest,
Where he became a being,—whose desire
Was to be glorious; 'twas a foolish quest,
The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau,
The apostle of Affliction, he who threw
Enchantment over Passion, and from Woe
Wrung overwhelming eloquence, first drew
The breath which made him wretched; yet he knew
How to make Madness beautiful, and cast
O'er erring deeds and thoughts, a heavenly hue
Of words, like sunbeams, dazzling as they past
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
His love was Passion's essence—as a tree
On fire by lightning; with ethereal flame
Kindled he was, and blasted; for to be
Thus, and enamoured, were in him the same.
But his was not the love of living dame,
Nor of the dead who rise upon our dreams,
But of ideal Beauty, which became
In him existence, and o'erflowing teems
Along his burning page, distempered though it seems.
This breathed itself to life in Julie, this
Invested her with all that's wild and sweet;
This hallowed, too, the memorable kissN18
Which every morn his fevered lip would greet,
From hers, who but with friendship his would meet;
But to that gentle touch, through brain and breast
Flashed the thrilled Spirit's love-devouring heat;
In that absorbing sigh perchance more blest
Than vulgar minds may be with all they seek possest.
His life was one long war with self-sought foes,
Or friends by him self-banished; for his mind
Had grown Suspicion's sanctuary, and chose,
For its own cruel sacrifice, the kind,
'Gainst whom he raged with fury strange and blind.
But he was phrensied,—wherefore, who may know?
Since cause might be which Skill could never find;
But he was phrensied by disease or woe,
To that worst pitch of all, which wears a reasoning show.
For then he was inspired, and from him came,
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore,
Those oracles which set the world in flame,
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more:
Did he not this for France? which lay before
Bowed to the inborn tyranny of years?
Broken and trembling to the yoke she bore,
Till by the voice of him and his compeers,
Roused up to too much wrath which follows o'ergrown fears?
They made themselves a fearful monument!
The wreck of old opinions—things which grew,
Breathed from the birth of Time: the veil they rent,
And what behind it lay, all earth shall view.
But good with ill they also overthrew,
Leaving but ruins, wherewith to rebuild
Upon the same foundation, and renew
Dungeons and thrones, which the same hour refilled,
As heretofore, because Ambition was self-willed.
But this will not endure, nor be endured!
Mankind have felt their strength, and made it felt.
They might have used it better, but, allured
By their new vigour, sternly have they dealt
On one another; Pity ceased to melt
With her once natural charities. But they,
Who in Oppression's darkness caved had dwelt,
They were not eagles, nourished with the day;
What marvel then, at times, if they mistook their prey?
What deep wounds ever closed without a scar?
The heart's bleed longest, and but heal to wear
That which disfigures it; and they who war
With their own hopes, and have been vanquished, bear
Silence, but not submission: in his lair
Fixed Passion holds his breath, until the hour
Which shall atone for years; none need despair:
It came—it cometh—and will come,—the power
To punish or forgive—in one we shall be slower.
Clear, placid Leman! thy contrasted lake,
With the wild world I dwelt in, is a thing
Which warns me, with its stillness, to forsake
Earth's troubled waters for a purer spring.
This quiet sail is as a noiseless wing
To waft me from distraction; once I loved
Torn Ocean's roar, but thy soft murmuring
Sounds sweet as if a Sister's voice reproved,
That I with stern delights should e'er have been so moved.
It is the hush of night, and all between
Thy margin and the mountains, dusk, yet clear,
Mellowed and mingling, yet distinctly seen,
Save darkened Jura, whose capt heights appear
Precipitously steep; and drawing near,
There breathes a living fragrance from the shore,
Of flowers yet fresh with childhood; on the ear
Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
Or chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more.
He is an evening reveller, who makes
His life an infancy, and sings his fill;
At intervals, some bird from out the brakes
Starts into voice a moment, then is still.
There seems a floating whisper on the hill,
But that is fancy—for the Starlight dews
All silently their tears of Love instil,
Weeping themselves away, till they infuse
Deep into Nature's breast the spirit of her hues.
Ye Stars! which are the poetry of Heaven!
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate
Of men and empires,—'tis to be forgiven,
That in our aspirations to be great,
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
And claim a kindred with you; for ye are
A Beauty and a Mystery, and create
In us such love and reverence from afar,
That Fortune,—Fame,—Power,—Life, have named themselves a Star.
All Heaven and Earth are still—though not in sleep,
But breathless, as we grow when feeling most;
And silent, as we stand in thoughts too deep:—
All Heaven and Earth are still: From the high host
Of stars, to the lulled lake and mountain-coast,
All is concentered in a life intense,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
But hath a part of Being, and a sense
Of that which is of all Creator and Defence.
Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, where we are least alone;
A truth, which through our being then doth melt,
And purifies from self: it is a tone,
The soul and source of Music, which makes known
Eternal harmony, and sheds a charm
Like to the fabled Cytherea's zone,
Binding all things with beauty;—'twould disarm
The spectre Death, had he substantial power to harm.
Not vainly did the early Persian make
His altar the high places, and the peak
Of earth-o'ergazing mountains,N19 and thus take
A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek
The Spirit, in whose honour shrines are weak
Upreared of human hands. Come, and compare
Columns and idol-dwellings—Goth or Greek—
With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air—
Nor fix on fond ahodes to circumscribe thy prayer!
The sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh Night,N20
And Storm, and Darkness, ye are wondrous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark eye in Woman! Far along,
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!
And this is in the Night:—Most glorious Night!
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and far delight,—
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 'tis black,—and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o'er a young Earthquake's birth.
Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between
Heights which appear as lovers who have parted
In hate, whose mining depths so intervene,
That they can meet no more, though broken-hearted:
Though in their souls, which thus each other thwarted,
Love was the very root of the fond rage
Which blighted their life's bloom, and then departed:—
Itself expired, but leaving them an age
Of years all winters,—war within themselves to wage:
Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,
The mightiest of the storms hath ta'en his stand:
For here, not one, but many, make their play,
And fling their thunder-bolts from hand to hand,
Flashing and cast around: of all the band,
The brightest through these parted hills hath forked
His lightnings,—as if he did understand,
That in such gaps as Desolation worked,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurked.
With night, and clouds, and thunder—and a Soul
To make these felt and feeling, well may be
Things that have made me watchful; the far roll
Of your departing voices, is the knoll
Of what in me is sleepless,—if I rest.
But where of ye, O Tempests! is the goal?
Are ye like those within the human breast?
Or do ye find, at length, like eagles, some high nest?
Could I embody and unbosom now
That which is most within me,—could I wreak
My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw
Soul—heart—mind—passions—feelings—strong or weak—
All that I would have sought, and all I seek,
Bear, know, feel—and yet breathe—into one word,
And that one word were Lightning, I would speak;
But as it is, I live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
The Morn is up again, the dewy Morn,
With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom—
Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,
And living as if earth contained no tomb,—
And glowing into day: we may resume
The march of our existence: and thus I,
Still on thy shores, fair Leman! may find room
And food for meditation, nor pass by
Much, that may give us pause, if pondered fittingly.
Clarens! sweet Clarens birthplace of deep Love!
Thine air is the young breath of passionate Thought;
Thy trees take root in Love; the snows above,
The very Glaciers have his colours caught,
And Sun-set into rose-hues sees them wroughtN21
By rays which sleep there lovingly: the rocks,
The permanent crags, tell here of Love, who sought
In them a refuge from the worldly shocks,
Which stir and sting the Soul with Hope that woos, then mocks.
Clarens! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,—
Undying Love's, who here ascends a throne
To which the steps are mountains; where the God
Is a pervading Life and Light,—so shown
Not on those summits solely, nor alone
In the still cave and forest; o'er the flower
His eye is sparkling, and his breath hath blown,
His soft and summer breath, whose tender power
Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate hour.
All things are here of Him; from the black pines,
Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar
Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines
Which slope his green path downward to the shore,
Where the bowed Waters meet him, and adore,
Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the Wood,
The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar,
But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it stood,
Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude.
A populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy-formed and many-coloured things,
Who worship him with notes more sweet than words,
And innocently open their glad wings,
Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs,
And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend
Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings
The swiftest thought of Beauty, here extend
Mingling—and made by Love—unto one mighty end.
He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,
And make his heart a spirit; he who knows
That tender mystery, will love the more;
For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes,
And the world's waste, have driven him far from those,
For 'tis his nature to advance or die;
He stands not still, but or decays, or grows
Into a boundless blessing, which may vie
With the immortal lights, in its eternity!
'Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot,
Peopling it with affections; but he found
It was the scene which Passion must allot
To the Mind's purified beings; 'twas the ground
Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound,
And hallowed it with loveliness: 'tis lone,
And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound,
And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone
Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have reared a throne.
Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
Of Names which unto you bequeathed a name;N22
Mortals, who sought and found, by dangerous roads,
A path to perpetuity of Fame:
They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim
Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile
Thoughts which should call down thunder, and the flame
Of Heaven again assailed—if Heaven, the while,
On man and man's research could deign do more than smile.
The one was fire and fickleness, a child
Most mutable in wishes, but in mind
A wit as various,—gay, grave, sage, or wild,—
Historian, bard, philosopher, combined;
He multiplied himself among mankind,
The Proteus of their talents: But his own
Breathed most in ridicule,—which, as the wind,
Blew where it listed, laying all things prone,—
Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne.
The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought,
And hiving wisdom with each studious year,
In meditation dwelt—with learning wrought,
And shaped his weapon with an edge severe,
Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer:
The lord of irony,—that master-spell,
Which stung his foes to wrath, which grew from fear
And doomed him to the zealot's ready Hell,
Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.
Yet, peace be with their ashes,—for by them,
If merited, the penalty is paid;
It is not ours to judge,—far less condemn;
The hour must come when such things shall be made
Known unto all,—or hope and dread allayed
By slumber, on one pillow, in the dust,
Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decayed;
And when it shall revive, as is our trust,
'Twill be to be forgiven—or suffer what is just.
But let me quit Man's works, again to read
His Maker's, spread around me, and suspend
This page, which from my reveries I feed,
Until it seems prolonging without end.
The clouds above me to the white Alps tend,
And I must pierce them, and survey whate'er
May be permitted, as my steps I bend
To their most great and growing region, where
The earth to her embrace compels the powers of air.
Italia too! Italia! looking on thee,
Full flashes on the Soul the light of ages,
Since the fierce Carthaginian almost won thee,
To the last halo of the Chiefs and Sages
Who glorify thy consecrated pages;
Thou wert the throne and grave of empires; still,
The fount at which the panting Mind assuages
Her thirst of knowledge, quaffing there her fill,
Flows from the eternal source of Rome's imperial hill.
Thus far have I proceeded in a theme
Renewed with no kind auspices:—to feel
We are not what we have been, and to deem
We are not what we should be,—and to steel
The heart against itself; and to conceal,
With a proud caution, love, or hate, or aught,—
Passion or feeling, purpose, grief, or zeal,—
Which is the tyrant Spirit of our thought,
Is a stern task of soul:—No matter,—it is taught.
And for these words, thus woven into song,
It may be that they are a harmless wile,—
The colouring of the scenes which fleet along,
Which I would seize, in passing, to beguile
My breast, or that of others, for a while.
Fame is the thirst of youth,—but I am not
So young as to regard men's frown or smile,
As loss or guerdon of a glorious lot;—
I stood and stand alone,—remembered or forgot.
I have not loved the World, nor the World me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bowed
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coined my cheek to smiles,—nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo: in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such—I stood
Among them, but not of them—in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.N23
I have not loved the World, nor the World me,—
But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
Though I have found them not, that there may be
Words which are things,—hopes which will not deceive,
And Virtues which are merciful, nor weave
Snares for the failing; I would also deem
O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve—N24
That two, or one, are almost what they seem,—
That Goodness is no name—and Happiness no dream.
