Page images


She fear'd-she felt that something ill
Lay on her soul, so deep and chill-
That there was sin and shame she knew;
That some one was to die—but who?
She had forgotten : did she breathe ?
Could this be still the earth beneath,
The sky above, and men around;
Or were they fiends who now so frown'd
On one, before whose eyes each eye
Till then had smiled in sympathy ?
All was confused and undefined
To her all-jarr'd and wandering mind;
A chaos of wild hopes and fears :
And now in laughter, now in tears,
But madly still in each extreme,
She strove with that convulsive dream:
For so it seem'd on her to break :
Oh! vainly must she strive to wake!

The convent bells are ringing,

But mournfully and slow;
In the grey square turret swinging,

With a deep sound, to and fro•

Heavily to the heart they go! Hark! the hymn is singing

The song for the dead below,

Or the living who shortly shall be so!
For a departing being's soul
The death-hymn peals and the hollow bells knoll:
He is near his mortal goal;
Kneeling at the friar's knee,
Sad to hear-and piteous to see-
Kneeling on the bare cold ground,
With the block before and the guards around-
And the headsman with his bare arm ready,
That the blow may be both swift and steady,
Feels if the axe be sharp and true-
Since he set its edge anew:
While the crowd in a speechless circle gather
To sec the son fall by the doom of the father!

It is a lovely hour as yet
Before the summer sun shall set,
Which rose upon that heavy day,
And mock'd it with his steadiest ray;
And his evening beams are shed
Full on Hugo's fated head,
As his last confession pouring
To the monk, his doom deploring
In penitential holiness,
He bends to hear his accents bless
With absolution such as may
Wipe our mortal stains away.
That high sun on his head did glisten
As he there did bow and listen-
And the rings of chestnut hair
Curl'd half down his neck so bare;

But brighter still the beam was thrown
Upon the axe which near him shone
With a clear and ghastly glitter-
Oh! that parting hour was bitter!
Even the stern stood chill'd with awe:
Dark the crime, and just the law-
Yet they shudder'd as they saw.

The parting prayers are said and over
Of that false son-and daring lover:
His beads and sins are all recounted,
His hours to their last minute mounted-
Mis mantling cloak before was stripp'd
His bright brown locks must now be clippid:
'T is done-all closely are they shorn-
'The vest which till this moment worn-
The scarf which Parisina gave-
Must not adorn him to the grave.
Even that must now be thrown aside,
And o'er his eyes the kerchief tied;
But no-that last indignity
Shall ne'er approach his haughty eye.
All feelings, seemingly subdued
In deep disdain, were half renew'd
When headsman's hands prepared to bind
Those eyes which would not brook such blind :
As if they dared not look on death!

No-yours my forfeit blood and breath-
These hands are chain'd—but let me die
At least with an unshackled eye-
Strike!”_-And as the word he said,
Upon the block he bow'd his head;
These the last accents Hugo spoke;
“Strike!”—and Aashing fell the stroke-
Roll’d the head-and, gushing, sunk
Back the stain’d and heaving trunk
In the dust, which each deep vein
Slaked with its ensanguined rain;
His eyes and lips a moment quiver,
Convulsed and quick-then fix for ever.
He died, as erring man should die,

Without display, without parade;
Meekly had he bow'd and pray'd,
As not disdaining priestly aid,
Nor desperate of all hope on high.
And while before the prior kneeling,
His heart was wean'd from earthly feeling;
His wrathful sire-his paramour-
What were they in such an hour ?
No more reproach--no more despair;
No thought but heaven-no word but prayer-
Save the few which from him broke,
When, bared to meet the headsman's stroke,
He claim'd to die with eyes unbound,
His sole adieu to those around. (1)

(1) “ The grand part of this poem is that wbich describes the execution of the rival son; and in which, though there in no XVIII,

But whatsoe'er its end below,
Her life began and closed in woe!


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Still as the lips that closed in death,
Each gazer's bosom held his breath:
But yet, afar, from man to man,
A cold electric shiver ran,
As down the deadly blow descended
On him whose life and love thus ended;
And, with a hushing sound compressid,
A sigh shrunk back on every breast;
But no more thrilling noise rose there,

Beyond the blow that to the block

Pierced through with forced and sullen shock, Save one:—what cleaves the silent air So madly shrill, so passing wild ? That, as a mother's o'er her child, Done to death by sudden blow, To the sky these accents go, Like a soul's in endless woe. Through Azo's palace-lattice driven, That horrid voice ascends to heaven, And every eye is turn'd thereon; But sound and sight alike are gone! It was a woman's shriek—and ne'er In madlier accents rose despair ; And those who heard it, as it pass’d, In mercy wish'd it were the last.


