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The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 6
by Lord Byron
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CXLVIII.

He went to mosque in state, and said his prayers With more than "Oriental scrupulosity;"[314] He left to his vizier all state affairs, And showed but little royal curiosity: I know not if he had domestic cares— No process proved connubial animosity; Four wives and twice five hundred maids, unseen, Were ruled as calmly as a Christian queen.[fv]

CXLIX.

If now and then there happened a slight slip, Little was heard of criminal or crime; The story scarcely passed a single lip— The sack and sea had settled all in time, From which the secret nobody could rip: The public knew no more than does this rhyme; No scandals made the daily press a curse— Morals were better, and the fish no worse.[fw]

CL.

He saw with his own eyes the moon was round, Was also certain that the earth was square, Because he had journeyed fifty miles, and found No sign that it was circular anywhere;[fx] His empire also was without a bound: 'T is true, a little troubled here and there, By rebel pachas, and encroaching giaours, But then they never came to "the Seven Towers;"[315]

CLI.

Except in shape of envoys, who were sent To lodge there when a war broke out, according To the true law of nations, which ne'er meant Those scoundrels, who have never had a sword in Their dirty diplomatic hands, to vent Their spleen in making strife, and safely wording Their lies, yclept despatches, without risk or The singeing of a single inky whisker.

CLII.

He had fifty daughters and four dozen sons, Of whom all such as came of age were stowed, The former in a palace, where like nuns They lived till some Bashaw was sent abroad, When she, whose turn it was, was wed at once, Sometimes at six years old[316]—though this seems odd, 'T is true; the reason is, that the Bashaw Must make a present to his sire-in-law.

CLIII.

His sons were kept in prison, till they grew Of years to fill a bowstring or the throne, One or the other, but which of the two Could yet be known unto the fates alone; Meantime the education they went through Was princely, as the proofs have always shown; So that the heir apparent still was found No less deserving to be hanged than crowned.

CLIV.

His Majesty saluted his fourth spouse With all the ceremonies of his rank, Who cleared her sparkling eyes and smoothed her brows, As suits a matron who has played a prank; These must seem doubly mindful of their vows, To save the credit of their breaking bank: To no men are such cordial greetings given As those whose wives have made them fit for Heaven.[317]

CLV.

His Highness cast around his great black eyes, And looking, as he always looked, perceived Juan amongst the damsels in disguise, At which he seemed no whit surprised nor grieved, But just remarked with air sedate and wise,[fy] While still a fluttering sigh Gulbeyaz heaved, "I see you've bought another girl; 't is pity That a mere Christian should be half so pretty."

CLVI.

This compliment, which drew all eyes upon The new-bought virgin, made her blush and shake. Her comrades, also, thought themselves undone: Oh! Mahomet! that his Majesty should take Such notice of a giaour, while scarce to one Of them his lips imperial ever spake! There was a general whisper, toss, and wriggle, But etiquette forbade them all to giggle.

CLVII.

The Turks do well to shut—at least, sometimes— The women up—because, in sad reality, Their chastity in these unhappy climes[fz] Is not a thing of that astringent quality Which in the North prevents precocious crimes, And makes our snow less pure than our morality; The Sun, which yearly melts the polar ice, Has quite the contrary effect—on vice.

CLVIII.

Thus in the East they are extremely strict, And wedlock and a padlock mean the same: Excepting only when the former's picked It ne'er can be replaced in proper frame; Spoilt, as a pipe of claret is when pricked: But then their own polygamy's to blame; Why don't they knead two virtuous souls for life Into that moral centaur, man and wife?[318]

CLIX.

Thus far our chronicle; and now we pause, Though not for want of matter; but 't is time, According to the ancient epic laws, To slacken sail, and anchor with our rhyme. Let this fifth canto meet with due applause, The sixth shall have a touch of the sublime; Meanwhile, as Homer sometimes sleeps, perhaps You'll pardon to my muse a few short naps.[ga]

End of Canto 5^th^ Finished Ravenna, Nov. 27^th^ 1820. Begun Oct. 16, 1820. and finished copying out, Dec. 26. with some intermediate additions, 1820. B.

FOOTNOTES:

{218}[270] [Canto V. was begun at Ravenna, October the 16th, and finished November the 20th, 1820. It was published August 8, 1821, together with Cantos III. and IV.]

[271] This expression of Homer has been much criticized. It hardly answers to our Atlantic ideas of the ocean, but is sufficiently applicable to the Hellespont, and the Bosphorus, with the Aegean intersected with islands.

[Vide Iliad, xiv. 245, etc. Homer's "ocean-stream" was not the Hellespont, but the rim of waters which encircled the disk of the world.]

{219}[272] ["The pleasure of going in a barge to Chelsea is not comparable to that of rowing upon the canal of the sea here, where, for twenty miles together, down the Bosphorus, the most beautiful variety of prospects present themselves. The Asian side is covered with fruit trees, villages, and the most delightful landscapes in nature; on the European stands Constantinople, situated on seven hills; showing an agreeable mixture of gardens, pine and cypress trees, palaces, mosques, and public buildings, raised one above another, with as much beauty and appearance of symmetry as your ladyship ever saw in a cabinet adorned by the most skilful hands, where jars show themselves above jars, mixed with canisters, babies, and candlesticks. This is a very odd comparison: but it gives me an exact idea of the thing."—See letter to Mr. Pope, No. xl. June 17, 1717, and letter to the Countess of Bristol, No. xlvi. n.d., Letters of the Lady Mary Worthy Montagu, 1816, pp. 183-219. See, too, letter to Mrs. Byron, June 28, 1810, Letters, 1890, i. 280, note 1.]

[273] [For Byron's "Marys," see Poetical Works, 1898, i. 192, note 2.]

[274] The "Giant's Grave" is a height on the Asiatic shore of the Bosphorus, much frequented by holiday parties; like Harrow and Highgate.

["The Giant's Mountain, 650 feet high, is almost exactly opposite Buyukdereh ... It is called by the Turks Yoshadagh, Mountain of Joshua, because the Giant's Grave on the top is, according to the Moslem legend, the grave of Joshua. The grave was formerly called the Couch of Hercules; but the classical story is that it was the tomb of Amycus, king of the Bebryces [on his grave grew the laurus insana, a branch of which caused strife (Plin., Hist. Nat., lib. xvi. cap. xliv. ed. 1593, ii. 198)]. The grave is 20 feet long, and 5 feet broad; it is within a stone enclosure, and is planted with flowers and bushes."—Handbook for Constantinople, p. 103.]

{220}[et] For then the Parca are most busy spinning The fates of seamen, and the loud winds raise.—[MS.]

{221}[eu] That he a man of rank and birth had been, And then they calculated on his ransom, And last not least—he was so very handsome.—[MS.]

[ev] It chanced that near him, separately lotted, From out the group of slaves put up for sale, A man of middle age, and——.—[MS.]

{222}[275] [The object of Suwarof's campaign of 1789 was the conquest of Belgrade and Servia, that of Wallachia by the Austrians, etc. Neither of these plans succeeded."—The Life of Field-Marshal Suwarof, by L.M.P. Tranchant de Laverne, 1814, pp. 105, 106.]

{226}[276] [The Turkish zecchino is a gold coin, worth about seven shillings and sixpence. The para is not quite equal to an English halfpenny.]

[277] [Candide's increased satisfaction with life is implied in the narrative. For example, in chap, xviii., where Candide visits Eldorado:—"Never was there a better entertainment, and never was more wit shown at table than that which fell from His Majesty. Cacambo explained the king's bons mots to Candide, and notwithstanding they were translated, they still appeared bons mots." This was after supper. See, too, Part II. chap, ii.]

[278] See Plutarch in Alex., Q. Curt. Hist. Alexand., and Sir Richard Clayton's "Critical Inquiry into the Life of Alexander the Great," 1763 [from the Examen Critique, etc., of Guilhem de Clermont-Lodeve, Baron de Sainte Croix, 1775.]

["He used to say that sleep and the commerce with the sex were the things that made him most sensible of his mortality, ... He was also very temperate in eating."—Plutarch's Alexander, Langhorne, 1838, p. 473.]

[ew] But for mere food, I think with Philip's son, Or Ammon's—for two fathers claimed this one.—[MS.]

{227}[279] The assassination alluded to took place on the 8th of December, 1820, in the streets of Ravenna, not a hundred paces from the residence of the writer. The circumstances were as described.

["December 9, 1820. I open my letter to tell you a fact, which will show the state of this country better than I can. The commandant of the troops is now lying dead in my house. He was shot at a little past eight o'clock, about two hundred paces from my door. I was putting on my great coat to visit Madame la Comtessa G., when I heard the shot. On coming into the hall, I found all my servants on the balcony, exclaiming that a man was murdered. I immediately ran down, calling on Tita (the bravest of them) to follow me. The rest wanted to hinder us from going, as it is the custom for everybody here, it seems, to run away from 'the stricken deer.' ... we found him lying on his back, almost, if not quite, dead, with five wounds; one in the heart, two in the stomach, one in the finger, and the other in the arm. Some soldiers cocked their guns, and wanted to hinder me from passing. However, we passed, and I found Diego, the adjutant, crying over him like a child—a surgeon, who said nothing of his profession—a priest, sobbing a frightened prayer—and the commandant, all this time, on his back, on the hard, cold pavement, without light or assistance, or anything around him but confusion and dismay. As nobody could, or would, do anything but howl and pray, and as no one would stir a finger to move him, for fear of consequences, I lost my patience—made my servant and a couple of the mob take up the body—sent off two soldiers to the guard—despatched Diego to the Cardinal with the news, and had him carried upstairs into my own quarters. But it was too late—he was gone.... I had him partly stripped—made the surgeon examine him, and examined him myself. He had been shot by cut balls or slugs. I felt one of the slugs, which had gone through him, all but the skin.... He only said, 'O Dio!' and 'Gesu!' two or three times, and appeared to have suffered little. Poor fellow! he was a brave officer; but had made himself much disliked by the people."—Letter to Moore, December 9, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 133. The commandant's name was Del Pinto (Life, p. 472).]

[ex] —— so I had Him borne, as soon's I could, up several pair Of stairs—and looked to,——But why should I add More circumstances?——.—[MS.]

[ey] And now as silent as an unstrung drum.—[MS.]

{229}[280] The light and elegant wherries plying about the quays of Constantinople are so called.

{230}[281] [Ilderim, a Syrian Tale, by Henry Gally Knight, was published in 1816; Phrosyne, a Grecian Tale, and Alashtar, an Arabian Tale, in 1817. Moore's Lalla Kookh also appeared in 1817.]

[282] [St. Bartholomew was "discoriate, and flayed quick" (Golden Legend, 1900, v. 43).]

[ez] We from impalement——.—[MS.]

{231}[283] "Many of the serai and summer-houses [on the Bosphorus] have received these significant, or rather fantastic names: one is the Pearl Pavilion; another is the Star Palace; a third the Mansion of Looking-glasses."—Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 243.

{232}[fa] Of speeches, beauty, flattery—there is no Method more sure——.—[MS.]

