The Works of Lord Byron, Volume 6
by Lord Byron
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The rest were Jacks and Gills and Wills and Bills, But when I've added that the elder Jack Smith Was born in Cumberland among the hills, And that his father was an honest blacksmith, I've said all I know of a name that fills Three lines of the despatch in taking "Schmacksmith," A village of Moldavia's waste, wherein He fell, immortal in a bulletin.


I wonder (although Mars no doubt's a god I Praise) if a man's name in a bulletin May make up for a bullet in his body? I hope this little question is no sin, Because, though I am but a simple noddy, I think one Shakespeare puts the same thought in The mouth of some one in his plays so doting, Which many people pass for wits by quoting.[382]


Then there were Frenchmen, gallant, young, and gay; But I'm too great a patriot to record Their Gallic names upon a glorious day; I'd rather tell ten lies than say a word Of truth;—such truths are treason; they betray Their country; and as traitors are abhorred, Who name the French in English, save to show How Peace should make John Bull the Frenchman's foe.


The Russians, having built two batteries on An isle near Ismail, had two ends in view; The first was to bombard it, and knock down The public buildings and the private too, No matter what poor souls might be undone:[hl] The city's shape suggested this, 't is true, Formed like an amphitheatre—each dwelling Presented a fine mark to throw a shell in.[383]


The second object was to profit by The moment of the general consternation, To attack the Turk's flotilla, which lay nigh Extremely tranquil, anchored at its station: But a third motive was as probably To frighten them into capitulation;[384] A phantasy which sometimes seizes warriors, Unless they are game as bull-dogs and fox-terriers.[hm]


A habit rather blameable, which is That of despising those we combat with, Common in many cases, was in this The cause[385] of killing Tchitchitzkoff and Smith— One of the valorous "Smiths" whom we shall miss Out of those nineteen who late rhymed to "pith;" But 't is a name so spread o'er "Sir" and "Madam," That one would think the first who bore it "Adam."


The Russian batteries were incomplete, Because they were constructed in a hurry;[386] Thus the same cause which makes a verse want feet, And throws a cloud o'er Longman and John Murray, When the sale of new books is not so fleet As they who print them think is necessary, May likewise put off for a time what story Sometimes calls "Murder," and at others "Glory."


Whether it was their engineer's stupidity, Their haste or waste, I neither know nor care, Or some contractor's personal cupidity, Saving his soul by cheating in the ware Of homicide, but there was no solidity In the new batteries erected there; They either missed, or they were never missed, And added greatly to the missing list.


A sad miscalculation about distance Made all their naval matters incorrect; Three fireships lost their amiable existence Before they reached a spot to take effect; The match was lit too soon, and no assistance Could remedy this lubberly defect; They blew up in the middle of the river, While, though 't was dawn, the Turks slept fast as ever.[387]


At seven they rose, however, and surveyed The Russ flotilla getting under way; 'T was nine, when still advancing undismayed, Within a cable's length their vessels lay Off Ismail, and commenced a cannonade, Which was returned with interest, I may say, And by a fire of musketry and grape, And shells and shot of every size and shape.[388]


For six hours bore they without intermission The Turkish fire, and, aided by their own Land batteries, worked their guns with great precision; At length they found mere cannonade alone By no means would produce the town's submission, And made a signal to retreat at one. One bark blew up, a second near the works Running aground, was taken by the Turks.[389]


The Moslem, too, had lost both ships and men; But when they saw the enemy retire, Their Delhis[390] manned some boats, and sailed again, And galled the Russians with a heavy fire, And tried to make a landing on the main; But here the effect fell short of their desire: Count Damas drove them back into the water Pell-mell, and with a whole gazette of slaughter.[391]


"If" (says the historian here) "I could report All that the Russians did upon this day, I think that several volumes would fall short, And I should still have many things to say;"[392] And so he says no more—but pays his court To some distinguished strangers in that fray; The Prince de Ligne, and Langeron, and Damas, Names great as any that the roll of Fame has.[393]


This being the case, may show us what Fame is: For out of these three "preux Chevaliers," how Many of common readers give a guess That such existed? (and they may live now For aught we know.) Renown's all hit or miss; There's fortune even in Fame, we must allow. 'T is true, the Memoirs of the Prince de Ligne[394] Have half withdrawn from him Oblivion's screen.


But here are men who fought in gallant actions As gallantly as ever heroes fought, But buried in the heap of such transactions Their names are rarely found, nor often sought. Thus even good fame may suffer sad contractions, And is extinguished sooner than she ought: Of all our modern battles, I will bet You can't repeat nine names from each Gazette.


In short, this last attack, though rich in glory, Showed that somewhere, somehow, there was a fault, And Admiral Ribas[395] (known in Russian story) Most strongly recommended an assault; In which he was opposed by young and hoary, Which made a long debate; but I must halt, For if I wrote down every warrior's speech, I doubt few readers e'er would mount the breach.


There was a man, if that he was a man, Not that his manhood could be called in question, For had he not been Hercules, his span Had been as short in youth as indigestion Made his last illness, when, all worn and wan, He died beneath a tree, as much unblest on The soil of the green province he had wasted, As e'er was locust on the land it blasted.


This was Potemkin[396]—a great thing in days When homicide and harlotry made great; If stars and titles could entail long praise, His glory might half equal his estate. This fellow, being six foot high, could raise A kind of phantasy proportionate In the then Sovereign of the Russian people, Who measured men as you would do a steeple.


