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The Works Of Lord Byron, Vol. 3 (of 7)
by Lord Byron
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[125] [The opening lines were probably suggested by Goethe's—

"Kennst du das Land wo die citronen bluehn?"]

[126] "Gul," the rose.

[127] {158} ["'Where the Citron,' etc. These lines are in the MS., and omitted by the Printer, whom I again request to look over it, and see that no others are omitted.—B." (Revise No. 1, November 13, 1813.)

"I ought and do apologise to Mr.—— the Printer for charging him with an omission of the lines which I find was my own—but I also wish he would not print such a stupid word as finest for fairest." (Revise, November 15, 1813.)

The lines, "Where the Citron," etc., are absent from a fair copy dated November 11, but are inserted as an addition in an earlier draft.]

[128] "Souls made of fire, and children of the Sun, With whom revenge is virtue." Young's Revenge, act v. sc. 2 (British Theatre, 1792, p. 84).

[ez] For wild as the moment of lovers' farewell.—[MS.]

[fa] Canto 1^st^ The Bride of Abydos. Nov. 1^st^ 1813.—[MS.]

[fb] {159} The changing cheek and knitting brow.—[MS. i.]

[fc] Hence—bid my daughter hither come This hour decides her future doom— Yet not to her these words express But lead her from the tower's recess.—[MSS. i., ii.]

[These lines must have been altered in proof, for all the revises accord with the text.]

[fd] {160} With many a tale and mutual song.—[ms]

[129] Mejnoun and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East. Sadi, the moral poet of Persia. [For the "story of Leila and Mujnoon," see The Gulistan, or Rose Garden of ... Saadi, translated by Francis Gladwin, Boston, 1865, Tale xix. pp. 288, 289; and Gulistan ... du Cheikh Sa'di ... Traduit par W. Semelet, Paris, 1834, Notes on Chapitre V. p. 304. Sa'di "moralizes" the tale, to the effect that love dwells in the eye of the beholder. See, too, Jāmī's Medjnoun et Leila, translated by A. L. Chezy, Paris, 1807.]

[130] Tambour. Turkish drum, which sounds at sunrise, noon, and twilight. [The "tambour" is a kind of mandoline. It is the large kettle-drum (nagare) which sounds the hours.]

[fe] {161} Must walk forsooth where waters flow And pore on every flower below.—[MS. erased.]

[ff] {162} For looks of peace and hearts of ire.—[MS.]

[fg] And calmly to his Sire's was raised.—[MS.]

[fh] {163} No—nor the blood I call my own.—[MS.]

[131] The Turks abhor the Arabs (who return the compliment a hundredfold) even more than they hate the Christians.

[fi] Or Christian flying from the fight.—[MS.]

[fj] Zuleika! ever welcome here.—[MS.]

[fk] Who never was more blest than now.—[MS.]

[132] {164} [Lines 170-181 were added in the course of printing. They were received by the publisher on November 22, 1813.]

[fl] Who hath not felt his very power of sight Faint with the languid dimness of delight?—[MS.]

[fm] The light of life—the purity of grace The mind of Music breathing in her face or, Mind on her lip and music in her face. A heart where softness harmonized the whole And oh! her eye was in itself a Soul!—[MS.]

[133] This expression has met with objections. I will not refer to "Him who hath not Music in his soul," but merely request the reader to recollect, for ten seconds, the features of the woman whom he believes to be the most beautiful; and, if he then does not comprehend fully what is feebly expressed in the above line, I shall be sorry for us both. For an eloquent passage in the latest work of the first female writer of this, perhaps of any, age, on the analogy (and the immediate comparison excited by that analogy) between "painting and music," see vol. iii. cap. 10, De l'Allemagne. And is not this connection still stronger with the original than the copy? with the colouring of Nature than of Art? After all, this is rather to be felt than described; still I think there are some who will understand it, at least they would have done had they beheld the countenance whose speaking harmony suggested the idea; for this passage is not drawn from imagination but memory,{A} that mirror which Affliction dashes to the earth, and looking down upon the fragments, only beholds the reflection multiplied!

[For the simile of the broken mirror, compare Childe Harold, Canto III. stanza xxxiii. line 1 (Poetical Works, ii. 236, note 2); and for "the expression," "music breathing from her face," compare Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici, Part II. sect, ix., Works, 1835, ii. 106, "And sure there is musick, even in the beauty and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of any instrument;" and Lovelace's "Song," Orpheus to Beasts

"Oh could you view the melody Of ev'ry grace, And music of her face!"

The effect of the appeal to Madame de Stael is thus recorded in Byron's Journal of December 7, 1813 (Letters, 1898, ii. 369): "This morning, a very pretty billet from the Stael," (for passage in De L'Allemagne, Part III. chap, x., and the "billet," see Letters, ii. 354, note 1) ... "She has been pleased to be pleased with my slight eulogy in the note annexed to The Bride."]

{A} In this line I have not drawn from fiction but memory—that mirror of regret memory—the too faithful mirror of affliction the long vista through which we gaze. Someone has said that the perfection of Architecture is frozen music—the perfection of Beauty to my mind always presented the idea of living Music.—[MS. erased.]

[134] {166} Carasman Oglou, or Kara Osman Oglou, is the principal landholder in Turkey; he governs Magnesia: those who, by a kind of feudal tenure, possess land on condition of service, are called Timariots: they serve as Spahis, according to the extent of territory, and bring a certain number into the field, generally cavalry.

[The "line of Carasman" dates back to Kara Youlouk, the founder of the dynasty of the "White Sheep," at the close of the fourteenth century. Hammer-Purgstall (Hist. de l'Emp. Ottoman, iii. 151) gives sang-sue, "blood-sucker," as the equivalent of Youlouk, which should, however, be interpreted "smooth-face." Of the Magnesian Kara Osman Oglou ("Black Osman-son"), Dallaway (Constantinople Ancient and Modern, 1797, p. 190) writes, "He is the most powerful and opulent dere bey ('lord of the valley'), or feudal tenant, in the empire, and, though inferior to the pashas in rank, possesses more wealth and influence, and offers them an example of administration and patriotic government which they have rarely the virtue to follow." For the Timariots, who formed the third class of the feudal cavalry of the Ottoman Empire, see Finlay's Greece under Othoman ... Domination, 1856, pp. 50, 51.]

[fn] Who won of yore paternal lands.—[MS.]

[fo] Enough if that thy bridesman true.—[MS. erased.]

[135] [The Bey Oglou (Begzāde) is "the nobleman," "the high-born chief."]

[136] {167} When a Pacha is sufficiently strong to resist, the single messenger, who is always the first bearer of the order for his death, is strangled instead, and sometimes five or six, one after the other, on the same errand, by command of the refractory patient; if, on the contrary, he is weak or loyal, he bows, kisses the Sultan's respectable signature, and is bowstrung with great complacency. In 1810, several of these presents were exhibited in the niche of the Seraglio gate; among others, the head of the Pacha of Bagdat, a brave young man, cut off by treachery, after a desperate resistance.

[137] Clapping of the hands calls the servants. The Turks hate a superfluous expenditure of voice, and they have no bells.

[138] "Chibouque," the Turkish pipe, of which the amber mouthpiece, and sometimes the ball which contains the leaf, is adorned with precious stones, if in possession of the wealthier orders.

[139] {168} "Maugrabee" [Maghrabī, Moors], Moorish mercenaries.

[140] "Delis," bravos who form the forlorn hope of the cavalry, and always begin the action. [See Childe Harold, Canto II., Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 149, note 1.]

[141] [The Kizlar aghasi was the head of the black eunuchs; kislar, by itself, is Turkish for "girls," "virgins."]

[142] A twisted fold of felt is used for scimitar practice by the Turks, and few but Mussulman arms can cut through it at a single stroke: sometimes a tough turban is used for the same purpose. The jerreed [jarīd] is a game of blunt javelins, animated and graceful.

[143] "Ollahs," Alla il Allah [La ilāh ill 'llāh], the "Leilies," as the Spanish poets call them, the sound is Ollah: a cry of which the Turks, for a silent people, are somewhat profuse, particularly during the jerreed [jarīd], or in the chase, but mostly in battle. Their animation in the field, and gravity in the chamber, with their pipes and comboloios [vide post, p. 181, note 4], form an amusing contrast.

[fp] {169} Her heart confessed no cause of shame.—[MS.]

[144] "Atar-gul," ottar of roses. The Persian is the finest.

[145] The ceiling and wainscots, or rather walls, of the Mussulman apartments are generally painted, in great houses, with one eternal and highly-coloured view of Constantinople, wherein the principal feature is a noble contempt of perspective; below, arms, scimitars, etc., are, in general, fancifully and not inelegantly disposed.

[fq] The drops that flow upon his vest Unheeded fell upon his breast.—[MS.]

[146] {170} It has been much doubted whether the notes of this "Lover of the rose" are sad or merry; and Mr. Fox's remarks on the subject have provoked some learned controversy as to the opinions of the ancients on the subject. I dare not venture a conjecture on the point, though a little inclined to the "errare mallem," etc., if Mr. Fox was mistaken.

[Fox, writing to Grey (see Lord Holland's Preface (p. xii.) to the History ... of James the Second, by ... C. J. Fox, London, 1808), remarks, "In defence of my opinion about the nightingale, I find Chaucer, who of all poets seems to have been the fondest of the singing of birds, calls it a 'merry note,'" etc. Fox's contention was attacked and disproved by Martin Davy (1763-1839, physician and Master of Caius College, Cambridge), in an interesting and scholarly pamphlet entitled, Observations upon Mr. Fox's Letter to Mr. Grey, 1809.]

[fr] Would I had never seen this hour What knowest thou not who loves thee best.—[MS.]

[fs] {171} If so by Mecca's hidden shrine.—[MS.]

[ft] The day that teareth thee from me.—[MS.]

[147] "Azrael," the angel of death.

[fu] When comes that hour and come it must.—[MS. erased.]

[fv] {172} Which thanks to terror and the dark Hath missed a trifle of its mark.—[MS.]

[The couplet was expunged in a revise dated November 19.]

[fw] With life to keep but not with life resign.—[MS.]

[fx] {173} That strays along that head so fair.—[MS.] or, That strays along that neck so fair.—[MS.]

[148] The treasures of the Pre-Adamite Sultans. See D'Herbelot [1781, ii. 405], article Istakar [Estekhar ou Istekhar].

[149] "Musselim," a governor, the next in rank after a Pacha; a Waywode is the third; and then come the Agas.

