The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 2/Childe Harold's Pilgrimage/Canto IV
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
CANTO THE FOURTH.
"Visto ho Toscana Lombardia Romagna,
Quel monte che divide, e quel che serra
Italia, e un mare e l' altro che la bagna."
Ariosto, Satira iv. lines 58-60.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FOURTH CANTO.
The first draft of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, which embodies the original and normal conception of the poem, was the work of twenty-six days. On the 17th of June, 1817, Byron wrote to Murray: "You are out about the Third Canto: I have not done, nor designed, a line of continuation to that poem. I was too short a time at Rome for it, and have no thought of recommencing." But in spite of this assertion, "the numbers came," and on June 26 he made a beginning. Thirty stanzas "were roughened off" on the 1st of July, fifty-six were accomplished by the 9th, "ninety and eight" by the 15th, and on July 20 he announces "the completion of the fourth and ultimate canto of Childe Harold. It consists of 126 stanzas." One stanza (xl.) was appended to the fair copy. It suggested a parallel between Ariosto "the Southern Scott," and Scott "the Northern Ariosto," and excited some misgiving.
In commending his new poem to Murray (July 20, August 7), Byron notes three points in which it differed from its predecessors: it is "the longest of the four;" "it treats more of works of art than of nature;" "there are no metaphysics in it—at least, I think not." In other words, "The Fourth Canto is not a continuation of the Third. I have parted company with Shelley and Wordsworth. Subject-matter and treatment are alike new."
The poem as it stood was complete, and, as a poem, it lost as well as gained by the insertion of additional stanzas and groups of stanzas, "purple patch" on "purple patch," each by itself so attractive and so splendid. The pilgrim finds himself at Venice, on the "Bridge of Sighs." He beholds in a vision the departed glories of "a thousand years." The "long array of shadows," the "beings of the mind," come to him "like truth," and repeople the vacancy. But he is an exile, and turns homeward in thought to "the inviolate island of the sage and free." He is an exile and a sufferer. He can and will endure his fate, but "ever and anon" he feels the prick of woe, and with the sympathy of despair would stand "a ruin amidst ruins," a desolate soul in a land of desolation and decay. He renews his pilgrimage. He passes Arquà, where "they keep the dust of Laura's lover," lingers for a day at Ferrara, haunted by memories of "Torquato's injured shade," and, as he approaches "the fair white walls" of Florence, he re-echoes the "Italia! oh, Italia!" of Filicaja's impassioned strains. At Florence he gazes, "dazzled and drunk with beauty," at the "goddess in stone," the Medicean Venus, but forbears to "describe the indescribable," to break the silence of Art by naming its mysteries. Santa Croce and the other glories "in Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine," he passes by unsung, if not unseen; but Thrasymene's "sheet of silver," the "living crystal" of Clitumnus' "gentlest waters," and Terni's "matchless cataract," on whose verge "an Iris sits," and "lone Soracte's ridge," not only call forth his spirit's homage, but receive the homage of his Muse.
And now the Pilgrim has reached his goal, "Rome the wonderful," the sepulchre of empire, the shrine of art.
Henceforth the works of man absorb his attention. Pompey's "dread statue;" the Wolf of the Capitol; the Tomb of Cecilia Metella; the Palatine; the "nameless column" of the Forum; Trajan's pillar; Egeria's Grotto; the ruined Colosseum, "arches on arches," an "enormous skeleton," the Colosseum of the poet's vision, a multitudinous ring of spectators, a bloody Circus, and a dying Gladiator; the Pantheon; S. Nicola in Carcere, the scene of the Romana Caritas; St. Peter's "vast and wondrous dome,"—are all celebrated in due succession. Last of all, he "turns to the Vatican," to view the Laocoon and the Apollo Belvidere, the counterfeit presentments of ideal suffering and ideal beauty. His "shrine is won;" but ere he bids us farewell he climbs the Alban Mount, and as the Mediterranean once more bursts upon his sight, he sums the moral of his argument. Man and all his works are as a drop of rain in the Ocean, "the image of eternity, the throne of the Invisible"!
Byron had no sooner completed "this fourth and ultimate canto," than he began to throw off additional stanzas. His letters to Murray during the autumn of 1817 announce these successive lengthenings; but it is impossible to trace the exact order of their composition. On the 7th of August the canto stood at 130 stanzas, on the 21st at 133; on the 4th of September at 144, on the 17th at 150; and by November 15 it had reached 167 stanzas. Of nineteen stanzas which were still to be added, six—on the death of the Princess Charlotte (died November 6, 1817)—were written at the beginning of December, and two stanzas (clxxvii., clxxviii.) were forwarded to Murray in the early spring of 1818.
Of these additions the most notable are four stanzas on Venice (including stanza xiii. on "The Horses of St. Mark"); "The sunset on the Brenta" (stanzas xxvii.-xxix.); The tombs in Santa Croce,—the apostrophe to "the all Etruscan three," Petrarch, Dante, Boccaccio (stanzas liv.-lx.); "Rome a chaos of ruins—antiquarian ignorance" (stanzas lxxx.-lxxxii.); "The nothingness of Man—the hope of the future—Freedom" (stanzas xciii.-xcviii.); "The Tarpeian Rock—the Forum—Rienzi" (stanzas cxii.-cxiv.); "Love, Life, and Reason" (stanzas cxx.-cxxvii.); "The Curse of Forgiveness" (stanzas cxxxv.-cxxxvii.); "The Mole of Hadrian" (stanza clii.); "The death of the Princess Charlotte" (stanzas clxvii.-clxxii.); "Nemi" (stanzas clxxiii., clxxiv.); "The Desert and one fair Spirit" (stanzas clxxvii., clxxviii.).
Some time during the month of December, 1817, Byron wrote out a fair copy of the entire canto, numbering 184 stanzas (MS. D.); and on January 7, 1818, Hobhouse left Venice for England, with the "whole of the MSS.," viz. Beppo (begun October, 1817), and the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, together with a work of his own, a volume of essays on Italian literature, the antiquities of Rome, etc., which he had put together during his residence in Venice (July—December, 1817), and proposed to publish as an appendix to Childe Harold. In his preface to Historical Illustrations, etc., 1818, Hobhouse explains that on his return to England he considered that this "appendix to the Canto would be swelled to a disproportioned bulk," and that, under this impression, he determined to divide his material into two parts. The result was that "such only of the notes as were more immediately connected with the text" were printed as "Historical Notes to Canto the Fourth," and that his longer dissertations were published in a separate volume, under his own name, as Historical Illustrations to the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold. To these "Historical Notes" an interest attaches apart from any consideration of their own worth and importance; but to understand the relation between the poem and the notes, it is necessary to retrace the movements of the poet and his annotator.
Byron and Hobhouse left the Villa Diodati, October 5, 1816, crossed the Simplon, and made their way together, viâ Milan and Verona, to Venice. Early in December the friends parted company. Byron remained at Venice, and Hobhouse proceeded to Rome, and for the next four months devoted himself to the study of Italian literature, in connection with archaeology and art. Byron testifies (September 14, 1817) that his researches were "indefatigable," that he had "more real knowledge of Rome and its environs than any Englishman who has been there since Gibbon." Hobhouse left Rome for Naples, May 21; returned to Rome, June 9; arrived at Terni, July 2; and early in July joined Byron on the Brenta, at La Mira. The latter half of the year (July—December, 1817) was occupied in consulting "the best authorities" in the Ducal Library at Venice, with a view to perfecting his researches, and giving them to the world as an illustrative appendix to Childe Harold. It is certain that Byron had begun the fourth canto, and written some thirty or more stanzas, before Hobhouse rejoined him at his villa of La Mira on the banks of the Brenta, in July, 1817; and it would seem that, although he had begun by saying "that he was too short a time in Rome for it," he speedily overcame his misgivings, and accomplished, as he believed, the last "fytte" of his pilgrimage. The first draft was Byron's unaided composition, but the "additional stanzas" were largely due to Hobhouse's suggestions in the course of conversation, if not to his written "researches." Hobhouse himself made no secret of it. In his preface (p. 5) to Historical Illustrations he affirms that both "illustrations" and notes were "for the most part written while the noble author was yet employed in the composition of the poem. They were put into the hands of Lord Byron much in the state in which they now appear;" and, writing to Murray, December 7, 1817, he says, "I must confess I feel an affection for it [Canto IV.] more than ordinary, as part of it was begot as it were under my own eyes; for although your poets are as shy as elephants and camels ... yet I have, not unfrequently, witnessed his lordship's coupleting, and some of the stanzas owe their birth to our morning walk or evening ride at La Mira." Forty years later, in his revised and enlarged "Illustrations" (Italy: Remarks made in Several Visits from the year 1816 to 1854, by the Right Hon. Lord Broughton, G.C.B., 1859, i. p. iv.), he reverts to this collaboration: "When I rejoined Lord Byron at La Mira ... I found him employed upon the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, and, later in the autumn, he showed me the first sketch of the poem. It was much shorter than it afterwards became, and it did not remark on several objects which appeared to me peculiarly worthy of notice. I made a list of these objects, and in conversation with him gave him reasons for the selection. The result was the poem as it now appears, and he then engaged me to write the notes."
As the "delicate spirit" of Shelley suffused the third canto of Childe Harold, so the fourth reveals the presence and co-operation of Hobhouse. To his brother-poet he owed a fresh conception, perhaps a fresh appreciation of nature; to his lifelong friend, a fresh enthusiasm for art, and a host of details, "dry bones ... which he awakened into the fulness of life."
The Fourth Canto was published on Tuesday, April 28, 1818. It was reviewed by [Sir] Walter Scott in the Quarterly Review, No. xxxvii., April, 1818, and by John Wilson in the Edinburgh Review, No. 59, June, 1818. Both numbers were published on the same day, September 26, 1818.
CHILDE HAROLD, CANTO IV.
Original Draft. [MS. M.]
[June 26—July 19. 1817.]
|Stanza||i. "I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs,"—|
|„||iii.-xi. "In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,"—"The spouseless Adriatic mourns her Lord,"—|
|„||xv. "Statues of glass—all shivered—the long file,"—|
|„||xviii.-xxvi. "I loved her from my boyhood—she to me,"—"The Commonwealth of Kings—the Men of Rome!"—|
|„||xxx.-xxxix. "There is a tomb in Arqua;—reared in air,"—"Peace to Torquato's injured shade! 'twas his,"—|
|„||xlii.-xlvi. "Italia! oh, Italia! thou who hast,"—"That page is now before me, and on mine,"—|
|„||xlviii.-l. "But Arno wins us to the fair white walls,"—"We gaze and turn away, and know not where,"—|
|„||liii. "I leave to learnéd fingers, and wise hands,"—|
|„||lxi.-lxxix. "There be more things to greet the heart and eyes,"—"The Niobe of nations! there she stands,"—|
|„||lxxxiii. "Oh, thou, whose chariot rolled on Fortune's wheel,"—|
|„||lxxxiv. "The dictatorial wreath—couldst thou divine,"—|
|„||lxxxvii.-xcii. "And thou, dread Statue! yet existent in,"—"And would be all or nothing—nor could wait,"—|
|„||xcix.-cviii. "There is a stern round tower of other days,"—"There is the moral of all human tales,"—|
|„||cx. "Tully was not so eloquent as thou,"—|
|„||cxi. "Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,"—|
|„||cxv.-cxix. "Egeria! sweet creation of some heart,"—"And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying,"—|
|„||cxxviii.-cxxxiv. "Arches on arches! as it were that Rome,"—"And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now,"—|
|„||cxxxviii.-cli. "The seal is set.—Now welcome, thou dread Power!"—"The starry fable of the Milky Way,"—|
|„||cliii.-clxvi. "But lo! the Dome—the vast and wondrous Dome,"—"And send us prying into the abyss,"—|
|„||clxxv. "But I forget.—My Pilgrim's shrine is won,"—|
|„||clxxvi. "Upon the blue Symplegades: long years,"—|
|„||clxxix. "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll!"—|
|„||clxxx. "His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields,"—|
|„||clxxxiii.-clxxxvi. "Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form,"—"Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been,"—|
|Stanza||xl. "Great as thou art, yet paralleled by those,"—|
Additions bound up with MS. M.
|Stanza||ii. "She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from Ocean,"—|
|„||xii.-xiv. "The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns,"—(November 10, 1817.)—"In youth She was all glory,—a new Tyre,"—|
|„||xvi. "When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,"—|
|„||xvii. "Thus, Venice! if no stronger claim were thine,"—|
|„||xxvii.-xxix. "The Moon is up, and yet it is not night,"—"Filled with the face of heaven, which, from afar,"—|
|„||xlvii. "Yet, Italy! through every other land,"—|
|„||li. " Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise?"—|
|„||lii. "Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love,"—|
|„||liv.-lx. "In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie,"—"What is her Pyramid of precious stones?"—|
|„||lxxx.-lxxxii. "The Goth, the Christian—Time—War—Flood, and Fire,"—"Alas! the lofty city! and alas!"—|
|„||lxxxv. "Sylla was first of victors; but our own,"—|
|„||lxxxvi. "The third of the same Moon whose former course,"—|
|„||xciii.-xcvi. "What from this barren being do we reap?"—"Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,"—|
|„||cix. "Admire—exult—despise—laugh—weep,—for here,"—|
|„||cxii.-cxiv. "Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place,"—"Then turn we to her latest Tribune's name,"—|
|„||cxxiii. "Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure,"—|
|„||cxxv.-cxxvii. "Few—none—find what they love or could have loved,"—"Yet let us ponder boldly—'tis a base,"—|
|„||cxxxv.-cxxxvii. "That curse shall be Forgiveness,—Have I not,"—"But I have lived, and have not lived in vain,"—|
|„||clii. "Turn to the Mole which Hadrian reared on high,"—|
|„||clxvii.-clxxii. "Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds,"—(On the death of the Princess Charlotte, November 6, 1817.)—"These might have been her destiny—but no,"—|
|„||clxxiii. "Lo, Nemi! navelled in the woody hills,"—|
|„||clxxiv. "And near, Albano's scarce divided waves,"—|
|„||clxxvii. "Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place,"—(1818.)|
|„||clxxviii. "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,"—(1818.)|
|„||clxxxi. "The armaments which thunderstrike the walls,"—|
|„||clxxxii. "Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee,"—|
Additions included in MS. D., but not among MSS. M.
|Stanza||xli. "The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust,"—|
|„||xcvii. "But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime,"—|
|„||xcviii. "Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying,"—|
|„||cxx. "Alas! our young affections run to waste,"—|
|„||cxxi. "Oh, Love! no habitant of earth thou art,"—|
|„||cxxii. "Of its own beauty is the mind diseased,"—|
|„||cxxiv. "We wither from our youth, we gasp away,"—|
JOHN HOBHOUSE, ESQ., A.M., F.R.S.,
&c., &c., &c.
Venice, January 2, 1818.
My dear Hobhouse,
After an interval of eight years between the composition of the first and last cantos of Childe Harold, the conclusion of the poem is about to be submitted to the public. In parting with so old a friend, it is not extraordinary that I should recur to one still older and better,—to one who has beheld the birth and death of the other, and to whom I am far more indebted for the social advantages of an enlightened friendship, than—though not ungrateful—I can, or could be, to Childe Harold, for any public favour reflected through the poem on the poet,—to one, whom I have known long, and accompanied far, whom I have found wakeful over my sickness and kind in my sorrow, glad in my prosperity and firm in my adversity, true in counsel and trusty in peril,—to a friend often tried and never found wanting;—to yourself.
In so doing, I recur from fiction to truth; and in dedicating to you in its complete, or at least concluded state, a poetical work which is the longest, the most thoughtful and comprehensive of my compositions, I wish to do honour to myself by the record of many years' intimacy with a man of learning, of talent, of steadiness, and of honour. It is not for minds like ours to give or to receive flattery; yet the praises of sincerity have ever been permitted to the voice of friendship; and it is not for you, nor even for others, but to relieve a heart which has not elsewhere, or lately, been so much accustomed to the encounter of good-will as to withstand the shock firmly, that I thus attempt to commemorate your good qualities, or rather the advantages which I have derived from their exertion. Even the recurrence of the date of this letter, the anniversary of the most unfortunate day of my past existence, but which cannot poison my future while I retain the resource of your friendship, and of my own faculties, will henceforth have a more agreeable recollection for both, inasmuch as it will remind us of this my attempt to thank you for an indefatigable regard, such as few men have experienced, and no one could experience without thinking better of his species and of himself.
It has been our fortune to traverse together, at various periods, the countries of chivalry, history, and fable—Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy; and what Athens and Constantinople were to us a few years ago, Venice and Rome have been more recently. The poem also, or the pilgrim, or both, have accompanied me from first to last; and perhaps it may be a pardonable vanity which induces me to reflect with complacency on a composition which in some degree connects me with the spot where it was produced, and the objects it would fain describe; and however unworthy it may be deemed of those magical and memorable abodes, however short it may fall of our distant conceptions and immediate impressions, yet as a mark of respect for what is venerable, and of feeling for what is glorious, it has been to me a source of pleasure in the production, and I part with it with a kind of regret, which I hardly suspected that events could have left me for imaginary objects.
With regard to the conduct of the last canto, there will be found less of the pilgrim than in any of the preceding, and that little slightly, if at all, separated from the author speaking in his own person. The fact is, that I had become weary of drawing a line which every one seemed determined not to perceive: like the Chinese in Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, whom nobody would believe to be a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted, and imagined that I had drawn, a distinction between the author and the pilgrim; and the very anxiety to preserve this difference, and disappointment at finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the composition, that I determined to abandon it altogether—and have done so. The opinions which have been, or may be, formed on that subject are now a matter of indifference: the work is to depend on itself, and not on the writer; and the author, who has no resources in his own mind beyond the reputation, transient or permanent, which is to arise from his literary efforts, deserves the fate of authors.
In the course of the following canto it was my intention, either in the text or in the notes, to have touched upon the present state of Italian literature, and perhaps of manners. But the text, within the limits I proposed, I soon found hardly sufficient for the labyrinth of external objects, and the consequent reflections: and for the whole of the notes, excepting a few of the shortest, I am indebted to yourself, and these were necessarily limited to the elucidation of the text.
It is also a delicate, and no very grateful task, to dissert upon the literature and manners of a nation so dissimilar; and requires an attention and impartiality which would induce us,—though perhaps no inattentive observers, nor ignorant of the language or customs of the people amongst whom we have recently abode—to distrust, or at least defer our judgment, and more narrowly examine our information. The state of literary, as well as political party, appears to run, or to have run, so high, that for a stranger to steer impartially between them is next to impossible. It may be enough, then, at least for my purpose, to quote from their own beautiful language—"Mi pare che in un paese tutto poetico, che vanta la lingua la più nobile ed insieme la più dolce, tutte tutte le vie diverse si possono tentare, e che sinche la patria di Alfieri e di Monti non ha perduto l'antico valore, in tutte essa dovrebbe essere la prima." Italy has great names still—Canova, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Pindemonte, Visconti, Morelli, Cicognara, Albrizzi, Mezzofanti, Mai, Mustoxidi, Aglietti, and Vacca, will secure to the present generation an honourable place in most of the departments of Art, Science, and Belles Lettres; and in some the very highest—Europe—the World—has but one Canova.
It has been somewhere said by Alfieri, that "La pianta uomo nasce più robusta in Italia che in qualunque altra terra—e che gli stessi atroci delitti che vi si commettono ne sono una prova." Without subscribing to the latter part of his proposition, a dangerous doctrine, the truth of which may be disputed on better grounds, namely, that the Italians are in no respect more ferocious than their neighbours, that man must be wilfully blind, or ignorantly heedless, who is not struck with the extraordinary capacity of this people, or, if such a word be admissible, their capabilities, the facility of their acquisitions, the rapidity of their conceptions, the fire of their genius, their sense of beauty, and, amidst all the disadvantages of repeated revolutions, the desolation of battles, and the despair of ages, their still unquenched "longing after immortality,"—the immortality of independence. And when we ourselves, in riding round the walls of Rome, heard the simple lament of the labourers' chorus, "Roma! Roma! Roma! Roma non è più come era prima!" it was difficult not to contrast this melancholy dirge with the bacchanal roar of the songs of exultation still yelled from the London taverns, over the carnage of Mont St. Jean, and the betrayal of Genoa, of Italy, of France, and of the world, by men whose conduct you yourself have exposed in a work worthy of the better days of our history. For me,—
"Non movero mai corda
Ove la turba di sue ciance assorda."
What Italy has gained by the late transfer of nations, it were useless for Englishmen to enquire, till it becomes ascertained that England has acquired something more than a permanent army and a suspended Habeas Corpus; it is enough for them to look at home. For what they have done abroad, and especially in the South, "Verily they will have their reward," and at no very distant period.
Wishing you, my dear Hobhouse, a safe and agreeable return to that country whose real welfare can be dearer to none than to yourself, I dedicate to you this poem in its completed state; and repeat once more how truly I am ever
And affectionate friend,
CANTO THE FOURTH.
I stood in Venice, on the "Bridge of Sighs;N1
A Palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the Enchanter's wand:
A thousand Years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O'er the far times, when many a subject land
Looked to the wingéd Lion's marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!
She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from Ocean,
Rising with her tiara of proud towers
At airy distance, with majestic motion,
A Ruler of the waters and their powers:
And such she was;—her daughters had their dowers
From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East
Poured in her lap all gems in sparkling showers.
In purple was she robed, and of her feast
Monarchs partook, and deemed their dignity increased.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,N2
And silent rows the songless Gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And Music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone—but Beauty still is here.
States fall—Arts fade—but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The Revel of the earth—the Masque of Italy!
But unto us she hath a spell beyond
Her name in story, and her long array
Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond
Above the Dogeless city's vanished sway;
Ours is a trophy which will not decay
With the Rialto; Shylock and the Moor,
And Pierre, can not be swept or worn away—
The keystones of the Arch! though all were o'er,
For us repeopled were the solitary shore.
The Beings of the Mind are not of clay:
Essentially immortal, they create
And multiply in us a brighter ray
And more beloved existence: that which Fate
Prohibits to dull life in this our state
Of mortal bondage, by these Spirits supplied,
First exiles, then replaces what we hate;
Watering the heart whose early flowers have died,
And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
Such is the refuge of our youth and age—
The first from Hope, the last from Vacancy;
And this wan feeling peoples many a page—
And, may be, that which grows beneath mine eye:
Yet there are things whose strong reality
Outshines our fairy-land; in shape and hues
More beautiful than our fantastic sky,
And the strange constellations which the Muse
O'er her wild universe is skilful to diffuse:
I saw or dreamed of such,—but let them go,—
They came like Truth—and disappeared like dreams;
And whatsoe'er they were—are now but so:
I could replace them if I would; still teems
My mind with many a form which aptly seems
Such as I sought for, and at moments found;
Let these too go—for waking Reason deems
Such over-weening phantasies unsound,
And other voices speak, and other sights surround.
I've taught me other tongues—and in strange eyes
Have made me not a stranger; to the mind
Which is itself, no changes bring surprise;
Nor is it harsh to make, nor hard to find
A country with—aye, or without mankind;
Yet was I born where men are proud to be,—
Not without cause; and should I leave behind
The inviolate Island of the sage and free,
And seek me out a home by a remoter sea,
Perhaps I loved it well; and should I lay
My ashes in a soil which is not mine,
My Spirit shall resume it—if we may
Unbodied choose a sanctuary. I twine
My hopes of being remembered in my line
With my land's language: if too fond and far
These aspirations in their scope incline,—
If my Fame should be, as my fortunes are,
Of hasty growth and blight, and dull Oblivion bar
My name from out the temple where the dead
Are honoured by the Nations—let it be—
And light the Laurels on a loftier head!
And be the Spartan's epitaph on me—
"Sparta hath many a worthier son than he."
Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need—
The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree
I planted,—they have torn me,—and I bleed:
I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.
The spouseless Adriatic mourns her Lord,
And annual marriage now no more renewed—
The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored,
Neglected garment of her widowhood!
St. Mark yet sees his Lion where he stoodN3
Stand, but in mockery of his withered power,
Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued,
And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour
When Venice was a Queen with an unequalled dower.
The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns—N4
An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt;
Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains
Clank over sceptred cities; Nations melt
From Power's high pinnacle, when they have felt
The sunshine for a while, and downward go
Like Lauwine loosened from the mountain's belt;
Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo!N5
Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe.
Before St. Mark still glow his Steeds of brass,
Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;
But is not Doria's menace come to pass?N6
Are they not bridled?—Venice, lost and won,
Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done,
Sinks, like a sea-weed, unto whence she rose!
The Horses of Saint Mark
Better be whelmed beneath the waves, and shun,
Even in Destruction's depth, her foreign foes,
From whom Submission wrings an infamous repose.
In youth She was all glory,—a new Tyre,—
Her very by-word sprung from Victory,
The "Planter of the Lion," which through fire
And blood she bore o'er subject Earth and Sea;
Though making many slaves, Herself still free,
And Europe's bulwark 'gainst the Ottomite;
Witness Troy's rival, Candia! Vouch it, ye
Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight!
For ye are names no Time nor Tyranny can blight.
Statues of glass—all shivered—the long file
Of her dead Doges are declined to dust;
But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous pile
Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust;
Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust,
Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls,
(From a Woodcut published at Cremona in 1493.)
To face p. 340.
Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must
Too oft remind her who and what enthrals,N7
Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely walls.
When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,
And fettered thousands bore the yoke of war,
Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse,
Her voice their only ransom from afar:
See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car
Of the o'ermastered Victor stops—the reins
Fall from his hands—his idle scimitar
Starts from its belt—he rends his captive's chains,
And bids him thank the Bard for Freedom and his strains.
Thus, Venice! if no stronger claim were thine,
Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot—
Thy choral memory of the Bard divine,
Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot
Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot
Is shameful to the nations,—most of all,
Albion! to thee: the Ocean queen should not
Abandon Ocean's children; in the fall
Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall.
I loved her from my boyhood—she to me
Was as a fairy city of the heart,
Rising like water-columns from the sea—
Of Joy the sojourn, and of Wealth the mart;
And Otway, Radclifife, Schiller, Shakespeare's art,
Had stamped her image in me, and even so,
Although I found her thus, we did not part;
Perchance even dearer in her day of woe,
Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show.
I can repeople with the past—and of
The present there is still for eye and thought,
And meditation chastened down, enough;
And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought;
And of the happiest moments which were wrought
Within the web of my existence, some
From thee, fair Venice! have their colours caught:
There are some feelings Time can not benumb,
Nor Torture shake, or mine would now be cold and dumb.
But from their nature will the Tannen grow
Loftiest on loftiest and least sheltered rocks,
Rooted in barrenness, where nought below
Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks
Of eddying storms; yet springs the trunk, and mocks
The howling tempest, till its height and frame
Are worthy of the mountains from whose blocks
Of bleak, gray granite into life it came,
And grew a giant tree;—the Mind may grow the same.
Existence may be borne, and the deep root
Of life and sufferance make its firm abode
In bare and desolated bosoms: mute
The camel labours with the heaviest load,
And the wolf dies in silence—not bestowed
In vain should such example be; if they,
Things of ignoble or of savage mood,
Endure and shrink not, we of nobler clay
May temper it to bear,—it is but for a day.
All suffering doth destroy, or is destroyed,
Even by the sufferer—and, in each event,
Ends:—Some, with hope replenished and rebuoyed,
Return to whence they came—with like intent,
And weave their web again; some, bowed and bent,
Wax gray and ghastly, withering ere their time,
And perish with the reed on which they leant;
Some seek devotion—toil—war—good or crime,
According as their souls were formed to sink or climb.
But ever and anon of griefs subdued
There comes a token like a Scorpion's sting,
Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued;
And slight withal may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside for ever: it may be a sound—
A tone of music—summer's eve—or spring—
A flower—the wind—the Ocean—which shall wound,
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound;
And how and why we know not, nor can trace
Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind,
But feel the shock renewed, nor can efface
The blight and blackening which it leaves behind,
Which out of things familiar, undesigned,
When least we deem of such, calls up to view
The Spectres whom no exorcism can bind,—
The cold—the changed—perchance the dead, anew—
The mourned—the loved—the lost—too many! yet how few!
But my Soul wanders; I demand it back
To meditate amongst decay, and stand
A ruin amidst ruins; there to track
Fall'n states and buried greatness, o'er a land
Which was the mightiest in its old command,
And is the loveliest, and must ever be
The master-mould of Nature's heavenly hand;
Wherein were cast the heroic and the free,—
The beautiful—the brave—the Lords of earth and sea,
The Commonwealth of Kings—the Men of Rome!
And even since, and now, fair Italy!
Thou art the Garden of the World, the Home
Of all Art yields, and Nature can decree;
Even in thy desert, what is like to thee?
Thy very weeds are beautiful—thy waste
More rich than other climes' fertility;
Thy wreck a glory—and thy ruin graced
With an immaculate charm which cannot be defaced.
The Moon is up, and yet it is not night—
Sunset divides the sky with her—a sea
Of glory streams along the Alpine height
Of blue Friuli's mountains; Heaven is free
From clouds, but of all colours seems to be,—
Melted to one vast Iris of the West,—
Where the Day joins the past Eternity;
While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest
Floats through the azure air—an island of the blest!
A single star is at her side, and reigns
With her o'er half the lovely heaven; but still
Yon sunny Sea heaves brightly, and remains
Rolled o'er the peak of the far Rhætian hill,
As Day and Night contending were, until
Nature reclaimed her order:—gently flows
The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil
The odorous purple of a new-born rose,
Which streams upon her stream, and glassed within it glows,
Filled with the face of heaven, which, from afar,
Comes down upon the waters! all its hues,
From the rich sunset to the rising star,
Their magical variety diffuse:
And now they change—a paler Shadow strews
Its mantle o'er the mountains; parting Day
Dies like the Dolphin, whom each pang imbues
With a new colour as it gasps away—
The last still loveliest, till—'tis gone—and all is gray.
There is a tomb in Arqua;—reared in air,
Pillared in their sarcophagus, repose
The bones of Laura's lover: here repair
Many familiar with his well-sung woes,
The Pilgrims of his Genius. He arose
To raise a language, and his land reclaim
From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes:
Watering the tree which bears his Lady's nameN8
With his melodious tears, he gave himself to Fame.
They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died—N9
The mountain-village where his latter days
Went down the vale of years; and 'tis their pride—
An honest pride—and let it be their praise,
To offer to the passing stranger's gaze
His mansion and his sepulchre—both plain
And venerably simple—such as raise
A feeling more accordant with his strain
Than if a Pyramid formed his monumental fane.
And the soft quiet hamlet where he dwelt
Is one of that complexion which seems made
For those who their mortality have felt,
And sought a refuge from their hopes decayed
In the deep umbrage of a green hill's shade,
Which shows a distant prospect far away
Of busy cities, now in vain displayed,
For they can lure no further; and the ray
Of a bright Sun can make sufficient holiday,
Developing the mountains, leaves, and flowers,
And shining in the brawling brook, where-by,
Clear as its current, glide the sauntering hours
With a calm languor, which, though to the eye
Idlesse it seem, hath its morality—
If from society we learn to live,
'Tis Solitude should teach us how to die;
It hath no flatterers—Vanity can give
No hollow aid; alone—man with his God must strive:
Or, it may be, with Demons, who impair
The strength of better thoughts, and seek their prey
In melancholy bosoms—such as were
Of moody texture from their earliest day,
And loved to dwell in darkness and dismay
Deeming themselves predestined to a doom
Which is not of the pangs that pass away;
Making the Sun like blood, the Earth a tomb,
The tomb a hell—and Hell itself a murkier gloom.
Ferrara! in thy wide and grass-grown streets,
Whose symmetry was not for solitude,
There seems as 'twere a curse upon the Seats
Of former Sovereigns, and the antique brood
Of Este, which for many an age made good
Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore
Patron or Tyrant, as the changing mood
Of petty power impelled, of those who wore
The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before.
And Tasso is their glory and their shame—
Hark to his strain! and then survey his cell!
And see how dearly earned Torquato's fame,
And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell;
The miserable Despot could not quell
The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend
With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell
Where he had plunged it. Glory without end
Scattered the clouds away—and on that name attend
The tears and praises of all time, while thine
Would rot in its oblivion—in the sink
Of worthless dust, which from thy boasted line
Is shaken into nothing—but the link
Thou formest in his fortunes bids us think
Of thy poor malice, naming thee with scorn:
Alfonso! how thy ducal pageants shrink
From thee! if in another station born,
Scarce fit to be the slave of him thou mad'st to mourn:
Thou! formed to eat, and be despised, and die,
Even as the beasts that perish—save that thou
Hadst a more splendid trough and wider sty:—
He! with a glory round his furrowed brow,
Which emanated then, and dazzles now,
In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire,N10
And Boileau, whose rash envy could allow
No strain which shamed his country's creaking lyre,
That whetstone of the teeth—Monotony in wire!
Peace to Torquato's injured shade! 'twas his
In life and death to be the mark where Wrong
Aimed with her poisoned arrows,—but to miss.
Oh, Victor unsurpassed in modern song!
Each year brings forth its millions—but how long
The tide of Generations shall roll on,
And not the whole combined and countless throng
Compose a mind like thine? though all in one
Condensed their scattered rays—they would not form a Sun.
Great as thou art, yet paralleled by those,
Thy countrymen, before thee born to shine,
The Bards of Hell and Chivalry: first rose
The Tuscan Father's Comedy Divine;
Then, not unequal to the Florentine,
The southern Scott, the minstrel who called forth
A new creation with his magic line,
And, like the Ariosto of the North,
Sang Ladye-love and War, Romance and Knightly Worth.
The lightning rent from Ariosto's bustN11
The iron crown of laurel's mimicked leaves;
Nor was the ominous element unjust,
For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weavesN12
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves,
And the false semblance but disgraced his brow;
Yet still, if fondly Superstition grieves,
Know, that the lightning sanctifies belowN13
Whate'er it strikes;—yon head is doubly sacred now.
Italia! oh, Italia! thou who hast
The fatal gift of Beauty, which became
A funeral dower of present woes and past—
On thy sweet brow is sorrow ploughed by shame,
And annals graved in characters of flame.
Oh, God! that thou wert in thy nakedness
Less lovely or more powerful, and couldst claim
Thy right, and awe the robbers back, who press
To shed thy blood, and drink the tears of thy distress;
Then might'st thou more appal—or, less desired,
Be homely and be peaceful, undeplored
For thy destructive charms; then, still untired,
Would not be seen the arméd torrents poured
Down the deep Alps; nor would the hostile horde
Of many-nationed spoilers from the Po
Quaff blood and water; nor the stranger's sword
Be thy sad weapon of defence—and so,
Victor or vanquished, thou the slave of friend or foe.
Wandering in youth, I traced the path of him,
The Roman friend of Rome's least-mortal mind,
The friend of Tully: as my bark did skim
The bright blue waters with a fanning wind,
Came Megara before me, and behind
Ægina lay—Piræus on the right,
And Corinth on the left; I lay reclined
Along the prow, and saw all these unite
In ruin—even as he had seen the desolate sight;
For Time hath not rebuilt them, but upreared
Barbaric dwellings on their shattered site,
Which only make more mourned and more endeared
The few last rays of their far-scattered light,
And the crushed relics of their vanished might.
The Roman saw these tombs in his own age,
These sepulchres of cities, which excite
Sad wonder, and his yet surviving page
The moral lesson bears, drawn from such pilgrimage.
That page is now before me, and on mine
His Country's ruin added to the mass
Of perished states he mourned in their decline,
And I in desolation: all that was
Of then destruction is; and now, alas!
Rome—Rome imperial, bows her to the storm,
In the same dust and blackness, and we pass
The skeleton of her Titanic form,
Wrecks of another world, whose ashes still are warm.
Yet, Italy! through every other land
Thy wrongs should ring—and shall—from side to side;
Mother of Arts! as once of Arms! thy hand
Was then our Guardian, and is still our Guide;
Parent of our Religion! whom the wide
Nations have knelt to for the keys of Heaven!
Europe, repentant of her parricide,
Shall yet redeem thee, and, all backward driven,
Roll the barbarian tide, and sue to be forgiven.
But Arno wins us to the fair white walls,
Where the Etrurian Athens claims and keeps
A softer feeling for her fairy halls:
Girt by her theatre of hills, she reaps
Her corn, and wine, and oil—and Plenty leaps
To laughing life, with her redundant Horn.
Along the banks where smiling Arno sweeps
Was modern Luxury of Commerce born,
And buried Learning rose, redeemed to a new Morn.
There, too, the Goddess loves in stone, and fillsN14
The air around with Beauty—we inhale
The ambrosial aspect, which, beheld, instils
Part of its immortality—the veil
Of heaven is half undrawn—within the pale
We stand, and in that form and face behold
What Mind can make, when Nature's self would fail;
And to the fond Idolaters of old
Envy the innate flash which such a Soul could mould:
We gaze and turn away, and know not where,
Dazzled and drunk with Beauty, till the heart
Reels with its fulness; there—for ever there—
Chained to the chariot of triumphal Art,
We stand as captives, and would not depart.
Away!—there need no words, nor terms precise,
The paltry jargon of the marble mart,
Where Pedantry gulls Folly—we have eyes:
Blood—pulse—and breast confirm the Dardan Shepherd's prize.
Appear'dst thou not to Paris in this guise?
Or to more deeply blest Anchises? or,
In all thy perfect Goddess-ship, when lies
Before thee thy own vanquished Lord of War?
And gazing in thy face as toward a star,
Laid on thy lap, his eyes to thee upturn,
Feeding on thy sweet cheek! while thy lips are
With lava kisses melting while they burn,
Showered on his eyelids, brow, and mouth, as from an urn!
Glowing, and circumfused in speechless love—
Their full divinity inadequate
That feeling to express, or to improve—
The Gods become as mortals—and man's fate
Has moments like their brightest; but the weight
Of earth recoils upon us;—let it go!
We can recall such visions, and create,
From what has been, or might be, things which grow
Into thy statue's form, and look like gods below.
I leave to learnéd fingers, and wise hands,
The Artist and his Ape, to teach and tell
How well his Connoisseurship understands
The graceful bend, and the voluptuous swell:
Let these describe the undescribable:
I would not their vile breath should crisp the stream
Wherein that Image shall for ever dwell—
The unruffled mirror of the loveliest dream
That ever left the sky on the deep soul to beam.
In Santa Croce's holy precincts lieN15
Ashes which make it holier, dust which is
Even in itself an immortality,
Though there were nothing save the past, and this,
The particle of those sublimities
Which have relapsed to chaos:—here repose
Angelo's—Alfieri's bones—and his,N16
The starry Galileo, with his woes;
Here Machiavelli's earth returned to whence it rose.N17
These are four minds, which, like the elements,
Might furnish forth creation:—Italy!
Time, which hath wronged thee with ten thousand rents
Of thine imperial garment, shall deny
And hath denied, to every other sky,
Spirits which soar from ruin:—thy Decay
Is still impregnate with divinity,
Which gilds it with revivifying ray;
Such as the great of yore, Canova is to-day.
But where repose the all Etruscan three—
Dante, and Petrarch, and, scarce less than they,
The Bard of Prose, creative Spirit! he
Of the Hundred Tales of Love—where did they lay
Their bones, distinguished from our common clay
In death as life? Are they resolved to dust,
And have their Country's Marbles nought to say?
Could not her quarries furnish forth one bust?
Did they not to her breast their filial earth entrust?
Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar,N18
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore:N19
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Proscribed the Bard whose name for evermore
Their children's children would in vain adore
With the remorse of ages; and the crownN20
Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore,
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown,
His Life, his Fame, his Grave, though rifled—not thine own.
Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeathedN21
His dust,—and lies it not her Great among,
With many a sweet and solemn requiem breathed
O'er him who formed the Tuscan's siren tongue?
That music in itself, whose sounds are song,
The poetry of speech? No;—even his tomb
Uptorn, must bear the hyæna bigot's wrong,
No more amidst the meaner dead find room,
Nor claim a passing sigh, because it told for whom!
And Santa Croce wants their mighty dust;
Yet for this want more noted, as of yore
The Cæsar's pageant, shorn of Brutus' bust,
Did but of Rome's best Son remind her more:
Happier Ravenna! on thy hoary shore,
Fortress of falling Empire! honoured sleeps
The immortal Exile;—Arqua, too, her store
Of tuneful relics proudly claims and keeps,
While Florence vainly begs her banished dead and weeps.
What is her Pyramid of precious stones?N22
Of porphyry, jasper, agate, and all hues
Of gem and marble, to encrust the bones
Of merchant-dukes? the momentary dews
Which, sparkling to the twilight stars, infuse
Freshness in the green turf that wraps the dead,
Whose names are Mausoleums of the Muse,
Are gently prest with far more reverent tread
Than ever paced the slab which paves the princely head.