While things were in abeyance, Ribas sent A courier to the Prince, and he succeeded In ordering matters after his own bent; I cannot tell the way in which he pleaded, But shortly he had cause to be content. In the mean time, the batteries proceeded, And fourscore cannon on the Danube's border Were briskly fired and answered in due order.[397]


But on the thirteenth, when already part Of the troops were embarked, the siege to raise, A courier on the spur inspired new heart Into all panters for newspaper praise,[hn] As well as dilettanti in War's art, By his despatches (couched in pithy phrase) Announcing the appointment of that lover of Battles to the command, Field-Marshal Souvaroff.[398]


The letter of the Prince to the same Marshal Was worthy of a Spartan, had the cause Been one to which a good heart could be partial— Defence of freedom, country, or of laws; But as it was mere lust of Power to o'er-arch all With its proud brow, it merits slight applause, Save for its style, which said, all in a trice, "You will take Ismail at whatever price."[399]


"Let there be Light! said God, and there was Light!" "Let there be Blood!" says man, and there's a sea! The fiat of this spoiled child of the Night (For Day ne'er saw his merits) could decree More evil in an hour, than thirty bright Summers could renovate, though they should be Lovely as those which ripened Eden's fruit; For War cuts up not only branch, but root.


Our friends, the Turks, who with loud "Allahs" now Began to signalise the Russ retreat,[400] Were damnably mistaken; few are slow In thinking that their enemy is beat,[401] (Or beaten, if you insist on grammar, though I never think about it in a heat,) But here I say the Turks were much mistaken, Who hating hogs, yet wished to save their bacon.


For, on the sixteenth, at full gallop, drew In sight two horsemen, who were deemed Cossacques For some time, till they came in nearer view: They had but little baggage at their backs, For there were but three shirts between the two; But on they rode upon two Ukraine hacks, Till, in approaching, were at length descried In this plain pair, Suwarrow and his guide.[402]


"Great joy to London now!" says some great fool, When London had a grand illumination, Which to that bottle-conjuror, John Bull, Is of all dreams the first hallucination; So that the streets of coloured lamps are full, That sage (said John) surrenders at discretion[ho] His purse, his soul, his sense, and even his nonsense, To gratify, like a huge moth, this one sense.


'T is strange that he should further "Damn his eyes," For they are damned; that once all-famous oath Is to the Devil now no further prize, Since John has lately lost the use of both. Debt he calls Wealth, and taxes Paradise; And Famine, with her gaunt and bony growth, Which stare him in the face, he won't examine, Or swears that Ceres hath begotten Famine.


But to the tale;—great joy unto the camp! To Russian, Tartar, English, French, Cossacque, O'er whom Suwarrow shone like a gas lamp, Presaging a most luminous attack; Or like a wisp along the marsh so damp, Which leads beholders on a boggy walk, He flitted to and fro a dancing light, Which all who saw it followed, wrong or right.


But, certes, matters took a different face; There was enthusiasm and much applause, The fleet and camp saluted with great grace, And all presaged good fortune to their cause. Within a cannot-shot length of the place They drew, constructed ladders, repaired flaws In former works, made new, prepared fascines, And all kinds of benevolent machines.


'T is thus the spirit of a single mind Makes that of multitudes take one direction, As roll the waters to the breathing wind, Or roams the herd beneath the bull's protection; Or as a little dog will lead the blind, Or a bell-wether form the flock's connection By tinkling sounds, when they go forth to victual; Such is the sway of your great men o'er little.


The whole camp rung with joy; you would have thought That they were going to a marriage feast (This metaphor, I think, holds good as aught, Since there is discord after both at least): There was not now a luggage boy but sought Danger and spoil with ardour much increased; And why? because a little—odd—old man, Stripped to his shirt, was come to lead the van.


But so it was; and every preparation Was made with all alacrity: the first Detachment of three columns took its station, And waited but the signal's voice to burst Upon the foe: the second's ordination Was also in three columns, with a thirst For Glory gaping o'er a sea of Slaughter: The third, in columns two, attacked by water.[403]


New batteries were erected, and was held A general council, in which Unanimity, That stranger to most councils, here prevailed,[404] As sometimes happens in a great extremity;[hp] And every difficulty being dispelled, Glory began to dawn with due sublimity,[hq] While Souvaroff, determined to obtain it, Was teaching his recruits to use the bayonet.[405]


It is an actual fact, that he, commander In chief, in proper person deigned to drill The awkward squad, and could afford to squander His time, a corporal's duty to fulfil; Just as you'd break a sucking salamander To swallow flame, and never take it ill:[hr] He showed them how to mount a ladder (which Was not like Jacob's) or to cross a ditch.[406]


Also he dressed up, for the nonce, fascines Like men with turbans, scimitars, and dirks, And made them charge with bayonet these machines, By way of lesson against actual Turks;[407] And when well practised in these mimic scenes, He judged them proper to assail the works,— (At which your wise men sneered in phrases witty),[hs] He made no answer—but he took the city.


Most things were in this posture on the eve Of the assault, and all the camp was in A stern repose; which you would scarce conceive; Yet men resolved to dash through thick and thin Are very silent when they once believe That all is settled:—there was little din, For some were thinking of their home and friends, And others of themselves and latter ends.[ht]


Suwarrow chiefly was on the alert, Surveying, drilling, ordering, jesting, pondering; For the man was, we safely may assert, A thing to wonder at beyond most wondering; Hero, buffoon, half-demon, and half-dirt, Praying, instructing, desolating, plundering—Now Mars, now Momus—and when bent to storm A fortress, Harlequin in uniform.[408]


The day before the assault, while upon drill— For this great conqueror played the corporal— Some Cossacques, hovering like hawks round a hill, Had met a party towards the Twilight's fall, One of whom spoke their tongue—or well or ill, 'T was much that he was understood at all; But whether from his voice, or speech, or manner, They found that he had fought beneath their banner.


Whereon immediately at his request They brought him and his comrades to head-quarters; Their dress was Moslem, but you might have guessed That these were merely masquerading Tartars, And that beneath each Turkish-fashioned vest Lurked Christianity—which sometimes barters Her inward grace for outward show, and makes It difficult to shun some strange mistakes.


