Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/349

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313
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE, CANTO IV.

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,