Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/330

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294
[CANTO III.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

this may be mere imagination: I have viewed with attention those of Platea, Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Chæronea, and Marathon; and the field around Mount St. Jean and Hougoumont appears to want little but a better cause, and that undefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except, perhaps, the last mentioned.

[For particulars of the death of Major Howard, see Personal Memoirs, etc., by Pryse Lockhart Gordon, 1830, ii. 322, 323.]


7.

Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore.

Stanza xxxiv. line 6.

The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltites were said to be fair without, and, within, ashes.

[Compare Tacitus, Histor., lib. v. 7, "Cuncta sponte edita, aut manu sata, sive herbæ tenues, aut flores, ut solitam in speciem adolevere, atra et inania velut in cinerem vanescunt." See, too. Deut. xxxii. 32, "For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter."

They are a species of gall-nut, and are described by Curzon (Visits to Monasteries of the Levant, 1897, p. 141), who met with the tree that bears them, near the Dead Sea, and, mistaking the fruit for a ripe plum, proceeded to eat one, whereupon his mouth was filled "with a dry bitter dust."

"The apple of Sodom ... is supposed by some to refer to the fruit of Solanum Sodomeum (allied to the tomato), by others to the Calotropis procera" (N. Eng. Dict., art. "Apple").]


8.

For sceptred Cynics Earth were far too wide a den.

Stanza xli. line 9.

The great error of Napoleon, "if we have writ our annals true," was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more trembling and suspicious tyranny. Such were his speeches to public assemblies as well as individuals; and the single expression which he is said to have used on returning to