The Works Of Lord Byron, Vol. 3 (of 7)
by Lord Byron
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In the high chamber of his highest tower Sate Conrad, fettered in the Pacha's power. His palace perished in the flame—this fort Contained at once his captive and his court. Not much could Conrad of his sentence blame, His foe, if vanquished, had but shared the same:— Alone he sate—in solitude had scanned His guilty bosom, but that breast he manned: One thought alone he could not—dared not meet— 980 "Oh, how these tidings will Medora greet?" Then—only then—his clanking hands he raised, And strained with rage the chain on which he gazed; But soon he found, or feigned, or dreamed relief, And smiled in self-derision of his grief, "And now come Torture when it will, or may— More need of rest to nerve me for the day!" This said, with langour to his mat he crept, And, whatso'er his visions, quickly slept.

'Twas hardly midnight when that fray begun, 990 For Conrad's plans matured, at once were done, And Havoc loathes so much the waste of time, She scarce had left an uncommitted crime. One hour beheld him since the tide he stemmed— Disguised—discovered—conquering—ta'en—condemned— A Chief on land—an outlaw on the deep— Destroying—saving—prisoned—and asleep!


He slept in calmest seeming, for his breath[222] Was hushed so deep—Ah! happy if in death! He slept—Who o'er his placid slumber bends? 1000 His foes are gone—and here he hath no friends; Is it some Seraph sent to grant him grace? No,'tis an earthly form with heavenly face! Its white arm raised a lamp—yet gently hid, Lest the ray flash abruptly on the lid Of that closed eye, which opens but to pain, And once unclosed—but once may close again. That form, with eye so dark, and cheek so fair, And auburn waves of gemmed and braided hair; With shape of fairy lightness—naked foot, 1010 That shines like snow, and falls on earth as mute— Through guards and dunnest night how came it there? Ah! rather ask what will not Woman dare? Whom Youth and Pity lead like thee, Gulnare! She could not sleep—and while the Pacha's rest In muttering dreams yet saw his pirate-guest, She left his side—his signet-ring she bore, Which oft in sport adorned her hand before— And with it, scarcely questioned, won her way Through drowsy guards that must that sign obey. 1020 Worn out with toil, and tired with changing blows, Their eyes had envied Conrad his repose; And chill and nodding at the turret door, They stretch their listless limbs, and watch no more; Just raised their heads to hail the signet-ring, Nor ask or what or who the sign may bring.


She gazed in wonder, "Can he calmly sleep, While other eyes his fall or ravage weep? And mine in restlessness are wandering here— What sudden spell hath made this man so dear? 1030 True—'tis to him my life, and more, I owe, And me and mine he spared from worse than woe: 'Tis late to think—but soft—his slumber breaks— How heavily he sighs!—he starts—awakes!" He raised his head, and dazzled with the light, His eye seemed dubious if it saw aright: He moved his hand—the grating of his chain Too harshly told him that he lived again. "What is that form? if not a shape of air, Methinks, my jailor's face shows wondrous fair!" 1040 "Pirate! thou know'st me not, but I am one, Grateful for deeds thou hast too rarely done; Look on me—and remember her, thy hand Snatched from the flames, and thy more fearful band. I come through darkness—and I scarce know why— Yet not to hurt—I would not see thee die."

"If so, kind lady! thine the only eye That would not here in that gay hope delight: Theirs is the chance—and let them use their right. But still I thank their courtesy or thine, 1050 That would confess me at so fair a shrine!"

Strange though it seem—yet with extremest grief Is linked a mirth—it doth not bring relief— That playfulness of Sorrow ne'er beguiles, And smiles in bitterness—but still it smiles; And sometimes with the wisest and the best, Till even the scaffold[223] echoes with their jest! Yet not the joy to which it seems akin— It may deceive all hearts, save that within. Whate'er it was that flashed on Conrad, now 1060 A laughing wildness half unbent his brow: And these his accents had a sound of mirth, As if the last he could enjoy on earth; Yet 'gainst his nature—for through that short life, Few thoughts had he to spare from gloom and strife.


"Corsair! thy doom is named—but I have power To soothe the Pacha in his weaker hour. Thee would I spare—nay more—would save thee now, But this—Time—Hope—nor even thy strength allow; But all I can,—I will—at least delay 1070 The sentence that remits thee scarce a day. More now were ruin—even thyself were loth The vain attempt should bring but doom to both."

"Yes!—loth indeed:—my soul is nerved to all, Or fall'n too low to fear a further fall: Tempt not thyself with peril—me with hope Of flight from foes with whom I could not cope: Unfit to vanquish—shall I meanly fly, The one of all my band that would not die? Yet there is one—to whom my Memory clings, 1080 Till to these eyes her own wild softness springs. My sole resources in the path I trod Were these—my bark—my sword—my love—my God! The last I left in youth!—He leaves me now— And Man but works his will to lay me low. I have no thought to mock his throne with prayer Wrung from the coward crouching of Despair; It is enough—I breathe—and I can bear. My sword is shaken from the worthless hand That might have better kept so true a brand; 1090 My bark is sunk or captive—but my Love— For her in sooth my voice would mount above: Oh! she is all that still to earth can bind— And this will break a heart so more than kind, And blight a form—till thine appeared, Gulnare! Mine eye ne'er asked if others were as fair."

"Thou lov'st another then?—but what to me Is this—'tis nothing—nothing e'er can be: But yet—thou lov'st—and—Oh! I envy those Whose hearts on hearts as faithful can repose, 1100 Who never feel the void—the wandering thought That sighs o'er visions—such as mine hath wrought."

"Lady—methought thy love was his, for whom This arm redeemed thee from a fiery tomb."

"My love stern Seyd's! Oh—No—No—not my love— Yet much this heart, that strives no more, once strove To meet his passion—but it would not be. I felt—I feel—Love dwells with—with the free. I am a slave, a favoured slave at best, To share his splendour, and seem very blest! 1110 Oft must my soul the question undergo, Of—'Dost thou love?' and burn to answer, 'No!' Oh! hard it is that fondness to sustain, And struggle not to feel averse in vain; But harder still the heart's recoil to bear, And hide from one—perhaps another there. He takes the hand I give not—nor withhold— Its pulse nor checked—nor quickened—calmly cold: And when resigned, it drops a lifeless weight From one I never loved enough to hate. 1120 No warmth these lips return by his imprest, And chilled Remembrance shudders o'er the rest. Yes—had I ever proved that Passion's zeal, The change to hatred were at least to feel: But still—he goes unmourned—returns unsought— And oft when present—absent from my thought. Or when Reflection comes—and come it must— I fear that henceforth 'twill but bring disgust; I am his slave—but, in despite of pride, 'Twere worse than bondage to become his bride. 1130 Oh! that this dotage of his breast would cease! Or seek another and give mine release, But yesterday—I could have said, to peace! Yes, if unwonted fondness now I feign,[hv] Remember—Captive! 'tis to break thy chain; Repay the life that to thy hand I owe; To give thee back to all endeared below, Who share such love as I can never know. Farewell—Morn breaks—and I must now away: 'Twill cost me dear—but dread no death to-day!" 1140


She pressed his fettered fingers to her heart, And bowed her head, and turned her to depart, And noiseless as a lovely dream is gone. And was she here? and is he now alone? What gem hath dropped and sparkles o'er his chain? The tear most sacred, shed for others' pain, That starts at once—bright—pure—from Pity's mine, Already polished by the hand divine! Oh! too convincing—dangerously dear— In Woman's eye the unanswerable tear! 1150 That weapon of her weakness she can wield, To save, subdue—at once her spear and shield: Avoid it—Virtue ebbs and Wisdom errs, Too fondly gazing on that grief of hers! What lost a world, and bade a hero fly? The timid tear in Cleopatra's eye. Yet be the soft Triumvir's fault forgiven; By this—how many lose not earth—but Heaven! Consign their souls to Man's eternal foe, And seal their own to spare some Wanton's woe! 1160


'Tis Morn—and o'er his altered features play The beams—without the Hope of yesterday. What shall he be ere night? perchance a thing O'er which the raven flaps her funeral wing, By his closed eye unheeded and unfelt; While sets that Sun, and dews of Evening melt, Chill, wet, and misty round each stiffened limb, Refreshing earth—reviving all but him!


"Come vedi—ancor non m'abbandona" Dante, Inferno, v. 105.


Slow sinks, more lovely ere his race be run,[224] Along Morea's hills the setting Sun; 1170 Not, as in Northern climes, obscurely bright, But one unclouded blaze of living light! O'er the hushed deep the yellow beam he throws, Gilds the green wave, that trembles as it glows. On old AEgina's rock, and Idra's isle,[225] The God of gladness sheds his parting smile; O'er his own regions lingering, loves to shine, Though there his altars are no more divine. Descending fast the mountain shadows kiss Thy glorious gulf, unconquered Salamis! 1180 Their azure arches through the long expanse More deeply purpled met his mellowing glance, And tenderest tints, along their summits driven, Mark his gay course, and own the hues of Heaven; Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep, Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep.

On such an eve, his palest beam he cast, When—Athens! here thy Wisest looked his last. How watched thy better sons his farewell ray, That closed their murdered Sage's[226] latest day! 1190 Not yet—not yet—Sol pauses on the hill— The precious hour of parting lingers still; But sad his light to agonising eyes, And dark the mountain's once delightful dyes: Gloom o'er the lovely land he seemed to pour, The land, where Phoebus never frowned before: But ere he sunk below Cithaeron's head, The cup of woe was quaffed—the Spirit fled; The Soul of him who scorned to fear or fly— Who lived and died, as none can live or die! 1200

But lo! from high Hymettus to the plain, The Queen of night asserts her silent reign.[227] No murky vapour, herald of the storm, Hides her fair face, nor girds her glowing form; With cornice glimmering as the moon-beams play, There the white column greets her grateful ray, And bright around with quivering beams beset, Her emblem sparkles o'er the Minaret: The groves of olive scattered dark and wide Where meek Cephisus pours his scanty tide; 1210 The cypress saddening by the sacred Mosque, The gleaming turret of the gay Kiosk;[228] And, dun and sombre 'mid the holy calm, Near Theseus' fane yon solitary palm, All tinged with varied hues arrest the eye— And dull were his that passed him heedless by.

Again the AEgean, heard no more afar, Lulls his chafed breast from elemental war; Again his waves in milder tints unfold Their long array of sapphire and of gold, 1220 Mixed with the shades of many a distant isle, That frown—where gentler Ocean seems to smile.


Not now my theme—why turn my thoughts to thee? Oh! who can look along thy native sea, Nor dwell upon thy name, whate'er the tale, So much its magic must o'er all prevail? Who that beheld that Sun upon thee set, Fair Athens! could thine evening face forget? Not he—whose heart nor time nor distance frees, Spell-bound within the clustering Cyclades! 1230 Nor seems this homage foreign to its strain, His Corsair's isle was once thine own domain—[229] Would that with freedom it were thine again!