{233}[284] [Guide des Voyageurs; Directions for Travellers, etc.—Rhymes, Incidental and Humorous; Rhyming Reminiscences; Effusions in Rhyme, etc.—Lady Morgan's Tour in Italy; Tour through Istria, etc., etc.—Sketches of Italy; Sketches of Modern Greece, etc., etc.—Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold, by J.C. Hobhouse, 1818.]

[285] In Turkey nothing is more common than for the Mussulmans to take several glasses of strong spirits by way of appetiser. I have seen them take as many as six of raki before dinner, and swear that they dined the better for it: I tried the experiment, but fared like the Scotchman, who having heard that the birds called kittiwakes were admirable whets, ate six of them, and complained that "he was no hungrier than when he began."

[286] ["Everything is so still [in the court of the Seraglio], that the motion of a fly might be heard, in a manner; and if any one should presume to raise his voice ever so little, or show the least want of respect to the Mansion-place of their Emperor, he would instantly have the bastinado by the officers that go the rounds."-A Voyage in the Levant, by M. Tournefort, 1741, ii. 183.]

{234}[287] A common furniture. I recollect being received by Ali Pacha, in a large room, paved with marble, containing a marble basin, and fountain playing in the centre, etc., etc.

[Compare Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza Ixii.—

"In marble-paved pavilion, where a spring Of living water from the centre rose, Whose bubbling did a genial freshness fling, And soft voluptuous couches breathed repose, Ali reclined, a man of war and woes," etc.]

[288] [A reminiscence of Newstead. Compare Moore's song, "Oft in the Stilly Night"—

"I feel like one Who treads alone Some banquet-hall deserted."]

{235}[fb] _A small, snug chamber on a winter's night_, Well furnished with a book, friend, girl, or glass, etc_.—[MS.]

[fc] I pass my days in long dull galleries solely.—[MS. erased.]

[289] [When this stanza was written Byron was domiciled in the Palazzo Guiccioli (in the Via di Porta Adriana) at Ravenna; but he may have had in his mind the monks' refectory at Newstead Abbey, "the dark gallery, where his fathers frowned" (Lara, Canto I. line 137), or the corridors which form the upper story of the cloisters.]

[290] ["Nabuchodonosor," here used metri gratia, is Latin (see the Vulgate) and French (see J.P. De Beranger, Chansons Inedites, 1828, p. 48) for Nebuchadnezzar.]

[291] [See Ovid's Metamorphoses, lib. iv. lines 55-58—

"In Babylon, where first her queen, for state, Raised walls of brick magnificently great, Lived Pyramus and Thisbe, lovely pair! He found no Eastern youth his equal there, And she beyond the fairest nymph was fair."

Garth.]

{236}[292] Babylon was enlarged by Nimrod, strengthened and beautified by Nabuchadonosor, and rebuilt by Semiramis.

[Pliny (Nat. Hist., lib. viii. cap. xlii. ed. 1593, i. 392) cites Juba, King of Mauretania, died A.D. 19, as his authority for the calumny.]

[fd] In an Erratum of her Horse for Courier.—[MS.]

[293] [Queen Caroline—whose trial (August—November, 1820) was proceeding whilst this canto was being written—was charged with having committed adultery with Bartolommeo Bergami, who had been her courier, and was, afterwards, her chamberlain.]

[294] ["Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon, by Claudius James Rich, Esq., Resident for the Honourable East India Company at the Court of the Pasha of Bagdad, 1815," pp. 61-64: Second Memoir on Babylon, ... 1818, by Claudius James Rich. See the plates at the end of the volume.]

[fe] If they shall not as soon cut off my head.—[MS.]

{240}[ff] A pair of drawers——.—[MS.]

[295] [Compare "Extracts from a Diary," January 24, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 184.]

[fg] Kings are not more imperative than rhymes.—[MS.]

{241}[fh] He looked almost in modesty a maid.—[MS.]

{242}[296] Features of a gate—a ministerial metaphor: "the feature upon which this question hinges." See the "Fudge Family," or hear Castlereagh.

[Phil. Fudge, in his letter to Lord Castlereagh, says—

"As thou would'st say, my guide and teacher In these gay metaphoric fringes, I must embark into the feature On which this letter chiefly hinges."

Moore's note adds, "Verbatim from one of the noble Viscount's speeches:—'And now, sir, I must embark into the feature on which this question chiefly hinges.'"—Fudge Family in Paris, Letter II. See, too, post, the Preface to Cantos VI., VII., and VIII., p. 264, note 3.]

{243}[297] [Compare—

"A snake's small eye blinks dull and sly, And the lady's eyes they shrunk in her head, Each shrunk up to a serpent's eye."

Christabel, Part II. lines 583-585.]

{244}[298] A few years ago the wile of Muchtar Pacha complained to his father of his son's supposed infidelity: he asked with whom, and she had the barbarity to give in a list of the twelve handsomest women in Yanina. They were seized, fastened up in sacks, and drowned in the lake the same night. One of the guards who was present informed me, that not one of the victims uttered a cry, or showed a symptom of terror at so sudden a "wrench from all we know, from all we love."

[See The Giaour, line 1328, Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 144, note 1.]

{245}[fi] As Venus rose from Ocean—bent on them With a far-reaching glance, a Paphian pair.—[MS.]

[fj] But there are forms which Time adorns, not wears, And to which Beauty obstinately clings.—[MS.]

{246}[299] [Legend has credited Ninon de Lenclos (1620-1705) with lovers when she had "come to four-score years." According to Voltaire, John Casimir, ex-king of Poland, succumbed to her secular charms (see Mazeppa, line 138, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 212, note 1). "In her old age, her house was the rendezvous of wits and men of letters. Scarron is said to have consulted her on his romances, Saint-Evremond on his poems, Moliere on his comedies, Fontenelle on his dialogues, and La Rochefoucauld on his maxims. Coligny, Sevigne, etc., were her lovers and friends. At her death, in 1705, she bequeathed to Voltaire two thousand francs, to expend in books."—Biographic Universelle, art. "Lenclos."]

[300] ["Her fair maids were ranged below the sofa, to the number of twenty, and put me in mind of the pictures of the ancient nymphs. I did not think all nature could have furnished such a scene of beauty," etc.—Lady M.W. Montagu to the Countess of Mar, April 18, O.S. 1717, ed. 1816, p. 163.]

[301]

["Nil admirari prope res est una, Numici, Solaque quae possit facere et servare beatum."

Hor., Epist., lib. 1, ep. vi. lines 1, 2.]

{247}[302]

["Not to admire, is all the Art I know To make men happy, and to keep them so, (Plain Truth, dear MURRAY, needs no flow'rs of speech, So take it in the very words of Creech).

To Mr. Murray (Lord Mansfield), Pope's Imitations of Horace, Book I. epist. vi. lines 1-4.

Thomas Creech (1659-1701) published his Translation of Horace in 1684. In the second edition, 1688, p. 487, the lines run—

"Not to admire, as most are wont to do, It is the only method that I know, To make Men happy and to keep 'em so."]

[303] [Johnson placed judgment and friendship above admiration and love. "Admiration and love are like being intoxicated with champagne; judgment and friendship like being enlivened." See Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1876, p. 450.]

{248}[304] There is nothing, perhaps, more distinctive of birth than the hand. It is almost the only sign of blood which aristocracy can generate.

{249}[305] [In old pictures of the Fall, it is a cherub who whispers into the ear of Eve. The serpent's coils are hidden in the foliage of the tree.]

{250}[fk] The very women half forgave her face.—[MS, Erased.]

[fl] Had his instructions—where and how to deal.—[MS.]

[fm] And husbands now and then are mystified.—[MS.]

{251}[306] [Narrow javelins, once known as archegays—the assegais of Zulu warfare.]

{252}[fn] But nature teaches what power cannot spoil And, though it was a new and strange sensation, Young female hearts are such a genial soil For kinder feelings, she forgot her station.—[MS.]

[fo] War with your heart—.—[MS.]

{254}[307] [See Fielding's History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, bk. i. chap. v.]

[308]

["'But if my boy with virtue be endued, What harm will beauty do him?' Nay, what good? Say, what avail'd, of old, to Theseus' son, The stern resolve? what to Bellerophon?— O, then did Phaedra redden, then her pride Took fire to be so steadfastly denied! Then, too, did Sthenobaea glow with shame, And both burst forth with unextinguish'd flame!"

Gifford, Juvenal, Sat. x. 473-480.

The adventures of Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, and Bellerophon are well known. They were accused of incontinence, by the women whose inordinate passions they had refused to gratify at the expense of their duty, and sacrificed to the fatal credulity of the husbands of the disappointed fair ones. It is very probable that both the stories are founded on the Scripture account of Joseph and Potiphar's wife.—Footnote, ibid., ed. 1817, ii. pp. 49, 50.]

[fp] The poets and romances——.—[MS.]

[fq] And this strong second cause (to tire no longer Your patience) shows the first must still be stronger.

—[MS. Alternative reading.]

{256}[309]

["By Heaven! methinks, it were an easy leap, To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon."

Henry IV., act i. sc. 3, lines 201, 202.]

[fr] Like natural Shakespeare on the immortal page.—[MS.]

[310]

["And when I have stol'n upon these sons-in law, Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill."

King Lear, act iv. sc. 6, lines 185, 186.]

[311]

["A woman scorn'd is pitiless as fate, For, there, the dread of shame adds stings to hate." Gifford's Juvenal, Sat. x. lines 481, 482, ed. 1817, ii. p. 50.]

{258}[312] ["Yes—my valour is certainly going! it is sneaking off! I feel it oozing out, as it were, at the palms of my hands!"—Sheridan's Rivals, act v. sc. 3.]

[fs] Or all the stuff which uttered by the "Blues" is.—[MS.]

{259}[ft] But prithee—get my women in the way, That all the stars may gleam with due adorning.—[MS.]

[fu] Of Cantemir or Knollɇs——-.—[MS.]

[313] It may not be unworthy of remark, that Bacon, in his essay on "Empire" (Essays, No. xx.), hints that Solyman was the last of his line; on what authority, I know not. These are his words: "The destruction of Mustapha was so fatal to Solyman's line; as the succession of the Turks from Solyman until this day is suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the second was thought to be supposititious." But Bacon, in his historical authorities, is often inaccurate. I could give half a dozen instances from his Apophthegms only.

[Selim II. (1524-1574) succeeded his father as Sultan in 1566. Hofmann (Lexicon Univ.) describes him as "meticulosus, effeminatus, ebriosus," but neither Demetrius Cantemir, in his History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire (translated by N. Tyndal, 1734); nor The Turkish History (written by Mr. Knolles, 1701), cast any doubts on his legitimacy. Byron complained of the omission from the notes to the first edition of Don Juan, of his corrections of Bacon's "Apophthegms" (see Letters, 1901, v. Appendix VI. pp. 597-600), in a letter to Murray, dated January 21, 1821,—vide ibid., p. 220.]

{260}[314] [Gibbon.]

[fv] Because he kept them wrapt up in his closet, he Ruled fair wives and twelve hundred whores, unseen, More easily than Christian kings one queen.—[MS.]

