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[i]

THE WORKS
OF
LORD BYRON

A NEW, REVISED AND ENLARGED EDITION,
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS.

Poetry. Vol. IV.

EDITED BY
ERNEST HARTLEY COLERIDGE, M.A.,
HON. F.R.S.L.

LONDON:
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
NEW YORK: CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.

1901.


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

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The following corrections were made in the course of transcribing the original text: On page 78 the premiere date for Manfred was corrected from "1384" to "1834" and the spelling of "Tschaikowsky" was corrected from "Tschairowsky." Although the text of a List of Illustrations is included in this etext, the illustrations themselves were not available.


[v]

PREFACE TO THE FOURTH VOLUME.
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The poems included in this volume consist of thirteen longer or more important works, written at various periods between June, 1816, and October, 1821; of eight occasional pieces (Poems of July-September, 1816), written in 1816; and of another collection of occasional pieces (Poems 1816-1823), written at intervals between November, 1816, and September, 1823. Of this second group of minor poems five are now printed and published for the first time.

The volume is not co-extensive with the work of the period. The third and fourth cantos of Childe Harold (1816-1817), the first five cantos of Don Juan (1818, 1819, 1820), Sardanapalus, The Two Foscari, Cain, and Heaven and Earth (1821), form parts of other volumes, but, in spite of these notable exceptions, the fourth volume contains the work of the poet's maturity, which is and must ever remain famous. Byron was not content [vi] to write on one kind of subject, or to confine himself to one branch or species of poetry. He tracked the footsteps now of this master poet, now of another, far outstripping some of his models; soon spent in the pursuit of others. Even in his own lifetime, and in the heyday of his fame, his friendliest critics, who applauded him to the echo, perceived that the "manifold motions" of his versatile and unsleeping talent were not always sanctioned or blessed by his genius. Hence the unevenness of his work, the different values of this or that poem. But, even so, in width of compass, in variety of style, and in measure of success, his achievement was unparalleled. Take such poems as Manfred or Mazeppa, which have left their mark on the literature of Europe; as Beppo, the avant courrier of Don Juan, or the "inimitable" Vision of Judgment, which the "hungry generations" have not trodden down or despoiled of its freshness. Not one of these poems suggests or resembles the other, but each has its crowd of associations, a history and almost a literature of its own.

The whole of this volume was written on foreign soil, in Switzerland or Italy, and, putting aside The Dream, The Monody on the Death of Sheridan, The Irish Avatar, and The Blues, the places, the persons and events, the matériel of the volume as a whole, to say nothing of the style and metre of the poems, are derived from the history and the literature of Switzerland and Southern Europe. An unwilling, at times a vindictive exile, he [vii]did more than any other poet or writer of his age to familiarize his own countrymen with the scenery, the art and letters of the Continent, and, conversely, to make the existence of English literature, or, at least, the writings of one Englishman, known to Frenchmen and Italians; to the Teuton and the Slav. If he "taught us little" as prophet or moralist; as a guide to knowledge; as an educator of the general reader—"your British blackguard," as he was pleased to call him—his teaching and influence were "in widest commonalty spread."

Questions with regard to his personality, his morals, his theological opinions, his qualifications as an artist, his grammar, his technique, and so forth, have, perhaps inevitably, absorbed the attention of friend and foe, and the one point on which all might agree has been overlooked, namely, the fact that he taught us a great deal which it is desirable and agreeable to know—which has passed into common knowledge through the medium of his poetry. It is true that he wrote his plays and poems at lightning speed, and that if he was at pains to correct some obvious blunders, he expended but little labour on picking his phrases or polishing his lines; but it is also true that he read widely and studied diligently, in order to prepare himself for an outpouring of verse, and that so far from being a superficial observer or inaccurate recorder, his authority is worth quoting in questions of fact and points of detail.

The appreciation of poetry is a matter of taste, and still more of temperament. Readers cannot be coerced[viii] into admiration, or scolded into disapproval and contempt. But if they are willing or can be persuaded to read with some particularity and attention the writings of the illustrious dead, not entirely as partisans, or with the view to dethroning other "Monarchs of Parnassus," they will divine the secret of their fame, and will understand, perhaps recover, the "first rapture" of contemporaries.

Byron sneered and carped at Southey as a "scribbler of all works." He was himself a reader of all works, and without some measure of book-learning and not a little research the force and significance of his various numbers are weakened or obliterated.

It is with the hope of supplying this modicum of book-learning that the Introductions and notes in this and other volumes have been compiled.

I desire to acknowledge, with thanks, the courteous response of Mons. J. Capré, Commandant of the Castle of Chillon, to a letter of inquiry with regard to the "Souterrains de Chillon."

I have to express my gratitude to Sir Henry Irving, to Mr. Joseph Knight, and to Mr. F. E. Taylor, for valuable information concerning the stage representation of Manfred and Marino Faliero.

I am deeply indebted to Dr. Richard Garnett, C.B., and to my friend, Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, for assistance in many important particulars during the construction of the volume.[ix]

I must also record my thanks to Mr. Oscar Browning, Mr. Josceline Courtenay, and other correspondents, for information and assistance in points of difficulty.

I have consulted and derived valuable information from the following works: The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., by the late Professor Kölbing; Mazeppa, by Dr. Englaender; Marino Faliero avanti il Dogado and La Congiura (published in the Nuovo Archivio Veneto), by Signor Vittorio Lazzarino; and Selections from the Poetry of Lord Byron, by Dr. F. I. Carpenter of Chicago, U.S.A.

I take the opportunity of expressing my acknowledgments to Miss K. Schlesinger, Miss De Alberti, and to Signor F. Bianco, for their able and zealous services in the preparation of portions of the volume.

On behalf of the publisher I beg to acknowledge the kindness of Captain the Hon. F. L. King Noel, in sanctioning the examination and collation of the MS. of Beppo, now in his possession; and of Mrs. Horace Pym of Foxwold Chace, for permitting the portrait of Sheridan by Sir Joshua Reynolds to be reproduced for this volume.

ERNEST HARTLEY COLERIDGE.

May 5, 1901.


[xi]

CONTENTS OF VOL. IV.
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Preface to Vol. IV. of the Poems v
The Prisoner of Chillon.
Introduction to The Prisoner of Chillon3
Sonnet on Chillon7
Advertisement9
The Prisoner of Chillon13
Poems of July-September, 1816. The Dream.
Introduction to The Dream31
The Dream. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181633
Darkness. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181642
Churchill's Grave. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181645
Prometheus. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181648
A Fragment. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 3651
Sonnet to Lake Leman, First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181653
Stanzas to Augusta. First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 181654
Epistle to Augusta. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 38-4157
Lines on hearing that Lady Byron was Ill. First published, 183163
Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan.
Introduction to Monody, etc.69
Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan, Spoken at Drury Lane Theatre, London71
Manfred: A Dramatic Poem. [xii]
Introduction to Manfred79
Manfred85
The Lament of Tasso.
Introduction to The Lament of Tasso139
Advertisement141
The Lament of Tasso143
Beppo: A Venetian Story.
Introduction to Beppo155
Beppo159
Ode on Venice.
Ode on Venice193
Mazeppa.
Introduction to Mazeppa201
Advertisement205
Mazeppa207
The Prophecy of Dante.
Introduction to The Prophecy of Dante237
Dedication241
Preface243
The Prophecy of Dante. Canto the First247
Canto the Second255
Canto the Third261
Canto the Fourth269
The Morgante Maggiore of Pulci.
Introduction to The Morgante Maggiore279
Advertisement283
The Morgante Maggiore. Canto the First285
Francesca Of Rimini.
Introduction to Francesca of Rimini313
Francesco of Rimini317
Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice: an Historical Tragedy. [xiii]
Introduction to Marino Faliero325
Preface331
Marino Faliero345
Appendix462
The Vision Of Judgment.
Introduction to The Vision of Judgment475
Preface481
The Vision of Judgment487
Poems 1816-1823.
A very Mournful Ballad on the Siege and Conquest of Alhama. First published, Childe Harold, Canto IV., 1818529
Sonetto di Vittorelli. Per Monaca535
Translation from Vittorelli. On a Nun. First published, Childe Harold, Canto IV., 1818535
On the Bust of Helen by Canova. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 61536
[Venice. A Fragment.] MS. M537
So we'll go no more a-roving. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 79538
[Lord Byron's Verses on Sam Rogers.] Question and Answer. First published, Fraser's Magazine, January, 1833, vol. vii. pp. 82-84538
The Duel. MS. M542
Stanzas to the Po. First published, Conversations of Lord Byron, 1824545
Sonnet on the Nuptials of the Marquis Antonio Cavalli with the Countess Clelia Rasponi of Ravenna. MS. M547
Sonnet to the Prince Regent. On the Repeal of Lord Edward Fitzgerald's Forfeiture. First published, Letters and Journals, ii. 234, 235548
Stanzas. First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1832549
Ode to a Lady whose Lover was killed by a Ball, which at the same time shivered a portrait next his heart. MS. M.552
The Irish Avatar. First published, Conversations of Lord Byron, 1824555
Stanzas written on the Road between Florence and Pisa. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 566, not562
[xiv] Stanzas to a Hindoo Air. First published, Works of Lord Byron563
To —— First published, New Monthly Magazine, 1833564
To the Countess of Blessington. First published, Letters and Journals, 1830565
Aristomanes. Canto First. MS. D.566
The Blues: A Literary Eclogue.
Introduction to The Blues569
The Blues. Eclogue the First573
Eclogue the Second580

[xv]

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
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  1. Lord Byron, from an Engraving after a Drawing by G. H. Harlowe
  2. The Prison of Bonivard
  3. The Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan, from a Portrait in Oils by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., in the Possession of Mrs. Horace Pym of Foxwold Chace
  4. The Right Honourable John Hookham Frere, from a Mezzotint by W. W. Barney, after a Picture by John Hoppner, R.A.
  5. Robert Southey, Poet Laureate, from a Drawing made in 1811 by John Downman, A.R.A., in the Possession of A. H. Hallam Murray, Esq.

[1]

THE PRISONER OF CHILLON


[3]

INTRODUCTION TO THE PRISONER OF CHILLON.
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The Prisoner of Chillon, says Moore (Life, p. 320), was written at Ouchy, near Lausanne, where Byron and Shelley "were detained two days in a small inn [Hôtel de l'Ancre, now d'Angleterre] by the weather." Byron's letter to Murray, dated June 27 (but? 28), 1816, does not precisely tally with Shelley's journal contained in a letter to Peacock, July 12, 1816 (Prose Works of P. B. Shelley, 1880, ii. 171, sq.); but, if Shelley's first date, June 23, is correct, it follows that the two poets visited the Castle of Chillon on Wednesday, June 26, reached Ouchy on Thursday, June 27, and began their homeward voyage on Saturday, June 29 (Shelley misdates it June 30). On this reckoning the Prisoner of Chillon was begun and finished between Thursday, June 27, and Saturday, June 29, 1816. Whenever or wherever begun, it was completed by July 10 (see Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 364), and was ready for transmission to England by July 25. The MS., in Claire's handwriting, was placed in Murray's hands on October 11, and the poem, with seven others, was published December 5, 1816.

In a final note to the Prisoner of Chillon (First Edition, 1816, p. 59), Byron confesses that when "the foregoing poem was composed he knew too little of the history of Bonnivard to do justice to his courage and virtues," and appends as a note to the "Sonnet on Chillon," "some account of his life ... furnished by the kindness of a citizen of that Republic," i.e. Geneva. The note, which is now entitled "Advertisement," is taken bodily from the pages of a work published in 1786 by the Swiss naturalist, Jean Senebier, who died in 1809. It was not Byron's way to invent imaginary authorities, but rather to give his references with some pride and particularity, and it is possible that this unacknowledged and hitherto unverified "account" was supplied by some literary acquaintance, who failed to explain that his [4] information was common property. Be that as it may, Senebier's prose is in some respects as unhistorical as Byron's verse, and stands in need of some corrections and additions.

François Bonivard (there is no contemporary authority for "Bonnivard") was born in 1493. In early youth (1510) he became by inheritance Prior of St. Victor, a monastery outside the walls of Geneva, and on reaching manhood (1514) he accepted the office and the benefice, "la dignité ecclésiastique de Prieur et de la Seigneurie temporelle de St. Victor." A lover of independence, a child of the later Renaissance, in a word, a Genevese, he threw in his lot with a band of ardent reformers and patriots, who were conspiring to shake off the yoke of Duke Charles III. of Savoy, and convert the city into a republic. Here is his own testimony: "Dès que j'eus commencé de lire l'histoire des nations, je me sentis entrainé par un goût prononcé pour les Républiques dont j'épousai toujours les intérêts." Hence, in a great measure, the unrelenting enmity of the duke, who not only ousted him from his priory, but caused him to be shut up for two years at Grolée, Gex, and Belley, and again, after he had been liberated on a second occasion, ordered him, a safe conduct notwithstanding, to be seized and confined in the Castle of Chillon. Here he remained from 1530 to February 1, 1536, when he was released by the Bernese.

For the first two years he was lodged in a room near the governor's quarters, and was fairly comfortable; but a day came when the duke paid a visit to Chillon; and "then," he writes, "the captain thrust me into a cell lower than the lake, where I lived four years. I know not whether he did it by the duke's orders or of his own accord; but sure it is that I had so much leisure for walking, that I wore in the rock which was the pavement a track or little path, as it had been made with a hammer" (Chroniques des Ligues de Stumpf, addition de Bonivard).

After he had been liberated, "par la grace de Dieu donnee a Messrs de Berne," he returned to Geneva, and was made a member of the Council of the State, and awarded a house and a pension of two hundred crowns a year. A long life was before him, which he proceeded to spend in characteristic fashion, finely and honourably as scholar, author, and reformer, but with little self-regard or self-respect as a private citizen. He was married no less than four times, and not one of these alliances was altogether satisfactory or creditable. Determined "to warm both hands before the fire of life," he was prone to ignore the prejudices and even the decencies of his fellow-citizens, now incurring their [5] displeasure, and now again, as one who had greatly testified for truth and freedom, being taken back into favour and forgiven. There was a deal of human nature in Bonivard, with the result that, at times, conduct fell short of pretension and principle. Estimates of his character differ widely. From the standpoint of Catholic orthodoxy, "C'était un fort mauvais sujet et un plus mauvais prêtre;" and even his captivity, infamous as it was, "ne peut rendre Bonivard intéressant" (Notices Généalogiques sur les Famillies Genevoises, par J. A. Galiffe, 1836, iii. 67, sq.); whilst an advocate and champion, the author of the Preface to Les Chroniques de Genève par François de Bonnivard, 1831, tom. i. pt. i. p. xli., avows that "aucun homme n'a fait preuve d'un plus beau caractère, d'un plus parfait désintéressement que l'illustre Prieur de St. Victor." Like other great men, he may have been guilty of "quelques égaremens du coeur, quelques concessions passagères aux dévices des sens," but "Peu importe à la postérité les irrégularités de leur vie privée" (p. xlviii.).

But whatever may be the final verdict with regard to the morals, there can be no question as to the intellectual powers of the "Prisoner of Chillon." The publication of various MS. tracts, e.g. Advis et Devis de l'ancienne et nouvelle Police de Genève, 1865; Advis et Devis des Lengnes, etc., 1865, which were edited by the late J. J. Chaponnière, and, after his death, by M. Gustave Revilliod, has placed his reputation as historian, satirist, philosopher, beyond doubt or cavil. One quotation must suffice. He is contrasting the Protestants with the Catholics (Advis et Devis de la Source de Lidolatrie, Geneva, 1856, p. 159): "Et nous disons que les prebstres rongent les mortz et est vray; mais nous faisons bien pys, car nous rongeons les vifz. Quel profit revient aux paveures du dommage des prebstres? Nous nous ventons touttes les deux parties de prescher Christ cruciffie et disons vray, car nous le laissons cruciffie et nud en l'arbre de la croix, et jouons a beaux dez au pied dicelle croix, pour scavoir qui haura sa robe."

For Bonivard's account of his second imprisonment, see Les Chroniques de Genève, tom. ii. part ii. pp. 571-577; see, too, Notice sur François Bonivard, ...par Le Docteur J. J. Chaponnière, Mémoires et Documents Publiés, par La Société d'Histoire, etc., de Genève, 1845, iv. 137-245; Chillon Etude Historique, par L. Vulliemin, Lausanne, 1851; Revue des Deux Mondes, Seconde Période, vol. 82, Août, 1869, pp. 682-709; "True Story of the Prisoner of Chillon," Nineteenth Century, May, 1900, No. 279, pp. 821-829, by A. van Amstel (Johannes Christiaan Neuman). [6]

The Prisoner of Chillon was reviewed (together with the Third Canto of Childe Harold) by Sir Walter Scott (Quarterly Review, No. xxxi., October, 1816), and by Jeffrey (Edinburgh Review, No. liv., December, 1816).

With the exception of the Eclectic (March, 1817, N.S., vol. vii. pp. 298-304), the lesser reviews were unfavourable. For instance, the Critical Review (December, 1816, Series V. vol. iv. pp. 567-581) detected the direct but unacknowledged influence of Wordsworth on thought and style; and the Portfolio (No. vi. pp. 121-128), in an elaborate skit, entitled "Literary Frauds," assumed, and affected to prove, that the entire poem was a forgery, and belonged to the same category as The Right Honourable Lord Byron's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, etc.

For extracts from these and other reviews, see Kölbing, Prisoner of Chillon, and Other Poems, Weimar, 1896, excursus i. pp. 3-55.


[7]

SONNET ON CHILLON
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Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind![1]
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art:
For there thy habitation is the heart—
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consigned—
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar—for 'twas trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard!—May none those marks efface!
For they appeal from tyranny to God.[2]

[9]

ADVERTISEMENT
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When this poem[a] was composed, I was not sufficiently aware of the history of Bonnivard, or I should have endeavoured to dignify the subject by an attempt to celebrate his courage and his virtues. With some account of his life I have been furnished, by the kindness of a citizen of that republic, which is still proud of the memory of a man worthy of the best age of ancient freedom:—

"François De Bonnivard, fils de Louis De Bonnivard, originaire de Seyssel et Seigneur de Lunes, naquit en 1496. Il fit ses études à Turin: en 1510 Jean Aimé de Bonnivard, son oncle, lui résigna le Prieuré de St. Victor, qui aboutissoit aux murs de Genève, et qui formait un bénéfice considérable....

"Ce grand homme—(Bonnivard mérite ce litre par la force de son âme, la droiture de son coeur, la noblesse de ses intentions, la sagesse de ses conseils, le courage de ses démarches, l'étendue de ses connaissances, et la vivacité de son esprit),—ce grand homme, qui excitera l'admiration de tous ceux qu'une vertu héroïque peut encore émouvoir, inspirera encore la plus vive reconnaissance dans les coeurs des Genevois qui aiment Genève. Bonnivard en fut toujours un des plus fermes appuis: pour assurer la liberté de notre République, il ne craignit pas de perdre souvent la sienne; il oublia son repos; il méprisa ses richesses; il ne négligea rien pour affermir [10] le bonheur d'une patrie qu'il honora de son choix: dès ce moment il la chérit comme le plus zélé de ses citoyens; il la servit avec l'intrépidité d'un héros, et il écrivit son Histoire avec la naïveté d'un philosophe et la chaleur d'un patriote.

"Il dit dans le commencement de son Histoire de Genève, que, dès qu'il eut commencé de lire l'histoire des nations, il se sentit entraîné par son goût pour les Républiques, dont il épousa toujours les intérêts: c'est ce goût pour la liberté qui lui fit sans doute adopter Genève pour sa patrie....

"Bonnivard, encore jeune, s'annonça hautement comme le défenseur de Genève contre le Duc de Savoye et l'Evêque....

"En 1519, Bonnivard devient le martyr de sa patrie: Le Duc de Savoye étant entré dans Genève avec cinq cent hommes, Bonnivard craint le ressentiment du Duc; il voulut se retirer à Fribourg pour en éviter les suites; mais il fut trahi par deux hommes qui l'accompagnaient, et conduit par ordre du Prince à Grolée, où il resta prisonnier pendant deux ans. Bonnivard était malheureux dans ses voyages: comme ses malheurs n'avaient point ralenti son zèle pour Genève, il était toujours un ennemi redoutable pour ceux qui la menaçaient, et par conséquent il devait être exposé à leurs coups. Il fut rencontré en 1530 sur le Jura par des voleurs, qui le dépouillèrent, et qui le mirent encore entre les mains du Duc de Savoye: ce Prince le fit enfermer dans le Château de Chillon, où il resta sans être interrogé jusques en 1536; il fut alors delivré par les Bernois, qui s'emparèrent du Pays-de-Vaud.

"Bonnivard, en sortant de sa captivité, eut le plaisir de trouver Genève libre et réformée: la République s'empressa de lui témoigner sa reconnaissance, et de le dédommager des maux qu'il avoit soufferts; elle le reçut Bourgeois de la ville au mois de Juin, 1536; elle lui donna la maison habitée autrefois par le Vicaire-Général, et elle lui assigna une pension de deux cent écus d'or tant qu'il séjournerait à Genève. Il fut admis dans le Conseil des Deux-Cent en 1537.

"Bonnivard n'a pas fini d'être utile: après avoir [11] travaillé à rendre Genève libre, il réussit à la rendre tolérante. Bonnivard engagea le Conseil à accorder [aux ecclésiastiques et aux paysans] un tems suffisant pour examiner les propositions qu'on leur faisait; il réussit par sa douceur: on prêche toujours le Christianisme avec succès quand on le prêche avec charité....

"Bonnivard fut savant: ses manuscrits, qui sont dans la bibliothèque publique, prouvent qu'il avait bien lu les auteurs classiques Latins, et qu'il avait approfondi la théologie et l'histoire. Ce grand homme aimait les sciences, et il croyait qu'elles pouvaient faire la gloire de Genève; aussi il ne négligea rien pour les fixer dans cette ville naissante; en 1551 il donna sa bibliothèque au public; elle fut le commencement de notre bibliothèque publique; et ces livres sont en partie les rares et belles éditions du quinzième siècle qu'on voit dans notre collection. Enfin, pendant la même année, ce bon patriote institua la République son héritière, à condition qu'elle employerait ses biens à entretenir le collège dont on projettait la fondation.

"Il parait que Bonnivard mourut en 1570; mais on ne peut l'assurer, parcequ'il y a une lacune dans le Nécrologe depuis le mois de Juillet, 1570, jusques en 1571."—[Histoire Littéraire de Genève, par Jean Senebier (1741-1809), 1786, i. 131-137.]


[13]

THE PRISONER OF CHILLON


I.

My hair is grey, but not with years,
Nor grew it white
In a single night,[3]
As men's have grown from sudden fears:
My limbs are bowed, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,[b]
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,
And mine has been the fate of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are banned,[4] and barred—forbidden fare;10
But this was for my father's faith
I suffered chains and courted death;[14]
That father perished at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling place;
We were seven—who now are one,[5]
Six in youth, and one in age,
Finished as they had begun,
Proud of Persecution's rage;[c]20
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have sealed,
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied;—
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.

II.

There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,[6]
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprisoned ray,30
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,[15]
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:[7]
And in each pillar there is a ring,[8]
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,40
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For years—I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother drooped and died,
And I lay living by his side.

III.

They chained us each to a column stone,
And we were three—yet, each alone;[16]
We could not move a single pace,50
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight:
And thus together—yet apart,
Fettered in hand, but joined in heart,[d]
'Twas still some solace in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope, or legend old,60
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold.
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,
A grating sound, not full and free,
As they of yore were wont to be:
It might be fancy—but to me
They never sounded like our own.

IV.

I was the eldest of the three,
And to uphold and cheer the rest70
I ought to do—and did my best—
And each did well in his degree.
The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To him, with eyes as blue as heaven—
For him my soul was sorely moved:
And truly might it be distressed
To see such bird in such a nest;[17][9]
For he was beautiful as day—
(When day was beautiful to me80
As to young eagles, being free)—
A polar day, which will not see[10]
A sunset till its summer's gone,
Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun:
And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flowed like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe90
Which he abhorred to view below.

V.

The other was as pure of mind,
But formed to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perished in the foremost rank
With joy:—but not in chains to pine:
His spirit withered with their clank,
I saw it silently decline—
And so perchance in sooth did mine:100
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,
Had followed there the deer and wolf;
To him this dungeon was a gulf,
And fettered feet the worst of ills.

VI.

Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent110[18]
From Chillon's snow-white battlement,[11]
Which round about the wave inthralls:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made—and like a living grave.
Below the surface of the lake[19][12]
The dark vault lies wherein we lay:
We heard it ripple night and day;
Sounding o'er our heads it knocked;
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high120
And wanton in the happy sky;
And then the very rock hath rocked,
And I have felt it shake, unshocked,[13]
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.

VII.

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighty heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 'twas coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,130
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain goat
Was changed for water from the moat,
Our bread was such as captives' tears
Have moistened many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or him?
These wasted not his heart or limb;
My brother's soul was of that mould140
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side;[14]
But why delay the truth?—he died.[20][e]
I saw, and could not hold his head,
Nor reach his dying hand—nor dead,—
Though hard I strove, but strove in vain,
To rend and gnash my bonds in twain.[f]
He died—and they unlocked his chain,
And scooped for him a shallow grave[15]150
Even from the cold earth of our cave.
I begged them, as a boon, to lay
His corse in dust whereon the day
Might shine—it was a foolish thought,
But then within my brain it wrought,[16]
That even in death his freeborn breast
In such a dungeon could not rest.
I might have spared my idle prayer—
They coldly laughed—and laid him there:
The flat and turfless earth above160
The being we so much did love;
His empty chain above it leant,
Such Murder's fitting monument!

VIII.

But he, the favourite and the flower,
Most cherished since his natal hour,
His mother's image in fair face,
The infant love of all his race,
His martyred father's dearest thought,[17]
My latest care, for whom I sought
To hoard my life, that his might be170
Less wretched now, and one day free;[21]
He, too, who yet had held untired
A spirit natural or inspired—
He, too, was struck, and day by day
Was withered on the stalk away.[18]
Oh, God! it is a fearful thing
To see the human soul take wing
In any shape, in any mood:[19]
I've seen it rushing forth in blood,
I've seen it on the breaking ocean180
Strive with a swoln convulsive motion,
I've seen the sick and ghastly bed
Of Sin delirious with its dread:
But these were horrors—this was woe
Unmixed with such—but sure and slow:
He faded, and so calm and meek,
So softly worn, so sweetly weak,
So tearless, yet so tender—kind,
And grieved for those he left behind;
With all the while a cheek whose bloom190
Was as a mockery of the tomb,
Whose tints as gently sunk away
As a departing rainbow's ray;
An eye of most transparent light,
That almost made the dungeon bright;[22]
And not a word of murmur—not
A groan o'er his untimely lot,—
A little talk of better days,
A little hope my own to raise,
For I was sunk in silence—lost200
In this last loss, of all the most;
And then the sighs he would suppress
Of fainting Nature's feebleness,
More slowly drawn, grew less and less:
I listened, but I could not hear;
I called, for I was wild with fear;
I knew 'twas hopeless, but my dread
Would not be thus admonished;
I called, and thought I heard a sound—
I burst my chain with one strong bound,210
And rushed to him:—I found him not,
I only stirred in this black spot,
I only lived, I only drew
The accursed breath of dungeon-dew;
The last, the sole, the dearest link
Between me and the eternal brink,
Which bound me to my failing race,
Was broken in this fatal place.
One on the earth, and one beneath—
My brothers—both had ceased to breathe:220
I took that hand which lay so still,
Alas! my own was full as chill;
I had not strength to stir, or strive,
But felt that I was still alive—
A frantic feeling, when we know
That what we love shall ne'er be so.
I know not why
I could not die,[20]
I had no earthly hope—but faith,
And that forbade a selfish death.230

[23]

IX.

What next befell me then and there
I know not well—I never knew—
First came the loss of light, and air,
And then of darkness too:
I had no thought, no feeling—none—
Among the stones I stood a stone,[21]
And was, scarce conscious what I wist,
As shrubless crags within the mist;
For all was blank, and bleak, and grey;
It was not night—it was not day;240
It was not even the dungeon-light,
So hateful to my heavy sight,
But vacancy absorbing space,
And fixedness—without a place;
There were no stars—no earth—no time—
No check—no change—no good—no crime—
But silence, and a stirless breath
Which neither was of life nor death;
A sea of stagnant idleness,
Blind, boundless, mute, and motionless!250

X.

A light broke in upon my brain,—
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased, and then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard,
And mine was thankful till my eyes
Ran over with the glad surprise,
And they that moment could not see
I was the mate of misery;
But then by dull degrees came back
My senses to their wonted track;260
I saw the dungeon walls and floor
Close slowly round me as before,
I saw the glimmer of the sun
Creeping as it before had done,[24]
But through the crevice where it came
That bird was perched, as fond and tame,
And tamer than upon the tree;
A lovely bird, with azure wings,[22]
And song that said a thousand things,
And seemed to say them all for me!270
I never saw its like before,
I ne'er shall see its likeness more:
It seemed like me to want a mate,
But was not half so desolate,[23]
And it was come to love me when
None lived to love me so again,
And cheering from my dungeon's brink,
Had brought me back to feel and think.
I know not if it late were free,
Or broke its cage to perch on mine,280
But knowing well captivity,
Sweet bird! I could not wish for thine!
Or if it were, in wingéd guise,
A visitant from Paradise;
For—Heaven forgive that thought! the while
Which made me both to weep and smile—
I sometimes deemed that it might be
My brother's soul come down to me;[24]
But then at last away it flew,
And then 'twas mortal well I knew,290
For he would never thus have flown—
And left me twice so doubly lone,—
Lone—as the corse within its shroud,[25]
Lone—as a solitary cloud,[25]
A single cloud on a sunny day,
While all the rest of heaven is clear,
A frown upon the atmosphere,
That hath no business to appear[26]
When skies are blue, and earth is gay.

XI.

A kind of change came in my fate,300
My keepers grew compassionate;
I know not what had made them so,
They were inured to sights of woe,
But so it was:—my broken chain
With links unfastened did remain,
And it was liberty to stride
Along my cell from side to side,
And up and down, and then athwart,
And tread it over every part;
And round the pillars one by one,310
Returning where my walk begun,
Avoiding only, as I trod,
My brothers' graves without a sod;
For if I thought with heedless tread
My step profaned their lowly bed,
My breath came gaspingly and thick,
And my crushed heart felt blind and sick.

XII.

I made a footing in the wall,
It was not therefrom to escape,
For I had buried one and all,320
Who loved me in a human shape;[26]
And the whole earth would henceforth be
A wider prison unto me:[27]
No child—no sire—no kin had I,
No partner in my misery;
I thought of this, and I was glad,
For thought of them had made me mad;
But I was curious to ascend
To my barred windows, and to bend
Once more, upon the mountains high,330
The quiet of a loving eye.[28]

XIII.

I saw them—and they were the same,
They were not changed like me in frame;
I saw their thousand years of snow
On high—their wide long lake below,[g]
And the blue Rhone in fullest flow;[29]
I heard the torrents leap and gush
O'er channelled rock and broken bush;
I saw the white-walled distant town,[30]
And whiter sails go skimming down;340
And then there was a little isle,[27][31]
Which in my very face did smile,
The only one in view;
A small green isle, it seemed no more,[32]
Scarce broader than my dungeon floor,
But in it there were three tall trees,
And o'er it blew the mountain breeze,
And by it there were waters flowing,
And on it there were young flowers growing,
Of gentle breath and hue.350
The fish swam by the castle wall,
And they seemed joyous each and all;[33]
The eagle rode the rising blast,
Methought he never flew so fast
As then to me he seemed to fly;
And then new tears came in my eye,
And I felt troubled—and would fain
I had not left my recent chain;
And when I did descend again,
The darkness of my dim abode360
Fell on me as a heavy load;
It was as is a new-dug grave,
Closing o'er one we sought to save,—
And yet my glance, too much opprest,
Had almost need of such a rest.

[28]

XIV.

It might be months, or years, or days—
I kept no count, I took no note—
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;370
I asked not why, and recked not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fettered or fetterless to be,
I learned to love despair.
And thus when they appeared at last,
And all my bonds aside were cast,
These heavy walls to me had grown
A hermitage—and all my own![34]
And half I felt as they were come
To tear me from a second home:380
With spiders I had friendship made,
And watched them in their sullen trade,
Had seen the mice by moonlight play,
And why should I feel less than they?
We were all inmates of one place,
And I, the monarch of each race,
Had power to kill—yet, strange to tell!
In quiet we had learned to dwell;[h]
My very chains and I grew friends,
So much a long communion tends390
To make us what we are:—even I
Regained my freedom with a sigh.

[29]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] {7} [In the first draft, the sonnet opens thus—

"Belovéd Goddess of the chainless mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,
Thy palace is within the Freeman's heart,
Whose soul the love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd—
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Thy joy is with them still, and unconfined,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom."

Ed. 1832.]

[2] [Compare—

"I appeal from her [sc. Florence] to Thee."

Proph. of Dante, Canto I. line 125.]

[a] {8} When the foregoing.... Some account of his life will be found in a note appended to the Sonnet on Chillon, with which I have been furnished, etc.—[Notes, The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816, p. 59.]

[3] {13} Ludovico Sforza, and others.—The same is asserted of Marie Antoinette's, the wife of Louis the Sixteenth, though not in quite so short a period. Grief is said to have the same effect; to such, and not to fear, this change in hers was to be attributed.

[It has been said that the Queen's hair turned grey during the return from Varennes to Paris; but Carlyle (French Revolution, 1839, i. 182) notes that as early as May 4, 1789, on the occasion of the assembly of the States-General, "Her hair is already grey with many cares and crosses."

Compare "Thy father's beard is turned white with the news" (Shakespeare, I Henry IV., act ii. sc. 4, line 345); and—

"For deadly fear can time outgo,
And blanch at once the hair."

Marmion, Canto I. stanza xxviii. lines 19, 20.]

[b] But with the inward waste of grief.—[MS.]

[4] [The N. Engl. Dict., art. "Ban," gives this passage as the earliest instance of the use of the verb "to ban" in the sense of "to interdict, to prohibit." Exception was taken to this use of the word in the Crit. Rev., 1817, Series V. vol. iv. p. 571.]

[5] {14} [Compare the epitaph on the monument of Richard Lord Byron, in the chancel of Hucknall-Torkard Church, "Beneath in a vault is interred the body of Richard Lord Byron, who with the rest of his family, being seven brothers," etc. (Elze's Life of Lord Byron, p. 4, note 1).

Compare, too, Churchill's Prophecy of Famine, lines 391, 392—

"Five brothers there I lost, in manhood's pride,
Two in the field and three on gibbets died."

The Bonivard of history had but two brothers, Amblard and another.]

[c] Braving rancour—chains—and rage.—[MS.]

[6] ["This is really so: the loop-holes that are partly stopped up are now but long crevices or clefts, but Bonivard, from the spot where he was chained, could, perhaps, never get an idea of the loveliness and variety of radiating light which the sunbeam shed at different hours of the day.... In the morning this light is of luminous and transparent shining, which the curves of the vaults send back all along the hall. Victor Hugo (Le Rhin, ... Hachette, 1876, I. iii. pp. 123-131) describes this ... 'Le phénomène de la grotto d'azur s'accomplit dans le souterrain de Chillon, et le lac de Genève n'y réussit pas moins bien que la Méditerranée.' During the afternoon the hall assumes a much deeper and warmer colouring, and the blue transparency of the morning disappears; but at eventide, after the sun has set behind the Jura, the scene changes to the deep glow of fire ..."—Guide to the Castle of Chillon, by A. Naef, architect, 1896, pp, 35, 36.]

[7] {15}[Compare—

"One little marshy spark of flame."

Def. Trans., Part I. sc. I.

Kölbing notes six other allusions in Byron's works to the "will-o'-the-wisp," but omits the line in the "Incantation" (Manfred, act i. sc. I, line 195)—

"And the wisp on the morass,"

which the Italian translator would have rendered "bundle of straw" (see Letter to Hoppner, February 28, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 204, note 2, et post p. 92, note 1).]

[8] [This "...is not exactly so; the third column does not seem to have ever had a ring, but the traces of these rings are very visible in the two first columns from the entrance, although the rings have been removed; and on the three last we find the rings still riveted on the darkest side of the pillars where they face the rock, so that the unfortunate prisoners chained there were even bereft of light.... The fifth column is said to be the one to which Bonivard was chained during four years. Byron's name is carved on the southern side of the third column ... on the seventh tympanum, at about 1 metre 45 from the lower edge of the shaft." Much has been written for and against the authenticity of this inscription, which, according to M. Naef, the author of Guide, was carved by Byron himself, "with an antique ivory-mounted stiletto, which had been discovered in the duke's room."—Guide, etc., pp. 39-42. The inscription was in situ as early as August 22, 1820, as Mr. Richard Edgcumbe points out (Notes and Queries, Series V. xi. 487).]

[d] {16}——pined in heart.—[Editions 1816-1837.]

[9] [Compare, for similarity of sound—

"Thou tree of covert and of rest
For this young Bird that is distrest."

Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle, by W. Wordsworth, Works, 1889, p. 364.

Compare, too—

"She came into the cave, but it was merely
To see her bird reposing in his nest."

Don Juan, Canto II. stanza clxviii. lines 3, 4.]

[10] {17}[Compare—

"Those polar summers, all sun, and some ice."

Don Juan, Canto XII. stanza lxxii. line 8.]

[11] {18} [Ruskin (Modern Painters, Part IV. chap. i. sect. 9, "Touching the Grand Style," 1888, iii. 8, 9) criticizes these five lines 107-111, and points out that, alike in respect of accuracy and inaccuracy of detail, they fulfil the conditions of poetry in contradistinction to history. "Instead," he concludes, "of finding, as we expected, the poetry distinguished from the history by the omission of details, we find it consisting entirely in the addition of details; and instead of it being characterized by regard only of the invariable, we find its whole power to consist in the clear expression of what is singular and particular!"]

[12] The Château de Chillon is situated between Clarens and Villeneuve, which last is at one extremity of the Lake of Geneva. On its left are the entrances of the Rhone, and opposite are the heights of Meillerie and the range of Alps above Boveret and St. Gingo. Near it, on a hill behind, is a torrent: below it, washing its walls, the lake has been fathomed to the depth of 800 feet, French measure: within it are a range of dungeons, in which the early reformers, and subsequently prisoners of state, were confined. Across one of the vaults is a beam black with age, on which we were informed that the condemned were formerly executed. In the cells are seven pillars, or, rather, eight, one being half merged in the wall; in some of these are rings for the fetters and the fettered: in the pavement the steps of Bonnivard have left their traces. He was confined here several years. It is by this castle that Rousseau has fixed the catastrophe of his Héloïse, in the rescue of one of her children by Julie from the water; the shock of which, and the illness produced by the immersion, is the cause of her death. The château is large, and seen along the lake for a great distance. The walls are white.

["Le château de Chillon ... est situé dans le lac sur un rocher qui forme une presqu'isle, et autour du quel j'ai vu sonder à plus de cent cinquante brasses qui font près de huit cents pieds, sans trouver le fond. On a creusé dans ce rocher des caves et des cuisines au-dessous du niveau de l'eau, qu'on y introduit, quand on veut, par des robinets. C'est-là que fut détenu six ans prisonnier François Bonnivard ... homme d'un mérite rare, d'une droiture et d'une fermeté à toute épreuve, ami de la liberté, quoique Savoyard, et tolérant quoique prêtre," etc. (La Nouvelle Héloïse, par J. J. Rousseau, partie vi. Lettre 8, note (1); Oeuvres complètes, 1836, ii. 356, note 1).

With Byron's description of Chillon, compare that of Shelley, contained in a letter to Peacock, dated July 12, 1816 (Prose Works of P. B. Shelley, 1880, ii. 171, sq.). The belief or tradition that Bonivard's prison is "below the surface of the lake," for which Shelley as well as Rousseau is responsible, but which Byron only records in verse, may be traced to a statement attributed to Bonivard himself, who says (Mémoires, etc., 1843, iv. 268) that the commandant thrust him "en unes croctes desquelles le fond estoit plus bas que le lac sur lequel Chillon estoit citue." As a matter of fact, "the level [of les souterrains] is now three metres higher than the level of the water, and even if we take off the difference arising from the fact that the level of the lake was once much higher, and that the floor of the halls has been raised, still the halls must originally have been built about two metres above the surface of the lake."—Guide, etc., pp. 28, 29.]

[13] {19} [The "real Bonivard" might have indulged in and, perhaps, prided himself on this feeble and irritating paronomasy; but nothing can be less in keeping with the bearing and behaviour of the tragic and sententious Bonivard of the legend.]

[14] [Compare—

"...I'm a forester and breather
Of the steep mountain-tops."

Werner, act iv. sc. 1.]

[e] But why withhold the blow?—he died. [MS.]

[f] {20} To break or bite——.—[MS.]

[15] [Compare "With the aid of Suleiman's ataghan and my own sabre, we scooped a shallow grave upon the spot which Darvell had indicated" (A fragment of a Novel by Byron, Letters, 1899, iii. Appendix IX. p. 452).]

[16] [Compare—

"And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain."

Christabel, by S. T. Coleridge, part ii. lines 412, 413.]

[17] [It is said that his parents handed him over to the care of his uncle, Jean-Aimé Bonivard, when he was still an infant, and it is denied that his father was "literally put to death."]

[18] {21} [Kölbing quotes parallel uses of the same expression in Werner, act iv. sc. 1; Churchill's The Times, line 341, etc.; but does not give the original—

"But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd,
Than that which, withering on the virgin-thorn," etc.

Midsummer Night's Dream, act i. sc. i, lines 76, 77.]

[19] [Compare—

"The first, last look of Death revealed."

The Giaour, line 89, note 2.

Byron was a connoisseur of the incidents and by-play of "sudden death," so much so that Goethe was under the impression that he had been guilty of a venial murder (see his review of Manfred in his paper Kunst and Alterthum, Letters, 1901, v. 506, 507). A year after these lines were written, when he was at Rome (Letter to Murray, May 30, 1817), he saw three robbers guillotined, and observed himself and them from a psychological standpoint.

"The ghastly bed of Sin" (lines 182, 183) may be a reminiscence of the death-bed of Lord Falkland (English Bards, etc., lines 680-686; Poetical Works, 1898, i. 351, note 2).]

[20] {22} [Compare—

"And yet I could not die."

Ancient Mariner, Part IV. line 262.]

[21] {23} [Compare—

"I wept not; so all stone I felt within."

Dante's Inferno, xxxiii. 47 (Cary's translation).]

[22] {24}[Compare "Song by Glycine"—

"A sunny shaft did I behold,
From sky to earth it slanted;
And poised therein a bird so bold—
Sweet bird, thou wert enchanted," etc.

Zapolya, by S. T. Coleridge, act ii. sc. 1.]

[23] [Compare—

"When Ruth was left half desolate,
Her Father took another Mate."

Ruth, by W. Wordsworth, Works, 1889, p. 121.]

[24] ["The souls of the blessed are supposed by some of the Mahommedans to animate green birds in the groves of Paradise."—Note to Southey's Thalaba, bk. xi. stanza 5, line 13.]

[25] {25}[Compare—

"I wandered lonely as a cloud."

Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 205.]

[26] [Compare—

"Yet some did think that he had little business here."

Ibid., p. 183.

Compare, too, The Dream, line 166, vide post, p. 39

"What business had they there at such a time?"]

[27] {26}[Compare—

"He sighed, and turned his eyes, because he knew
'Twas but a larger jail he had in view."

Dryden, Palamon and Arcite, bk. i. lines 216, 217.

Compare, too—

"An exile——
Who has the whole world for a dungeon strong."

Prophecy of Dante, iv. 131, 132.]

[28] [Compare—

"The harvest of a quiet eye."

A Poet's Epitaph, line 51, Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 116.]

[g]

I saw them with their lake below,
And their three thousand years of snow.—[MS.]

[29] [This, according to Ruskin's canon, may be a poetical inaccuracy. The Rhone is blue below the lake at Geneva, but "les embouchures" at Villeneuve are muddy and discoloured.]

[30] [Villeneuve.]

[31] Between the entrances of the Rhone and Villeneuve, not far from Chillon, is a very small island [Ile de Paix]; the only one I could perceive in my voyage round and over the lake, within its circumference. It contains a few trees (I think not above three), and from its singleness and diminutive size has a peculiar effect upon the view.

[32] {27}[Compare—

"Of Silver How, and Grasmere's peaceful lake,
And one green island."

Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 220.]

[33] [Compare the Ancient Mariner on the water-snakes—

"O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare,"

Ancient Mariner, Part IV. lines 282, 283.

There is, too, in these lines (352-354), as in many others, an echo of Wordsworth. In the Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle it is told how the "two undying fish" of Bowscale Tarn, and the "eagle lord of land and sea" ministered to the shepherd-lord. It was no wonder that the critics of 1816 animadverted on Byron's "communion" with the Lakers. "He could not," writes a Critical Reviewer (Series V. vol. iv. pp. 567-581), "carry many volumes on his tour, but among the few, we will venture to predict, are found the two volumes of poems lately republished by Mr. Wordsworth.... Such is the effect of reading and enjoying the poetry of Mr. W., to whose system (ridiculed alike by those who could not, and who would not understand it) Lord Byron, it is evident, has become a tardy convert, and of whose merits in the poems on our table we have a silent but unequivocal acknowledgment."]

[34] {28}[Compare the well-known lines in Lovelace's "To Althea—From Prison"—

"Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage."]

[h] Here follows in the MS.—

Nor stew I of my subjects one
What sovereign { hath so little yet so much hath } done?


POEMS OF
JULY-SEPTEMBER, 1816.
THE DREAM.


[31]

INTRODUCTION TO THE DREAM
swash

The Dream, which was written at Diodati in July, 1816 (probably towards the end of the month; see letters to Murray and Rogers, dated July 22 and July 29), is a retrospect and an apology. It consists of an opening stanza, or section, on the psychology of dreams, followed by some episodes or dissolving views, which purport to be the successive stages of a dream. Stanzas ii. and iii. are descriptive of Annesley Park and Hall, and detail two incidents of Byron's boyish passion for his neighbour and distant cousin, Mary Anne Chaworth. The first scene takes place on the top of "Diadem Hill," the "cape" or rounded spur of the long ridge of Howatt Hill, which lies about half a mile to the south-east of the hall. The time is the late summer or early autumn of 1803. The "Sun of Love" has not yet declined, and the "one beloved face" is still shining on him; but he is beginning to realize that "her sighs are not for him," that she is out of his reach. The second scene, which belongs to the following year, 1804, is laid in the "antique oratory" (not, as Moore explains, another name for the hall, but "a small room built over the porch, or principal entrance of the hall, and looking into the courtyard"), and depicts the final parting. His doom has been pronounced, and his first impulse is to pen some passionate reproach, but his heart fails him at the sight of the "Lady of his Love," serene and smiling, and he bids her farewell with smiles on his lips, but grief unutterable in his heart.

Stanza iv. recalls an incident of his Eastern travels—a halt at noonday by a fountain on the route from Smyrna to Ephesus (March 14, 1810), "the heads of camels were seen peeping above the tall reeds" (see Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 59.).

The next episode (stanza v.) depicts an imaginary scene, suggested, perhaps, by some rumour or more definite assurance, and often present to his "inward eye"—the "one beloved," the mother of a happy family, but herself a forsaken and unhappy wife.

He passes on (stanza vi.) to his marriage in 1815, his bride "gentle" and "fair," but not the "one beloved,"—to the wedding day, when he stood before an altar, "like one forlorn," confused by the sudden vision of the past fulfilled with Love the "indestructible"![32]

In stanza vii. he records and analyzes the "sickness of the soul," the so-called "phrenzy" which had overtaken and changed the "Lady of his Love;" and, finally (stanza viii.), he lays bare the desolation of his heart, depicting himself as at enmity with mankind, but submissive to Nature, the "Spirit of the Universe," if, haply, there may be "reserved a blessing" even for him, the rejected and the outlaw.

Moore says (Life, p. 321) that The Dream cost its author "many a tear in writing"—being, indeed, the most mournful as well as picturesque "story of a wandering life" that ever came from the pen and heart of man. In his Real Lord Byron (i. 284) Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson maintains that The Dream "has no autobiographical value.... A dream it was, as false as dreams usually are." The character of the poet, as well as the poem itself, suggests another criticism. Byron suffered or enjoyed vivid dreams, and, as poets will, shaped his dreams, consciously and of set purpose, to the furtherance of his art, but nothing concerning himself interested him or awoke the slumbering chord which was not based on actual fact. If the meeting on the "cape crowned with a peculiar diadem," and the final interview in the "antique oratory" had never happened or happened otherwise; if he had not "quivered" during the wedding service at Seaham; if a vision of Annesley and Mary Chaworth had not flashed into his soul,—he would have taken no pleasure in devising these incidents and details, and weaving them into a fictitious narrative. He took himself too seriously to invent and dwell lovingly on the acts and sufferings of an imaginary Byron. The Dream is "picturesque" because the accidents of the scenes are dealt with not historically, but artistically, are omitted or supplied according to poetical licence; but the record is neither false, nor imaginary, nor unusual. On the other hand, the composition and publication of the poem must be set down, if not to malice and revenge, at least to the preoccupancy of chagrin and remorse, which compelled him to take the world into his confidence, cost what it might to his own self-respect, or the peace of mind and happiness of others.

For an elaborate description of Annesley Hall and Park, written with a view to illustrate The Dream, see "A Byronian Ramble," Part II., the Athenæum, August 30, 1834. See, too, an interesting quotation from Sir Richard Phillips' unfinished Personal Tour through the United Kingdom, published in the Mirror, 1828, vol. xii. p. 286; Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, by Washington Irving, 1835, p. 191, seq.; The House and Grave of Byron, 1855; and an article in Lippincott's Magazine, 1876, vol. xviii. pp. 637, seq.


[33]

THE DREAM


I.

Our life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their developement have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of Joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off our waking toils,
They do divide our being;[35] they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,10
And look like heralds of Eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past,—they speak
Like Sibyls of the future; they have power—
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,[36]
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substance, and people planets of its own20[34]
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.[37]
I would recall a vision which I dreamed
Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought,
A slumbering thought, is capable of years,
And curdles a long life into one hour.[38]

II.

I saw two beings in the hues of youth
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill,
Green and of mild declivity, the last
As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such,30
Save that there was no sea to lave its base,
But a most living landscape, and the wave
Of woods and cornfields, and the abodes of men
Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke
Arising from such rustic roofs;—the hill
Was crowned with a peculiar diadem
Of trees, in circular array, so fixed,
Not by the sport of nature, but of man:
These two, a maiden and a youth, were there
Gazing—the one on all that was beneath40
Fair as herself—but the Boy gazed on her;
And both were young, and one was beautiful:
And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge,
The Maid was on the eve of Womanhood;
The Boy had fewer summers, but his heart
Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye
There was but one belovéd face on earth,
And that was shining on him: he had looked
Upon it till it could not pass away;50
He had no breath, no being, but in hers;
She was his voice; he did not speak to her,[35]
But trembled on her words; she was his sight,[i][39]
For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers,
Which coloured all his objects:—he had ceased
To live within himself; she was his life,
The ocean to the river of his thoughts,[40]
Which terminated all: upon a tone,
A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,[41]
And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart60
Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share:
Her sighs were not for him; to her he was
Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much,
For brotherless she was, save in the name
Her infant friendship had bestowed on him;
Herself the solitary scion left
Of a time-honoured race.[42]—It was a name
Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why?
Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved70
Another: even now she loved another,
And on the summit of that hill she stood
Looking afar if yet her lover's steed[43]
Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.

[36]

III.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before
Its walls there was a steed caparisoned:
Within an antique Oratory stood
The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone,[44]
And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon80
He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced
Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned
His bowed head on his hands, and shook as 'twere
With a convulsion—then arose again,
And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear
What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow
Into a kind of quiet: as he paused,
The Lady of his love re-entered there;
She was serene and smiling then, and yet90
She knew she was by him beloved—she knew,
For quickly comes such knowledge,[45] that his heart
Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw
That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp
He took her hand; a moment o'er his face
A tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced, and then it faded, as it came;
He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps
Retired, but not as bidding her adieu,100
For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed
From out the massy gate of that old Hall,[37]
And mounting on his steed he went his way;
And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.[46]

IV.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds
Of fiery climes he made himself a home,
And his Soul drank their sunbeams: he was girt
With strange and dusky aspects; he was not
Himself like what he had been; on the sea110
And on the shore he was a wanderer;
There was a mass of many images
Crowded like waves upon me, but he was
A part of all; and in the last he lay
Reposing from the noontide sultriness,
Couched among fallen columns, in the shade
Of ruined walls that had survived the names
Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side
Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds
Were fastened near a fountain; and a man120
Clad in a flowing garb did watch the while,
While many of his tribe slumbered around:
And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.[47]

V.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One[38]
Who did not love her better:—in her home,
A thousand leagues from his,—her native home,
She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy,130
Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold!
Upon her face there was the tint of grief,
The settled shadow of an inward strife,
And an unquiet drooping of the eye,
As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.[48]
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved,
And he who had so loved her was not there
To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish,
Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not,140
Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved,
Nor could he be a part of that which preyed
Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.

VI.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.—I saw him stand
Before an Altar—with a gentle bride;
Her face was fair, but was not that which made
The Starlight[49] of his Boyhood;—as he stood
Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came
The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock[50]150[39]
That in the antique Oratory shook
His bosom in its solitude; and then—
As in that hour—a moment o'er his face
The tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced,—and then it faded as it came,
And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
The fitting vows, but heard not his own words,
And all things reeled around him; he could see
Not that which was, nor that which should have been—
But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall,160
And the remembered chambers, and the place,
The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade,
All things pertaining to that place and hour
And her who was his destiny, came back
And thrust themselves between him and the light:
What business had they there at such a time?

VII.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed
As by the sickness of the soul; her mind
Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes170
They had not their own lustre, but the look
Which is not of the earth; she was become
The Queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts
Were combinations of disjointed things;[40]
And forms, impalpable and unperceived
Of others' sight, familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise
Have a far deeper madness—and the glance
Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
What is it but the telescope of truth?180
Which strips the distance of its fantasies,
And brings life near in utter nakedness,
Making the cold reality too real![j][51]

VIII.

A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore,
The beings which surrounded him were gone,
Or were at war with him; he was a mark
For blight and desolation, compassed round
With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed
In all which was served up to him, until,190
Like to the Pontic monarch of old days,[52]
He fed on poisons, and they had no power,[41]
But were a kind of nutriment; he lived
Through that which had been death to many men,
And made him friends of mountains:[53] with the stars
And the quick Spirit of the Universe[54]
He held his dialogues; and they did teach
To him the magic of their mysteries;
To him the book of Night was opened wide,
And voices from the deep abyss revealed[55]200
A marvel and a secret—Be it so.

IX.

My dream was past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom
Of these two creatures should be thus traced out
Almost like a reality—the one
To end in madness—both in misery.

July, 1816.
[First published, The Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

[42]

DARKNESS. [k] [56]

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars[43]
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,10
The palaces of crownéd kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the World contained;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks20
Extinguished with a crash—and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down[44]
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenchéd hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past World; and then again30
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnashed their teeth and howled: the wild birds shrieked,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawled
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless—they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again:—a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart40
Gorging himself in gloom: no Love was left;
All earth was but one thought—and that was Death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails—men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them,[57] or the dropping dead50
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress—he died.
The crowd was famished by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place[45]
Where had been heaped a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,60
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld[58]
Each other's aspects—saw, and shrieked, and died—
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The World was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,70
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropped
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The Moon, their mistress, had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,80
And the clouds perished; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

Diodati, July, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

CHURCHILL'S GRAVE, [59]
A FACT LITERALLY RENDERED. [60]

I stood beside the grave of him who blazed
The Comet of a season, and I saw[46]
The humblest of all sepulchres, and gazed
With not the less of sorrow and of awe[47]
On that neglected turf and quiet stone,
With name no clearer than the names unknown,
Which lay unread around it; and I asked
The Gardener of that ground, why it might be
That for this plant strangers his memory tasked,
Through the thick deaths of half a century;10
And thus he answered—"Well, I do not know
Why frequent travellers turn to pilgrims so;
He died before my day of Sextonship,
And I had not the digging of this grave."
And is this all? I thought,—and do we rip
The veil of Immortality, and crave
I know not what of honour and of light
Through unborn ages, to endure this blight?
So soon, and so successless? As I said,[61]
The Architect of all on which we tread,20
For Earth is but a tombstone, did essay
To extricate remembrance from the clay,
Whose minglings might confuse a Newton's thought,
Were it not that all life must end in one,[48]
Of which we are but dreamers;—as he caught
As 'twere the twilight of a former Sun,[62]
Thus spoke he,—"I believe the man of whom
You wot, who lies in this selected[63] tomb,
Was a most famous writer in his day,
And therefore travellers step from out their way30
To pay him honour,—and myself whate'er
Your honour pleases:"—then most pleased I shook[l]
From out my pocket's avaricious nook
Some certain coins of silver, which as 'twere
Perforce I gave this man, though I could spare
So much but inconveniently:—Ye smile,
I see ye, ye profane ones! all the while,
Because my homely phrase the truth would tell.
You are the fools, not I—for I did dwell
With a deep thought, and with a softened eye,40
On that old Sexton's natural homily,
In which there was Obscurity and Fame,—
The Glory and the Nothing of a Name.

Diodati, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

PROMETHEUS.[64]

I.

Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality,[49]
Seen in their sad reality,
Were not as things that gods despise;
What was thy pity's recompense?[65]
A silent suffering, and intense;
The rock, the vulture, and the chain,
All that the proud can feel of pain,
The agony they do not show,
The suffocating sense of woe,10
Which speaks but in its loneliness,
And then is jealous lest the sky
Should have a listener, nor will sigh
Until its voice is echoless.

II.

Titan! to thee the strife was given
Between the suffering and the will,
Which torture where they cannot kill;
And the inexorable Heaven,[66]
And the deaf tyranny of Fate,
The ruling principle of Hate,20[50]
Which for its pleasure doth create[67]
The things it may annihilate,
Refused thee even the boon to die:[68]
The wretched gift Eternity
Was thine—and thou hast borne it well.
All that the Thunderer wrung from thee
Was but the menace which flung back
On him the torments of thy rack;
The fate thou didst so well foresee,[69]
But would not to appease him tell;30
And in thy Silence was his Sentence,
And in his Soul a vain repentance,
And evil dread so ill dissembled,
That in his hand the lightnings trembled.

III.

Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,[70]
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness,
And strengthen Man with his own mind;
But baffled as thou wert from high,
Still in thy patient energy,40
In the endurance, and repulse
Of thine impenetrable Spirit,
Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse,
A mighty lesson we inherit:[51]
Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals of their fate and force;
Like thee, Man is in part divine,[71]
A troubled stream from a pure source;
And Man in portions can foresee
His own funereal destiny;50
His wretchedness, and his resistance,
And his sad unallied existence:
To which his Spirit may oppose
Itself—an equal to all woes—[m][72]
And a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can descry
Its own concentered recompense,
Triumphant where it dares defy,
And making Death a Victory.

Diodati, July, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

A FRAGMENT.[73]

Could I remount the river of my years
To the first fountain of our smiles and tears,
I would not trace again the stream of hours
Between their outworn banks of withered flowers,[52]
But bid it flow as now—until it glides
Into the number of the nameless tides.

What is this Death?—a quiet of the heart?
The whole of that of which we are a part?
For Life is but a vision—what I see
Of all which lives alone is Life to me,10
And being so—the absent are the dead,
Who haunt us from tranquillity, and spread
A dreary shroud around us, and invest
With sad remembrancers our hours of rest.
The absent are the dead—for they are cold,
And ne'er can be what once we did behold;
And they are changed, and cheerless,—or if yet
The unforgotten do not all forget,
Since thus divided—equal must it be
If the deep barrier be of earth, or sea;20
It may be both—but one day end it must
In the dark union of insensate dust.
The under-earth inhabitants—are they
But mingled millions decomposed to clay?
The ashes of a thousand ages spread
Wherever Man has trodden or shall tread?
Or do they in their silent cities dwell
Each in his incommunicative cell?
Or have they their own language? and a sense
Of breathless being?—darkened and intense30
As Midnight in her solitude?—Oh Earth!
Where are the past?—and wherefore had they birth?
The dead are thy inheritors—and we
But bubbles on thy surface; and the key
Of thy profundity is in the Grave,
The ebon portal of thy peopled cave,
Where I would walk in spirit, and behold[74]
Our elements resolved to things untold,[53]
And fathom hidden wonders, and explore
The essence of great bosoms now no more.40

Diodati, July, 1816.
[First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 36.]

SONNET TO LAKE LEMAN.

Rousseau—Voltaire—our Gibbon—and De Staël—
Leman![75] these names are worthy of thy shore,
Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
In sweetly gliding o'er thy crystal sea,[54][76]
The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
Which of the Heirs of Immortality
Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

Diodati, July, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

STANZAS TO AUGUSTA.[n] [77]

I.

