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The one m Are anil fickleness, a child Most mutable in wishes, but in mind A wit as various, — gay, grave, sane, or wild,— Historian, bard, philosopher, combined; He multiplied himself among mankind, The Proteus of their talents: But his own Breathed most in ridicule, — which, as the wind, Blew where it listed, laying all things prone, — Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne.
The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought, And hiving wisdom with each studious year, In meditation dwelt, with learning wrought, And shaped his weapon with an edge severe, Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer; The lord of Irony, — that master-spell. Which stung his foes to wrath, which grew from fear, And doom'd him to the zealot's ready Hell, Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.
Yet, peace be with their ashes, — for by them. If merited, the penalty is paid; It is not ours to judge, — far less condemn; The hour must come when such things shall be made Known unto all,—or hope and dread allay'd By •lumber, on one pillow, — in the dust, Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decay'd; And when it shall revive, as is our trust, 'T will be to be forgiven, or suffer what is just.
But let me quit man's works, again to read His Maker's, spread around me, and suspend This page, which from my reveries I feed, Until it seems prolonging without end. The clouds above me to the white Alps tend. And I must pierce them, and survey whate'er May be permitted, as my steps I bend To their most great and growing region, where The earth to her embrace compels the powers of air.
Italia I too, Italia! looking on thee,
For Banquo's issue have \JUedmy mind."—Macbeth.
* It Is said by Rochcfoucault, that " there is always something in the misfortunes of men's best friends not displeasing to them."
s [" It Is not the temper nnd talents of the poet, hot the use to which he puts them, on which his happiness or misery Is grounded. A |>owerful and unhridled Imagination is the author and architect of its own disappointments. Its fascina. tlons, Its exaggerated pictures of good and evil, and the mental distress to which thev give rise, arc the natural and necessary evils attending on that quick susceptibility of feeling and faucv incident to the poetical temperament. But the Giver of "all talents, while he has qualified them each with its separate and peculiar allov, has endowed the owner with the power of purifying and rerining them. But, as if to moderate the arrogance of genius, it Is justlv and wisely made requisite, that he must regulate and tame the fire of his fancy, and descend from the heights to which she exalts him, in order to obtain ease of mind and tranquillity. The materials of hap. piness, that is, of such degree of happiness as Is consistent with our present state, lie around us in profusion. But the man of talents must stoop to gather them, otherwise they would bfl beyond the rearh of the mass of society, for whose benefit, as well ... for his, Providence has created them. There is no
Who glorify thy consecrated pages; Thou wert the throne and grave of empires; still. The fount at which the panting mind assuages Her thirst of knowledge, quaffing there her fill, Flows from the eternal source of Home's imperial hill.
Thus far have I proceeded in a theme Rcnew'd with no kind auspices: —to feel We are not what we have been, and to deem We are not what we should be,—and to steel The heart against itself; and to conceal, With a proud caution, love, or hate, or aught, — Passion or feeling, purpose, grief, or zeal,— Which is the tyrant spirit of our thought, Is a stern task of soul: —No matter, — it is taught.
And for these words, thus woven into song,
I have not loved the world, nor the world me; I have not flatter'd its rank breath, nor bow'd To its idolatries a patient knee,— Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles,—nor cried aloud In worship of an echo; In the crowd They could not deem me one of such; I stood Among them, but not of them; in a shroud [could. Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still Had I not filed i my mind, which thus itself subdued.
I have not loved the world, nor the world me, —
And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
royal and no poetical path to contentment and heart's-ease: that by which they are attained is open to all classes of mankind, and lies within the most limited range of intellect. To narrow our wishes and desires within the scope of our powers of attainment ; to consider our misfortunes, however peculiar ln their character, as our inevitable share In the patrimony of Adam; to bridle those irritable feelings, which ungovcriicd are sure to become governors ; to shun that intensity of galling and self-wounding reflection which our poet has so forcibly described In his own burning language : —
'I have thought
Too long and darkly, till my brain became.
— to stoop, in short, to the realities of life ; repent if we have offended, and pardon If we have been trespassed against; So look on the world less as our foe than as a doubtful and capricious friend, whose applause we ought as far as possible to deserve, but neither to court nor contemn — such seem the most obvious and certain means of keeping or regaining mental tranquillity.
'Semita certe Tranqullls per virtutem patet unica vita».'"—.
Sift WaLxaa Scott.] cxv.
My daughter! with thy name this song begun;
j Br daughter! with thy name thus much shall end;
| My voice shall with thy future visions blend.
And reach into thy heart,—when mine is cold,— A token and a tone, even from thy father's mould.
To aid thy mind's developement,—to watch Toy dawn of little joys,—to sit and see Almost thy very growth, — to view thee catch Knowledge of objects, — wonders yet to thee! To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee, .And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss, — This, it should seem, was not reserved for me; Tet this was in my nature : — as it is, I know not what is there, yet something like to this.
