Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/369

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Ours is a trophy which will not decay
With the Rialto;[1] Shylock and the Moor,
And Pierre,[2] can not be swept or worn away—
The keystones of the Arch! though all were o'er,
For us repeopled were the solitary shore.

  1. [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.]
  2. [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!"]