The Sun hath sunk—and, darker than the night, Sinks with its beam upon the beacon height Medora's heart—the third day's come and gone— With it he comes not—sends not—faithless one! The wind was fair though light! and storms were none. Last eve Anselmo's bark returned, and yet His only tidings that they had not met! 1240 Though wild, as now, far different were the tale Had Conrad waited for that single sail. The night-breeze freshens—she that day had passed In watching all that Hope proclaimed a mast; Sadly she sate on high—Impatience bore At last her footsteps to the midnight shore, And there she wandered, heedless of the spray That dashed her garments oft, and warned away: She saw not, felt not this—nor dared depart, Nor deemed it cold—her chill was at her heart; 1250 Till grew such certainty from that suspense— His very Sight had shocked from life or sense!

It came at last—a sad and shattered boat, Whose inmates first beheld whom first they sought; Some bleeding—all most wretched—these the few— Scarce knew they how escaped—this all they knew. In silence, darkling, each appeared to wait His fellow's mournful guess at Conrad's fate: Something they would have said; but seemed to fear To trust their accents to Medora's ear. 1260 She saw at once, yet sunk not—trembled not— Beneath that grief, that loneliness of lot, Within that meek fair form, were feelings high, That deemed not till they found their energy. While yet was Hope they softened, fluttered, wept— All lost—that Softness died not—but it slept; And o'er its slumber rose that Strength which said, "With nothing left to love, there's nought to dread." 'Tis more than Nature's—like the burning might Delirium gathers from the fever's height. 1270

"Silent you stand—nor would I hear you tell What—speak not—breathe not—for I know it well— Yet would I ask—almost my lip denies The—quick your answer—tell me where he lies."

"Lady! we know not—scarce with life we fled; But here is one denies that he is dead: He saw him bound; and bleeding—but alive."

She heard no further—'twas in vain to strive— So throbbed each vein—each thought—till then withstood; Her own dark soul—these words at once subdued: 1280 She totters—falls—and senseless had the wave Perchance but snatched her from another grave; But that with hands though rude, yet weeping eyes, They yield such aid as Pity's haste supplies:[hw] Dash o'er her deathlike cheek the ocean dew, Raise, fan, sustain—till life returns anew; Awake her handmaids, with the matrons leave That fainting form o'er which they gaze and grieve; Then seek Anselmo's cavern, to report The tale too tedious—when the triumph short. 1290


In that wild council words waxed warm and strange,[hx] With thoughts of ransom, rescue, and revenge; All, save repose or flight: still lingering there Breathed Conrad's spirit, and forbade despair; Whate'er his fate—the breasts he formed and led Will save him living, or appease him dead. Woe to his foes! there yet survive a few, Whose deeds are daring, as their hearts are true.


Within the Haram's secret chamber sate[230] Stern Seyd, still pondering o'er his Captive's fate; 1300 His thoughts on love and hate alternate dwell, Now with Gulnare, and now in Conrad's cell; Here at his feet the lovely slave reclined Surveys his brow—would soothe his gloom of mind; While many an anxious glance her large dark eye Sends in its idle search for sympathy, His only bends in seeming o'er his beads,[231] But inly views his victim as he bleeds.

"Pacha! the day is thine; and on thy crest Sits Triumph—Conrad taken—fall'n the rest! 1310 His doom is fixed—he dies; and well his fate Was earned—yet much too worthless for thy hate: Methinks, a short release, for ransom told[hy] With all his treasure, not unwisely sold; Report speaks largely of his pirate-hoard— Would that of this my Pacha were the lord! While baffled, weakened by this fatal fray— Watched—followed—he were then an easier prey; But once cut off—the remnant of his band Embark their wealth, and seek a safer strand." 1320

"Gulnare!—if for each drop of blood a gem Where offered rich as Stamboul's diadem; If for each hair of his a massy mine Of virgin ore should supplicating shine; If all our Arab tales divulge or dream Of wealth were here—that gold should not redeem! It had not now redeemed a single hour, But that I know him fettered, in my power; And, thirsting for revenge, I ponder still On pangs that longest rack—and latest kill." 1330

"Nay, Seyd! I seek not to restrain thy rage, Too justly moved for Mercy to assuage; My thoughts were only to secure for thee His riches—thus released, he were not free: Disabled—shorn of half his might and band, His capture could but wait thy first command."

"His capture could!—and shall I then resign One day to him—the wretch already mine? Release my foe!—at whose remonstrance?—thine! Fair suitor!—to thy virtuous gratitude, 1340 That thus repays this Giaour's relenting mood, Which thee and thine alone of all could spare— No doubt, regardless—if the prize were fair— My thanks and praise alike are due—now hear! I have a counsel for thy gentler ear: I do mistrust thee, Woman! and each word Of thine stamps truth on all Suspicion heard.[hz] Borne in his arms through fire from yon Serai— Say, wert thou lingering there with him to fly? Thou need'st not answer—thy confession speaks, 1350 Already reddening on thy guilty cheeks: Then—lovely Dame—bethink thee! and beware: 'Tis not his life alone may claim such care! Another word and—nay—I need no more. Accursed was the moment when he bore Thee from the flames, which better far—but no— I then had mourned thee with a lover's woe— Now 'tis thy lord that warns—deceitful thing! Know'st thou that I can clip thy wanton wing? In words alone I am not wont to chafe: 1360 Look to thyself—nor deem thy falsehood safe!"

He rose—and slowly, sternly thence withdrew, Rage in his eye, and threats in his adieu: Ah! little recked that Chief of womanhood— Which frowns ne'er quelled, nor menaces subdued; And little deemed he what thy heart, Gulnare! When soft could feel—and when incensed could dare! His doubts appeared to wrong—nor yet she knew How deep the root from whence Compassion grew— She was a slave—from such may captives claim 1370 A fellow-feeling, differing but in name; Still half unconscious—heedless of his wrath, Again she ventured on the dangerous path, Again his rage repelled—until arose That strife of thought, the source of Woman's woes!


Meanwhile—long—anxious—weary—still the same Rolled day and night: his soul could Terror tame— This fearful interval of doubt and dread, When every hour might doom him worse than dead;[ia] When every step that echoed by the gate, 1380 Might entering lead where axe and stake await; When every voice that grated on his ear Might be the last that he could ever hear; Could Terror tame—that Spirit stern and high Had proved unwilling as unfit to die; 'Twas worn—perhaps decayed—yet silent bore That conflict, deadlier far than all before: The heat of fight, the hurry of the gale, Leave scarce one thought inert enough to quail: But bound and fixed in fettered solitude, 1390 To pine, the prey of every changing mood; To gaze on thine own heart—and meditate Irrevocable faults, and coming fate— Too late the last to shun—the first to mend— To count the hours that struggle to thine end, With not a friend to animate and tell To other ears that Death became thee well; Around thee foes to forge the ready lie, And blot Life's latest scene with calumny; Before thee tortures, which the Soul can dare, 1400 Yet doubts how well the shrinking flesh may bear; But deeply feels a single cry would shame, To Valour's praise thy last and dearest claim; The life thou leav'st below, denied above By kind monopolists of heavenly love; And more than doubtful Paradise—thy Heaven Of earthly hope—thy loved one from thee riven. Such were the thoughts that outlaw must sustain, And govern pangs surpassing mortal pain: And those sustained he—boots it well or ill? 1410 Since not to sink beneath, is something still!


The first day passed—he saw not her—Gulnare— The second, third—and still she came not there; But what her words avouched, her charms had done, Or else he had not seen another Sun. The fourth day rolled along, and with the night Came storm and darkness in their mingling might. Oh! how he listened to the rushing deep, That ne'er till now so broke upon his sleep; And his wild Spirit wilder wishes sent, 1420 Roused by the roar of his own element! Oft had he ridden on that winged wave, And loved its roughness for the speed it gave; And now its dashing echoed on his ear, A long known voice—alas! too vainly near! Loud sung the wind above; and, doubly loud, Shook o'er his turret cell the thunder-cloud;[232] And flashed the lightning by the latticed bar, To him more genial than the Midnight Star: Close to the glimmering grate he dragged his chain, 1430 And hoped that peril might not prove in vain. He rais'd his iron hand to Heaven, and prayed One pitying flash to mar the form it made: His steel and impious prayer attract alike— The storm rolled onward, and disdained to strike; Its peal waxed fainter—ceased—he felt alone, As if some faithless friend had spurned his groan!


The midnight passed, and to the massy door A light step came—it paused—it moved once more; Slow turns the grating bolt and sullen key: 1440 'Tis as his heart foreboded—that fair She! Whate'er her sins, to him a Guardian Saint, And beauteous still as hermit's hope can paint; Yet changed since last within that cell she came, More pale her cheek, more tremulous her frame: On him she cast her dark and hurried eye, Which spoke before her accents—"Thou must die! Yes, thou must die—there is but one resource, The last—the worst—if torture were not worse."

"Lady! I look to none; my lips proclaim 1450 What last proclaimed they—Conrad still the same: Why should'st thou seek an outlaw's life to spare, And change the sentence I deserve to bear? Well have I earned—nor here alone—the meed Of Seyd's revenge, by many a lawless deed."

"Why should I seek? because—Oh! did'st thou not Redeem my life from worse than Slavery's lot? Why should I seek?—hath Misery made thee blind To the fond workings of a woman's mind? And must I say?—albeit my heart rebel 1460 With all that Woman feels, but should not tell— Because—despite thy crimes—that heart is moved: It feared thee—thanked thee—pitied—maddened—loved. Reply not, tell not now thy tale again, Thou lov'st another—and I love in vain: Though fond as mine her bosom, form more fair, I rush through peril which she would not dare. If that thy heart to hers were truly dear, Were I thine own—thou wert not lonely here: An outlaw's spouse—and leave her Lord to roam! 1470 What hath such gentle dame to do with home? But speak not now—o'er thine and o'er my head Hangs the keen sabre by a single thread;[ib] If thou hast courage still, and would'st be free, Receive this poniard—rise and follow me!"

"Aye—in my chains! my steps will gently tread, With these adornments, o'er such slumbering head! Thou hast forgot—is this a garb for flight? Or is that instrument more fit for fight?"