[fw] Then ended many a fair Sultana's trip: The Public knew no more than does this rhyme; No printed scandals flew,—the fish, of course, Were better—while the morals were no worse.—[MS.]

[fx] No sign of its depression anywhere.—[MS.]

[315] ["We attempted to visit the Seven Towers, but were stopped at the entrance, and informed that without a firman it was inaccessible to strangers.... It was supposed that Count Bulukof, the Russian minister, would be the last of the Moussafirs, or imperial hostages, confined in this fortress; but since the year 1784 M. Ruffin and many of the French have been imprisoned in the same place; and the dungeons.... were gaping, it seems, for the sacred persons of the gentlemen composing his Britannic Majesty's mission, previous to the rupture between Great Britain and the Porte in 1809."—Hobhouse, Travels in Albania, 1858, ii. 311, 312.]

{261}[316] ["The princess" (Asma Sultana, daughter of Achmet III.) "complained of the barbarity which, at thirteen years of age, united her to a decrepit old man, who, by treating her like a child, had inspired her with nothing but disgust."—Memoirs of Baron de Toil, 1786, i. 74. See, too, Memoires, etc., 1784, i. 84, 85.]

{262}[317] [The connection between "horns" and Heaven, to which Byron twice alludes, is not very obvious. The reference may be to the Biblical "horn of salvation," or to the symbolical horns of Divine glory as depicted in the Moses of Michel Angelo. Compare Mazeppa, lines 177, 178, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 213.]

[fy]—— with solemn air and wise.—[MS.]

[fz] Virginity in these unhappy climes.—[MS.]

{263}[318] [This stanza, which Byron composed in bed, February 27, 1821 (see Extracts from a Diary, Letters, 1901, v. 209), is not in the first edition. On discovering the omission, he wrote to Murray: "Upon what principle have you omitted ... one of the concluding stanzas sent as an addition?—because it ended, I suppose, with—

'And do not link two virtuous souls for life Into that moral centaur, man and wife?'

Now, I must say, once for all, that I will not permit any human being to take such liberties with my writings because I am absent. I desire the omissions to be replaced (except the stanza on Semiramis)—particularly the stanza upon the Turkish marriages."—Letter to Murray, August 31, 1821, ibid., p. 351.]

[ga] Meanwhile as Homer sometimes sleeps, much more The modern muse may be allowed to snore.—[MS.]



PREFACE TO CANTOS VI., VII., AND VIII.

THE details of the siege of Ismail in two of the following cantos (i.e. the seventh and eighth) are taken from a French Work, entitled Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie.[319] Some of the incidents attributed to Don Juan really occurred, particularly the circumstance of his saving the infant, which was the actual case of the late Duc de Richelieu, then a young volunteer in the Russian service, and afterward the founder and benefactor of Odessa, where his name and memory can never cease to be regarded with reverence.

In the course of these cantos, a stanza or two will be found relative to the late Marquis of Londonderry,[320] but written some time before his decease. Had that person's oligarchy died with him, they would have been suppressed; as it is, I am aware of nothing in the manner of his death or of his life to prevent the free expression of the opinions of all whom his whole existence was consumed in endeavouring to enslave. That he was an amiable man in private life, may or may not be true: but with this the public have nothing to do; and as to lamenting his death, it will be time enough when Ireland has ceased to mourn for his birth. As a minister, I, for one of millions, looked upon him as the most despotic in intention, and the weakest in intellect, that ever tyrannised over a country. It is the first time indeed since the Normans that England has been insulted by a minister (at least) who could not speak English, and that Parliament permitted itself to be dictated to in the language of Mrs. Malaprop.

Of the manner of his death little need be said, except that if a poor radical, such as Waddington or Watson,[321] had cut his throat, he would have been buried in a cross-road, with the usual appurtenances of the stake and mallet. But the minister was an elegant lunatic—a sentimental suicide—he merely cut the "carotid artery," (blessings on their learning!) and lo! the pageant, and the Abbey! and "the syllables of dolour yelled forth"[322] by the newspapers—and the harangue of the Coroner in a eulogy over the bleeding body of the deceased—(an Anthony worthy of such a Caesar)—and the nauseous and atrocious cant of a degraded crew of conspirators against all that is sincere and honourable. In his death he was necessarily one of two things by the law[323]—a felon or a madman—and in either case no great subject for panegyric.[324] In his life he was—what all the world knows, and half of it will feel for years to come, unless his death prove a "moral lesson" to the surviving Sejani[325] of Europe. It may at least serve as some consolation to the nations, that their oppressors are not happy, and in some instances judge so justly of their own actions as to anticipate the sentence of mankind. Let us hear no more of this man; and let Ireland remove the ashes of her Grattan from the sanctuary of Westminster. Shall the patriot of humanity repose by the Werther of politics!!!

With regard to the objections which have been made on another score to the already published cantos of this poem, I shall content myself with two quotations from Voltaire:—"La pudeur s'est enfuite des coeurs, et s'est refugiee sur les levres." ... "Plus les moeurs sont depraves, plus les expressions deviennent mesurees; on croit regagner en langage ce qu'on a perdu en vertu."

This is the real fact, as applicable to the degraded and hypocritical mass which leavens the present English generation, and is the only answer they deserve. The hackneyed and lavished title of Blasphemer—which, with Radical, Liberal, Jacobin, Reformer, etc., are the changes which the hirelings are daily ringing in the ears of those who will listen—should be welcome to all who recollect on whom it was originally bestowed. Socrates and Jesus Christ were put to death publicly as blasphemers, and so have been and may be many who dare to oppose the most notorious abuses of the name of God and the mind of man. But persecution is not refutation, nor even triumph: the "wretched infidel," as he is called, is probably happier in his prison than the proudest of his assailants. With his opinions I have nothing to do—they may be right or wrong—but he has suffered for them, and that very suffering for conscience' sake will make more proselytes to deism than the example of heterodox[326] Prelates to Christianity, suicide statesmen to oppression, or overpensioned homicides to the impious alliance which insults the world with the name of "Holy!"[327] I have no wish to trample on the dishonoured or the dead; but it would be well if the adherents to the classes from whence those persons sprung should abate a little of the cant which is the crying sin of this double-dealing and false-speaking time of selfish spoilers, and——but enough for the present.

FOOTNOTES:

{264}[319] [The Marquis Gabriel de Castelnau, author of an Essai sur L'Histoire ancienne et moderne de la Nouvelle Russie (Sec. Ed. 3 tom. 1827), was, at one time, resident at Odessa, where he met and made the acquaintance of Armand Emanuel, Duc de Richelieu, who took part in the siege of Ismail. M. Leon de Crousaz-Cretet describes him as "ancien surintendant des theatres sous l'Empereur Paul."—Le Duc de Richelieu, 1897, p. 83.]

[320] [For Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, second Marquis of Londonderry (1769-1822), see Letters, 1900, iv. 108, 109, note 1.]

{266}[321] [Samuel Ferrand Waddington, born 1759, hop-grower and radical politician, first came into notice as the chairman of public meetings in favour of making peace with the French in 1793. He was the author, inter alia, of A Key to a Delicate Investigation, 1812, and An Address to the People of the United Kingdom, 1812. He was alive in 1822. James Watson (1766-1838), a radical agitator of the following of Thomas Spence, was engaged, in the autumn of 1816, in an abortive conspiracy to blow up cavalry barracks, barricade the streets, and seize the Bank and the Tower. He was tried for high treason before Lord Ellenborough, and acquitted.]

[322] [Macbeth, act iv. sc. 3, lines 7, 8.]

[323] I say by the law of the land—the laws of humanity judge more gently; but as the legitimates have always the law in their mouths, let them here make the most of it.

[324] [Mr. Joseph Carttar, of Deptford, coroner for the County of Kent, addressed the jury at some length. The following sentences are taken from the report of the inquest, contained in The Annual Biography and Obituary for the year 1823, vol. vii. p. 57: "As a public man, it is impossible for me to weigh his character in any scales that I can hold. In private life I believe the world will admit that a more amiable man could not be found.... If it should unfortunately appear that there is not sufficient evidence to prove what is generally considered the indication of a disordered mind, I trust that the jury will pay some attention to my humble opinion, which is, that no man can be in his proper senses at the moment he commits so rash an act as self-murder. ...The Bible declares that a man clings to nothing so strongly as his own life, I therefore view it as an axiom, and an abstract principle, that a man must necessarily be out of his mind at the moment of destroying himself." Byron, probably, read the report of the inquest in Cobbett's Weekly Register (August 17, 1822, vol. 43, pp. 389-425). The "eulogy" was in perfectly good taste, but there can be little doubt that if "Waddington or Watson" had cut their "carotid arteries," the verdict would have been different.]

[325] From this number must be excepted Canning. Canning is a genius, almost a universal one, an orator, a wit, a poet, a statesman; and no man of talent can long pursue the path of his late predecessor, Lord C. If ever man saved his country, Canning can, but will he? I for one, hope so.

[The phrase, "great moral lesson," was employed by the Duke of Wellington, a propos of the restoration of pictures and statues to their "rightful owners," in a despatch addressed to Castlereagh, under date, Paris, September 19, 1815 (The Dispatches, etc. (ed. by Colonel Gurwood), 1847, viii. 270). The words, "moral lesson," as applied to the French generally, are to be found in Scott's Field of Waterloo (conclusion, stanza vi. line 3), which was written about the same time as the despatch. Byron quotes them in his "Ode from the French," stanza iv. line 8 (see Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 434, note 1). There is a satirical allusion to the Duke's "assumption of the didactic" about teaching a "great moral lesson" in the Preface to the first number of the Liberal (1822, p. xi.).]

{267}[326] When Lord Sandwich said "he did not know the difference between orthodoxy and heterodoxy," Warburton, the bishop, replied, "Orthodoxy, my lord, is my doxy, and heterodoxy is another man's doxy." A prelate of the present day has discovered, it seems, a third kind of doxy, which has not greatly exalted in the eyes of the elect that which Bentham calls "Church-of-Englandism."

[For the "prelate," see Letters, 1902, vi. 101, note 2.]

[327] [For the Duke of Wellington and the Holy Alliance, see the Introduction to The Age of Bronze, Poetical Works, 1901, v. 538, 561.]



CANTO THE SIXTH.[328]

I.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which,—taken at the flood,"—you know the rest,[329] And most of us have found it now and then: At least we think so, though but few have guessed The moment, till too late to come again. But no doubt everything is for the best— Of which the surest sign is in the end: When things are at the worst they sometimes mend.

II.

There is a tide in the affairs of women, Which, taken at the flood, leads—God knows where: Those navigators must be able seamen Whose charts lay down its currents to a hair; Not all the reveries of Jacob Behmen[330] With its strange whirls and eddies can compare: Men with their heads reflect on this and that— But women with their hearts on Heaven knows what![gb]

III.

And yet a headlong, headstrong, downright She, Young, beautiful, and daring—who would risk A throne—the world—the universe—to be Beloved in her own way—and rather whisk The stars from out the sky, than not be free[gc] As are the billows when the breeze is brisk— Though such a She's a devil (if there be one), Yet she would make full many a Manichean.