[This table of precedence applies to Ottoman officials in Greece and other dependencies. The Musselim [Mutaselline] is the governor or commander of a city (e.g. Hobhouse, Travels in Albania, ii. 41, speaks of the "Musselim of Smyrna"); Aghas, i.e. heads of departments in the army or civil service, or the Sultan's household, here denote mayors of small towns, or local magnates.]

[150] "Egripo," the Negropont. According to the proverb, the Turks of Egripo, the Jews of Salonica, and the Greeks of Athens, are the worst of their respective races.

[See Gibbon's Decline and Fall, 1855, viii. 386.]

[fy] Like this—and more than this.—[MS.]

[fz] {175} But—Selim why my heart's reply Should need so much of mystery Is more than I can guess or tell, But since thou say'st 'tis so—'tis well.—[MS.]

[The fourth line erased.]

[ga] He blest me more in leaving thee. Much should I suffer thus compelled.—[MS.]

[gb] {176} This vow I should no more conceal And wherefore should I not reveal?—[MS.]

[gc] My breast is consciousness of sin But when and where and what the crime I almost feel is lurking here.—[MS.]

[151] "Tchocadar"—one of the attendants who precedes a man of authority.

[See D'Ohsson's Tableau Generale, etc., 1787, ii. 159, and Plates 87, 88. The Turks seem to have used the Persian word chawki-dār, an officer of the guard-house, a policeman (whence our slang word "chokey"), for a "valet de pied," or, in the case of the Sultan, for an apparitor. The French spelling points to D'Ohsson as Byron's authority.]

[gd] {177} Be silent thou.—[MS.]

[ge] {178} Nov. 9^th^ 1813.—[MS.]

[152] [Vide Ovid, Heroides, Ep. xix.; and the De Herone atque Leandro of Musaeus.]

[153] {179} The wrangling about this epithet, "the broad Hellespont" or the "boundless Hellespont," whether it means one or the other, or what it means at all, has been beyond all possibility of detail. I have even heard it disputed on the spot; and not foreseeing a speedy conclusion to the controversy, amused myself with swimming across it in the mean time; and probably may again, before the point is settled. Indeed, the question as to the truth of "the tale of Troy divine" still continues, much of it resting upon the talismanic word[Greek: "a)/peiros:"] probably Homer had the same notion of distance that a coquette has of time; and when he talks of boundless, means half a mile; as the latter, by a like figure, when she says eternal attachment, simply specifies three weeks.

[For a defence of the Homeric[Greek: a)pei/ron,] and for a resume of the "wrangling" of the topographers, Jean Baptiste Le Chevalier (1752-1836) and Jacob Bryant (1715-1804), etc., see Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 179-185.]

[154] {180} Before his Persian invasion, and crowned the altar with laurel, etc. He was afterwards imitated by Caracalla in his race. It is believed that the last also poisoned a friend, named Festus, for the sake of new Patroclan games. I have seen the sheep feeding on the tombs of AEyietes and Antilochus: the first is in the centre of the plain.

[Alexander placed a garland on the tomb of Achilles, and "went through the ceremony of anointing himself with oil, and running naked up to it."—Plut. Vitae, "Alexander M.," cap. xv. line 25, Lipsiae, 1814, vi. 187. For the tombs of AEsyetes, etc., see Travels in Albania, ii. 149-151.]

[155] [Compare—

"Or narrow if needs must be, Outside are the storms and the strangers."

Never the Time, etc., lines 19, 20, by Robert Browning.]

[156] {181} When rubbed, the amber is susceptible of a perfume, which is slight, but not disagreeable. [Letter to Murray, December 6, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 300.]

[157] ["Coeterum castitatis hieroglyphicum gemma est."—Hoffmann, Lexic. Univ., art. "Smaragdus." Compare, too, Lalla Rookh ("Chandos Classics," p. 406), "The emerald's virgin blaze."]

[158] The belief in amulets engraved on gems, or enclosed in gold boxes, containing scraps from the Koran, worn round the neck, wrist, or arm, is still universal in the East. The Koorsee (throne) verse in the second cap. of the Koran describes the attributes of the Most High, and is engraved in this manner, and worn by the pious, as the most esteemed and sublime of all sentences.

[The ayatu 'l kursiy, or verse of the throne (Sura II. "Chapter of the Heifer," v. 257), runs thus: "God, there is no God but He, the living and self-subsistent. Slumber takes Him not, nor sleep. His is what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Who is it that intercedes with Him, save by His permission? He knows what is before them, and what behind them, and they comprehend not aught of His knowledge but of what He pleases. His throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and it tires Him not to guard them both, for He is high and grand."—The Qur'an, translated by E. H. Palmer, 1880, Part I., Sacred Books of the East, vi. 40.]

[159] "Comboloio"—a Turkish rosary. The MSS., particularly those of the Persians, are richly adorned and illuminated. The Greek females are kept in utter ignorance; but many of the Turkish girls are highly accomplished, though not actually qualified for a Christian coterie. Perhaps some of our own "blues" might not be the worse for bleaching.

[The comboloio consists of ninety-nine beads. Compare Lalla Rookh ("Chandos Classics," p. 420), "Her ruby rosary," etc., and note on "Le Tespih." Lord Byron's Comboloio is the title of a metrical jeu d'esprit, a rhymed catalogue of the Poetical Works, beginning with Hours of Idleness, and ending with Cain, a Mystery.—Blackwood's Magazine, 1822, xi. 162-165.]

[160] {182} [Shiraz, capital of the Persian province of Fars, is celebrated for the attar-gul, or attar of roses.]

[gf] {183} Her Prophet did not clearly show But Selim's place was quite secure.—[MS.]

[161] [Compare The Giaour, line 490, note 1, vide ante, p. 110.]

[gg] And one seemed red with recent guilt.—[MS.]

[gh] {184} Her Selim—"Alla—is it he?"—[MS.]

[162] "Galiongee" or Galiongi [i.e. a Galleon-er], a sailor, that is, a Turkish sailor; the Greeks navigate, the Turks work the guns. Their dress is picturesque; and I have seen the Capitan Pacha, more than once, wearing it as a kind of incog. Their legs, however, are generally naked. The buskins described in the text as sheathed behind with silver are those of an Arnaut robber, who was my host (he had quitted the profession) at his Pyrgo, near Gastouni in the Morea; they were plated in scales one over the other, like the back of an armadillo.

[Gastuni lies some eight miles S.W. of Palaeopolis, the site of the ancient Elis. The "Pyrgo" must be the Castle of Chlemutzi (Castel Tornese), built by Geoffrey II. of Villehouardin, circ. A.D. 1218.]

[gi] {185} What—have I lived to curse the day?—[MS. M.] To curse—if I could curse—the day.—[MS., ed. 1892.]

[gj] {186} I swear it by Medina's shrine.—[MS. erased.]

[163] The characters on all Turkish scimitars contain sometimes the name of the place of their manufacture, but more generally a text from the Koran, in letters of gold. Amongst those in my possession is one with a blade of singular construction: it is very broad, and the edge notched into serpentine curves like the ripple of water, or the wavering of flame. I asked the Armenian who sold it, what possible use such a figure could add: he said, in Italian, that he did not know; but the Mussulmans had an idea that those of this form gave a severer wound; and liked it because it was "piu feroce." I did not much admire the reason, but bought it for its peculiarity.

[Compare Lalla Rookh ("Chandos Classics," p. 373)—"The flashing of their swords' rich marquetry."]

[164] {187} It is to be observed, that every allusion to any thing or personage in the Old Testament, such as the Ark, or Cain, is equally the privilege of Mussulman and Jew: indeed, the former profess to be much better acquainted with the lives, true and fabulous, of the patriarchs, than is warranted by our own sacred writ; and not content with Adam, they have a biography of Pre-Adamites. Solomon is the monarch of all necromancy, and Moses a prophet inferior only to Christ and Mahomet. Zuleika is the Persian name of Potiphar's wife; and her amour with Joseph constitutes one of the finest poems in their language. It is, therefore, no violation of costume to put the names of Cain, or Noah, into the mouth of a Moslem.

[A propos of this note "for the ignorant," Byron writes to Murray (November 13, 1813), "Do you suppose that no one but the Galileans are acquainted with Adam, and Eve, and Cain, and Noah?—Zuleika is the Persian poetical name for Potiphar's wife;" and, again, November 14, "I don't care one lump of sugar for my poetry; but for my costume, and my correctness on these points ... I will combat lustily."—Letters, 1898, ii. 282, 283.]

[165] {188} [Karajić (Vuk Stefanović, born 1787), secretary to Kara George, published Narodne Srpske Pjesme, at Vienna, 1814, 1815. See, too, Languages and Literature of the Slavic Nations, by Talvi, New York, 1850, pp. 366-382; Volkslieder der Serben, von Talvi, Leipzig, 1835, ii. 245, etc., and Chants Populaires des Servics, Recueillis par Wuk Stephanowitsch, et Traduits d'apres Talvy, par Madame Elise Voiart, Paris, 1834, ii. 183, etc.]

[166] Paswan Oglou, the rebel of Widdin; who, for the last years of his life, set the whole power of the Porte at defiance.

[Passwan Oglou (1758-1807) [Passewend's, or the Watchman's son, according to Hobhouse] was born and died at Widdin. He first came into notice in 1788, in alliance with certain disbanded Turkish levies, named Krdschalies. "It was their pride to ride along on stately horses, with trappings of gold and silver, and bearing costly arms. In their train were female slaves, Giuvendi, in male attire, who not only served to amuse them in their hours of ease with singing and dancing, but also followed them to battle (as Kaled followed Lara, see Lara, Canto II. stanza xv., etc.), for the purpose of holding their horses when they fought." On one occasion he is reported to have addressed these "rebel hordes" much in the spirit of the "Corsair," "The booty be yours, and mine the glory." "After having for some time suffered a Pacha to be associated with him, he at length expelled his superior, and demanded 'the three horse-tails' for himself." In 1798 the Porte despatched another army, but Passwan was completely victorious, and "at length the Porte resolved to make peace, and actually sent him the 'three horse-tails'" (i.e. made him commander-in-chief of the Janissaries at Widdin). (See History of Servia, by Leopold von Ranke, Bohn, 1853, pp. 68-71. See, too, Voyage dans l'Empire Othoman, par G. A. Olivier, an. 9 (1801), i. 108-125; and Madame Voiart's "Abrege de l'histoire du royaume de Servie," prefixed to Chants Populaires, etc., Paris, 1834.)]

