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And Harold stands upon this place of skulls, The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo 1 How in an hour the power which gave annuls Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too! In " pride of place"' here last the eagle flew, Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain, * Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through; Ambition's life and labours all were vain; [chain. He wears the shatter'd links of the world's broken
Fit retribution 1 Gaul may champ the bit And foam in fetters; — but is Earth more free? Did nations combat to make One submit; Or league to teach all kings true sovereignty? What! shall reviving Thraldom again be The patch'd-up idol of enlighten'd days? Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we Pay the Wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze And servile knees to thrones? No; prove before yc praise 1
If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more! In vain fair cheeks were furrow'd with hot tears For Europe's flowers long rooted up before The tramplcr of her vineyards ; in vain years Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears, Have all been borne, and broken by the accord Of roused-up millions; all that most endears Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword Such as Harmodius3 drew on Athens' tyrant lord.
There was a sound of revelry by night,4 And Belgium's capital had gather'd then Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men; A thousand hearts beat happily; and when Music arose with its voluptuous swell, Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell;5 [knell! But hush! hark I a deep sound strikes like a rising
1 " Pride of place" Is a term of falconrv, and means the highest pitch of flight Sec Macbeth, &c
"An eagle towering in his pride of place," &c
3 [In the original draught of this stanza (which, as well as the preceding one, wag written after a visit to the. field ot Waterloo), the lines stood —
"Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew.
On seeing these lines, Mr. Rcinagle sketched a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with Ids talons. The circumstance being mentioned to Lord Byron, he wrote thus to a friend at Brussels, — " Keinaglc is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am: eagles, and all birds of prev, attack with their talons, and uot with their beaks; and I have altered the line thus : —
1 Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain.* This is, I think, a better line, besides its poetical Justice."]
3 See the famous song on Harmodiug and Aristogiton. The best Knglish translation is in Bland's 'Anthology, by Mr. (now Lord Chief Justice) Denman, —
"Willi myrtle my sword will I wreathe," &c.
4 [There can be no more remarkable proof of the greatness of Iflrd Byron's genius, than the spirit and interest he has contrived to communicate to his picture of the often-drawn and difficult scene of the breaking up from Brussels before the great Battle. It is a trite remark, that poets generally f&il in the representation of great events, where the interest
Did ye not hear it? — No j 'twas but the wind, Or the car rattling o'er the stony street; On with the dance! let joy be unconflned; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet— But hark !—that heavy sound breaks in once more As if the clouds its echo would repeat; And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before! Arm! arm! it is — it is—the cannon's opening roar!
Within a window'd niche of that high hall Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear That sound the first amidst the festival, And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear; And when they smiled because he deem'd it near, His heart more truly knew that peal too well Which stretch'd his father on a bloody bier," And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell; He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.'
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro. And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress, And checks all pale, which but an hour ago Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness; And there were sudden partings, such as press The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess H ever more should meet those mutual eyes, Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed, The mustering squadron, and the clattering car, Went pouring forward with impetuous speed, And swiftly forming in the ranks of war; And the deep thunder peal on peal afar; And near, the beat of the alarming drum Roused up the soldier ere the morning star; While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb, Or whispering, with white lips —" The foe! they come! they come!"
Is recent, and the particulars are consequently clearly and commonly known. It required some courage to venture on a theme beset with so many dangers, and deformed with tile wrecks of so many former adventures. See, however, with what easy strength he enters upon it, and with how tnurh grace he gradually finds his way back to his own peculiar vein of sentiment and diction 1 — Ju*rftsT.J 5 On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball
was given at Brussels [The popular error of the Duke of
Wellington having been surprised, on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, at a hall given by the Duchess of Richmond at Brussels, was first corrected on authority. In the History of Napoleon Buonaparte, which forms a portion of the " Family Library." The Duke had received intelligence of Napoleon's decisive operations, and it was intended to put off the ball -, but, on reflection, it seemed highly important that the people of Brussels should be kept In ignorance as to the course of events, and the Duke not only desired that the ball should proceed, but the general officers received his commands to appear at it — each taking care to quit the apartment »* quietly as possible at ten o'clock, and proceed to join his respective division en route.]