Suwarrow, who was standing in his shirt Before a company of Calmucks, drilling, Exclaiming, fooling, swearing at the inert, And lecturing on the noble art of killing,— For deeming human clay but common dirt This great philosopher was thus instilling His maxims,[409] which to martial comprehension Proved death in battle equal to a pension;—


Suwarrow, when he saw this company Of Cossacques and their prey, turned round and cast Upon them his slow brow and piercing eye:— "Whence come ye?"—"From Constantinople last, Captives just now escaped," was the reply. "What are ye?"—"What you see us." Briefly passed This dialogue; for he who answered knew To whom he spoke, and made his words but few.


"Your names?"—"Mine's Johnson, and my comrade's Juan; The other two are women, and the third Is neither man nor woman." The Chief threw on The party a slight glance, then said," I have heard Your name before, the second is a new one: To bring the other three here was absurd: But let that pass:—I think I have heard your name In the Nikolaiew regiment?"—"The same."


"You served at Widdin?"—"Yes."—"You led the attack?" "I did."—"What next?"—"I really hardly know"— "You were the first i' the breach?"—"I was not slack At least to follow those who might be so"—"What followed?"—"A shot laid me on my back, And I became a prisoner to the foe"— "You shall have vengeance, for the town surrounded Is twice as strong as that where you were wounded.


"Where will you serve?"—"Where'er you please."—"I know You like to be the hope of the forlorn, And doubtless would be foremost on the foe After the hardships you've already borne. And this young fellow—say what can he do? He with the beardless chin and garments torn?"— "Why, General, if he hath no greater fault In War than Love, he had better lead the assault"—


"He shall if that he dare." Here Juan bowed Low as the compliment deserved. Suwarrow Continued: "Your old regiment's allowed, By special providence, to lead to-morrow, Or, it may be, to-night, the assault: I have vowed To several Saints, that shortly plough or harrow Shall pass o'er what was Ismail, and its tusk[410] Be unimpeded by the proudest mosque.


"So now, my lads, for Glory!"—Here he turned And drilled away in the most classic Russian, Until each high heroic bosom burned For cash and conquest, as if from a cushion A preacher had held forth (who nobly spurned All earthly goods save tithes) and bade them push on To slay the Pagans who resisted, battering The armies of the Christian Empress Catherine.


Johnson, who knew by this long colloquy Himself a favourite, ventured to address Suwarrow, though engaged with accents high In his resumed amusement. "I confess My debt in being thus allowed to die Among the foremost; but if you'd express Explicitly our several posts, my friend And self would know what duty to attend."


"Right! I was busy, and forgot. Why, you Will join your former regiment, which should be Now under arms. Ho! Katskoff, take him to"— (Here he called up a Polish orderly) "His post, I mean the regiment Nikolaiew: The stranger stripling may remain with me; He's a fine boy. The women may be sent To the other baggage, or to the sick tent."


But here a sort of scene began to ensue: The ladies,—who by no means had been bred To be disposed of in a way so new, Although their Harem education led, Doubtless, to that of doctrines the most true, Passive obedience,—now raised up the head With flashing eyes and starting tears, and flung Their arms, as hens their wings about their young,


O'er the promoted couple of brave men Who were thus honoured by the greatest Chief That ever peopled Hell with heroes slain, Or plunged a province or a realm in grief. Oh, foolish mortals! Always taught in vain! Oh, glorious Laurel! since for one sole leaf Of thine imaginary deathless tree, Of blood and tears must flow the unebbing sea.[hu]


Suwarrow, who had small regard for tears, And not much sympathy for blood, surveyed The women with their hair about their ears And natural agonies, with a slight shade Of feeling: for however Habit sears Men's hearts against whole millions, when their trade Is butchery, sometimes a single sorrow Will touch even heroes—and such was Suwarrow.


He said,—and in the kindest Calmuck tone,— "Why, Johnson, what the devil do you mean By bringing women here? They shall be shown All the attention possible, and seen In safety to the waggons, where alone In fact they can be safe. You should have been Aware this kind of baggage never thrives; Save wed a year, I hate recruits with wives"—


"May it please your Excellency," thus replied Our British friend, "these are the wives of others, And not our own. I am too qualified By service with my military brothers To break the rules by bringing one's own bride Into a camp: I know that nought so bothers The hearts of the heroic on a charge, As leaving a small family at large.


"But these are but two Turkish ladies, who With their attendant aided our escape, And afterwards accompanied us through A thousand perils in this dubious shape. To me this kind of life is not so new; To them, poor things, it is an awkward scrape: I therefore, if you wish me to fight freely, Request that they may both be used genteelly."


Meantime these two poor girls, with swimming eyes, Looked on as if in doubt if they could trust Their own protectors; nor was their surprise Less than their grief (and truly not less just) To see an old man, rather wild than wise In aspect, plainly clad, besmeared with dust, Stripped to his waistcoat, and that not too clean, More feared than all the Sultans ever seen.


For everything seemed resting on his nod, As they could read in all eyes. Now to them, Who were accustomed, as a sort of god, To see the Sultan, rich in many a gem, Like an imperial peacock stalk abroad (That royal bird, whose tail's a diadem,) With all the pomp of Power, it was a doubt How Power could condescend to do without.


John Johnson, seeing their extreme dismay, Though little versed in feelings oriental, Suggested some slight comfort in his way: Don Juan, who was much more sentimental, Swore they should see him by the dawn of day, Or that the Russian army should repent all: And, strange to say, they found some consolation In this—for females like exaggeration.


And then with tears, and sighs, and some slight kisses, They parted for the present—these to await, According to the artillery's hits or misses, What sages call Chance, Providence, or Fate— (Uncertainty is one of many blisses, A mortgage on Humanity's estate;)[hv] While their beloved friends began to arm, To burn a town which never did them harm.