[gk] And how that death made known to me Hath made me what thou now shalt see.—[MS.]

[167] {189} "Horse-tail,"—the standard of a Pacha.

[gl] With venom blacker than his soul.—[MS.]

[168] Giaffir, Pacha of Argyro Castro, or Scutari, I am not sure which, was actually taken off by the Albanian Ali, in the manner described in the text. Ali Pacha, while I was in the country, married the daughter of his victim, some years after the event had taken place at a bath in Sophia or Adrianople. The poison was mixed in the cup of coffee, which is presented before the sherbet by the bath keeper, after dressing.

[gm] {190} Nor, if his sullen spirit could, Can I forgive a parent's blood.—[MS.]

[gn] {191} Yet I must be all truth to thee.—[MS.]

[go] {192} To Haroun's care in idlesse left, In spirit bound, of fame bereft.—[MS. erased.]

[gp] {193} That slave who saw my spirit pining Beneath Inaction's heavy yoke, Compassionate his charge resigning.—[MS.]

[gq] Oh could my tongue to thee impart That liberation of my heart.—[MS. erased.]

[169] I must here shelter myself with the Psalmist—is it not David that makes the "Earth reel to and fro like a Drunkard"? If the Globe can be thus lively on seeing its Creator, a liberated captive can hardly feel less on a first view of his work.—[Note, MS. erased.]

[170] The Turkish notions of almost all islands are confined to the Archipelago, the sea alluded to.

[171] {194} Lambro Canzani, a Greek, famous for his efforts, in 1789-90, for the independence of his country. Abandoned by the Russians, he became a pirate, and the Archipelago was the scene of his enterprises. He is said to be still alive at Petersburgh. He and Riga are the two most celebrated of the Greek revolutionists.

[For Lambros Katzones (Hobhouse, Travels in Albania, ii. 5, calls him Canziani), see Finlay's Greece under Othoman ... Domination, 1856, pp. 330-334. Finlay dwells on his piracies rather than his patriotism.]

[172] {195} "Rayahs,"—all who pay the capitation tax, called the "Haratch."

["This tax was levied on the whole male unbelieving population," except children under ten, old men, Christian and Jewish priests.—Finlay, Greece under Ottoman ... Domination, 1856, p. 26. See, too, the Qur'an, cap. ix., "The Declaration of Immunity."]

[173] This first of voyages is one of the few with which the Mussulmans profess much acquaintance.

[174] The wandering life of the Arabs, Tartars, and Turkomans, will be found well detailed in any book of Eastern travels. That it possesses a charm peculiar to itself, cannot be denied. A young French renegado confessed to Chateaubriand, that he never found himself alone, galloping in the desert, without a sensation approaching to rapture which was indescribable.

[175] [Inns, caravanserais. From sarāy, a palace or inn.]

[176] [The remaining seventy lines of stanza xx. were not included in the original MS., but were sent to the publisher in successive instalments while the poem was passing through the press.]

[177] [In the first draft of a supplementary fragment, line 883 ran thus—

/ a fancied "and tints tomorrow with { } ray." an airy /

A note was appended—

"Mr. M^y.^ Choose which of the 2 epithets 'fancied' or 'airy' may be best—or if neither will do—tell me and I will dream another—

"Yours,

"B^n^"

The epithet ("prophetic") which stands in the text was inserted in a revise dated December 3, 1813. Two other versions were also sent, that Gifford might select that which was "best, or rather not worst"—

/ gilds "And { } the hope of morning with its ray." tints /

"And gilds to-morrow's hope with heavenly ray."

(Letters, 1898, ii. 282.)

On the same date, December 3rd, two additional lines were affixed to the quatrain (lines 886-889)—

"Soft as the Mecca Muezzin's strains invite Him who hath journeyed far to join the rite."

And in a later revise, as "a last alteration"—

"Blest as the call which from Medina's dome Invites devotion to her Prophet's tomb."

An erased version of this "last alteration" ran thus—

"Blest as the Muezzin's strain from Mecca's dome Which welcomes Faith to view her Prophet's tomb."{A}

{A} [It is probable that Byron, who did not trouble himself to distinguish between "lie" and "lay," and who, as the MS. of English Bards, and Scotch Reviewers (see line 732, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 355) reveals, pronounced "petit maitre" anglice in four syllables, regarded "dome" (vide supra) as a true and exact rhyme to "tomb," but, with his wonted compliance, was persuaded to make yet another alteration.] ]

[gr] {196} Of lines 886-889, two, if not three, variants were sent to the publisher—

(1) Dear as the Melody of better days That steals the trembling tear of speechless praiseSweet as his native song to Exile's ears Shall sound each tone thy long-loved voice endears.— [December 2, 1813.]

(2) /Dear /better { } as the melody of { } days Soft/ youthful/ / a silent That steals { } tear of speechless praisethe trembling/

[178] {197} "Jannat-al-Aden," the perpetual abode, the Mussulman paradise. [See Sale's Koran, "Preliminary Discourse," sect. i.; and Journal, November 17, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 326.]

[gs] Wait on thy voice and bow at thy command.—[MS.]

[gt] Oh turn and mingle every thought with his, And all our future days unite in this.—[MS.]

[179] ["You wanted some reflections, and I send you per Selim, eighteen lines in decent couplets, of a pensive, if not an ethical tendency.... Mr. Canning's approbation (if he did approve) I need not say makes me proud."—Letter to Murray, November 23, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 286.]

[gu] Man I may lead but trust not—I may fall By those now friends to me, yet foes to allIn this they follow but the bent assigned, By fatal Nature to our warring kind.—[MS.]

[gv] {198} Behold a wilderness and call it peace,—[MS. erased.] Look round our earth and lo! where battles cease, "Behold a Solitude and call it" peace.—[MS.] or, Mark even where Conquest's deeds of carnage cease She leaves a solitude and calls it peace.—[November 21, 1813].

[For the final alteration to the present text, see letter to Murray of November 24, 1813.]

[180] [Compare Tacitus, Agricola, cap. 30—

"Solitudinem faciun—pacem appellant."

See letter to Murray, November 24, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 287.]

[gw] Power sways but by distrust—her sole source.—[MS. erased.]

[gx] Which Love to-night hath lent by swelling sail.—[MS.]

[181] {199} [Compare—

"Quam juvat immites ventos audire cubantem, Et dominam tenero detinuisse sinu." Tibullus, Eleg., Lib. I. i. 45, 46.]

[gy] Then if my lip once murmurs, it must be.—[MS.]

[182] [The omission of lines 938, 939 drew from Byron an admission (Letter to Murray, November 29, 1813) that "the passage is an imitation altogether from Medea in Ovid" (Metamorph., vii. 66-69)—

"My love possest, in Jason's bosom laid, Let seas swell high;—I cannot be dismay'd While I infold my husband in my arms: Or should I fear, I should but fear his harms." Englished by Sandys, 1632.]

[gz] This hour decides my doom or thy escape.—[MS.]

[183] {200} [Compare—

"That thought has more of hell than had the former. Another, and another, and another!" The Revenge, by Edward Young, act iv. (Modern British Drama, 1811, ii. 17).]

[ha] {202} Or grazed by wounds he scorned to feel.—[MS.]

[hb] {203} Three MS. variants of these lines were rejected in turn before the text was finally adopted—

(1) {Ah! wherefore did he turn to look {I know not why he turned to look Since fatal was the gaze he took? So far escaped from death or chain, To search for her and search in vain: Sad proof in peril and in pain How late will Lover's hope remain.

(2) Thus far escaped from death or chain Ah! wherefore did he turn to look? For her his eye must seek in vain, Since fatal was the gaze he took. Sad proof, etc.—

(3) Ah! wherefore did he turn to look So far escaped from death or chain? Since fatal was the gaze he took For her his eye but sought in vain, Sad proof, etc.—

A fourth variant of lines 1046, 1047 was inserted in a revise dated November 16—

That glance he paused to send again To her for whom he dies in vain.

[hc] {204} O'er which their talons yet delay.—[MS. erased.]

[hd] {205} And that changed hand whose only life Is motion-seems to menace strife.—[MS.]

[184] ["While the Salsette lay off the Dardanelles, Lord Byron saw the body of a man who had been executed by being cast into the sea, floating on the stream, moving to and fro with the tumbling of the water, which gave to his arms the effect of scaring away several sea-fowl that were hovering to devour. This incident he has strikingly depicted in the Bride of Abydos."—Life of Lord Byron, by John Galt, 1830, p. 144.]

[185] A turban is carved in stone above the graves of men only.

[186] The death-song of the Turkish women. The "silent slaves" are the men, whose notions of decorum forbid complaint in public.

[he] {206} The Koran-chapter chaunts thy fate.—[MS.]

[187] [At a Turkish funeral, after the interment has taken place, the Imam "assis sur les genoux a cote de la tombe," offers the prayer Telkin, and at the conclusion of the prayer recites the Fathah, or "opening chapter" of the Koran. ("In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. Praise belongs to God, the Lord of the worlds, the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Ruler of the day of judgment. Thee we serve, and Thee we ask for aid. Guide us in the right path, the path of those Thou art gracious to; not of those Thou art wroth with; nor of those who err."—The Qur'an, p. 1, translated by E. H. Palmer, Oxford, 1880): Tableau Generale de l'Empire Ottoman, par Mouradja D'Ohsson, Paris, 1787, i. 235-248. Writing to Murray, November 14, 1813, Byron instances the funeral (in the Bride of Abydos) as proof of his correctness with regard to local colouring.—Letters, 1898, ii. 283.]

[188] {207} ["I one evening witnessed a funeral in the vast cemetery of Scutari. An old man, with a venerable beard, threw himself by the side of the narrow grave, and strewing the earth on his head, cried aloud, 'He was my son! my only son!'"—Constantinople in 1828, by Charles Macfarlane, 1829, p. 233, note.]

[hf] She whom thy Sultan had been fain to wed.—[MS.]

[189] ["The body of a Moslemin is ordered to be carried to the grave in haste, with hurried steps."—Ibid., p. 233, note.]

[190] "I came to the place of my birth, and cried, 'The friends of my Youth, where are they?' and an Echo answered, 'Where are they?'"—From an Arabic MS. The above quotation (from which the idea in the text is taken) must be already familiar to every reader: it is given in the second annotation, p. 67, of The Pleasures of Memory [note to Part I. line 103]; a poem so well known as to render a reference almost superfluous: but to whose pages all will be delighted to recur [Poems, by Samuel Rogers, 1852, i. 48].