Though the day of my Destiny's over,
And the star of my Fate hath declined,[o]
Thy soft heart refused to discover
The faults which so many could find;
Though thy Soul with my grief was acquainted,
It shrunk not to share it with me,
And the Love which my Spirit hath painted[p]
It never hath found but in Thee.

II.

Then when Nature around me is smiling,[78]
The last smile which answers to mine,
I do not believe it beguiling,[q]
Because it reminds me of thine;[55]
And when winds are at war with the ocean,
As the breasts I believed in with me,[r]
If their billows excite an emotion,
It is that they bear me from Thee.

III.

Though the rock of my last Hope is shivered,[s]
And its fragments are sunk in the wave,
Though I feel that my soul is delivered
To Pain—it shall not be its slave.
There is many a pang to pursue me:
They may crush, but they shall not contemn;
They may torture, but shall not subdue me;
'Tis of Thee that I think—not of them.[t]

IV.

Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
Though woman, thou didst not forsake,
Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me,
Though slandered, thou never couldst shake;[u][79]
Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
Though parted, it was not to fly,
Though watchful, 'twas not to defame me,
Nor, mute, that the world might belie.[v]

V.

Yet I blame not the World, nor despise it,
Nor the war of the many with one;[56]
If my Soul was not fitted to prize it,
'Twas folly not sooner to shun:[80]
And if dearly that error hath cost me,
And more than I once could foresee,
I have found that, whatever it lost me,[w]
It could not deprive me of Thee.

VI.

From the wreck of the past, which hath perished,[x]
Thus much I at least may recall,
It hath taught me that what I most cherished
Deserved to be dearest of all:
In the Desert a fountain is springing,[y][81]
In the wide waste there still is a tree,
And a bird in the solitude singing,
Which speaks to my spirit of Thee.[82]

July 24, 1816.
[First published, Prisoner of Chillon, etc., 1816.]

[57]

EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA.[83]

I.

My Sister! my sweet Sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine.
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same—
A loved regret which I would not resign.[z]
There yet are two things in my destiny,—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.[84]

II.

The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,[aa]
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father's son's, and past[ab]
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire's[85] fate of yore,—
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.

[58]

III.

If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen,
I have sustained my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;[ac]
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.

IV.

Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward.
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marred
The gift,—a fate, or will, that walked astray;[86]
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.

V.

Kingdoms and Empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—does still uphold[59]
A spirit of slight patience;—not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase Pain.

VI.

Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me—or, perhaps, a cold despair
Brought on when ills habitually recur,—
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,[ad]
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.[ae]

VII.

I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt,
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,[af]
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.[ag]

VIII.

Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation;—to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire:
Here to be lonely is not desolate,[87]
For much I view which I could most desire,[60]
And, above all, a Lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.[88]

IX.

Oh that thou wert but with me!—but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise in this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show;—
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my altered eye.[ah]

X.

I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore:
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resigned for ever, or divided far.

XI.

The world is all before me; I but ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply—
It is but in her Summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask,
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.

XII.

I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not;—for at length I see[61]
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun—[89]
The earliest—even the only paths for me—[ai]
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The Passions which have torn me would have slept;
I had not suffered, and thou hadst not wept.

XIII.

With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame;
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make—a Name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.

XIV.

And for the future, this world's future may[aj]
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day;[ak]
Having survived so many things that were;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share[62]
Of life which might have filled a century,[90]
Before its fourth in time had passed me by.

XV.

And for the remnant which may be to come[al]
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,—for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, Happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings farther.—Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around,
And worship Nature with a thought profound.

XVI.

For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are—I am, even as thou art—[am]
Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From Life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined—let Death come slow or fast,[an]
The tie which bound the first endures the last!

[First published, Letters and Journals, 1830, ii. 38-41.]

[63]

LINES ON HEARING THAT LADY BYRON WAS ILL.[91]

And thou wert sad—yet I was not with thee;
And thou wert sick, and yet I was not near;
Methought that Joy and Health alone could be
Where I was not—and pain and sorrow here!
And is it thus?—it is as I foretold,
And shall be more so; for the mind recoils
Upon itself, and the wrecked heart lies cold,
While Heaviness collects the shattered spoils.
It is not in the storm nor in the strife
We feel benumbed, and wish to be no more,
But in the after-silence on the shore,
When all is lost, except a little life.
I am too well avenged!—but 'twas my right;
Whate'er my sins might be, thou wert not sent
To be the Nemesis who should requite—[92]
Nor did Heaven choose so near an instrument.[64]
Mercy is for the merciful!—if thou
Hast been of such, 'twill be accorded now.
Thy nights are banished from the realms of sleep:—[93]
Yes! they may flatter thee, but thou shall feel
A hollow agony which will not heal,
For thou art pillowed on a curse too deep;
Thou hast sown in my sorrow, and must reap
The bitter harvest in a woe as real!
I have had many foes, but none like thee;
For 'gainst the rest myself I could defend,
And be avenged, or turn them into friend;
But thou in safe implacability
Hadst nought to dread—in thy own weakness shielded,
And in my love, which hath but too much yielded,
And spared, for thy sake, some I should not spare;
And thus upon the world—trust in thy truth,
And the wild fame of my ungoverned youth—
On things that were not, and on things that are—
Even upon such a basis hast thou built
A monument, whose cement hath been guilt!
The moral Clytemnestra of thy lord,[94]
And hewed down, with an unsuspected sword,
Fame, peace, and hope—and all the better life
Which, but for this cold treason of thy heart,
Might still have risen from out the grave of strife,
And found a nobler duty than to part.
But of thy virtues didst thou make a vice,
Trafficking with them in a purpose cold,[65]
For present anger, and for future gold—
And buying others' grief at any price.[95]
And thus once entered into crooked ways,
The early truth, which was thy proper praise,[96]
Did not still walk beside thee—but at times,
And with a breast unknowing its own crimes,
Deceit, averments incompatible,
Equivocations, and the thoughts which dwell
In Janus-spirits—the significant eye
Which learns to lie with silence—the pretext[97]
Of prudence, with advantages annexed—
The acquiescence in all things which tend,
No matter how, to the desired end—
All found a place in thy philosophy.
The means were worthy, and the end is won—
I would not do by thee as thou hast done!

September, 1816.
[First published, New Monthly Magazine,
August, 1832, vol. xxxv. pp. 142, 143.]

FOOTNOTES:

[35] {33}[Compare—

"Come, blessed barrier between day and day."

"Sonnet to Sleep," Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 354.]

[36] [Compare—

"...the night's dismay
Saddened and stunned the coming day."

The Pains of Sleep, lines 33, 34, by S. T. Coleridge, Poetical Works, 1893, p. 170.]

[37] {34} [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza vi. lines 1-4, note, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 219.]

[38] [Compare—

"With us acts are exempt from time, and we
Can crowd eternity into an hour."

Cain, act i. sc. 1]

[i] {35}

——she was his sight,
For never did he turn his glance until
Her own had led by gazing on an object.—[MS.]

[39] [Compare—

"Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
The very eyes of me."

To Anthea, etc., by Robert Herrick.]

[40] [Compare—

"...the river of your love,
Must in the ocean of your affection
To me, be swallowed up."

Massinger's Unnatural Combat, act iii. sc. 4.]

[41] [Compare—

"The hot blood ebbed and flowed again."

Parisina, line 226, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 515.]

[42] ["Annesley Lordship is owned by Miss Chaworth, a minor heiress of the Chaworth family."—Throsby's Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire, 1797, ii. 270.]

[43] ["Moore, commenting on this (Life, p. 28), tells us that the image of the lover's steed was suggested by the Nottingham race-ground ... nine miles off, and ... lying in a hollow, and totally hidden from view.... Mary Chaworth, in fact, was looking for her lover's steed along the road as it winds up the common from Hucknall."-"A Byronian Ramble," Athenæum, No. 357, August 30, 1834.]

[44] {36}[Moore (Life, p. 28) regards "the antique oratory," as a poetical equivalent for Annesley Hall; but vide ante, the Introduction to The Dream, p. 31.]

[45] [Compare—

"Love by the object loved is soon discerned."

Story of Rimini, by Leigh Hunt, Canto III. ed. 1844, p. 22.

The line does not occur in the first edition, published early in 1816, or, presumably, in the MS. read by Byron in the preceding year. (See Letter to Murray, November 4, 1815.)]

[46] {37}[Byron once again revisited Annesley Hall in the autumn of 1808 (see his lines, "Well, thou art happy," and "To a Lady," etc., Poetical Works, 1898, i. 277, 282, note 1); but it is possible that he avoided the "massy gate" ("arched over and surmounted by a clock and cupola") of set purpose, and entered by another way. He would not lightly or gladly have taken a liberty with the actual prosaic facts in a matter which so nearly concerned his personal emotions (vide ante, the Introduction to The Dream, p. 31).]

[47] ["This is true keeping—an Eastern picture perfect in its foreground, and distance, and sky, and no part of which is so dwelt upon or laboured as to obscure the principal figure."—Sir Walter Scott, Quarterly Review, No. xxxi. "Byron's Dream" is the subject of a well-known picture by Sir Charles Eastlake.]

[48] {38}[Compare—

"Then Cythna turned to me and from her eyes
Which swam with unshed tears," etc.

Shelley's Revolt of Islam ("Laon and Cythna"),
Canto XII. stanza xxii. lines 2, 3, Poetical Works, 1829, p. 48.]

[49] [An old servant of the Chaworth family, Mary Marsden, told Washington Irving (Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, 1835, p. 204) that Byron used to call Mary Chaworth "his bright morning star of Annesley." Compare the well-known lines—

"She was a form of Life and Light,
That, seen, became a part of sight;
And rose, where'er I turned mine eye,
The Morning-star of Memory!"

The Giaour, lines 1127-1130, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 136, 137.]

[50] ["This touching picture agrees closely, in many of its circumstances, with Lord Byron's own prose account of the wedding in his Memoranda; in which he describes himself as waking, on the morning of his marriage, with the most melancholy reflections, on seeing his wedding-suit spread out before him. In the same mood, he wandered about the grounds alone, till he was summoned for the ceremony, and joined, for the first time on that day, his bride and her family. He knelt down—he repeated the words after the clergyman; but a mist was before his eyes—his thoughts were elsewhere: and he was but awakened by the congratulations of the bystanders to find that he was—married."—Life, p. 272.

Medwin, too, makes Byron say (Conversations, etc., 1824, p. 46) that he "trembled like a leaf, made the wrong responses, and after the ceremony called her (the bride) Miss Milbanke." All that can be said of Moore's recollection of the "memoranda," or Medwin's repetition of so-called conversations (reprinted almost verbatim in Life, Writings, Opinions, etc., 1825, ii. 227, seq., as "Recollections of the Lately Destroyed Manuscript," etc.), is that they tend to show that Byron meant The Dream to be taken literally as a record of actual events. He would not have forgotten by July, 1816, circumstances of great import which had taken place in December, 1815: and he's either lying of malice prepense or telling "an ower true tale."]

[j] {40}

——the glance
Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
For it becomes the telescope of truth,
And shows us all things naked as they are.—[MS.]

[51] [Compare—

"Who loves, raves—'tis youth's frenzy—but the cure
Is bitterer still, as charm by charm unwinds
Which robed our idols, and we see too sure
Nor Worth nor Beauty dwells from out the mind's
Ideal shape of such."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cxxiii. lines 1-5,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 420.]

[52] Mithridates of Pontus. [Mithridates, King of Pontus (B.C. 120-63), surnamed Eupator, succeeded to the throne when he was only eleven years of age. He is said to have safeguarded himself against the designs of his enemies by drugging himself with antidotes against poison, and so effectively that, when he was an old man, he could not poison himself, even when he was minded to do so—"ut ne volens quidem senex veneno mori potuerit."—Justinus, Hist., lib. xxxvii. cap. ii.

According to Medwin (Conversations, p. 148), Byron made use of the same illustration in speaking of Polidori's death (April, 1821), which was probably occasioned by "poison administered to himself" (see Letters, 1899, iii. 285).]

[53] {41}[Compare—

"Where rose the mountains, there to him were friends."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xiii. line 1.

"...and to me
High mountains are a feeling."

Ibid., stanza lxxii. lines 2,3, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 223, 261.]

[54] [Compare—

"Ye Spirits of the unbounded Universe!"

Manfred, act i. sc. 1, line 29, vide post, p. 86.]

[55] [Compare Manfred, act ii. sc. 2, lines 79-91; and ibid., act iii. sc. 1, lines 34-39; and sc. 4, lines 112-117, vide post, pp. 105, 121, 135.]

[k] {42} In the original MS. A Dream.

[56] [Sir Walter Scott (Quarterly Review, October, 1816, vol. xvi. p. 204) did not take kindly to Darkness. He regarded the "framing of such phantasms" as "a dangerous employment for the exalted and teeming imagination of such a poet as Lord Byron. The waste of boundless space into which they lead the poet, the neglect of precision which such themes may render habitual, make them in respect to poetry what mysticism is to religion." Poetry of this kind, which recalled "the wild, unbridled, and fiery imagination of Coleridge," was a novel and untoward experiment on the part of an author whose "peculiar art" it was "to show the reader where his purpose tends." The resemblance to Coleridge is general rather than particular. It is improbable that Scott had ever read Limbo (first published in Sibylline Leaves, 1817), an attempt to depict the "mere horror of blank nought-at-all;" but it is possible that he had in his mind the following lines (384-390) from Religious Musings, in which "the final destruction is impersonated" (see Coleridge's note) in the "red-eyed Fiend:"—

"For who of woman born may paint the hour,
When seized in his mid course, the Sun shall wane,
Making the noon ghastly! Who of woman born
May image in the workings of his thought,
How the black-visaged, red-eyed Fiend outstretched
Beneath the unsteady feet of Nature groans
In feverous slumbers?"

Poetical Works, 1893, p. 60.

Another and a less easily detected source of inspiration has been traced (see an article on Campbell's Last Man, in the London Magazine and Review, 1825, New Series, i. 588, seq.) to a forgotten but once popular novel entitled The Last Man, or Omegarus and Syderia, a Romance in Futurity (two vols. 1806). Kölbing (Prisoner of Chillon, etc., pp. 136-140) adduces numerous quotations in support of this contention. The following may serve as samples: "As soon as the earth had lost with the moon her guardian star, her decay became more rapid.... Some, in their madness, destroyed the instruments of husbandry, others in deep despair summoned death to their relief. Men began to look on each other with eyes of enmity" (i. 105). "The sun exhibited signs of decay, its surface turned pale, and its beams were frigid. The northern nations dreaded perishing by intense cold ... and fled to the torrid zone to court the sun's beneficial rays" (i. 120). "The reign of Time was over, ages of Eternity were going to begin; but at the same moment Hell shrieked with rage, and the sun and stars were extinguished. The gloomy night of chaos enveloped the world, plaintive sounds issued from mountains, rocks, and caverns,—Nature wept, and a doleful voice was heard exclaiming in the air, 'The human race is no more!'"(ii. 197).

It is difficult to believe that Byron had not read, and more or less consciously turned to account, the imagery of this novel; but it is needless to add that any charge of plagiarism falls to the ground. Thanks to a sensitive and appreciative ear and a retentive memory, Byron's verse is interfused with manifold strains, but, so far as Darkness is concerned, his debt to Coleridge or the author of Omegarus and Syderia is neither more nor less legitimate than the debt to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Joel, which a writer in the Imperial Magazine (1828, x. 699), with solemn upbraidings, lays to his charge.

The duty of acknowledging such debts is, indeed, "a duty of imperfect obligation." The well-known lines in Tennyson's Locksley Hall

"Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue!"

is surely an echo of an earlier prophecy from the pen of the author of Omegarus and Syderia: "In the center the heavens were seen darkened by legions of armed vessels, making war on each other!... The soldiers fell in frightful numbers.... Their blood stained the soft verdure of the trees, and their scattered bleeding limbs covered the fields and the roofs of the labourers' cottages" (i. 68). But such "conveyings" are honourable to the purloiner. See, too, the story of the battle between the Vulture-cavalry and the Sky-gnats, in Lucian's Veræ Historiæ, i. 16.]

[57] {44}

["If thou speak'st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,
Till famine cling thee."

Macbeth, act V. sc. 5, lines 38-40.

Fruit is said to be "clung" when the skin shrivels, and a corpse when the face becomes wasted and gaunt.]

[58] {45}[So, too, Vathek and Nouronihar, in the Hall of Eblis, waited "in direful suspense the moment which should render them to each other ... objects of terror."—Vathek, by W. Beckford, 1887, p. 185.]

[59] [Charles Churchill was born in February, 1731, and died at Boulogne, November 4, 1764. The body was brought to Dover and buried in the churchyard attached to the demolished church of St. Martin-le-Grand ("a small deserted cemetery in an obscure lane behind [i.e. above] the market"). See note by Charles De la Pryme, Notes and Queries, 1854, Series I. vol. x. p. 378. There is a tablet to his memory on the south wall of St. Mary's Church, and the present headstone in the graveyard (it was a "plain headstone" in 1816) bears the following inscription:—

"1764.
Here lie the remains of the celebrated
C. Churchill.
'Life to the last enjoy'd, here Churchill lies.'"

Churchill had been one of Byron's earlier models, and the following lines from The Candidate, which suggested the epitaph (lines 145-154), were, doubtless, familiar to him:—

"Let one poor sprig of Bay around my head
Bloom whilst I live, and point me out when dead;
Let it (may Heav'n indulgent grant that prayer)
Be planted on my grave, nor wither there;
And when, on travel bound, some rhyming guest
Roams through the churchyard, whilst his dinner's drest,
Let it hold up this comment to his eyes;
Life to the last enjoy'd, here Churchill lies;
Whilst (O, what joy that pleasing flatt'ry gives)
Reading my Works he cries—here Churchill lives."

Byron spent Sunday, April 25, 1816, at Dover. He was to sail that night for Ostend, and, to while away the time, "turned to Pilgrim" and thought out, perhaps began to write, the lines which were finished three months later at the Campagne Diodati.

"The Grave of Churchill," writes Scott (Quarterly Review, October, 1816), "might have called from Lord Byron a deeper commemoration; for, though they generally differed in character and genius, there was a resemblance between their history and character.... both these poets held themselves above the opinion of the world, and both were followed by the fame and popularity which they seemed to despise. The writings of both exhibit an inborn, though sometimes ill-regulated, generosity of mind, and a spirit of proud independence, frequently pushed to extremes. Both carried their hatred of hypocrisy beyond the verge of prudence, and indulged their vein of satire to the borders of licentiousness."

Save for the affectation of a style which did not belong to him, and which in his heart he despised, Byron's commemoration of Churchill does not lack depth or seriousness. It was the parallel between their lives and temperaments which awoke reflection and sympathy, and prompted this "natural homily." Perhaps, too, the shadow of impending exile had suggested to his imagination that further parallel which Scott deprecated, and deprecated in vain, "death in the flower of his age, and in a foreign land."]

[60] {46}[On the sheet containing the original draft of these lines Lord Byron has written, "The following poem (as most that I have endeavoured to write) is founded on a fact; and this detail is an attempt at a serious imitation of the style of a great poet—its beauties and its defects: I say the style; for the thoughts I claim as my own. In this, if there be anything ridiculous, let it be attributed to me, at least as much as to Mr. Wordsworth: of whom there can exist few greater admirers than myself. I have blended what I would deem to be the beauties as well as defects of his style; and it ought to be remembered, that, in such things, whether there be praise or dispraise, there is always what is called a compliment, however unintentional." There is, as Scott points out, a much closer resemblance to Southey's "English Eclogues, in which moral truths are expressed, to use the poet's own language, 'in an almost colloquial plainness of language,' and an air of quaint and original expression assumed, to render the sentiment at once impressive and piquant."]

[61] {47}[Compare—

"The under-earth inhabitants—are they
But mingled millions decomposed to clay?"

A Fragment, lines 23, 24, vide post, p. 52.

It is difficult to "extricate" the meaning of lines 19-25, but, perhaps, they are intended to convey a hope of immortality. "As I was speaking, the sexton (the architect) tried to answer my question by taxing his memory with regard to the occupants of the several tombs. He might well be puzzled, for 'Earth is but a tombstone,' covering an amalgam of dead bodies, and, unless in another life soul were separated from soul, as on earth body is distinct from body, Newton himself, who disclosed 'the turnpike-road through the unpaved stars' (Don Juan, Canto X. stanza ii. line 4), would fail to assign its proper personality to any given lump of clay."]

[62] {48}[Compare—

"But here [i.e. in 'the realm of death'] all is
So shadowy and so full of twilight, that
It speaks of a day past."

Cain, act ii. sc. 2.

[63] ["Selected," that is, by "frequent travellers" (vide supra, line 12).]

[l]

——then most pleased, I shook
My inmost pocket's most retired nook,
And out fell five and sixpence.—[MS.]

[64] [Byron was a lover and worshipper of Prometheus as a boy. His first English exercise at Harrow was a paraphrase of a chorus of the Prometheus Vinctus of Æschylus, line 528, sq. (see Poetical Works, 1898, i. 14). Referring to a criticism on Manfred (Edinburgh Review, vol xxviii. p. 431) he writes (October 12, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 174): "The Prometheus, if not exactly in my plan, has always been so much in my head, that I can easily conceive its influence over all or any thing that I have written." The conception of an immortal sufferer at once beneficent and defiant, appealed alike to his passions and his convictions, and awoke a peculiar enthusiasm. His poems abound with allusions to the hero and the legend. Compare the first draft of stanza xvi. of the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte (Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 312, var. ii.); The Prophecy of Dante, iv. 10, seq.; the Irish Avatar, stanza xii. line 2, etc.]

[65] {49}[Compare—

Τοιαῦτ' ἐπηύρου τοῦ φιλανθρώπου τρόπου

P. V., line 28.

Compare, too—

Θνητὸυς δ' ἐν οἴ.κtῳ προθέμενος, τούτου τυχεῖν
Οὐκ ἠξιώθην αὐτὸς

Ibid., lines 241, 242.]

[66] [Compare—

Διὸς γὰρ δυσπαραίτητοι φρένες.

Ibid., line 34.

Compare, too—

...γιγνώσκονθ' ὅτι
Τὸ τῆς ἀνάγκης ἐστ' ἀδήριτον σθένος

Ibid., line 105.]

[67] {50}[Compare—

"The maker—call him
Which name thou wilt; he makes but to destroy."

Cain, act i. sc. 1.

Compare, too—

"And the Omnipotent, who makes and crushes."

Heaven and Earth, Part I. sc. 3.]

[68] [Compare—

Ὄτῳ θανεῖν μέν ἐστιν οὐ πεπρωμένον

P. V., line 754.]

[69][Compare—

...πάντα προὐξεπίσταμαι
Σκεθρῶς τά μέλλοντα

Ibid., lines 101, 102.]

[70] [Compare—

Θνητοῖς δ' ἀήγων αὐτὸς εὑρόμην πόνους.

Ibid., line 269.]

[71] {51}[Compare—

"But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity."

Manfred, act i. sc. 2, lines 39, 40, vide post, p. 95.]

[m]——and equal to all woes.—[Editions 1832, etc.]

[72] [The edition of 1832 and subsequent issues read "and equal." It is clear that the earlier reading, "an equal," is correct. The spirit opposed by the spirit is an equal, etc. The spirit can also oppose to "its own funereal destiny" a firm will, etc.]

[73] [A Fragment, which remained unpublished till 1830, was written at the same time as Churchill's Grave (July, 1816), and is closely allied to it in purport and in sentiment. It is a questioning of Death! O Death, what is thy sting? There is an analogy between exile end death. As Churchill lay in his forgotten grave at Dover, one of "many millions decomposed to clay," so he the absent is dead to the absent, and the absent are dead to him. And what are the dead? the aggregate of nothingness? or are they a multitude of atoms having neither part nor lot one with the other? There is no solution but in the grave. Death alone can unriddle death. The poet's questioning spirit would plunge into the abyss to bring back the answer.]

[74] {52}[Compare—

"'Tis said thou holdest converse with the things
Which are forbidden to the search of man;
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes,
The many evil and unheavenly spirits
Which walk the valley of the Shade of Death,
Thou communest."

Manfred, act iii. sc. 1, lines 34, seq., vide post, p. 121.]

[75] {53} Geneva, Ferney, Copet, Lausanne. [For Rousseau, see Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 277, note 1, 300, 301, note 18; for Voltaire and Gibbon, vide ibid., pp. 306, 307, note 22; and for De Staël, see Letters, 1898, ii. 223, note 1. Byron, writing to Moore, January 2, 1821, declares, on the authority of Monk Lewis, "who was too great a bore ever to lie," that Madame de Staël alleged this sonnet, "in which she was named with Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.," as a reason for changing her opinion about him—"she could not help it through decency" (Letters, 1901, v. 213). It is difficult to believe that Madame de Staël was ashamed of her companions, or was sincere in disclaiming the compliment, though, as might have been expected, the sonnet excited some disapprobation in England. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine (February, 1818, vol. 88, p. 122) relieved his feelings by a "Retort Addressed to the Thames"—

"Restor'd to my dear native Thames' bank,
My soul disgusted spurns a Byron's lay,—

Leman may idly boast her Staël, Rousseau,
Gibbon, Voltaire, whom Truth and Justice shun—

Whilst meekly shines midst Fulham's bowers the sun
O'er Sherlock's and o'er Porteus' honour'd graves,
Where Thames Britannia's choicest meads exulting laves."]

[76] [Compare—

"Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza lxviii. line 1,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 257.]

[n] {54} Stanzas To——.—[Editions 1816-1830.]

"Though the Day."—[MS. in Mrs. Leigh's handwriting.]

[77] [The "Stanzas to Augusta" were written in July, at the Campagne Diodati, near Geneva. "Be careful," he says, "in printing the stanzas beginning, 'Though the day of my Destiny's,' etc., which I think well of as a composition."—Letter to Murray, October 5, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 371.]

[o]

Though the days of my Glory are over,
And the Sun of my fame has declined.—[Dillon MS.]

[p]——had painted.—[MS.]

[78] [Compare—

"Dear Nature is the kindest mother still!...
To me by day or night she ever smiled."

Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza xxxvii. lines 1, 7, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 122.]

[q] I will not——.—[MS. erased.]

[r] {55} As the breasts I reposed in with me.—[MS.]

[s]

Though the rock of my young hope is shivered,
And its fragments lie sunk in the wave.—[MS. erased.]

[t]

There is many a pang to pursue me,
And many a peril to stem;
They may torture, but shall not subdue me;
They may crush, but they shall not contemn.—[MS. erased.]
And I think not of thee but of them.—[MS. erased.]

[u] Though tempted——.—[MS.]

[79] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanzas liii., lv., Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 247, 248, note 1.]

[v]

Though watchful, 'twas but to reclaim me,
Nor, silent, to sanction a lie.—[MS.]

[80] {56}[Compare—

"Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be."

Epistle to Augusta, stanza xii. lines 5, 6, vide post, p. 61.

Compare, too—

"But soon he knew himself the most unfit
Of men to herd with Man."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xii. lines 1, 2,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 223.]

[w]

And more than I then could foresee.
I have met but the fate that hath crost me.—[MS.]

[x] In the wreck of the past—[MS.]

[y]

In the Desert there still are sweet waters,
In the wild waste a sheltering tree.—[MS.]

[81] [Byron often made use of this illustration. Compare—

"My Peri! ever welcome here!
Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave."

The Bride of Abydos, Canto I. lines 151, 152, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 163.]

[82] [For Hobhouse's parody of these stanzas, see Letters, 1900, iv. 73,74.]

[83] {57}[These stanzas—"than which," says the Quarterly Review for January, 1831, "there is nothing, perhaps, more mournfully and desolately beautiful in the whole range of Lord Byron's poetry," were also written at Diodati, and sent home to be published, if Mrs. Leigh should consent. She decided against publication, and the "Epistle" was not printed till 1830. Her first impulse was to withhold her consent to the publication of the "Stanzas to Augusta," as well as the "Epistle," and to say, "Whatever is addressed to me do not publish," but on second thoughts she decided that "the least objectionable line will be to let them be published."—See her letters to Murray, November 1, 8, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 366, note 1.]

[z]

Go where thou wilt thou art to me the same
A loud regret which I would not resign.—[MS.]

[84] [Compare—

"Oh! that the Desert were my dwelling-place,
With one fair Spirit for my minister!"

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza clxxvii. lines 1, 2, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 456.]

[aa] But other cares——.—[MS.]

[ab] A strange doom hath been ours, but that is past.—[MS.]

[85] ["Admiral Byron was remarkable for never making a voyage without a tempest. He was known to the sailors by the facetious name of 'Foul-weather Jack' [or 'Hardy Byron'].

"'But, though it were tempest-toss'd,
Still his bark could not be lost.'

He returned safely from the wreck of the Wager (in Anson's voyage), and many years after circumnavigated the world, as commander of a similar expedition" (Moore). Admiral the Hon. John Byron (1723-1786), next brother to William, fifth Lord Byron, published his Narrative of his shipwreck in the Wager in 1768, and his Voyage round the World in the Dolphin, in 1767 (Letters, 1898, i. 3).]

[ac] {58}

I am not yet o'erwhelmed that I shall ever lean
A thought upon such Hope as daily mocks.—[MS. erased.]

[86] [For Byron's belief in predestination, compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza lxxxiii. line 9, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 74, note 1.]

[ad] {59} For to all such may change of soul refer.—[MS.]

[ae]

Have hardened me to this—but I can see
Things which I still can love—but none like thee.—[MS. erased.]

[af]

{Before I had to study far more useless books.—[MS. erased,]
Ere my young mind was fettered down to books.

[ag] Some living things——-.—[MS.]

[87] [Compare—

"Then stirs the feeling infinite, so felt
In solitude, when we are least alone."

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xc. lines 1, 2,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 272]

[88] {60}[For a description of the lake at Newstead, see Don Juan, Canto XIII. stanza lvii.]

[ah] And think of such things with a childish eye.—[MS.]

[89] {61}[Compare—

"He who first met the Highland's swelling blue,
Will love each peak, that shows a kindred hue,
Hail in each crag a friend's familiar face,
And clasp the mountain in his mind's embrace."

The Island, Canto II. stanza xii. lines 9-12.

His "friends are mountains." He comes back to them as to a "holier land," where he may find not happiness, but peace.

Moore was inclined to attribute Byron's "love of mountain prospects" in his childhood to the "after-result of his imaginative recollections of that period," but (as Wilson, commenting on Moore, suggests) it is easier to believe that the "high instincts" of the "poetic child" did not wait for association to consecrate the vision (Life, p. 8).]

[ai]

The earliest were the only paths for me.
The earliest were the paths and meant for me.—[MS. erased.]

[aj]

Yet could I but expunge from out the book
Of my existence all that was entwined.—[MS. erased.]

[ak]

My life has been too long—if in a day
I have survived——.—[MS. erased.]

[90] {62}[Byron often insists on this compression of life into a yet briefer span than even mortality allows. Compare—

"He, who grown aged in this world of woe,
In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life," etc.

Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza v. lines 1, 2,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 218, note 1.

Compare, too—

"My life is not dated by years—
There are moments which act as a plough," etc.

Lines to the Countess of Blessington, stanza 4.]

[al] And for the remnants——.—[MS.]

[am] Whate'er betide——.—[MS.]

[an] We have been and we shall be——.—[MS. erased.]

[91] {63}["These verses," says John Wright (ed. 1832, x. 207), "of which the opening lines (1-6) are given in Moore's Notices, etc. (1830, ii. 36), were written immediately after the failure of the negotiation ... [i.e. the intervention] of Madame de Staël, who had persuaded Byron 'to write a letter to a friend in England, declaring himself still willing to be reconciled to Lady Byron' (Life, p. 321), but were not intended for the public eye." The verses were written in September, and it is evident that since the composition of The Dream in July, another "change had come over" his spirit, and that the mild and courteous depreciation of his wife as "a gentle bride," etc., had given place to passionate reproach and bitter reviling. The failure of Madame de Staël's negotiations must have been to some extent anticipated, and it is more reasonable to suppose that it was a rumour or report of the "one serious calumny" of Shelley's letter of September 29, 1816, which provoked him to fury, and drove him into the open maledictions of The Incantation (published together with the Prisoner of Chillon, but afterwards incorporated with Manfred, act i. sc. 1, vide post, p. 91), and the suppressed "lines," written, so he told Lady Blessington (Conversations, etc., 1834, p. 79) "on reading in a newspaper" that Lady Byron had been ill.]

[92] [Compare—

" ... that unnatural retribution—just,
Had it but been from hands less near."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cxxxii. lines 6, 7,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 427.]

[93] {64}[Compare—

"Though thy slumber may be deep,
Yet thy Spirit shall not sleep.

Nor to slumber nor to die,
Shall be in thy destiny."

The Incantation, lines 201, 202, 254, 255,
Manfred, act i. sc. 1, vide post, pp. 92, 93.]

[94] [Compare "I suppose now I shall never be able to shake off my sables in public imagination, more particularly since my moral ... [Clytemnestra?] clove down my fame" (Letter to Moore, March 10, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 72). The same expression, "my moral Clytemnestra," is applied to his wife in a letter to Lord Blessington, dated April 6, 1823. It may be noted that it was in April, 1823, that Byron presented a copy of the "Lines," etc., to Lady Blessington (Conversations, etc., 1834, p. 79).]

[95] {65}[Compare—

"By thy delight in others' pain."

Manfred, act i. sc. i, line 248, vide post, p. 93.]

[96] [Compare—

" ... but that high Soul secured the heart,
And panted for the truth it could not hear."

A Sketch, lines 18, 19, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 541.]

[97] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cxxxvi. lines 6-9, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 430.]


[67]

MONODY ON THE DEATH
OF
THE RIGHT HON. R. B. SHERIDAN.


[69]

INTRODUCTION TO MONODY ON THE DEATH OF THE RIGHT HON. R. B. SHERIDAN.
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When Moore was engaged on the Life of Sheridan, Byron gave him some advice. "Never mind," he says, "the angry lies of the humbug Whigs. Recollect that he was an Irishman and a clever fellow, and that we have had some very pleasant days with him. Don't forget that he was at school at Harrow, where, in my time, we used to show his name—R. B. Sheridan, 1765—as an honour to the walls. Depend upon it that there were worse folks going, of that gang, than ever Sheridan was" (Letter to Moore, September 19, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 261).

It does not appear that Byron had any acquaintance with Sheridan when he wrote the one unrejected Address which was spoken at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre, October 10, 1812, but that he met him for the first time at a dinner which Rogers gave to Byron and Moore, on or before June 1, 1813. Thenceforward, as long as he remained in England (see his letter to Rogers, April 16, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii 281, note 1), he was often in his company, "sitting late, drinking late," not, of course, on terms of equality and friendship (for Sheridan was past sixty, and Byron more than thirty years younger), but of the closest and pleasantest intimacy. To judge from the tone of the letter to Moore (vide supra) and of numerous entries in his diaries, during Sheridan's life and after his death, he was at pains not to pass judgment on a man whom he greatly admired and sincerely pitied, and whom he felt that he had no right to despise. Body and soul, Byron was of different stuff from Sheridan, and if he "had lived to his age," he would have passed over "the red-hot ploughshares" of life and conduct, not unscathed, but stoutly and unconsumed. So much easier is it to live down character than to live through temperament.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (born October 30, 1751) died July 7, 1816. The Monody was written at the Campagne[70] Diodati, on July 17, at the request of Douglas Kinnaird. "I did as well as I could," says Byron; "but where I have not my choice I pretend to answer for nothing" (Letter to Murray, September 29, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 366). He told Lady Blessington, however, that his "feelings were never more excited than while writing it, and that every word came direct from the heart" (Conversations, etc., p. 241).

The MS., in the handwriting of Claire, is headed, "Written at the request of D. Kinnaird, Esq., Monody on R. B. Sheridan. Intended to be spoken at Dy. Le. T. Diodati, Lake of Geneva, July 18th, 1816. Byron."

The first edition was entitled Monody on the Death of the Right Honourable R.B. Sheridan. Written at the request of a Friend. To be spoken at Drury Lane Theatre, London. Printed for John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1816.

It was spoken by Mrs. Davison at Drury Lane Theatre, September 7, and published September 9, 1816.

When the Monody arrived at Diodati Byron fell foul of the title-page: "'The request of a Friend:'—

'Obliged by Hunger and request of friends.'

"I will request you to expunge that same, unless you please to add, 'by a person of quality, or of wit and honour about town.' Merely say, 'written to be spoken at D[rury] L[ane]'" (Letter to Murray, September 30, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 367). The first edition had been issued, and no alteration could be made, but the title-page of a "New Edition," 1817, reads, "Monody, etc. Spoken at Drury Lane Theatre. By Lord Byron."]


[71]

MONODY ON THE DEATH
OF THE
RIGHT HON. R. B. SHERIDAN,
SPOKEN AT DRURY-LANE THEATRE, LONDON.


When the last sunshine of expiring Day
In Summer's twilight weeps itself away,
Who hath not felt the softness of the hour
Sink on the heart, as dew along the flower?
With a pure feeling which absorbs and awes
While Nature makes that melancholy pause—
Her breathing moment on the bridge where Time
Of light and darkness forms an arch sublime—
Who hath not shared that calm, so still and deep,
The voiceless thought which would not speak but weep,10
A holy concord, and a bright regret,
A glorious sympathy with suns that set?[98]
'Tis not harsh sorrow, but a tenderer woe,
Nameless, but dear to gentle hearts below,
Felt without bitterness—but full and clear,
A sweet dejection—a transparent tear,
Unmixed with worldly grief or selfish stain—
Shed without shame, and secret without pain.
Even as the tenderness that hour instils
When Summer's day declines along the hills,20[72]
So feels the fulness of our heart and eyes
When all of Genius which can perish dies.
A mighty Spirit is eclipsed—a Power
Hath passed from day to darkness—to whose hour
Of light no likeness is bequeathed—no name,
Focus at once of all the rays of Fame!
The flash of Wit—the bright Intelligence,
The beam of Song—the blaze of Eloquence,
Set with their Sun, but still have left behind
The enduring produce of immortal Mind;30
Fruits of a genial morn, and glorious noon,
A deathless part of him who died too soon.
But small that portion of the wondrous whole,
These sparkling segments of that circling Soul,
Which all embraced, and lightened over all,
To cheer—to pierce—to please—or to appal.
From the charmed council to the festive board,
Of human feelings the unbounded lord;
In whose acclaim the loftiest voices vied,
The praised—the proud—who made his praise their pride.40
When the loud cry of trampled Hindostan
Arose to Heaven in her appeal from Man,
His was the thunder—his the avenging rod,
The wrath—the delegated voice of God!
Which shook the nations through his lips, and blazed
Till vanquished senates trembled as they praised.[99]
And here, oh! here, where yet all young and warm,
The gay creations of his spirit charm,[100]
The matchless dialogue—the deathless wit,[73]
Which knew not what it was to intermit;50
The glowing portraits, fresh from life, that bring
Home to our hearts the truth from which they spring;
These wondrous beings of his fancy, wrought
To fulness by the fiat of his thought,
Here in their first abode you still may meet,
Bright with the hues of his Promethean heat;
A Halo of the light of other days,
Which still the splendour of its orb betrays.
But should there be to whom the fatal blight
Of failing Wisdom yields a base delight,60
Men who exult when minds of heavenly tone
Jar in the music which was born their own,
Still let them pause—ah! little do they know
That what to them seemed Vice might be but Woe.
Hard is his fate on whom the public gaze
Is fixed for ever to detract or praise;
Repose denies her requiem to his name,
And Folly loves the martyrdom of Fame.
The secret Enemy whose sleepless eye
Stands sentinel—accuser—judge—and spy.70
The foe, the fool, the jealous, and the vain,
The envious who but breathe in other's pain—
Behold the host! delighting to deprave,
Who track the steps of Glory to the grave,
Watch every fault that daring Genius owes
Half to the ardour which its birth bestows,
Distort the truth, accumulate the lie,
And pile the Pyramid of Calumny!
These are his portion—but if joined to these
Gaunt Poverty should league with deep Disease,80
If the high Spirit must forget to soar,
And stoop to strive with Misery at the door,[74][101]
To soothe Indignity—and face to face
Meet sordid Rage, and wrestle with Disgrace,
To find in Hope but the renewed caress,
The serpent-fold of further Faithlessness:—
If such may be the Ills which men assail,
What marvel if at last the mightiest fail?
Breasts to whom all the strength of feeling given
Bear hearts electric-charged with fire from Heaven,90
Black with the rude collision, inly torn,
By clouds surrounded, and on whirlwinds borne,
Driven o'er the lowering atmosphere that nurst
Thoughts which have turned to thunder—scorch, and burst.[ao]
But far from us and from our mimic scene
Such things should be—if such have ever been;
Ours be the gentler wish, the kinder task,
To give the tribute Glory need not ask,[75]
To mourn the vanished beam, and add our mite
Of praise in payment of a long delight.100
Ye Orators! whom yet our councils yield,
Mourn for the veteran Hero of your field!
The worthy rival of the wondrous Three![102]
Whose words were sparks of Immortality!
Ye Bards! to whom the Drama's Muse is dear,
He was your Master—emulate him here!
Ye men of wit and social eloquence![103]
He was your brother—bear his ashes hence!
While Powers of mind almost of boundless range,[104]
Complete in kind, as various in their change,110
While Eloquence—Wit—Poesy—and Mirth,
That humbler Harmonist of care on Earth,
Survive within our souls—while lives our sense
Of pride in Merit's proud pre-eminence,
Long shall we seek his likeness—long in vain,
And turn to all of him which may remain,
Sighing that Nature formed but one such man,
And broke the die—in moulding Sheridan![105]

FOOTNOTES:

[98] {71}[Compare—

"As 'twere the twilight of a former Sun."

Churchill's Grave, line 26, vide ante, p. 48.]

[99] {72}[Sheridan's first speech on behalf of the Begum of Oude was delivered February 7, 1787. After having spoken for five hours and forty minutes he sat down, "not merely amidst cheering, but amidst the loud clapping of hands, in which the Lords below the bar and the strangers in the Gallery joined" (Critical ... Essays, by T. B. Macaulay, 1843, iii. 443). So great was the excitement that Pitt moved the adjournment of the House. The next year, during the trial of Warren Hastings, he took part in the debates on June 3,6,10,13, 1788. "The conduct of the part of the case relating to the Princesses of Oude was intrusted to Sheridan. The curiosity of the public to hear him was unbounded.... It was said that fifty guineas had been paid for a single ticket. Sheridan, when he concluded, contrived ... to sink back, as if exhausted, into the arms of Burke, who hugged him with the energy of generous admiration" (ibid.,iii 451, 452).]

[100] [The Rivals, The Scheming Lieutenant, and The Duenna were played for the first time at Covent Garden, January 17, May 2, and November 21, 1775. A Trip to Scarborough and the School for Scandal were brought out at Drury Lane, February 24 and May 8, 1777; the Critic, October 29, 1779; and Pizarro, May 24, 1799.]

[101] {73}[Only a few days before his death, Sheridan wrote thus to Rogers: "I am absolutely undone and broken-hearted. They are going to put the carpets out of window, and break into Mrs. S.'s room and take me. For God's sake let me see you!" (Moore's Life of Sheridan, 1825, ii. 455).

The extent and duration of Sheridan's destitution at the time of his last illness and death have been the subject of controversy. The statements in Moore's Life (1825) moved George IV. to send for Croker and dictate a long and circumstantial harangue, to the effect that Sheridan and his wife were starving, and that their immediate necessities were relieved by the (then) Prince Regent's agent, Taylor Vaughan (Croker's Correspondence and Diaries, 1884, i. 288-312). Mr. Fraser Rae, in his Life of Sheridan (1896, ii. 284), traverses the king's apology in almost every particular, and quotes a letter from Charles Sheridan to his half-brother Tom, dated July 16, 1816, in which he says that his father "almost slumbered into death, and that the reports ... in the newspapers (vide, e.g., Morning Chronicle, July, 1816) of the privations and want of comforts were unfounded."

Moore's sentiments were also expressed in "some verses" (Lines on the Death of SH—R—D—N), which were published in the newspapers, and are reprinted in the Life, 1825, ii. 462, and Poetical Works, 1850, p. 400—

"How proud they can press to the funeral array
Of one whom they shunned in his sickness and sorrow!
How bailiffs may seize his last blanket to-day,
Whose pall shall be held up by nobles to-morrow.

Was this, then, the fate of that high-gifted man,
The pride of the palace, the bower, and the hall,
The orator—dramatist—minstrel, who ran
Through each mode of the lyre, and was master of all?"]

[ao] {74}

Abandoned by the skies, whose teams have nurst
Their very thunders, lighten—scorch, and burst.—[MS.]

[102] {75} Fox—Pitt—Burke. ["I heard Sheridan only once, and that briefly; but I liked his voice, his manner, and his wit: he is the only one of them I ever wished to hear at greater length."—Detached Thoughts, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 413.]

[103] ["In society I have met Sheridan frequently: he was superb!... I have seen him cut up Whitbread, quiz Madame de Staël, annihilate Colman, and do little less by some others ... of good fame and abilities.... I have met him in all places and parties, ... and always found him very convivial and delightful."—Ibid., pp. 413, 414.]

[104] ["The other night we were all delivering our respective and various opinions on him, ... and mine was this:—'Whatever Sheridan has done or chosen to do has been, par excellence, always the best of its kind. He has written the best comedy (School for Scandal), the best drama (in my mind, far before that St. Giles's lampoon, the Beggars Opera), the best farce (the Critic—it is only too good for a farce), and the best Address ('Monologue on Garrick'), and, to crown all, delivered the very best Oration (the famous Begum Speech) ever conceived or heard in this country.'"—Journal, December 17, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 377.]

[105] [It has often been pointed out (e.g. Notes and Queries, 1855, Series I. xi. 472) that this fine metaphor may be traced to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. The subject is Zerbino, the son of the King of Scotland—

"Non è vu si bello in tante altre persone:
Natura il fece e poi ruppe la stampa."

Canto X. stanza lxxxiv. lines 5, 6.]


[77]

MANFRED:
A DRAMATIC POEM.


"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
 Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

[Hamlet, Act i. Scene 5, Lines 166, 167.


[78]

[Manfred, a choral tragedy in three acts, was performed at Covent Garden Theatre, October 29-November 14, 1834 [Denvil (afterwards known as "Manfred" Denvil) took the part of "Manfred," and Miss Ellen Tree (afterwards Mrs. Charles Kean) played "The Witch of the Alps"]; at Drury Lane Theatre, October 10, 1863-64 [Phelps played "Manfred," Miss Rosa Le Clercq "The Phantom of Astarte," and Miss Heath "The Witch of the Alps"]; at the Prince's Theatre, Manchester, March 27-April 20, 1867 [Charles Calvert played "Manfred"]; and again, in 1867, under the same management, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Liverpool; and at the Princess's Theatre Royal, London, August 16, 1873 [Charles Dillon played "Manfred;" music by Sir Henry Bishop, as in 1834].

Overtures, etc.

"Music to Byron's Manfred" (overture and incidental music and choruses), by R. Schumann, 1850.

"Incidental Music," composed, in 1897, by Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzie (at the request of Sir Henry Irving); heard (in part only) at a concert in Queen's Hall, May, 1899.

"Manfred Symphony" (four tableaux after the Poem by Byron), composed by Tschaikowsky, 1885; first heard in London, autumn, 1898.]


[79]

INTRODUCTION TO MANFRED
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Byron passed four months and three weeks in Switzerland. He arrived at the Hôtel d'Angleterre at Sécheron, on Saturday, May 25, and he left the Campagne Diodati for Italy on Sunday, October 6, 1816. Within that period he wrote the greater part of the Third Canto of Childe Harold, he began and finished the Prisoner of Chillon, its seven attendant poems, and the Monody on the death of Sheridan, and he began Manfred.

A note to the "Incantation" (Manfred, act i. sc. 1, lines 192-261), which was begun in July and published together with the Prisoner of Chillon, December 5, 1816, records the existence of "an unfinished Witch Drama" (First Edition, p. 46); but, apart from this, the first announcement of his new work is contained in a letter to Murray, dated Venice, February 15, 1817 (Letters, 1900, iv. 52). "I forgot," he writes, "to mention to you that a kind of Poem in dialogue (in blank verse) or drama ... begun last summer in Switzerland, is finished; it is in three acts; but of a very wild, metaphysical, and inexplicable kind." The letter is imperfect, but some pages of "extracts" which were forwarded under the same cover have been preserved. Ten days later (February 25) he reverts to these "extracts," and on February 28 he despatches a fair copy of the first act. On March 9 he remits the third and final act of his "dramatic poem" (a definition adopted as a second title), but under reserve as to publication, and with a strict injunction to Murray "to submit it to Mr. G[ifford] and to whomsoever you please besides." It is certain that this third act was written at Venice (Letter to Murray, April 14), and it may be taken for granted that the composition of the first two acts belongs to the tour in the Bernese Alps (September 17-29), or to the last days at Diodati (September 30 to October 5, 1816), when the estro (see Letter to Murray, January 2, 1817) was upon him, when his "Passions slept," and, in spite of all that had come and gone and could not go, his spirit was uplifted by the "majesty and the power and the glory" of Nature.

Gifford's verdict on the first act was that it was "wonderfully poetical" and "merited publication," but, as Byron had [80] foreseen, he did not "by any means like" the third act. It was, as its author admitted (Letter to Murray, April 14) "damnably bad," and savoured of the "dregs of a fever," for which the Carnival (Letter to Murray, February 28) or, more probably, the climate and insanitary "palaces" of Venice were responsible. Some weeks went by before there was either leisure or inclination for the task of correction, but at Rome the estro returned in full force, and on May 5 a "new third act of Manfred—the greater part rewritten," was sent by post to England. Manfred, a Dramatic Poem, was published June 16, 1817.

Manfred was criticized by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review (No. lvi., August, 1817, vol. 28, pp. 418-431), and by John Wilson in the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine (afterwards Blackwood's, etc.) (June, 1817, i. 289-295). Jeffrey, as Byron remarked (Letter to Murray, October 12, 1817), was "very kind," and Wilson, whose article "had all the air of being a poet's," was eloquent in its praises. But there was a fly in the ointment. "A suggestion" had been thrown out, "in an ingenious paper in a late number of the Edinburgh Magazine [signed H. M. (John Wilson), July, 1817], that the general conception of this piece, and much of what is excellent in the manner of its execution, have been borrowed from the Tragical History of Dr. Faustus of Marlow (sic);" and from this contention Jeffrey dissented. A note to a second paper on Marlowe's Edward II. (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, October, 1817) offered explanations, and echoed Jeffrey's exaltation of Manfred above Dr. Faustus; but the mischief had been done. Byron was evidently perplexed and distressed, not by the papers in Blackwood, which he never saw, but by Jeffrey's remonstrance in his favour; and in the letter of October 12 he is at pains to trace the "evolution" of Manfred. "I never read," he writes, "and do not know that I ever saw the Faustus of Marlow;" and, again, "As to the Faustus of Marlow, I never read, never saw, nor heard of it." "I heard Mr. Lewis translate verbally some scenes of Goethe's Faust ... last summer" (see, too, Letter to Rogers, April 4, 1817), which is all I know of the history of that magical personage; and as to the germs of Manfred, they may be found in the Journal which I sent to Mrs. Leigh ... when I went over first the Dent, etc., ... shortly before I left Switzerland. I have the whole scene of Manfred before me."

Again, three years later he writes (à propos of Goethe's review of Manfred, which first appeared in print in his paper Kunst und Alterthum, June, 1820, and is republished in Goethe's Sämmtliche Werke ... Stuttgart, 1874, xiii. 640-642; [81] see Letters, 1901, v. Appendix II. "Goethe and Byron," pp. 503-521): "His Faust I never read, for I don't know German; but Matthew Monk Lewis (sic), in 1816, at Coligny, translated most of it to me viva voce, and I was naturally much struck with it; but it was the Staubach (sic) and the Jungfrau, and something else, much more than Faustus, that made me write Manfred. The first scene, however, and that of Faustus are very similar" (Letter to Murray, June 7, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 36). Medwin (Conversations, etc., pp. 210, 211), who of course had not seen the letters to Murray of 1817 or 1820, puts much the same story into Byron's mouth.

Now, with regard to the originality of Manfred, it may be taken for granted that Byron knew nothing about the "Faust-legend," or the "Faust-cycle." He solemnly denies that he had ever read Marlowe's Faustus, or the selections from the play in Lamb's Specimens, etc. (see Medwin's Conversations, etc., pp. 208, 209, and a hitherto unpublished Preface to Werner, vol. v.), and it is highly improbable that he knew anything of Calderon's El Mágico Prodigioso, which Shelley translated in 1822, or of "the beggarly elements" of the legend in Hroswitha's Lapsus et Conversio Theophrasti Vice-domini. But Byron's Manfred is "in the succession" of scholars who have reached the limits of natural and legitimate science, and who essay the supernatural in order to penetrate and comprehend the "hidden things of darkness." A predecessor, if not a progenitor, he must have had, and there can be no doubt whatever that the primary conception of the character, though by no means the inspiration of the poem, is to be traced to the "Monk's" oral rendering of Goethe's Faust, which he gave in return for his "bread and salt" at Diodati. Neither Jeffrey nor Wilson mentioned Faust, but the writer of the notice in the Critical Review (June, 1817, series v. vol. 5, pp. 622-629) avowed that "this scene (the first) is a gross plagiary from a great poet whom Lord Byron has imitated on former occasions without comprehending. Goethe's Faust begins in the same way;" and Goethe himself, in a letter to his friend Knebel, October, 1817, and again in his review in Kunst und Alterthum, June, 1820, emphasizes whilst he justifies and applauds the use which Byron had made of his work. "This singular intellectual poet has taken my Faustus to himself, and extracted from it the strangest nourishment for his hypochondriac humour. He has made use of the impelling principles in his own way, for his own purposes, so that no one of them remains the same; and it is particularly on this account that I cannot enough admire his genius." Afterwards (see record of a conversation with Herman Fürst [82] von Pückler, September 14, 1826, Letters, v. 511) Goethe somewhat modified his views, but even then it interested him to trace the unconscious transformation which Byron had made of his Mephistopheles. It is, perhaps, enough to say that the link between Manfred and Faust is formal, not spiritual. The problem which Goethe raised but did not solve, his counterfeit presentment of the eternal issue between soul and sense, between innocence and renunciation on the one side, and achievement and satisfaction on the other, was not the struggle which Byron experienced in himself or desired to depict in his mysterious hierarch of the powers of nature. "It was the Staubach and the Jungfrau, and something else," not the influence of Faust on a receptive listener, which called up a new theme, and struck out a fresh well-spring of the imagination. The motif of Manfred is remorse—eternal suffering for inexpiable crime. The sufferer is for ever buoyed up with the hope that there is relief somewhere in nature, beyond nature, above nature, and experience replies with an everlasting No! As the sunshine enhances sorrow, so Nature, by the force of contrast, reveals and enhances guilt. Manfred is no echo of another's questioning, no expression of a general world-weariness on the part of the time-spirit, but a personal outcry: "De profundis clamavi!"

No doubt, apart from this main purport and essence of his song, his sensitive spirit responded to other and fainter influences. There are "points of resemblance," as Jeffrey pointed out and Byron proudly admitted, between Manfred and the Prometheus of Æschylus. Plainly, here and there, "the tone and pitch of the composition," and "the victim in the more solemn parts," are Æschylean. Again, with regard to the supernatural, there was the stimulus of the conversation of the Shelleys and of Lewis, brimful of magic and ghost-lore; and lastly, there was the glamour of Christabel, "the wild and original" poem which had taken Byron captive, and was often in his thoughts and on his lips. It was no wonder that the fuel kindled and burst into a flame.

For the text of Goethe's review of Manfred, and Hoppner's translation of that review, and an account of Goethe's relation with Byron, drawn from Professor A. Brandl's Goethes Verhältniss zu Byron (Goethe-Jahrbuch, Zwanzigster Band, 1899), and other sources, see Letters, 1901, v. Appendix II. pp. 503-521.

For contemporary and other notices of Manfred, in addition to those already mentioned, see Eclectic Review, July, 1817, New Series, vol. viii. pp. 62-66; Gentleman's Magazine, July, 1817, vol. 87, pp. 45-47; Monthly Review, July, 1817, Enlarged Series, vol. 83, pp. 300-307; Dublin University Magazine, April, 1874, vol. 83, pp. 502-508, etc.


[83]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.
swash

Manfred.
Chamois Hunter.
Abbot of St. Maurice.
Manuel.
Herman.

Witch of the Alps.
Arimanes.
Nemesis.
The Destinies.
Spirits, etc.


The Scene of the Drama is amongst the Higher Alps—partly in the Castle of Manfred, and partly in the Mountains.


[85]

MANFRED. [106]


ACT 1.

Scene 1.—Manfred alone.—Scene, a Gothic Gallery.[107]Time, Midnight.

Man. The lamp must be replenished, but even then
It will not burn so long as I must watch:
My slumbers—if I slumber—are not sleep,
But a continuance, of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But Grief should be the Instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is Knowledge: they who know the most10
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life.
Philosophy and science, and the springs[86][108]
Of Wonder, and the wisdom of the World,
I have essayed, and in my mind there is
A power to make these subject to itself—
But they avail not: I have done men good,
And I have met with good even among men—
But this availed not: I have had my foes,
And none have baffled, many fallen before me—20
But this availed not:—Good—or evil—life—
Powers, passions—all I see in other beings,
Have been to me as rain unto the sands,
Since that all-nameless hour. I have no dread,
And feel the curse to have no natural fear,
Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes,
Or lurking love of something on the earth.
Now to my task.—
Mysterious Agency!
Ye Spirits of the unbounded Universe![ap]
Whom I have sought in darkness and in light—30
Ye, who do compass earth about, and dwell
In subtler essence—ye, to whom the tops
Of mountains inaccessible are haunts,[aq]
And Earth's and Ocean's caves familiar things—
I call upon ye by the written charm[109]
Which gives me power upon you—Rise! Appear!
[A pause.
They come not yet.—Now by the voice of him
Who is the first among you[110]—by this sign,
Which makes you tremble—by the claims of him
Who is undying,—Rise! Appear!—-- Appear!40
[A pause.
If it be so.—Spirits of Earth and Air,
Ye shall not so elude me! By a power,
Deeper than all yet urged, a tyrant-spell,[87]
Which had its birthplace in a star condemned,
The burning wreck of a demolished world,
A wandering hell in the eternal Space;
By the strong curse which is upon my Soul,[111]
The thought which is within me and around me,
I do compel ye to my will.—Appear!

[A star is seen at the darker end of the gallery:
it is stationary; and a voice is heard singing.
]

First Spirit.

Mortal! to thy bidding bowed,50
From my mansion in the cloud,
Which the breath of Twilight builds,
And the Summer's sunset gilds
With the azure and vermilion,
Which is mixed for my pavilion;[ar]
Though thy quest may be forbidden,
On a star-beam I have ridden,
To thine adjuration bowed:
Mortal—be thy wish avowed!

Voice of the Second Spirit.

Mont Blanc is the Monarch of mountains;60
They crowned him long ago
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
With a Diadem of snow.
Around his waist are forests braced,
The Avalanche in his hand;
But ere it fall, that thundering ball
Must pause for my command.
The Glacier's cold and restless mass
Moves onward day by day;
But I am he who bids it pass,70
Or with its ice delay.[88][as]
I am the Spirit of the place,
Could make the mountain bow
And quiver to his caverned base—
And what with me would'st Thou?

Voice of the Third Spirit.

In the blue depth of the waters,
Where the wave hath no strife,
Where the Wind is a stranger,
And the Sea-snake hath life,
Where the Mermaid is decking80
Her green hair with shells,
Like the storm on the surface
Came the sound of thy spells;
O'er my calm Hall of Coral
The deep Echo rolled—
To the Spirit of Ocean
Thy wishes unfold!

Fourth Spirit.

Where the slumbering Earthquake
Lies pillowed on fire,
And the lakes of bitumen90
Rise boilingly higher;
Where the roots of the Andes
Strike deep in the earth,
As their summits to heaven
Shoot soaringly forth;
I have quitted my birthplace,
Thy bidding to bide—
Thy spell hath subdued me,
Thy will be my guide!

Fifth Spirit.

I am the Rider of the wind,100
The Stirrer of the storm;
The hurricane I left behind
Is yet with lightning warm;[89]
To speed to thee, o'er shore and sea
I swept upon the blast:
The fleet I met sailed well—and yet
'Twill sink ere night be past.

Sixth Spirit.

My dwelling is the shadow of the Night,
Why doth thy magic torture me with light?

Seventh Spirit.

The Star which rules thy destiny no110
Was ruled, ere earth began, by me:
It was a World as fresh and fair
As e'er revolved round Sun in air;
Its course was free and regular,
Space bosomed not a lovelier star.
The Hour arrived—and it became
A wandering mass of shapeless flame,
A pathless Comet, and a curse,
The menace of the Universe;
Still rolling on with innate force,120
Without a sphere, without a course,
A bright deformity on high,
The monster of the upper sky!
And Thou! beneath its influence born—
Thou worm! whom I obey and scorn—
Forced by a Power (which is not thine,
And lent thee but to make thee mine)
For this brief moment to descend,
Where these weak Spirits round thee bend
And parley with a thing like thee—130
What would'st thou, Child of Clay! with me?[112]

The Seven Spirits.

