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133: cxxiii, 7. Cf. ·Hosea' viii, 7: “ For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” 134 : cxxvii, 5. Cf. Wordsworth, • Excursion,' bk. I:
“ The vision, and the faculty divine." 6. Cf. Macbeth III, iv, 24-25 :
But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears." 9. couch, to prepare the eye for removing a cataract. 135: cxxxi, 1. this wreck. The Coliseum.
135 : cxxxi ff. Personal stanzas, alluding to the wrongs Byron thought he had suffered from his wife and her family, and the public who sympathized with them and turned against him.
136 : cxxxiii, 8. for the sake-Are we to supply in thought, of my sister ?
137 : cxxxv. Whatever reservation in other respects the reader may feel it necessary to make, he cannot but admire the astonishing rhetorical art and the fierce lyrical passion and pride of these lines.
138: cxl-cxli. The famous statute of the Dying Gladiator'in the Museum of the Capitol at Rome; more probably a Dying Gaul.
139: cxlii, 5-6. "When one gladiator wounded another, he shouted, He has it,' Hoc habet,' or Habet.' The wounded combatant dropped his weapon, and, advancing to the edge of the arena, supplicated the spectators. If he had fought well, the people saved him, if otherwise, or as they happened to be inclined,
140: cxliv. Cf. · Manfred 'III, iv, 10 ff. (above, p. 207).
140 : cxlv. 1-2. “This is quoted [from Bede] in [Gibbon's] • Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,' as a proof that the Coliseum was entire, when seen by the Anglo Saxon pilgrims at the end of the seventh, or the beginning of the eighth, century." [Byron's note.
The original is: “Quamdiu stabit Colyseus, stabit et Roma; quando cadet Colyseus, cadet Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.”
141 : cxlviii-cli. The version of the legend from Festus is as follows: " It is said that Ælius dedicated a temple to Pietas on the very spot where a woman dwelt of yore. Her father was shut up in prison, and she kept him alive by giving him the breast by stealth; and, as a reward for her deed, obtained forgiveness and freedom for him.”
142 : cli. The fable' is that Hercules after his birth was put to Hera's (Juno's) breast, while she was asleep, that he might drink in divinity, but that awaking she pushed him away, and that the drops thus spilled fell upon the sky and became the Milky
142: clii, 1. the Mole. The castle of St. Angelo; not really built in imitation of the pyramids, although like them in its mass and size.
143 : cliii, 1. the Dome. Of St. Peter's.
144 : clvi, 1. but increasing. Elliptical. Supply, to read" but it is increasing.”
145: clxi, 1. The statute of the Apollo Belvedere.
146 : clxii, 1-4. An incident of a French maiden's going mad for love of the statute of Apollo had been related and was utilized in a poem of 1812, by Milman, which Byron probably knew:
“ Yet on that form in wild delirious trance
With more than rev’rence gazed the Maid of France.
146: clxiii, 2. the fire which we endure : i.e. life, or the soul.
147: clxvii-clxxii. On the death, in childbirth, November 6, 1817, of the Princess Charlotte, only daughter of the Prince Regent (afterwards George IV), married to Prince Leopold of Saxe. Coburg. Her death was felt as a national calamity. If the child had lived it might in time have ascended the English throne. Cf. Byron's Letter to Murray of December 3, 1817.
149 : clxxi, 7. "Mary died on the scaffold; Elizabeth of a broken heart; Charles V a herruit; Louis XIV a bankrupt in means and glory; Cromwell of anxiety; and, the greatest is behind,' Napoleon lives a prisoner. To these sovereigns a long but super. fluous list might be added of names equally illustrious and unhappy.” [Byron's note.
150 : clxxiv, 7. Tully reposed: at Tusculum.
150 : clxxvi, 1. Symplegades; two small islands near the entrance to the Black Sea.
152: clxxxi, 9. The fleet of the Armada (1588) was destroyed partly by tempests, partly by the English feet.
“ The gale of wind which succeeded the battle of Trafalgar (October 21, 1805] destroyed the greater part, if not all, of the prizes--nineteen sail of the line—taken on that memorable day.” [Byron's note.
153 : clxxxiv, 9. as I do here. As if written while sailing upon the sea.
154 : clxxxvi, 7. Emblems of pilgrims. Cf. “Hamlet' IV, V, 23:
“ How should I your true love know
From another one?
And his sandal shoon,"
THE PRISONER OF CHILLON
Written, June 1816, at Ouchy near Lausanne in Switzerland, and published at London, December 5th, 1816.