My daughter! with thy name this song begun!
My daughter! with thy name thus much shall end!—
I see thee not—I hear thee not—but none
Can be so wrapt in thee; Thou art the Friend
To whom the shadows of far years extend:
Albeit my brow thou never should'st behold,
My voice shall with thy future visions blend,
And reach into thy heart,—when mine is cold,—
A token and a tone, even from thy father's mould.
To aid thy mind's developement,—to watch
Thy dawn of little joys,—to sit and see
Almost thy very growth,—to view thee catch
Knowledge of objects,—wonders yet to thee!
To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee,
And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss,—
This, it should seem, was not reserved for me—
Yet this was in my nature:—as it is,
I know not what is there, yet something like to this.
Yet, though dull Hate as duty should be taught,
I know that thou wilt love me: though my name
Should be shut from thee, as a spell still fraught
With desolation, and a broken claim:
Though the grave closed between us,—'twere the same,
I know that thou wilt love me—though to drain
My blood from out thy being were an aim,
And an attainment,—all would be in vain,—
Still thou would'st love me, still that more than life retain.
The child of Love! though born in bitterness,
And nurtured in Convulsion! Of thy sire
These were the elements,—and thine no less.
As yet such are around thee,—but thy fire
Shall be more tempered, and thy hope far higher!
Sweet be thy cradled slumbers! O'er the sea
And from the mountains where I now respire,
Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee,
As—with a sigh—I deem thou might'st have been to me!
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
In "pride of place" here last the Eagle flew.
Stanza xviii. line 5.
Pride of place" is a term of falconry, and means the highest pitch of flight. See Macbeth, etc.—
"An eagle towering in his pride of place
Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and killed."
["A falcon towering in her pride of place," etc.
Macbeth, act ii. sc. 4, line 12.]
Such as Harmodius drew on Athens' tyrant Lord.
Stanza xx. line 9.
See the famous song on Harmodius and Aristogeiton. The best English translation is in Bland's Anthology, by Mr. Denman—
"With myrtle my sword will I wreathe," etc.
[Translations chiefly from the Greek Anthology, etc., 1806, pp. 24, 25. The Scholium, attributed to Callistratus (Poetæ Lyrici Græci, Bergk. Lipsiæ, 1866, p. 1290), begins thus—
Ἐν μύρτου κλαδὶ τὸ ξίφος φορήσω,
Ὥσπερ Ἁρμόδιος καὶ Ἀριοτογείτων,
Ὅτε τὸν τύραννον κτανέτην
Ἰσονόμους τ' Ἀθήνας ἐποιησάτην.
"Hence," says Mr. Tozer, "'the sword in myrtles drest' (Keble's Christian Year, Third Sunday in Lent) became the emblem of assertors of liberty."—Childe Harold, 1885, p. 262.]
And all went merry as a marriage bell.
Stanza xxi. line 8.
On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball was given at Brussels. [See notes to the text.]
And Evan's—Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears!
Stanza xxvi. line 9.
Sir Evan Cameron, and his descendant, Donald, the "gentle Lochiel" of the "forty-five."
[Sir Evan Cameron (1629–1719) fought against Cromwell, finally yielding on honourable terms to Monk, June 5, 1658, and for James II. at Killiecrankie, June 17, 1689. His grandson, Donald Cameron of Lochiel (1695–1748), celebrated by Campbell, in Lochiel's Warning, 1802, was wounded at Culloden, April 16, 1746. His great-great-grandson, John Cameron, of Fassieferne (b. 1771), in command of the 92nd Highlanders, was mortally wounded at Quatre-Bras, June 16, 1815. Compare Scott's stanzas, The Dance of Death, lines 33, sq.—
"Where through battle's rout and reel,
Storm of shot and hedge of steel,
Led the grandson of Lochiel,
· · · · ·
And Morven long shall tell,
And proud Ben Nevis hear with awe,
How, upon bloody Quatre-Bras,
Brave Cameron heard the wild hurra
Of conquest as he fell."
Compare, too, Scott's Field of Waterloo, stanza xxi. lines 14, 15—
"And Cameron, in the shock of steel,
Die like the offspring of Lochiel."]
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves.
Stanza xxvii. line 1.
The wood of Soignies is supposed to be a remnant of the forest of Ardennes, famous in Bojardo's Orlando, and immortal in Shakspeare's As You Like It. It is also celebrated in Tacitus, as being the spot of successful defence by the Germans against the Roman encroachments. I have ventured to adopt the name connected with nobler associations than those of mere slaughter.
[It is a far cry from Soignies in South Brabant to Ardennes in Luxembourg. Possibly Byron is confounding the "saltus quibus nomen Arduenna" (Tacitus, Ann., 3. 42), the scene of the revolt of the Treviri, with the "saltus Teutoburgiensis" (the Teutoburgen or Lippische Wald, which divides Lippe Detmold from Westphalia), where Arminius defeated the Romans (Tacitus, Ann., 1. 60). (For Boiardo's "Ardenna," see Orlando Innamorato, lib. i. canto 2, st. 30.) Shakespeare's Arden, the "immortal" forest, in As You Like It, "favours" his own Arden in Warwickshire, but derived its name from the "forest of Arden" in Lodge's Rosalynd.]
I turned from all she brought to those she could not bring.
Stanza xxx. line 9.
My guide from Mount St. Jean over the field seemed intelligent and accurate. The place where Major Howard fell was not far from two tall and solitary trees (there was a third cut down, or shivered in the battle), which stand a few yards from each other at a pathway's side. Beneath these he died and was buried. The body has since been removed to England. A small hollow for the present marks where it lay, but will probably soon be effaced; the plough has been upon it, and the grain is. After pointing out the different spots where Picton and other gallant men had perished; the guide said, "Here Major Howard lay: I was near him when wounded." I told him my relationship, and he seemed then still more anxious to point out the particular spot and circumstances. The place is one of the most marked in the field, from the peculiarity of the two trees above mentioned. I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my recollection of similar scenes. As a plain, Waterloo seems marked out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere imagination: I have viewed with attention those of Platea, Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Chæronea, and Marathon; and the field around Mount St. Jean and Hougoumont appears to want little but a better cause, and that undefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except, perhaps, the last mentioned.
[For particulars of the death of Major Howard, see Personal Memoirs, etc., by Pryse Lockhart Gordon, 1830, ii. 322, 323.]
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore.
Stanza xxxiv. line 6.
The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltites were said to be fair without, and, within, ashes.
[Compare Tacitus, Histor., lib. v. 7, "Cuncta sponte edita, aut manu sata, sive herbæ tenues, aut flores, ut solitam in speciem adolevere, atra et inania velut in cinerem vanescunt." See, too. Deut. xxxii. 32, "For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter."
They are a species of gall-nut, and are described by Curzon (Visits to Monasteries of the Levant, 1897, p. 141), who met with the tree that bears them, near the Dead Sea, and, mistaking the fruit for a ripe plum, proceeded to eat one, whereupon his mouth was filled "with a dry bitter dust."
"The apple of Sodom ... is supposed by some to refer to the fruit of Solanum Sodomeum (allied to the tomato), by others to the Calotropis procera" (N. Eng. Dict., art. "Apple").]
For sceptred Cynics Earth were far too wide a den.
Stanza xli. line 9.
The great error of Napoleon, "if we have writ our annals true," was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more trembling and suspicious tyranny. Such were his speeches to public assemblies as well as individuals; and the single expression which he is said to have used on returning to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing his hands over a fire, "This is pleasanter than Moscow," would probably alienate more favour from his cause than the destruction and reverses which led to the remark.
What want these outlaws conquerors should have?
Stanza xlviii. line 6.
"What wants that knave that a king should have?" was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and his followers in full accoutrements. See the Ballad.
[Johnie Armstrong, the laird of Gilnockie, on the occasion of an enforced surrender to James V. (1532), came before the king somewhat too richly accoutred, and was hanged for his effrontery—
"There hang nine targats at Johnie's hat,
And ilk ane worth three hundred pound—
'What wants that knave a king suld have
But the sword of honour and the crown'?"
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1821, i. 127.]
The castled Crag of Drachenfels.
Song, stanza 1, line 1.
The castle of Drachenfels stands on the highest summit of "the Seven Mountains," over the Rhine banks; it is in ruins, and connected with some singular traditions. It is the first in view on the road from Bonn, but on the opposite side of the river: on this bank, nearly facing it, are the remains of another, called the Jew's Castle, and a large cross, commemorative of the murder of a chief by his brother. The number of castles and cities along the course of the Rhine on both sides is very great, and their situations remarkably beautiful.
[The castle of Drachenfels (Dragon's Rock) stands on the summit of one, but not the highest, of the Siebengebirge, an isolated group of volcanic hills on the right bank of the Rhine between Remagen and Bonn. The legend runs that in one of the caverns of the rock dwelt the dragon which was slain by Siegfried, the hero of the Nibelungen Lied. Hence the vin du pays is called Drachenblut.]
The whiteness of his soul—and thus men o'er him wept.
Stanza lvii. line 9.
The monument of the young and lamented General Marceau (killed by a rifle-ball at Alterkirchen, on the last day of the fourth year of the French Republic) still remains as described. The inscriptions on his monument are rather too long, and not required: his name was enough; France adored, and her enemies admired; both wept over him. His funeral was attended by the generals and detachments from both armies. In the same grave General Hoche is interred, a gallant man also in every sense of the word; but though he distinguished himself greatly in battle, he had not the good fortune to die there: his death was attended by suspicions of poison.
A separate monument (not over his body, which is buried by Marceau's) is raised for him near Andernach, opposite to which one of his most memorable exploits was performed, in throwing a bridge to an island on the Rhine [April 18, 1797]. The shape and style are different from that of Marceau's, and the inscription more simple and pleasing.
"The Army of the Sambre and Meuse
to its Commander-in-Chief
This is all, and as it should be. Hoche was esteemed among the first of France's earlier generals, before Buonaparte monopolised her triumphs. He was the destined commander of the invading army of Ireland.
[The tomb of François Sévdrén Desgravins Marceau (1769-1796, general of the French Republic) bears the following epitaph and inscription:—
"'Hic cineres, ubique nomen.'
"Ici repose Marceau, né à Chartres, Eure-et-Loir, soldat à seize ans, général à vingtdeux ans. Il mourut en combattant pour sa patrie, le dernier jour de l'an iv. de la République française. Qui que tu sois, ami ou ennemi de ce jeune héros, respecte ces cendres."
A bronze statue at Versailles, raised to the memory of General Hoche (1768-1797) bears a very similar record—
"A Lazare Hoche, né à Versailles le 24 juin, 1768, sergent à seize ans, général en chef à vingt-cinq, mort à vingt-neuf, pacificateur de la Vendée."]
Here Ehrenbreitstein with her shattered wall.
Stanza lviii. line 1.
Ehrenbreitstein, i.e. "the broad stone of honour," one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, was dismantled and blown up by the French at the truce of Leoben. It had been, and could only be, reduced by famine or treachery. It yielded to the former, aided by surprise. After having seen the fortifications of Gibraltar and Malta, it did not much strike by comparison; but the situation is commanding. General Marceau besieged it in vain for some time, and I slept in a room where I was shown a window at which he is said to have been standing observing the progress of the siege by moonlight, when a ball struck immediately below it.
[Ehrenbreitstein, which had resisted the French under Marshal Boufflers in 1680, and held out against Marceau (1795-96), finally capitulated to the French after a prolonged siege in 1799. The fortifications were dismantled when the French evacuated the fortress after the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. The Treaty of Leoben was signed April 18, 1797.]