Earth—ocean—air—night—mountains—winds—thy Star,
Are at thy beck and bidding, Child of Clay!
Before thee at thy quest their Spirits are—
What would'st thou with us, Son of mortals—say?
[90]
Man. Forgetfulness——
First Spirit. Of what—of whom—and why?
Man. Of that which is within me; read it there—
Ye know it—and I cannot utter it.
Spirit. We can but give thee that which we possess:
Ask of us subjects, sovereignty, the power140
O'er earth—the whole, or portion—or a sign
Which shall control the elements, whereof
We are the dominators,—each and all,
These shall be thine.
Man. Oblivion—self-oblivion!
Can ye not wring from out the hidden realms
Ye offer so profusely—what I ask?
Spirit. It is not in our essence, in our skill;
But—thou may'st die.
Man. Will Death bestow it on me?
Spirit. We are immortal, and do not forget;
We are eternal; and to us the past150
Is, as the future, present. Art thou answered?
Man. Ye mock me—but the Power which brought ye here
Hath made you mine. Slaves, scoff not at my will!
The Mind—the Spirit—the Promethean spark,[at]
The lightning of my being, is as bright,
Pervading, and far darting as your own,
And shall not yield to yours, though cooped in clay!
Answer, or I will teach you what I am.[au]
Spirit. We answer—as we answered; our reply
Is even in thine own words.
Man. Why say ye so?160
Spirit. If, as thou say'st, thine essence be as ours,
We have replied in telling thee, the thing
Mortals call death hath nought to do with us.
Man. I then have called ye from your realms in vain;
Ye cannot, or ye will not, aid me.
Spirit. Say[91][113]
What we possess we offer; it is thine:
Bethink ere thou dismiss us; ask again;
Kingdom, and sway, and strength, and length of days—
Man. Accurséd! what have I to do with days?
They are too long already.—Hence—begone!170
Spirit. Yet pause: being here, our will would do thee service;
Bethink thee, is there then no other gift
Which we can make not worthless in thine eyes?
Man. No, none: yet stay—one moment, ere we part,
I would behold ye face to face. I hear
Your voices, sweet and melancholy sounds,
As Music on the waters;[114] and I see
The steady aspect of a clear large Star;
But nothing more. Approach me as ye are,
Or one—or all—in your accustomed forms.180
Spirit. We have no forms, beyond the elements
Of which we are the mind and principle:
But choose a form—in that we will appear.
Man. I have no choice; there is no form on earth
Hideous or beautiful to me. Let him,
Who is most powerful of ye, take such aspect
As unto him may seem most fitting—Come!
Seventh Spirit (appearing in the shape of a beautiful female figure).[115]
Behold!
Man. Oh God! if it be thus, and thou[116]
Art not a madness and a mockery,
I yet might be most happy. I will clasp thee,190
And we again will be——
[The figure vanishes.
My heart is crushed!
[Manfred falls senseless.

(A voice is heard in the Incantation which follows.)[117]

When the Moon is on the wave,
And the glow-worm in the grass,[92]
And the meteor on the grave,
And the wisp on the morass;[118]
When the falling stars are shooting,
And the answered owls are hooting,
And the silent leaves are still
In the shadow of the hill,
Shall my soul be upon thine,200
With a power and with a sign.
Though thy slumber may be deep,
Yet thy Spirit shall not sleep;
There are shades which will not vanish,
There are thoughts thou canst not banish;
By a Power to thee unknown,
Thou canst never be alone;
Thou art wrapt as with a shroud,
Thou art gathered in a cloud;
And for ever shalt thou dwell210
In the spirit of this spell.
Though thou seest me not pass by,
Thou shalt feel me with thine eye
As a thing that, though unseen,
Must be near thee, and hath been;
And when in that secret dread
Thou hast turned around thy head,
Thou shalt marvel I am not
As thy shadow on the spot,[93]
And the power which thou dost feel220
Shall be what thou must conceal.
And a magic voice and verse
Hath baptized thee with a curse;
And a Spirit of the air
Hath begirt thee with a snare;
In the wind there is a voice
Shall forbid thee to rejoice;
And to thee shall Night deny
All the quiet of her sky;
And the day shall have a sun,230
Which shall make thee wish it done.
From thy false tears I did distil
An essence which hath strength to kill;
From thy own heart I then did wring
The black blood in its blackest spring;
From thy own smile I snatched the snake,
For there it coiled as in a brake;
From thy own lip I drew the charm
Which gave all these their chiefest harm;
In proving every poison known,240
I found the strongest was thine own.
By the cold breast and serpent smile,
By thy unfathomed gulfs of guile,
By that most seeming virtuous eye,
By thy shut soul's hypocrisy;
By the perfection of thine art
Which passed for human thine own heart;
By thy delight in others' pain,
And by thy brotherhood of Cain,
I call upon thee! and compel[av]250
Thyself to be thy proper Hell!
And on thy head I pour the vial
Which doth devote thee to this trial;
Nor to slumber, nor to die,
Shall be in thy destiny;[94]
Though thy death shall still seem near
To thy wish, but as a fear;
Lo! the spell now works around thee,
And the clankless chain hath bound thee;
O'er thy heart and brain together260
Hath the word been passed—now wither!

Scene II.—The Mountain of the Jungfrau.—Time, Morning.—Manfred alone upon the cliffs.

Man. The spirits I have raised abandon me,
The spells which I have studied baffle me,
The remedy I recked of tortured me
I lean no more on superhuman aid;
It hath no power upon the past, and for
The future, till the past be gulfed in darkness,
It is not of my search.—My Mother Earth![119]
And thou fresh-breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains,
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright Eye of the Universe,10
That openest over all, and unto all
Art a delight—thou shin'st not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent's brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom's bed
To rest for ever—wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse—yet I do not plunge;20
I see the peril—yet do not recede;
And my brain reels—and yet my foot is firm:
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live,—
If it be life to wear within myself
This barrenness of Spirit, and to be
My own Soul's sepulchre, for I have ceased[95]
To justify my deeds unto myself—
The last infirmity of evil. Aye,
Thou winged and cloud-cleaving minister,30
[An Eagle passes.
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well may'st thou swoop so near me—I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,
With a pervading vision.—Beautiful!
How beautiful is all this visible world![120]
How glorious in its action and itself!
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit40
To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will,
Till our Mortality predominates,
And men are—what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,
[The Shepherd's pipe in the distance is heard.
The natural music of the mountain reed—
For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable—pipes in the liberal air,50
Mixed with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;[96][121]
My soul would drink those echoes. Oh, that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment[122]—born and dying
With the blest tone which made me!

Enter from below a Chamois Hunter.

Chamois Hunter. Even so
This way the Chamois leapt: her nimble feet
Have baffled me; my gains to-day will scarce
Repay my break-neck travail.—What is here?
Who seems not of my trade, and yet hath reached60
A height which none even of our mountaineers,
Save our best hunters, may attain: his garb
Is goodly, his mien manly, and his air
Proud as a free-born peasant's, at this distance:
I will approach him nearer.
Man. (not perceiving the other). To be thus—
Grey-haired with anguish, like these blasted pines,
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless,[123]
A blighted trunk upon a curséd root,
Which but supplies a feeling to Decay—
And to be thus, eternally but thus,70
Having been otherwise! Now furrowed o'er
With wrinkles, ploughed by moments, not by years
And hours, all tortured into ages—hours
Which I outlive!—Ye toppling crags of ice!
Ye Avalanches, whom a breath draws down
In mountainous o'erwhelming, come and crush me!
I hear ye momently above, beneath,[97]
Crash with a frequent conflict;[124] but ye pass,
And only fall on things that still would live;
On the young flourishing forest, or the hut80
And hamlet of the harmless villager.
C. Hun. The mists begin to rise from up the valley;
I'll warn him to descend, or he may chance
To lose at once his way and life together.
Man. The mists boil up around the glaciers; clouds
Rise curling fast beneath me, white and sulphury,
Like foam from the roused ocean of deep Hell,[aw]
Whose every wave breaks on a living shore,
Heaped with the damned like pebbles.—I am giddy.[125]
C. Hun. I must approach him cautiously; if near,90
A sudden step will startle him, and he
Seems tottering already.
Man. Mountains have fallen,
Leaving a gap in the clouds, and with the shock
Rocking their Alpine brethren; filling up
The ripe green valleys with Destruction's splinters;
Damming the rivers with a sudden dash,
Which crushed the waters into mist, and made
Their fountains find another channel—thus,
Thus, in its old age, did Mount Rosenberg[98][126]
Why stood I not beneath it?
C. Hun. Friend! have a care,100
Your next step may be fatal!—for the love
Of Him who made you, stand not on that brink!
Man. (not hearing him).
Such would have been for me a fitting tomb;
My bones had then been quiet in their depth;
They had not then been strewn upon the rocks
For the wind's pastime—as thus—thus they shall be—
In this one plunge.—Farewell, ye opening Heavens!
Look not upon me thus reproachfully—
You were not meant for me—Earth! take these atoms!

[As Manfred is in act to spring from the cliff, the Chamois Hunter seizes and retains him with a sudden grasp.

C. Hun. Hold, madman!—though aweary of thy life,110
Stain not our pure vales with thy guilty blood:
Away with me——I will not quit my hold.
Man. I am most sick at heart—nay, grasp me not—
I am all feebleness—the mountains whirl
Spinning around me——I grow blind——What art thou?
C. Hun. I'll answer that anon.—Away with me——
The clouds grow thicker——there—now lean on me—
Place your foot here—here, take this staff, and cling
A moment to that shrub—now give me your hand,
And hold fast by my girdle—softly—well—120
The Chalet will be gained within an hour:
Come on, we'll quickly find a surer footing,
And something like a pathway, which the torrent
Hath washed since winter.—Come,'tis bravely done—
You should have been a hunter.—Follow me.

[As they descend the rocks with difficulty, the scene closes.


[99]

ACT II.

Scene I.—A Cottage among the Bernese Alps.—Manfred and the Chamois Hunter.

C. Hun. No—no—yet pause—thou must not yet go forth;
Thy mind and body are alike unfit
To trust each other, for some hours, at least;
When thou art better, I will be thy guide—
But whither?
Man. It imports not: I do know
My route full well, and need no further guidance.
C. Hun. Thy garb and gait bespeak thee of high lineage—
One of the many chiefs, whose castled crags
Look o'er the lower valleys—which of these
May call thee lord? I only know their portals;10
My way of life leads me but rarely down
To bask by the huge hearths of those old halls,
Carousing with the vassals; but the paths,
Which step from out our mountains to their doors,
I know from childhood—which of these is thine?
Man. No matter.
C. Hun. Well, Sir, pardon me the question,
And be of better cheer. Come, taste my wine;
'Tis of an ancient vintage; many a day
'T has thawed my veins among our glaciers, now
Let it do thus for thine—Come, pledge me fairly!20
Man. Away, away! there's blood upon the brim!
Will it then never—never sink in the earth?
C. Hun. What dost thou mean? thy senses wander from thee.
Man. I say 'tis blood—my blood! the pure warm stream
Which ran in the veins of my fathers, and in ours
When we were in our youth, and had one heart,
And loved each other as we should not love,[100][127]
And this was shed: but still it rises up,
Colouring the clouds, that shut me out from Heaven,
Where thou art not—and I shall never be.30
C. Hun. Man of strange words, and some half-maddening sin,[ax]
Which makes thee people vacancy, whate'er
Thy dread and sufferance be, there's comfort yet—
The aid of holy men, and heavenly patience——
Man. Patience—and patience! Hence—that word was made
For brutes of burthen, not for birds of prey!
Preach it to mortals of a dust like thine,—
I am not of thine order.
C. Hun. Thanks to Heaven!
I would not be of thine for the free fame
Of William Tell; but whatsoe'er thine ill,40
It must be borne, and these wild starts are useless.
Man. Do I not bear it?—Look on me—I live.
C. Hun. This is convulsion, and no healthful life.
Man. I tell thee, man! I have lived many years,
Many long years, but they are nothing now
To those which I must number: ages—ages—
Space and eternity—and consciousness,
With the fierce thirst of death—and still unslaked!
C. Hun. Why on thy brow the seal of middle age
Hath scarce been set; I am thine elder far.50
Man. Think'st thou existence doth depend on time?[101][128]
It doth; but actions are our epochs: mine
Have made my days and nights imperishable,
Endless, and all alike, as sands on the shore,
Innumerable atoms; and one desert,
Barren and cold, on which the wild waves break,
But nothing rests, save carcasses and wrecks,
Rocks, and the salt-surf weeds of bitterness.
C. Hun. Alas! he's mad—but yet I must not leave him.
Man. I would I were—for then the things I see60
Would be but a distempered dream.
C. Hun. What is it
That thou dost see, or think thou look'st upon?
Man. Myself, and thee—a peasant of the Alps—
Thy humble virtues, hospitable home,
And spirit patient, pious, proud, and free;
Thy self-respect, grafted on innocent thoughts;
Thy days of health, and nights of sleep; thy toils,
By danger dignified, yet guiltless; hopes
Of cheerful old age and a quiet grave,
With cross and garland over its green turf,70
And thy grandchildren's love for epitaph!
This do I see—and then I look within—
It matters not—my Soul was scorched already!
C. Hun. And would'st thou then exchange thy lot for mine?
Man. No, friend! I would not wrong thee, nor exchange
My lot with living being: I can bear—
However wretchedly, 'tis still to bear—
In life what others could not brook to dream,
But perish in their slumber.
C. Hun. And with this—
This cautious feeling for another's pain,80
Canst thou be black with evil?—say not so.
Can one of gentle thoughts have wreaked revenge
Upon his enemies?
Man. Oh! no, no, no!
My injuries came down on those who loved me—
On those whom I best loved: I never quelled
An enemy, save in my just defence—
But my embrace was fatal.[102]
C. Hun. Heaven give thee rest!
And Penitence restore thee to thyself;
My prayers shall be for thee.
Man. I need them not,
But can endure thy pity. I depart—90
'Tis time—farewell!—Here's gold, and thanks for thee—
No words—it is thy due.—Follow me not—
I know my path—the mountain peril's past:
And once again I charge thee, follow not!
[Exit Manfred.

Scene II.—A lower Valley in the Alps.—A Cataract.

Enter Manfred.

It is not noon—the Sunbow's rays[129] still arch
The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
And roll the sheeted silver's waving column
O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular,
And fling its lines of foaming light along,
And to and fro, like the pale courser's tail,
The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death,
As told in the Apocalypse.[130] No eyes
But mine now drink this sight of loveliness;
I should be sole in this sweet solitude,10[103]
And with the Spirit of the place divide
The homage of these waters.—I will call her.

[Manfred takes some of the water into the palm of his hand and flings it into the air, muttering the adjuration. After a pause, the Witch of the Alps rises beneath the arch of the sunbow of the torrent.

Beautiful Spirit! with thy hair of light,
And dazzling eyes of glory, in whose form
The charms of Earth's least mortal daughters grow
To an unearthly stature, in an essence
Of purer elements; while the hues of youth,—
Carnationed like a sleeping Infant's cheek,
Rocked by the beating of her mother's heart,
Or the rose tints, which Summer's twilight leaves20
Upon the lofty Glacier's virgin snow,
The blush of earth embracing with her Heaven,—
Tinge thy celestial aspect, and make tame
The beauties of the Sunbow which bends o'er thee.
Beautiful Spirit! in thy calm clear brow,
Wherein is glassed serenity of Soul,[ay]
Which of itself shows immortality,
I read that thou wilt pardon to a Son
Of Earth, whom the abstruser powers permit
At times to commune with them—if that he30
Avail him of his spells—to call thee thus,
And gaze on thee a moment.
Witch. Son of Earth!
I know thee, and the Powers which give thee power!
I know thee for a man of many thoughts,
And deeds of good and ill, extreme in both,
Fatal and fated in thy sufferings.
I have expected this—what would'st thou with me?
Man. To look upon thy beauty—nothing further.
The face of the earth hath maddened me, and I
Take refuge in her mysteries, and pierce40
To the abodes of those who govern her—
But they can nothing aid me. I have sought
From them what they could not bestow, and now
I search no further.[104]
Witch. What could be the quest
Which is not in the power of the most powerful,
The rulers of the invisible?
Man. A boon;—
But why should I repeat it? 'twere in vain.
Witch. I know not that; let thy lips utter it.
Man. Well, though it torture me, 'tis but the same;
My pang shall find a voice. From my youth upwards50
My Spirit walked not with the souls of men,
Nor looked upon the earth with human eyes;
The thirst of their ambition was not mine,
The aim of their existence was not mine;
My joys—my griefs—my passions—and my powers,
Made me a stranger; though I wore the form,
I had no sympathy with breathing flesh,
Nor midst the Creatures of Clay that girded me
Was there but One who—but of her anon.
I said with men, and with the thoughts of men,60
I held but slight communion; but instead,
My joy was in the wilderness,—to breathe
The difficult air of the iced mountain's top,[131]
Where the birds dare not build—nor insect's wing
Flit o'er the herbless granite; or to plunge
Into the torrent, and to roll along
On the swift whirl of the new-breaking wave
Of river-stream, or Ocean, in their flow.[132]
In these my early strength exulted; or
To follow through the night the moving moon,[133]70
The stars and their development; or catch
The dazzling lightnings till my eyes grew dim;
Or to look, list'ning, on the scattered leaves,
While Autumn winds were at their evening song.
These were my pastimes, and to be alone;[105]
For if the beings, of whom I was one,—
Hating to be so,—crossed me in my path,
I felt myself degraded back to them,
And was all clay again. And then I dived,
In my lone wanderings, to the caves of Death,80
Searching its cause in its effect; and drew
From withered bones, and skulls, and heaped up dust
Conclusions most forbidden.[134] Then I passed—
The nights of years in sciences untaught,
Save in the old-time; and with time and toil,
And terrible ordeal, and such penance
As in itself hath power upon the air,
And spirits that do compass air and earth,
Space, and the peopled Infinite, I made
Mine eyes familiar with Eternity,90
Such as, before me, did the Magi, and
He who from out their fountain-dwellings raised
Eros and Anteros,[135] at Gadara,
As I do thee;—and with my knowledge grew
The thirst of knowledge, and the power and joy
Of this most bright intelligence, until——
Witch. Proceed.
Man. Oh! I but thus prolonged my words,
Boasting these idle attributes, because[106]
As I approach the core of my heart's grief—
But—to my task. I have not named to thee100
Father or mother, mistress, friend, or being,
With whom I wore the chain of human ties;
If I had such, they seemed not such to me—
Yet there was One——
Witch. Spare not thyself—proceed.
Man. She was like me in lineaments—her eyes—
Her hair—her features—all, to the very tone
Even of her voice, they said were like to mine;
But softened all, and tempered into beauty:
She had the same lone thoughts and wanderings,
The quest of hidden knowledge, and a mind110
To comprehend the Universe: nor these
Alone, but with them gentler powers than mine,
Pity, and smiles, and tears—which I had not;
And tenderness—but that I had for her;
Humility—and that I never had.
Her faults were mine—her virtues were her own—
I loved her, and destroyed her!
Witch. With thy hand?
Man. Not with my hand, but heart, which broke her heart;
It gazed on mine, and withered. I have shed
Blood, but not hers—and yet her blood was shed;120
I saw—and could not stanch it.
Witch. And for this—
A being of the race thou dost despise—
The order, which thine own would rise above,
Mingling with us and ours,—thou dost forego
The gifts of our great knowledge, and shrink'st back
To recreant mortality——Away!
Man. Daughter of Air! I tell thee, since that hour—
But words are breath—look on me in my sleep,
Or watch my watchings—Come and sit by me!
My solitude is solitude no more,130
But peopled with the Furies;—I have gnashed
My teeth in darkness till returning morn,
Then cursed myself till sunset;—I have prayed
For madness as a blessing—'tis denied me.
I have affronted Death—but in the war[107]
Of elements the waters shrunk from me,[136]
And fatal things passed harmless; the cold hand
Of an all-pitiless Demon held me back,
Back by a single hair, which would not break.
In Fantasy, Imagination, all140
The affluence of my soul—which one day was
A Croesus in creation—I plunged deep,
But, like an ebbing wave, it dashed me back
Into the gulf of my unfathomed thought.
I plunged amidst Mankind—Forgetfulness[137]
I sought in all, save where 'tis to be found—
And that I have to learn—my Sciences,
My long pursued and superhuman art,
Is mortal here: I dwell in my despair—
And live—and live for ever.[az]
Witch. It may be150
That I can aid thee.
Man. To do this thy power
Must wake the dead, or lay me low with them.
Do so—in any shape—in any hour—
With any torture—so it be the last.
Witch. That is not in my province; but if thou
Wilt swear obedience to my will, and do
My bidding, it may help thee to thy wishes.
Man. I will not swear—Obey! and whom? the Spirits
Whose presence I command, and be the slave
Of those who served me—Never!
Witch. Is this all?160
Hast thou no gentler answer?—Yet bethink thee,
And pause ere thou rejectest.
Man. I have said it.
Witch. Enough! I may retire then—say!
Man. Retire!
[The Witch disappears.
Man. (alone). We are the fools of Time and Terror: Days[108]
Steal on us, and steal from us; yet we live,
Loathing our life, and dreading still to die.
In all the days of this detested yoke—
This vital weight upon the struggling heart,
Which sinks with sorrow, or beats quick with pain,
Or joy that ends in agony or faintness—170
In all the days of past and future—for
In life there is no present—we can number
How few—how less than few—wherein the soul
Forbears to pant for death, and yet draws back
As from a stream in winter, though the chill[ba]
Be but a moment's. I have one resource
Still in my science—I can call the dead,
And ask them what it is we dread to be:
The sternest answer can but be the Grave,
And that is nothing: if they answer not—180
The buried Prophet answered to the Hag
Of Endor; and the Spartan Monarch drew
From the Byzantine maid's unsleeping spirit
An answer and his destiny—he slew
That which he loved, unknowing what he slew,
And died unpardoned—though he called in aid
The Phyxian Jove, and in Phigalia roused
The Arcadian Evocators to compel
The indignant shadow to depose her wrath,
Or fix her term of vengeance—she replied190
In words of dubious import, but fulfilled.[109][138]
If I had never lived, that which I love
Had still been living; had I never loved,
That which I love would still be beautiful,
Happy and giving happiness. What is she?
What is she now?—a sufferer for my sins—
A thing I dare not think upon—or nothing.
Within few hours I shall not call in vain—
Yet in this hour I dread the thing I dare:
Until this hour I never shrunk to gaze200
On spirit, good or evil—now I tremble,
And feel a strange cold thaw upon my heart.
But I can act even what I most abhor,
And champion human fears.—The night approaches.
[Exit.

Scene III.—The summit of the Jungfrau Mountain.

Enter First Destiny.

The Moon is rising broad, and round, and bright;
And here on snows, where never human foot[110][139]
Of common mortal trod, we nightly tread,
And leave no traces: o'er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
We skim its rugged breakers, which put on
The aspect of a tumbling tempest's foam,
Frozen in a moment[140]—a dead Whirlpool's image:
And this most steep fantastic pinnacle,
The fretwork of some earthquake—where the clouds10
Pause to repose themselves in passing by—
Is sacred to our revels, or our vigils;
Here do I wait my sisters, on our way
To the Hall of Arimanes—for to-night
Is our great festival[141]—'tis strange they come not.

A Voice without, singing.

The Captive Usurper,
Hurled down from the throne,
Lay buried in torpor,
Forgotten and lone;
I broke through his slumbers,20
I shivered his chain,
I leagued him with numbers—
He's Tyrant again!
With the blood of a million he'll answer my care,
With a Nation's destruction—his flight and despair![142]

[111]

Second Voice, without.

The Ship sailed on, the Ship sailed fast,
But I left not a sail, and I left not a mast;
There is not a plank of the hull or the deck,
And there is not a wretch to lament o'er his wreck;
Save one, whom I held, as he swam, by the hair,30
And he was a subject well worthy my care;
A traitor on land, and a pirate at sea—[143]
But I saved him to wreak further havoc for me!

First Destiny, answering.

The City lies sleeping;
The morn, to deplore it,
May dawn on it weeping:
Sullenly, slowly,
The black plague flew o'er it—
Thousands lie lowly;
Tens of thousands shall perish;40
The living shall fly from
The sick they should cherish;
But nothing can vanquish
The touch that they die from.
Sorrow and anguish,
And evil and dread,
Envelope a nation;
The blest are the dead,
Who see not the sight
Of their own desolation;50
This work of a night—
This wreck of a realm—this deed of my doing—
For ages I've done, and shall still be renewing!
[112]

Enter the Second and Third Destinies.

The Three.

Our hands contain the hearts of men,
Our footsteps are their graves;
We only give to take again
The Spirits of our slaves!
First Des. Welcome!—Where's Nemesis?
Second Des. At some great work;
But what I know not, for my hands were full.
Third Des. Behold she cometh.

Enter Nemesis.

First Des. Say, where hast thou been?60
My Sisters and thyself are slow to-night.
Nem. I was detained repairing shattered thrones—
Marrying fools, restoring dynasties—
Avenging men upon their enemies,
And making them repent their own revenge;
Goading the wise to madness; from the dull
Shaping out oracles to rule the world
Afresh—for they were waxing out of date,
And mortals dared to ponder for themselves,
To weigh kings in the balance—and to speak70
Of Freedom, the forbidden fruit.—Away!
We have outstayed the hour—mount we our clouds!
[Exeunt.

 

Scene IV.—The Hall ofArimanes.[144]Arimanes on his Throne, a Globe of Fire,[145] surrounded by the Spirits.

Hymn of the Spirits.

Hail to our Master!—Prince of Earth and Air!
Who walks the clouds and waters—in his hand[113]
The sceptre of the Elements, which tear
Themselves to chaos at his high command!
He breatheth—and a tempest shakes the sea;
He speaketh—and the clouds reply in thunder;
He gazeth—from his glance the sunbeams flee;
He moveth—Earthquakes rend the world asunder.
Beneath his footsteps the Volcanoes rise;
His shadow is the Pestilence: his path10
The comets herald through the crackling skies;[bb]
And Planets turn to ashes at his wrath.
To him War offers daily sacrifice;
To him Death pays his tribute; Life is his,
With all its Infinite of agonies—
And his the Spirit of whatever is!

Enter the Destinies and Nemesis.

First Des. Glory to Arimanes! on the earth
His power increaseth—both my sisters did
His bidding, nor did I neglect my duty!
Second Des. Glory to Arimanes! we who bow20
The necks of men, bow down before his throne!
Third Des. Glory to Arimanes! we await
His nod!
Nem. Sovereign of Sovereigns! we are thine,
And all that liveth, more or less, is ours,
And most things wholly so; still to increase
Our power, increasing thine, demands our care,
And we are vigilant. Thy late commands
Have been fulfilled to the utmost.

Enter Manfred.

A Spirit. What is here?
A mortal!—Thou most rash and fatal wretch,
Bow down and worship![114]
Second Spirit. I do know the man—30
A Magian of great power, and fearful skill!
Third Spirit. Bow down and worship, slave!—What, know'st thou not
Thine and our Sovereign?—Tremble, and obey!
All the Spirits. Prostrate thyself, and thy condemnéd clay,
Child of the Earth! or dread the worst.
Man. I know it;
And yet ye see I kneel not.
Fourth Spirit. 'Twill be taught thee.
Man. 'Tis taught already;—many a night on the earth,
On the bare ground, have I bowed down my face,
And strewed my head with ashes; I have known
The fulness of humiliation—for40
I sunk before my vain despair, and knelt
To my own desolation.
Fifth Spirit. Dost thou dare
Refuse to Arimanes on his throne
What the whole earth accords, beholding not
The terror of his Glory?—Crouch! I say.
Man. Bid him bow down to that which is above him,
The overruling Infinite—the Maker
Who made him not for worship—let him kneel,
And we will kneel together.
The Spirits. Crush the worm!
Tear him in pieces!—
First Des. Hence! Avaunt!—he's mine.50
Prince of the Powers invisible! This man
Is of no common order, as his port
And presence here denote: his sufferings
Have been of an immortal nature—like
Our own; his knowledge, and his powers and will,
As far as is compatible with clay,
Which clogs the ethereal essence, have been such
As clay hath seldom borne; his aspirations
Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth,
And they have only taught him what we know—60
That knowledge is not happiness, and science[115][146]
But an exchange of ignorance for that
Which is another kind of ignorance.
This is not all—the passions, attributes
Of Earth and Heaven, from which no power, nor being,
Nor breath from the worm upwards is exempt,
Have pierced his heart; and in their consequence
Made him a thing—which—I who pity not,
Yet pardon those who pity. He is mine—
And thine it may be; be it so, or not—70
No other Spirit in this region hath
A soul like his—or power upon his soul.
Nem. What doth he here then?
First Des. Let him answer that.
Man. Ye know what I have known; and without power
I could not be amongst ye: but there are
Powers deeper still beyond—I come in quest
Of such, to answer unto what I seek.
Nem. What would'st thou?
Man. Thou canst not reply to me.
Call up the dead—my question is for them.
Nem. Great Arimanes, doth thy will avouch80
The wishes of this mortal?
Ari. Yea.
Nem. Whom wouldst thou
Uncharnel?
Man. One without a tomb—call up
Astarte.[147]

[116]

Nemesis.

Shadow! or Spirit!
Whatever thou art,
Which still doth inherit[bc]
The whole or a part
Of the form of thy birth,
Of the mould of thy clay,
Which returned to the earth,90
Re-appear to the day!
Bear what thou borest,
The heart and the form,
And the aspect thou worest
Redeem from the worm.
Appear!—Appear!—Appear!
Who sent thee there requires thee here!
[The Phantom of Astarte rises and stands in the midst.
Man. Can this be death? there's bloom upon her cheek;
But now I see it is no living hue,
But a strange hectic—like the unnatural red100
Which Autumn plants upon the perished leaf.[148]
It is the same! Oh, God! that I should dread
To look upon the same—Astarte!—No,
I cannot speak to her—but bid her speak—
Forgive me or condemn me.

Nemesis.

By the Power which hath broken
The grave which enthralled thee,
Speak to him who hath spoken.
Or those who have called thee!
Man. She is silent,
And in that silence I am more than answered.110[117]
Nem. My power extends no further. Prince of Air!
It rests with thee alone—command her voice.
Ari. Spirit—obey this sceptre!
Nem. Silent still!
She is not of our order, but belongs
To the other powers. Mortal! thy quest is vain,
And we are baffled also.
Man. Hear me, hear me—
Astarte! my belovéd! speak to me:
I have so much endured—so much endure—
Look on me! the grave hath not changed thee more
Than I am changed for thee. Thou lovedst me120
Too much, as I loved thee: we were not made
To torture thus each other—though it were
The deadliest sin to love as we have loved.
Say that thou loath'st me not—that I do bear
This punishment for both—that thou wilt be
One of the blesséd—and that I shall die;
For hitherto all hateful things conspire
To bind me in existence—in a life
Which makes me shrink from Immortality—
A future like the past. I cannot rest.130
I know not what I ask, nor what I seek:
I feel but what thou art, and what I am;
And I would hear yet once before I perish
The voice which was my music—Speak to me!
For I have called on thee in the still night,
Startled the slumbering birds from the hushed boughs,
And woke the mountain wolves, and made the caves
Acquainted with thy vainly echoed name,
Which answered me—many things answered me—
Spirits and men—but thou wert silent all.140
Yet speak to me! I have outwatched the stars,
And gazed o'er heaven in vain in search of thee.
Speak to me! I have wandered o'er the earth,
And never found thy likeness—Speak to me!
Look on the fiends around—they feel for me:
I fear them not, and feel for thee alone.
Speak to me! though it be in wrath;—but say—
I reck not what—but let me hear thee once—
This once—once more![118]
Phantom of Astarte. Manfred!
Man. Say on, say on—
I live but in the sound—it is thy voice!150
Phan. Manfred! To-morrow ends thine earthly ills.
Farewell!
Man. Yet one word more—am I forgiven?
Phan. Farewell!
Man. Say, shall we meet again?
Phan. Farewell!
Man. One word for mercy! Say thou lovest me.
Phan. Manfred!
[The Spirit of Astarte disappears.
Nem. She's gone, and will not be recalled:
Her words will be fulfilled. Return to the earth.
A Spirit. He is convulsed—This is to be a mortal,
And seek the things beyond mortality.
Another Spirit. Yet, see, he mastereth himself, and makes
His torture tributary to his will.[149]160
Had he been one of us, he would have made
An awful Spirit.
Nem. Hast thou further question
Of our great Sovereign, or his worshippers?
Man. None.
Nem. Then for a time farewell.
Man. We meet then! Where? On the earth?—
Even as thou wilt: and for the grace accorded
I now depart a debtor. Fare ye well!
[Exit Manfred.

(Scene closes.)


[119]

ACT III.

Scene I.—A Hall in the Castle of Manfred.[150]

Manfred and Herman.

Man. What is the hour?
Her. It wants but one till sunset,
And promises a lovely twilight.
Man. Say,
Are all things so disposed of in the tower
As I directed?
Her. All, my Lord, are ready:
Here is the key and casket.[151]
Man. It is well:
Thou mayst retire. [Exit Herman.
Man. (alone). There is a calm upon me—
Inexplicable stillness! which till now
Did not belong to what I knew of life.[120]
If that I did not know Philosophy
To be of all our vanities the motliest,10
The merest word that ever fooled the ear
From out the schoolman's jargon, I should deem
The golden secret, the sought "Kalon," found,[152]
And seated in my soul. It will not last,
But it is well to have known it, though but once:
It hath enlarged my thoughts with a new sense,
And I within my tablets would note down
That there is such a feeling. Who is there?

Re-enter Herman.

Her. My Lord, the Abbot of St. Maurice craves[153]
To greet your presence.

Enter the Abbot of St. Maurice.

Abbot. Peace be with Count Manfred!20
Man. Thanks, holy father! welcome to these walls;
Thy presence honours them, and blesseth those
Who dwell within them.
Abbot. Would it were so, Count!—
But I would fain confer with thee alone.
Man. Herman, retire.—What would my reverend guest?
Abbot. Thus, without prelude:—Age and zeal—my office—
And good intent must plead my privilege;
Our near, though not acquainted neighbourhood,
May also be my herald. Rumours strange,
And of unholy nature, are abroad,30
And busy with thy name—a noble name
For centuries: may he who bears it now
Transmit it unimpaired![121]
Man. Proceed,—I listen.
Abbot. 'Tis said thou holdest converse with the things
Which are forbidden to the search of man;
That with the dwellers of the dark abodes,
The many evil and unheavenly spirits
Which walk the valley of the Shade of Death,
Thou communest. I know that with mankind,
Thy fellows in creation, thou dost rarely40
Exchange thy thoughts, and that thy solitude
Is as an Anchorite's—were it but holy.
Man. And what are they who do avouch these things?
Abbot. My pious brethren—the scaréd peasantry—
Even thy own vassals—who do look on thee
With most unquiet eyes. Thy life's in peril!
Man. Take it.
Abbot. I come to save, and not destroy:
I would not pry into thy secret soul;
But if these things be sooth, there still is time
For penitence and pity: reconcile thee50
With the true church, and through the church to Heaven.
Man. I hear thee. This is my reply—whate'er
I may have been, or am, doth rest between
Heaven and myself—I shall not choose a mortal
To be my mediator—Have I sinned
Against your ordinances? prove and punish![154]
[122]
Abbot. My son! I did not speak of punishment,[155]
But penitence and pardon;—with thyself[123]
The choice of such remains—and for the last,
Our institutions and our strong belief60
Have given me power to smooth the path from sin
To higher hope and better thoughts; the first
I leave to Heaven,—"Vengeance is mine alone!"
So saith the Lord, and with all humbleness
His servant echoes back the awful word.
Man. Old man! there is no power in holy men,
Nor charm in prayer, nor purifying form
Of penitence, nor outward look, nor fast,
Nor agony—nor, greater than all these,
The innate tortures of that deep Despair,70
Which is Remorse without the fear of Hell,
But all in all sufficient to itself
Would make a hell of Heaven—can exorcise
From out the unbounded spirit the quick sense
Of its own sins—wrongs—sufferance—and revenge
Upon itself; there is no future pang
Can deal that justice on the self—condemned
He deals on his own soul.
Abbot. All this is well;
For this will pass away, and be succeeded
By an auspicious hope, which shall look up80
With calm assurafice to that blessed place,
Which all who seek may win, whatever be
Their earthly errors, so they be atoned:
And the commencement of atonement is[124]
The sense of its necessity. Say on—
And all our church can teach thee shall be taught;
And all we can absolve thee shall be pardoned.
Man. When Rome's sixth Emperor[156] was near his last,
The victim of a self-inflicted wound,
To shun the torments of a public death[bd]90
From senates once his slaves, a certain soldier,
With show of loyal pity, would have stanched
The gushing throat with his officious robe;
The dying Roman thrust him back, and said—
Some empire still in his expiring glance—
"It is too late—is this fidelity?"
Abbot. And what of this?
Man. I answer with the Roman—
"It is too late!"
Abbot. It never can be so,
To reconcile thyself with thy own soul,
And thy own soul with Heaven. Hast thou no hope?100
'Tis strange—even those who do despair above,
Yet shape themselves some fantasy on earth,
To which frail twig they cling, like drowning men.
Man. Aye—father! I have had those early visions,
And noble aspirations in my youth,
To make my own the mind of other men,
The enlightener of nations; and to rise
I knew not whither—it might be to fall;
But fall, even as the mountain-cataract,
Which having leapt from its more dazzling height,110
Even in the foaming strength of its abyss,
(Which casts up misty columns that become
Clouds raining from the re-ascended skies,)[157]
Lies low but mighty still.—But this is past,
My thoughts mistook themselves.
Abbot. And wherefore so?[125]
Man.I could not tame my nature down; for he
Must serve who fain would sway; and soothe, and sue,
And watch all time, and pry into all place,
And be a living Lie, who would become
A mighty thing amongst the mean—and such120
The mass are; I disdained to mingle with
A herd, though to be leader—and of wolves,
The lion is alone, and so am I.
Abbot. And why not live and act with other men?
Man. Because my nature was averse from life;
And yet not cruel; for I would not make,
But find a desolation. Like the Wind,
The red-hot breath of the most lone Simoom,[158]
Which dwells but in the desert, and sweeps o'er
The barren sands which bear no shrubs to blast,130
And revels o'er their wild and arid waves,
And seeketh not, so that it is not sought,
But being met is deadly,—such hath been
The course of my existence; but there came
Things in my path which are no more.
Abbot. Alas!
I 'gin to fear that thou art past all aid
From me and from my calling; yet so young,
I still would——
Man. Look on me! there is an order
Of mortals on the earth, who do become
Old in their youth, and die ere middle age,[159]140
Without the violence of warlike death;
Some perishing of pleasure—some of study—
Some worn with toil, some of mere weariness,—
Some of disease—and some insanity—
And some of withered, or of broken hearts;
For this last is a malady which slays
More than are numbered in the lists of Fate,
Taking all shapes, and bearing many names.[126]
Look upon me! for even of all these things
Have I partaken; and of all these things,150
One were enough; then wonder not that I
Am what I am, but that I ever was,
Or having been, that I am still on earth.
Abbot. Yet, hear me still—
Man. Old man! I do respect
Thine order, and revere thine years; I deem
Thy purpose pious, but it is in vain:
Think me not churlish; I would spare thyself,
Far more than me, in shunning at this time
All further colloquy—and so—farewell.
[Exit Manfred.
Abbot. This should have been a noble creature: he160
Hath all the energy which would have made
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos—Light and Darkness—
And mind and dust—and passions and pure thoughts
Mixed, and contending without end or order,—
All dormant or destructive. He will perish—
And yet he must not—I will try once more,
For such are worth redemption; and my duty
Is to dare all things for a righteous end.170
I'll follow him—but cautiously, though surely.
[Exit Abbot.

Scene II.—Another Chamber.

Manfred and Herman.

Her. My lord, you bade me wait on you at sunset:
He sinks behind the mountain.
Man. Doth he so?
I will look on him.
[Manfred advances to the Window of the Hall.
Glorious Orb! the idol[127][160]
Of early nature, and the vigorous race
Of undiseased mankind, the giant sons[161]
Of the embrace of Angels, with a sex
More beautiful than they, which did draw down
The erring Spirits who can ne'er return.—
Most glorious Orb! that wert a worship, ere
The mystery of thy making was revealed!10
Thou earliest minister of the Almighty,
Which gladdened, on their mountain tops, the hearts
Of the Chaldean shepherds, till they poured[162]
Themselves in orisons! Thou material God!
And representative of the Unknown—
Who chose thee for his shadow! Thou chief Star!
Centre of many stars! which mak'st our earth
Endurable and temperest the hues
And hearts of all who walk within thy rays!
Sire of the seasons! Monarch of the climes,20
And those who dwell in them! for near or far,
Our inborn spirits have a tint of thee
Even as our outward aspects;—thou dost rise,
And shine, and set in glory. Fare thee well!
I ne'er shall see thee more. As my first glance
Of love and wonder was for thee, then take
My latest look: thou wilt not beam on one
To whom the gifts of life and warmth have been
Of a more fatal nature. He is gone—
I follow. [Exit Manfred.

[128]

Scene III.—The MountainsThe Castle of Manfred at some distanceA Terrace before a Tower.—Time, Twilight.

Herman, Manuel, and other dependants of Manfred.

Her. 'Tis strange enough! night after night, for years,
He hath pursued long vigils in this tower,
Without a witness. I have been within it,—
So have we all been oft-times; but from it,
Or its contents, it were impossible
To draw conclusions absolute, of aught
His studies tend to. To be sure, there is
One chamber where none enter: I would give
The fee of what I have to come these three years,
To pore upon its mysteries.
Manuel. 'Twere dangerous;10
Content thyself with what thou know'st already.
Her. Ah! Manuel! thou art elderly and wise,
And couldst say much; thou hast dwelt within the castle—
How many years is't?
Manuel. Ere Count Manfred's birth,
I served his father, whom he nought resembles.
Her. There be more sons in like predicament!
But wherein do they differ?
Manuel. I speak not
Of features or of form, but mind and habits;
Count Sigismund was proud, but gay and free,—
A warrior and a reveller; he dwelt not20
With books and solitude, nor made the night
A gloomy vigil, but a festal time,
Merrier than day; he did not walk the rocks
And forests like a wolf, nor turn aside
From men and their delights.
Her. Beshrew the hour,
But those were jocund times! I would that such
Would visit the old walls again; they look
As if they had forgotten them.
Manuel. These walls
Must change their chieftain first. Oh! I have seen[129]
Some strange things in them, Herman.[be]
Her. Come, be friendly;30
Relate me some to while away our watch:
I've heard thee darkly speak of an event
Which happened hereabouts, by this same tower.
Manuel. That was a night indeed! I do remember
'Twas twilight, as it may be now, and such
Another evening:—yon red cloud, which rests
On Eigher's pinnacle,[163] so rested then,—
So like that it might be the same; the wind
Was faint and gusty, and the mountain snows
Began to glitter with the climbing moon;40
Count Manfred was, as now, within his tower,—
How occupied, we knew not, but with him
The sole companion of his wanderings
And watchings—her, whom of all earthly things
That lived, the only thing he seemed to love,—
As he, indeed, by blood was bound to do,
The Lady Astarte, his——[164]
Hush! who comes here?

Enter the Abbot.[130]

Abbot. Where is your master?
Her. Yonder in the tower.
Abbot. I must speak with him.
Manuel. 'Tis impossible;
He is most private, and must not be thus50
Intruded on.
Abbot. Upon myself I take
The forfeit of my fault, if fault there be—
But I must see him.[131]
Her. Thou hast seen him once
his eve already.
Abbot. Herman! I command thee,[bf]
Knock, and apprize the Count of my approach.
Her. We dare not.
Abbot. Then it seems I must be herald
Of my own purpose.
Manuel. Reverend father, stop—
I pray you pause.
Abbot. Why so?
Manuel. But step this way,
And I will tell you further. [Exeunt.

Scene IV.—Interior of the Tower.

Manfred alone.

The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains.—Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the Night[165]
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learned the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,—upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum's wall,[166]10
'Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome;
The trees which grew along the broken arches
Waved dark in the blue midnight, and the stars
Shone through the rents of ruin; from afar[132]
The watch-dog bayed beyond the Tiber; and
More near from out the Cæsars' palace came
The owl's long cry, and, interruptedly,[167]
Of distant sentinels the fitful song
Begun and died upon the gentle wind.[168]
Some cypresses beyond the time-worn breach20
Appeared to skirt the horizon, yet they stood
Within a bowshot. Where the Cæsars dwelt,
And dwell the tuneless birds of night, amidst
A grove which springs through levelled battlements,
And twines its roots with the imperial hearths,
Ivy usurps the laurel's place of growth;
But the gladiators' bloody Circus stands,
A noble wreck in ruinous perfection,
While Cæsar's chambers, and the Augustan halls,
Grovel on earth in indistinct decay.—30
And thou didst shine, thou rolling Moon, upon
All this, and cast a wide and tender light,
Which softened down the hoar austerity
Of rugged desolation, and filled up,
As 'twere anew, the gaps of centuries;
Leaving that beautiful which still was so,
And making that which was not—till the place
Became religion, and the heart ran o'er
With silent worship of the Great of old,—
The dead, but sceptred, Sovereigns, who still rule40
Our spirits from their urns.
'Twas such a night!
'Tis strange that I recall it at this time;
But I have found our thoughts take wildest flight
Even at the moment when they should array
Themselves in pensive order.

Enter the Abbot.

Abbot. My good Lord!
I crave a second grace for this approach;
But yet let not my humble zeal offend
By its abruptness—all it hath of ill
Recoils on me; its good in the effect[133]
May light upon your head—could I say heart50
Could I touch that, with words or prayers, I should
Recall a noble spirit which hath wandered,
But is not yet all lost.
Man. Thou know'st me not;
My days are numbered, and my deeds recorded:
Retire, or 'twill be dangerous—Away!
Abbot. Thou dost not mean to menace me?
Man. Not I!
I simply tell thee peril is at hand,
And would preserve thee.
Abbot. What dost thou mean?
Man. Look there!
What dost thou see?
Abbot. Nothing.
Man. Look there, I say,
And steadfastly;—now tell me what thou seest?60
Abbot. That which should shake me,—but I fear it not:
I see a dusk and awful figure rise,
Like an infernal god, from out the earth;
His face wrapt in a mantle, and his form
Robed as with angry clouds: he stands between
Thyself and me—but I do fear him not.
Man. Thou hast no cause—he shall not harm thee—but
His sight may shock thine old limbs into palsy.
I say to thee—Retire!
Abbot. And I reply—
Never—till I have battled with this fiend:—70
What doth he here?
Man. Why—aye—what doth he here?
I did not send for him,—he is unbidden.
Abbot. Alas! lost Mortal! what with guests like these
Hast thou to do? I tremble for thy sake:
Why doth he gaze on thee, and thou on him?
Ah! he unveils his aspect: on his brow
The thunder-scars are graven; from his eye[134][169]
Glares forth the immortality of Hell—
Avaunt!—
Man. Pronounce—what is thy mission?
Spirit. Come!
Abbot. What art thou, unknown being? answer!—speak!80
Spirit. The genius of this mortal.—Come!'tis time.
Man. I am prepared for all things, but deny
The Power which summons me. Who sent thee here?
Spirit. Thou'lt know anon—Come! come!
Man. I have commanded
Things of an essence greater far than thine,
And striven with thy masters. Get thee hence!
Spirit. Mortal! thine hour is come—Away! I say.
Man. I knew, and know my hour is come, but not
To render up my soul to such as thee:
Away! I'll die as I have lived—alone.90
Spirit. Then I must summon up my brethren.—Rise![bg]
[Other Spirits rise.
Abbot. Avaunt! ye evil ones!—Avaunt! I say,—
Ye have no power where Piety hath power,
And I do charge ye in the name—
Spirit. Old man!
We know ourselves, our mission, and thine order;
Waste not thy holy words on idle uses,
It were in vain: this man is forfeited.
Once more—I summon him—Away! Away!
Man. I do defy ye,—though I feel my soul
Is ebbing from me, yet I do defy ye;100
Nor will I hence, while I have earthly breath
To breathe my scorn upon ye—earthly strength
To wrestle, though with spirits; what ye take
Shall be ta'en limb by limb.
Spirit. Reluctant mortal!
Is this the Magian who would so pervade
The world invisible, and make himself
Almost our equal? Can it be that thou
Art thus in love with life? the very life
Which made thee wretched?
Man. Thou false fiend, thou liest![135]
My life is in its last hour,—that I know,110
Nor would redeem a moment of that hour;
I do not combat against Death, but thee
And thy surrounding angels; my past power
Was purchased by no compact with thy crew,
But by superior science—penance, daring,
And length of watching, strength of mind, and skill
In knowledge of our Fathers—when the earth
Saw men and spirits walking side by side,
And gave ye no supremacy: I stand
Upon my strength—I do defy—deny—120
Spurn back, and scorn ye!—
Spirit. But thy many crimes
Have made thee—
Man. What are they to such as thee?
Must crimes be punished but by other crimes,
And greater criminals?—Back to thy hell!
Thou hast no power upon me, that I feel;
Thou never shalt possess me, that I know:
What I have done is done; I bear within
A torture which could nothing gain from thine:
The Mind which is immortal makes itself
Requital for its good or evil thoughts,—130
Is its own origin of ill and end—
And its own place and time:[170] its innate sense,
When stripped of this mortality, derives
No colour from the fleeting things without,
But is absorbed in sufferance or in joy,
Born from the knowledge of its own desert.
Thou didst not tempt me, and thou couldst not tempt me;
I have not been thy dupe, nor am thy prey—
But was my own destroyer, and will be
My own hereafter.—Back, ye baffled fiends!140
The hand of Death is on me—but not yours!
[The Demons disappear.
Abbot. Alas! how pale thou art—thy lips are white—
And thy breast heaves—and in thy gasping throat
The accents rattle: Give thy prayers to Heaven[136]
Pray—albeit but in thought,—but die not thus.
Man. 'Tis over—my dull eyes can fix thee not;
But all things swim around me, and the earth
Heaves as it were beneath me. Fare thee well—
Give me thy hand.
Abbot. Cold—cold—even to the heart—
But yet one prayer—Alas! how fares it with thee?150
Man. Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die.[171]
[Manfred expires.
Abbot. He's gone—his soul hath ta'en its earthless flight;
Whither? I dread to think—but he is gone.[172]

FOOTNOTES:

[106] {85}[The MS. of Manfred, now in Mr. Murray's possession, is in Lord Byron's handwriting. A note is prefixed: "The scene of the drama is amongst the higher Alps, partly in the Castle of Manfred, and partly in the mountains." The date, March 18, 1817, is in John Murray's handwriting.]

[107] [So, too, Faust is discovered "in a high—vaulted narrow Gothic chamber."]

[108] [Compare Faust, act i. sc. 1—

"Alas! I have explored
Philosophy, and Law, and Medicine,
And over deep Divinity have pored,
Studying with ardent and laborious zeal."

Anster's Faust, 1883, p. 88.]

[ap] {86}

Eternal Agency!
Ye spirits of the immortal Universe!—[MS. M.]

[aq] Of inaccessible mountains are the haunts.—[MS. M.]

[109] [Faust contemplates the sign of the macrocosm, and makes use of the sign of the Spirit of the Earth. Manfred's written charm may have been "Abraxas," which comprehended the Greek numerals 365, and expressed the all-pervading spirits of the Universe.]

[110] [The Prince of the Spirits is Arimanes, vide post, act ii. sc. 4, line 1, seq.]

[111] {87}[Compare Childe Harold, Canto I. stanza lxxxiii. lines 8, 9.]

[ar] Which is fit for my pavilion.—[MS. M.]

[as] Or makes its ice delay.—[MS. M.]

[112] {89}[Compare "Creatures of clay, I receive you into mine empire."—Vathek, 1887, p. 179.]

[at] {90}The Mind which is my Spirit—the high Soul.—[MS. erased.]

[au] Answer—or I will teach ye.—[MS. M.]

[113] [So the MS., in which the word "say" clearly forms part of the Spirit's speech.]

[114] {91}[Compare "Stanzas for Music," i. 3, Poetical Works, 1900, iii 435.]

[115] [It is evident that the female figure is not that of Astarte, but of the subject of the "Incantation."]

[116] [The italics are not indicated in the MS.]

[117] N.B.—Here follows the "Incantation," which being already transcribed and (I suppose) published I do not transcribe again at present, because you can insert it in MS. here—as it belongs to this place: with its conclusion the 1st Scene closes.

[The "Incantation" was first published in "The Prisoner of Chillon and Other Poems. London: Printed for John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1816." Immediately below the title is a note: "The following Poem was a Chorus in an unpublished Witch Drama, which was begun some years ago."]

[118]{92}[Manfred was done into Italian by a translator "who was unable to find in the dictionaries ... any other signification of the 'wisp' of this line than 'a bundle of straw.'" Byron offered him two hundred francs if he would destroy the MS., and engage to withhold his hand from all past or future poems. He at first refused; but, finding that the alternative was to be a horsewhipping, accepted the money, and signed the agreement.—Life, p. 375, note.]

[av] {93} I do adjure thee to this spell.—[MS. M.]

[119] {94}[Compare—

ὦ δῖος αἰθὴρ, κ.τ.λ.

Æschylus, Prometheus Vinctus, lines 88-91.]

[120] {95}[Compare Hamlet's speech to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Hamlet, act ii. sc. 2, lines 286, sq.).]

[121] [The germs of this and of several other passages in Manfred may be found, as Lord Byron stated, in the Journal of his Swiss tour, which he transmitted to his sister. "Sept. 19, 1816.—Arrived at a lake in the very nipple of the bosom of the Mountain; left our quadrupeds with a Shepherd, and ascended further; came to some snow in patches, upon which my forehead's perspiration fell like rain, making the same dints as in a sieve; the chill of the wind and the snow turned me giddy, but I scrambled on and upwards. Hobhouse went to the highest pinnacle. ... The whole of the Mountain superb. A Shepherd on a very steep and high cliff playing upon his pipe; very different from Arcadia, (where I saw the pastors with a long Musquet instead of a Crook, and pistols in their Girdles).... The music of the Cows' bells (for their wealth, like the Patriarchs', is cattle) in the pastures, (which reach to a height far above any mountains in Britain), and the Shepherds' shouting to us from crag to crag, and playing on their reeds where the steeps appeared almost inaccessible, with the surrounding scenery, realized all that I have ever heard or imagined of a pastoral existence:—much more so than Greece or Asia Minor, for there we are a little too much of the sabre and musquet order; and if there is a Crook in one hand, you are sure to see a gun in the other:—but this was pure and unmixed—solitary, savage, and patriarchal.... As we went, they played the 'Ranz des Vaches' and other airs, by way of farewell. I have lately repeopled my mind with Nature" (Letters, 1899, in. 354, 355).]

[122] {96}[Compare—

"Like an unbodied joy, whose race is just begun."

To a Skylark, by P. B. Shelley, stanza iii. line 5.]

[123] ["Passed whole woods of withered pines, all withered; trunks stripped and barkless, branches lifeless; done by a single winter,—their appearance reminded me of me and my family" (Letters, 1899, iii. 360).]

[124] {97}["Ascended the Wengen mountain.... Heard the Avalanches falling every five minutes nearly—as if God was pelting the Devil down from Heaven with snow balls" (Letters, 1899, in. 359).]

[aw] Like foam from the round ocean of old Hell.—[MS. M.]

[125] ["The clouds rose from the opposite valley, curling up perpendicular precipices like the foam of the Ocean of Hell, during a Spring-tide—it was white, and sulphury, and immeasurably deep in appearance. The side we ascended was (of course) not of so precipitous a nature; but on arriving at the summit, we looked down the other side upon a boiling sea of cloud, dashing against the crags on which we stood (these crags on one side quite perpendicular) ... In passing the masses of snow, I made a snowball and pelted Hobhouse with it" (ibid, pp. 359. 360).]

[126] [The fall of the Rossberg took place September 2, 1806. "A huge mass of conglomerate rock, 1000 feet broad and 100 feet thick, detached itself from the face of the mountain (Rossberg or Rufiberg, near Goldau, south of Lake Zug), and slipped down into the valley below, overwhelming the villages of Goldau, Busingen, and Rothen, and part of Lowertz. More than four hundred and fifty human beings perished, and whole herds of cattle were swept away. Five minutes sufficed to complete the work of destruction. The inhabitants were first roused by a loud and grating sound like thunder ... and beheld the valleys shrouded in a cloud of dust; when it had cleared away they found the face of nature changed."—Handbook of Switzerland, Part 1. pp 58, 59.]

[127] {99}[The critics of the day either affected to ignore or severely censured (e.g. writers in the Critical, European, and Gentleman's Magazines) the allusions to an incestuous passion between Manfred and Astarte. Shelley, in a letter to Mrs. Gisborne, November 16, 1819, commenting on Calderon's Los Cabellos de Absalon, discusses the question from an ethical as well as critical point of view: "The incest scene between Amon and Tamar is perfectly tremendous. Well may Calderon say, in the person of the former—

Si sangre sin fuego hiere
Qua fara sangre con fuego.'

Incest is, like many other incorrect things, a very poetical circumstance. It may be the defiance of everything for the sake of another which clothes itself in the glory of the highest heroism, or it may be that cynical rage which, confounding the good and the bad in existing opinions, breaks through them for the purpose of rioting in selfishness and antipathy."—Works of P. B. Shelley, 1880, iv. 142.]

[ax] {100}——and some insaner sin.—[MS. erased.]

[128] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza v. lines 1, 2.]

[129] {102} This iris is formed by the rays of the sun over the lower part of the Alpine torrents; it is exactly like a rainbow come down to pay a visit, and so close that you may walk into it: this effect lasts till noon. ["Before ascending the mountain, went to the torrent (7 in the morning) again; the Sun upon it forming a rainbow of the lower part of all colours, but principally purple and gold; the bow moving as you move; I never saw anything like this; it is only in the Sunshine" (Letters, 1899, iii, 359).]

[130] ["Arrived at the foot of the Mountain (the Yung frau, i.e. the Maiden); Glaciers; torrents; one of these torrents nine hundred feet in height of visible descent ... heard an Avalanche fall, like thunder; saw Glacier—enormous. Storm came on, thunder, lightning, hail; all in perfection, and beautiful.... The torrent is in shape curving over the rock, like the tail of a white horse streaming in the wind, such as it might be conceived would be that of the 'pale horse' on which Death is mounted in the Apocalypse. It is neither mist nor water, but a something between both; it's immense height ... gives it a wave, a curve, a spreading here, a condensation there, wonderful and indescribable" (ibid., pp. 357, 358).]

[ay] {103} Wherein seems glassed——.—[MS. of extract, February 15, 1817.]

[131] {104} [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza lxxii. lines 2, 3, note 2.]

[132] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza clxxxiv. line 3, note 2.]

[133] [Compare—

"The moving moon went up the sky."

The Ancient Mariner, Part IV. line 263.

Compare, too—

"The climbing moon."

Act iii. sc. 3, line 40.]

[134] {105}[Compare Childe Harold, Canto II. stanzas v.-xi.]

[135] The philosopher Jamblicus. The story of the raising of Eros and Anteros may be found in his life by Eunapius. It is well told. ["It is reported of him," says Eunapius, "that while he and his scholars were bathing in the hot baths of Gadara, in Syria, a dispute arising concerning the baths, he, smiling, ordered his disciples to ask the inhabitants by what names the two lesser springs, that were fairer than the rest, were called. To which the inhabitants replied, that 'the one was called Love, and the other Love's Contrary, but for what reason they knew not.' Upon which Iamblichus, who chanced to be sitting on the fountain's edge where the stream flowed out, put his hand on the water, and, having uttered a few words, called up from the depths of the fountain a fair-skinned lad, not over-tall, whose golden locks fell in sunny curls over his breast and back, so that he looked like one fresh from the bath; and then, going to the other spring, and doing as he had done before, called up another Amoretto like the first, save that his long-flowing locks now seemed black, now shot with sunny gleams. Whereupon both the Amoretti nestled and clung round Iamblichus as if they had been his own children ... after this his disciples asked him no more questions."—Eunapii Sardiani Vitæ Philosophorum et Sophistarum (28, 29), Philostratorum, etc., Opera, Paris, 1829, p. 459, lines 20-50.]

[136] {107}[There may be some allusion here to "the squall off Meillerie" on the Lake of Geneva (see Letter to Murray, June 27, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 333).]

[137] [Compare the concluding sentence of the Journal in Switzerland (ibid., p. 364).]

[az] And live—and live for ever.—[Specimen sheet.]

[ba] {108} As from a bath—.—[MS, erased.]

[138] The story of Pausanias, king of Sparta, (who commanded the Greeks at the battle of Platea, and afterwards perished for an attempt to betray the Lacedæmonians), and Cleonice, is told in Plutarch's life of Cimon; and in the Laconics of Pausanias the sophist in his description of Greece.