Hugo is fallen; and, from that hour,
No more in palace, hall, or bower,
Was Parisina heard or seen:
Her name—as if she ne'er had been-
Was banish'd from each lip and ear,
Like words of wantonness or fear;
And from Prince Azo's voice, by none
Was mention heard of wife or son.
No tomb-no memory had they,
Theirs was unconsecrated clay;
At least the knight's who died that day.
But Parisina's fate lies hid
Like dust beneath the coffin-lid :
Whether in convent she abode,
And won to heaven her dreary road,
By blighted and remorseful years
Of scourge, and fast, and sleepless tears;
Or if she fell by bowl or steel,
For that dark love she dared to feel ;
Or if, upon the moment smote,
She died by tortures less remote,
Like him she saw upon the block,
With heart that shared the headsman's shock,

In quicken'd brokenness that came, + In pity, o'er her shatter'd frame,

And Azo found another bride And goodly sons grew by his side; But none so lovely and so brave As him who wither'd in the grave; Or if they were—on his cold eye Their growth but glanced unheeded by, Or noticed with a smother'd sigh. But never tear his cheek descended, And never smile his brow unbended; And o'er that fair broad brow were wrought The intersecled lines of thought; Those furrows which the burning share Of sorrow ploughs untimely there; Scars of the lacerating mind Which the soul's war doth leave behind. He was past all mirth or woe: Nothing more remain'd below But sleepless nights and heavy days, A mind all dead to scorn or praise, A heart which shunn'd itself—and yet That would not yield-nor could forget, Which, when it least appear'd to melt, Intensely thought-intensely felt: The deepest ice which ever froze Can only o’er the surface closeThe living stream lies quick below, And flows—and cannot cease to flow. Still was his seald-up bosom haunted By thoughts which Nature hath implanted; Too deeply rooted thence to vanish, Howe'er our stifled tears we banish; When, struggling as they rise to start We check those waters of the heart, They are not dried those tears unshed But flow back to the fountain-head, And resting in their spring more pure, For ever in its depths endure, Unseen, unwept, but uncongeald, And cherish'd most where least reveal'd. With inward starls of feeling left, To throb o'er those of life bereft; Without the power to fill again The desert gap which made his pain; Without the hope to meet them where United souls shall gladness share, With all the consciousness that he Had only pass'd a just decree; That they had wrought their doom of ill; Yet Azo's age was wretched still. The tainted branches of the tree,

If lopp'd with care, a strength may give,

None knew-and none can ever know:


pomp, either of language or of sentiment, and though every thing ness, there is a spirit of pathos and poetry to which it would not is conceived and expressed with the utmost simplicity and direct be easy to find many parallels.” Jeffrey.

By which the rest shall bloom and live
All greenly fresh and wildly free:
But if the lightning, in its wrath,

The waving boughs with fury scathe,
The massy trunk the ruin feels,
And never more a leaf reveals. (1)

(2) “In Parisina there is no lumult or slir. It is all sad the whole wrapped in a rich and redundant veil of poetry, where ness, and pity, and terror. There is too much of horror, perbaps,' every thing breathes the pure essence of genius and sensibility." in the circumstances; but the wriling is beautiful throughout, and Jeffrey.

The Prisoner of Chillon;

A FABLE. (1)


ETERNAL Spirit of the chainless Mind! (2)

Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,

For there ihy habitation is the heart-
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;

And when thy sons lo fetters are consign'd

To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,

Their country conquers with their martyrdom, And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind. Chillon ! thy prison is a holy place,