Unsepulchred they roamed, and shrieked each wandering ghost.
Stanza lxiii. line 9.
The chapel is destroyed, and the pyramid of bones diminished to a small number by the Burgundian Legion in the service of France; who anxiously effaced this record of their ancestors' less successful invasions. A few still remain, notwithstanding the pains taken by the Burgundians for ages (all who passed that way removing a bone to their own country), and the less justifiable larcenies of the Swiss postilions, who carried them off to sell for knife-handles; a purpose for which the whiteness imbibed by the bleaching of years had rendered them in great request. Of these relics I ventured to bring away as much as may have made a quarter of a hero, for which the sole excuse is, that if I had not, the next passer-by might have perverted them to worse uses than the careful preservation which I intend for them.
[Charles the Bold was defeated by the Swiss at the Battle of Morat, June 22, 1476. It has been computed that more than twenty thousand Burgundians fell in the battle. At first, to avoid the outbreak of a pestilence, the bodies were thrown into pits. "Nine years later ... the mouldering remains were unearthed, and deposited in a building ... on the shore of the lake, near the village of Meyriez.... During three succeeding centuries this depository was several times rebuilt.... But the ill-starred relics were not destined even yet to remain undisturbed. At the close of the last century, when the armies of the French Republic were occupying Switzerland, a regiment consisting mainly of Burgundians, under the notion of effacing an insult to their ancestors, tore down the 'bone-house' at Morat, covered the contents with earth, and planted on the mound 'a tree of liberty.' But the tree had no roots; the rains washed away the earth; again the remains were exposed to view, and lay bleaching in the sun for a quarter of a century. Travellers stopped to gaze, to moralize, and to pilfer; postilions and poets scraped off skulls and thigh-bones.... At last, in 1822, the vestiges were swept together and resepulchred, and a simple obelisk of marble was erected, to commemorate a victory well deserving of its fame as a military exploit, but all unworthy to be ranked with earlier triumphs, won by hands pure as well as strong, defending freedom and the right."—History of Charles the Bold, by J. F. Kirk, 1868, iii. 404, 405.
Mr. Murray still has in his possession the parcel of bones—the "quarter of a hero"—which Byron sent home from the field of Morat.]
Levelled Aventicum, hath strewed her subject lands.
Stanza lxv. line 9.
Aventicum, near Morat, was the Roman capital of Helvetia, where Avenches now stands.
[Avenches (Wiflisburg) lies due south of the Lake of Morat, and about five miles east of the Lake of Neuchâtel. As a Roman colony it bore the name of Pia Flavia Constans Emerita, and circ. 70 A.D. contained a population of sixty thousand inhabitants. It was destroyed first by the Alemanni and, afterwards, by Attila. "The Emperor Vespasian—son of the banker of the town," says Suetonius (lib. viii. 1)—"surrounded the city by massive walls, defended it by semicircular towers, adorned it with a capitol, a theatre, a forum, and granted it jurisdiction over the outlying dependencies....
"To-day plantations of tobacco cover the forgotten streets of Avenches, and a single Corinthian column ['the lonelier column,' the so-called Cicognier], with its crumbling arcade, remains to tell of former grandeur."—Historic Studies in Vaud, Berne, and Savoy, by General Meredith Read, 1897, i. 16.]
And held within their urn one mind—one heart—one dust.
Stanza lxvi. line 9.
Julia Alpinula, a young Aventian priestess, died soon after a vain endeavour to save her father, condemned to death as a traitor by Aulus Cæcina. Her epitaph was discovered many years ago;—it is thus:—"Julia Alpinula: Hic jaceo. Infelicis patris, infelix proles. Deæ Aventiæ Sacerdos. Exorare patris necem non potui: Male mori in fatis ille erat. Vixi annos XXIII."—I know of no human composition so affecting as this, nor a history of deeper interest. These are the names and actions which ought not to perish, and to which we turn with a true and healthy tenderness, from the wretched and glittering detail of a confused mass of conquests and battles, with which the mind is roused for a time to a false and feverish sympathy, from whence it recurs at length with all the nausea consequent on such intoxication.
[A mutinous outbreak among the Helvetii, which had been provoked by the dishonest rapacity of the twenty-first legion, was speedily quelled by the Roman general Aulus Cæcina. Aventicum surrendered (A.D. 69), but Julius Alpinus, a chieftain and supposed ring-leader, was singled out for punishment and put to death. "The rest," says Tacitus, "were left to the ruth or ruthlessness of Vitellius" (Histor., i. 67, 68). Julia Alpinula and her epitaph were the happy inventions of a sixteenth-century scholar. "It appears," writes Lord Stanhope, "that this inscription was given by one Paul Wilhelm, a noted forger (falsarius), to Lipsius, and by Lipsius handed over to Gruterus. Nobody, either before or since Wilhelm, has even pretended to have seen the stone ... as to any son or daughter of Julius Alpinus, history is wholly silent" (Quarterly Review, June, 1846, vol. lviii. p. 61; Historical Essays, by Lord Mahon, 1849, pp. 297, 298).]
In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow.
Stanza lxvii. line 8.
This is written in the eye of Mont Blanc (June 3rd, 1816), which even at this distance dazzles mine.—(July 20th.) I this day observed for some time the distinct reflection of Mont Blanc and Mont Argentière in the calm of the lake, which I was crossing in my boat; the distance of these mountains from their mirror is sixty miles.
[The first lines of the note dated June 3, 1816, were written at "Dejean's Hôtel de l'Angleterre, at Sécheron, a small suburb of Geneva, on the northern side of the lake." On the 10th of June Byron removed to the Campagne Diodati, about two miles from Geneva, on the south shore of the lake (Life of Shelley, by Edward Dowden, 1896, pp. 307-309).]
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone.
Stanza lxxi. line 3.
The colour of the Rhone at Geneva is blue, to a depth of tint which I have never seen equalled in water, salt or fresh, except in the Mediterranean and Archipelago.
[The blueness of the Rhone, which has been attributed to various causes, is due to the comparative purity of the water. The yellow and muddy stream, during its passage through the lake, is enabled to purge itself to a very great extent of the solid matter held in suspension—the glacial and other detritus—and so, on leaving its vast natural filtering-bed, it flows out clear and blue: it has regained the proper colour of pure water.]
This hallowed, too, the memorable kiss.
Stanza lxxix. line 3.
This refers to the account, in his Confessions, of his passion for the Comtesse d'Houdetot (the mistress of St. Lambert), and his long walk every morning, for the sake of the single kiss which was the common salutation of French acquaintance. Rousseau's description of his feelings on this occasion may be considered as the most passionate, yet not impure, description and expression of love that ever kindled into words; which, after all, must be felt, from their very force, to be inadequate to the delineation; a painting can give no sufficient idea of the ocean.
[Here is Rousseau's "passionate, yet not impure," description of his sensations: "J'ai dit qu'il y avoit loin de l'Hermitage à Eaubonne; je passois par les coteaux d'Andilly qui sont charmans. Je rêvois en marchant à celle que j'allois voir, à l'accueil caressant qu'elle me feroit, au baiser qui m'attendoit à mon arrivée. Ce seul baiser, ce baiser funeste avant même de le recevoir, m'embrasoit le sang à tel point, que ma téte se troubloit, un éblouissement m'aveugloit, mes genoux tremblants ne pouroient me soutenir; j'étois forcé de m'arrêter, de m'asseoir; toute ma machine étoit dans un désordre inconcevable; j'étois prêt à m'evanouir.... A l'instant que je la voyois, tout étoit réparé; je ne sentois plus auprès d'elle que l'importunité d'une vigueur inépuisable et toujours inutile."—Les Confessions, Partie II. livre ix.; Œuvres Complètes de J. J. Rousseau, 1837, i. 233.
Byron's mother "would have it" that her son was like Rousseau, but he disclaimed the honour antithetically and with needless particularity (see his letter to Mrs. Byron, and a quotation from his Detached Thoughts, Letters, 1898, i. 192, note). There was another point of unlikeness, which he does not mention. Byron, on the passion of love, does not "make for morality," but he eschews nastiness. The loves of Don Juan and Haidée are chaste as snow compared with the unspeakable philanderings of the elderly Jean Jacques and the "mistress of St. Lambert."
Nevertheless, his mother was right. There was a resemblance, and consequently an affinity, between Childe Burun and the "visionary of Geneva"—delineated by another seer or visionary as "the dreamer of love-sick tales, and the spinner of speculative cobwebs; shy of light as the mole, but as quick-eared too for every whisper of the public opinion; the teacher of Stoic pride in his principles, yet the victim of morbid vanity in his feelings and conduct."—The Friend; Works of S. T. Coleridge, 1853, ii. 124.]
Of earth-o'ergazing mountains, and thus take.
Stanza xci. line 3.
It is to be recollected, that the most beautiful and impressive doctrines of the divine Founder of Christianity were delivered, not in the Temple, but on the Mount. To waive the question of devotion, and turn to human eloquence,—the most effectual and splendid specimens were not pronounced within walls. Demosthenes addressed the public and popular assemblies. Cicero spoke in the forum. That this added to their effect on the mind of both orator and hearers, may be conceived from the difference between what we read of the emotions then and there produced, and those we ourselves experience in the perusal in the closet. It is one thing to read the Iliad at Sigæum and on the tumuli, or by the springs with Mount Ida above, and the plain and rivers and Archipelago around you; and another to trim your taper over it in a snug library—this I know. Were the early and rapid progress of what is called Methodism to be attributed to any cause beyond the enthusiasm excited by its vehement faith and doctrines (the truth or error of which I presume neither to canvass nor to question), I should venture to ascribe it to the practice of preaching in the fields, and the unstudied and extemporaneous effusions of its teachers. The Mussulmans, whose erroneous devotion (at least in the lower orders) is most sincere, and therefore impressive, are accustomed to repeat their prescribed orisons and prayers, wherever they may be, at the stated hours—of course, frequently in the open air, kneeling upon a light mat (which they carry for the purpose of a bed or cushion as required); the ceremony lasts some minutes, during which they are totally absorbed, and only living in their supplication: nothing can disturb them. On me the simple and entire sincerity of these men, and the spirit which appeared to be within and upon them, made a far greater impression than any general rite which was ever performed in places of worship, of which I have seen those of almost every persuasion under the sun; including most of our own sectaries, and the Greek, the Catholic, the Armenian, the Lutheran, the Jewish, and the Mahometan. Many of the negroes, of whom there are numbers in the Turkish empire, are idolaters, and have free exercise of their belief and its rites; some of these I had a distant view of at Patras; and, from what I could make out of them, they appeared to be of a truly Pagan description, and not very agreeable to a spectator.
[For this profession of "natural piety," compare Rousseau's Confessions, Partie II. livre xii. (Œuvres Complètes, 1837, i. 341)—
"Je ne trouve pas de plus digne hommage à la Divinité que cette admiration muette qu' excite la contemplation de ses œuvres, et qui ne s'exprime point par des actes développés. Je comprends comment les habitants des villes, qui ne voient que des murs, des rues et des crimes, ont peu de foi; mais je ne puis comprendre comment des campagnards, et surtout des solitaires, peuvent n'en point avoir. Comment leur âme ne s'élève-t-elle pas cent fois le jour avee extase à l'Auteur des merveilles qui les frappent?... Dans ma chambre je prie plus rarement et plus sèchement; mais à l'aspect d'un beau paysage je me sens ému sans pourvoir dire de quoi."
Compare, too, Coleridge's lines "To Nature"—
"So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields, Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee, Thee only, God! and Thou shalt not despise Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice."
Poetical Works, 1893, p. 190.]