Suwarrow,—who but saw things in the gross. Being much too gross to see them in detail, Who calculated life as so much dross, And as the wind a widowed nation's wail, And cared as little for his army's loss (So that their efforts should at length prevail) As wife and friends did for the boils of Job,— What was 't to him to hear two women sob?


Nothing.—The work of Glory still went on In preparations for a cannonade As terrible as that of Ilion, If Homer had found mortars ready made; But now, instead of slaying Priam's son, We only can but talk of escalade, Bombs, drums, guns, bastions, batteries, bayonets, bullets— Hard words, which stick in the soft Muses' gullets.


Oh, thou eternal Homer! who couldst charm All ears, though long; all ages, though so short, By merely wielding with poetic arm Arms to which men will never more resort, Unless gunpowder should be found to harm Much less than is the hope of every court, Which now is leagued young Freedom to annoy; But they will not find Liberty a Troy:—


Oh, thou eternal Homer! I have now To paint a siege, wherein more men were slain, With deadlier engines and a speedier blow, Than in thy Greek gazette of that campaign; And yet, like all men else, I must allow, To vie with thee would be about as vain As for a brook to cope with Ocean's flood,— But still we moderns equal you in blood:[hw]


If not in poetry, at least in fact; And fact is Truth, the grand desideratum! Of which, howe'er the Muse describes each act, There should be ne'ertheless a slight substratum. But now the town is going to be attacked; Great deeds are doing—how shall I relate 'em? Souls of immortal Generals! Phoebus watches To colour up his rays from your despatches.[hx]


Oh, ye great bulletins of Bonaparte! Oh, ye less grand long lists of killed and wounded! Shade of Leonidas, who fought so hearty, When my poor Greece was once, as now, surrounded! Oh, Caesar's Commentaries! now impart, ye Shadows of Glory! (lest I be confounded), A portion of your fading twilight hues— So beautiful, so fleeting—to the Muse.


When I call "fading" martial immortality, I mean, that every age and every year, And almost every day, in sad reality, Some sucking hero is compelled to rear, Who, when we come to sum up the totality Of deeds to human happiness most dear, Turns out to be a butcher in great business, Afflicting young folks with a sort of dizziness.


Medals, rank, ribands, lace, embroidery, scarlet, Are things immortal to immortal man, As purple to the Babylonian harlot;[hy] An uniform to boys is like a fan To women; there is scarce a crimson varlet But deems himself the first in Glory's van. But Glory's glory; and if you would find What that is—ask the pig who sees the wind!


At least he feels it, and some say he sees, Because he runs before it like a pig; Or, if that simple sentence should displease, Say, that he scuds before it like a brig, A schooner, or—but it is time to ease This Canto, ere my Muse perceives fatigue. The next shall ring a peal to shake all people, Like a bob-major from a village steeple.


Hark! through the silence of the cold, dull night, The hum of armies gathering rank on rank! Lo! dusky masses steal in dubious sight Along the leaguered wall and bristling bank Of the armed river, while with straggling light The stars peep through the vapours dim and dank, Which curl in various wreaths:—how soon the smoke Of Hell shall pall them in a deeper cloak!


Here pause we for the present—as even then That awful pause, dividing Life from Death, Struck for an instant on the hearts of men,— Thousands of whom were drawing their last breath! A moment—and all will be Life again! The march! the charge! the shouts of either faith, Hurrah! and Allah! and one moment more— The death-cry drowning in the Battle's roar.[hz][411]


{302}[364] ["These [the seventh and eighth] Cantos contain a full detail (like the storm in Canto Second) of the siege and assault of Ismael, with much of sarcasm on those butchers in large business, your mercenary soldiery.... With these things and these fellows it is necessary, in the present clash of philosophy and tyranny, to throw away the scabbard. I know it is against fearful odds; but the battle must be fought; and it will be eventually for the good of mankind, whatever it may be for the individual who risks himself."—Letter to Moore, August 8, 1822, Letters, 1901, vi. 101.]

[365] Sec.Sec.[Byron attributes this phrase to Orator Henley (Letters, 1898, i. 227); and to Bayes in the Duke of Buckingham's play, The Rehearsal (Letters, 1901, v. 80).]

[hh] Of Fenelon, of Calvin and of Christ.—[MS. erased.]

[366] [Compare Childe Harold, Canto II. stanza vii. line 1, Poetical Works, 1899, ii. 103, note 2.]

[hi] Picking a pebble on the shore of Truth.—[MS. erased.]

[367] ["Sir Isaac Newton, a little before he died, said, 'I don't know what I may seem to the world; but, as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.'"—Spence, Anecdotes (quoting Chevalier Ramsay), 1858, p. 40.]

{304}[hj] From fools who dread to know the truth of Life.—[MS. erased.]

[368] [Compare "Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog," lines 7, sq., Poetical Works, 1898, i. 280.]

[369] [Aleksandr Vasilievitch Suvoroff (1729-1800) opened his attack on Ismail, November 30, 1790. His forces, including Kossacks, exceeded 27,000 men.—Essai sur l'Histoire Ancienne et Moderne de la Nouvelle Russie, par le Marquis Gabriel de Castelnau, 1827, ii. 201.]

[370] ["Ismael est situe sur la rive gauche du bras gauche (i.e. the ilia) du Danube."—Ibid..]

{305}[371] [——"a peu pres a quatre-vingts verstes de la mer: elle a pres de trois milles toises de tour."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 201.]

[372] ["On a compris dans ces fortifications un faubourg moldave, situe a la gauche de la ville, sur une hauteur qui la domine: l'ouvrage a ete termine par un Grec. Pour donner une idee des talens de cet ingenieur, il suffira de dire qu'il fit placer les palissades perpendiculairement sur le parapet, de maniere qu'elles favorisaient les assiegeans, et arretaient le feu des assieges."—Ibid., p. 202.]