"Misdoubting Corsair! I have gained the guard, 1480 Ripe for revolt, and greedy for reward. A single word of mine removes that chain: Without some aid how here could I remain? Well, since we met, hath sped my busy time, If in aught evil, for thy sake the crime: The crime—'tis none to punish those of Seyd. That hatred tyrant, Conrad—he must bleed! I see thee shudder, but my soul is changed— Wronged—spurned—reviled—and it shall be avenged— Accused of what till now my heart disdained— 1490 Too faithful, though to bitter bondage chained. Yes, smile!—but he had little cause to sneer, I was not treacherous then, nor thou too dear: But he has said it—and the jealous well,— Those tyrants—teasing—tempting to rebel,— Deserve the fate their fretting lips foretell. I never loved—he bought me—somewhat high— Since with me came a heart he could not buy. I was a slave unmurmuring; he hath said, But for his rescue I with thee had fled. 1500 'Twas false thou know'st—but let such Augurs rue, Their words are omens Insult renders true. Nor was thy respite granted to my prayer; This fleeting grace was only to prepare New torments for thy life, and my despair. Mine too he threatens; but his dotage still Would fain reserve me for his lordly will: When wearier of these fleeting charms and me, There yawns the sack—and yonder rolls the sea! What, am I then a toy for dotard's play, 1510 To wear but till the gilding frets away? I saw thee—loved thee—owe thee all—would save, If but to show how grateful is a slave. But had he not thus menaced fame and life,— And well he keeps his oaths pronounced in strife— I still had saved thee—but the Pacha spared: Now I am all thine own—for all prepared: Thou lov'st me not—nor know'st—or but the worst. Alas! this love—that hatred—are the first— Oh! could'st thou prove my truth, thou would'st not start, 1520 Nor fear the fire that lights an Eastern heart; 'Tis now the beacon of thy safety—now It points within the port a Mainote prow: But in one chamber, where our path must lead, There sleeps—he must not wake—the oppressor Seyd!"

"Gulnare—Gulnare—I never felt till now My abject fortune, withered fame so low: Seyd is mine enemy; had swept my band From earth with ruthless but with open hand, And therefore came I, in my bark of war, 1530 To smite the smiter with the scimitar; Such is my weapon—not the secret knife; Who spares a Woman's seeks not Slumber's life. Thine saved I gladly, Lady—not for this; Let me not deem that mercy shown amiss. Now fare thee well—more peace be with thy breast! Night wears apace, my last of earthly rest!"[ic]

"Rest! rest! by sunrise must thy sinews shake, And thy limbs writhe around the ready stake, I heard the order—saw—I will not see— 1540 If thou wilt perish, I will fall with thee. My life—my love—my hatred—all below Are on this cast—Corsair! 'tis but a blow! Without it flight were idle—how evade His sure pursuit?—my wrongs too unrepaid, My youth disgraced—the long, long wasted years, One blow shall cancel with our future fears; But since the dagger suits thee less than brand, I'll try the firmness of a female hand. The guards are gained—one moment all were o'er— 1550 Corsair! we meet in safety or no more; If errs my feeble hand, the morning cloud Will hover o'er thy scaffold, and my shroud."


She turned, and vanished ere he could reply, But his glance followed far with eager eye; And gathering, as he could, the links that bound His form, to curl their length, and curb their sound, Since bar and bolt no more his steps preclude, He, fast as fettered limbs allow, pursued. 'Twas dark and winding, and he knew not where 1560 That passage led; nor lamp nor guard was there: He sees a dusky glimmering—shall he seek Or shun that ray so indistinct and weak? Chance guides his steps—a freshness seems to bear Full on his brow as if from morning air; He reached an open gallery—on his eye Gleamed the last star of night, the clearing sky: Yet scarcely heeded these—another light From a lone chamber struck upon his sight. Towards it he moved; a scarcely closing door 1570 Revealed the ray within, but nothing more. With hasty step a figure outward passed, Then paused, and turned—and paused—'tis She at last! No poniard in that hand, nor sign of ill— "Thanks to that softening heart—she could not kill!" Again he looked, the wildness of her eye Starts from the day abrupt and fearfully. She stopped—threw back her dark far-floating hair, That nearly veiled her face and bosom fair, As if she late had bent her leaning head 1580 Above some object of her doubt or dread. They meet—upon her brow—unknown—forgot— Her hurrying hand had left—'twas but a spot— Its hue was all he saw, and scarce withstood— Oh! slight but certain pledge of crime—'tis Blood!


He had seen battle—he had brooded lone O'er promised pangs to sentenced Guilt foreshown; He had been tempted—chastened—and the chain Yet on his arms might ever there remain: But ne'er from strife—captivity—remorse— 1590 From all his feelings in their inmost force— So thrilled, so shuddered every creeping vein, As now they froze before that purple stain. That spot of blood, that light but guilty streak, Had banished all the beauty from her cheek! Blood he had viewed—could view unmoved—but then It flowed in combat, or was shed by men![id]


"'Tis done—he nearly waked—but it is done. Corsair! he perished—thou art dearly won. All words would now be vain—away—away! 1600 Our bark is tossing—'tis already day. The few gained over, now are wholly mine, And these thy yet surviving band shall join: Anon my voice shall vindicate my hand, When once our sail forsakes this hated strand."


She clapped her hands, and through the gallery pour, Equipped for flight, her vassals—Greek and Moor; Silent but quick they stoop, his chains unbind; Once more his limbs are free as mountain wind! But on his heavy heart such sadness sate, 1610 As if they there transferred that iron weight. No words are uttered—at her sign, a door Reveals the secret passage to the shore; The city lies behind—they speed, they reach The glad waves dancing on the yellow beach; And Conrad following, at her beck, obeyed, Nor cared he now if rescued or betrayed; Resistance were as useless as if Seyd Yet lived to view the doom his ire decreed.


Embarked—the sail unfurled—the light breeze blew— 1620 How much had Conrad's memory to review![ie] Sunk he in contemplation, till the Cape Where last he anchored reared its giant shape. Ah!—since that fatal night, though brief the time, Had swept an age of terror, grief, and crime. As its far shadow frowned above the mast, He veiled his face, and sorrowed as he passed; He thought of all—Gonsalvo and his band, His fleeting triumph and his failing hand; He thought on her afar, his lonely bride: 1630 He turned and saw—Gulnare, the Homicide!


She watched his features till she could not bear Their freezing aspect and averted air; And that strange fierceness foreign to her eye Fell quenched in tears, too late to shed or dry.[if] She knelt beside him and his hand she pressed, "Thou may'st forgive though Allah's self detest; But for that deed of darkness what wert thou? Reproach me—but not yet—Oh! spare me now! I am not what I seem—this fearful night 1640 My brain bewildered—do not madden quite! If I had never loved—though less my guilt— Thou hadst not lived to—hate me—if thou wilt."


She wrongs his thoughts—they more himself upbraid Than her—though undesigned—the wretch he made; But speechless all, deep, dark, and unexprest, They bleed within that silent cell—his breast. Still onward, fair the breeze, nor rough the surge, The blue waves sport around the stern they urge; Far on the Horizon's verge appears a speck, 1650 A spot—a mast—a sail—an armed deck! Their little bark her men of watch descry, And ampler canvass woos the wind from high; She bears her down majestically near, Speed on her prow, and terror in her tier;[ig][233] A flash is seen—the ball beyond her bow Booms harmless, hissing to the deep below. Up rose keen Conrad from his silent trance, A long, long absent gladness in his glance; "'Tis mine—my blood-rag flag! again—again— 1660 I am not all deserted on the main!" They own the signal, answer to the hail, Hoist out the boat at once, and slacken sail. "'Tis Conrad! Conrad!" shouting from the deck, Command nor Duty could their transport check! With light alacrity and gaze of Pride, They view him mount once more his vessel's side; A smile relaxing in each rugged face, Their arms can scarce forbear a rough embrace. He, half forgetting danger and defeat, 1670 Returns their greeting as a Chief may greet, Wrings with a cordial grasp Anselmo's hand, And feels he yet can conquer and command!


These greetings o'er, the feelings that o'erflow, Yet grieve to win him back without a blow; They sailed prepared for vengeance—had they known A woman's hand secured that deed her own, She were their Queen—less scrupulous are they Than haughty Conrad how they win their way. With many an asking smile, and wondering stare, 1680 They whisper round, and gaze upon Gulnare; And her, at once above—beneath her sex, Whom blood appalled not, their regards perplex.[ih] To Conrad turns her faint imploring eye, She drops her veil, and stands in silence by; Her arms are meekly folded on that breast, Which—Conrad safe—to Fate resigned the rest. Though worse than frenzy could that bosom fill, Extreme in love or hate, in good or ill, The worst of crimes had left her Woman still! 1690


This Conrad marked, and felt—ah! could he less?— Hate of that deed—but grief for her distress; What she has done no tears can wash away, And Heaven must punish on its angry day: But—it was done: he knew, whate'er her guilt, For him that poniard smote, that blood was spilt; And he was free!—and she for him had given Her all on earth, and more than all in heaven![234] And now he turned him to that dark-eyed slave Whose brow was bowed beneath the glance he gave, 1700 Who now seemed changed and humbled, faint and meek, But varying oft the colour of her cheek To deeper shades of paleness—all its red That fearful spot which stained it from the dead! He took that hand—it trembled—now too late— So soft in love—so wildly nerved in hate; He clasped that hand—it trembled—and his own Had lost its firmness, and his voice its tone. "Gulnare!"—but she replied not—"dear Gulnare!"[ii] She raised her eye—her only answer there— 1710 At once she sought and sunk in his embrace: If he had driven her from that resting-place, His had been more or less than mortal heart, But—good or ill—it bade her not depart. Perchance, but for the bodings of his breast, His latest virtue then had joined the rest. Yet even Medora might forgive the kiss[ij] That asked from form so fair no more than this, The first, the last that Frailty stole from Faith— To lips where Love had lavished all his breath, 1720 To lips—whose broken sighs such fragrance fling, As he had fanned them freshly with his wing![ik]


They gain by twilight's hour their lonely isle. To them the very rocks appear to smile; The haven hums with many a cheering sound, The beacons blaze their wonted stations round, The boats are darting o'er the curly bay, And sportive Dolphins bend them through the spray; Even the hoarse sea-bird's shrill, discordant shriek, Greets like the welcome of his tuneless beak! 1730 Beneath each lamp that through its lattice gleams, Their fancy paints the friends that trim the beams. Oh! what can sanctify the joys of home, Like Hope's gay glance from Ocean's troubled foam?[il]


The lights are high on beacon and from bower, And 'midst them Conrad seeks Medora's tower: He looks in vain—'tis strange—and all remark, Amid so many, hers alone is dark. 'Tis strange—of yore its welcome never failed, Nor now, perchance, extinguished—only veiled. 1740 With the first boat descends he for the shore, And looks impatient on the lingering oar. Oh! for a wing beyond the falcon's flight, To bear him like an arrow to that height! With the first pause the resting rowers gave, He waits not—looks not—leaps into the wave, Strives through the surge, bestrides the beach, and high Ascends the path familiar to his eye.

He reached his turret door—he paused—no sound Broke from within; and all was night around. 1750 He knocked, and loudly—footstep nor reply Announced that any heard or deemed him nigh: He knocked, but faintly—for his trembling hand Refused to aid his heavy heart's demand. The portal opens—'tis a well known face— But not the form he panted to embrace. Its lips are silent—twice his own essayed, And failed to frame the question they delayed; He snatched the lamp—its light will answer all— It quits his grasp, expiring in the fall. 1760 He would not wait for that reviving ray— As soon could he have lingered there for day; But, glimmering through the dusky corridor, Another chequers o'er the shadowed floor; His steps the chamber gain—his eyes behold All that his heart believed not—yet foretold!