The sky is changed!—and such a change! Oh Night!
Stanza xcii. line 1.
The thunder-storm to which these lines refer occurred on the 13th of June, 1816, at midnight. I have seen, among the Acroceraunian mountains of Chimari, several more terrible, but none more beautiful.
And Sun-set into rose-hues sees them wrought.
Stanza xcix. line 5.
Rousseau's Héloïse, Lettre 17, Part IV., note. "Ces montagnes sont si hautes, qu'une demi-heure après le soleil couché, leurs sommets sont éclairés de ses rayons, dont le rouge forme sur ces cimes blanches une belle couleur de rose, qu'on aperçoit de fort loin." This applies more particularly to the heights over Meillerie.—"J'allai à Vévay loger à la Clef; et pendant deux jours que j'y restai sans voir personne, je pris pour cette ville un amour qui m'a suivi dans tous mes voyages, et qui m'y a fait établir enfin les héros de mon roman. Je dirois volontiers à ceux qui ont du goût et qui sont sensibles: Allez à Vévay—visitez le pays, examinez les sites, promenez-vous sur le lac, et dites si la Nature n'a pas fait ce beau pays pour une Julie, pour une Claire, et pour un St. Preux; mais ne les y cherchez pas."—Les Confessions, [P. I. liv. 4, Œuvres, etc., 1837, i. 78].—In July [June 23-27], 1816, I made a voyage round the Lake of Geneva; and, as far as my own observations have led me in a not uninterested nor inattentive survey of all the scenes most celebrated by Rousseau in his Héloïse, I can safely say, that in this there is no exaggeration. It would be difficult to see Clarens (with the scenes around it, Vevay, Chillon, Bôveret, St. Gingo, Meillerie, Evian, and the entrances of the Rhone) without being forcibly struck with its peculiar adaptation to the persons and events with which it has been peopled. But this is not all; the feeling with which all around Clarens, and the opposite rocks of Meillerie, is invested, is of a still higher and more comprehensive order than the mere sympathy with individual passion; it is a sense of the existence of love in its most extended and sublime capacity, and of our own participation of its good and of its glory: it is the great principle of the universe, which is there more condensed, but not less manifested; and of which, though knowing ourselves a part, we lose our individuality, and mingle in the beauty of the whole.—If Rousseau had never written, nor lived, the same associations would not less have belonged to such scenes. He has added to the interest of his works by their adoption; he has shown his sense of their beauty by the selection; but they have done that for him which no human being could do for them.—I had the fortune (good or evil as it might be) to sail from Meillerie (where we landed for some time) to St. Gingo during a lake storm, which added to the magnificence of all around, although occasionally accompanied by danger to the boat, which was small and overloaded. It was over this very part of the lake that Rousseau has driven the boat of St. Preux and Madame Wolmar to Meillerie for shelter during a tempest. On gaining the shore at St. Gingo, I found that the wind had been sufficiently strong to blow down some fine old chestnut trees on the lower part of the mountains. On the opposite height of Clarens is a chateau [Château des Crêtes]. The hills are covered with vineyards, and interspersed with some small but beautiful woods; one of these was named the "Bosquet de Julie;" and it is remarkable that, though long ago cut down by the brutal selfishness of the monks of St. Bernard (to whom the land appertained), that the ground might be enclosed into a vineyard for the miserable drones of an execrable superstition, the inhabitants of Clarens still point out the spot where its trees stood, calling it by the name which consecrated and survived them. Rousseau has not been particularly fortunate in the preservation of the "local habitations" he has given to "airy nothings." The Prior of Great St. Bernard has cut down some of his woods for the sake of a few casks of wine, and Buonaparte has levelled part of the rocks of Meillerie in improving the road to the Simplon. The road is an excellent one; but I cannot quite agree with a remark which I heard made, that "La route vaut mieux que les souvenirs."
Of Names which unto you bequeathed a name.
Stanza cv. line 2.
Voltaire and Gibbon.
[François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778) lived on his estate at Fernex, five miles north of Geneva, from 1759 to 1777. "In the garden at Fernex is a long berceau walk, closely arched over with clipped horn-beam—a verdant cloister, with gaps cut here and there, admitting a glimpse of the prospect. Here Voltaire used to walk up and down, and dictate to his secretary."—Handbook for Switzerland, p. 174.
Previous to this he had lived for some time at Lausanne, at "Monrepos, a country house at the end of a suburb," at Monrion, "a square building of two storeys, and a high garret, with wings, each fashioned like the letter L," and afterwards, in the spring of 1757, at No. 6, Rue du Grand Chêne.—Historic Studies, ii. 210, 218, 219.
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) finished (1788) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at "La Grotte, an ancient and spacious mansion behind the church of St. Francis, at Lausanne," which was demolished by the Swiss authorities in 1879. Not only has the mansion ceased to exist, but the garden has been almost entirely changed. The wall of the Hôtel Gibbon occupies the site of the famous wooden pavilion, or summer-house, and of the "berceau of plum trees, which formed a verdant gallery completely arched overhead," and which "were called after Gibbon, La Gibbonière."—Historic Studies, i. 1; ii. 493.
In 1816 the pavilion was "utterly decayed," and the garden neglected, but Byron gathered "a sprig of Gibbon's acacia," and some rose leaves from his garden and enclosed them in a letter to Murray (June 27, 1816). Shelley, on the contrary, "refrained from doing so, fearing to outrage the greater and more sacred name of Rousseau; the contemplation of whose imperishable creations had left no vacancy in my heart for mortal things. Gibbon had a cold and unimpassioned spirit."—Essays, etc., 1840, ii. 76.]
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.
Stanza cxiii. line 9.
"——If 't be so,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind."
Macbeth, [act iii. sc. 1, line 64].
O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve.
Stanza cxiv. line 7.
It is said by Rochefoucault, that "there is always something in the misfortunes of men's best friends not displeasing to them."
["Dans l'adversité de nos meilleurs amis, nous trouvons toujours quelque chose qui ne nous déplait pas."—Appendice aux Maximes de La Rochefoucauld, Panthéon Littéraire, Paris, 1836, p. 460.]
- [D'Alembert (Jean-le-Rond, philosopher, mathematician, and belletrist, 1717-1783) had recently lost his friend, Mlle. (Claire Françoise) L'Espinasse, who died May 23, 1776. Frederick prescribes quelque problème bien difficile à résoudre as a remedy for vain regrets (Œuvres de Frédéric II., Roi de Prusse, 1790, xiv. 64, 65).]
- ["If you turn over the earlier pages of the Huntingdon peerage story, you will see how common a name Ada was in the early Plantagenet days. I found it in my own pedigree in the reigns of John and Henry.... It is short, ancient, vocalic, and had been in my family; for which reasons I gave it to my daughter."—Letter to Murray, Ravenna, October 8, 1820.
The Honourable Augusta Ada Byron was born December 10, 1815; was married July 8, 1835, to William King Noel (1805-1893), eighth Baron King, created Earl of Lovelace, 1838; and died November 27, 1852. There were three children of the marriage—Viscount Ockham (d. 1862), the present Earl of Lovelace, and the Lady Anna Isabella Noel, who was married to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Esq., in 1869.
"The Countess of Lovelace," wrote a contributor to the Examiner, December 4, 1852, "was thoroughly original, and the poet's temperament was all that was hers in common with her father. Her genius, for genius she possessed, was not poetic, but metaphysical and mathematical, her mind having been in the constant practice of investigation, and with rigour and exactness." Of her devotion to science, and her original powers as a mathematician, her translation and explanatory notes of F. L. Menabrea's Notices sur le machine Analytique de Mr. Babbage, 1842, a defence of the famous "calculating machine," remain as evidence.
"Those who view mathematical science not merely as a vast body of abstract and immutable truths,... but as possessing a yet deeper interest for the human race, when it is remembered that this science constitutes the language through which alone we can adequately express the great facts of the natural world ... those who thus think on mathematical truth as the instrument through which the weak mind of man can most effectually read his Creator's works, will regard with especial interest all that can tend to facilitate the translation of its principles into explicit practical forms." So, for the moment turning away from algebraic formulæ and abstruse calculations, wrote Ada, Lady Lovelace, in her twenty-eighth year. See "Translator's Notes," signed A. A. L., to A Sketch of the Analytical Engine invented by Charles Babbage, Esq., London, 1843.
It would seem, however, that she "wore her learning lightly as a flower." "Her manners [Examiner'], her tastes, her accomplishments, in many of which, music especially, she was proficient, were feminine in the nicest sense of the word." Unlike her father in features, or in the bent of her mind, she inherited his mental vigour and intensity of purpose. Like him, she died in her thirty-seventh year, and at her own request her coffin was placed by his in the vault at Hucknall Torkard. (See, too, Athenæum, December 4, 1852, and Gent. Mag., January, 1853.)]
- —— could grieve my gazing eye.—[C. erased.]
- [Compare Henry V., act iii. sc. 1, line 1—
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more."]
- [Compare The Two Noble Kinsmen (now attributed to Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Massinger), act ii. sc. 1, lines 73, seq.—
Shall we two exercise like twins of Honour
Our arms again, and feel our fiery horses
Like proud seas under us."
"Out of this somewhat forced simile," says the editor (John Wright) of Lord Byron's Poetical Works, issued in 1832, "by a judicious transposition of the comparison, and by the substitution of the more definite waves for seas, Lord Byron's clear and noble thought has been produced." But the literary artifice, if such there be, is subordinate to the emotion of the writer. It is in movement, progress, flight, that the sufferer experiences a relief from the poignancy of his anguish.]
- And the rent canvass tattering——.—[C.]
- ["The metaphor is derived from a torrent-bed, which, when dried up, serves for a sandy or shingly path."—Note by H. F. Tozer, Childe Harold, 1885, p. 257. Or, perhaps, the imagery has been suggested by the action of a flood, which ploughs a channel for itself through fruitful soil, and, when the waters are spent, leaves behind it "a sterile track," which does, indeed, permit the traveller to survey the desolation, but serves no other purpose of use or beauty.]
- I would essay of all I sang to sing.—[MS.]
- [Compare Manfred, act ii. sc. 1, lines 51, 52—
"Think'st thou existence doth depend on time?
It doth; but actions are our epoch."]
- Still unimpaired though worn——.—[MS. erased.]
- [It is the poet's fond belief that he can find the true reality in "the things that are not seen."
"Out of these create he can
Forms more real than living man—
Nurslings of Immortality."
"Life is but thought," and by the power of the imagination he thinks to "gain a being more intense," to add a cubit to his spiritual stature. Byron professes the same faith in The Dream (stanza i. lines 19-22), which also belongs to the summer of 1816—
"The mind can make
Substance, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh."
At this stage of his poetic growth, in part converted by Shelley, in part by Wordsworth as preached by Shelley, Byron, so to speak, "got religion," went over for a while to the Church of the mystics. There was, too, a compulsion from within. Life had gone wrong with him, and, driven from memory and reflection, he looks for redemption in the new earth which Imagination and Nature held in store.]
A brighter being that we thus endow
With form our fancies——.—[MS.]
- A dizzy world ——.—[MS. erased.]
- [Compare The Dream, viii. 6, seq.—
"Pain was mixed
In all which was served up to him, until
· · · · ·
He fed on poisons, and they had no power,
But were a kind of nutriment."]
- To bear unbent what Time cannot abate.—[MS.]
