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By Bonnivard !- May none those marks efface !
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
SOXNET ON CHILLON. ETERNAL Spirit of the chainless Mind ! ?
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty ! thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart The heart which love of thee alone can bind; And when thy sons to 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 — for 't was trod, Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
The Prisoner of Chillon.'
Nor grew it white
In a single night, 4 As men's have grown from sudden fears :
" When this poem was composed, I was not sufficiently aware of the history of Bonnivard, or I should have endeavoured to dignify the subject by an attempt to celebrate hii courage and his virtues. With some account of his life I have been furnished, by the kindness of a citizen of that republic, which is still proud of the memory of a man worthy of the best age of ancient freedom:
“ François de Bonnirard, fils de Louis de Bonnivard, originaire de Seysel et Seigneur de Lunes, naquit en 1496. 11 fit ses études à Turin: en 1510 Jean Aimé de Bonnirard, son oncle, lui résigna le Prieuré de St. Victor, qui aboutis. sait aux murs de Genève, et qui formait un bénéfice con. sidérable.
“ Ce grand homme - (Bonnivard mérite ce titre par la force de son âme, la droiture de son cæur, la noblesse de ses intentions, la sagesse de ses conseils, le courage de ses démarches, l'étendue de ses connaissances et la vivacité de son esprit), – ce grand homme, qui excitera l'admiration de tous ceux qu'une vertu héroique peut encore émouvoir, inspirera encore la plus vive reconnaissance dans les ceurs des Génévois qui aiment Genève. Bonnivard en fut toujours un des plus fermes appuis : pour assurer la liberté de notre Ré. publique, il ne craignit pas de perdre sourent la sienne ; il oublia son repos ; il méprisa ses richesses ; il ne négligea rien pour affermir le bonheur d'une patrie qu'il honora de son choix : dès ce moment il la chérit comme le plus zélé de ses citoyens; il la servit avec l'intrépidité d'un héros, et il écrivít son Histoire avec la naiveté d'un philosophe et la chaleur d'un patriote.
" Il dit dans le commencement de son Histoire de Genève, que dès qu'il cut commencé de lire l'histoire des nations, il se sentit entrainé par son goût pour les Républiques, dont il épousa toujours les intérêts : c'est ce goût pour la liberté qui lui fit sans doute adopter Genève pour sa patrie.
" Bonnivard, encore jeune, s'annonça hautement comme le défenseur de Genève contre le Duc de Savoye et l'Eréque.
" En 1519, Bonnivard devient le martyr de sa patrie. Le Duc de Savoye étant entré dans Genève avec cinq cent hommes, Bonnivard craint le ressentiment du Duc; il voulut se retirer à Fribourg pour en éviter les suites, mais il fut trahi par deux hommes qui l'accompagnaient, et conduit par ordre du Prince à Grolée, ou il resta prisonnier pendant deux ans. Bonnivard était malheureux dans ses voyages : comme ses malheurs n'avaient point ralenti son zèle pour Genève, il était toujours un ennemi redoutable pour ceux qui la mena çaient, et par conséquent il devait étre exposé à leurs coups. Il fut rencontré en 1530 sur le Jura par des voleurs, qui le dépouillèrent, et qui le mirent encore entre les mains du Duc de Sarose : ce Prince le fit enfermer dans le Château de Chillon, où il resta sans étre interrogé jusques en 1536 ; il fut alors delivré par les Bernois, qui s'emparèrent du Pays de Vaud.
* Bonnivard, en sortant de sa captivité, eut le plaisir de trouver Genève libre et réformée : la République s'empressa de lui témoigner sa reconnaissance, et de dédommager des maux qu'il avait soufferts ; elle le reçut Bourgeois de la ville au mois de Juin, 1536 ; elle lui donna la maison habitée autrefois par le Vicaire-Général, et elle lui assigna une pension de deux cent écus d'or tant qu'il séjournerait à Genere. Il fut admis dans le Conseil de Deux-Cent en 1537.
“ Bonnivard n'a pas fini d'être utile : après avoir travaillé à rendre Genève libre, il réussit à la rendre tolérante. Bon
nivard engagea le Conseil d accorder aux ecclésiastiques et aux paysans un tems sutfisant pour examiner les propositions qu'on leur faisait : il réussit par sa douceur : on préche tou. jours le Christianisme avec succès quand on le prèche avec charité.
“ Bonnivard fut savant : ses manuscrits, qui sont dans la Bibliothèque publique, prouvent qu'il avait bien lu les auteurs classiques Latins, et qu'il avait approfondi la théologie et l'histoire. Ce grand homme aimait les sciences, et il croyait qu'elles pouvaient faire la gloire de Genève : aussi il de négligea rien pour les fixer dans cette ville naissante ; en 1551 il donna sa bibliothèque au public; elle fut le commencement de notre bibliothèque publique ; et ces livres sont en partie les rares et belles éditions du quinzième siècle qu'on voit dans notre collection. Enfin, pendant la méme année, ce bon pa. triote institua la République son héritière, à condition qu'elle employerait ses biens à entretenir le collège dont on projets tait la fondation.