He turned not—spoke not—sunk not—fixed his look, And set the anxious frame that lately shook: He gazed—how long we gaze despite of pain, And know, but dare not own, we gaze in vain! 1770 In life itself she was so still and fair, That Death with gentler aspect withered there; And the cold flowers[235] her colder hand contained, In that last grasp as tenderly were strained As if she scarcely felt, but feigned a sleep— And made it almost mockery yet to weep: The long dark lashes fringed her lids of snow, And veiled—Thought shrinks from all that lurked below—Oh! o'er the eye Death most exerts his might,[236] And hurls the Spirit from her throne of light; 1780 Sinks those blue orbs in that long last eclipse, But spares, as yet, the charm around her lips— Yet, yet they seem as they forebore to smile, And wished repose,—but only for a while; But the white shroud, and each extended tress, Long, fair—but spread in utter lifelessness, Which, late the sport of every summer wind, Escaped the baffled wreath that strove to bind;[im] These—and the pale pure cheek, became the bier— But She is nothing—wherefore is he here? 1790


He asked no question—all were answered now By the first glance on that still, marble brow.[in] It was enough—she died—what recked it how? The love of youth, the hope of better years, The source of softest wishes, tenderest fears, The only living thing he could not hate, Was reft at once—and he deserved his fate, But did not feel it less;—the Good explore, For peace, those realms where Guilt can never soar: The proud, the wayward—who have fixed below 1800 Their joy, and find this earth enough for woe, Lose in that one their all—perchance a mite— But who in patience parts with all delight? Full many a stoic eye and aspect stern Mask hearts where Grief hath little left to learn; And many a withering thought lies hid, not lost, In smiles that least befit who wear them most.


By those, that deepest feel, is ill exprest The indistinctness of the suffering breast; Where thousand thoughts begin to end in one, 1810 Which seeks from all the refuge found in none; No words suffice the secret soul to show, For Truth denies all eloquence to Woe. On Conrad's stricken soul Exhaustion prest, And Stupor almost lulled it into rest; So feeble now—his mother's softness crept To those wild eyes, which like an infant's wept: It was the very weakness of his brain, Which thus confessed without relieving pain. None saw his trickling tears—perchance, if seen, 1820 That useless flood of grief had never been: Nor long they flowed—he dried them to depart, In helpless—hopeless—brokenness of heart: The Sun goes forth, but Conrad's day is dim: And the night cometh—ne'er to pass from him.[io] There is no darkness like the cloud of mind, On Grief's vain eye—the blindest of the blind! Which may not—dare not see—but turns aside To blackest shade—nor will endure a guide!


His heart was formed for softness—warped to wrong, 1830 Betrayed too early, and beguiled too long; Each feeling pure—as falls the dropping dew Within the grot—like that had hardened too; Less clear, perchance, its earthly trials passed, But sunk, and chilled, and petrified at last.[238] Yet tempests wear, and lightning cleaves the rock; If such his heart, so shattered it the shock. There grew one flower beneath its rugged brow, Though dark the shade—it sheltered—saved till now. The thunder came—that bolt hath blasted both, 1840 The Granite's firmness, and the Lily's growth: The gentle plant hath left no leaf to tell Its tale, but shrunk and withered where it fell; And of its cold protector, blacken round But shivered fragments on the barren ground!


'Tis morn—to venture on his lonely hour Few dare; though now Anselmo sought his tower. He was not there, nor seen along the shore; Ere night, alarmed, their isle is traversed o'er: Another morn—another bids them seek, 1850 And shout his name till Echo waxeth weak; Mount—grotto—cavern—valley searched in vain, They find on shore a sea-boat's broken chain: Their hope revives—they follow o'er the main. 'Tis idle all—moons roll on moons away, And Conrad comes not, came not since that day: Nor trace nor tidings of his doom declare Where lives his grief, or perished his despair! Long mourned his band whom none could mourn beside; And fair the monument they gave his Bride: 1860 For him they raise not the recording stone— His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known; He left a Corsair's name to other times, Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.[239]


[194] {223} [This political allusion having been objected to by a friend, Byron composed a second dedication, which he sent to Moore, with a request that he would "take his choice." Moore chose the original dedication, which was accordingly prefixed to the First Edition. The alternative ran as follows:—

"January 7th, 1814.

My dear Moore,

I had written to you a long letter of dedication, which I suppress, because, though it contained something relating to you, which every one had been glad to hear, yet there was too much about politics and poesy, and all things whatsoever, ending with that topic on which most men are fluent, and none very amusing,—one's self. It might have been re-written; but to what purpose? My praise could add nothing to your well-earned and firmly established fame; and with my most hearty admiration of your talents, and delight in your conversation, you are already acquainted. In availing myself of your friendly permission to inscribe this poem to you, I can only wish the offering were as worthy your acceptance, as your regard is dear to Yours, most affectionately and faithfully, Byron."]

[195] {224} [After the words, "Scott alone," Byron had inserted, in a parenthesis, "He will excuse the 'Mr.'—we do not say Mr. Caesar."]

[196] {225} ["It is difficult to say whether we are to receive this passage as an admission or a denial of the opinion to which it refers; but Lord Byron certainly did the public injustice, if he supposed it imputed to him the criminal actions with which many of his heroes were stained. Men no more expected to meet in Lord Byron the Corsair, who 'knew himself a villain,' than they looked for the hypocrisy of Kehama on the shores of the Derwent Water; yet even in the features of Conrad, those who had looked on Lord Byron will recognize the likeness—

"'To the sight No giant frame sets forth his common height;

* * * * *

Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale The sable curls in wild profusion veil....'" Canto I. stanza ix.

—Sir Walter Scott, Quart. Rev., No. xxxi. October, 1816.]

[197] {227} The time in this poem may seem too short for the occurrences, but the whole of the AEgean isles are within a few hours' sail of the continent, and the reader must be kind enough to take the wind as I have often found it.

[198] [Compare—"Survey the region, and confess her home." Windsor Forest, by A. Pope, line 256.]

[hk] {228} Protract to age his painful doting day.—[MS. erased.]

[hl] {230} Her nation—flag—how tells the telescope.—[MS.]

[199] [Compare The Isle of Palms, by John Wilson, Canto I. (1812, p. 8)—

"She sailed amid the loveliness Like a thing with heart and mind."]

[hm] {231} Till creaks her keel upon the shallow sand.—[MS.]

[hn] {234} The haughtier thought his bosom ill conceals.—[MS.]

[ho] He had the skill when prying souls would seek, To watch his words and trace his pensive cheek.—[MS.] His was the skill when prying, etc.—[Revise.]

[200] {235} That Conrad is a character not altogether out of nature, I shall attempt to prove by some historical coincidences which I have met with since writing The Corsair.

"Eccelin, prisonnier," dit Rolandini, "s'enfermoit dans un silence menacant; il fixoit sur la terre son visage feroce, et ne donnoit point d'essor a sa profonde indignation. De toutes partes cependant les soldats et les peuples accouroient; ils vouloient voir cet homme, jadis si puissant ... et la joie universelle eclatoit de toutes partes.... Eccelino etoit d'une petite taille; mais tout l'aspect de sa personne, tous ses mouvemens, indiquoient un soldat. Son langage etoit amer, son deportement superbe, et par son seul regard, il faisoit trembler les plus hardis."—Simonde de Sismondi, Histoire des Republiques Italiennes du Moyen Age, 1809, iii. 219.

Again, "Gizericus [Genseric, king of the Vandals, the conqueror of both Carthage and Rome] ... statura mediocris, et equi casu claudicans, animo profundus, sermone ratus, luxuriae contemptor, ira turbidus, habendi cupidus, ad sollicitandas gentes providentissimus," etc., etc.—Jornandes, De Getarum Origine ("De Rebus Geticis"), cap. 33, ed. 1597, p. 92.

I beg leave to quote those gloomy realities to keep in countenance my Giaour and Corsair.—[Added to the Ninth Edition.]

[201] [Stanza x. was an after-thought. It is included in a sixth revise, in which lines 244-246 have been erased, and the present reading superscribed. A seventh revise gives the text as above.]

[hp] {236} Released but to convulse or freeze or glow! Fire in the veins, or damps upon the brow.—[MS.]

[hq] Behold his soul once seen not soon forgot! All that there burns its hour away—but sears The scathed Remembrance of long coming years.—[MS.]

[202] {237} [Lines 277-280 are not in the MS. They were inserted on a detached printed sheet, with a view to publication in the Seventh Edition.]

[hr] {238} Not Guilt itself could quench this earliest one.—[MS. erased.]

[hs] {239} Now to Francesca.—[MS.] Now to Ginevra.—[Revise of January 6, 1814.] Now to Medora.—[Revise of January 15, 1814.]

[ht] Yet heed my prayer—my latest accents hear.—[MS.]

[203] [Compare—

"He gave to Misery all he had, a tear, He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend." Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard.]

[204] {243} [For Bireno's desertion of Olympia, see] Orlando Funoso, Canto X. [stanzas 1-27].

[hu] {244} Oh! he could bear no more—but madly grasped Her form—and trembling there his own unclasped.—[MS.]

[205] {247} By night, particularly in a warm latitude, every stroke of the oar, every motion of the boat or ship, is followed by a slight flash like sheet lightning from the water.

[206] {248} [Cape Gallo is at least eight miles to the south of Corone; but Point Lividia, the promontory on which part of the town is built, can hardly be described as a "jutting cape," or as (see line 1623) a "giant shape."]

[207] {249} [Coron, or Corone, the ancient Colonides, is situated a little to the north of a promontory, Point Lividia, on the western shore of the Gulf of Kalamata, or Coron, or Messenia.

Antoine Louis Castellan (1772-1838), with whose larger work on Turkey Byron professed himself familiar (Letter to Moore, August 28, 1813), gives a vivid description of Coron and the bey's palace in his Lettres sur la Moree, etc. (first published, Paris, 1808), 3 vols., 1820. Whether Byron had or had not consulted the "Letters," the following passages may help to illustrate the scene:—

"La chaine caverneuse du Taygete s'eleve en face de Coron, a l'autre extremite du golfe" (iii. 181).

"Nous avons aussi ete faire une visite au bey, qui nous a permis de parcourir la citadelle" (p. 187).

"Le bey fait a executer en notre presence une danse singuliere, qu'on peut nommer danse pantomime" (p. 189; see line 642).

"La maison est assez bien distribuee et proprement meublee a la maniere des Turcs. La principale piece est grande, ornee d'une boisserie ciselee sur les dessins arabesques, et meme marquetee. Les fenetres donnent sur le jardin ... les volets sont ordinairement fermes, dans le milieu de la journee, et le jour ne penetre alors qu'a travers des ouvertures pratiquees, au dessus des fenetres et garnis de vitraux colores" (p. 200).

Castellan saw the palace and bay illuminated (p. 203).]

[208] {250} Coffee.

[209] "Chibouque" [chibuk], pipe.

[210] {251} Dancing girls. [Compare The Waltz, line 127, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 492, note 1.]