And thy sad floor an altar-fur 'I was trod,

(1) When this poem was composed, I was not sufficiently aware dans le château de Chillon, où il resta sans elre interrogé jusof the history of Bonnivard, or I should have endeavoured lo qu'en 1836 ; il sut alors délivré par les Bernois, qui s'empareren! dignify the subject by an allempl to celebrale his courage and his du pays de Vaud. virtues. With some account of his lise I have been furnished, “ Bonnivard, en sortant de sa captivité, eut le plaisir de trouver by the kindness of a citizen of that republic, which is still proud Genève libre et réforme : la république s'empressa de lui lémoi-of the memory of a man worthy of the best age of ancient free-gner sa reconnaissance, et de le dédommager des maux qu'il avoil dom:

soufferts : elle le recul bourgeois de la ville au mois de juin 1576; “François de Bonnivard, fils de Louis de Bonnivard, origi- elle lui donna la maison habilce autrefois par le Vicaire-géneral, naire de Seyssel et Seigneur de Lunes, naquit en 1496. II fit ses cl elle lui assigna une pension de deux cents écus d'or tant qu'il éludes à Turin: en 1510 Jean Aimé de Bonnivard, son oncle, lui sejourncroit à Genève. Il fut admis dans le Conseil des Deusrésigna le prieuré de St. Victor, qui aboutissoit aux murs de

Cents en 1837. Genève, et qui formoit un bénélice considérable.

“Bonnivard n'a pas fini d'eire utile : après avoir travaille à “Ce grand homme-( Bonnivard merilc ce lilre par la force de rendre Genève libre, il réussit à la rendre tolérante. Bonnivard son ame, la droiture de son cæur, la poblesse de ses intentions, engagea le Conseil à accorder aux ccclésiastiques et aux paysans la sagesse de ses cooseils, le courage de ses démarches, l'étendue un lemps sultisant pour examiner les propositions qu'on leur faide ses connaissances et la vivacité de son esprit),-ce grand soit ; il réussit par sa douceur: on prèche toujours le Christiahomme, qui excitera l'admiration de tous ceur qu'une vertu hé- nisme avec succès quand on le preche avec charité. roique peut encore cmouvoir, inspirera encore la plus vive recon- “ Bonnivard sul savant : ses manuscrits, qui sont dans la binaissance dans les cæurs des Genevois qui aiment Genéve. Bon-bliothèque publique, prouvent qu'il avoit bien lu les auleurs clasnivard en sul loujours un des plus fermes appuis : pour assurer la siques latins, et qu'il avoit approfondi la theologie et l'histoire. liberté de notre république, il ne craignit pas de perdre souvent

Ce grand homme aimoit les sciences, et il croyoit qu'elles poula sienne : il oublia son repos; il méprisa les richesses; il ne né- voient faire la gloire de Genève; aussi il ne négligea rien pour les gligea rien pour affermir une pairie qu'il honora de son choix : lixer dans celle ville naissante; en 1831 il donna sa bibliothèque dès ce moment il la cherit comme le plus zélé de ses ciloyens ; au public; elle fut le commencement de notre bibliothèque puil la servit avec l'intrépidité d'un héros, et il écrivit son bistoire blique, et ces livres sont en partie ces rares et belles érlitions cu avec la naïvelé d'un philosophe et la chaleur d'un palriole. quinzième siècle qu'on voit dans notre collection. Enfin, pendant

“Il dit, dans le commencement de son histoire de Genève, la même année, ce bon patriole institua la république son heri. que dès qu'il eul commencé de lire l'histoire des nations, il se lière, à condition qu'elle employeroit ses biens à entretenir le sentit entrainé par son goul pour les républiques, dont il college dont on projeloit la fondation. épousa toujours les intérels : c'est ce goùl pour la liberté qui “Il paroit que Bonnivard mourut en 1570; mais on ne peut lui fit sans doule adopler Geneve pour sa patrie.

l'assurer, parce qu'il y a une lacune dane le Nécrologe depuis le “Bondivard encore jeune s'annonça haulement comme le dé-mois de juillet 1570, jusqu'en 1571." fenseur de Genève contre le duc de Savoye et l'Evéque.

Lord Byron wrote this beautiful poem at a small inn, in the “En 1519, Bonnivard devint le martyr de sa patrie: le Duc Hillie village of Ouchy, near Lausanne, where he happened, it de Savoye élant entre dans Genéve avec cinq cents hommes, June, 1816, lo be delained two days by stress of weather;" thereby Bonnivard craignit le ressentiment du Duc; il voulut se retirer a adding,” says Moore, "one more deathless association to the al Fribourg pour en éviter les suites; mais il fut trahi par deux ready immortalised localities of the Lake."-E. bommes qui l'accompagnoient, et conduit par ordre du Prince à (2) In the first draught, the sonnet opens thusGrolée, où il resta prisonnier pendant deux ans. Bonnivard étoil

" Beloved Goddess of the chainless mind! malheureux dans ses voyages : comme ses malheurs n'avoient


Brightest in dungeons, Liberty ! thou art. point ralenti son zèle pour Genève, il étoit toujours un ennemi

Thy palace is within the Frreman's heart, redoutable pour ceux qui la menacoient, et par conséquent il

Whose soul the love of thee alone can bind; devoit etre exposé à leurs coups. Il fut rencontré en 1530 sur le

And wben thy suns to fellers are consign'dJura, par des voleurs, qui le dépouillèrent, et qui le mirent en

To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,

Thv joy is with thein still, and unconfined, core entre les majas du Duc de Savoye : ce Prince le lit enfermer

Their country conquers with their martyrdom."-E.