IV.

Thrones, worlds, et cetera, are so oft upset By commonest ambition, that when Passion O'erthrows the same, we readily forget, Or at the least forgive, the loving rash one. If Anthony be well remembered yet, 'T is not his conquests keep his name in fashion, But Actium, lost for Cleopatra's eyes, Outbalances all Caesar's victories.[gd]

V.

He died at fifty for a queen of forty; I wish their years had been fifteen and twenty,[ge] For then wealth, kingdoms, worlds are but a sport—I Remember when, though I had no great plenty Of worlds to lose, yet still, to pay my court, I Gave what I had—a heart;[331] as the world went, I Gave what was worth a world; for worlds could never Restore me those pure feelings, gone for ever.

VI.

'T was the boy's "mite," and, like the "widow's," may Perhaps be weighed hereafter, if not now; But whether such things do or do not weigh, All who have loved, or love, will still allow Life has nought like it. God is Love, they say, And Love's a god, or was before the brow Of Earth was wrinkled by the sins and tears Of—but Chronology best knows the years.

VII.

We left our hero and third heroine in A kind of state more awkward than uncommon, For gentlemen must sometimes risk their skin For that sad tempter, a forbidden woman: Sultans too much abhor this sort of sin, And don't agree at all with the wise Roman, Heroic, stoic Cato, the sententious, Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.[332]

VIII.

I know Gulbeyaz was extremely wrong; I own it, I deplore it, I condemn it; But I detest all fiction even in song, And so must tell the truth, howe'er you blame it. Her reason being weak, her passions strong, She thought that her Lord's heart (even could she claim it) Was scarce enough; for he had fifty-nine Years, and a fifteen-hundredth concubine.

IX.

I am not, like Cassio, "an arithmetician," But by "the bookish theoric"[333] it appears, If 't is summed up with feminine precision, That, adding to the account his Highness' years, The fair Sultana erred from inanition; For, were the Sultan just to all his dears, She could but claim the fifteen-hundredth part Of what should be monopoly—the heart.

X.

It is observed that ladies are litigious Upon all legal objects of possession, And not the least so when they are religious, Which doubles what they think of the transgression: With suits and prosecutions they besiege us, As the tribunals show through many a session, When they suspect that any one goes shares In that to which the law makes them sole heirs.

XI.

Now, if this holds good in a Christian land, The heathen also, though with lesser latitude,[gf] Are apt to carry things with a high hand, And take, what Kings call "an imposing attitude;" And for their rights connubial make a stand, When their liege husbands treat them with ingratitude; And as four wives must have quadruple claims, The Tigris hath its jealousies like Thames.

XII.

Gulbeyaz was the fourth, and (as I said) The favourite; but what's favour amongst four? Polygamy may well be held in dread, Not only as a sin, but as a bore: Most wise men with one moderate woman wed,[gg] Will scarcely find philosophy for more; And all (except Mahometans) forbear To make the nuptial couch a "Bed of Ware."[334]

XIII.

His Highness, the sublimest of mankind,—[gh] So styled according to the usual forms Of every monarch, till they are consigned To those sad hungry Jacobins the worms, Who on the very loftiest kings have dined,— His Highness gazed upon Gulbeyaz' charms, Expecting all the welcome of a lover (A "Highland welcome"[335] all the wide world over).

XIV.

Now here we should distinguish; for howe'er Kisses, sweet words, embraces, and all that, May look like what it is—neither here nor there,[gi] They are put on as easily as a hat, Or rather bonnet, which the fair sex wear, Trimmed either heads or hearts to decorate, Which form an ornament, but no more part Of heads, than their caresses of the heart.

XV.

A slight blush, a soft tremor, a calm kind Of gentle feminine delight, and shown More in the eyelids than the eyes, resigned Rather to hide what pleases most unknown, Are the best tokens (to a modest mind)[gj] Of Love, when seated on his loveliest throne, A sincere woman's breast,—for over-warm Or over-cold annihilates the charm.

XVI.

For over-warmth, if false, is worse than truth; If true, 't is no great lease of its own fire; For no one, save in very early youth, Would like (I think) to trust all to desire, Which is but a precarious bond, in sooth, And apt to be transferred to the first buyer At a sad discount: while your over chilly Women, on t' other hand, seem somewhat silly.

XVII.

That is, we cannot pardon their bad taste, For so it seems to lovers swift or slow, Who fain would have a mutual flame confessed, And see a sentimental passion glow, Even were St. Francis' paramour their guest, In his monastic concubine of snow;—[336] In short, the maxim for the amorous tribe is Horatian, "Medio tu tutissimus ibis"[337]

XVIII.

The "tu" 's too much,—but let it stand,—the verse Requires it, that's to say, the English rhyme, And not the pink of old hexameters; But, after all, there's neither tune nor time In the last line, which cannot well be worse,[gk] And was thrust in to close the octave's chime: I own no prosody can ever rate it As a rule, but Truth may, if you translate it.

XIX.

If fair Gulbeyaz overdid her part, I know not—it succeeded, and success Is much in most things, not less in the heart Than other articles of female dress. Self-love in Man, too, beats all female art;[gl] They lie, we lie, all lie, but love no less: And no one virtue yet, except starvation, Could stop that worst of vices—propagation.

XX.

We leave this royal couple to repose: A bed is not a throne, and they may sleep, Whate'er their dreams be, if of joys or woes: Yet disappointed joys are woes as deep As any man's clay mixture undergoes. Our least of sorrows are such as we weep; 'T is the vile daily drop on drop which wears The soul out (like the stone) with petty cares.[gm]

XXI.

A scolding wife, a sullen son, a bill To pay, unpaid, protested, or discounted At a per-centage; a child cross, dog ill, A favourite horse fallen lame just as he's mounted, A bad old woman making a worse will,[338] Which leaves you minus of the cash you counted[gn] As certain;—these are paltry things, and yet I've rarely seen the man they did not fret.

XXII.

I'm a philosopher; confound them all![go] Bills, beasts, and men, and—no! not womankind![gp] With one good hearty curse I vent my gall, And then my Stoicism leaves nought behind Which it can either pain or evil call, And I can give my whole soul up to mind; Though what is soul, or mind, their birth or growth, Is more than I know—the deuce take them both![gq]

XXIII.

So now all things are damned one feels at ease, As after reading Athanasius' curse, Which doth your true believer so much please: I doubt if any now could make it worse O'er his worst enemy when at his knees, 'T is so sententious, positive, and terse, And decorates the Book of Common Prayer, As doth a rainbow the just clearing air.

XXIV.

Gulbeyaz and her lord were sleeping, or At least one of them!—Oh, the heavy night, When wicked wives, who love some bachelor,[gr] Lie down in dudgeon to sigh for the light Of the grey morning, and look vainly for Its twinkle through the lattice dusky quite— To toss, to tumble, doze, revive, and quake Lest their too lawful bed-fellow should wake![gs]

XXV.

These are beneath the canopy of heaven, Also beneath the canopy of beds Four-posted and silk-curtained, which are given For rich men and their brides to lay their heads Upon, in sheets white as what bards call "driven Snow,"[339] Well! 't is all hap-hazard when one weds. Gulbeyaz was an empress, but had been Perhaps as wretched if a peasants quean.

XXVI.

Don Juan in his feminine disguise,[340] With all the damsels in their long array, Had bowed themselves before th' imperial eyes, And at the usual signal ta'en their way Back to their chambers, those long galleries In the seraglio, where the ladies lay Their delicate limbs; a thousand bosoms there Beating for Love, as the caged bird's for air.

XXVII.

I love the sex, and sometimes would reverse The Tyrant's[341] wish, "that Mankind only had One neck, which he with one fell stroke might pierce:" My wish is quite as wide, but not so bad,[gt] And much more tender on the whole than fierce; It being (not now, but only while a lad) That Womankind had but one rosy mouth,[gu] To kiss them all at once from North to South.

XXVIII.

Oh, enviable Briareus! with thy hands And heads, if thou hadst all things multiplied In such proportion!—But my Muse withstands The giant thought of being a Titan's bride, Or travelling in Patagonian lands; So let us back to Lilliput, and guide Our hero through the labyrinth of Love In which we left him several lines above.

XXIX.

He went forth with the lovely Odalisques,[342] At the given signal joined to their array; And though he certainly ran many risks, Yet he could not at times keep, by the way, (Although the consequences of such frisks Are worse than the worst damages men pay In moral England, where the thing's a tax,) From ogling all their charms from breasts to backs.

XXX.

Still he forgot not his disguise:—along The galleries from room to room they walked, A virgin-like and edifying throng, By eunuchs flanked; while at their head there stalked A dame who kept up discipline among The female ranks, so that none stirred or talked, Without her sanction on their she-parades: Her title was "the Mother of the Maids."

XXXI.

Whether she was a "Mother," I know not, Or whether they were "Maids" who called her Mother; But this is her Seraglio title, got I know not how, but good as any other; So Cantemir[343] can tell you, or De Tott:[344] Her office was to keep aloof or smother All bad propensities in fifteen hundred Young women, and correct them when they blundered.

XXXII.

A goodly sinecure, no doubt! but made More easy by the absence of all men— Except his Majesty,—who, with her aid, And guards, and bolts, and walls, and now and then A slight example, just to cast a shade Along the rest, contrived to keep this den Of beauties cool as an Italian convent, Where all the passions have, alas! but one vent.

XXXIII.

And what is that? Devotion, doubtless—how Could you ask such a question?—but we will Continue. As I said, this goodly row Of ladies of all countries at the will[345] Of one good man, with stately march and slow, Like water-lilies floating down a rill— Or rather lake—for rills do not run slowly,— Paced on most maiden-like and melancholy.

XXXIV.

But when they reached their own apartments, there, Like birds, or boys, or bedlamites broke loose, Waves at spring-tide, or women anywhere When freed from bonds (which are of no great use After all), or like Irish at a fair, Their guards being gone, and as it were a truce Established between them and bondage, they Began to sing, dance, chatter, smile, and play.

XXXV.

Their talk, of course, ran most on the new comer; Her shape, her hair, her air, her everything: Some thought her dress did not so much become her, Or wondered at her ears without a ring; Some said her years were getting nigh their summer, Others contended they were but in spring; Some thought her rather masculine in height, While others wished that she had been so quite.

XXXVI.

But no one doubted on the whole, that she Was what her dress bespoke, a damsel fair, And fresh, and "beautiful exceedingly,"[346] Who with the brightest Georgians[347] might compare: They wondered how Gulbeyaz, too, could be So silly as to buy slaves who might share (If that his Highness wearied of his bride) Her Throne and Power, and everything beside.

XXXVII.

But what was strangest in this virgin crew, Although her beauty was enough to vex, After the first investigating view, They all found out as few, or fewer, specks In the fair form of their companion new, Than is the custom of the gentle sex, When they survey, with Christian eyes or Heathen, In a new face "the ugliest creature breathing."

XXXVIII.