- [Of himself as distinct from Harold he will say no more. On the tale or spell of his own tragedy is set the seal of silence; but of Harold, the idealized Byron, he once more takes up the parable. In stanzas viii.-xv. he puts the reader in possession of some natural changes, and unfolds the development of thought and feeling which had befallen the Pilgrim since last they had journeyed together. The youthful Harold had sounded the depth of joy and woe. Man delighted him not—no, nor woman neither. For a time, however, he had cured himself of this trick of sadness. He had drunk new life from the fountain of natural beauty and antique lore, and had returned to take his part in the world, inly armed against dangers and temptations. And in the world he had found beauty, and fame had found him. What wonder that he had done as others use, and then discovered that he could not fare as others fared? Henceforth there remained no comfort but in nature, no refuge but in exile!]
He of the breast that strove no more to feel,
Scarred with the wounds ——.—[MS.]
- Secure in curbing coldness ——.—[MS.]
- Shines through the wonder-works—of God and Nature's hand.—[MS.]
Who can behold the flower at noon, nor seek
To pluck it? who can stedfastly behold.—[MS.]
- Nor feel how Wisdom ceases to be cold.—[MS. erased.]
- [The Temple of Fame is on the summit of a mountain; "Clouds overcome it;" but to the uplifted eye the mists dispel, and behold the goddess pointing to her star—the star of glory!]
- Yet with a steadier step than in his earlier time.—[MS. erased].
- [Compare Manfred, act ii. sc. 2, lines 50-58—
"From my youth upwards
My spirit walked not with the souls of men,
Nor looked upon the earth with human eyes;
· · · · ·
My joys, my griefs, my passions, and my powers
Made me a stranger; though I wore the form,
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh."
Compare, too, with stanzas xiii., xiv., ibid., lines 58-72.]
- Fool he not to know.—[MS. erased.]
Where there were mountains there for him were friends.
Where there was Ocean—there he was at home.—[MS.]
- Like the Chaldean he could gaze on stars.—[MS.]
—— adored the stars.—[MS. erased.]
- That keeps us from that Heaven on which we love to think.—[MS.]
But in Man's dwelling—Harold was a thing
Restless and worn, and cold and wearisome.—[MS.]
- [In this stanza the mask is thrown aside, and "the real Lord Byron" appears in propriâ personâ.]
- [The mound with the Belgian lion was erected by William I. of Holland, in 1823.]
- None; but the moral truth tells simpler so.—[MS.]
- [Stanzas xvii., xviii., were written after a visit to Waterloo. When Byron was in Brussels, a friend of his boyhood, Pryse Lockhart Gordon, called upon him and offered his services. He escorted him to the field of Waterloo, and received him at his house in the evening. Mrs. Gordon produced her album, and begged for an autograph. The next morning Byron copied into the album the two stanzas which he had written the day before. Lines 5-8 of the second stanza (xviii.) ran thus—
"Here his last flight the haughty Eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody beak the fatal plain,
Pierced with the shafts of banded nations through ..."
The autograph suggested an illustration to an artist, R. R. Reinagle (1775-1863), "a pencil-sketch of a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons." Gordon showed the vignette to Byron, who wrote in reply, "Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am; eagles and all birds of prey attack with their talons and not with their beaks, and I have altered the line thus—
"'Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain.'"
(See Personal Memoirs of Pryse Lockhart Gordon, 1830, ii. 327, 328.)]
- —— and still must be.—[MS.]
- —— the fatal Waterloo.—[MS.]
- Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew.—[MS.]
Then bit with bloody beak the rent plain.—[MS. erased.]
Then tore with bloody beak ——.—[MS.]
- And Gaul must wear the links of her own broken chain.—[MS.]
- [With this "obstinate questioning" of the final import and outcome of "that world-famous Waterloo," compare the Ode from the French, "We do not curse thee, Waterloo," written in 1815, and published by John Murray in Poems (1816). Compare, too, The Age of Waterloo, v. 93, "Oh, bloody and most bootless Waterloo!" and Don Juan, Canto VIII. stanzas xlviii.-l., etc. Shelley, too, in his sonnet on the Feelings of a Republican on the Fall of Bonaparte (1816), utters a like lament (Shelley's Works, 1895, ii. 385)—
Too late, since thou and France are in the dust,
That Virtue owns a more eternal foe
Than Force or Fraud: old Custom, legal Crime,
And bloody Faith, the foulest birth of Time."
Even Wordsworth, after due celebration of this "victory sublime," in his sonnet Emperors and Kings, etc. (Works, 1889, p. 557), solemnly admonishes the "powers"—
"Be just, be grateful; nor, the oppressor's creed
Reviving heavier chastisement deserve
Than ever forced unpitied hearts to bleed."
But the Laureate had no misgivings, and in The Poet's Pilgrimage, iv. 60, celebrates the national apotheosis—
"Peace hath she won ... with her victorious hand
Hath won thro' rightful war auspicious peace;
Nor this alone, but that in every land
The withering rule of violence may cease.
Was ever War with such blest victory crowned!
Did ever Victory with such fruits abound!"]
- Or league to teach their kings ——.—[MS].
- [The most vivid and the best authenticated account of the Duchess of Richmond's ball, which took place June 15, the eve of the Battle of Quatrebras, in the duke's house in the Rue de la Blanchisserie, is to be found in Lady de Ros's (Lady Georgiana Lennox) Personal Recollections of the Great Duke of Wellington, which appeared first in Murray's Magazine, January and February, 1889, and were republished as A Sketch of the Life of Georgiana, Lady de Ros, by her daughter, the Hon. Mrs. J. R. Swinton (John Murray, 1893). "My mother's now famous ball," writes Lady de Ros (A Sketch, etc., pp. 122, 123), "took place in a large room on the ground-floor on the left of the entrance, connected with the rest of the house by an ante-room. It had been used by the coachbuilder, from whom the house was hired, to put carriages in, but it was papered before we came there; and I recollect the paper—a trellis pattern with roses.... When the duke arrived, rather late, at the ball, I was dancing, but at once went up to him to ask about the rumours. 'Yes, they are true; we are off to-morrow.' This terrible news was circulated directly, and while some of the officers hurried away, others remained at the ball, and actually had not time to change their clothes, but fought in evening costume."]
- The lamps shone on lovely dames and gallant men.—[MS.]
The lamps shone on ladies ——.—[MS. erased.]
- With a slow deep and dread-inspiring roar.—[M.S. erased.]
- Arm! arm, and out! it is the opening cannon's roar.—[MS.]
Arm—arm—and out—it is—the cannon's opening roar.—[C.]
- [Frederick William, Duke of Brumswick (1771-1815), brother to Caroline, Princess of Wales, and nephew of George III., fighting at Quatrebras in the front of the line, "fell almost in the beginning of the battle." His father, Charles William Ferdinand, born 1735, the author of the fatal manifesto against the army of the French Republic (July 15, 1792), was killed at Auerbach, October 14, 1806. In the plan of the Duke of Richmond's house, which Lady de Ros published in her Recollections, the actual spot is marked (the door of the ante-room leading to the ball-room) where Lady Georgiana Lennox took leave of the Duke of Brunswick. "It was a dreadful evening," she writes, "taking leave of friends and acquaintances, many never to be seen again. The Duke of Brunswick, as he took leave of me ... made me a civil speech as to the Brunswickers being sure to distinguish themselves after 'the honour' done them by my having accompanied the Duke of Wellington to their review! I remember being quite provoked with poor Lord Hay, a dashing, merry youth, full of military ardour, whom I knew very well, for his delight at the idea of going into action ... and the first news we had on the 16th was that he and the Duke of Brunswick were killed."—A Sketch, etc., pp. 132, 133.]
His heart replying knew that sound too well.—[MS.]
And the hoped vengeance for a Sire so dear
As him who died on Jena—whom so well
His filial heart had mourned through many a year
Roused him to valiant fury nought could quell.—[MS. erased.]
- —— tremors of distress.—[MS.]
—— which did press
Like death upon young hearts ——.—[MS.]
- Oh that on night so soft, such heavy morn should rise.—[MS.]
And wakening citizens with terror dumb
Or whispering with pale lips—"The foe—They come, they come."—[MS.]
Or whispering with pale lips—"The Desolation's come."—[MS. erased.]
- And Soignies waves above them——.—[MS.]
And Ardennes ——.—[C.]
- [Vide ante, English Bards, etc., line 726, note: Poetical Works, 1898, i. 354.]
- But chiefly ——.—[MS.]
- [The Hon. Frederick Howard (1785-1815), third son of Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle, fell late in the evening of the 18th of June, in a final charge of the left square of the French Guard, in which Vivian brought up Howard's hussars against the French. Neither French infantry nor cavalry gave way, and as the Hanoverians fired but did not charge, a desperate combat ensued, in which Howard fell and many of the 10th were killed.—Waterloo: The Downfall of the First Napoleon, G. Hooper, 1861, p. 236.
Southey, who had visited the field of Waterloo, September, 1815, in his Poet's Pilgrimage (iii. 49), dedicates a pedestrian stanza to his memory—
"Here from the heaps who strewed the fatal plain
Was Howard's corse by faithful hands conveyed;
And not to be confounded with the slain,
Here in a grave apart with reverence laid,
Till hence his honoured relics o'er the seas
Were borne to England, where they rest in peace."]
- [Autumn had been beforehand with spring in the work of renovation.
"Yet Nature everywhere resumed her course;
Low pansies to the sun their purple gave,
And the soft poppy blossomed on the grave."
Poet's Pilgrimage, iii. 36.
But the contrast between the continuous action of nature and the doom of the unreturning dead, which does not greatly concern Southey, fills Byron with a fierce desire to sum the price of victory. He flings in the face of the vain-glorious mourners the bitter reality of their abiding loss. It was this prophetic note, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness," which sounded in and through Byron's rhetoric to the men of his own generation.]
- And dead within behold the Spring return.—[MS. erased.]
- It still is day though clouds keep out the Sun.—[MS.]
- [So, too, Coleridge. "Have you never seen a stick broken in the middle, and yet cohering by the rind? The fibres, half of them actually broken and the rest sprained, and, though tough, unsustaining? Oh, many, many are the broken-hearted for those who know what the moral and practical heart of the man is."—Anima Poetæ, 1895, p. 303.]
- [According to Lady Blessington (Conversations, p. 176), Byron maintained that the image of the broken mirror had in some mysterious way been suggested by the following quatrain which Curran had once repeated to him:—
"While memory, with more than Egypt's art
Embalming all the sorrows of the heart,
Sits at the altar which she raised to woe,
And finds the scene whence tears eternal flow."
But, as M. Darmesteter points out, the true source of inspiration was a passage in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy—"the book," as Byron maintained, "in my opinion most useful to a man who wishes to acquire the reputation of being well-read with the least trouble" (Life, p. 48). Burton is discoursing on injuiy and long-suffering. "'Tis a Hydra's head contention; the more they strive, the more they may; and as Praxiteles did by his glass [see Cardan, De Consolatione, lib. iii.], when he saw a scurvy face in it, break it in pieces; but for the one he saw, he saw many more as bad in a moment; for one injury done, they provoke another cum fœnore, and twenty enemies for one."—Anatomy of Melancholy, 1893, ii. 228. Compare, too, Carew's poem, The Spark, lines 23-26—
"And as a looking-glass, from the aspect,
Whilst it is whole doth but one face reflect,
But being crack'd or broken, there are shewn
Many half-faces, which at first were one.
Anderson's British Poets, 1793, iii. 703.]
- But not his pleasure—such might be a task.—[MS. erased.]
- [The "tale" or reckoning of the Psalmist, the span of threescore years and ten, is contrasted with the tale or reckoning of the age of those who fell at Waterloo. A "fleeting span" the Psalmist's; but, reckoning by Waterloo, "more than enough." Waterloo grudges even what the Psalmist allows.]
Here where the sword united Europe drew
I had a kinsman warring on that day.—[MS.]
- On little thoughts with equal firmness fixed.—[MS.]