Until his very steps have left a trace

Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod, By Bonnivard !-- May none those marks efface;

For they appeal from tyranny to God.




My bair is grey, but not with years,

Nor grew it white

In a single night,
As men's have grown from sudden fears : (2)
My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,

But rusted with a vile repose, (3)
For they have been a dungeon's spoil,

And minc has been the fale of those
To whom the goodly earth and air
Are bann'd, and barr'd-forbidden fare;
But this was for my father's faith
I suffer'd chains and courted death :
That father perish'd at the stake
For tenets he would not forsake;
And for the same his lineal race
In darkness found a dwelling-place.
We were seven-who now are one,

Six in youth and one in age,
Finish'd as they had begun,

Proud of Persecution's rage; (4)
One in fire, and two in field,
Their belief with blood have seald:
Dying as their father died,
For the God their foes denied :-
Three were in a dungeon cast,
Of whom this wreck is left the last.

There are seven pillars of Gothic mould, (5)
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,

There are seven columns massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left:
Creeping o'er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh's meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,

And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing!

For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For years—I cannot count them o'er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop'd and died,
And I lay living by his side.

They chain'd us each to a column stone,
And we were three-yet, each alone ;
We could not move a single pace,
We could not see each other's face,
But with that pale and livid light
That made us strangers in our sight:
And thus together-yet apart,
Fetter'd in hand, but pined in heart;
’T was still some solace, in the dearth
Of the pure elements of earth,
To hearken to each other's speech,
And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope of legend old,
Or song heroically bold;
But even these at length grew cold-
Our voices took a dreary tone,
An echo of the dungeon stone,

A grating sound not full and free
As they of yore were wont to be;

It might be fancy--but to me
They never sounded like our own. (6)

[ocr errors]

(1) "I will tell you something about Chillon. A M. de Luc, in 1726, at Geneva, was the author of many geological works, Binety years old, a Swiss, had it read to him, and is pleased with and corresponded with most of the learned societies of Europe. it--so my sister wriles. He said that he was with Rousseau at -E. Cbilion, and that the description is perfectly correct. But this (2) Ludovico Sforza, and others. The same is asserted of Marie is not all; I recollected something of the name, and find the fol- Antoinelle's, the wife of Louis the Sixteenth, though not in quite lowing passages in The Confessions, vol. iii. p. 217, liv. iii. “De so short a period. Grief is said to have the same effect; lo such, tous ces amusements, celui qui me plut davanlage fut une prome- and not to lear, this change in hers was to be attributed. nade autour du Lac, que je fis en balcau avec De Luc père, sa (3) In the MS.bonne, ses deux fils, et ma Thérèse. Nous msmes sept jours à “ But with the inward wasle of grief."-E. cette lournée par le plus beau temps du monde. J'en gardai lc vil souvenir des sites qui m'avoient frappe à l'autre extremilé du

(4) In the MS.Lac, et dont je lis la description, quelques années après, dans La

“ Braving rancour-chains-and rage."-E. Nouvelle Héloise.' This nonagenarian, De Luc, must be one of (8) The fidelity of Lord Byron's description of the dungeon of the deus fils. He is in England, infirm, but still in facully. It is Chillon, to which he has given a deathless interest, is shown in odd that he should have lived so long, and not wanting in oddness, the engraving in Finden's Illustralions, from Mr. Stanfield's ibat be should have made this voyage with Jean Jacques, and al- drawing of the interior of the prison.-E. terwards, at such an interval, read a poem by an Englishman (6) “This picture of the first feelings of the three gallane (who inade precisely the same circumnavigation) upon the same brothers, when bound apart in this living tomb, and of the grascenery.”—B. Lellers, April 9, 1817.-Jean André de Luc, dual decay of their cheery fortitudo, is full of pity and agony." F. R. S., died at Windsor, in the July following. He was born Jeffrey.