■ [The father of the Duke of Brunswick, who fell at Quatrc Bras, received his death-wound at Jena.3
7 [This stanza is very grand, even from its total unadornment. It is only a versification of the common narratives: but here may well be applied a position of Johnson, that "where truth is sufficient to fill the mind, fiction is worse than useless." — Bbydges.j
And wild and high the " Cameron's gathering" rose! The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills Han heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:— How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills, Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers With the fierce native daring which instils The stirring memory of a thousand years, [ears 1 And Evan's, Donald's > fame rings in each clansman's
And Ardennes * waves above them her green leaves, Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass, Grieving, if augbt inanimate e'er grieves, Oner the unreturning brave,—al*s! Ere evening to be trodden like the grass Which now beneath them, but above shall grow In Its next verdure, when this fiery mass Of living; valour, rolling on the foe [low. And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay, The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife, The morn the marshalling in arms,— the day Battle's magnificently-stern array! The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent The earth is cover'd thick with other clay, Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent, tider and horse, — friend, foe, — in one red burial blent P
Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine: Yet one I would select from that proud throng, Partly because they blend me with his line, And partly that I did his sire some wrong,4 And partly that bright names will hallow song; And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along, Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd. They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young gallant Howard Is
St E van Cameron, and his descendant Donald, the " gentle '~ of the •* forty-five."
5 The wood of Soignles it supposed to be a remnant of the trat of Ardennes, famous in Boiardo's Orlando, and tmwrrtal to Shakspeare's " As you like It." It is also celebrated m Tacitus, as beinft the spot of successful defence by the GerHa afxsnst the Roman encroachments. I hare ventured to a^opr the name connected with nobler associations than those «f sBerv slaughter.
1 'Oiilde Harold, though he shuns to celebrate the victory ■ W=rerloo, gives us here a most beautiful description of the • iTuaua which preceded the battle of Quatre Bras, .(he alarm w«ac7) catted out the troops, and the hurry and confusion preceded their march. I am not sure that any verses Uncnayc surpass, in vigour and in feeling, this most description. - Slu Walter Scottj
* [See pars, note to English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.]
• f" In the late battles, like ail the world, I have lost a conwnlaB — poor Frederick Howard, the best of his race. I had lata* nrtrrrcurse of late years with his family ; but I never saw «r heard but good of him.** — Lord B. to Mr. Moore.2
i Mont St. Jean over the Held seemed inThe place where Major Howard fell 3 tall and solitary trees (there was a third, rad In the battle), which stand a few yards talx other at a pathway's side. Beneath these he died
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee, And mine were nothing had I such to give; But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree, Which living waves where thou didst cease to live, And saw around me the wide field revive With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring Came forth her work of gladness to contrive, With all her reckless birds upon the wing, I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring.'
I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom each
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn:
The tree will wither long before it fall; The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn; The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall In massy hoariness; the ruin'd wall Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone; The bars survive the captive they enthral; [sun; The day drags through, though storms keep out the And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
Even as a broken mirror, which the glass In every fragment multiplies; and makes A thousand images of one that was. The same, and still the more, the more it breaks; And thus the heart will do which not forsakes, Living in shatter'd guise; and still, and cold, And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches, Yet withers on till all without is old, Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold. ^
and was buried. The body has since been removed to England. A small hollow for the present marks where It lay, but will probably soon be effaced; the plough has been upon it, and the grain is. After pointing out the different spots where Picton and other gallant men had perished, the guide said, "Here Major Howard lay: I was near him when wounded." I told him my relationship, and he seemed then still more anxious to point out the particular spot and circumstances. The place is one of the most marked in the Held, from the peculiarity of the two trees above mentioned. I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my recollection of similar scenes. As a plain, Waterloo seems marked out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere imagination: I have viewed with attention those of Platea, Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Ctueronca, and Marathon; and the field around Mont St. Jean and Hougoumont appoars to want little but a better cause, and that undefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except, perhaps, the last mentioned.
[There is a richness and energy in this passage, which is ullar to Lord Byron, among all modern poets. — a tlm of glowing images, poured forth at once, with a facility;
peculiar to Lord Byron, among all modern poets. — a throng of glowing images, poured forth at once, with a facility and profusion, which must appear mere wastefulness to more economical writers, and a certain negligence and harshness of diction, which can belong only to an author who is oppressed with the exuberance and rapidity of his conceptions.
There is a very life in our despair, Vitality of poison, — a quick root Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were As nothing did we die; but Life will suit Itself to Sorrow's most detested fruit, Like to the apples1 on the Dead Sea's shore, All ashes to the taste: Did man compute Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er Such hours 'gainst years of life,—say, would he name threescore?
The Psalmist number'd out the years of man: They are enough; and if thy tale be true, Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span, More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo! Millions of tongues record thee, and anew Their children's lips shall echo them, and say— "Here, where the sword united nations drew, Our countrymen were warring on that day 1"' And this Is much, and all which will not pass away.
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men, Whose spirit, antithetically mixt, One moment of the mightiest, and again On little objects with like firmness flxt; Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt, Thy throne had still been thine, or never been; For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seck'st Even now to re-assume the imperial mien, And shake again the world, the Thunderer of the scene!