For thou hast risen as fallen—even now thou seek'st
- [Byron seems to have been unable to make up his mind about Napoleon. "It is impossible not to be dazzled and overwhelmed by his character and career," he wrote to Moore (March 17, 1815), when his Héros de Roman, as he called him, had broken open his "captive's cage" and was making victorious progress to the capital. In the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, which was written in April, 1814, after the first abdication at Fontainebleau, the dominant note is astonishment mingled with contempt. It is the lamentation over a fallen idol. In these stanzas (xxxvi.-xlv.) he bears witness to the man's essential greatness, and, with manifest reference to his own personality and career, attributes his final downfall to the peculiar constitution of his genius and temper. A year later (1817), in the Fourth Canto (stanzas lxxxix.-xcii.), he passes a severe sentence. Napoleon's greatness is swallowed up in weakness. He is a "kind of bastard Cæsar," self-vanquished, the creature and victim of vanity. Finally, in The Age of Bronze, sections iii.-vi., there is a reversion to the same theme, the tragic irony of the rise and fall of the "king of kings, and yet of slaves the slave."
As a schoolboy at Harrow, Byron fought for the preservation of Napoleon's bust, and he was ever ready, in defiance of national feeling and national prejudice, to celebrate him as "the glorious chief;" but when it came to the point, he did not "want him here," victorious over England, and he could not fail to see, with insight quickened by self-knowledge, that greatness and genius possess no charm against littleness and commonness, and that the "glory of the terrestrial" meets with its own reward. The moral is obvious, and as old as history; but herein lay the secret of Byron's potency, that he could remint and issue in fresh splendour the familiar coinage of the world's wit. Moreover, he lived in a great age, when great truths are born again, and appear in a new light.]
- [The stanza was written while Napoleon was still under the guardianship of Admiral Sir George Cockburn, and before Sir Hudson Lowe had landed at St. Helena; but complaints were made from the first that imperial honours which were paid to him by his own suite were not accorded by the British authorities.]
——and thy dark name
Was ne'er more rife within men's mouths than now.—[MS.]
- Who tossed thee to and fro till——.—[MS. erased.]
- Which be it wisdom, weakness——.—[MS.]
- To watch thee shrinking calmly hadst thou smiled.—[MS.]
With a sedate tho' not unfeeling eye.—[MS. erased.]
Greater than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition lured thee on too far to show
That true habitual scorn——.—[MS.]
- Feeds on itself and all things——.—[MS.]
- Which stir too deeply——.—[MS.]
Which stir the blood too boiling in its springs.—[MS. erased.]
- [Compare Tacitus, Ann., vi. 6, "Si recludantur tyrannorum mentes."]
- ——they rave overcast.—[MS.]
- ——the hate of all below.—[MS.]
- ——on his single head.—[MS.]
- ——the wise man's World will be.—[MS.]
- ——for what teems like thee.—[MS.]
- From gray and ghastly walls—where Ruin kindly dwells.—[MS.]
- [For the archaic use of "battles" for "battalions," compare Macbeth, act v. sc. 4, line 4; and Scott's Lord of the Isles, vi. 10—
"In battles four beneath their eye,
The forces of King Robert lie."]
- ——are shredless tatters now.—[MS.]
What want these outlaws that a king should have
But History's vain page——.—[MS.]
- ——their hearts were far more brave.—[MS.]
- [The most usual device is a bleeding heart.]
Nor mar it frequent with an impious show
Of arms or angry conflict——.—[MS.]
- [Compare Moore's lines, The Meeting of the Waters—
"There is not in the wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the wide waters meet."]
Earth's dreams of Heaven—and such to seem to me
But one thing wants thy stream——.—[MS.]
- [Compare Lucan's Pharsalia, ix. 969, "Etiam periere ruinæ;" and the lines from Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata, xv. 20, quoted in illustration of Canto II. stanza liii.]
Glassed with its wonted light, the sunny ray;
But o'er the mind's marred thoughts—though but a dream.—[MS.]
- Repose itself on kindness——.—[MS.]
- [Two lyrics, entitled Stanzas to Augusta, and the Epistle to Augusta, which were included in Domestic Pieces, published in 1816, are dedicated to the same subject—the devotion and faithfulness of his sister.]
- But there was one——.—[MS.]
- Yet was it pure——.—[MS.]
- [It has been supposed that there is a reference in this passage, and again in Stanzas to Augusta (dated July 24, 1816), to "the only important calumny"—to quote Shelley's letter of September 29, 1816—"that was even ever advanced" against Byron. "The poems to Augusta," remarks Elze (Life of Lord Byron, p. 174), "prove, further, that she too was cognizant of the calumnious accusations; for under no other supposition is it possible to understand their allusions." But the mere fact that Mrs. Leigh remained on terms of intimacy and affection with her brother, when he was under the ban of society, would expose her to slander and injurious comment, "peril dreaded most in female eyes;" whereas to other calumnies, if such there were, there could be no other reference but silence, or an ecstasy of wrath and indignation.]
- Thus to that heart did his its thoughts in absence pour.—[MS.]
——its absent feelings pour.—[MS. erased.]
- [Written on the Rhine bank, May 11, 1816.—MS. M.]
- A sigh for Marceau——.—[MS.]
- [Marceau (vide post, note 2, p. 296) took part in crushing the Vendean insurrection. If, as General Hoche asserts in his memoirs, six hundred thousand fell in Vendée, Freedom's charter was not easily overstepped.]
- [Compare Gray's lines in The Fatal Sisters—
"Iron-sleet of arrowy shower
Hurtles in the darken'd air."]
- And could the sleepless vultures——.—[MS.]
- Rustic not rude, sublime yet not austere.—[MS.]
- [Lines 8 and 9 may be cited as a crying instance of Byron's faulty technique. The collocation of "awful" with "austere," followed by "autumn" in the next line, recalls the afflictive assonance of "high Hymettus," which occurs in the beautiful passage which he stole from The Curse of Minerva and prefixed to the third canto of The Corsair. The sense of the passage is that, as in autumn, the golden mean between summer and winter, the year is at its full, so in the varied scenery of the Rhine there is a harmony of opposites, a consummation of beauty.]
More mighty scenes may rise—more glaring shine
But none unite in one enchanted gaze
The fertile—fair—and soft—the glories of old days.[MS.]
- [The "negligently grand" may, perhaps, refer to the glories of old days, now in a state of neglect, not to the unstudied grandeur of the scene taken as a whole; but the phrase is loosely thrown out in order to convey a general impression, "an attaching maze," an engaging attractive combination of images, and must not be interrogated too closely.]
- [Compare the opening lines of Coleridge's Hymn before Sunrise in the Valley of Chamouni—
"Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc!"
The "thunderbolt" (line 6) recurs in Manfred, act i. so. 1—
"Around his waist are forests braced,
The Avalanche in his hand;
But ere its fall, that thundering ball
Must pause for my command."]
Around in chrystal grandeur to where falls
The avalanche—the thunder-clouds of snow.—[MS.]
- [The inscription on the ossuary of the Burgundian troops which fell in the battle of Morat, June 14, 1476, suggested this variant of Si monumentum quæris—
"Deo Optimo Maximo.
"Inclytissimi et fortissimi Burgundia; ducis exercitus,
Moratum obsidens, ab Helvetiis cæsus, hoc sui monumentum reliquit."]
- Unsepulchred they roam, and shriek——.—[MS.]
- [The souls of the suitors when Hermes "roused and shepherded them followed gibbering" (τρίζουσαι).—Od., xxiv. 5. Once, too, when the observance of the dies Parentales was neglected, Roman ghosts took to wandering and shrieking.
"Perque vias Urbis, Latiosque ululasse per agros
Deformes animas, vulgus inane ferunt."
Ovid, Fasti, ii. lines 553, 554.
The Homeric ghosts gibbered because they were ghosts; the Burgundian ghosts because they were confined to the Stygian coast, and could not cross the stream. For once the "classical allusions" are forced and inappropriate.]
- [Byron's point is that at Morat 15,000 men were slain in a righteous cause—the defence of a republic against an invading tyrant; whereas the lives of those that fell at Cannæ and at Waterloo were sacrificed to the ambition of rival powers fighting for the mastery.]
——their proud land
Groan'd not beneath——.—[MS.]
- And thus she died——.—[MS.]
- And they lie simply——.—[MS. erased.]
- The clear depths yield——.—[MS.]
- ["Haunted and hunted by the British tourist and gossip-monger, Byron took refuge, on June 10, at the Villa Diodati; but still the pursuers strove to win some wretched consolation by waylaying him in his evening drives, or directing the telescope upon his balcony, which overlooked the lake, or upon the hillside, with its vineyards, where he lurked obscure" (Dowden's Life of Shelley, 1896, p. 309). It is possible, too, that now and again even Shelley's companionship was felt to be a strain upon nerves and temper. The escape from memory and remorse, which could not be always attained in the society of a chosen few, might, he hoped, be found in solitude, face to face with nature. But it was not to be. Even nature was powerless to "minister to a mind diseased." At the conclusion of his second tour (September 29, 1816), he is constrained to admit that "neither the music of the shepherd, the crashing of the avalanche, nor the torrent, the mountain, the glacier, the forest, nor the cloud, have for one moment lightened the weight upon my heart, nor enabled me to lose my own wretched identity in the majesty, and the power, and the glory, around, above, and beneath me" (Life, p. 315). Perhaps Wordsworth had this confession in his mind when, in 1834, he composed the lines, "Not in the Lucid Intervals of Life," of which the following were, he notes, "written with Lord Byron's character as a past before me, and that of others, his contemporaries, who wrote under like influences:"—
"Nor do words,
Which practised talent readily affords,
Prove that his hand has touched responsive chords
Nor has his gentle beauty power to move
With genuine rapture and with fervent love
The soul of Genius, if he dare to take
Life's rule from passion craved for passion's sake;
Untaught that meekness is the cherished bent
Of all the truly great and all the innocent.
But who is innocent? By grace divine,
Not otherwise, O Nature! are we thine,
Through good and evil there, in just degree
Of rational and manly sympathy."
The Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 729.
Wordsworth seems to have resented Byron's tardy conversion to "natural piety," regarding it, no doubt, as a fruitless and graceless endeavour without the cross to wear the crown. But if Nature reserves her balms for "the innocent," her quality of inspiration is not "strained." Byron, too, was nature's priest—
"And by that vision splendid
Was on his way attended."]
- In its own deepness——.—[MS.]
- [The metaphor is derived from a hot spring which appears to boil over at the moment of its coming to the surface. As the particles of water, when they emerge into the light, break and bubble into a seething mass; so, too, does passion chase and beget passion in the "hot throng" of general interests and individual desires.]
- One of a worthless world—to strive where none are strong.—[MS.]
- [The thought which underlies the whole of this passage is that man is the creature and thrall of fate. In society, in the world, he is exposed to the incidence of passion, which he can neither resist nor yield to without torture. He is overcome by the world, and, as a last resource, he turns to nature and solitude. He lifts up his eyes to the hills, unexpectant of Divine aid, but in the hope that, by claiming kinship with Nature, and becoming "a portion of that around" him, he may forego humanity, with its burden of penitence, and elude the curse. There is a further reference to this despairing recourse to Nature in The Dream, viii. 10, seq.—
"... he lived
Through that which had been death to many men,
And made him friends of mountains: with the stars
And the quick Spirit of the Universe
He held his dialogues! and they did teach
To him the magic of their mysteries."]
- ——through Eternity.—[MS.]
- [Shelley seems to have taken Byron at his word, and in the Adonais (xxx. 3, seq.) introduces him in the disguise of—
"The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame
Over his living head like Heaven is bent,
An early but enduring monument."