There be more things to greet the heart and eyes
In Arno's dome of Art's most princely shrine,
Where Sculpture with her rainbow Sister vies;
There be more marvels yet—but not for mine;
For I have been accustomed to entwine
My thoughts with Nature rather in the fields,
Than Art in galleries: though a work divine
Calls for my Spirit's homage, yet it yields
Less than it feels, because the weapon which it wields
Is of another temper, and I roam
By Thrasimene's lake, in the defiles
Fatal to Roman rashness, more at home;
For there the Carthaginian's warlike wiles
Come back before me, as his skill beguiles
The host between the mountains and the shore,
Where Courage falls in her despairing files,
And torrents, swoll'n to rivers with their gore,
Reek through the sultry plain, with legions scattered o'er.
Like to a forest felled by mountain winds;
And such the storm of battle on this day,
And such the frenzy, whose convulsion blinds
To all save Carnage, that, beneath the fray,
An Earthquake reeled unheededly away!N23
None felt stern Nature rocking at his feet,
And yawning forth a grave for those who lay
Upon their bucklers for a winding sheet—
Such is the absorbing hate when warring nations meet!
The Earth to them was as a rolling bark
Which bore them to Eternity—they saw
The Ocean round, but had no time to mark
The motions of their vessel; Nature's law,
In them suspended, recked not of the awe
Which reigns when mountains tremble, and the birds
Plunge in the clouds for refuge, and withdraw
From their down-toppling nests; and bellowing herds
Stumble o'er heaving plains—and Man's dread hath no words.
Far other scene is Thrasimene now;
Her lake a sheet of silver, and her plain
Rent by no ravage save the gentle plough;
Her agéd trees rise thick as once the slain
Lay where their roots are; but a brook hath ta'en—
A little rill of scanty stream and bed—
A name of blood from that day's sanguine rain;
And Sanguinetto tells ye where the dead
Made the earth wet, and turned the unwilling waters red.
But thou, Clitumnus! in thy sweetest wave
Of the most living crystal that was e'er
The haunt of river-Nymph, to gaze and lave
Her limbs where nothing hid them, thou dost rear
Thy grassy banks whereon the milk-white steer
Grazes—the purest God of gentle waters!
And most serene of aspect, and most clear;
Surely that stream was unprofaned by slaughters—
A mirror and a bath for Beauty's youngest daughters!
And on thy happy shore a Temple still,
Of small and delicate proportion, keeps
Upon a mild declivity of hill,
Its memory of thee; beneath it sweeps
Thy current's calmness; oft from out it leaps
The finny darter with the glittering scales,
Who dwells and revels in thy glassy deeps;
While, chance, some scattered water-lily sails
Down where the shallower wave still tells its bubbling tales.
Pass not unblest the Genius of the place!
If through the air a Zephyr more serene
Win to the brow, 'tis his; and if ye trace
Along his margin a more eloquent green,
If on the heart the freshness of the scene
Sprinkle its coolness, and from the dry dust
Of weary life a moment lave it clean
With Nature's baptism,—'tis to him ye must
Pay orisons for this suspension of disgust.
The roar of waters!—from the headlong height
Velino cleaves the wave-worn precipice;
The fall of waters! rapid as the light
The flashing mass foams shaking the abyss;
The Hell of Waters! where they howl and hiss,
And boil in endless torture; while the sweat
Of their great agony, wrung out from this
Their Phlegethon, curls round the rocks of jet
That gird the gulf around, in pitiless horror set,
And mounts in spray the skies, and thence again
Returns in an unceasing shower, which round,
With its unemptied cloud of gentle rain,
Is an eternal April to the ground,
Making it all one emerald:—how profound
The gulf! and how the Giant Element
From rock to rock leaps with delirious bound,
Crushing the cliffs, which, downward worn and rent
With his fierce footsteps, yield in chasms a fearful vent
To the broad column which rolls on, and shows
More like the fountain of an infant sea
Torn from the womb of mountains by the throes
Of a new world, than only thus to be
Parent of rivers, which flow gushingly,
With many windings, through the vale:—Look back!
Lo! where it comes like an Eternity,
As if to sweep down all things in its track,
Charming the eye with dread,—a matchless cataract,
Horribly beautiful! but on the verge,
From side to side, beneath the glittering morn,
An Iris sits, amidst the infernal surge,
Like Hope upon a death-bed, and, unworn
Its steady dyes, while all around is torn
By the distracted waters, bears serene
Its brilliant hues with all their beams unshorn:
Resembling, 'mid the torture of the scene,
Love watching Madness with unalterable mien.
Once more upon the woody Apennine—
The infant Alps, which—had I not before
Gazed on their mightier Parents, where the pine
Sits on more shaggy summits, and where roar
The thundering Lauwine—might be worshipped more;
But I have seen the soaring Jungfrau rear
Her never-trodden snow, and seen the hoar
Glaciers of bleak Mont Blanc both far and near—
And in Chimari heard the Thunder-Hills of fear,
Th' Acroceraunian mountains of old name;
And on Parnassus seen the Eagles fly
Like Spirits of the spot, as 'twere for fame,
For still they soared unutterably high:
I've looked on Ida with a Trojan's eye;
These hills seem things of lesser dignity;
All, save the lone Soracte's height, displayed
Not now in snow, which asks the lyric Roman's aid
For our remembrance, and from out the plain
Heaves like a long-swept wave about to break,
And on the curl hangs pausing: not in vain
May he, who will, his recollections rake,
And quote in classic raptures, and awake
The hills with Latian echoes—I abhorred
Too much, to conquer for the Poet's sake,
The drilled dull lesson, forced down word by word
In my repugnant youth, with pleasure to record
Aught that recalls the daily drug which turned
My sickening memory; and, though Time hath taught
My mind to meditate what then it learned,
Yet such the fixed inveteracy wrought
By the impatience of my early thought,
That, with the freshness wearing out before
My mind could relish what it might have sought,
If free to choose, I cannot now restore
Its health—but what it then detested, still abhor.
Then farewell, Horace—whom I hated so,
Not for thy faults, but mine: it is a curse
To understand, not feel thy lyric flow,
To comprehend, but never love thy verse;
Although no deeper Moralist rehearse
Our little life, nor Bard prescribe his art,
Nor livelier Satirist the conscience pierce,
Awakening without wounding the touched heart,
Yet fare thee well—upon Soracte's ridge we part.
Oh, Rome! my Country! City of the Soul!
The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
Lone Mother of dead Empires! and control
In their shut breasts their petty misery.
What are our woes and sufferance? Come and see
The cypress—hear the owl—and plod your way
O'er steps of broken thrones and temples—Ye!
Whose agonies are evils of a day—
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her withered hands,
Whose holy dust was scattered long ago;
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now;
The very sepulchres lie tenantless
Of their heroic dwellers: dost thou flow,
Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness?
Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress.
The Goth, the Christian—Time—War—Flood, and Fire,
Have dealt upon the seven-hilled City's pride;
She saw her glories star by star expire,
And up the steep barbarian Monarchs ride,
Where the car climbed the Capitol; far and wide
Temple and tower went down, nor left a site:
Chaos of ruins! who shall trace the void,
O'er the dim fragments cast a lunar light,
And say, "here was, or is," where all is doubly night?
The double night of ages, and of her,
Night's daughter, Ignorance, hath wrapt and wrap
All round us; we but feel our way to err:
The Ocean hath his chart, the Stars their map,
And Knowledge spreads them on her ample lap;
But Rome is as the desert—where we steer
Stumbling o'er recollections; now we clap
Our hands, and cry "Eureka!" "it is clear"—
When but some false Mirage of ruin rises near.
Alas! the lofty city! and alas!
The trebly hundred triumphs! and the day
When Brutus made the dagger's edge surpass
The Conqueror's sword in bearing fame away!
Alas, for Tully's voice, and Virgil's lay,
And Livy's pictured page!—but these shall be
Her resurrection; all beside—decay.
Alas, for Earth, for never shall we see
That brightness in her eye she bore when Rome was free!
Oh, thou, whose chariot rolled on Fortune's wheel,
Triumphant Sylla! Thou, who didst subdue
Thy country's foes ere thou wouldst pause to feel
The wrath of thy own wrongs, or reap the due
Of hoarded vengeance till thine Eagles flew
O'er prostrate Asia;—thou, who with thy frown
Annihilated senates;—Roman, too,
With all thy vices—for thou didst lay down
With an atoning smile a more than earthly crown,
Thy dictatorial wreath—couldst thou divine
To what would one day dwindle that which made
Thee more than mortal? and that so supine
By aught than Romans Rome should thus be laid?
She who was named Eternal, and arrayed
Her warriors but to conquer—she who veiled
Earth with her haughty shadow, and displayed,
Until the o'er-canopied horizon failed,
Her rushing wings—Oh! she who was Almighty hailed!
Sylla was first of victors; but our own,
The sagest of usurpers, Cromwell!—he
Too swept off senates while he hewed the throne
Down to a block—immortal rebel! See
What crimes it costs to be a moment free,
And famous through all ages! but beneath
His fate the moral lurks of destiny;
His day of double victory and death
Beheld him win two realms, and, happier, yield his breath.
The third of the same Moon whose former course
Had all but crowned him, on the selfsame day
Deposed him gently from his throne of force,
And laid him with the Earth's preceding clay.
And showed not Fortune thus how fame and sway,
And all we deem delightful, and consume
Our souls to compass through each arduous way,
Are in her eyes less happy than the tomb?
Were they but so in Man's, how different were his doom!
And thou, dread Statue! yet existent inN24
The austerest form of naked majesty—
Thou who beheldest, 'mid the assassins' din,
At thy bathed base the bloody Cæsar lie,
Folding his robe in dying dignity—
An offering to thine altar from the Queen
Of gods and men, great Nemesis! did he die,
And thou, too, perish, Pompey? have ye been
Victors of countless kings, or puppets of a scene?
And thou, the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome!N25
She-wolf! whose brazen-imaged dugs impart
The milk of conquest yet within the dome
Where, as a monument of antique art,
Thou standest:—Mother of the mighty heart,
Which the great Founder sucked from thy wild teat,
Scorched by the Roman Jove's ethereal dart,
And thy limbs black with lightning—dost thou yet
Guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge forget?
Thou dost;—but all thy foster-babes are dead—
The men of iron; and the World hath reared
Cities from out their sepulchres: men bled
In imitation of the things they feared,
And fought and conquered, and the same course steered,
At apish distance; but as yet none have,
Nor could, the same supremacy have neared,
Save one vain Man, who is not in the grave—
But, vanquished by himself, to his own slaves a slave—
The fool of false dominion—and a kind
Of bastard Cæsar, following him of old
With steps unequal; for the Roman's mind
Was modelled in a less terrestrial mould,N26
With passions fiercer, yet a judgment cold,
And an immortal instinct which redeemed
The frailties of a heart so soft, yet bold—
Alcides with the distaff now he seemed
At Cleopatra's feet,—and now himself he beamed,
And came—and saw—and conquered! But the man
Who would have tamed his Eagles down to flee,
Like a trained falcon, in the Gallic van,
Which he, in sooth, long led to Victory,
With a deaf heart which never seemed to be
A listener to itself, was strangely framed;
With but one weakest weakness—Vanity—
Coquettish in ambition—still he aimed—
And what? can he avouch, or answer what he claimed?
And would be all or nothing—nor could wait
For the sure grave to level him; few years
Had fixed him with the Cæsars in his fate
On whom we tread: For this the conqueror rears
The Arch of Triumph! and for this the tears
And blood of earth flow on as they have flowed,
An universal Deluge, which appears
Without an Ark for wretched Man's abode,
And ebbs but to reflow!—Renew thy rainbow, God!
What from this barren being do we reap?
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail,
Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep,
And all things weighed in Custom's falsest scale;
Opinion an Omnipotence,—whose veil
Mantles the earth with darkness, until right
And wrong are accidents, and Men grow pale
Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and Earth have too much light.
And thus they plod in sluggish misery,
Rotting from sire to son, and age to age,
Proud of their trampled nature, and so die,
Bequeathing their hereditary rage
To the new race of inborn slaves, who wage
War for their chains, and rather than be free,
Bleed gladiator-like, and still engage
Within the same Arena where they see
Their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.
I speak not of men's creeds—they rest between
Man and his Maker—but of things allowed,
Averred, and known, and daily, hourly seen—
The yoke that is upon us doubly bowed,
And the intent of Tyranny avowed,
The edict of Earth's rulers, who are grown
The apes of him who humbled once the proud,
And shook them from their slumbers on the throne;
Too glorious, were this all his mighty arm had done.
Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be,
And Freedom find no Champion and no Child
Such as Columbia saw arise when she
Sprung forth a Pallas, armed and undefiled?
Or must such minds be nourished in the wild,
Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington? Has Earth no more
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?
But France got drunk, with blood to vomit crime;
And fatal have her Saturnalia been
To Freedom's cause, in every age and clime;
Because the deadly days which we have seen,
And vile Ambition, that built up between
Man and his hopes an adamantine wall,
And the base pageant last upon the scene,
Are grown the pretext for the eternal thrall
Which nips Life's tree, and dooms Man's worst—his second fall.
Yet, Freedom! yet thy banner, torn, but flying,
Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind;
Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying,
The loudest still the Tempest leaves behind;
Thy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind,
Chopped by the axe, looks rough and little worth,
But the sap lasts,—and still the seed we find
Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North;
So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth.
There is a stern round tower of other days,
Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone,
Such as an army's baffled strength delays,
Standing with half its battlements alone,
And with two thousand years of ivy grown,
The garland of Eternity, where wave
The green leaves over all by Time o'erthrown;—
What was this tower of strength? within its cave
What treasure lay so locked, so hid?—A woman's grave.
But who was she, the Lady of the dead,
Tombed in a palace? Was she chaste and fair?
Worthy a king's—or more—a Roman's bed?
What race of Chiefs and Heroes did she bear?
What daughter of her beauties was the heir?
How lived—how loved—how died she? Was she not
So honoured—and conspicuously there,
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot,
Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot?
Was she as those who love their lords, or they
Who love the lords of others? such have been
Even in the olden time, Rome's annals say.
Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien,
Or the light air of Egypt's graceful Queen,
Profuse of joy—or 'gainst it did she war,
Inveterate in virtue? Did she lean
To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar
Love from amongst her griefs?—for such the affections are.
Perchance she died in youth—it may be, bowed
With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb
That weighed upon her gentle dust: a cloud
Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom
In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourites—early death—yet shed
A sunset charm around her, and illume
With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead,
Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red.
Perchance she died in age—surviving all,
Charms—kindred—children—with the silver gray
On her long tresses, which might yet recall,
It may be, still a something of the day
When they were braided, and her proud array
And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed
By Rome—But whither would Conjecture stray?
Thus much alone we know—Metella died,
The wealthiest Roman's wife: Behold his love or pride!
I know not why—but standing thus by thee
It seems as if I had thine inmate known,
Thou Tomb! and other days come back on me
With recollected music, though the tone
Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan
Of dying thunder on the distant wind;
Yet could I seat me by this ivied stone
Till I had bodied forth the heated mind
Forms from the floating wreck which Ruin leaves behind:
And from the planks, far shattered o'er the rocks,
Built me a little bark of hope, once more
To battle with the Ocean and the shocks
Of the loud breakers, and the ceaseless roar
Which rushes on the solitary shore
Where all lies foundered that was ever dear:
But could I gather from the wave-worn store
Enough for my rude boat, where should I steer?
There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here.
Then let the Winds howl on! their harmony
Shall henceforth be my music, and the Night
The sound shall temper with the owlets' cry,
As I now hear them, in the fading light
Dim o'er the bird of darkness' native site,
Answering each other on the Palatine,
With their large eyes, all glistening gray and bright,
And sailing pinions.—Upon such a shrine
What are our petty griefs?—let me not number mine.
Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower grown
Matted and massed together—hillocks heaped
On what were chambers—arch crushed, column strown
In fragments—choked up vaults, and frescos steeped
In subterranean damps, where the owl peeped,
Deeming it midnight:—Temples—Baths—or Halls?
Pronounce who can: for all that Learning reaped
From her research hath been, that these are walls—
There is the moral of all human tales;
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past,
First Freedom, and then Glory—when that fails,
Wealth—Vice—Corruption,—Barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page,—'tis better written here,
Where gorgeous Tyranny hath thus amassed
All treasures, all delights, that Eye or Ear,
Heart, Soul could seek—Tongue ask—Away with words! draw near,
There is such matter for all feeling:—Man!
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear,
Ages and Realms are crowded in this span,
This mountain, whose obliterated plan
The pyramid of Empires pinnacled,
Of Glory's gewgaws shining in the van
Till the Sun's rays with added flame were filled!
Where are its golden roofs? where those who dared to build?
Tully was not so eloquent as thou,
Thou nameless column with the buried base!
What are the laurels of the Cæsar's brow?
Crown me with ivy from his dwelling-place.
Whose arch or pillar meets me in the face,
Titus or Trajan's? No—'tis that of Time:
Triumph, arch, pillar, all he doth displace
Scoffing; and apostolic statues climb
To crush the imperial urn, whose ashes slept sublime,
Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,
And looking to the stars: they had contained
A Spirit which with these would find a home,
The last of those who o'er the whole earth reigned,
The Roman Globe—for, after, none sustained,
But yielded back his conquests:—he was more
Than a mere Alexander, and, unstained
With household blood and wine, serenely wore
His sovereign virtues—still we Trajan's name adore.
Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place
Where Rome embraced her heroes?—where the steep
Tarpeian?—fittest goal of Treason's race,
The Promontory whence the Traitor's Leap
Cured all ambition? Did the conquerors heap
Their spoils here? Yes; and in yon field below,
A thousand years of silenced factions sleep—
The Forum, where the immortal accents glow,
And still the eloquent air breathes—burns with Cicero!
The field of Freedom—Faction—Fame—and Blood:
Here a proud people's passions were exhaled,
From the first hour of Empire in the bud
To that when further worlds to conquer failed;
But long before had Freedom's face been veiled,
And Anarchy assumed her attributes;
Till every lawless soldier who assailed
Trod on the trembling Senate's slavish mutes,
Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes.
Then turn we to her latest Tribune's name,
From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
Redeemer of dark centuries of shame—
The friend of Petrarch—hope of Italy—
Rienzi! last of Romans! While the tree
Of Freedom's withered trunk puts forth a leaf,
Even for thy tomb a garland let it be—
The Forum's champion, and the people's chief—
Her new-born Numa thou—with reign, alas! too brief.
Egeria! sweet creation of some heartN27
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art
Or wert,—a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair—
Or—it might be—a Beauty of the earth,
Who found a more than common Votary there
Too much adoring—whatsoe'er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful Thought, and softly bodied forth.
The mosses of thy Fountain still are sprinkled
With thine Elysian water-drops; the face
Of thy cave-guarded Spring, with years unwrinkled,
Reflects the meek-eyed Genius of the place,
Whose green, wild margin now no more erase
Art's works; nor must the delicate waters sleep
Prisoned in marble—bubbling from the base
Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap
The rill runs o'er—and round, fern, flowers, and ivy, creep
Fantastically tangled: the green hills
Are clothed with early blossoms—through the grass
The quick-eyed lizard rustles—and the bills
Of summer-birds sing welcome as ye pass;
Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class,
Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes
Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass;
The sweetness of the Violet's deep blue eyes,
Kissed by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by its skies.
Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover
Egeria! thy all heavenly bosom beating
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover;
The purple Midnight veiled that mystic meeting
With her most starry canopy—and seating
Thyself by thine adorer, what befel?
This cave was surely shaped out for the greeting
Of an enamoured Goddess, and the cell
Haunted by holy Love—the earliest Oracle!
And didst thou not, thy breast to his replying,
Blend a celestial with a human heart;
And Love, which dies as it was born, in sighing,
Share with immortal transports? could thine art
Make them indeed immortal, and impart
The purity of Heaven to earthly joys,
Expel the venom and not blunt the dart—
The dull satiety which all destroys—
And root from out the soul the deadly weed which cloys?
Alas! our young affections run to waste,
Or water but the desert! whence arise
But weeds of dark luxuriance, tares of haste,
Rank at the core, though tempting to the eyes
Flowers whose wild odours breathe but agonies,
And trees whose gums are poison; such the plants
Which spring beneath her steps as Passion flies
O'er the World's wilderness, and vainly pants
For some celestial fruit forbidden to our wants.
Oh, Love! no habitant of earth thou art—
An unseen Seraph, we believe in thee,—
A faith whose martyrs are the broken heart,—
But never yet hath seen, nor e'er shall see
The naked eye, thy form, as it should be;
The mind hath made thee, as it peopled Heaven,
Even with its own desiring phantasy,
And to a thought such shape and image given,
As haunts the unquenched soul—parched—wearied—wrung—and riven.
Of its own beauty is the mind diseased,
And fevers into false creation:—where,
Where are the forms the sculptor's soul hath seized?
In him alone. Can Nature show so fair?
Where are the charms and virtues which we dare
Conceive in boyhood and pursue as men,
The unreached Paradise of our despair,
Which o'er-informs the pencil and the pen,
And overpowers the page where it would bloom again?
Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure
Is bitterer still, as charm by charm unwinds
Which robed our idols, and we see too sure
Nor Worth nor Beauty dwells from out the mind's
Ideal shape of such; yet still it binds
The fatal spell, and still it draws us on,
Reaping the whirlwind from the oft-sown winds;
The stubborn heart, its alchemy begun,
Seems ever near the prize—wealthiest when most undone.
We wither from our youth, we gasp away—
Sick—sick; unfound the boon—unslaked the thirst,
Though to the last, in verge of our decay,
Some phantom lures, such as we sought at first—
But all too late,—so are we doubly curst.
Love, Fame, Ambition, Avarice—'tis the same,
Each idle—and all ill—and none the worst—
For all are meteors with a different name,
And Death the sable smoke where vanishes the flame.
Few—none—find what they love or could have loved,
Though accident, blind contact, and the strong
Necessity of loving, have removed
Antipathies—but to recur, ere long,
Envenomed with irrevocable wrong;
And Circumstance, that unspiritual God
And Miscreator, makes and helps along
Our coming evils with a crutch-like rod,
Whose touch turns Hope to dust,—the dust we all have trod.
Our life is a false nature—'tis not in
The harmony of things,—this hard decree,
This uneradicable taint of Sin,
This boundless Upas, this all-blasting tree,
Whose root is Earth—whose leaves and branches be
The skies which rain their plagues on men like dew—
Disease, death, bondage—all the woes we see,
And worse, the woes we see not—which throb through
The immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new.
Yet let us ponder boldly—'tis a base
Abandonment of reason to resign
Our right of thought—our last and only place
Of refuge; this, at least, shall still be mine:
Though from our birth the Faculty divine
Is chained and tortured—cabined, cribbed, confined,
And bred in darkness, lest the Truth should shine
Too brightly on the unpreparéd mind,
The beam pours in—for Time and Skill will couch the blind.
Arches on arches! as it were that Rome,
Collecting the chief trophies of her line,
Would build up all her triumphs in one dome,
Her Coliseum stands; the moonbeams shine
As 'twere its natural torches—for divine
Should be the light which streams here,—to illume
This long-explored but still exhaustless mine
Of Contemplation; and the azure gloom
Of an Italian night, where the deep skies assume
Hues which have words, and speak to ye of Heaven,
Floats o'er this vast and wondrous monument,
And shadows forth its glory. There is given
Unto the things of earth, which Time hath bent,
A Spirit's feeling, and where he hath leant
His hand, but broke his scythe, there is a power
And magic in the ruined battlement,
For which the Palace of the present hour
Must yield its pomp, and wait till Ages are its dower.
Oh, Time! the Beautifier of the dead,
Adorner of the ruin—Comforter
And only Healer when the heart hath bled;
Time! the Corrector where our judgments err,
The test of Truth, Love—sole philosopher,
For all beside are sophists—from thy thrift,
Which never loses though it doth defer—
Time, the Avenger! unto thee I lift
My hands, and eyes, and heart, and crave of thee a gift:
Amidst this wreck, where thou hast made a shrine
And temple more divinely desolate—
Among thy mightier offerings here are mine,
Ruins of years—though few, yet full of fate:—
If thou hast ever seen me too elate,
Hear me not; but if calmly I have borne
Good, and reserved my pride against the hate
Which shall not whelm me, let me not have worn
This iron in my soul in vain—shall they not mourn?
And Thou, who never yet of human wrong
Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis!N28
Here, where the ancient paid thee homage long—
Thou, who didst call the Furies from the abyss,
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss
For that unnatural retribution—just,
Had it but been from hands less near—in this
Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust!
Dost thou not hear my heart?—Awake! thou shalt, and must.
It is not that I may not have incurred,
For my ancestral faults or mine, the wound
I bleed withal; and, had it been conferred
With a just weapon, it had flowed unbound;
But now my blood shall not sink in the ground—
To thee I do devote it—Thou shalt take
The vengeance, which shall yet be sought and found—
Which if I have not taken for the sake——
But let that pass—I sleep—but Thou shalt yet awake.
And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now
I shrink from what is suffered: let him speak
Who hath beheld decline upon my brow,
Or seen my mind's convulsion leave it weak;
But in this page a record will I seek.
Not in the air shall these my words disperse,
Though I be ashes; a far hour shall wreak
The deep prophetic fulness of this verse,
And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse!
That curse shall be Forgiveness.—Have I not—
Hear me, my mother Earth! behold it, Heaven!—
Have I not had to wrestle with my lot?
Have I not suffered things to be forgiven?
Have I not had my brain seared, my heart riven,
Hopes sapped, name blighted, Life's life lied away?
And only not to desperation driven,
Because not altogether of such clay
As rots into the souls of those whom I survey.
From mighty wrongs to petty perfidy
Have I not seen what human things could do?
From the loud roar of foaming calumny
To the small whisper of the as paltry few—
And subtler venom of the reptile crew,
The Janus glance of whose significant eye,
Learning to lie with silence, would seem true—
And without utterance, save the shrug or sigh,
Deal round to happy fools its speechless obloquy.
But I have lived, and have not lived in vain:
My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,
And my frame perish even in conquering pain;
But there is that within me which shall tire
Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire;
Something unearthly, which they deem not of,
Like the remembered tone of a mute lyre,
Shall on their softened spirits sink, and move
In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of Love.
The seal is set.—Now welcome, thou dread Power!
Nameless, yet thus omnipotent, which here
Walk'st in the shadow of the midnight hour
With a deep awe, yet all distinct from fear;
Thy haunts are ever where the dead walls rear
Their ivy mantles, and the solemn scene
Derives from thee a sense so deep and clear
That we become a part of what has been,
And grow upon the spot—all-seeing but unseen.
And here the buzz of eager nations ran,
In murmured pity, or loud-roared applause,
As man was slaughtered by his fellow man.
And wherefore slaughtered? wherefore, but because
Such were the bloody Circus' genial laws,
And the imperial pleasure.—"Wherefore not?
What matters where we fall to fill the maws
Of worms—on battle-plains or listed spot?
Both are but theatres—where the chief actors rot.
I see before me the Gladiator lie:
He leans upon his hand—his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
And his drooped head sinks gradually low—
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one,
Like the first of a thunder-shower; and now
The arena swims around him—he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hailed the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart—and that was far away;
The Dying Gaul
from the original in the Museum of the Capitol.
He recked not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay—
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he, their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday—N29
All this rushed with his blood—Shall he expire
And unavenged?—Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire!
But here, where Murder breathed her bloody steam;—
And here, where buzzing nations choked the ways,
And roared or murmured like a mountain stream
Dashing or winding as its torrent strays;
Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise
Was Death or Life—the playthings of a crowd—N30
My voice sounds much—and fall the stars' faint rays
On the arena void—seats crushed—walls bowed—
And galleries, where my steps seem echoes strangely loud.
A Ruin—yet what Ruin! from its mass
Walls—palaces—half-cities, have been reared;
Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,
And marvel where the spoil could have appeared.
Hath it indeed been plundered, or but cleared?
Alas! developed, opens the decay,
When the colossal fabric's form is neared:
It will not bear the brightness of the day,
Which streams too much on all—years—man—have reft away.
But when the rising moon begins to climb
Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there—
When the stars twinkle through the loops of Time,
And the low night-breeze waves along the air
The garland-forest, which the gray walls wear,
Like laurels on the bald first Cæsar's head—
When the light shines serene but doth not glare—
Then in this magic circle raise the dead;—
Heroes have trod this spot—'tis on their dust ye tread.
"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand:
"When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
"And when Rome falls—the World." From our own land
Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall
In Saxon times, which we are wont to call
Ancient; and these three mortal things are still
On their foundations, and unaltered all—
Rome and her Ruin past Redemption's skill—
The World—the same wide den—of thieves, or what ye will.
Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime—
Shrine of all saints and temple of all Gods,
From Jove to Jesus—spared and blest by Time—
Looking tranquillity, while falls or nods
Arch—empire—each thing round thee—and Man plods
His way through thorns to ashes—glorious Dome!
Shalt thou not last? Time's scythe and Tyrants' rods
Shiver upon thee—sanctuary and home
Of Art and Piety—Pantheon!—pride of Rome!
Relic of nobler days, and noblest arts!
Despoiled yet perfect! with thy circle spreads
A holiness appealing to all hearts;
To Art a model—and to him who treads
Rome for the sake of ages. Glory sheds
Her light through thy sole aperture; to those
Who worship, here are altars for their beads—
And they who feel for Genius may repose
Their eyes on honoured forms, whose busts around them close.
There is a dungeon, in whose dim drear light
What do I gaze on? Nothing—Look again!
Two forms are slowly shadowed on my sight—
Two insulated phantoms of the brain:
It is not so—I see them full and plain—
An old man, and a female young and fair,
Fresh as a nursing mother, in whose vein
The blood is nectar:—but what doth she there,
With her unmantled neck, and bosom white and bare?
Full swells the deep pure fountain of young life,
Where on the heart and from the heart we took
Our first and sweetest nurture—when the wife,
Blest into mother, in the innocent look,
Or even the piping cry of lips that brook
No pain and small suspense, a joy perceives
Man knows not—when from out its cradled nook
She sees her little bud put forth its leaves—
What may the fruit be yet?—I know not—Cain was Eve's.
But here Youth offers to Old Age the food,
The milk of his own gift: it is her Sire
To whom she renders back the debt of blood
Born with her birth:—No—he shall not expire
While in those warm and lovely veins the fire
Of health and holy feeling can provide
Great Nature's Nile, whose deep stream rises higher
Than Egypt's river:—from that gentle side
Drink—drink, and live—Old Man! Heaven's realm holds no such tide.
The starry fable of the Milky Way
Has not thy story's purity; it is
A constellation of a sweeter ray,
And sacred Nature triumphs more in this
Reverse of her decree, than in the abyss
Where sparkle distant worlds:—Oh, holiest Nurse!
No drop of that clear stream its way shall miss
To thy Sire's heart, replenishing its source
With life, as our freed souls rejoin the Universe.
Turn to the Mole which Hadrian reared on high,
Imperial mimic of old Egypt's piles,
Colossal copyist of deformity—
Whose travelled phantasy from the far Nile's
Enormous model, doomed the artist's toils
To build for Giants, and for his vain earth,
His shrunken ashes, raise this Dome: How smiles
The gazer's eye with philosophic mirth,
To view the huge design which sprung from such a birth!
But lo! the Dome—the vast and wondrous Dome,
To which Diana's marvel was a cell—
Christ's mighty shrine above His martyr's tomb!
I have beheld the Ephesian's miracle—
Its columns strew the wilderness, and dwell
The hyæna and the jackal in their shade;
I have beheld Sophia's bright roofs swell
Their glittering mass i' the Sun, and have surveyed
Its sanctuary the while the usurping Moslem prayed;
But thou, of temples old, or altars new,
Standest alone—with nothing like to thee—
Worthiest of God, the Holy and the True!
Since Zion's desolation, when that He
Forsook his former city, what could be,
Of earthly structures, in His honour piled,
Of a sublimer aspect? Majesty—
Power—Glory—Strength—and Beauty all are aisled
In this eternal Ark of worship undefiled.
Enter: its grandeur overwhelms thee not;
And why? it is not lessened—but thy mind,
Expanded by the Genius of the spot,
Has grown colossal, and can only find
A fit abode wherein appear enshrined
Thy hopes of Immortality—and thou
Shalt one day, if found worthy, so defined
See thy God face to face, as thou dost now
His Holy of Holies—nor be blasted by his brow.
Thou movest—but increasing with the advance,
Like climbing some great Alp, which still doth rise,
Deceived by its gigantic elegance—
Vastness which grows, but grows to harmonize—
All musical in its immensities;
Rich marbles, richer painting—shrines where flame
The lamps of gold—and haughty dome which vies
In air with Earth's chief structures, though their frame
Sits on the firm-set ground—and this the clouds must claim.
Thou seest not all—but piecemeal thou must break,
To separate contemplation, the great whole;
And as the Ocean many bays will make
That ask the eye—so here condense thy soul
To more immediate objects, and control
Thy thoughts until thy mind hath got by heart
Its eloquent proportions, and unroll
In mighty graduations, part by part,
The Glory which at once upon thee did not dart,
Not by its fault—but thine: Our outward sense
Is but of gradual grasp—and as it is
That what we have of feeling most intense
Outstrips our faint expression; even so this
Outshining and o'erwhelming edifice
Fools our fond gaze, and greatest of the great
Defies at first our Nature's littleness,
Till, growing with its growth, we thus dilate
Our Spirits to the size of that they contemplate.
Then pause, and be enlightened; there is more
In such a survey than the sating gaze
Of wonder pleased, or awe which would adore
The worship of the place, or the mere praise
Of Art and its great Masters, who could raise
What former time, nor skill, nor thought could plan:
The fountain of Sublimity displays
Its depth, and thence may draw the mind of Man
Its golden sands, and learn what great Conceptions can.
Or, turning to the Vatican, go see
Laocoön's torture dignifying pain—
A Father's love and Mortal's agony
With an Immortal's patience blending:—Vain
The struggle—vain, against the coiling strain
And gripe, and deepening of the dragon's grasp,
The Old Man's clench; the long envenomed chain
Rivets the living links,—the enormous Asp
Enforces pang on pang, and stifles gasp on gasp.
Or view the Lord of the unerring bow,
The God of Life, and Poesy, and Light—
The Sun in human limbs arrayed, and brow
All radiant from his triumph in the fight;
The shaft hath just been shot—the arrow bright
With an Immortal's vengeance—in his eye
And nostril beautiful Disdain, and Might
And Majesty, flash their full lightnings by,
Developing in that one glance the Deity.
But in his delicate form—a dream of Love,
Shaped by some solitary Nymph, whose breast
Longed for a deathless lover from above,
And maddened in that vision—are exprest
All that ideal Beauty ever blessed
The mind with in its most unearthly mood,
When each Conception was a heavenly Guest—
A ray of Immortality—and stood,
Starlike, around, until they gathered to a God!
And if it be Prometheus stole from Heaven
The fire which we endure—it was repaid
By him to whom the energy was given
Which this poetic marble hath arrayed
With an eternal Glory—which, if made
By human hands, is not of human thought—
And Time himself hath hallowed it, nor laid
One ringlet in the dust—nor hath it caught
A tinge of years, but breathes the flame with which 'twas wrought.
But where is he, the Pilgrim of my Song,
The Being who upheld it through the past?
Methinks he cometh late and tarries long.
He is no more—these breathings are his last—
His wanderings done—his visions ebbing fast,
And he himself as nothing:—if he was
Aught but a phantasy, and could be classed
With forms which live and suffer—let that pass—
His shadow fades away into Destruction's mass,
Which gathers shadow—substance—life, and all
That we inherit in its mortal shroud—
And spreads the dim and universal pall
Through which all things grow phantoms; and the cloud
Between us sinks and all which ever glowed,
Till Glory's self is twilight, and displays
A melancholy halo scarce allowed
To hover on the verge of darkness—rays
Sadder than saddest night, for they distract the gaze,
And send us prying into the abyss,
To gather what we shall be when the frame
Shall be resolved to something less than this—
Its wretched essence; and to dream of fame,
And wipe the dust from off the idle name
We never more shall hear,—but never more,
Oh, happier thought! can we be made the same:—
It is enough in sooth that once we bore
These fardels of the heart—the heart whose sweat was gore.
Hark! forth from the abyss a voice proceeds,
A long low distant murmur of dread sound,
Such as arises when a nation bleeds
With some deep and immedicable wound;—
Through storm and darkness yawns the rending ground—
The gulf is thick with phantoms, but the Chief
Seems royal still, though with her head discrowned,
And pale, but lovely, with maternal grief—
She clasps a babe, to whom her breast yields no relief.
Scion of Chiefs and Monarchs, where art thou?
Fond Hope of many nations, art thou dead?
Could not the Grave forget thee, and lay low
Some less majestic, less belovéd head?
In the sad midnight, while thy heart still bled,
The mother of a moment, o'er thy boy,
Death hushed that pang for ever: with thee fled
The present happiness and promised joy
Which filled the Imperial Isles so full it seemed to cloy.
Peasants bring forth in safety.—Can it be,
Oh thou that wert so happy, so adored!
Those who weep not for Kings shall weep for thee,
And Freedom's heart, grown heavy, cease to hoard
Her many griefs for One; for she had poured
Her orisons for thee, and o'er thy head
Beheld her Iris.—Thou, too, lonely Lord,
And desolate Consort—vainly wert thou wed!
The husband of a year! the father of the dead!
Of sackcloth was thy wedding garment made;
Thy bridal's fruit is ashes: in the dust
The fair-haired Daughter of the Isles is laid,
The love of millions! How we did entrust
Futurity to her! and, though it must
Darken above our bones, yet fondly deemed
Our children should obey her child, and blessed
Her and her hoped-for seed, whose promise seemed
Like stars to shepherd's eyes:—'twas but a meteor beamed.
Woe unto us—not her—for she sleeps well:
The fickle reek of popular breath, the tongue
Of hollow counsel, the false oracle,
Which from the birth of Monarchy hath rung
Its knell in princely ears, till the o'erstung
Nations have armed in madness—the strange fate
Which tumbles mightiest sovereigns, and hath flung
Against their blind omnipotence a weight
Within the opposing scale, which crushes soon or late,—
These might have been her destiny—but no—
Our hearts deny it: and so young, so fair,
Good without effort, great without a foe;
But now a Bride and Mother—and now there!
How many ties did that stern moment tear!
From thy Sire's to his humblest subject's breast
Is linked the electric chain of that despair,
Whose shock was as an Earthquake's, and opprest
The land which loved thee so that none could love thee best.
Lo, Nemi! navelled in the woody hills
So far, that the uprooting Wind which tears
The oak from his foundation, and which spills
The Ocean o'er its boundary, and bears
Its foam against the skies, reluctant spares
The oval mirror of thy glassy lake;
And calm as cherished hate, its surface wears
A deep cold settled aspect nought can shake,
All coiled into itself and round, as sleeps the snake.
And near, Albano's scarce divided waves
Shine from a sister valley;—and afarN31
The Tiber winds, and the broad Ocean laves
The Latian coast where sprung the Epic war,
"Arms and the Man," whose re-ascending star
Rose o'er an empire:—but beneath thy right
Tully reposed from Rome;—and where yon bar
Of girdling mountains intercepts the sight
The Sabine farm was tilled, the weary Bard's delight.
But I forget.—My Pilgrim's shrine is won,
And he and I must part,—so let it be,—
His task and mine alike are nearly done;
Yet once more let us look upon the Sea;
The Midland Ocean breaks on him and me,
And from the Alban Mount we now behold
Our friend of youth, that Ocean, which when we
Beheld it last by Calpe's rock unfold
Those waves, we followed on till the dark Euxine rolled
Upon the blue Symplegades:N32 long years—
Long, though not very many—since have done
Their work on both; some suffering and some tears
Have left us nearly where we had begun:
Yet not in vain our mortal race hath run—
We have had our reward—and it is here,—
That we can yet feel gladdened by the Sun,
And reap from Earth—Sea—joy almost as dear
As if there were no Man to trouble what is clear.
Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place,
With one fair Spirit for my minister,
That I might all forget the human race,
And, hating no one, love but only her!
Ye elements!—in whose ennobling stir
I feel myself exalted—Can ye not
Accord me such a Being? Do I err
In deeming such inhabit many a spot?
Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and Music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express—yet can not all conceal.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin—his control
Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan—
Without a grave—unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.
His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields
Are not a spoil for him,—thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For Earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies—
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray
And howling, to his Gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to Earth:—there let him lay."
The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And Monarchs tremble in their Capitals,
The oak Leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of Lord of thee, and Arbiter of War—
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar.
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee—
Assyria—Greece—Rome—Carthage—what are they?
Thy waters washed them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts:—not so thou,
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play,
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow—
Such as Creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed—in breeze, or gale, or storm—
Icing the Pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving—boundless, endless, and sublime—
The image of Eternity—the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made—each Zone
Obeys thee—thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a Child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane—as I do here.
My task is done—my song hath ceased—my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream.
The torch shall be extinguished which hath lit
My midnight lamp—and what is writ, is writ,—
Would it were worthier! but I am not now
That which I have been—and my visions flit
Less palpably before me—and the glow
Which in my Spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low.
Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been—
A sound which makes us linger;—yet—farewell!
Ye! who have traced the Pilgrim to the scene
Which is his last—if in your memories dwell
A thought which once was his—if on ye swell
A single recollection—not in vain
He wore his sandal-shoon, and scallop-shell;
Farewell! with him alone may rest the pain,
If such there were—with you, the Moral of his Strain.
CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
I stood in Venice, on the "Bridge of Sighs;"
A Palace and a prison on each hand.
Stanza i. lines 1 and 2.
The communication between the ducal palace and the prisons of Venice is by a gloomy bridge, or covered gallery, high above the water, and divided by a stone wall into a passage and a cell. The state dungeons called pozzi, or wells, were sunk in the thick walls of the palace: and the prisoner, when taken out to die, was conducted across the gallery to the other side, and being then led back into the other compartment, or cell, upon the bridge, was there strangled. The low portal through which the criminal was taken into this cell is now walled up; but the passage is still open, and is still known by the name of the "Bridge of Sighs." The pozzi are under the flooring of the chamber at the foot of the bridge. They were formerly twelve; but on the first arrival of the French, the Venetians hastily blocked or broke up the deeper of these dungeons. You may still, however, descend by a trap-door, and crawl down through holes, half choked by rubbish, to the depth of two stories below the first range. If you are in want of consolation for the extinction of patrician power, perhaps you may find it there; scarcely a ray of light glimmers into the narrow gallery which leads to the cells, and the places of confinement themselves are totally dark. A small hole in the wall admitted the damp air of the passages, and served for the introduction of the prisoner's food. A wooden pallet, raised a foot from the ground, was the only furniture. The conductors tell you that a light was not allowed. The cells are about five paces in length, two and a half in width, and seven feet in height. They are directly beneath one another, and respiration is somewhat difficult in the lower holes. Only one prisoner was found when the republicans descended into these hideous recesses, and he is said to have been confined sixteen years. But the inmates of the dungeons beneath had left traces of their repentance, or of their despair, which are still visible, and may, perhaps, owe something to recent ingenuity. Some of the detained appear to have offended against, and others to have belonged to, the sacred body, not only from their signatures, but from the churches and belfries which they have scratched upon the walls. The reader may not object to see a specimen of the records prompted by so terrific a solitude. As nearly as they could be copied by more than one pencil, three of them are as follows:—
1. NON TI FIDAR AD ALCUNO PENSA e TACI
SE FUGIR VUOI DE SPIONI INSIDIE e LACCI
IL PENTIRTI PENTIRTI NULLA GIOVA
MA BEN DI VALOR TUO LA VERA PROVA
TENTO P' LA BESTIEMMA P' AVER DATO
DA MANZAR A UN MORTO
IACOMO . GRITTI . SCRISSE.
2. UN PARLAR POCHO et
NEGARE PRONTO et
UN PENSAR AL FINE PUO DARE LA VITA
A NOI ALTRI MESCHINI
3. DE CHI MI FIDO GUARDAMI DIO
DE CHI NON MI FIDO MI GUARDARO IO
V . LA S . C . K . R .
The copyist has followed, not corrected, the solecisms; some of which are, however, not quite so decided since the letters were evidently scratched in the dark. It only need be observed, that bestemmia and mangiar may be read in the first inscription, which was probably written by a prisoner confined for some act of impiety committed at a funeral; that Cortellarius is the name of a parish on terra firma, near the sea; and that the last initials evidently are put for Viva la santa Chiesa Kattolica Romana.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more.
Stanza iii. line 1.
["I cannot forbear mentioning a custom in Venice, which they tell me is particular to the common people of this country, of singing stanzas out of Tasso. They are set to a pretty solemn tune, and when one begins in any part of the poet, it is odds but he will be answered by somebody else that overhears him; so that sometimes you have ten or a dozen in the neighbourhood of one another, taking verse after verse, and running on with the poem as far as their memories will carry them."—Addison, A.D. 1700.]
The well-known song of the gondoliers, of alternate stanzas from Tasso's Jerusalem, has died with the independence of Venice. Editions of the poem, with the original in one column, and the Venetian variations on the other, as sung by the boatmen, were once common, and are still to be found. The following extract will serve to show the difference between the Tuscan epic and the Canta alla Barcariola:—
Canto l' arme pietose, e 'l capitano
Che 'l gran Sepolcro liberò di Cristo
Molto egli oprò col senno, e con la mano
Molto soffri nel glorioso acquisto;
E in van l' Inferno a lui s' oppose, e in vano
S' armò d' Asia, e di Libia il popol misto,
Che il Ciel gli diè favore, e sotto a i Santi
Segni ridusse i suoi compagni erranti.
L' arme pietose de cantar gho vogia,
E de Goffredo la immortal braura
Che al fin l' ha libera co strassia, e dogia
Del nostro buon Gesû la Sepoltura
De mezo mondo unito, e de quel Bogia
Missier Pluton non l' ha bu mai paura:
Dio l' ha agiutá, e i compagni sparpagni
Tutti 'l gh' i ha messi insieme i di del Dai.
Some of the elder gondoliers will, however, take up and continue a stanza of their once familiar bard.
On the 7th of last January, the author of Childe Harold, and another Englishman, the writer of this notice, rowed to the Lido with two singers, one of whom was a carpenter, and the other a gondolier. The former placed himself at the prow, the latter at the stern of the boat. A little after leaving the quay of the Piazzetta, they began to sing, and continued their exercise until we arrived at the island. They gave us, amongst other essays, the death of Clorinda, and the palace of Armida; and did not sing the Venetian but the Tuscan verses. The carpenter, however, who was the cleverer of the two, and was frequently obliged to prompt his companion, told us that he could translate the original. He added, that he could sing almost three hundred stanzas, but had not spirits (morbin was the word he used) to learn any more, or to sing what he already knew: a man must have idle time on his hands to acquire, or to repeat, and, said the poor fellow, "look at my clothes and at me; I am starving." This speech was more affecting than his performance, which habit alone can make attractive. The recitative was shrill, screaming, and monotonous; and the gondolier behind assisted his voice by holding his hand to one side of his mouth. The carpenter used a quiet action, which he evidently endeavoured to restrain; but was too much interested in his subject altogether to repress. From these men we learnt that singing is not confined to the gondoliers, and that, although the chant is seldom, if ever, voluntary, there are still several amongst the lower classes who are acquainted with a few stanzas.
It does not appear that it is usual for the performers to row and sing at the same time. Although the verses of the Jerusalem are no longer casually heard, there is yet much music upon the Venetian canals; and upon holydays, those strangers who are not near or informed enough to distinguish the words, may fancy that many of the gondolas still resound with the strains of Tasso. The writer of some remarks which appeared in the Curiosities of Literature must excuse his being twice quoted; for, with the exception of some phrases a little too ambitious and extravagant, he has furnished a very exact, as well as agreeable description:—
"In Venice the gondoliers know by heart long passages from Ariosto and Tasso, and often chant them with a peculiar melody. But this talent seems at present on the decline:—at least, after taking some pains, I could find no more than two persons who delivered to me in this way a passage from Tasso. I must add, that the late Mr. Berry once chanted to me a passage in Tasso in the manner, as he assured me, of the gondoliers.
"There are always two concerned, who alternately sing the strophes. We know the melody eventually by Rousseau, to whose songs it is printed; it has properly no melodious movement, and is a sort of medium between the canto fermo and the canto figurato; it approaches to the former by recitativical declamation, and to the latter by passages and course, by which one syllable is detained and embellished.
"I entered a gondola by moonlight; one singer placed himself forwards and the other aft, and thus proceeded to St. Georgio. One began the song: when he had ended his strophe, the other took up the lay, and so continued the song alternately. Throughout the whole of it, the same notes invariably returned; but, according to the subject-matter of the strophe, they laid a greater or a smaller stress, sometimes on one, and sometimes on another note, and indeed changed the enunciation of the whole strophe as the object of the poem altered.
"On the whole, however, the sounds were hoarse and screaming: they seemed, in the manner of all rude uncivilised men, to make the excellency of their singing in the force of their voice. One seemed desirous of conquering the other by the strength of his lungs; and so far from receiving delight from this scene (shut up as I was in the box of the gondola), I found myself in a very unpleasant situation.
"My companion, to whom I communicated this circumstance, being very desirous to keep up the credit of his countrymen, assured me that the singing was very delightful when heard at a distance. Accordingly we got out upon the shore, leaving one of the singers in the gondola, while the other went to the distance of some hundred paces. They now began to sing against one another, and I kept walking up and down between them both, so as always to leave him who was to begin his part. I frequently stood still and hearkened to the one and to the other.
"Here the scene was properly introduced. The strong declamatory, and, as it were, shrieking sound, met the ear from far, and called forth the attention; the quickly succeeding transitions, which necessarily required to be sung in a lower tone, seemed like plaintive strains succeeding the vociferations of emotion or of pain. The other, who listened attentively, immediately began where the former left off, answering him in milder or more vehement notes, according as the purport of the strophe required. The sleepy canals, the lofty buildings, the splendour of the moon, the deep shadows of the few gondolas that moved like spirits hither and thither, increased the striking peculiarity of the scene; and, amidst all these circumstances, it was easy to confess the character of this wonderful harmony.
"It suits perfectly well with an idle, solitary mariner, lying at length in his vessel at rest on one of these canals, waiting for his company, or for a fare, the tiresomeness of which situation is somewhat alleviated by the songs and poetical stories he has in memory. He often raises his voice as loud as he can, which extends itself to a vast distance over the tranquil mirror; and as all is still around, he is, as it were, in a solitude in the midst of a large and populous town. Here is no rattling of carriages, no noise of foot passengers; a silent gondola glides now and then by him, of which the splashings of the oars are scarcely to be heard.
"At a distance he hears another, perhaps utterly unknown to him. Melody and verse immediately attach the two strangers; he becomes the responsive echo to the former, and exerts himself to be heard as he had heard the other. By a tacit convention they alternate verse for verse; though the song should last the whole night through, they entertain themselves without fatigue: the hearers who are passing between the two take part in the amusement.
"This vocal performance sounds best at a great distance, and is then inexpressibly charming, as it only fulfills its design in the sentiment of remoteness. It is plaintive, but not dismal in its sound, and at times it is scarcely possible to refrain from tears. My companion, who otherwise was not a very delicately organised person, said quite unexpectedly: E singolare come quel canto intenerisce, e molto più quando lo cantano meglio.
"I was told that the women of Libo, the long row of islands that divides the Adriatic from the Lagoons, particularly the women of the extreme districts of Malamocca and Palestrina, sing in like manner the works of Tasso to these and similar tunes.
"They have the custom, when their husbands are fishing out at sea, to sit along the shore in the evenings and vociferate these songs, and continue to do so with great violence, till each of them can distinguish the responses of her own husband at a distance."
The love of music and of poetry distinguishes all classes of Venetians, even amongst the tuneful sons of Italy. The city itself can occasionally furnish respectable audiences for two and even three opera-houses at a time; and there are few events in private life that do not call forth a printed and circulated sonnet. Does a physician or a layer take his degree, or a clergyman preach his maiden sermon, has a surgeon performed an operation, would a harlequin announce his departure or his benefit, are you to be congratulated on a marriage, or a birth, or a lawsuit, the Muses are invoked to furnish the same number of syllables, and the individual triumphs blaze abroad in virgin white or party-coloured placards on half the corners of the capital. The last curtsy of a favourite "prima donna" brings down a shower of these poetical tributes from those upper regions, from which, in our theatres, nothing but cupids and snowstorms are accustomed to descend. There is a poetry in the very life of a Venetian, which, in its common course, is varied with those surprises and changes so recommendable in fiction, but so different from the sober monotony of northern existence; amusements are raised into duties, duties are softened into amusements, and every object being considered as equally making a part of the business of life, is announced and performed with the same earnest indifference and gay assiduity. The Venetian gazette constantly closes its columns with the following triple advertisement:—
Exposition of the most Holy Sacrament in the church of St. ——
St. Moses, opera.
St. Benedict, a comedy of characters.
St. Luke, repose.
When it is recollected what the Catholics believe their consecrated wafer to be, we may perhaps think it worthy of a more respectable niche than between poetry and the playhouse.
St. Mark yet sees his Lion where he stood
Stanza xi. line 5.
The Lion has lost nothing by his journey to the Invalides, but the gospel which supported the paw that is now on a level with the other foot. The horses also are returned [A.D. 1815] to the ill-chosen spot whence they set out, and are, as before, half hidden under the porch window of St. Mark's Church. Their history, after a desperate struggle, has been satisfactorily explored. The decisions and doubts of Erizzo and Zanetti, and lastly, of the Count Leopold Cicognara, would have given them a Roman extraction, and a pedigree not more ancient than the reign of Nero. But M. de Schlegel stepped in to teach the Venetians the value of their own treasures; and a Greek vindicated, at last and for ever, the pretension of his countrymen to this noble production. M. Mustoxidi has not been left without a reply; but, as yet, he has received no answer. It should seem that the horses are irrevocably Chian, and were transferred to Constantinople by Theodosius. Lapidary writing is a favourite play of the Italians, and has conferred reputation on more than one of their literary characters. One of the best specimens of Bodoni's typography is a respectable volume of inscriptions, all written by his friend Pacciaudi. Several were prepared for the recovered horses. It is to be hoped the best was not selected, when the following words were ranged in gold letters above the cathedral porch;—
QUATUOR • EQUORUM • SIGNA • A • VENETIS • BYZANTIO • CAPTA • AD • TEMP • D • MAR • A • R • S • MCCIV • POSITA • QUÆ • HOSTILIS • CUPIDITAS • A • MDCCIIIC • ABSTULERAT • FRANC • I • IMP • PACIS • ORBI • DATÆ • TROPHÆUM • A • MDCCCXV • VICTOR • REDUXIT.
Nothing shall be said of the Latin, but it may be permitted to observe, that the injustice of the Venetians in transporting the horses from Constantinople [A.D. 1204] was at least equal to that of the French in carrying them to Paris [A.D. 1797], and that it would have been more prudent to have avoided all allusions to either robbery. An apostolic prince should, perhaps, have objected to affixing over the principal entrance of a metropolitan church an inscription having a reference to any other triumphs than those of religion. Nothing less than the pacification of the world can excuse such a solecism.
The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns—
An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt.
Stanza xii. lines 1 and 2.
After many vain efforts on the part of the Italians entirely to throw off the yoke of Frederic Barbarossa, and as fruitless attempts of the Emperor to make himself absolute master throughout the whole of his Cisalpine dominions, the bloody struggles of four-and-twenty years were happily brought to a close in the city of Venice. The articles of a treaty had been previously agreed upon between Pope Alexander III. and Barbarossa; and the former having received a safe-conduct, had already arrived at Venice from Ferrara, in company with the ambassadors of the King of Sicily and the consuls of the Lombard League. There still remained, however, many points to adjust, and for several days the peace was believed to be impracticable. At this juncture, it was suddenly reported that the Emperor had arrived at Chioza, a town fifteen miles from the capital. The Venetians rose tumultuously, and insisted upon immediately conducting him to the city. The Lombards took the alarm, and departed towards Treviso. The Pope himself was apprehensive of some disaster if Frederic should suddenly advance upon him, but was reassured by the prudence and address of Sebastian Ziani, the Doge. Several embassies passed between Chioza and the capital, until, at last, the Emperor, relaxing somewhat of his pretensions, "laid aside his leonine ferocity, and put on the mildness of the lamb."
On Saturday, the 23rd of July, in the year 1177, six Venetian galleys transferred Frederic, in great pomp, from Chioza to the island of Lido, a mile from Venice. Early the next morning, the Pope, accompanied by the Sicilian ambassadors, and by the envoys of Lombardy, whom he had recalled from the main land, together with a great concourse of people, repaired from the patriarchal palace to St. Mark's Church, and solemnly absolved the Emperor and his partisans from the excommunication pronounced against him. The Chancellor of the Empire, on the part of his master, renounced the anti-popes and their schismatic adherents. Immediately the Doge, with a great suite both of the clergy and laity, got on board the galleys, and waiting on Frederic, rowed him in mighty state from the Lido to the capital. The Emperor descended from the galley at the quay of the Piazzetta. The Doge, the patriarch, his bishops and clergy, and the people of Venice with their crosses and their standards, marched in solemn procession before him to the church of St. Mark. Alexander was seated before the vestibule of the basilica, attended by his bishops and cardinals, by the patriarch of Aquileja, by the archbishops and bishops of Lombardy, all of them in state, and clothed in their church robes. Frederic approached—"moved by the Holy Spirit, venerating the Almighty in the person of Alexander, laying aside his imperial dignity, and throwing off his mantle, he prostrated himself at full length at the feet of the Pope. Alexander, with tears in his eyes, raised him benignantly from the ground, kissed him, blessed him; and immediately the Germans of the train sang with a loud voice, 'We praise thee, O Lord.' The Emperor then taking the Pope by the right hand, led him to the church, and having received his benediction, returned to the ducal palace." The ceremony of humiliation was repeated the next day. The Pope himself, at the request of Frederic, said mass at St. Mark's. The Emperor again laid aside his imperial mantle, and taking a wand in his hand, officiated as verger, driving the laity from the choir, and preceding the pontiff to the altar. Alexander, after reciting the gospel, preached to the people. The Emperor put himself close to the pulpit in the attitude of listening; and the pontiff, touched by this mark of his attention (for he knew that Frederic did not understand a word he said), commanded the patriarch of Aquileja to translate the Latin discourse into the German tongue. The creed was then chanted. Frederic made his oblation, and kissed the Pope's feet, and, mass being over, led him by the hand to his white horse. He held the stirrup, and would have led the horse's rein to the water side, had not the Pope accepted of the inclination for the performance, and affectionately dismissed him with his benediction. Such is the substance of the account left by the archbishop of Salerno, who was present at the ceremony, and whose story is confirmed by every subsequent narration. It would be not worth so minute a record, were it not the triumph of liberty as well as of superstition. The states of Lombardy owed to it the confirmation of their privileges; and Alexander had reason to thank the Almighty, who had enabled an infirm, unarmed old man to subdue a terrible and potent sovereign.
Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo!
Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe.
Stanza xii. lines 8 and 9.
The reader will recollect the exclamation of the Highlander, "Oh, for one hour of Dundee!" Henry Dandolo, when elected Doge, in 1192, was eighty-five years of age. When he commanded the Venetians at the taking of Constantinople, he was consequently ninety-seven years old. At this age he annexed the fourth and a half of the whole empire of Romania, for so the Roman empire was then called, to the title and to the territories of the Venetian Doge. The three-eighths of this empire were preserved in the diplomas until the Dukedom of Giovanni Dolfino, who made use of the above designation in the year 1357.
Dandolo led the attack on Constantinople in person. Two ships, the Paradise and the Pilgrim, were tied together, and a drawbridge or ladder let down from their higher yards to the walls. The Doge was one of the first to rush into the city. Then was completed, said the Venetians, the prophecy of the Erythræan sibyl:—"A gathering together of the powerful shall be made amidst the waves of the Adriatic, under a blind leader; they shall beset the goat—they shall profane Byzantium—they shall blacken her buildings—her spoils shall be dispersed; a new goat shall bleat until they have measured out and run over fifty-four feet nine inches and a half." Dandolo died on the first day of June, 1205, having reigned thirteen years six months and five days, and was buried in the church of St. Sophia, at Constantinople. Strangely enough it must sound, that the name of the rebel apothecary who received the Doge's sword, and annihilated the ancient government, in 1796-7, was Dandolo.
But is not Doria's menace come to pass?
Are they not bridled?
Stanza xiii. lines 3 and 4.
After the loss of the battle of Pola, and the taking of Chioza on the 16th of August, 1379, by the united armament of the Genoese and Francesco da Carrara, Signor of Padua, the Venetians were reduced to the utmost despair. An embassy was sent to the conquerors with a blank sheet of paper, praying them to prescribe what terms they pleased, and leave to Venice only her independence. The Prince of Padua was inclined to listen to these proposals; but the Genoese, who, after the victory at Pola, had shouted, "To Venice! to Venice! and long live St. George!" determined to annihilate their rival; and Peter Doria, their commander-in-chief, returned this answer to the suppliants: "On God's faith, gentlemen of Venice, ye shall have no peace from the Signor of Padua, nor from our commune of Genoa, until we have first put a rein upon those unbridled horses of yours, that are upon the porch of your evangelist St. Mark. When we have bridled them we shall keep you quiet. And this is the pleasure of us and of our commune. As for these, my brothers of Genoa, that you have brought with you to give up to us, I will not have them: take them back; for in a few days hence, I shall come and let them out of prison myself, both these and all the others" [p. 727, E. vide infra]. In fact, the Genoese did advance as far as Malamocco, within five miles of the capital; but their own danger, and the pride of their enemies, gave courage to the Venetians, who made prodigious efforts, and many individual sacrifices, all of them carefully recorded by their historians. Vettor Pisani was put at the head of thirty-four galleys. The Genoese broke up from Malamocco, and retired to Chioza in October; but they again threatened Venice, which was reduced to extremities. At this time, the 1st of January, 1380, arrived Carlo Zeno, who had been cruising on the Genoese coast with fourteen galleys. The Venetians were now strong enough to besiege the Genoese. Doria was killed on the 22nd of January, by a stone bullet, one hundred and ninety-five pounds' weight, discharged from a bombard called the Trevisan. Chioza was then closely invested; five thousand auxiliaries, among whom were some English condottieri, commanded by one Captain Ceccho, joined the Venetians. The Genoese, in their turn, prayed for conditions, but none were granted, until, at last, they surrendered at discretion; and, on the 24th of June, 1380, the Doge Contarini made his triumphal entry into Chioza. Four thousand prisoners, nineteen galleys, many smaller vessels and barks, with all the ammunition and arms, and outfit of the expedition, fell into the hands of the conquerors, who, had it not been for the inexorable answer of Doria, would have gladly reduced their dominion to the city of Venice. An account of these transactions is found in a work called The War of Chioza, written by Daniel Chinazzo, who was in Venice at the time.
Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must
Too oft remind her who and what enthrals.
Stanza xv. lines 7 and 8.
The population of Venice, at the end of the seventeenth century, amounted to nearly two hundred thousand souls. At the last census, taken two years ago , it was no more than about one hundred and three thousand; and it diminishes daily. The commerce and the official employments, which were to be the unexhausted source of Venetian grandeur, have both expired. Most of the patrician mansions are deserted, and would gradually disappear, had not the Government, alarmed by the demolition of seventy-two during the last two years, expressly forbidden this sad resource of poverty. Many remnants of the Venetian nobility are now scattered, and confounded with the wealthier Jews upon the banks of the Brenta, whose Palladian palaces have sunk, or are sinking, in the general decay. Of the "gentiluomo Veneto," the name is still known, and that is all. He is but the shadow of his former self, but he is polite and kind. It surely may be pardoned to him if he is querulous. Whatever may have been the vices of the republic, and although the natural term of its existence may be thought by foreigners to have arrived in the due course of mortality, only one sentiment can be expected from the Venetians themselves. At no time were the subjects of the republic so unanimous in their resolution to rally round the standard of St. Mark, as when it was for the last time unfurled; and the cowardice and the treachery of the few patricians who recommended the fatal neutrality, were confined to the persons of the traitors themselves. The present race cannot be thought to regret the loss of their aristocratical forms, and too despotic government; they think only on their vanished independence. They pine away at the remembrance, and on this subject suspend for a moment their gay good humour. Venice may be said, in the words of the Scripture, "to die daily;" and so general and so apparent is the decline, as to become painful to a stranger, not reconciled to the sight of a whole nation expiring, as it were, before his eyes. So artificial a creation, having lost that principle which called it into life and supported its existence, must fall to pieces at once, and sink more rapidly than it rose. The abhorrence of slavery, which drove the Venetians to the sea, has, since their disaster, forced them to the land, where they may be at least overlooked amongst the crowd of dependents, and not present the humiliating spectacle of a whole nation loaded with recent chains. Their liveliness, their affability, and that happy indifference which constitution alone can give (for philosophy aspires to it in vain), have not sunk under circumstances; but many peculiarities of costume and manner have by degrees been lost; and the nobles, with a pride common to all Italians who have been masters, have not been persuaded to parade their insignificance. That splendour which was a proof and a portion of their power, they would not degrade into the trappings of their subjection. They retired from the space which they had occupied in the eyes of their fellow citizens; their continuance in which would have been a symptom of acquiescence, and an insult to those who suffered by the common misfortune. Those who remained in the degraded capital, might be said rather to haunt the scenes of their departed power, than to live in them. The reflection, "who and what enthrals," will hardly bear a comment from one who is, nationally, the friend and the ally of the conqueror. It may, however, be allowed to say thus much, that to those who wish to recover their independence, any masters must be an object of detestation; and it may be safely foretold that this unprofitable aversion will not have been corrected before Venice shall have sunk into the slime of her choked canals.
Watering the tree which bears his Lady's name
With his melodious tears, he gave himself to Fame.
Stanza xxx. lines 8 and 9.
Thanks to the critical acumen of a Scotchman, we now know as little of Laura as ever. The discoveries of the Abbé de Sade, his triumphs, his sneers, can no longer instruct or amuse. We must not, however, think that these memoirs are as much a romance as Belisarius or the Incas, although we are told so by Dr. Beattie, a great name, but a little authority. His "labour" has not been in vain, notwithstanding his "love" has, like most other passions, made him ridiculous. The hypothesis which overpowered the struggling Italians, and carried along less interested critics in its current, is run out. We have another proof that we can never be sure that the paradox, the most singular, and therefore having the most agreeable and authentic air, will not give place to the re-established ancient prejudice.
It seems, then, first, that Laura was born, lived, died, and was buried, not in Avignon, but in the country. The fountains of the Sorga, the thickets of Cabrieres, may resume their pretensions, and the exploded de la Bastie again be heard with complacency. The hypothesis of the Abbé had no stronger props than the parchment sonnet and medal found on the skeleton of the wife of Hugo de Sade, and the manuscript note to the Virgil of Petrarch, now in the Ambrosian library. If these proofs were both incontestable, the poetry was written, the medal composed, cast, and deposited within the space of twelve hours: and these deliberate duties were performed round the carcass of one who died of the plague, and was hurried to the grave on the day of her death. These documents, therefore, are too decisive: they prove not the fact, but the forgery. Either the sonnet or the Virgilian note must be a falsification. The Abbé cites both as incontestably true; the consequent deduction is inevitable—they are both evidently false.
Secondly, Laura was never married, and was a haughty virgin rather than that tender and prudent wife who honoured Avignon, by making that town the theatre of an honest French passion, and played off for one and twenty years her little machinery of alternate favours and refusals upon the first poet of the age. It was, indeed, rather too unfair that a female should be made responsible for eleven children upon the faith of a misinterpreted abbreviation, and the decision of a librarian. It is, however, satisfactory to think that the love of Petrarch was not platonic. The happiness which he prayed to possess but once and for a moment was surely not of the mind, and something so very real as a marriage project, with one who has been idly called a shadovy nymph, may be, perhaps, detected in at least six places of his own sonnets. The love of Petrarch was neither platonic nor poetical; and if in one passage of his works he calls it "amore veementeissimo ma unico ed onesto," he confesses, in a letter to a friend, that it was guilty and perverse, that it absorbed him quite, and mastered his heart.
In this case, however, he was perhaps alarmed for the culpability of his wishes; for the Abbé de Sade himself, who certainly would not have been scrupulously delicate if he could have proved his descent from Petrarch as well as Laura, is forced into a stout defence of his virtuous grandmother. As far as relates to the poet, we have no security for the innocence, except perhaps in the constancy of his pursuit. He assures us in his epistle to posterity, that, when arrived at his fortieth year, he not only had in horror, but had lost all recollection and image of any "irregularity." But the birth of his natural daughter cannot be assigned earlier than his thirty-ninth year; and either the memory or the morality of the poet must have failed him, when he forgot or was guilty of this slip. The weakest argument for the purity of this love has been drawn from the permanence of its effects, which survived the object of his passion. The reflection of M. de la Bastie, that virtue alone is capable of making impressions which death cannot efface, is one of those which everybody applauds, and everybody finds not to be true, the moment he examines his own breast or the records of human feeling. Such apophthegms can do nothing for Petrarch or for the cause of morality, except with the very weak and the very young. He that has made even a little progress beyond ignorance and pupilage cannot be edified with anything but truth. What is called vindicating the honour of an individual or a nation, is the most futile, tedious, and uninstructive of all writing; although it will always meet with more applause than that sober criticism, which is attributed to the malicious desire of reducing a great man to the common standard of humanity. It is, after all, not unlikely that our historian was right in retaining his favourite hypothetic salvo, which secures the author, although it scarcely saves the honour of the still unknown mistress of Petrarch.
They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died.
Stanza xxxi. line 1.
Petrarch retired to Arquà immediately on his return from the unsuccessful attempt to visit Urban V. at Rome, in the year 1370, and with the exception of his celebrated visit to Venice in company with Francesco Novello da Carrara, he appears to have passed the four last years of his life between that charming solitude and Padua. For four months previous to his death he was in a state of continual languor, and in the morning of July the 19th, in the year 1374, was found dead in his library chair with his head resting upon a book. The chair is still shown amongst the precious relics of Arquà, which, from the uninterrupted veneration that has been attached to everything relative to this great man from the moment of his death to the present hour, have, it may be hoped, a better chance of authenticity than the Shaksperian memorials of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Arquà (for the last syllable is accented in pronunciation, although the analogy of the English language has been observed in the verse) is twelve miles from Padua, and about three miles on the right of the high road to Rovigo, in the bosom of the Euganean hills. After a walk of twenty minutes across a flat well-wooded meadow, you come to a little blue lake, clear but fathomless, and to the foot of a succession of acclivities and hills, clothed with vineyards and orchards, rich with fir and pomegranate trees, and every sunny fruit shrub. From the banks of the lake the road winds into the hills, and the church of Arquà is soon seen between a cleft where two ridges slope towards each other, and nearly enclose the village. The houses are scattered at intervals on the steep sides of these summits; and that of the poet is on the edge of a little knoll overlooking two descents, and commanding a view, not only of the glowing gardens in the dales immediately beneath, but of the wide plains, above whose low woods of mulberry and willow, thickened into a dark mass by festoons of vines, tall, single cypresses, and the spires of towns, are seen in the distance, which stretches to the mouths of the Po and the shores of the Adriatic. The climate of these volcanic hills is warmer, and the vintage begins a week sooner than in the plains of Padua. Petrarch is laid, for he cannot be said to be buried, in a sarcophagus of red marble, raised on four pilasters on an elevated base, and preserved from an association with meaner tombs. It stands conspicuously alone, but will be soon overshadowed by four lately planted laurels. Petrarch's Fountain, for here everything is Petrarch's, springs and expands itself beneath an artificial arch, a little below the church, and abounds plentifully, in the driest season, with that soft water which was the ancient wealth of the Euganean hills. It would be more attractive, were it not, in some seasons, beset with hornets and wasps. No other coincidence could assimilate the tombs of Petrarch and Archilochus. The revolutions of centuries have spared these sequestered valleys, and the only violence which has been offered to the ashes of Petrarch was prompted, not by hate, but veneration. An attempt was made to rob the sarcophagus of its treasure, and one of the arms was stolen by a Florentine through a rent which is still visible. The injury is not forgotten, but has served to identify the poet with the country where he was born, but where he would not live. A peasant boy of Arquà being asked who Petrarch was, replied, "that the people of the parsonage knew all about him, but that he only knew that he was a Florentine."
Mr. Forsyth was not quite correct in saying that Petrarch never returned to Tuscany after he had once quitted it when a boy. It appears he did pass through Florence on his way from Parma to Rome, and on his return in the year 1350, and remained there long enough to form some acquaintance with its most distinguished inhabitants. A Florentine gentleman, ashamed of the aversion of the poet for his native country, was eager to point out this trivial error in our accomplished traveller, whom he knew and respected for an extraordinary capacity, extensive erudition, and refined taste, joined to that engaging simplicity of manners which has been so frequently recognised as the surest, though it is certainly not an indispensable, trait of superior genius.
Every footstep of Laura's lover has been anxiously traced and recorded. The house in which he lodged is shown in Venice. The inhabitants of Arezzo, in order to decide the ancient controversy between their city and the neighbouring Ancisa, where Petrarch was carried when seven months old, and remained until his seventh year, have designated by a long inscription the spot where their great fellow citizen was born. A tablet has been raised to him at Parma, in the chapel of St. Agatha, at the cathedral, because he was archdeacon of that society, and was only snatched from his intended sepulture in their church by a foreign death. Another tablet, with a bust, has been erected to him at Pavia, on account of his having passed the autumn of 1368 in that city, with his son-in-law Brossano. The political condition which has for ages precluded the Italians from the criticism of the living, has concentrated their attention to the illustration of the dead.
In face of all his foes, the Cruscan quire.
And Boileau, whose rash envy, etc.
Stanza xxxviii. lines 6 and 7.
Perhaps the couplet in which Boileau depreciates Tasso may serve as well as any other specimen to justify the opinion given of the harmony of French verse—
"À Malherbe, à Racan, préfère Théophile,
Et le clinquant du Tasse à tout l'or de Virgile."
Sat. ix. v. 176.
The biographer Serassi, out of tenderness to the reputation either of the Italian or the French poet, is eager to observe that the satirist recanted or explained away this censure, and subsequently allowed the author of the Jerusalem to be "a genius sublime, vast, and happily born for the higher flights of poetry." To this we will add, that the recantation is far from satisfactory, when we examine the whole anecdote as reported by Olivet. The sentence pronounced against him by Bouhours is recorded only to the confusion of the critic, whose palinodia the Italian makes no effort to discover, and would not, perhaps, accept. As to the opposition which the Jerusalem encountered from the Cruscan academy, who degraded Tasso from all competition with Ariosto, below Bojardo and Pulci, the disgrace of such opposition must also in some measure be laid to the charge of Alfonso, and the court of Ferrara. For Leonard Salviati, the principal and nearly the sole origin of this attack, was, there can be no doubt, influenced by a hope to acquire the favour of the House of Este: an object which he thought attainable by exalting the reputation of a native poet at the expense of a rival, then a prisoner of state. The hopes and efforts of Salviati must serve to show the contemporary opinion as to the nature of the poet's imprisonment; and will fill up the measure of our indignation at the tyrant jailer. In fact, the antagonist of Tasso was not disappointed in the reception given to his criticism; he was called to the court of Ferrara, where, having endeavoured to heighten his claims to favour, by panegyrics on the family of his sovereign, he was in turn abandoned, and expired in neglected poverty. The opposition of the Cruscans was brought to a close in six years after the commencement of the controversy; and if the Academy owed its first renown to having almost opened with such a paradox, it is probable that, on the other hand, the care of his reputation alleviated rather than aggravated the imprisonment of the injured poet. The defence of his father and of himself, for both were involved in the censure of Salviati, found employment for many of his solitary hours, and the captive could have been but little embarrassed to reply to accusations, where, among other delinquencies, he was charged with invidiously omitting, in his comparison between France and Italy, to make any mention of the cupola of St. Maria del Fiore at Florence. The late biographer of Ariosto seems as if willing to renew the controversy by doubting the interpretation of Tasso's self-estimation related in Serassi's life of the poet. But Tiraboschi had before laid that rivalry at rest, by showing that between Ariosto and Tasso it is not a question of comparison, but of preference.
The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust
The iron crown of laurel's mimicked leaves.
Stanza xli. lines 1 and 2.
Before the remains of Ariosto were removed from the Benedictine church to the library of Ferrara, his bust, which surmounted the tomb, was struck by lightning, and a crown of iron laurels melted away. The event has been recorded by a writer of the last century. The transfer of these sacred ashes, on the 6th of June, 1801, was one of the most brilliant spectacles of the short-lived Italian Republic; and to consecrate the memory of the ceremony, the once famous fallen intrepidi were revived and reformed into the Ariostean academy. The large public place through which the procession paraded was then for the first time called Ariosto Square. The author of the Orlando is jealously claimed as the Homer, not of Italy but Ferrara. The mother of Ariosto was of Reggio, and the house in which he was born is carefully distinguished by a tablet with these words: "Qui nacque Ludovico Ariosto il giorno 8. di Settembre dell' anno 1474." But the Ferrarese make light of the accident by which their poet was born abroad, and claim him exclusively for their own. They possess his bones, they show his arm-chair, and his inkstand, and his autographs.
"...... Hic illius arma,
Hic currus fuit ......"
The house where he lived, the room where he died, are designated by his own replaced memorial, and by a recent inscription. The Ferrarese are more jealous of their claims since the animosity of Denina, arising from a cause which their apologists mysteriously hint is not unknown to them, ventured to degrade their soil and climate to a Bœotian incapacity for all spiritual productions. A quarto volume has been called forth by the detraction, and this supplement to Barotti's Memoirs of the illustrious Ferarrese, has been considered a triumphant reply to the "Quadro Storico Statistico dell' Alta Italia."
For the true laurel-wreath which Glory weaves
Is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves.
Stanza xli. lines 4 and 5.
The eagle, the sea calf, the laurel, and the white vine, were amongst the most approved preservatives against lightning: Jupiter chose the first, Augustus Cæsar the second, and Tiberius never failed to wear a wreath of the third when the sky threatened a thunder-storm. These superstitions may be received without a sneer in a country where the magical properties of the hazel twig have not lost all their credit; and perhaps the reader may not be much surprised that a commentator on Suetonius has taken upon himself gravely to disprove the imputed virtues of the crown of Tiberius, by mentioning that a few years before he wrote a laurel was actually struck by lightning at Rome.
Know, that the lightning sanctifies below.
Stanza xli. line 8.
The Curtian lake and the Ruminal fig-tree in the Forum, having been touched by lightning, were held sacred, and the memory of the accident was preserved by a pateal, or altar resembling the mouth of a well, with a little chapel covering the cavity supposed to be made by the thunder-bolt. Bodies scathed and persons struck dead were thought to be incorruptible; and a stroke not fatal conferred perpetual dignity upon the man so distinguished by heaven.
Those killed by lightning were wrapped in a white garment, and buried where they fell. The superstition was not confined to the worshippers of Jupiter: the Lombards believed in the omens furnished by lightning; and a Christian priest confesses that, by a diabolical skill in interpreting thunder, a seer foretold to Agilulf, duke of Turin, an event which came to pass, and gave him a queen and a crown. There was, however, something equivocal in this sign, which the ancient inhabitants of Rome did not always consider propitious; and as the fears are likely to last longer than the consolations of superstition, it is not strange that the Romans of the age of Leo X. should have been so much terrified at some misinterpreted storms as to require the exhortations of a scholar, who arrayed all the learning on thunder and lightning to prove the omen favourable; beginning with the flash which struck the walls of Velitræ, and including that which played upon a gate at Florence, and foretold the pontificate of one of its citizens.
There, too, the Goddess loves in stone.
Stanza xlix. line 1.
The view of the Venus of Medicis instantly suggests the lines in the Seasons; and the comparison of the object with the description proves, not only the correctness of the portrait, but the peculiar turn of thought, and, if the term may be used, the sexual imagination of the descriptive poet. The same conclusion may be deduced from another hint in the same episode of Musidora; for Thomson's notion of the privileges of favoured love must have been either very primitive, or rather deficient in delicacy, when he made his grateful nymph inform her discreet Damon that in some happier moment he might perhaps be the companion of her bath:—
"The time may come you need not fly."
The reader will recollect the anecdote told in the Life of Dr. Johnson. We will not leave the Florentine gallery without a word on the Whetter. It seems strange that the character of that disputed statue should not be entirely decided, at least in the mind of any one who has seen a sarcophagus in the vestibule of the Basilica of St. Paul without the walls, at Rome, where the whole group of the fable of Marsyas is seen in tolerable preservation; and the Scythian slave whetting the knife, is represented exactly in the same position as this celebrated masterpiece. The slave is not naked; but it is easier to get rid of this difficulty than to suppose the knife in the hand of the Florentine statue an instrument for shaving, which it must be, if, as Lanzi supposes, the man is no other than the barber of Julius Cæsar. Winckelmann, illustrating a bas-relief of the same subject, follows the opinion of Leonard Agostini, and his authority might have been thought conclusive, even if the resemblance did not strike the most careless observer. Amongst the bronzes of the same princely collection, is still to be seen the inscribed tablet copied and commented upon by Mr. Gibbon. Our historian found some difficulties, but did not desist from his illustration. He might be vexed to hear that his criticism has been thrown away on an inscription now generally recognised to be a forgery.
In Santa Croce's holy precincts lie.
Stanza liv. line 1.