[The following is the passage from Plutarch: "It is related that when Pausanias was at Byzantium, he cast his eyes upon a young virgin named Cleonice, of a noble family there, and insisted on having her for a mistress. The parents, intimidated by his power, were under the hard necessity of giving up their daughter. The young woman begged that the light might be taken out of his apartment, that she might go to his bed in secresy and silence. When she entered he was asleep, and she unfortunately stumbled upon the candlestick, and threw it down. The noise waked him suddenly, and he, in his confusion, thinking it was an enemy coming to assassinate him, unsheathed a dagger that lay by him, and plunged it into the virgin's heart. After this he could never rest. Her image appeared to him every night, and with a menacing tone repeated this heroic verse—

'Go to the fate which pride and lust prepare!'

The allies, highly incensed at this infamous action, joined Cimon to besiege him in Byzantium. But he found means to escape thence; and, as he was still haunted by the spectre, he is said to have applied to a temple at Heraclea, where the manes of the dead were consulted. There he invoked the spirit of Cleonice, and entreated her pardon. She appeared, and told him 'he would soon be delivered from all his troubles, after his return to Sparta:' in which, it seems, his death was enigmatically foretold." "Thus," adds the translator in a note, "we find that it was a custom in the pagan as well as in the Hebrew theology to conjure up the spirits of the dead, and that the witch of Endor was not the only witch in the world."—Langhorne's Plutarch, 1838, p. 339.

The same story is told in the Periegesis Græcæ, lib. iii. cap. xvii., but Pausanias adds, "This was the deed from the guilt of which Pausanias could never fly, though he employed all-various purifications, received the deprecations of Jupiter Phyxius, and went to Phigalea to the Arcadian evocators of souls."—Descr. of Greece (translated by T. Taylor), 1794, i. 304, 305.]

[139] {109}[Compare—

"But I have seen the soaring Jungfrau rear
Her never-trodden snow."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lxxiii. lines 6, 7.

Byron did not know, or ignored, the fact that the Jungfrau was first ascended in 1811, by the brothers Meyer, of Aarau.]

[140] {110}[Compare—

"And who commanded (and the silence came)
Here let the billows stiffen and have rest?

Motionless torrents! silent cataracts."

Hymn before Sunrise, etc., by S.T. Coleridge, lines 47, 48, 53.

"Arrived at the Grindenwald; dined, mounted again, and rode to the higher Glacier—twilight, but distinct—very fine Glacier, like a frozen hurricane" (Letters, 1899, iii. 360).]

[141] [The idea of the Witches' Festival may have been derived from the Walpurgisnacht on the Brocken.]

[142] [Compare—

"Freedom ne'er shall want an heir;

When once more her hosts assemble,
Tyrants shall believe and tremble—
Smile they at this idle threat?
Crimson tears will follow yet."

Ode from the French, v. 8, 11-14. Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 435.

Compare, too, Napoleon's Farewell, stanza 3, ibid., p. 428. The "Voice" prophesies that St. Helena will prove a second Elba, and that Napoleon will "live to fight another day."]

[143] {111}[Byron may have had in his mind Thomas Lord Cochrane (1775-1860), "who had done brilliant service in his successive commands—the Speedy, Pallas, Impérieuse, and the flotilla of fire-ships at Basque Roads in 1809." In his Diary, March 10, 1814, he speaks of him as "the stock-jobbing hoaxer" (Letters, 1898, ii. 396, note 1).]

[144] {112}[Arimanes, the Aherman of Vathek, the Arimanius of Greek and Latin writers, is the Ahriman (or Angra Mainyu, "who is all death," the spirit of evil, the counter-creator) of the Zend-Avesta, "Fargard," i. 5 (translated by James Darmesteter, 1895, p. 4). Byron may have got the form Arimanius (vide Steph., Thesaurus) from D'Herbelot, and changed it to Arimanes.]

[145] {113} [The "formidable Eblis" sat on a globe of fire—"in his hand ... he swayed the iron sceptre that causes ... all the powers of the abyss to tremble."—Vathek, by William Beckford, 1887, p. 178.]

[bb] The comets herald through the burning skies.—[Alternative reading in MS.]

[146] {114}[Compare—

"Sorrow is Knowledge."

Act I. sc. 1, line 10, vide ante, p. 85.

Compare, too—

"Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
'All that we know is, nothing can be known.'"

Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza vii. lines 1, 2,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 103.]

[147] {115}[Astarte is the classical form (vide Cicero, De Naturâ Deorum, iii. 23, and Lucian, De Syriâ Deâ, iv.) of Milton's

"Moonéd Ashtaroth,
Heaven's queen and mother both."

Cicero says that she was married to Adonis, alluding, no doubt, to the myth of the Phoenician Astoreth, who was at once the bride and mother of Tammuz or Adonis.]

[bc] {116}Or dost Qy?—[Marginal reading in MS.]

[148] [Compare—

" ... illume
With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead,
Of her consuming cheek the autumnal leaf-like red."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cii. lines 7-9.]

[149] {118}[Compare—

" ... a firm will, and a deep sense,
Which even in torture can descry
Its own concentered recompense."

Prometheus, iii. 55-57, vide ante, p. 51.]

[150] {119}[On September 22, 1816 (Letters, 1899, iii. 357, note 2), Byron rode from Neuhaus, at the Interlaken end of Lake Thun, to the Staubbach. On the way between Matten and Müllinen, not far from the village of Wilderswyl, he passed the baronial Castle of Unspunnen, the traditional castle of Manfred. It is "but a square tower, with flanking round turrets, rising picturesquely above the surrounding brushwood." On the same day and near the same spot he "passed a rock; inscription—two brothers—one murdered the other; just the place for it." Here, according to the Countess Guiccioli, was "the origin of Manfred." It is somewhat singular that, on the appearance of Manfred, a paper was published in the June number of the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine, 1817, vol. i. pp. 270-273, entitled, "Sketch of a Tradition related by a Monk in Switzerland." The narrator, who signs himself P. F., professes to have heard the story in the autumn of 1816 from one of the fathers "of Capuchin Friars, not far from Altorf." It is the story of the love of two brothers for a lady with whom they had "passed their infancy." She becomes the wife of the elder brother, and, later, inspires the younger brother with a passion against which he struggles in vain. The fate of the elder brother is shrouded in mystery. The lady wastes away, and her paramour is found dead "in the same pass in which he had met his sister among the mountains." The excuse for retelling the story is that there appeared to be "a striking coincidence in some characteristic features between Lord Byron's drama and the Swiss tradition."]

[151] [The "revised version" makes no further mention of the "key and casket;" but in the first draft (vide infra, p. 122) they were used by Manfred in calling up Astaroth (Selections from Byron, New York, 1900, p. 370).]

[152] {120}[Byron may have had in his mind a sentence in a letter of C. Cassius to Cicero (Epist., xv. 19), in which he says, "It is difficult to persuade men that goodness is desirable for its own sake (τὸ καλὸν δἰ αὐτὸ αἱρετὸν); and yet it is true, and may be proved, that pleasure and calm are won by virtue, justice, in a word by goodness (τῷ καλῷ)."]

[153]St. Maurice is in the Rhone valley, some sixteen miles from Villeneuve. The abbey (now occupied by Augustinian monks) was founded in the fourth century, and endowed by Sigismund, King of Burgundy.

[154] {121}[Thus far the text stands as originally written. The rest of the scene as given in the first MS. is as follows:—

Abbot. Then, hear and tremble! For the headstrong wretch
Who in the mail of innate hardihood
Would shield himself, and battle for his sins,
There is the stake on earth—and beyond earth
Eternal—
Man. Charity, most reverend father,
Becomes thy lips so much more than this menace,
That I would call thee back to it: but say,
What would'st thou with me?
Abbot. It may be there are
Things that would shake thee—but I keep them back,
And give thee till to-morrow to repent.10
Then if thou dost not all devote thyself
To penance, and with gift of all thy lands
To the Monastery——
Man. I understand thee,—well!
Abbot. Expect no mercy; I have warned thee.
Man. (opening the casket). Stop—
There is a gift for thee within this casket.
[Manfred opens the casket, strikes a light, and burns some incense.
Ho! Ashtaroth!

The Demon Ashtaroth appears, singing as follows:—

The raven sits
On the Raven-stone,[A]
And his black wing flits
O'er the milk—white bone;20
To and fro, as the night—winds blow,
The carcass of the assassin swings;
And there alone, on the Raven-stone,
The raven flaps his dusky wings.
The fetters creak—and his ebon beak
Croaks to the close of the hollow sound;
And this is the tune, by the light of the Moon,
To which the Witches dance their round—
Merrily—merrily—cheerily—cheerily—
Merrily—merrily—speeds the ball:30
The dead in their shrouds, and the Demons in clouds,
Flock to the Witches' Carnival.
Abbot. I fear thee not—hence—hence—
Avaunt thee, evil One!—help, ho! without there!
Man. Convey this man to the Shreckhorn—to its peak—
To its extremest peak—watch with him there
From now till sunrise; let him gaze, and know
He ne'er again will be so near to Heaven.
But harm him not; and, when the morrow breaks,
Set him down safe in his cell—away with him!40
Ash. Had I not better bring his brethren too,
Convent and all, to bear him company?
Man. No, this will serve for the present. Take him up.
Ash. Come, Friar! now an exorcism or two,
And we shall fly the lighter.

Ashtaroth disappears with the Abbot, singing as follows:—

A prodigal son, and a maid undone,[B]
And a widow re-wedded within the year;
And a worldly monk, and a pregnant nun,
Are things which every day appear.

Manfred alone.

Man. Why would this fool break in on me, and force50
My art to pranks fantastical?—no matter,
It was not of my seeking. My heart sickens,
And weighs a fixed foreboding on my soul.
But it is calm—calm as a sullen sea
After the hurricane; the winds are still,
But the cold waves swell high and heavily,
And there is danger in them. Such a rest
Is no repose. My life hath been a combat,
And every thought a wound, till I am scarred
In the immortal part of me.—What now?]60

[A] "Raven-stone (Rabenstein), a translation of the German word for the gibbet, which in Germany and Switzerland is permanent, and made of stone." [Compare Werner, act ii. sc. 2. Compare, too, Anster's Faust, 1883, p. 306.]

[B]

A prodigal son—and a pregnant nun, nun,
And a widow re-wedded within the year—
And a calf at grass—and a priest at mass.
Are things which every day appear.—[MS. erased.]

[155] {123}[A supplementary MS. supplies the text for the remainder of the scene.]

[156] {124}[For the death of Nero, "Rome's sixth Emperor," vide C. Suet. Tranq., lib. vi. cap. xlix.]

[bd]

To shun { not loss of life, but the torments of a } public death—[MS. M.]

[157] [A reminiscence of the clouds of spray from the Fall of the Staubbach, which, in certain aspects, appear to be springing upwards from the bed of the waterfall.]

[158] {125}[Compare The Giaour, lines 282-284. Compare, too, Don Juan, Canto IV. stanza lvii. line 8.]

[159] [Here, as in so many other passages of Manfred, Byron is recording his own feelings and forebodings. The same note is struck in the melancholy letters of the autumn of 1811. See, for example, the letter to Dallas, October 11, "It seems as though I were to experience in my youth the greatest misery of age," etc. (Letters, 1898, ii. 52).]

[160] {126}["Pray, was Manfred's speech to the Sun still retained in Act third? I hope so: it was one of the best in the thing, and better than the Colosseum."—Letter to Murray, July 9, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 147. Compare Byron's early rendering of "Ossian's Address to the Sun 'in Carthon.'"—Poetical Works, 1898, i. 229.]

[161] {127} "And it came to pass, that the Sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair," etc.—"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."—Genesis, ch. vi. verses 2 and 4.

[162] [For the "Chaldeans" and "mountain-tops," see Childe Harold, Canto III, stanza xiv. line i, and stanza xci. lines 1-3.]

[be] {129} Some strange things in these far years.—[MS. M.]

[163] [The Grosse Eiger is a few miles to the south of the Castle of Unspunnen.]

[164] The remainder of the act in its original shape, ran thus—

Her. Look—look—the tower—
The tower's on fire. Oh, heavens and earth! what sound,
What dreadful sound is that? [A crash like thunder.
Manuel. Help, help, there!—to the rescue of the Count,—
The Count's in danger,—what ho! there! approach!
[The Servants, Vassals, and Peasantry approach stupifed with terror.
If there be any of you who have heart
And love of human kind, and will to aid
Those in distress—pause not—but follow me—
The portal's open, follow. [Manuel goes in.
Her. Come—who follows?
What, none of ye?—ye recreants! shiver then10
Without. I will not see old Manuel risk
His few remaining years unaided. [Herman goes in.
Vassal. Hark!—
No—all is silent—not a breath—the flame
Which shot forth such a blaze is also gone:
What may this mean? Let's enter!
Peasant. Faith, not I,—
Not but, if one, or two, or more, will join,
I then will stay behind; but, for my part,
I do not see precisely to what end.
Vassal. Cease your vain prating—come.
Manuel (speaking within). 'Tis all in vain—
He's dead.
Her. (within). Not so—even now methought he moved;20
But it is dark—so bear him gently out—
Softly—how cold he is! take care of his temples
In winding down the staircase.

Re-enter Manuel and Herman, bearing Manfred in their arms.

Manuel. Hie to the castle, some of ye, and bring
What aid you can. Saddle the barb, and speed
For the leech to the city—quick! some water there!
Her. His cheek is black—but there is a faint beat
Still lingering about the heart. Some water.
[They sprinkle Manfred with water:
after a pause, he gives some signs of life
.

Manuel. He seems to strive to speak—come—cheerly, Count!
He moves his lips—canst hear him! I am old,30
And cannot catch faint sounds.
[Herman inclining his head and listening.
Her. I hear a word
Or two—but indistinctly—what is next?
What's to be done? let's bear him to the castle.
[Manfred motions with his hand not to remove him.
Manuel. He disapproves—and 'twere of no avail—
He changes rapidly.
Her. 'Twill soon be over.
Manuel. Oh! what a death is this! that I should live
To shake my gray hairs over the last chief
Of the house of Sigismund.—And such a death!
Alone—we know not how—unshrived—untended—
With strange accompaniments and fearful signs—40
I shudder at the sight—but must not leave him.
Manfred (speaking faintly and slowly).
Old man! 'tis not so difficult to die.
[Manfred, having said this, expires.
Her. His eyes are fixed and lifeless.—He is gone.—
Manuel. Close them.—My old hand quivers.—He departs—
Whither? I dread to think—but he is gone!

End of Act Third, and of the poem."]

[bf] {131} Sirrah! I command thee.—[MS.]

[165] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza lxxxvi. line 1; stanza lxxxix. lines 1, 2; and stanza xc. lines 1, 2.]

[166] ["Drove at midnight to see the Coliseum by moonlight: but what can I say of the Coliseum? It must be seen; to describe it I should have thought impossible, if I had not read Manfred.... His [Byron's] description is the very thing itself; but what cannot he do on such a subject, when his pen is like the wand of Moses, whose touch can produce waters even from the barren rock?"—Matthews's Diary of an Invalid, 1820, pp. 158, 159. (Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanzas cxxviii.-cxxxi.)]

[167] {132}[Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanzas cvi.-cix.]

[168] [For "begun," compare Don Juan, Canto II. stanza clxvii. line 1.]

[169] {133}[Compare—

" ... but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrenched."

Paradise Lost, i. 600.]

[bg] Summons——.—[MS. M.]

[170] {135}

["The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven."

Paradise Lost, i. 254, 255.]

[171] {136}[In the first edition (p. 75), this line was left out at Gifford's suggestion (Memoirs, etc., 1891, i. 387). Byron was indignant, and wrote to Murray, August 12, 1817 (Letters, 1900, iv. 157), "You have destroyed the whole effect and moral of the poem, by omitting the last line of Manfred's speaking."]

[172] [For Goethes translation of the following passages in Manfred, viz (i) Manfred's soliloquy, act 1. sc. 1, line 1 seq.; (ii) "The Incantation." act i. sc. 1, lines 192-261; (iii)Manfred's soliloquy, act ii, sc. 2 lines 164-204; (iv.) the duologue between Manfred and Astarte, act ii. sc. 4, lines 116-155; (v) a couplet, "For the night hath been to me," etc., act iii. sc. 4, lines 3, 4;—see Professor A. Brandl's Goethe-Jahrbuch. 1899, and Goethe's Werke, 1874, iii. 201, as quoted in Appendix II., Letters, 1901. v. 503-514.]


[137]

THE LAMENT OF TASSO.


[139]

INTRODUCTION TO THE LAMENT OF TASSO.
swash

The MS. of the Lament of Tasso is dated April 20, 1817. It was despatched from Florence April 23, and reached England May 12 (see Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 384). Proofs reached Byron June 7, and the poem was published July 17, 1817.

"It was," he writes (April 26), "written in consequence of my having been lately in Ferrara." Again, writing from Rome (May 5, 1817), he asks if the MS. has arrived, and adds, "I look upon it as a 'These be good rhymes,' as Pope's papa said to him when he was a boy" (Letters, 1900, iv. 112-115). Two months later he reverted to the theme of Tasso's ill-treatment at the hands of Duke Alphonso, in the memorable stanzas xxxv.-xxxix. of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold (Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 354-359; and for examination of the circumstances of Tasso's imprisonment in the Hospital of Sant' Anna, vide ibid., pp. 355, 356, note 1).

Notices of the Lament of Tasso appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, August, 1817, vol. 87, pp. 150, 151; in The Scot's Magazine, August, 1817, N.S., vol. i. pp. 48, 49; and a eulogistic but uncritical review in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, November, 1817, vol. ii. pp. 142-144.


[141]

ADVERTISEMENT
swash

At Ferrara, in the Library, are preserved the original MSS. of Tasso's Gierusalemme[173] and of Guarini's Pastor Fido, with letters of Tasso, one from Titian to Ariosto, and the inkstand and chair, the tomb and the house, of the latter. But, as misfortune has a greater interest for posterity, and little or none for the cotemporary, the cell where Tasso was confined in the hospital of St. Anna attracts a more fixed attention than the residence or the monument of Ariosto—at least it had this effect on me. There are two inscriptions, one on the outer gate, the second over the cell itself, inviting, unnecessarily, the wonder and the indignation of the spectator. Ferrara is much decayed and depopulated: the castle still exists entire; and I saw the court where Parisina and Hugo were beheaded, according to the annal of Gibbon.[174]


[143]

THE LAMENT OF TASSO.[175]


I.

Long years!—It tries the thrilling frame to bear
And eagle-spirit of a Child of Song—
Long years of outrage—calumny—and wrong;
Imputed madness, prisoned solitude,[176]
And the Mind's canker in its savage mood,
When the impatient thirst of light and air
Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,
Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,
Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain,
With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;10
And bare, at once, Captivity displayed[144]
Stands scoffing through the never-opened gate,
Which nothing through its bars admits, save day,
And tasteless food, which I have eat alone
Till its unsocial bitterness is gone;
And I can banquet like a beast of prey,
Sullen and lonely, couching in the cave
Which is my lair, and—it may be—my grave.
All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,
But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;20
For I have battled with mine agony,
And made me wings wherewith to overfly
The narrow circus of my dungeon wall,
And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall;
And revelled among men and things divine,
And poured my spirit over Palestine,[177]
In honour of the sacred war for Him,
The God who was on earth and is in Heaven,
For He has strengthened me in heart and limb.
That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,30
I have employed my penance to record
How Salem's shrine was won, and how adored.

II.

But this is o'er—my pleasant task is done:—[178]
My long-sustaining Friend of many years!
If I do blot thy final page with tears,[179]
Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.
But Thou, my young creation! my Soul's child!
Which ever playing round me came and smiled,[145]
And wooed me from myself with thy sweet sight,
Thou too art gone—and so is my delight:40
And therefore do I weep and inly bleed
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
Thou too art ended—what is left me now?
For I have anguish yet to bear—and how?
I know not that—but in the innate force
Of my own spirit shall be found resource.
I have not sunk, for I had no remorse,
Nor cause for such: they called me mad—and why?
Oh Leonora! wilt not thou reply?[180]
I was indeed delirious in my heart50
To lift my love so lofty as thou art;
But still my frenzy was not of the mind:
I knew my fault, and feel my punishment
Not less because I suffer it unbent.
That thou wert beautiful, and I not blind,
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind;
But let them go, or torture as they will,
My heart can multiply thine image still;
Successful Love may sate itself away;
The wretched are the faithful; 't is their fate60
To have all feeling, save the one, decay,
And every passion into one dilate,
As rapid rivers into Ocean pour;
But ours is fathomless, and hath no shore.

III.

Above me, hark! the long and maniac cry
Of minds and bodies in captivity.
And hark! the lash and the increasing howl,
And the half-inarticulate blasphemy!
There be some here with worse than frenzy foul,
Some who do still goad on the o'er-laboured mind,70
And dim the little light that's left behind[146]
With needless torture, as their tyrant Will
Is wound up to the lust of doing ill:[181]
With these and with their victims am I classed,
'Mid sounds and sights like these long years have passed;
'Mid sights and sounds like these my life may close:
So let it be—for then I shall repose.

IV.

I have been patient, let me be so yet;
I had forgotten half I would forget,
But it revives—Oh! would it were my lot80
To be forgetful as I am forgot!—
Feel I not wroth with those who bade me dwell
In this vast Lazar-house of many woes?
Where laughter is not mirth, nor thought the mind,
Nor words a language, nor ev'n men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell—
For we are crowded in our solitudes—
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes Madness in her babbling moods;90
While all can hear, none heed his neighbour's call—
None! save that One, the veriest wretch of all,
Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between Distraction and Disease.
Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here?
Who have debased me in the minds of men,[147]
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear?
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,100
And teach them inward Sorrow's stifled groan?
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress,
Which undermines our Stoical success?
No!—still too proud to be vindictive—I
Have pardoned Princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, Sister of my Sovereign! for thy sake
I weed all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest:
Thy brother hates—but I can not detest;
Thou pitiest not—but I can not forsake.110

V.

Look on a love which knows not to despair,
But all unquenched is still my better part,
Dwelling deep in my shut and silent heart,
As dwells the gathered lightning in its cloud,
Encompassed with its dark and rolling shroud,
Till struck,—forth flies the all-ethereal dart!
And thus at the collision of thy name
The vivid thought still flashes through my frame,
And for a moment all things as they were
Flit by me;—they are gone—I am the same.120
And yet my love without ambition grew;
I knew thy state—my station—and I knew
A Princess was no love-mate for a bard;[182]
I told it not—I breathed it not[183]—it was[148]
Sufficient to itself, its own reward;
And if my eyes revealed it, they, alas!
Were punished by the silentness of thine,
And yet I did not venture to repine.
Thou wert to me a crystal-girded shrine,
Worshipped at holy distance, and around130
Hallowed and meekly kissed the saintly ground;
Not for thou wert a Princess, but that Love
Had robed thee with a glory, and arrayed
Thy lineaments in beauty that dismayed—
Oh! not dismayed—but awed, like One above!
And in that sweet severity[184] there was
A something which all softness did surpass—
I know not how—thy Genius mastered mine—
My Star stood still before thee:—if it were
Presumptuous thus to love without design,140
That sad fatality hath cost me dear;
But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me—but for thee.
The very love which locked me to my chain
Hath lightened half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast,
And foil the ingenuity of Pain.

VI.

It is no marvel—from my very birth
My soul was drunk with Love,—which did pervade150
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth:
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,[149]
And rocks, whereby they grew, a Paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dreamed uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the Wise
Shook their white agéd heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in woe,160
And that the only lesson was a blow;[185]
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt
Returned and wept alone, and dreamed again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain;
And the whole heart exhaled into One Want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day
I found the thing I sought—and that was thee;170
And then I lost my being, all to be
Absorbed in thine;—the world was past away;—
Thou didst annihilate the earth to me!

[150]

VII.

I loved all Solitude—but little thought
To spend I know not what of life, remote
From all communion with existence, save
The maniac and his tyrant;—had I been
Their fellow, many years ere this had seen
My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave.[bh]
But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave?180
Perchance in such a cell we suffer more
Than the wrecked sailor on his desert shore;
The world is all before him—mine is here,
Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier.
What though he perish, he may lift his eye,
And with a dying glance upbraid the sky;
I will not raise my own in such reproof,
Although 'tis clouded by my dungeon roof.

VIII.

Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,[186]
But with a sense of its decay: I see190
Unwonted lights along my prison shine,
And a strange Demon,[187] who is vexing me[151]
With pilfering pranks and petty pains, below
The feeling of the healthful and the free;
But much to One, who long hath suffered so,
Sickness of heart, and narrowness of place,
And all that may be borne, or can debase.
I thought mine enemies had been but Man,
But Spirits may be leagued with them—all Earth
Abandons—Heaven forgets me;—in the dearth200
Of such defence the Powers of Evil can—
It may be—tempt me further,—and prevail
Against the outworn creature they assail.
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved,
Like steel in tempering fire? because I loved?
Because I loved what not to love, and see,
Was more or less than mortal, and than me.

IX.

I once was quick in feeling—that is o'er;—
My scars are callous, or I should have dashed
My brain against these bars, as the sun flashed210
In mockery through them;—- If I bear and bore
The much I have recounted, and the more
Which hath no words,—'t is that I would not die
And sanction with self-slaughter the dull lie
Which snared me here, and with the brand of shame
Stamp Madness deep into my memory,
And woo Compassion to a blighted name,
Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
No—it shall be immortal!—and I make
A future temple of my present cell,220
Which nations yet shall visit for my sake.[bi]
While thou, Ferrara! when no longer dwell
The ducal chiefs within thee, shall fall down,
And crumbling piecemeal view thy hearthless halls,
A Poet's wreath shall be thine only crown,—
A Poet's dungeon thy most far renown,
While strangers wonder o'er thy unpeopled walls!
And thou, Leonora!—thou—who wert ashamed[152]
That such as I could love—who blushed to hear
To less than monarchs that thou couldst be dear,230
Go! tell thy brother, that my heart, untamed
By grief—years—weariness—and it may be
A taint of that he would impute to me—
From long infection of a den like this,
Where the mind rots congenial with the abyss,—
Adores thee still;—and add—that when the towers
And battlements which guard his joyous hours
Of banquet, dance, and revel, are forgot,
Or left untended in a dull repose,
This—this—shall be a consecrated spot!240
But Thou—when all that Birth and Beauty throws
Of magic round thee is extinct—shalt have
One half the laurel which o'ershades my grave.[188]
No power in death can tear our names apart,
As none in life could rend thee from my heart.[bj]
Yes, Leonora! it shall be our fate
To be entwined[189] for ever—but too late![190]

FOOTNOTES:

[173] {141}[A MS. of the Gerusalemme is preserved and exhibited at Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields.]

[174] [The original MS. of this poem is dated, "The Apennines, April 20, 1817."]

[175] {143}[The MS. of the Lament of Tasso corresponds, save in three lines where alternate readings are superscribed, verbatim et literatim with the text. A letter dated August 21, 1817, from G. Polidori to John Murray, with reference to the translation of the Lament into Italian, and a dedicatory letter (in Polidori's handwriting) to the Earl of Guilford, dated August 3, 1817, form part of the same volume.]

[176] [In a letter written to his friend Scipio Gonzaga ("Di prizione in Sant' Anna, questo mese di mezzio l'anno 1579"), Tasso exclaims, "Ah, wretched me! I had designed to write, besides two epic poems of most noble argument, four tragedies, of which I had formed the plan. I had schemed, too, many works in prose, on subjects the most lofty, and most useful to human life; I had designed to unite philosophy with eloquence, in such a manner that there might remain of me an eternal memory in the world. Alas! I had expected to close my life with glory and renown; but now, oppressed by the burden of so many calamities, I have lost every prospect of reputation and of honour. The fear of perpetual imprisonment increases my melancholy; the indignities which I suffer augment it; and the squalor of my beard, my hair, and habit, the sordidness and filth, exceedingly annoy me. Sure am I, that, if she who so little has corresponded to my attachment—if she saw me in such a state, and in such affliction—she would have some compassion on me."—Lettere di Torouato Tasso, 1853, ii. 60.]

[177] {144}[Compare—

"The second of a tenderer sadder mood,
Shall pour his soul out o'er Jerusalem."

Prophecy of Dante, Canto IV. lines 136, 137.]

[178] [Tasso's imprisonment in the Hospital of Sant' Anna lasted from March, 1579, to July, 1586. The Gerusalemme had been finished many years before. He sent the first four cantos to his friend Scipio Gonzaga, February 17, and the last three on October 4, 1575 (Lettere di Torquato Tasso, 1852, i. 55-117). A mutilated first edition was published in 1580 by "Orazio alias Celio de' Malespini, avventuriere intrigante" (Solerti's Vita, etc., 1895, i. 329).]

[179] [So, too, Gibbon was overtaken by a "sober melancholy" when he had finished the last line of the last page of the Decline and Fall on the night of June 27, 1787.]

[180] {145}[Not long after his imprisonment, Tasso appealed to the mercy of Alfonso, in a canzone of great beauty, ... and ... in another ode to the princesses, whose pity he invoked in the name of their own mother, who had herself known, if not the like horrors, the like solitude of imprisonment, and bitterness of soul, made a similar appeal. (See Life of Tasso, by John Black, 1810, ii. 64, 408.) Black prints the canzone in full; Solerti (Vita, etc., i. 316-318) gives selections.]

[181] {146}["For nearly the first year of his confinement Tasso endured all the horrors of a solitary sordid cell, and was under the care of a gaoler whose chief virtue, although he was a poet and a man of letters, was a cruel obedience to the commands of his prince.... His name was Agostino Mosti.... Tasso says of him, in a letter to his sister, 'ed usa meco ogni sorte di rigore ed inumanità.'"—Hobhouse, Historical Illustrations, etc., 1818, pp. 20, 21, note 1.

Tasso, in a letter to Angelo Grillo, dated June 16, 1584 (Letter 288, Le Lettere, etc., ii. 276), complains that Mosti did not interfere to prevent him being molested by the other inmates, disturbed in his studies, and treated disrespectfully by the governor's subordinates. In the letter to his sister Cornelia, from which Hobhouse quotes, the allusion is not to Mosti, but, according to Solerti, to the Cardinal Luigi d'Este. Elsewhere (Letter 133, Lettere, ii. 88, 89) Tasso describes Agostino Mosti as a rigorous and zealous Churchman, but far too cultivated and courteous a gentleman to have exercised any severity towards him proprio motu, or otherwise than in obedience to orders.]

[182] {147}[It is highly improbable that Tasso openly indulged, or secretly nourished, a consuming passion for Leonora d'Este, and it is certain that the "Sister of his Sovereign" had nothing to do with his being shut up in the Hospital of Sant' Anna. That poet and princess had known each other for over thirteen years, that the princess was seven years older than the poet, and, in March, 1579, close upon forty-two years of age, are points to be considered; but the fact that she died in February, 1581, and that Tasso remained in confinement for five years longer, is a stronger argument against the truth of the legend. She was a beautiful woman, his patroness and benefactress, and the theme of sonnets and canzoni; but it was not for her "sweet sake" that Tasso lost either his wits or his liberty.]

[183] Compare—

"I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name."

"Stanzas for Music," line 1, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 413.

[184] {148}[Compare the following lines from the canzone entitled, "La Prima di Tre Sorelle Scritte a Madaroa Leonora d'Este ... 1567:"—

"E certo il primo dì che'l bel sereno
Delia tua fronte agli occhi miei s'offerse
E vidi armato spaziarvi Amore,
Se non che riverenza allor converse,
E Meraviglia in fredda selce il seno,
Ivi pería con doppia morte il core;
Ma parte degli strali, e dell' ardore
Sentii pur anco entro 'l gelato marmo."]

[185] {149}[Ariosto (Sat. 7, Terz. 53) complains that his father chased him "not with spurs only, but with darts and lances, to turn over old texts," etc.; but Tasso was a studious and dutiful boy, and, though he finally deserted the law for poetry, and "crossed" his father's wishes and intentions, he took his own course reluctantly, and without any breach of decorum. But, perhaps, the following translations from the Rinaldo, which Black supplies in his footnotes (i. 41. 97), suggested this picture of a "poetic child" at variance with the authorities:—

"Now hasting thence a verdant mead he found,
Where flowers of fragrant smell adorned the ground;
Sweet was the scene, and here from human eyes
Apart he sits, and thus he speaks mid sighs."

Canto I. stanza xviii.

"Thus have I sung in youth's aspiring days
Rinaldo's pleasing plains and martial praise:
While other studies slowly I pursued
Ere twice revolved nine annual suns I viewed;
Ungrateful studies, whence oppressed I groaned,
A burden to myself and to the world unknown.

But this first-fruit of new awakened powers!
Dear offspring of a few short studious hours!
Thou infant volume child of fancy born
Where Brenta's waves the sunny meads adorn."

Canto XII. stanza xc.]

[bh] {150} My mind like theirs adapted to its grave.—[MS.]

[186] ["Nor do I lament," wrote Tasso, shortly after his confinement, "that my heart is deluged with almost constant misery, that my head is always heavy and often painful, that my sight and hearing are much impaired, and that all my frame is become spare and meagre; but, passing all this with a short sigh, what I would bewail is the infirmity of my mind.... My mind sleeps, not thinks; my fancy is chill, and forms no pictures; my negligent senses will no longer furnish the images of things; my hand is sluggish in writing, and my pen seems as if it shrunk from the office. I feel as if I were chained in all my operations, and as if I were overcome by an unwonted numbness and oppressive stupor."—Opere, Venice, 1738, viii. 258, 263.]

[187] [In a letter to Maurizio Cataneo, dated December 25, 1585, Tasso gives an account of his sprite (folletto): "The little thief has stolen from me many crowns.... He puts all my books topsy-turvy (mi mette tutti i libri sottosopra), opens my chest and steals my keys, so that I can keep nothing." Again, December 30, with regard to his hallucinations he says, "Know then that in addition to the wonders of the Folletto ... I have many nocturnal alarms. For even when awake I have seemed to behold small flames in the air, and sometimes my eyes sparkle in such a manner, that I dread the loss of sight, and I have ... seen sparks issue from them."—Letters 454, 456, Le Lettere, 1853, ii. 475, 479.]

[bi] {151}

Which { nations yet after days } shall visit for my sake.—[MS.]

[188] {152}["Tasso, notwithstanding the criticisms of the Cruscanti, would have been crowned in the Capitol, but for his death," Reply to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (Ravenna, March 15, 1820), Letters, 1900, iv. Appendix IX. p. 487.]

[bj]

As none in life could { wrench wring } thee from my heart.—[MS.]

[189] [Compare—

"From Life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined."

Epistle to Augusta, stanza xvi. lines 6, 7, vide ante, p. 62.]

[190] [The Apennines, April 20, 1817.]


[153]

BEPPO:
A VENETIAN STORY.

Rosalind. Farewell, Monsieur Traveller; Look, you lisp, and wear strange suits: disable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your Nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have swam in a Gondola.

As You Like It, act iv, sc. I, lines 33-35.

Annotation of the Commentators.

That is, been at Venice, which was much visited by the young English gentlemen of those times, and was then what Paris is now—the seat of all dissoluteness.—S. A.[191]
[The initials S. A. (Samuel Ayscough) are not attached to this note, but to another note on the same page (see Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare, 1807, i. 242).]


[155]

INTRODUCTION TO BEPPO
swash

Beppo was written in the autumn (September 6—October 12, Letters, 1900, iv. 172) of 1817, whilst Byron was still engaged on the additional stanzas of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold. His new poem, as he admitted from the first, was "after the excellent manner" of John Hookham Frere's jeu d'esprit, known as Whistlecraft (Prospectus and Specimen of an intended National Work by William and Robert Whistlecraft, London, 1818[192]), which must have[156] reached him in the summer of 1817. Whether he divined the identity of "Whistlecraft" from the first, or whether his guess was an after-thought, he did not hesitate to take the water and shoot ahead of his unsuspecting rival. It was a case of plagiarism in excelsis, and the superiority of the imitation to the original must be set down to the genius of the plagiary, unaided by any profound study of Italian literature, or an acquaintance at first hand with the parents and inspirers of Whistlecraft.

It is possible that he had read and forgotten some specimens of Pulci's Morgante Maggiore, which J. H. Merivale had printed in the Monthly Magazine for 1806-1807, vol. xxi. pp. 304, 510, etc., and it is certain that he was familiar with his Orlando in Roncesvalles, published in 1814. He distinctly states that he had not seen W. S. Rose's[193] translation of Casti's Animali Parlanti (first edition [anonymous], 1816), but, according to Pryse Gordon (Personal Memoirs, ii. 328), he had read the original. If we may trust Ugo Foscolo (see "Narrative and Romantic Poems of the Italians" in the Quart. Rev., April, 1819, vol. xxi. pp. 486-526), there is some evidence that Byron had read Forteguerri's Ricciardetto (translated in 1819 by Sylvester (Douglas) Lord Glenbervie, and again, by John Herman Merivale, under the title of The Two First Cantos of Richardetto, 1820), but the parallel which he [157] adduces (vide post, p. 166) is not very striking or convincing.

On the other hand, after the poem was completed (March 25, 1818), he was under the impression that "Berni was the original of all ... the father of that kind [i.e. the mock-heroic] of writing;" but there is nothing to show whether he had or had not read the rifacimento of Orlando's Innamorato, or the more distinctively Bernesque Capitoli. Two years later (see Letter to Murray, February 21, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 407; and "Advertisement" to Morgante Maggiore) he had discovered that "Pulci was the parent of Whistlecraft, and the precursor and model of Berni," but, in 1817, he was only at the commencement of his studies. A time came long before the "year or two" of his promise (March 25, 1818) when he had learned to simulate the vera imago of the Italian Muse, and was able not only to surpass his "immediate model," but to rival his model's forerunners and inspirers. In the meanwhile a tale based on a "Venetian anecdote" (perhaps an "episode" in the history of Colonel Fitzgerald and the Marchesa Castiglione,—see Letter to Moore, December 26, 1816, Letters, 1900, iv. 26) lent itself to "the excellent manner of Mr. Whistlecraft," and would show "the knowing ones," that is, Murray's advisers, Gifford, Croker, Frere, etc., that "he could write cheerfully," and "would repel the charge of monotony and mannerism."

Eckermann, mindful of Goethe's hint that Byron had too much empeiria (an excess of mondanité—a this-worldliness), found it hard to read Beppo after Macbeth. "I felt," he says, "the predominance of a nefarious, empirical world, with which the mind which introduced it to us has in a certain measure associated itself" (Conversations of Goethe, etc., 1874, p. 175). But Beppo must be taken at its own valuation. It is A Venetian Story, and the action takes place behind the scenes of "a comedy of Goldoni." A less subtle but a more apposite criticism may be borrowed from "Lord Byron's Combolio" (sic), Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1822, xi. 162-165.

"The story that's in it
May be told in a minute;
But par parenthèse chatting,
On this thing and that thing,
Keeps the shuttlecock flying,
And attention from dying."

Beppo, a Venetian Story (xcv. stanzas) was published[158] February 28, 1818; and a fifth edition, consisting of xcix. stanzas, was issued May 4, 1818.

Jeffrey, writing in the Edinburgh Review (February, 1818, vol. xxix. pp. 302-310), is unconcerned with regard to Whistlecraft, or any earlier model, but observes "that the nearest approach to it [Beppo] is to be found in some of the tales and lighter pieces of Prior—a few stanzas here and there among the trash and burlesque of Peter Pindar, and in several passages of Mr. Moore, and the author of the facetious miscellany entitled the Twopenny Post Bag."

Other notices, of a less appreciative kind, appeared in the Monthly Review, March, 1818, vol. 85, pp. 285-290; and in the Eclectic Review, N.S., June, 1818, vol. ix. pp. 555-557.


[159]

BEPPO.[194]


I.

'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout
All countries of the Catholic persuasion,[195]
Some weeks before Shrove Tuesday comes about,
The People take their fill of recreation,
And buy repentance, ere they grow devout,
However high their rank, or low their station,
With fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masquing,
And other things which may be had for asking.

II.

The moment night with dusky mantle covers
The skies (and the more duskily the better),
The Time less liked by husbands than by lovers
Begins, and Prudery flings aside her fetter;
And Gaiety on restless tiptoe hovers,
Giggling with all the gallants who beset her;
And there are songs and quavers, roaring, humming,
Guitars, and every other sort of strumming.[196]

[160]

III.

And there are dresses splendid, but fantastical,
Masks of all times and nations, Turks and Jews,
And harlequins and clowns, with feats gymnastical,
Greeks, Romans, Yankee-doodles, and Hindoos;
All kinds of dress, except the ecclesiastical,
All people, as their fancies hit, may choose,
But no one in these parts may quiz the Clergy,—
Therefore take heed, ye Freethinkers! I charge ye.

IV.

You'd better walk about begirt with briars,
Instead of coat and smallclothes, than put on
A single stitch reflecting upon friars,
Although you swore it only was in fun;
They'd haul you o'er the coals, and stir the fires
Of Phlegethon with every mother's son,
Nor say one mass to cool the cauldron's bubble
That boiled your bones, unless you paid them double.

V.

But saving this, you may put on whate'er
You like by way of doublet, cape, or cloak,
Such as in Monmouth-street, or in Rag Fair,
Would rig you out in seriousness or joke;
And even in Italy such places are,
With prettier name in softer accents spoke,
For, bating Covent Garden, I can hit on
No place that's called "Piazza" in Great Britain.[197]

[161]

VI.

This feast is named the Carnival, which being
Interpreted, implies "farewell to flesh:"
So called, because the name and thing agreeing,
Through Lent they live on fish both salt and fresh.
But why they usher Lent with so much glee in,
Is more than I can tell, although I guess
'Tis as we take a glass with friends at parting,
In the Stage-Coach or Packet, just at starting.

VII.

And thus they bid farewell to carnal dishes,
And solid meats, and highly spiced ragouts,
To live for forty days on ill-dressed fishes,
Because they have no sauces to their stews;
A thing which causes many "poohs" and "pishes,"
And several oaths (which would not suit the Muse),
From travellers accustomed from a boy
To eat their salmon, at the least, with soy;

VIII.

And therefore humbly I would recommend
"The curious in fish-sauce," before they cross
The sea, to bid their cook, or wife, or friend,
Walk or ride to the Strand, and buy in gross
(Or if set out beforehand, these may send
By any means least liable to loss),
Ketchup, Soy, Chili-vinegar, and Harvey,
Or, by the Lord! a Lent will well nigh starve ye;

IX.

That is to say, if your religion's Roman,
And you at Rome would do as Romans do,[162]
According to the proverb,—although no man,
If foreign, is obliged to fast; and you,
If Protestant, or sickly, or a woman,
Would rather dine in sin on a ragout—
Dine and be d—d! I don't mean to be coarse,
But that's the penalty, to say no worse.

X.

Of all the places where the Carnival
Was most facetious in the days of yore,
For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
And Masque, and Mime, and Mystery, and more
Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
Venice the bell from every city bore,—
And at the moment when I fix my story,
That sea-born city was in all her glory.

XI.

They've pretty faces yet, those same Venetians,
Black eyes, arched brows, and sweet expressions still;
Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
In ancient arts by moderns mimicked ill;
And like so many Venuses of Titian's[198]
(The best's at Florence—see it, if ye will,)
They look when leaning over the balcony,
Or stepped from out a picture by Giorgione,[199]

XII.

Whose tints are Truth and Beauty at their best;
And when you to Manfrini's palace go,[163][200]
That picture (howsoever fine the rest)
Is loveliest to my mind of all the show;
It may perhaps be also to your zest,
And that's the cause I rhyme upon it so:
Tis but a portrait of his Son, and Wife,
And self; but such a Woman! Love in life![201]

XIII.

Love in full life and length, not love ideal,
No, nor ideal beauty, that fine name,
But something better still, so very real,
That the sweet Model must have been the same;
A thing that you would purchase, beg, or steal,
Wer't not impossible, besides a shame:
The face recalls some face, as 'twere with pain,
You once have seen, but ne'er will see again;

XIV.

One of those forms which flit by us, when we
Are young, and fix our eyes on every face;
And, oh! the Loveliness at times we see
In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
The Youth, the Bloom, the Beauty which agree,
In many a nameless being we retrace,[164]
Whose course and home we knew not, nor shall know,
Like the lost Pleiad[202] seen no more below.

XV.

I said that like a picture by Giorgione
Venetian women were, and so they are,
Particularly seen from a balcony,
(For beauty's sometimes best set off afar)
And there, just like a heroine of Goldoni,[202A]
They peep from out the blind, or o'er the bar;
And truth to say, they're mostly very pretty,
And rather like to show it, more's the pity!

XVI.

For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs,
Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter,
Which flies on wings of light-heeled Mercuries,
Who do such things because they know no better;
And then, God knows what mischief may arise,
When Love links two young people in one fetter,
Vile assignations, and adulterous beds,
Elopements, broken vows, and hearts, and heads.

XVII.

Shakspeare described the sex in Desdemona
As very fair, but yet suspect in fame,[202B]
And to this day from Venice to Verona
Such matters may be probably the same,
Except that since those times was never known a
Husband whom mere suspicion could inflame[165]
To suffocate a wife no more than twenty,
Because she had a "Cavalier Servente."[203]

XVIII.

Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous)
Is of a fair complexion altogether,
Not like that sooty devil of Othello's,
Which smothers women in a bed of feather,
But worthier of these much more jolly fellows,
When weary of the matrimonial tether
His head for such a wife no mortal bothers,
But takes at once another, or another's.

XIX.

Didst ever see a Gondola? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly:
'Tis a long covered boat that's common here,
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly,
Rowed by two rowers, each call'd "Gondolier,"
It glides along the water looking blackly,
Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe,
Where none can make out what you say or do.

XX.

And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto[204] shoot along,[166]
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
They wait in their dusk livery of woe,—
But not to them do woeful things belong,
For sometimes they contain a deal of fun,
Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.

XXI.

But to my story.—'Twas some years ago,
It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
The Carnival was at its height, and so
Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress;
A certain lady went to see the show,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
And so we'll call her Laura, if you please,
Because it slips into my verse with ease.

XXII.

She was not old, nor young, nor at the years
Which certain people call a "certain age,"[205]
Which yet the most uncertain age appears,
Because I never heard, nor could engage[167]
A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
To name, define by speech, or write on page,
The period meant precisely by that word,—
Which surely is exceedingly absurd.

XXIII.

Laura was blooming still, had made the best
Of Time, and Time returned the compliment,
And treated her genteelly, so that, dressed,
She looked extremely well where'er she went;
A pretty woman is a welcome guest,
And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent;
Indeed, she shone all smiles, and seemed to flatter
Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her.

XXIV.

She was a married woman; 'tis convenient,
Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
To view their little slips with eyes more lenient;
Whereas if single ladies play the fool,
(Unless within the period intervenient
A well-timed wedding makes the scandal cool)
I don't know how they ever can get over it,
Except they manage never to discover it.

XXV.

Her husband sailed upon the Adriatic,
And made some voyages, too, in other seas,
And when he lay in Quarantine for pratique[206]
(A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease),
His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease:
He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
His name Giuseppe, called more briefly, Beppo.[207]

XXVI.

He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,
Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure;[168]
Though coloured, as it were, within a tanyard,
He was a person both of sense and vigour—
A better seaman never yet did man yard;
And she, although her manners showed no rigour,
Was deemed a woman of the strictest principle,
So much as to be thought almost invincible.[208]

XXVII.

But several years elapsed since they had met;
Some people thought the ship was lost, and some
That he had somehow blundered into debt,
And did not like the thought of steering home;
And there were several offered any bet,
Or that he would, or that he would not come;
For most men (till by losing rendered sager)
Will back their own opinions with a wager.

XXVIII.

'Tis said that their last parting was pathetic,
As partings often are, or ought to be,
And their presentiment was quite prophetic,
That they should never more each other see,
(A sort of morbid feeling, half poetic,
Which I have known occur in two or three,)
When kneeling on the shore upon her sad knee
He left this Adriatic Ariadne.

XXIX.

And Laura waited long, and wept a little,
And thought of wearing weeds, as well she might;
She almost lost all appetite for victual,
And could not sleep with ease alone at night;[169]
She deemed the window-frames and shutters brittle
Against a daring housebreaker or sprite,
And so she thought it prudent to connect her
With a vice-husband, chiefly to protect her.

XXX.

She chose, (and what is there they will not choose,
If only you will but oppose their choice?)
Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,
And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice,
A man some women like, and yet abuse—
A Coxcomb was he by the public voice;
A Count of wealth, they said as well as quality,
And in his pleasures of great liberality.[bk]

XXXI.

And then he was a Count, and then he knew
Music, and dancing, fiddling, French and Tuscan;
The last not easy, be it known to you,
For few Italians speak the right Etruscan.
He was a critic upon operas, too,
And knew all niceties of sock and buskin;
And no Venetian audience could endure a
Song, scene, or air, when he cried "seccatura!"[209]

XXXII.

His "bravo" was decisive, for that sound
Hushed "Academie" sighed in silent awe;
The fiddlers trembled as he looked around,
For fear of some false note's detected flaw;
The "Prima Donna's" tuneful heart would bound,
Dreading the deep damnation of his "Bah!"
Soprano, Basso, even the Contra-Alto,
Wished him five fathom under the Rialto.
[170]

XXXIII.

He patronised the Improvisatori,
Nay, could himself extemporise some stanzas,
Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story,
Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as
Italians can be, though in this their glory
Must surely yield the palm to that which France has;
In short, he was a perfect Cavaliero,
And to his very valet seemed a hero.[210]

XXXIV.

Then he was faithful too, as well as amorous;
So that no sort of female could complain,
Although they're now and then a little clamorous,
He never put the pretty souls in pain;
His heart was one of those which most enamour us,
Wax to receive, and marble to retain:
He was a lover of the good old school,
Who still become more constant as they cool.

XXXV.

No wonder such accomplishments should turn
A female head, however sage and steady—
With scarce a hope that Beppo could return,
In law he was almost as good as dead, he
Nor sent, nor wrote, nor showed the least concern,
And she had waited several years already:
And really if a man won't let us know
That he's alive, he's dead—or should be so.

XXXVI.

Besides, within the Alps, to every woman,
(Although, God knows, it is a grievous sin,)
'Tis, I may say, permitted to have two men;
I can't tell who first brought the custom in,[171]
But "Cavalier Serventes" are quite common,
And no one notices or cares a pin;
An we may call this (not to say the worst)
A second marriage which corrupts the first.

XXXVII.

The word was formerly a "Cicisbeo,"[211]
But that is now grown vulgar and indecent;
The Spaniards call the person a "Cortejo,"[212]
For the same mode subsists in Spain, though recent;
In short it reaches from the Po to Teio,
And may perhaps at last be o'er the sea sent:
But Heaven preserve Old England from such courses!
Or what becomes of damage and divorces?

XXXVIII.[213]

However, I still think, with all due deference
To the fair single part of the creation,
That married ladies should preserve the preference
In tête à tête or general conversation—
And this I say without peculiar reference
To England, France, or any other nation—
Because they know the world, and are at ease,
And being natural, naturally please.

XXXIX.

'Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
But shy and awkward at first coming out,
So much alarmed, that she is quite alarming,
All Giggle, Blush; half Pertness, and half Pout;
And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in
What you, she, it, or they, may be about:[172]
The Nursery still lisps out in all they utter—
Besides, they always smell of bread and butter.[214]

XL.

But "Cavalier Servente" is the phrase
Used in politest circles to express
This supernumerary slave, who stays
Close to the lady as a part of dress,
Her word the only law which he obeys.
His is no sinecure, as you may guess;
Coach, servants, gondola, he goes to call,
And carries fan and tippet, gloves and shawl.

XLI.

With all its sinful doings, I must say,
That Italy's a pleasant place to me,
Who love to see the Sun shine every day,
And vines (not nailed to walls) from tree to tree
Festooned, much like the back scene of a play,
Or melodrame, which people flock to see,
When the first act is ended by a dance
In vineyards copied from the South of France.

XLII.

I like on Autumn evenings to ride out,
Without being forced to bid my groom be sure
My cloak is round his middle strapped about,
Because the skies are not the most secure;
I know too that, if stopped upon my route,
Where the green alleys windingly allure,
Reeling with grapes red wagons choke the way,—
In England 'twould be dung, dust, or a dray.

XLIII.

I also like to dine on becaficas,
To see the Sun set, sure he'll rise to-morrow,[173]
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow,
But with all Heaven t'himself; the day will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers
Where reeking London's smoky cauldron simmers.

XLIV.

I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,[215]
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,[216]
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,
And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,
That not a single accent seems uncouth,
Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural,
Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.

XLV.

I like the women too (forgive my folly!),
From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy bronze,[bl]
And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
To the high Dama's brow, more melancholy,
But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance,
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.[bm]

XLVI.

Eve of the land which still is Paradise!
Italian Beauty didst thou not inspire[174]
Raphael,[217] who died in thy embrace, and vies
With all we know of Heaven, or can desire,
In what he hath bequeathed us?—in what guise,
Though flashing from the fervour of the Lyre,
Would words describe thy past and present glow,
While yet Canova[218] can create below?[219]

XLVII.

"England! with all thy faults I love thee still,"[220]
I said at Calais, and have not forgot it;
I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;
I like the government (but that is not it);
I like the freedom of the press and quill;
I like the Habeas Corpus (when we've got it);[175]
I like a Parliamentary debate,
Particularly when 'tis not too late;

XLVIII.

I like the taxes, when they're not too many;
I like a seacoal fire, when not too dear;
I like a beef-steak, too, as well as any;
Have no objection to a pot of beer;
I like the weather,—when it is not rainy,
That is, I like two months of every year.
And so God save the Regent, Church, and King!
Which means that I like all and every thing.

XLIX.

Our standing army, and disbanded seamen,
Poor's rate, Reform, my own, the nation's debt,
Our little riots just to show we're free men,
Our trifling bankruptcies in the Gazette,
Our cloudy climate, and our chilly women,
All these I can forgive, and those forget,
And greatly venerate our recent glories,
And wish they were not owing to the Tories.

L.

But to my tale of Laura,—for I find
Digression is a sin, that by degrees
Becomes exceeding tedious to my mind,
And, therefore, may the reader too displease—
The gentle reader, who may wax unkind,
And caring little for the Author's ease,
Insist on knowing what he means—a hard
And hapless situation for a Bard.

LI.

Oh! that I had the art of easy writing
What should be easy reading! could I scale
Parnassus, where the Muses sit inditing
Those pretty poems never known to fail,
How quickly would I print (the world delighting)
A Grecian, Syrian,[221] or Assyrian tale;[176]
And sell you, mixed with western Sentimentalism,
Some samples of the finest Orientalism.

LII.

But I am but a nameless sort of person,
(A broken Dandy[222] lately on my travels)
And take for rhyme, to hook my rambling verse on,
The first that Walker's Lexicon unravels,
And when I can't find that, I put a worse on,
Not caring as I ought for critics' cavils;
I've half a mind to tumble down to prose,
But verse is more in fashion—so here goes!

LIII.

The Count and Laura made their new arrangement,
Which lasted, as arrangements sometimes do,
For half a dozen years without estrangement;
They had their little differences, too;
Those jealous whiffs, which never any change meant;
In such affairs there probably are few[177]
Who have not had this pouting sort of squabble,
From sinners of high station to the rabble.

LIV.

But, on the whole, they were a happy pair,
As happy as unlawful love could make them;
The gentleman was fond, the lady fair,
Their chains so slight, 'twas not worth while to break them:
The World beheld them with indulgent air;
The pious only wished "the Devil take them!"
He took them not; he very often waits,
And leaves old sinners to be young ones' baits.

LV.

But they were young: Oh! what without our Youth
Would Love be! What would Youth be without Love!
Youth lends its joy, and sweetness, vigour, truth,
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above;
But, languishing with years, it grows uncouth—
One of few things Experience don't improve;
Which is, perhaps, the reason why old fellows
Are always so preposterously jealous.

LVI.

It was the Carnival, as I have said
Some six and thirty stanzas back, and so
Laura the usual preparations made,
Which you do when your mind's made up to go
To-night to Mrs. Boehm's masquerade,[223]
Spectator, or Partaker in the show;
The only difference known between the cases
Is—here, we have six weeks of "varnished faces."

[178]

LVII.

Laura, when dressed, was (as I sang before)
A pretty woman as was ever seen,
Fresh as the Angel o'er a new inn door,
Or frontispiece of a new Magazine,[224]
With all the fashions which the last month wore,
Coloured, and silver paper leaved between
That and the title-page, for fear the Press
Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress.

LVIII.

They went to the Ridotto;[225] 'tis a hall
Where People dance, and sup, and dance again;
Its proper name, perhaps, were a masqued ball,
But that's of no importance to my strain;
'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain;
The company is "mixed" (the phrase I quote is
As much as saying, they're below your notice);

LIX.

For a "mixed company" implies that, save
Yourself and friends, and half a hundred more,
Whom you may bow to without looking grave,
The rest are but a vulgar set, the Bore
Of public places, where they basely brave
The fashionable stare of twenty score
Of well-bred persons, called "The World;" but I,
Although I know them, really don't know why.

LX.

This is the case in England; at least was
During the dynasty of Dandies, now[179]
Perchance succeeded by some other class
Of imitated Imitators:—how[bn]
Irreparably soon decline, alas!
The Demagogues of fashion: all below
Is frail; how easily the world is lost
By Love, or War, and, now and then,—by Frost!

LXI.

Crushed was Napoleon by the northern Thor,
Who knocked his army down with icy hammer,
Stopped by the Elements[226]—like a Whaler—or
A blundering novice in his new French grammar;
Good cause had he to doubt the chance of war,
And as for Fortune—but I dare not d—n her,
Because, were I to ponder to Infinity,
The more I should believe in her Divinity.[227]

LXII.

She rules the present, past, and all to be yet,
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage;
I cannot say that she's done much for me yet;
Not that I mean her bounties to disparage,
We've not yet closed accounts, and we shall see yet
How much she'll make amends for past miscarriage;
Meantime the Goddess I'll no more importune,
Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune.
[180]

LXIII.

To turn,—and to return;—the Devil take it!
This story slips for ever through my fingers,
Because, just as the stanza likes to make it,
It needs must be—and so it rather lingers;
This form of verse began, I can't well break it,
But must keep time and tune like public singers;
But if I once get through my present measure,
I'll take another when I'm next at leisure.

LXIV.

They went to the Ridotto ('tis a place
To which I mean to go myself to-morrow,[228]
Just to divert my thoughts a little space
Because I'm rather hippish, and may borrow
Some spirits, guessing at what kind of face
May lurk beneath each mask; and as my sorrow
Slackens its pace sometimes, I'll make, or find,
Something shall leave it half an hour behind.)

LXV.

Now Laura moves along the joyous crowd,
Smiles in her eyes, and simpers on her lips;
To some she whispers, others speaks aloud;
To some she curtsies, and to some she dips,
Complains of warmth, and this complaint avowed,
Her lover brings the lemonade, she sips;
She then surveys, condemns, but pities still
Her dearest friends for being dressed so ill.

LXVI.

One has false curls, another too much paint,
A third—where did she buy that frightful turban?
A fourth's so pale she fears she's going to faint,
A fifth's look's vulgar, dowdyish, and suburban,
A sixth's white silk has got a yellow taint,
A seventh's thin muslin surely will be her bane,[181]
And lo! an eighth appears,—"I'll see no more!"
For fear, like Banquo's kings, they reach a score.

LXVII.

Meantime, while she was thus at others gazing,
Others were levelling their looks at her;
She heard the men's half-whispered mode of praising
And, till 'twas done, determined not to stir;
The women only thought it quite amazing
That, at her time of life, so many were
Admirers still,—but "Men are so debased,
Those brazen Creatures always suit their taste."

LXVIII.

For my part, now, I ne'er could understand
Why naughty women—but I won't discuss
A thing which is a scandal to the land,
I only don't see why it should be thus;
And if I were but in a gown and band,
Just to entitle me to make a fuss,
I'd preach on this till Wilberforce and Romilly
Should quote in their next speeches from my homily.

LXIX.

While Laura thus was seen, and seeing, smiling,
Talking, she knew not why, and cared not what,
So that her female friends, with envy broiling,
Beheld her airs, and triumph, and all that;
And well-dressed males still kept before her filing,
And passing bowed and mingled with her chat;
More than the rest one person seemed to stare
With pertinacity that's rather rare.

LXX.

He was a Turk, the colour of mahogany;
And Laura saw him, and at first was glad,
Because the Turks so much admire philogyny,[bo]
Although their usage of their wives is sad;[182]
'Tis said they use no better than a dog any
Poor woman, whom they purchase like a pad:
They have a number, though they ne'er exhibit 'em,
Four wives by law, and concubines "ad libitum."

LXXI.

They lock them up, and veil, and guard them daily,
They scarcely can behold their male relations,
So that their moments do not pass so gaily
As is supposed the case with northern nations;
Confinement, too, must make them look quite palely;
And as the Turks abhor long conversations,
Their days are either passed in doing nothing,
Or bathing, nursing, making love, and clothing.

LXXII.

They cannot read, and so don't lisp in criticism;
Nor write, and so they don't affect the Muse;
Were never caught in epigram or witticism,
Have no romances, sermons, plays, reviews,—
In Harams learning soon would make a pretty schism,
But luckily these Beauties are no "Blues;"
No bustling Botherby[229] have they to show 'em
"That charming passage in the last new poem:"

[183]

LXXIII.