“ Il parait que Bonnivard mourut en 1570; mais on ne peut l'assurer, parcequ'il y a une lacune dans le Nécrologe depuis le mois de Juillet, 1570, jusques en 1571."
(Lord Byron wrote this beautiful poem at a small inn, in the little village of Ouchy, pear Lausanne, where he happened in June, 1816, to be detained two days by stress of weather ; " thereby adding," says Moore, “ one more deathless associa ation to the already immortalised localities of the Lake."] 3 [In the first draught, the sonnet opens thus * Beloved Goddess of the chainless inind !
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,
Thy palace is within the Freeman's heart,
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom."] 3 ["I will tell you something about ' Chillon.' A Mr. De Luc, ninety years old, a Swiss, had it read to him, and is pleased with it - so my sister writes. He said that he was ivith Rousseau at Chilion, and that the description is perfectly correct. But this is not all; I recollected something of the name, and find the following passage in. The Confessions,' vol. iii. p. 247. liv. vii. • De tous ces amusemens celui qui me plut davantage fut une promenade autour du Lac, que je tis en bateau avec De Luc père, sa bru, ses deux fils, et ina Therese. Vous mimes sept jours à cette tournée par le plus beau temps du monde. J'en gardai le vif souvenir des sites, qui m'avaient frappé à l'autre extrémité du Lac, et dont je fis la description quelques années après, dans · La Nouvelle Héloise.'' 'This nonagerian, De Luc, must be one of the deux fils.' He is in England, intirm, but still in faculty. It is odd that he should have lived so long, and not wanting in oddness, that he should have made this voyage with Jean Jacques, and afterwards, at such an interval, read a poem by an Englishman (who made precisely the same cir cumnavigation) upon the same scenery." – Byron Letters, April 9. 1517. Jean André de Luc, F.R.S., died at Windsor, in the July following. He was born in 1726, at Geneva, was the author of many geological works, and corresponded with most of the learned societies of Europe.]
4 Ludovico Sforza, and others. The same is asserted of My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil,
But rusted with a vile repose,
And mine has been the fate of those
Sis in youth, and one in age,
Proud of persecution's rage ; ?
And in each ring there is a chain ;
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
lost their long and heavy score,
To hearken to each other's speech, · And each turn comforter to each
With some new hope or legend old,
A grating sound - not full and free
It might be fancy - but to me
And to uphold and cheer the rest
I ought to do — and did my best -
The youngest, whom my father loved,
For him my soul was sorely moved :
(When day was beautiful to me
A polar day, which will not see
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.
V. The other was as pure of mind, But form'd to combat with his kind; Strong in his frame, and of mood Which 'gainst the world in war had stoou, 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 :
Had follow'd there the deer and wolf ;
To him this dungeon was a gulf,
Which round about the wave enthrals :
Marie Antoinette's, the wife of Louis the Sixteenth, though not in quite so short a period. Grief is said to have the same effect: to such, and not to fear, this change in hers was to be attributed '(Original MS.
" But with the inward waste of grief."] (“ Braving radcour - chains — and rage." - MS.) 3 [This picture of the first feelings of the three gallant brothers, when bound apart in this living tomb, and of the gradual decay of their cheery fortitude, is full of pity and azony. – JEPFREY.]
- The Chateau de Chillon is situated between Clarens and
Villeneuve, which last is at one extremity of the Lake of Geneva. On its left are the entrances of the Rhone, and opposite are the heights of Meillerie and the range of Alps above Boveret and St. Gingo. Near it, on a hill behind, is a torrent : below it, washing its walls, the lake has been fa. thomed to the depth of 800 feet, French measure: within it are a range of dungeons, in which the early reformers, and subsequently prisoners of state, were contined. Across one of the vaults is a beam black with age, on which we were in. formed that the condemned were formerly executed. In the cells are seven pillars, or, rather, eight, one being half merged in the wall ; in some of these are rings for the fetters and the fettered : in the pavement the steps of Bonnivard have left their traces. He was confined here several years. It is hy
A double dungeon wall and wave
Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;
And then the very rock hath rock'd,
And I have felt it shake, unshock'd,
VII. I said my nearer brother pined, I said his mighty heart declined, He loathed and put away his food ; It was not that 't was coarse and rude, For we were used to bunter's fare, And for the like bad 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 him? 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. 1 I and could not hold his head, Nor reach his dying hand - nor dead, Though hard I strove, but strove in vain, To rend and gnash ' my bonds in twain. He died — and they unlock d his chain, . And scoop'd for him a shallow grave Even from the cold earth of our cave. I begg'd them, as a boon, to lay His corse in dust whereon the day Might shine - it was a foolish thought, But then within my brain it wrought, That even in death his freeborn breast In such a dungeon could not rest. I might have spared my idle prayer — They coldly laugh'd and laid him there : The flat and turfless earth above The being we so much did love ; His empty chain above it leant, Such murder's fitting monument !