Notwithstanding the splendour of Shelley's verse, it is difficult to suppress a smile. For better or for worse, the sense of the ludicrous has asserted itself, and "brother" cannot take "brother" quite so seriously as in "the brave days of old." But to each age its own humour. Not only did Shelley and Byron worship at the shrine of Rousseau, but they took delight in reverently tracing the footsteps of St. Preux and Julie.]
- [The name "Tigris" is derived from the Persian tîr (Sanscrit Tigra), "an arrow." If Byron ever consulted Hofmann's Lexicon Universale, he would have read, "Tigris, a velocitate dictus quasi sagitta;" but most probably he neither had nor sought an authority for his natural and beautiful simile.]
- To its young cries and kisses all awake.—[MS.]
- [Compare Tintern Abbey. In this line, both language and sentiment are undoubtedly Wordsworth's—
"The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours, and their forms, were then to me
An appetite, a feeling, and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm."
But here the resemblance ends. With Wordsworth the mood passed, and he learned
"To look on Nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Not harsh nor grating, but of amplest power
To chasten and subdue."
He would not question Nature in search of new and untainted pleasure, but rests in her as inclusive of humanity. The secret of Wordsworth is acquiescence; "the still, sad music of humanity" is the key-note of his ethic. Byron, on the other hand, is in revolt. He has the ardour of a pervert, the rancorous scorn of a deserter. The "hum of human cities" is a "torture." He is "a link reluctant in a fleshly chain." To him Nature and Humanity are antagonists, and he cleaves to the one, yea, he would take her by violence, to mark his alienation and severance from the other.]
- Of peopled cities——.—[MS.]
——but to be
A link reluctant in a living chain
Classing with creatures——.—[MS.]
- And with the air——.—[MS.]
- To sink and suffer——.—[MS.]
- ——which partly round us cling.—[MS.]
- [Compare Horace, Odes, iii. 2. 23, 24—
Spernit humum fugiente pennâ."]
- ——in this degrading form.—[MS.]
- ——the Spirit in each spot.—[MS.]
- [The "bodiless thought" is the object, not the subject, of his celestial vision. "Even now," as through a glass darkly, and with eyes
"Whose half-beholdings through unsteady tears
Gave shape, hue, distance to the inward dream,"
his soul "had sight" of the spirit, the informing idea, the essence of each passing scene; but, hereafter, his bodiless spirit would, as it were, encounter the place-spirits face to face. It is to be noted that warmth of feeling, not clearness or fulness of perception, attends this spiritual recognition.]
- [Is not] the universe a breathing part?—[MS.]
- And gaze upon the ground with sordid thoughts and slow.—[MS.]
- [Compare Coleridge's Dejection. An Ode, iv. 4-9—
"And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor, loveless, ever-anxious crowd;
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the earth."]
- But this is not a time—I must return.—[MS.]
- Here the reflecting Sophist——.—[MS.]
O'er sinful deeds and thoughts the heavenly hue
With words like sunbeams dazzling as they passed
The eye that o'er them shed deep tears which flowed too fast.—[MS.]
O'er deeds and thoughts of error the bright hue.—[MS. erased.]
- Like him enamoured were to die the same.—[MS.]
- ——self-consuming heat.—[MS. erased.]
- [As, for instance, with Madame de Warens, in 1738; with Madame d'Epinay; with Diderot and Grimm, in 1757; with Voltaire; with David Hume, in 1766 (see "Rousseau in England," Q. R., No. 376, October, 1898); with every one to whom he was attached or with whom he had dealings, except his illiterate mistress, Theresa le Vasseur. (See Rousseau, by John Morley, 2 vols., 1888, passim.)]
- For its own cruel workings the most kind.—[MS. erased.]
- Since cause might be yet leave no trace behind.—[MS.]
- ["He was possessed, as holier natures than his have been, by an enthusiastic vision, an intoxicated confidence, a mixture of sacred rage and prodigious love, an insensate but absolutely disinterested revolt against the stone and iron of a reality which he was bent on melting in a heavenly blaze of splendid aspiration and irresistibly persuasive expression."—Rousseau, by John Morley, 1886, i. 137.]
- [Rousseau published his Discourses on the influence of the sciences, on manners, and on inequality (Sur l'Origine ... de l'Inégalité parmi les Hommes) in 1750 and 1753; Émile, ou, de l'Éducation, and Du Contrat Social in 1762.]
- ["What Rousseau's Discourse [Sur l'Origine de l'Inégalité, etc.] meant ... is not that all men are born equal. He never says this.... His position is that the artificial differences, springing from the conditions of the social union, do not coincide with the differences in capacity springing from original constitution; that the tendency of the social union as now organized is to deepen the artificial inequalities, and make the gulf between those endowed with privileges and wealth, and those not so endowed, ever wider and wider.... It was ... [the influence of Rousseau ... and those whom he inspired] which, though it certainly did not produce, yet did as certainly give a deep and remarkable bias, first to the American Revolution, and a dozen years afterwards to the French Revolution:"—Rousseau, 1888, i. 181, 182.]
——thoughts which grew
Born with the birth of Time——.—[MS.]
——even let me view
But good alas——.—[MS.]
- ——in both we shall be slower.—[MS. erased.]
- [The substitution of "one" for "both" (see var. i.) affords conclusive proof that the meaning is that the next revolution would do its work more thoroughly and not leave things as it found them.]
- [After sunset the Jura range, which lies to the west of the Lake, would appear "darkened" in contrast to the afterglow in the western sky.]
- He is an endless reveller——.—[MS. erased.]
- Him merry with light talking with his mate.—[MS. erased.]
- [Compare Anacreon (Εἰς τέττιγα), Carm. xliii. line 15—
Τὸ δὲ γῆρας οὔ σε τείρει.]
- Deep into Nature's breast the existence which they lose.—[MS.]
- [For the association of "Fortune" and "Fame" with a star, compare stanza xi. lines 5, 6—
"Who can contemplate Fame through clouds unfold
The star which rises o'er her steep," etc.?
And the allusion to Napoleon's "star," stanza xxxviii. line 9—
"Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest Star."
Compare, too, the opening lines of the Stanzas to Augusta (July 24, 1816)—
"Though the day of my destiny's over,
And the star of my fate has declined."
"Power" is symbolized as a star in Numb. xxiv. 17, "There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel;" and in the divine proclamation, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star (Rev. xxii. 16).
The inclusion of "life" among star similes may have been suggested by the astrological terms, "house of life" and "lord of the ascendant." Wordsworth, in his Ode (Intimations of Immortality, etc.) speaks of the soul as "our life's star." Mr. Tozer, who supplies most of these "comparisons," adds a line from Shelley's Adonais, 55. 8 (Pisa, 1821)—
"The soul of Adonais, like a star."]
- [Compare Wordsworth's sonnet, "It is a Beauteous," etc.—
"It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a nun
Breathless with adoration."]
- [Here, too, the note is Wordsworthian, though Byron represents as inherent in Nature, that "sense of something far more deeply interfused," which Wordsworth (in his Lines on Tintern Abbey) assigns to his own consciousness.]
- It is a voiceless feeling chiefly felt.—[MS.]
- Of a most inward music——.—[MS.]
- [As the cestus of Venus endowed the wearer with magical attraction, so the immanence of the Infinite and the Eternal in "all that formal is and fugitive," binds it with beauty and produces a supernatural charm which even Death cannot resist.]
- [Compare Herodotus, i. 131, Οἱ δὲ νομίζουσι Διὶ μὲν, ἐπὶ τὰ ἱψηλότατα τῶν οὐρέων ἀναβαίνοντες, θυσίας ἕρδειν, τὸν κύκλον πάντα τοῦ οὐρανοῦ Δία καλέοντες. Perhaps, however, "early Persian" was suggested by a passage in "that drowsy, frowsy poem, The Excursion"—
"The Persian—zealous to reject
Altar and image and the inclusive walls
And roofs and temples built by human hands—
To loftiest heights ascending, from their tops
With myrtle-wreathed tiara on his brow,
Presented sacrifice to moon and stars."
The Excursion, iv. (The Works of Wordsworth, 1889, p. 461).]
- [Compare the well-known song which forms the prelude of the Hebrew Melodies—
"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes."]
——Oh glorious Night
That art not sent——.—[MS.]
- A portion of the Storm—a part of thee.—[MS.]
- ——a fiery sea.—[MS.]
- As they had found an heir and feasted o'er his birth.—[MS. erased.]
Hills which look like brethren with twin heights
Of a like aspect——.—[MS. erased.]
- [There can be no doubt that Byron borrowed this metaphor from the famous passage in Coleridge's Christabel (ii. 408-426), which he afterwards prefixed as a motto to Fare Thee Well.
The latter half of the quotation runs thus—
"But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining—
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once had been."]
- Of separation drear——.—[MS. erased.]
- [There are numerous instances of the use of "knoll" as an alternative form of the verb "to knell;" but Byron seems, in this passage, to be the authority for "knoll" as a substantive.]
- [For Rousseau's description of Vevey, see Julie; ou, La Nouvelle Héloïse, Partie I. Lettre xxiii., Œuvres de J. J. Rousseau., 1836, ii. 36: "Tantôt d'immenses rochers pendoient en ruines au-dessus de ma tête. Tantôt de hautes et bruyantes cascades m'inondoient de leur épais brouillard: tantôt un torrent éternel ouvroit à mes côtés un abîme dont les yeux n'osoient sonder la profondeur. Quelquefois je me perdois dans l'obscurité d'un bois touffu. Quelquefois, en sortant d'un gouffre, une agréable prairie, réjouissoit tout-à-coup mes regards. Un mélange étonnant de la nature sauvage et de la nature cultivée, montroit partout la main des hommes, où l'on eût cru qu'ils n'avoient jamais pénétré: a côté d'une caverne on trouvoit des maisons: on voyoit des pampres secs où l'on n'eût cherché que des ronces, des vignes dans des terres éboullées, d'excellens fruits sur des rochers, et des champs dans des précipices." See, too, Lettre xxxviii. p. 56; Partie IV. Lettre xi. p. 238 (the description of Julie's Elysium); and Partie IV. Lettre xvii. p. 260 (the excursion to Meillerie).
Byron infuses into Rousseau's accurate and charming compositions of scenic effects, if not the "glory," yet "the freshness of a dream." He belonged to the new age, with its new message from nature to man, and, in spite of theories and prejudices, listened and was convinced. He extols Rousseau's recognition of nature, lifting it to the height of his own argument; but, consciously or unconsciously, he desires to find, and finds, in nature a spring of imagination undreamt of by the Apostle of Sentiment. There is a whole world of difference between Rousseau's persuasive and delicate patronage of Nature, and Byron's passionate, though somewhat belated, surrender to her inevitable claim. With Rousseau, Nature is a means to an end, a conduct of refined and heightened fancy; whereas, to Byron, "her reward was with her," a draught of healing and refreshment.]
- The trees have grown from Love——.—[MS. erased.]
- By rays which twine there——.—[MS.]
Clarens—sweet Clarens—thou art Love's abode—
Undying Love's—who here hath made a throne.—[MS.]
And girded it with Spirit which is shown
From the steep summit to the rushing Rhone.—[MS. erased.]
——whose searching power
Surpasses the strong storm in its most desolate hour.—[MS.]
- [Compare La Nouvelle Héloïse, Partie IV. Lettre xvii., Œuvres, etc., ii. 262: "Un torrent, formé par la fonte des neiges, rouloit à vingt pas de nous une eau bourbeuse, et charrioit avec bruit du limon, du sable et des pierres.... Des forêts de noirs sapins nous ombrageoient tristement à droite. Un grand bois de chênes étoit à gauche au-delà du torrent."]