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou! She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name Was ne'er more bruited In men's minds than now That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame, Who woo'd thee once, thy vassal, and became The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert A god unto thyself; nor less the same To the astounded kingdoms all inert, Who dcem'd thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.
Oh, more or less than man—in high or low, Battling with nations, flying from the field; Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield; An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild, But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor, However deeply in men's spirits skill'd, Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war, Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.
Tot well thy soul hath brook'd the turning tide
1 The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltes were said to be fair without, and, within, ashes. Vide Tacitus, llistor. lib v. 7.
2 The great error of Napoleon, " if we have writ our annals true," was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by, To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smiled With a sedate and all-enduring eye; — When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child, He stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him piled.
Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them Ambition steel'd thee on too far to show That just habitual scorn, which could contemn Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so To wear it ever on thy lip and brow, And spurn the Instruments thou wert to use Till they were turn'd unto thine overthrow: 'Tls but a worthless world to win or lose; So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose. ■
If, like a tower upon a headlong rock,
Their admiration thy best weapon shone;
But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell,
This makes the madmen who have made men mad By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings, Founders of sects and systems, to whom add Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs, And are themselves the fools to those they fool; Envied, yet how unenviable ! what stings Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule:
Their breath is agitation, and their life
trembling and suspicious tyrannv. Such were his speeches to public Assemblies as well as Individuals; and the single expression which he is said to have used on return'ng to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing hi* hands over a lire, " This is pleasanter than Moscow," would probably alienate more favour from his cause than the destruction and reverses w lUch led to the remark.
Be who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find Tbe loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow; Be who surpasses or subdues mankind, Must look down on the hate of those below, rhough high abort the sun of glory glow, And But beneath the earth and ocean spread, I him are icy rocks, and loudly blow • tempests on his naked head, 1 the toils which to those summits led.'
Away with these! true Wisdom's world will be
'Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
i There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells, Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine, And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.
And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind, Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd, All tenantless, save to the crannying wind, Or holding dark communion with the cloud. There was a day when they were young and proud, I Banners on high, and battles pass'd below; But the; who fought are in a bloody shroud, And those which waved are shredless dust ere now, And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.
Beneath these battlements, within those walls, Power dwelt amidst her passions; in proud state Each robber chief upheld his armed halls, Doing his evil will, nor less elate I Than mightier heroes of a longer date.
What want these outlaws* conquerors should have But History's purchased page to call them great? A wider space, an ornamented grave? [brave. Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as
In their baronial feuds and single fields, What deeds of prowess unrecorded died! And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields, with emblems well devised by amorous pride, Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide; But still their flame was fierceness, and drew un Keen contest and destruction near allied, And many a tower for some fair mischief won, Saw the diMrolour'd Rhine beneath its ruin run.
But Thou, exulting and abounding river:
> fTUs is certainly splendidly written, but we trust it is not tr*c-* From Macedonia's roadman to the Swede — from beared to Buonaparte, — the hunters of men have pursued URtr sport with as much gaiety, and as little remorse, as the kaoien of other animals; and have lived as cheerily in their can of action, and as comfortably in their repose, as the folIfVvTi of better pursuits. It would be strange, therefore, if tat other actne but more innocent spirits, whom Lord Bfwo has here placed in the same predicament, and who slim afl their sources of enjoyment, without the guilt and
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow With the sharp scythe of conflict,—then to see Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know Earth paved like Heaven ; and to seem such to me. Even now what wants thy stream ?—that it should Lethe be.
A thousand battles have assail'd thy banks, But these and half their fame have pass'd away, And Slaughter heap'd on high his weltering ranks; Their very graves are gone, and what are they? Thy tide wash'd down the blood of yesterday, And all was stainless, and on thy clear stream Glass'd with its dancing light the sunny ray; But o'er the blacken'd memory's blighting dream Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they seem.
Thus Harold inly said, and pass'd along, Yet not insensibly to all which here Awoke the jocund birds to early song In glens which might have made even exile dear: Though on his brow were graven lines austere. And tranquil sternness which had ta'en the place Of feelings fierier far but less severe, Joy was not always absent from his face, [trace. But o'er it in such scenes would steal with transient
Nor was all love shut from him, though his days Of passion had consumed themselves to dust. It is in vain that we would coldly gaze On such as smile upon us; the heart must Leap kindly back to kindness, though disguft Hath wean'd it from all worldlings: thus he felt, For there was soft remembrance, and sweet trust In one fond breast, to which his own would melt, And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt
And he had leam'd to love, — I know not why, For this in such as him seems strange of mood, — The helpless looks of blooming infancy, Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued, To change like this, a mind so far imbued With scorn of man, it little boots to know; But thus it was; and though in solitude Small power the nipp'd affections have to grow, In him this glow'd when all beside had ceased to glow.
