Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/204

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170
[CANTO II.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

they go, are most beautiful: but they are almost all unfinished. While he and his patrons confine themselves to tasting medals, appreciating cameos, sketching columns, and cheapening gems, their little absurdities are as harmless as insect or fox-hunting, maiden-speechifying, barouche-driving, or any such pastime; but when they carry away three or four ship-loads of the most valuable and massy relics that time and barbarism have left to the most injured and most celebrated of cities: when they destroy, in a vain attempt to tear down, those works which have been the admiration of ages, I know no motive which can excuse, no name which can designate, the perpetrators of this dastardly devastation. It was not the least of the crimes laid to the charge of Verres, that he had plundered Sicily, in the manner since imitated at Athens. The most unblushing impudence could hardly go farther than to affix the name of its plunderer to the walls of the Acropolis; while the wanton and useless defacement of the whole range of the basso-relievos, in one compartment of the temple, will never permit that name to be pronounced by an observer without execration.

On this occasion I speak impartially: I am not a collector or admirer of collections, consequently no rival; but I have some early prepossession in favour of Greece, and do not think the honour of England advanced by plunder, whether of India or Attica.

Another noble Lord [Aberdeen] has done better, because he has done less: but some others, more or less noble, yet "all honourable men," have done best, because, after a deal of excavation and execration, bribery to the Waywode, mining and countermining, they have done nothing at all. We had such ink-shed, and wine-shed, which almost ended

    resistance. Colonna is no less a resort of painters than of pirates; there

    "The hireling artist plants his paltry desk,
    And makes degraded nature picturesque."

    See Hodgson's Lady Jane Grey, etc.[d] [1809, p. 214].

    But there Nature, with the aid of Art, has done that for herself. I was fortunate enough to engage a very superior German artist; and hope to renew my acquaintance with this and many other Levantine scenes, by the arrival of his performances.
    ^  a. [This must have taken place in 1811, after Hobhouse returned to England.—Travels in Albania, i. 373, note.]
    ^  b. [William Falconer (1732-1769), second mate of a vessel in the Levant trade, was wrecked between Alexandria and Venice. Only three of the crew survived. His poem, The Shipwreck, was published in 1762. It was dedicated to the Duke of York, and through his intervention he was "rated as a midshipman in the Royal Navy." Either as author or naval officer, he came to be on intimate terms with John Murray the first, who thought highly of his abilities, and offered him (October 16, 1768) a partnership in his new bookselling business in Fleet Street. In September, 1769, he embarked for India as purser of the Aurora frigate, which touched at the Cape, but never reached her destination. See Memoir, by J. S. Clarke; The Shipwreck, 1804, pp. viii.-xlvi.]

    ^  c.

    Yes, at the dead of night, etc.—

    [Pleasures of Hope, lines 149, 150.]

    ^  d. [The quotation is from Hodgson's "Lines on a Ruined Abbey in a Romantic Country," vide ante, Canto I., p. 20, note.]