- But branches young as Heaven——.—[MS. erased.]
- ——with sweeter voice than words.—[MS.]
- [Compare the Pervigilium Veneris—
"Cras amet qui nunquam amavit,
Quique amavit cras amet."
("Let those love now, who never loved before;
Let those who always loved, now love the more.")
Parnell's Vigil of Venus: British Poets, 1794, vii. 7.]
- ——have driven him to repose.—[MS.]
- [Compare Confessions of J. J. Rousseau, lib. iv., passim.]
- [In his appreciation of Voltaire, Byron, no doubt, had in mind certain strictures of the lake school—"a school, as it is called, I presume, from their education being still incomplete." Coleridge, in The Friend (1850, i. 168), contrasting Voltaire with Erasmus, affirms that "the knowledge of the one was solid through its whole extent, and that of the other extensive at a chief rate in its superficiality," and characterizes "the wit of the Frenchman" as being "without imagery, without character, and without that pathos which gives the magic charm to genuine humour;" and Wordsworth, in the second book of The Excursion (Works of Wordsworth, 1889, p. 434), "unalarmed" by any consideration of wit or humour, writes down Voltaire's Optimist (Candide, ou L'Optimisme), which was accidentally discovered by the "Wanderer" in the "Solitary's" pent-house, "swoln with scorching damp," as "the dull product of a scoffer's pen." Byron reverts to these contumelies in a note to the Fifth Canto of Don Juan (see Life, Appendix, p. 809), and lashes "the school" secundum artem.]
Coping with all and leaving all behind
Within himself existed all mankind—
And laughing at their faults betrayed his own
His own was ridicule which as the Wind.—[MS.]
- [In his youth Voltaire was imprisoned for a year (1717-18) in the Bastille, by the regent Duke of Orleans, on account of certain unacknowledged lampoons (Regnante Puero, etc.); but throughout his long life, so far from "shaking thrones," he showed himself eager to accept the patronage and friendship of the greatest monarchs of the age—of Louis XV., of George II. and his queen, Caroline of Anspach, of Frederick II., and of Catharine of Russia. Even the Pope Benedict XIV. accepted the dedication of Mahomet (1745), and bestowed an apostolical benediction on "his dear son." On the other hand, his abhorrence of war, his protection of the oppressed, and, above all, the questioning spirit of his historical and philosophical writings (e.g. Les Lettres sur les Anglais, 1733; Annales de l'Empire depuis Charlemagne, 1753, etc.) were felt to be subversive of civil as well as ecclesiastical tyranny, and, no doubt, helped to precipitate the Revolution.
The first half of the line may be illustrated by his quarrel with Maupertuis, the President of the Berlin Academy, which resulted in the production of the famous Diatribe of Doctor Akakia, Physician to the Pope (1752), by a malicious attack on Maupertuis's successor, Le Franc de Pompignan, and by his caricature of the critic Elie Catharine Fréron, as Frélon ("Wasp"), in L'Ecossaise, which was played at Paris in 1760.—Life of Voltaire, by F. Espinasse, 1892, pp. 94, 114, 144.]
And gathering wisdom——.—[MS.]
- Which stung his swarming foes with rage and fear.—[MS.]
- [The first three volumes of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, contrary to the author's expectation, did not escape criticism and remonstrance. The Rev. David Chetsum (in 1772 and (enlarged) 1778) published An Examination of, etc., and Henry Edward Davis, in 1778, Remarks on the memorable Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters. Gibbon replied by a Vindication, issued in 1779. Another adversary was Archdeacon George Travis, who, in his Letter, defended the authenticity of the text on "Three Heavenly Witnesses" (1 John v. 7), which Gibbon was at pains to deny (ch. xxxvii. note 120). Among other critics and assailants were Joseph Milner, Joseph Priestley, and Richard Watson afterwards Bishop of Llandaff. (For Porson's estimate of Gibbon, see preface to Letters to Mr. Archdeacon Travis, etc., 1790.)]
- In sleep upon one pillow——.—[MS.]
- [There is no reason to suppose that this is to be taken ironically. He is not certain whether the "secrets of all hearts shall be revealed," or whether all secrets shall be kept in the silence of universal slumber; but he looks to the possibility of a judgment to come. He is speaking for mankind generally, and is not concerned with his own beliefs or disbeliefs.]
- [The poet would follow in the wake of the clouds. He must pierce them, and bend his steps to the region of their growth, the mountain-top, where earth begets and air brings forth the vapours. Another interpretation is that the Alps must be pierced in order to attain the great and ever-ascending regions of the mountain-tops ("greater and greater as we proceed"). In the next stanza he pictures himself looking down from the summit of the Alps on Italy, the goal of his pilgrimage.]
- [The Roman Empire engulfed and comprehended the great empires of the past—the Persian, the Carthaginian, the Greek. It fell, and kingdoms such as the Gothic (A.D. 493-554), the Lombardic (A.D. 568-774) rose out of its ashes, and in their turn decayed and passed away.]
- [The task imposed upon his soul, which dominates every other instinct, is the concealment of any and every emotion—"love, or hate, or aught," not the concealment of the particular emotion "love or hate," which may or may not be the "master-spirit" of his thought. He is anxious to conceal his feelings, not to keep the world in the dark as to the supreme feeling which holds the rest subject.]
- They are but as a self-deceiving wile.—[MS. erased.]
- The shadows of the things that pass along.—[MS.]
Fame is the dream of boyhood—I am not
So young as to regard the frown or smile
Of crowds as making an immortal lot.—[MS. (lines 6, 7 erased).]
- [Compare Shakespeare, Coriolanus, act iii. sc. 1, lines 66, 67—
"For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
Regard me as I do not flatter."]
- [Compare Manfred, act ii. sc. 2, lines 54-57—
"My spirit walked not with the souls of men,
Nor looked upon the earth with human eyes;
The thirst of their ambition was not mine,
The aim of their existence was not mine."]
- O'er misery unmixedly some grieve.—[MS.]
- [Byron was at first in some doubt whether he should or should not publish the "concluding stanzas of Childe Harold (those to my daughter);" but in a letter to Murray, October 9, 1816, he reminds him of his later determination to publish them with "the rest of the Canto."]
- ["His allusions to me in Childe Harold are cruel and cold, but with such a semblance as to make me appear so, and to attract sympathy to himself. It is said in this poem that hatred of him will be taught as a lesson to his child. I might appeal to all who have ever heard me speak of him, and still more to my own heart, to witness that there has been no moment when I have remembered injury otherwise than affectionately and sorrowfully. It is not my duty to give way to hopeless and wholly unrequited affection, but so long as I live my chief struggle will probably be not to remember him too kindly."—(Letter of Lady Byron to Lady Anne Lindsay, extracted from Lord Lindsay's letter to the Times, September 7, 1869.)
According to Mrs. Leigh (see her letter to Hodgson, Nov., 1816, Memoirs of Rev. F. Hodgson, 1878, ii. 41), Murray paid Lady Byron "the compliment" of showing her the transcription of the Third Canto, a day or two after it came into his possession. Most probably she did not know or recognize Claire's handwriting, but she could not fail to remember that but one short year ago she had herself been engaged in transcribing The Siege of Corinth and Parisina for the press. Between the making of those two "fair copies," a tragedy had intervened.]
- [The Countess Guiccioli is responsible for the statement that Byron looked forward to a time when his daughter "would know her father by his works." "Then," said he, "shall I triumph, and the tears which my daughter will then shed, together with the knowledge that she will have the feelings with which the various allusions to herself and me have been written, will console me in my darkest hours. Ada's mother may have enjoyed the smiles of her youth and childhood, but the tears of her maturer age will be for me."—My Recollections of Lord Byron, by the Countess Guiccioli, 1869, p. 172.]
- [For a biographical notice of Ada Lady Lovelace, including letters, elsewhere unpublished, to Andrew Crosse, see Ada Byron, von E. Kölbing, Englische Studien, 1894, xix. 154-163.]
- End of Canto Third.
Byron. July 4, 1816, Diodati.—[C.]
- [Julie, ou La Nouvelle Héloïse: Œuvres Complètes de J. J. Rousseau, Paris, 1837, ii. 262.]
- [The Clef, is now a café on the Grande Place, and still distinguished by the sign of the Key. But Vevey had other associations for Rousseau, more powerful and more persuasive than a solitary visit to an inn. "Madame Warens," says General Read, "possessed a charming country resort midway between Vevey and Chillon, just above the beautiful village of Clarens. It was situated at the Bassets, amid scenery whose exquisite features inspired some of the fine imagery of Rousseau. It is now called the Bassets de Pury.... The exterior of the older parts has not been changed.... The stairway leads to a large salon, whose windows command a view of Meillerie, St. Gingolph, and Bouveret, beyond the lake. Communicating with this salon is a large dining-room.
"These two rooms open to the east, upon a broad terrace. At a corner of the terrace is a large summer-house, and through the chestnut trees one sees as far as Les Crêtes, the hillocks and bosquets described by Rousseau. Near by is a dove-cote filled with cooing doves.... In the last century this site (Les Crêtes) was covered with pleasure-gardens, and some parts are even pointed out as associated with Rousseau and Madame de Warens."—Historic Sketches of Vaud, etc., by General Meredith Read, 1897, i. 433-437. There was, therefore, some excuse for the guide (see Byron's Diary, September 18, 1816) "confounding Rousseau with St. Preux, and mixing the man with the book."]
- [Claire, afterwards Madame Orbe, is Julie's cousin and confidante. She is represented as whimsical and humorous. It is not impossible that "Claire," in La Nouvelle Héloïse, "bequeathed her name" to Claire, otherwise Jane Clairmont.]
- [Byron and Shelley sailed round the Lake of Geneva towards the end of June, 1816. Writing to Murray, June 27, he says, "I have traversed all Rousseau's ground with the Héloïse before me;" and in the same letter announces the completion of a third canto of Childe Harold. He revisited Clarens and Chillon in company with Hobhouse in the following September (see extracts from a Journal, September 18, 1816, Life, pp. 311, 312).]
- [Bouveret, St. Gingolph, Evian.]
- [Byron mentions the "squall off Meillerie" in a letter to Murray, dated Ouchy, near Lausanne, June 27, 1816. Compare, too, Shelley's version of the incident: "The wind gradually increased in violence until it blew tremendously: and as it came from the remotest extremity of the lake, produced waves of a frightful height, and covered the whole surface with a chaos of foam.... I felt in this near prospect of death a mixture of sensations, among which terror entered, though but subordinately. My feelings would have been less painful had I been alone; but I know that my companion would have attempted to save me, and I was overcome with humiliation, when I thought that his life might have been risked to preserve mine."—Letters from Abroad, etc.; Essays, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Mrs. Shelley, 1840, ii. 68, 69.]
- [Byron and Shelley slept at Clarens, June 26, 1816. The windows of their inn commanded a view of the Bosquet de Julie. "In the evening we walked thither. It is, indeed, Julia's wood ... the trees themselves were aged but vigorous.... We went again (June 27) to the Bosquet de Julie, and found that the precise spot was now utterly obliterated, and a heap of stones marked the place where the little chapel had once stood. Whilst we were execrating the author of this brutal folly, our guide informed us that the land belonged to the Convent of St. Bernard, and that this outrage had been committed by their orders. I knew before that if avarice could harden the hearts of men, a system of prescriptive religion has an influence far more inimical to natural sensibility. I know that an isolated man is sometimes restrained by shame from outraging the venerable feelings arising out of the memory of genius, which once made nature even lovelier than itself; but associated man holds it as the very sacrament of this union to forswear all delicacy, all benevolence, all remorse; all that is true, or tender, or sublime."—Essays, etc., 1840, ii. 75.]