Tet, though dull Hate as duty should be taught, I know that thou wilt love me; though my name Should be shut from thee, as a spell still fraught With desolation,—and a broken claim: [same, Though the grave closed between u«,—'twere the I know that thou wilt love me; though to drain Ms blood from out thy being were an aim, And an attainment,—all would be in vain, — StiU thou would'st love me, still that more than life retain.
The child of love, — though born in bitterness, And nurtured in convulsion. Of thy sire These were the elements, — and thine no less. As yet such arc around thee, — but thy Are Shall be more temper'd, and thy hope far higher. Sweet be thy cradled slumbers I O'er the sea And from the mountains where I now respire, Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee, [me !1 As, with a sigh, I deem thou might'st have been to
CANTO THE FOUIITH.
Visto ho Totcana, Lombardia, Romagna.
Quel Monte che divide, e quel die serra Italia, e un mare e 1* altro, che la bagna.
Ariosto, Satira ili.
TO JOHX HOBHODSE, ESQ. A.M. F.R.S. &c.
Venice, January 2. 1818.
I Mr Diia Hobhouse, Arret 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
1 [" Byron, July 4.1916. Dlodati." — MS.]
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 of an 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 have found wakeful over my sickness and kind in my sorrow, glad in my prosperity and firm in my adversity, true in counsel and trust)' 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 at least 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,2 but which cannot poison my future while I retain the resource of your friendship, and of my own faculties, will hencctorth have a 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 of the preceding, and that little slightly, If at all, separated from the author speaking in his own person. The fact is, that I had become weary of drawing a line which every one seemed determined not to perceive: like the Chinese in Goldsmith's "Citizen of the World," whom nobody would believe to be a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted, and imagined that I had drawn, a distinction between tile author and tue
- ill! mania??.
pilgrim; and the very anxiety to preserve this difference, and disappointment at finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the composition, that I determined to abandon it altogether — and have done so. The opinions which have been, or may be, formed on that subject are now a matter of indifference; the work is to depend on itself, and not on the writer; and the author who has no resources in his own mind beyond the reputation, transient or permanent, which is to arise from his literary efforts, deserves the fate of authors.
In the course of the following canto it was my intention, either in the text or in the notes, to have touched upon the present state of Italian literature, and perhaps of manners. But the text, within the limits I proposed, I soon found hardly sufficient for the labyrinth of external objects, and the consequent reflections; and for the whole of the notes, excepting a few of the shortest, I am Indebted to yourself, and these were necessarily limited to the elucidation of the text.
It is also a delicate, and no very grateful task, to dissert upon the literature and manners of a nation so dissimilar; and requires an attention and impartiality which would induce us—though perhaps no inattentive observers, nor ignorant of the language or customs of the people amongst whom we have recently abode—to distrust, or at least defer our judgment, and more narrowly examine our information. The state of literary, as well as political party, appears to run, or to have run, so high, that for a stranger to steer impartially between them is next to impossible. It may be enough, then, at least for my purpose, to quote from their own beautiful language —" Mi pare che in un paese tutto poetico, che vanta la lingua la piu nobile ed insicmc la piu dolce, tutte tutte le vie diverse si possono tentare, e che sinche la patria di AJfieri e ill Monti non ha perduto I' antlco valore, in tutte essa dowebbe essere la prima." Italy has great names still—Canova, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Pindemonte, Visconti, Morelli, Clcognara, Albriizi, Mezzophanti, Mai, Mustoxidi, Agliettl, and Yacca, will secure to the present generation an honourable place in most of the departments of Art, Science, and Belles Lettres; and in some the very highest— Europe—the World—has but one Canova.
It has been somewhere said by Alfierl, that "La pianta uomo nasce piu robusta In Italia che in qualunquc altra terra—e che gli stessi atroci delitti che vi si commettono ne sono una prova." Without subscribing to the latter part of his proposition, a dangerous doctrine, the truth of which may be disputed on better grounds, namely, that the Italians are in no respect more ferocious than their neighbours, that man must be wilfully blind, or ignorantly heedless, who is not struck with the extraordinary capacity of this people, or, if such a word be admissible, their capabilities, the facility of their acquisitions, the rapidity of their conceptions, the fire of their genius, their sense of beauty, and, amidst all the disadvantages of repeated revolutions, the desolation of battles, and the despair of ages, their still unquenched "longing after immortality,"—the immortality of independence. And when we ourselves, in riding round the walls of Home, heard the simple lament of the
'See Appendix, " Historical Notes," No. I.