This name will recall the memory, not only of those whose tombs have raised the Santa Croce into the centre of pilgrimage—the Mecca of Italy—but of her whose eloquence was poured over the illustrious ashes, and whose voice is now as mute as those she sung. Corinna is no more; and with her should expire the fear, the flattery, and the envy, which threw too dazzling or too dark a cloud round the march of genius, and forbad the steady gaze of disinterested criticism. We have her picture embellished or distorted, as friendship or detraction has held the pencil: the impartial portrait was hardly to be expected from a contemporary. The immediate voice of her survivors will, it is probable, be far from affording a just estimate of her singular capacity. The gallantry, the love of wonder, and the hope of associated fame, which blunted the edge of censure, must cease to exist.—The dead have no sex; they can surprise by no new miracles; they can confer no privilege: Corinna has ceased to be a woman—she is only an author; and it may be foreseen that many will repay themselves for former complaisance, by a severity to which the extravagance of previous praises may perhaps give the colour of truth. The latest posterity—for to the latest posterity they will assuredly descend—will have to pronounce upon her various productions; and the longer the vista through which they are seen, the more accurately minute will be the object, the more certain the justice, of the decision. She will enter into that existence in which the great writers of all ages and nations are, as it were, associated in a world of their own, and, from that superior sphere, shed their eternal influence for the control and consolation of mankind. But the individual will gradually disappear as the author is more distinctly seen; some one, therefore, of all those whom the charms of involuntary wit, and of easy hospitality, attracted within the friendly circles of Coppet, should rescue from oblivion those virtues which, although they are said to love the shade, are, in fact, more frequently chilled than excited by the domestic cares of private life. Some one should be found to portray the unaffected graces with which she adorned those dearer relationships, the performance of whose duties is rather discovered amongst the interior secrets, than seen in the outward management, of family intercourse; and which, indeed, it requires the delicacy of genuine affection to qualify for the eye of an indifferent spectator. Some one should be found, not to celebrate, but to describe, the amiable mistress of an open mansion, the centre of a society, ever varied, and always pleased, the creator of which, divested of the ambition and the arts of public rivalry, shone forth only to give fresh animation to those around her. The mother tenderly affectionate and tenderly beloved, the friend unboundedly generous, but still esteemed, the charitable patroness of all distress, cannot be forgotten by those whom she cherished, and protected, and fed. Her loss will be mourned the most where she was known the best; and, to the sorrows of very many friends, and more dependants, may be offered the disinterested regret of a stranger, who, amidst the sublimer scenes of the Leman lake, received his chief satisfaction from contemplating the engaging qualities of the incomparable Corinna.
Stanza liv. lines 6 and 7.
Alfieri is the great name of this age. The Italians, without waiting for the hundred years, consider him as "a poet good in law."—His memory is the more dear to them because he is the bard of freedom; and because, as such, his tragedies can receive no countenance from any of their sovereigns. They are but very seldom, and but very few of them, allowed to be acted. It was observed by Cicero, that nowhere were the true opinions and feelings of the Romans so clearly shown as at the theatre. In the autumn of 1816, a celebrated improvisatore exhibited his talents at the Opera-house of Milan. The reading of the theses handed in for the subjects of his poetry was received by a very numerous audience, for the most part in silence, or with laughter; but when the assistant, unfolding one of the papers, exclaimed, The apotheosis of Victor Alfieri, the whole theatre burst into a shout, and the applause was continued for some moments. The lot did not fall on Alfieri; and the Signor Sgricci had to pour forth his extemporary common-places on the bombardment of Algiers. The choice, indeed, is not left to accident quite so much as might be thought from a first view of the ceremony; and the police not only takes care to look at the papers beforehand, but, in case of any prudential afterthought, steps in to correct the blindness of chance. The proposal for deifying Alfieri was received with immediate enthusiasm, the rather because it was conjectured there would be no opportunity of carrying it into effect.
Here Machiavelli's earth returned to whence it rose.
Stanza liv. line 9.
The affectation of simplicity in sepulchral inscriptions, which so often leaves us uncertain whether the structure before us is an actual depository, or a cenotaph, or a simple memorial not of death but life, has given to the tomb of Machiavelli no information as to the place or time of the birth or death, the age or parentage, of the historian.
TANTO NOMINI NVLLVM PAR ELOGIVM
There seems at least no reason why the name should not have been put above the sentence which alludes to it.
It will readily be imagined that the prejudices which have passed the name of Machiavelli into an epithet proverbial of iniquity exist no longer at Florence. His memory was persecuted, as his life had been, for an attachment to liberty incompatible with the new system of despotism, which succeeded the fall of the free governments of Italy. He was put to the torture for being a "libertine," that is, for wishing to restore the republic of Florence; and such are the undying efforts of those who are interested in the perversion, not only of the nature of actions, but the meaning of words, that what was once patriotism, has by degrees come to signify debauch. We have ourselves outlived the old meaning of "liberality," which is now another word for treason in one country and for infatuation in all. It seems to have been a strange mistake to accuse the author of The Prince, as being a pander to tyranny; and to think that the Inquisition would condemn his work for such a delinquency. The fact is, that Machiavelli, as is usual with those against whom no crime can be proved, was suspected of and charged with atheism; and the first and last most violent opposers of The Prince were both Jesuits, one of whom persuaded the Inquisition "benche fosse tardo," to prohibit the treatise, and the other qualified the secretary of the Florentine republic as no better than a fool. The father Possevin was proved never to have read the book, and the father Lucchesini not to have understood it. It is clear, however, that such critics must have objected not to the slavery of the doctrines, but to the supposed tendency of a lesson which shows how distinct are the interests of a monarch from the happiness of mankind. The Jesuits are re-established in Italy, and the last chapter of The Prince may again call forth a particular refutation from those who are employed once more in moulding the minds of the rising generation, so as to receive the impressions of despotism. The chapter [xxvi.] bears for title, "Esortazione a liberare l'Italia da' Barbari," and concludes with a libertine excitement to the future redemption of Italy. "Non si deve adunque lasciar passare questa occasione, acciocchè la Italia vegga dopo tanto tempo apparire un suo redentore. Nè posso esprimere con quale amore ei fusse ricevuto in tutte quelle provincie, che hanno patito per queste illuvioni esterne, con qual sete di vendetta, con che ostinata fede, con que pietà, con che lacrime. Quali porte se gli serrerebbero? Quali popoli gli negherebbero l'ubbidienza? Quale Italiano gli negherebbe l'ossequio? AD OGNUNO PUZZA QUESTO BARBARO DOMINIO."
Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar.
Stanza lvii. line 1.
Dante was born in Florence, in the year 1261. He fought in two battles, was fourteen times ambassador, and once prior of the republic. When the party of Charles of Anjou triumphed over the Bianchi, he was absent on an embassy to Pope Boniface VIII., and was condemned to two years' banishment, and to a fine of 8000 lire; on the non-payment of which he was further punished by the sequestration of all his property. The republic, however, was not content with this satisfaction, for in 1772 was discovered in the archives at Florence a sentence in which Dante is the eleventh of a list of fifteen condemned in 1302 to be burnt alive; Talis perveniens igne coinburatur sic quod moriatur. The pretext for this judgment was a proof of unfair barter, extortions, and illicit gains. Baracteriarum iniquarum extorsionum et illicitorum lucrorum, and with such an accusation it is not strange that Dante should have always protested his innocence, and the injustice of his fellow-citizens. His appeal to Florence was accompanied by another to the Emperor Henry; and the death of that Sovereign in 1313 was the signal for a sentence of irrevocable banishment. He had before lingered near Tuscany with hopes of recall; then travelled into the north of Italy, where Verona had to boast of his longest residence; and he finally settled at Ravenna, which was his ordinary but not constant abode until his death. The refusal of the Venetians to grant him a public audience, on the part of Guido Novello da Polenta, his protector, is said to have been the principal cause of this event, which happened in 1321. He was buried ("in sacra minorum æde") at Ravenna, in a handsome tomb, which was erected by Guido, restored by Bernardo Bembo in 1483, prætor for that republic which had refused to hear him, again restored by Cardinal Corsi, in 1692, and replaced by a more magnificent sepulchre, constructed in 1780 at the expense of the Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga. The offence or misfortune of Dante was an attachment to a defeated party, and, as his least favourable biographers allege against him, too great a freedom of speech and haughtiness of manner. But the next age paid honours almost divine to the exile. The Florentines, having in vain and frequently attempted to recover his body, crowned his image in a church, and his picture is still one of the idols of their cathedral. They struck medals, they raised statues to him. The cities of Italy, not being able to dispute about his own birth, contended for that of his great poem, and the Florentines thought it for their honour to prove that he had finished the seventh Canto before they drove him from his native city. Fifty-one years after his death, they endowed a professorial chair for the expounding of his verses, and Boccaccio was appointed to this patriotic employment. The example was imitated by Bologna and Pisa, and the commentators, if they performed but little service to literature, augmented the veneration which beheld a sacred or moral allegory in all the images of his mystic muse. His birth and his infancy were discovered to have been distinguished above those of ordinary men: the author of the Decameron, his earliest biographer, relates that his mother was warned in a dream of the importance of her pregnancy: and it was found, by others, that at ten years of age he had manifested his precocious passion for that wisdom or theology, which, under the name of Beatrice, had been mistaken for a substantial mistress. When the Divine Comedy had been recognised as a mere mortal production, and at the distance of two centuries, when criticism and competition had sobered the judgment of the Italians, Dante was seriously declared superior to Homer; and though the preference appeared to some casuists "an heretical blasphemy worthy of the flames," the contest was vigorously maintained for nearly fifty years. In later times it was made a question which of the Lords of Verona could boast of having patronised him, and the jealous scepticism of one writer would not allow Ravenna the undoubted possession of his bones. Even the critical Tiraboschi was inclined to believe that the poet had foreseen and foretold one of the discoveries of Galileo.—Like the great originals of other nations, his popularity has not always maintained the same level. The last age seemed inclined to undervalue him as a model and a study: and Bettinelli one day rebuked his pupil Monti, for poring over the harsh and obsolete extravagances of the Commedia. The present generation having recovered from the Gallic idolatries of Cesarotti, has returned to the ancient worship, and the Danteggiare of the northern Italians is thought even indiscreet by the more moderate Tuscans.
There is still much carious information relative to the life and writings of this great poet, which has not as yet been collected even by the Italians; but the celebrated Ugo Foscolo meditates to supply this defect, and it is not to be regretted that this national work has been reserved for one so devoted to his country and the cause of truth.
Like Scipio, buried by the upbraiding shore:
Thy factions, in their worse than civil war,
Stanza lvii. lines 2, 3, and 4.
The elder Scipio Africanus had a tomb if he was not buried at Liternum, whither he had retired to voluntary banishment. This tomb was near the sea-shore, and the story of an inscription upon it, Ingrata Patria, having given a name to a modern tower, is, if not true, an agreeable fiction. If he was not buried, he certainly lived there.
"In così angusta & solitaria uilla
Era grand' huom che d' Aphrica s' appella,
Perche prima col ferro al uiuo aprilla."
Ingratitude is generally supposed the vice peculiar to republics; and it seems to be forgotten that for one instance of popular inconstancy, we have a hundred examples of the fall of courtly favourites. Besides, a people have often repented—a monarch seldom or never. Leaving apart many familiar proofs of this fact, a short story may show the difference between even an aristocracy and the multitude.
Vettor Pisanì, having been defeated in 1354 at Portolongo and many years afterwards in the more decisive action of Pola, by the Genoese, was recalled by the Venetian government, and thrown into chains. The Avvogadori proposed to behead him, but the supreme tribunal was content with the sentence of imprisonment. Whilst Pisani was suftering this unmerited disgrace, Chioza, in the vicinity of the capital, was, by the assistance of the Signor of Padua, delivered into the hands of Pietro Doria. At the intelligence of that disaster, the great bell of St. Mark's tower tolled to arms, and the people and the soldiery of the galleys were summoned to the repulse of the approaching enemy; but they protested they would not move a step, unless Pisani were liberated and placed at their head. The great council was instantly assembled: the prisoner was called before them, and the Doge, Andrea Contarini, informed him of the demands of the people, and the necessities of the state, whose only hope of safety was reposed in his efforts, and who implored him to forget the indignities he had endured in her service. "I have submitted," replied the magnanimous republican, "I have submitted to your deliberations without complaint; I have supported patiently the pains of imprisonment, for they were inflicted at your command: this is no time to inquire whether I deserved them—the good of the republic may have seemed to require it, and that which the republic resolves is always resolved wisely. Behold me ready to lay down my life for the preservation of my country." Pisani was appointed generalissimo, and, by his exertions, in conjunction with those of Carlo Zeno, the Venetians soon recovered the ascendancy over their maritime rivals.
The Italian communities were no less unjust to their citizens than the Greek republics. Liberty, both with the one and the other, seems to have been a national, not an individual object: and, notwithstanding the boasted equality before the laws, which an ancient Greek writer considered the great distinctive mark between his countrymen and the barbarians, the mutual rights of fellow citizens seem never to have been the principal scope of the old democracies. The world may have not yet seen an essay by the author of The Italian Republics, in which the distinction between the liberty of former states, and the signification attached to that word by the happier constitution of England, is ingeniously developed. The Italians, however, when they had ceased to be free, still looked back with a sigh upon those times of turbulence, when every citizen might rise to a share of sovereign power, and have never been taught fully to appreciate the repose of a monarchy. Sperone Speroni, when Francis Maria II. Duke of Rovere proposed the question, "which was preferable, the republic or the principality—the perfect and not durable, or the less perfect and not so liable to change," replied, "that our happiness is to be measured by its quality, not by its duration; and that he preferred to live for one day like a man, than for a hundred years like a brute, a stock, or a stone." This was thought, and called a magnificent answer down to the last days of Italian servitude.
And the crown
Which Petrarch's laureate brow supremely wore,
Upon a far and foreign soil had grown.
Stanza lvii. lines 6, 7, and 8.
The Florentines did not take the opportunity of Petrarch's short visit to their city in 1350 to revoke the decree which confiscated the property of his father, who had been banished shortly after the exile of Dante. His crown did not dazzle them; but when in the next year they were in want of his assistance in the formation of their university, they repented of their injustice, and Boccaccio was sent to Padua to entreat the laureate to conclude his wanderings in the bosom of his native country, where he might finish his immortal Africa, and enjoy, with his recovered possessions, the esteem of all classes of his fellow citizens. They gave him the option of the book and the science he might condescend to expound: they called him the glory of his country, who was dear, and who would be dearer to them; and they added, that if there was anything unpleasing in their letter, he ought to return amongst them, were it only to correct their style. Petrarch seemed at first to listen to the flattery and to the entreaties of his friend, but he did not return to Florence, and preferred a pilgrimage to the tomb of Laura and the shades of Vaucluse.
Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeathed
Stanza lviii. lines 1 and 2.
Boccaccio was buried in the church of St. Michael and St. James, at Certaldo, a small town in the Valdelsa, which was by some supposed the place of his birth. There he passed the latter part of his life in a course of laborious study, which shortened his existence; and there might his ashes have been secure, if not of honour, at least of repose. But the "hyena bigots" of Certaldo tore up the tombstone of Boccaccio and ejected it from the holy precincts of St. Michael and St. James. The occasion, and, it may be hoped, the excuse, of this ejectment was the making of a new floor for the church; but the fact is, that the tombstone was taken up and thrown aside at the bottom of the building. Ignorance may share the sin with bigotry. It would be painful to relate such an exception to the devotion of the Italians for their great names, could it not be accompanied by a trait more honourably conformable to the general character of the nation. The principal person of the district, the last branch of the house of Medicis, afforded that protection to the memory of the insulted dead which her best ancestors had dispensed upon all contemporary merit. The Marchioness Lenzoni rescued the tombstone of Boccaccio from the neglect in which it had some time lain, and found for it an honourable elevation in her own mansion. She has done more: the house in which the poet lived has been as little respected as his tomb, and is falling to ruin over the head of one indifferent to the name of its former tenant. It consists of two or three little chambers, and a low tower, on which Cosmo II. affixed an inscription. This house she has taken measures to purchase, and proposes to devote to it that care and consideration which are attached to the cradle and to the roof of genius.
This is not the place to undertake the defence of Boccaccio; but the man who exhausted his little patrimony in the acquirement of learning, who was amongst the first, if not the first, to allure the science and the poetry of Greece to the bosom of Italy;—who not only invented a new style, but founded, or certainly fixed, a new language; who, besides the esteem of every polite court of Europe, was thought worthy of employment by the predominant republic of his own country, and, what is more, of the friendship of Petrarch, who lived the life of a philosopher and a freeman, and who died in the pursuit of knowledge,—such a man might have found more consideration than he has met with from the priest of Certaldo, and from a late English traveller, who strikes off his portrait as an odious, contemptible, licentious writer, whose impure remains should be suffered to rot without a record. That English traveller, unfortunately for those who have to deplore the loss of a very amiable person, is beyond all criticism; but the mortality which did not protect Boccaccio from Mr. Eustace, must not defend Mr. Eustace from the impartial judgment of his successors. Death may canonise his virtues, not his errors; and it may be modestly pronounced that he transgressed, not only as an author, but as a man, when he evoked the shade of Boccaccio in company with that of Aretine, amidst the sepulchres of Santa Croce, merely to dismiss it wth indignity. As far as respects
"Il flagello de' Principi,
Il divin Pietro Aretino,"
it is of little import what censure is passed upon a coxcomb who owes his present existence to the above burlesque character given to him by the poet, whose amber has preserved many other grubs and worms: but to classify Boccaccio with such a person, and to excommunicate his very ashes, must of itself make us doubt of the qualification of the classical tourist for writing upon Italian, or, indeed, upon any other literature; for ignorance on one point may incapacitate an author merely for that particular topic, but subjection to a professional prejudice must render him an unsafe director on all occasions. Any perversion and injustice may be made what is vulgarly called a "case of conscience," and this poor excuse is all that can be offered for the priest of Certaldo, or the author of the Classical Tour. It would have answered the purpose to confine the censure to the novels of Boccaccio; and gratitude to that source which supplied the muse of Dryden with her last and most harmonious numbers might, perhaps, have restricted that censure to the objectionable qualities of the hundred tales. At any rate the repentance of Boccaccio might have arrested his exhumation, and it should have been recollected and told, that in his old age he wrote a letter entreating his friend to discourage the reading of the Decameron, for the sake of modesty, and for the sake of the author, who would not have an apologist always at hand to state in his excuse that he wrote it when young, and at the command of his superiors. It is neither the licentiousness of the writer, nor the evil propensities of the reader, which have given to the Decameron alone, of all the works of Boccaccio, a perpetual popularity. The establishment of a new and delightful dialect conferred an immortality on the works in which it was first fixed. The sonnets of Petrarch were, for the same reason, fated to survive his self-admired Africa, "the favourite of kings." The invariable traits of nature and feeling with which the novels, as well as the verses, abound, have doubtless been the chief source of the foreign celebrity of both authors; but Boccaccio, as a man, is no more to be estimated by that work, than Petrarch is to be regarded in no other light than as the lover of Laura. Even, however, had the father of the Tuscan prose been known only as the author of the Decameron, a considerate writer would have been cautious to pronounce a sentence irreconcilable with the unerring voice of many ages and nations. An irrevocable value has never been stamped upon any work solely recommended by impurity.
The true source of the outcry against Boccaccio, which began at a very early period, was the choice of his scandalous personages in the cloisters as well as the courts; but the princes only laughed at the gallant adventures so unjustly charged upon queen Theodelinda, whilst the priesthood cried shame upon the debauches drawn from the convent and the hermitage; and most probably for the opposite reason, namely, that the picture was faithful to the life. Two of the novels are allowed to be facts usefully turned into tales to deride the canonisation of rogues and laymen. Ser Ciappelletto and Marcellinus are cited with applause even by the decent Muratori. The great Arnaud, as he is quoted in Bayle, states, that a new edition of the novels was proposed, of which the expurgation consisted in omitting the words "monk" and "nun," and tacking the immoralities to other names. The literary history of Italy particularises no such edition; but it was not long before the whole of Europe had but one opinion of the Decameron; and the absolution of the author seems to have been a point settled at least a hundred years ago: "On se feroit siffler si l' on prétendoit convaincre Boccace de n' avoir pas été honnête homme, puis qu'il a fait le Décameron." So said one of the best men, and perhaps the best critic that ever lived—the very martyr to impartiality. But as this information, that in the beginning of the last century one would have been hooted at for pretending that Boccaccio was not a good man, may seem to come from one of those enemies who are to be suspected, even when they make us a present of truth, a more acceptable contrast with the proscription of the body, soul, and muse of Boccaccio may be found in a few words from the virtuous, the patriotic contemporary, who thought one of the tales of this impure writer worthy a Latin version from his own pen. "I have remarked elsewhere," says Petrarch, writing to Boccaccio, "that the book itself has been worried by certain dogs, but stoutly defended by your staff and voice. Nor was I astonished, for I have had proof of the vigour of your mind, and I know you have fallen on that unaccommodating incapable race of mortals, who, whatever they either like not, or know not, or cannot do, are sure to reprehend in others; and on those occasions only put on a show of learning and eloquence, but otherwise are entirely dumb."
It is satisfactory to find that all the priesthood do not resemble those of Certaldo, and that one of them who did not possess the bones of Boccaccio would not lose the opportunity of raising a cenotaph to his memory. Bevius, canon of Padua, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, erected at Arquà, opposite to the tomb of the Laureate, a tablet, in which he associated Boccaccio to the equal honours of Dante and of Petrarch.
What is her Pyramid of precious stones?
Stanza lx. line 1.
Our veneration for the Medici begins with Cosmo and expires with his grandson; that stream is pure only at the source; and it is in search of some memorial of the virtuous republicans of the family that we visit the church of St. Lorenzo at Florence. The tawdry, glaring, unfinished chapel in that church, designed for the mausoleum of the Dukes of Tuscany, set round with crowns and coffins, gives birth to no emotions but those of contempt for the lavish vanity of a race of despots, whilst the pavement slab, simply inscribed to the Father of his Country, reconciles us to the name of Medici. It was very natural for Corinna to suppose that the statue raised to the Duke of Urbino in the capella de' depositi was intended for his great namesake; but the magnificent Lorenzo is only the sharer of a coffin half hidden in a niche of the sacristy. The decay of Tuscany dates from the sovereignty of the Medici. Of the sepulchral peace which succeeded to the establishment of the reigning families in Italy, our own Sidney has given us a glowing, but a faithful picture. "Notwithstanding all the seditions of Florence, and other cities of Tuscany, the horrid factions of Guelphs and Ghibelins, Neri and Bianchi, nobles and commons, they continued populous, strong, and exceeding rich; but in the space of less than a hundred and fifty years, the peaceable reign of the Medices is thought to have destroyed nine parts in ten of the people of that province. Amongst other things it is remarkable, that when Philip II. of Spain gave Sienna to the Duke of Florence, his ambassador then at Rome sent him word, that he had given away more than 650,000 subjects; and it is not believed there are now 20,000 souls inhabiting that city and territory. Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, Cortona, and other towns, that were then good and populous, are in the like proportion diminished, and Florence more than any. When that city had been long troubled with seditions, tumults, and wars, for the most part unprosperous, they still retained such strength, that when Charles VIII. of France, being admitted as a friend with his whole army, which soon after conquered the kingdom of Naples, thought to master them, the people, taking arms, struck such a terror into him, that he was glad to depart upon such conditions as they thought fit to impose. Machiavel reports, that in that time Florence alone, with the Val d'Arno, a small territory belonging to that city, could, in a few hours, by the sound of a bell, bring together 135,000 well-armed men; whereas now that city, with all the others in that province, are brought to such despicable weakness, emptiness, poverty, and baseness, that they can neither resist the oppressions of their own prince, nor defend him or themselves if they were assaulted by a foreign enemy. The people are dispersed or destroyed, and the best families sent to seek habitations in Venice, Genoa, Rome, Naples, and Lucca. This is not the effect of war or pestilence; they enjoy a perfect peace, and suffer no other plague than the government they are under." From the usurper Cosmo down to the imbecile Gaston, we look in vain for any of those unmixed qualities which should raise a patriot to the command of his fellow-citizens. The Grand Dukes, and particularly the third Cosmo, had operated so entire a change in the Tuscan character, that the candid Florentines, in excuse for some imperfections in the philanthropic system of Leopold, are obliged to confess that the sovereign was the only liberal man in his dominions. Yet that excellent prince himself had no other notion of a national assembly, than of a body to represent the wants and wishes, not the will of the people.
An Earthquake reeled unheededly away!
Stanza lxiii. line 5.
"And such was their mutual animosity, so intent were they upon the battle, that the earthquake, which overthrew in great part many of the cities of Italy, which turned the course of rapid streams, poured back the sea upon the rivers, and tore down the very mountains, was not felt by one of the combatants." Such is the description of Livy. It may be doubted whether modern tactics would admit of such an abstraction.
The site of the battle of Thrasimene is not to be mistaken. The traveller from the village under Cortona to Casa di Piano, the next stage on the way to Rome, has for the first two or three miles, around him, but more particularly to the right, that flat land which Hannibal laid waste in order to induce the Consul Flaminius to move from Arezzo. On his left, and in front of him, is a ridge of hills bending down towards the lake of Thrasimene, called by Livy "montes Cortonenses," and now named the Gualandra. These hills he approaches at Ossaja, a village which the itineraries pretend to have been so denominated from the bones found there: but there have been no bones found there, and the battle was fought on the other side of the hill. From Ossaja the road begins to rise a little, but does not pass into the roots of the mountains until the sixty-seventh milestone from Florence. The ascent thence is not steep but perpetual, and continues for twenty minutes. The lake is soon seen below on the right, with Borghetto, a round tower, close upon the water; and the undulating hills partially covered with wood, amongst which the road winds, sink by degrees into the marshes near to this tower. Lower than the road, down to the right amidst these woody hillocks, Hannibal placed his horse, in the jaws of, or rather above the pass, which was between the lake and the present road, and most probably close to Borghetto, just under the lowest of the "tumuli." On a summit to the left, above the road, is an old circular ruin, which the peasants call "the tower of Hannibal the Carthaginian." Arrived at the highest point of the road, the traveller has a partial view of the fatal plain, which opens fully upon him as he descends the Gualandra. He soon finds himself in a vale enclosed to the left, and in front and behind him by the Gualandra hills, bending round in a segment larger than a semicircle, and running down at each end to the lake, which obliques to the right and forms the chord of this mountain arc. The position cannot be guessed at from the plains of Cortona, nor appears to be so completely enclosed unless to one who is fairly within the hills. It then, indeed, appears "a place made as it were on purpose for a snare," locus insidiis natus. "Borghetto is then found to stand in a narrow marshy pass close to the hill, and to the lake, whilst there is no other outlet at the opposite turn of the mountains than through the little town of Passignano, which is pushed into the water by the foot of a high rocky acclivity." There is a woody eminence branching down from the mountains into the upper end of the plain nearer to the side of Passignano, and on this stands a white village called Torre. Polybius seems to allude to this eminence as the one on which Hannibal encamped, and drew out his heavy-armed Africans and Spaniards in a conspicuous position. From this spot he despatched his Balearic and light-armed troops round through the Gualandra heights to the right, so as to arrive unseen and form an ambush amongst the broken acclivities which the road now passes, and to be ready to act upon the left flank and above the enemy, whilst the horse shut up the pass behind. Flaminius came to the lake near Borghetto at sunset; and, without sending any spies before him, marched through the pass the next morning before the day had quite broken, so that he perceived nothing of the horse and light troops above and about him, and saw only the heavy-armed Carthaginians in front on the hill of Torre. The consul began to draw out his army in the flat, and in the mean time the horse in ambush occupied the pass behind him at Borghetto. Thus the Romans were completely enclosed, having the lake on the right, the main army on the hill of Torre in front, the Gualandra hills filled with the light-armed on their left flank, and being prevented from receding by the cavalry, who, the further they advanced, stopped up all the outlets in the rear. A fog rising from the lake now spread itself over the army of the consul, but the high lands were in the sunshine, and all the different corps in ambush looked towards the hill of Torre for the order of attack. Hannibal gave the signal, and moved down from his post on the height. At the same moment all his troops on the eminences behind and in the flank of Flaminius rushed forwards as it were with one accord into the plain. The Romans, who were forming their array in the mist, suddenly heard the shouts of the enemy amongst them on every side, and before they could fall into their ranks, or draw their swords, or see by whom they were attacked, felt at once that they were surrounded and lost.
There are two little rivulets which run from the Gualandra into the lake. The traveller crosses the first of these at about a mile after he comes into the plain, and this divides the Tuscan from the Papal territories. The second, about a quarter of a mile further on, is called "the bloody rivulet;" and the peasants point out an open spot to the left between the "Sanguinetto" and the hills, which, they say, was the principal scene of slaughter. The other part of the plain is covered with thick-set olive-trees in corn grounds, and is nowhere quite level, except near the edge of the lake. It is, indeed, most probable that the battle was fought near this end of the valley, for the six thousand Romans, who, at the beginning of the action, broke through the enemy, escaped to the summit of an eminence which must have been in this quarter, otherwise they would have had to traverse the whole plain, and to pierce through the main army of Hannibal.
The Romans fought desperately for three hours; but the death of Flaminius was the signal for a general dispersion. The Carthaginian horse then burst in upon the fugitives, and the lake, the marsh about Borghetto, but chiefly the plain of the Sanguinetto and the passes of the Gualandra, were strewed with dead. Near some old walls on a bleak ridge to the left above the rivulet, many human bones have been repeatedly found, and this has confirmed the pretensions and the name of the "stream of blood."
Every district of Italy has its hero. In the north some painter is the usual genius of the place, and the foreign Julio Romano more than divides Mantua with her native Virgil. To the south we hear of Roman names. Near Thrasimene tradition is still faithful to the fame of an enemy, and Hannibal the Carthaginian is the only ancient name remembered on the banks of the Perugian lake. Flaminius is unknown; but the postilions on that road have been taught to show the very spot where Il Console Romano was slain. Of all who fought and fell in the battle of Thrasimene, the historian himself has, besides the generals and Maharbal, preserved indeed only a single name. You overtake the Carthaginian again on the same road to Rome. The antiquary, that is, the hostler of the posthouse at Spoleto, tells you that his town repulsed the victorious enemy, and shows you the gate still called Porta di Annibale. It is hardly worth while to remark that a French travel writer, well known by the name of the President Dupaty, saw Thrasimene in the lake of Bolsena, which lay conveniently on his way from Sienna to Rome.
And thou, dread Statue! still existent in
The austerest form of naked majesty.
Stanza lxxxvii. lines 1 and 2.
The projected division of the Spada Pompey has already been recorded by the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Mr. Gibbon found it in the memorials of Flaminius Vacca; and it may be added to his mention of it, that Pope Julius III. gave the contending owners five hundred crowns for the statue, and presented it to Cardinal Capo di Ferro, who had prevented the judgment of Solomon from being executed upon the image. In a more civilised age this statue was exposed to an actual operation: for the French, who acted the Brutus of Voltaire in the Coliseum, resolved that their Cæsar should fall at the base of that Pompey, which was supposed to have been sprinkled with the blood of the original dictator. The nine-foot hero was therefore removed to the arena of the amphitheatre, and, to facilitate its transport, suffered the temporary amputation of its right arm. The republican tragedians had to plead that the arm was a restoration: but their accusers do not believe that the integrity of the statue would have protected it. The love of finding every coincidence, has discovered the true Cæsarian ichor in a stain near the right knee; but colder criticism has rejected not only the blood, but the portrait, and assigned the globe of power rather to the first of the emperors than to the last of the republican masters of Rome. Winckelmann is loth to allow an heroic statue of a Roman citizen, but the Grimani Agrippa, a contemporary almost, is heroic; and naked Roman figures were only very rare, not absolutely forbidden. The face accords much better with the "hominem integrum et castum et gravem," than with any of the busts of Augustus, and is too stern for him who was beautiful, says Suetonius, at all periods of his life. The pretended likeness to Alexander the Great cannot be discerned, but the traits resemble the medal of Pompey. The objectionable globe may not have been an ill-applied flattery to him who found Asia Minor the boundary, and left it the centre of the Roman empire. It seems that Winckelmann has made a mistake in thinking that no proof of the identity of this statue with that which received the bloody sacrifice can be derived from the spot where it was discovered. Flaminius Vacca says sotto una cantina, and this cantina is known to have been in the Vicolo de' Leutari, near the Cancellaria; a position corresponding exactly to that of the Janus before the basilica of Pompey's theatre, to which Augustus transferred the statue after the curia was either burnt or taken down. Part of the "Pompeian shade," the portico, existed in the beginning of the XVth century, and the atrium was still called Satrum. So says Blondus. At all events, so imposing is the stern majesty of the statue, and so memorable is the story, that the play of the imagination leaves no room for the exercise of the judgment, and the fiction, if a fiction it is, operates on the spectator with an effect not less powerful than truth.
And thou, the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome!
Stanza lxxxviii. line 1.
Ancient Rome, like modern Sienna, abounded most probably with images of the foster-mother of her founder; but there were two she-wolves of whom history makes particular mention. One of these, of brass in ancient work, was seen by Dionysius at the temple of Romulus, under the Palatine, and is universally believed to be that mentioned by the Latin historian, as having been made from the money collected by a fine on usurers, and as standing under the Ruminal fig-tree. The other was that which Cicero has celebrated both in prose and verse, and which the historian Dion also records as having suffered the same accident as is alluded to by the orator. The question agitated by the antiquaries is, whether the wolf now in the Conservator's Palace is that of Livy and Dionysius, or that of Cicero, or whether it is neither one nor the other. The earlier writers differ as much as the moderns: Lucius Faunus says, that it is the one alluded to by both, which is impossible, and also by Virgil, which may be. Fulvius Ursinus calls it the wolf of Dionysius, and Marlianus talks of it as the one mentioned by Cicero. To him Rycquius tremblingly assents. Nardini is inclined to suppose it may be one of the many wolves preserved in ancient Rome; but of the two rather bends to the Ciceronian statue. Montfaucon mentions it as a point without doubt. Of the latter writers the decisive Winckelmann proclaims it as having been found at the church of Saint Theodore, where, or near where, was the temple of Romulus, and consequently makes it the wolf of Dionysius. His authority is Lucius Faunus, who, however, only says that it was placed, not found, at the Ficus Ruminalis, by the Comitium, by which he does not seem to allude to the church of Saint Theodore. Rycquius was the first to make the mistake, and Winckelmann followed Rycquius.
Flaminius Vacca tells quite a different story, and says he had heard the wolf with the twins was found near the arch of Septimius Severus. The commentator on Winckelmann is of the same opinion with that learned person, and is incensed at Nardini for not having remarked that Cicero, in speaking of the wolf struck with lightning in the Capitol, makes use of the past tense. But, with the Abate's leave, Nardini does not positively assert the statue to be that mentioned by Cicero, and if he had, the assumption would not perhaps have been so exceedingly indiscreet. The Abate himself is obliged to own that there are marks very like the scathing of lightning in the hinder legs of the present wolf; and, to get rid of this, adds, that the wolf seen by Dionysius might have been also struck by lightning, or otherwise injured.
Let us examine the subject by a reference to the words of Cicero. The orator in two places seems to particularise the Romulus and the Remus, especially the first, which his audience remembered to have been in the Capitol, as being struck with lightning. In his verses he records that the twins and wolf both fell, and that the latter left behind the marks of her feet. Cicero does not say that the wolf was consumed: and Dion only mentions that it fell down, without alluding, as the Abate has made him, to the force of the blow, or the firmness with which it had been fixed. The whole strength, therefore, of the Abate's argument hangs upon the past tense; which, however, may be somewhat diminished by remarking that the phrase only shows that the statue was not then standing in its former position. Winckelmann has observed that the present twins are modern; and it is equally clear that there are marks of gilding on the wolf, which might therefore be supposed to make part of the ancient group. It is known that the sacred images of the Capitol were not destroyed when injured by time or accident, but were put into certain underground depositories, called favissæ. It may be thought possible that the wolf had been so deposited, and had been replaced in some conspicuous situation when the Capitol was rebuilt by Vespasian. Rycquius, without mentioning his authority, tells that it was transferred from the Comitium to the Lateran, and thence brought to the Capitol. If it was found near the arch of Severus, it may have been one of the images which Orosius says was thrown down in the Forum by lightning when Alaric took the city. That it is of very high antiquity the workmanship is a decisive proof; and that circumstance induced Winckelmann to believe it the wolf of Dionysius. The Capitoline wolf, however, may have been of the same early date as that at the temple of Romulus. Lactantius asserts that in his time the Romans worshipped a wolf; and it is known that the Lupercalia held out to a very late period after every other observance of the ancient superstition had totally expired. This may account for the preservation of the ancient image longer than the other early symbols of Paganism.
It may be permitted, however, to remark, that the wolf was a Roman symbol, but that the worship of that symbol is an inference drawn by the zeal of Lactantius. The early Christian writers are not to be trusted in the charges which they make against the Pagans. Eusebius accused the Romans to their faces of worshipping Simon Magus, and raising a statue to him in the island of the Tyber. The Romans had probably never heard of such a person before, who came, however, to play a considerable, though scandalous part in the church history, and has left several tokens of his aërial combat with St. Peter at Rome; notwithstanding that an inscription found in this very island of the Tyber showed the Simon Magus of Eusebius to be a certain indigenal god called Semo Sangus or Fidius.
Even when the worship of the founder of Rome had been abandoned it was thought expedient to humour the habits of the good matrons of the city, by sending them with their sick infants to the church of Saint Theodore, as they had before carried them to the temple of Romulus. The practice is continued to this day; and the site of the above church seems to be thereby identified with that of the temple; so that if the wolf had been really found there, as Winckelmann says, there would be no doubt of the present statue being that seen by Dionysius. But Faunus, in saying that it was at the Ficus Ruminalis by the Comitium, is only talking of its ancient position as recorded by Pliny; and, even if he had been remarking where it was found, would not have alluded to the church of Saint Theodore, but to a very different place, near which it was then thought the Ficus Ruminalis had been, and also the Comitium; that is, the three columns by the church of Santa Maria Liberatrice, at the corner of the Palatine looking on the Forum.
It is, in fact, a mere conjecture where the image was actually dug up; and perhaps, on the whole, the marks of the gilding, and of the lightning, are a better argument in favour of its being the Ciceronian wolf than any that can be adduced for the contrary opinion. At any rate, it is reasonably selected in the text of the poem as one of the most interesting relics of the ancient city, and is certainly the figure, if not the very animal to which Virgil alludes in his beautiful verses:—
"Geminos huic ubera circum
Ludere pendentes pueros, et lambere matrem
Impavidos; illam, tereti cervice reflexam,
Mulcere alternos, et corpora fingere linguâ."
For the Roman's mind
Was modelled in a less terrestrial mould.
Stanza xc. lines 3 and 4.
It is possible to be a very great man and to be still very inferior to Julius Cæsar, the most complete character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity. Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The first general—the only triumphant politician—inferior to none in eloquence—comparable to any in the attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the greatest commanders, statesmen, orators, and philosophers that ever appeared in the world—an author who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in his travelling carriage—at one time in a controversy with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punning, and collecting a set of good sayings—fighting and making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the Fountains of the Nile. Such did Julius Cæsar appear to his contemporaries, and to those of the subsequent ages who were the most inclined to deplore and execrate his fatal genius.
But we must not be so much dazzled with his surpassing glory, or with his magnanimous, his amiable qualities, as to forget the decision of his impartial countrymen:—
HE WAS JUSTLY SLAIN.
Egeria! sweet creation of some heart
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast.
Stanza cxv. lines 1, 2, and 3.
The respectable authority of Flaminius Vacca would incline us to believe in the claims of the Egerian grotto. He assures us that he saw an inscription in the pavement, stating that the fountain was that of Egeria, dedicated to the nymphs. The inscription is not there at this day, but Montfaucon quotes two lines of Ovid [Fast., iii. 275, 276] from a stone in the Villa Giustiniani, which he seems to think had been brought from the same grotto.
This grotto and valley were formerly frequented in summer, and particularly the first Sunday in May, by the modern Romans, who attached a salubrious quality to the fountain which trickles from an orifice at the bottom of the vault, and, overflowing the little pools, creeps down the matted grass into the brook below. The brook is the Ovidian Almo, whose name and qualities are lost in the modern Aquataccio. The valley itself is called Valle di Caffarelli, from the dukes of that name who made over their fountain to the Pallavicini, with sixty rubbia of adjoining land.
There can be little doubt that this long dell is the Egerian valley of Juvenal, and the pausing place of Umbritius, notwithstanding the generality of his commentators have supposed the descent of the satirist and his friend to have been into the Arician grove, where the nymph met Hippolitus, and where she was more peculiarly worshipped.
The step from the Porta Capena to the Alban hill, fifteen miles distant, would be too considerable, unless we were to believe in the wild conjecture of Vossius, who makes that gate travel from its present station, where he pretends it was during the reign of the Kings, as far as the Arician grove, and then makes it recede to its old site with the shrinking city. The tufo, or pumice, which the poet prefers to marble, is the substance composing the bank in which the grotto is sunk.
The modern topographers find in the grotto the statue of the nymph, and nine niches for the Muses; and a late traveller has discovered that the cave is restored to that simplicity which the poet regretted had been exchanged for injudicious ornament. But the headless statue is palpably rather a male than a nymph, and has none of the attributes ascribed to it at present visible. The nine Muses could hardly have stood in six niches; and Juvenal certainly does not allude to any individual cave. Nothing can be collected from the satirist but that somewhere near the Porta Capena was a spot in which it was supposed Numa held nightly consultations with his nymph, and where there was a grove and a sacred fountain, and fanes once consecrated to the Muses; and that from this spot there was a descent into the valley of Egeria, where were several artificial caves. It is clear that the statues of the Muses made no part of the decoration which the satirist thought misplaced in these caves; for he expressly assigns other fanes (delubra) to these divinities above the valley, and moreover tells us that they had been ejected to make room for the Jews. In fact, the little temple now called that of Bacchus, was formerly thought to belong to the Muses, and Nardini places them in a poplar grove, which was in his time above the valley.