No solemn, antique gentleman of rhyme,
Who having angled all his life for Fame,
And getting but a nibble at a time,
Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same
Small "Triton of the minnows," the sublime
Of Mediocrity, the furious tame,
The Echo's echo, usher of the school
Of female wits, boy bards—in short, a fool!

LXXIV.

A stalking oracle of awful phrase,
The approving "Good!" (by no means good in law)
Humming like flies around the newest blaze,
The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
Teasing with blame, excruciating with praise,
Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,[bp]
Translating tongues he knows not even by letter,
And sweating plays so middling, bad were better.

LXXV.

One hates an author that's all author—fellows
In foolscap uniforms turned up with ink,
So very anxious, clever, fine, and jealous,
One don't know what to say to them, or think,
Unless to puff them with a pair of bellows;
Of Coxcombry's worst coxcombs e'en the pink
Are preferable to these shreds of paper,
These unquenched snuffings of the midnight taper.

LXXVI.

Of these same we see several, and of others.
Men of the world, who know the World like Men,
Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers,
Who think of something else besides the pen;
But for the children of the "Mighty Mother's,"
The would-be wits, and can't-be gentlemen,[184]
I leave them to their daily "tea is ready,"[230]
Smug coterie, and literary lady.

LXXVII.

The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention
Have none of these instructive pleasant people,
And one would seem to them a new invention,
Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple;
I think 'twould almost be worth while to pension
(Though best-sown projects very often reap ill)
A missionary author—just to preach
Our Christian usage of the parts of speech.

LXXVIII.

No Chemistry for them unfolds her gases,
No Metaphysics are let loose in lectures,
No Circulating Library amasses
Religious novels, moral tales, and strictures
Upon the living manners, as they pass us;
No Exhibition glares with annual pictures;
They stare not on the stars from out their attics,
Nor deal (thank God for that!) in Mathematics.[231]

LXXIX.

Why I thank God for that is no great matter,
I have my reasons, you no doubt suppose,
And as, perhaps, they would not highly flatter,
I'll keep them for my life (to come) in prose;
I fear I have a little turn for Satire,
And yet methinks the older that one grows
Inclines us more to laugh than scold, though Laughter
Leaves us so doubly serious shortly after.
[185]

LXXX.[232]

Oh, Mirth and Innocence! Oh, Milk and Water!
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days!
In these sad centuries of sin and slaughter,
Abominable Man no more allays
His thirst with such pure beverage. No matter,
I love you both, and both shall have my praise:
Oh, for old Saturn's reign of sugar-candy!—-
Meantime I drink to your return in brandy.

LXXXI.

Our Laura's Turk still kept his eyes upon her,
Less in the Mussulman than Christian way,
Which seems to say, "Madam, I do you honour,
And while I please to stare, you'll please to stay."
Could staring win a woman, this had won her,
But Laura could not thus be led astray;
She had stood fire too long and well, to boggle
Even at this Stranger's most outlandish ogle.

LXXXII.

The morning now was on the point of breaking,
A turn of time at which I would advise
Ladies who have been dancing, or partaking
In any other kind of exercise,
To make their preparations for forsaking
The ball-room ere the Sun begins to rise,
Because when once the lamps and candles fail,
His blushes make them look a little pale.

LXXXIII.

I've seen some balls and revels in my time,
And stayed them over for some silly reason,
And then I looked (I hope it was no crime)
To see what lady best stood out the season;
And though I've seen some thousands in their prime
Lovely and pleasing, and who still may please on,
I never saw but one (the stars withdrawn)
Whose bloom could after dancing dare the Dawn.
[186]

LXXXIV.

The name of this Aurora I'll not mention,
Although I might, for she was nought to me
More than that patent work of God's invention,
A charming woman, whom we like to see;
But writing names would merit reprehension,
Yet if you like to find out this fair She,
At the next London or Parisian ball
You still may mark her cheek, out-blooming all.

LXXXV.

Laura, who knew it would not do at all
To meet the daylight after seven hours' sitting
Among three thousand people at a ball,
To make her curtsey thought it right and fitting;
The Count was at her elbow with her shawl,
And they the room were on the point of quitting,
When lo! those curséd Gondoliers had got
Just in the very place where they should not.

LXXXVI.

In this they're like our coachmen, and the cause
Is much the same—the crowd, and pulling, hauling,
With blasphemies enough to break their jaws,
They make a never intermitted bawling.
At home, our Bow-street gem'men keep the laws,
And here a sentry stands within your calling;
But for all that, there is a deal of swearing,
And nauseous words past mentioning or bearing.

LXXXVII.

The Count and Laura found their boat at last,
And homeward floated o'er the silent tide,
Discussing all the dances gone and past;
The dancers and their dresses, too, beside;
Some little scandals eke; but all aghast
(As to their palace-stairs the rowers glide)
Sate Laura by the side of her adorer,[bq]
When lo! the Mussulman was there before her!

[187]

LXXXVIII.

"Sir," said the Count, with brow exceeding grave,
"Your unexpected presence here will make
It necessary for myself to crave
Its import? But perhaps 'tis a mistake;
I hope it is so; and, at once to waive
All compliment, I hope so for your sake;
You understand my meaning, or you shall."
"Sir," (quoth the Turk) "'tis no mistake at all:

LXXXIX.

"That Lady is my wife!" Much wonder paints
The lady's changing cheek, as well it might;
But where an Englishwoman sometimes faints,
Italian females don't do so outright;
They only call a little on their Saints,
And then come to themselves, almost, or quite;
Which saves much hartshorn, salts, and sprinkling faces,
And cutting stays, as usual in such cases.

XC.

She said,—what could she say? Why, not a word;
But the Count courteously invited in
The Stranger, much appeased by what he heard:
"Such things, perhaps, we'd best discuss within,"
Said he; "don't let us make ourselves absurd
In public, by a scene, nor raise a din,
For then the chief and only satisfaction
Will be much quizzing on the whole transaction."

XCI.

They entered, and for Coffee called—it came,
A beverage for Turks and Christians both,
Although the way they make it's not the same.
Now Laura, much recovered, or less loth
To speak, cries "Beppo! what's your pagan name?
Bless me! your beard is of amazing growth!
And how came you to keep away so long?
Are you not sensible 'twas very wrong?
[188]

XCII.

"And are you really, truly, now a Turk?
With any other women did you wive?
Is't true they use their fingers for a fork?
Well, that's the prettiest Shawl—as I'm alive!
You'll give it me? They say you eat no pork.
And how so many years did you contrive
To—Bless me! did I ever? No, I never
Saw a man grown so yellow! How's your liver?

XCIII.

"Beppo! that beard of yours becomes you not;
It shall be shaved before you're a day older:
Why do you wear it? Oh! I had forgot—
Pray don't you think the weather here is colder?
How do I look? You shan't stir from this spot
In that queer dress, for fear that some beholder
Should find you out, and make the story known.
How short your hair is! Lord! how grey it's grown!"

XCIV.

What answer Beppo made to these demands
Is more than I know. He was cast away
About where Troy stood once, and nothing stands;
Became a slave of course, and for his pay
Had bread and bastinadoes, till some bands
Of pirates landing in a neighbouring bay,
He joined the rogues and prospered, and became
A renegade of indifferent fame.

XCV.

But he grew rich, and with his riches grew so
Keen the desire to see his home again,
He thought himself in duty bound to do so,
And not be always thieving on the main;
Lonely he felt, at times, as Robin Crusoe,
And so he hired a vessel come from Spain,
Bound for Corfu: she was a fine polacca,
Manned with twelve hands, and laden with tobacco.
[189]

XCVI.

Himself, and much (heaven knows how gotten!) cash,
He then embarked, with risk of life and limb,
And got clear off, although the attempt was rash;
He said that Providence protected him—
For my part, I say nothing—lest we clash
In our opinions:—well—the ship was trim,
Set sail, and kept her reckoning fairly on,
Except three days of calm when off Cape Bonn.[233]

XCVII.

They reached the Island, he transferred his lading,
And self and live stock to another bottom,
And passed for a true Turkey-merchant, trading
With goods of various names—but I've forgot 'em.
However, he got off by this evading,
Or else the people would perhaps have shot him;
And thus at Venice landed to reclaim
His wife, religion, house, and Christian name.

XCVIII.

His wife received, the Patriarch re-baptised him,
(He made the Church a present, by the way;)
He then threw off the garments which disguised him,
And borrowed the Count's smallclothes for a day:
His friends the more for his long absence prized him,
Finding he'd wherewithal to make them gay,
With dinners, where he oft became the laugh of them,
For stories—but I don't believe the half of them.

XCIX.

Whate'er his youth had suffered, his old age
With wealth and talking made him some amends;
Though Laura sometimes put him in a rage,
I've heard the Count and he were always friends.
My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which being finished, here the story ends:
'Tis to be wished it had been sooner done,
But stories somehow lengthen when begun.

FOOTNOTES:

[191] {153}["Although I was in Italie only ix. days, I saw, in that little tyme, more liberty to sin than ever I heard tell of in our noble citie of London in ix. yeares."—Schoolmaster, bk. i. ad fin. By Roger Ascham.]

[192] {155}

["I've often wish'd that I could write a book,
Such as all English people might peruse;
I never shall regret the pains it took,
That's just the sort of fame that I should choose:
To sail about the world like Captain Cook,
I'd sling a cot up for my favourite Muse,
And we'd take verses out to Demerara,
To New South Wales, and up to Niagara.
"Poets consume exciseable commodities,
They raise the nation's spirit when victorious,
They drive an export trade in whims and oddities,
Making our commerce and revenue glorious;
As an industrious and pains-taking body 'tis
That Poets should be reckoned meritorious:
And therefore I submissively propose
To erect one Board for Verse and one for Prose.
"Princes protecting Sciences and Art
I've often seen in copper-plate and print;
I never saw them elsewhere, for my part,
And therefore I conclude there's nothing in't:
But every body knows the Regent's heart;
I trust he won't reject a well-meant hint;
Each Board to have twelve members, with a seat
To bring them in per ann. five hundred neat:—
"From Princes I descend to the Nobility:
In former times all persons of high stations,
Lords, Baronets, and Persons of gentility,
Paid twenty guineas for the dedications;
This practice was attended with utility;
The patrons lived to future generations,
The poets lived by their industrious earning,—
So men alive and dead could live by Learning.
"Then twenty guineas was a little fortune;
Now, we must starve unless the times should mend:
Our poets now-a-days are deemed importune
If their addresses are diffusely penned;
Most fashionable authors make a short one
To their own wife, or child, or private friend,
To show their independence, I suppose;
And that may do for Gentlemen like those.
"Lastly, the common people I beseech—
Dear People! if you think my verses clever,
Preserve with care your noble parts of speech,
And take it as a maxim to endeavour
To talk as your good mothers used to teach,
And then these lines of mine may last for ever;
And don't confound the language of the nation
With long-tailed words in osity and ation."

Canto I. stanzas i.-vi.]

[193] {156}[For some admirable stanzas in the metre and style of Beppo, by W.S. Rose, who passed the winter of 1817-18 in Venice, and who sent them to Byron from Albaro in the spring of 1818, see Letters, 1900 iv. 211-214, note 1.]

[194] {159}[The MS. of Beppo, in Byron's handwriting, is now in the possession of Captain the Hon. F. L. King Noel. It is dated October 10, 1817.]

[195] [The use of "persuasion" as a synonime for "religion," is, perhaps, of American descent. Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address as President of U.S.A., speaks "of whatever state or persuasion, political or religious." At the beginning of the nineteenth century theological niceties were not regarded, and the great gulph between a religion and a sect or party was imperfectly discerned. Hence the solecism.]

[196] [Compare the lines which Byron enclosed in a letter to Moore, dated December 24, 1816 (Letters, 1900, iv. 30)—

"But the Carnival's coming,
Oh Thomas Moore,

Masking and humming,
Fifing and drumming,
Guitarring and strumming,
Oh Thomas Moore."]

[197] {160}[Monmouth Street, now absorbed in Shaftesbury Avenue (west side), was noted throughout the eighteenth century for the sale of second-hand clothes. Compare—

"Thames Street gives cheeses, Covent Garden fruits,
Moorfields old books, and Monmouth Street old suits."

Gay's Trivia, ii. 547, 548.

Rag Fair or Rosemary Lane, now Royal Mint Street, was the Monmouth Street of the City. Compare—

"Where wave the tattered ensigns of Rag Fair."

Pope's Dunciad, i. 29, var.

The Arcade, or "Piazza," so called, which was built by Inigo Jones in 1652, ran along the whole of the north and east sides of the Piazza or Square of Covent Garden. The Arcade on the north side is still described as the "Piazzas."—London Past and Present, by H. B. Wheatley, 1891, i. 461, ii. 554, iii. 145.]

[198] {162}["At Florence I remained but a day.... What struck me most was ... the mistress of Titian, a portrait; a Venus of Titian in the Medici Gallery ..."—Letter to Murray, April 27, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 113. Compare, too, Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xlix. line i, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 365, note 2.]

[199] ["I know nothing of pictures myself, and care almost as little: but to me there are none like the Venetian—above all, Giorgione. I remember well his Judgment of Solomon in the Mareschalchi Gallery [in the Via Delle Asse, formerly celebrated for its pictures] in Bologna."—Letter to William Bankes, February 26, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 411.]

[200] ["I also went over the Manfrini Palace, famous for its pictures. Among them, there is a portrait of Ariosto by Titian [now in the possession of the Earl of Rosebery], surpassing all my anticipations of the power of painting or human expression: it is the poetry of portrait, and the portrait of poetry. There was also one of some learned lady, centuries old, whose name I forget, but whose features must always be remembered. I never saw greater beauty, or sweetness, or wisdom:—it is the kind of face to go mad for, because it cannot walk out of its frame.... What struck me most in the general collection was the extreme resemblance of the style of the female faces in the mass of pictures, so many centuries or generations old, to those you see and meet every day amongst the existing Italians. The Queen of Cyprus and Giorgione's wife, particularly the latter, are Venetians as it were of yesterday; the same eyes and expression, and, to my mind, there is none finer,"—Letter to Murray, April 14, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 105. The picture which caught Byron's fancy was the so-called Famiglia di Giorgione, which was removed from the Manfrini Palace in 1856, and is now in the Palazzo Giovanelli. It represents "an almost nude woman, probably a gipsy, seated with a child in her lap, and a standing warrior gazing upon her, a storm breaking over the landscape."—Handbook of Painting, by Austen H. Layard, 1891, part ii. p. 553.]

[201] {163}[According to Vasari and others, Giorgione (Giorgio Barbarelli, b. 1478) was never married. He died of the plague, A.D. 1511.]

[202] {164} "Quæ septem dici, sex tanien esse solent."—Ovid., [Fastorum, lib. iv. line 170.]

[202A] [Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793). His play, Belisarius, was first performed November 24, 1734; Le Bourru Bienfaisant, November 4, 1771. La Bottega del Caffé, La Locandiera, etc., still hold the stage. His Mémoires were published in 1787.]

[202B]

["Look to't:

In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience
Is not to leave't undone, but keep't unknown."

Othello, act iii. sc. 3, lines 206-208.]

[203] {165}[Compare—

"An English lady asked of an Italian,
What were the actual and official duties
Of the strange thing, some women set a value on,
Which hovers oft about some married beauties,
Called 'Cavalier Servente,' a Pygmalion
Whose statues warm (I fear, alas! too true 't is)
Beneath his art. The dame, pressed to disclose them,
Said—'Lady, I beseech you to suppose them.'"

Don Juan, Canto IX. stanza li.

A critic, in the Monthly Review (March, 1818, vol. lxxxv. p. 286), took Byron to task for omitting the e in Cavaliere. In a letter to Murray, April 17, 1818, he shows that he is right, and takes his revenge on the editor (George Edward) Griffiths, and his "scribbler Mr. Hodgson."—Letters, 1900, iv. 226.]

[204] ["An English abbreviation. Rialto is the name, not of the bridge, but of the island from which it is called; and the Venetians say, Il ponti di Rialto, as we say Westminster Bridge. In that island is the Exchange; and I have often walked there as on classic ground.... 'I Sopportichi,' says Sansovino, writing in 1580 [Venetia, 1581, p. 134], 'sono ogni giorno frequentati da i mercatanti Fiorentini, Genovesi, Milanesi, Spagnuoli, Turchi, e d'altre nationi diverse del mondo, i quali vi concorrono in tanta copia, che questa piazza è annoverata fra le prime dell' universo.' It was there that the Christian held discourse with the Jew; and Shylock refers to it when he says—

"'Signer Antonio, many a time and oft,
In the Rialto you have rated me.'

'Andiamo a Rialto,'—' L'ora di Rialto,' were on every tongue; and continue so to the present day, as we learn from the Comedies of Goldoni, and particularly from his Mercanti."—Note to the Brides of Venice, Poems, by Samuel Rogers, 1852, ii. 88, 89. See, too, Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza iv. line 6, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 331.]

[205] {166}[Compare "At the epoch called a certain age she found herself an old maid."—Jane Porter, Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803), cap. xxxviii. (See N. Eng. Dict., art. "Certain.")

Ugo Foscolo, in his article in the Quarterly Review, April, 1819, vol. xxi. pp. 486-556, quotes these lines in illustration of a stanza from Forteguerri's Ricciardetto, iv. 2—

Quando si giugne ad una certa età,
Ch'io non voglio descrivervi qual è," etc.]

[206] {167}[A clean bill of health after quarantine. Howell spells the word "pratic," and Milton "pratticke."]

[207] Beppo is the "Joe" of the Italian Joseph.

[208] {168}["The general state of morals here is much the same as in the Doges' time; a woman is virtuous (according to the code) who limits herself to her husband and one lover; those who have two, three, or more, are a little wild; but it is only those who are indiscriminately diffuse, and form a low connection ... who are considered as over-stepping the modesty of marriage.... There is no convincing a woman here, that she is in the smallest degree deviating from the rule of right, or the fitness of things, in having an Amoroso."—Letter to Murray, January 2, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 40, 41.]

[bk] {169}

A Count of wealth inferior to his quality,
Which somewhat limited his liberality.—[MS.]

[209]["Some of the Italians liked him [a famous improvisatore], others called his performance 'seccatura' (a devilish good word, by the way), and all Milan was in controversy about him."—Letter to Moore, November 6, 1816, Letters, 1899, iii. 384.]

[210] {170}[The saying, "Il n'y a point de héros pour son valet de chambre," is attributed to Maréchal (Nicholas) Catinat (1637-1712). His biographer speaks of presenting "le héros en déshabillé." (See his Mémoires, 1819, ii. 118.)]

[211] {171}[The origin of the word is obscure. According to the Vocab. della Crusca, "cicisbeo" is an inversion of "bel cece," beautiful chick (pea). Pasqualino, cited by Diez, says it is derived from the French chiche beau.—N. Eng. Dict., art. "Cicisbeo."]

[212] Cortejo is pronounced Corteho, with an aspirate, according to the Arabesque guttural. It means what there is as yet no precise name for in England, though the practice is as common as in any tramontane country whatever.

[213] [Stanzas xxxviii., xxxix., are not in the original MS.]

[214] {172}[For the association of bread and butter with immaturity, compare, "Ye bread-and-butter rogues, do ye run from me?" (Beaumont and Fletcher, The Humorous Lieutenant, act iii. sc. 7). (See N. Eng. Dict., art. "Bread.")]

[215] {173}[Compare—

" ... the Tuscan's siren tongue?
That music in itself, whose sounds are song,
The poetry of speech?"

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lviii. lines 4-6, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 374, note i.]

[216] Sattin, eh? Query, I can't spell it.—[MS.]

[bl] From the tall peasant with her ruddy bronze.—[MS.]

[bm] Like her own clime, all sun, and bloom, and skies.—[MS.]

[217] {174}[For the received accounts of the cause of Raphael's death, see his Lives. "Fidem matrimonii quidem dederat nepti cuidam Cardinal. Bibiani, sed partim Cardinalatûs spe lactatus partim pro seculi locique more, Romæ enim plerumque vixit, vagis amoribus delectatus, morbo hinc contracto, obiit A.C. 1520, ætat. 37."—Art. "Raphael," apud Hofmann, Lexicon Universale. It would seem that Raphael was betrothed to Maria, daughter of Antonio Divizio da Bibiena, the nephew of Cardinal Bibiena (see his letter to his uncle Simone di Battista di Ciarla da Urbino, dated July 1, 1514), and it is a fact that a girl named Margarita, supposed to be his mistress, is mentioned in his will. But the "causes of his death," April 6, 1520, were a delicate constitution, overwork, and a malarial fever, caught during his researches among the ruins of ancient Rome" (Raphael of Urbino, by J. D. Passavant, 1872, pp. 140, 196, 197. See, too, Raphael, by E. Muntz, 1888).]

[218] [Compare the lines enclosed in a letter to Murray, dated November 25, 1816—

"In this belovéd marble view,
Above the works and thoughts of man,
What Nature could but would not do,
And Beauty and Canova can."]

[219]

["(In talking thus, the writer, more especially
Of women, would be understood to say,
He speaks as a Spectator, not officially,
And always, Reader, in a modest way;
Perhaps, too, in no very great degree shall he
Appear to have offended in this lay,
Since, as all know, without the Sex, our Sonnets
Would seem unfinished, like their untrimmed bonnets.)

"(Signed) Printer's Devil."]

[220] [The Task, by William Cowper, ii. 206. Compare The Farewell, line 27, by Charles
Churchill—

"Be England what she will,
With all her faults, she is my Country still."]

[221] {175}[The allusion is to Gally Knight's Ilderim, a Syrian Tale. See, too, Letter to Moore, March 25, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 78: "Talking of tail, I wish you had not called it [Lalla Rookh] a 'Persian Tale.' Say a 'Poem,' or 'Romance,' but not 'Tale.' I am very sorry that I called some of my own things 'Tales.' ... Besides, we have had Arabian, and Hindoo, and Turkish, and Assyrian Tales." Beppo, it must be remembered, was published anonymously, and in the concluding lines of the stanza the satire is probably directed against his own "Tales."]

[222] {176}["The expressions 'blue-stocking' and 'dandy' may furnish matter for the learning of a commentator at some future period. At this moment every English reader will understand them. Our present ephemeral dandy is akin to the maccaroni of my earlier days. The first of these expressions has become classical, by Mrs. Hannah More's poem of 'Bas-Bleu' and the other by the use of it in one of Lord Byron's poems. Though now become familiar and rather trite, their day may not be long.

' ... Cadentque
Quæ nunc sunt in honore vocabula.'"

—Translation of Forteguerri's Ricciardetto, by Lord Glenbervie, 1822 (note to stanza v.).

Compare, too, a memorandum of 1820. "I liked the Dandies; they were always very civil to me, though in general they disliked literary people ... The truth is, that, though I gave up the business early, I had a tinge of Dandyism in my minority, and probably retained enough of it to conciliate the great ones at four-and-twenty."—Letters, 1901, v. 423.]

[223] {177}[The Morning Chronicle of June 17, 1817, reports at length "Mrs. Boehm's Grand Masquerade." "On Monday evening this distinguished lady of the haut ton gave a splendid masquerade at her residence in St. James's Square." "The Dukes of Gloucester, Wellington, etc., were present in plain dress. Among the dominoes were the Duke and Duchess of Grafton, etc." Lady Caroline Lamb was among the guests.]

[224] {178}[The reference is, probably, to the Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions, and Politics (1809-1829), which was illustrated by coloured plates of dresses, "artistic" furniture, Gothic cottages, park lodges, etc.]

[225] [For "Ridotto," see Letter to Moore, January 28, 1817, Letters, 1900, iv. 49, note 1.]

[bn] Of Imited (sic) Imitations, how soon! how.—[MS.]

[226] ["When Brummell was obliged ... to retire to France, he knew no French; and having obtained a Grammar for the purposes of study, our friend Scrope Davies was asked what progress Brummell had made in French ... he responded, 'that Brummell had been stopped, like Buonaparte in Russia, by the Elements.' I have put this pun into Beppo, which is 'a fair exchange and no robbery;' for Scrope made his fortune at several dinners (as he owned himself), by repeating occasionally, as his own, some of the buffooneries with which I had encountered him in the Morning."—Detached Thoughts, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 422, 423.]

[227] ["Like Sylla, I have always believed that all things depend upon Fortune, and nothing upon ourselves. I am not aware of any one thought or action, worthy of being called good to myself or others, which is not to be attributed to the Good Goddess—Fortune!"—Ibid., p. 451.]

[228] "January 19th, 1818. To-morrow will be a Sunday, and full Ridotto."—[MS.]

[bo] {181}——philoguny,—[MS.]

[229] {182}[Botherby is, of course, Sotheby. In the English Bards (line 818) he is bracketed with Gifford and Macneil honoris causti, but at this time (1817-18) Byron was "against" Sotheby, under the impression that he had sent him "an anonymous note ... accompanying a copy of the Castle of Chillon, etc. [sic]." Sotheby affirmed that he had not written the note, but Byron, while formally accepting the disclaimer, refers to the firmness of his "former persuasion," and renews the attack with increased bitterness. "As to Beppo, I will not alter or suppress a syllable for any man's pleasure but my own. If there are resemblances between Botherby and Sotheby, or Sotheby and Botherby, the fault is not mine, but in the person who resembles,—or the persons who trace a resemblance. Who find out this resemblance? Mr. S.'s friends. Who go about moaning over him and laughing? Mr. S.'s friends" (Letters to Murray, April 17, 23, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 226-230). A writer of satires is of necessity satirical, and Sotheby, like "Wordswords and Co.," made excellent "copy." If he had not written the "anonymous note," he was, from Byron's point of view, ridiculous and a bore, and "ready to hand" to be tossed up in rhyme as Botherby. (For a brief account of Sotheby, see Poetical Works, i. 362, note 2.)]

[bp] {183} Gorging the slightest slice of Flattery raw.—[MS. in a letter to Murray, April 11, 1818, Letters, 1900, iv. 218.]

[230] {184}[So, too, elsewhere. Wordsworth and Coleridge had depreciated Voltaire, and Byron, en revanche, contrasts the "tea-drinking neutrality of morals" of the school, i.e. the Lake poets, with "their convenient treachery in politics" (see Letters, 1901, v. 600).]

[231] ["Lady Byron," her husband wrote, "would have made an excellent wrangler at Cambridge." Compare—

"Her favourite science was the mathematical."

Don Juan, Canto I. stanza xii. line 1.]

[232] {185}[Stanza lxxx. is not in the original MS.]

[bq] {186} Sate Laura with a kind of comic horror.—[MS.]

[233] {189}[Cap Bon, or Ras Adden, is the northernmost point of Tunis.]


[191]

ODE ON VENICE


[193]

ODE ON VENICE[234]


I.

Oh Venice! Venice! when thy marble walls
Are level with the waters, there shall be
A cry of nations o'er thy sunken halls,
A loud lament along the sweeping sea!
If I, a northern wanderer, weep for thee,
What should thy sons do?—anything but weep:
And yet they only murmur in their sleep.
In contrast with their fathers—as the slime,
The dull green ooze of the receding deep,
Is with the dashing of the spring-tide foam,10
That drives the sailor shipless to his home,
Are they to those that were; and thus they creep,
Crouching and crab-like, through their sapping streets.
Oh! agony—that centuries should reap
No mellower harvest! Thirteen hundred years[235]
Of wealth and glory turned to dust and tears;
And every monument the stranger meets,
Church, palace, pillar, as a mourner greets;
And even the Lion all subdued appears,[194][236]
And the harsh sound of the barbarian drum,20
With dull and daily dissonance, repeats
The echo of thy Tyrant's voice along
The soft waves, once all musical to song,
That heaved beneath the moonlight with the throng
Of gondolas[237]—and to the busy hum
Of cheerful creatures, whose most sinful deeds
Were but the overbeating of the heart,
And flow of too much happiness, which needs
The aid of age to turn its course apart
From the luxuriant and voluptuous flood30
Of sweet sensations, battling with the blood.
But these are better than the gloomy errors,
The weeds of nations in their last decay,
When Vice walks forth with her unsoftened terrors,
And Mirth is madness, and but smiles to slay;
And Hope is nothing but a false delay,
The sick man's lightning half an hour ere Death,
When Faintness, the last mortal birth of Pain,
And apathy of limb, the dull beginning
Of the cold staggering race which Death is winning,40
Steals vein by vein and pulse by pulse away;
Yet so relieving the o'er-tortured clay,
To him appears renewal of his breath,
And freedom the mere numbness of his chain;
And then he talks of Life, and how again
He feels his spirit soaring—albeit weak,
And of the fresher air, which he would seek;
And as he whispers knows not that he gasps,
That his thin finger feels not what it clasps,
And so the film comes o'er him—and the dizzy50
Chamber swims round and round—and shadows busy,
At which he vainly catches, flit and gleam,
Till the last rattle chokes the strangled scream,
And all is ice and blackness,—and the earth
That which it was the moment ere our birth.[238]

[195]

II.

There is no hope for nations!—Search the page
Of many thousand years—the daily scene,
The flow and ebb of each recurring age,
The everlasting to be which hath been,
Hath taught us nought or little: still we lean60
On things that rot beneath our weight, and wear
Our strength away in wrestling with the air;
For't is our nature strikes us down: the beasts
Slaughtered in hourly hecatombs for feasts
Are of as high an order—they must go
Even where their driver goads them, though to slaughter.
Ye men, who pour your blood for kings as water,
What have they given your children in return?
A heritage of servitude and woes,
A blindfold bondage, where your hire is blows.70
What! do not yet the red-hot ploughshares burn,[239]
O'er which you stumble in a false ordeal,
And deem this proof of loyalty the real;
Kissing the hand that guides you to your scars,
And glorying as you tread the glowing bars?
All that your Sires have left you, all that Time
Bequeaths of free, and History of sublime,
Spring from a different theme!—Ye see and read,
Admire and sigh, and then succumb and bleed!
Save the few spirits who, despite of all,80
And worse than all, the sudden crimes engendered
By the down-thundering of the prison-wall,
And thirst to swallow the sweet waters tendered,
Gushing from Freedom's fountains—when the crowd,[240]
Maddened with centuries of drought, are loud,[196]
And trample on each other to obtain
The cup which brings oblivion of a chain
Heavy and sore,—in which long yoked they ploughed
The sand,—or if there sprung the yellow grain,
'Twas not for them, their necks were too much bowed,90
And their dead palates chewed the cud of pain:—
Yes! the few spirits—who, despite of deeds
Which they abhor, confound not with the cause
Those momentary starts from Nature's laws,
Which, like the pestilence and earthquake, smite
But for a term, then pass, and leave the earth
With all her seasons to repair the blight
With a few summers, and again put forth
Cities and generations—fair, when free—
For, Tyranny, there blooms no bud for thee!100

III.

Glory and Empire! once upon these towers[241]
With Freedom—godlike Triad! how you sate!
The league of mightiest nations, in those hours
When Venice was an envy, might abate,
But did not quench, her spirit—in her fate
All were enwrapped: the feasted monarchs knew
And loved their hostess, nor could learn to hate,
Although they humbled—with the kingly few
The many felt, for from all days and climes
She was the voyager's worship;—even her crimes110
Were of the softer order, born of Love—
She drank no blood, nor fattened on the dead,
But gladdened where her harmless conquests spread;
For these restored the Cross, that from above
Hallowed her sheltering banners, which incessant
Flew between earth and the unholy Crescent,[242]
Which, if it waned and dwindled, Earth may thank
The city it has clothed in chains, which clank
Now, creaking in the ears of those who owe[197]
The name of Freedom to her glorious struggles;120
Yet she but shares with them a common woe,
And called the "kingdom"[243] of a conquering foe,—
But knows what all—and, most of all, we know—
With what set gilded terms a tyrant juggles!

IV.

The name of Commonwealth is past and gone
O'er the three fractions of the groaning globe;
Venice is crushed, and Holland deigns to own
A sceptre, and endures the purple robe;[244]
If the free Switzer yet bestrides alone
His chainless mountains, 't is but for a time,130
For Tyranny of late is cunning grown,
And in its own good season tramples down
The sparkles of our ashes. One great clime,
Whose vigorous offspring by dividing ocean[245]
Are kept apart and nursed in the devotion
Of Freedom, which their fathers fought for, and
Bequeathed—a heritage of heart and hand,
And proud distinction from each other land,
Whose sons must bow them at a Monarch's motion,
As if his senseless sceptre were a wand140
Full of the magic of exploded science—
Still one great clime, in full and free defiance,
Yet rears her crest, unconquered and sublime,
Above the far Atlantic!—She has taught
Her Esau-brethren that the haughty flag,
The floating fence of Albion's feebler crag,[198][246]
May strike to those whose red right hands have bought
Rights cheaply earned with blood.—Still, still, for ever
Better, though each man's life-blood were a river,
That it should flow, and overflow, than creep150
Through thousand lazy channels in our veins,
Dammed like the dull canal with locks and chains,
And moving, as a sick man in his sleep,
Three paces, and then faltering:—better be
Where the extinguished Spartans still are free,
In their proud charnel of Thermopylæ,
Than stagnate in our marsh,—or o'er the deep
Fly, and one current to the ocean add,
One spirit to the souls our fathers had,
One freeman more, America, to thee![247]160

FOOTNOTES:

[234] {193}[The Ode on Venice (originally Ode) was completed by July 10, 1818 (Letters, 1900, iv. 245), but was published at the same time as Mazeppa and A Fragment, June 28, 1819. The motif, a lamentation over the decay and degradation of Venice, re-echoes the sentiments expressed in the opening stanzas (i.-xix.) of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold. A realistic description of the "Hour of Death" (lines 37-55), and a eulogy of the United States of America (lines 133-160), give distinction to the Ode.]

[235] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xiii. lines 4-6.]

[236] [Compare ibid., stanza xi. lines 5-9.]

[237] {194}[Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza iii lines 1-4.]

[238] [Compare The Prisoner of Chillon, line 178, note 2, vide ante, p. 21.]

[239] {195}[In contrasting Sheridan with Brougham, Byron speaks of "the red-hot ploughshares of public life."—Diary, March 10, 1814, Letters, 1898, ii. 397.]

[240] [Compare—

"At last it [the mob] takes to weapons such as men
Snatch when despair makes human hearts less pliant.
Then comes 'the tug of war;'—'t will come again,
I rather doubt; and I would fain say 'fie on't,'
If I had not perceived that revolution
Alone can save the earth from Hell's pollution."

Don Juan, Canto VIII. stanza li. lines 3-8.]

[241] {196}[Compare Lord Tennyson's stanzas—

"Of old sat Freedom on the heights."]

[242] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xiv. line 3, note 1, and line 6, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 339, 340.]

[243] {197}[In 1814 the Italian possessions of the Emperor of Austria were "constituted into separate and particular states, under the title of the kingdom of Venetian Lombardy."—Koch's Europe, p. 234.]

[244] [The Prince of Orange ... was proclaimed Sovereign Prince of the Low Countries, December 1, 1813; and in the following year, August 13, 1814, on the condition that he should make a part of the Germanic Confederation, he received the title of King of the Netherlands.-Ibid., p. 233.]

[245] [Compare "Oceano dissociabili," Hor., Odes, I. iii 22.]

[246] [In October, 1812, the American sloop Wasp captured the English brig Frolic; and December 29, 1812, the Constitution compelled the frigate Java to surrender. In the following year, February 24, 1813, the Hornet met the Peacock off the Demerara, and reduced her in fifteen minutes to a sinking condition. On June 28, 1814, the sloop-of-war Wasp captured and burned the sloop Reindeer, and on September 11, 1814, the Confiance, commanded by Commodore Downie, and other vessels surrendered."—History of America, by Justin Winsor, 1888, vii. 380, seq.]

[247] {198}[Byron repented, or feigned to repent, this somewhat provocative eulogy of the Great Republic: "Somebody has sent me some American abuse of Mazeppa and 'the Ode;' in future I will compliment nothing but Canada, and desert to the English."—Letter to Murray, February 21, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 410. It is possible that the allusion is to an article, "Mazeppa and Don Juan," in the Analectic Magazine, November, 1819, vol. xiv, pp. 405-410.]


[199]

MAZEPPA.


[201]

INTRODUCTION TO MAZEPPA
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Mazeppa, a legend of the Russian Ukraine, or frontier region, is based on the passage in Voltaire's Charles XII. prefixed as the "Advertisement" to the poem. Voltaire seems to have known very little about the man or his history, and Byron, though he draws largely on his imagination, was content to take his substratum of fact from Voltaire. The "true story of Mazeppa" is worth re-telling for its own sake, and lends a fresh interest and vitality to the legend. Ivan Stepanovitch Mazeppa (or Mazepa), born about the year 1645, was of Cossack origin, but appears to have belonged, by descent or creation, to the lesser nobility of the semi-Polish Volhynia. He began life (1660) as a page of honour in the Court of King John Casimir V. of Poland, where he studied Latin, and acquired the tongue and pen of eloquent statesmanship. Banished from the court on account of a quarrel, he withdrew to his mother's estate in Volhynia, and there, to beguile the time, made love to the wife of a neighbouring magnate, the pane or Lord Falbowski. The intrigue was discovered, and to avenge his wrongs the outraged husband caused Mazeppa to be stripped to the skin, and bound to his own steed. The horse, lashed into madness, and terror-stricken by the discharge of a pistol, started off at a gallop, and rushing "thorough bush, thorough briar," carried his torn and bleeding rider into the courtyard of his own mansion!

With regard to the sequel or issue of this episode, history is silent, but when the curtain rises again (A.D. 1674) Mazeppa is discovered in the character of writer-general or foreign secretary to Peter Doroshénko, hetman or president of the Western Ukraine, on the hither side of the Dniéper. From the service of Doroshénko, who came to an untimely end, he passed by a series of accidents into the employ of his rival, Samoïlovitch, hetman of the Eastern Ukraine, and, as his secretary or envoy, continued to attract the notice[202] and to conciliate the good will of the (regent) Tzarina Sophia and her eminent boyard, Prince Basil Golitsyn. A time came (1687) when it served the interests of Russia to degrade Samoïlovitch, and raise Mazeppa to the post of hetman, and thenceforward, for twenty years and more, he held something like a regal sway over the whole of the Ukraine (a fertile "no-man's land," watered by the Dniéper and its tributaries), openly the loyal and zealous ally of his neighbour and suzerain, Peter the Great.

How far this allegiance was genuine, or whether a secret preference for Poland, the land of his adoption, or a long-concealed impatience of Muscovite suzerainty would in any case have urged him to revolt, must remain doubtful, but it is certain that the immediate cause of a final reversal of the allegiance and a break with the Tsar was a second and still more fateful affaire du coeur. The hetman was upwards of sixty years of age, but, even so, he fell in love with his god-daughter, Matréna, who, in spite of difference of age and ecclesiastical kinship, not only returned his love, but, to escape the upbraidings and persecution of her mother, took refuge under his roof. Mazeppa sent the girl back to her home, but, as his love-letters testify, continued to woo her with the tenderest and most passionate solicitings; and, although she finally yielded to force majeure and married another suitor, her parents nursed their revenge, and endeavoured to embroil the hetman with the Tsar. For a time their machinations failed, and Matréna's father, Kotchúbey, together with his friend Iskra, were executed with the Tsar's assent and approbation. Before long, however, Mazeppa, who had been for some time past in secret correspondence with the Swedes, signalized his defection from Peter by offering his services first to Stanislaus of Poland, and afterwards to Charles XII. of Sweden, who was meditating the invasion of Russia.

"Pultowa's day," July 8, 1709, was the last of Mazeppa's power and influence, and in the following year (March 31, 1710), "he died of old age, perhaps of a broken heart," at Várnitza, a village near Bender, on the Dniester, whither he had accompanied the vanquished and fugitive Charles.

Such was Mazeppa, a man destined to pass through the crowded scenes of history, and to take his stand among the greater heroes of romance. His deeds of daring, his intrigues and his treachery, have been and still are sung by the wandering minstrels of the Ukraine. His story has passed into literature. His ride forms the subject of an Orientale (1829) by Victor Hugo, who treats Byron's theme symbolically; and the romance of his old age, his love for his god-daughter[203] Matréna, with its tragical issue, the judicial murder of Kotchúbey and Iskra, are celebrated by the "Russian Byron" Pushkin, in his poem Poltava. He forms the subject of a novel, Iwan Wizigin, by Bulgarin, 1830, and of tragedies by I. Slowacki, 1840, and Rudolph von Gottschall. From literature Mazeppa has passed into art in the "symphonic poem" of Franz Lizt (1857); and, yet again, pour comble de gloire, Mazeppa, or The Wild Horse of Tartary, is the title of a "romantic drama," first played at the Royal Amphitheatre, Westminster Bridge, on Easter Monday, 1831; and revived at Astley's Theatre, when Adah Isaacs Menken appeared as "Mazeppa," October 3, 1864. (Peter the Great, by Eugene Schuyler, 1884, ii. 115, seq.; Le Fils de Pierre Le Grand, Mazeppa, etc., by Viscount E. Melchior de Vogüé", Paris, 1884; Peter the Great, by Oscar Browning, 1899, pp. 219-229.)

Of the composition of Mazeppa we know nothing, except that on September 24, 1818, "it was still to finish" (Letters, 1900, iv. 264). It was published together with an Ode (Venice: An Ode) and A Fragment (see Letters, 1899, iii. Appendix IV. pp. 446-453), June 28, 1819.

Notices of Mazeppa appeared in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July, 1819, vol. v. p. 429 (for John Gilpin and Mazeppa, by William Maginn, vide ibid., pp. 434-439); the Monthly Review, July, 1819, vol. 89, pp. 309-321; and the Eclectic Review, August, 1819, vol. xii. pp. 147-156.


[205]

ADVERTISEMENT.
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"Celui qui remplissait alors cette place était un gentilhomme Polonais, nominé Mazeppa, né dans le palatinat de Podolie: il avait été élevé page de Jean Casimir, et avait pris à sa cour quelque teinture des belles-lettres. Une intrigue qu'il eut dans sa jeunesse avec la femme d'un gentilhomme Polonais ayant été découverte, le mari le fit lier tout nu sur un cheval farouche, et le laissa aller en cet état. Le cheval, qui était du pays de l'Ukraine, y retourna, et y porta Mazeppa, demi-mort de fatigue et de faim. Quelques paysans le secoururent: il resta longtems parmi eux, et se signala dans plusieurs courses contre les Tartares. La supériorité de ses lumières lui donna une grande considération parmi les Cosaques: sa réputation s'augmentant de jour en jour, obligea le Czar à le faire Prince de l'Ukraine."—Voltaire, Hist. de Charles XII., 1772, p. 205.

"Le roi, fuyant et poursuivi, eut son cheval tué sous lui; le Colonel Gieta, blessé, et perdant tout son sang, lui donna le sien. Ainsi on remit deux fois à cheval, dans la fuite,[br] ce conquérant qui n'avait pu y monter pendant la bataille."—P. 222.

"Le roi alla par un autre chemin avec quelques cavaliers. Le carrosse, où il était, rompit dans la marche; on le remit à cheval. Pour comble de disgrâce, il s'égara pendant la nuit dans un bois; là, son courage ne pouvant plus suppléer, à ses forces épuisées, les douleurs de sa[206] blessure devenues plus insupportables par la fatigue, son cheval étant tombé de lassitude, il se coucha quelques heures au pied d'un arbre, en danger d'être surpris à tout moment par les vainqueurs, qui le cherchaient de tous côtés."—P. 224.


[207]

MAZEPPA


I.

'Twas after dread Pultowa's day,[248]
When Fortune left the royal Swede—
Around a slaughtered army lay,
No more to combat and to bleed.
The power and glory of the war,
Faithless as their vain votaries, men,
Had passed to the triumphant Czar,
And Moscow's walls were safe again—
Until a day more dark and drear,[249]
And a more memorable year,10
Should give to slaughter and to shame
A mightier host and haughtier name;
A greater wreck, a deeper fall,
A shock to one—a thunderbolt to all.

II.

Such was the hazard of the die;
The wounded Charles was taught to fly[208][250]
By day and night through field and flood,
Stained with his own and subjects' blood;
For thousands fell that flight to aid:
And not a voice was heard to upbraid20
Ambition in his humbled hour,
When Truth had nought to dread from Power.
His horse was slain, and Gieta gave
His own—and died the Russians' slave.
This, too, sinks after many a league
Of well-sustained, but vain fatigue;
And in the depth of forests darkling,
The watch-fires in the distance sparkling—
The beacons of surrounding foes—
A King must lay his limbs at length.30
Are these the laurels and repose
For which the nations strain their strength?
They laid him by a savage tree,[251]
In outworn Nature's agony;
His wounds were stiff, his limbs were stark;
The heavy hour was chill and dark;
The fever in his blood forbade
A transient slumber's fitful aid:
And thus it was; but yet through all,
Kinglike the monarch bore his fall,40
And made, in this extreme of ill,
His pangs the vassals of his will:[209]
All silent and subdued were they.
As once the nations round him lay.

III.

A band of chiefs!—alas! how few,
Since but the fleeting of a day
Had thinned it; but this wreck was true
And chivalrous: upon the clay
Each sate him down, all sad and mute,
Beside his monarch and his steed;50
For danger levels man and brute,
And all are fellows in their need.
Among the rest, Mazeppa made[252]
His pillow in an old oak's shade—
Himself as rough, and scarce less old,
The Ukraine's Hetman, calm and bold;
But first, outspent with this long course,
The Cossack prince rubbed down his horse,
And made for him a leafy bed,
And smoothed his fetlocks and his mane,60
And slacked his girth, and stripped his rein,
And joyed to see how well he fed;
For until now he had the dread
His wearied courser might refuse
To browse beneath the midnight dews:
But he was hardy as his lord,
And little cared for bed and board;
But spirited and docile too,
Whate'er was to be done, would do.
Shaggy and swift, and strong of limb,70
All Tartar-like he carried him;
Obeyed his voice, and came to call,
And knew him in the midst of all:
Though thousands were around,—and Night,
Without a star, pursued her flight,—
That steed from sunset until dawn
His chief would follow like a fawn.

[210]

IV.

This done, Mazeppa spread his cloak,
And laid his lance beneath his oak,
Felt if his arms in order good80
The long day's march had well withstood—
If still the powder filled the pan,
And flints unloosened kept their lock—
His sabre's hilt and scabbard felt,
And whether they had chafed his belt;
And next the venerable man,
From out his havresack and can,
Prepared and spread his slender stock;
And to the Monarch and his men
The whole or portion offered then90
With far less of inquietude
Than courtiers at a banquet would.
And Charles of this his slender share
With smiles partook a moment there,
To force of cheer a greater show,
And seem above both wounds and woe;—
And then he said—"Of all our band,
Though firm of heart and strong of hand,
In skirmish, march, or forage, none
Can less have said or more have done100
Than thee, Mazeppa! On the earth
So fit a pair had never birth,
Since Alexander's days till now,
As thy Bucephalus and thou:
All Scythia's fame to thine should yield
For pricking on o'er flood and field."
Mazeppa answered—"Ill betide
The school wherein I learned to ride!"
Quoth Charles—"Old Hetman, wherefore so,
Since thou hast learned the art so well?"110
Mazeppa said—"'Twere long to tell;
And we have many a league to go,
With every now and then a blow,
And ten to one at least the foe,[211]
Before our steeds may graze at ease,
Beyond the swift Borysthenes:[253]
And, Sire, your limbs have need of rest,
And I will be the sentinel
Of this your troop."—"But I request,"
Said Sweden's monarch, "thou wilt tell120
This tale of thine, and I may reap,
Perchance, from this the boon of sleep;
For at this moment from my eyes
The hope of present slumber flies."
"Well, Sire, with such a hope, I'll track
My seventy years of memory back:
I think 'twas in my twentieth spring,—
Aye 'twas,—when Casimir was king[254]
John Casimir,—I was his page
Six summers, in my earlier age:[255]130
A learnéd monarch, faith! was he,
And most unlike your Majesty;
He made no wars, and did not gain
New realms to lose them back again;
And (save debates in Warsaw's diet)
He reigned in most unseemly quiet;[212]
Not that he had no cares to vex;
He loved the Muses and the Sex;[256]
And sometimes these so froward are,
They made him wish himself at war;140
But soon his wrath being o'er, he took
Another mistress—or new book:
And then he gave prodigious fetes—
All Warsaw gathered round his gates
To gaze upon his splendid court,
And dames, and chiefs, of princely port.
He was the Polish Solomon,
So sung his poets, all but one,
Who, being unpensioned, made a satire,
And boasted that he could not flatter.150
It was a court of jousts and mimes,
Where every courtier tried at rhymes;
Even I for once produced some verses,
And signed my odes 'Despairing Thyrsis.'
There was a certain Palatine,[257]
A Count of far and high descent,
Rich as a salt or silver mine;[258]
And he was proud, ye may divine,
As if from Heaven he had been sent;
He had such wealth in blood and ore160
As few could match beneath the throne;
And he would gaze upon his store,
And o'er his pedigree would pore,
Until by some confusion led,
Which almost looked like want of head,
He thought their merits were his own.
His wife was not of this opinion;
His junior she by thirty years,[213]
Grew daily tired of his dominion;
And, after wishes, hopes, and fears,170
To Virtue a few farewell tears,
A restless dream or two—some glances
At Warsaw's youth—some songs, and dances,
Awaited but the usual chances,
Those happy accidents which render
The coldest dames so very tender,
To deck her Count with titles given,
'Tis said, as passports into Heaven;
But, strange to say, they rarely boast
Of these, who have deserved them most.180

V.

"I was a goodly stripling then;
At seventy years I so may say,
That there were few, or boys or men,
Who, in my dawning time of day,
Of vassal or of knight's degree,
Could vie in vanities with me;
For I had strength—youth—gaiety,
A port, not like to this ye see,
But smooth, as all is rugged now;
For Time, and Care, and War, have ploughed190
My very soul from out my brow;
And thus I should be disavowed
By all my kind and kin, could they
Compare my day and yesterday;
This change was wrought, too, long ere age
Had ta'en my features for his page:
With years, ye know, have not declined
My strength—my courage—or my mind,
Or at this hour I should not be
Telling old tales beneath a tree,200
With starless skies my canopy.
But let me on: Theresa's[259] form[214]
Methinks it glides before me now,
Between me and yon chestnut's bough,
The memory is so quick and warm;
And yet I find no words to tell
The shape of her I loved so well:
She had the Asiatic eye,
Such as our Turkish neighbourhood
Hath mingled with our Polish blood,210
Dark as above us is the sky;
But through it stole a tender light,
Like the first moonrise of midnight;
Large, dark, and swimming in the stream,
Which seemed to melt to its own beam;
All love, half languor, and half fire,
Like saints that at the stake expire,
And lift their raptured looks on high,
As though it were a joy to die.[bs]
A brow like a midsummer lake,220
Transparent with the sun therein,
When waves no murmur dare to make,
And heaven beholds her face within.
A cheek and lip—but why proceed?
I loved her then, I love her still;
And such as I am, love indeed
In fierce extremes—in good and ill.
But still we love even in our rage,
And haunted to our very age[215]
With the vain shadow of the past,—230
As is Mazeppa to the last.

VI.

"We met—we gazed—I saw, and sighed;
She did not speak, and yet replied;
There are ten thousand tones and signs
We hear and see, but none defines—
Involuntary sparks of thought,
Which strike from out the heart o'erwrought,
And form a strange intelligence,
Alike mysterious and intense,
Which link the burning chain that binds,240
Without their will, young hearts and minds;
Conveying, as the electric[260] wire,
We know not how, the absorbing fire.
I saw, and sighed—in silence wept,
And still reluctant distance kept,
Until I was made known to her,
And we might then and there confer
Without suspicion—then, even then,
I longed, and was resolved to speak;
But on my lips they died again,250
The accents tremulous and weak,
Until one hour.—There is a game,
A frivolous and foolish play,
Wherewith we while away the day;
It is—I have forgot the name—
And we to this, it seems, were set,
By some strange chance, which I forget:
I recked not if I won or lost,
It was enough for me to be
So near to hear, and oh! to see260
The being whom I loved the most.
I watched her as a sentinel,
(May ours this dark night watch as well!)
Until I saw, and thus it was,[216]
That she was pensive, nor perceived
Her occupation, nor was grieved
Nor glad to lose or gain; but still
Played on for hours, as if her will
Yet bound her to the place, though not
That hers might be the winning lot[bt].270
Then through my brain the thought did pass,
Even as a flash of lightning there,
That there was something in her air
Which would not doom me to despair;
And on the thought my words broke forth,
All incoherent as they were;
Their eloquence was little worth,
But yet she listened—'tis enough—
Who listens once will listen twice;
Her heart, be sure, is not of ice—280
And one refusal no rebuff.

VII.

"I loved, and was beloved again—
They tell me, Sire, you never knew
Those gentle frailties; if 'tis true,
I shorten all my joy or pain;
To you 'twould seem absurd as vain;
But all men are not born to reign,
Or o'er their passions, or as you
Thus o'er themselves and nations too.
I am—or rather was—a Prince,290
A chief of thousands, and could lead
Them on where each would foremost bleed;
But could not o'er myself evince
The like control—But to resume:
I loved, and was beloved again;
In sooth, it is a happy doom,
But yet where happiest ends in pain.—
We met in secret, and the hour
Which led me to that lady's bower
Was fiery Expectation's dower.300[217]
My days and nights were nothing—all
Except that hour which doth recall,
In the long lapse from youth to age,
No other like itself: I'd give
The Ukraine back again to live
It o'er once more, and be a page,
The happy page, who was the lord
Of one soft heart, and his own sword,
And had no other gem nor wealth,
Save Nature's gift of Youth and Health.310
We met in secret—doubly sweet[261],
Some say, they find it so to meet;
I know not that—I would have given
My life but to have called her mine
In the full view of Earth and Heaven;
For I did oft and long repine
That we could only meet by stealth.

VIII.

"For lovers there are many eyes,
And such there were on us; the Devil
On such occasions should be civil—320
The Devil!—I'm loth to do him wrong,
It might be some untoward saint,
Who would not be at rest too long,
But to his pious bile gave vent—
But one fair night, some lurking spies
Surprised and seized us both.
The Count was something more than wroth—
I was unarmed; but if in steel,
All cap-à-pie from head to heel,
What 'gainst their numbers could I do?330
'Twas near his castle, far away
From city or from succour near,
And almost on the break of day;[218]
I did not think to see another,
My moments seemed reduced to few;
And with one prayer to Mary Mother,
And, it may be, a saint or two,
As I resigned me to my fate,
They led me to the castle gate:
Theresa's doom I never knew,340
Our lot was henceforth separate.
An angry man, ye may opine,
Was he, the proud Count Palatine;
And he had reason good to be,
But he was most enraged lest such
An accident should chance to touch
Upon his future pedigree;
Nor less amazed, that such a blot
His noble 'scutcheon should have got,
While he was highest of his line;350
Because unto himself he seemed
The first of men, nor less he deemed
In others' eyes, and most in mine.
'Sdeath! with a page—perchance a king
Had reconciled him to the thing;
But with a stripling of a page—
I felt—but cannot paint his rage.

IX.

"'Bring forth the horse!'—the horse was brought!
In truth, he was a noble steed,
A Tartar of the Ukraine breed,360
Who looked as though the speed of thought
Were in his limbs; but he was wild,
Wild as the wild deer, and untaught,
With spur and bridle undefiled—
'Twas but a day he had been caught;
And snorting, with erected mane,
And struggling fiercely, but in vain,
In the full foam of wrath and dread
To me the desert-born was led:
They bound me on, that menial throng,
Upon his back with many a thong;370[219]
They loosed him with a sudden lash—
Away!—away!—and on we dash!—
Torrents less rapid and less rash.

X.

"Away!—away!—My breath was gone,
I saw not where he hurried on:
'Twas scarcely yet the break of day,
And on he foamed—away!—away!
The last of human sounds which rose,
As I was darted from my foes,380
Was the wild shout of savage laughter,
Which on the wind came roaring after
A moment from that rabble rout:
With sudden wrath I wrenched my head,
And snapped the cord, which to the mane
Had bound my neck in lieu of rein,
And, writhing half my form about,
Howled back my curse; but 'midst the tread,
The thunder of my courser's speed,
Perchance they did not hear nor heed:390
It vexes me—for I would fain
Have paid their insult back again.
I paid it well in after days:
There is not of that castle gate,
Its drawbridge and portcullis' weight,
Stone—bar—moat—bridge—or barrier left;
Nor of its fields a blade of grass,
Save what grows on a ridge of wall,
Where stood the hearth-stone of the hall;
And many a time ye there might pass,400
Nor dream that e'er the fortress was.
I saw its turrets in a blaze,
Their crackling battlements all cleft,
And the hot lead pour down like rain
From off the scorched and blackening roof,
Whose thickness was not vengeance-proof.
They little thought that day of pain,
When launched, as on the lightning's flash,
They bade me to destruction dash,[220]
That one day I should come again,410
With twice five thousand horse, to thank
The Count for his uncourteous ride.
They played me then a bitter prank,
When, with the wild horse for my guide,
They bound me to his foaming flank:
At length I played them one as frank—
For Time at last sets all things even—
And if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
Which could evade, if unforgiven,420
The patient search and vigil long
Of him who treasures up a wrong.

XI.

"Away!—away!—my steed and I,
Upon the pinions of the wind!
All human dwellings left behind,
We sped like meteors through the sky,
When with its crackling sound the night[262]
Is chequered with the Northern light.
Town—village—none were on our track,
But a wild plain of far extent,430
And bounded by a forest black[263];
And, save the scarce seen battlement
On distant heights of some strong hold,
Against the Tartars built of old,
No trace of man. The year before
A Turkish army had marched o'er;[221]
And where the Spahi's hoof hath trod,
The verdure flies the bloody sod:
The sky was dull, and dim, and gray,
And a low breeze crept moaning by—440
I could have answered with a sigh—
But fast we fled,—away!—away!—
And I could neither sigh nor pray;
And my cold sweat-drops fell like rain
Upon the courser's bristling mane;
But, snorting still with rage and fear,
He flew upon his far career:
At times I almost thought, indeed,
He must have slackened in his speed;
But no—my bound and slender frame450
Was nothing to his angry might,
And merely like a spur became:
Each motion which I made to free
My swoln limbs from their agony
Increased his fury and affright:
I tried my voice,—'twas faint and low—
But yet he swerved as from a blow;
And, starting to each accent, sprang
As from a sudden trumpet's clang:
Meantime my cords were wet with gore,460
Which, oozing through my limbs, ran o'er;
And in my tongue the thirst became
A something fierier far than flame.

XII.

"We neared the wild wood—'twas so wide,
I saw no bounds on either side:
'Twas studded with old sturdy trees,
That bent not to the roughest breeze
Which howls down from Siberia's waste,
And strips the forest in its haste,—
But these were few and far between,470
Set thick with shrubs more young and green,
Luxuriant with their annual leaves,
Ere strown by those autumnal eyes
That nip the forest's foliage dead,[222]
Discoloured with a lifeless red[bu],
Which stands thereon like stiffened gore
Upon the slain when battle's o'er;
And some long winter's night hath shed
Its frost o'er every tombless head—
So cold and stark—the raven's beak480
May peck unpierced each frozen cheek:
'Twas a wild waste of underwood,
And here and there a chestnut stood,
The strong oak, and the hardy pine;
But far apart—and well it were,
Or else a different lot were mine—
The boughs gave way, and did not tear
My limbs; and I found strength to bear
My wounds, already scarred with cold;
My bonds forbade to loose my hold.490
We rustled through the leaves like wind,—
Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind;
By night I heard them on the track,
Their troop came hard upon our back,
With their long gallop, which can tire
The hound's deep hate, and hunter's fire:
Where'er we flew they followed on,
Nor left us with the morning sun;
Behind I saw them, scarce a rood,
At day-break winding through the wood,500
And through the night had heard their feet
Their stealing, rustling step repeat.
Oh! how I wished for spear or sword,
At least to die amidst the horde,
And perish—if it must be so—
At bay, destroying many a foe!
When first my courser's race begun,
I wished the goal already won;
But now I doubted strength and speed:
Vain doubt! his swift and savage breed510
Had nerved him like the mountain-roe—
Nor faster falls the blinding snow[223]
Which whelms the peasant near the door
Whose threshold he shall cross no more,
Bewildered with the dazzling blast,
Than through the forest-paths he passed—
Untired, untamed, and worse than wild—
All furious as a favoured child
Balked of its wish; or—fiercer still—
A woman piqued—who has her will!520

XIII.