[373] ["Le rempart en terre est prodigieusement eleve a cause de l'immense profondeur du fosse; il est cependant absolument rasant: il n'y a ni ouvrage avance, ni chemin couvert."—Ibid., p. 202.]

[374] [Casemate is a work made under the rampart, like a cellar or cave, with loopholes to place guns in it, and is bomb proof.—Milit. Dict.]

[375] [When the breastwork of a battery is only of such height that the guns may fire over it without being obliged to make embrasures, the guns are said to fire in barbet.—Ibid.]

{306}[376] ["Un bastion de pierres, ouvert par une gorge tres-etroite, et dont les murailles son fort epaisses, a une batterie casematee et une a barbette; il defend la rive du Danube. Du cote droit de la ville est un cavalier de quarante pieds d'elevation a pic, garni de vingt-deux pieces de canon, et qui defend la partie gauche."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 202.]

[377] ["Du cote du fleuve, la ville est absolument ouverte; les Turcs ne croyaient pas que les Russes pussent jamais avoir une flotille dans le Danube."—Ibid., p. 203.]

[378] [Meknop [supposed to be a corruption of McNab], etc., in line three, are real names: Strongenoff stands for Strogonof, Tschitsshakoff for Tchitchagof, and, perhaps, Chokenoff for Tchoglokof.]

{307}[hk] —— these discords of damnation.—[MS. erased.]

[379] ["La premiere attaque etait composee de trois colonnes, commandees par les lieutenans-generaux Paul Potiemkin, Serge Lwow, les generaux-majors Maurice Lascy, Theodore Meknop.... Trois autres colonnes ... avaient pour chefs le comte de Samoilow, les generaux Elie de Bezborodko, Michel Koutousow; les brigadiers Orlow, Platow, Ribaupierre.... La troisieme attaque par eau n'avait que deux colonnes, sous les ordres des generaux-majors Ribas et Arseniew, des brigadiers Markoff et Tchepega," etc.—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 207.


"Oscharoffsky and Rostoffsky, And all the others that end in-offsky.

* * * * *

And Kutousoff he cut them off," etc.

Southey's March to Moscow, 1813.]

[380] [Count Boris Petrowitch Scheremetov, Russian general, died 1819; Prince Alexis Borisovitch Kourakin (1759-1829), and Count Alexis Iwanowitch Moussine-Pouschkine (1744-1817) were distinguished statesmen; Chrematoff is, perhaps, a rhyming double of Scherematoff, and Koklophti "a match-piece" to Koclobski.]

{308}[381] [Captain Smith, in the song—

"A Captain bold, in Halifax, That dwelt in country quarters, Seduc'd a maid who hang'd herself One Monday in her garters."

See George Colman's farce, Love Laughs at Locksmiths, 1818, p. 31.]

{309}[382] [Compare—

"While to my shame I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men, That for a fantasy and trick of fame Go to their graves like beds."

Hamlet, act iv. sc. 4, lines 56-59.]

[hl] The Conquest seemed not difficult——.—[MS. erased.]

[383] ["On s'etait propose deux buts egalement avantageux, par la construction de deux batteries sur l'ile qui avoisine Ismael: le premier, de bombarder la place, d'en abattre les principaux edifices avec du canon de quarante-huit, effet d'autant plus probable, que la ville etant batie en amphitheatre, presque aucun coup ne serait perdu."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 203.]

[384] ["Le second objet etait de profiter de ce moment d'alarme pour que la flottille, agissant en meme temps, put detruire celle des Turcs. Un troisieme motif, et vraisemblablement le plus plausible, etait de jeter la consternation parmi les Turcs, et de les engager a capituler."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 203.]

{310}[hm] Unless they are as game as bull-dogs or even tarriers. or, A thing which sometimes hath occurred to warriors, Unless they happened to be as game as tarriers.— [MS. A. Alternative reading.] Unless they are Game as bull-dogs or even terriers.—[MS. B.]

(Byron erased the reading of MS. B. and superscribed the reading of the text.)

[385] ["Une habitude blamable, celle de mepriser son ennemi, fut la cause."—Ibid., p. 203.]

[386] [" ... du defaut de perfection dans la construction des batteries; on voulait agir promptement, et on negligea de donner aux ouvrages la solidite qu'ils exigaient."—Ibid., p. 203.]

{311}[387] ["Le meme esprit fit manquer l'effet de trois brulots; on calcula mal la distance; on se pressa d'allumer la meche, ils brulerent au milieu du fleuve, et quoiqu'il fut six heures du matin, les Turcs, encore couches, n'en prirent aucun ombrage."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 203.]

[388] ["1^er^ Dec. 1790. La flottille russe s'avanca vers les sept heures; il en etait neuf lorsqu'elle se trouva a cinquante toises de la ville [d'Ismael]: elle souffrit, avec une constance calme, un feu de mitraille et de mousqueterie...."—Ibid., p. 204.]

[389] [" ... pres de six heures ... les batteries de terre secondaient la flottille; mais on reconnut alors que les canonnades ne suffiraient pas pour reduire la place, on fit la retraite a une heure. Un lancon sauta pendant l'action, un autre deriva par la force du courant, et fut pris par l'ennemi."'—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 204.]

{312}[390] [For Delhis, see Poetical Works, 1899, ii., note 1.]

[391] ["Les Turcs perdirent beaucoup de monde et plusieurs vaisseaux. A peine la retraite des Russes fut-elle remarquee, que les plus braves d'entre les ennemis se jeterent dans de petites barques et essayerent une descente: le Comte de Damas les mit en fuite, et leur tua plusieurs officiers et grand nombre de soldats."—Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, p. 204.]