The Bonivard of the poem is essentially a creation of the imagination and not a historical figure. The poet himself admitted this fact in his notes: "When this poem was composed, I was not sufficiently aware of the history of Bonivard.” The historical Bonivard (1493–1570), a lover of republican liberty and a religious reformer, because of his opposition to the rule of the House of Savoy was imprisoned by the Duke of Savoy at Chillon from 1530 to 1536, when, in the war of liberation of the cantons of Geneva and Vaud, the castle was captured by the republican forces and Bonivard and other prisoners were liberated. The circumstance of the imprisonment and death of the brothers is entirely of Byron's invention. In his own Memoirs Bonivard testi
fies that he was confined in a dungeon, “ the bottom of which was lower than the lake on which Chillon was situated, where I remained four years (two had been spent in better quarters and had such good leisure to promenade that I wore a path in the rock which was the floor of the place just as if it had been made with a hammer.” Most unromantic of all the contradictions which history presents to the poem, Bonivard's interest in life after his release was so lively that he was four times married ! He was, however, an idealist and a scholar. D'Aubigné, in his • History of the Reformation compares him to Erasmus and says that Bonivard "was, like him, a lover of letters and of liberty more than the former. He was to Geneva the man of the Renaissance as Calvin was the man of the Reformation.” The Boni. vard of the poem, however, is really an idealized Byron—Byron at the best period of his career, when he was most open to the influences of Rousseau, Scott, Shelley, Wordsworth, and Coleridge (influences to which this poem bears witness), and imagined in circumstances to evoke the deepest tenderness, pathos, sympathy with liberty and with human suffering, and meditative melancholy, latent in the poet's nature.
Professor Kölbing has suggested that probably the chief source from which Byron drew his scanty knowledge of Bonivard was the following passage from Rousseau's Nouvelle Héloïse,' a book which Byron and Shelley had been reading together during their journey around the lake: “The castle of Chillon, formerly a dwelling of the lords of Vevey, is situated in the lake on a rock which forms a little peninsula, and around which I have seen soundings taken more than a hundred and fifty fathoms deep, which amounts to nearly eight hundred feet, without reaching the bottom. Cellars and kitchens have been excavated in this rock below the level of the water, which is let in by valves when desired. Here was imprisoned for six years François Bonnivard, Prior of Saint-Victor, a man of rare merit, of unbending upright. ness and fortitude, a friend of liberty, although a Savoyard, and tolerant, although a priest."
The situation and much in the tone of the narration of the poem suggest the story of Ugolino and his sons in Dante (Inferno, xxxii, 124-xxxiii, 78). According to Medwin Shelley remarked that “Byron had deeply studied this death of Ugolino, and per
haps but for it would never have written the Prisoner of Chillon.'"
Writing, as he always wrote, at white heat, and in the manner of improvisation (the composition of this poem took two days), Byron has yet produced here a masterpiece both in structure and in style. The poet's theme is to depict the psychology of the prisoner,-a political prisoner, noble-minded and innocent of crime. There is very little action ; there is very little ornament; the narrative evolves from within, and is presented with high dramatic fidelity, and with subtle gradation and progression. The situation' in itself is bare and simple ; the art with which the poet developes it is masterly. Who else, except Dante perhaps, as in the Ugolino episode, could do so much with so little ? Note how touch is added to touch in just the right order in the building up of the poem. The irregular stanzas or verse paragraphs are the units of structure. The first stanza is introductory, presenting the personages of the poem and centering the interest in Boni. vard, the narrator; in II is the Scene (the Dungeon), and, to fix our interest, a glance forward at the psychological state of the prisoner after all is over : how this state came about is the subject of the poem ; III presents the details of the situation of the three brothers in prison, and the first effect of confinement (“. But even these at length grew cold "); IV and V tell of the younger and the middle brother, two types of character, both ill-adapted to endure such a fate (effect of pathos through contrast ; the central character heightened through picture of his devotion to them); VI the Place again, remote and scanty echoes of free Nature emphasizing by contrast their situation ; VII death of the middle brother ; his burial, and the effect of this on the mind of Bonivard suggested ; VIII death of the younger brother, and emotional climax of the poem ; a passage of pure pathos ; Dantean touch (“I found him not”); IX effect on the Prisoner ; re. action of apathy ; X reaction of life ; revival to feeling for nature ; exquisite touch in the incident of the bird ;* XI amelioration ; XII life renewed, but with a difference ; Nature the re.
* Cf. the similar situation and device in Coleridge's • Ancient Mariner'; the Mariner's mental state, 11. 244 f.; and the awakening of his soul through the influence of the water-snakes, 11. 272 f., and of the sky-lark, 1, 359.