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The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 6
by Lord Byron
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{594}[797]

["Rather than so, come, Fate, into the list, And champion me to the utterance."

Macbeth, act iii. sc. 1, lines 70, 71.]

{595}[798] [For "Septemberers (Septembriseurs)," see Carlyle's French Revolution, 1839, iii. 50.]

{596}[799] ["Query, Sydney Smith, author of Peter Plymley's Letters?—Printer's Devil."—Ed. 1833. Byron must have met Sydney Smith (1771-1845) at Holland House. The "fat fen vicarage" (vide infra, stanza lxxxii. line 8) was Foston-le-Clay (Foston, All Saints), near Barton Hill, Yorkshire, which Lord Chancellor Erskine presented to Sydney Smith in 1806. The "living" consisted of "three hundred acres of glebe-land of the stiffest clay," and there was no parsonage house.—See A Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith, by Lady Holland, 1855, i. 100-107.]

[800] ["Observe, also, three grotesque figures in the blank arches of the gable which forms the eastern end of St. Hugh's Chapel," and of these, "one is popularly said to represent the 'Devil looking over Lincoln.'"—Handbook to the Cathedrals of England, by R.J. King, Eastern Division, p. 394, note x.

The devil looked over Lincoln because the unexampled height of the central tower of the cathedral excited his envy and alarm; or, as Fuller (Worthies: Lincolnshire) has it, "overlooked this church, when first finished, with a torve and tetrick countenance, as maligning men's costly devotions." So, at least, the vanity of later ages interpreted the saying; but a time was when the devil "looked over" Lincoln to some purpose, for in A.D. 1185 an earthquake clave the Church of Remigius in twain, and in 1235 a great part of the central tower, which had been erected by Bishop Hugh de Wells, fell and injured the rest of the building.]

{597}[od] For laughter rarely shakes these aguish folks.—[MS, erased.]

[oe] Took down the gay bon-mot——.—[MS. erased.]

[of] To hammer half a laugh——.—[MS. erased.]

[801]

["There's a difference to be seen between a beggar and a Queen; And I 'll tell you the reason why; A Queen does not swagger, nor get drunk like a beggar, Nor be half so merry as I," etc.

"There's a difference to be seen,'twixt a Bishop and a Dean, And I'll tell you the reason why; A Dean can not dish up a dinner like a Bishop, And that's the reason why!"]

{598}[802] ["Sine Cerere et Libero friget Venus." Terentius, Eun., act iv. sc. 5, line 6.]

{601}[803] In French "mobilite." I am not sure that mobility is English; but it is expressive of a quality which rather belongs to other climates, though it is sometimes seen to a great extent in our own. It may be defined as an excessive susceptibility of immediate impressions—at the same time without losing the past: and is, though sometimes apparently useful to the possessor, a most painful and unhappy attribute.

["That he was fully aware not only of the abundance of this quality in his own nature, but of the danger in which it placed consistency and singleness of character, did not require the note on this passage to assure us. The consciousness, indeed, of his own natural tendency to yield thus to every chance impression, and change with every passing impulse, was not only for ever present in his mind, but ... had the effect of keeping him in that general line of consistency, on certain great subjects, which ... he continued to preserve throughout life."—Life, p. 646. "Mobility" is not the tendency to yield to every impression, to change with every impulse, but the capability of being moved by many and various impressions, of responding to an ever-renewed succession of impulses. Byron is defending the enthusiastic temperament from the charge of inconstancy and insincerity.]

[804] [The first edition of Cocker's Arithmetic was published in 1677. There are many allusions to Cocker in Arthur Murphy's Apprentice (1756), whence, perhaps, the saying, "according to Cocker."]

{602}[805] "[Et Horatii] Curiosa felicitas."—Petronius Arbiter, Salyricon, cap. cxviii.

[806]

["Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

Pope on Addison, Prologue to the Satires, lines 201, 202.]

{604}[807] [Bion, Epitaphium Adonidis, line 28.]

[808] [" ... genetrix hominum, divomque voluptas, Alma Venus!" Lucret., De Rerum Nat., lib. i. lines 1, 2.]

{605}[809] [Job iv. 13.]

[810] See the account of the ghost of the uncle of Prince Charles of Saxony, raised by Schroepfer—"Karl—Karl—was willst du mit mir?"

[For Johann Georg Schrepfer (1730(?)-1774), see J.S.B. Schlegel's Tagebuch, etc., 1806, and Schwaermer und Schwindler, von Dr. Eugen Sierke, 1874, pp. 298-332.]

{606}[811] [Inferno, Canto III. line 9.]

[og] When once discovered it don't like to come near it.—[MS.]

{607}[oh] A beardless chin——.—[MS.]

[812] [End of Canto 16. B. My. 6, 1823.—MS.]



CANTO THE SEVENTEENTH.[813]

I.

The world is full of orphans: firstly, those Who are so in the strict sense of the phrase; But many a lonely tree the loftier grows Than others crowded in the Forest's maze— The next are such as are not doomed to lose Their tender parents, in their budding days, But, merely, their parental tenderness, Which leaves them orphans of the heart no less.

II.