It is probable from the inscription and position, that the cave now shown may be one of the "artificial caverns," of which, indeed, there is another a little way higher up the valley, under a tuft of alder bushes; but a single grotto of Egeria is a mere modern invention, grafted upon the application of the epithet Egerian to these nymphea in general, and which might send us to look for the haunts of Numa upon the banks of the Thames.
Our English Juvenal was not seduced into mistranslation by his acquaintance with Pope: he carefully preserves the correct plural—
"Thence slowly winding down the vale we view
The Egerian grots: oh, how unlike the true!"
The valley abounds with springs, and over these springs, which the Muses might haunt from their neighbouring groves, Egeria presided: hence she was said to supply them with water; and she was the nymph of the grottos through which the fountains were taught to flow.
The whole of the monuments in the vicinity of the Egerian valley have received names at will, which have been changed at will. Venuti owns he can see no traces of the temples of Jove, Saturn, Juno, Venus, and Diana, which Nardini found, or hoped to find. The mutatorium of Caracalla's circus, the temple of Honour and Virtue, the temple of Bacchus, and, above all, the temple of the god Rediculus, are the antiquaries' despair.
The circus of Caracalla depends on a medal of that emperor cited by Fulvius Ursinus, of which the reverse shows a circus, supposed, however, by some to represent the Circus Maximus. It gives a very good idea of that place of exercise. The soil has been but little raised, if we may judge from the small cellular structure at the end of the Spina, which was probably the chapel of the god Consus. This cell is half beneath the soil, as it must have been in the circus itself; for Dionysius could not be persuaded to believe that this divinity was the Roman Neptune, because his altar was underground.
Here, where the ancient paid thee homage long.
Stanza cxxxii. lines 2 and 3.
We read in Suetonius, that Augustus, from a warning received in a dream, counterfeited, once a year, the beggar, sitting before the gate of his palace with his hand hollowed and stretched out for charity. A statue formerly in the villa Borghese, and which should be now at Paris, represents the Emperor in that posture of supplication. The object of that self-degradation was the appeasement of Nemesis, the perpetual attendant on good fortune, of whose power the Roman conquerors were also reminded by certain symbols attached to their cars of triumph. The symbols were the whip and the crotalo, which were discovered in the Nemesis of the Vatican. The attitude of beggary made the above statue pass for that of Belisarius: and until the criticism of Winckelmann had rectified the mistake, one fiction was called in to support another. It was the same fear of the sudden termination of prosperity, that made Amasis king of Egypt warn his friend Polycrates of Samos, that the gods loved those whose lives were chequered with good and evil fortunes. Nemesis was supposed to lie in wait particularly for the prudent; that is, for those whose caution rendered them accessible only to mere accidents; and her first altar was raised on the banks of the Phrygian Æsepus by Adrastus, probably the prince of that name who killed the son of Crœsus by mistake. Hence the goddess was called Adrastea.
The Roman Nemesis was sacred and august: there was a temple to her in the Palatine under the name of Rhamnusia; so great, indeed, was the propensity of the ancients to trust to the revolution of events, and to believe in the divinity of Fortune, that in the same Palatine there was a temple to the Fortune of the day. This is the last superstition which retains its hold over the human heart; and, from concentrating in one object the credulity so natural to man, has always appeared strongest in those unembarrassed by other articles of belief. The antiquaries have supposed this goddess to be synonymous with Fortune and with Fate; but it was in her vindictive quality that she was worshipped under the name of Nemesis.
He, their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.
Stanza cxli. lines 6 and 7.
Gladiators were of two kinds, compelled and voluntary; and were supplied from several conditions;—from slaves sold for that purpose; from culprits; from barbarian captives either taken in war, and, after being led in triumph, set apart for the games, or those seized and condemned as rebels; also from free citizens, some fighting for hire (auctorati), others from a depraved ambition; at last even knights and senators were exhibited,—a disgrace of which the first tyrant was naturally the first inventor. In the end, dwarfs, and even women, fought; an enormity prohibited by Severus. Of these the most to be pitied undoubtedly were the barbarian captives; and, to this species a Christian writer justly applies the epithet "innocent," to distinguish them from the professional gladiators. Aurelian and Claudius supplied great numbers of these unfortunate victims; the one after his triumph, and the other on the pretext of a rebellion. No war, says Lipsius, was ever so destructive to the human race as these sports. In spite of the laws of Constantine and Constans, gladiatorial shows survived the old established religion more than seventy years; but they owed their final extinction to the courage of a Christian. In the year 404, on the kalends of January, they were exhibiting the shows in the Flavian amphitheatre before the usual immense concourse of people. Almachius, or Telemachus, an Eastern monk, who had travelled to Rome intent on his holy purpose, rushed into the midst of the arena, and endeavoured to separate the combatants. The Prætor Alypius, a person incredibly attached to these games, gave instant orders to the gladiators to slay him; and Telemachus gained the crown of martyrdom, and the title of saint, which surely has never either before or since been awarded for a more noble exploit. Honorius immediately abolished the shows, which were never afterwards revived. The story is told by Theodoret and Cassiodorus, and seems worthy of credit notwithstanding its place in the Roman martyrology. Besides the torrents of blood which flowed at the funerals, in the amphitheatres, the circus, the forums, and other public places, gladiators were introduced at feasts, and tore each other to pieces amidst the supper tables, to the great delight and applause of the guests. Yet Lipsius permits himself to suppose the loss of courage, and the evident degeneracy of mankind, to be nearly connected with the abolition of these bloody spectacles.
Here, where the Roman million's blame or praise
Was Death or Life—the playthings of a crowd.
Stanza cxlii. lines 5 and 6.
When one gladiator wounded another, he shouted, "He has it," "Hoc habet," or "Habet." The wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him; if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined, they turned down their thumbs, and he was slain. They were occasionally so savage that they were impatient if a combat lasted longer than ordinary without wounds or death. The emperor's presence generally saved the vanquished; and it is recorded, as an instance of Caracalla's ferocity, that he sent those who supplicated him for life, in a spectacle, at Nicomedia, to ask the people; in other words, handed them over to be slain. A similar ceremony is observed at the Spanish bull-fights. The magistrate presides; and after the horseman and piccadores have fought the bull, the matadore steps forward and bows to him for permission to kill the animal. If the bull has done his duty by killing two or three horses, or a man, which last is rare, the people interfere with shouts, the ladies wave their handkerchiefs, and the animal is saved. The wounds and death of the horses are accompanied with the loudest acclamations, and many gestures of delight, especially from the female portion of the audience, including those of the gentlest blood. Every thing depends on habit. The author of Childe Harold, the writer of this note, and one or two other Englishmen, who have certainly in other days borne the sight of a pitched battle, were, during the summer of 1809, in the governor's box at the great amphitheatre of Santa Maria, opposite to Cadiz. The death of one or two horses completely satisfied their curiosity. A gentleman present, observing them shudder and look pale, noticed that unusual reception of so delightful a sport to some young ladies, who stared and smiled, and continued their applause as another horse fell bleeding to the ground. One bull killed three horses, off his own horns. He was saved by acclamations, which were redoubled when it was known he belonged to a priest.
An Englishman who can be much pleased with seeing two men beat themselves to pieces, cannot bear to look at a horse galloping round an arena with his bowels trailing on the ground, and turns from the spectacle and the spectators with horror and disgust.
The Tiber winds, and the broad Ocean laves
The Latian coast, etc., etc.
Stanza clxxiv. lines 3 and 4.
The whole declivity of the Alban hill is of unrivalled beauty, and from the convent on the highest point, which has succeeded to the temple of the Latian Jupiter, the prospect embraces all the objects alluded to in the cited stanza; the Mediterranean; the whole scene of the latter half of the Æneid, and the coast from beyond the mouth of the Tiber to the headland of Circæum and the Cape of Terracina.
The site of Cicero's villa may be supposed either at the Grotta Ferrata, or at the Tusculum of Prince Lucieu Buonaparte.
The former was thought some years ago the actual site, as may be seen from Myddleton's Life of Cicero. At present it has lost something of its credit, except for the Domenichinos. Nine monks of the Greek order live there, and the adjoining villa is a cardinal's summer-house. The other villa, called Rufinella, is on the summit of the hill above Frascati, and many rich remains of Tusculum have been found there, besides seventy-two statues of different merit and preservation, and seven busts.
From the same eminence are seen the Sabine hills, embosomed in which lies the long valley of Rustica. There are several circumstances which tend to establish the identity of this valley with the "Ustica" of Horace; and it seems possible that the mosaic pavement which the peasants uncover by throwing up the earth of a vineyard may belong to his villa. Rustica is pronounced short, not according to our stress upon—"Usticæ cubantis." It is more rational to think that we are wrong, than that the inhabitants of this secluded valley have changed their tone in this word. The addition of the consonant prefixed is nothing; yet it is necessary to be aware that Rustica may be a modern name which the peasants may have caught from the antiquaries.
The villa, or the mosaic, is in a vineyard on a knoll covered with chestnut trees. A stream runs down the valley; and although it is not true, as said in the guide books, that this stream is called Licenza, yet there is a village on a rock at the head of the valley, which is so denominated, and which may have taken its name from the Digentia. Licenza contains seven hundred inhabitants. On a peak a little way beyond is Civitella, containing three hundred. On the banks of the Anio, a little before you turn up into Valle Rustica, to the left, about an hour from the villa, is a town called Vicovaro, another favourable coincidence with the Varia of the poet. At the end of the valley, towards the Anio, there is a bare hill, crowned with a little town called Bardela. At the foot of this hill the rivulet of Licenza flows, and is almost absorbed in a wide sandy bed before it reaches the Anio. Nothing can be more fortunate for the lines of the poet, whether in a metaphorical or direct sense:—
"Me quotiens reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
Quem Mandela bibit rugosus frigore pagus."
The stream is clear high up the valley, but before it reaches the hill of Bardela looks green and yellow like a sulphur rivulet.
Rocca Giovane, a ruined village in the hills, half an hour's walk from the vineyard where the pavement is shown, does seem to be the site of the fane of Vacuna, and an inscription found there tells that this temple of the Sabine Victory was repaired by Vespasian. With these helps, and a position corresponding exactly to every thing which the poet has told us of his retreat, we may feel tolerably secure of our site.
The hill which should be Lucretilis is called Campanile, and by following up the rivulet to the pretended Bandusia, you come to the roots of the higher mountain Gennaro. Singularly enough, the only spot of ploughed land in the whole valley is on the knoll where this Bandusia rises.
".... tu frigus amabile
Fessis vomere tauris
Præbes, et pecori vago."
The peasants show another spring near the mosaic pavement, which they call "Oradina," and which flows down the hills into a tank, or mill-dam, and thence trickles over into the Digentia.
But we must not hope
"To trace the Muses upwards to their spring,"
by exploring the windings of the romantic valley in search of the Bandusian fountain. It seems strange that any one should have thought Bandusia a fountain of the Digentia—Horace has not let drop a word of it; and this immortal spring has in fact been discovered in possession of the holders of many good things in Italy, the monks. It was attached to the church of St. Gervais and Protais near Venusia, where it was most likely to be found. We shall not be so lucky as a late traveller in finding the "occasional pine" still pendent on the poetic villa. There is not a pine in the whole valley, but there are two cypresses, which he evidently took, or mistook, for the tree in the ode. The truth is, that the pine is now, as it was in the days of Virgil, a garden tree, and it was not at all likely to be found in the craggy acclivities of the valley of Rustica. Horace probably had one of them in the orchard close above his farm, immediately overshadowing his villa, not on the rocky heights at some distance from his abode. The tourist may have easily supposed himself to have seen this pine figured in the above cypresses; for the orange and lemon trees which throw such a bloom over his description of the royal gardens at Naples, unless they have been since displaced, were assuredly only acacias and other common garden shrubs.
Upon the blue Symplegades.
Stanza clxxvi. line 1.
[Lord Byron embarked from "Calpe's rock" (Gibraltar) August 19, 1809, and after travelling through Greece, he reached Constantinople in the Salsette frigate May 14, 1810. The two island rocks—the Cyanean Symplegades—stand one on the European, the other on the Asiatic side of the Strait, where the Bosphorus joins the Euxine or Black Sea. Both these rocks were visited by Lord Byron in June, 1810.—Note, Ed. 1879.]
END OF VOL. II.
LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
- MS. D., Byron's final fair copy, is in the possession of the Lady Dorchester.
- [Compare Canto IV. stanza clxiv.—
"But where is he, the Pilgrim of my Song....
He is no more—these breathings are his last."]
- [His marriage. Compare the epigram, "On my Wedding-Day," sent in a letter to Moore, January 2, 1820—
"Here's a happy new year!—but with reason
I beg you'll permit me to say—
Wish me many returns of the season,
But as few as you please of the day."]
- [Some fancy me no Chinese, because I am formed more like a man than a monster; and others wonder to find one born five thousand miles from England, endued with common sense.... He must be some Englishman in disguise."—The Citizen of the World; or a Series of Letters from a Chinese Philosopher at London, to his Friends in the East, 1762, Letter xxxiii.]
- [Vide ante, Introduction to Canto IV., p. 315.]
- [Antonio Canova, sculptor, 1757-1822; Vincenzo Monti, 1754-1828; Ugo Foscolo, 1776-1827 (see Life, p. 456, etc.); Ippolito Pindemonte, 1753-1828 (see Letter to Murray, June 4, 1817), poets; Ennius Quirinus Visconti, 1751-1818, the valuer of the Elgin marbles, archæologist; Giacomo Morelli, 1745-1819, bibliographer and scholar (the architect Cosimo Morelli, born 1732, died in 1812); Leopoldo Conte de Cicognara, 1767-1834, archæologist; the Contessa Albrizzi, 1769?-1836, authoress of Ritratti di Uomini Illustri (see Life, pp. 331, 413, etc.); Giuseppe Mezzofanti, 1774-1849, linguist; Angelo Maï (cardinal), 1782-1854, philologist; Andreas Moustoxides, 1787-1860, a Greek archæologist, who wrote in Italian; Francesco Aglietti (see Life, p. 378, etc.), 1757-1836; Andrea Vacca Berlinghieri, 1772-1826 (see Life, p. 339).
For biographical essays on Monti, Foscolo, and Pindemonte, see "Essay on the Present Literature of Italy" (Hobhouse's Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, 1818, pp. 347, sq.). See, too, Italian Literature, by R. Garnett, C.B., LL.D., 1898, pp. 333-337, 337-341, 341-342.]
- [Shelley (notes M. Darmesteter), in his preface to the Prometheus Unbound, "emploie le mot sans demander pardon." "The mass of capabilities remains at every period materially the same; the circumstances which awaken it to action perpetually change." "Capability" in the sense of "undeveloped faculty or property; a condition physical or otherwise, capable of being converted or turned to use" (N. Eng. Dict.), appertains rather to material objects. To apply the term figuratively to the forces inherent in national character savoured of a literary indecorum. Hence the apology.]
- [Addison, Cato, act v. sc. 1, line 3—
"It must be so—Plato, thou reason'st well!—
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?"]
- [Shelley chose this refrain as the motto to his unfinished lines addressed to his infant son—
"My lost William, thou in whom
Some bright spirit lived——"]
- [Scott commented severely on this opprobrious designation of "the great and glorious victory of Waterloo," in his critique on the Fourth Canto, Q. R., No. xxxvii., April, 1818.]
- [The substance of some letters written by an Englishman resident in Paris during the last Reign of the Emperor Napoleon. 1816. 2 vols.]
- [In 1817.]
[Venice and La Mira on the Brenta.
Copied, August, 1817.
Begun, June 26. Finished, July 29th. MS. M.]
- [Byron sent the first stanza to Murray, July 1, 1817, "the shaft of the column as a specimen." Gifford, Frere, and many more to whom Murray "ventured to show it," expressed their approval (Memoir of John Murray, i. 385).
"'The Bridge of Sighs,'" he explains (i.e. Ponte de' Sospiri), "is that which divides, or rather joins, the palace of the Doge to the prison of the state." Compare The Two Foscari, act iv. sc. 1—
"In Venice 'but's' a traitor.
But me no 'buts,' unless you would pass o'er
The Bridge which few repass."
This, however, is an anachronism. The Bridge of Sighs was built by Antonio da Ponte, in 1597, more than a century after the death of Francesco Foscari. "It is," says Mr. Ruskin, "a work of no merit and of a late period, owing the interest it possesses chiefly to its pretty name, and to the ignorant sentimentalism of Byron" (Stones of Venice, 1853, ii. 304; iii. 359).]
- [Compare Mysteries of Udolpho, by Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, 1794, ii. 35, 36—
"Its terraces crowned with airy yet majestic fabrics ... appeared as if they had been called up from the Ocean by the wand of an enchanter."]
- ——throned on her Seventy Isles.—[MS. M. altern. reading, D.]
- Sabellicus, describing the appearance of Venice, has made use of the above image, which would not be poetical were it not true.—"Quo tit ut qui supernè [ex specula aliqua eminentiore] urbem contempletur, turritam telluris imaginem medio Oceano figuratam se putet inspicere." [De Venetæ Urbis situ Narratio, lib. i. Ital. Ill. Script., 1600, p. 4. Marcus Antonius Coccius Sabellicus (1436-1506) wrote, inter alia, a History of Venice, published in folio in 1487, and Rhapsodiæ Historiarum Enneades, a condito mundo, usque ad A.C. 1504. His description of Venice (vide supra) was published after his death in 1527. Hofmann does not give him a good character: "Obiit A.C. 1506, turpi morbo confectus, ætat. 70, relicto filio notho." But his Αὐτοεπιτάφιον implies that he was satisfied with himself.
"Quem non res hominum, non omnis ceperat ætas,
Scribentem capit hæc Coccion urna brevis."
Lexicon Universale, art. "Marcus," etc.
Cybele (sometimes written Cybelle and Cybēle), the "mother of the Goddesses," was represented as wearing a mural crown—"coronamque turritam gestare dicitur" (Albricus Phil., De Imag. Deor., xii.). Venice with her tiara of proud towers is the earth-goddess Cybele, having "suffered a sea-change."]
- From spoils of many nations and the East.—[MS. M., D, erased.]
- ["Gems wrought into drinking-vessels, among which the least precious were framed of turquoise, jasper, or amethyst ... unnumbered jacinths, emeralds, sapphires, chrysolites, and topazes, and, lastly, those matchless carbuncles which, placed on the High Altar of St. Mark's, blazed with intrinsic light, and scattered darkness by their own beams;—these are but a sample of the treasures which accrued to Venice" (Villehardouin, lib. iii. p. 129). (See Sketches from Venetian History, 1831, i. 161.)]
- [After the fall of Constantinople, in 1204, "the illustrious Dandolo ... was permitted to tinge his buskins in the purple hue distinctive of the Imperial Family, to claim exemption from all feudal service to the Emperor, and to annex to the title of Doge of Venice the proud style of Despot of Romania, and Lord of One-fourth and One-eighth of the Roman Empire" (ibid., 1831, i. 167).]
- Monarchs sate down——.—[D. erased.]
- [The gondoliers (see Hobhouse's note ii.) used to sing alternate stanzas of the Gerusalemme Liberata, capping each other like the shepherds in the Bucolics. The rival reciters were sometimes attached to the same gondola; but often the response came from a passing gondolier, a stranger to the singer who challenged the contest. Rogers, in his Italy, laments the silence which greeted the swan-song of his own gondolier—
As in the time when Venice was Herself,
Of Tancred and Erminia. On our oars
We rested; and the verse was verse divine!
We could not err—Perhaps he was the last—
For none took up the strain, none answer'd him;
And, when he ceased, he left upon my ear
A something like the dying voice of Venice!"
The Gondola (Poems, 1852, ii. 79).
Compare, too, Goethe's "Letters from Italy," October 6, 1786: "This evening I bespoke the celebrated song of the mariners, who chaunt Tasso and Ariosto to melodies of their own. This must actually be ordered, as it is not to be heard as a thing of course, but rather belongs to the half-forgotten traditions of former times. I entered a gondola by moonlight, with one singer before and the other behind me. They sing their song, taking up the verses alternately....
"Sitting on the shore of an island, on the bank of a canal, or on the side of a boat, a gondolier will sing away with a loud penetrating voice—the multitude admire force above everything—anxious only to be heard as far as possible. Over the silent mirror it travels far."—Travels in Italy, 1883, p. 73.]
- The pleasure-place of all festivity.—[MS. M.]
- [The Rialto, or Rivo alto, "the middle group of islands between the shore and the mainland," on the left of the Grand Canal, was the site of the original city, and till the sixteenth century its formal and legal designation. The Exchange, or Banco Giro, was held in the piazza opposite the church of San Giacomo, which stands at the head of the canal to the north of the Ponto di Rialto. It was on the Rialto that Antonio rated Shylock about his "usances." "What news on the Rialto?" asks Solanio (Merchant of Venice, act i. sc. 3, line 102; act iii. sc. 1, line 1). Byron uses the word symbolically for Venetian commerce.]
- [Pierre is the hero of Otway's Venice Preserved. Shylock and the Moor stand where they did, but what of Pierre? If the name of Otway—"master of the tragic art"—and the title of his masterpiece—Venice Preserved, or The Plot Discovered (first played 1682)—are not wholly forgotten, Pierre and Monimia and Belvidera have "decayed," and are memorable chiefly as favourite characters of great actors and actresses. Genest notes twenty revivals of the Venice Preserved, which was played as late as October 27, 1837, when Macready played "Pierre," and Phelps "Jaffier." "No play that I know," says Hartley Coleridge (Essays, 1851, ii. 56), gains so much by acting as Venice Preserved.... Miss O'Neill, I well remember, made me weep with Belvidera; but she would have done the same had she spoken in an unknown tongue." Byron, who professed to be a "great admirer of Otway," in a letter to Hodgson, August 22, 1811 (Letters, 1898, i. 339, note 1), alludes to some lines from Venice Preserved (act ii. sc. 3), which seem to have taken his fancy. Two lines spoken by Belvidera (act ii.), if less humorous, are more poetical—
"Oh, the day
Too soon will break, and wake us to our sorrow;
Come, come to bed, and bid thy cares Good night!"]
- [Compare The Dream, i.—
"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."
The ideal personages of the poet's creations have the promise of immortality. The ideal forms which people his imagination transfigure and supplant the dull and grievous realities of his mortal being and circumstance; but there are "things" more radiant, more enchanting still, the "strong realities" of the heart and soul—hope, love, joy. But they pass! We wake, and lo! it was a dream.]
- Denies to the dull trick of life——.—[MS. erased.]
["In youth I wrote because my mind was full,
And now because I feel it growing dull."
Don Juan, Canto XIV. stanza x.
In youth the poet takes refuge, in the ideal world, from the crowd and pressure of blissful possibilities; and in age, when hope is beyond hope, he peoples the solitude with beings of the mind.]
- And this worn feeling——.—[Editions 1816-1891.]
And, may be, that which
- Outshines our Fairies—things in shape and hue.—[MS. M.]
- ——and though I leave behind.—[MS. M.]
- And make myself a home beside a softer sea.—[MS. erased.]
Albeit is not my nature, and I twine.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [In another mood he wrote to Murray (June 7, 1819), "I trust they won't think of 'pickling, and bringing me home to Clod or Blunderbuss Hall' [see The Rivals, act v. sc. 3]. I am sure my bones would not rest in an English grave, or my clay mix with the earth of that country." In this half-humorous outburst he deprecates, or pretends to deprecate, the fate which actually awaited his remains—burial in the family vault at Hucknall Torkard. There is, of course, no reference to a public funeral and a grave in Westminster Abbey. In the next stanza (x. line 1) he assumes the possibility of his being excluded from the Temple of Fame; but there is, perhaps, a tacit reference to burial in the Abbey. If the thought, as is probable, occurred to him, he veils it in a metaphor.]
- The answer of the mother of Brasidas, the Lacedæmonian general, to the strangers who praised the memory of her son.
[Βρασίδας γὰρ ἦν μὲν ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς, πολλοὶ δ' ἐκείνου κρείσσονες ἐν τῇ Σπάρτῃ. Plutarchi Moralia, Apophthegmata Laconica (Tauchnitz, 1820), ii. 127.]
- The widowed Adriatic mourns her Doge.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [The Bucentaur, "the state barge in which, on Ascension Day, the Doge of Venice used to wed the Adriatic by dropping a ring into it," was broken up and rifled by the French in 1797 (note, by Rev. E. C. Owen, Childe Harold, 1897, p. 197).
Compare Goethe's "Letters from Italy," October 5, 1786: "To give a notion of the Bucentaur in one word, I should say that it is a state-galley. The older one, of which we still have drawings, justified this appellation still more than the present one, which, by its splendour, makes us forget the original....
"The vessel is all ornament; we ought to say, it is overladen with ornament; it is altogether one piece of gilt carving, for no other use.... This state-galley is a good index to show what the Venetians were, and what they considered themselves."—Travels in Italy, 1883, p. 68.
Compare, too, Wordsworth's sonnet "On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic"—
"She was a maiden City, bright and free;
No guile seduced, no force could violate;
And when she took unto herself a Mate,
She must espouse the everlasting Sea."
Works, 1888, p. 180.]
- [For "Lion," see Hobhouse's note iii. The "Horses of St. Mark" (vide post, stanza xiii. line 1), which, according to history or legend, Augustus "conveyed" from Alexandria to Rome, Constantine from Rome to Constantinople, Dandolo, in 1204, from Constantinople to Venice, Napoleon, in 1797, from Venice to Paris, and which were restored to the Venetians by the Austrians in 1815, were at one time supposed to belong to the school of Lysippus. Haydon, who published, in 1817, a curious etching of "The Elgin Horse's Head," placed side by side with the "Head of one of the Horses ... now at Venice," subscribes the following critical note: "It is astonishing that the great principles of nature should have been so nearly lost in the time between Phidias and Lysippus. Compare these two heads. The Elgin head is all truth, the other all manner." Hobhouse pronounces the "Horses" to be "irrevocably Chian," but modern archæologists regard both "school" and exact period as uncertain.]
- Even on the pillar——.—[MS. M., D. erased.]
- [According to Milman (Hist. of Lat. Christianity, v. 144), the humiliation of Barbarossa at the Church of St. Mark took place on Tuesday, July 24, 1177. À propos of the return of the Pope and Emperor to the ducal palace, he quotes "a curious passage from a newly recovered poem, by Godfrey of Viterbo, an attendant on the Emperor. So great was the press in the market that the aged Pope was thrown down—
"Jam Papa perisset in arto,
Cæsar ibi vetulum ni relevasset eum."
"This," he remarks, "is an odd contrast of real life with romance."]
- ["Oh, for one hour of Dundee!" was the exclamation of a Highland chieftain at the battle of Sheriff-muir, November 13, 1715 (Scott's Tales of a Grandfather, III. Series, chap. x.; Prose Works, Paris, 1830, vii. 768). Wordsworth makes the words his own in the sonnet, "In the Pass of Killicranky (an Invasion being expected, October, 1803)" (Works, 1888, p. 201)—
"O for a single hour of that Dundee,
Who on that day the word of onset gave!"
And Coleridge, in a letter to Wordsworth (February 8, 1804), thinking, perhaps, less of the chieftain than the sonnet, exclaims, "'Oh for one hour of Dundee!' How often shall I sigh, 'Oh for one hour of The Recluse!'"—an aspiration which Byron would have worded differently.]
- ——who quelled the imperial foe.—[MS. M. erased.]
——empire's all-conquering foe.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare Marino Faliero, act iv. sc. 2, lines 157, 158—
"Doge Dandolo survived to ninety summers,
To vanquish empires, and refuse their crown."
"The vessels that bore the bishops of Soissons and Troyes, the Paradise and the Pilgrim, were the first which grappled with the Towers of Constantinople [April, 1204].... The bishops of Soissons and of Troyes would have placed the blind old Doge Dandolo on the imperial throne; his election was opposed by the Venetians.... But probably the wise patriotism of Dandolo himself, and his knowledge of the Venetian mind, would make him acquiesce in the loss of an honour so dangerous to his country.... Venice might have sunk to an outpost, as it were, of the Eastern Empire."—Milman's Hist, of Lat. Christianity, v. 350, 353, 354.]
- [Hobhouse's version (see Hist. Notes, No. vi.) of the war of Chioggia is not borne out by modern research. For example, the long speech which Chinazzo attributes to the Genoese admiral, Pietro Doria, is probably mythical. The actual menace of the "bitting and bridling the horses of St. Mark" is assigned by other historians to Francesco Carrara. Doria was not killed by a stone bullet from the cannon named The Trevisara, but by the fall of the Campanile in Chioggia, which had been struck by the bullet. (Venice, an Historical Sketch of the Republic, by Horatio F. Brown, 1893, pp. 225-234.)]
- ——into whence she rose.—[Editions 1818-1891.]
- [Compare the opening lines of Byron's Ode on Venice—
"Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls
Are level with the waters, there shall be
A cry of nations o'er thy sunken halls,
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!"
Shelley, too, in his Lines written among the Euganean Hills, bewailed the approaching doom of the "sea-girt city." But threatened cities, like threatened men, live long, and since its annexation to Italy, in 1866, a revival of trade and the re-establishment of the arsenal have brought back a certain measure of prosperity.]
- Even in Destruction's heart——.—[MS. M.]
- That is, the Lion of St. Mark, the standard of the republic, which is the origin of the word Pantaloon—Piantaleone, Pantaleon, Pantaloon.
[The Venetians were nicknamed Pantaloni. Byron, who seems to have relied on the authority of a Venetian glossary, assumes that the "by-word" may be traced to the patriotism of merchant-princes "who were reputed to hoist flags with the Venetian lion waving to the breeze on every rock and barren headland of Levantine waters" (Memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi, translated by J. Addington Symonds, 1890, Introd. part ii. p. 44), and that in consequence of this spread-eagleism the Venetians were held up to scorn by their neighbours as "planters of the lion"—a reproach which conveyed a tribute to their prowess. A more probable explanation is that the "by-word," with its cognates "Pantaleone," the typical masque of Italian comedy—progenitor of our "Pantaloon;" and "pantaloni," "pantaloons," the typical Venetian costume—derive their origin from the baptismal name "Pantaleone," frequently given to Venetian children, in honour of St. Pantaleon of Nicomedia, physician and martyr, whose cult was much in vogue in Northern Italy, and especially in Venice, where his relics, which "coruscated with miracles," were the object of peculiar veneration.
St. Pantaleon was known to the Greek Church as Παντελεήμων, that is, the "all-pitiful;" and in Latin his name is spelled Pantaleymon and Pantaleemon. Hagiologists seem to have been puzzled, but the compiler of the Acta Sanctorum, for July 27, St. Pantaleon's Day in the Roman calendar (xxxiii. 397-426), gives the preference to Pantaleon, and explains that he was hailed as Pantaleemon by a divine voice at the hour of his martyrdom, which proclaimed "eum non amplius esse vocandum Pantaleonem, sed Pantaleemonem."
The accompanying woodcut is the reproduction of the frontispiece of a black-letter tract, composed by Augustinus de Cremâ, in honour of the "translation" of one of the sainted martyr's arms to Crema, in Lombardy. It was printed at Cremona, in 1493.]
- Shakespeare is my authority for the word "Ottomite" for Ottoman. "Which Heaven hath forbid the Ottomites" (see Othello, act ii. sc. 3, line 161).—[MS. D.]
- ["On 29th September (1669) Candia, and the island of Candia, passed away from Venice, after a defence which had lasted twenty-five years, and was unmatched for bravery in the annals of the Republic."—Venice, an Historical Sketch, by Horatio F. Brown, 1893, p. 378.]
- ["The battle of Lepanto [October 7, 1571] lasted five hours.... The losses are estimated at 8000 Christians and 30,000 Turks.... The chief glory of the victory rests with Sebastian Veniero and the Venetians."—Venice, etc., 1893, p. 368.]
- [The story is told in Plutarch's Life of Nicias, cap. xxix. (Plut. Vit., Lipsiæ, 1813, v. 154). "The dramas of Euripides were so popular throughout all Sicily, that those Athenian prisoners who knew ... portions of them, won the affections of their masters.... I cannot refrain from mentioning this story, though I fear its trustworthiness ... is much inferior to its pathos and interest."—Grote's History of Greece, 1869, vii. 186.]
- And won her hopeless children from afar.—[MS. M., D. erased.]
- And sends him ransomeless to bless his poet's strains.—[MS. M.]
or, And sends him home to bless the poet for his strains.—[MS. D. erased.]
- Thy love of Tasso's verse should cut the knot.—[MS. M.]
- [By the Treaty of Paris, May 3, 1814, Lombardy and Venice, which since the battle of Austerlitz had formed part of the French kingdom of Naples, were once more handed over to Austria. Great Britain was represented by "a bungler even in its disgusting trade" (Don Juan, Dedication, stanza xiv.), Lord Castlereagh.]
- ——for come it will and shall.—[MS. M., D. erased.]
- And Otway's—Radcliffe's—Schiller's—Shakspeare's art.—[MS. M., D.]
- Venice Preserved; Mysteries of Udolpho; The Ghost-Seer, or Armenian; The Merchant of Venice; Othello.
[For Venice Preserved, vide ante, stanza iv. line 7, note. To the Mysteries of Udolpho Byron was indebted for more than one suggestion, vide ante, stanza i. line 4, note, and Mysteries, etc., London, 1794, 2. 39: "The air bore no sounds, but those of sweetness echoing along each margin of the canal and from gondolas on its surface, while groups of masks were seen dancing on the moonlit terraces, and seemed almost to realize the romance of fairy-land." The scene of Schiller's Der Geisterscher (Werke, 1819, x. 97, sq.) is laid at Venice. "This [the Doge's palace] was the thing that most struck my imagination in Venice—more than the Rialto, which I visited for the sake of Shylock; and more, too, than Schiller's Armenian, a novel which took a great hold of me when a boy. It is also called the Ghost Seer, and I never walked down St. Mark's by moonlight without thinking of it, and 'at nine o'clock he died!' [For allusion to the same incident, see Rogers's Italy (Poems, 1852, ii. 73).] But I hate things all fiction; and therefore the Merchant and Othello have no great associations for me: but Pierre has."—Letter to Murray, Venice, April 2, 1817. (For an earlier reference to the Ghost-seer, see Oscar of Alva: Poetical Works, 1898, i. 131, note.)]
- Though I have found her thus we will not part.—[MS. M.]
- [Shelley, in his Lines written among the Euganean Hills, allows to Venice one lingering glory "one remembrance more sublime"—
"That a tempest-cleaving swan
Of the songs of Albion,
Driven from his ancestral streams
By the might of evil dreams,
Found a nest in thee; and Ocean
Welcomed him with such emotion,
That its joy grew his, and sprung
From his lips like music flung
O'er a mighty thunder-fit,
The Past at least is mine—whate'er may come.
But when the heart is full the lips must needs be dumb.—[MS. M. erased.]
——or else mine now were cold and dumb.—[MS. M.]
- Tannen is the plural of tanne, a species of fir peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky parts, where scarcely soil sufficient for its nourishment can be found. On these spots it grows to a greater height than any other mountain tree.
[Byron did not "know German" (Letter to Murray, June 7, 1820), and he may, as Mr. Tozer suggests, have supposed that the word "tannen" denoted not "fir trees" generally, but a particular kind of fir tree. He refers, no doubt, to the Ebeltanne (Abies pectinata), which is not a native of this country, but grows at a great height on the Swiss Alps and throughout the mountainous region of Central Europe.]
- But there are minds which as the Tannen grow.—[MS. erased.]
- Of shrubless granite——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- In rocks atid unsupporting places——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Cicero, De Finibus, II. xxix., controverts the maxim of Epicurus, that a great sorrow is necessarily of short duration, a prolonged sorrow necessarily light: "Quod autem magnum dolorem brevem longinquum levem esse dicitis, id non intelligo quale sit, video enim et magnos et eosdem bene longinquos dolores." But the sentiment is adopted by Montaigne (I. xiv.), ed. 1580, p. 66: "Tu ne la sentiras guiere long temps, si tu la sens trop; elle mettra fin à soy ou à toy; l'un et l'autre revient a un." ("Si tu ne la portes; elle t'emportera," note.) And again by Sir Thomas Brown, "Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves" (see Darmesteter, Childe Harold, 1882, p. 193). Byron is not refining upon these conceits, but is drawing upon his own experience. Suffering which does not kill is subject to change, and "continueth not in one stay;" but it remains within call, and returns in an hour when we are not aware.]
- [Compare Bishop Blougram's lament on the instability of unfaith—
"Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,
A chorus-ending from Euripides,—
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears.
To rap and knock and enter in our soul,
Take hands and dance there."
Browning's Poetical Works, 1869, v. 268.]
- A tone of music—eventide in spring.
or, ——twilight—eve in spring.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Compare Scott's Lady of the Lake, I. xxxiii. lines 21, 22—
"They come, in dim procession led,
The cold, the faithless, and the dead."]
- ["Friuli's mountains" are the Julian Alps, which lie to the north of Trieste and north-east of Venice, "the hoar and aëry Alps towards the north," which Julian and Count Maddalo (vide post, p. 349) saw from the Lido. But the Alpine height along which "a sea of glory" streamed—"the peak of the far Rhætian hill" (stanza xxviii. line 4)—must lie to the westward of Venice, in the track of the setting sun.]
- The above description may seem fantastical or exaggerated to those who have never seen an Oriental or an Italian sky; yet it is but a literal and hardly sufficient delineation of an August evening (the eighteenth), as contemplated in one of many rides along the banks of the Brenta, near La Mira.
[Compare Shelley's Julian and Maddalo (Poetical Works, 1895, i. 343)—
"How beautiful is sunset, when the glow
Of Heaven descends upon a land like thee,
Thou Paradise of exiles, Italy!
· · · · ·We stood
Looking upon the evening, and the flood,
Which lay between the city and the shore,
Paved with the image of the sky ... the hoar
And aëry Alps towards the north appeared,
Thro' mist, an heaven-sustaining bulwark reared
Between the East and West; and half the sky
Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry,
Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew
Down the steep West into a wondrous hue,
Brighter than burning gold."]
- [The Brenta rises in Tyrol, and flowing past Padua falls into the Lagoon at Fusina. Mira, or La Mira, where Byron "colonized" in the summer of 1817, and again in 1819, is on the Brenta, some six or seven miles inland from the Lagoon.]
- [The Abbé de Sade, in his Mémoires pour la vie de Pétrarque (1767), affirmed, on the strength of documentary evidence, that the Laura of the sonnets, born de Noves, was the wife of his ancestor, Hugo de Sade, and the mother of a large family. "Gibbon," says Hobhouse (note viii.), "called the abbé's memoirs a 'labour of love' (see Decline and Fall, chap. lxx. note 1), and followed him with confidence and delight;" but the poet James Beattie (in a letter to the Duchess of Gordon, August 17, 1782) disregarded them as a "romance," and, more recently, "an ingenious Scotchman" [Alexander Fraser Tytler (Lord Woodhouselee)], in an Historical and Critical Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch (1810), had reestablished "the ancient prejudice" in favour of Laura's virginity. Hobhouse appears, but his note is somewhat ambiguous, to adopt the view of "the ingenious Scotchman." To pass to contemporary criticism, Dr. Garnett, in his History of Italian Literature, 1898 (pp. 66-71), without attempting to settle "the everlasting controversy," regards the abbé's documentary evidence as for the most part worthless, and, relying on the internal evidence of the sonnets and the dialogue, and on the facts of Petrarch's life as established by his correspondence (a complete series of Petrarch's letters was published by Giuseppe Fracassetti, in 1859), inclines to the belief that it was the poet's status as a cleric, and not a husband and family, which proved a bar to his union with Laura. With regard, however, to "one piece of documentary evidence," namely, Laura de Sade's will, Dr. Garnett admits that, if this were producible, and, on being produced, proved genuine, the coincidence of the date of the will, April 3, 1348, with a note in Petrarch's handwriting, dated April 6, 1348, which records the death of Laura, would almost establish the truth of the abbé's theory "in the teeth of all objections."]
- ["He who would seek, as I have done, the last memorials of the life and death of Petrarch in that sequestered Euganean village [Arquà is about twelve miles south-west of Padua], will still find them there. A modest house, apparently of great antiquity, passes for his last habitation. A chair in which he is said to have died is shown there. And if these details are uncertain, there is no doubt that the sarcophagus of red marble, supported on pillars, in the churchyard of Arquà, contains, or once contained, his mortal remains. Lord Byron and Mr. Hobhouse visited the spot more than sixty years ago in a sceptical frame of mind; for doubts had at that time been thrown on the very existence of Laura; and the varied details of the poet's life, which are preserved with so much fidelity in his correspondence, were almost forgotten."—Petrarch, by H. Reeve, 1879, p. 14. On a letter to Hoppner, September 12, 1817, Byron says that he was moved "to turn aside in a second visit to Arquà." Two years later, October, 1819, he in vain persuaded Moore "to spare a day or two to go with me to Arquà. I should like," he said, "to visit that tomb with you—a pair of poetical pilgrims—eh, Tom, what say you?" But "Tom" was for Rome and Lord John Russell, and ever afterwards bewailed the lost opportunity "with wonder and self-reproach" (Life, p. 423; Life, by Karl Elze, 1872, p. 235).]