[hg] There the sad cypress ever glooms.—[MS.]

[hh] {209} But with the day blush of the sky.—[MS.]

[hi] And some there be who could believe.—[MS.]

[191] "And airy tongues that syllable men's names." Milton, Comus, line 208.

For a belief that the souls of the dead inhabit the form of birds, we need not travel to the East. Lord Lyttleton's ghost story, the belief of the Duchess of Kendal, that George I. flew into her window in the shape of a raven (see Orford's Reminiscences, Lord Orford's Works, 1798, iv. 283), and many other instances, bring this superstition nearer home. The most singular was the whim of a Worcester lady, who, believing her daughter to exist in the shape of a singing bird, literally furnished her pew in the cathedral with cages full of the kind; and as she was rich, and a benefactress in beautifying the church, no objection was made to her harmless folly. For this anecdote, see Orford's Letters.

["But here (at Gloucester) is a modernity, which beats all antiquities for curiosity. Just by the high altar is a small pew hung with green damask, with curtains of the same; a small corner-cupboard, painted, carved, and gilt, for books, in one corner, and two troughs of a bird-cage, with seeds and water. If any mayoress on earth was small enough to inclose herself in this tabernacle, or abstemious enough to feed on rape and canary, I should have sworn that it was the shrine of the queen of the aldermen. It belongs to a Mrs. Cotton, who, having lost a favourite daughter, is convinced her soul is transmigrated into a robin redbreast, for which reason she passes her life in making an aviary of the cathedral of Gloucester."—Letter to Richard Bentley, September, 1753 (Lord Orford's Works, 1798, v. 279).]

[192] {210} [According to J. B. Le Chevalier (Voyage de La Propontide, etc., an. viii. (1800), p. 17), the Turkish name for a small bay which formed the ancient port of Sestos, is Ak-Bachi-Liman (Port de la Tete blanche).]

[hj] And in its stead that mourning flower Hath flourished—flourisheth this hour, Alone and coldly pure and pale As the young cheek that saddens to the tale. And withers not, though branch and leaf Are stamped with an eternal grief.—[MS.]

An earlier version of the final text reads—

As weeping Childhood's cheek at Sorrow's tale!

[193] ["The Bride, such as it is is my first entire composition of any length (except the Satire, and be damned to it), for The Giaour is but a string of passages, and Childe Harold is, and I rather think always will be, unconcluded" (Letter to Murray, November 29, 1813). It (the Bride) "was published on Thursday the second of December; but how it is liked or disliked, I know not. Whether it succeeds or not is no fault of the public, against whom I can have no complaint. But I am much more indebted to the tale than I can ever be to the most partial reader; as it wrung my thoughts from reality to imagination—from selfish regrets to vivid recollections—and recalled me to a country replete with the brightest and darkest, but always most lively colours of my memory" (Journal, December 5, 1813, Letters, 1898, ii. 291, 361).]



THE CORSAIR:

A TALE.

——"I suoi pensieri in lui dormir non ponno."

Tasso, Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto X. [stanza lxxviii. line 8].



INTRODUCTION TO THE CORSAIR.

A seventh edition of the Giaour, including the final additions, and the first edition of the Bride of Abydos, were published on the twenty-ninth of November, 1813. In less than three weeks (December 18) Byron began the Corsair, and completed the fair copy of the first draft by the last day of the year. The Corsair in all but its final shape, together with the sixth edition of the Bride of Abydos, the seventh of Childe Harold, and the ninth of the Giaour, was issued on the first of February, 1814.

A letter from John Murray to Lord Byron, dated February 3, 1814 (Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 223), presents a vivid picture of a great literary triumph—

"My Lord,—I have been unwilling to write until I had something to say.... I am most happy to tell you that your last poem is—what Mr. Southey's is called—a Carmen Triumphale. Never in my recollection has any work ... excited such a ferment ... I sold on the day of publication—a thing perfectly unprecedented—10,000 copies.... Mr. Moore says it is masterly—a wonderful performance. Mr. Hammond, Mr. Heber, D'Israeli, every one who comes ... declare their unlimited approbation. Mr. Ward was here with Mr. Gifford yesterday, and mingled his admiration with the rest ... and Gifford did, what I never knew him do before—he repeated several stanzas from memory, particularly the closing stanza—

"'His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known.'

"I have the highest encomiums in letters from Croker and Mr. Hay; but I rest most upon the warm feeling it has created in Gifford's critic heart.... You have no notion of the sensation which the publication has occasioned; and my only regret is that you were not present to witness it."

For some time before and after the poem appeared, Byron was, as he told Leigh Hunt (February 9, 1814; Letters, 1899, iii. 27), "snow-bound and thaw-swamped in 'the valley of the shadow' of Newstead Abbey," and it was not till he had returned to town that he resumed his journal, and bethought him of placing on record some dark sayings with regard to the story of the Corsair and the personality of Conrad. Under date February 18, 1814, he writes—

"The Corsair has been conceived, written, published, etc., since I last took up this journal [?last day but one]. They tell me it has great success; it was written con amore [i.e. during the reign of Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster], and much from existence."

And again, Journal, March 10 (Letters, 1898, ii. 399),

"He [Hobhouse] told me an odd report,—that I am the actual Conrad, the veritable Corsair, and that part of my travels are supposed to have passed in privacy [sic;?piracy]. Um! people sometimes hit near the truth; but never the whole truth. H. don't know what I was about the year after he left the Levant; nor does any one—nor—nor—nor—however, it is a lie—but, 'I doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth.'"

Very little weight can be attached to these "I could an I would" pronouncements, deliberately framed to provoke curiosity, and destined, no doubt, sooner or later to see the light; but the fact remains that Conrad is not a mere presentation of Byron in a fresh disguise, or "The Pirate's Tale" altogether a "painting of the imagination."

That the Corsair is founded upon fact is argued at some length by the author (an "English Gentleman in the Greek Military Service") of the Life, Writings, Opinions, and Times of the R. H. George Gordon Noel Byron, which was published in 1825. The point of the story (i. 197-201), which need not be repeated at length, is that Byron, on leaving Constantinople and reaching the island of Zea (July, 1810), visited ["strolled about"] the islands of the Archipelago, in company with a Venetian gentleman who had turned buccaneer malgre lui, and whose history and adventures, amatory and piratical, prefigured and inspired the "gestes" of Conrad. The tale must be taken for what it is worth; but it is to be remarked that it affords a clue to Byron's mysterious entries in a journal which did not see the light till 1830, five years after the "English Gentleman" published his volumes of gossiping anecdote. It may, too, be noted that, although, in his correspondence of 1810, 1811, there is no mention of any tour among the "Isles of Greece," in a letter to Moore dated February 2, 1815 (Letters, 1899, iii. 176), Byron recalls "the interesting white squalls and short seas of Archipelago memory."

How far Byron may have drawn on personal experience for his picture of a pirate chez lui, it is impossible to say; but during the year 1809-11, when he was travelling in Greece, the exploits of Lambros Katzones and other Greek pirates sailing under the Russian flag must have been within the remembrance and on the lips of the islanders and the "patriots" of the mainland. The "Pirate's Island," from which "Ariadne's isle" (line 444) was visible, may be intended for Paros or Anti-Paros.

For the inception of Conrad (see Canto I. stanza ii.), the paradoxical hero, an assortment rather than an amalgam of incongruous characteristics, Byron may, perhaps, have been in some measure indebted to the description of Malefort, junior, in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, act i. sc. 2, line 20, sq.—

"I have sat with him in his cabin a day together,

* * * * *

Sigh he did often, as if inward grief And melancholy at that instant would Choke up his vital spirits.... When from the maintop A sail's descried, all thoughts that do concern Himself laid by, no lion pinched with hunger Rouses himself more fiercely from his den, Then he comes on the deck; and then how wisely He gives directions," etc.

The Corsair, together with the Bride of Abydos, was reviewed by Jeffrey in the Edinburgh Review of April, 1814, vol. xxiii. p. 198; and together with Lara, by George Agar Ellis in the Quarterly Review of July, 1814, vol. ii. p. 428.



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON THE CORSAIR.

In comparison with the Giaour, the additions made to the Corsair whilst it was passing through the press were inconsiderable. The original MS., which numbers 1737 lines, is probably the fair copy of a number of loose sheets which have not been preserved. The erasures are few and far between, and the variations between the copy and the text are neither numerous nor important.

In one of the latest revises stanza x. was added to the First Canto. The last four lines of stanza xi. first appeared in the Seventh Edition.

The Second Canto suffered no alteration except the substitution of lines 1131-1133 for two lines which were expunged.

Larger additions were made to the Third Canto. Lines 1299-1375, or stanza v. (included in a revise dated January 6, 1814), stanzas xvii. and xxiii., numbering respectively 77, 32, and 16 lines, and the two last lines of stanza x., 127 lines in all, represent the difference between the text as it now stands and the original MS.

In a note to Byron's Poetical Works, 1832, ix. 257, it is stated that the Corsair was begun on the 18th and finished on the 31st of December, 1813. In the Introduction to the Corsair prefixed to the Library Edition, the poem is said to have been composed in ten days, "at the rate of 200 lines a day." The first page of the MS. is dated "27th of December, 1813," and the last page "December 31, 1813, January 1, 1814." It is probable that the composition of the first draft was begun on the 18th and finished on the 27th of December, and that the work of transcription occupied the last five days of the month. Stanza v. of Canto III. reached the publisher on the 6th, and stanzas xvii. and xxiii. on the 11th and 12th of January, 1814.

The First Edition amounted to 1859 lines (the numeration, owing to the inclusion of broken lines, is given as 1863), and falls short of the existing text by the last four lines of stanza xi. It contains the first dedication to Moore, and numbers 100 pages. To the Second Edition, which numbers 108 pages, the following poems were appended:—

To a Lady Weeping.

From the Turkish.

Sonnet to Genevra ("Thine eyes' blue tenderness," etc.).

Sonnet to Genevra ("Thy cheek is pale with thought," etc.).

Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog.

Farewell.

These occasional poems were not appended to the Third Edition, which only numbered 100 pages; but they reappeared in the Fourth and subsequent editions.

The Seventh Edition contained four additional lines (the last four of stanza xi.), and a note (unnumbered) to line 226, in defence of the vraisemblance of the Corsair's misanthropy. The Ninth Edition numbered 112 pages. The additional matter consists of a long note to the last line of the poem ("Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes") on the pirates of Barataria.

