Page images
PDF
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Athens, Capuchin ConTcnt, March 17, 1811
Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run, *
Along Morca's hills the setting sun;
i Not, as in northern climes, obscurely bright,
1 But one unclouded blaze of living light;
O'er the hush'd deep the yellow beam he throws,
Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows;
On old -Egina's rock and Hydra's isle
The pod of gladness sheds his parting smile;
O'er his own regions lingering loves to shine,
Though there his altars are no more divine.
Descending fast, the mountain-shadows kiss
Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis I
Their axure arches through the long expanse,
.More deeply purpled, meet his mellowing glance,
And tendcrest tints, along their summits driven,
Mark his gay course, and own the hues of heaven;
Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep.
Behind his Delphian rock he sinks to sleep.

On such an eve his palest beam he cast
^hen, Athens! here thy wisest look'd his last,
How watch'd thy better sons his farewell ray,
That closed their munler'd sage's 3 latest day!
Not yet—not yet — Sol pauses on the hill,
The precious hour of parting lingers still;
But sad his light to agonising eyes,
And dark the mountain's once delightful dyes;
Gloom o'er the lovely land he seem'd to pour,
The land where Phcebus never frown'd before;
But ere he sunk below Cithceron's head.
The cup of woe was quaff'd — the spirit fled;
The soul of him that scorn'd to fear or fly,
Who lived and died as none can live or die.

But, lo I from high Hymettus to the plain
The queen of night asserts her silent reign ; 4

1 [This fierce philippic on Lord Elgin, whose collection of Athenian marbles was ultimately purchased for tlx' nati'.n, in I^li?, at the cost of thirty-five thousand pound*, was written « Athens, in March, 1811, and prepared for publication along with the " Hint* from Horace ;*' but, like that satire, supplied by Lord Byron, from motives which the reader will wily understand. It was first given to the world in 1828. f ew can wonder that Lord Byron's feelings should have been powerfully excited by the spectacle of the despoiled Parthenon; wit it is only due to Lord Elgin to keep in mind, that, had those precious marbles remained, they must, In all likelihood, hare perished for ever amidst the miserable scenes of violence which Athens has since witnessed; and that their presence in Kngland has already, by universal admission, been of the most essential advantage to the fine arts of our own country. The political allusions in this poem are not such as require much explanation. It contains many lines, which, it is hoped, the author, on mature reflection, disapproved of—but is too rignrous a specimen of his iambics to be omitted in any collective edition of his works.]

5 [The splendid lines with which this satire opens, down to "As thus, within the walls of Pallas'fane," first appeared at the commencement of the th'rd canto of the Corsair, the author having, at that time, abandoned all notion of publishing the piece of which they originally made part.]

i Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset (the hour of execution), notwithstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.

O'er the chill marble, where the startling tread
Thrills the lone heart like echoes from the dead.
Long had I mused, and treasured every trace
The wreck of Greece recorded of her race,
When, lo 1 a giant form before me strode.
And Pallas hail'd me in her own abode!

Yes, 'twas Minerva's self; but, ah! how changed
Since o'er the Dardan field in arms she ranged!
Not such as erst, by her divine command,
Her form appear'd from Phidias' plastic hand:
Gone were the terrors of her awful brow, ,
Her idle atgis bore no Gorgon now;
Her helm was dinted, and the broken lance
Seem'd weak and shaftless e'en to mortal glance;
The olive branch, which still she dcign'd to clasp.
Shrunk from her touch, and wither'd in her grasp;
And, ah! though still the brightest of the sky,
Celestial tears bedimm'd her large blue eye:
Round the rent casque her owlet circled slow.
And mourn'd his mistress with a shriek of woe!

"Mortal 1"—'twas thus she spake—" that blush of shame

Proclaims thee Briton, once a noble name;

First of the mighty, foremost of the free,

Now honour'd less by all, and least by me:

Chief of thy foes shall Pallas still be found.

Scck'st thou the cause of loathing?—look around.

Lo! here, despite of war and wasting fire,

I saw successive tyrannies expire.

'Scaped from the ravage of the Turk and Goth,1

Thy country sends a spoiler worse than both.

Survey this vacant, violated fane;

Recount the relics torn that yet remain:

These Cecrops placed, this Pericles adorn'd,3

That Adrian rcar'd when drooping Science mourn'd,

What more I owe let gratitude attest—

Know, Alaric and Elgin did the rest.