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said, Which unto his was bound by stronger ties Than the church links withal; and, though unwed, That love was pure, and, far above disguise, Had stood the test of mortal enmities Still undivided, and cemented more By peril, dreaded most in female eyes; But this was firm, and from a foreign shore Well to that heart might his these absent greetings pour 1
the hardness which they cannot fail of contracting, should be more miserable or more unfriended than those splendid curses of their kind; and it would be passing strange, and pitiful, if the most precious gifts of Providence should produce only unhappiness, and mankind regard with hostility their greatest benefactors.—Jeffrey.]
'" What wants that knave that a king should have?" was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and hit followers in full accoutrements. — bee the Ballad.
The castled crag of Drachenfels1
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
I send the lilies given to me;
The river nobly foams and flows,
The charm of this enchanted ground,
And all its thousand turns disclose
Some fresher beauty varying round:
The haughtiest breast its wish might bound
Through life to dwell delighted here;
Nor could on earth a spot be found
To nature and to me so dear,
Could thy dear eyes in following mine
Still sweeten more these banks of Rhine!
By Coblcntz, on a rise of gentle ground,
1 The castle of Drachenfels standi on the highest summit of "the Seven Mountains," over the Rhine banks; it is in ruins, a"hd connected with some singular tnulitiuns: it is the first in view on the road from Bonn, but on the opposite side of the river; on this bank, nearly facing it, are tile remains of another, called the Jew's Castle, and a large cross com. memorativo of the murder of a chief by his brother. The number of castles and cities along the course of the Rhine on both sides is very great, and their situations remarkably beautiful. [These verses were written on the banks of the Rhine, in May; Tho original pencilling is before us. It is needless to observe that they were addressed to his Sister.]
3 The monument of the young and lamented General Marceau (killed by a rifle-ball at Alterkirchen, on the last clay of the fourth year of the French republic) still remains as described. The inscriptions on his monument are rather too long, and not required : his name was enougli; France adored, and her enemies admired; both wept over him. His funeral was attended by the generals and detachments from both armies. In the same grave General Hoche is interred, a gallant man also in every sense of the word; but though he distinguished himself greatly in battle, he had not the good fortune to die there: his death was attended by suspicions of
Our enemy's, — but let not that forbid Honour to Marceau! o'er whose early tomb Tears, big tears, gush'd from the rough soldier's lid, Lamenting and yet envying such a doom, Falling for France, whose rights he battled to resume.
Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career, — His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes; And fitly may the stranger lingering here Pray for his gallant spirit's bright repose; For he was Freedom's champion, one of those, The few In number, who had not o'erstept The charter to chastise which she bestows On such as wield her weapons; he had kept The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept*
Here Ehrenbreitstein', with her shatter'd wall Black with the miner's blast, upon her height Yet shows of what she was, when shell and ball Rebounding idly on her strength did light: A tower of victory! from whence the flight Of baffled foes was watch'd along the plain: But Peace destroy'd what War could never blight, And laid those proud roofs bare to Summer's rain— On which the iron shower for years had pour'd in vain.
Adieu to thee, fair Rhine! How long delighted
Adieu to thee again! a vain adieu! There can be no farewell to scene like thine; The mind Is colour'd by thy every hue; And If reluctantly the eyes resign Their cherish'd gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine I« 'T is with the thankful glance of parting praise; More mighty spots may rise—more glaring shine, But none unite in one attaching maze The brilliant, fair, and soft, — the glories of old days,
poison. A separate monument (not over his body, which Is buried by Marccau's) is raised for him near Andernach, op
fiosite to which one of his most memorable exploits was perbrmed, in throwing a bridge to an island on the Rhine. The shape and style are different from that of Marccau's, and the inscription more simple and pleasing: — " The Army of the Sambre and Meuse to its Commander-in-Chief Hoche." This is all, and as it should be. Hoche was esteemed among the first of France's earlier generals, before Buonaparte monopolised her triumphs. lie was the destined commander of the invading army of Ireland.
3 Ehrenbreitstein, i. e. "the broad stone of honour," one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, was dismantled and blown up by the French at the truce of Leoben. it had been, and could only be, reduced by famine or treachery. It yielded to the former, aided by surprise. After having seen the fortifications of Gibraltar and Malta, it did not much strike by comparison; but the situation is commanding. General Marceau besieged it in rain for some time, and I slept in a room where I was shown a window at which ho is said to have been standing observing the progress of the siege by moonlight, when a ball struck immediately below it. « [On taking Hockhelm, the Austrians, in one part of the