- His mansion and his monument——.—[MS. M., D. erased.]
- ——formed his sepulchral fane.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare Wordsworth's Ode, "Intimations of," etc., xi. lines 9-11—
"The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality."]
- ["Euganeis istis in collibus ... domum parvam sed delectabilem et honestam struxi ... hic quanquam æger corpore, tranquillus animo frater dego, sine tumultibus, sine erroribus, sine curis, legens semper et scribens, Deum laudans."—Petrarca, Epistolæ Seniles, xiv. 6 (Opera, Basileæ, 1581, p. 938).
See, too, the notes to Arquà (Rogers's Italy: Poems, 1852, ii. 105-109), which record the pilgrimage of other poets, Boccaccio and Alfieri, to the great laureate's tomb; and compare with Byron's stanzas the whole of that exquisite cameo, delicate and yet durable as if graved on chalcedony.]
- Society's the school where taught to live.—[MS. M. erased.]
- ——the soul with God must strive.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The struggle is to the full as likely to be with demons as with our better thoughts. Satan chose the wilderness for the temptation of our Saviour. And our unsullied John Locke preferred the presence of a child to complete solitude.
["He always chose to have company with him, if it were only a child; for he loved children, and took pleasure in talking with those that had been well trained" (Life of John Locke, by H. R. Fox-Bourne, ii. 537). Lady Masham's daughter Esther, and "his wife" Betty Clarke, aged eleven years, were among his child-friends.]
- Which dies not nor can ever pass away.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The tomb a hell—and life one universal gloom.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Byron passed a single day at Ferrara in April, 1817; went over the castle, cell, etc., and a few days after wrote The Lament of Tasso, the manuscript of which is dated April 20, 1817. The Fourth Canto of Childe Harold was not begun till the end of June in the same year.]
- [Of the ancient family of Este, Marquesses of Tuscany, Azzo V. was the first who obtained power in Ferrara in the twelfth century. A remote descendant, Nicolo III. (b. 1384, d. 1441), founded the University of Parma. He married for his second wife Parisina Malatesta (the heroine of Byron's Parisina, published February, 1816), who was beheaded for adultery in 1425. His three sons, Lionel (d. 1450), the friend of Poggio Bracciolini; Borso (d. 1471), who established printing in his states; and Ercolo (d. 1505), the friend of Boiardo,—were all patrons of letters and fosterers of the Renaissance. Their successor, Alphonso I. (1486-1534), who married Lucrezia Borgia, 1502, honoured himself by attaching Ariosto to his court, and it was his grandson, Alphonso II. (d. 1597), who first befriended and afterwards, on the score of lunacy, imprisoned Tasso in the Hospital of Sant' Anna (1579-86).]
- [It is a fact that Tasso was an involuntary inmate of the Hospital of Sant' Anna at Ferrara for seven years and four months—from March, 1579, to July, 1586—but the causes, the character, and the place of his imprisonment have been subjects of legend and misrepresentation. It has long been known and acknowledged (see Hobhouse's Historical Illustrations, 1818, pp. 5-31) that a real or feigned passion for Duke Alphonso's sister, Leonora d'Este, was not the cause or occasion of his detention, and that the famous cell or dungeon ("nine paces by six, and about seven high") was not "the original place of the poet's confinement." It was, as Shelley says (see his letter to Peacock, November 7, 1818), "a very decent dungeon;" but it was not Tasso's. The setting of the story was admitted to be legendary, but the story itself, that a poet was shut up in a madhouse because a vindictive magnate resented his love of independence and impatience of courtly servitude, was questioned, only to be reasserted as historical. The publication of Tasso's letters by Guasti, in 1853, a review of Tasso's character and career in Symonds's Renaissance in Italy, and, more recently, Signor Angelo Solerti's monumental work, Vita di Torquato Tasso (1895), which draws largely upon the letters of contemporaries, the accounts of the ducal court, and other documentary evidence, have in a great measure exonerated the duke at the expense of the unhappy poet himself. Briefly, Tasso's intrigues with rival powers—the Medici at Florence, the papal court, and the Holy Office at Bologna—aroused the alarm and suspicion of the duke, whilst his general demeanour and his outbursts of violence and temper compelled, rather than afforded, a pretext for his confinement. Before his final and fatal return to Ferrara, he had been duly warned that he must submit to be treated as a person of disordered intellect, and that if he continued to throw out hints of designs upon his life and of persecution in high places, he would be banished from the ducal court and dominions. But return he would, and at an inauspicious moment, when the duke was preoccupied with the ceremonies and festivities of a third marriage. No one attended to him or took heed of his arrival; and, to quote his own words, "in a tit of madness" he broke out into execrations of the ducal court and family, and of the people of Ferrara. For the offence he was shut up in the Hospital of Sant' Anna, and for many months treated as an ordinary lunatic. Of the particulars of his treatment during these first eight months of his confinement, apart from Tasso's own letters, there is no evidence. The accounts of the hospital are lost, and the Libri di spesa (R. Arch. di Stato in Modena; Camer. Ducale: Casa; Amministrazione, Solerti, iii. Docu. 47) do not commence till November 20, 1579. Two years later, the Libri di spenderia (Solerti, iii. Docu. 51), from January, 1582, onward, show that he was put on a more generous diet; and it is known that a certain measure of liberty and other indulgences were gradually accorded. There can, however, be little doubt that for many months his food was neglected and medical attendance withheld. His statement, that he was denied the rites of the Church, cannot be gainsaid. He was regarded as a lunatic, and, as such, he would not be permitted either to make his confession or to communicate. Worse than all, there was the terrible solitude. "E sovra tutto," he writes (May, 1580), "m'affligge la solitudine, mia crudele e natural nimica." No wonder the attacks of delirium, the "unwonted lights," the conference with a familiar spirit, followed in due course. Byron and Shelley were ignorant of the facts; and we know that their scorn and indignation were exaggerated and misplaced. But the "pity of it" remains, that the grace and glory of his age was sacrificed to ignorance and fear, if not to animosity and revenge. (See Tasso, by E. J. Hasell; History of the Italian Renaissance, by J. A. Symonds; Quart. Rev., October, 1895, No. 364, art. x.; Vita di Torquato Tasso, 1895, i. 312-314, 410-412, etc.)]
- And thou for no one useful purpose born.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Solerti (Vita, i. 418) combats the theory advanced by Hobhouse (see note x.), that Lionardo Salviati, in order to curry favour with Alphonso, was responsible for "the opposition which the Jerusalem encountered from the Cruscan Academy." He assigns their unfavourable criticism to literary sentiment or prejudice, and not to personal animosity or intrigue. The Gerusalemme Liberata was dedicated to the glory of the house of Este; and, though the poet was in disgrace, the duke was not to be propitiated by an attack upon the poem. Moreover, Salviati did not publish his theses in his own name, but under a nom de guerre, "L'Infarinato."]
- And baffled Gaul whose rancour could allow.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Which grates upon the teeth——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Hobhouse, in his note x., quotes Boileau, but not in full. The passage runs thus—
"Tons les jours, à la cour, un sot de qualité
Pent juger de travers avec impunité,
A Malherbe, à Racan, préfère Théophile,
Et le clinquant du Tasse à tout l'or de Virgile."
Perhaps he divined that the phrase, "un sot de qualité," might glance back on a "noble author," who was about to admit that he could not savour Horace, and who turned aside from Mantua and memories of Virgil to visit Ferrara and the "cell" where Tasso was "encaged." (See Darmesteter's Notes to Childe Harold, pp. 201, 217.)
If "the Youth with brow serene," as Hugo calls him, had lived to read Dédain. A Lord Byron, en 1811, he would have passed a somewhat different criticism on French poetry in general—
"En vain vos légions l'environnent sans nombre,
Il n'a qu'à se lever pour couvrir de son ombre
A la fois tous vos fronts;
Il n'a qu'à dire un mot pour couvrir vos voix grèles,
Comme un char en passant couvre le bruit des ailes
De mille moucherons!"
Les Feuilles d' Automne, par Victor Hugo, Bruxelles, 1833, pp. 59, 63.]
- Could mount into a mind like thine——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- ——they would not form the Sun.—[MS. M.]
- [In a letter to Murray (August 7, 1817) Byron throws out a hint that Scott might not like being called "the Ariosto of the North," and Murray seems to have caught at the suggestion. "With regard to 'the Ariosto of the North,'" rejoins Byron (September 17, 1817), "surely their themes, Chivalry, war, and love, were as like as can be; and as to the compliment, if you knew what the Italians think of Ariosto, you would not hesitate about that.... If you think Scott will dislike it, say so, and I will expunge." Byron did not know that when Scott was at college at Edinburgh he had "had the audacity to produce a composition in which he weighed Homer against Ariosto, and pronounced him wanting in the balance," or that he "made a practice of reading through ... the Orlando of Ariosto once every year" (see Memoirs of the Life, etc., 1871, pp. 12, 747); but the parallel had suggested itself. The key-note of "the harpings of the north," the chivalrous strain of "shield, lance, and brand, and plume and scarf," of "gentle courtesy," of "valour, lion-mettled lord," which the "Introduction to Marmion" preludes, had been already struck in the opening lines of the Orlando Furioso—
"Le Donne, i Cavaliér', l'arme, gli amori,
Le cortesíe, l'audaci imprese io canto."
Scott, we may be assured, was neither disconcerted nor uplifted by the parallel. Many years before (July 6, 1812), Byron had been at pains to inform him that so august a critic as the Prince Regent "preferred you to every bard past and present," and "spoke alternately of Homer and yourself" Of the "placing" and unplacing of poets there is no end. Byron had already been sharply rebuked by the Edinburgh Review for describing Christabel as a "wild and singularly original and beautiful poem," and his appreciation of Scott provoked the expostulation of a friendlier critic. "Walter Scott," wrote Francis Hodgson, in his anonymous Monitor of Childe Harold (1818), "(credite posteri, or rather præposteri), is designated in the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold as 'the Northern Ariosto,' and (droller still) Ariosto is denominated 'the Southern Scott.' This comes of mistaking horse-chestnuts for chestnut horses."]
- The two stanzas xlii. and xliii. are, with the exception of a line or two, a translation of the famous sonnet of Filicaja:—"Italia, Italia, O tu, cui feo la sorte!"—Poesie Toscane 1823, p. 149.
["Italia, Italia, o tu cui feo la sorte
Dono infelice di bellezza, ond'hai
Funesta dote d'infiniti guai
Che in fronte scritti per gran doglia porte:
Deh fossi tu men bella, o almen più forte,
Onde assai più ti paventasse, o assai
T'amasse men, chi del tuo bello ai rai
Par che si strugga, e pur ti sfida a morte,
Chè or giù dall' Alpi non vedrei torrenti
Scender d'armati, nè di sangue tinta
Bever l'onda del Po gallici armenti;
Nè te vedrei, del non tuo ferro cinta,
Pugnar col braccio di straniere genti,
Per servir sempre, o vincitrice, o vinta."]
And on thy brow in characters of flame
To write the words of sorrow and of shame.—[MS. M. erased.]
To death by thy vain charms——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The celebrated letter of Servius Sulpicius to Cicero, on the death of his daughter, describes as it then was, and now is, a path which I often traced in Greece, both by sea and land, in different journeys and voyages. "On my return from Asia, as I was sailing from Ægina towards Megara, I began to contemplate the prospect of the countries around me: Ægina was behind, Megara before me; Piræus on the right, Corinth on the left: all which towns, once famous and flourishing, now lie overturned and buried in their ruins. Upon this sight, I could not but think presently within myself, Alas! how do we poor mortals fret and vex ourselves if any of our friends happen to die or be killed, whose life is yet so short, when the carcasses of so many noble cities lie here exposed before me in one view."—See Middleton's Cicero, 1823, ii. 144.
[The letter is to be found in Cicero's Epist. ad Familiares, iv. 5. Byron, on his return from Constantinople on July 14, 1810, left Hobhouse at the Island of Zea, and made his own way to Athens. As the vessel sailed up the Saronic Gulf, he would observe the "prospect" which Sulpicius describes.]
- These carcases of cities——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- ["By the events of the years 1813 and 1814, the house of Austria gained possession of all that belonged to her in Italy, either before or in consequence of the Peace of Campo Formio (October 17, 1797). A small portion of Ferrara, to the north of the Po (which had formed part of the Papal dominions), was ceded to her, as were the Valteline, Bormio, Chiavenna, and the ancient republic of Ragusa. The emperor constituted all these possessions into a separate and particular state, under the title of the kingdom of Venetian Lombardy."—Koch's History of Europe, p. 234.]
- It is Poggio, who, looking from the Capitoline hill upon ruined Rome, breaks forth into the exclamation, "Ut nunc omni decore nudata, prostrata jaceat, instar Gigantei cadaveris corrupti atque undique exesi."
[See De Fortunæ Varietate, ap. Nov. Thes. Ant. Rom., ap. Sallengre, i. 502.]
- [Compare Milton, Sonnet xxii.—
"... my noble task,
Of which all Europe talks from side to side."]
Where Luxury might willingly be born,
And buried Learning looks forth into fresher morn.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [The wealth which permitted the Florentine nobility to indulge their taste for modern, that is, refined luxury was derived from success in trade. For example, Giovanni de' Medici (1360-1428), the father of Cosmo and great-grandfather of Lorenzo de' Medici, was a banker and Levantine merchant. As for the Renaissance, to say nothing of Petrarch of Florentine parentage, two of the greatest Italian scholars and humanists—Ficino, born A.D. 1430, and Poliziano, born 1454—were Florentines; and Poggio was born A.D. 1380, at Terra Nuova on Florentine soil.]
- There, too, the Goddess breathes in stone and fills.—[MS. M.]
- [The statue of Venus de' Medici, which stands in the Tribune of the Uffizzi Gallery at Florence, is said to be a late Greek (first or second century B.C.) copy of an early reproduction, of the Cnidian Aphrodite, the work, perhaps, of one of his sons, Kephisodotos or Timarchos. (See Histoire de la Sculpture Grecque, par Maxime Collignon, Paris, 1897, ii. 641.) In a Catalogue Raissonné of La Galerie de Florence, 1804, in the editor's possession, which opens with an eloquent tribute to the enlightenment of the Medici, la fameuse Vénus is conspicuous by her absence. She had been deported to Paris by Napoleon, but when Lord Byron spent a day in Florence in April, 1817, and returned "drunk with Beauty" from the two galleries, the lovely lady, thanks to the much-abused "Powers," was once more in her proper shrine.]
——and we draw
As from a fountain of immortal hills.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Byron's contempt for connoisseurs and dilettanti finds expression in English Bards, etc., lines 1027-1032, and, again, in The Curse of Minerva, lines 183, 184. The "stolen copy" of The Curse was published in the New Monthly Magazine (Poetical Works, 1898, i. 453) under the title of The Malediction of Minerva; or, The Athenian Marble-Market, a title (see line 7) which must have been invented by and not for Byron. He returns to the charge in Don Juan, Canto II. stanza cxviii. lines 5-9—
"... a statuary,
(A race of mere impostors, when all's done—
I've seen much finer women ripe and real,
Than all the nonsense of their stone ideal)."
Even while confessing the presence and power of "triumphal Art" in sculpture, one of "the two most artificial of the Arts" (see his letter to Murray, April 26, 1817), then first revealed to him at Florence, he took care that his enthusiasm should not be misunderstood. He had made bitter fun of the art-talk of collectors, and he was unrepentant, and, moreover, he was "not careful" to incur a charge of indifference to the fine arts in general. Among the "crowd" which found their place in his complex personality, there was "the barbarian," and there was "the philistine," and there was, too, the humourist who took a subtle pleasure in proclaiming himself "a plain man," puzzled by subtleties, and unable to catch the drift of spirits finer than his own.]
"Atque oculos pascat uterque suos."
Ovid., Amor., lib. ii. [Eleg. 2, line 6].
[Compare, too, Lucretius, lib. i. lines 36–38—
"Atque ita, suspiciens tereti cervice reposta,
Pascit amore avidos, inhians in te, Dea, visus;
Eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore;"
and Measure for Measure, act ii. sc. 2, line 179—
"And feast upon her eyes."]
- Glowing and all-diffused——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [As the immortals, for love's sake, divest themselves of their godhead, so do mortals, in the ecstasy of passion, recognize in the object of their love the incarnate presence of deity. Love, like music, can raise a "mortal to the skies" and "bring an angel down." In this stanza there is, perhaps, an intentional obscurity in the confusion of ideas, which are "thrown out" for the reader to shape for himself as he will or can.]
- ——and our Fate.—[MS. M.]
- ["The church of Santa Croce contains much illustrious nothing. The tombs of Macchiavelli, Michael Angelo, Galileo Galilei, and Alfieri make it the Westminster Abbey of Italy" (Letter to Murray, April 26, 1817). Michael Angelo, Alfieri, and Macchiavelli are buried in the south aisle of the church; Galileo, who was first buried within the convent, now rests with his favourite pupil, Vincenzo Viviani, in a vault in the south aisle. Canova's monument to Alfieri was erected at the expense of his so-called widow, Louise, born von Stolberg, and (1772-78) consort of Prince Charles Edward.]
- [Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803) is one of numerous real and ideal personages with whom, as he tells us (Life, p. 644), Byron was wont to be compared. Moore perceives and dwells on the resemblance. A passage in Alfieri's autobiography (La Vie de V. A. écrite par Lui-méme, Paris, 1809, p. 17) may have suggested the parallel—
"Voici une esquisse du caractère que je manifestais dans les premières anneés de ma raison naissante. Taciturne et tranquille pour l'ordinaire, mais quelquefois extrêmement pétulant et babillard, presque toujours dans les extrêmes, obstiné et rebelle à la force, fort soumis aux avis qu'on me donnait avec amitié, contenu plutôt par la crainte d'être grondé que par toute autre chose, d'une timidité excessive, et inflexible quand on voulait me prendre à rebours."
The resemblance, as Byron admits, "related merely to our apparent personal dispositions." Both were noble, both were poets, both were "patrician republicans," and both were lovers of pleasure as well as lovers and students of literature; but their works do not provoke comparison. "The quality of 'a narrow elevation' which [Matthew] Arnold finds in Alfieri," is not characteristic of the author of Childe Harold and Don Juan.
Of this stanza, however, Alfieri's fine sonnet to Florence may have been the inspiration. I have Dr. Garnett's permission to cite the following lines of his admirable translation (Italian Literature, 1898, p. 321):—
"Was Angelo born here? and he who wove
Love's charm with sorcery of Tuscan tongue,
Indissolubly blent? and he whose song
Laid bare the world below to world above?
And he who from the lonely valley clove
The azure height and trod the stars among?
And he whose searching mind the monarch's wrong,
Fount of the people's misery did prove?"]
- Might furnish forth a Universe——.—[MS. M.]
And ruin of thy beauty, shall deny
And hath denied, to every other sky
Spirits that soar like thine; from thy decay
Still springs some son of the Divinity
Still springs some work of the Divinity,—[D.].
And gilds thy ruins with reviving ray—
And what these were of yore—Canova is to-day.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare "Lines on the Bust of Helen by Canova," which were sent in a letter to Murray, November 25, 1816—
"In this beloved marble view,
Above the works and thoughts of man,
What nature could, but would not, do,
And Beauty and Canova can."
In Beppo (stanza xlvi.), which was written in October, 1817, there is a further allusion to the genius of Canova.]
- Their great Contemporary——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Dante died at Ravenna, September 14, 1321, and was buried in the Church of S. Francesco. His remains were afterwards transferred to a mausoleum in the friars' cemetery, on the north side of the church, which was raised to his memory by his friend and patron, Guido da Polenta. The mausoleum was restored more than once, and rebuilt in its present form in 1780, at the cost of Cardinal Luigi Valenti Gonzaga. On the occasion of Dante's sexcentenary, in 1865, it was discovered that at some unknown period the skeleton, with the exception of a few small bones which remained in an urn which formed part of Gonzaga's structure, had been placed for safety in a wooden box, and enclosed in a wall of the old Braccioforte Chapel, which lies outside the church towards the Piazza. "The bones found in the wooden box were placed in the mausoleum with great pomp and exultation, the poet being now considered the symbol of a united Italy. The wooden box itself has been removed to the public library."—Handbook for Northern Italy, p. 539, note.
The house which Byron occupied during his first visit to Ravenna—June 8 to August 9, 1819—is close to the Cappella Braccioforte. In January, 1820, when he wrote the Fourth Canto of Don Juan ("I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid," stanza civ.), he was occupying a suite of apartments in the Palazzo Guiccioli, No. 328 in the Via di Porta Adriana. Compare Rogers's Italy, "Bologna," Poems, ii. 118—
"Ravenna! where from Dante's sacred tomb
He had so oft, as many a verse declares,
- [The story is told in Livy, lib. xxxviii. cap. 53. "Thenceforth no more was heard of Africanus. He passed his days at Liternum [on the shore of Campania], without thought or regret of Rome. Folk say that when he came to die he gave orders that he should be buried on the spot, and that there, and not at Rome, a monument should be raised over his sepulchre. His country had been ungrateful—no Roman funeral for him." It is said that his sepulchre bore the inscription: "Ingrata patria, cineres meos non habebis." According to another tradition, he was buried with his family at the Porta Capena, by the Cælian Hill.]
- [Compare Lucan, Pharsalia, i. 1—
"Bella per Emathios plusquam civilia campos."]
- [Petrarch's Africa brought him on the same day (August 23, 1340) offers of the laurel wreath of poetry from the University of Paris and from the Senate of Rome. He chose in favour of Rome, and was crowned on the Capitol, Easter Day, April 8, 1341. "The poet appeared in a royal mantle ... preceded by twelve noble Roman youths clad in scarlet, and the heralds and trumpeters of the Roman Senate."—Petrarch, by Henry Reeve, p. 92.]
- [Tomasini, in the Petrarca Redivivus (pp. 168-172, ed. 1650), assigns the outrage to a party of Venetians who "broke open Petrarch's tomb, in 1630, and took away some of his bones, probably with the object of selling them." Hobhouse, in note ix., says, "that one of the arms was stolen by a Florentine," but does not quote his authority. (See the notes to H. F. Tozer's Childe Harold, p. 302.)]
- [Giovanni Boccaccio was born at Paris (or Certaldo) in 1313, passed the greater part of his life at Florence, died and was buried at Certaldo, whence his family are said to have sprung, in 1375. His sepulchre, which stood in the centre of the Church of St. Michael and St. James, known as the Canonica, was removed in 1783, on the plea that a recent edict forbidding burial in churches applied to ancient interments. "The stone that covered the tomb was broken, and thrown aside as useless into the adjoining cloisters" (Handbook for Central Italy, p. 171). "Ignorance," pleads Hobhouse, "may share the crime with bigotry." But it is improbable that the "hyæna bigots," that is, the ecclesiastical authorities, were ignorant that Boccaccio was a bitter satirist of Churchmen, or that "he transferred the functions and histories of Hebrew prophets and prophetesses, and of Christian saints and apostles, nay, the highest mysteries and most awful objects of Christian Faith, to the names and drapery of Greek and Roman mythology."—(Unpublished MS. note of S. T. Coleridge, written in his copy of Boccaccio's Opere, 4 vols. 1723.) They had their revenge on Boccaccio, and Byron has had his revenge on them.]
Boccaccio to his parent earth bequeathed
The dust derived from thence—doth it not lie
With many a sweet and solemn requiem breathed
O'er him who formed the tongue of Italy
That music in itself whose harmony
Asks for no tune to make it song; No—torn
From earth—and scattered while the silent sky
Hushed its indignant Winds—with quiet scorn
The Hyæna bigots thus forbade a World to mourn.—[D. erased.]
- [Compare Beppo, stanza xliv.—
"I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South."
Compare, too, the first sentence of a letter which Byron wrote "on a blank leaf of the volume of 'Corinne,'" which Teresa [Guiccioli] left in forgetfulness in a garden in Bologna: "Amor Mio,—How sweet is this word in your Italian language!" (Life of Lord Byron, by Emilio Castelar, p. 145).]
- [By "Cæsar's pageant" Byron means the pageant decreed by Tiberius Cæsar. Compare Don Juan, Canto XV. stanza xlix.—
"And this omission, like that of the bust
Of Brutus at the pageant of Tiberius."
At the public funeral of Junia, wife of Cassius and sister of Brutus, A.D. 22, the busts of her husband and brother were not allowed to be carried in the procession, because they had taken part in the assassination of Julius Cæsar. But none the less, "Præfulgebant Brutus et Cassius eo ipso quod effigies eorum non videbantur" (Tacitus, Ann., iii. 76). Their glory was conspicuous in men's minds, because their images were withheld from men's eyes. As Tacitus says elsewhere (iv. 26), "Negatus honor gloriam intendit."]
- Shelter of exiled Empire——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [The inscription on Ricci's monument to Dante, in the Church of Santa Croce—"A majoribus ter frustra decretum"—refers to the vain attempts which Florence had made to recover the remains of her exiled and once-neglected poet.]
- ["I also went to the Medici chapel—fine frippery in great slabs of various expensive stones, to commemorate fifty rotten and forgotten carcasses. It is unfinished, and will remain so" (Letter to Murray, April 26, 1817). The bodies of the grand-dukes lie in the crypt of the Cappella dei Principi, or Medicean Chapel, which forms part of the Church of San Lorenzo. The walls of the chapel are encrusted with rich marbles and "stones of price, to garniture the edifice." The monuments to Giuliano and Lorenzo de' Medici, son and grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent, with Michael Angelo's allegorical figures of Night and Morning, Aurora and Twilight, are in the adjoining Cappella dei Depositi, or Sagrestia Nuova.]
- [The Duomo, crowned with Brunelleschi's cupola, and rich in sculpture and stained glass, is, as it were, a symbol of Florence, the shrine of art. Browning, in his inspired vision of St. Peter's at Rome in Christmas Eve, catches Byron's note to sound a loftier strain—
"Is it really on the earth
This miraculous dome of God?"
"It is somewhere mentioned that Michael Angelo, when he set out from Florence to build the dome of St. Peter's, turned his horse round in the road to contemplate that of the cathedral, as it rose in the grey of the morning from among the pines and cypresses of the city, and that he said, after a pause, 'Come te non voglio! Meglio di te non posso.' He never, indeed, spoke of it but with admiration; and, if we may believe tradition, his tomb, by his own desire, was to be so placed in the Santa Croce as that from it might be seen, when the doors of the church stood open, that noble work of Brunelleschi."—Rogers's Italy: Poems, ii. 315, note to p. 133, line 5—"Beautiful Florence."]
- [Byron, contrary to traditional use (see Wordsworth's sonnet, "Near the Lake of Thrasymene;" and Rogers's Italy, see note, p. 378), sounds the final vowel in Thrasymëné. The Greek, Latin, and Italian equivalents bear him out; but, most probably, he gave Thrasymene and himself an extra syllable "vel metri vel euphoniæ causâ."]
- Where Courage perished in unyielding files.—[MS. M.]
- ["Tantusque fuit ardor armorum, adeo intentus pugnæ animus, ut eum motum terræ, qui multarum urbium Italiæ magnas partes, prostravit, avertitque cursu rapidos amnes, mare fluminibus invexit, montes lapsu ingenti proruit, nemo pugnantium senserit" (Livy, xxii. 5). Polybius says nothing about an earthquake; and Ibne (Hist. of Rome, ii. 207-210) is also silent; but Pliny (Hist. Nat., ii. 84) and Cœlius Antipater (ap. Cic, De Div., i. 35), who wrote his Annales about a century after the battle of Lake Thrasymenus (B.C. 217), synchronize the earthquake and the battle. Compare, too, Rogers's Italy., "The Pilgrim:" Poems, 1852, ii. 152—
"From the Thrasymene, that now
Slept in the sun, a lake of molten gold,
And from the shore that once, when armies met,
Rocked to and fro unfelt, so terrible
The rage, the slaughter, I had turned away."
Compare, too, Wordsworth's sonnet (No. xii.), "Near the Lake of Thrasymene" (Works, 1888, p. 756)—
"When here with Carthage Rome to conflict came,
An earthquake, mingling with the battle's shock,
Checked not its rage; unfelt the ground did rock,
Sword dropped not, javelin kept its deadly aim,—
Now all is sun-bright peace."]
Fly to the clouds for refuge and withdraw
From their unsteady nests——.—[MS. M.]
- Made fat the earth——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- No book of travels has omitted to expatiate on the temple of the Clitumnus, between Foligno and Spoleto; and no site, or scenery, even in Italy, is more worthy a description. For an account of the dilapidation of this temple, the reader is referred to Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, p. 35.
- [Compare Virgil, Georg., ii. 146—
"Hinc albi, Clitumne, greges et maxuma taurus
Victima, sæpe tuo perfusi flumine sacro."
The waters of certain rivers were supposed to possess the quality of making the cattle which drank from them white. (See Pliny, Hist. Nat., ii. 103; and compare Silius Italicus, Pun., iv. 545, 546—
"... et patulis Clitumnus in arvis
Candentes gelido perfundit flumine tauros.")
For a charming description of Clitumnus, see Pliny's letter "Romano Suo," Epist., viii. 8: "At the foot of a little hill covered with old and shady cypress trees, gushes out a spring, which bursts out into a number of streamlets, all of different sizes. Having struggled, so to speak, out of its confinement, it opens out into a broad basin, so clear and transparent, that you may count the pebbles and little pieces of money which are thrown into it.... The banks are clothed with an abundance of ash and poplar, which are so distinctly reflected in the clear water that they seem to be growing at the bottom of the river, and can easily be counted.... Near it stands an ancient and venerable temple, in which is a statue of the river-god Clitumnus."—Pliny's Letters, by the Rev. A. Church and the Rev. W. J. Brodribb, 1872, p. 127.]
- [The existing temple, now used as a chapel (St. Salvatore), can hardly be Pliny's templum priscum. Hobhouse, in his Historical Illustrations., pp. 37-41, defends the antiquity of the "façade, which consists of a pediment supported by four columns and two Corinthian piers, two of the columns with spiral fluting, the others covered with fish-scaled carvings" (Handbook for Central Italy, p. 289); but in the opinion of modern archæologists the whole of the structure belongs to the fourth or fifth century of the Christian era. It is, of course, possible, indeed probable, that ancient materials were used when the building was reconstructed. Pliny says the "numerous chapels" dedicated to other deities were scattered round the shrine of Clitumnus.]
- Upon a green declivity——.—[MS. M.]
- ["On my way back [from Rome], close to the temple by its banks, I got some famous trout out of the river Clitumnus, the prettiest little stream in all poesy."—Letter to Murray, June 4, 1817.]
- There is a course where Lovers' evening tales.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [By "disgust," a prosaic word which seems to mar a fine stanza, Byron does not mean "distaste," aversion from the nauseous, but "tastelessness," the inability to enjoy taste. Compare the French "Avoir du dégout pour la vie," "To be out of conceit with life." Byron was "a lover of Nature," but it was seldom that he felt her "healing power," or was able to lose himself in his surroundings. But now, for the moment, he experiences that sudden uplifting of the spirit in the presence of natural beauty which brings back "the splendour in the grass, the glory in the flower!"]
- Making it as an emerald——.—[D.]
- Leaps on from rock to rock—with mighty bound.—[MS. M.]
- I saw the Cascata del Marmore of Terni twice, at different periods—once from the summit of the precipice, and again from the valley below. The lower view is far to be preferred, if the traveller has time for one only; but in any point of view, either from above or below, it is worth all the cascades and torrents of Switzerland put together: the Staubach, Reichenbach, Pisse Vache, fall of Arpenaz, etc., are rills in comparative appearance. Of the fall of Schaffhausen I cannot speak, not yet having seen it.
[The Falls of Reichenbach are at Rosenlaui, between Grindelwald and Meiringen; the Salanfe or Pisse-Vache descends into the valley of the Rhone near Martigny; the Nant d'Arpenaz falls into the Arve near Magland, on the road between Cluses and Sallanches.]
- Of the time, place, and qualities of this kind of iris, the reader will see a short account, in a note to Manfred,[a] The fall looks so much like "the Hell of waters," that Addison thought the descent alluded to by the gulf in which Alecto[b] plunged into the infernal regions. It is singular enough, that two of the finest cascades in Europe should be artificial—this of the Velino, and the one at Tivoli. The traveller is strongly recommended to trace the Velino, at least as high as the little lake called Pie' di Lup. The Reatine territory was the Italian Tempe (Cicer., Epist. ad Attic., lib. iv. 15), and the ancient naturalists ["In lacu Velino nullo non die apparere arcus"] (Plin., Hist. Nat., lib. ii. cap. lxii.), amongst other beautiful varieties, remarked the daily rainbows of the lake Velinus. A scholar of great name has devoted a treatise to this district alone. See Ald. Manut., De Reatina Urbe Agroque, ap. Sallengre, Nov. Thes. Ant. Rom., 1735, tom. i. p. 773, sq.
[The "Falls of the Anio," which passed over a wall built by Sixtus V., and plunged into the Grotto of Neptune, were greatly diminished in volume after an inundation which took place in 1826. The New Falls were formed in 1834.]
^ a. Manfred, act ii. sc. 1, note. This Iris is formed by the rays of the sun on the lower part of the Alpine torrents; it is exactly like a rainbow come down to pay a visit, and so close that you may walk into it: this effect lasts till noon.
^ b. "This is the gulf through which Virgil's Alecto shoots herself into hell; for the very place, the great reputation of it, the fall of waters, the woods that encompass it, with the smoke and noise that arise from it, are all pointed at in the description ...
"'Est locus Italiæ ...
... densis hunc frondibus atrum
Urguet utrimque latus nemoris, medioque fragosus
Dat sonitum saxis et torto vertice torrens.
Hic specus horrendum et sævi spiracula Ditis
Monstrantur, ruptoque ingens Acheronte vorago
Pestiferas aperit fauces.'
It was indeed the most proper place in the world for a Fury to make her exit ... and I believe every reader's imagination is pleased when he sees the angry Goddess thus sinking, as it were, in a tempest, and plunging herself into Hell, amidst such a scene of horror and confusion."—Remarks on several Parts of Italy, by Joseph Addison, Esq., 1761, pp. 100, 101.
- Dares not ascend the summit——
or, Clothes a more rocky summit——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- In the greater part of Switzerland, the avalanches are known by the name of lauwine.
[Byron is again at fault with his German. "Lawine" (see Schiller, Wilhelm Tell., act iii. sc. 3) signifies an avalanche, not avalanches. In stanza xii. line 7 a similar mistake occurs. It may seem strange that, for the sake of local colouring, or for metrical purposes, he should substitute a foreign equivalent which required a note, for a fine word already in vogue. But in 1817 "avalanche" itself had not long been naturalized. Fifty years before, the Italian valanca and valanche had found their way into books of travel, but "avalanche" appears first (see N. Eng. Dict., art. "Avalanche") in 1789, in Coxe's Trav. Switz., xxxviii. ii. 3, and in poetry, perhaps, in Wordsworth's Descriptive Sketches, which were written in 1791-2. Like "cañon" and "veldt" in our own day, it might be regarded as on probation. But the fittest has survived, and Byron's unlovely and misbegotten "lauwine" has died a natural death.]
- But I have seen the virgin Jungfrau rear.—[D.]
- These stanzas may probably remind the reader of Ensign Northerton's remarks, "D—n Homo," etc.;[a] but the reasons for our dislike are not exactly the same. I wish to express, that we become tired of the task before we can comprehend the beauty; that we learn by rote before we can get by heart; that the freshness is worn away, and the future pleasure and advantage deadened and destroyed, by the didactic anticipation, at an age when we can neither feel nor understand the power of compositions which it requires an acquaintance with life, as well as Latin and Greek, to relish, or to reason upon. For the same reason, we never can be aware of the fulness of some of the finest passages of Shakspeare ("To be or not to be," for instance), from the habit of having them hammered into us at eight years old, as an exercise, not of mind, but of memory: so that when we are old enough to enjoy them, the taste is gone, and the appetite palled. In some parts of the continent, young persons are taught from more common authors, and do not read the best classics till their maturity. I certainly do not speak on this point from any pique or aversion towards the place of my education. I was not a slow, though an idle boy; and I believe no one could, or can be, more attached to Harrow than I have always been, and with reason;—a part of the time passed there was the happiest of my life; and my preceptor, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Drury, was the best and worthiest friend I ever possessed, whose warnings I have remembered but too well, though too late when I have erred,—and whose counsels I have but followed when I have done well or wisely. If ever this imperfect record of my feelings towards him should reach his eyes, let it remind him of one who never thinks of him but with gratitude and veneration—of one who would more gladly boast of having been his pupil, if, by more closely following his injunctions, he could reflect any honour upon his instructor.
^ a. ["'Don't pretend to more ignorance than you have, Mr. Northerton; I suppose you have heard of the Greeks and Trojans, though, perhaps, you have never read Pope's Homer.' —'D—n Homer with all my heart,' says Northerton: 'I have the marks of him ... yet. There's Thomas of our regiment always carries a Homo in his pocket.'"—The History of Tom Jones, by H. Fielding, vii. 12.]
- [The construction is somewhat involved, but the meaning is obvious. As a schoolboy, the Horatian Muse could not tempt him to take the trouble to construe Horace; and, even now, Soracte brings back unwelcome memories of "confinement's lingering hour," say, "3 quarters of an hour past 3 o'clock in the afternoon, 3rd school" (see Life, p. 28). Moore says that the "interlined translations" on Byron's school-books are a proof of the narrow extent of his classical attainments." He must soon have made up for lost time, and "conquered for the poet's sake," as numerous poetical translations from the classics, including the episode of Nisus and Euryalus, evidently a labour of love, testify. Nor, too, does the trouble he took and the pride he felt in Hints from Horace correspond with this profession of invincible distaste.]
- My mind to analyse——.—[MS. M.]
- Yet such the inveterate impression——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- ——but what it then abhorred must still abhor.—[MS. M.]
- ——in her tearless woe.—[MS. M.]
- [The tomb of the Scipios, by the Porta Latina, was discovered by the brothers Sassi, in May, 1780. It consists of "several chambers excavated in the tufa." One of the larger chambers contained the famous sarcophagus of L. Scipio Barbatus, the great-grandfather of Scipio Africanus, which is now in the Vatican in the Atrio Quadrato. When the sarcophagus was opened, in 1780, the skeleton was found to be entire. The bones were collected and removed by Angelo Quirini to his villa at Padua. The chambers contained numerous inscriptions, which were detached and removed to the Vatican. Hobhouse (Hist. Illust., pp. 169-171) is at pains to point out that the discovery of 1780 confirmed the authenticity of an inscription to Lucius, son of Barbatus Scipio, which had been brought to light in 1615, and rejected by the Roman antiquaries as a forgery. He prints two of the inscriptions (Handbook for Rome, pp. 278, 350, 351, ed. 1899).]
- [The sepulchres were rifled, says Hobhouse (ibid., p. 173), "either to procure the necessary relics for churches dedicated to Christian saints or martyrs, or" (a likelier hypothesis) "with the expectation of finding the ornaments ... buried with the dead. The sarcophagi were sometimes transported from their site and emptied for the reception of purer ashes." He instances those of Innocent II. and Clement XII., "which were certainly constructed for heathen tenants."]
- [The reference is to the historical inundations of the Tiber, of which a hundred and thirty-two have been recorded from the foundation of the city down to December, 1870, when the river rose to fifty-six feet—thirty feet above its normal level.]
- [The Goths besieged and sacked Rome under Alaric, A.D. 410, and Totila, 546. Other barbarian invaders—Genseric, a Vandal, 455; Ricimer, a Sueve, 472; Vitiges, a Dalmatian, 537; Arnulph, a Lombard, 756—may come under the head of "Goth." "The Christian," "from motives of fanaticism"—Theodosius, for instance, in 426; and Stilicho, who burned the Sibylline books—despoiled, mutilated, and pulled down temples. Subsequently, popes, too numerous to mention, laid violent hands on the temples for purposes of repair, construction, and ornamentation of Christian churches. More than once ancient structures were converted into cannon-balls. There were, too, Christian invaders and sackers of Rome: Robert Guiscard (Hofmann calls him Wiscardus), in 1004; Frederic Barbarossa, in 1167; the Connétable de Bourbon, in 1527, may be instanced. "Time and War" speak for themselves. For "Flood," vide supra. As for "Fire," during the years 1082-84 the Emperor Henry IV. burnt "a great part of the Leonine city;" and Guiscard "burnt the town from the Flaminian gate to the Antonine column, and laid waste the Esquiline to the Lateran; thence he set fire to the region from that church to the Coliseum and the Capitol." Of earthquakes Byron says nothing; but there were earthquakes, e.g. in 422 and 1349. Another foe, a destroying angel who "wasteth at noonday," modern improvement, had not yet opened a seventh seal. (See Historical Illustrations, pp. 91-168.)]