[211] It has been observed, that Conrad's entering disguised as a spy is out of nature. Perhaps so. I find something not unlike it in history.—"Anxious to explore with his own eyes the state of the Vandals, Majorian ventured, after disguising the colour of his hair, to visit Carthage in the character of his own ambassador; and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the Emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined unless in the life of a hero."—See Gibbon's Decline and Fall [1854, iv. 272.]

[212] {252} [On the coast of Asia Minor, twenty-one miles south of Smyrna.]

[213] [A Levantine bark—"a kind of ketch without top-gallant sail, or mizzen-top sail."]

[214] {254} [Compare the Giaour, line 343, note 2; vide ante, p. 102.]

[215] The Dervises [Dervish, Persian darvesh, poor] are in colleges, and of different orders, as the monks.

[216] {255} "Zatanai," Satan. [Probably a phonetic rendering o [Greek: satana(s).] The Turkish form would be sheytan. Compare letter to Moore, April 9, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 66, note 1.]

[217] {256} A common and not very novel effect of Mussulman anger. See Prince Eugene's Memoires, 1811, p. 6, "The Seraskier received a wound in the thigh; he plucked up his beard by the roots, because he was obliged to quit the field." ["Le seraskier est blesse a la cuisse; il s'arrache la barbe, parce qu'il est oblige de fuir." A contemporary translation (Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1811), renders "il s'arrache la barbe" he tore out the arrow.]

[218] {257} Gulnare, a female name; it means, literally, the flower of the pomegranate.

[219] {259} [The word "to" had been left out by the printer, and in a late revise Byron supplies the omission, and writes—

"To Mr. Murray or Mr. Davison.

"Do not omit words—it is quite enough to alter or mis-spell them.


In the MS. the line ran—

"To send his soul—he scarcely cared to Heaven."

"Asked" is written over in pencil, but "cared" has not been erased.]

[220] {261} [Compare—"One anarchy, one chaos of the mind." The Wanderer, by Richard Savage, Canto V. (1761, p. 86).]

[221] {262} [Compare—"That hideous sight, a naked human heart." Night Thoughts, by Edward Young (Night III.) (Anderson's British Poets, x. 71).]

[222] {263} [Compare—

"When half the world lay wrapt in sleepless night, A jarring sound the startled hero wakes. * * * * * He hears a step draw near—in beauty's pride A female comes—wide floats her glistening gown— Her hand sustains a lamp...." Wieland's Oberon, translated by W. Sotheby, Canto XII. stanza xxxi., et seq.]

[223] {265} In Sir Thomas More, for instance, on the scaffold, and Anne Boleyn, in the Tower, when, grasping her neck, she remarked, that it "was too slender to trouble the headsman much." During one part of the French Revolution, it became a fashion to leave some "mot" as a legacy; and the quantity of facetious last words spoken during that period would form a melancholy jest-book of a considerable size.

[hv] {268} I breathe but in the hope—his altered breast May seek another—and have mine at rest. Or if unwonted fondness now I feign.{A}—[MS.]

{A}[The alteration was sent to the publishers on a separate quarto sheet, with a memorandum, "In Canto first—nearly the end," etc.—a rare instance of inaccuracy on the part of the author.]

[224] {270} The opening lines, as far as section ii., have, perhaps, little business here, and were annexed to an unpublished (though printed) poem [The Curse of Minerva]; but they were written on the spot, in the Spring of 1811, and—I scarce know why—the reader must excuse their appearance here—if he can. [See letter to Murray, October 23, 1812.]

[225] [See Curse of Minerva, line 7, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 457. For Hydra, see A. L. Castellan's Lettres sur la Moree, 1820, i. 155-176. He gives (p. 174) a striking description of a sunrise off the Cape of Sunium.]

[226] {271} Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset (the hour of execution), notwithstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.

[227] The twilight in Greece is much shorter than in our own country: the days in winter are longer, but in summer of shorter duration.

[228] {272} The Kiosk is a Turkish summer house: the palm is without the present walls of Athens, not far from the temple of Theseus, between which and the tree, the wall intervenes.—Cephisus' stream is indeed scanty, and Ilissus has no stream at all.

[E. Dodwell (Classical Tour, 1819, i. 371) speaks of "a magnificent palm tree, which shoots among the ruins of the Ptolemaion," a short distance to the east of the Theseion. There is an illustration in its honour. The Theseion—which was "within five minutes' walk" of Byron's lodgings (Travels in Albania, 1858, i. 259)—contains the remains of the scholar, John Tweddell, died 1793, "over which a stone was placed, owing to the exertions of Lord Byron" (Clarke's Travels, Part II. sect. i. p. 534). When Byron died, Colonel Stanhope proposed, and the chief Odysseus decreed, that he should be buried in the same spot.—Life, p. 640.]

[229] {273} [After the battle of Salamis, B.C. 480, Paros fell under the dominion of Athens.]

[hw] {274} They gather round and each his aid supplies.—[MS.]

[hx] {275} Within that cave Debate waxed warm and strange.—[MS.] Loud in the cave Debate waxed warm and strange.— [January 6, 1814.] In that dark Council words waxed warm and strange.— [January 13, 1814.]

[230] [Lines 1299-1375 were written after the completion of the poem. They were forwarded to the publisher in time for insertion in a revise dated January 6, 1814.]

[231] The comboloio, or Mahometan rosary; the beads are in number ninety-nine. [Vide ante, p. 181, The Bride of Abydos, Canto II. line 554.]

[hy] {276} Methinks a short release by ransom wrought Of all his treasures not too cheaply bought.—[MS. erased.] Methinks a short release for ransom—gold.—[MS.]

[hz] {277} Of thine adds certainty to all I heard.—[MS.]

[ia] {278} When every coming hour might view him dead.—[MS.]

[232] ["By the way—I have a charge against you. As the great Mr. Dennis roared out on a similar occasion—'By G-d, that is my thunder!' so do I exclaim, 'This is my lightning!' I allude to a speech of Ivan's, in the scene with Petrowna and the Empress, where the thought and almost expression are similar to Conrad's in the 3d canto of The Corsair. I, however, do not say this to accuse you, but to exempt myself from suspicion, as there is a priority of six months' publication, on my part, between the appearance of that composition and of your tragedies" (Letter to W. Sotheby, September 25, 1815, Letters, 1899, iii. 219). The following are the lines in question:—

"And I have leapt In transport from my flinty couch, to welcome The thunder as it burst upon my roof, And beckon'd to the lightning, as it flash'd And sparkled on these fetters." Act iv. sc. 3 (Ivan, 1816, p. 64).

According to Moore, this passage in The Corsair, as Byron seemed to fear, was included by "some scribblers"—i.e. the "lumbering Goth" (see John Bull's Letter), A. A. Watts, in the Literary Gazette, February and March, 1821—among his supposed plagiarisms. Sotheby informed Moore that his lines had been written, though not published, before the appearance of the Corsair. The Confession, and Orestes, reappeared with three hitherto unpublished tragedies, Ivan, The Death of Darnley, and Zamorin and Zama, under the general title, Five Unpublished Tragedies, in 1814.

The story of the critic John Dennis (1657-1734) and the "thunder" is related in Cibber's Lives, iv. 234. Dennis was, or feigned to be, the inventor of a new method of producing stage-thunder, by troughs of wood and stops. Shortly after a play (Appius and Virginia) which he had put upon the stage had been withdrawn, he was present at a performance of Macbeth, at which the new "thunder" was inaugurated. "That is my thunder, by God!" exclaimed Dennis. "The villains will play my thunder, but not my plays."—Dict. Nat. Biog., art. "Dennis."]

[ib] {282} But speak not now—on thine and on my head O'erhangs the sabre——.—[MS.]

[ic] {284} Night wears apace—and I have need of rest.—[MS.]

[id] {286} A variant of lines 1596, 1597 first appeared in MS. in a revise numbering 1780 lines—

Blood he had viewed, could view unmoved—but then It reddened on the scarfs and swords of men.

In a later revise line 1597 was altered to—

It flowed a token of the deeds of men.

[ie] {287} His silent thoughts the present, past review.—[MS. erased.]

[if] Fell quenched in tears of more than misery.—[MS.]

[ig] {288} They count the Dragon-teeth around her tier.—[MS.]

[233] ["Tier" must stand for "hold." The "cable-tier" is the place in the hold where the cable is stowed.]

[ih] {289} Whom blood appalled not, their rude eyes perplex.—[MS. erased.]

[234] [Compare—

"And I the cause—for whom were given Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven." Marmion, Canto III. stanza xvii. lines 9, 10.]

[ii] {290} "Gulnare"—she answered not again—"Gulnare" She raised her glance—her sole reply was there.—[M.S.]

[ij] That sought from form so fair no more than this That kiss—the first that Frailty wrung from Faith That last—on lips so warm with rosy breath.—[MS. erased.]

[ik] As he had fanned them with his rosy wing.—[MS.]

[il] {291} Oh! none so prophesy the joys of home As they who hail it from the Ocean-foam.—[MS.] Oh—what can sanctify the joys of home Like the first glance from Ocean's troubled foam.—[Revise.]

[235] {292} In the Levant it is the custom to strew flowers on the bodies of the dead, and in the hands of young persons to place a nosegay.

[Compare—"There shut it inside the sweet cold hand." Evelyn Hope, by Robert Browning.]

[236] {293} [Compare—"And—but for that sad shrouded eye," etc. and the whole of the famous passage in the Giaour (line 68, sq., vide ante, p. 88), beginning—"He who hath bent him o'er the dead."]

[im] Escaped the idle braid that could not bind.—[MS.]

[in] By the first glance on that cold soulless brow.—[MS.]

[io] {294} And the night cometh—'tis the same to him.—[M.S.]

[237] [Stanza xxiii. is not in the MS. It was forwarded on a separate sheet, with the following directions:—(1814, January 10, 11.) "Let the following lines be sent immediately, and form the last section (number it) but one of the 3^rd^ (last) Canto."]

[238] {295} [Byron had, perhaps, explored the famous stalactite cavern in the island of Anti-Paros, which is described by Tournefort, Clarke, Choiseul-Gouffier, and other travellers.]