* Sabellicus, describing the appearance of Venice, has made use of the above image, which would not be poetical were it not true "Quo fit ut qui supcrne urbem contcmpletur,
labourers' chorus, "Roma! Roma t Roma I Roma non c piu come era prima," it was difficult- not to contrast this melancholy dirge with the bacchanal roar of the songs of exultation still yelled from the London taverns, over the carnage of Mont St. Jean, and the betrayal of Genoa, of Italy, of France, and of the world, by men whose conduct you yourself have exposed in a work worthy of the better days of our history. For me,—
"Non movero mal corda
What Italy has gained by the late transfer of nations, it were useless for Englishmen to inquire, till it becomes ascertained that England has acquired something more than a permanent army and a suspended Habeas Corpus; it is enough for them to look at home. For what they have done abroad, and especially In the South, "Verily they wilt have their reward," and at no very distant period.
Wishing you, my dear Hobhouse, a safe and agreeable return to that country whose real welfare can be dearer to none than to yourself, I dedicate to you this poem in its completed state; and repeat once more how truly I am ever,
And affectionate friend,
I Stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;1 A palace and a prison on each hand: I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O'er the far times, when many a subject land Look'd to the winged Lion's marble piles, [isles! Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred
She looks a sea Cybele, fresh from ocean,1 Rising with her tiara of proud towers At airy distance, with majestic motion, A ruler of the waters and their powers: And such she was; — her daughters had their dowers From spoils of nations, and the exhaustless East Pour'd in her lap all gems in sparkling showers. In purple was she robed, and of her feast Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increased.
In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more,' And silent rows the songless gondolier; Her palaces arc crumbling to the shore. And music meets not always now the ear: Those days arc gone — but Beauty still is here. States fall, arts fade—but Nature doth not die, Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear, The pleasant place of all festivity, The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy 1
turritam tclluris imaginem medio Oceano flguratam se putet Insploere."
1 See Appendix, " Historical Notes," No. ll.
Bet unto us she hath a spell beyond Her name in story, and her long array Ofmighly shadows, whose dim forms despond Above the dogeless city's vanish'd sway; Oars is a trophy which will not decay With the Hialto; Shylock and the Moor, And Pierre, can not be swept or worn away— Tbe keystones of the arch 1 though all were o'er, For us repeopled were the solitary shore.
The beings of the mind are not of clay; Essentially immortal, they create And multiply in us a brighter ray And more beloved existence: that which Fate Prohibits to dull life, in this our state Of mortal bondage, by these spirits supplied, First exiles, then replaces what we hate; Watering the heart whose early flowers have died, And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
Such is the refuge of our youth and age, Tbe first from Hope, the last from Vacancy; And this worn feeling peoples many a page, And, may be, that which grows beneath mine eye: Trt there are things whose strong reality Outshines our fairy-land; In shape and hues More beautiful than our fantastic sky, And the strange constellations which the Muse O'er her wild universe is skilful to diffuse:
I saw or dream'd of such,—but letthemgo, — They came like truth, and disappear'd like dreams; And whatsoe'er they were—are now but so: I could replace them if I would; still teems My mind with many a form which aptly seems Such as I sought for, and at moments found; Let these too go — for waking Reason deems Such over-weening phantasies unsound, And other voices speak, and other sights surround.
r*e taught me other tongues—and in strange eyes Have made me not a stranger; to the mind Which is itself, no changes bring surprise; !ior is it harsh to make, nor hard to find A country with—ay, or without mankind; let was I bom where men are proud to be, — Not without cause; and should I leave behind Tbe inviolate Island of the sage and free, And seek me out a home by a remoter sea,
Perhaps I loved it well: and should I lay My ashes in a soil which is not mine, My spirit shall resume it — if we may Cnbodled choose a sanctuary. I twine My hopes of being remember'd in my line W ith my land's language: if too fond and far These aspirations in their scope incline, — If my fame should be, as my fortunes are, Of hasty growth and blight, and dull Oblivion bar
1 Theatuwerofthe mother of Braaidas, the Lacedicmonian ?eo€Taltto the strangers who praised the memory of her son. | ,-s.*,i» See Appendix. "Historical Notes,'* Hot* III. IV.
My name from out the temple where the dead Are honour'd by the nations — let it be — And light the laurels on a loftier head! And be the Spartan's epitaph on me — "Sparta hath many a worthier son than he." > Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need; The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree I planted, — they have torn me, — and I bleed: I should have known what fruit would spring from such a seed.
The spouseless Adriatic mourns her lord; And, annual marriage now no more renew'd, The Bucentaur lies rotting unrestored, Neglected garment of her widowhood! St. Mark yet sees his lion where he stood" Stand, but in mockery of his wither'd power, Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued, And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour When Venice was a queen with an unequall'd dower.
The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian reigns—' An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt; Kingdoms arc shrunk to provinces, and chains Clank over sceptred cities; nations melt From power's high pinnacle, when they have felt The sunshine for a while, and downward go Like lauwine loosen'd from the mountain's belt; Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo !4 Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe.