Twenty-five thousand copies of the Corsair were sold between January and March, 1814. An Eighth Edition of fifteen hundred copies was printed in March, and sold before the end of the year. A Ninth Edition of three thousand copies was printed in the beginning of 1815.



TO THOMAS MOORE, ESQ.

My dear Moore,

I dedicate to you the last production with which I shall trespass on public patience, and your indulgence, for some years; and I own that I feel anxious to avail myself of this latest and only opportunity of adorning my pages with a name, consecrated by unshaken public principle, and the most undoubted and various talents. While Ireland ranks you among the firmest of her patriots; while you stand alone the first of her bards in her estimation, and Britain repeats and ratifies the decree, permit one, whose only regret, since our first acquaintance, has been the years he had lost before it commenced, to add the humble but sincere suffrage of friendship, to the voice of more than one nation. It will at least prove to you, that I have neither forgotten the gratification derived from your society, nor abandoned the prospect of its renewal, whenever your leisure or inclination allows you to atone to your friends for too long an absence. It is said among those friends, I trust truly, that you are engaged in the composition of a poem whose scene will be laid in the East; none can do those scenes so much justice. The wrongs of your own country,[194] the magnificent and fiery spirit of her sons, the beauty and feeling of her daughters, may there be found; and Collins, when he denominated his Oriental his Irish Eclogues, was not aware how true, at least, was a part of his parallel. Your imagination will create a warmer sun, and less clouded sky; but wildness, tenderness, and originality, are part of your national claim of oriental descent, to which you have already thus far proved your title more clearly than the most zealous of your country's antiquarians.

May I add a few words on a subject on which all men are supposed to be fluent, and none agreeable?—Self. I have written much, and published more than enough to demand a longer silence than I now meditate; but, for some years to come, it is my intention to tempt no further the award of "Gods, men, nor columns." In the present composition I have attempted not the most difficult, but, perhaps, the best adapted measure to our language, the good old and now neglected heroic couplet. The stanza of Spenser is perhaps too slow and dignified for narrative; though, I confess, it is the measure most after my own heart; Scott alone,[195] of the present generation, has hitherto completely triumphed over the fatal facility of the octosyllabic verse; and this is not the least victory of his fertile and mighty genius: in blank verse, Milton, Thomson, and our dramatists, are the beacons that shine along the deep, but warn us from the rough and barren rock on which they are kindled. The heroic couplet is not the most popular measure certainly; but as I did not deviate into the other from a wish to flatter what is called public opinion, I shall quit it without further apology, and take my chance once more with that versification, in which I have hitherto published nothing but compositions whose former circulation is part of my present, and will be of my future regret.

With regard to my story, and stories in general, I should have been glad to have rendered my personages more perfect and amiable, if possible, inasmuch as I have been sometimes criticised, and considered no less responsible for their deeds and qualities than if all had been personal. Be it so—if I have deviated into the gloomy vanity of "drawing from self," the pictures are probably like, since they are unfavourable: and if not, those who know me are undeceived, and those who do not, I have little interest in undeceiving. I have no particular desire that any but my acquaintance should think the author better than the beings of his imagining; but I cannot help a little surprise, and perhaps amusement, at some odd critical exceptions in the present instance, when I see several bards (far more deserving, I allow) in very reputable plight, and quite exempted from all participation in the faults of those heroes, who, nevertheless, might be found with little more morality than The Giaour, and perhaps—but no—I must admit Childe Harold to be a very repulsive personage; and as to his identity, those who like it must give him whatever "alias" they please.[196]

If, however, it were worth while to remove the impression, it might be of some service to me, that the man who is alike the delight of his readers and his friends, the poet of all circles, and the idol of his own, permits me here and elsewhere to subscribe myself,

Most truly, And affectionately, His obedient servant, BYRON. January 2, 1814.



THE CORSAIR.[197]



CANTO THE FIRST.

"——nessun maggior dolore, Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Nella miseria,——" Dante, Inferno, v. 121.

I.

"O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea, Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, Survey our empire, and behold our home![198] These are our realms, no limits to their sway— Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey. Ours the wild life in tumult still to range From toil to rest, and joy in every change. Oh, who can tell? not thou, luxurious slave! Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave; 10 Not thou, vain lord of Wantonness and Ease! Whom Slumber soothes not—Pleasure cannot please— Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried, And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide, The exulting sense—the pulse's maddening play, That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way? That for itself can woo the approaching fight, And turn what some deem danger to delight; That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal, And where the feebler faint can only feel— 20 Feel—to the rising bosom's inmost core, Its hope awaken and its spirit soar? No dread of Death—if with us die our foes— Save that it seems even duller than repose; Come when it will—we snatch the life of Life— When lost—what recks it by disease or strife? Let him who crawls, enamoured of decay, Cling to his couch, and sicken years away;[hk] Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied head; Ours the fresh turf, and not the feverish bed,— 30 While gasp by gasp he falters forth his soul, Ours with one pang—one bound—escapes control. His corse may boast its urn and narrow cave, And they who loathed his life may gild his grave: Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed, When Ocean shrouds and sepulchres our dead. For us, even banquets fond regret supply In the red cup that crowns our memory; And the brief epitaph in Danger's day, When those who win at length divide the prey, 40 And cry, Remembrance saddening o'er each brow, How had the brave who fell exulted now!"

II.

Such were the notes that from the Pirate's isle Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while: Such were the sounds that thrilled the rocks along, And unto ears as rugged seemed a song! In scattered groups upon the golden sand, They game—carouse—converse—or whet the brand; Select the arms—to each his blade assign, And careless eye the blood that dims its shine; 50 Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar, While others straggling muse along the shore; For the wild bird the busy springes set, Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net: Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies, With all the thirsting eye of Enterprise; Tell o'er the tales of many a night of toil, And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil: No matter where—their chief's allotment this; Theirs to believe no prey nor plan amiss. 60 But who that Chief? his name on every shore Is famed and feared—they ask and know no more With these he mingles not but to command; Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand. Ne'er seasons he with mirth their jovial mess, But they forgive his silence for success. Ne'er for his lip the purpling cup they fill, That goblet passes him untasted still— And for his fare—the rudest of his crew Would that, in turn, have passed untasted too; 70 Earth's coarsest bread, the garden's homeliest roots, And scarce the summer luxury of fruits, His short repast in humbleness supply With all a hermit's board would scarce deny. But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense, His mind seems nourished by that abstinence. "Steer to that shore!"—they sail. "Do this!"—'tis done: "Now form and follow me!"—the spoil is won. Thus prompt his accents and his actions still, And all obey and few inquire his will; 80 To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.

III.

"A sail!—a sail!"—a promised prize to Hope! Her nation—flag—how speaks the telescope?[hl] No prize, alas! but yet a welcome sail: The blood-red signal glitters in the gale. Yes—she is ours—a home-returning bark— Blow fair, thou breeze!—she anchors ere the dark. Already doubled is the cape—our bay Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray. 90 How gloriously her gallant course she goes! Her white wings flying—never from her foes— She walks the waters like a thing of Life![199] And seems to dare the elements to strife. Who would not brave the battle-fire, the wreck, To move the monarch of her peopled deck!

IV.

Hoarse o'er her side the rustling cable rings: The sails are furled; and anchoring round she swings; And gathering loiterers on the land discern Her boat descending from the latticed stern. 100 'Tis manned—the oars keep concert to the strand, Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand.[hm] Hail to the welcome shout!—the friendly speech! When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach; The smile, the question, and the quick reply, And the Heart's promise of festivity!

V.

The tidings spread, and gathering grows the crowd: The hum of voices, and the laughter loud, And Woman's gentler anxious tone is heard— Friends'—husbands'—lovers' names in each dear word: 110 "Oh! are they safe? we ask not of success— But shall we see them? will their accents bless? From where the battle roars, the billows chafe, They doubtless boldly did—but who are safe? Here let them haste to gladden and surprise, And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes!"

VI.

"Where is our Chief? for him we bear report— And doubt that joy—which hails our coming—short; Yet thus sincere—'tis cheering, though so brief; But, Juan! instant guide us to our Chief: 120 Our greeting paid, we'll feast on our return, And all shall hear what each may wish to learn." Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way, To where his watch-tower beetles o'er the bay, By bushy brake, the wild flowers blossoming, And freshness breathing from each silver spring, Whose scattered streams from granite basins burst, Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst; From crag to cliff they mount—Near yonder cave, What lonely straggler looks along the wave? 130 In pensive posture leaning on the brand, Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand? "'Tis he—'tis Conrad—here—as wont—alone; On—Juan!—on—and make our purpose known. The bark he views—and tell him we would greet His ear with tidings he must quickly meet: We dare not yet approach—thou know'st his mood, When strange or uninvited steps intrude."

VII.

Him Juan sought, and told of their intent;— He spake not, but a sign expressed assent, 140 These Juan calls—they come—to their salute He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute. "These letters, Chief, are from the Greek—the spy, Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh: Whate'er his tidings, we can well report, Much that"—"Peace, peace!"—he cuts their prating short. Wondering they turn, abashed, while each to each Conjecture whispers in his muttering speech: They watch his glance with many a stealing look, To gather how that eye the tidings took; 150 But, this as if he guessed, with head aside, Perchance from some emotion, doubt, or pride, He read the scroll—"My tablets, Juan, hark— Where is Gonsalvo?"

"In the anchored bark." "There let him stay—to him this order bear— Back to your duty—for my course prepare: Myself this enterprise to-night will share." "To-night, Lord Conrad?" "Aye! at set of sun: The breeze will freshen when the day is done. My corslet—cloak—one hour and we are gone. 160 Sling on thy bugle—see that free from rust My carbine-lock springs worthy of my trust; Be the edge sharpened of my boarding-brand, And give its guard more room to fit my hand. This let the Armourer with speed dispose; Last time, it more fatigued my arm than foes; Mark that the signal-gun be duly fired, To tell us when the hour of stay's expired."

VIII.