[239] {296} That the point of honour which is represented in one instance of Conrad's character has not been carried beyond the bounds of probability, may perhaps be in some degree confirmed by the following anecdote of a brother buccaneer in the year 1814:—"Our readers have all seen the account of the enterprise against the pirates of Barataria; but few, we believe, were informed of the situation, history, or nature of that establishment. For the information of such as were unacquainted with it, we have procured from a friend the following interesting narrative of the main facts, of which he has personal knowledge, and which cannot fail to interest some of our readers:—Barataria is a bayou, or a narrow arm of the Gulf of Mexico; it runs through a rich but very flat country, until it reaches within a mile of the Mississippi river, fifteen miles below the city of New Orleans. This bayou has branches almost innumerable, in which persons can lie concealed from the severest scrutiny. It communicates with three lakes which lie on the south-west side, and these, with the lake of the same name, and which lies contiguous to the sea, where there is an island formed by the two arms of this lake and the sea. The east and west points of this island were fortified, in the year 1811, by a band of pirates, under the command of one Monsieur La Fitte. A large majority of these outlaws are of that class of the population of the state of Louisiana who fled from the island of St. Domingo during the troubles there, and took refuge in the island of Cuba; and when the last war between France and Spain commenced, they were compelled to leave that island with the short notice of a few days. Without ceremony they entered the United States, the most of them the state of Louisiana, with all the negroes they had possessed in Cuba. They were notified by the Governor of that State of the clause in the constitution which forbade the importation of slaves; but, at the same time, received the assurance of the Governor that he would obtain, if possible, the approbation of the General Government for their retaining this property.—The island of Barataria is situated about lat. 29 deg. 15 min., lon. 92. 30.; and is as remarkable for its health as for the superior scale and shell fish with which its waters abound. The chief of this horde, like Charles de Moor, had, mixed with his many vices, some transcendant virtues. In the year 1813, this party had, from its turpitude and boldness, claimed the attention of the Governor of Louisiana; and to break up the establishment he thought proper to strike at the head. He therefore, offered a reward of 500 dollars for the head of Monsieur La Fitte, who was well known to the inhabitants of the city of New Orleans, from his immediate connection, and his once having been a fencing-master in that city of great reputation, which art he learnt in Buonaparte's army, where he was a captain. The reward which was offered by the Governor for the head of La Fitte was answered by the offer of a reward from the latter of 15,000 for the head of the Governor. The Governor ordered out a company to march from the city to La Fitte's island, and to burn and destroy all the property, and to bring to the city of New Orleans all his banditti. This company, under the command of a man who had been the intimate associate of this bold Captain, approached very near to the fortified island, before he saw a man, or heard a sound, until he heard a whistle, not unlike a boatswain's call. Then it was he found himself surrounded by armed men who had emerged from the secret avenues which led to this bayou. Here it was that this modern Charles de Moor developed his few noble traits; for to this man, who had come to destroy his life and all that was dear to him, he not only spared his life, but offered him that which would have made the honest soldier easy for the remainder of his days, which was indignantly refused. He then, with the approbation of his captor, returned to the city. This circumstance, and some concomitant events, proved that this band of pirates was not to be taken by land. Our naval force having always been small in that quarter, exertions for the destruction of this illicit establishment could not be expected from them until augmented; for an officer of the navy, with most of the gun-boats on that station, had to retreat from an overwhelming force of La Fitte's. So soon as the augmentation of the navy authorised an attack, one was made; the overthrow of this banditti has been the result: and now this almost invulnerable point and key to New Orleans is clear of an enemy, it is to be hoped the government will hold it by a strong military force."—American Newspaper.

[The story of the "Pirates of Barataria," which an American print, the National Intelligencer, was the first to make public, is quoted in extenso by the Weekly Messenger (published at Boston) of November 4, 1814. It is remarkable that a tale which was destined to pass into the domain of historical romance should have been instantly seized upon and turned to account by Byron, whilst it was as yet half-told, while the legend was still in the making. Jean Lafitte, the Franco-American Conrad, was born either at Bayonne or Bordeaux, circ. 1780, emigrated with his elder brother Pierre, and settled at New Orleans, in 1809, as a blacksmith. Legitimate trade was flat, but the delta of the Mississippi, with its labyrinth of creeks and islands and bayous, teemed with pirates or merchant-smugglers. Accordingly, under the nominal sanction of letters of marque from the Republic of Cartagena, and as belligerents of Spain, the brothers, who had taken up their quarters on Grande Terre, an island to the east of the "Grand Pass," or channel of the Bay of Barataria, swept the Gulph of Mexico with an organised flotilla of privateers, and acquired vast booty in the way of specie and living cargoes of claves. Hence the proclamation of the Governor of Louisiana, W. C. C. Claiborne, in which (November 24, 1813) he offered a sum of $500 for the capture of Jean Lafitte. For the sequel of this first act of the drama the "American newspaper" is the sole authority. The facts, however, if facts they be, which are pieced together by Charles Etienne Arthur Gayarre, in the History of Louisiana (1885, iv. 301, sq.), and in two articles contributed to the American Magazine of History, October and November, 1883, are as curious and romantic as the legend. It would appear that early in September, 1814, a British officer, Colonel E. Nicholls, made overtures to Jean Lafitte, offering him the rank of captain in the British army, a grant of lands, and a sum of $30,000 if he would join forces with the British squadron then engaged in an attack on the coast of Louisiana. Lafitte begged for time to consider Colonel Nicholls's proposal, but immediately put himself in communication with Claiborne, offering, on condition of immunity for past offences, to place his resources at the disposal of the United States. Claiborne's reply to this patriotic offer seems to have been to despatch a strong naval force, under Commander Daniel Patterson, with orders to exterminate the pirates, and seize their fort on Grande Terre; and, on this occasion, though the brothers escaped, the authorities were successful. A proclamation was issued by General Andrew Jackson, in which the pirates were denounced as "hellish banditti," and, to all appearances, their career was at an end. But circumstances were in their favour, and a few weeks later Jackson not only went back on his own mandate, but accepted the alliance and services of the brothers Lafitte and their captains at the siege of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. Finally, when peace with Great Britain was concluded, President Madison publicly acknowledged the "unequivocal traits of courage and fidelity" which had been displayed by the brothers Lafitte, and the once proscribed band of outlaws. Thenceforth Pierre Lafitte disappears from history; but Jean is believed to have settled first at Galveston, in Texas, and afterwards, in 1820, on the coast of Yucatan, whence "he continued his depredations on Spanish commerce." He died game, a pirate to the last, in 1826. See, for what purports to be documentary evidence of the correspondence between Colonel E. Nicholls and Jean Lafitte, Historical Memoirs of the War in West Florida and Louisiana, by Major A. La Carriere Latour, 1816, Appendix III. pp. vii.-xv. See, too, Fernando de Lemos (an historical novel), by Charles Gayarre, 1872, pp. 347-361.]

In [the Rev. Mark] Noble's continuation of "Granger's Biographical History" [of England, 1806, iii. 68], there is a singular passage in his account of Archbishop Blackbourne [1658-1743]; and as in some measure connected with the profession of the hero of the foregoing poem, I cannot resist the temptation of extracting it.—"There is something mysterious in the history and character of Dr. Blackbourne. The former is but imperfectly known; and report has even asserted he was a buccaneer; and that one of his brethren in that profession having asked, on his arrival in England, what had become of his old chum, Blackbourne, was answered, he is Archbishop of York. We are informed, that Blackbourne was installed sub-dean of Exeter in 1694, which office he resigned in 1702; but after his successor Lewis Barnet's death, in 1704, he regained it. In the following year he became dean; and in 1714 held with it the archdeanery [i.e. archdeaconry] of Cornwall. He was consecrated Bishop of Exeter, February 24, 1716; and translated to York, November 28, 1724, as a reward, according to court scandal, for uniting George I. to the Duchess of Munster. This, however, appears to have been an unfounded calumny. As archbishop he behaved with great prudence, and was equally respectable as the guardian of the revenues of the see. Rumour whispered he retained the vices of his youth, and that a passion for the fair sex formed an item in the list of his weaknesses; but so far from being convicted by seventy witnesses, he does not appear to have been directly criminated by one. In short, I look upon these aspersions as the effects of mere malice. How is it possible a buccaneer should have been so good a scholar as Blackbourne certainly was? He who had so perfect a knowledge of the classics (particularly of the Greek tragedians), as to be able to read them with the same ease as he could Shakespeare, must have taken great pains to acquire the learned languages; and have had both leisure and good masters. But he was undoubtedly educated at Christ-church College, Oxford. He is allowed to have been a pleasant man; this, however, was turned against him, by its being said, 'he gained more hearts than souls.'"

[Walpole, in his Memoirs of the Reign of King George II., 1847, i. 87, who makes himself the mouthpiece of these calumnies, says that Hayter, Bishop of Norwich, was "a natural son of Blackbourne, the jolly old Archbishop of York, who had all the manners of a man of quality, though he had been a Buccaneer, and was a clergyman; but he retained nothing of his first profession except his seraglio."]

* * * * *

"The only voice that could soothe the passions of the savage (Alphonso III.) was that of an amiable and virtuous wife, the sole object of his love; the voice of Donna Isabella, the daughter of the Duke of Savoy, and the grand-daughter of Philip II. King of Spain. Her dying words sunk deep into his memory [A.D. 1626, August 22]; his fierce spirit melted into tears; and, after the last embrace, Alphonso retired into his chamber to bewail his irreparable loss, and to meditate on the vanity of human life."—Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works [1837, p. 831].

[This final note was added to the Tenth Edition.]



"Expende Annibalem:—quot libras in duce summo Invenies?" Juvenal, [Lib. iv.] Sat. x. line 147.[241]

"The Emperor Nepos was acknowledged by the Senate, by the Italians, and by the Provincials of Gaul; his moral virtues, and military talents, were loudly celebrated; and those who derived any private benefit from his government announced in prophetic strains the restoration of the public felicity. * * By this shameful abdication, he protracted his life about five years, in a very ambiguous state, between an Emperor and an Exile, till!!!"—Gibbon's Decline and Fall, two vols. notes by Milman, i. 979.[242]


The dedication of the Corsair, dated January 2, 1814, contains one of Byron's periodical announcements that he is about, for a time, to have done with authorship—some years are to elapse before he will again "trespass on public patience."

Three months later he was, or believed himself to be, in the same mind. In a letter to Moore, dated April 9, 1814 (Letters, 1899, iii. 64), he writes, "No more rhyme for—or rather, from—me. I have taken my leave of that stage, and henceforth will mountebank it no longer." He had already—Journal, April 8 (Letters, 1898, ii. 408)—heard a rumour "that his poor little pagod, Napoleon" was "pushed off his pedestal," and before or after he began his letter to Moore he must have read an announcement in the Gazette Extraordinary (April 9, 1814—the abdication was signed April 11) that Napoleon had abdicated the "throne of the world," and declined upon the kingdom of Elba. On the next day, April 10, he wrote two notes to Murray, to inform him that he had written an "ode on the fall of Napoleon," that Murray could print it or not as he pleased; but that if it appeared by itself, it was to be published anonymously. A first edition consisting of fifteen stanzas, and numbering fourteen pages, was issued on the 16th of April, 1814. A second edition followed immediately, but as publications of less than a sheet were liable to the stamp tax on newspapers, at Murray's request, another stanza, the fifth, was inserted in a later (between the second and the twelfth) edition, and, by this means, the pamphlet was extended to seventeen pages. The concluding stanzas xvii., xviii., xix., which Moore gives in a note (Life, p. 249), were not printed in Byron's lifetime, but were first included, in a separate poem, in Murray's edition of 1831, and first appended to the Ode in the seventeen-volume edition of 1832.