"The wood was passed; 'twas more than noon,
But chill the air, although in June;
Or it might be my veins ran cold—
Prolonged endurance tames the bold;
And I was then not what I seem,
But headlong as a wintry stream,
And wore my feelings out before
I well could count their causes o'er:
And what with fury, fear, and wrath,
The tortures which beset my path—530
Cold—hunger—sorrow—shame—distress—
Thus bound in Nature's nakedness;
Sprung from a race whose rising blood
When stirred beyond its calmer mood,
And trodden hard upon, is like
The rattle-snake's, in act to strike—
What marvel if this worn-out trunk
Beneath its woes a moment sunk?[264]
The earth gave way, the skies rolled round,
I seemed to sink upon the ground;540
But erred—for I was fastly bound.
My heart turned sick, my brain grew sore,
And throbbed awhile, then beat no more:
The skies spun like a mighty wheel;
I saw the trees like drunkards reel,[224]
And a slight flash sprang o'er my eyes,
Which saw no farther. He who dies
Can die no more than then I died,
O'ertortured by that ghastly ride.[265]
I felt the blackness come and go,550
And strove to wake; but could not make
My senses climb up from below:
I felt as on a plank at sea,
When all the waves that dash o'er thee,
At the same time upheave and whelm,
And hurl thee towards a desert realm.
My undulating life was as
The fancied lights that flitting pass
Our shut eyes in deep midnight, when
Fever begins upon the brain;560
But soon it passed, with little pain,
But a confusion worse than such:
I own that I should deem it much,
Dying, to feel the same again;
And yet I do suppose we must
Feel far more ere we turn to dust!
No matter! I have bared my brow
Full in Death's face—before—and now.

XIV.

"My thoughts came back. Where was I? Cold,
And numb, and giddy: pulse by pulse570
Life reassumed its lingering hold,
And throb by throb,—till grown a pang
Which for a moment would convulse,
My blood reflowed, though thick and chill;
My ear with uncouth noises rang,
My heart began once more to thrill;
My sight returned, though dim; alas!
And thickened, as it were, with glass.
Methought the dash of waves was nigh;
There was a gleam too of the sky,580[225]
Studded with stars;—it is no dream;
The wild horse swims the wilder stream!
The bright broad river's gushing tide
Sweeps, winding onward, far and wide,
And we are half-way, struggling o'er
To yon unknown and silent shore.
The waters broke my hollow trance,
And with a temporary strength
My stiffened limbs were rebaptized.
My courser's broad breast proudly braves,590
And dashes off the ascending waves,
And onward we advance!
We reach the slippery shore at length,
A haven I but little prized,
For all behind was dark and drear,
And all before was night and fear.
How many hours of night or day[266]
In those suspended pangs I lay,
I could not tell; I scarcely knew
If this were human breath I drew.600

XV.

"With glossy skin, and dripping mane,
And reeling limbs, and reeking flank,
The wild steed's sinewy nerves still strain
Up the repelling bank.
We gain the top: a boundless plain
Spreads through the shadow of the night,
And onward, onward, onward—seems,
Like precipices in our dreams,[267]
To stretch beyond the sight;
And here and there a speck of white,610[226]
Or scattered spot of dusky green,
In masses broke into the light,
As rose the moon upon my right:
But nought distinctly seen
In the dim waste would indicate
The omen of a cottage gate;
No twinkling taper from afar
Stood like a hospitable star;
Not even an ignis-fatuus rose[268]
To make him merry with my woes:620
That very cheat had cheered me then!
Although detected, welcome still,
Reminding me, through every ill,
Of the abodes of men.

XVI.

"Onward we went—but slack and slow;
His savage force at length o'erspent,
The drooping courser, faint and low,
All feebly foaming went:
A sickly infant had had power
To guide him forward in that hour!630
But, useless all to me,
His new-born tameness nought availed—
My limbs were bound; my force had failed,
Perchance, had they been free.
With feeble effort still I tried
To rend the bonds so starkly tied,
But still it was in vain;
My limbs were only wrung the more,
And soon the idle strife gave o'er,
Which but prolonged their pain.640
The dizzy race seemed almost done,
Although no goal was nearly won:[227]
Some streaks announced the coming sun—
How slow, alas! he came!
Methought that mist of dawning gray
Would never dapple into day,
How heavily it rolled away!
Before the eastern flame
Rose crimson, and deposed the stars,
And called the radiance from their cars,[bv]650
And filled the earth, from his deep throne,
With lonely lustre, all his own.

XVII.

"Uprose the sun; the mists were curled
Back from the solitary world
Which lay around—behind—before.
What booted it to traverse o'er
Plain—forest—river? Man nor brute,
Nor dint of hoof, nor print of foot,
Lay in the wild luxuriant soil—
No sign of travel, none of toil—660
The very air was mute:
And not an insect's shrill small horn,[269]
Nor matin bird's new voice was borne
From herb nor thicket. Many a werst,
Panting as if his heart would burst,
The weary brute still staggered on;
And still we were—or seemed—alone:
At length, while reeling on our way,
Methought I heard a courser neigh,
From out yon tuft of blackening firs.670
Is it the wind those branches stirs?[228][270]
No, no! from out the forest prance
A trampling troop; I see them come!
In one vast squadron they advance!
I strove to cry—my lips were dumb!
The steeds rush on in plunging pride;
But where are they the reins to guide?
A thousand horse, and none to ride!
With flowing tail, and flying mane,
Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,680
Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
And feet that iron never shod,
And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
Like waves that follow o'er the sea,
Came thickly thundering on,
As if our faint approach to meet!
The sight re-nerved my courser's feet,
A moment staggering, feebly fleet,
A moment, with a faint low neigh,690
He answered, and then fell!
With gasps and glazing eyes he lay,
And reeking limbs immoveable,
His first and last career is done!
On came the troop—they saw him stoop,
They saw me strangely bound along
His back with many a bloody thong.
They stop—they start—they snuff the air,
Gallop a moment here and there,
Approach, retire, wheel round and round,700
Then plunging back with sudden bound,
Headed by one black mighty steed,
Who seemed the Patriarch of his breed,
Without a single speck or hair
Of white upon his shaggy hide;
They snort—they foam—neigh—swerve aside,
And backward to the forest fly,
By instinct, from a human eye.
They left me there to my despair,
Linked to the dead and stiffening wretch,710
Whose lifeless limbs beneath me stretch,
Relieved from that unwonted weight,[229]
From whence I could not extricate
Nor him nor me—and there we lay,
The dying on the dead!
I little deemed another day
Would see my houseless, helpless head.
"And there from morn to twilight bound,
I felt the heavy hours toil round,
With just enough of life to see720
My last of suns go down on me,
In hopeless certainty of, mind,
That makes us feel at length resigned
To that which our foreboding years
Present the worst and last of fears:
Inevitable—even a boon,
Nor more unkind for coming soon,
Yet shunned and dreaded with such care,
As if it only were a snare
That Prudence might escape:730
At times both wished for and implored,
At times sought with self-pointed sword,
Yet still a dark and hideous close
To even intolerable woes,
And welcome in no shape.
And, strange to say, the sons of pleasure,
They who have revelled beyond measure
In beauty, wassail, wine, and treasure,
Die calm, or calmer, oft than he
Whose heritage was Misery.740
For he who hath in turn run through
All that was beautiful and new,
Hath nought to hope, and nought to leave;
And, save the future, (which is viewed
Not quite as men are base or good,
But as their nerves may be endued,)
With nought perhaps to grieve:
The wretch still hopes his woes must end,
And Death, whom he should deem his friend,
Appears, to his distempered eyes,750
Arrived to rob him of his prize,
The tree of his new Paradise.[230]
To-morrow would have given him all,
Repaid his pangs, repaired his fall;
To-morrow would have been the first
Of days no more deplored or curst,
But bright, and long, and beckoning years,
Seen dazzling through the mist of tears,
Guerdon of many a painful hour;
To-morrow would have given him power760
To rule—to shine—to smite—to save—
And must it dawn upon his grave?

XVIII.

"The sun was sinking—still I lay
Chained to the chill and stiffening steed!
I thought to mingle there our clay;[271]
And my dim eyes of death had need,
No hope arose of being freed.
I cast my last looks up the sky,
And there between me and the sun[272]
I saw the expecting raven fly,770
Who scarce would wait till both should die,
Ere his repast begun;[273]
He flew, and perched, then flew once more,
And each time nearer than before;
I saw his wing through twilight flit,
And once so near me he alit[231]
I could have smote, but lacked the strength;
But the slight motion of my hand,
And feeble scratching of the sand,
The exerted throat's faint struggling noise,780
Which scarcely could be called a voice,
Together scared him off at length.
I know no more—my latest dream
Is something of a lovely star
Which fixed my dull eyes from afar,
And went and came with wandering beam,
And of the cold—dull—swimming—dense
Sensation of recurring sense,
And then subsiding back to death,
And then again a little breath,790
A little thrill—a short suspense,
An icy sickness curdling o'er
My heart, and sparks that crossed my brain—
A gasp—a throb—a start of pain,
A sigh—and nothing more.

XIX.

"I woke—where was I?—Do I see
A human face look down on me?
And doth a roof above me close?
Do these limbs on a couch repose?
Is this a chamber where I lie?800
And is it mortal yon bright eye,
That watches me with gentle glance?
I closed my own again once more,
As doubtful that my former trance
Could not as yet be o'er.
A slender girl, long-haired, and tall,
Sate watching by the cottage wall.
The sparkle of her eye I caught,
Even with my first return of thought;
For ever and anon she threw810
A prying, pitying glance on me
With her black eyes so wild and free:
I gazed, and gazed, until I knew
No vision it could be,[232]
But that I lived, and was released
From adding to the vulture's feast:
And when the Cossack maid beheld
My heavy eyes at length unsealed,
She smiled—and I essayed to speak,
But failed—and she approached, and made820
With lip and finger signs that said,
I must not strive as yet to break
The silence, till my strength should be
Enough to leave my accents free;
And then her hand on mine she laid,
And smoothed the pillow for my head,
And stole along on tiptoe tread,
And gently oped the door, and spake
In whispers—ne'er was voice so sweet![274]
Even music followed her light feet.830
But those she called were not awake,
And she went forth; but, ere she passed,
Another look on me she cast,
Another sign she made, to say,
That I had nought to fear, that all
Were near, at my command or call,
And she would not delay
Her due return:—while she was gone,
Methought I felt too much alone.

XX.

"She came with mother and with sire—840
What need of more?—I will not tire
With long recital of the rest,
Since I became the Cossack's guest.[233]
They found me senseless on the plain,
They bore me to the nearest hut,
They brought me into life again—
Me—one day o'er their realm to reign!
Thus the vain fool who strove to glut
His rage, refining on my pain,
Sent me forth to the wilderness,850
Bound—naked—bleeding—and alone,
To pass the desert to a throne,—
What mortal his own doom may guess?
Let none despond, let none despair!
To-morrow the Borysthenes
May see our coursers graze at ease
Upon his Turkish bank,—and never
Had I such welcome for a river
As I shall yield when safely there.[275]
Comrades, good night!"—The Hetman threw860
His length beneath the oak-tree shade,
With leafy couch already made—
A bed nor comfortless nor new
To him, who took his rest whene'er
The hour arrived, no matter where:
His eyes the hastening slumbers steep.
And if ye marvel Charles forgot
To thank his tale, he wondered not,—
The King had been an hour asleep!

FOOTNOTES:

[br] {205} la suite.—[MS. and First Edition.]

[248] {207} [The Battle of Poltáva on the Vórskla took place July 8, 1709. "The Swedish troops (under Rehnskjöld) numbered only 12,500 men.... The Russian army was four times as numerous.... The Swedes seemed at first to get the advantage, ... but everywhere the were overpowered and surrounded—beaten in detail; and though for two hours they fought with the fierceness of despair, they were forced either to surrender or to flee.... Over 2800 officers and men were taken prisoners."—Peter the Great, by Eugene Schuyler, 1884, ii. 148, 149.]

[249] [Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow, October 15, 1812. He was defeated at Vitepsk, November 14; Krasnoi, November 16-18; and at Beresina, November 25-29, 1812.]

[250] ["It happened ... that during the operations of June 27-28, Charles was severely wounded in the foot. On the morning of June 28 he was riding close to the river ... when a ball struck him on the left heel, passed through his foot, and lodged close to the great toe.... On the night of July 7, 1709 ... Charles had the foot carefully dressed, while he wore a spurred boot on his sound foot, put on his uniform, and placed himself on a kind of litter, in which he was drawn before the lines of the array.... [After the battle, July 8] those who survived took refuge in flight, the King—whose litter had been smashed by a cannon-ball, and who was carried by the soldiers on crossed poles—going with them, and the Russians neglecting to pursue. In this manner they reached their former camp."—Charles XII., by Oscar Browning, 1899, pp. 213, 220, 224, sq. For an account of his flight southwards into Turkish territory, vide post, p. 233, note 1. The bivouack "under a savage tree" must have taken place on the night of the battle, at the first halt, between Poltáva and the junction of the Vórskla and Dniéper.]

[251] {208}[Compare—

"Thus elms and thus the savage cherry grows."

Dryden's Georgics, ii. 24.]

[252] {209}[For some interesting particulars concerning the Hetman Mazeppa, see Barrow's Memoir of the Life of Peter the Great, 1832, pp. 181-202.]

[253] {211}[The Dniéper.]

[254] [John Casimir (1609-1672), Jesuit, cardinal, and king, was a Little-Polander, not to say a pro-Cossack, and suffered in consequence. At the time of his proclamation as King of Poland, November, 1649, Poland was threatened by an incursion of Cossacks. The immediate cause was, or was supposed to be, the ill treatment which [Bogdán Khmelnítzky] a Lithuanian had received at the hands of the Polish governor, Czaplinski. The governor, it was alleged, had carried off, ravished, and put to death Khmelnítzky's wife, and, not content with this outrage, had set fire to the house of the Cossack, "in which perished his infant son in his cradle." Others affirmed that the Cossack had begun the strife by causing the governor "to be publicly and ignominiously whipped," and that it was the Cossack's mill and not his house which he burnt. Be that as it may, Casimir, on being exhorted to take the field, declined, on the ground that the Poles "ought not to have set fire to Khmelnítzky's house." It is probably to this unpatriotic determination to look at both sides of the question that he earned the character of being an unwarlike prince. As a matter of fact, he fought and was victorious against the Cossacks and Tartars at Bereteskow and elsewhere. (See Mod. Univ. Hist., xxxiv. 203, 217; Puffend, Hist. Gener., 1732, iv. 328; and Histoire des Kosaques, par M. (Charles Louis) Le Sur, 1814, i. 321.)]

[255] [A.D. 1660 or thereabouts.]

[256] {212}[According to the editor of Voltaire's Works (Oeuvres, Beuchot, 1830, xix. 378, note 1), there was a report that Casimir, after his retirement to Paris in 1670, secretly married "Marie Mignot, fille d'une blanchisseuse;" and there are other tales of other loves, e.g. Ninon de Lenclos.]

[257] [According to the biographers, Mazeppa's intrigue took place after he had been banished from the court of Warsaw, and had retired to his estate in Volhynia. The pane [Lord] Falbowsky, the old husband of the young wife, was a neighbouring magnate. It was a case of "love in idlenesse."—Vide ante, "The Introduction to Mazeppa," p. 201.]

[258] This comparison of a "salt mine" may, perhaps, be permitted to a Pole, as the wealth of the country consists greatly in the salt mines.

[259] {213}[It is improbable that Byron, when he wrote these lines, was thinking of Theresa Gamba, Countess Guiccioli. He met her for the first time "in the autumn of 1818, three days after her marriage," but it was not till April, 1819, that he made her acquaintance. (See Life, p. 393, and Letters, 1900, iv. 289.) The copy of Mazeppa sent home to Murray is in the Countess Guiccioli's handwriting, but the assertion (see Byron's Works, 1832, xi. 178), that "it is impossible not to suspect that the Poet had some circumstances of his own personal history, when he portrayed the fair Polish Theresa, her faithful lover, and the jealous rage of the old Count Palatine," is open to question. It was Marianna Segati who had "large, black, Oriental eyes, with that peculiar expression in them which is seen rarely among Europeans ... forehead remarkably good" (see lines 208-220); not Theresa Guiccioli, who was a "blonde," with a "brilliant complexion and blue eyes." (See Letters to Moore, November 17, 1816; and to Murray, May 6, 1819: Letters, 1900, iv. 8, 289, note 1.) Moreover, the "Maid of Athens" was called Theresa. Dr. D. Englaender, in his exhaustive monologue, Lord Byron's Mazeppa, pp. 48, sq., insists on the identity of the Theresa of the poem with the Countess Guiccioli, but from this contention the late Professor Kölbing (see Englische Studien, 1898, vol. xxiv. pp 448-458) dissents.]

[bs] {214} Until it proves a joy to die.—[MS. erased.]

[260] {215}[For the use of "electric" as a metaphor, compare Parisina, line 480, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 524, note i.]

[bt] {216}

——but not
For that which we had both forgot.—[MS. erased.]

[261] {217}[Compare—

"We loved, Sir, used to meet:
How sad, and bad, and mad it was!
But then how it was sweet!"

Confessions, by Robert Browning.]

[262] {220}[Compare—

"In sleep I heard the northern gleams; ...
In rustling conflict through the skies,
I heard, I saw the flashes drive."

The Complaint, stanza i. lines 3, 5, 6.

See, too, reference to Hearne's Journey from Hudson's Bay, etc., in prefatory note, Works of W. Wordsworth, 1889, p. 86.]

[263] [As Dr. Englaender points out (Mazeppa, 1897, p. 73), it is probable that Byron derived his general conception of the scenery of the Ukraine from passages in Voltaire's Charles XII., e.g.: "Depuis Grodno jusqu'au Borysthene, en tirant vers l'orient ce sont des marais, des déserts, des forêts immenses" (Oeuvres, 1829, xxiv. 170). The exquisite beauty of the virgin steppes, the long rich grass, the wild-flowers, the "diviner air," to which the Viscount de Vogüé testifies so eloquently in his Mazeppa, were not in the "mind's eye" of the poet or the historian.]

[bu] {222}

And stains it with a lifeless red.—[MS.]
Which clings to it like stiffened gore.—[MS. erased.]

[264] {223}[The thread on which the successive tropes or images are loosely strung seems to give if not to snap at this point. "Considering that Mazeppa was sprung of a race which in moments of excitement, when an enemy has stamped upon its vitals, springs up to repel the attack, it was only to be expected that he should sink beneath the blow—and sink he did." The conclusion is at variance with the premiss.]

[265] {224}[Compare—

"'Alas,' said she, 'this ghastly ride,
Dear Lady! it hath wildered you.'"

Christabel, Part I. lines 216, 217.]

[266] {225}[Compare—

"How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare."

Ancient Mariner, Part V. lines 393, 394.]

[267] [Compare—

"From precipices of distempered sleep."

Sonnet, "No more my visionary soul shall dwell," by S. T. Coleridge, attributed by Southey to Favell.—Letters of S. T. Coleridge, 1895, i. 83; Southey's Life and Correspondence, 1849, i. 224.]

[268] {226}[Compare Werner, iii. 3—

"Burn still,
Thou little light! Thou art my ignis fatuus.
My stationary Will-o'-the-wisp!—So! So!"

Compare, too, Don Juan, Canto XI. stanza xxvii. line 6, and Canto XV, stanza liv. line 6.]

[bv] {227}

Rose crimson, and forebade the stars
To sparkle in their radiant cars.—[MS, erased.]

[269] [Compare—

"What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn."

Lycidas, line 28.]

[270] [Compare—

"Was it the wind through some hollow stone?"

Siege of Corinth, line 521,
Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 471, note 1.]

[271] {230}[Compare—

"The Architect ... did essay
To extricate remembrance from the clay,
Whose minglings might confuse a Newton's thought."

Churchill's Grave, lines 20-23 (vide ante, p. 47).]

[272] [Compare—

" ... that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun."

Ancient Mariner, Part III. lines 175, 176.]

[273] [Vide infra, line 816. The raven turns into a vulture a few lines further on. Compare—

"The scalps were in the wild dog's maw,
The hair was tangled round his jaw:
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf,
There sat a vulture flapping a wolf."

Siege of Corinth, lines 471-474,
Poetical Works, 1900, iv. 468.]

[274] {232}[Compare—

"Her eyes were eloquent, her words would pose,
Although she told him, in good modern Greek,
With an Ionian accent, low and sweet,
That he was faint, and must not talk but eat.

"Now Juan could not understand a word,
Being no Grecian; but he had an ear,
And her voice was the warble of a bird,
So soft, so sweet, so delicately clear."

Don Juan, Canto II. stanza cl. line 5 to stanza cli. line 4.]

[275] {233}["By noon the battle (of Poltáva) was over.... Charles had been induced to return to the camp and rally the remainder of the army. In spite of his wounded foot, he had to ride, lying on the neck of his horse.... The retreat (down the Vórskla to the Dniéper) began towards evening.... On the afternoon of July 11 the Swedes arrived at the little town of Perevolótchna, at the mouth of the Vórskla, where there was a ferry across the Dniéper ... the king, Mazeppa, and about 1000 men crossed the Dniéper.... The king, with the Russian cavalry in hot pursuit, rode as fast as he could to the Bug, where half his escourt was captured, and he barely escaped. Thence he went to Bender, on the Dniester, and for five years remained the guest of Turkey."—Peter the Great, by Eugene Schuyler, 1884, ii. 149-151.]


[235]

THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.

"'Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadows before."

Campbell, [Lochiel's Warning].


[237]

INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.
swash

The Prophecy of Dante was written at Ravenna, during the month of June, 1819, "to gratify" the Countess Guiccioli. Before she left Venice in April she had received a promise from Byron to visit her at Ravenna. "Dante's tomb, the classical pinewood," and so forth, had afforded a pretext for the invitation to be given and accepted, and, at length, when she was, as she imagined, "at the point of death," he arrived, better late than never, "on the Festival of the Corpus Domini" which fell that year on the tenth of June (see her communication to Moore, Life, p. 399). Horses and books were left behind at Venice, but he could occupy his enforced leisure by "writing something on the subject of Dante" (ibid., p. 402). A heightened interest born of fuller knowledge, in Italian literature and Italian politics, lent zest to this labour of love, and, time and place conspiring, he composed "the best thing he ever wrote" (Letter to Murray, March 23, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 422), his Vision (or Prophecy) of Dante.

It would have been strange if Byron, who had sounded his Lament over the sufferings of Tasso, and who had become de facto if not de jure a naturalized Italian, had forborne to associate his name and fame with the sacred memory of the "Gran padre Alighier." If there had been any truth in Friedrich Schlegel's pronouncement, in a lecture delivered at Vienna in 1814, "that at no time has the greatest and most national of all Italian poets ever been much the favourite of his countrymen," the reproach had become meaningless. As the sumptuous folio edition (4 vols.) of the Divina Commedia, published at Florence, 1817-19; a quarto edition (4 vols.) published at Rome, 1815-17; a folio edition (3 vols.) published at Bologna 1819-21, to which the Conte Giovanni Marchetti (vide the Preface, post, p. 245) [238] contributed his famous excursus on the allegory in the First Canto of the Inferno, and numerous other issues remain to testify, Dante's own countrymen were eager "to pay honours almost divine" to his memory. "The last age," writes Hobhouse, in 1817 (note 18 to Canto IV. of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 496), "seemed inclined to undervalue him.... The present generation ... has returned to the ancient worship, and the Danteggiare of the northern Italians is thought even indiscreet by the more moderate Tuscans." Dante was in the air. As Byron wrote in his Diary (January 29, 1821), "Read Schlegel [probably in a translation published at Edinburgh, 1818]. Not a favourite! Why, they talk Dante, write Dante, and think and dream Dante at this moment (1821), to an excess which would be ridiculous, but that he deserves it."

There was, too, another reason why he was minded to write a poem "on the subject of Dante." There was, at this time, a hope, if not a clear prospect, of political change—of throwing off the yoke of the Bourbon, of liberating Italy from the tyrant and the stranger. "Dante was the poet of liberty. Persecution, exile, the dread of a foreign grave, could not shake his principles" (Medwin, Conversations, 1824, p. 242). The Prophecy was "intended for the Italians," intended to foreshadow as in a vision "liberty and the resurrection of Italy" (ibid., p. 241). As he rode at twilight through the pine forest, or along "the silent shore Which bounds Ravenna's immemorial wood," the undying past inspired him with a vision of the future, delayed, indeed, for a time, "the flame ending in smoke," but fulfilled after many days, a vision of a redeemed and united Italy.

"The poem," he says, in the Preface, "may be considered as a metrical experiment." In Beppo, and the two first cantos of Don Juan, he had proved that the ottava rima of the Italians, which Frere had been one of the first to transplant, might grow and flourish in an alien soil, and now, by way of a second venture, he proposed to acclimatize the terza rima. He was under the impression that Hayley, whom he had held up to ridicule as "for ever feeble, and for ever tame," had been the first and last to try the measure in English; but of Hayley's excellent translation of the three first cantos of the Inferno (vide post, p. 244, note 1), praised but somewhat grudgingly praised by Southey, he had only seen an extract, and of earlier experiments he was altogether ignorant. As a matter of fact, many poets had already essayed, but timidly and without perseverance, to "come to the test in the metrification" of the Divine Comedy. Some [239] twenty-seven lines, "the sole example in English literature of that period, of the use of terza rima, obviously copied from Dante" (Complete Works of Chaucer, by the Rev. W. Skeat, 1894, i. 76, 261), are imbedded in Chaucer's Compleint to his Lady. In the sixteenth century Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey ("Description of the restless state of a lover"), "as novises newly sprung out of the schools of Dante, Ariosto, and Petrarch" (Puttenham's Art of Poesie, 1589, pp. 48-50); and later again, Daniel ("To the Lady Lucy, Countess of Bedford"), Ben Jonson, and Milton (Psalms ii., vi.) afford specimens of terza rima. There was, too, one among Byron's contemporaries who had already made trial of the metre in his Prince Athanase (1817) and The Woodman and the Nightingale (1818), and who, shortly, in his Ode to the West Wind (October, 1819, published 1820) was to prove that it was not impossible to write English poetry, if not in genuine terza rima, with its interchange of double rhymes, at least in what has been happily styled the "Byronic terza rima." It may, however, be taken for granted that, at any rate in June, 1819, these fragments of Shelley's were unknown to Byron. Long after Byron's day, but long years before his dream was realized, Mrs. Browning, in her Casa Guidi Windows (1851), in the same metre, re-echoed the same aspiration (see her Preface), "that the future of Italy shall not be disinherited." (See for some of these instances of terza rima, Englische Metrik, von Dr. J. Schipper, 1888, ii. 896. See, too, The Metre of Dante's Comedy discussed and exemplified, by Alfred Forman and Harry Buxton Forman, 1878, p. 7.)

The MS. of the Prophecy of Dante, together with the Preface, was forwarded to Murray, March 14, 1820; but in spite of some impatience on the part of the author (Letter to Murray, May 8, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 20), and, after the lapse of some months, a pretty broad hint (Letter, August 17, 1820, ibid., p. 165) that "the time for the Dante would be good now ... as Italy is on the eve of great things," publication was deferred till the following year. Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, and the Prophecy of Dante were published in the same volume, April 21, 1821.

The Prophecy of Dante was briefly but favourably noticed by Jeffrey in his review of Marino Faliero (Edinb. Rev., July, 1821, vol. 35, p. 285). "It is a very grand, fervid, turbulent, and somewhat mystical composition, full of the highest sentiment and the highest poetry; ... but disfigured by many faults of precipitation, and overclouded with many obscurities. Its great fault with common readers [240] will be that it is not sufficiently intelligible.... It is, however, beyond all question, a work of a man of great genius."

Other notices of Marino Faliero and the Prophecy of Dante appeared in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, April, 1821, vol. 9, pp. 93-103; in the Monthly Review, May, 1821, Enlarged Series, vol. 95, pp. 41-50; and in the Eclectic Review, June 21, New Series, vol. xv. pp. 518-527.


[241]

DEDICATION.
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Lady! if for the cold and cloudy clime
Where I was born, but where I would not die,
Of the great Poet-Sire of Italy
I dare to build[276] the imitative rhyme,
Harsh Runic[277] copy of the South's sublime,
Thou art the cause; and howsoever I
Fall short of his immortal harmony,
Thy gentle heart will pardon me the crime.
Thou, in the pride of Beauty and of Youth,
Spakest; and for thee to speak and be obeyed
Are one; but only in the sunny South
Such sounds are uttered, and such charms displayed,
So sweet a language from so fair a mouth—[278]
Ah! to what effort would it not persuade?

Ravenna, June 21, 1819.


[243]

PREFACE
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In the course of a visit to the city of Ravenna in the summer of 1819, it was suggested to the author that having composed something on the subject of Tasso's confinement, he should do the same on Dante's exile,—the tomb of the poet forming one of the principal objects[279] of interest in that city, both to the native and to the stranger.

"On this hint I spake," and the result has been the following four cantos, in terza rima, now offered to the reader. If they are understood and approved, it is my purpose to continue the poem in various other cantos to its natural conclusion in the present age. The reader is requested to suppose that Dante addresses him in the interval between the conclusion of the Divina Commedia and his death, and shortly before the latter event, foretelling the fortunes of Italy in general in the ensuing centuries. In adopting this plan I have had in my mind the Cassandra of Lycophron,[280] and the Prophecy of Nereus[244] by Horace, as well as the Prophecies of Holy Writ. The measure adopted is the terza rima of Dante, which I am not aware to have seen hitherto tried in our language, except it may be by Mr. Hayley,[281] of whose translation I never saw but one extract, quoted in the notes to Caliph Vathek; so that—if I do not err—this poem may be considered as a metrical experiment. The cantos are short, and about the same length of those of the poet, whose name I have borrowed and most likely taken in vain.

Amongst the inconveniences of authors in the present day, it is difficult for any who have a name, good or bad, to escape translation. I have had the fortune to see the fourth canto of Childe Harold[282] translated into Italian versi sciolti,—that is, a poem written in the Spenserean stanza into blank verse, without regard to the natural divisions of the stanza or the sense. If the present poem, being on a national topic, should chance to undergo the same fate, I would request the Italian reader to remember that when I have failed in the imitation of his great "Padre Alighier,"[283] I have failed in imitating that which all study and few understand, since to this very day it is not yet settled what was the meaning of the allegory[284] in the[245] first canto of the Inferno, unless Count Marchetti's ingenious and probable conjecture may be considered as having decided the question.

He may also pardon my failure the more, as I am not quite sure that he would be pleased with my success, since the Italians, with a pardonable nationality, are particularly jealous of all that is left them as a nation—their literature; and in the present bitterness of the classic and romantic war, are but ill disposed to permit a foreigner even to approve or imitate them, without finding some fault with his ultramontane presumption. I can easily enter into all this, knowing what would be thought in England of an Italian imitator of Milton, or if a translation of Monti, Pindemonte, or Arici,[285] should be held up to the rising generation as a model for their future poetical essays. But I perceive that I am deviating into an address to the Italian reader, where my business is with the English one; and be they few or many, I must take my leave of both.


[247]

THE PROPHECY OF DANTE.


CANTO THE FIRST.
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Once more in Man's frail world! which I had left
So long that 'twas forgotten; and I feel
The weight of clay again,—too soon bereft
Of the Immortal Vision which could heal
My earthly sorrows, and to God's own skies
Lift me from that deep Gulf without repeal,
Where late my ears rung with the damned cries
Of Souls in hopeless bale; and from that place
Of lesser torment, whence men may arise
Pure from the fire to join the Angelic race;10
Midst whom my own bright Beatricē[286] blessed
My spirit with her light; and to the base
Of the Eternal Triad! first, last, best,[287]
Mysterious, three, sole, infinite, great God!
Soul universal! led the mortal guest,[248]
Unblasted by the Glory, though he trod
From star to star to reach the almighty throne.[bw]
Oh Beatrice! whose sweet limbs the sod
So long hath pressed, and the cold marble stone,
Thou sole pure Seraph of my earliest love,20
Love so ineffable, and so alone,
That nought on earth could more my bosom move,
And meeting thee in Heaven was but to meet
That without which my Soul, like the arkless dove,
Had wandered still in search of, nor her feet
Relieved her wing till found; without thy light
My Paradise had still been incomplete.[288]
Since my tenth sun gave summer to my sight
Thou wert my Life, the Essence of my thought,
Loved ere I knew the name of Love,[289] and bright30
Still in these dim old eyes, now overwrought
With the World's war, and years, and banishment,
And tears for thee, by other woes untaught;[249]
For mine is not a nature to be bent
By tyrannous faction, and the brawling crowd,
And though the long, long conflict hath been spent
In vain,—and never more, save when the cloud
Which overhangs the Apennine my mind's eye
Pierces to fancy Florence, once so proud
Of me, can I return, though but to die,40
Unto my native soil,—they have not yet
Quenched the old exile's spirit, stern and high.
But the Sun, though not overcast, must set
And the night cometh; I am old in days,
And deeds, and contemplation, and have met
Destruction face to face in all his ways.
The World hath left me, what it found me, pure,
And if I have not gathered yet its praise,
I sought it not by any baser lure;
Man wrongs, and Time avenges, and my name50
May form a monument not all obscure,
Though such was not my Ambition's end or aim,
To add to the vain-glorious list of those
Who dabble in the pettiness of fame,
And make men's fickle breath the wind that blows
Their sail, and deem it glory to be classed
With conquerors, and Virtue's other foes,
In bloody chronicles of ages past.
I would have had my Florence great and free;[290]
Oh Florence! Florence![291] unto me thou wast60
Like that Jerusalem which the Almighty He[250]
Wept over, "but thou wouldst not;" as the bird
Gathers its young, I would have gathered thee
Beneath a parent pinion, hadst thou heard
My voice; but as the adder, deaf and fierce,
Against the breast that cherished thee was stirred
Thy venom, and my state thou didst amerce,
And doom this body forfeit to the fire.[292]
Alas! how bitter is his country's curse
To him who for that country would expire,70
But did not merit to expire by her,
And loves her, loves her even in her ire.
The day may come when she will cease to err,
The day may come she would be proud to have
The dust she dooms to scatter, and transfer[bx]
Of him, whom she denied a home, the grave.
But this shall not be granted; let my dust
Lie where it falls; nor shall the soil which gave
Me breath, but in her sudden fury thrust
Me forth to breathe elsewhere, so reassume80
My indignant bones, because her angry gust
Forsooth is over, and repealed her doom;
No,—she denied me what was mine—my roof,
And shall not have what is not hers—my tomb.
Too long her arméd wrath hath kept aloof
The breast which would have bled for her, the heart
That beat, the mind that was temptation proof,[251]
The man who fought, toiled, travelled, and each part
Of a true citizen fulfilled, and saw
For his reward the Guelf's ascendant art90
Pass his destruction even into a law.
These things are not made for forgetfulness,
Florence shall be forgotten first; too raw
The wound, too deep the wrong, and the distress
Of such endurance too prolonged to make
My pardon greater, her injustice less,
Though late repented; yet—yet for her sake
I feel some fonder yearnings, and for thine,
My own Beatricē, I would hardly take
Vengeance upon the land which once was mine,100
And still is hallowed by thy dust's return,
Which would protect the murderess like a shrine,
And save ten thousand foes by thy sole urn.
Though, like old Marius from Minturnæ's marsh
And Carthage ruins, my lone breast may burn
At times with evil feelings hot and harsh,[293]
And sometimes the last pangs of a vile foe
Writhe in a dream before me, and o'erarch
My brow with hopes of triumph,—let them go!
Such are the last infirmities of those110
Who long have suffered more than mortal woe,
And yet being mortal still, have no repose
But on the pillow of Revenge—Revenge,
Who sleeps to dream of blood, and waking glows
With the oft-baffled, slakeless thirst of change,
When we shall mount again, and they that trod
Be trampled on, while Death and Até range[252]
O'er humbled heads and severed necks——Great God!
Take these thoughts from me—to thy hands I yield
My many wrongs, and thine Almighty rod120
Will fall on those who smote me,—be my Shield!
As thou hast been in peril, and in pain,
In turbulent cities, and the tented field—
In toil, and many troubles borne in vain
For Florence,—I appeal from her to Thee!
Thee, whom I late saw in thy loftiest reign,
Even in that glorious Vision, which to see
And live was never granted until now,
And yet thou hast permitted this to me.
Alas! with what a weight upon my brow130
The sense of earth and earthly things come back,
Corrosive passions, feelings dull and low,
The heart's quick throb upon the mental rack,
Long day, and dreary night; the retrospect
Of half a century bloody and black,
And the frail few years I may yet expect
Hoary and hopeless, but less hard to bear,
For I have been too long and deeply wrecked
On the lone rock of desolate Despair,
To lift my eyes more to the passing sail140
Which shuns that reef so horrible and bare;
Nor raise my voice—for who would heed my wail?
I am not of this people, nor this age,
And yet my harpings will unfold a tale
Which shall preserve these times when not a page
Of their perturbéd annals could attract
An eye to gaze upon their civil rage,[by]
Did not my verse embalm full many an act
Worthless as they who wrought it: 'tis the doom
Of spirits of my order to be racked150
In life, to wear their hearts out, and consume
Their days in endless strife, and die alone;
Then future thousands crowd around their tomb,
And pilgrims come from climes where they have known
The name of him—who now is but a name,
And wasting homage o'er the sullen stone,[253]
Spread his—by him unheard, unheeded—fame;
And mine at least hath cost me dear: to die
Is nothing; but to wither thus—to tame
My mind down from its own infinity—160
To live in narrow ways with little men,
A common sight to every common eye,
A wanderer, while even wolves can find a den,
Ripped from all kindred, from all home, all things
That make communion sweet, and soften pain—
To feel me in the solitude of kings
Without the power that makes them bear a crown—
To envy every dove his nest and wings
Which waft him where the Apennine looks down
On Arno, till he perches, it may be,170
Within my all inexorable town,
Where yet my boys are, and that fatal She,[294]
Their mother, the cold partner who hath brought[254]
Destruction for a dowry—this to see
And feel, and know without repair, hath taught
A bitter lesson; but it leaves me free:
I have not vilely found, nor basely sought,
They made an Exile—not a Slave of me.

[255]

CANTO THE SECOND.
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The Spirit of the fervent days of Old,
When words were things that came to pass, and Thought
Flashed o'er the future, bidding men behold
Their children's children's doom already brought
Forth from the abyss of Time which is to be,
The Chaos of events, where lie half-wrought
Shapes that must undergo mortality;
What the great Seers of Israel wore within,
That Spirit was on them, and is on me,
And if, Cassandra-like, amidst the din10
Of conflict none will hear, or hearing heed
This voice from out the Wilderness, the sin
Be theirs, and my own feelings be my meed,
The only guerdon I have ever known.
Hast thou not bled? and hast thou still to bleed,
Italia? Ah! to me such things, foreshown
With dim sepulchral light, bid me forget
In thine irreparable wrongs my own;
We can have but one Country, and even yet
Thou'rt mine—my bones shall be within thy breast,20
My Soul within thy language, which once set
With our old Roman sway in the wide West;
But I will make another tongue arise
As lofty and more sweet, in which expressed
The hero's ardour, or the lover's sighs,
Shall find alike such sounds for every theme
That every word, as brilliant as thy skies,
Shall realise a Poet's proudest dream,[256]
And make thee Europe's Nightingale of Song;[295]
So that all present speech to thine shall seem30
The note of meaner birds, and every tongue
Confess its barbarism when compared with thine.[bz]
This shalt thou owe to him thou didst so wrong,
Thy Tuscan bard, the banished Ghibelline.
Woe! woe! the veil of coming centuries
Is rent,—a thousand years which yet supine
Lie like the ocean waves ere winds arise,
Heaving in dark and sullen undulation,
Float from Eternity into these eyes;
The storms yet sleep, the clouds still keep their station,40
The unborn Earthquake yet is in the womb,
The bloody Chaos yet expects Creation,
But all things are disposing for thy doom;
The Elements await but for the Word,
"Let there be darkness!" and thou grow'st a tomb!
Yes! thou, so beautiful, shalt feel the sword,[296]
Thou, Italy! so fair that Paradise,
Revived in thee, blooms forth to man restored:
Ah! must the sons of Adam lose it twice?
Thou, Italy! whose ever golden fields,50
Ploughed by the sunbeams solely, would suffice
For the world's granary; thou, whose sky Heaven gilds[ca]
With brighter stars, and robes with deeper blue;[257]
Thou, in whose pleasant places Summer builds
Her palace, in whose cradle Empire grew,
And formed the Eternal City's ornaments
From spoils of Kings whom freemen overthrew;
Birthplace of heroes, sanctuary of Saints,
Where earthly first, then heavenly glory made[cb]
Her home; thou, all which fondest Fancy paints,60
And finds her prior vision but portrayed
In feeble colours, when the eye—from the Alp
Of horrid snow, and rock, and shaggy shade
Of desert-loving pine, whose emerald scalp
Nods to the storm—dilates and dotes o'er thee,
And wistfully implores, as 'twere, for help
To see thy sunny fields, my Italy,
Nearer and nearer yet, and dearer still
The more approached, and dearest were they free,
Thou—Thou must wither to each tyrant's will:70
The Goth hath been,—the German, Frank, and Hun[297]
Are yet to come,—and on the imperial hill
Ruin, already proud of the deeds done
By the old barbarians, there awaits the new,
Throned on the Palatine, while lost and won
Rome at her feet lies bleeding; and the hue
Of human sacrifice and Roman slaughter
Troubles the clotted air, of late so blue,
And deepens into red the saffron water
Of Tiber, thick with dead; the helpless priest,80
And still more helpless nor less holy daughter,
Vowed to their God, have shrieking fled, and ceased
Their ministry: the nations take their prey,
Iberian, Almain, Lombard, and the beast
And bird, wolf, vulture, more humane than they
Are; these but gorge the flesh, and lap the gore[258]
Of the departed, and then go their way;
But those, the human savages, explore
All paths of torture, and insatiate yet,
With Ugolino hunger prowl for more.90
Nine moons shall rise o'er scenes like this and set;[298]
The chiefless army of the dead, which late
Beneath the traitor Prince's banner met,
Hath left its leader's ashes at the gate;
Had but the royal Rebel lived, perchance
Thou hadst been spared, but his involved thy fate.
Oh! Rome, the Spoiler or the spoil of France,
From Brennus to the Bourbon, never, never
Shall foreign standard to thy walls advance,
But Tiber shall become a mournful river.100
Oh! when the strangers pass the Alps and Po,
Crush them, ye Rocks! Floods whelm them, and for ever!
Why sleep the idle Avalanches so,
To topple on the lonely pilgrim's head?
Why doth Eridanus but overflow
The peasant's harvest from his turbid bed?
Were not each barbarous horde a nobler prey?[259]
Over Cambyses' host[299] the desert spread
Her sandy ocean, and the Sea-waves' sway
Rolled over Pharaoh and his thousands,—why,[cc]110
Mountains and waters, do ye not as they?
And you, ye Men! Romans, who dare not die,
Sons of the conquerors who overthrew
Those who overthrew proud Xerxes, where yet lie
The dead whose tomb Oblivion never knew,
Are the Alps weaker than Thermopylæ?
Their passes more alluring to the view
Of an invader? is it they, or ye,
That to each host the mountain-gate unbar,
And leave the march in peace, the passage free?120
Why, Nature's self detains the Victor's car,
And makes your land impregnable, if earth
Could be so; but alone she will not war,
Yet aids the warrior worthy of his birth
In a soil where the mothers bring forth men:
Not so with those whose souls are little worth;
For them no fortress can avail,—the den
Of the poor reptile which preserves its sting
Is more secure than walls of adamant, when
The hearts of those within are quivering.130
Are ye not brave? Yes, yet the Ausonian soil
Hath hearts, and hands, and arms, and hosts to bring
Against Oppression; but how vain the toil,
While still Division sows the seeds of woe
And weakness, till the Stranger reaps the spoil.[300]
Oh! my own beauteous land! so long laid low,[260]
So long the grave of thy own children's hopes,
When there is but required a single blow
To break the chain, yet—yet the Avenger stops,
And Doubt and Discord step 'twixt thine and thee,140
And join their strength to that which with thee copes;
What is there wanting then to set thee free,
And show thy beauty in its fullest light?
To make the Alps impassable; and we,
Her Sons, may do this with one deed—Unite.

[261]

CANTO THE THIRD.
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From out the mass of never-dying ill,[cd]
The Plague, the Prince, the Stranger, and the Sword,
Vials of wrath but emptied to refill
And flow again, I cannot all record
That crowds on my prophetic eye: the Earth
And Ocean written o'er would not afford
Space for the annal, yet it shall go forth;
Yes, all, though not by human pen, is graven,
There where the farthest suns and stars have birth,
Spread like a banner at the gate of Heaven,10
The bloody scroll of our millennial wrongs
Waves, and the echo of our groans is driven
Athwart the sound of archangelic songs,
And Italy, the martyred nation's gore,
Will not in vain arise to where belongs[ce]
Omnipotence and Mercy evermore:
Like to a harpstring stricken by the wind,
The sound of her lament shall, rising o'er
The Seraph voices, touch the Almighty Mind.
Meantime I, humblest of thy sons, and of20
Earth's dust by immortality refined
To Sense and Suffering, though the vain may scoff,
And tyrants threat, and meeker victims bow
Before the storm because its breath is rough,
To thee, my Country! whom before, as now,
I loved and love, devote the mournful lyre[262]
And melancholy gift high Powers allow
To read the future: and if now my fire
Is not as once it shone o'er thee, forgive!
I but foretell thy fortunes—then expire;30
Think not that I would look on them and live.
A Spirit forces me to see and speak,
And for my guerdon grants not to survive;
My Heart shall be poured over thee and break:
Yet for a moment, ere I must resume
Thy sable web of Sorrow, let me take
Over the gleams that flash athwart thy gloom
A softer glimpse; some stars shine through thy night,
And many meteors, and above thy tomb
Leans sculptured Beauty, which Death cannot blight:40
And from thine ashes boundless Spirits rise
To give thee honour, and the earth delight;
Thy soil shall still be pregnant with the wise,
The gay, the learned, the generous, and the brave,
Native to thee as Summer to thy skies,
Conquerors on foreign shores, and the far wave,[301]
Discoverers of new worlds, which take their name;[302]
For thee alone they have no arm to save,[263]
And all thy recompense is in their fame,
A noble one to them, but not to thee—50
Shall they be glorious, and thou still the same?
Oh! more than these illustrious far shall be
The Being—and even yet he may be born—
The mortal Saviour who shall set thee free,
And see thy diadem, so changed and worn
By fresh barbarians, on thy brow replaced;
And the sweet Sun replenishing thy morn,
Thy moral morn, too long with clouds defaced,
And noxious vapours from Avernus risen,
Such as all they must breathe who are debased60
By Servitude, and have the mind in prison.[303]
Yet through this centuried eclipse of woe[cf]
Some voices shall be heard, and Earth shall listen;
Poets shall follow in the path I show,
And make it broader: the same brilliant sky
Which cheers the birds to song shall bid them glow,[cg]
And raise their notes as natural and high;
Tuneful shall be their numbers; they shall sing
Many of Love, and some of Liberty,
But few shall soar upon that Eagle's wing,70
And look in the Sun's face, with Eagle's gaze,
All free and fearless as the feathered King,
But fly more near the earth; how many a phrase
Sublime shall lavished be on some small prince
In all the prodigality of Praise!
And language, eloquently false, evince[ch]
The harlotry of Genius, which, like Beauty,[ci]
Too oft forgets its own self-reverence,[264]
And looks on prostitution as a duty.[304]
He who once enters in a Tyrant's hall[cj][305]80
As guest is slave—his thoughts become a booty,
And the first day which sees the chain enthral
A captive, sees his half of Manhood gone[306]
The Soul's emasculation saddens all
His spirit; thus the Bard too near the throne
Quails from his inspiration, bound to please,—
How servile is the task to please alone!
To smooth the verse to suit his Sovereign's ease
And royal leisure, nor too much prolong
Aught save his eulogy, and find, and seize,90
Or force, or forge fit argument of Song!
Thus trammelled, thus condemned to Flattery's trebles,
He toils through all, still trembling to be wrong:
For fear some noble thoughts, like heavenly rebels,
Should rise up in high treason to his brain,
He sings, as the Athenian spoke, with pebbles
In's mouth, lest Truth should stammer through his strain.
But out of the long file of sonneteers
There shall be some who will not sing in vain,[265]
And he, their Prince, shall rank among my peers,[307]
And Love shall be his torment; but his grief
Shall make an immortality of tears,
And Italy shall hail him as the Chief
Of Poet-lovers, and his higher song
Of Freedom wreathe him with as green a leaf.
But in a farther age shall rise along
The banks of Po two greater still than he;
The World which smiled on him shall do them wrong
Till they are ashes, and repose with me.
The first will make an epoch with his lyre,110
And fill the earth with feats of Chivalry:[308]
His Fancy like a rainbow, and his Fire,
Like that of Heaven, immortal, and his Thought
Borne onward with a wing that cannot tire;
Pleasure shall, like a butterfly new caught,
Flutter her lovely pinions o'er his theme,
And Art itself seem into Nature wrought
By the transparency of his bright dream.—
The second, of a tenderer, sadder mood,
Shall pour his soul out o'er Jerusalem;120
He, too, shall sing of Arms, and Christian blood
Shed where Christ bled for man; and his high harp
Shall, by the willow over Jordan's flood,
Revive a song of Sion, and the sharp
Conflict, and final triumph of the brave
And pious, and the strife of Hell to warp
Their hearts from their great purpose, until wave
The red-cross banners where the first red Cross
Was crimsoned from His veins who died to save,[ck]
Shall be his sacred argument; the loss130
Of years, of favour, freedom, even of fame
Contested for a time, while the smooth gloss
Of Courts would slide o'er his forgotten name[266]
And call Captivity a kindness—meant
To shield him from insanity or shame—
Such shall be his meek guerdon! who was sent
To be Christ's Laureate—they reward him well!
Florence dooms me but death or banishment,
Ferrara him a pittance and a cell,[309]
Harder to bear and less deserved, for I140
Had stung the factions which I strove to quell;
But this meek man who with a lover's eye
Will look on Earth and Heaven, and who will deign
To embalm with his celestial flattery,
As poor a thing as e'er was spawned to reign,[310]
What will he do to merit such a doom?
Perhaps he'll love,—and is not Love in vain
Torture enough without a living tomb?
Yet it will be so—he and his compeer,
The Bard of Chivalry, will both consume[311]150
In penury and pain too many a year,
And, dying in despondency, bequeath
To the kind World, which scarce will yield a tear,
A heritage enriching all who breathe
With the wealth of a genuine Poet's soul,
And to their country a redoubled wreath,
Unmatched by time; not Hellas can unroll
Through her Olympiads two such names, though one[312]
Of hers be mighty;—and is this the whole
Of such men's destiny beneath the Sun?[313]160
Must all the finer thoughts, the thrilling sense,[267]
The electric blood with which their arteries run,[cl]
Their body's self turned soul with the intense
Feeling of that which is, and fancy of
That which should be, to such a recompense
Conduct? shall their bright plumage on the rough
Storm be still scattered? Yes, and it must be;
For, formed of far too penetrable stuff,
These birds of Paradise[314] but long to flee
Back to their native mansion, soon they find170
Earth's mist with their pure pinions not agree,
And die or are degraded; for the mind
Succumbs to long infection, and despair,
And vulture Passions flying close behind,
Await the moment to assail and tear;[315]
And when, at length, the wingéd wanderers stoop,
Then is the Prey-birds' triumph, then they share
The spoil, o'erpowered at length by one fell swoop.
Yet some have been untouched who learned to bear,
Some whom no Power could ever force to droop,180[268]
Who could resist themselves even, hardest care!
And task most hopeless; but some such have been,
And if my name amongst the number were,
That Destiny austere, and yet serene,
Were prouder than more dazzling fame unblessed;
The Alp's snow summit nearer heaven is seen
Than the Volcano's fierce eruptive crest,
Whose splendour from the black abyss is flung,
While the scorched mountain, from whose burning breast
A temporary torturing flame is wrung,190
Shines for a night of terror, then repels
Its fire back to the Hell from whence it sprung,
The Hell which in its entrails ever dwells.

[269]

CANTO THE FOURTH.
swash

Many are Poets who have never penned
Their inspiration, and perchance the best:
They felt, and loved, and died, but would not lend
Their thoughts to meaner beings; they compressed
The God within them, and rejoined the stars
Unlaurelled upon earth, but far more blessed
Than those who are degraded by the jars
Of Passion, and their frailties linked to fame,
Conquerors of high renown, but full of scars.
Many are Poets but without the name;10
For what is Poesy but to create
From overfeeling Good or Ill; and aim[316]
At an external life beyond our fate,
And be the new Prometheus of new men,[317]
Bestowing fire from Heaven, and then, too late,
Finding the pleasure given repaid with pain,
And vultures to the heart of the bestower,
Who, having lavished his high gift in vain,[270]
Lies to his lone rock by the sea-shore?
So be it: we can bear.—But thus all they20
Whose Intellect is an o'ermastering Power
Which still recoils from its encumbering clay
Or lightens it to spirit, whatsoe'er
The form which their creations may essay,
Are bards; the kindled Marble's bust may wear
More poesy upon its speaking brow
Than aught less than the Homeric page may bear;
One noble stroke with a whole life may glow,
Or deify the canvass till it shine
With beauty so surpassing all below,30
That they who kneel to Idols so divine
Break no commandment, for high Heaven is there
Transfused, transfigurated:[318] and the line
Of Poesy, which peoples but the air
With Thought and Beings of our thought reflected,
Can do no more: then let the artist share
The palm, he shares the peril, and dejected
Faints o'er the labour unapproved—Alas!
Despair and Genius are too oft connected.
Within the ages which before me pass40
Art shall resume and equal even the sway
Which with Apelles and old Phidias
She held in Hellas' unforgotten day.
Ye shall be taught by Ruin to revive
The Grecian forms at least from their decay,
And Roman souls at last again shall live
In Roman works wrought by Italian hands,
And temples, loftier than the old temples, give
New wonders to the World; and while still stands
The austere Pantheon, into heaven shall soar50
A Dome,[319] its image, while the base expands
Into a fane surpassing all before,[271]
Such as all flesh shall flock to kneel in: ne'er
Such sight hath been unfolded by a door
As this, to which all nations shall repair,
And lay their sins at this huge gate of Heaven.
And the bold Architect[320] unto whose care
The daring charge to raise it shall be given,
Whom all Arts shall acknowledge as their Lord,
Whether into the marble chaos driven60
His chisel bid the Hebrew,[321] at whose word
Israel left Egypt, stop the waves in stone,[cm][272]
Or hues of Hell be by his pencil poured
Over the damned before the Judgement-throne,[322]
Such as I saw them, such as all shall see,
Or fanes be built of grandeur yet unknown—
The Stream of his great thoughts shall spring from me[323]
The Ghibelline, who traversed the three realms
Which form the Empire of Eternity.
Amidst the clash of swords, and clang of helms,70
The age which I anticipate, no less
Shall be the Age of Beauty, and while whelms
Calamity the nations with distress,
The Genius of my Country shall arise,
A Cedar towering o'er the Wilderness,
Lovely in all its branches to all eyes,
Fragrant as fair, and recognised afar,[273]
Wafting its native incense through the skies.
Sovereigns shall pause amidst their sport of war,
Weaned for an hour from blood, to turn and gaze80
On canvass or on stone; and they who mar
All beauty upon earth, compelled to praise,
Shall feel the power of that which they destroy;
And Art's mistaken gratitude shall raise
To tyrants, who but take her for a toy,
Emblems and monuments, and prostitute
Her charms to Pontiffs proud,[324] who but employ
The man of Genius as the meanest brute
To bear a burthen, and to serve a need,
To sell his labours, and his soul to boot.90
Who toils for nations may be poor indeed,
But free; who sweats for Monarchs is no more
Than the gilt Chamberlain, who, clothed and feed,
Stands sleek and slavish, bowing at his door.
Oh, Power that rulest and inspirest! how
Is it that they on earth, whose earthly power[325]
Is likest thine in heaven in outward show,
Least like to thee in attributes divine,
Tread on the universal necks that bow,
And then assure us that their rights are thine?100
And how is it that they, the Sons of Fame,
Whose inspiration seems to them to shine
From high, they whom the nations oftest name,
Must pass their days in penury or pain,[274]
Or step to grandeur through the paths of shame,
And wear a deeper brand and gaudier chain?
Or if their Destiny be born aloof
From lowliness, or tempted thence in vain,
In their own souls sustain a harder proof,
The inner war of Passions deep and fierce?110
Florence! when thy harsh sentence razed my roof,
I loved thee; but the vengeance of my verse,
The hate of injuries which every year
Makes greater, and accumulates my curse,
Shall live, outliving all thou holdest dear—
Thy pride, thy wealth, thy freedom, and even that,
The most infernal of all evils here,
The sway of petty tyrants in a state;
For such sway is not limited to Kings,
And Demagogues yield to them but in date,120
As swept off sooner; in all deadly things,
Which make men hate themselves, and one another,
In discord, cowardice, cruelty, all that springs
From Death the Sin-born's incest with his mother,[326]
In rank oppression in its rudest shape,
The faction Chief is but the Sultan's brother,
And the worst Despot's far less human ape.
Florence! when this lone spirit, which so long
Yearned, as the captive toiling at escape,
To fly back to thee in despite of wrong,130
An exile, saddest of all prisoners,[327]
Who has the whole world for a dungeon strong,[275]
Seas, mountains, and the horizon's[328] verge for bars,[cn]
Which shut him from the sole small spot of earth
Where—whatsoe'er his fate—he still were hers,
His Country's, and might die where he had birth—
Florence! when this lone Spirit shall return
To kindred Spirits, thou wilt feel my worth,
And seek to honour with an empty urn[329]
The ashes thou shalt ne'er obtain—Alas!140
"What have I done to thee, my People?"[330] Stern
Are all thy dealings, but in this they pass
The limits of Man's common malice, for
All that a citizen could be I was—
Raised by thy will, all thine in peace or war—
And for this thou hast warred with me.—'Tis done:[276]
I may not overleap the eternal bar[331]
Built up between us, and will die alone,
Beholding with the dark eye of a Seer
The evil days to gifted souls foreshown,150
Foretelling them to those who will not hear;
As in the old time, till the hour be come
When Truth shall strike their eyes through many a tear,
And make them own the Prophet in his tomb.

Ravenna, 1819.

FOOTNOTES:

[276] {241}[Compare—

"He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhime."

Milton, Lycidas, line 11.]

[277] [By "Runic" Byron means "Northern," "Anglo-Saxon."]

[278] [Compare "In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in yours—Amor mio—is comprised my existence here and hereafter."—Letter of Byron to the Countess Guiccioli, August 25, 1819, Letters, 1900, iv. 350. Compare, too, Beppo, stanza xliv.; vide ante, p. 173.]

[279] {243}[Compare—

"I pass each day where Dante's bones are laid:
A little cupola more neat than solemn,
Protects his dust."

Don Juan, Canto IV. stanza civ. lines 1-3.]

[280] [The Cassandra or Alexandra of Lycophron, one of the seven "Pleiades" who adorned the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus (third century B.C.), is "an iambic monologue of 1474 verses, in which Cassandra is made to prophesy the fall of Troy ... with numerous other historical events, ... ending with [the reign of] Alexandra the Great." Byron had probably read a translation of the Cassandra by Philip Yorke, Viscount Royston (born 1784, wrecked in the Agatha off Memel, April 7, 1808), which was issued at Cambridge in 1806. The Alexandra forms part of the Bibliotheca Teubneriana (ed. G. Kinkel, Lipsiæ, 1880). For the prophecy of Nereus, vide Hor., Odes, lib. i. c. xv.]

[281] {244}[In the notes to his Essay on Epic Poetry, 1782 (Epistle iii. pp. 175-197), Hayley (see English Bards, etc., line 310, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 321, note 1) prints a translation of the three first cantos of the Inferno, which, he says (p. 172), was written "a few years ago to oblige a particular friend." "Of all Hayley's compositions," writes Southey (Quart. Rev., vol. xxxi. pp. 283, 284), "these specimens are the best ... in thus following his original Hayley was led into a sobriety and manliness of diction which ... approached ... to the manner of a better age."

In a note on the Hall of Eblis, S. Henley quotes with approbation Hayley's translation of lines 1-9 of this Third Canto of the Inferno. Vathek ... by W. Beckford, 1868, p. 188.]

[282] [L'Italia: Canto IV. del Pellegrinaggio di Childe Harold ... tradotto da Michele Leoni, Italia (London?), 1819, 8º. Leoni also translated the Lament of Tasso (Lamento di Tasso ... Recato in Italiano da M. Leoni, Pisa, 1818).]

[283] [Alfieri has a sonnet on the tomb of Dante, beginning—

"O gran padre Alighier, se dal ciel miri."

Opere Scelle, di Vittorio Alfieri, 1818, iii. 487.]

[284] [The Panther, the Lion, and the She-wolf, which Dante encountered on the "desert slope" (Inferno, Canto I. lines 31, sq.), were no doubt suggested by Jer. v. 6: "Idcirco percussit eos leo de silva, lupus ad vesperam vastavit eos, pardus vigilans super civitates corum." Symbolically they have been from the earliest times understood as denoting—the panther, lust; the lion, pride; the wolf, avarice; the sins affecting youth, maturity, and old age. Later commentators have suggested that there may be an underlying political symbolism as well, and that the three beasts may stand for Florence with her "Black" and "White" parties, the power of France, and the Guelf party as typically representative of these vices (The Hell of Dante, by A. J. Butler, 1892, p. 5, note).