That all may learn from whence the plunderer came,

The Insulted wall sustains his hated name 4:

For Elgin's fame thus grateful Pallas pleads.

Below, his name—above, behold his deeds !5

Be ever hail'd with equal honour here

The Gothic monarch and the Pictish peer -.

Arms gave the first his right, the last had none,

But basely stole what less barbarians won.

So when the lion quits his fell repast.

Next prowls the wolf, the filthy jackal last:

Flesh, limbs, and blood the former make their own,

The last poor brute securely gnaws the bone.

Yet still the gods are just, and crimes are cross'd:

See here what Elgin won, and what he lost!

'[On the plaster wall, on the west tide of the chapel, these words have been very deeply cut: —"

Quod Non Fkcehunt Got!,

Hod PECKRCNT SCOTI.

The mortar wall, yet fresh when we taw it. supplying the place of the statue now in Lord Elgin's collection, serves as a comment on this test. This eulogy of the Goths alludes to an unfounded story of a Greek historian, who relates that Alaric, either terrihed by tw o phantoms, one of Minerva herself, the other of Achilles, terrible as when he strode towards the walls of Troy to his friends, or struck with a reverential respect, had spared the treasures, ornaments, and people of the venerable city Houiiol'sk.]

• [In the original MS.—

'All, Athens I scarce escaped from Turk and Goth: Hell sends a paltry Scotchman worse than both."]

Another name with his pollutes my shrine: Behold where Dian's beams disdain to shine! Some retribution still might Pallas claim, When Venus half avenged Minerva's shame." 6

She ceased awhile, and thus I dared reply, To soothe the vengeance kindling in her eye: "Daughter of Jove! in "Britain's injured name, A true-born Briton may the deed disclaim. Frown not on England; England owns him not: Athena, no! thy plunderer was a Scot Ask'st thou the difference? From fair Phyle's t Survey Bceotia; — Caledonia's ours. And well I know within that bastard land 7 Hath Wisdom's goddess never held command; A barren soil, where Nature's germs, confined To stern sterility, can stint the mind; Whose thistle well betrays the niggard earth, Emblem of all to whom the land gives birth; Each genial influence nurtured to resist; A land of meanness, sophistry, and mist. Each breeze from foggy mount and marshy plain Dilutes with drivel every drizzly brain, Till, burst at length, each watery head o'erflows, Foul as their soli, and frigid as their snows. Then thousand schemes of petulance and pride Despatch her scheming children far and wide: Some east, some west, some everywhere but north, In quest of lawless gain, they issue forth. And thus—accursed be the day and year! — She sent a Pict to play the felon here. Yet Caledonia claims some native worth, As dull Bceotia gave a Pindar birth; So may her few, the letter'd and the brave. Bound to no clime, and victors of the grave, Shake off the sordid dust of such a land. And shine like children of a happier strand; As once, of yore, In some obnoxious place, | Ten names (if found) had saved a wretched race."

.

"Mortal!" the blue-eyed maid resumed, "once
Bear back my mandate to thy native shore. [more
Though fallen, alas I this vengeance yet is mine,
To turn my counsels far from lands like thine.
Hear then in silence Pallas' stern behest;
Hear and believe, for Time will tell the rest.

"First on the head of him who did this deed
My curse shall light,—on him and all his seed:
Without one spark of intellectual fire,
Be all the sons as senseless as the sire:
H one with wit the parent brood disgrace,
Believe him bastard of a brighter race:

3 This is spoken of the rity In general, and not of the Acropolis in particular. The temple of Jupiter Olrmpius. by sosoe supposed the Pantheon, was finished by Hadrian; *ixtcra columns are standing, of the most beautiful marble and architecture.

< [On the original MS. Is written— "Aspice quos Pallas Scoto concedlt honores, infra stat nomcn — facta supraque vide."] 1 [For Lord Byron's detailed remarks on Lord Elfin's dealing with the Parthenon, see Appendix, note A. to taw second canto of Chllde Harold.]

* His lordship's name, and that of one who no longer bear* it, are carved conspicuously on the Parthenon : abow. in a part not far distant, are the torn remnants of the busso relievos, destroyed In a vain attempt to remove them.