And yet they had their little jealousies, Like all the rest; but upon this occasion, Whether there are such things as sympathies Without our knowledge or our approbation, Although they could not see through his disguise, All felt a soft kind of concatenation, Like Magnetism, or Devilism, or what You please—we will not quarrel about that:

XXXIX.

But certain 't is they all felt for their new Companion something newer still, as 't were A sentimental friendship through and through, Extremely pure, which made them all concur In wishing her their sister, save a few Who wished they had a brother just like her, Whom, if they were at home in sweet Circassia, They would prefer to Padisha[348] or Pacha.

XL.

Of those who had most genius for this sort Of sentimental friendship, there were three, Lolah, Katinka,[349] and Dudu—in short (To save description), fair as fair can be Were they, according to the best report, Though differing in stature and degree, And clime and time, and country and complexion— They all alike admired their new connection.

XLI.

Lolah was dusk as India and as warm; Katinka was a Georgian, white and red, With great blue eyes, a lovely hand and arm, And feet so small they scarce seemed made to tread, But rather skim the earth; while Dudu's form Looked more adapted to be put to bed, Being somewhat large, and languishing, and lazy, Yet of a beauty that would drive you crazy.

XLII.

A kind of sleepy Venus seemed Dudu, Yet very fit to "murder sleep"[350] in those Who gazed upon her cheek's transcendent hue, Her Attic forehead, and her Phidian nose: Few angles were there in her form, 't is true, Thinner she might have been, and yet scarce lose; Yet, after all, 't would puzzle to say where It would not spoil some separate charm to pare.

XLIII.

She was not violently lively, but Stole on your spirit like a May-day breaking; Her eyes were not too sparkling, yet, half-shut, They put beholders in a tender taking; She looked (this simile's quite new) just cut From marble, like Pygmalion's statue waking, The mortal and the marble still at strife, And timidly expanding into Life.

XLIV.

Lolah demanded the new damsel's name— "Juanna."—Well, a pretty name enough. Katinka asked her also whence she came— "From Spain."—"But where is Spain?"—"Don't ask such stuff, Nor show your Georgian ignorance—for shame!" Said Lolah, with an accent rather rough, To poor Katinka: "Spain's an island near Morocco, betwixt Egypt and Tangier."

XLV.

Dudu said nothing, but sat down beside Juanna, playing with her veil or hair; And, looking at her steadfastly, she sighed, As if she pitied her for being there, A pretty stranger without friend or guide, And all abashed, too, at the general stare Which welcomes hapless strangers in all places, With kind remarks upon their mien and faces.

XLVI.

But here the Mother of the Maids drew near, With "Ladies, it is time to go to rest. I'm puzzled what to do with you, my dear!" She added to Juanna, their new guest: "Your coming has been unexpected here, And every couch is occupied; you had best Partake of mine; but by to-morrow early We will have all things settled for you fairly."

XLVII.

Here Lolah interposed—"Mamma, you know You don't sleep soundly, and I cannot bear That anybody should disturb you so; I'll take Juanna; we're a slenderer pair Than you would make the half of;—don't say no; And I of your young charge will take due care." But here Katinka interfered, and said, "She also had compassion and a bed."

XLVIII.

"Besides, I hate to sleep alone," quoth she. The matron frowned: "Why so?"—"For fear of ghosts," Replied Katinka; "I am sure I see A phantom upon each of the four posts; And then I have the worst dreams that can be, Of Guebres, Giaours, and Ginns, and Gouls in hosts." The dame replied, "Between your dreams and you, I fear Juanna's dreams would be but few.

XLIX.

"You, Lolah, must continue still to lie Alone, for reasons which don't matter; you The same, Katinka, until by and by: And I shall place Juanna with Dudu, Who's quiet, inoffensive, silent, shy, And will not toss and chatter the night through. What say you, child?"—Dudu said nothing, as Her talents were of the more silent class;

L.

But she rose up, and kissed the matron's brow Between the eyes, and Lolah on both cheeks, Katinka too; and with a gentle bow (Curt'sies are neither used by Turks nor Greeks) She took Juanna by the hand to show Their place of rest, and left to both their piques, The others pouting at the matron's preference Of Dudu, though they held their tongues from deference.

LI.

It was a spacious chamber (Oda is The Turkish title), and ranged round the wall Were couches, toilets—and much more than this I might describe, as I have seen it all, But it suffices—little was amiss; 'T was on the whole a nobly furnished hall, With all things ladies want, save one or two, And even those were nearer than they knew.

LII.

Dudu, as has been said, was a sweet creature, Not very dashing, but extremely winning, With the most regulated charms of feature, Which painters cannot catch like faces sinning Against proportion—the wild strokes of nature Which they hit off at once in the beginning, Full of expression, right or wrong, that strike, And pleasing, or unpleasing, still are like.

LIII.

But she was a soft landscape of mild earth, Where all was harmony, and calm, and quiet, Luxuriant, budding; cheerful without mirth, Which, if not happiness, is much more nigh it Than are your mighty passions and so forth, Which, some call "the Sublime:" I wish they'd try it: I've seen your stormy seas and stormy women, And pity lovers rather more than seamen.

LIV.

But she was pensive more than melancholy, And serious more than pensive, and serene, It may be, more than either—not unholy Her thoughts, at least till now, appear to have been. The strangest thing was, beauteous, she was wholly Unconscious, albeit turned of quick seventeen, That she was fair, or dark, or short, or tall; She never thought about herself at all.

LV.

And therefore was she kind and gentle as The Age of Gold (when gold was yet unknown, By which its nomenclature came to pass;[gv] Thus most appropriately has been shown "Lucus a non lucendo," not what was, But what was not; a sort of style that's grown Extremely common in this age, whose metal The Devil may decompose, but never settle:[gw]

LVI.

I think it may be of "Corinthian Brass,"[351] Which was a mixture of all metals, but The brazen uppermost). Kind reader! pass This long parenthesis: I could not shut It sooner for the soul of me, and class My faults even with your own! which meaneth, Put A kind construction upon them and me: But that you won't—then don't—I am not less free.

LVII.

'T is time we should return to plain narration, And thus my narrative proceeds:—Dudu, With every kindness short of ostentation, Showed Juan, or Juanna, through and through This labyrinth of females, and each station Described—what's strange—in words extremely few: I have but one simile, and that's a blunder, For wordless woman, which is silent thunder.[gx]

LVIII.

And next she gave her (I say her, because The gender still was epicene, at least In outward show, which is a saving clause) An outline of the customs of the East, With all their chaste integrity of laws, By which the more a Harem is increased, The stricter doubtless grow the vestal duties Of any supernumerary beauties.

LIX.

And then she gave Juanna a chaste kiss: Dudu was fond of kissing—which I'm sure That nobody can ever take amiss, Because 't is pleasant, so that it be pure, And between females means no more than this— That they have nothing better near, or newer. "Kiss" rhymes to "bliss" in fact as well as verse— I wish it never led to something worse.

LX.

In perfect innocence she then unmade Her toilet, which cost little, for she was A child of Nature, carelessly arrayed: If fond of a chance ogle at her glass, 'T was like the fawn, which, in the lake displayed, Beholds her own shy, shadowy image pass, When first she starts, and then returns to peep, Admiring this new native of the deep.

LXI.

And one by one her articles of dress Were laid aside; but not before she offered Her aid to fair Juanna, whose excess Of modesty declined the assistance proffered: Which passed well off—as she could do no less; Though by this politesse she rather suffered, Pricking her fingers with those cursed pins, Which surely were invented for our sins,—

LXII.

Making a woman like a porcupine, Not to be rashly touched. But still more dread, Oh ye! whose fate it is, as once 't was mine, In early youth, to turn a lady's maid;— I did my very boyish best to shine In tricking her out for a masquerade: The pins were placed sufficiently, but not Stuck all exactly in the proper spot.

LXIII.

But these are foolish things to all the wise, And I love Wisdom more than she loves me; My tendency is to philosophise On most things, from a tyrant to a tree; But still the spouseless virgin Knowledge flies. What are we? and whence came we? what shall be Our ultimate existence? what's our present? Are questions answerless, and yet incessant.

LXIV.

There was deep silence in the chamber: dim And distant from each other burned the lights, And slumber hovered o'er each lovely limb Of the fair occupants: if there be sprites, They should have walked there in their sprightliest trim, By way of change from their sepulchral sites, And shown themselves as ghosts of better taste Than haunting some old ruin or wild waste.

LXV.

Many and beautiful lay those around, Like flowers of different hue, and clime, and root, In some exotic garden sometimes found, With cost, and care, and warmth induced to shoot. One with her auburn tresses lightly bound, And fair brows gently drooping, as the fruit Nods from the tree, was slumbering with soft breath, And lips apart, which showed the pearls beneath.

LXVI.

One with her flushed cheek laid on her white arm, And raven ringlets gathered in dark crowd Above her brow, lay dreaming soft and warm; And smiling through her dream, as through a cloud The moon breaks, half unveiled each further charm, As, slightly stirring in her snowy shroud, Her beauties seized the unconscious hour of night All bashfully to struggle into light.

LXVII.

This is no bull, although it sounds so; for 'T was night, but there were lamps, as hath been said. A third's all pallid aspect offered more The traits of sleeping sorrow, and betrayed Through the heaved breast the dream of some far shore Beloved and deplored; while slowly strayed (As night-dew, on a cypress glittering, tinges The black bough) tear-drops through her eyes' dark fringes.

LXVIII.

A fourth as marble, statue-like and still, Lay in a breathless, hushed, and stony sleep; White, cold, and pure, as looks a frozen rill, Or the snow minaret on an Alpine steep, Or Lot's wife done in salt,—or what you will;— My similes are gathered in a heap, So pick and choose—perhaps you'll be content With a carved lady on a monument.

LXIX.

And lo! a fifth appears;—and what is she? A lady of a "certain age,"[352] which means Certainly aged—what her years might be I know not, never counting past their teens; But there she slept, not quite so fair to see, As ere that awful period intervenes Which lays both men and women on the shelf, To meditate upon their sins and self.

LXX.

But all this time how slept, or dreamed, Dudu? With strict inquiry I could ne'er discover, And scorn to add a syllable untrue; But ere the middle watch was hardly over, Just when the fading lamps waned dim and blue, And phantoms hovered, or might seem to hover, To those who like their company, about The apartment, on a sudden she screamed out:

LXXI.

And that so loudly, that upstarted all The Oda, in a general commotion: Matron and maids, and those whom you may call Neither, came crowding like the waves of Ocean, One on the other, throughout the whole hall, All trembling, wondering, without the least notion More than I have myself of what could make The calm Dudu so turbulently wake.

LXXII.

But wide awake she was, and round her bed. With floating draperies and with flying hair, With eager eyes, and light but hurried tread, And bosoms, arms, and ankles glancing bare, And bright as any meteor ever bred By the North Pole,—they sought her cause of care, For she seemed agitated, flushed, and frightened, Her eye dilated, and her colour heightened.

LXXIII.

But what is strange—and a strong proof how great A blessing is sound sleep—Juanna lay As fast as ever husband by his mate In holy matrimony snores away. Not all the clamour broke her happy state Of slumber, ere they shook her,—so they say At least,—and then she, too, unclosed her eyes, And yawned a good deal with discreet surprise.[gy]

LXXIV.