Count Giovanni Marchetti degli Angelini (1790-1852), in his Discorso ... della prima e principale Allegoria del Poema di Dante, contributed to an edition of La Divina Commedia, published at Bologna, 1819-21, i. 17-44, and reissued in La Biografia di Dante ... 1822, v. 397, sq., etc., argues in favour of a double symbolism. (According to a life of Marchetti, prefixed to his Poesie, 1878 [Una notte di Dante, etc.], he met Byron at Bologna in 1819, and made his acquaintance.)]

[285] {245}[For Vincenzo Monti (1754-1828), see letter to Murray, October 15, 1816 (Letters, 1899, iii. 377, note 3); and for Ippolito Pindemonte (1753-1828), see letter to Murray, June 4, 1817, (Letters, 1900, iv. 127, note 4). In his Essay on the Present Literature of Italy, Hobhouse supplies critical notices of Pindemonte and Monti, Historical Illustrations, 1818, pp. 413-449. Cesare Arici, lawyer and poet, was born at Brescia, July 2, 1782. His works (Padua, 1858, 4 vols.) include his didactic poems, La coltivazione degli Ulivi (1805), Il Corallo, 1810, La Pastorizia (on sheep-farming), 1814, and a translation of the works of Virgil. He died in 1836. (See, for a long and sympathetic notice, Tipaldo's Biografia degli Italiani Illustri, iii. 491, sq.)]

[286] {247} The reader is requested to adopt the Italian pronunciation of Beatrice, sounding all the syllables.

[287] [Compare—

"Within the deep and luminous subsistence
Of the High Light appeared to me three circles,
Of threefold colour and of one dimension,
And by the second seemed the first reflected
As Iris is by Iris, and the third
Seemed fire that equally from both is breathed....
O Light Eterne, sole in thyself that dwellest."

Paradiso, xxxiii. 115-120, 124 (Longfellow's Translation).]

[bw] {248} Star over star——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[288]

"Ché sol per le belle opre
Che sono in cielo, il sole e l'altre stelle,
Dentro da lor si crede il Paradiso:
Così se guardi fiso
Pensar ben dei, che ogni terren piacere.
[Si trova in lei, ma tu nol puoi vedere."]

Canzone, in which Dante describes the person of Beatrice, Strophe third.

[Byron was mistaken in attributing these lines, which form part of a Canzone beginning "Io miro i crespi e gli biondi capegli," to Dante. Neither external nor internal evidence supports such an ascription. The Canzone is attributed in the MSS. either to Fazio degli Uberti, or to Bindo Borrichi da Siena, but was not assigned to Dante before 1518 (Canzoni di Dante, etc. [Colophon]. Impresso in Milano per Augustino da Vimercato ... MCCCCCXVIII ...). See, too, Il Canzoniere di Dante ... Fraticelli, Firenze, 1873, pp. 236-240 (from information kindly supplied by the Rev. Philip H. Wicksteed).]

[289] ["Nine times already since my birth had the heaven of light returned to the selfsame point almost, as concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious Lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes; even she who was called Beatrice by many who knew not wherefore."—La Vita Nuova, § 2 (Translation by D. G. Rossetti, Dante and his Circle, 1892, p. 30).

"In reference to the meaning of the name, 'she who confers blessing,' we learn from Boccaccio that this first meeting took place at a May Feast, given in the year 1274, by Folco Portinari, father of Beatrice ... to which feast Dante accompanied his father, Alighiero Alighieri."—Note by D. G. Rossetti, ibid., p. 30.]

[290] {249}

"L'Esilio che m' è dato onor mi tegno

Cader tra' buoni è pur di lode degno."

Sonnet of Dante [Canzone xx. lines 76-80,
Opere di Dante, 1897, p. 171]

in which he represents Right, Generosity, and Temperance as banished from among men, and seeking refuge from Love, who inhabits his bosom.

[291] [Compare—

"On the stone
Called Dante's,—a plain flat stone scarce discerned
From others in the pavement,—whereupon
He used to bring his quiet chair out, turned
To Brunelleschi's Church, and pour alone
The lava of his spirit when it burned:
It is not cold to-day. O passionate
Poor Dante, who, a banished Florentine,
Didst sit austere at banquets of the great
And muse upon this far-off stone of thine,
And think how oft some passer used to wait
A moment, in the golden day's decline,
With 'Good night, dearest Dante!' Well, good night!"

Casa Guidi Windows, by E. B. Browning, Poetical Works, 1866, iii. 259.]

[292] {250} "Ut si quis predictorum ullo tempore in fortiam dicti communis pervenerit, talis perveniens igne comburatur, sic quod moriatur." Second sentence of Florence against Dante, and the fourteen accused with him. The Latin is worthy of the sentence. [The decree (March 11, 1302) that he and his associates in exile should be burned, if they fell into the hands of their enemies, was first discovered in 1772 by the Conte Ludovico Savioli. Dante had been previously, January 27, fined eight thousand lire, and condemned to two years' banishment.]

[bx] The ashes she would scatter——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[293] {251}[At the end of the Social War (B.C. 88), when Sulla marched to Rome at the head of his army, and Marius was compelled to take flight, he "stripped himself, plunged into the bog (Paludes Minturnenses, near the mouth of the Liris), amidst thick water and mud.... They hauled him out naked and covered with dirt, and carried him to Minturnæ." Afterwards, when he sailed for Carthage, he had no sooner landed than he was ordered by the governor (Sextilius) to quit Africa. On his once more gaining the ascendancy and re-entering Rome (B.C. 87), he justified the massacre of Sulla's adherents in a blood-thirsty oration. Past ignominy and present triumph seem to have turned his head ("ut erat inter iram toleratæ fortunæ, et lætitiam emendatæ, parum compos animi").—Plut., "Marius," apud Langhorne, 1838, p. 304; Livii Epit., lxxx. 28.]

[by] {252} ——their civic rage.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[294] {253} This lady, whose name was Gemma, sprung from one of the most powerful Guelph families, named Donati. Corso Donati was the principal adversary of the Ghibellines. She is—described as being "Admodum morosa, ut de Xantippe Socratis philosophi conjuge scriptum esse legimus," according to Giannozzo Manetti. But Lionardo Aretino is scandalised with Boccace, in his life of Dante, for saying that literary men should not marry. "Qui il Boccaccio non ha pazienza, e dice, le mogli esser contrarie agli studj; e non si ricorda che Socrate, il più nobile filosofo che mai fusse, ebbe moglie e figliuoli e ufici nella Repubblica nella sua Città; e Aristotile che, etc., etc., ebbe due moglie in varj tempi, ed ebbe figliuoli, e ricchezze assai.—E Marco Tullio—e Catone—e Varrone—e Seneca—ebbero moglie," etc., etc. [Le Vite di Dante, etc., Firenze, 1677, pp. 22, 23]. It is odd that honest Lionardo's examples, with the exception of Seneca, and, for anything I know, of Aristotle, are not the most felicitous. Tully's Terentia, and Socrates' Xantippe, by no means contributed to their husbands' happiness, whatever they might do to their philosophy—Cato gave away his wife—of Varro's we know nothing—and of Seneca's, only that she was disposed to die with him, but recovered and lived several years afterwards. But says Leonardo, "L'uomo è animale civile, secondo piace a tutti i filosofi." And thence concludes that the greatest proof of the animal's civism is "la prima congiunzione, dalla quale multiplicata nasce la Città."

[There is nothing in the Divina Commedia, or elsewhere in his writings, to justify the common belief that Dante was unhappily married, unless silence may be taken to imply dislike and alienation. It has been supposed that he alludes to his wife, Gemma Donati, in the Vita Nuova, § 36, "as a young and very beautiful lady, who was gazing upon me from a window, with a gaze full of pity," "who remembered me many times of my own most noble lady," whom he consented to serve "more because of her gentle goodness than from any choice" of his own (Convito, ii. 2. 7), but there are difficulties in the way of accepting this theory. There is, however, not the slightest reason for believing that the words which he put into the mouth of Jacopo Rusticucci, "La fiera moglie più ch'altro, mi nuoce" ["and truly, my savage wife, more than aught else, doth harm me"] (Inferno, xvi. 45), were winged with any personal reminiscence or animosity. But with Byron (see his letter to Lady Byron, dated April 3, 1820, in which he quotes these lines "with intention" [Letters, 1901, v. 2]), as with Boccaccio, "the wish was father to the thought," and both were glad to quote Dante as a victim to matrimony.

Seven children were born to Dante and Gemma. Of these "his son Pietro, who wrote a commentary on the Divina Commedia, settled as judge in Verona. His daughter Beatrice lived as a nun in Ravenna" (Dante, by Oscar Browning, 1891, p. 47).]

[295] {256}[In his defence of the "mother-tongue" as a fitting vehicle for a commentary on his poetry, Dante argues "that natural love moves the lover principally to three things: the one is to exalt the loved object, the second is to be jealous thereof, the third is to defend it ... and these three things made me adopt it, that is, our mother-tongue, which naturally and accidentally I love and have loved." Again, having laid down the premiss that "the magnanimous man always praises himself in his heart; and so the pusillanimous man always deems himself less than he is," he concludes, "Wherefore many on account of this vileness of mind, depreciate their native tongue, and applaud that of others; and all such as these are the abominable wicked men of Italy, who hold this precious mother-tongue in vile contempt, which, if it be vile in any case, is so only inasmuch as it sounds in the evil mouth of these adulterers."—Il Convito, caps. x., xi., translated by Elizabeth Price Sayer, 1887, pp. 34-40.]

[bz]——when matched with thine.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[296] [With the whole of this apostrophe to Italy, compare Purgatorio, vi. 76-127.]

[ca] From the world's harvest——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[cb] {257}

Where earthly Glory first then Heavenly made.—[MS. Alternative reading.]
Where Glory first, and then Religion made.—[MS. erased.]

[297] [Compare—

"The Goth, the Christian—Time—War—Flood, and Fire,
Have dealt upon the seven-hilled City's pride."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lxxx. lines 1, 2, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 390, note 2.]

[298] {258} See "Sacco di Roma," generally attributed to Guicciardini [Francesco (1482-1540)]. There is another written by a Jacopo Buonaparte.

[The original MS. of the latter work is preserved in the Royal Library at Paris. It is entitled, "Ragguaglio Storico di tutto I'occorso, giorno per giorno, nel Sacco di Roma dell' anno mdxxvii., scritto da Jacopo Buonaparte, Gentiluomo Samminiatese, che vi si trovo' presente." An edition of it was printed at Cologne, in 1756, to which is prefixed a genealogy of the Buonaparte family.

The "traitor Prince" was Charles IV., Connétable de Bourbon, Comte de Montpensier, born 1490, who was killed at the capture of Rome, May 6, 1527. "His death, far from restraining the ardour of the assailants [the Imperial troops, consisting of Germans and Spanish foot], increased it; and with the loss of about 1000 men, they entered and sacked the city.... The disorders committed by the soldiers were dreadful, and the booty they made incredible. They added insults to cruelty, and scoffs to rapaciousness. Upon the news of Bourbon's death, His Holiness, imagining that his troops, no longer animated by his implacable spirit, might listen to an accommodation, demanded a parley; but ... neglected all means for defence.... Cardinals and bishops were ignominiously exposed upon asses with their legs and hands bound; and wealthy citizens ... suspected of having secreted their effects ... were tortured ... to oblige them to make discoveries, ... the booty ... is said to have amounted to about two millions and a half of ducats."—Mod. Univ. History, xxxvi. 512.]

[299] {259}[Cambyses, the second King of Persia, who reigned B.C. 529-532, sent an army against the Ammonians, which perished in the sands.]

[cc]——and his phalanx—why.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[300] [The Prophecy of Dante was begun and finished before Byron took up the cause of Italian independence, or definitely threw in his lot with the Carbonari, but his intimacy with the Gambas, which dates from his migration to Ravenna in 1819, must from the first have brought him within the area of political upheaval and disturbance. A year after (April 16, 1820) he writes to Murray, "I have, besides, another reason for desiring you to be speedy, which is, that there is that brewing in Italy which will speedily cut off all security of communication.... I shall, if permitted by the natives, remain to see what will come of it, ... for I shall think it by far the most interesting spectacle and moment in existence, to see the Italians send the Barbarians of all nations back to their own dens. I have lived long enough among them to feel more for them as a nation than for any other people in existence: but they want Union [see line 145], and they want principle; and I doubt their success."—Letters, 1901, v. 8, note 1.]

[cd] {261} ——of long-enduring ill.—[MS. erased.]

[ce]

——the martyred country's gore
Will not in vain arise to whom belongs.—[MS. erased.]

[301] {262} Alexander of Parma, Spinola, Pescara, Eugene of Savoy, Montecuccoli.

[Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma (1546-1592), recovered the Southern Netherlands for Spain, 1578-79, made Henry IV. raise the siege of Paris, 1590, etc.

Ambrogio, Marchese di Spinola (1569-1630), a Maltese by birth, entered the Spanish service 1602, took Ostend 1604, invested Bergen-op-Zoom, etc.

Ferdinando Francesco dagli Avalos, Marquis of Pescara (1496-1525), took Milan November 19, 1521, fought at Lodi, etc., was wounded at the battle of Padua, February 24, 1525. He was the husband of Vittoria Colonna, and when he was in captivity at Ravenna wrote some verses in her honour.

François Eugene (1663-1736), Prince of Savoy-Carignan, defeated the French at Turin, 1706, and (with Marlborough) at Malplaquet, 1709; the Turks at Peterwardein, 1716, etc.

Raimondo Montecuccoli, a Modenese (1608-1680), defeated the Turks at St. Gothard in 1664, and in 1675-6 commanded on the Rhine, and out-generalled Turenne and the Prince de Condé]

[302] Columbus, Americus Vespusius, Sebastian Cabot.

[Christopher Columbus (circ. 1430-1506), a Genoese, discovered mainland of America, 1498; Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), a Florentine, explored coasts of America, 1497-1504; Sebastian Cabot (1477-1557), son of Giovanni Cabotto or Gavotto, a Venetian, discovered coasts of Labrador, etc., June, 1497.]

[303] {263}[Compare—

"Ah! servile Italy, griefs hostelry!
A ship without a pilot in great tempest!"

Purgatorio, vi. 76, 77.]

[cf]

Yet through this many-yeared eclipse of Woe.—[MS. Alternative reading.]
Yet through this murky interreign of Woe.—[MS. erased.]

[cg] Which choirs the birds to song—-.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[ch] And Pearls flung down to regal Swine evince.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[ci] The whoredom of high Genius——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[304] {264}[Alfieri, in his Autobiography ... (1845, Period III. chap. viii. p. 92) notes and deprecates the servile manner in which Metastasio went on his knees before Maria Theresa in the Imperial gardens of Schoenbrunnen.]

[cj] And prides itself in prostituted duty.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[305] A verse from the Greek tragedians, with which Pompey took leave of Cornelia [daughter of Metellus Scipio, and widow of P. Crassus] on entering the boat in which he was slain. [The verse, or verses, are said to be by Sophocles, and are quoted by Plutarch, in his Life of Pompey, c. 78, Vitæ, 1814, vii. 159. They run thus—

Ὅστις γὰρ ὡς τύραννον ἐμπορεύεται,
Κείνου ἐστὶ δοῦλος, κἂν ἐλεύθερος μῃ.
("Seek'st thou a tyrant's door? then farewell, freedom!
Though free as air before.")

Vide Incert. Fab. Fragm., No. 789, Trag. Grec. Fragm., A. Nauck, 1889, p. 316.]

[306] The verse and sentiment are taken from Homer.

[Ἥμισυ γάρ τ' ἀρετῆς ἀποαίνυται εὐρύοπα Ζεύς
᾿Ανέρος, εὗτ᾿ ἅν μιν κατὰ δούλιον ἦμαρἕλῃσιν.

Odyssey, xvii. 322, 323.]

[307] {265} Petrarch. [Dante died September 14, 1321, when Petrarch, born July 20, 1304, had entered his eighteenth year.]

[308] [Historical events may be thrown into the form of prophecy with some security, but not so the critical opinions of the soi-disani prophet. If Byron had lived half a century later, he might have placed Ariosto and Tasso after and not before Petrarch.]

[ck]

Was crimsoned with his veins who died to save,
Shall be his glorious argument,——.—[MS, Alternative reading.]

[309] {266} [See the Introduction to the Lament of Tasso, ante, p. 139, and Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza xxxvi. line 2, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 355, note 1.]

[310] [Alfonso d'Este (II.), Duke of Ferrara, died 1597.]

[311] [Compare the opening lines of the Orlando Furioso

"Le Donne, i Cavalier'! l'arme, gli amori,
Le Cortesie, l'audaci imprese io canto."

See Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanzas xl., xli.,
Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 359, 360, note 1.]

[312] [The sense is, "Ariosto may be matched with, perhaps excelled by, Homer; but where is the Greek poet to set on the same pedestal with Tasso?"]

[313] [Compare Churchill's Grave, lines 15-19—

"And is this all? I thought,—and do we rip
The veil of Immortality, and crave
I know not what of honour and of light
Through unborn ages, to endure this blight?
So soon, and so successless?"

Vide ante, p. 47.]

[cl] {267}

The { winged lightning } blood——.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[314] [Compare—

"For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."

Kubla Khan, lines 52, 53,
Poetical Works. of S. T. Coleridge, 1893, p. 94.]

[315] [Compare—

"By our own spirits are we deified:
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness."

Resolution and Independence, vii. lines 5-7,
Wordsworth's Poetical Works, 1889, p. 175.

Compare, too, Moore's fine apology for Byron's failure to submit to the yoke of matrimony, "and to live happily ever afterwards"—

"But it is the cultivation and exercise of the imaginative faculty that, more than anything, tend to wean the man of genius from actual life, and, by substituting the sensibilities of the imagination for those of the heart, to render, at last, the medium through which he feels no less unreal than that through which he thinks. Those images of ideal good and beauty that surround him in his musings soon accustom him to consider all that is beneath this high standard unworthy of his care; till, at length, the heart becoming chilled as the fancy warms, it too often happens that, in proportion as he has refined and elevated his theory of all the social affections, he has unfitted himself for the practice of them."—Life, p. 268.]

[316] {269}[So too Wordsworth, in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800); "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings."]

[317] [Compare—

"Thy Godlike crime was to be kind,
To render with thy precepts less
The sum of human wretchedness ...
But baffled as thou wert from high ...
Thou art a symbol and a sign
To Mortals."

Prometheus, iii. lines 35, seq.; vide ante, p. 50.

Compare, too, the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, stanza xvi. var ii.—

"He suffered for kind acts to men."

Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 312.]

[318] {270}["Transfigurate," whence "transfiguration," is derived from the Latin transfiguro, found in Suetonius and Quintilian. Byron may have thought to anglicize the Italian trasfigurarsi.]

[319] The Cupola of St. Peter's. [Michel Angelo, then in his seventy-second year, received the appointment of architect of St. Peter's from Pope Paul III. He began the dome on a different plan from that of the first architect, Bramante, "declaring that he would raise the Pantheon in the air." The drum of the dome was constructed in his life-time, but for more than twenty-four years after his death (1563), the cupola remained untouched, and it was not till 1590, in the pontificate of Sixtus V., that the dome itself was completed. The ball and cross were placed on the summit in November, 1593.—Handbook of Rome, p. 239.

Compare Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza cliii. line i, Poetical Works, 1892, ii. 440, 441, note 2.]

[320] {271}["Yet, however unequal I feel myself to that attempt, were I now to begin the world again, I would tread in the steps of that great master [Michel Angelo]. To kiss the hem of his garment, to catch the slightest of his perfections, would be glory and distinction enough for an ambitious man."—Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1884, p. 289.]

[321] The statue of Moses on the monument of Julius II. [Michel Angelo's Moses is near the end of the right aisle of the Church of S. Pietro-in-Vincoli.]

SONETTO
"Di Giovanni Battista Zappi.
"Chi é costui, che in si gran pietra scolto,
Siede gigante, e le più illustri, e conte
Opre dell' arte avanza, e ha vive, e pronte
Le labbra si, che le parole ascolto?
Quest' è Mosè; ben me 'l diceva il folto
Onor del mento, e 'l doppio raggio in fronte;
Quest' è Mosè, quando scendea dal monte,
E gran parte del Nume avea nel volto.
Tal' era allor, che le sonanti, e vaste
Acque ei sospese, a se d' intorno; e tale
Quando il Mar chiuse, e ne fè tomba altrui.
E voi, sue turbe, un rio vitello alzaste?
Alzata aveste immago a questa eguale!
Ch' era men fallo i' adorar costui.

[Scelta di Sonetti ... del Gobbi, 1709, iii. 216.]

[And who is he that, shaped in sculptured stone
Sits giant-like? stern monument of art
Unparalleled, while language seems to start
From his prompt lips, and we his precepts own?
—'Tis Moses; by his beard's thick honours known,
And the twin beams that from his temples dart;
'Tis Moses; seated on the mount apart,
Whilst yet the Godhead o'er his features shone.
Such once he looked, when Ocean's sounding wave
Suspended hung, and such amidst the storm,
When o'er his foes the refluent waters roared.
An idol calf his followers did engrave:
But had they raised this awe-commanding form,
Then had they with less guilt their work adored.

Rogers.]

[cm] {272}

——from whose word
{ Israel took God, pronounce the law in stone.
Israel left Egypt, cleave the sea in stone.—

[MS. Alternative readings.]

[322] The Last Judgment, in the Sistine Chapel.

["It is obvious, throughout his [Michel Angelo's] works, that the poetical mind of the latter [Dante] influenced his feelings. The Demons in the Last Judgment ... may find a prototype in La Divina Comedia. The figures rising from the grave mark his study of L'Inferno, e Il Purgatorio; and the subject of the Brazen Serpent, in the Sistine Chapel, must remind every reader of Canto XXV. dell' Inferno."—Life of Michael Angelo by R. Duppa, 1856, p. 120.]

[323] I have read somewhere (if I do not err, for I cannot recollect where,) that Dante was so great a favourite of Michael Angelo's, that he had designed the whole of the Divina Commedia: but that the volume containing these studies was lost by sea.

[Michel Angelo's copy of Dante, says Duppa (ibid., and note 1), "was a large folio, with Landino's commentary; and upon the broad margin of the leaves he designed with a pen and ink, all the interesting subjects. This book was possessed by Antonio Montanti, a sculptor and architect in Florence, who, being appointed architect to St. Peter's, removed to Rome, and shipped his ... effects at Leghorn for Cività Vecchia, among which was this edition of Dante. In the voyage the vessel foundered at sea, and it was unfortunately lost in the wreck."]

[324] {273} See the treatment of Michel Angelo by Julius II., and his neglect by Leo X. [Julius II. encouraged his attendance at the Vatican, but one morning he was stopped by the chamberlain in waiting, who said, "I have an order not to let you enter." Michel Angelo, indignant at the insult, left Rome that very evening. Though Julius despatched five couriers to bring him back, it was some months before he returned. Even a letter (July 8, 1506), in which the Pope promised his "dearly beloved Michel Angelo" that he should not be touched nor offended, but be "reinstated in the apostolic grace," met with no response. It was this quarrel with Julius II. which prevented the completion of the sepulchral monument. The "Moses" and the figures supposed to represent the Active and the Contemplative Life, and three Caryatides (since removed) represent the whole of the original design, "a parallelogram surmounted with forty statues, and covered with reliefs and other ornaments."—See Duppa's Life, etc., 1856, pp. 33, 34, and Handbook of Rome, p. 133.]

[325] [Compare Merchant of Venice, act iv. sc. 1, lines 191, 192.]

[326] {274}[Compare—

"I fled, and cried out Death ...
I fled, but he pursued, (though more, it seems,
Inflamed with lust than rage), and swifter far,
Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed,
And in embraces forcible and foul,
Ingendering with me, of that rape begot
These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry
Surround me."

Paradise Lost, book ii. lines 787-796.]

[327] [In his Convito, Dante speaks of his banishment, and the poverty and distress which attended it, in very affecting terms. "Ah! would it had pleased the Dispenser of all things that this excuse had never been needed; that neither others had done me wrong, nor myself undergone penalty undeservedly,—the penalty, I say, of exile and of poverty. For it pleased the citizens of the fairest and most renowned daughter of Rome—Florence—to cast me out of her most sweet bosom, where I was born and bred, and passed half of the life of man, and in which, with her good leave, I still desire with all my heart to repose my weary spirit, and finish the days allotted me; and so I have wandered in almost every place to which our language extends, a stranger, almost a beggar, exposing against my will the wounds given me by fortune, too often unjustly imputed to the sufferer's fault. Truly I have been a vessel without sail and without rudder, driven about upon different ports and shores by the dry wind that springs out of dolorous poverty; and hence have I appeared vile in the eyes of many, who, perhaps, by some better report, had conceived of me a different impression, and in whose sight not only has my person become thus debased, but an unworthy opinion created of everything which I did, or which I had to do."—Il Convito, book i. chap. iii., translated by Leigh Hunt, Stories from the Italian Poets, 1846, i. 22, 23.]

[328] {275} What is Horizon's quantity? Horīzon, or Horĭzon? adopt accordingly.—[B.]

[cn]and the Horizon for bars.—[MS. Alternative reading.]

[329] [Compare—

"Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar."

Childe Harold, Canto IV. stanza lvii., Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 371, note 1.

"Between the second and third chapels [in the nave of Santa Croce at Florence] is the colossal monument to Dante, by Ricci ... raised by subscription in 1829. The inscription, 'A majoribus ter frustra decretum,' refers to the successive efforts of the Florentines to recover his remains, and raise a monument to their great countryman."—Handbook, Central Italy, p. 32.]

[330] "E scrisse più volte non solamente a' particolari Cittadini del Reggimento, ma ancora al Popolo; e intra l' altre un' Epistola assai lunga che incomincia: 'Popule mee (sic), quid feci tibi?"—Le vite di Dante, etc., scritte da Lionardo Aretino, 1672, p. 47.

[331] {276}[About the year 1316 his friends obtained his restoration to his country and his possessions, on condition that he should pay a certain sum of money, and, entering a church, avow himself guilty, and ask pardon of the republic.

The following was his answer to a religious, who appears to have been one of his kinsmen: "From your letter, which I received with due respect and affection, I observe how much you have at heart my restoration to my country. I am bound to you the more gratefully inasmuch as an exile rarely finds a friend. But, after mature consideration, I must, by my answer, disappoint the writers of some little minds ... Your nephew and mine has written to me ... that ... I am allowed to return to Florence, provided I pay a certain sum of money, and submit to the humiliation of asking and receiving absolution.... Is such an invitation then to return to his country glorious to d. all. after suffering in exile almost fifteen years? Is it thus, then, they would recompense innocence which all the world knows, and the labour and fatigue of unremitting study? Far from the man who is familiar with philosophy, be the senseless baseness of a heart of earth, that could imitate the infamy of some others, by offering himself up as it were in chains. Far from the man who cries aloud for justice, this compromise, by his money, with his persecutors! No, my Father, this is not the way that shall lead me back to my country. I will return with hasty steps, if you or any other can open to me a way that shall not derogate from the fame and honour of d.; but if by no such way Florence can be entered, then Florence I shall never enter. What! shall I not every where enjoy the light of the sun and the stars? and may I not seek and contemplate, in every corner of the earth, under the canopy of heaven, consoling and delightful truth, without first rendering myself inglorious, nay infamous, to the people and republic of Florence? Bread, I hope, will not fail me."—Epistola, IX. Amico Florentino: Opere di Dante, 1897, p. 413.]


[277]

THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE
OF PULCI.


[279]

INTRODUCTION TO THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE.
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It is possible that Byron began his translation of the First Canto of Pulci's Morgante Maggiore (so called to distinguish the entire poem of twenty-eight cantos from the lesser Morgante [or, to coin a title, "Morganid"] which was published separately) in the late autumn of 1819, before he had left Venice (see his letter to Bankes, February 19, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 403). It is certain that it was finished at Ravenna during the first week of his "domestication" in the Palazzo Guiccioli (Letters to Murray, February 7, February 21, 1820). He took a deal of pains with his self-imposed task, "servilely translating stanza from stanza, and line from line, two octaves every night;" and when the first canto was finished he was naturally and reasonably proud of his achievement. More than two years had elapsed since Frere's Whistlecraft had begotten Beppo, and in the interval he had written four cantos of Don Juan, outstripping his "immediate model," and equalling if not surpassing his model's parents and precursors, the masters of "narrative romantic poetry among the Italians."

In attempting this translation—something, as he once said of his Armenian studies, "craggy for his mind to break upon" (Letter to Moore, December 5, 1816, Letters, 1900, iv. 10)—Byron believed that he was working upon virgin soil. He had read, as he admits in his "Advertisement," John Herman Merivale's poem, Orlando in Roncesvalles, which is founded upon the Morgante Maggiore; but he does not seem to have been aware that many years before (1806, 1807) the same writer (one of the "associate bards") had published in the Monthly Magazine (May, July, 1806, etc., vide ante Introduction to Beppo, p. 156) a series of translations of selected passages of the poem. There is no resemblance whatever between Byron's laboured and faithful rendering of the text, and Merivale's far more readable[280] paraphrase, and it is evident that if these selections ever passed before his eyes, they had left no impression on his memory. He was drawn to the task partly on account of its difficulty, but chiefly because in Pulci he recognized a kindred spirit who suggested and compelled a fresh and final dedication of his genius to the humorous epopee. The translation was an act of devotion, the offering of a disciple to a master.

"The apparent contradictions of the Morgante Maggiore ... the brusque transition from piety to ribaldry, from pathos to satire," the paradoxical union of persiflage with gravity, a confession of faith alternating with a profession of mockery and profanity, have puzzled and confounded more than one student and interpreter. An intimate knowledge of the history, the literature, the art, the manners and passions of the times has enabled one of his latest critics and translators, John Addington Symonds, to come as near as may be to explaining the contradictions; but the essential quality of Pulci's humour eludes analysis.

We know that the poem itself, as Pio Rajna has shown, "the rifacimento of two earlier popular poems," was written to amuse Lucrezia Tornabuoni, the mother of Lorenzo de' Medici, and that it was recited, canto by canto, in the presence of such guests as Poliziano, Ficino, and Michelangelo Buonarotti; but how "it struck these contemporaries," and whether a subtler instinct permitted them to untwist the strands and to appraise the component parts at their precise ethical and spiritual value, are questions for the exercise of the critical imagination. That which attracted Byron to Pulci's writings was, no doubt, the co-presence of faith, a certain simplicity of faith, with an audacious and even outrageous handling of the objects of faith, combined with a facile and wanton alternation of romantic passion with a cynical mockery of whatsoever things are sober and venerable. Don Juan and the Vision of Judgment owe their existence to the Morgante Maggiore.

The MS. of the translation of Canto I. was despatched to England, February 28, 1820. It is evident (see Letters, March 29, April 23, May 18, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 425, 1901, v. 17, 21) that Murray looked coldly on Byron's "masterpiece" from the first. It was certain that any new work by the author of Don Juan would be subjected to the severest and most hostile scrutiny, and it was doubtful if a translation of part of an obscure and difficult poem, vaguely supposed to be coarse and irreligious, would meet with even a tolerable measure of success. At any rate, in spite of many inquiries and much vaunting of its excellence (see Letters, June 29, September 12, 1821, Letters, 1901,[281] v. 314, 362), the MS. remained for more than two years in Murray's hands, and it was not until other arrangements came into force that the translation of the First Canto of the Morgante Maggiore appeared in the fourth and last number of The Liberal, which was issued (by John Hunt) July 30, 1823.

For critical estimates of Luigi Pulci and the Morgante Maggiore, see an article (Quarterly Review, April, 1819, vol. xxi. pp. 486-556), by Ugo Foscolo, entitled "Narrative and Romantic Poems of the Italians;" Preface to the Orlando Innamorato of Boiardo, by A. Panizzi, 1830, i. 190-302; Poems Original and Translated, by J. H. Merivale, 1838, ii. 1-43; Stories of the Italian Poets, by J. H. Leigh Hunt, 1846, i. 283-314; Renaissance in Italy, by J. A. Symonds, 1881, iv. 431, 456, and for translations of the Morgante Maggiore, vide ibid., Appendix V. pp. 543-560; and Italian Literature, by R. Garnett, C.B., LL.D., 1898, pp. 128-131.


[283]

ADVERTISEMENT.
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The Morgante Maggiore, of the first canto of which this translation is offered, divides with the Orlando Innamorato the honour of having formed and suggested the style and story of Ariosto.[332] The great defects of Boiardo were his treating too seriously the narratives of chivalry, and his harsh style. Ariosto, in his continuation, by a judicious mixture of the gaiety of Pulci, has avoided the one; and Berni, in his reformation of Boiardo's poem, has corrected the other. Pulci may be considered as the precursor and model of Berni altogether, as he has partly been to Ariosto, however inferior to both his copyists. He is no less the founder of a new style of poetry very lately sprung up in England. I allude to that of the ingenious Whistlecraft. The serious poems on Roncesvalles in the same language, and more particularly the excellent one of Mr. Merivale, are to be traced to the same source.[333] It has never yet been decided entirely whether Pulci's intention was or was not to deride the religion which is one of his favourite topics. It appears to me, that such an intention would have been no less hazardous to the poet than to the priest, particularly in that age and country; and the permission to publish the poem, and its reception among the classics of Italy, prove[284] that it neither was nor is so interpreted. That he intended to ridicule the monastic life, and suffered his imagination to play with the simple dulness of his converted giant, seems evident enough; but surely it were as unjust to accuse him of irreligion on this account, as to denounce Fielding for his Parson Adams, Barnabas,[334] Thwackum, Supple, and the Ordinary in Jonathan Wild,—or Scott, for the exquisite use of his Covenanters in the "Tales of my Landlord."

In the following translation I have used the liberty of the original with the proper names, as Pulci uses Gan, Ganellon, or Ganellone; Carlo, Carlomagno, or Carlornano; Rondel, or Rondello, etc., as it suits his convenience; so has the translator. In other respects the version is faithful to the best of the translator's ability in combining his interpretation of the one language with the not very easy task of reducing it to the same versification in the other. The reader, on comparing it with the original, is requested to remember that the antiquated language of Pulci, however pure, is not easy to the generality of Italians themselves, from its great mixture of Tuscan proverbs; and he may therefore be more indulgent to the present attempt. How far the translator has succeeded, and whether or no he shall continue the work, are questions which the public will decide. He was induced to make the experiment partly by his love for, and partial intercourse with, the Italian language, of which it is so easy to acquire a slight knowledge, and with which it is so nearly impossible for a foreigner to become accurately conversant. The Italian language is like a capricious beauty, who accords her smiles to all, her favours to few, and sometimes least to those who have courted her longest. The translator wished also to present in an English dress a part at least of a poem never yet rendered into a northern language; at the same time that it has been the original of some of the most celebrated productions on this side of the Alps, as well of those recent experiments in poetry in England which have been already mentioned.


[285]

THE MORGANTE MAGGIORE.[335]


CANTO THE FIRST.
swash

I.

In the beginning was the Word next God;
God was the Word, the Word no less was He:[286]
This was in the beginning, to my mode
Of thinking, and without Him nought could be:
Therefore, just Lord! from out thy high abode,
Benign and pious, bid an angel flee,
One only, to be my companion, who
Shall help my famous, worthy, old song through.

II.

And thou, oh Virgin! daughter, mother, bride,
Of the same Lord, who gave to you each key
Of Heaven, and Hell, and every thing beside,
The day thy Gabriel said "All hail!" to thee,
Since to thy servants Pity's ne'er denied,
With flowing rhymes, a pleasant style and free,[287]
Be to my verses then benignly kind,
And to the end illuminate my mind.

III.

'Twas in the season when sad Philomel[336]
Weeps with her sister, who remembers and
Deplores the ancient woes which both befel,
And makes the nymphs enamoured, to the hand
Of Phaëton, by Phoebus loved so well,
His car (but tempered by his sire's command)
Was given, and on the horizon's verge just now
Appeared, so that Tithonus scratched his brow:

IV.

When I prepared my bark first to obey,
As it should still obey, the helm, my mind,
And carry prose or rhyme, and this my lay
Of Charles the Emperor, whom you will find
By several pens already praised; but they
Who to diffuse his glory were inclined,
For all that I can see in prose or verse,
Have understood Charles badly, and wrote worse.

V.

Leonardo Aretino said already,[337]
That if, like Pepin, Charles had had a writer[288]
Of genius quick, and diligently steady,
No hero would in history look brighter;
He in the cabinet being always ready,
And in the field a most victorious fighter,
Who for the church and Christian faith had wrought,
Certes, far more than yet is said or thought.

VI.

You still may see at Saint Liberatore,[338]
The abbey, no great way from Manopell,
Erected in the Abruzzi to his glory,
Because of the great battle in which fell
A pagan king, according to the story,
And felon people whom Charles sent to Hell:
And there are bones so many, and so many,
Near them Giusaffa's[339] would seem few, if any.

VII.

But the world, blind and ignorant, don't prize
His virtues as I wish to see them: thou,
Florence, by his great bounty don't arise,[340]
And hast, and may have, if thou wilt allow,
All proper customs and true courtesies:
Whate'er thou hast acquired from then till now,
With knightly courage, treasure, or the lance,
Is sprung from out the noble blood of France.

[289]

VIII.

Twelve Paladins had Charles in court, of whom
The wisest and most famous was Orlando;
Him traitor Gan[341] conducted to the tomb
In Roncesvalles, as the villain planned too,
While the horn rang so loud, and knelled the doom
Of their sad rout, though he did all knight can do:
And Dante in his comedy has given
To him a happy seat with Charles in Heaven.[342]

IX.

'Twas Christmas-day; in Paris all his court
Charles held; the Chief, I say, Orlando was,
The Dane; Astolfo there too did resort,
Also Ansuigi, the gay time to pass
In festival and in triumphal sport,
The much-renowned St. Dennis being the cause;
Angiolin of Bayonne, and Oliver,
And gentle Belinghieri too came there:

X.

Avolio, and Arino, and Othone
Of Normandy, and Richard Paladin,
Wise Hamo, and the ancient Salamone,
Walter of Lion's Mount, and Baldovin,
Who was the son of the sad Ganellone,
Were there, exciting too much gladness in
The son of Pepin:—when his knights came hither,
He groaned with joy to see them altogether.

XI.

But watchful Fortune, lurking, takes good heed
Ever some bar 'gainst our intents to bring.[290]
While Charles reposed him thus, in word and deed,
Orlando ruled court, Charles, and every thing;
Curst Gan, with envy bursting, had such need
To vent his spite, that thus with Charles the king
One day he openly began to say,
"Orlando must we always then obey?

XII.

"A thousand times I've been about to say,
Orlando too presumptuously goes on;
Here are we, counts, kings, dukes, to own thy sway,
Hamo, and Otho, Ogier, Solomon,
Each have to honour thee and to obey;
But he has too much credit near the throne,
Which we won't suffer, but are quite decided
By such a boy to be no longer guided.

XIII.

"And even at Aspramont thou didst begin
To let him know he was a gallant knight,
And by the fount did much the day to win;
But I know who that day had won the fight
If it had not for good Gherardo been;
The victory was Almonte's else; his sight
He kept upon the standard—and the laurels,
In fact and fairness, are his earning, Charles!

XIV.

"If thou rememberest being in Gascony,
When there advanced the nations out of Spain
The Christian cause had suffered shamefully,
Had not his valour driven them back again.
Best speak the truth when there's a reason why:
Know then, oh Emperor! that all complain:
As for myself, I shall repass the mounts
O'er which I crossed with two and sixty counts.

XV.

"'Tis fit thy grandeur should dispense relief,
So that each here may have his proper part,[291]
For the whole court is more or less in grief:
Perhaps thou deem'st this lad a Mars in heart?"
Orlando one day heard this speech in brief,
As by himself it chanced he sate apart:
Displeased he was with Gan because he said it,
But much more still that Charles should give him credit.

XVI.

And with the sword he would have murdered Gan,
But Oliver thrust in between the pair,
And from his hand extracted Durlindan,
And thus at length they separated were.
Orlando angry too with Carloman,
Wanted but little to have slain him there;
Then forth alone from Paris went the Chief,
And burst and maddened with disdain and grief.

XVII.

From Ermellina, consort of the Dane,
He took Cortana, and then took Rondell,
And on towards Brara pricked him o'er the plain;
And when she saw him coming, Aldabelle
Stretched forth her arms to clasp her lord again:
Orlando, in whose brain all was not well,
As "Welcome, my Orlando, home," she said,
Raised up his sword to smite her on the head.

XVIII.

Like him a Fury counsels, his revenge
On Gan in that rash act he seemed to take,
Which Aldabella thought extremely strange;
But soon Orlando found himself awake;
And his spouse took his bridle on this change,
And he dismounted from his horse, and spake
Of every thing which passed without demur,
And then reposed himself some days with her.

XIX.

Then full of wrath departed from the place,
As far as pagan countries roamed astray,[292]
And while he rode, yet still at every pace
The traitor Gan remembered by the way;
And wandering on in error a long space,
An abbey which in a lone desert lay,
'Midst glens obscure, and distant lands, he found,
Which formed the Christian's and the Pagan's bound.

XX.

The Abbot was called Clermont, and by blood
Descended from Angrante: under cover
Of a great mountain's brow the abbey stood,
But certain savage giants looked him over;
One Passamont was foremost of the brood,
And Alabaster and Morgante hover
Second and third, with certain slings, and throw
In daily jeopardy the place below.

XXI.

The monks could pass the convent gate no more,
Nor leave their cells for water or for wood;
Orlando knocked, but none would ope, before
Unto the Prior it at length seemed good;
Entered, he said that he was taught to adore
Him who was born of Mary's holiest blood,
And was baptized a Christian; and then showed
How to the abbey he had found his road.

XXII.

Said the Abbot, "You are welcome; what is mine
We give you freely, since that you believe
With us in Mary Mother's Son divine;
And that you may not, Cavalier, conceive
The cause of our delay to let you in
To be rusticity, you shall receive
The reason why our gate was barred to you:
Thus those who in suspicion live must do.

XXIII.

"When hither to inhabit first we came
These mountains, albeit that they are obscure,[293]
As you perceive, yet without fear or blame
They seemed to promise an asylum sure:
From savage brutes alone, too fierce to tame,
'Twas fit our quiet dwelling to secure;
But now, if here we'd stay, we needs must guard
Against domestic beasts with watch and ward.

XXIV.

"These make us stand, in fact, upon the watch;
For late there have appeared three giants rough,
What nation or what kingdom bore the batch
I know not, but they are all of savage stuff;
When Force and Malice with some genius match,
You know, they can do all—we are not enough:
And these so much our orisons derange,
I know not what to do, till matters change.

XXV.

"Our ancient fathers, living the desert in,
For just and holy works were duly fed;
Think not they lived on locusts sole, 'tis certain
That manna was rained down from heaven instead;
But here 'tis fit we keep on the alert in
Our bounds, or taste the stones showered down for bread,
From off yon mountain daily raining faster,
And flung by Passamont and Alabaster.

XXVI.

"The third, Morgante, 's savagest by far; he
Plucks up pines, beeches, poplar-trees, and oaks,
And flings them, our community to bury;
And all that I can do but more provokes."
While thus they parley in the cemetery,
A stone from one of their gigantic strokes,
Which nearly crushed Rondell, came tumbling over,
So that he took a long leap under cover.

XXVII.

"For God-sake, Cavalier, come in with speed;
The manna's falling now," the Abbot cried.[294]
"This fellow does not wish my horse should feed,
Dear Abbot," Roland unto him replied,
"Of restiveness he'd cure him had he need;
That stone seems with good will and aim applied."
The holy father said, "I don't deceive;
They'll one day fling the mountain, I believe."

XXVIII.

Orlando bade them take care of Rondello,
And also made a breakfast of his own;
"Abbot," he said, "I want to find that fellow
Who flung at my good horse yon corner-stone."
Said the abbot, "Let not my advice seem shallow;
As to a brother dear I speak alone;
I would dissuade you, Baron, from this strife,
As knowing sure that you will lose your life.

XXIX.

"That Passamont has in his hand three darts—
Such slings, clubs, ballast-stones, that yield you must:
You know that giants have much stouter hearts
Than us, with reason, in proportion just:
If go you will, guard well against their arts,
For these are very barbarous and robust."
Orlando answered," This I'll see, be sure,
And walk the wild on foot to be secure."

XXX.

The Abbot signed the great cross on his front,
"Then go you with God's benison and mine."
Orlando, after he had scaled the mount,
As the Abbot had directed, kept the line
Right to the usual haunt of Passamont;
Who, seeing him alone in this design,
Surveyed him fore and aft with eyes observant,
Then asked him, "If he wished to stay as servant?"

XXXI.

And promised him an office of great ease.
But, said Orlando, "Saracen insane![295]
I come to kill you, if it shall so please
God, not to serve as footboy in your train;
You with his monks so oft have broke the peace—
Vile dog! 'tis past his patience to sustain."
The Giant ran to fetch his arms, quite furious,
When he received an answer so injurious.

XXXII.

And being returned to where Orlando stood,
Who had not moved him from the spot, and swinging
The cord, he hurled a stone with strength so rude,
As showed a sample of his skill in slinging;
It rolled on Count Orlando's helmet good
And head, and set both head and helmet ringing,
So that he swooned with pain as if he died,
But more than dead, he seemed so stupified.

XXXIII.

Then Passamont, who thought him slain outright,
Said, "I will go, and while he lies along,
Disarm me: why such craven did I fight?"
But Christ his servants ne'er abandons long,
Especially Orlando, such a knight,
As to desert would almost be a wrong.
While the giant goes to put off his defences,
Orlando has recalled his force and senses:

XXXIV.

And loud he shouted, "Giant, where dost go?
Thou thought'st me doubtless for the bier outlaid;
To the right about—without wings thou'rt too slow
To fly my vengeance—currish renegade!
'Twas but by treachery thou laid'st me low."
The giant his astonishment betrayed,
And turned about, and stopped his journey on,
And then he stooped to pick up a great stone.

XXXV.

Orlando had Cortana bare in hand;
To split the head in twain was what he schemed:[296]
Cortana clave the skull like a true brand,
And pagan Passamont died unredeemed;
Yet harsh and haughty, as he lay he banned,
And most devoutly Macon still blasphemed[343];
But while his crude, rude blasphemies he heard,
Orlando thanked the Father and the Word,—

XXXVI.

Saying, "What grace to me thou'st this day given!
And I to thee, O Lord! am ever bound;
I know my life was saved by thee from Heaven,
Since by the Giant I was fairly downed.
All things by thee are measured just and even;
Our power without thine aid would nought be found:
I pray thee take heed of me, till I can
At least return once more to Carloman."

XXXVII.

And having said thus much, he went his way;
And Alabaster he found out below,
Doing the very best that in him lay
To root from out a bank a rock or two.
Orlando, when he reached him, loud 'gan say,
"How think'st thou, glutton, such a stone to throw?"
When Alabaster heard his deep voice ring,
He suddenly betook him to his sling,

XXXVIII.

And hurled a fragment of a size so large
That if it had in fact fulfilled its mission,
And Roland not availed him of his targe,
There would have been no need of a physician[344].[297]
Orlando set himself in turn to charge,
And in his bulky bosom made incision
With all his sword. The lout fell; but o'erthrown, he
However by no means forgot Macone.

XXXIX.

Morgante had a palace in his mode,
Composed of branches, logs of wood, and earth,
And stretched himself at ease in this abode,
And shut himself at night within his berth.
Orlando knocked, and knocked again, to goad
The giant from his sleep; and he came forth,
The door to open, like a crazy thing,
For a rough dream had shook him slumbering.

XL.

He thought that a fierce serpent had attacked him,
And Mahomet he called; but Mahomet
Is nothing worth, and, not an instant backed him;
But praying blessed Jesu, he was set
At liberty from all the fears which racked him;
And to the gate he came with great regret—
"Who knocks here?" grumbling all the while, said he.
"That," said Orlando, "you will quickly see:

XLI.

"I come to preach to you, as to your brothers,—
Sent by the miserable monks—repentance;
For Providence divine, in you and others,
Condemns the evil done, my new acquaintance!
'Tis writ on high—your wrong must pay another's:
From Heaven itself is issued out this sentence.
Know then, that colder now than a pilaster
I left your Passamont and Alabaster."

XLII.

Morgante said, "Oh gentle Cavalier!
Now by thy God say me no villany;
The favour of your name I fain would hear,
And if a Christian, speak for courtesy."[298]
Replied Orlando, "So much to your ear
I by my faith disclose contentedly;
Christ I adore, who is the genuine Lord,
And, if you please, by you may be adored."

XLIII.

The Saracen rejoined in humble tone,
"I have had an extraordinary vision;
A savage serpent fell on me alone,
And Macon would not pity my condition;
Hence to thy God, who for ye did atone
Upon the cross, preferred I my petition;
His timely succour set me safe and free,
And I a Christian am disposed to be."

XLIV.

Orlando answered, "Baron just and pious,
If this good wish your heart can really move
To the true God, who will not then deny us
Eternal honour, you will go above,
And, if you please, as friends we will ally us,
And I will love you with a perfect love.
Your idols are vain liars, full of fraud:
The only true God is the Christian's God.

XLV.

"The Lord descended to the virgin breast
Of Mary Mother, sinless and divine;
If you acknowledge the Redeemer blest,
Without whom neither sun nor star can shine,
Abjure bad Macon's false and felon test,
Your renegado god, and worship mine,
Baptize yourself with zeal, since you repent."
To which Morgante answered, "I'm content."

XLVI.

And then Orlando to embrace him flew,
And made much of his convert, as he cried,
"To the abbey I will gladly marshal you."
To whom Morgante, "Let us go," replied:[299]
"I to the friars have for peace to sue."
Which thing Orlando heard with inward pride,
Saying, "My brother, so devout and good,
Ask the Abbot pardon, as I wish you would:

XLVII.

"Since God has granted your illumination,
Accepting you in mercy for his own,
Humility should be your first oblation."
Morgante said, "For goodness' sake, make known,—
Since that your God is to be mine—your station,
And let your name in verity be shown;
Then will I everything at your command do."
On which the other said, he was Orlando.

XLVIII.

"Then," quoth the Giant, "blessed be Jesu
A thousand times with gratitude and praise!
Oft, perfect Baron! have I heard of you
Through all the different periods of my days:
And, as I said, to be your vassal too
I wish, for your great gallantry always."
Thus reasoning, they continued much to say,
And onwards to the abbey went their way.

XLIX.

And by the way about the giants dead
Orlando with Morgante reasoned: "Be,
For their decease, I pray you, comforted,
And, since it is God's pleasure, pardon me;
A thousand wrongs unto the monks they bred;
And our true Scripture soundeth openly,
Good is rewarded, and chastised the ill,
Which the Lord never faileth to fulfil:

L.

"Because His love of justice unto all
Is such, He wills His judgment should devour
All who have sin, however great or small;
But good He well remembers to restore.[300]
Nor without justice holy could we call
Him, whom I now require you to adore.
All men must make His will their wishes sway,
And quickly and spontaneously obey.

LI.

"And here our doctors are of one accord,
Coming on this point to the same conclusion,—
That in their thoughts, who praise in Heaven the Lord,
If Pity e'er was guilty of intrusion
For their unfortunate relations stored
In Hell below, and damned in great confusion,
Their happiness would be reduced to nought,—
And thus unjust the Almighty's self be thought.

LII.

"But they in Christ have firmest hope, and all
Which seems to Him, to them too must appear
Well done; nor could it otherwise befall;
He never can in any purpose err.
If sire or mother suffer endless thrall,
They don't disturb themselves for him or her:
What pleases God to them must joy inspire;—
Such is the observance of the eternal choir."

LIII.

"A word unto the wise," Morgante said,
"Is wont to be enough, and you shall see
How much I grieve about my brethren dead;
And if the will of God seem good to me,
Just, as you tell me, 'tis in Heaven obeyed—
Ashes to ashes,—merry let us be!
I will cut off the hands from both their trunks,
And carry them unto the holy monks.

LIV.

"So that all persons may be sure and certain
That they are dead, and have no further fear
To wander solitary this desert in,
And that they may perceive my spirit clear[301]
By the Lord's grace, who hath withdrawn the curtain
Of darkness, making His bright realm appear."
He cut his brethren's hands off at these words,
And left them to the savage beasts and birds.

LV.

Then to the abbey they went on together,
Where waited them the Abbot in great doubt.
The monks, who knew not yet the fact, ran thither
To their superior, all in breathless rout,
Saying with tremor, "Please to tell us whether
You wish to have this person in or out?"
The Abbot, looking through upon the Giant,
Too greatly feared, at first, to be compliant.

LVI.

Orlando seeing him thus agitated,
Said quickly, "Abbot, be thou of good cheer;
He Christ believes, as Christian must be rated,
And hath renounced his Macon false;" which here
Morgante with the hands corroborated,
A proof of both the giants' fate quite clear:
Thence, with due thanks, the Abbot God adored,
Saying, "Thou hast contented me, O Lord!"

LVII.

He gazed; Morgante's height he calculated,
And more than once contemplated his size;
And then he said, "O Giant celebrated!
Know, that no more my wonder will arise,
How you could tear and fling the trees you late did,
When I behold your form with my own eyes.
You now a true and perfect friend will show
Yourself to Christ, as once you were a foe.

LVIII.

"And one of our apostles, Saul once named,
Long persecuted sore the faith of Christ,
Till, one day, by the Spirit being inflamed,
'Why dost thou persecute me thus?' said Christ;[302]
And then from his offence he was reclaimed,
And went for ever after preaching Christ,
And of the faith became a trump, whose sounding
O'er the whole earth is echoing and rebounding.

LIX.

"So, my Morgante, you may do likewise:
He who repents—thus writes the Evangelist—
Occasions more rejoicing in the skies
Than ninety-nine of the celestial list.
You may be sure, should each desire arise
With just zeal for the Lord, that you'll exist
Among the happy saints for evermore;
But you were lost and damned to Hell before!"

LX.

And thus great honour to Morgante paid
The Abbot: many days they did repose.
One day, as with Orlando they both strayed,
And sauntered here and there, where'er they chose,
The Abbot showed a chamber, where arrayed
Much armour was, and hung up certain bows;
And one of these Morgante for a whim
Girt on, though useless, he believed, to him.

LXI.

There being a want of water in the place,
Orlando, like a worthy brother, said,
"Morgante, I could wish you in this case
To go for water." "You shall be obeyed
In all commands," was the reply, "straight ways."
Upon his shoulder a great tub he laid,
And went out on his way unto a fountain,
Where he was wont to drink, below the mountain.

LXII.

Arrived there, a prodigious noise he hears,
Which suddenly along the forest spread;
Whereat from out his quiver he prepares
An arrow for his bow, and lifts his head;[303]
And lo! a monstrous herd of swine appears,
And onward rushes with tempestuous tread,
And to the fountain's brink precisely pours;
So that the Giant's joined by all the boars.

LXIII.

Morgante at a venture shot an arrow,
Which pierced a pig precisely in the ear,
And passed unto the other side quite through;
So that the boar, defunct, lay tripped up near.
Another, to revenge his fellow farrow,
Against the Giant rushed in fierce career,
And reached the passage with so swift a foot,
Morgante was not now in time to shoot.

LXIV.

Perceiving that the pig was on him close,
He gave him such a punch upon the head[345],
As floored him so that he no more arose,
Smashing the very bone; and he fell dead
Next to the other. Having seen such blows,
The other pigs along the valley fled;
Morgante on his neck the bucket took,
Full from the spring, which neither swerved nor shook.

LXV.

The tub was on one shoulder, and there were
The hogs on t'other, and he brushed apace
On to the abbey, though by no means near,
Nor spilt one drop of water in his race.
Orlando, seeing him so soon appear
With the dead boars, and with that brimful vase,
Marvelled to see his strength so very great;
So did the Abbot, and set wide the gate.
[304]

LXVI.

The monks, who saw the water fresh and good[346],
Rejoiced, but much more to perceive the pork;
All animals are glad at sight of food:
They lay their breviaries to sleep, and work
With greedy pleasure, and in such a mood,
That the flesh needs no salt beneath their fork.
Of rankness and of rot there is no fear,
For all the fasts are now left in arrear.

LXVII.

As though they wished to burst at once, they ate;
And gorged so that, as if the bones had been
In water, sorely grieved the dog and cat,
Perceiving that they all were picked too clean.
The Abbot, who to all did honour great,
A few days after this convivial scene,
Gave to Morgante a fine horse, well trained,
Which he long time had for himself maintained.

LXVIII.

The horse Morgante to a meadow led,
To gallop, and to put him to the proof,
Thinking that he a back of iron had,
Or to skim eggs unbroke was light enough;
But the horse, sinking with the pain, fell dead,
And burst, while cold on earth lay head and hoof.
Morgante said, "Get up, thou sulky cur!"
And still continued pricking with the spur.

LXIX.

But finally he thought fit to dismount,
And said, "I am as light as any feather,
And he has burst;—to this what say you, Count?"
Orlando answered, "Like a ship's mast rather[305]
You seem to me, and with the truck for front:
Let him go! Fortune wills that we together
Should march, but you on foot Morgante still."
To which the Giant answered," So I will.

LXX.

"When there shall be occasion, you will see
How I approve my courage in the fight."
Orlando said, "I really think you'll be,
If it should prove God's will, a goodly knight;
Nor will you napping there discover me.
But never mind your horse, though out of sight
'Twere best to carry him into some wood,
If but the means or way I understood."

LXXI.

The Giant said, "Then carry him I will,
Since that to carry me he was so slack—
To render, as the gods do, good for ill;
But lend a hand to place him on my back."
Orlando answered, "If my counsel still
May weigh, Morgante, do not undertake
To lift or carry this dead courser, who,
As you have done to him, will do to you.

LXXII.

"Take care he don't revenge himself, though dead,
As Nessus did of old beyond all cure.
I don't know if the fact you've heard or read;
But he will make you burst, you may be sure."
"But help him on my back," Morgante said,
"And you shall see what weight I can endure.
In place, my gentle Roland, of this palfrey,
With all the bells, I'd carry yonder belfry."

LXXIII.

The Abbot said, "The steeple may do well,
But for the bells, you've broken them, I wot."
Morgante answered, "Let them pay in Hell
The penalty who lie dead in yon grot;"[306]
And hoisting up the horse from where he fell,
He said, "Now look if I the gout have got,
Orlando, in the legs,—or if I have force;"—
And then he made two gambols with the horse.

LXXIV.

Morgante was like any mountain framed;
So if he did this 'tis no prodigy;
But secretly himself Orlando blamed,
Because he was one of his family;
And fearing that he might be hurt or maimed,
Once more he bade him lay his burden by:
"Put down, nor bear him further the desert in."
Morgante said, "I'll carry him for certain."

LXXV.

He did; and stowed him in some nook away,
And to the abbey then returned with speed.
Orlando said, "Why longer do we stay?
Morgante, here is nought to do indeed."
The Abbot by the hand he took one day,
And said, with great respect, he had agreed
To leave his reverence; but for this decision
He wished to have his pardon and permission.

LXXVI.

The honours they continued to receive
Perhaps exceeded what his merits claimed:
He said, "I mean, and quickly, to retrieve
The lost days of time past, which may be blamed;
Some days ago I should have asked your leave,
Kind father, but I really was ashamed,
And know not how to show my sentiment,
So much I see you with our stay content.

LXXVII.

"But in my heart I bear through every clime
The Abbot, abbey, and this solitude—
So much I love you in so short a time;
For me, from Heaven reward you with all good[307]
The God so true, the eternal Lord sublime!
Whose kingdom at the last hath open stood.
Meantime we stand expectant of your blessing.
And recommend us to your prayers with pressing."

LXXVIII.

Now when the Abbot Count Orlando heard,
His heart grew soft with inner tenderness,
Such fervour in his bosom bred each word;
And, "Cavalier," he said, "if I have less
Courteous and kind to your great worth appeared,
Than fits me for such gentle blood to express,
I know I have done too little in this case;
But blame our ignorance, and this poor place.

LXXIX.

"We can indeed but honour you with masses,
And sermons, thanksgivings, and pater-nosters,
Hot suppers, dinners (fitting other places
In verity much rather than the cloisters);
But such a love for you my heart embraces,
For thousand virtues which your bosom fosters,
That wheresoe'er you go I too shall be,
And, on the other part, you rest with me.

LXXX.

"This may involve a seeming contradiction;
But you I know are sage, and feel, and taste,
And understand my speech with full conviction.
For your just pious deeds may you be graced
With the Lord's great reward and benediction,
By whom you were directed to this waste:
To His high mercy is our freedom due,
For which we render thanks to Him and you.

LXXXI.

"You saved at once our life and soul: such fear
The Giants caused us, that the way was lost
By which we could pursue a fit career
In search of Jesus and the saintly Host;[308]
And your departure breeds such sorrow here,
That comfortless we all are to our cost;
But months and years you would not stay in sloth,
Nor are you formed to wear our sober cloth,

LXXXII.

"But to bear arms, and wield the lance; indeed,
With these as much is done as with this cowl;
In proof of which the Scripture you may read,
This Giant up to Heaven may bear his soul
By your compassion: now in peace proceed.
Your state and name I seek not to unroll;
But, if I'm asked, this answer shall be given,
That here an angel was sent down from Heaven.