[392] ["On ne tarirait pas si on voulait rapporter tout ce que les Russes firent de memorable dans cette journee; pour conter les hauts faits d'armes, pour particulariser toutes les actions d'eclat, il faudrait composer des volumes."—Ibid., p. 204.]

[393] ["Parmi les etrangers, le prince de Ligne se distingua de maniere a meriter l'estime generale; de vrais chevaliers francais, attires par l'amour de la gloire, se montrerent dignes d'elle: les plus marquans etaient le jeune Duc de Richelieu, les Comtes de Langeron et de Damas."—Ibid., p. 204.

Andrault, Comte de Langeron, born at Paris, January 13, 1763, on the outbreak of the Revolution (1790) took service in the Russian Army. He fought against the Swedes in 1790, and the Turks in 1791, and, after serving as a volunteer in the army of the Duke of Brunswick (1792-93), returned to Russia, and was raised to the rank of general in 1799. He commanded a division of the Russian Army in the German campaign of 1813, and entered Paris with Bluecher, March 30, 1814. He was afterwards Governor of Odessa and of New Russia; and, a second time, fought against the Turks in 1828. He died at St. Petersburg, July 4, 1831. Joseph Elizabeth Roger, Comte de Damas d'Antigny, born at Paris, September 4, 1765, owed his commission in the Russian Army to the influence of the Prince de Ligne. He fought against the Turks in 1787-88, and was distinguished for bravery and daring. At the Restoration in 1814 he re-entered the French Army, was made Governor of Lyons; shared the temporary exile of Louis XVIII. at Ghent in 1815, and, in the following year, as commandant of a division, took part in repressing the revolutionary disturbances in the central and southern departments of France. He died at Cirey, September 3, 1823.—La Grande Encyclopedie.]

{313}[394] [Charles Joseph, Prince de Ligne, was born at Brussels, May 12, 1735. In 1782 he visited St. Petersburg as envoy of the Emperor Joseph II., won Catherine's favour, and was appointed Field Marshal in the Russian Army. In 1788 he was sent to assist Potemkin at the siege of Ochakof. His Melanges Militaires, etc., were first published in 1795. He died in November, 1814.

Josef de Ribas (1737-c. 1797).]

[395] ["L'Amiral de Ribas ... declara, en plein conseil, que ce n'etait qu'en donnant l'assaut qu'on obtiendrait la place: cet avis parut hardi; on lui opposa mille raisons, auxquelles il repondit par de meilleures." —Hist. de la Nouvelle Russie, ii, 205.]

{314}[396] [Prince (Gregor Alexandrovitch) Potemkin, born 1736, died October 15, 1791. "He alighted from his carriage in the midst of the highway, threw himself on the grass, and died under a tree" (Life of Catherine II., by W. Tooke, 1880, iii. 324). His character has been drawn by Louis Philippe, Comte de Segur, who, writes Tooke (ibid., p. 326), "lived a long time in habits of intimacy with him, and was so obliging as to delineate it at our solicitation." "In his person were collected the most opposite defects and advantages of every kind. He was avaricious and ostentatious, ... haughty and obliging, politic and confiding, licentious and superstitious, bold and timid, ambitious and indiscreet; lavish of his bounties to his relations, his mistresses, and his favourites, yet frequently paying neither his household nor his creditors. His consequence always depended on a woman, and he was always unfaithful to her. Nothing could equal the activity of his mind, nor the indolence of his body. No dangers could appal his courage; no difficulties force him to abandon his projects. But the success of an enterprise always brought on disgust.... Everything with him was desultory; business, pleasure, temper, carriage. His presence was a restraint on every company. He was morose to all that stood in awe of him, and caressed all such as accosted him with familiarity.... None had read less than he; few people were better informed.... One while he formed the project of becoming Duke of Courland; at another he thought of bestowing on himself the crown of Poland. He frequently gave intimations of an intention to make himself a bishop, or even a simple monk. He built a superb palace, and wanted to sell it before it was finished. In his youth he had pleased her [Catherine] by the ardour of his passion, by his valour, and by his masculine beauty.... Become the rival of Orloff, he performed for his sovereign whatever the most romantic passion could inspire. He put out his eye, to free it from a blemish which diminished his beauty. Banished by his rival, he ran to meet death in battle, and returned with glory."]

{315}[397] ["Ce projet, remis a un autre jour, eprouva encore les plus grandes difficultes; son courage les surmonta: il ne s'agissait que de determiner le Prince Potiemkin; il y reussit. Tandis qu'il se demenait pour l'execution de projet agree, on construisait de nouvelles batteries; on comptait, le 12 decembre, quatre-vingts pieces de canon sur le bord du Danube, et cette journee se passa en vives canonnades."—Histoire de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 205.]

[hn] Into all aspirants for martial praise.—[MS. erased.]

[398] ["Le 13^e^, une partie des troupes etait embarquee; on allait lever le siege: un courrier arrive.... Ce courrier annonce, de la part du prince, que le marechal Souwarow va prendre le commandement des forces reunies sous Ismael."—Ibid., p. 205.]

{316}[399] ["La lettre du Prince Potiemkin a Souwarow est tres courte; elle peint le caractere de ces deux personnages. La voici dans toute sa teneur: 'Vous prendrez Ismael a quel frix que ce soit!'"—Hist, de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 205.]

[400] ["[Le courrier] est temoin des cris de joie du Turc, qui se croyait a la fin de ses maux."-Ibid., p. 205.]

[401] ["Beat," as in "dead-beat," is occasionally used for "beaten."—See N.E.D., art. "Beat," 10.]

[402] ["Le 16^e^, on voit venir de loin deux hommes courant a toute bride: on les prit pour des Kozaks; l'un etait Souwarow, et l'autre son guide, portant un paquet gros comme le poing, et renfermant le bagage du general."-Hist, de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 205.