[blocks in formation]

I was the eldest of the three,

And to uphold and cheer the rest

I ought to do--and did my best-
And each did well in his degree.

The youngest, whom my father loved,
Because our mother's brow was given
To bim-with eyes as blue as heaven,

For him my soul was sorely moved :
And truly might it be distressid
To see such bird in such a nest;
For he was beautiful as day-

(When day was beautiful to me
As to young eagles being free)

A polar day, which will not see
A sunset till its summer's gone,

Its sleepless summer of long light,
The snow-clad offspring of the sun :

And thus he was as pure and bright,
And in his natural spirit gay,
With tears for nought but others' ills,
And then they flow'd like mountain rills,
Unless he could assuage the woe
Which he abhorr'd to view below.

Lake Leman lies by Cbillon's walls :
A thousand feet in depth below
Its massy waters meet and flow;
Thus much the fathom-line was sent
From Chillon's snow-white battlement, (1)

Which round about the wave inthrals:
A double dungeon wall and wave
Have made—and like a living grave.
Below the surface of the lake
The dark vault lies wherein we lay,
We heard it ripple night and day;

Sounding o’er our heads it knock'd :
And I have felt the winter's spray
Wash through the bars when winds were high
And wanton in the happy sky;

And then the very rock hath rock'd,

And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,
Because I could have smiled to see
The death that would have set me free.



The other was as pure of mind,
But form’d to combat with his kind;
Strong in his frame, and of a mood
Which 'gainst the world in war had stood,
And perish'd in the foremost rank

With joy:—but not in chains to pine:
His spirit wither'd with their clank,

I saw it silently decline

And so perchance in sooth did mine:
But yet I forced it on to cheer
Those relics of a home so dear.
He was a hunter of the hills,

Had follow'd there the deer and wolf;

To him this dungeon was a gulf, And fetter'd feet the worst of ills.

I said my nearer brother pined,
I said his mighly heart declined,
He loathed and put away his food;
It was not that 't was coarse and rude,
For we were used to hunter's fare,
And for the like had little care:
The milk drawn from the mountain-goat
Was changed for water from the moat;
Our bread was such as captive's tears
Have moisten'd many a thousand years,
Since man first pent his fellow-men
Like brutes within an iron den;
But what were these to us or bim?
These wasted not his heart or limb:
My brother's soul was of that mould
Which in a palace had grown cold,
Had his free breathing been denied
The range of the steep mountain's side:
But why delay the truth ?-he died. (2)

(1) The Chateau de Chillon is situated between Clarens and bistory of this castle,” says Mr. Tennant, who went over it in 1821, Villeneuve, which last is at one extremity of the Lake of Geneva. “is, I believe, involved in doubt. By some historians it is said On its left are the entrances of the Rhone, and opposite are the to be built in the year 1120, and according to others, in the year heights of Meilerie and the range of Alps above Boveret and Si. 1936; but by whom it was built seems not to be knows. It is Gingo. Near it, on a bill behind, is a torrent: below it, wasbing said, however, in history, that Charles the Fifth, Duke of Saroy, its walls, the lake has been fathomed lo the depth of 800 feel, stormed and cook it in 1536; that he there found great hidden French measure: within it are a range of dungeons, in which the treasures, and many wretched beings pining away their lives in early reformers, and subsequently prisoners of state, were con- these frightful dungeons, amongst whom was the good Bonnivard. fined. Across one of the vaults is a beam black with age, on On the pillar to which this unfortunate man is said to have been which we were informed that the condemued were formerly exe- chained, 1 observed, cut out of the stone, the name of one whose culed. In the cells are seven pillars, or rather eight, one being beautiful poem has done much to heighten the interest of this half merged in the wall; in some of these are rings for the sellers dreary spot, and will, perhaps, do more towards rescuing from and the feltered; in the pavement the steps of Bonnivard bave oblivion the names of Chillon' and 'Bonnivard,' than all the left their traces. He was confined bere several years. It is by cruel sufferings wbich that injured man endured within its damp this castle that Rousseau has fired the catastrophe of his Héloïse, and gloomy walls."-E.) In the rescue of one of her children by Julie from the water; the

(2) lo the MS. sbock of which, and the illness produced by the immersion, is the cause of her death. The chaleau is large, and seen along the "But why with bold the blow?-be died."-E. lake for a great distance. The walls are while.-("Tho carly

« PreviousContinue »