The next are "only Children," as they are styled, Who grow up Children only, since th' old saw Pronounces that an "only's" a spoilt child— But not to go too far, I hold it law, That where their education, harsh or mild, Transgresses the great bounds of love or awe, The sufferers—be 't in heart or intellect— Whate'er the cause, are orphans in effect.

III.

But to return unto the stricter rule— As far as words make rules—our common notion Of orphan paints at once a parish school, A half-starved babe, a wreck upon Life's ocean, A human (what the Italians nickname) "Mule!"[814] A theme for Pity or some worse emotion; Yet, if examined, it might be admitted The wealthiest orphans are to be more pitied.

IV.

Too soon they are Parents to themselves: for what Are Tutors, Guardians, and so forth, compared With Nature's genial Genitors? so that A child of Chancery, that Star-Chamber ward, (I'll take the likeness I can first come at,) Is like—a duckling by Dame Partlett reared, And frights—especially if 'tis a daughter, Th' old Hen—by running headlong to the water.

V.

There is a common-place book argument, Which glibly glides from every tongue; When any dare a new light to present, "If you are right, then everybody's wrong"! Suppose the converse of this precedent So often urged, so loudly and so long; "If you are wrong, then everybody's right"! Was ever everybody yet so quite?

VI.

Therefore I would solicit free discussion Upon all points—no matter what, or whose— Because as Ages upon Ages push on, The last is apt the former to accuse Of pillowing its head on a pin-cushion, Heedless of pricks because it was obtuse: What was a paradox becomes a truth or A something like it—witness Luther!

VII.

The Sacraments have been reduced to two, And Witches unto none, though somewhat late Since burning aged women (save a few— Not witches only b—ches—who create Mischief in families, as some know or knew, Should still be singed, but lightly, let me state,) Has been declared an act of inurbanity, Malgre Sir Matthew Hales's great humanity.

VIII.

Great Galileo was debarred the Sun, Because he fixed it; and, to stop his talking, How Earth could round the solar orbit run, Found his own legs embargoed from mere walking: The man was well-nigh dead, ere men begun To think his skull had not some need of caulking; But now, it seems, he's right—his notion just: No doubt a consolation to his dust.

IX.

Pythagoras, Locke, Socrates—but pages Might be filled up, as vainly as before, With the sad usage of all sorts of sages, Who in his life-time, each, was deemed a Bore! The loftiest minds outrun their tardy ages: This they must bear with and, perhaps, much more; The wise man's sure when he no more can share it, he Will have a firm Post Obit on posterity.

X.

If such doom waits each intellectual Giant, We little people in our lesser way, In Life's small rubs should surely be more pliant, And so for one will I—as well I may—Would that I were less bilious—but, oh, fie on 't! Just as I make my mind up every day, To be a "totus, teres," Stoic, Sage, The wind shifts and I fly into a rage.

XI.

Temperate I am—yet never had a temper; Modest I am—yet with some slight assurance; Changeable too—yet somehow "Idem semper:" Patient—but not enamoured of endurance; Cheerful—but, sometimes, rather apt to whimper: Mild—but at times a sort of "Hercules furens:" So that I almost think that the same skin For one without—has two or three within.

XII.

Our Hero was, in Canto the Sixteenth, Left in a tender moonlight situation, Such as enables Man to show his strength Moral or physical: on this occasion Whether his virtue triumphed—or, at length, His vice—for he was of a kindling nation— Is more than I shall venture to describe;— Unless some Beauty with a kiss should bribe.

XIII.

I leave the thing a problem, like all things:— The morning came—and breakfast, tea and toast, Of which most men partake, but no one sings. The company whose birth, wealth, worth, has cost My trembling Lyre already several strings, Assembled with our hostess, and mine host; The guests dropped in—the last but one, Her Grace, The latest, Juan, with his virgin face.

XIV.

Which best it is to encounter—Ghost, or none, 'Twere difficult to say—but Juan looked As if he had combated with more than one, Being wan and worn, with eyes that hardly brooked The light, that through the Gothic window shone: Her Grace, too, had a sort of air rebuked— Seemed pale and shivered, as if she had kept A vigil, or dreamt rather more than slept.

THE END.



FOOTNOTES:

{608}[813] [May 8, 1823.—MS. More than one "Seventeenth Canto," or so-called continuation of Don Juan, has been published. Some of these "Sequels" pretend to be genuine, while others are undisguisedly imitations or parodies. For an account of these spurious and altogether worthless continuations, see "Bibliography," vol. vii. There was, however, a foundation for the myth. Before Byron left Italy he had begun (May 8, 1823) a seventeenth canto, and when he sailed for Greece he took the new stanzas with him. Trelawny found "fifteen stanzas of the seventeenth canto of Don Juan" in Byron's room at Missolonghi (Recollections, etc., 1858, p. 237). The MS., together with other papers, was handed over to John Cam Hobhouse, and is now in the possession of his daughter, the Lady Dorchester. The copyright was purchased by the late John Murray. The fourteen (not fifteen) stanzas are now printed and published for the first time.]

{609}[814] The Italians, at least in some parts of Italy, call bastards and foundlings the mules—why, I cannot see, unless they mean to infer that the offspring of matrimony are asses.

THE END

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