M. de Castelnau in his description of the arrival of Suvoroff on the field of battle (Hist, de la N.R., 1827, ii. pp, 205, 206) summarizes the Journal of the Duc de Richelieu. The original passage runs as follows:—

"L'arrivee du comte Souvorow produisit un grand effet parmi les troupes.... La maniere d'etre plus que simple, puis-qu'il logeait sous une canonniere, et qu'il n'avait pas meme de chaises dans sa tente, son affabilite, sa bonhomie lui conciliaient l'affection de tous les individus de son armee. Cet homme singulier qui ressemble plus a un chef de cosaques ou de Tartares, qu'au general d'une armee europeenne, est doue d'une intrepidite et d'une hardiesse peu communes.... La maniere de vivre, de s'habiller et de parler du comte Souvorow, est aussi singuliere que ses opinions militaires.... II mangeait dans sa tente assis par terre autour d'une natte sur laquelle il prenait le plus detestable repas. L'apres-midi, un semblable repas lui servait de souper, il s'endormait ensuite pendant quelques heures, passait une partie de la nuit a chanter, et a la pointe du jour il sortait presque nu et se roulait sur l'herbe assurant que cet exercice lui etait necessaire pour le preserver des rhumatismes.... Sa maniere de s'exprimer dans toutes les langues est aussi singuliere que toute sa facon d'etre, ses phrases sont incoherentes, et s'il n'est pas insense, il dit et fait du moins tout ce qu'il faut pour le paraitre; mais il est heureux et cette quality dont le Cardinal Mazarin faisait tant de cas, est, a bon droit, fort estimee de l'Imperatrice et du Prince Potemkin ... Le moment de l'arrivee du Comte Souvorow fut annonce par une decharge generale des batteries ou camp et de la flotte."—Journal de mon Voyage en Allemagne. Soc, Imp. d'Hist de Russie, 1886, tom. liv. pp. 168, 169.]

{317}[ho] That sage John Bull——.—[MS.]

That fool John Bull——.—[MS. erased.]

{319}[403] ["La premiere attaque etait composee de trois colonnes ... Trois autres colonnes, destinees a la seconde attaque, avaient pour chefs, etc.... La troisieme attaque par eau n'avait que deux colonnes."—Hist, de la Nouvelle Russie, ii. 207.]

[404] ["On construisit de nouvelles batteries le 18^e^.... On tint un conseil de guerre, on y examina les plans pour l'assaut proposes par M. de Ribas, ils reunirent tous les souffrages."—Ibid., p. 208.]

[hp] For once by some odd sort of magnanimity.—[MS. erased.]

[hq] Bellona shook her spear with much sublimity.—[MS. erased.]

[405] Fact: Suwaroff did this in person.

[hr]—— and neither swerve nor spill.—[MS. erased.]

[406] ["Le 19^e^ et le 20^e^, Souwarow exercailes soldats; il leur montra comment il fallait s'y prendre pour escalader; il enseigna aux recrues la maniere de donner le coup de baionnette."—Ibid., p. 208.]

{320}[407] ["Pour ces exercices d'un nouveau genre, il se servit de fascines disposees de maniere a representer un Turc."-Hist, de la Nauvelle Russie, ii. 208.]

[hs] At which your wise men laughed, but all their Wit is Lost, for his repartee was taking cities.—[MS. erased.]

[ht] For some were thinking of their wives and families, And others of themselves (as poet Samuel is). —[MS. Alternative reading.] And others of themselves (as my friend Samuel is). —[MS. erased.]

[408] [For a detailed account of Suvoroff's personal characteristics, see The Life of Field-Marshal Souvaroff, by L.M.P. Tranchant de Laverne, 1814, pp. 267-291; and Suvoroff, by Lieut.-Colonel Spalding, 1890, pp. 222-229.

Byron's epithet "buffoon" (line 5) may, perhaps, be traced to the following anecdote recorded by Tranchant de Laverne (p. 281): "During the first war of Poland ... he published, in the order of the day, that at the first crowing of the cock the troops would march to attack the enemy, and caused the spy to send word that the Russians would be upon them some time after midnight. But about eight o'clock Souvarof ran through the camp, imitating the crowing of a cock.... The enemy, completely surprised, lost a great number of men."

For his "praying" (line 6), vide ibid., pp. 272, 273: "He made a short prayer after each meal, and again when going to bed. He usually performed his devotions before an image of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Russia."

"Half-dirt" (line 5) is, however, a calumny (ibid. p. 272): "It was his custom to rise at the earliest dawn; several buckets of cold water were thrown over his naked body."

The same writer (p. 268) repudiates the charges of excessive barbarity and cruelty brought against Suvoroff by C.F.P. Masson, in his Memoires Secrets sur la Russie (vide, e.g., ed. 1800, i. 311): "Souvorow ne scroit que le plus ridicule bouffon, s'il n'etoit pas montre le plus barbare guerrier. C'est un monstre, qui renferme dans le corps d'un singe l'ame d'un chien de boucher. Attila, son compatriote, et don't il descend, peut-etre ne fut ni si heureux, ni si feroce."

Suvoroff did not regard himself as "half-demon." "Your pencil," he reminded the artist Mueller, "will delineate the features of my face. These are visible: but my inner man is hidden. I must tell you that I have shed rivers of blood. I tremble, but I love my neighbour. In my whole life I have made no one unhappy; not an insect hath perished by my hand. I was little; I was big. In fortune's ebb and flow, relying on God, I stood immovable—even as now." (Suvoroff, 1890, p. 228, note.)]

{322}[409] [See, for instance, The Storm, in "Souvarof's Catechism," Appendix (pp. 299-305) to the Life, etc., by Tranchant de Laverne, 1814: "Break down the fence.... Fly over the walls! Stab them on the ramparts!... Fire down the streets! Fire briskly!... Kill every enemy in the streets! Let the cavalry hack them!" etc.]