* "Irish bastards," according to Sir <

[graphic]

j Still with his hireling artists let him prate,
And Folly's praise repay for Wisdom's hate;
Long of their patron's gusto let them tell.
Whose noblest, native gusto is — to sell:
To sell, and make—may Shame record the day !—
The state receiver of his pilfer'd prey. 1
Meantime, the flattering, feeble dotard, West,
Europe's worst dauber, and poor Britain's best,
With palsied hand shall turn each model o'er,
And own himself an infant of fourscore. ■
Be all the bruisers cull'd from all St Giles',
That art and nature may compare their styles j
While brawny brutes in stupid wonder stare,
And marvel at his lordship's 1 stone shop'' there.
Hound the throng'd gate shall sauntering coxcombs
creep,

To lounge and lucubrate, to prate and peep;

While many a languid malrt, with longing sigh.

On giant statues casts the curious eye;

The room with transient glance appears to skim,

Tet marks the mighty back and length of limb;

Mourns o'er the difference of now and then ,

Exclaims, ' These Greeks indeed were proper men!'

Draws sly comparisons of these with those.

And envies Lais all her Attic beaux.

When shall a modern maid have swains like these!

Alas I Sir Harry is no Hercules 1

And last of all, amidst the gaping crew,

Some calm spectator, as he takes his view,

In silent indignation mix'd with grief,

Admires the plunder, but abhors the thief. •

Ob, loathed in life, nor pardon'd in the dust,

May hate pursue his sacrilegious lust I

Link'd with the fool that fired the Ephesian dome,

Shall vengeance follow far beyond the tomb.

And Eratostratus and Elgin shine

In many a branding page and burning line;

Alike reserved for aye to stand accursed,

Perchance the second blacker than the first.

"So let him stand, through ages yet unlwrn,
Fte'd statue on the pedestal of Scorn;
Though not for him alone revenge shall wait,
But (its thy country for her coming fate:
Hers were the deeds that taught her lawless son
To do what oft Britannia's self had done.
Look to the Baltic—blazing from afar,
Tour old ally yet mourns perfidious war. 1
Xot to such deeds did Pallas lend her aid.
Or break the compact which herself had made;
Far from such councils, from the faithless field
She fled—but left behind her Gorgon shield:
A fatal gift, that turn'd your friends to stone,
And left lost Albion hated and alone.

"Look to the East, where Ganges' swarthy race Shall shake your tyrant empire to its base;

1 [In 1816, thirty-five thousand pounds were voted by Par■ - ''<< :it for the purchase of the Elgin marbles.]

: Mr. West, on seeing the "Elgin Collection " (I suppose *e shall hear of the " Abershaw " and " Jack Shephard collection), declare* himself " a mere tyro " In art.

1 Poor Cribb was sadly puzzled when the marbles were first exhibited at Elgin House: he asked if It was nut "a stone shop ?" — He was right; it is a shop.

* [That the Elgin marbles will contribute to the improvement of art in England, cannot be doubted. They must cert-unly open the eyes of the British artists, and prove that the tnw and only road to simplicity and beauty is the study of nature. But, had we a right to diminish the interest of Athens

Tain Is each voice where tones could once command;

E'en factions cease to charm a factious land:

Yet jarring sects convulse a sister isle,

And light with maddening hands the mutual pile.

"'Tis done, 'tis past, since Pallas warns in vain; The Furies seize her abdicated reign: Wide o'er the realm they wave their kindling brands, And wring her vitals with their fiery hands. But one convulsive struggle still remains, And Gaul shall weep ere Albion wear her chains. The banner'd pomp of war, the glittering files. O'er whose gay trappings stern Bellona smiles; The brazen trump, the spirit-stirring drum, That bid the foe defiance ere they come; The hero bounding at his country's call, The glorious death that consecrates his fall, Swell the young heart with visionary charms, And bid it antedate the joys ot arms.

But know, a lesson you may yet be taught,
With death alone are laurels cheaply bought:
Not In the conflict Havoc seeks delight,
His day of mercy is the day of fight.
But when the field is fought, the battle won.
Though drench'd with gore, his woes are but begun:
His deeper deeds as yet ye know by name;
The slaughtcr'd peasant and the ravish'd dame,
The rifled mansion and the foe-reap'd field,
111 suit with souls at home, untaught to yield.
Say with what eye along the distant down
Would flying burghers mark the blazing town?
How view the column of ascending flames
Shake his red shadow o'er the startled Thames?
Nay, frown not, Albion! for the torch was thine
That lit such pyres from Tagus to the Rhine:
Now should they burst on thy devoted coast.
Go, ask thy bosom who deserves them meat.
The law of heaven and earth is life for life,
And she who raised, in vain regrets, the strife."'