And now commenced a strict investigation, Which, as all spoke at once, and more than once Conjecturing, wondering, asking a narration, Alike might puzzle either wit or dunce To answer in a very clear oration. Dudu had never passed for wanting sense, But being "no orator as Brutus is,"[353] Could not at first expound what was amiss.

LXXV.

At length she said, that in a slumber sound She dreamed a dream, of walking in a wood— A "wood obscure," like that where Dante found[354] Himself in at the age when all grow good;[gz] Life's half-way house, where dames with virtue crowned Run much less risk of lovers turning rude; And that this wood was full of pleasant fruits, And trees of goodly growth and spreading roots;

LXXVI.

And in the midst a golden apple grew,— A most prodigious pippin—but it hung Rather too high and distant; that she threw Her glances on it, and then, longing, flung Stones and whatever she could pick up, to Bring down the fruit, which still perversely clung To its own bough, and dangled yet in sight, But always at a most provoking height;[ha]

LXXVII.

That on a sudden, when she least had hope, It fell down of its own accord before Her feet; that her first movement was to stoop And pick it up, and bite it to the core; That just as her young lip began to ope[hb] Upon the golden fruit the vision bore, A bee flew out, and stung her to the heart, And so—she woke with a great scream and start.

LXXVIII.

All this she told with some confusion and Dismay, the usual consequence of dreams Of the unpleasant kind, with none at hand To expound their vain and visionary gleams. I've known some odd ones which seemed really planned Prophetically, or that which one deems A "strange coincidence," to use a phrase By which such things are settled now-a-days.[355]

LXXIX.

The damsels, who had thoughts of some great harm, Began, as is the consequence of fear, To scold a little at the false alarm That broke for nothing on their sleeping ear. The matron, too, was wroth to leave her warm Bed for the dream she had been obliged to hear, And chafed at poor Dudu, who only sighed, And said, that she was sorry she had cried.

LXXX.

"I've heard of stories of a cock and bull; But visions of an apple and a bee, To take us from our natural rest, and pull The whole Oda from their beds at half-past three, Would make us think the moon is at its full. You surely are unwell, child! we must see, To-morrow, what his Highness's physician Will say to this hysteric of a vision.

LXXXI.

"And poor Juanna, too, the child's first night Within these walls, to be broke in upon With such a clamour—I had thought it right That the young stranger should not lie alone, And, as the quietest of all, she might With you, Dudu, a good night's rest have known: But now I must transfer her to the charge Of Lolah—though her couch is not so large."

LXXXII.

Lolah's eyes sparkled at the proposition; But poor Dudu, with large drops in her own, Resulting from the scolding or the vision, Implored that present pardon might be shown For this first fault, and that on no condition (She added in a soft and piteous tone) Juanna should be taken from her, and Her future dreams should be all kept in hand.

LXXXIII.

She promised never more to have a dream, At least to dream so loudly as just now; She wondered at herself how she could scream— 'T was foolish, nervous, as she must allow, A fond hallucination, and a theme For laughter—but she felt her spirits low, And begged they would excuse her; she'd get over This weakness in a few hours, and recover.

LXXXIV.

And here Juanna kindly interposed, And said she felt herself extremely well Where she then was, as her sound sleep disclosed, When all around rang like a tocsin bell; She did not find herself the least disposed To quit her gentle partner, and to dwell Apart from one who had no sin to show, Save that of dreaming once "mal-a-propos."

LXXXV.

As thus Juanna spoke, Dudu turned round And hid her face within Juanna's breast: Her neck alone was seen, but that was found The colour of a budding rose's crest.[hc] I can't tell why she blushed, nor can expound The mystery of this rupture of their test; All that I know is, that the facts I state Are true as Truth has ever been of late,

LXXXVI.

And so good night to them,—or, if you will, Good morrow—for the cock had crown, and light Began to clothe each Asiatic hill, And the mosque crescent struggled into sight Of the long caravan, which in the chill Of dewy dawn wound slowly round each height That stretches to the stony belt, which girds Asia, where Kaff looks down upon the Kurds.[356]

LXXXVII.

With the first ray, or rather grey of morn, Gulbeyaz rose from restlessness; and pale As Passion rises, with its bosom worn, Arrayed herself with mantle, gem, and veil. The Nightingale that sings with the deep thorn, Which fable places in her breast of wail, Is lighter far of heart and voice than those Whose headlong passions form their proper woes.

LXXXVIII.

And that's the moral of this composition, If people would but see its real drift;— But that they will not do without suspicion, Because all gentle readers have the gift Of closing 'gainst the light their orbs of vision: While gentle writers also love to lift Their voices 'gainst each other, which is natural, The numbers are too great for them to flatter all.

LXXXIX.

Rose the Sultana from a bed of splendour, Softer than the soft Sybarite's, who cried[357] Aloud because his feelings were too tender To brook a ruffled rose-leaf by his side,— So beautiful that Art could little mend her, Though pale with conflicts between Love and Pride;— So agitated was she with her error, She did not even look into the mirror.

XC.

Also arose about the self-same time, Perhaps a little later, her great Lord, Master of thirty kingdoms so sublime, And of a wife by whom he was abhorred; A thing of much less import in that clime— At least to those of incomes which afford The filling up their whole connubial cargo— Than where two wives are under an embargo.

XCI.

He did not think much on the matter, nor Indeed on any other: as a man He liked to have a handsome paramour At hand, as one may like to have a fan, And therefore of Circassians had good store, As an amusement after the Divan; Though an unusual fit of love, or duty, Had made him lately bask in his bride's beauty.

XCII.

And now he rose; and after due ablutions Exacted by the customs of the East, And prayers and other pious evolutions, He drank six cups of coffee at the least, And then withdrew to hear about the Russians, Whose victories had recently increased In Catherine's reign, whom Glory still adores, As greatest of all sovereigns and w——s.

XCIII.

But oh, thou grand legitimate Alexander![hd][358] Her son's son, let not this last phrase offend Thine ear, if it should reach—and now rhymes wander Almost as far as Petersburgh, and lend A dreadful impulse to each loud meander Of murmuring Liberty's wide waves, which blend Their roar even with the Baltic's—so you be Your father's son, 't is quite enough for me.

XCIV.

To call men love-begotten, or proclaim[he] Their mothers as the antipodes of Timon, That hater of Mankind, would be a shame, A libel, or whate'er you please to rhyme on: But people's ancestors are History's game;[hf] And if one Lady's slip could leave a crime on All generations, I should like to know What pedigree the best would have to show?[359]

XCV.

Had Catherine and the Sultan understood Their own true interests, which Kings rarely know, Until 't is taught by lessons rather rude, There was a way to end their strife, although Perhaps precarious, had they but thought good, Without the aid of Prince or Plenipo: She to dismiss her guards and he his Harem, And for their other matters, meet and share 'em.

XCVI.

But as it was, his Highness had to hold His daily council upon ways and means How to encounter with this martial scold, This modern Amazon and Queen of queans; And the perplexity could not be told Of all the pillars of the State, which leans Sometimes a little heavy on the backs Of those who cannot lay on a new tax.

XCVII.

Meantime Gulbeyaz when her King was gone, Retired into her boudoir, a sweet place For love or breakfast; private, pleasing, lone, And rich with all contrivances which grace Those gay recesses:—many a precious stone Sparkled along its roof, and many a vase Of porcelain held in the fettered flowers, Those captive soothers of a captive's hours.

XCVIII.

Mother of pearl, and porphyry, and marble, Vied with each other on this costly spot; And singing birds without were heard to warble; And the stained glass which lighted this fair grot Varied each ray;—but all descriptions garble The true effect,[360] and so we had better not Be too minute; an outline is the best,— A lively reader's fancy does the rest.

XCIX.

And here she summoned Baba, and required Don Juan at his hands, and information Of what had passed since all the slaves retired, And whether he had occupied their station: If matters had been managed as desired, And his disguise with due consideration Kept up; and above all, the where and how He had passed the night, was what she wished to know.

C.

Baba, with some embarrassment, replied To this long catechism of questions, asked More easily than answered,—that he had tried His best to obey in what he had been tasked; But there seemed something that he wished to hide, Which Hesitation more betrayed than masked; He scratched his ear, the infallible resource To which embarrassed people have recourse.

CI.

Gulbeyaz was no model of true patience, Nor much disposed to wait in word or deed; She liked quick answers in all conversations; And when she saw him stumbling like a steed In his replies, she puzzled him for fresh ones; And as his speech grew still more broken-kneed, Her cheek began to flush, her eyes to sparkle, And her proud brow's blue veins to swell and darkle.

CII.

When Baba saw these symptoms, which he knew To bode him no great good, he deprecated Her anger, and beseeched she'd hear him through— He could not help the thing which he related: Then out it came at length, that to Dudu Juan was given in charge, as hath been stated; But not by Baba's fault, he said, and swore on The holy camel's hump, besides the Koran.

CIII.

The chief dame of the Oda,[361] upon whom The discipline of the whole Harem bore, As soon as they re-entered their own room, For Baba's function stopped short at the door, Had settled all; nor could he then presume (The aforesaid Baba) just then to do more, Without exciting such suspicion as Might make the matter still worse than it was.

CIV.

He hoped, indeed he thought, he could be sure, Juan had not betrayed himself; in fact 'T was certain that his conduct had been pure, Because a foolish or imprudent act Would not alone have made him insecure, But ended in his being found out and sacked, And thrown into the sea.—Thus Baba spoke Of all save Dudu's dream, which was no joke.

CV.

This he discreetly kept in the back ground, And talked away—and might have talked till now, For any further answer that he found, So deep an anguish wrung Gulbeyaz' brow: Her cheek turned ashes, ears rung, brain whirled round, As if she had received a sudden blow, And the heart's dew of pain sprang fast and chilly O'er her fair front, like Morning's on a lily.

CVI.

Although she was not of the fainting sort, Baba thought she would faint, but there he erred— It was but a convulsion, which though short Can never be described; we all have heard,[hg] And some of us have felt thus "all amort"[362] When things beyond the common have occurred;— Gulbeyaz proved in that brief agony What she could ne'er express—then how should I?

CVII.

She stood a moment as a Pythoness Stands on her tripod, agonized, and full Of inspiration gathered from distress, When all the heart-strings like wild horses pull The heart asunder;—then, as more or less Their speed abated or their strength grew dull, She sunk down on her seat by slow degrees, And bowed her throbbing head o'er trembling knees.

CVIII.

Her face declined and was unseen; her hair Fell in long tresses like the weeping willow, Sweeping the marble underneath her chair, Or rather sofa (for it was all pillow, A low, soft ottoman), and black Despair Stirred up and down her bosom like a billow, Which rushes to some shore whose shingles check Its farther course, but must receive its wreck.

CIX.

Her head hung down, and her long hair in stooping Concealed her features better than a veil; And one hand o'er the ottoman lay drooping, White, waxen, and as alabaster pale: Would that I were a painter! to be grouping All that a poet drags into detail! Oh that my words were colours! but their tints May serve perhaps as outlines or slight hints.