- She saw her glories one by one expire.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, "Prophecy of Capys," stanza xxx.—
"Blest and thrice blest the Roman
Who sees Rome's brightest day,
Who sees that long victorious pomp
Wind down the Sacred Way,
And through the bellowing Forum,
And round the Suppliant's Grove,
Up to the everlasting gates
Of Capitolian Jove."]
- The double night of Ruin——.—[MS. M.]
- [The construction is harsh and puzzling. Apparently the subject of "hath wrapt" is the "double night of ages;" the subjects of "wrap," the "night of ages" and the "night of Ignorance;" but, even so, the sentence is ambiguous. Not less amazing is the confusion of metaphors. Rome is a "desert," through which we steer, mounted, presumably, on a camel—the "ship of the desert." Mistaken associations are, as it were, stumbling-blocks; and no sooner have we verified an association, discovered a ruined temple in the exact site which Livy's "pictured page" has assigned to it—a discovery as welcome to the antiquarian as water to the thirsty traveller—than our theory is upset, and we perceive that we have been deluded by a mirage.]
- Orosius gives 320 for the number of triumphs [i.e. from Romulus to the double triumph of Vespasian and Titus (Hist., vii. 9)]. He is followed by Panvinius; and Panvinius by Mr. Gibbon and the modern writers.
Alas, for Tully's voice, and Titus' sway
And Virgil's verse; the first and last must be
Her Resurrection——.—[MS. M.]
- Certainly, were it not for these two traits in the life of Sylla, alluded to in this stanza, we should regard him as a monster unredeemed by any admirable quality. The atonement of his voluntary resignation of empire may perhaps be accepted by us, as it seems to have satisfied the Romans, who if they had not respected must have destroyed him. There could be no mean, no division of opinion; they must have all thought, like Eucrates, that what had appeared ambition was a love of glory, and that what had been mistaken for pride was a real grandeur of soul.—("Seigneur, vous changez toutes mes idées, de la façon dont je vous vois agir. Je croyois que vous aviez de l'ambition, mais aucun amour pour la gloire; je voyois bien que votre âme étoit haute; mais je ne soupçonnois pas qu'elle fút grande."—Dialogue de Sylla et d'Eucrate.) Considérations ... de la Grandeur des Romains, etc., Paris, 1795, ii. 219. By Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. [Stanza lxxxiii. indicates the following events in the life of Sulla. In B.C. 81 he assumed the name of Felix (or, according to Plutarch, Epaphroditus, Plut., Vitæ, 1812, iv. 287), (line 1). Five years before this, B.C. 86, during the consulship of Marius and Cinna, his party had been overthrown, and his regulations annulled; but he declined to return to Italy until he had brought the war against Mithridates to a successful conclusion, B.C. 83 (lines 3-6). In B.C. 81 he was appointed dictator (line 7), and B.C. 79 he resigned his dictatorship and retired into private life (line 9).]
Into such dust deserted Rome should fade,
or, In self-woven sackcloth Rome should thus be laid.—[MS. M. erased.]
The Earth beneath her shadow and displayed
Her wings as with the horizon and was hailed,
or, The rushings of his wings and was Almighty hailed.—[MS. M. erased.]
Sylla supreme of Victors—save our own
The ablest of Usurpers—Cromwell—he
Who swept off Senates—while he hewed the Throne
Down to a block—immortal Villain! See
What crimes, etc.—[MS. M.]
- On the 3rd of September Cromwell gained the victory of Dunbar ; a year afterwards he obtained "his crowning mercy" of Worcester ; and a few years after , on the same day, which he had ever esteemed the most fortunate for him, died.
- [The statue of Pompey in the Sala dell' Udinanza of the Palazzo Spada is no doubt a portrait, and belongs to the close of the Republican period. It cannot, however, with any certainty be identified with the statue in the Curia, at whose base "great Cæsar fell." (See Antike Bildwerke in Rom., F. Matz, F. von Duhn, i. 309.)]
- [The bronze "Wolf of the Capitol" in the Palace of the Conservators is unquestionably ancient, belonging to the end of the sixth or beginning of the fifth century B.C., and probably of Græco-Italian workmanship. The twins, as Winckelmann pointed out (see Hobhouse's note), are modern, and were added under the impression that this was the actual bronze described by Cicero, Cat., iii. 8, and Virgil, Æn., viii. 631. (See Monuments de l' Art Antique, par Olivier Rayet, Paris, 1884, Livraison 11, Planche 7.)]
- [The Roman "things" whom the world feared, set the fashion of shedding their blood in the pursuit of glory. The nations, of modern Europe, "bastard" Romans, have followed their example.]
- [Compare The Age of Bronze, v.—
"The king of kings, and yet of slaves the slave."]
- [In Comparison of the Present State of France with that of Rome, etc., published in the Morning Post, September 21, 1802, Coleridge speaks of Buonaparte as the "new Cæsar," but qualifies the expression in a note: "But if reserve, if darkness, if the employment of spies and informers, if an indifference to all religions, except as instruments of state policy, with a certain strange and dark superstition respecting fate, a blind confidence in his destinies,—if these be any part of the Chief Consul's character, they would force upon us, even against our will, the name and history of Tiberius."—Essays on His Own Times, ii. 481.]
- [According to Suetonius, i. 37, the famous words, Veni, Vidi, Vici, were blazoned on litters in the triumphal procession which celebrated Cæsar's victory over Pharnaces II., after the battle of Zela (B.C. 47).]
- [By "flee" in the "Gallic van," Byron means "fly towards, not away from, the foe." He was, perhaps, thinking of the Biblical phrases, "flee like a bird" (Ps. xi. 1), and "flee upon horses" (Isa. xxx. 16); but he was not careful to "tame down" words to his own use and purpose.]
- Of pettier passions which raged angrily.—[MS. M. erased.]
- At what? can he reply? his lusting is unnamed.—[MS. M. erased.]
- ——How oft—how long, oh God!—[MS. M. erased.]
- —— "Omnes pœne veteres; qui nihil cognosci, nihil percipi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt; angustos sensus, imbecillos animos, brevia curricula vitæ, et (ut Democritus) in profundo veritatem esse demersam; opinionibus et institutis omnia teneri; nihil veritati relinqui: deinceps omnia tenebris circumfusa esse dixerunt."—Academ., lib. I. cap. 12. The eighteen hundred years which have elapsed since Cicero wrote this, have not removed any of the imperfections of humanity: and the complaints of the ancient philosophers may, without injustice or affectation, be transcribed in a poem written yesterday.
- [Compare Gray's Elegy, stanza xv.—
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear."]
- And this they sleep in some dull certainty.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Compare As You Like It, act ii. sc. 7, lines 26-28—
"And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale."]
- For such existence is as much to die.—[MS. M. erased.]
or, Bequeathing their trampled natures till they die.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [In his speech On the Continuance of the War with France, which Pitt delivered in the House of Commons, February 17, 1800, he described Napoleon as "the child and champion of Jacobinism." At least the phrase occurs in the report which Coleridge prepared for the Morning Post of February 18, 1800, and it appears in the later edition in the Collection of Pitt's speeches. "It does not occur in the speech as reported by the Times." It is curious that in the jottings which Coleridge, Parliamentary reporter pro hac vice, scrawled in pencil in his note-book, the phrase appears as "the nursling and champion of Jacobinism;" and it is possible that the alternative of the more rhetorical but less forcible "child" was the poet's handiwork. It became a current phrase, and Coleridge more than once reverts to it in the articles which he contributed to the Morning Post in 1802. (See Essays on His Own Times, ii. 293, and iii. 1009-1019; and Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1895, i. 327, note.)]
- Deep in the lone Savannah——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Too long hath Earth been drunk with blood and crime.—[MS. M. erased.]
Her span of freedom hath but fatal been
To that of any coming age or clime.—[MS. M.]
- [By the "base pageant" Byron refers to the Congress of Vienna (September, 1815); the "Holy Alliance" (September 26), into which the Duke of Wellington would not enter; and the Second Treaty of Paris, November 20, 1815.]
- [Compare Shelley's Hellas: Poems, 1895, ii. 358—
"O Slavery! thou frost of the world's prime,
Killing its flowers, and leaving its thorns bare!"]
- [Shelley chose the first two lines of this stanza as the motto for his Ode to Liberty.]
- Alluding to the tomb of Cecilia Metella, called Capo di Bove. [Four words, and two initials, compose the whole of the transcription which, whatever was its ancient position, is now placed in front of this towering sepulchre: Cæciliæ. Q. Cretici. F. Metellæ. Crassi."
"The Savelli family were in possession of the fortress in 1312, and the German army of Henry VII. marched from Rome, attacked, took, and burnt it, but were unable to make themselves, by force, masters of the citadel—that is, the tomb." The "fence of stone" refers to the quadrangular basement of concrete, on which the circular tower rests. The tower was originally coated with marble, which was stripped off for the purpose of making lime. The work of destruction is said to have been carried out during the interval between Poggio's (see his De Fort. Var., ap. Sall., Nov. Thes. Ant. Rom., 1735, i. 501, sq.) first and second visits to Rome. (See Hobhouse's Hist. Illust., pp. 202, 203; Handbook for Rome, p. 360.)]
- So massily begirt—what lay?——.—[MS. M.]
- Love from her duties—still a conqueress in the war.—[MS. M. erased.]
Ὅν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνήσκει νέος·
Τὸ γὰρ θανεῖν οὐχ αἰσχρὸν, ἀλλ' αἰσχρῶς θανεῖν.
Gnomici Poetæ Græci, R. F. P. Brunck, 1784, p. 231.
- ["It is more likely to have been the pride than the love of Crassus which raised so superb a memorial to a wife whose name is not mentioned in history, unless she be supposed to be that lady whose intimacy with Dolabella was so offensive to Tullia, the daughter of Cicero, or she who was divorced by Lentulus Spinther, or she, perhaps the same person, from whose ear the son of Æsopus transferred a precious jewel to enrich his daughter (vide Hor., Sat., ii. 3. 239)" (Hist. Illust., p. 200). The wealth of Crassus was proverbial, as his agnomen, Dives, testifies (Plut., Crassus, ii., iii., Lipsiæ, 1813, v. 156, sq.).]
- Till I had called forth even from the mind.—[MS. M. erased.]
——with heated mind.—[MS. M.]
- I have no home——.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare Rogers's Italy: "Rome" (Poems, 1852), ii. 169—
"Or climb the Palatine,
Long while the seat of Rome, hereafter found
Less than enough (so monstrous was the brood
Engendered there, so Titan-like) to lodge
One in his madness; and inscribe my name—
My name and date, on some broad aloe-leaf
That shoots and spreads within those very walls
Where Virgil read aloud his tale divine,
When his voice faltered and a mother wept
Tears of delight!"[a]
And compare Shelley's Poetical Works, 1895, iii. 276—
"Rome has fallen; ye see it lying
Heaped in undistinguished ruin:
Nature is alone undying."]
^ a. [At the words Tu Marcellus eris, etc. (vide Tib. Cl. Donatus, Life of Virgil (Virg., Opera), Leeuwarden, 1627, vol. i.).]
- ——wherein have creeped
The Reptiles which——
or, Scorpion and blindworm——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The Palatine is one mass of ruins, particularly on the side towards the Circus Maximus. The very soil is formed of crumbled brickwork. Nothing has been told—nothing can be told—to satisfy the belief of any but the Roman antiquary. [The Palatine was the site of the successive "Domus" of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula, and of the Domus Transitoria of Nero, which perished when Rome was burnt. Later emperors—Vespasian, Domitian, Septimius Severus—added to the splendour of the name-giving Palatine. "The troops of Genseric," says Hobhouse (Hist. Illust., p. 206), "occupied the Palatine, and despoiled it of all its riches ... and when it again rises, it rises in ruins." Systematic excavations during the last fifty years have laid bare much that was hidden, and "learning and research" have in parts revealed the "obliterated plan;" but, in 1817, the "shapeless mass of ruins" defied the guesses of antiquarians. "Your walks in the Palatine ruins ... will be undisturbed, unless you startle a fox in breaking through the brambles in the corridors, or burst unawares through the hole of some shivered fragments into one of the half-buried chambers, which the peasants have blocked up to serve as stalls for their jackasses, or as huts for those who watch the gardens" (Hist. Illust., p. 212).]
- The author of the Life of Cicero, speaking of the opinion entertained of Britain by that orator and his contemporary Romans, has the following eloquent passage:—"From their railleries of this kind, on the barbarity and misery of our island, one cannot help reflecting on the surprising fate and revolutions of kingdoms; how Rome, once the mistress of the world, the seat of arts, empire, and glory, now lies sunk in sloth, ignorance, and poverty; enslaved to the most cruel as well as to the most contemptible of tyrants, superstition and religious imposture; while this remote country, anciently the jest and contempt of the polite Romans, is become the happy seat of liberty, plenty, and letters; flourishing in all the arts and refinements of civil life; yet running, perhaps, the same course which Rome itself had run before it, from virtuous industry to wealth; from wealth to luxury; from luxury to an impatience of discipline and corruption of morals: till, by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it fall a prey at last to some hardy oppressor, and, with the loss of liberty, losing everything that is valuable, sinks gradually again into its original barbarism." (See Life of M. Tullius Cicero, by Conyers Middleton, D.D., 1823, sect. vi. vol. i. pp. 399, 400.)
- Oh, ho, ho, ho—thou creature of a Man.—[MS. M. erased.]
And show of Glory's gewgaws in the van
And the Sun's rays with flames more dazzling filled.—[MS. M.]
- [The "golden roofs" were those of Nero's Domus Aurea, which extended from the north-west corner of the Palatine to the Gardens of Mæcenas, on the Esquiline, spreading over the sites of the Temple of Vesta and Rome on the platform of the Velia, the Colosseum, and the Thermæ of Titus, as far as the Sette Sale. "In the fore court was the colossal statue of Nero. The pillars of the colonnade, which measured a thousand feet in length, stood three deep. All that was not lake, or wood, or vineyard, or pasture, was overlaid with plates of gold, picked out with gems and mother-of-pearl" (Suetonius, vi. 31; Tacitus, Ann., xv. 42). Substructions of the Domus Aurea have been discovered on the site of the Baths of Titus and elsewhere, but not on the Palatine itself. Martial, Epig. 695 (Lib. Spect., ii.), celebrates Vespasian's restitution of the Domus Aurea and its "policies" to the people of Rome.
"Hic ubi sidereus propius videt astra colossus
Et crescunt media pegmata celsa via,
Invidiosa feri radiabant atria regis
Unaque jam tota stabat in urbe domus."
"Here where the Sun-god greets the Morning Star,
And tow'ring scaffolds block the public way,
Fell Nero's loathed pavilion flashed afar,
Erect and splendid 'mid the town's decay."]
- [By the "nameless" column Byron means the column of Phocas, in the Forum. But, as he may have known, it had ceased to be nameless when he visited Rome in 1817. During some excavations which were carried out under the auspices of the Duchess of Devonshire, in 1813, the soil which concealed the base was removed, and an inscription, which attributes the erection of the column to the Exarch Smaragdus, in honour of the Emperor Phocas, A.D. 608, was brought to light. The column was originally surmounted by a gilded statue, but it is probable that both column and statue were stolen from earlier structures and rededicated to Phocas. Hobhouse (Hist. Illust., pp. 240-242) records the discovery, and prints the inscription in extenso.]
- ——all he doth deface.—[MS. M.]
- The column of Trajan is surmounted by St. Peter; that of Aurelius by St. Paul. (See Hist. Illust., p. 214.)
[The column was excavated by Paul III. in the sixteenth century. In 1588 Sixtus V. replaced the bronze statue of Trajan holding a gilded globe, which had originally surmounted the column, by a statue of St. Peter, in gilt bronze. The legend was that Trajan's ashes were contained in the globe. They are said to have been deposited by Hadrian in a golden urn in a vault under the column. It is certain that when Sixtus V. opened the chamber he found it empty. A medal was cast in honour of the erection of the new statue, inscribed with the words of the Magnificat, "Exaltavit humiles."]
- Trajan was proverbially the best of the Roman princes; and it would be easier to find a sovereign uniting exactly the opposite characteristics, than one possessed of all the happy qualities ascribed to this emperor. "When he mounted the throne," says the historian Dion, "he was strong in body, he was vigorous in mind; age had impaired none of his faculties; he was altogether free from envy and from detraction; he honoured all the good, and he advanced them: and on this account they could not be the objects of his fear, or of his hate; he never listened to informers; he gave not way to his anger; he abstained equally from unfair exactions and unjust punishments; he had rather be loved as a man than honoured as a sovereign; he was affable with his people, respectful to the senate, and universally beloved by both; he inspired none with dread but the enemies of his country." (See Eutrop., Hist. Rom. Brev., lib. viii. cap. v.; Dion, Hist. Rom., lib. lxiii. caps, vi., vii.)
[M. Ulpius Trajanus (A.D. 52-117) celebrated a triumph over the Dacians in 103 and 106. It is supposed that the column which stands at the north end of the Forum Trajanum commemorated the Dacian victories. In 115-16 he conquered the Parthians, and added the province of Armenia Minor to the empire. It was not, however, an absolute or a final victory. The little desert stronghold of Atræ, or Hatra, in Mesopotamia, remained uncaptured; and, instead of incorporating the Parthians in the empire, he thought it wiser to leave them to be governed by a native prince under the suzerainty of Rome. His conquests were surrendered by Hadrian, and henceforth the tide of victory began to ebb. He died on his way back to Rome, at Selinus, in Cilicia, in August, 117.
Trajan's "moderation was known unto all men." Pliny, in his Panegyricus (xxii.), describes his first entry into Rome. He might have assumed the state of a monarch or popular hero, but he walked afoot, conspicuous, pre-eminent, a head and shoulders above the crowd—a triumphal entry; but it was imperial arrogance, not civil liberty, over which he triumphed. "You were our king," he says, "and we your subjects; but we obeyed you as the embodiment of our laws." Martial (Epig., x. 72) hails him not as a tyrant, but an emperor—yea, more than an emperor—as the most righteous of lawgivers and senators, who had brought back plain Truth to the light of day; and Claudian (viii. 318) maintains that his glory will live, not because the Parthians had been annexed, but because he was "mitis patriæ." The divine honours which he caused to be paid to his adopted father, Nerva, he refused for himself. "For just reasons," says Pliny, "did the Senate and people of Rome assign thee the name and title of Optimus." Another honour awaited him: "Il est seul Empereur," writes M. De La Berge, "dont les restes aient reposé dans l'enceinte de la ville Eternelle." (See Pliny's Panegyricus, passim; and Essai sur le règne de Trajan, Bibliothèque de L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1877.)]
- [The archæologists of Byron's day were unable to fix the exact site of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline. "On which side," asks Hobhouse (Hist. Illust., p. 224), "stood the citadel, on what the great temple of the Capitol; and did the temple stand in the citadel?" Excavations which were carried on in 1876-7 by Professors Jordan and Lanciani enabled them to identify with "tolerable certainty" the site of the central temple and its adjacent wings, with the site of the Palazzo Caffarelli and its dependencies which occupy the south-east section of the Mons Capitolinus. There are still, however, rival Tarpeian Rocks—one (in the Vicolo della Rupe Tarpea) on the western edge of the hill facing the Tiber, and the other (near the Casa Tarpea) on the south-east towards the Palatine. But if Dionysius, who describes the "Traitor's Leap" as being in sight of the Forum, is to be credited, the "actual precipice" from which traitors (and other criminals, e.g. "bearers of false witness") were thrown must have been somewhere on the southern and now less precipitous escarpment of the mount.]
- The State Leucadia——.—[MS. M. erased].
- [M. Manlius, who saved the Capitol from the Gauls in B.C. 390, was afterwards (B.C. 384) arraigned on a charge of high treason by the patricians, condemned, and by order of the tribunes thrown down the Tarpeian Rock. Livy (vi. 20) credits him with a "fœda cupiditas regni"—a "depraved ambition for assuming the kingly power."]
There first did Tully's burning accents glow?
Yes—eloqnently still—the echoes tell me so.—[D.]
- [Compare Gray's Odes, "The Progress of Poesy," iii. 3, line 4—
"Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."]
- [Nicolas Gabrino di' Rienzo, or Rienzi, commonly called Cola di' Rienzi, was born in 1313. The son of a Roman innkeeper, he owed his name and fame to his own talents and natural gifts. His mission, or, perhaps, ambition, was to free Rome from the tyranny and oppression of the great nobles, and to establish once more "the good estate," that is, a republic. This for a brief period Rienzi accomplished. On May 20, 1347, he was proclaimed tribune and liberator of the Holy Roman Republic "by the authority of the most merciful Lord Jesus Christ." Of great parts, and inspired by lofty aims, he was a poor creature at heart—a "bastard" Napoleon—and success seems to have turned his head. After eight months of royal splendour, purchased by more than royal exactions, the tide of popular feeling turned against him, and he was forced to take refuge in the Castle of St. Angelo (December 15, 1347). Years of wandering and captivity followed his first tribunate; but at length, in 1354, he was permitted to return to Rome, and, once again, after a rapid and successful reduction of the neighbouring states, he became the chief power in the state. But an act of violence, accompanied by treachery, and, above all, the necessity of imposing heavier taxes than the city could bear, roused popular discontent; and during a revolt (October 8, 1354), after a dastardly attempt to escape and conceal himself, he was recognized by the crowd and stabbed to death.
Petrarch first made his acquaintance in 1340, when he was summoned to Rome to be crowned as poet laureate. Afterwards, when Rienzi was imprisoned at Avignon, Petrarch interceded on his behalf with the pope, but, for a time, in vain. He believed in and shared his enthusiasms; and it is probable that the famous Canzone, "Spirto gentil, che quelle membra reggi," was addressed to the Last of the Tribunes.
Rienzi's story forms the subject of a tragedy by Gustave Drouineau, which was played at the Odéon, January 28, 1826; of Bulwer Lytton's novel The Last of the Tribunes, which was published in 1835; and of an opera (1842) by Richard Wagner.
(See Encyc. Met., art. "Rome," by Professor Villari; La Rousse, G. Dict. Univ., art. "Rienzi;" and a curious pamphlet by G. W. Meadley, London, 1821, entitled Two Pairs of Historical Portraits, in which an attempt is made to trace a minute resemblance between the characters and careers of Rienzi and the First Napoleon.)]
- [The word "nympholepsy" may be paraphrased as "ecstatic vision." The Greeks feigned that one who had seen a nymph was henceforth possessed by her image, and beside himself with longing for an impossible ideal. Compare stanza cxxii. line 7—
"The unreached Paradise of our despair."
Compare, too, Kubla Khan, lines 52, 53—
"For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."]
- The lovely madness of some fond despair.—[MS. M.]
- [Byron is describing the so-called Grotto of Egeria, which is situated a little to the left of the Via Appia, about two miles to the south-east of the Porta di Sebastiano: "Here, beside the Almo rivulet [now the Maranna d. Caffarella], is a ruined nymphæum ... which was called the 'Grotto of Egeria,' till ... the discovery of the true site of the Porta Capena fixed that of the grotto within the walls.... It is now known that this nymphæum ... belonged to the suburban villa called Triopio of Herodes Atticus." The actual site of Egeria's fountain is in the grounds of the Villa Mattei, to the south-east of the Cælian, and near the Porta Metronia. "It was buried, in 1867, by the military engineers, while building their new hospital near S. Stefano Rotondo" (Prof. Lanciani).
In lines 5-9 Byron is recalling Juvenal's description of the valley of Egeria, under the mistaken impression that here, and not by "dripping Capena," was the trysting-place of Numa and the goddess. Juvenal has accompanied the seer Umbritius, who was leaving Rome for Capua, as far as the Porta Capena; and while the one waggon, with its slender store of goods, is being loaded, the friends take a stroll—
"In vallem Egeriæ descendimus et speluncas
Dissimiles veris. Quanto præstantius esset
Numen aquæ, viridi si margine clauderet undas
Herba, nec ingenuum violarent marmora tophum?"
Sat. I. iii. 17-20.
The grove and shrine of the sacred fountain, which had been let to the Jews (lines 13-16), are not to be confounded with the "artificial caverns" near Herod's Nymphæum, which Juvenal thought were in bad taste, and Byron rejoiced to find reclaimed and reclothed by Nature.]
- [Compare Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, act iv. (Poetical Works, 1893, ii. 97)—
"As a violet's gentle eye
Gazes on the azure sky
Until its hue grows like what it beholds."]
- [Compare Kubla Khan, lines 12, 13—
"But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!"]
- [Compare Hamlet, act ii. sc, 2, line 292—
"This most excellent canopy the Air."]
Fed the quick throbbing of a human heart
And the sweet sorrows of its deathless dying.—[MS. M. erased.]
or, And the sweet sorrow which exults in dying.—[MS. M. erased.]
Oh Love! thou art no habitant of Earth
An unseen Seraph we believe in thee
And can point out thy time and place of birth.—[D. erased.]
- [M. Darmesteter traces the sentiment to a maxim (No. 76) of La Rochefoucauld: "Il est du véritable amour comme de l'apparition des esprits: tout le monde en parle, mais peu de gens en ont vu."]
- [Compare Dryden on Shaftesbury (Absalom and Achitophel, pt. i. lines 156-158)—
"A fiery soul which, working out its way,
Fretted the pigmy-body to decay,
And o'er-informed the tenement of clay."]
- [The Romans had more than one proverb to this effect; e.g. "Amantes Amentes sunt" (Adagia Veterum, 1643, p. 52"); "Amare et sapere vix Deo conceditur" (Syri Sententiæ, 1818, p. 5).]
- For all are visions with a separate name.—[D. erased.]
- [Circumstance is personified as halting Nemesis—
"Pede pœna claudo."
Hor., Odes, III. ii. 32.
Perhaps, too, there is the underlying thought of his own lameness, of Mary Chaworth, and of all that might have been, if the "unspiritual God" had willed otherwise.]
- [Compare Milton's Samson Agonistes, lines 617-621—
"My griefs not only pain me
As a lingering disease,
But, finding no redress, ferment and rage;
Nor less than wounds immedicable
- "At all events," says the author of the Academical Questions [Sir William Drummond], "I trust, whatever may be the fate of my own speculations, that philosophy will regain that estimation which it ought to possess. The free and philosophic spirit of our nation has been the theme of admiration to the world. This was the proud distinction of Englishmen, and the luminous source of all their glory. Shall we then forget the manly and dignified sentiments of our ancestors, to prate in the language of the mother or the nurse about our good old prejudices? This is not the way to defend the cause of truth. It was not thus that our fathers maintained it in the brilliant periods of our history. Prejudice may be trusted to guard the outworks for a short space of time, while reason slumbers in the citadel; but if the latter sink into a lethargy, the former will quickly erect a standard for herself. Philosophy, wisdom, and liberty support each other: he, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave."—Vol. i. pp. xiv., xv.
[For Sir William Drummond (1770-1828), see Letters, 1898, ii. 79, note 3. Byron advised Lady Blessington to read Academical Questions (1805), and instanced the last sentence of this passage "as one of the best in our language" (Conversations, pp. 238, 239).]
- [Compare Macbeth, act iii. sc. 4, lines 24, 25—
"But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears."]
- [Compare The Deformed Transformed, act i. sc. 2, lines 49, 50—
"Those scarce mortal arches,
Pile above pile of everlasting wall."
The first, second, and third stories of the Flavian amphitheatre or Colosseum were built upon arches. Between the arches, eighty to each story or tier, stood three-quarter columns. "Each tier is of a different order of architecture the lowest being a plain Roman Doric, or perhaps, rather, Tuscan, the next Ionic, and the third Corinthian." The fourth story, which was built by the Emperor Gordianus III., A.D. 244, to take the place of the original wooden gallery (mœnianum summum in ligneis), which was destroyed by lightning, A.D. 217, was a solid wall faced with Corinthian pilasters, and pierced by forty square windows or openings. It has been conjectured that the alternate spaces between the pilasters were decorated with ornamental metal shields. The openings of the outer arches of the second and third stories were probably decorated with statues. The reverse of an aureus of the reign of Titus represents the Colosseum with these statues and a quadriga in the centre. About one-third of the original structure remains in situ. The prime agent of destruction was probably the earthquake ("Petrarch's earthquake") of September, 1349, when the whole of the western side fell towards the Cælian, and gave rise to a hill or rather to a chain of hills of loose blocks of travertine and tufa, which supplied Rome with building materials for subsequent centuries. As an instance of wholesale spoliation or appropriation, Professor Lanciani refers to "a document published by Müntz, in the Revue Arch., September, 1876," which "certifies that one contractor alone, in the space of only nine months, in 1452, could carry off 2522 cartloads" of travertine (Smith's Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Ant., art. "Amphitheatrum;" Ruins and Excavations of Ancient Rome, by R. Lanciani, 1897, p. 375).]
- [For a description of the Colosseum by moonlight, see Goethe's letter from Rome, February 2, 1787 (Travels in Italy, 1883, p. 159): "Of the beauty of a walk through Rome by moonlight, it is impossible to form a conception ... Peculiarly beautiful at such a time is the Coliseum." See, too, Corinne, ou L'Italie, xv. 4, 1819, iii. 32—
"Ce n'est pas connaítre l'impression du Colisée que de ne l'avoir vu que de jour ... la lune est l'astre des ruines. Quelque fois, à travers les ouvertures de l'amphithéàtre, qui semble s'élever jusqu'aux nues, une partie de la voûte du ciel paraît comme un rideau d'un bleu sombre placé derrière l'édifice."
For a fine description of the Colosseum by starlight, see Manfred, act iii. sc. 4, lines 8-13.]
- [When Byron visited Rome, and for long aftenwards, the ruins of the Colosseum were clad with a multitude of shrubs and wild flowers. Books were written on the "Flora of the Coliseum," which were said to number 420 species. But, says Professor Lanciani, "These materials for a hortus siccus, so dear to the visitors of our ruins, were destroyed by Rosa in 1871, and the ruins scraped and shaven clean, it being feared by him that the action of roots would accelerate the disintegration of the great structure." If Byron had lived to witness these activities, he might have devoted a stanza to the "tender mercies" of this zealous archæologist.]
- [The whole of this appeal to Nemesis (stanzas cxxx.-cxxxviii.) must be compared with the "Domestic Poems" of 1816, the Third Canto of Childe Harold (especially stanzas lxix.-lxxv., and cxi.-cxviii.), and with the "Invocation" in the first act of Manfred. It has been argued that Byron inserted these stanzas with the deliberate purpose of diverting sympathy from his wife to himself. The appeal, no doubt, is deliberate, and the plea is followed by an indictment, but the sincerity of the appeal is attested by its inconsistency. Unlike Orestes, who slew his mother to avenge his father, he will not so deal with the "moral Clytemnestra of her lord," requiting murder by murder, but is resolved to leave the balancing of the scale to the omnipotent Time-spirit who rights every wrong and will redress his injuries. But in making answer to his accusers he outruns Nemesis, and himself enacts the part of a "moral" Orestes. It was true that his hopes were "sapped" and "his name blighted," and it was natural, if not heroic, first to persuade himself that his suffering exceeded his fault, that he was more sinned against than sinning, and, so persuaded, to take care that he should not suffer alone. The general purport of plea and indictment is plain enough, but the exact interpretation of his phrases, the appropriation of his dark sayings, belong rather to the biography of the poet than to a commentary on his poems. (For Lady Byron's comment on the "allusions" to herself in Childe Harold, vide ante, p. 288, note 1.)]
- Or for my fathers' faults——.—[MS. M.]
'tis not that now
And if my voice break forth—
it is not that
I shrink from what is suffered—let him speak
decline upon my
Whathath beheld me quiver on mybrow
seen my mind's convulsion leave it
my internal spirit changed or weak
found my mind convulsed
But in this page
therecord whichI seek
from out the deep
stands and of that remorse
Shall stand and when that hour shall come and come
Shall come though I be ashes and shall pile heap
It will come and wreak
In fire the measure
The fiery prophecy
The fullness of my
The fullness of my prophecy or heap
The mountain of my curse
Not in the air shall these my words disperse
'Tis written that an hour of deep remorse
Though I be ashes
a deepfar hour shall wreak
The fullness Thee this
The deep prophetic fullness of
And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse.—[MS. M.]
If to forgive be "heaping coals of Fire"
As God hath spoken—on the heads of foes
Mine should be a Volcano—and rise higher
Than o'er the Titans crushed Olympus rose
Than Athos soars, or blazing Ætna glows:
True—they who stung were petty things—but what
Than serpent's sting produce more deadly throes.
The Lion may be tortured by the Gnat—
Who sucks the slumberer's blood—the Eagle? no, the Bat.[a]—[MS. M.]
^ a. [The "Bat" was "a sobriquet by which Lady Caroline Lamb was well known in London society." An Italian translation of her novel, Glenarvon, was at this time in the press at Venice (see letter to Murray, August 7, 1817), and it is probable that Byron, who declined to interdict its publication, took his revenge in a petulant stanza, which, on second thoughts, he decided to omit. (See note by Mr. Richard Edgcumbe, Notes and Queries, eighth series, 1895, viii. 101.)]
- [Compare "Lines on hearing that Lady Byron was ill," lines 53-55.]
- Whether the wonderful statue which suggested this image be a laquearian gladiator, which, in spite of Winckelmann's criticism, has been stoutly maintained; or whether it be a Greek herald, as that great antiquary positively asserted;[a] or whether it is to be thought a Spartan or barbarian shield-bearer, according to the opinion of his Italian editor; it must assuredly seem a copy of that masterpiece of Ctesilaus which represented "a wounded man dying, who perfectly expressed what there remained of life in him." Montfaucon and Maffei thought it the identical statue; but that statue was of bronze. The Gladiator was once in the Villa Ludovisi, and was bought by Clement XII. The right arm is an entire restoration of Michael Angelo.
[There is no doubt that the statue of the "Dying Gladiator" represents a dying Gaul. It is to be compared with the once-named "Arria and Pætus" of the Villa Ludovisi, and with other sculptures in the museums of Venice, Naples, and Rome, representing "Gauls and Amazons lying fatally wounded, or still in the attitude of defending life to the last," which belong to the Pergamene school of the second century B.C. M. Collignon hazards a suggestion that the "Dying Gaul" is the trumpet-sounder of Epigonos, in which, says Pliny (Hist. Nat., xxxiv. 88), the sculptor surpassed all his previous works ("omnia fere prædicta imitatus præcessit in tubicine"); while Dr. H. S. Urlichs (see The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art, translated by K. Jex-Blake, with Commentary and Historical Illustrations, by E. Sellers, 1896, p. 74, note) falls back on Winckelmann's theory that the "statue ... may have been simply the votive-portrait of the winner in the contest of heralds, such as that of Archias of Hybla in Delphoi." (See, too, Helbig's Guide to the Collection of Public Antiquities in Rome, Engl, transl., 1895, i. 399; History of Greek Sculpture, by A. S. Murray, LL.D., F.S.A., 1890, ii. 381-383.)]
^ a. Either Polyphontes, herald of Laïus, killed by Œdipus; or Kopreas, herald of Eurystheus, killed by the Athenians when he endeavoured to drag the Heraclidæ from the altar of mercy, and in whose honour they instituted annual games, continued to the time of Hadrian; or Anthemocritus, the Athenian herald, killed by the Megarenses, who never recovered the impiety. [See Hist. of Ancient Art, translated by G. H. Lodge, 1881, ii. 207.]
Leaning upon his hand, his mut[e] brow
Yielding to death but conquering agony.—[MS. M. erased.]
- From the red gash fall bigly——.—[MS. M.]
- Like the last of a thunder-shower——.—[MS. M.]
- The earth swims round him——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Slaughtered to make a Roman holiday.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Was death and life——.—[MS. M.]
- My voice is much——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Yet the colossal skeleton ye pass.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The ivy-forest, which its walls doth wear.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Suetonius [Lib. i. cap. xlv.] informs us that Julius Cæsar was particularly gratified by that decree of the senate which enabled him to wear a wreath of laurel on all occasions. He was anxious not to show that he was the conqueror of the world, but to hide that he was bald. A stranger at Rome would hardly have guessed at the motive, nor should we without the help of the historian.
- The Hero race who trod—the imperial dust ye tread.—[MS. M. erased.]
- This is quoted in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as a proof that the Coliseum was entire, when seen by the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims at the end of the seventh, or the beginning of the eighth, century. A notice on the Coliseum may be seen in the Historical Illustrations, p. 263.
["'Quamdiu stabit Colyseus, stabit et Roma ; quando cadet Colyseus, cadet Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.' (Beda in 'Excerptis seu Collectaneis,' apud Ducange, Glossarium ad Scriptores Med., et Infimæ Latinitatis, tom. ii. p. 407, edit. Basil.) This saying must be ascribed to the Anglo-Saxon pilgrims who visited Rome before the year 735, the æra of Bede's death; for I do not believe that our venerable monk ever passed the sea."—Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1855, viii. 281, note.]
- "Though plundered of all its brass, except the ring which was necessary to preserve the aperture above; though exposed to repeated fires; though sometimes flooded by the river, and always open to the rain, no monument of equal antiquity is so well preserved as this rotundo. It passed with little alteration from the Pagan into the present worship; and so convenient were its niches for the Christian altar, that Michael Angelo, ever studious of ancient beauty, introduced their design as a model in the Catholic church."—Forsyth's Italy, 1816, p. 137.
[The Pantheon consists of two parts, a porch or pronaos supported by sixteen Corinthian columns, and behind it, but "obviously disjointed from it," a rotunda or round temple, 143 feet high, and 142 feet in diameter. The inscription on the portico (M. AGRIPPA, L. F. Cos. tertium. Fecit.) affirms that the temple was built by Agrippa (M. Vipsanius), B.C. 27.
It has long been suspected that with regard to the existing building the inscription was "historically and artistically misleading;" but it is only since 1892 that it has been known for certain (from the stamp on the bricks in various parts of the building) that the rotunda was built by Hadrian. Difficulties with regard to the relations between the two parts of the Pantheon remain unsolved, but on the following points Professor Lanciani claims to speak with certainty:—
(1) "The present Pantheon, portico included, is not the work of Agrippa, but of Hadrian, and dates from A.D. 120-124.
(2) "The columns, capital, and entablature of the portico, inscribed with Agrippa's name, may be original, and may date from 27-25 B.C., but they were first removed and then put together by Hadrian.
(3) "The original structure of Agrippa was rectangular instead of round, and faced the south instead of the north."—Ruins and Excavations, etc., by R. Lanciani, 1897, p. 483.]
- ——the pride of proudest Rome.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The Pantheon has been made a receptacle for the busts of modern great, or, at least, distinguished men. The flood of light which once fell through the large orb above on the whole circle of divinities, now shines on a numerous assemblage of mortals, some one or two of whom have been almost deified by the veneration of their countrymen.
["The busts of Raphael, Hannibal Caracci, Pierrin del Vaga, Zuccari, and others ... are ill assorted with the many modern contemporary heads of ancient worthies which now glare in all the niches of the Rotunda."—Historical Illustrations, p. 293.]
- This and the three next stanzas allude to the story of the Roman daughter, which is recalled to the traveller by the site, or pretended site, of that adventure, now shown at the Church of St. Nicholas in Carcere. The difficulties attending the full belief of the tale are stated in Historical Illustrations, p. 295.
[The traditional scene of the "Caritas Romana" is a cell forming part of the substructions of the Church of S. Nicola in Carcere, near the Piazza Montanara. Festus (De Verb. Signif., lib. xiv., A. J. Valpy, 1826, ii. 594), by way of illustrating Pietas, tells the story in a few words: "It is said that Ælius dedicated a temple to Pietas on the very spot where a woman dwelt of yore. Her father was shut up in prison, and she kept him alive by giving him the breast by stealth, and, as a reward for her deed, obtained his forgiveness and freedom." In Pliny (Hist. Nat., vii. 36) and in Valerius Maximus (v. 4) it is not a father, but a mother, whose life is saved by a daughter's piety.]
- Two isolated phantoms——.—[MS. M.]
- With her unkerchiefed neck——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Or even the shrill impatient [cries that brook].
or, Or even the shrill small cry——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- No waiting silence or suspense——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [It was fabled of the Milky Way that when Mercury held up the infant Hercules to Juno's breast, that he might drink in divinity, the goddess pushed him away, and that drops of milk fell into the void, and became a multitude of tiny stars. The story is told by Eratosthenes of Cyrene (B.C. 276), in his Catasterismi (Treatise on Star Legends), No. 44: Opusc. Mythol., Amsterdam, 1688, p. 136.]
To its original fountain but repierce
Thy sire's heart——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The castle of St. Angelo. (See Historical Illustrations.)
[Hadrian's mole or mausoleum, now the Castle of St. Angelo, is situated on the banks of the Tiber, on the site of the "Horti Neronis." "It is composed of a square basement, each side of which measures 247 feet.... A grand circular mole, nearly 1000 feet in circumference, stands on the square basement," and, originally, "supported in its turn a cone of earth covered with evergreens, like the mausoleum of Augustus." A spiral way led to a central chamber in the interior of the mole, which contained, presumably, the porphyry sarcophagus in which Antoninus Pius deposited the ashes of Hadrian, and the tomb of the Antonines. Honorius (A.D. 428) was probably the first to convert the mausoleum into a fortress. The bronze statue of the Destroying Angel, which is placed on the summit, dates from 1740, and is the successor to five earlier statues, of which the first was erected in 1453. The conception and execution of the Moles Hadriana are entirely Roman, and, except in size and solidity, it is in no sense a mimic pyramid.—Ruins and Excavations, etc., by R. Lanciani, 1897, p. 554, sq.]