LXXXIII.

"If you want armour or aught else, go in,
Look o'er the wardrobe, and take what you choose,
And cover with it o'er this Giant's skin."
Orlando answered, "If there should lie loose
Some armour, ere our journey we begin,
Which might be turned to my companion's use,
The gift would be acceptable to me."
The Abbot said to him, "Come in and see."

LXXXIV.

And in a certain closet, where the wall
Was covered with old armour like a crust,
The Abbot said to them, "I give you all."
Morgante rummaged piecemeal from the dust
The whole, which, save one cuirass[347], was too small,
And that too had the mail inlaid with rust.[309]
They wondered how it fitted him exactly,
Which ne'er had suited others so compactly.

LXXXV.

'Twas an immeasurable Giant's, who
By the great Milo of Agrante fell
Before the abbey many years ago.
The story on the wall was figured well;
In the last moment of the abbey's foe,
Who long had waged a war implacable:
Precisely as the war occurred they drew him,
And there was Milo as he overthrew him.

LXXXVI.

Seeing this history, Count Orlando said
In his own heart, "O God who in the sky
Know'st all things! how was Milo hither led?
Who caused the Giant in this place to die?"
And certain letters, weeping, then he read,
So that he could not keep his visage dry,—
As I will tell in the ensuing story:
From evil keep you the high King of Glory!

[Note to Stanza v. Lines 1, 2.—In an Edition of the Morgante Maggiore issued at Florence by G. Pulci, in 1900, line 2 of stanza v. runs thus—

"Com' egli ebbe un Ormanno e 'l suo Turpino."

The allusion to "Ormanno," who has been identified with a mythical chronicler, "Urmano from Paris" (see Rajna's Ricerche sui Reali di Francia, 1872, p. 51), and the appeal to the authority of Leonardo Aretino, must not be taken au pied de la lettre. At the same time, the opinion attributed to Leonardo is in accordance with contemporary sentiment and phraseology. Compare "Horum res gestas si qui auctores digni celebrassent, quam magnæ, quam admirabiles, quam veteribus illis similes viderentur."—B. Accolti Aretini (ob. 1466) Dialogus de Præstantiâ Virorum sui Ævi. P. Villani, Liber de Florentiæ Famosis Civibus, 1847, p. 112. From information kindly supplied by Professor V. Rossi, of the University of Pavia.]

FOOTNOTES:

[332] {283}[Matteo Maria Bojardo (1434-1494) published his Orlando Innamorato in 1486; Lodovico Ariosto (1474-1533) published the Orlando Furioso in 1516. A first edition of Cantos I.-XXV. of Luigi Pulci's (1431-1487) Il Morgante Maggiore was printed surreptitiously by Luca Veneziano in 1481. Francesco Berni, who recast the Orlando Innamorato, was born circ. 1490, and died in 1536.]

[333] [John Hermann Merivale (1779-1844), the father of Charles Merivale, the historian (Dean of Ely, 1869), and of Herman, Under-Secretary for India, published his Orlando in Roncesvalles in 1814.]

[334] {284}[Parson Adams and Barnabas are characters in Joseph Andrews; Thwackum and Supple, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.]

[335] {285}[Byron insisted, in the first place with Murray (February 7, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 402), and afterwards, no doubt, with the Hunts, that his translation of the Morgante Maggiore should be "put by the original, stanza for stanza, and verse for verse." In the present issue a few stanzas are inserted for purposes of comparison, but it has not been thought necessary to reprint the whole of the Canto.

"IL MORGANTE MAGGIORE.
ARGOMENTO.
"Vivendo Carlo Magno Imperadore
Co' Paladini in festa e in allegria,
Orlando contra Gano traditore
S'adira, e parte verso Pagania:
Giunge a un deserto, e del bestial furore
Di tre giganti salva una badia,
Che due n'uccide, e con Morgante elegge,
Di buon sozio e d'amico usar la legge."
CANTO PRIMO.
I.
"In principio era il Verbo appresso a Dio;
Ed era Iddio il Verbo, e 'l Verbo lui:
Quest' era nel principio, al parer mio;
E nulla si può far sanza costui:
Però, giusto Signor benigno e pio,
Mandami solo un de gli angeli tui,
Che m'accompagni, e rechimi a memoria
Una famosa antica e degna storia.
II.
"E tu, Vergine, figlia, e madre, e sposa,
Di quel Signor, che ti dette le chiave
Del cielo e dell' abisso, e d' ogni cosa,
Quel di che Gabriel tuo ti disse Ave!
Perchè tu se' de' tuo' servi pietosa,
Con dolce rime, e stil grato e soave,
Ajuta i versi miei benignamente,
E'nsino al fine allumina la mente.
III.
"Era nel tempo, quando Filomena
Colla sorella si lamenta e plora,
Che si ricorda di sua antica pena,
E pe' boschetti le ninfe innamora,
E Febo il carro temperato mena,
Che 'l suo Fetonte l'ammaestra ancora;
Ed appariva appunto all' orizzonte,
Tal che Titon si graffiava la fronte:
IV.
"Quand'io varai la mia barchetta, prima
Per ubbidir chi sempre ubbidir debbe
La mente, e faticarsi in prosa e in rima,
E del mio Carlo Imperador m'increbbe;
Che so quanti la penna ha posto in cima,
Che tutti la sua gloria prevarrebbe:
E stata quella istoria, a quel ch'i' veggio,
Di Carlo male intesa, e scritta peggio."]

[336] {287}[Philomela and Procne were daughters of Pandion, King of Attica. Tereus, son of Ares, wedded Procne, and, after the birth of her son Itys, concealed his wife in the country, with a view to dishonouring Philomela, on the plea of her sister's death. Procne discovered the plot, killed her babe, and served up his flesh in a dish for her husband's dinner. The sisters fled, and when Tereus pursued them with an axe they besought the gods to change them into birds. Thereupon Procne became a swallow, and Philomela a nightingale. So Hyginus, Fabulæ, xlv.; but there are other versions of Philomela's woes.]

[337] [In the first edition of the Morgante Maggiore (Firenze, 1482 [B.M.G. 10834]), which is said (vide the colophon) to have been issued "under the correction of the author, line 2 of this stanza runs thus: "comegliebbe u armano el suo turpino;" and, apparently, it was not till 1518 (Milano, by Zarotti) that Pipino was substituted for Turpino. Leonardo Bruni, surnamed Aretino (1369-1444), in his Istoria Fiorentina (1861, pp. 43, 47), commemorates the imperial magnificence of Carlo Magno, and speaks of his benefactions to the Church, but does not—in that work, at any rate—mention his biographers. It is possible that if Pulci or Bruni had read Eginhard, they thought that his chronicle was derogatory to Charlemagne. (See Gibbon's Decline and Fall, 1825, iii. 376, note 1, and Hallam's Europe during the Middle Ages, 1868, p. 16, note 3; et vide post, p. 309.)]

[338] {288}[For an account of the Benedictine Monastery of San Liberatore alla Majella, which lies to the south of Manoppello (eight miles southwest of Chieto, in the Abruzzi), see Monumenti Storici ed. Artistici degli Abruzzi, by V. Bindi, Naples, 1889, Part I. (Testo), pp. 655, sq. The abbey is in a ruinous condition, but on the walls of "un ampio porticato," there is still to be seen a fresco of Charlemagne, holding in his hands the deed of gift of the Abbey lands.]

[339] [That is, the valley of Jehoshaphat, the "valley where Jehovah judges" (see Joel iii. 2-12); and, hence, a favourite burial-ground of Jews and Moslems.]

[340] [The text as it stands is meaningless. Probably Byron wrote "dost arise." The reference is no doubt to the supposed restoration of Florence by Charlemagne.]

[341] {289}["The Morgante is in truth the epic of treason, and the character of Gano, as an accomplished but not utterly abandoned Judas, is admirably sustained throughout."—Renaissance in Italy, 1881, iv. 444.]

[342]

["Così per Carlo Magno e per Orlando,
Due ne segui lo mio attento sguardo,
Com' occhio segue suo falcon volando."

Del Paradiso, Canto XVIII. lines 43-45.]

[343] {296}["Macon" is another form of "Mahomet." Compare—

"O Macon! break in twain the steeléd lance."

Fairfax's Tasso, Gerusalemme Liberata, book ix. stanza xxx. line i.]

[344] [Pulci seems to have been the originator of the humorous understatement. Compare—

"And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more."

Bret Harte's Poems, The Society upon the Stanislaus, line 26.]

[345] {303} "Gli dette in su la testa un gran punzone." It is strange that Pulci should have literally anticipated the technical terms of my old friend and master, Jackson, and the art which he has carried to its highest pitch. "A punch on the head" or "a punch in the head"—"un punzone in su la testa,"—is the exact and frequent phrase of our best pugilists, who little dream that they are talking the purest Tuscan.

[346] {304}["Half a dozen invectives against tyranny confiscate Cd. Hd. in a month; and eight and twenty cantos of quizzing Monks, Knights, and Church Government, are let loose for centuries."—Letter to Murray, May 8, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 21.]

[347] {308}[Byron could not make up his mind with regard to the translation of the Italian sbergo, which he had, correctly, rendered "cuirass." He was under the impression that the word "meant helmet also" (see his letters to Murray, March 1, 5, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 413-417). Sbergo or usbergo, as Moore points out (Life, p. 438, note 2), "is obviously the same as hauberk, habergeon, etc., all from the German halsberg, or covering for the neck." An old dictionary which Byron might have consulted, Vocabolario Italiano-Latino, Venice, 1794, gives thorax, lorica, as the Latin equivalent of "Usbergo = armadura del busto, corazza." (See, too, for an authority quoted in the Dizzionario Universale (1797-1805) of Alberti di Villanuova, Letters, 1900, iv. 417, note 2.)]


[311]

FRANCESCA OF RIMINI.


[313]

INTRODUCTION TO FRANCESCA OF RIMINI.
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The MS. of "a literal translation, word for word (versed like the original), of the episode of Francesca of Rimini" (Letter March 23, 1820, Letters, 1900, iv. 421), was sent to Murray from Ravenna, March 20, 1820 (ibid., p. 419), a week after Byron had forwarded the MS. of the Prophecy of Dante. Presumably the translation had been made in the interval by way of illustrating and justifying the unfamiliar metre of the "Dante Imitation." In the letter which accompanied the translation he writes, "Enclosed you will find, line for line, in third rhyme (terza rima,) of which your British Blackguard reader as yet understands nothing, Fanny of Rimini. You know that she was born here, and married, and slain, from Cary, Boyd, and such people already. I have done it into cramp English, line for line, and rhyme for rhyme, to try the possibility. You had best append it to the poems already sent by last three posts."

In the matter of the "British Blackguard," that is, the general reader, Byron spoke by the card. Hayley's excellent translation of the three first cantos of the Inferno (vide ante, "Introduction to the Prophecy of Dante," p. 237), which must have been known to a previous generation, was forgotten, and with earlier experiments in terza rima, by Chaucer and the sixteenth and seventeenth century poets, neither Byron nor the British public had any familiar or definite acquaintance. But of late some interest had been awakened or revived in Dante and the Divina Commedia.

Cary's translation—begun in 1796, but not published as a whole till 1814—had met with a sudden and remarkable success. "The work, which had been published four years, but had remained in utter obscurity, was at once eagerly sought after. About a thousand copies of the first edition, that remained on hand, were immediately disposed of; in less than three months a new edition was called for." Moreover, the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews were loud in its[314] praises (Memoir of H. F. Cary, 1847, ii. 28). Byron seems to have thought that a fragment of the Inferno, "versed like the original," would challenge comparison with Cary's rendering in blank verse, and would lend an additional interest to the "Pulci Translations, and the Dante Imitation." Dîs aliter visum, and Byron's translation of the episode of Francesca of Rimini, remained unpublished till it appeared in the pages of The Letters and Journals of Lord Byron, 1830, ii. 309-311. (For separate translations of the episode, see Stories of the Italian Poets, by Leigh Hunt, 1846, i. 393-395, and for a rendering in blank verse by Lord [John] Russell, see Literary Souvenir, 1830, pp. 285-287.)[315]

Transcriber's Note: In the original work the Italian verse of Dante was printed on pages facing Byron's translation so that the two could be compared. Here, the Italian verse has been placed following Byron's. To compare the two side by side, open a second copy of this etext in a new window.


[317]

FRANCESCA OF RIMINI[348]
FROM THE INFERNO OF DANTE.


CANTO THE FIFTH.
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"The Land where I was born[349] sits by the Seas
Upon that shore to which the Po descends,
With all his followers, in search of peace.
Love, which the gentle heart soon apprehends,
Seized him for the fair person which was ta'en
From me[350], and me even yet the mode offends.
Love, who to none beloved to love again[319]
Remits, seized me with wish to please, so strong[351],
That, as thou see'st, yet, yet it doth remain.
Love to one death conducted us along,10
But Caina[352] waits for him our life who ended:"
These were the accents uttered by her tongue.—
Since I first listened to these Souls offended,
I bowed my visage, and so kept it till—
'What think'st thou?' said the bard[353]; when I unbended,
And recommenced: 'Alas! unto such ill
How many sweet thoughts, what strong ecstacies,
Led these their evil fortune to fulfill!'
And then I turned unto their side my eyes,
And said, 'Francesca, thy sad destinies20
Have made me sorrow till the tears arise.
But tell me, in the Season of sweet sighs,
By what and how thy Love to Passion rose,
So as his dim desires to recognize?'
Then she to me: 'The greatest of all woes
Is to remind us of our happy days[co][354]
In misery, and that thy teacher knows.
But if to learn our Passion's first root preys
Upon thy spirit with such Sympathy,
I will do even as he who weeps and says.[cp][355]30
We read one day for pastime, seated nigh,[321]
Of Lancilot, how Love enchained him too.
We were alone, quite unsuspiciously.
But oft our eyes met, and our Cheeks in hue
All o'er discoloured by that reading were;
But one point only wholly us o'erthrew;[cq]
When we read the long-sighed-for smile of her,[cr]
To be thus kissed by such devoted lover,[cs]
He, who from me can be divided ne'er,
Kissed my mouth, trembling in the act all over:40
Accurséd was the book and he who wrote![356]
That day no further leaf we did uncover.'
While thus one Spirit told us of their lot,
The other wept, so that with Pity's thralls
I swooned, as if by Death I had been smote,[357]
And fell down even as a dead body falls."[358]

March 20, 1820.


[316]

FRANCESCA DA RIMINI.
DANTE, L'INFERNO.


CANTO QUINTO.
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'Siede la terra dove nata fui
Sulla marina, dove il Po discende
Per aver pace co' seguaci sui.
Amor, che al cor gentil ratto s'apprende,
Prese costui della bella persona
Che mi fu tolta, e il modo ancor m' offende.
Amor, che a nullo amato amar perdona,[318]
Mi prese del costui piacer si forte,
Che, come vedi, ancor non mi abbandona.
Amor condusse noi ad una morte:10
Caino attende chi vita ci spense.'
Queste parole da lor ci fur porte.
Da che io intesi quelle anime offense
Chinai 'l viso, e tanto il tenni basso,
Finchè il Poeta mi disse: 'Che pense?'
Quando risposi, cominciai: 'O lasso!
Quanti dolci pensier, quanto disio
Menò costoro al doloroso passo!'
Poi mi rivolsi a loro, e parla' io,
E cominciai: 'Francesca, i tuoi martiri20
A lagrimar mi fanno tristo e pio.
Ma dimmi: al tempo de' dolci sospiri
A che e come concedette Amore,
Che conoscesti i dubbiosi desiri?'
Ed ella a me: 'Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria; e ciò sa il tuo dottore.
Ma se a conoscer la prima radice
Del nostro amor tu hai cotanto affetto
Farò come colui che piange e dice.30
Noi leggevamo un giorno per diletto[320]
Di Lancelotto, come Amor lo strinse:
Soli eravamo, e senza alcun sospetto.
Per più fiate gli occhi ci sospinse
Quella lettura, e scolorocci il viso:
Ma solo un punto fu quel che ci vinse.
Quando leggemmo il disiato riso
Esser baciato da cotanto amante,
Questi, che mai da me non fia diviso,
La bocca mi baciò tutto tremante:40
Galeotto fu il libro, e chi lo scrisse—
Quel giorno più non vi leggemmo avante
Mentre che l'uno spirto questo disse,
L'altro piangeva sì che di pietade
Io venni meno cos com' io morisse;
E caddi, come corpo morto cade.

FOOTNOTES:

[348] {317} [Dante, in his Inferno (Canto V. lines 97-142), places Francesca and her lover Paolo among the lustful in the second circle of Hell. Francesca, daughter of Guido Vecchio da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, married (circ. 1275) Gianciotto, second son of Malatesta da Verrucchio, Lord of Rimini. According to Boccaccio (Il Comento sopra la Commedia, 1863, i. 476, sq.), Gianciotto was "hideously deformed in countenance and figure," and determined to woo and marry Francesca by proxy. He accordingly "sent, as his representative, his younger brother Paolo, the handsomest and most accomplished man in all Italy. Francesca saw Paolo arrive, and imagined she beheld her future husband. That mistake was the commencement of her passion." A day came when the lovers were surprised together, and Gianciotto slew both his brother and his wife.]

[349] ["On arrive à Ravenne en longeant une forèt de pins qui a sept lieues de long, et qui me semblait un immense bois funèbre servant d'avenue au sépulcre commun de ces deux grandes puissances. A peine y a-t-il place pour d'autres souvenirs à côté de leur mémoire. Cependant d'autres noms poétiques sont attachés à la Pineta de Ravenne. Naguère lord Byron y évoquait les fantastiques récits empruntés par Dryden à Boccace, et lui-même est maintenant une figure du passé, errante dans ce lieu mélancolique. Je songeais, en le traversant, que le chantre du désespoir avait chevauché sur cette plage lugubre, foulée avant lui par le pas grave et lent du poëte de l'Enfer....

"Il suffit de jeter les yeux sur une carte pour reconnaitre l'exactitude topographique de cette dernière expression. En effet, dans toute la partie supérieure de son cours, le Po reçoit une foule d'affluents qui convergent vers son lit; ce sont le Tésin, l'Adda, l'Olio, le Mincio, la Trebbia, la Bormida, le Taro...."—La Grèce, Rome, et Dante ("Voyage Dantesque"), par M. J. J. Ampère, 1850, pp. 311-313.]

[350] [The meaning is that she was despoiled of her beauty by death, and that the manner of her death excites her indignation still. "Among Lord Byron's unpublished letters we find the following varied readings of the translation from Dante:—

Seized him for the fair person, which in its
Bloom was ta'en from me, yet the mode offends.
or,
Seized him for the fair form, of which in its
Bloom I was reft, and yet the mode offends.

Love, which to none beloved to love remits,
Seized me { with mutual wish to please wish of pleasing him with the desire to please } so strong,
That, as thou see'st, not yet that passion quits, etc.

You will find these readings vary from the MS. I sent you. They are closer, but rougher: take which is liked best; or, if you like, print them as variations. They are all close to the text."—Works of Lord Byron, 1832, xii. 5, note 2.]

[351] {318} ["The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man."—S. T. Coleridge, Table Talk, July 23, 1827.]

[352] [Caïna is the first belt of Cocytus, that is, circle ix. of the Inferno, in which fratricides and betrayers of their kindred are immersed up to the neck.]

[353] [Virgil.]

[co] {319}

Is to recall to mind our happy days.
In misery, and this thy teacher knows.—[MS.]

[354] [The sentiment is derived from Boethius: "In omni adversitate fortunæ infelicissimum genus est infortunii, fuisse felicem."—De Consolat. Philos. Lib. II. Prosa 4. The earlier commentators (e.g. Venturi and Biagioli), relying on a passage in the Convito (ii. 16), assume that the "teacher" (line 27) is the author of the sentence, but later authorities point out that "mio dottore" can only apply to Virgil (v. 70), who then and there in the world of shades was suffering the bitter experience of having "known better days." Compare—

"For of fortunes sharp adversitee
The worst kinde of infortune is this,
A man to have ben in prosperitee,
And it remembren whan it passéd is."

Troilus and Criseyde, Bk. III. stanza ccxxxiii. lines 1-4.

"E perché rimembrare il ben perduto
Fa più meschino lo stato presente."

Fortiguerra's Ricciardetto, Canto XI. stanza lxxxiii.

Compare, too—

"A sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things."

Tennyson's Locksley Hall.]

[cp] I will relate as he who weeps and says.—[MS.] (The sense is, I will do even as one who relates while weeping.)

[355] [Byron affixed the following note to line 126 of the Italian: "In some of the editions it is 'dirò,' in others 'faro;'—an essential difference between 'saying' and 'doing' which I know not how to decide—Ask Foscolo—the damned editions drive me mad." In La Divina Commedia, Firenze, 1892, and the Opere de Dante, Oxford, 1897, the reading is faro.]

[cq] {321}——wholly overthrew.—[MS.]

[cr] When we read the desired-for smile of her. [MS, Alternative reading.]

[cs]by such a fervent lover.—[MS.]

[356] ["A Gallehault was the book and he who wrote it" (A. J. Butler). "Writer and book were Gallehault to our will" (E. J. Plumptre). The book which the lovers were reading is entitled L'Illustre et Famosa Historia di Lancilotto del Lago. The "one point" of the original runs thus: "Et la reina ... lo piglia per il mento, et lo bacia davanti a Gallehault, assai lungamente."—Venice, 1558, Lib. Prim. cap. lxvi. vol. i. p. 229. The Gallehault of the Lancilotto, the shameless "purveyor," must not be confounded with the stainless Galahad of the Morte d'Arthur.']

[357] [Dante was in his twentieth, or twenty-first year when the tragedy of Francesca and Paolo was enacted, not at Rimini, but at Pesaro. Some acquaintance he may have had with her, through his friend Guido (not her father, but probably her nephew), enough to account for the peculiar emotion caused by her sanguinary doom.]

[358]

Alternative Versions Transcribed by Mrs. Shelley.

March 20, 1820.

line 4: Love, which too soon the soft heart apprehends,
Seized him for the fair form, the which was there
Torn from me, and even yet the mode offends.
line 8: Remits, seized him for me with joy so strong—
line 12: These were the words then uttered—
Since I had first perceived these souls offended,
I bowed my visage and so kept it till—
"What think'st thou?" said the bard, whom I (sic)
And then commenced—"Alas unto such ill—
line 18: Led these? "and then I turned me to them still
And spoke, "Francesca, thy sad destinies
Have made me sad and tender even to tears,
But tell me, in the season of sweet sighs,
By what and how Love overcame your fears,
So ye might recognize his dim desires?"
Then she to me, "No greater grief appears
Than, when the time of happiness expires,
To recollect, and this your teacher knows.
But if to find the first root of our—
Thou seek'st with such a sympathy in woes,
I will do even as he who weeps and speaks.
We read one day for pleasure, sitting close,
Of Launcelot, where forth his passion breaks.
We were alone and we suspected nought,
But oft our eyes exchanged, and changed our cheeks.
When we read the desiring smile of her
Who to be kissed by such true lover sought,
He who from me can be divided ne'er
All tremulously kissed my trembling mouth.
Accursed the book and he who wrote it were—
That day no further did we read in sooth."
While the one spirit in this manner spoke
The other wept, so that, for very ruth,
I felt as if my trembling heart had broke,
To see the misery which both enthralls:
So that I swooned as dying with the stroke,—
And fell down even as a dead body falls.
Another version of the same.
line 21: Have made me sad even until the tears arise—
line 27: In wretchedness, and that your teacher knows.
line 31: We read one day for pleasure—
Of Launcelot, how passion shook his frame.
We were alone all unsuspiciously.
But oft our eyes met and our cheeks the same,
Pale and discoloured by that reading were;
But one part only wholly overcame;
When we read the desiring smile of her
Who sought the kiss of such devoted lover;
He who from me can be divided ne'er
Kissed my mouth, trembling to that kiss all over!
Accurséd was that book and he who wrote—
That day we did no further page uncover."
While thus—etc.
line 45: I swooned to death with sympathetic thought—
[Another version.]
line 33: We were alone, and we suspected nought.
But oft our meeting eyes made pale our cheeks,
Urged by that reading for our ruin wrought;
But one point only wholly overcame:
When we read the desiring smile which sought
By such true lover to be kissed—the same
Who from my side can be divided ne'er
Kissed my mouth, trembling o'er all his frame!
Accurst the book, etc., etc.
[Another version.]
line 33: We were alone and—etc.
But one point only 'twas our ruin wrought.
When we read the desiring smile of her
Who to be kissed of such true lover sought;
He who for me, etc., etc.

[323]

MARINO FALIERO,
DOGE OF VENICE;
AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY,
IN FIVE ACTS.


"Dux inquieti turbidus Adria."

Horace, [Od. III. c. iii. line 5]


[324]

[Marino Faliero was produced for the first time at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, April 25, 1821. Mr. Cooper played "The Doge;" Mrs. W. West, "Angiolina, wife of the Doge." The piece was repeated on April 30, May 1, 2, 3, 4, and 14, 1821.

A revival was attempted at Drury Lane, May 20, 21, 1842, when Macready appeared as "The Doge," and Helen Faucit as "Angiolina" (see Life and Remains of E. L. Blanchard, 1891, i. 346-348).

An adaptation of Byron's play, by W. Bayle Bernard, was produced at Drury Lane, November 2, 1867. It was played till December 17, 1867. Phelps took the part of "The Doge," and Mrs. Hermann of "Angiolina." In Germany an adaptation by Arthur Fitger was performed nineteen times by the "Meiningers," circ. 1887 (see Englische Studien, 1899, xxvii. 146).]


[325]

INTRODUCTION TO MARINO FALIERO.
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Byron had no sooner finished the first draft of Manfred than he began (February 25, 1817) to lay the foundation of another tragedy. Venice was new to him, and, on visiting the Doge's Palace, the veiled space intended for the portrait of Marin Falier, and the "Giants' Staircase," where, as he believed, "he was once crowned and afterwards decapitated," had laid hold of his imagination, while the legend of the Congiura, "an old man jealous and conspiring against the state of which he was ... Chief," promised a subject which the "devil himself" might have dramatized con amore.

But other interests and ideas claimed his attention, and for more than three years the project slept. At length he slips into the postscript of a letter to Murray, dated, "Ravenna, April 9, 1820" (Letters, 1901, v. 7), an intimation that he had begun "a tragedy on the subject of Marino Faliero, the Doge of Venice." The "Imitation of Dante, the Translation of Pulci, the Danticles," etc., were worked off, and, in prospecting for a new vein, a fresh lode of literary ore, he passed, by a natural transition, from Italian literature to Italian history, from the romantic and humorous epopee of Pulci and Berni, to the pseudo-classic drama of Alfieri and Monti.

Jealousy, as "Monk" Lewis had advised him (August, 1817), was an "exhausted passion" in the drama, and to lay the scene in Venice was to provoke comparison with Shakespeare and Otway; but the man himself, the fiery Doge, passionate but not jealous, a noble turned democrat pro hac vice, an old man "greatly" finding "quarrel in a straw," afforded a theme historically time-honoured, and yet unappropriated by tragic art.

There was, too, a living interest in the story. For history was repeating itself, and "politics were savage and uncertain." "Mischief was afoot," and the tradition of a conspiracy which failed might find an historic parallel in[326] a conspiracy which would succeed. There was "that brewing in Italy" which might, perhaps, inspire "a people to redress itself," "and with a cry of, 'Up with the Republic!' 'Down with the Nobility!' send the Barbarians of all nations back to their own dens!" {Letters, 1901, v. 10, 12, 19.)

In taking the field as a dramatist, Byron sought to win distinction for himself—in the first place by historical accuracy, and, secondly, by artistic regularity—by a stricter attention to the dramatic "unities." "History is closely followed," he tells Murray, in a letter dated July 17, 1820; and, again, in the Preface (vide post, pp. 332-337), which is an expansion of the letter, he gives a list of the authorities which he had consulted, and claims to have "transferred into our language an historical fact worthy of commemoration." More than once in his letters to Murray he reverts to this profession of accuracy, and encloses some additional note, in which he points out and rectifies an occasional deviation from the historical record. In this respect, at any rate, he could contend on more than equal terms "with established writers," that is, with Shakespeare and Otway, and could present to his countrymen an exacter and, so, more lifelike picture of the Venetian Republic. It is plain, too, that he was bitten with the love of study for its own sake, with a premature passion for erudition, and that he sought and found relief from physical and intellectual excitement in the intricacies of research. If his history is at fault, it was not from any lack of diligence on his part, but because the materials at his disposal or within his cognizance were inaccurate and misleading. He makes no mention of the huge collection of Venetian archives which had recently been deposited in the Convent of the Frari, or of Doria's transcript of Sanudo's Diaries, bequeathed in 1816 to the Library of St. Mark; but he quotes as his authorities the Vitæ Ducum Venetorum, of Marin Sanudo (1466-1535), the Storia, etc., of Andrea Navagero (1483-1529), and the Principj di Storia, etc., of Vettor Sandi, which belongs to the latter half of the eighteenth century. Byron's chroniclers were ancient, but not ancient enough; and, though they "handed down the story" (see Medwin, Conversations, p. 173), they depart in numerous particulars from the facts recorded in contemporary documents. Unquestionably the legend, as it appears in Sanudo's perplexing and uncritical narrative (see, for the translation of an original version of the Italian, Appendix, pp. 462-467), is more dramatic than the "low beginnings" of the myth, which may be traced to the annalists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; but, like other legends, it is insusceptible of proof. Byron's Doge is almost, if not quite, as[327] unhistorical as his Bonivard or his Mazeppa. (See Nuovo Archivio Veneto, 1893, vol. v. pt. i. pp. 95-197; 1897, vol. xiii. pt. i. pp. 5-107; pt. ii. pp. 277-374; Les Archives de Venise, par Armand Baschet, 1870; Storia della Repubblica di Venizia, Giuseppe Cappelletti, 1849, iv. pp. 262-317.)

At the close of the Preface, by way of an afterthought, Byron announces his determination to escape "the reproach of the English theatrical compositions" "by preserving a nearer approach to unity," by substituting the regularity of French and Italian models for the barbarities of the Elizabethan dramatists and their successors. Goethe (Conversations, 1874, p. 114) is said to have "laughed to think that Byron, who, in practical life, could never adapt himself, and never even asked about a law, finally subjected himself to the stupidest of laws—that of the three unities." It was, perhaps, in part with this object in view, to make his readers smile, to provoke their astonishment, that he affected a severity foreign to his genius and at variance with his record. It was an agreeable thought that he could so easily pass from one extreme to another, from Manfred to Marino Faliero, and, at the same time, indulge "in a little sally of gratuitous sauciness" (Quarterly Review, July, 1822, vol. xxvii, p. 480) at the expense of his own countrymen. But there were other influences at work. He had been powerfully impressed by the energy and directness of Alfieri's work, and he was eager to emulate the gravity and simplicity, if not the terseness and conciseness, of his style and language. The drama was a new world to conquer, and so far as "his own literature" was concerned it appeared that success might be attainable by "a severer approach to the rules" (Letter to Murray, February 16, 1821)—that by taking Alfieri as his model he might step into the first rank of English dramatists.

Goethe thought that Byron failed "to understand the purpose" of the "three unities," that he regarded the law as an end in itself, and did not perceive that if a play was comprehensible the unities might be neglected and disregarded. It is possible that his "blind obedience to the law" may have been dictated by the fervour of a convert; but it is equally possible that he looked beyond the law or its fulfilment to an ulterior object, the discomfiture of the romantic school, with its contempt for regularity, its passionate appeal from art to nature. If he was minded to raise a "Grecian temple of the purest architecture" (Letters, 1901, v. Appendix III. p. 559), it was not without some thought and hope of shaming, by force of contrast, the "mosque," the "grotesque edifice" of barbarian contemporaries and rivals. Byron was[328] "ever a fighter," and his claim to regularity, to a closer preservation of the "unities," was of the nature of a challenge.

Marino Faliero was dedicated to "Baron Goethe," but the letter which should have contained the dedication was delayed in transit. Goethe never saw the dedication till it was placed in his hands by John Murray the Third, in 1831, but he read the play, and after Byron's death bore testimony to its peculiar characteristics and essential worth. "Lord Byron, notwithstanding his predominant personality, has sometimes had the power of renouncing himself altogether, as may be seen in some of his dramatic pieces, particularly in his Marino Faliero. In this piece one quite forgets that Lord Byron, or even an Englishman, wrote it. We live entirely in Venice, and entirely in the time in which the action takes place. The personages speak quite from themselves and their own condition, without having any of the subjective feelings, thoughts, and opinions of the poet" (Conversations, 1874, p. 453).

Byron spent three months over the composition of Marino Faliero. The tragedy was completed July 17 (Letters, 1901, v. 52), and the copying (vide post, p. 461, note 2) a month later (August 16, 17, 1820). The final draft of "all the acts corrected" was despatched to England some days before October 6, 1820.

Early in January, 1821 (see Letters to Murray, January 11, 20, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 221-228), an announcement reached Byron that his play was to be brought out at Drury Lane Theatre, by Elliston. Against this he protested by every means in his power, and finally, on Wednesday, April 25, four days after the publication of the first edition (April 21, 1821), an injunction was obtained from Lord Chancellor Eldon, prohibiting a performance announced for that evening. Elliston pursued the Chancellor to the steps of his own house, and at the last moment persuaded him to allow the play to be acted on that night only. Legal proceeedings were taken, but, in the end, the injunction was withdrawn, with the consent of Byron's solicitors, and the play was represented again on April 30, and on five nights in the following May. As Byron had foreseen, Marino Faliero was coldly received by the playgoing public, and proved a loss to the "speculating buffoons," who had not realized that it was "unfit for their Fair or their booth" (Letter to Murray, January 20, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 228, and p. 226, note 2. See, too, Memoirs of Robert W. Elliston, 1845, pp. 268-271).

Byron was the first to perceive that the story of Marino Faliero was a drama "ready to hand;" but he has had many followers, if not imitators or rivals.[329]

"Marino Faliero, tragédie en cinq actes," by Casimir Jean François Delavigne, was played for the first time at the Theatre of Porte Saint Martin, May 31, 1829.

In Germany tragedies based on the same theme have been published by Otto Ludwig, Leipzig, 1874; Martin Grief, Vienna, 1879; Murad Effendi (Franz von Werner), 1881, and others (Englische Studien, vol. xxvii. pp. 146, 147).

Marino Faliero, a Tragedy, by A. C. Swinburne, was published in 1885.

Marino Faliero was reviewed by Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, July 21, 1821, vol. 35, pp. 271-285; by Heber, in the Quarterly Review, July, 1822, vol. xxvii. pp. 476-492; and by John Wilson, in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, April, 1821, vol. 9, pp. 93-103. For other notices, vide ante ("Introduction to The Prophecy of Dante"), p. 240.[331]


PREFACE.
swash

The conspiracy of the Doge Marino Faliero is one of the most remarkable events in the annals of the most singular government, city, and people of modern history. It occurred in the year 1355. Every thing about Venice is, or was, extraordinary—her aspect is like a dream, and her history is like a romance. The story of this Doge is to be found in all her Chronicles, and particularly detailed in the "Lives of the Doges," by Marin Sanuto, which is given in the Appendix. It is simply and clearly related, and is perhaps more dramatic in itself than any scenes which can be founded upon the subject.

Marino Faliero appears to have been a man of talents and of courage. I find him commander-in-chief of the land forces at the siege of Zara,[359] where he beat the King of Hungary and his army of eighty thousand men, killing eight thousand men, and keeping the besieged at the same time in check; an exploit to which I know none similar in history, except that of Cæsar at Alesia,[360] and of Prince Eugene at Belgrade. He was afterwards commander of the fleet in the same war. He took Capo[332] d'Istria. He was ambassador at Genoa and Rome,—at which last he received the news of his election to the dukedom; his absence being a proof that he sought it by no intrigue, since he was apprised of his predecessor's death and his own succession at the same moment. But he appears to have been of an ungovernable temper. A story is told by Sanuto, of his having, many years before, when podesta and captain at Treviso, boxed the ears of the bishop, who was somewhat tardy in bringing the Host.[361] For this, honest Sanuto "saddles him with a judgment," as Thwackum did Square;[362] but he does not tell us whether he was punished or rebuked by the Senate for this outrage at the time of its commission. He seems, indeed, to have been afterwards at peace with the church, for we find him ambassador at Rome, and invested with the fief of Val di Marino, in the march of Treviso, and with the title of count, by Lorenzo, Count-bishop of Ceneda. For these facts my authorities are Sanuto, Vettor Sandi,[363] Andrea Navagero,[364] and the account of the siege of Zara, first published by the indefatigable Abate Morelli, in his Monumenti Veneziani di varia Letteratura, printed in 1796,[365] all of which I have looked over in the original language. The moderns, Darù, Sismondi, and Laugier, nearly agree with the[333] ancient chroniclers. Sismondi attributes the conspiracy to his jealousy; but I find this nowhere asserted by the national historians. Vettor Sandi, indeed, says that "Altri scrissero che....dalla gelosa suspizion di esso Doge siasi fatto (Michel Steno) staccar con violenza," etc., etc.; but this appears to have been by no means the general opinion, nor is it alluded to by Sanuto, or by Navagero; and Sandi himself adds, a moment after, that "per altre Veneziane memorie traspiri, che non il solo desiderio di vendetta lo dispose alla congiura ma anche la innata abituale ambizion sua, per cui aneleva a farsi principe independente." The first motive appears to have been excited by the gross affront of the words written by Michel Steno on the ducal chair, and by the light and inadequate sentence of the Forty on the offender, who was one of their "tre Capi."[366] The attentions of Steno himself appear to have been directed towards one of her damsels, and not to the "Dogaressa"[367] herself, against whose fame not the slightest insinuation appears, while she is praised for her beauty, and remarked for her youth. Neither do I find it asserted (unless the hint of Sandi be an assertion) that the Doge was actuated by jealousy of his wife; but rather by respect for her, and for his own honour, warranted by his past services and present dignity.

I know not that the historical facts are alluded to in English, unless by Dr. Moore in his View of Italy[368]. His account is false and flippant, full of stale jests about old men and young wives, and wondering at so great an[334] effect from so slight a cause. How so acute and severe an observer of mankind as the author of Zeluco could wonder at this is inconceivable. He knew that a basin of water spilt on Mrs. Masham's gown deprived the Duke of Marlborough of his command, and led to the inglorious peace of Utrecht—that Louis XIV. was plunged into the most desolating wars, because his minister was nettled at his finding fault with a window, and wished to give him another occupation—that Helen lost Troy—that Lucretia expelled the Tarquins from Rome—and that Cava brought the Moors to Spain—that an insulted husband led the Gauls to Clusium, and thence to Rome—that a single verse of Frederick II.[369] of Prussia on the Abbé de Bernis, and a jest on Madame de Pompadour, led to the battle of Rosbach—that the elopement of Dearbhorgil[370] with Mac Murchad conducted the English to the slavery of Ireland that a personal pique between Maria Antoinette and the Duke of Orleans precipitated the first expulsion of the Bourbons—and, not to multiply instances of the teterrima causa, that Commodus, Domitian, and Caligula fell victims not to their public tyranny, but to private vengeance—and that an order to make Cromwell disembark from the ship in which he would have sailed to America destroyed both King and Commonwealth. After these instances, on the least reflection it is indeed extraordinary in Dr. Moore to seem surprised that a man used to command, who had served and swayed in the most important offices, should fiercely resent, in a fierce age, an unpunished affront, the grossest that can be offered to a man, be he prince or peasant. The age of Faliero is little to the purpose, unless to favour it—

"The young man's wrath is like [light] straw on fire,
But like red hot steel is the old man's ire."

[Davie Gellatley's song in Waverley, chap. xiv.]

[335]

"Young men soon give and soon forget affronts,
Old age is slow at both."

Laugier's reflections are more philosophical:—"Tale fù il fine ignominioso di un' uomo, che la sua nascità, la sua età, il suo carattere dovevano tener lontano dalle passioni produttrici di grandi delitti. I suoi talenti per lungo tempo esercitati ne' maggiori impieghi, la sua capacità sperimentata ne' governi e nelle ambasciate, gli avevano acquistato la stima e la fiducia de' cittadini, ed avevano uniti i suffragj per collocarlo alla testa della repubblica. Innalzato ad un grado che terminava gloriosamente la sua vita, il risentimento di un' ingiuria leggiera insinuò nel suo cuore tal veleno che bastò a corrompere le antiche sue qualità, e a condurlo al termine dei scellerati; serio esempio, che prova non esservi età, in cui la prudenza umana sia sicura, e che nell' uomo restano sempre passioni capaci a disonorarlo, quando non invigili sopra se stesso."[371]

Where did Dr. Moore find that Marino Faliero begged his life? I have searched the chroniclers, and find nothing of the kind: it is true that he avowed all. He was conducted to the place of torture, but there is no mention made of any application for mercy on his part; and the very circumstance of their having taken him to the rack seems to argue any thing but his having shown a want of firmness, which would doubtless have been also mentioned by those minute historians, who by no means favour him: such, indeed, would be contrary to his character as a soldier, to the age in which he lived, and at which he died, as it is to the truth of history. I know no justification, at any distance of time, for calumniating an historical character: surely truth belongs to the dead, and to the unfortunate: and they who have died upon a scaffold have generally had faults enough of their own, without attributing to them that which the very incurring of the perils which conducted them to their violent death renders, of all others, the most improbable. The black veil which is painted over the[336] place of Marino Faliero amongst the Doges, and the Giants' Staircase[372], where he was crowned, and discrowned, and decapitated, struck forcibly upon my imagination; as did his fiery character and strange story. I went, in 1819, in search of his tomb more than once to the church San Giovanni e San Paolo; and, as I was standing before the monument of another family, a priest came up to me and said, "I can show you finer monuments than that." I told him that I was in search of that of the Faliero family, and particularly of the Doge Marino's. "Oh," said he, "I will show it you;" and, conducting me to the outside, pointed out a sarcophagus in the wall with an illegible inscription[373]. He said that it had been in a convent adjoining, but was removed after the French came, and placed in its present situation; that he had seen the tomb opened at its removal; there were still some bones remaining, but no positive vestige of the decapitation. The equestrian statue[374] of which I have made mention in the third act as before that church is not, however, of a Faliero, but of some other now obsolete warrior, although of a later date. There were two other Doges of this family prior to Marino; Ordelafo, who fell in battle at Zara, in 1117 (where his descendant afterwards conquered the Huns), and Vital Faliero, who reigned in 1082. The family, originally from Fano, was of the most illustrious in blood and wealth in the city of once the most wealthy and still the most ancient families in Europe. The length I have gone into on this subject will show the interest I have taken in it. Whether I have succeeded or not in the tragedy, I have at least[337] transferred into our language an historical fact worthy of commemoration.

It is now four years that I have meditated this work; and before I had sufficiently examined the records, I was rather disposed to have made it turn on a jealousy in Faliero. But, perceiving no foundation for this in historical truth, and aware that jealousy is an exhausted passion in the drama, I have given it a more historical form. I was, besides, well advised by the late Matthew Lewis[375] on that point, in talking with him of my intention at Venice in 1817. "If you make him jealous," said he, "recollect that you have to contend with established writers, to say nothing of Shakespeare, and an exhausted subject:—stick to the old fiery Doge's natural character, which will bear you out, if properly drawn; and make your plot as regular as you can." Sir William Drummond[376] gave me nearly the same counsel. How far I have followed these instructions, or whether they have availed me, is not for me to decide. I have had no view to the stage; in its present state it is, perhaps, not a very exalted object of ambition; besides, I have been too much behind the scenes to have thought it so at any time.[ct] And I cannot conceive any man of irritable feeling[cu] putting himself at the mercies of an audience. The sneering reader, and the loud critic, and the tart review, are scattered and distant calamities; but the trampling of an intelligent or of an ignorant audience on a production which, be it good or bad, has been a mental labour to the writer, is a palpable and immediate grievance, heightened by a man's doubt of their competency to judge, and his certainty of his own imprudence in electing them his judges. Were I capable of writing a play which could be deemed stage-worthy, success would give me no pleasure, and failure great pain. It is for this reason that, even during the time of being one of [338] the committee of one of the theatres, I never made the attempt, and never will[377]. But I wish that others would, for surely there is dramatic power somewhere, where [339] Joanna Baillie, and Milman, and John Wilson exist. The City of the Plague[1816] and the Fall of Jerusalem [1820] are full of the best "matériel" for tragedy that has been seen since Horace Walpole, except passages of Ethwald[1802] and De Montfort[1798]. It is the fashion to underrate Horace Walpole; firstly, because he was a nobleman, and secondly, because he was a gentleman; but, to say nothing of the composition of his incomparable letters, and of the Castle of Otranto[1765], he is the "Ultimus Romanorum," the author of the Mysterious Mother[1768], a tragedy of the highest order, and not a puling love-play. He is the father of the first romance and of the last tragedy in our language, and surely worthy of a higher place than any living writer, be he who he may.[378]

[340]

In speaking of the drama of Marino Faliero, I forgot to mention that the desire of preserving, though still too remote, a nearer approach to unity than the irregularity, which is the reproach of the English theatrical compositions, permits, has induced me to represent the conspiracy as already formed, and the Doge acceding to it; whereas, in fact, it was of his own preparation and that of Israel Bertuccio. The other characters (except that of the Duchess), incidents, and almost the time, which was wonderfully short for such a design in real life, are strictly historical, except that all the consultations took place in the palace. Had I followed this, the unity would have been better preserved; but I wished to produce the Doge in the full assembly of the conspirators, instead of monotonously placing him always in dialogue with the same individuals. For the real facts, I refer to the Appendix.[379]


[344]

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

MEN.

Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice.

Bertuccio Faliero, Nephew of the Doge.

Lioni, a Patrician and Senator.

Benintende, Chief of the Council of Ten.

Michel Steno, One of the three Capi of the Forty.

} Conspirators.

Israel Bertuccio, Chief of the Arsenal,

Philip Calendaro,

Dagolino,

Bertram,

Signor of the Night, "Signore di Notte," one of the Officers belonging to the Republic.

First Citizen.

Second Citizen.

Third Citizen.

}Officers belonging to the Ducal Palace.

Vincenzo,

Pietro,

Battista,

Secretary of the Council of Ten.

Guards, Conspirators, Citizens, The Council of Ten, the Giunta, etc., etc.

WOMEN.

Angiolina, Wife to the Doge.

Marianna, her Friend.

Female Attendants, etc.

Scene Venice—in the year 1355.


[345]

MARINO FALIERO,
DOGE OF VENICE.
(AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS.)


ACT I.

Scene I.—An Antechamber in the Ducal Palace.

Pietro speaks, in entering, to Battista.

Pie. Is not the messenger returned?[cv]
Bat. Not yet;
I have sent frequently, as you commanded,
But still the Signory[380] is deep in council,
And long debate on Steno's accusation.
Pie. Too long—at least so thinks the Doge.
Bat. How bears he
These moments of suspense?
Pie. With struggling patience.[cw]
Placed at the Ducal table, covered o'er
With all the apparel of the state—petitions,
Despatches, judgments, acts, reprieves, reports,—
He sits as rapt in duty; but whene'er[cx]10[346]
He hears the jarring of a distant door,
Or aught that intimates a coming step,[cy]
Or murmur of a voice, his quick eye wanders,
And he will start up from his chair, then pause,
And seat himself again, and fix his gaze
Upon some edict; but I have observed
For the last hour he has not turned a leaf.
Bat. 'Tis said he is much moved,—and doubtless 'twas
Foul scorn in Steno to offend so grossly.
Pie. Aye, if a poor man: Steno's a patrician,20
Young, galliard, gay, and haughty.[cz]
Bat. Then you think
He will not be judged hardly?
Pie. 'Twere enough
He be judged justly; but 'tis not for us
To anticipate the sentence of the Forty.
Bat. And here it comes.—What news, Vincenzo?

Enter Vincenzo.

Vin. 'Tis
Decided; but as yet his doom's unknown:
I saw the President in act to seal
The parchment which will bear the Forty's judgment
Unto the Doge, and hasten to inform him.
[Exeunt.

Scene II.—The Ducal Chamber.

Marino Faliero, Doge; and his Nephew, Bertuccio Faliero.[381]

Ber. F. It cannot be but they will do you justice.
Doge. Aye, such as the Avogadori[382] did,[347]
Who sent up my appeal unto the Forty
To try him by his peers, his own tribunal.
Ber. F. His peers will scarce protect him; such an act
Would bring contempt on all authority.
Doge. Know you not Venice? Know you not the Forty?
But we shall see anon.
Ber. F. (addressing Vincenzo, then entering.)
How now—what tidings?
Vin. I am charged to tell his Highness that the court
Has passed its resolution, and that, soon10
As the due forms of judgment are gone through,
The sentence will be sent up to the Doge;
In the mean time the Forty doth salute
The Prince of the Republic, and entreat
His acceptation of their duty.
Doge. Yes—
They are wond'rous dutiful, and ever humble.
Sentence is passed, you say?
Vin. It is, your Highness:
The President was sealing it, when I
Was called in, that no moment might be lost
In forwarding the intimation due20
Not only to the Chief of the Republic,
But the complainant, both in one united.
Ber. F. Are you aware, from aught you have perceived,
Of their decision?
Vin. No, my Lord; you know
The secret custom of the courts in Venice.
Ber. F. True; but there still is something given to guess,
Which a shrewd gleaner and quick eye would catch at;
A whisper, or a murmur, or an air
More or less solemn spread o'er the tribunal.
The Forty are but men—most worthy men,30
And wise, and just, and cautious—this I grant—
And secret as the grave to which they doom[348]
The guilty: but with all this, in their aspects—
At least in some, the juniors of the number—
A searching eye, an eye like yours, Vincenzo,
Would read the sentence ere it was pronounced.
Vin. My Lord, I came away upon the moment,
And had no leisure to take note of that
Which passed among the judges, even in seeming;
My station near the accused too, Michel Steno,40
Made me—
Doge (abruptly). And how looked he? deliver that.
Vin. Calm, but not overcast, he stood resigned
To the decree, whate'er it were;—but lo!
It comes, for the perusal of his Highness.

Enter the Secretary of the Forty.

Sec. The high tribunal of the Forty sends
Health and respect to the Doge Faliero,[da]
Chief magistrate of Venice, and requests
His Highness to peruse and to approve
The sentence passed on Michel Steno, born
Patrician, and arraigned upon the charge50
Contained, together with its penalty,
Within the rescript which I now present.
Doge. Retire, and wait without.
[Exeunt Secretary and Vincenzo.
Take thou this paper:
The misty letters vanish from my eyes;
I cannot fix them.
Ber. F. Patience, my dear Uncle:
Why do you tremble thus?—nay, doubt not, all
Will be as could be wished.
Doge. Say on.
Ber. F. (reading). "Decreed
In council, without one dissenting voice,
That Michel Steno, by his own confession,
Guilty on the last night of Carnival60
Of having graven on the ducal throne
The following words—"[383]
[349]
Doge. Would'st thou repeat them?
Would'st thou repeat them—thou, a Faliero,
Harp on the deep dishonour of our house,
Dishonoured in its Chief—that Chief the Prince
Of Venice, first of cities?—To the sentence.
Ber. F. Forgive me, my good Lord; I will obey—
(Reads) "That Michel Steno be detained a month
In close arrest."[384]
Doge. Proceed.
Ber. F. My Lord, 'tis finished.
Doge. How say you?—finished! Do I dream?—'tis false—70
Give me the paper—(snatches the paper and reads)—
"'Tis decreed in council
That Michel Steno"—Nephew, thine arm!
Ber. F. Nay,
Cheer up, be calm; this transport is uncalled for—
Let me seek some assistance.
Doge. Stop, sir—Stir not—
'Tis past.
Ber. F. I cannot but agree with you
The sentence is too slight for the offence;
It is not honourable in the Forty
To affix so slight a penalty to that
Which was a foul affront to you, and even[350]
To them, as being your subjects; but 'tis not80
Yet without remedy: you can appeal
To them once more, or to the Avogadori,
Who, seeing that true justice is withheld,
Will now take up the cause they once declined,
And do you right upon the bold delinquent.
Think you not thus, good Uncle? why do you stand
So fixed? You heed me not:—I pray you, hear me!
Doge (dashing down the ducal bonnet, and offering to
trample upon it, exclaims, as he is withheld by his nephew).
Oh! that the Saracen were in St. Mark's!
Thus would I do him homage.
Ber. F. For the sake
Of Heaven and all its saints, my Lord—
Doge. Away!90
Oh, that the Genoese were in the port!
Oh, that the Huns whom I o'erthrew at Zara[385]
Were ranged around the palace!
Ber. F. 'Tis not well
In Venice' Duke to say so.
Doge. Venice' Duke!
Who now is Duke in Venice? let me see him,
That he may do me right.
Ber. F. If you forget
Your office, and its dignity and duty.
Remember that of man, and curb this passion.
The Duke of Venice——
Doge (interrupting him). There is no such thing—
It is a word—nay, worse—a worthless by-word:100
The most despised, wronged, outraged, helpless wretch,
Who begs his bread, if 'tis refused by one,
May win it from another kinder heart;
But he, who is denied his right by those
Whose place it is to do no wrong, is poorer
Than the rejected beggar—he's a slave—
And that am I—and thou—and all our house,
Even from this hour; the meanest artisan
Will point the finger, and the haughty noble
May spit upon us:—where is our redress?110
Ber. F. The law, my Prince[351]
Doge (interrupting him). You see what it has done;
I asked no remedy but from the law—[386]
I sought no vengeance but redress by law—
I called no judges but those named by law—
As Sovereign, I appealed unto my subjects,
The very subjects who had made me Sovereign,
And gave me thus a double right to be so.
The rights of place and choice, of birth and service,
Honours and years, these scars, these hoary hairs,
The travel—toil—the perils—the fatigues—120
The blood and sweat of almost eighty years,
Were weighed i' the balance, 'gainst the foulest stain,
The grossest insult, most contemptuous crime
Of a rank, rash patrician—and found wanting!
And this is to be borne!
Ber. F. I say not that:—
In case your fresh appeal should be rejected,
We will find other means to make all even.
Doge. Appeal again! art thou my brother's son?
A scion of the house of Faliero?
The nephew of a Doge? and of that blood130
Which hath already given three dukes to Venice?
But thou say'st well—we must be humble now.
Ber. F. My princely Uncle! you are too much moved;—
I grant it was a gross offence, and grossly
Left without fitting punishment: but still
This fury doth exceed the provocation,
Or any provocation: if we are wronged,
We will ask justice; if it be denied,
We'll take it; but may do all this in calmness—
Deep Vengeance is the daughter of deep Silence.140
I have yet scarce a third part of your years,
I love our house, I honour you, its Chief,
The guardian of my youth, and its instructor—
But though I understand your grief, and enter
In part of your disdain, it doth appal me[352]
To see your anger, like our Adrian waves,
O'ersweep all bounds, and foam itself to air.
Doge. I tell thee—must I tell thee—what thy father
Would have required no words to comprehend?
Hast thou no feeling save the external sense150
Of torture from the touch? hast thou no soul—
No pride—no passion—no deep sense of honour?
Ber. F. 'Tis the first time that honour has been doubted,
And were the last, from any other sceptic.
Doge. You know the full offence of this born villain,
This creeping, coward, rank, acquitted felon,
Who threw his sting into a poisonous libel,[db]
And on the honour of—Oh God! my wife,
The nearest, dearest part of all men's honour,
Left a base slur to pass from mouth to mouth160
Of loose mechanics, with all coarse foul comments,
And villainous jests, and blasphemies obscene;
While sneering nobles, in more polished guise,
Whispered the tale, and smiled upon the lie
Which made me look like them—a courteous wittol,
Patient—aye—proud, it may be, of dishonour.
Ber. F. But still it was a lie—you knew it false,
And so did all men.
Doge. Nephew, the high Roman
Said, "Cæsar's wife must not even be suspected,"[387]
And put her from him.
Ber. F. True—but in those days——170
Doge. What is it that a Roman would not suffer,
That a Venetian Prince must bear? old Dandolo[dc]
Refused the diadem of all the Cæsars,[388]
And wore the ducal cap I trample on[353]
Because 'tis now degraded.
Ber. F. 'Tis even so.
Doge. It is—it is;—I did not visit on
The innocent creature thus most vilely slandered
Because she took an old man for her lord,
For that he had been long her father's friend
And patron of her house, as if there were180
No love in woman's heart but lust of youth
And beardless faces;—I did not for this
Visit the villain's infamy on her,
But craved my country's justice on his head,
The justice due unto the humblest being
Who hath a wife whose faith is sweet to him,
Who hath a home whose hearth is dear to him—
Who hath a name whose honour's all to him,
When these are tainted by the accursing breath
Of Calumny and Scorn.
Ber. F. And what redress190
Did you expect as his fit punishment?
Doge. Death! Was I not the Sovereign of the state—
Insulted on his very throne, and made
A mockery to the men who should obey me?
Was I not injured as a husband? scorned
As man? reviled, degraded, as a Prince?
Was not offence like his a complication
Of insult and of treason?—and he lives!
Had he instead of on the Doge's throne
Stamped the same brand upon a peasant's stool,200
His blood had gilt the threshold; for the carle
Had stabbed him on the instant.
Ber. F. Do not doubt it,
He shall not live till sunset—leave to me
The means, and calm yourself.
Doge. Hold, nephew: this
Would have sufficed but yesterday; at present
I have no further wrath against this man.
Ber. F. What mean you? is not the offence redoubled
By this most rank—I will not say—acquittal;
For it is worse, being full acknowledgment
Of the offence, and leaving it unpunished?210
Doge. It is redoubled, but not now by him:[354]
The Forty hath decreed a month's arrest—
We must obey the Forty.
Ber. F. Obey them!
Who have forgot their duty to the Sovereign?
Doge. Why, yes;—boy, you perceive it then at last;
Whether as fellow citizen who sues
For justice, or as Sovereign who commands it,
They have defrauded me of both my rights
(For here the Sovereign is a citizen);
But, notwithstanding, harm not thou a hair220
Of Steno's head—he shall not wear it long.
Ber. F. Not twelve hours longer, had you left to me
The mode and means; if you had calmly heard me,
I never meant this miscreant should escape,
But wished you to suppress such gusts of passion,
That we more surely might devise together
His taking off.
Doge. No, nephew, he must live;
At least, just now—a life so vile as his
Were nothing at this hour; in th' olden time[dd]
Some sacrifices asked a single victim,230
Great expiations had a hecatomb.
Ber. F. Your wishes are my law: and yet I fain
Would prove to you how near unto my heart
The honour of our house must ever be.
Doge. Fear not; you shall have time and place of proof:
But be not thou too rash, as I have been.
I am ashamed of my own anger now;
I pray you, pardon me.
Ber. F. Why, that's my uncle!
The leader, and the statesman, and the chief
Of commonwealths, and sovereign of himself!240
I wondered to perceive you so forget
All prudence in your fury at these years,
Although the cause—
Doge. Aye—think upon the cause—
Forget it not:—When you lie down to rest,
Let it be black among your dreams; and when
The morn returns, so let it stand between[355]
The Sun and you, as an ill-omened cloud
Upon a summer-day of festival:
So will it stand to me;—but speak not, stir not,—
Leave all to me; we shall have much to do,250
And you shall have a part.—But now retire,
'Tis fit I were alone.
Ber. F. (taking up and placing the ducal bonnet on the table).
Ere I depart,
I pray you to resume what you have spurned,
Till you can change it—haply, for a crown!
And now I take my leave, imploring you
In all things to rely upon my duty,
As doth become your near and faithful kinsman,
And not less loyal citizen and subject.
[Exit Bertuccio FalieroBertuccio Faliero.
Doge (solus). Adieu, my worthy nephew.—Hollow bauble!
[Taking up the ducal cap.
Beset with all the thorns that line a crown,260
Without investing the insulted brow
With the all-swaying majesty of Kings;
Thou idle, gilded, and degraded toy,
Let me resume thee as I would a vizor. [Puts it on.
How my brain aches beneath thee! and my temples
Throb feverish under thy dishonest weight.
Could I not turn thee to a diadem?
Could I not shatter the Briarean sceptre
Which in this hundred-handed Senate rules,
Making the people nothing, and the Prince270
A pageant? In my life I have achieved
Tasks not less difficult—achieved for them,
Who thus repay me! Can I not requite them?
Oh for one year! Oh! but for even a day
Of my full youth, while yet my body served
My soul as serves the generous steed his lord,
I would have dashed amongst them, asking few
In aid to overthrow these swoln patricians;
But now I must look round for other hands
To serve this hoary head; but it shall plan280
In such a sort as will not leave the task
Herculean, though as yet 'tis but a chaos
Of darkly brooding thoughts: my fancy is[356]
In her first work, more nearly to the light
Holding the sleeping images of things
For the selection of the pausing judgment.—
The troops are few in——

Enter Vincenzo.

Vin. There is one without
Craves audience of your Highness.
Doge. I'm unwell—
I can see no one, not even a patrician—
Let him refer his business to the Council.290
Vin. My Lord, I will deliver your reply;
It cannot much import—he's a plebeian,
The master of a galley, I believe.
Doge. How! did you say the patron of a galley?