Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/334

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298
[CANTO III.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

thrown into pits. "Nine years later ... the mouldering remains were unearthed, and deposited in a building ... on the shore of the lake, near the village of Meyriez.... During three succeeding centuries this depository was several times rebuilt.... But the ill-starred relics were not destined even yet to remain undisturbed. At the close of the last century, when the armies of the French Republic were occupying Switzerland, a regiment consisting mainly of Burgundians, under the notion of effacing an insult to their ancestors, tore down the 'bone-house' at Morat, covered the contents with earth, and planted on the mound 'a tree of liberty.' But the tree had no roots; the rains washed away the earth; again the remains were exposed to view, and lay bleaching in the sun for a quarter of a century. Travellers stopped to gaze, to moralize, and to pilfer; postilions and poets scraped off skulls and thigh-bones.... At last, in 1822, the vestiges were swept together and resepulchred, and a simple obelisk of marble was erected, to commemorate a victory well deserving of its fame as a military exploit, but all unworthy to be ranked with earlier triumphs, won by hands pure as well as strong, defending freedom and the right."—History of Charles the Bold, by J. F. Kirk, 1868, iii. 404, 405.

Mr. Murray still has in his possession the parcel of bones—the "quarter of a hero"—which Byron sent home from the field of Morat.]


14.

Levelled Aventicum, hath strewed her subject lands.

Stanza lxv. line 9.

Aventicum, near Morat, was the Roman capital of Helvetia, where Avenches now stands.

[Avenches (Wiflisburg) lies due south of the Lake of Morat, and about five miles east of the Lake of Neuchâtel. As a Roman colony it bore the name of Pia Flavia Constans Emerita, and circ. 70 A.D. contained a population of sixty thousand inhabitants. It was destroyed first by the Alemanni and, afterwards, by Attila. "The Emperor Vespasian—son of the banker of the town," says Suetonius (lib. viii. 1)—"surrounded the city by massive walls, defended it by semicircular towers, adorned it with a capitol, a theatre, a forum, and granted it jurisdiction over the outlying dependencies....

"To-day plantations of tobacco cover the forgotten streets of Avenches, and a single Corinthian column ['the lonelier column,' the so-called Cicognier], with its crumbling arcade,