They make obeisance, and retire in haste, Too soon to seek again the watery waste: 170 Yet they repine not—so that Conrad guides; And who dare question aught that he decides? That man of loneliness and mystery, Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh; Whose name appals the fiercest of his crew, And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue; Still sways their souls with that commanding art That dazzles, leads, yet chills the vulgar heart. What is that spell, that thus his lawless train Confess and envy—yet oppose in vain? 180 What should it be, that thus their faith can bind? The power of Thought—the magic of the Mind! Linked with success, assumed and kept with skill, That moulds another's weakness to its will; Wields with their hands, but, still to these unknown, Makes even their mightiest deeds appear his own. Such hath it been—shall be—beneath the Sun The many still must labour for the one! 'Tis Nature's doom—but let the wretch who toils, Accuse not—hate not—him who wears the spoils. 190 Oh! if he knew the weight of splendid chains, How light the balance of his humbler pains!

IX.

Unlike the heroes of each ancient race, Demons in act, but Gods at least in face, In Conrad's form seems little to admire, Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire: Robust but not Herculean—to the sight No giant frame sets forth his common height; Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again, Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men; 200 They gaze and marvel how—and still confess That thus it is, but why they cannot guess. Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale The sable curls in wild profusion veil; And oft perforce his rising lip reveals The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals.[hn] Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien, Still seems there something he would not have seen: His features' deepening lines and varying hue At times attracted, yet perplexed the view, 210 As if within that murkiness of mind Worked feelings fearful, and yet undefined; Such might it be—that none could truly tell— Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell. There breathe but few whose aspect might defy The full encounter of his searching eye; He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek[ho] To probe his heart and watch his changing cheek, At once the observer's purpose to espy, And on himself roll back his scrutiny, 220 Lest he to Conrad rather should betray Some secret thought, than drag that Chief's to day. There was a laughing Devil in his sneer, That raised emotions both of rage and fear; And where his frown of hatred darkly fell, Hope withering fled—and Mercy sighed farewell![200]

X.[201]

Slight are the outward signs of evil thought, Within—within—'twas there the spirit wrought! Love shows all changes—Hate, Ambition, Guile, Betray no further than the bitter smile; 230 The lip's least curl, the lightest paleness thrown Along the governed aspect, speak alone Of deeper passions; and to judge their mien, He, who would see, must be himself unseen. Then—with the hurried tread, the upward eye, The clenched hand, the pause of agony, That listens, starting, lest the step too near Approach intrusive on that mood of fear: Then—with each feature working from the heart, With feelings, loosed to strengthen—not depart, 240 That rise—convulse—contend—that freeze or glow,[hp] Flush in the cheek, or damp upon the brow; Then—Stranger! if thou canst, and tremblest not, Behold his soul—the rest that soothes his lot![hq] Mark how that lone and blighted bosom sears The scathing thought of execrated years! Behold—but who hath seen, or e'er shall see, Man as himself—the secret spirit free?

XI.

Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent To lead the guilty—Guilt's worse instrument— 250 His soul was changed, before his deeds had driven Him forth to war with Man and forfeit Heaven. Warped by the world in Disappointment's school, In words too wise—in conduct there a fool; Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop, Doomed by his very virtues for a dupe, He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill, And not the traitors who betrayed him still; Nor deemed that gifts bestowed on better men Had left him joy, and means to give again. 260 Feared—shunned—belied—ere Youth had lost her force, He hated Man too much to feel remorse, And thought the voice of Wrath a sacred call, To pay the injuries of some on all. He knew himself a villain—but he deemed The rest no better than the thing he seemed; And scorned the best as hypocrites who hid Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. He knew himself detested, but he knew The hearts that loathed him, crouched and dreaded too. 270 Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt From all affection and from all contempt: His name could sadden, and his acts surprise; But they that feared him dared not to despise: Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake The slumbering venom of the folded snake: The first may turn, but not avenge the blow; The last expires, but leaves no living foe; Fast to the doomed offender's form it clings, And he may crush—not conquer—still it stings![202] 280

XII.

None are all evil—quickening round his heart, One softer feeling would not yet depart; Oft could he sneer at others as beguiled By passions worthy of a fool or child; Yet 'gainst that passion vainly still he strove, And even in him it asks the name of Love! Yes, it was love—unchangeable—unchanged, Felt but for one from whom he never ranged; Though fairest captives daily met his eye, He shunned, nor sought, but coldly passed them by; 290 Though many a beauty drooped in prisoned bower, None ever soothed his most unguarded hour, Yes—it was Love—if thoughts of tenderness, Tried in temptation, strengthened by distress, Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime, And yet—Oh more than all!—untired by Time; Which nor defeated hope, nor baffled wile, Could render sullen were She near to smile, Nor rage could fire, nor sickness fret to vent On her one murmur of his discontent; 300 Which still would meet with joy, with calmness part, Lest that his look of grief should reach her heart; Which nought removed, nor menaced to remove— If there be Love in mortals—this was Love! He was a villain—aye, reproaches shower On him—but not the Passion, nor its power, Which only proved—all other virtues gone— Not Guilt itself could quench this loveliest one![hr]

XIII.

He paused a moment—till his hastening men Passed the first winding downward to the glen. 310 "Strange tidings!—many a peril have I passed, Nor know I why this next appears the last! Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear, Nor shall my followers find me falter here. 'Tis rash to meet—but surer death to wait Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate; And, if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile, We'll furnish mourners for our funeral pile. Aye, let them slumber—peaceful be their dreams! Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams 320 As kindle high to-night (but blow, thou breeze!) To warm these slow avengers of the seas. Now to Medora—Oh! my sinking heart,[hs] Long may her own be lighter than thou art! Yet was I brave—mean boast where all are brave! Ev'n insects sting for aught they seek to save. This common courage which with brutes we share, That owes its deadliest efforts to Despair, Small merit claims—but 'twas my nobler hope To teach my few with numbers still to cope; 330 Long have I led them—not to vainly bleed: No medium now—we perish or succeed! So let it be—it irks not me to die; But thus to urge them whence they cannot fly. My lot hath long had little of my care, But chafes my pride thus baffled in the snare: Is this my skill? my craft? to set at last Hope, Power and Life upon a single cast? Oh, Fate!—accuse thy folly—not thy fate; She may redeem thee still—nor yet too late." 340

XIV.

Thus with himself communion held he, till He reached the summit of his tower-crowned hill: There at the portal paused—for wild and soft He heard those accents never heard too oft! Through the high lattice far yet sweet they rung, And these the notes his Bird of Beauty sung:

1.

"Deep in my soul that tender secret dwells, Lonely and lost to light for evermore, Save when to thine my heart responsive swells, Then trembles into silence as before. 350

2.

"There, in its centre, a sepulchral lamp Burns the slow flame, eternal—but unseen; Which not the darkness of Despair can damp, Though vain its ray as it had never been.

3.

"Remember me—Oh! pass not thou my grave Without one thought whose relics there recline: The only pang my bosom dare not brave Must be to find forgetfulness in thine.

4.

"My fondest—faintest—latest accents hear—[ht] Grief for the dead not Virtue can reprove; 360 Then give me all I ever asked—a tear,[203] The first—last—sole reward of so much love!"

He passed the portal, crossed the corridor, And reached the chamber as the strain gave o'er: "My own Medora! sure thy song is sad—"

"In Conrad's absence would'st thou have it glad? Without thine ear to listen to my lay, Still must my song my thoughts, my soul betray: Still must each accent to my bosom suit, My heart unhushed—although my lips were mute! 370 Oh! many a night on this lone couch reclined, My dreaming fear with storms hath winged the wind, And deemed the breath that faintly fanned thy sail The murmuring prelude of the ruder gale; Though soft—it seemed the low prophetic dirge, That mourned thee floating on the savage surge: Still would I rise to rouse the beacon fire, Lest spies less true should let the blaze expire; And many a restless hour outwatched each star, And morning came—and still thou wert afar. 380 Oh! how the chill blast on my bosom blew, And day broke dreary on my troubled view, And still I gazed and gazed—and not a prow Was granted to my tears—my truth—my vow! At length—'twas noon—I hailed and blest the mast That met my sight—it neared—Alas! it passed! Another came—Oh God! 'twas thine at last! Would that those days were over! wilt thou ne'er, My Conrad! learn the joys of peace to share? Sure thou hast more than wealth, and many a home 390 As bright as this invites us not to roam: Thou know'st it is not peril that I fear, I only tremble when thou art not here; Then not for mine, but that far dearer life, Which flies from love and languishes for strife— How strange that heart, to me so tender still, Should war with Nature and its better will!"

"Yea, strange indeed—that heart hath long been changed; Worm-like 'twas trampled—adder-like avenged— Without one hope on earth beyond thy love, 400 And scarce a glimpse of mercy from above. Yet the same feeling which thou dost condemn, My very love to thee is hate to them, So closely mingling here, that disentwined, I cease to love thee when I love Mankind: Yet dread not this—the proof of all the past Assures the future that my love will last; But—Oh, Medora! nerve thy gentler heart; This hour again—but not for long—we part."

"This hour we part!—my heart foreboded this: 410 Thus ever fade my fairy dreams of bliss. This hour—it cannot be—this hour away! Yon bark hath hardly anchored in the bay: Her consort still is absent, and her crew Have need of rest before they toil anew; My Love! thou mock'st my weakness; and wouldst steel My breast before the time when it must feel; But trifle now no more with my distress, Such mirth hath less of play than bitterness. Be silent, Conrad!—dearest! come and share 420 The feast these hands delighted to prepare; Light toil! to cull and dress thy frugal fare! See, I have plucked the fruit that promised best, And where not sure, perplexed, but pleased, I guessed At such as seemed the fairest; thrice the hill My steps have wound to try the coolest rill; Yes! thy Sherbet to-night will sweetly flow, See how it sparkles in its vase of snow! The grapes' gay juice thy bosom never cheers; Thou more than Moslem when the cup appears: 430 Think not I mean to chide—for I rejoice What others deem a penance is thy choice. But come, the board is spread; our silver lamp Is trimmed, and heeds not the Sirocco's damp: Then shall my handmaids while the time along, And join with me the dance, or wake the song; Or my guitar, which still thou lov'st to hear, Shall soothe or lull—or, should it vex thine ear, We'll turn the tale, by Ariosto told, Of fair Olympia loved and left of old.[204] 440 Why, thou wert worse than he who broke his vow To that lost damsel, should thou leave me now— Or even that traitor chief—I've seen thee smile, When the clear sky showed Ariadne's Isle, Which I have pointed from these cliffs the while: And thus half sportive—half in fear—I said, Lest Time should raise that doubt to more than dread, Thus Conrad, too, will quit me for the main: And he deceived me—for—he came again!"