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

TO THE PUBLISHER.

Sir,

I Am a country gentleman of a midland county. I might have been a parliament-man for a certain borough; having had the offer of as many votes as General T. at the general election in 1812. 3 But I was all for domestic happiness; as, fifteen years ago, on a visit to London, I married a middle-aged maid of honour. We lived happily at Homem Hall till last season, when my wife and I were invited by the Countess of WalUaway (a distant relation of my spouse) to pass the winter in town. Thinking no harm, and our girls being come to a marriageable (or, as they call it, marketable) age, and having

1 ['* The beautiful hut barren Hymettus, the whole coast of Attica, her hills and mountains, Pentelicus, Anchesmus, Philopappus, Sec. See. are in themselves poetical; and would bo so if the name of Athens, of Athenians, and her very ruins, were swept from the earth. But, am I to be told that the "nature of Attica would be more poetical without the "art" of the Acropolis ? of the Temple of Theseus? and of the still all Creek and glorious monuments of her exquisitely artificial genius? Ask the traveller what strikes htm as most poetical, the Parthenon, or the rock on which it stands? The Columns of Cape Colonna, or the Cape itself? The rocks at the foot of It, or the recollection that Falconer's ship was bulged upon them? There are a thousand rocks and capes far more picturesque than those of the Acropolis and Cane Sunium In themselves. But It is the "art,'' the columns, the trmples, the wrecked vessel, which give them their antique and their modern poetry, and not the spots themselves. I op

besides a Chancery suit invetcrately entailed upon the family estate, we came up in our old chariot,— of which, by the bye, my wife grew so much ashamed In less than a week, that I was obliged to buy a second-hand barouche, of which I might mount the box, Mrs. H. says, if I could drive, but never see the inside—that place being reserved for the Honourable Augustus Tiptoe, her partner-general and operaknight. Hearing great praises of Mrs. H.'s dancing (she was famous for birthnight minuets in the litter end of the last century), I unbooted, and went to a ball at the Countess's, expecting to see a country dance, or, at most, cotillons, reels, and all the old paces to the newest tunes. But, judge of my surprise, on arriving, to see poor dear Mrs. Hornem with her

posed, and will ever oppose, the robbery of ruins from J to instruct the English in sculpture; but why dM I do so • The rtiitu are as j>oetieal in Piccadilly as they were in the Parthenon ; but the Parthenon and it* rock are less so without them. Such is the poetry of art."—Syrxm Lcttcr*t 183].]

2 [This trifle was written at Cheltenham in the autumn of 1312, and published anonymously in the spring of the following year. It was not very well received at the time bv the public; and the author was by no means anxious that it should be considered as hi.% handiwork. "I hear," be says. In a letter to a friend, "that a certain malicious publicatiaB on waltzing is attributed to me. This report, 1 suppose, yau will take care to contradict; as the author, I am sure, will not like that 1 should wear his cap and bells."]

3 State of the poll (last day), 5.

inns half round the loins of a huge hussar-looking gentleman I never set eyes on before; and his, to say truth, rather more than half round her waist, turning round, and round, and round, to a d d see-saw up-and-down sort of tune, that reminded me of the " Black joke," only more "affettuoso" till it made me quite giddy with wondering they were not so. By-and-by they stopped a bit, and I thought they would sit or fall down: — but no; with Mrs. H. 's hand on his shoulder, "quam familiariter" 1 (as Terence said, when I was at school), they walked about a minute, and then at it again, like two cockchafers spitted on the same bodkin. I asked what all this meant, when, with a loud laugh, a child no older than our Wllhelmina (a name I never heard but in the Vicar of Wakefield, though her mother would call her after the Princess of Swappenbach,) said, " Lord 1 Mr. Homem, can't you see they are valuing?" or waltzing (I forget which); and then op she got, and her mother and sister, and away they went, and round-abouted it till supper time. Now, that I know what it is, I like it of all things, and so dors Mrs. H. (though I have broken my shins, and four times overturned Mrs. Hornem's maid, in practising the preliminary steps in a morning). Indeed, so much do I like it, that having a turn for rhyme, tastily displayed In some election ballads, and nogs in honour of all the victories (but till lately I hare had little practice in that way), I sat down, and with the aid of William Fitzgerald, Esq. -, and a few hints from Dr. Busby(whose recitations I attend, and am monstrous fond of Master Busby's manner of delivering his father's late successful " Drury Lane Address,") I composed the following hymn, wherewithal to make ray sentiments known to the public; whom, nevertheless, I heartily despise, as well as the