Although he had stipulated that the Ode should be published anonymously, Byron had no objection to "its being said to be mine." There was, in short, no secret about it, and notices on the whole favourable appeared in the Morning Chronicle, April 21, in the Examiner, April 24 (in which Leigh Hunt combated Byron's condemnation of Buonaparte for not "dying as honour dies"), and in the Anti-Jacobin for May, 1814 (Letters, 1899, iii. 73, note 3).

Byron's repeated resolutions and promises to cease writing and publishing, which sound as if they were only made to be broken, are somewhat exasperating, and if, as he pleaded in his own behalf, the occasion (of Napoleon's abdication) was physically irresistible, it is to be regretted that he did not swerve from his self-denying ordinance to better purpose. The note of disillusionment and disappointment in the Ode is but an echo of the sentiments of the "general." Napoleon on his own "fall" is more original and more interesting: "Il ceda," writes Leonard Gallois (Histoire de Napoleon d'apres lui-meme, 1825, pp. 546, 547), "non sans de grands combats interieurs, et la dicta en ces termes.

'Les puissances alliees ayant proclame que l'empereur Napoleon etait le seul obstacle au retablissement, de la paix en Europe, l'empereur Napoleon fidele a son serment, declare qu'il renonce, pour lui et ses heritiers, aux trones de France et d'Italie, parce qu'il n'est aucun sacrifice personnel, meme celui de la vie, qu'il ne soit pret a faire a l'interet de la France.




'Tis done—but yesterday a King! And armed with Kings to strive— And now thou art a nameless thing: So abject—yet alive! Is this the man of thousand thrones, Who strewed our earth with hostile bones, And can he thus survive?[243] Since he, miscalled the Morning Star,[244] Nor man nor fiend hath fallen so far.


Ill-minded man! why scourge thy kind Who bowed so low the knee? By gazing on thyself grown blind, Thou taught'st the rest to see. With might unquestioned,—power to save,— Thine only gift hath been the grave To those that worshipped thee; Nor till thy fall could mortals guess Ambition's less than littleness!


Thanks for that lesson—it will teach To after-warriors more Than high Philosophy can preach, And vainly preached before. That spell upon the minds of men[246] Breaks never to unite again, That led them to adore Those Pagod things of sabre-sway, With fronts of brass, and feet of clay.


The triumph, and the vanity, The rapture of the strife—[247] The earthquake-voice of Victory, To thee the breath of life; The sword, the sceptre, and that sway Which man seemed made but to obey, Wherewith renown was rife— All quelled!—Dark Spirit! what must be The madness of thy memory!


The Desolator desolate![249] The Victor overthrown! The Arbiter of others' fate A Suppliant for his own! Is it some yet imperial hope That with such change can calmly cope? Or dread of death alone? To die a Prince—or live a slave— Thy choice is most ignobly brave!


He who of old would rend the oak, Dreamed not of the rebound;[250] Chained by the trunk he vainly broke— Alone—how looked he round? Thou, in the sternness of thy strength, An equal deed hast done at length. And darker fate hast found: He fell, the forest prowlers' prey; But thou must eat thy heart away!


The Roman,[251] when his burning heart Was slaked with blood of Rome, Threw down the dagger—dared depart, In savage grandeur, home.— He dared depart in utter scorn Of men that such a yoke had borne, Yet left him such a doom! His only glory was that hour Of self-upheld abandoned power.


The Spaniard, when the lust of sway Had lost its quickening spell,[252] Cast crowns for rosaries away, An empire for a cell; A strict accountant of his beads, A subtle disputant on creeds, His dotage trifled well:[253] Yet better had he neither known A bigot's shrine, nor despot's throne.


But thou—from thy reluctant hand The thunderbolt is wrung— Too late thou leav'st the high command To which thy weakness clung; All Evil Spirit as thou art, It is enough to grieve the heart To see thine own unstrung; To think that God's fair world hath been The footstool of a thing so mean;


And Earth hath spilt her blood for him, Who thus can hoard his own! And Monarchs bowed the trembling limb, And thanked him for a throne! Fair Freedom! we may hold thee dear, When thus thy mightiest foes their fear In humblest guise have shown. Oh! ne'er may tyrant leave behind A brighter name to lure mankind!


Thine evil deeds are writ in gore, Nor written thus in vain— Thy triumphs tell of fame no more, Or deepen every stain: If thou hadst died as Honour dies, Some new Napoleon might arise, To shame the world again— But who would soar the solar height, To set in such a starless night?[ip]


Weigh'd in the balance, hero dust Is vile as vulgar clay;[iq] Thy scales, Mortality! are just To all that pass away: But yet methought the living great Some higher sparks should animate, To dazzle and dismay: Nor deem'd Contempt could thus make mirth Of these, the Conquerors of the earth.


And she, proud Austria's mournful flower, Thy still imperial bride; How bears her breast the torturing hour? Still clings she to thy side? Must she too bend, must she too share Thy late repentance, long despair, Thou throneless Homicide? If still she loves thee, hoard that gem,— 'Tis worth thy vanished diadem![255]


Then haste thee to thy sullen Isle, And gaze upon the sea;[ir] That element may meet thy smile— It ne'er was ruled by thee! Or trace with thine all idle hand[is] In loitering mood upon the sand That Earth is now as free! That Corinth's pedagogue[256] hath now Transferred his by-word to thy brow.


Thou Timour! in his captive's cage[257][it] What thoughts will there be thine, While brooding in thy prisoned rage? But one—"The world was mine!" Unless, like he of Babylon,[258] All sense is with thy sceptre gone,[259] Life will not long confine That spirit poured so widely forth— So long obeyed—so little worth!


Or, like the thief of fire from heaven,[260] Wilt thou withstand the shock? And share with him, the unforgiven, His vulture and his rock! Foredoomed by God—by man accurst,[iu] And that last act, though not thy worst, The very Fiend's arch mock;[261] He in his fall preserved his pride, And, if a mortal, had as proudly died![iv][262]


There was a day—there was an hour, While earth was Gaul's—Gaul thine—[iw] When that immeasurable power Unsated to resign Had been an act of purer fame Than gathers round Marengo's name And gilded thy decline, Through the long twilight of all time, Despite some passing clouds of crime.


But thou forsooth must be a King And don the purple vest, As if that foolish robe could wring Remembrance from thy breast. Where is that faded garment? where[ix] The gewgaws thou wert fond to wear, The star, the string, the crest?[iy][263] Vain froward child of Empire! say, Are all thy playthings snatched away?


Where may the wearied eye repose[iz] When gazing on the Great; Where neither guilty glory glows, Nor despicable state? Yes—One—the first—the last—the best— The Cincinnatus of the West, Whom Envy dared not hate, Bequeathed the name of Washington, To make man blush there was but one![ja][264]


[240] {301} [ODE TO NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE. By——London: Printed for J. Murray, Albemarle Street, By W. Bulmer and Co. Cleveland-Row, St. James's, 1814.—First Proof, title-page.]

[241] [The quotation from Juvenal was added in Second Proof.

"Produce the urn that Hannibal contains, And weigh the mighty dust which yet remains; And is This All!"

"I know not that this was ever done in the old world; at least with regard to Hannibal: but in the statistical account of Scotland, I find that Sir John Paterson had the curiosity to collect and weigh the ashes of a person discovered a few years since in the parish of Eccles.... Wonderful to relate, he found the whole did not exceed in weight one ounce and a half! And is This All? Alas! the quot libras itself is a satirical exaggeration."—Gifford's Translation of Juvenal (ed. 1817), ii. 26, 27.

The motto, "Expende—Quot Libras In Duce Summo Invenies," was inscribed on one side of the silver urn presented by Byron to Walter Scott in April, 1815. (See Letters, 1899, iii. 414, Appendix IV.)]

[242] ["I send you ... an additional motto from Gibbon, which you will find singularly appropriate."—Letter to Murray, April 12, 1814, ibid., p. 68.]

[243] {305} ["I don't know—but I think I, even I (an insect compared with this creature), have set my life on casts not a millionth part of this man's. But, after all, a crown may not be worth dying for. Yet, to outlive Lodi for this!!! Oh that Juvenal or Johnson could rise from the dead! 'Expende—quot libras in duce summo invenies?' I knew they were light in the balance of mortality; but I thought their living dust weighed more carats. Alas! this imperial diamond hath a flaw in it, and is now hardly fit to stick in a glazier's pencil;—the pen of the historian won't rate it worth a ducat. Psha! 'something too much of this.' But I won't give him up even now; though all his admirers have, 'like the thanes, fallen from him.'"—Journal, April 9, 1814, Letters, 1898, ii. 409.]

[244] [Compare "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"—Isaiah xiv. 12.]

[245] {306} [Stanzas ii. and iii. were added in Proof iv.]

[246] [A "spell" may be broken, but it is difficult to understand how, like the two halves of a seal or amulet, a broken spell can "unite again."]

[247] "Certaminis gaudia"—the expression of Attila in his harangue to his army, previous to the battle of Chalons, given in Cassiodorus. ["Nisi ad certaminis hujus gaudia praeparasset."—Attilae Oratio ad Hunnos, caput xxxix., Appendix ad Opera Cassiodori, Migne, lxix. 1279.]

[248] {307} [Added in Proof v.]

[249] [The first four lines of stanza v. were quoted by "Mr. Miller in the House of Representatives of the United States," in a debate on the Militia Draft Bill (Weekly Messenger, Boston, February 10, 1815). "Take warning," he went on to say, "by this example. Bonaparte split on this rock of conscription," etc. This would have pleased Byron, who confided to his Journal, December 3, 1813 (Letters, 1898, ii. 360), that the statement that "my rhymes are very popular in the United States," was "the first tidings that have ever sounded like Fame to my ears."]

[250] ["Like Milo, he would rend the oak; but it closed again, wedged his hands, and now the beasts—lion, bear, down to the dirtiest jackal—may all tear him."—Journal, April 8, 1814, Letters, 1898, ii. 408. For the story of Milo and the Oak, see Valerius Maximus, Factorum, Dictorumque Memorabilium, lib. ix. cap. xii. Part II. example 9.]

[251] {308} Sylla. [We find the germ of this stanza in the Diary of the evening before it was written: "I mark this day! Napoleon Buonaparte has abdicated the throne of the world. 'Excellent well.' Methinks Sylla did better; for he revenged, and resigned in the height of his sway, red with the slaughter of his foes—the finest instance of glorious contempt of the rascals upon record. Dioclesian did well too—Amurath not amiss, had he become aught except a dervise—Charles the Fifth but so so; but Napoleon worst of all."—Journal, April 9, 1814, Letters, 1898, ii. 409.]

[252] ["Alter 'potent spell' to 'quickening spell:' the first (as Polonius says) 'is a vile phrase,' and means nothing, besides being commonplace and Rosa-Matildaish."—Letter to Murray, April 11, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 68.]