CX.

Baba, who knew by experience when to talk And when to hold his tongue, now held it till This passion might blow o'er, nor dared to balk Gulbeyaz' taciturn or speaking will. At length she rose up, and began to walk Slowly along the room, but silent still, And her brow cleared, but not her troubled eye; The wind was down, but still the sea ran high.

CXI.

She stopped, and raised her head to speak-but paused And then moved on again with rapid pace; Then slackened it, which is the march most caused By deep emotion:—you may sometimes trace A feeling in each footstep, as disclosed By Sallust in his Catiline, who, chased By all the demons of all passions, showed Their work even by the way in which he trode[363].

CXII.

Gulbeyaz stopped and beckoned Baba:—"Slave! Bring the two slaves!" she said in a low tone, But one which Baba did not like to brave, And yet he shuddered, and seemed rather prone To prove reluctant, and begged leave to crave (Though he well knew the meaning) to be shown What slaves her Highness wished to indicate, For fear of any error, like the late.

CXIII.

"The Georgian and her paramour," replied The Imperial Bride—and added, "Let the boat Be ready by the secret portal's side: You know the rest." The words stuck in her throat, Despite her injured love and fiery pride; And of this Baba willingly took note, And begged by every hair of Mahomet's beard, She would revoke the order he had heard.

CXIV.

"To hear is to obey," he said; "but still, Sultana, think upon the consequence: It is not that I shall not all fulfil Your orders, even in their severest sense; But such precipitation may end ill, Even at your own imperative expense: I do not mean destruction and exposure, In case of any premature disclosure;

CXV.

"But your own feelings. Even should all the rest Be hidden by the rolling waves, which hide Already many a once love-beaten breast Deep in the caverns of the deadly tide— You love this boyish, new, Seraglio guest, And if this violent remedy be tried— Excuse my freedom, when I here assure you, That killing him is not the way to cure you."

CXVI.

"What dost thou know of Love or feeling?—Wretch! Begone!" she cried, with kindling eyes—"and do My bidding!" Baba vanished, for to stretch His own remonstrance further he well knew Might end in acting as his own "Jack Ketch;" And though he wished extremely to get through This awkward business without harm to others, He still preferred his own neck to another's.

CXVII.

Away he went then upon his commission, Growling and grumbling in good Turkish phrase Against all women of whate'er condition, Especially Sultanas and their ways; Their obstinacy, pride, and indecision, Their never knowing their own mind two days, The trouble that they gave, their immorality, Which made him daily bless his own neutrality.

CXVIII.

And then he called his brethren to his aid, And sent one on a summons to the pair, That they must instantly be well arrayed, And above all be combed even to a hair, And brought before the Empress, who had made Inquiries after them with kindest care: At which Dudu looked strange, and Juan silly; But go they must at once, and will I—nill I.

CXIX.

And here I leave them at their preparation For the imperial presence, wherein whether Gulbeyaz showed them both commiseration, Or got rid of the parties altogether, Like other angry ladies of her nation,— Are things the turning of a hair or feather May settle; but far be 't from me to anticipate In what way feminine caprice may dissipate.

CXX.

I leave them for the present with good wishes, Though doubts of their well doing, to arrange Another part of History; for the dishes Of this our banquet we must sometimes change; And trusting Juan may escape the fishes, (Although his situation now seems strange, And scarce secure),—as such digressions are fair, The Muse will take a little touch at warfare.

End of Canto 6th.

FOOTNOTES:

{268}[328] [Two MSS. (A, B) are extant, A in Byron's handwriting, B a transcription by Mrs. Shelley. The variants are marked respectively MS. A., MS. B.

Motto: "Thinkest thou that because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale? Aye! and ginger shall be hot in the mouth too."—Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Shakespeare, act ii. sc. 3, lines 109-112.—[MS. B.]

This motto, in an amended form, which was prefixed to the First Canto in 1833, appears on the title-page of the first edition of Cantos VI., VII., VIII., published by John Hunt in 1823.]

[329] [See Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, act iv. sc. 3, lines 216, 217.]

[330] [Jacob Behmen (or Boehm) stands for "mystic." Byron twice compares him with Wordsworth (see Letters, 1899, iii. 239, 1900, iv. 238).]

{269}[gb] Man with his head reflects (as Spurzheim tells), But Woman with the heart—or something else. or, Man's pensive part is (now and then) the head, Woman's the heart or anything instead.— [MS. A. Alternative reading.]

[gc] Like to a Comet's tail——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[gd] O'erbalance all the Caesar's victories.—[MS. A.] Outbalance all the Caesar's victories.—[MS. B.]

In the Shelley copy "o'erbalance" has been erased and "outbalance" inserted in Byron's handwriting. The lines must have been intended to run thus

'T is not his conquests keep his name in fashion But Actium lost; for Cleopatra's eyes Outbalance all the Caesar's victories.

[ge] I wish that they had been eighteen——.—[MS. A. erased.]

{270}[331] [To Mary Chaworth. Compare "Our union would have healed feuds ... it would have joined lands broad and rich; it would have joined at least one heart."—Detached Thoughts, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 441.]

[332] [Cato gave up his wife Martia to his friend Hortensius; but, on the death of the latter, took her back again. This conduct was censured by Caesar, who observed that Cato had an eye to the main chance. "It was the wealth of Hortensius. He lent the young man his wife, that he might make her a rich widow."—Langhorne's Plutarch, 1838, pp. 539, 547.]

{271}[333] [Othello, act i. sc. i, lines 19-24.]

[gf]—— though with greater latitude.—[MS. A.]

{272}[gg] —— with one foolish woman wed.—[MS. B.]

[334] [The famous bed, measuring twelve feet square, to which an allusion is made by Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, act iii. sc. 2, line 44, was formerly preserved at the Saracen's Head at Ware, in Hertfordshire. The bed was removed from Ware to the Rye House in 1869.]

[gh] His Highness the sublimest of mankind, The greatest, wisest, bravest, [and the] best, Proved by his edicts somewhat blind, Who saw his virtues as they saw the restHis Highness quite connubially inclined Had deigned that night to be Gulbeyaz' guest.—[MS. A.]

[335] See Waverley [chap. xx.]

[gi] May look like what I need not mention here—[MS. A.]

{273}[gj] Are better signs if such things can be signed.—[MS. A.]

[336] [For St. Francis of Assisi, and the "seven great balls of snow," of which "the greatest" was "his wife," see The Golden Legend, 1900, v. 221, vide ante, p. 32, note 1.]

[337] [The words medio, etc., are to be found in Ovid., Metam., lib. ii. line 137; the doctrine, Virtus est medium vitiorum, in Horace, Epist., lib. i, ep. xviii. line 9.]

[gk] In the damned line ('t is worth, at least, a curse) Which I have examined too close.—[MS. erased.]

{274}[gl] Self-love that whetstone of Don Cupid's art.—[MS. A.]

[gm]—— with love despairs.—[MS. A. erased.]

[338] [Lady Noel's will was proved February 22, 1812. She left to the trustees a portrait of Byron ... with directions that it was not to be shown to his daughter Ada till she attained the age of twenty-one; but that if her mother was still living, it was not to be so delivered without Lady Byron's consent.—Letters, 1901, vi. 42, note 1.]

[gn] Which diddles you——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[go] I'm a philosopher; G—d damn them all.—[MS. B.]

[gp] Bills, women, wives, dogs, horses and mankind.—[MS. B. erased.]

{275}[gq] Is more than I know, and, so, damn them both.—[MS. A. erased.]

[gr] When we lie down—wife, spouse, or bachelor By what we love not, to sigh for the light.—[MS. A. erased.]

[gs] By their infernal bedfellow——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[339] [The comparison of Queen Caroline to snow may be traced to an article in the Times of August 23, 1820: "The Queen may now, we believe, be considered as triumphing! For the first three years at least of her Majesty's painful peregrinations, she stands before her husband's admiring subjects 'as white as unsunned snows.'" Political bards and lampoonists of the king's party thanked the Times for "giving them that word."]

{276}[340] [According to Gronow (Reminiscences, 1889, i. 62), a practical joke of Dan Mackinnon's (vide ante, p. 69, footnote) gave Byron a hint for this scene in the harem: "Lord Wellington was curious about visiting a convent near Lisbon, and the lady abbess made no difficulty. Mackinnon hearing this contrived to get clandestinely within the sacred walls ... at all events, when Lord Wellington arrived Dan Mackinnon was to be seen among the nuns, dressed out in their sacred costume, with his whiskers shaved; and, as he possessed good features, he was declared to be one of the best-looking among those chaste dames. It was supposed that this adventure, which was known to Lord Byron, suggested a similar episode in Don Juan."]

[341] [Caligula—vide Suetonius, De XII. Caes., C. Caes. Calig., cap, xxx., "Infensus turbae faventi adversus studium exclamavit: 'Utinam populus Romanus unam cervicem haberet!'"]

[gt] My wish were general but no worse.—[MS. A. erased.]

[gu] That Womankind had only one—say heart.—[MS. A. erased.]

{277}[342] The ladies of the Seraglio.

[343] [Demetrius Cantemir, hospodar of Moldavia. His work, the History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire, was translated into English by N. Tyndal, 1734. He died in 1723.]

[344] [Baron de Tott, in his Memoirs concerning the State of the Turkish Empire (1786, i. 72), gives the title of this functionary as Kiaya Kadun, i.e. Mistress or Governess of the Ladies.]

{278}[345] [The repetition of the same rhyme-word was noted in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, July, 1823, vol. xiv. p. 90.]

{279}[346]

["I guess, 't was frightful there to see A lady so richly clad as she— Beautiful exceedingly." Christabel, Part I. lines 66-68.]

[347] "It is in the adjacent climates of Georgia, Mingrelia, and Circassia, that nature has placed, at least to our eyes, the model of beauty, in the shape of the limbs, the colour of the skin, the symmetry of the features, and the expression of the countenance: the men are formed for action, the women for love."—Gibbon, [Decline and Fall, etc., 1825, iii 126.]

{280}[348] Padisha is the Turkish title of the Grand Signior.

[349] [Katinka was the name of the youngest sister of Theresa, the "Maid of Athens."—See letter to H. Drury, May 3, 1810, Letters, 1898, i. 269, note 1; and Poetical Works, 1900, iii. 15, note 1.

It is probable that the originals of Katinka and Dudu were two Circassians who were presented for sale to Nicolas Ernest Kleeman (see his Voyage de Vienne, etc., 1780, pp. 142, 143) at Kaffa, in the Crimea. Of the first he writes, "Elle me baisa la main, et par l'ordre de son maitre, elle se promena en long et en large, pour me faire remarquer sa taille mince et aisee. Elle avoit un joli petit pied.... Quand elle a en ote son voile elle a presente a mes yeux une beaute tres-attrayante; ses cheveux etoient blonds argentes; elle avoit de grands yeux bleux, le nez un peu long, et les levres appetissantes. Sa figure etoit reguliere, son teint blanc, delicat, les joues couvertes d'un charmant vermilion.... La seconde etoit un peu petite, assez grasse, et avoit les cheveux roux, l'air sensuel et revenant." Kleeman pretended to offer terms, took notes, and retired. But the Circassians are before us still.]