"Again, again—and oft again—my Love! 450 If there be life below, and hope above, He will return—but now, the moments bring The time of parting with redoubled wing: The why, the where—what boots it now to tell? Since all must end in that wild word—Farewell! Yet would I fain—did time allow—disclose— Fear not—these are no formidable foes! And here shall watch a more than wonted guard, For sudden siege and long defence prepared: Nor be thou lonely, though thy Lord's away, 460 Our matrons and thy handmaids with thee stay; And this thy comfort—that, when next we meet, Security shall make repose more sweet. List!—'tis the bugle!"—Juan shrilly blew— "One kiss—one more—another—Oh! Adieu!" She rose—she sprung—she clung to his embrace, Till his heart heaved beneath her hidden face: He dared not raise to his that deep-blue eye, Which downcast drooped in tearless agony. Her long fair hair lay floating o'er his arms, 470 In all the wildness of dishevelled charms; Scarce beat that bosom where his image dwelt So full—that feeling seem'd almost unfelt! Hark—peals the thunder of the signal-gun! It told 'twas sunset, and he cursed that sun. Again—again—that form he madly pressed, Which mutely clasped, imploringly caressed![hu] And tottering to the couch his bride he bore, One moment gazed—as if to gaze no more; Felt that for him Earth held but her alone, 480 Kissed her cold forehead—turned—is Conrad gone?

XV.

"And is he gone?"—on sudden solitude How oft that fearful question will intrude! "'Twas but an instant past, and here he stood! And now"—without the portal's porch she rushed, And then at length her tears in freedom gushed; Big, bright, and fast, unknown to her they fell; But still her lips refused to send—"Farewell!" For in that word—that fatal word—howe'er We promise—hope—believe—there breathes Despair. 490 O'er every feature of that still, pale face, Had Sorrow fixed what Time can ne'er erase: The tender blue of that large loving eye Grew frozen with its gaze on vacancy, Till—Oh, how far!—it caught a glimpse of him, And then it flowed, and phrensied seemed to swim Through those long, dark, and glistening lashes dewed With drops of sadness oft to be renewed. "He's gone!"—against her heart that hand is driven, Convulsed and quick—then gently raised to Heaven: 500 She looked and saw the heaving of the main: The white sail set—she dared not look again; But turned with sickening soul within the gate— "It is no dream—and I am desolate!"

XVI.

From crag to crag descending, swiftly sped Stern Conrad down, nor once he turned his head; But shrunk whene'er the windings of his way Forced on his eye what he would not survey, His lone, but lovely dwelling on the steep, That hailed him first when homeward from the deep: 510 And she—the dim and melancholy Star, Whose ray of Beauty reached him from afar, On her he must not gaze, he must not think— There he might rest—but on Destruction's brink: Yet once almost he stopped—and nearly gave His fate to chance, his projects to the wave: But no—it must not be—a worthy chief May melt, but not betray to Woman's grief. He sees his bark, he notes how fair the wind, And sternly gathers all his might of mind: 520 Again he hurries on—and as he hears The clang of tumult vibrate on his ears, The busy sounds, the bustle of the shore, The shout, the signal, and the dashing oar; As marks his eye the seaboy on the mast, The anchors rise, the sails unfurling fast, The waving kerchiefs of the crowd that urge That mute Adieu to those who stem the surge; And more than all, his blood-red flag aloft, He marvelled how his heart could seem so soft. 530 Fire in his glance, and wildness in his breast, He feels of all his former self possest; He bounds—he flies—until his footsteps reach The verge where ends the cliff, begins the beach, There checks his speed; but pauses less to breathe The breezy freshness of the deep beneath, Than there his wonted statelier step renew; Nor rush, disturbed by haste, to vulgar view: For well had Conrad learned to curb the crowd, By arts that veil, and oft preserve the proud; 540 His was the lofty port, the distant mien, That seems to shun the sight—and awes if seen: The solemn aspect, and the high-born eye, That checks low mirth, but lacks not courtesy; All these he wielded to command assent: But where he wished to win, so well unbent, That Kindness cancelled fear in those who heard, And others' gifts showed mean beside his word, When echoed to the heart as from his own His deep yet tender melody of tone: 550 But such was foreign to his wonted mood, He cared not what he softened, but subdued; The evil passions of his youth had made Him value less who loved—than what obeyed.

XVII.

Around him mustering ranged his ready guard. Before him Juan stands—"Are all prepared?" "They are—nay more—embarked: the latest boat Waits but my chief——" "My sword, and my capote." Soon firmly girded on, and lightly slung, His belt and cloak were o'er his shoulders flung: 560 "Call Pedro here!" He comes—and Conrad bends, With all the courtesy he deigned his friends; "Receive these tablets, and peruse with care, Words of high trust and truth are graven there; Double the guard, and when Anselmo's bark Arrives, let him alike these orders mark: In three days (serve the breeze) the sun shall shine On our return—till then all peace be thine!" This said, his brother Pirate's hand he wrung, Then to his boat with haughty gesture sprung. 570 Flashed the dipt oars, and sparkling with the stroke, Around the waves' phosphoric[205] brightness broke; They gain the vessel—on the deck he stands,— Shrieks the shrill whistle, ply the busy hands— He marks how well the ship her helm obeys, How gallant all her crew, and deigns to praise. His eyes of pride to young Gonsalvo turn— Why doth he start, and inly seem to mourn? Alas! those eyes beheld his rocky tower, And live a moment o'er the parting hour; 580 She—his Medora—did she mark the prow? Ah! never loved he half so much as now! But much must yet be done ere dawn of day— Again he mans himself and turns away; Down to the cabin with Gonsalvo bends, And there unfolds his plan—his means, and ends; Before them burns the lamp, and spreads the chart, And all that speaks and aids the naval art; They to the midnight watch protract debate; To anxious eyes what hour is ever late? 590 Meantime, the steady breeze serenely blew, And fast and falcon-like the vessel flew; Passed the high headlands of each clustering isle, To gain their port—long—long ere morning smile: And soon the night-glass through the narrow bay Discovers where the Pacha's galleys lay. Count they each sail, and mark how there supine The lights in vain o'er heedless Moslem shine. Secure, unnoted, Conrad's prow passed by, And anchored where his ambush meant to lie; 600 Screened from espial by the jutting cape, That rears on high its rude fantastic shape.[206] Then rose his band to duty—not from sleep— Equipped for deeds alike on land or deep; While leaned their Leader o'er the fretting flood, And calmly talked—and yet he talked of blood!



CANTO THE SECOND.

"Conosceste i dubbiosi desiri?" Dante, Inferno, v, 120.

I.

In Coron's bay floats many a galley light, Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright,[207] For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night: A feast for promised triumph yet to come, 610 When he shall drag the fettered Rovers home; This hath he sworn by Allah and his sword, And faithful to his firman and his word, His summoned prows collect along the coast, And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast; Already shared the captives and the prize, Though far the distant foe they thus despise; 'Tis but to sail—no doubt to-morrow's Sun Will see the Pirates bound—their haven won! Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will, 620 Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill. Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek To flesh their glowing valour on the Greek; How well such deed becomes the turbaned brave— To bare the sabre's edge before a slave! Infest his dwelling—but forbear to slay, Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day, And do not deign to smite because they may! Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow, To keep in practice for the coming foe. 630 Revel and rout the evening hours beguile, And they who wish to wear a head must smile; For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer, And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.

II.

High in his hall reclines the turbaned Seyd; Around—the bearded chiefs he came to lead. Removed the banquet, and the last pilaff— Forbidden draughts, 'tis said, he dared to quaff, Though to the rest the sober berry's juice[208] The slaves bear round for rigid Moslems' use; 640 The long chibouque's[209] dissolving cloud supply, While dance the Almas[210] to wild minstrelsy. The rising morn will view the chiefs embark; But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark: And revellers may more securely sleep On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep: Feast there who can—nor combat till they must, And less to conquest than to Korans trust; And yet the numbers crowded in his host Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast. 650

III.

With cautious reverence from the outer gate Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait, Bows his bent head—his hand salutes the floor, Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore: "A captive Dervise, from the Pirate's nest Escaped, is here—himself would tell the rest."[211] He took the sign from Seyd's assenting eye, And led the holy man in silence nigh. His arms were folded on his dark-green vest, His step was feeble, and his look deprest; 660 Yet worn he seemed of hardship more than years, And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears. Vowed to his God—his sable locks he wore, And these his lofty cap rose proudly o'er: Around his form his loose long robe was thrown, And wrapt a breast bestowed on heaven alone; Submissive, yet with self-possession manned, He calmly met the curious eyes that scanned; And question of his coming fain would seek, Before the Pacha's will allowed to speak. 670

IV.

"Whence com'st thou, Dervise?" "From the Outlaw's den A fugitive—" "Thy capture where and when?" "From Scalanova's port[212] to Scio's isle, The Saick[213] was bound; but Allah did not smile Upon our course—the Moslem merchant's gains The Rovers won; our limbs have worn their chains. I had no death to fear, nor wealth to boast, Beyond the wandering freedom which I lost; At length a fisher's humble boat by night Afforded hope, and offered chance of flight; 680 I seized the hour, and find my safety here— With thee—most mighty Pacha! who can fear?"

"How speed the outlaws? stand they well prepared, Their plundered wealth, and robber's rock, to guard? Dream they of this our preparation, doomed To view with fire their scorpion nest consumed?"

"Pacha! the fettered captive's mourning eye, That weeps for flight, but ill can play the spy; I only heard the reckless waters roar, Those waves that would not bear me from the shore; 690 I only marked the glorious Sun and sky, Too bright—too blue—for my captivity; And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers Must break my chain before it dried my tears. This mayst thou judge, at least, from my escape, They little deem of aught in Peril's shape; Else vainly had I prayed or sought the Chance That leads me here—if eyed with vigilance: The careless guard that did not see me fly, May watch as idly when thy power is nigh. 700 Pacha! my limbs are faint—and nature craves Food for my hunger, rest from tossing waves: Permit my absence—peace be with thee! Peace With all around!—now grant repose—release."

"Stay, Dervise! I have more to question—stay, I do command thee—sit—dost hear?—obey! More I must ask, and food the slaves shall bring; Thou shall not pine where all are banqueting: The supper done—prepare thee to reply, Clearly and full—I love not mystery." 710 'Twere vain to guess what shook the pious man, Who looked not lovingly on that Divan; Nor showed high relish for the banquet prest, And less respect for every fellow guest. Twas but a moment's peevish hectic passed Along his cheek, and tranquillised as fast: He sate him down in silence, and his look Resumed the calmness which before forsook: The feast was ushered in—but sumptuous fare He shunned as if some poison mingled there. 720 For one so long condemned to toil and fast, Methinks he strangely spares the rich repast. "What ails thee, Dervise? eat—dost thou suppose This feast a Christian's? or my friends thy foes? Why dost thou shun the salt? that sacred pledge,[214] Which, once partaken, blunts the sabre's edge, Makes even contending tribes in peace unite, And hated hosts seem brethren to the sight!"

