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I had the fortune (good or evil as it might be) to sail from Meillerie (where we landed for some time), to St Gingo during a lake storm, which added to the magnificence of all around, although occasionally accompanied by danger to the boat, which was small and overloaded. It was over this very part of the Jake that Rousseau has driven the boat of St Preux and Madame Wolmar 10 Meillerie for shelter during a tempest.
On gaining the shore at St Gingo, I found that the wind had been sufficiently strong to blow down some fine old chestnut trees on the lower part of the mountains.
On the opposite height of Clarens is a chateau. The hills are covered with vineyards, and interspersed with some small but beautiful woods; one of these was named the « Bosquet de Julie,» and it is remarkable that, though long ago cut down by the brutal selfishness of the monks of St Bernard (to whom the land appertained), that the ground might be inclosed into a vineyard for the miserable drones of an execrable superstition, the inhabitants of Clarens still point out the spot where its trees stood, calling it by the name which consecrated and survived them.
Rousseau has not been particularly fortunate in the preservation of the « local habitations» he has given to « airy nothings. The Prior of Great St Bernard has cut down some of his woods for the sake of a few casks of wine, and Buonaparte has levelled part of the rocks of Meillerie in improving the road to the Simplon. The road is an excellent one, but I cannot quite agree with a remark which I heard made, that « La route vaut mieux que les souvenirs.»
Note 23, page 189, stanza cv. Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes, etc. Voltaire and Gibbon.
Note 24, page 192, stanza cxii.
-« If it be thus,
Note 25, page 192, stanza cxiv.
O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve; etc. It is said by Larochefoucault that « there is always something in the misfortunes of men's best friends not displeasing to them.»
Venice, January 2, 1818.
JOHN HOBHOUSE, ESQ. A.M. F.R.S.
ETC. ETC. ETC.
MY DEAR HOBHOUSE,
AFTER an interval of eight years between the composition of the first and last cantos of Childe Harold, the conclusion of the poem is about to be submitted to the public. In parting with so old a friend it is not extraordinary that I should recur to one still older and better,—to one who has beheld the birth and death of the other, and to whom I am far more indebted for the social advantages ofan enlightened friendship, than—though not ungrateful—I can, or could be, to Childe Harold, for any public favour reflected through the poem on the poet,—to one, whom I have known long, and accompanied far, whom I found wakeful over my sickness and kind in my sorrow, glad in my prosperity and firm in
adversity, true in counsel and trusty in peril—to a friend often tried and never found wanting ;—to yourself.
In so doing, I recur from fiction to truth, and in dedicating to you, in its complete,or, atleast, concluded state, a poetical work which is the longest, the most thoughtful and comprehensive of my compositions, I wish to do honour to myself by the record of many years intimacy with a man of learning, of talent, of steadiness, and of honour. It is not for minds like ours to give or to receive flattery; yet the praises of sincerity have ever been permitted to the voice of friendship; and it is not for you, nor even for others, but to relieve a heart which has not elsewhere, or lately, been so much accustomed to the encounter of good-will as to withstand the shock firmly, that I thus attempt to commemorate your good qualities, or rather the advantages which I have derived from their exertion. Even the recurrence of the date of this letter, the anniversary of the most unfortunate day of my past existence, but which cannot poison my future, while I retain the resource of your friendship, and of my own faculties, will henceforth have more agreeable recollection for both, inasmuch as it will remind us of this my attempt to thank you for an indefatigable regard, such as few men have experienced, and no one could experience without thinking better of his species and of himself.
It has been our fortune to traverse together, at various periods, the countries of chivalry, history, and fable—Spain, Greece, Asia-Minor, and Italy; and what Athens and Constantinople were to us a few years ago, Venice and Rome have been more recently. The poem also, or the pilgrim, or both, have accompanied me from first to last; and, perhaps, it may be a pardonable vanity which induces me to reflect with complacency on a composition which in some degree connects me with the spot where it was produced, and the objects it would fain describe; and however unworthy it may be deemed of those magical and memorable abodes, however short it may fall of our distant conceptions and immediate impressions, yet as a mark of respect for what is venerable, and of feeling for what is glorious, it has been to me a source of pleasure in the production, and I part with it with a kind of regret, which I hardly suspected that events could have left me for imaginary objects.
With regard to the conduct of the last canto, there will be found less of the pilgrim than in any
preceding, and that little slightly, if at all, separated from