{281}[350] [Macbeth, act ii. sc. 2, line 36.]

{284}[gv] By which no doubt its Baptism came to pass.—[MS. A. erased.]

[gw] The Devil in Hell might melt but never settle.—[MS. A. erased.]

[351] [Hence the title of the satire, The Age of Bronze.]

[gx] For Woman's silence startles more than thunder.—[MS. A. erased.]

{287}[352] [Compare Beppo, stanza xxii. line 2, Poetical Works, 1901, iv. 166, note 1.]

[gy] With no less true and feminine surprise.—[MS. A. erased.]

{289}[353] [Julius Caesar, act iii. sc. II, line 216.]

[354]

["Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura," etc.

Inferno, Canto I, lines I, 2.]

[gz] Himself in an age when men grow good, As Life's best half is done——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[ha] But out of reach—a most provoking sight.—[MS. A. erased.]

[hb] That ere her unreluctant lips could ope.—[MS. A.]

{290}[355] [One of the advocates employed for Queen Caroline in the House of Lords spoke of some of the most puzzling passages in the history of her intercourse with Bergami, as amounting to "odd instances of strange coincidence."—Ed. 1833, xvi. 160.]

{291}[hc] At least as red as the Flamingo's breast.—[MS. A. erased.]

{292}[356] [Byron used Kaff for Caucasus, vide ante, English Bards, etc., line 1022, Poetical Works, 1898, i. 378, note 3. But there may be some allusion to the fabulous Kaff, "anciently imagined by the Asiatics to surround the world, to bind the horizon on all sides." There was a proverb "From Kaf to Kaf," i.e. "the wide world through." See, too, D'Herbelot's Bibliotheque Orientale, 1697, art. "Caf."]

[357] [See L.A. Seneca, De Ira, lib. ii. cap. 25.]

{294}[hd] Oh thou her lawful grandson Alexander Let not this quality offend——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[358] [Compare The Age of Bronze, lines 434, sq., Poetical Works, 1901, v. 563, note 1.]

{294}[he] To call a man a whoreson——.—[MS. A. erased.]

[hf] But a man's grandmother is deemed fair game.—[MS. A.]

[359] [It is probable that Byron knew that there was a "hint of illegitimacy" in his own pedigree. John Byron of Clayton, grandfather of Richard the second Lord Byron, was born, out of wedlock, to Elizabeth, daughter of William Costerden, of Blakesley, in Lancashire, widow to George Halgh of Halgh (sic), and second wife of Sir John Byron of Clayton, "little Sir John with the great beard." He succeeded to Newstead and the Lancashire estates, not as heir-at-law, but by deed of gift. (See letter to Murray, October 20, 1820, Letters, 1901, v. 99, note 2.)]

{295}[360] [Aubry de la Motraye, in describing the interior of the Grand Signior's palace, into which he gained admission as the assistant of a watchmaker who was employed to regulate the clocks, says that the eunuch who received them at the entrance of the harem, conducted them into a hall: "Cette salle est incrustee de porcelaines fines; et le lambris dore et azure qui orne le fond d'une coupole qui regne au-dessus, est des plus riches.... Une fontaine artificielle et jaillissante, dont le bassin est d'un pretieux marbre verd qui m'a paru serpentin ou jaspe, s'elevoit directement au milieu, sous le dome.... Je me trouvai la tete si pleine de Sophas de pretieux plafonds, de meubles superbes, en un mot, d'une si grande confusion de materiaux magnifiques, ... qu'il seroit difficile d'en donner une idee claire."—Voyages, 1727, i. 220, 222.]

{296}[361] ["Il n'ya point de Religieuses ... point de novices, plus soumises a la volonte de leur abbesse que ces filles [les Odaliques] le sont a leurs maitresses."—A. de la Motraye, Voyages, 1727, i. 338.]

{297}[hg] —— though seen not heard For it is silent.—[MS. A. erased.]

[362] ["How fares my Kate? What! sweeting, all amort?"—Taming of the Shrew, act iv. sc. 3, line 36. "Amort" is said to be a corruption of a la mort. Byron must have had in mind his silent ecstasy of grief when the Countess Guiccioli endeavoured to break the announcement of Allegra's death (April, 1822). "'I understand,' said he; 'it is enough; say no more.' A mortal paleness spread itself over his face, his strength failed him, and he sunk into a seat. His look was fixed, and the expression such that I began to fear for his reason; he did not shed a tear" (Life, p. 368).]

{299}[363] ["His guilty soul, at enmity with gods and men, could find no rest; so violently was his mind torn and distracted by a consciousness of guilt. Accordingly his countenance was pale, his eyes ghastly, his pace one while quick, another slow [citus modo, modo tardus incessus]; indeed, in all his looks there was an air of distraction."—Sallust, Catilina, cap. xv. sf.]



CANTO THE SEVENTH.[364]

I.

O LOVE! O Glory! what are ye who fly Around us ever, rarely to alight? There's not a meteor in the polar sky Of such transcendent and more fleeting flight. Chill, and chained to cold earth, we lift on high Our eyes in search of either lovely light; A thousand and a thousand colours they Assume, then leave us on our freezing way.

II.

And such as they are, such my present tale is, A nondescript and ever-varying rhyme, A versified Aurora Borealis, Which flashes o'er a waste and icy clime. When we know what all are, we must bewail us, But ne'ertheless I hope it is no crime To laugh at all things—for I wish to know What, after all, are all things—but a show?

III.

They accuse me—Me—the present writer of The present poem—of—I know not what—A tendency to under-rate and scoff At human power and virtue, and all that;[365] And this they say in language rather rough. Good God! I wonder what they would be at! I say no more than hath been said in Dante's Verse, and by Solomon and by Cervantes;

IV.

By Swift, by Machiavel, by Rochefoucault, By Fenelon, by Luther, and by Plato;[hh] By Tillotson, and Wesley, and Rousseau, Who knew this life was not worth a potato. 'T is not their fault, nor mine, if this be so,— For my part, I pretend not to be Cato, Nor even Diogenes.—We live and die, But which is best, you know no more than I.

V.

Socrates said, our only knowledge was[366] "To know that nothing could be known;" a pleasant Science enough, which levels to an ass Each man of wisdom, future, past, or present. Newton (that proverb of the mind), alas! Declared, with all his grand discoveries recent, That he himself felt only "like a youth Picking up shells by the great ocean—Truth."[hi][367]

VI.

Ecclesiastes said, "that all is vanity"— Most modern preachers say the same, or show it By their examples of true Christianity: In short, all know, or very soon may know it; And in this scene of all-confessed inanity, By Saint, by Sage, by Preacher, and by Poet, Must I restrain me, through the fear of strife, From holding up the nothingness of Life?[hj]

VII.

Dogs, or men!—for I flatter you[368] in saying That ye are dogs—your betters far—ye may Read, or read not, what I am now essaying To show ye what ye are in every way. As little as the moon stops for the baying Of wolves, will the bright Muse withdraw one ray From out her skies—then howl your idle wrath! While she still silvers o'er your gloomy path.

VIII.

"Fierce loves and faithless wars"—I am not sure If this be the right reading—'t is no matter; The fact's about the same, I am secure; I sing them both, and am about to batter A town which did a famous siege endure, And was beleaguered both by land and water By Souvaroff,[369] or Anglice Suwarrow, Who loved blood as an alderman loves marrow.

IX.

The fortress is called Ismail, and is placed Upon the Danube's left branch and left bank,[370] With buildings in the Oriental taste, But still a fortress of the foremost rank, Or was at least, unless 't is since defaced, Which with your conquerors is a common prank: It stands some eighty versts from the high sea, And measures round of toises thousands three.[371]

X.

Within the extent of this fortification A borough is comprised along the height Upon the left, which from its loftier station Commands the city, and upon its site A Greek had raised around this elevation A quantity of palisades upright, So placed as to impede the fire of those Who held the place, and to assist the foe's.[372]

XI.

This circumstance may serve to give a notion Of the high talents of this new Vauban: But the town ditch below was deep as Ocean, The rampart higher than you'd wish to hang: But then there was a great want of precaution (Prithee, excuse this engineering slang), Nor work advanced, nor covered way was there,[373] To hint, at least, "Here is no thoroughfare."

XII.

But a stone bastion, with a narrow gorge, And walls as thick as most skulls born as yet; Two batteries, cap-a-pie, as our St. George, Casemated[374] one, and t' other "a barbette,"[375] Of Danube's bank took formidable charge; While two-and-twenty cannon duly set Rose over the town's right side, in bristling tier, Forty feet high, upon a cavalier.[376]

XIII.

But from the river the town's open quite, Because the Turks could never be persuaded A Russian vessel e'er would heave in sight;[377] And such their creed was till they were invaded, When it grew rather late to set things right: But as the Danube could not well be waded, They looked upon the Muscovite flotilla, And only shouted, "Allah!" and "Bis Millah!"

XIV.

The Russians now were ready to attack; But oh, ye goddesses of War and Glory! How shall I spell the name of each Cossacque Who were immortal, could one tell their story? Alas! what to their memory can lack? Achilles' self was not more grim and gory Than thousands of this new and polished nation, Whose names want nothing but—pronunciation.

XV.

Still I'll record a few, if but to increase Our euphony: there was Strongenoff, and Strokonoff, Meknop, Serge Lwow, Arseniew of modern Greece, And Tschitsshakoff, and Roguenoff, and Chokenoff,[378] And others of twelve consonants apiece; And more might be found out, if I could poke enough Into gazettes; but Fame (capricious strumpet), It seems, has got an ear as well as trumpet,

XVI.

And cannot tune those discords of narration,[hk] Which may be names at Moscow, into rhyme; Yet there were several worth commemoration, As e'er was virgin of a nuptial chime; Soft words, too, fitted for the peroration Of Londonderry drawling against time, Ending in "ischskin," "ousckin," "iffskchy," "ouski," Of whom we can insert but Rousamouski,[379]

XVII.

Scherematoff and Chrematoff, Koklophti, Koclobski, Kourakin, and Mouskin Pouskin, All proper men of weapons, as e'er scoffed high[380] Against a foe, or ran a sabre through skin: Little cared they for Mahomet or Mufti, Unless to make their kettle-drums a new skin Out of their hides, if parchment had grown dear, And no more handy substitute been near.

XVIII.

Then there were foreigners of much renown, Of various nations, and all volunteers; Not fighting for their country or its crown, But wishing to be one day brigadiers; Also to have the sacking of a town;— A pleasant thing to young men at their years. 'Mongst them were several Englishmen of pith, Sixteen called Thomson, and nineteen named Smith.

XIX.

Jack Thomson and Bill Thomson;—all the rest Had been called "Jemmy," after the great bard; I don't know whether they had arms or crest, But such a godfather's as good a card. Three of the Smiths were Peters; but the best Amongst them all, hard blows to inflict or ward, Was he, since so renowned "in country quarters At Halifax;"[381] but now he served the Tartars.

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