"Salt seasons dainties—and my food is still The humblest root, my drink the simplest rill; 730 And my stern vow and Order's[215] laws oppose To break or mingle bread with friends or foes; It may seem strange—if there be aught to dread That peril rests upon my single head; But for thy sway—nay more—thy Sultan's throne, I taste nor bread nor banquet—save alone; Infringed our Order's rule, the Prophet's rage To Mecca's dome might bar my pilgrimage."

"Well—as thou wilt—ascetic as thou art— One question answer; then in peace depart. 740 How many?—Ha! it cannot sure be day? What Star—what Sun is bursting on the bay? It shines a lake of fire!—away—away! Ho! treachery! my guards! my scimitar! The galleys feed the flames—and I afar! Accursed Dervise!—these thy tidings—thou Some villain spy—seize—cleave him—slay him now!"

Up rose the Dervise with that burst of light, Nor less his change of form appalled the sight: Up rose that Dervise—not in saintly garb, 750 But like a warrior bounding on his barb, Dashed his high cap, and tore his robe away— Shone his mailed breast, and flashed his sabre's ray! His close but glittering casque, and sable plume, More glittering eye, and black brow's sabler gloom, Glared on the Moslems' eyes some Afrit Sprite, Whose demon death-blow left no hope for fight. The wild confusion, and the swarthy glow Of flames on high, and torches from below; The shriek of terror, and the mingling yell— 760 For swords began to clash, and shouts to swell— Flung o'er that spot of earth the air of Hell! Distracted, to and fro, the flying slaves Behold but bloody shore and fiery waves; Nought heeded they the Pacha's angry cry, They seize that Dervise!—seize on Zatanai![216] He saw their terror—checked the first despair That urged him but to stand and perish there, Since far too early and too well obeyed, The flame was kindled ere the signal made; 770 He saw their terror—from his baldric drew His bugle—brief the blast—but shrilly blew; 'Tis answered—"Well ye speed, my gallant crew! Why did I doubt their quickness of career? And deem design had left me single here?" Sweeps his long arm—that sabre's whirling sway Sheds fast atonement for its first delay; Completes his fury, what their fear begun, And makes the many basely quail to one. The cloven turbans o'er the chamber spread, 780 And scarce an arm dare rise to guard its head: Even Seyd, convulsed, o'erwhelmed, with rage, surprise, Retreats before him, though he still defies. No craven he—and yet he dreads the blow, So much Confusion magnifies his foe! His blazing galleys still distract his sight, He tore his beard, and foaming fled the fight;[217] For now the pirates passed the Haram gate, And burst within—and it were death to wait; Where wild Amazement shrieking—kneeling—throws 790 The sword aside—in vain—the blood o'erflows! The Corsairs pouring, haste to where within Invited Conrad's bugle, and the din Of groaning victims, and wild cries for life, Proclaimed how well he did the work of strife. They shout to find him grim and lonely there, A glutted tiger mangling in his lair! But short their greeting, shorter his reply— "'Tis well—but Seyd escapes—and he must die— Much hath been done—but more remains to do— 800 Their galleys blaze—why not their city too?"

V.

Quick at the word they seized him each a torch, And fire the dome from minaret to porch. A stern delight was fixed in Conrad's eye, But sudden sunk—for on his ear the cry Of women struck, and like a deadly knell Knocked at that heart unmoved by Battle's yell. "Oh! burst the Haram—wrong not on your lives One female form—remember—we have wives. On them such outrage Vengeance will repay; 810 Man is our foe, and such 'tis ours to slay: But still we spared—must spare the weaker prey. Oh! I forgot—but Heaven will not forgive If at my word the helpless cease to live; Follow who will—I go—we yet have time Our souls to lighten of at least a crime." He climbs the crackling stair—he bursts the door, Nor feels his feet glow scorching with the floor; His breath choked gasping with the volumed smoke, But still from room to room his way he broke. 820 They search—they find—they save: with lusty arms Each bears a prize of unregarded charms; Calm their loud fears; sustain their sinking frames With all the care defenceless Beauty claims: So well could Conrad tame their fiercest mood, And check the very hands with gore imbrued. But who is she? whom Conrad's arms convey, From reeking pile and combat's wreck, away— Who but the love of him he dooms to bleed? The Haram queen—but still the slave of Seyd! 830

VI.

Brief time had Conrad now to greet Gulnare,[218] Few words to reassure the trembling Fair; For in that pause Compassion snatched from War, The foe before retiring, fast and far, With wonder saw their footsteps unpursued, First slowlier fled—then rallied—then withstood. This Seyd perceives, then first perceives how few, Compared with his, the Corsair's roving crew, And blushes o'er his error, as he eyes The ruin wrought by Panic and Surprise. 840 Alla il Alla! Vengeance swells the cry— Shame mounts to rage that must atone or die! And flame for flame and blood for blood must tell. The tide of triumph ebbs that flowed too well— When Wrath returns to renovated strife, And those who fought for conquest strike for life. Conrad beheld the danger—he beheld His followers faint by freshening foes repelled: "One effort—one—to break the circling host!" They form—unite—charge—waver—all is lost! 850 Within a narrower ring compressed, beset, Hopeless, not heartless, strive and struggle yet— Ah! now they fight in firmest file no more, Hemmed in—cut off—cleft down and trampled o'er; But each strikes singly—silently—and home, And sinks outwearied rather than o'ercome— His last faint quittance rendering with his breath, Till the blade glimmers in the grasp of Death!

VII.

But first, ere came the rallying host to blows, And rank to rank, and hand to hand oppose, 860 Gulnare and all her Haram handmaids freed, Safe in the dome of one who held their creed, By Conrad's mandate safely were bestowed, And dried those tears for life and fame that flowed: And when that dark-eyed lady, young Gulnare, Recalled those thoughts late wandering in despair, Much did she marvel o'er the courtesy That smoothed his accents, softened in his eye— 'Twas strange—that robber thus with gore bedewed, Seemed gentler then than Seyd in fondest mood. 870 The Pacha wooed as if he deemed the slave Must seem delighted with the heart he gave; The Corsair vowed protection, soothed affright, As if his homage were a Woman's right. "The wish is wrong—nay, worse for female—vain: Yet much I long to view that Chief again; If but to thank for, what my fear forgot, The life—my loving Lord remembered not!"

VIII.

And him she saw, where thickest carnage spread, But gathered breathing from the happier dead; 880 Far from his band, and battling with a host That deem right dearly won the field he lost, Felled—bleeding—baffled of the death he sought, And snatched to expiate all the ills he wrought; Preserved to linger and to live in vain, While Vengeance pondered o'er new plans of pain, And stanched the blood she saves to shed again— But drop by drop, for Seyd's unglutted eye Would doom him ever dying—ne'er to die! Can this be he? triumphant late she saw, 890 When his red hand's wild gesture waved, a law! 'Tis he indeed—disarmed but undeprest, His sole regret the life he still possest; His wounds too slight, though taken with that will, Which would have kissed the hand that then could kill. Oh were there none, of all the many given, To send his soul—he scarcely asked to Heaven?[219] Must he alone of all retain his breath, Who more than all had striven and struck for death? He deeply felt—what mortal hearts must feel, 900 When thus reversed on faithless Fortune's wheel, For crimes committed, and the victor's threat Of lingering tortures to repay the debt— He deeply, darkly felt; but evil Pride That led to perpetrate—now serves to hide. Still in his stern and self-collected mien A conqueror's more than captive's air is seen, Though faint with wasting toil and stiffening wound, But few that saw—so calmly gazed around: Though the far shouting of the distant crowd, 910 Their tremors o'er, rose insolently loud, The better warriors who beheld him near, Insulted not the foe who taught them fear; And the grim guards that to his durance led, In silence eyed him with a secret dread.

IX.

The Leech was sent—but not in mercy—there, To note how much the life yet left could bear; He found enough to load with heaviest chain, And promise feeling for the wrench of Pain; To-morrow—yea—to-morrow's evening Sun 920 Will, sinking, see Impalement's pangs begun, And rising with the wonted blush of morn Behold how well or ill those pangs are borne. Of torments this the longest and the worst, Which adds all other agony to thirst, That day by day Death still forbears to slake, While famished vultures flit around the stake. "Oh! water—water!"—smiling Hate denies The victim's prayer, for if he drinks he dies. This was his doom;—the Leech, the guard, were gone, 930 And left proud Conrad fettered and alone.

X.

'Twere vain to paint to what his feelings grew— It even were doubtful if their victim knew. There is a war, a chaos of the mind,[220] When all its elements convulsed, combined Lie dark and jarring with perturbed force, And gnashing with impenitent Remorse— That juggling fiend, who never spake before, But cries "I warned thee!" when the deed is o'er. Vain voice! the spirit burning but unbent, 940 May writhe—rebel—the weak alone repent! Even in that lonely hour when most it feels, And, to itself, all—all that self reveals,— No single passion, and no ruling thought That leaves the rest, as once, unseen, unsought, But the wild prospect when the Soul reviews, All rushing through their thousand avenues— Ambition's dreams expiring, Love's regret, Endangered Glory, Life itself beset; The joy untasted, the contempt or hate 950 'Gainst those who fain would triumph in our fate; The hopeless past, the hasting future driven Too quickly on to guess if Hell or Heaven; Deeds—thoughts—and words, perhaps remembered not So keenly till that hour, but ne'er forgot; Things light or lovely in their acted time, But now to stern Reflection each a crime; The withering sense of Evil unrevealed, Not cankering less because the more concealed; All, in a word, from which all eyes must start, 960 That opening sepulchre, the naked heart[221] Bares with its buried woes—till Pride awake, To snatch the mirror from the soul, and break. Aye, Pride can veil, and Courage brave it all— All—all—before—beyond—the deadliest fall. Each hath some fear, and he who least betrays, The only hypocrite deserving praise: Not the loud recreant wretch who boasts and flies; But he who looks on Death—and silent dies: So, steeled by pondering o'er his far career, 970 He half-way meets Him should He menace near!

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