Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/503

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CANTO IV.]
459
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

CLXXXI.

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And Monarchs tremble in their Capitals,
The oak Leviathans,[1] whose huge ribs make[2]
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of Lord of thee, and Arbiter of War—
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar.[3]


  1. [Compare Campbell's Battle of the Baltic (stanza ii. lines 1, 2)—

    "Like leviathans afloat,
    Lay their bulwarks on the brine."]

  2. These oaken citadels which made and make.—[MS. M. erased.]
  3. The Gale of wind which succeeded the battle of Trafalgar destroyed the greater part (if not all) of the prizes—nineteen sail of the line—taken on that memorable day. I should be ashamed to specify particulars which should be known to all—did we not know that in France the people were kept in ignorance of the event of this most glorious victory in modern times, and that in England it is the present fashion to talk of Waterloo as though it were entirely an English triumph—and a thing to be named with Blenheim and Agincourt—Trafalgar and Aboukir. Posterity will decide; but if it be remembered as a skilful or as a wonderful action, it will be like the battle of Zama, where we think of Hannibal more than of Scipio. For assuredly we dwell on this action, not because it was gained by Blucher or Wellington, but because it was lost by Buonaparte—a man who, with all his vices and his faults, never yet found an adversary with a tithe of his talents (as far as the expression can apply to a conqueror) or his good intentions, his clemency or his fortitude. Look at his successors throughout Europe, whose imitation of the worst parts of his policy is only limited by their comparative impotence, and their positive imbecility.—[MS. M.]