VIII. But he, the favourite and the flower, Most cherish'd since his natal hour,
His mother's image in fair face,
this castle that Rousseau has fixed the catastrophe of his
the good Bonnivard. On the pillar to which this unfortunate man is said to have been chained, I observed, cut out of the stone, the name of one whose beautiful poem has done much to heighten the interest of this dreary spot, and will, perhaps, do more towards rescuing from oblivion the names of Chillon' and · Bonnivard,' than all the cruel sufferings which that injured man endured within its damp and gloomy walls.")
"CBut why withhold the blow ? -- he died." - MS.] : [" To break or bite." - MS.]
3 [The gentle decay and gradual extinction of the youngest life is the most tender and beautiful passage in the poem. JEFFREY.]
For — Heaven forgive that thought ! the while
A single cloud on a sunny day,
When skies are blue, and earth is gay.
I had not strength to stir, or strive,
I know not why
I could not die,
I know not well — I never knew -
And then of darkness too :
It was the carol of a bird ;
The sweetest song ear ever heard,
And tamer than upon the tree;
And seem'd to say them all for me!
Or broke its cage to perch on mine,
Sweet bird ! I could not wish for thine !
And their three thousind years of snow." - MS.] 9 Between the entrances of the Rhonc and Villeneuve, not far from Chillon, is a very small island ; the only one I could
XI. A kind of change came in my fate, My keepers grew compassionate; I know not what bad made them so, They were irured to sights of woe, But so it was: — my broken chain With links unfasten'd did remain, And it was liberty to stride Along my cell from side to side, And up and down, and then athwart, And tread it over every part ; And round the pillars one one, Returning where my walk begun, Avoiding only, as I trod, My brothers' graves without a sod; For if I thought with heedless tread My step profaned their lowly bed, My breath came gaspingly and thick, And my crush'd heart fell blind and sick.
It was not therefrom to escape,
Who loved me in a human shape; And the whole earth would henceforth be A wider prison unto me: No child — no sire - no kin had I, No partner in my misery ; I thought of this, and I was glad, For thought of them had made me mad; But I was curious to ascend To my barr'd windows, and to bend Once more, upon the mountains high, The quiet of a loving eye.
The only one in view; perceive, in my voyage round and orer the lake, within its circumference. It contains a few trees (I think not above three), and from its singleness and diminutive size has a peculiar effect upon the view,
A small green isle, it seem'd no more,
Of gentle breath and hue.
I kept no count- I took no note,
A VENETIAN STORY.
Rosalind. Farewell, Monsieur Traveller: Look, you lisp, and wear strange suits : disable all the benefits of
As You Like It, Act IV, Sc. I.
(Beppo was written at Venice, in October, 1817, and opened a new vein, in which his genius was destined acquired great popularity immediately on its public to work out some of its brightest triumphs. “I have ation in the May of the following year. Lord Byron's written," he says to Mr. Murray, “ a poem humour. letters show that he attached very little importance ous, in or after the excellent manner of Mr. Whistleto it at the time. He was not aware that he had
craft, and founded on a Venetian anecdote which
(Here follow in MS. -
hath so little
hath done ?"]
yet so much [It has not been the purpose of Lord Byron to paint the peculiar character of Bonnivard. The object of the poem, like that of Sterne's celebrated sketch of the prisoner, is to consider captivity in the abstract, and to mark its effects in gradually chilling the mental powers as it benumbs and freezes the animal frame, until the unfortunate victim becomes, as it were, a part of his dungeon, and identified with his chains. This transmutation we believe to be founded on fact : at least, in the Low Countries, where solitude for life is substituted for capital punishments, something like it may be witnessed. Oa particular days in the course of the year, these victims of a jurisprudence which calls itself humane, are presented to the public eye, upon a stage erected in the open market.place, apparently to prevent their guilt and their punishment froin being forgotten. It is scarcely possible to witness a sight more dezrading to humanity than this exhibition : with matted hair, wild looks, and haggard features, with eyes dazzled by the unwonted light of the sun, and cars
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where,
I learn'd to love despair.
deafened and astounded by the sudden exchange of the silence of a dungeon for the busy hum of men, the wretches sit more like rude images fashioned to a fantastic imitation of humanity, than like living and reflecting beings. In the course of time we are assured they generally become either madmed or idiots, as mind or matter happens to predominate, when the mysterious balauce between them is destroyed. It will readily be allowed that this singular poem is more powerful than pleasing. The dungeon of Bonnivard is, like that of Ugolino, a subject too dismal for even the power of the painter or poet to counteract its horrors. It is the more disagreeable as affording human hope no anchor to rest upon, and describing the sufferer, though a man of talents and virtues, as altogether inert and powerless under his accumulated sufferings : yet, as a picture, however gloomy the colouring, it may rival any which Lord Byron has drawn; nor is it possible to read it without a sinking of the heart, corresponding with that which he describes the victim to have sullered. - SIR WALTER Scott.)
3 [" Although I was only nine days at Venice, I saw, in that little tiine, more liberty to sin, than ever I heard tell of in the city of London in nine years." – Roger Ascham.)