[253] {309} [Charles V. resigned the kingdom to his son Philip, circ. October, 1555, and the imperial crown to his brother Ferdinand, August 27, 1556, and entered the Jeronymite Monastery of St. Justus at Placencia in Estremadura. Before his death (September 21, 1558) he dressed himself in his shroud, was laid in his coffin, "joined in the prayers which were offered up for the rest of his soul, mingling his tears with those which his attendants shed, as if they had been celebrating a real funeral."—Robertson's Charles V., 1798, iv. 180, 205, 254.]

[ip] {310} But who would rise in brightest day To set without one parting ray?—[MS.]

[iq] ——common clay.—[First Proof.]

[254] [Added in Proof v.]

[255] {311} [Count Albert Adam de Neipperg, born 1774, an officer in the Austrian Army, and, 1811, Austrian envoy to the Court of Stockholm, was presented to Marie Louise a few days after Napoleon's abdication, became her chamberlain; and, according to the Nouvelle Biographie Universelle, "plus tard il l'epousa." The count, who is said to have been remarkably plain (he had lost an eye in a scrimmage with the French), died April 12, 1829.]

[ir] And look along the sea; That element may meet thy smile, For Albion kept it free. But gaze not on the land for there Walks crownless Power with temples bare And shakes the head at thee And Corinth's Pedagogue hath now.—[Proof ii.]

[is] Or sit thee down upon the sand And trace with thine all idle hand.— [A final correction made in Proof ii.]

[256] ["Dionysius at Corinth was yet a king to this."—Diary, April 9. Dionysius the Younger, on being for the second time banished from Syracuse, retired to Corinth (B.C. 344), where "he is said to have opened a school for teaching boys to read" (see Plut., Timal., c. 14), but not, apparently, with a view to making a living by pedagogy.—Grote's Hist. of Greece, 1872, ix. 152.]

[257] {312} The cage of Bajazet, by order of Tamerlane.

[The story of the cage is said to be a fable. After the battle of Angora, July 20, 1402, Bajazet, whose escape from prison had been planned by one of his sons, was chained during the night, and placed in a kafes (kafess), a Turkish word, which signifies either a cage or a grated room or bed. Hence the legend.—Hist. de l'Empire Othoman, par J. von Hammer-Purgstall, 1836, ii. 97.]

[it] There Timour in his captive cage.—[First Proof.]

[258] [Presumably another instance of "careless and negligent ease."]

[259] ["Have you heard that Bertrand has returned to Paris with the account of Napoleon's having lost his senses? It is a report; but, if true, I must, like Mr. Fitzgerald and Jeremiah (of lamentable memory), lay claim to prophecy."—Letter to Murray, June 14, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 95.]

[260] Prometheus.

[iu] He suffered for kind acts to men Who have not seen his like again, At least of kingly stock Since he was good, and thou but great Thou canst not quarrel with thy fate.—[First Proof, stanza x.]

[261] {313} "O! 'tis the spite of hell, the fiend's arch-mock, To lip a wanton in a secure couch, And to suppose her chaste!" Othello, act iv. sc. 1, lines 69-71.

[We believe there is no doubt of the truth of the anecdote here alluded to—of Napoleon's having found leisure for an unworthy amour, the very evening of his arrival at Fontainebleau.—Note to Edition 1832.

A consultation of numerous lives and memoirs of Napoleon has not revealed the particulars of this "unworthy amour." It is possible that Murray may have discovered the source of Byron's allusion among the papers "in the possession of one of Napoleon's generals, a friend of Miss Waldie," which were offered him "for purchase and publication," in 1815.—See Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 279.]

[iv] And—were he mortal had as proudly died,—[Alteration in First Proof.]

[262] [Of Prometheus—

"Unlike the offence, though like would be the fate— His to give life, but thine to desolate; He stole from Heaven the flame for which he fell, Whilst thine be stolen from thy native Hell."

—Attached to Proof v., April 25.]

[iw] While earth was Gallia's, Gallia thine.—[MS.]

[ix] {314} Where is that tattered——.—[MS.]

[iy] ——the laurel-circled crest.—[MS.]

[263] [Byron had recently become possessed of a "fine print" (by Raphael Morghen, after Gerard) of Napoleon in his imperial robes, which (see Journal, March 6, 1814, Letters, 1898, ii. 393, note 2) became him "as if he had been hatched in them." According to the catalogue of Morghen's works, the engraving represents "the head nearly full-face, looking to the right, crowned with laurel. He wears an enormous velvet robe embroidered with bees—hanging over it the collar and jewel of the Legion of Honour." It was no doubt this "fine print" which suggested "the star, the string [i.e. the chain of enamelled eagles], the crest."]

[iz] Where may the eye of man repose.—[MS.]

[ja] Alas! and must there be but one!—[MS.]

[264] ["The two stanzas which I now send you were, by some mistake, omitted in the copies of Lord Byron's spirited and poetical 'Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte,' already published. One of 'the devils' in Mr. Davison's employ procured a copy of this for me, and I give you the chance of first discovering them to the world.

"Your obedient servant,

"J. R."

"Yes! better to have stood the storm, A Monarch to the last! Although that heartless fireless form Had crumbled in the blast: Than stoop to drag out Life's last years, The nights of terror, days of tears For all the splendour past; Then,—after ages would have read Thy awful death with more than dread.

"A lion in the conquering hour! In wild defeat a hare! Thy mind hath vanished with thy power, For Danger brought despair. The dreams of sceptres now depart, And leave thy desolated heart The Capitol of care! Dark Corsican, 'tis strange to trace Thy long deceit and last disgrace." Morning Chronicle, April 27, 1814.]




The MS. of Lara is dated May 14, 1814. The opening lines, which were not prefixed to the published poem, and were first printed in Murray's Magazine (January, 1887), are of the nature of a Dedication. They were probably written a few days after the well-known song, "I speak not, I trace not, I breathe not thy name," which was enclosed to Moore in a letter dated May 4, 1814. There can be little doubt that both song and dedication were addressed to Lady Frances Wedderburn Webster, and that Lara, like the Corsair and the Bride of Abydos, was written con amore, and because the poet was "eating his heart away."

By the 14th of June Byron was able to announce to Moore that "Lara was finished, and that he had begun copying." It was written, owing to the length of the London season, "amidst balls and fooleries, and after coming home from masquerades and routs, in the summer of the sovereigns" (Letter to Moore, June 8, 1822, Life, p. 561).

By way of keeping his engagement—already broken by the publication of the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte—not to "trespass on public patience," Byron began by protesting (June 14) that Lara was not to be published separately, but "might be included in a third volume now collecting." A fortnight later (June 27) an interchange of unpublished poems between himself and Rogers, "two cantos of darkness and dismay" in return for a privately printed copy of Jacqueline, who is "all grace and softness and poetry" (Letter to Rogers, Letters, 1899, iii. 101), suggested another and happier solution of the difficulty, a coalescing with Rogers, and, if possible, Moore (Life, 1892, p. 257, note 2), "into a joint invasion of the public" (Letter to Moore, July 8, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 102). But Rogers hesitated, and Moore refused to embark on so doubtful a venture, with the result that, as late as the 3rd of August, Byron thought fit to remonstrate with Murray for "advertising Lara and Jacqueline," and confessed to Moore that he was "still demurring and delaying and in a fuss" (Letters, 1899, iii. 115, 119). Murray knew his man, and, though he waited for Byron's formal and ostensibly reluctant word of command, "Out with Lara, since it must be" (August 5, 1814, Letters, 1899, iii. 122), he admitted (August 6, Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 230) that he had "anticipated his consent," and "had done everything but actually deliver the copies of Lara." "The moment," he adds, "I received your letter, for for it I waited, I cut the last cord of my aerial work, and at this instant 6000 copies are sold." Lara, a Tale; Jacqueline, a Tale, was published on Saturday, August 6, 1814.

Jacqueline is a somewhat insipid pastoral, betraying the influence of the Lake School, more especially Coleridge, on a belated and irresponsive disciple, and wholly out of place as contrast or foil to the melodramatic Lara.

No sooner had the "lady," as Byron was pleased to call her, played her part as decoy, than she was discharged as emerita. A week after publication (August 12, 1814, Letters, iii. 125) Byron told Moore that "Murray talks of divorcing Larry and Jacky—a bad sign for the authors, who will, I suppose, be divorced too.... Seriously, I don't care a cigar about it." The divorce was soon pronounced, and, contrary to Byron's advice (September 2, 1814, Letters, iii. 131), at least four separate editions of Lara were published during the autumn of 1814.

The "advertisement" to Lara and Jacqueline contains the plain statement that "the reader ... may probably regard it [Lara] as a sequel to the Corsair"—an admission on the author's part which forestalls and renders nugatory any prolonged discussion on the subject. It is evident that Lara is Conrad, and that Kaled, the "darkly delicate" and mysterious page, whose "hand is femininely white," is Gulnare in a transparent and temporary disguise.

If the facts which the "English Gentleman in the Greek Military Service" (Life, Writings, etc., of Lord Byron, 1825, i. 191-201) gives in detail with regard to the sources of the Corsair are not wholly imaginary, it is possible that the original Conrad's determination to "quit so horrible a mode of life" and return to civilization may have suggested to Byron the possible adventures and fate of a grand seigneur who had played the pirate in his time, and resumed his ancestral dignities only to be detected and exposed by some rival or victim of his wild and lawless youth.

Lara was reviewed together with the Corsair, by George Agar Ellis in the Quarterly Review for July, 1814, vol. xi. p. 428; and in the Portfolio, vol. xiv. p. 33.




The Serfs[266] are glad through Lara's wide domain,[267] And Slavery half forgets her feudal chain; He, their unhoped, but unforgotten lord, The long self-exiled Chieftain, is restored: There be bright faces in the busy hall, Bowls on the board, and banners on the wall; Far checkering o'er the pictured window, plays The unwonted faggot's hospitable blaze; And gay retainers gather round the hearth, With tongues all loudness, and with eyes all mirth. 10


The Chief of Lara is returned again: And why had Lara crossed the bounding main? Left by his Sire, too young such loss to know,[268] Lord of himself,—that heritage of woe, That fearful empire which the human breast But holds to rob the heart within of rest!— With none to check, and few to point in time The thousand paths that slope the way to crime; Then, when he most required commandment, then Had Lara's daring boyhood governed men.[jc] 20 It skills not, boots not step by step to trace His youth through all the mazes of its race; Short was the course his restlessness had run,[jd] But long enough to leave him half undone.


And Lara left in youth his father-land; But from the hour he waved his parting hand Each trace waxed fainter of his course, till all Had nearly ceased his memory to recall. His sire was dust, his vassals could declare, 'Twas all they knew, that Lara was not there; 30 Nor sent, nor came he, till conjecture grew Cold in the many, anxious in the few. His hall scarce echoes with his wonted name, His portrait darkens in its fading frame, Another chief consoled his destined bride,[je] The young forgot him, and the old had died;[jf] "Yet doth he live!" exclaims the impatient heir, And sighs for sables which he must not wear.[jg] A hundred scutcheons deck with gloomy grace The Laras' last and longest dwelling-place; 40 But one is absent from the mouldering file, That now were welcome in that Gothic pile.[jh]

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