« AnteriorContinuar »
That two, or one, are almost what they seem,Thus far have I proceeded in a theme
That goodness is no name, and happiness no dream. Renew'd with no kind auspices :-to feel
CXV. We are not what we have been, and to deem
ily daughter! with thy name this song begunWe are not what we should be, and to steel
My daughter! with thy name thus inuch shall The heart against itself; and to conceal,
end With a proud caution, love, or hate, or aught,
I see thee not, I hear thee not, but none Passion or feeling, purpose, grief, or zeal,-
Can be so wrapt in thee; thou art the friend Which is the tyrant spirit of our thought,
To whom the shadows of far years extend: Is a stern task of soul :-No matter,-it is taught.
Albeit my brow thou never shouldst behold,
My voice shall with thy future visions blend, CXII.
And reach into thy heart, when mine is cold, And for these words, thus woven into song,
A token and a tone, even from thy father's mould. It may be that they are a harmless wile, The colouring of the scenes which fleet along,
CXVI. Which I would seize, in passing, to beguile
To aid thy mind's development,-to watch My breast, or that of others, for a while.
Thy dawn of little joys,--to sit and see Fame is the thirst of youth,-but I am not
Almost thy very growth,-to view thee catch So young as to regard men's frown or smile
Knowledge of objects, wonders yet to thee! As loss or guerdon of a glorious lot ;
To hold thee lightly on a gentle knee, I stood and stand alone,-remember'd or forgot.
And print on thy soft cheek a parent's kiss,
This, it should seem, was not reserved for me; CXIII.
Yet this was in my nature :- As it is, I have not loved the world, nor the world me, I know not what is there, yet something like to this. I have not flatter'd its rank breath, nor bow d
CXVII. To its idolatries a patient knee,
Yet, though dull Hate as duty should be taught, Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
I know that thou wilt love me, though my name In worship of an echo; in the crowd
Should be shut from thee, as a spell still fraught They could not deem me one of such ; I stood
With desolation, and a broken claim : Among them, but not of them ; in a shroud
Though the grave closed between us,-'twere the of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and
same, still could,
I know that thou wilt love me; though to drain Had I not filed* my mind, which thus itself subdued.
My blood from out thy being were an aim,
And an attainment,--all would be in vain,
Still thou wouldst love me, still that more than life I have not loved the world, nor the world me,
retain. But let us part fair foes; I do believe,
CXVIII. Though I have found them not, that there may be
The child of love,-though born in bitterness, Words which are things,-hopes which will not
And nurtured in convulsion. Of thy sire deceive,
These were the elements, and thine no less. And virtues which are merciful, nor weave
As yet such are around thee; but thy fire Snares for the failing : I would also deem
Shall be more temper'd, and thy hope far higher, O'er others' griefs that some sincerely grieve;
Sweet be thy cradled slumbers! O'er the sea,
And from the mountains where I now respire, - If it be thus,
Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee, For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind.'—Macbeth. As, with a sigh, I deem thou mightst have been to me!
CANTO THE FOURTH.
VENICE, January 2, 1818. MY DEAR HOBHOUSE,- After an interval of eight years between the composition of the first and last cantos of Childe Harold, the conclusion of the poem is about to be submitted to the public. In parting with so old a friend, it is not extraordinary that I should recur to one still older and better, to one who has beheld the birth and death of the other, and to whom I am far more indebted for the social advantages 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 trusty in peril, -to a friend often tried and never found wanting ;-to yourself.
In so doing, I recur from fiction to truth; and in dedicating to you, in its complete or 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 with stand the shock firmly, that I thus attempt to commemorate your good qualities, or rather the advantages which I have derived from their exertion. Even the recurrence of the date of this letter, the anniversary of the most unfortunate day of my past existence, but which cannot poison my future while I retain the re. source of your friendship, and of my own faculties, will henceforth 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 the author and the 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 ain 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 abodeto 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 più nobile ed insieme la più dolce, tutte tutte le vie diverse si possono tentare, e che sinche la patria di Alfieri e di Monti non ha perduto l' antico valore, in tutte essa dovrebbe essere la prima.' Italy has great names still: Canova, Monti, Ugo Foscolo, Pindemonte, Visconti, Morelli, Cicognara, Albrizzi, Mezzophanti, Mai, Mustoxidi, Aglietti, and Vacca, 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 Alfieri, that . La pianta uomo nasce più robusta in Italia che in qualunque '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, it such a word be admissible, their capabilities, the facility of their acquisitions, the rapidity of their concep tions, 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 Rome, heard the simple lament of the labourers' chorus, Roma! Roma! Roma! Roma non è più 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 mai corda
* His marriage
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 will 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, your obliged and affectionate friend,
Watering the heart whose early flowers have
died, And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
I STOOD in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
In purple was she robed, and of her feast Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity in
And the strange constellations which the Muse
Such overweening phantasies unsound,
In Venice, Tasso's echoes are no more,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The inviolate island of the sage and free,
The keystones of the arch! though all were o'er,
And light the laurels on a loftier head !