Before St Mark still glow his steeds of brass, Their gilded collars glittering in the sun; But is not Doria's menace come to pass ? * Are they not bridled t— Venice, lost and won, Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done, Sinks, like a sea-weed, Into whence she rose! Better be whelm'd beneath the waves, and shun, Even in destruction's depth, her foreign foes, From whom submission wrings an infamous repose.
In youth she was all glory,—& Tyre; Her very by-word sprung from victory*, The " Planter of the Lion"," which through fire And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea j Though making many slaves, herself still free, And Europe's bulwark 'gainst the Ottomite; Witness Troy's rival, Candla! Vouch it, ye Immortal waves that saw Lcpanto's tight! For ye are names no time nor tyranny can blight.
Statues of glass—all shiver'd — the long file Of her dead Doges are declined to dust; But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous pile Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust; Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust, Have yielded to the stranger: empty halls. Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as must Too oft remind her who and what lnthrals, 1 Have flung a desolate cloud o'er Venice' lovely walls.
• That i«, the Lion of St. Mark, the ttandard of the republic, which is tile oripin of the word Pantaloon — Pianta* icone, Panlalcon, Pantaloon.
7 See Appendix, M Hiitorical Votci," No. VII.
When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse, And fettcr'd thousands bore the yoke of war, Redemption rose up in the Attic Muse,' Her voice their only ransom from afar: See! as they chant the tragic hymn, the car Of the o'ermaster'd victor stops, the reins Fall from his hands—his idle scimitar Starts from its belt — he rends his captive's chains, And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his strains.
Thus, Venice, if no stronger claim were thine, Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot. Thy choral memory of the Bard divine, Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot Is shameful to the nations,—most of all, Albion ! to thee -. the Ocean queen should not Abandon Ocean's children; In the fall Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall.
I loved her from my boyhood; she to me Was as a fairy city of the heart, Rising like water-columns from the sea, Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart; And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakspeare's art,12 Had stamp'd her image in me, and even so, Although I found her thus, we did not part, Perchance even dearer in her day of woe. Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show.
I can repeople with the past — and of The present there is still for eye and thought, And meditation chasten'd down, enough; And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought; And of the happiest moments which were wrought Within the web of my existence, some From thee, fair Venice 1 have their colours caught: There are some feelings Time cannot benumb, Nor Torture shake, or mine would now be cold and dumb.
But from their nature will the tannen grow' Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter'd rocks, Rooted in barrenness, where nought below Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks Of eddying storms; yet springs the trunk, and mocks The howling tempest, till its height and frame Are worthy of the mountains from whose blocks Of bleak, gray granite into life it came, And grew a giant tree; — the mind may grow the same.
Existence may be borne, and the deep root
1 The story Is told In Plutarch'* Life of Nlclas.
'Venice Preserved; Mysteries of Udolpho; the GhostSi'cr. or Armenian ; the Merchant of Venice; Othello.
3 Tannen is the plural of tnnm% a species of fir peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky parts, where scarcely soil sufficient'for its nourishment can be found. On tli-'se spots it grows to a greater height than any other mountain tree.
In vain should such example be; if they. Things of ignoble or of savage mood, Endure and shrink not, we of nobler clay May temper it to bear,—it is but for a day.
All suffering doth destroy, or is destroy'd, Even by the sufferer; and, in each event, Ends: —Some, with hope replenish*d and rebuoy'd, Return to whence they came—with like intent. And weave their web again; some, bow'd and bent, Wax gray and ghastly, withering ere their time, And perish with the reed on which they leant; Some seek devotion, toil, war, good or crime, According as their souls were form'd to sink or climb.
But ever and anon of griefs subdued
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly
And how and why we know not, nor can trace
The mourn'd, the loved, the lost — too" many I—yet
But my soul wanders; I demand it back To meditate amongst decay, and stand A ruin amidst ruins j there to track Fall'n states and buried greatness, o'er a land Which was the mightiest in its old command, And it the loveliest, and must ever be The master-mould of Nature's heavenly hand, Wherein were cast the heroic and the free, The beautiful, the brave—the lord3 of earth and sea,
The commonwealth of kings, the men of Rome! And even since, and now, fair Italy! Thou art the garden of the world, the home Of all Art yields, and Nature4 can decree; Even in thy desert, what is like to thee? Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste More rich than other climes' fertility; Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced With an immaculate charm which can not be defaced.
4 [The whole of this canto is rich in description of Nature. The love of Nature now appears as a distinct passion in Loni ltyron's mind. It is a love that does not rest in beholding, nor is satisfied with describing, what is before him. It has a power and being, blending itself with tho poet's very "feThough Lord Byron had, with his real eyes, perhaps, seen more of Nature than ever wax before permitted to any great poet, yet he never before seemed to open bis whole heart to