[ocr errors]

i of the many-twinkling feet *! whose charms Are now extended up from legs to arms;

1 My Latin is all forgotten, if a man can be said to have forzotten what be never remembered; but I bought my title-page motto of a Catholic priest for a three-shilling bank i sixpence. I grudged ; memory of Perceval g the downfal of the i any more. 1 [Set out. p. 421.] 1 [See " Hejecled Addresses."] * " Glance their many-twinkling feet."—Gray. 1 To rival Lord Wellesley's, or his nephew's, as the reader Meaiis:—the one gained a pretty woman, whom he deserved, (Writing for; and the other has been fighting In the Peninsula many a long day, "by Shrewsbury clock," without P""'ng anything In Oust country but the title of " the Great Lord," and "the Lord;" which savours of profanation, Juvmz been hitherto applied only to that Being to whom TV bntmt" for carnage are the rankest blasphemy.— It is to be presumed the general will one day return to his Sabine (ana; there

"To tame the genius of the stubborn plain, AtmaMt as quickly as he conquer'd Spain 1" The Lord Peterborough conquered continents in a summer;

d lose them in a

The Lord Peterborough conquered i »e (in more — we contrive both to co: iaoner season. If the " great Lord's

Terpsichore !—too long misdeem'd a maid —

Reproachful term—bestow'd but to upbraid—

Henceforth in all the bronze of brightness shine,

The least a vestal of the virgin Nine.

Far be from thee and thine the name of prude:

Mock'd, yet triumphant; snecr'd at, unsubdued;

Thy legs must move to conquer as they fly,

If but thy coats are reasonably high;

Thy breast—if bare enough—requires no shield;

Dance forth — sans armour thou shalt lake the field,

And own—impregnable to most assaults,

Thy not too lawfully begotten " Waltz."

Hail, nimble nymph I to whom the young hussar, The whiskered votary of waltz and war, His night devotes, despite of spur and boots; A sight unmatch'd since Orpheus and his brutes: Hail, spirit-stirring Waltz ! — beneath whose banners A modern hero fought for modish manners; On Hounslow's heath to rival Wellesley's1 fame, Cock'cl — fired—and miss'd his man — but gain'd his aim;

Hail, moving Muse ! to whom the fair one's breast

Gives all It can, and bids us take the rest.

Oh ! for the flow of Busby, or of Fitz,

The latter's loyalty, the former's wits,

To " energise the object I pursue,"6

And give both Belial and his dance their due I

Imperial Waltz! imported from the Rhine
(Famed for the growth of pedigrees and wine).
Long be thine import from all duty free.
And hock itself be less esteem'd than thee:
In some few qualities alike—for hock
Improves our cellar—thou our living stock.
The head to hock belongs — thy subtler art
Intoxicates alone the heedless heart:
Through the full veins thy gentler poison swims,
And wakes to wantonness the willing limbs.

Oh, Germany I how much to thee we owe,
As heaven-born Fitt can testify below,
Ere cursed confederation made thee France's,
And only left us thy d—d debts and dances!
Of subsidies and Hanover bereft.
We bless thee still — for George the Third is left t
Of kings the best — and last, not least In worth,
For graciously begetting George the Fourth.

In agriculture be no speedier than the proportional average of time in Pope's couplet. It will, according to the farmers' proverb, be " ploughing with dogs."

By the bye—one of this illustrious person's new titles is forgotten — it Is, however, worth remembering—" Salvador del mundo!" credite, poster!! If this be the appellation annexed by the Inhabitants of the Peninsula to the name of a man who has not yet saved them—query — arc they worth saving, even In this world ? for, according to the mildest modifications of any Christian creed, those three words mr.ke the odds much against thrm in the next—" Saviour of the | world," quotha 1 — It were to be wished that he, or any one else, could save a corner of it— his country. Yet this stupid misnomer, although it shows the near connection between superstition and impiety, so far has its use, that It proves there con be little to dread from those Catholics (Inquisitorial Catholics too) who can confer such an appellation on a Protestant. I suppose next year he will be entitled the " Virgin Mary :" if so. Lord George Gordon himself would have nothing to object to such liberal bastards of our Lady of Babylon.

'[Among the addresses sent In to the Drury Lane Committee was one by Dr. Busby, which began by asking —

"When energising objects men pursue.
What are the prodigies they cannot do ?"]

« PreviousContinue »