But where they dwelt, the vast and sumptuous And be the Spartan's epitaph on me
pile *Sparta hath many a worthier son than he."
Bespeaks the pageant of their splendid trust; Meantime I seek no sympathies, nor need;
Their sceptre broken, and their sword in rust, The thorns which I have reap'd are of the tree Have yielded to the stranger: einpty halls, I planted,--they have torn me, and I bleed :
Thin streets, and foreign aspects, such as inust I should have known what fruit would spring from
Too oft remind her who and what enthrals, such a seed.
Have flung a desolate cloud o er Venice' lovely X
When Athens' armies fell at Syracuse,
And setter'd thousands bore the yoke of war,
Redeinption 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 Over the proud Place where an Emperor sued,
Fall from his hands--his idle scimitar And monarchs gazed and envied in the hour
Starts from its belt-heiends his captive's chains, When Venice was a queen with an unequall'd
And bids him thank the bard for freedom and his clower. XII.
XVII. The Suabian sued, and now the Austrian
Thus, Venice, if no stronger claim were thine, reigns
Were all thy proud historic deeds forgot, An Emperor tramples where an Emperor knelt;
Thy choral remory of the Bard livine, Kingdoms are shrunk to provinces, and chains
Thy love of Tasso, should have cut the knot Clank over sceptred cities, nations melt
Which ties thee to thy tyrants; and thy lot From power's high pinnacle, when they have
Is shameful to the nations, most of all, felt
Albion ! to thee': the Ocean Queen should not The sunshine for a while, and downward go
Abandon Ocean's children; in the full Like lauwine loosend from the mountain's belt:
Of Venice think of thine, despite thy watery wall. Oh for one hour of blind old Dandolo ! Th' octogenarian chief, Byzantium's conquering foe.
I loved her from my boyhood: she to me
Was as a fairy city of the heart,
Rising like water-columns from the sea, Their gilded collars glittering in the sun;
Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart; But is not Doria's inenace come to pass ?
And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakspeare's art, Are they not bridled ?-Venice. lost and won, Had stamp'd her inage in me, and even so, Her thirteen hundred years of freedom done,
Although I found her thus, we did not part, Sinks, like a sea-weed, into whence she rose ! Perchance even dearer in her day of woe, Better be whelm'd beneath the waves, and shun, Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show.
Even in Destruction's depth, her foreign foes, Tirom whom subinission wrings an infamous repose.
I can repeople with the past-and of
The present there is still for eye and thought, In youth she was all glory.-a new Tyre,
And meditation chasten'd down, enough ; Her very byword sprung froni victory,
And more, it may be, than I hoped or sought; The · Planter of the Lion,'t which through fire And of the happiest moments which were wrought And blood she bore o'er subject earth and sea;
Within the web of my existence, some Though making many slaves, herse!f still free,
From thee, fair Venice ! have their colours caught: And Europe's bulwark 'gainst the Ottomite:
There are some feelings Time can not benumb, Witness Troy's rival, Candia ! Vouch it, ye
Nor torture shake, or inine would now be cold and Immortal waves that saw Lepanto's fight!
But from their nature will the tannen grow :
Loftiest on loftiest and least shelter'd rocks,
• The story is told in Plutarch's Life of Nicias.