The now spectator with a sanctioned mirth
To view the vast design——.—[MS. M.]
- This and the next six stanzas have a reference to the Church of St. Peter's. (For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica and the other great churches of Europe, see the pavement of St. Peter's, and the Classical Tour through Italy, ii. 125, et seq., chap, iv.)
- Look to the dome——.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare The Prophecy of Dante, iv. 49-53—
"While still stands
The austere Pantheon, into heaven shall soar
A dome, its image, while the base expands
Into a fane surpassing all before,
Such as all flesh shall flock to kneel in——"
Compare, too, Browning's Christmas Eve, sect. x.—
"Is it really on the earth,
This miraculous dome of God?
Has the angel's measuring-rod
Which numbered cubits, gem from gem,
'Twixt the gates of the new Jerusalem,
Meted it out,—and what he meted,
Have the sons of men completed?
—Binding ever as he bade.
Columns in the colonnade,
With arms wide open to embrace
The entry of the human race?"]
- Lo Christ's great dome——.—[MS. M.]
- [The ruins which Byron and Hobhouse explored, March 25, 1810 (Travels in Albania, ii. 68-71), were not the ruins of the second Temple of Artemis, the sixth wonder of the world (vide Philo Byzantius, De Septem Orbis Miraculis), but, probably, those of "the great gymnasium near the port of the city." In 1810, and for long afterwards, the remains of the temple were buried under twenty feet of earth, and it was not till 1870 that the late Mr. J. T. Wood, the agent of the Trustees of the British Museum, had so far completed his excavations as to discover the foundations of the building on the exact spot which had been pointed out by Guhl in 1843. Fragments of the famous sculptured columns, thirty-six in number, says Pliny (Hist. Nat., xxxvi. 95), were also brought to light, and are now in the British Museum. (See Modern Discoveries on the Site of Ancient Ephesus, by J. T. Wood, 1890; Hist. of Greek Sculpture, by A. S. Murray, ii. 304.)]
- [Compare Don Juan, Canto IX. stanza xxvii. line 2—
"I have heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl."]
- ——round roofs swell.—[MS. M., D.]
- Their glittering breastplate in the sun——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Compare Canto II. stanza lxxix. lines 2, 3—
"Oh Stamboul! once the Empress of their reign,
Though turbans now pollute Sophia's shrine."]
- [The emphasis is on the word "fit." The measure of "fitness" is the entirety of the enshrinement or embodiment of the mortal aspiration to put on immortality. The vastness and the sacredness of St. Peter's make for and effect this embodiment. So, too, the living temple "so defined," great with the greatness of holiness, may become the enshrinement and the embodiment of the Spirit of God.]
- His earthly palace——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [This stanza may be paraphrased, but not construed. Apparently, the meaning is that as the eye becomes accustomed to the details and proportions of the building, the sense of its vastness increases. Your first impression was at fault, you had not begun to realize the almost inconceivable vastness of the structure. You had begun to climb the mountain, and the dazzling peak seemed to be close at your head, but as you ascend, it recedes. "Thou movest," but the building expands; "thou climbest," but the Alp increases in height. In both cases the eye has been deceived by gigantic elegance, by the proportion of parts to the whole.]
- And fair proportions which beguile the eyes.—[MS. M. erased.]
Painting and marble of so many dyes—
And glorious high altar where for ever burn.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Its Giant's limbs and by degrees——
or, The Giant eloquence and thus unroll.—[MS. M. erased.]
——our narrow sense
Cannot keep pace with mind——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- What Earth nor Time—nor former Thought could frame.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Before your eye—and ye return not as ye came.—[MS. M. erased.]
- In that which Genius did, what great Conceptions can.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Pliny tells us (Hist. Nat., xxxvi. 5) that the Laocoon which stood in the palace of Titus was the work of three sculptors, natives of Rhodes; and it is now universally admitted that the statue which was found (January 14, 1516) in the vineyard of Felice de' Freddi, not far from the ruins of the palace, and is now in the Vatican, is the statue which Pliny describes. M. Collignon, in his Histoire de la Sculpture Grecque, gives reasons for assigning the date of the Laocoon to the first years of the first century B.C. It follows that the work is a century later than the frieze of the great altar of Pergamos, which contains the figure of a young giant caught in the toils of Athena's serpent—a theme which served as a model for later sculptors of the same school. In 1817 the Laocoon was in the heyday of its fame, and was regarded as the supreme achievement of ancient art. Since then it has been decried and dethroned. M. Collignon protests against this excessive depreciation, and makes himself the mouthpiece of a second and more temperate reaction: "On peut ... gôuter mediocrement le mélodrame, sans méconnaître pour cela les réelles qualités du groupe. La composition est d'une structure irréprochable, d'une harmonie de lignes qui défie toute critique. Le torse du Laocoon trahit une science du nu peu commune" (Hist. de la Sculp. Grecque, 1897, ii. 550, 551).]
- ——the writhing boys.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Shackles its living rings, and——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [In his description of the Apollo Belvidere, Byron follows the traditional theory of Montorsoli, the pupil of Michael Angelo, who restored the left hand and right forearm of the statue. The god, after his struggle with the python, stands forth proud and disdainful, the left hand holding a bow, and the right hand falling as of one who had just shot an arrow. The discovery, in 1860, of a bronze statuette in the Stroganoff Collection at St. Petersburg, which holds something like an ægis and a mantle in the left hand, suggested to Stephani a second theory, that the Belvidere Apollo was a copy of a statue of Apollo Boëdromios, an ex-voto offering on the rout of the Gauls when they attacked Delphi (B.C. 278). To this theory Furtwaengler at one time assented, but subsequently came to the conclusion that the Stroganoff bronze was a forgery. His present contention is that the left hand held a bow, as Montorsoli imagined, whilst the right grasped "a branch of laurel, of which the leaves are still visible on the trunk which the copyist added to the bronze original." The Apollo Belvidere is, he concludes, a copy of the Apollo Alexicacos of Leochares (fourth century B.C.), which stood in the Cerameicos at Athens. M. Maxime Collignon, who utters a word of warning as to the undue depreciation of the statue by modern critics, adopts Furtwaengler's later theory (Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Sculpture, by A. Furtwaengler, 1895, ii. 405, sq.).]
- [The "delicate" beauty of the statue recalled the features of a lady whom he had once thought of making his wife. "The Apollo Belvidere," he wrote to Moore (May 12, 1817), "is the image of Lady Adelaide Forbes. I think I never saw such a likeness."]
- [It is probable that lines 1-4 of this stanza contain an allusion to a fact related by M. Pinel, in his work, Sur l' Insanité, which Milman turned to account in his Belvidere Apollo, a Newdigate Prize Poem of 1812—
"Beauteous as vision seen in dreamy sleep
By holy maid on Delphi's haunted steep,
'Mid the dim twilight of the laurel grove,
Too fair to worship, too divine to love.
Yet on that form in wild delirious trance
With more than rev'rence gazed the Maid of France,
Day after day the love-sick dreamer stood
With him alone, nor thought it solitude!
To cherish grief, her last, her dearest care,
Her one fond hope—to perish of despair."
Milman's Poetical Works, Paris, 1829, p. 180.
Compare, too, Coleridge's Kubla Khan, lines 14-16—
"A savage place, as holy and enchanted,
As e'er beneath a wailing moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover."
Poetical Works, 1893, p. 94.]
- Before its eyes unveiled to image forth a God!—[MS. M. erased.]
- [The fire which Prometheus stole from heaven was the living soul, "the source of all our woe." (Compare Horace, Odes, i. 3. 29-31—
"Post ignem ætheriâ domo
Subductum, Macies et nova Febrium
Terris incubuit cohors.")]
- The phantom fades away into the general mass.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Compare Hamlet, act iii. sc. 1, line 76—
"Who would these fardels bear?"]
- [Charlotte Augusta (b. January 7, 1796), only daughter of the Prince Regent, was married to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, May 2, 1816, and died in childbirth, November 6, 1817.
Other poets produced their dirges; but it was left to Byron to deal finely, and as a poet should, with a present grief, which was felt to be a national calamity.
Southey's "Funeral Song for the Princess Charlotte of Wales" was only surpassed in feebleness by Coleridge's "Israel's Lament." Campbell composed a laboured elegy, which was "spoken by Mr.... at Drury Lane Theatre, on the First Opening of the House after the Death of the Princess Charlotte, 1817;" and Montgomery wrote a hymn on "The Royal Infant, Still-born, November 5, 1817."
Not a line of these lamentable effusions has survived; but the poor, pitiful story of common misfortune, with its tragic irony, uncommon circumstance, and far-reaching consequence, found its vates sacer in the author of Childe Harold.]
Her prayers for thee and in thy coming power
Beheld her Iris—Thou too lonely Lord
And desolate Consort! fatal is thy dower,
The Husband of a year—the Father of an——[? hour].—[D. erased.]
- [Compare Canto III. stanza xxxiv. lines 6, 7—
"Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore,
All ashes to the taste."]
- [Mr. Tozer traces the star simile to Homer (Iliad, viii. 559)—
Πάντα δέ τ' εἴδεται ἄστρα γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα ποιμήν.]
- [Compare Macbeth, act iii. sc. 2, lines 22, 23—
"Duncan is in his grave;
After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."]
- [Compare Coriolanus, act iii. sc. 3, lines 121, 122—
"You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens."]
- Mary died on the scaffold; Elizabeth, of a broken heart; Charles V., a hermit; Louis XIV., a bankrupt in means and glory; Cromwell, of anxiety; and, "the greatest is behind," Napoleon lives a prisoner. To these sovereigns a long but superfluous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.
- Which sinks——.—[MS. M.]
- [The simile of the "earthquake" was repeated in a letter to Murray, dated December 3, 1817: "The death of the Princess Charlotte has been a shock even here, and must have been an earthquake at home.... The death of this poor Girl is melancholy in every respect, dying at twenty or so, in childbed—of a boy too, a present princess and future queen, and just as she began to be happy, and to enjoy herself, and the hopes which she inspired."]
- The village of Nemi was near the Arician retreat of Egeria, and, from the shades which embosomed the temple of Diana, has preserved to this day its distinctive appellation of The Grove. Nemi is but an evening's ride from the comfortable inn of Albano.
[The basin of the Lago di Nemi is the crater of an extinct volcano. Hence the comparison to a coiled snake. Its steel-blue waters are unruffled by the wind which lashes the neighbouring ocean into fury. Hence its likeness to "cherished hate," as contrasted with "generous and active wrath."]
- And calm as speechless hate——.—[MS. M.]
- [The spectator is supposed to be looking towards the Mediterranean from the summit of Monte Cavo. Tusculum, where "Tully reposed," lies to the north of the Alban Hills, on the right; but, as Byron points to a spot "beneath thy right," he probably refers to the traditional site of the Villa Ciceronis at Grotta Ferrata, and not to an alternative site at the Villa Ruffinella, between Frascati and the ruins of Tusculum. Horace's Sabine farm, on the bank of Digentia's "ice-cold rivulet," is more than twenty miles to the north-east of the Alban Hills. The mountains to the south and east of Tusculum intercept the view of the valley of the Licenza (Digentia), where the "farm was tilled." Childe Harold had bidden farewell to Horace, once for all, "upon Soracte's ridge," but recalls him to keep company with Virgil and Cicero.]
Of girdling mountains circle on the sight
The Sabine farm was tilled, the wearied Bard's delight.—[MS. M.]
- ["Calpe's rock" is Gibraltar (compare Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza xxii. line 1). "Last" may be the last time that Byron and Childe Harold saw the Mediterranean together. Byron had last seen it—"the Midland Ocean"—by "Calpe's rock," on his return journey to England in 1811. Or by "last" he may mean the last time that it burst upon his view. He had not seen the Mediterranean on his way from Geneva to Venice, in October—November, 1816, or from Venice to Rome, April—May, 1817; but now from the Alban Mount the "ocean" was full in view.]
- ——much suffering and some tears.—[MS. M.]
- ["After the stanza (near the conclusion of Canto 4th) which ends with the line—
"'As if there was no man to trouble what is clear,'
insert the two following stanzas (clxxvii., clxxviii.). Then go on to the stanza beginning, 'Roll on thou,' etc., etc. You will find the place of insertion near the conclusion—just before the address to the Ocean.
"These two stanzas will just make up the number of 500 stanzas to the whole poem.
"Answer when you receive this. I sent back the packets yesterday, and hope they will arrive in safety."—D.]
- [His desire is towards no light o' love, but for the support and fellowship of his sister. Compare the opening lines of the Epistle to Augusta—
"My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine;
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same—
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,—
A world to roam through and a home with thee.
"The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness."]
- [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza lxxii. lines 8, 9; and Epistle to Augusta, stanza xi.]
- ——unearthed, uncoffined, and unknown.—[MS. M.]
- [Compare Ps. cvii. 26, "They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths."]
- And dashest him to earth again: there let him lay!—[D.]
- ["Lay" is followed by a plainly marked period in both the MSS. (M. and D.) of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold. For instances of the same error, compare "The Adieu," stanza 10, line 4, and ["Pignus Amoris"], stanza 3, line 3 (Poetical Works, 1898, i. 232, note, and p. 241). It is to be remarked that Hobhouse, who pencilled a few corrections on the margin of his own MS. copy, makes no comment on this famous solecism. The fact is that Byron wrote as he spoke, with the "careless and negligent ease of a man of quality," and either did not know that "lay" was not an intransitive verb or regarded himself as "super grammaticam."]
- [Compare Campbell's Battle of the Baltic (stanza ii. lines 1, 2)—
"Like leviathans afloat,
Lay their bulwarks on the brine."]
- These oaken citadels which made and make.—[MS. M. erased.]
- The Gale of wind which succeeded the battle of Trafalgar destroyed the greater part (if not all) of the prizes—nineteen sail of the line—taken on that memorable day. I should be ashamed to specify particulars which should be known to all—did we not know that in France the people were kept in ignorance of the event of this most glorious victory in modern times, and that in England it is the present fashion to talk of Waterloo as though it were entirely an English triumph—and a thing to be named with Blenheim and Agincourt—Trafalgar and Aboukir. Posterity will decide; but if it be remembered as a skilful or as a wonderful action, it will be like the battle of Zama, where we think of Hannibal more than of Scipio. For assuredly we dwell on this action, not because it was gained by Blucher or Wellington, but because it was lost by Buonaparte—a man who, with all his vices and his faults, never yet found an adversary with a tithe of his talents (as far as the expression can apply to a conqueror) or his good intentions, his clemency or his fortitude. Look at his successors throughout Europe, whose imitation of the worst parts of his policy is only limited by their comparative impotence, and their positive imbecility.—[MS. M.]
- ["When Lord Byron wrote this stanza, he had, no doubt, the following passage in Boswell's Johnson floating in his mind.... 'The grand object of all travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world—the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman' (Life of Johnson, 1876, p. 505)."—Note to Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza clxxxii. ed. 1891.]
- [See letter to Murray, September 24, 1818: "What does 'thy waters wasted them' mean (in the Canto)? That is not me. Consult the MS. always." Nevertheless, the misreading appeared in several editions. (For a correspondence on the subject, see Notes and Queries, first series, vol. i. pp. 182, 278, 324, 508; vol. ix. p. 481; vol. x. pp. 314, 434.)]
- Thy waters wasted them while they were free.—[Editions 1818, 1819, 1823, and Galignani, 1825.]
- Unchangeable save calm thy tempests ply.—[MS. M., D.]
The image of Eternity and Space
For who hath fixed thy limits——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- [Compare Tennyson's In Memoriam, lv. stanza 6—
"Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match'd with him."]
- ["While at Aberdeen, he used often to steal from home unperceived; sometimes he would find his way to the seaside" (Life, p. 9). For an account of his feats in swimming, see Letters, 1898, i. 263, note 1; and letter to Murray, February 21, 1821. See, too, for a "more perilous, but less celebrated passage" (from Old Lisbon to Belem Castle), Travels in Albania, ii. 195.]
- ["It was a thought worthy of the great spirit of Byron, after exhibiting to us his Pilgrim amidst all the most striking scenes of earthly grandeur and earthly decay ... to conduct him and us at last to the borders of 'the Great Deep.' ... The image of the wanderer may well be associated, for a time, with the rock of Calpe, the shattered temples of Athens, or the gigantic fragments of Rome; but when we wish to think of this dark personification as of a thing which is, where can we so well imagine him to have his daily haunt as by the roaring of the waves? It was thus that Homer represented Achilles in his moments of ungovernable and inconsolable grief for the loss of Patroclus. It was thus he chose to depict the paternal despair of Chryseus—
Βή δ' ἀκέων παρὰ θῖνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης."
Note by Professor Wilson, ed. 1837.]
Is dying in the echo—it is time
To break the spell of this protracted dream
And what will be the fate of this my rhyme
May not be of my augury——.—[MS. M. erased.]
- Fatal—and yet it shakes me not—farewell.—[MS. M.]
- Ye! who have traced my Pilgrim to the scene.—[MS. M.]
- At end—
July 19th, 1817.
La Mira, near Venice.
La Mira, near Venice,
Sept. 3, 1817.
- The writer meant Lido, which is not a long row of islands, but a long island: littus, the shore.
- Curiosities of Literature, ii. 156, edit. 1807, edit. 1881, i. 390; and Appendix xxix. to Black's Life of Tasso, 1810, ii. 455.
- Su i Quattro Cavalli della Basilica di S. Marco in Venezia. Lettera di Andrea Mustoxidi Corcirese. Padova, 1816.
- "Quibus auditis, imperator, operante eo, qui corda Principum sicut vult, & quando vult, humiliter inclinat, leonina feritate deposita, ovinam mansuetudinem induit."—Romualdi Salernitani Chronicon, apud Script. Rer. Ital., 1725, vii. 230.
- Rer. Ital., vii. 231.
- See the above-cited Romuald of Salerno. In a second sermon which Alexander preached, on the first day of August, before the Emperor, he compared Frederic to the prodigal son, and himself to the forgiving father.
- Mr. Gibbon has omitted the important æ, and has written Romani instead of Romaniæ.—Decline and Fall, chap. lxi. note 9 (1882, ii. 777, note 1). But the title acquired by Dandolo runs thus in the chronicle of his namesake, the Doge Andrew Dandolo: "Ducali titulo addidit, 'Quartæ partis, & dimidiæ totius Imperii Romaniæ Dominator.'" And. Dand. Chronicon, cap. iii. pars xxxvii. ap. Script. Rer. Ital., 1728, xii. 331. And the Romaniæ is observed in the subsequent acts of the Doges. Indeed, the continental possessions of the Greek Empire in Europe were then generally known by the name of Romania, and that appellation is still seen in the maps of Turkey as applied to Thrace.
- See the continuation of Dandolo's Chronicle, ibid., p. 498. Mr. Gibbon appears not to include Dolfino, following Sanudo, who says, "Il qual titolo si uso fin al Doge Giovanni Dolfino." See Vite de' Duchi di Venezia [Vitæ Ducum Venetorum Italiæ scriptæ, Auctore Martino Sanuto], ap. Script. Rer. Ital., xxii. 530, 641.
- "Fiet potentium in aquis Adriaticis congregatio, cæco præduce, Hircum ambigent, Byzantium prophanabunt,ædificia denigrabunt, spolia dispergentur; Hircus novus balabit, usque dum liv. pedes, & ix. pollices, & semis, præmensurati discurrant."—Chronicon, ibid., xii. 329.
- Cronaca della Guerra di Chioza, etc., scritta da Daniello Chinazzo. Script. Rer. Ital., xv. 699-804.
- "Nonnullorum e nobilitate immensæ sunt opes, adeo ut vix æstimari possint; id quod tribus e rebus oritur, parsimonia, commercio, atque iis emolumentis, quæ e Repub. percipiunt, quæ hanc ob caussam diuturna fore creditur."—See De Principatibus Italiæ Tractatus Varii, 1628, pp. 18, 19.
- See An Historical and Critical Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch; and A Dissertation on an Historical Hypothesis of the Abbé de Sade. 1810. [An Italian version, entitled Riflessioni intorno a Madonna Laura, was published in 1811.]
- Memoires pour la Vie de François Pétrarque, Amsterdam, 1764, 3 vols. 4to.
- Letter to the Duchess of Gordon, August 17, 1782. Life of Beattie, by Sir W. Forbes, ii. 102-106.
- Mr. Gibbon called his Memoirs "a labour of love" (see Decline and Fall, chap. lxx. note 2), and followed him with confidence and delight. The compiler of a very voluminous work must take much criticism upon trust; Mr. Gibbon has done so, though not as readily as some other authors.
- The sonnet had before awakened the suspicions of Mr. Horace Walpole. See his letter to Dr. Joseph Warton, March 16, 1765.
- "Par ce petit manége, cette alternative de faveurs et de rigueurs bien ménagée, une femme tendre & sage amuse pendant vingt et un ans le plus grand Poète de son siècle, sans faire la moindre brêche à son honneur." Mémoires pour la Vie de Pétrarque, Préface aux Français, i. p. cxiii.
- In a dialogue with St. Augustin, Petrarch has described Laura as having a body exhausted with repeated ptubs. The old editors read and printed perturbationibus; but M. Capperonier, librarian to the French king in 1762, who saw the MS. in the Paris library, made an attestation that "on lit et qu'on doit lire, partubus exhaustum." De Sade joined the names of Messrs. Boudot and Béjot with M. Capperonier, and, in the whole discussion on this ptubs, showed himself a downright literary rogue. (See Riflessioni, p. lxxiv. sq.; Le Rime del Petrarca, Firenze, 1832, ii. s.f.) Thomas Aquinas is called in to settle whether Petrarch's mistress was a chaste maid or a continent wife.
"Pigmalion, quanto lodar ti dei
Dell' immagine tua, se mille volte
N' avesti quel, ch' i' sol una vorrei!"
Sonetto 50, Quando giunse a Simon l'alto concetto.
Le Rime, etc., i. 118, edit. Florence, 1832.
- "A questa confessione così sincera diede forse occasione una nuova caduta, ch' ei fece."—Tiraboschi, Storia, lib. iii., della Letteratura Italiana, Rome, 1783, v. 460.
- "Il n'y a que la vertu seule qui soit capable de faire des impressions que la mort n'efface pas."—M. de Bimard, Baron de la Bastie, in the Mémoires de l'Académic des Inscriptions de Belles Lettres for 1740 (Mémoires de Littérature [1738-1740], 1751, xvii. 424). (See also Riflessioni, etc., p. xcvi.; Le Rime, etc., 1832, ii. s.f.)
- "And if the virtue or prudence of Laura was inexorable, he enjoyed, and might boast of enjoying, the nymph of poetry."—Decline and Fall, 1818, chap. lxx. p. 321, vol. xii. 8vo. Perhaps the if is here meant for although.
- Remarks on Antiquities, etc., in Italy, by Joseph Forsyth, p. 107, note.
- La Vita di Tasso, lib. iii. p. 284 (tom. ii. edit. Bergamo, 1790).
- Histoire de l'Académie Française depuis 1652 jusqu'a 1700, par M. l' Abbé [Thoulier] d'Olivet, Amsterdam, 1730. "Mais, ensuite, venant à l'usage qu'il a fait de ses talens, j'aurois montré que le bon sens n'est pas toujours ce qui domine chez lui," p. 182. Boileau said he had not changed his opinion. "J'en ai si peu changé, dit-il," etc., p. 181.
- La Manière de bien Penser dans les Ouvrages de l'esprit, sec. Dial., p. 89, edit. 1692. Philanthes is for Tasso, and says in the outset, "De tous les beaux esprits que l'Italie a portez, le Tasse est peut-estre celuy qui pense le plus noblement." But Bohours seems to speak in Eudoxus, who closes with the absurd comparison: "Faites valoir le Tasse tant qu'il vous plaira, je m'en tiens pour moy à Virgile," etc. (ibid., p. 102).
- La Vita, etc., lib. iii. p. 90, tom. ii. The English reader may see an account of the opposition of the Crusca to Tasso, in Black's Life, 1810, etc., chap. xvii. vol. ii.
- For further, and it is hoped, decisive proof, that Tasso was neither more nor less than a prisoner of state, the reader is referred to Historical Illustrations of the IVth Canto of Childe Harold, p. 5, and following.
- Orazioni funebri ... delle lodi di Don Luigi Cardinal d'Este ... delle lodi di Donno Alfonso d'Este. See La Vita, lib. iii. p. 117.
- It was founded in 1582, and the Cruscan answer to Pellegrino's Caraffa, or Epica poesia, was published in 1584.
- "Cotanto, potè sempre in lui il veleno della sua pessima volontà contro alla Nazion Fiorentina." La Vita, lib. iii. pp. 96, 98, tom. ii.
- La Vita di M. L. Ariosto, scritta dall' Abate Girolamo Baruffaldi Giuniore, etc. Ferrara, 1807, lib. iii. p. 262. (See Historical Illustrations, etc., p. 26.)
- Storia della Lett., Roma, 1785, tom. vii. pt. iii. p. 130.
- Op. di Bianconi, vol. iii. p. 176, ed. Milano, 1802: Lettera al Signor Guido Savini Arcifisiocritico, sull' indole di un fulmine caduto in Dresda, l'anno 1759.
- "Appassionato ammiratore ed invitto apologista dell' Omero Ferrarese." The title was first given by Tasso, and is quoted to the confusion of the Tassisti, lib. iii. pp. 262, 265. La Vita di M. L. Ariosto, etc.
"Parva sed apta mihi, sed nulli obnoxia, sed non
Sordida, parta meo sed tamen ære domus."
- Plin., Hist. Nat., lib. ii. cap. 55.
- Columella, De Re Rustica, x. 532, lib. x.; Sueton., in Vit. August., cap. xc., et in Vit. Tiberii, cap. lxix.
- Note 2, p. 409, edit. Lugd. Bat. 1667.
- Vid. J. C. Boulenger, De Terræ Motu et Fulminib., lib. v. cap. xi., apud J. G. Græv., Thes. Antiq. Rom., 1696, v. 532.
- Οὐδεὶς κεραυνωθεὶς ἄτιμός ἐστι, ὅθεν καὶ ὡς θεὸς τιμᾶται. Artemidori Oneirocritica, Paris, 1603, ii. 8, p. 91.
- Pauli Warnefridi Diaconi De Gestis Langobard., lib. iii. cap. xxxi., apud La Bigne, Max. Bibl. Patr., 1677, xiii. 177.
- I. P. Valeriani De fulminum significationibus declamatio, apud J. G. Græv., Thes. Antiq. Rom., 1696, v. 604. The declamation is addressed to Julian of Medicis.
- See Monum. Ant. Ined., 1767, ii. par. i. cap. xvii. sect. iii. p. 50; and Storia delle Arti, etc., lib. xi. cap. i. tom ii. p. 314, note B.
- Nomina gentesque Antiquæ Italiæ (Gibbon, Miscell. Works, 1814), p. 204, edit. oct.
- The free expression of their honest sentiments survived their liberties. Titius, the friend of Antony, presented them with games in the theatre of Pompey. They did not suffer the brilliancy of the spectacle to efface from their memory that the man who furnished them with the entertainment had murdered the son of Pompey: they drove him from the theatre with curses. The moral sense of a populace, spontaneously expressed, is never wrong. Even the soldiers of the triumvirs joined in the execration of the citizens, by shouting round the chariots of Lepidus and Plancus, who had proscribed their brothers, De Germanis, non de Gallis, duo triumphant consules; a saying worth a record, were it nothing but a good pun. [C. Vell. Paterculi, Hist., lib. ii. cap. lxxix. p. 78, edit. Elzevir, 1639. Ibid., lib. ii. cap. lxvii.]
- Il Principe di Niccolò Machiavelli, Paris, 1825, pp. 184, 185.
- Storia della Lett. Ital., edit, Venice, 1795, tom. v. lib. iii, par. 2, p. 448, note. Tiraboschi is incorrect; the dates of the three decrees against Dante are A.D. 1302, 1314, and 1316.
- So relates Ficino, but some think his coronation only an allegory. See Storia, etc., ut sup., p. 453.
- By Varchi, in his Ercolano. The controversy continued from 1570 to 1616. See Storia, etc., edit. Rome, 1785, tom. vii. lib. iii. par. iii. p. 187.
- Gio Jacopo Dionisi Canonico di Verona. Serie di Aneddoti, n. 2. See Storia, etc., edit. Venice, 1795, tom. v. lib. i. par. i. p. 24, note.
- "Vitam Literni egit sine desiderio urbis." See T. Liv., Hist., lib. xxxviii. cap. liii. Livy reports that some said he was buried at Liternum, others at Rome. Ibid., cap. lv.
- Trionfo delta Castilà, Opera Petrarchæ, Basil, 1554, i. s.f.
- See Note 6, p. 476.
- The Greek boasted that he was ἰσόνομος. See the last chapter of the first book of Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
- "E intorno alla magnifica risposta," etc. Serassi, Vita del Tasso, lib. iii. p. 149, tom. ii. edit. 2. Bergamo.
- "Accingiti innoltre, se ci è lecito ancor l' esortarti, a compire l' immortal tua Africa ... Se ti avviene d'incontrare nel nostro stile cosa che ti dispiaccia, ciò debb' essere un altro motivo ad esaudire i desiderj della tua patria." Storia della Lett. Ital., edit. Venice, 1795, torn. v. par. i. lib. i. p. 75.
- Classical Tour, chap. ix. vol. iii. p. 355, edit. 3rd. "Of Boccaccio, the modern Petronius, we say nothing; the abuse of genius is more odious and more contemptible than its absence, and it imports little where the impure remains of a licentious author are consigned to their kindred dust. For the same reason the traveller may pass unnoticed the tomb of the malignant Aretino." This dubious phrase is hardly enough to save the tourist from the suspicion of another blunder respecting the burial-place of Aretine, whose tomb was in the church of St. Luke at Venice, and gave rise to the famous controversy of which some notice is taken in Bayle. Now the words of Mr. Eustace would lead us to think the tomb was at Florence, or at least was to be somewhere recognised. Whether the inscription so much disputed was ever written on the tomb cannot now be decided, for all memorial of this author has disappeared from the church of St. Luke.
- "Non enim ubique est, qui in excusationem meam consurgens dicat: juvenis scripsit, & majoris coactus imperio." The letter was addressed to Maghinard of Cavalcanti, marshal of the kingdom of Sicily. See Tiraboschi, Storia, etc., edit. Venice, 1795, tom. v. par. ii. lib. iii. p. 525, note.
- Dissertazioni sopra le Antichità Italiane, Diss. lviii. p. 253, tom. iii. edit. Milan, 1751.
- Eclaircissement, etc., etc., p. 648, edit. Amsterdam, 1740, in the Supplement to Bayle's Dictionary.
- Opera, i. 540, edit. Basil, 1581.
- Cosmus Medices, Decreto Publico, Pater Patriæ.
- Corinne, 1819, liv. xviii. chap. iii. vol. iii. p. 218.
- Discourses concerning Government, by A. Sidney, chap. ii. sect. xxvi. p. 208, edit. 1751. Sidney is, together with Locke and Hoadley, one of Mr. Hume's "despicable" writers.
- Tit. Liv., lib. xxii. cap. v.
- Ibid., cap. iv.
- Hist., lib. iii. cap. 83. The account in Polybius is not so easily reconcilable with present appearances as that in Livy; he talks of hills to the right and left of the pass and valley; but when Flaminius entered he had the lake at the right of both.
- About the middle of the twelfth century the coins of Mantua bore on one side the image and figure of Virgil. Zecca d' Italia, iii. pl. xvii. i. 6. Voyage dans le Milanais, etc., par A. L. Millin, ii. 294. Paris, 1817.
- Storia delle Arti, etc., lib. xi. cap. i. pp. 321, 322, tom. ii.
- Cicer., Epist. ad Atticum, xi. 6.
- Published by Causeus, in his Museum Romanum.
- Storia delle Arti, etc., lib. xi. cap. i.
- Sueton., in Vit. August., cap. xxxi., and in Vit. C. J. Cæsar, cap. lxxxviii. Appian says it was burnt down. See a note of Pitiscus to Suetonius, p. 224.
- "Tu modo Pompeia lentus spatiare sub umbra" (Ovid, Art. Am., i. 67).
- Flavii Blondi De Româ Instauratâ, Venice, 1511, lib. iii. p. 25.
- Antiq. Rom., lib. i., Χάλκεα ποιήματα παλαῖας ἐργασίας.
- Liv., Hist., lib. x. cap. xxiii.
- "Tum statua Nattæ, tum simulacra Deorum, Romulusque et Remus cum altrice belua vi fulminis icti conciderunt."—Cic, De Divinat., ii. 20. "Tactus est etiam ille qui hanc urbem condidit Romulus: quem inauratum in Capitolio parvum atque lactentem uberibus lupinis inhiantem fuisse meministis."—In Catilin., iii. 8.
"Hic silvestris erat Romani nominis altrix
Martia, quæ parvos Mavortis semine natos
Uberibus gravidis vitali rore rigabat:
Quæ tum cum pueris flammato fulminis ictu
Concidit, atque avulsa pedum vestigia liquit."
De Suo Consulatu, lib. ii. lines 42-46.
- Dion., Hist., lib. xxxvii. p. 37, edit. Rob. Steph., 1548.
- Luc. Fauni De Antiq. Urb. Rom., lib. ii. cap. vii., ap. Sallengre, 1745, i. 217.
- Ap. Nardini Roma Vetus, lib. v. cap. iv., ap. J. G. Græv., Thes. Antiq. Rom., iv. 1146.
- Marliani Urb. Rom. Topograph., Venice, 1588, p. 23.
- Just. Rycquii De Capit. Roman. Comm., cap. xxiv. p. 250, edit. Lugd. Bat. 1696.
- Nardini, Roma Vetus, lib. v. cap. iv.
- Montfaucon, Diarium Italic, Paris, 1702, i. 174.
- Storia delle Arti, etc., Milan, 1779, lib. iii. cap. iii. s. ii. note * (i. 144). Winckelmann has made a strange blunder in the note, by saying the Ciceronian wolf was not in the Capitol, and that Dion was wrong in saying so.
- Flam. Vacca, Memorie, num. iii. ap. Roma Antica di Famiano, Nardini, Roma, 1771, iv. s.f. p. iii.
- Luc. Fauni De Antiq. Urb. Rom., lib. ii. cap. vi., ap. Sallengre, tom. i. p. 216.
- See note to stanza lxxx. in Historical Illustrations.
- "Romuli nutrix Lupa honoribus est affecta divinis. Et ferrem, si animal ipsum fuisset, cujus figuram gerit." Lactant., De Falsâ Religione, lib. i. cap. xx., Biponti, 1786, i. 66; that is to say, he would rather adore a wolf than a prostitute. His commentator has observed that the opinion of Livy concerning Laurentia being figured in this wolf was not universal. Strabo thought so. Rycquius is wrong in saying that Lactantius mentions the wolf was in the Capitol.
- To A.D. 496. "Quis credere possit," says Baronius [Ann. Eccles., Lucæ, 1741, viii. 602, in an. 496], "viguisse adhuc Romæ ad Gelasii tempora, quæ fuere ante exordium Urbis allata in Italiam Lupercalia?" Gelasius wrote a letter, which occupies four folio pages, to Andromachus the senator, and others, to show that the rites should be given up.
- Eccles. Hist. (Lipsiæ, 1827, p. 130), lib. ii. cap. xiii. p. 40. Justin Martyr had told the story before; but Baronius himself was obliged to detect this fable. See Nardini, Roma Vet., lib. vii. cap. xii.
- Accurata e succincta Descrizione, etc., di Roma moderna, dell' Ab. Ridolfino Venuti, Rome, 1766, ii. 397.
- Nardini, lib. v. cap. 3, ap. J. G. Græv., iv. 1143, convicts Pomponius Lætus Crassi erroris, in putting the Ruminal fig-tree at the church of Saint Theodore; but, as Livy says the wolf was at the Ficus Ruminalis, and Dionysius at the temple of Romulus, he is obliged to own that the two were close together, as well as the Luperal cave, shaded, as it were, by the fig-tree.
- Donatus, lib. xi. cap. xviii., gives a medal representing on one side the wolf in the same position as that in the Capitol; and on the reverse the wolf with the head not reverted. It is of the time of Antoninus Pius.
- Æn., viii. 631-634. (See Dr. Middleton, in his letter from Rome, who inclines to the Ciceronian wolf, but without examining the subject.)
- "Jure cæsus existimetur," says Suetonius, i. 76, after a fair estimation of his character, and making use of a phrase which was a formula in Livy's time. "Mælium jure cæsum pronuntiavit, etiam si regni crimine insons fuerit:" [lib. iv. cap. xv.] and which was continued in the legal judgments pronounced in justifiable homicides, such as killing house-breakers.
- Rom. Ant., F. Nardini, 177 1, iv. Memorie, note 3, p. xii. He does not give the inscription.
- "In villa Justiniana exstat ingens lapis quadrus solidus, in quo sculpta hæc duo Ovidii carmina sunt:—
"'Ægeria est quæ præbet aquas dea grata Camœnis,
Illa Numæ conjunx consiliumque fuit.'
Qui lapis videtur eodem Egeriæ fonte, aut ejus vicinia, istuc comportatus."—Diarium Italic., Paris, 1702, p. 153.
- De Magnit. Vet. Rom., ap. Græv., Ant. Rom., iv. 1507 [I. Vossius, De Ant. Urb. Rom. Mag., cap. iv.]
- Eschinard, Descrizione di Roma e dell' Agro Romano, Roma, 1750. They believe in the grotto and nymph. "Simulacro di questo Fonte, essendovi scolpite le acque a pie di esso" (p. 297).
- Classical Tour, vol. ii. chap. vi. p. 217.
- Lib. I. Sat. iii. lines 11-20.
- Lib. iii. cap. iii.
- "Quamvis undique e solo aquæ scaturiant." Nardini, lib. iii. cap. iii. Thes. Ant. Rom., ap. J. G. Græv., 1697, iv. 978.
- Eschinard, etc. Sic cit., pp. 297, 298.
- Antiq. Rom., Oxf., 1704, lib. ii. cap. xxxi. vol. i. p. 97.
- Sueton., in Vit. Augusti, cap. xci. Casaubon, in the note, refers to Plutarch's Lives of Camillus and Æmilius Paulus, and also to his apophthegms, for the character of this deity. The hollowed hand was reckoned the last degree of degradation; and when the dead body of the præfect Rufinus was borne about in triumph by the people, the indignity was increased by putting his hand in that position.
- Storia delle Arti, etc., Rome, 1783, lib. xii. cap. iii. tom. ii. p. 422. Visconti calls the statue, however, a Cybele. It is given in the Musco Pio-Clement., tom. i. par. xl. The Abate Fea (Spiegazione dei Rami. Storia, etc., iii. 513) calls it a Crisippo.
- Dict. de Bayle, art. "Adrastea."
- It is enumerated by the regionary Victor.
- "Fortunæ hujusce diei." Cicero mentions her, De Legib., lib. ii.
V. C. LEGAT.
LEG. XIII. G.
(See Questiones Romanæ, etc., ap. Græv., Antiq. Roman., v. 942. See also Muratori, Nov. Thesaur. Inscrip. Vet., Milan, 1739, i. 88, 89, where there are three Latin and one Greek inscription to Nemesis, and others to Fate.)
- Julius Cæsar, who rose by the fall of the aristocracy, brought Furius Leptinus and A. Calenus upon the arena.
- "Ad captiuos pertinere Tertulliani querelam puto: Certe quidem & innocentes gladiatores inludum veniunt, & voluptatis publicæ hostiæ fiant." Justus, Lipsius, 1588, Saturn. Sermon., lib. ii. cap. iii. p. 84.
- Vopiscus, in Vit. Aurel., and in Vit. Claud., ibid.
- Just. Lips., ibid., lib. i. cap. xii. p. 45.
- Augustinus (Confess., lib. vi. cap. viii.): "Alypium suum gladiatorii spectaculi inhiatu incredibiliter abreptum," scribit. ib., lib. i. cap. xii.
- Hist. Eccles., ap. Ant. Hist. Eccl., Basle, 1535, lib. v. cap. xxvi.
- Cassiod., Tripartita, ap. Ant. Hist. Eccl., Basle, 1535, lib. x. cap. ii. p. 543.
- Baronius, De Ann. et in Notis ad Martyrol. Rom. I. Jan. (See Marangoni, Delle memorie sacre, e profane dell' Anfiteatro Flavio, p. 25, edit. 1746.)
- See Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto, p. 43.
- See Classical Tour, etc., chap. vii. p. 250, vol. ii.
- "Under our windows and bordering on the beach is the royal garden, laid out in parterres, and walks shaded by rows of orange trees,"—Classical Tour, etc., chap. xi. vol. ii. 365.