+ Venice Preserved : Mysteries of Udolpho; The
Ghost-Seer, or Armenian, The Merchant of Venice; • The answer of the mother of Brasidas, the Lace-Othello. dæmonian general, to the strangers who praised thel Tannen is the plural of tanne, a species of fir memory of her son.
peculiar to the Alps, which only thrives in very rocky + That is, the Lion of St. Mark, the standard of the parts, where scarcely soil sufficient for its nourishment republic, which is the origin of the word Pantaloon can be found. On ihese spots it grows to a greater Piantaleone, Pantaleon, Pantaloon,
height than any other mountain tree.
Rooted in barrenness, where nought below
Wherein were cast the heroic and the free, Of soil supports them 'gainst the Alpine shocks | The beautiful, the brave-the lords of earth and Of eddying storms; yet springs the trunk, and sea. mocks
XXVI. The howling tempest, till its height and frame The commonwealth of kings, the men of Rome! Are worthy of the mountains from whose blocks And even since, and now, fair Italy ! Of bleak, grey granite, into life it came,
Thou art the garden of the world, the home And grew a giant tree ;-the mind may grow the Of all Art yields, and Nature can decree; same..
Even in thy desert, what is like to thee?
Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste
More rich than other climes' fertility; Of life and sufferance make its firm abode
Thy wreck a glory, and thy ruin graced In bare and desolate bosoms: mute
With an immaculate charm which cannot be de. The camel labours with the heaviest load,
faced. And the wolf dies in silence. Not bestow'd
XXVII., In vain should such examples be; if they,
The moon is up, and yet it is not nightThings of ignoble or of savage mood,
Sunset divides the sky with her a sea Endure and shrink not, we of nobler clay
Of glory streains along the Alpine height
Of blue Friuli's mountains; Heaven is free
From clouds, but of all colours seems to be
Melted to one vast Iris of the West, All suffering doth destroy, or is destroy'd,
Where the Day joins the past Eternity; Even by the sufferer; and, in each event,
While, on the other hand, meek Dian's crest Ends: Some, with hope replenish'd and rebuoy'd|
Floats through the azure air-an island of the Return to whence they came-with like intent,
blest! And weave their web again; some, bow'd and
A single star is at her side, and reigns Wax grey and ghastly, withering ere their time,
With her o'er half the lovely heaven; but still And perish with the reed on which they leant;
Yon sunny sea heaves brightly, and remains Soine seek devotion, toil, war, good or crime,
Rolld o'er the peak of the far Rhætian hill, According as their souls were form'd to sink or
As Day and Night contending were, until climb. XXIII.
Nature reclaim'd her order :-gently flows
The deep-dyed Brenta, where their hues instil But ever and anon of griefs subdued
The odorous purple of a new-born rose, There comes a token like a scorpion's sting,
Which streams upon her stream, and glass'd within Scarce seen, but with fresh bitterness imbued ;
it glows. And slight withal may be the things which bring
Fil'd with the face of heaven, which, from afar, 4 tone of music-summer's eve-or spring
Comes down upon the waters; all its hues, A flower--the wind-the ocean-which shall From the rich sunset to the rising star, wound,
Their magical variety diffuse : Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly And now they change; a paler shadow strews bound:
Its mantle o'er the mountains ; parting day XXIV..
Dies like the dolphin, whom each pang imbues And how and why we know not, nor can trace With a new colour as it gasps away, Home to its cloud this lightning of the mind, The last still loveliest, till-'tis gone and all is But feel the shock renew'd, nor can efface
grey. The blight and blackening which it leaves be. hind,
There is a tomb in Arqua ;-reard in air, Which out of things familiar, indesign'd,
Pillar'd in their sarcophagus, repose When least we deem of such, calls up to view
The bones of Laura's lover : here repair The spectres whom no exorcism can bind,
Many familiar with his well-sung woes, The cold-the changed-perchance the dead The pilgrims of his genius. He arose anew,
To raise a language, and his land reclaim The mourn'd, the loved, the lost-too many !-yet
From the dull yoke of her barbaric foes : how few!
Watering the tree which bears his lady's name XXV.
With his melodious tears, he gave himself to faine. But my soul wanders; I demand it back To meditate amongst decay, and stand
XXXI. A ruin amidst ruins; there to track
They keep his dust in Arqua, where he died; Fallen states and buried greatness, o'er a land The mountain-village where his latter days Which was the mightiest in its old command, Went down the vale of years; and 'tis their And is the loveliest, and must ever be
pride. The master-mould of Nature's heavenly hand, An honest pride and let it be their praise