{323}[410] [The "tusk" of the plough is the coulter or share. Compare "Dens vomeris" (Virg., Georg., i. 22).]

{324}[hu] Of thine imaginary deathless bough The unebbing sea of blood and tears must flow.—[MS. erased.]

{326}[hv] Entailed upon Humanity's estate.—[MS. erased.]

{327}[hw] As a brook's stream to cope with Ocean's flood shed But still we moderns equal you in bloodshed.—[MS. erased.]

{328}[hx] As in a General's letter when well whacked Whatever deeds be done I will relate 'em, With some small variations in the text Of killed and wounded who will not be missed.—[MS. erased.]

[hy] Whose leisure hours are wasted on an harlot.—[MS. erased.]

{329}[hz] The desperate death-cry and the Battle's roar.—[MS. erased.]

[411] End of Canto 7. 1822.—[MS.]



Oh, blood and thunder! and oh, blood and wounds! These are but vulgar oaths, as you may deem, Too gentle reader! and most shocking sounds:— And so they are; yet thus is Glory's dream Unriddled, and as my true Muse expounds At present such things, since they are her theme, So be they her inspirers! Call them Mars, Bellona, what you will—they mean but wars.


All was prepared—the fire, the sword, the men To wield them in their terrible array,— The army, like a lion from his den, Marched forth with nerve and sinews bent to slay,— A human Hydra, issuing from its fen To breathe destruction on its winding way, Whose heads were heroes, which cut off in vain Immediately in others grew again.


History can only take things in the gross; But could we know them in detail, perchance In balancing the profit and the loss, War's merit it by no means might enhance, To waste so much gold for a little dross, As hath been done, mere conquest to advance. The drying up a single tear has more Of honest fame, than shedding seas of gore.


And why?—because it brings self-approbation; Whereas the other, after all its glare, Shouts, bridges, arches, pensions from a nation, Which (it may be) has not much left to spare, A higher title, or a loftier station, Though they may make Corruption gape or stare, Yet, in the end, except in Freedom's battles, Are nothing but a child of Murder's rattles.


And such they are—and such they will be found: Not so Leonidas and Washington, Whose every battle-field is holy ground, Which breathes of nations saved, not worlds undone. How sweetly on the ear such echoes sound! While the mere victor's may appal or stun The servile and the vain—such names will be A watchword till the Future shall be free.


The night was dark, and the thick mist allowed Nought to be seen save the artillery's flame, Which arched the horizon like a fiery cloud, And in the Danube's waters shone the same—[412] A mirrored Hell! the volleying roar, and loud Long booming of each peal on peal, o'ercame The ear far more than thunder; for Heaven's flashes Spare, or smite rarely—Man's make millions ashes!


The column ordered on the assault scarce passed Beyond the Russian batteries a few toises, When up the bristling Moslem rose at last, Answering the Christian thunders with like voices: Then one vast fire, air, earth, and stream embraced, Which rocked as 't were beneath the mighty noises; While the whole rampart blazed like Etna, when The restless Titan hiccups in his den;[413]


And one enormous shout of "Allah!"[414] rose In the same moment, loud as even the roar Of War's most mortal engines, to their foes Hurling defiance: city, stream, and shore Resounded "Allah!" and the clouds which close With thickening canopy the conflict o'er, Vibrate to the Eternal name. Hark! through All sounds it pierceth—"Allah! Allah Hu!"[415]


The columns were in movement one and all, But of the portion which attacked by water, Thicker than leaves the lives began to fall,[416] Though led by Arseniew, that great son of slaughter, As brave as ever faced both bomb and ball. "Carnage" (so Wordsworth tells you) "is God's daughter:"[417] If he speak truth, she is Christ's sister, and Just now behaved as in the Holy Land.


The Prince de Ligne was wounded in the knee; Count Chapeau-Bras,[ia]—too, had a ball between His cap and head,[418] which proves the head to be Aristocratic as was ever seen, Because it then received no injury More than the cap; in fact, the ball could mean No harm unto a right legitimate head; "Ashes to ashes"—why not lead to lead?


Also the General Markow, Brigadier, Insisting on removal of the Prince Amidst some groaning thousands dying near,— All common fellows, who might writhe and wince, And shriek for water into a deaf ear,— The General Markow, who could thus evince His sympathy for rank, by the same token, To teach him greater, had his own leg broken.[419]


Three hundred cannon threw up their emetic, And thirty thousand muskets flung their pills Like hail, to make a bloody Diuretic.[420] Mortality! thou hast thy monthly bills: Thy plagues—thy famines—thy physicians—yet tick, Like the death-watch, within our ears the ills Past, present, and to come;—but all may yield To the true portrait of one battle-field;


There the still varying pangs, which multiply Until their very number makes men hard By the infinities of agony, Which meet the gaze, whate'er it may regard— The groan, the roll in dust, the all-white eye Turned back within its socket,—these reward Your rank and file by thousands, while the rest May win perhaps a riband at the breast!


Yet I love Glory;—Glory's a great thing:— Think what it is to be in your old age Maintained at the expense of your good King: A moderate pension shakes full many a sage, And Heroes are but made for bards to sing, Which is still better—thus, in verse, to wage Your wars eternally, besides enjoying Half-pay for life, make Mankind worth destroying.


The troops, already disembarked, pushed on To take a battery on the right: the others, Who landed lower down, their landing done, Had set to work as briskly as their brothers: Being grenadiers, they mounted one by one, Cheerful as children climb the breasts of mothers, O'er the intrenchment and the palisade,[421] Quite orderly, as if upon parade.


And this was admirable: for so hot The fire was, that were red Vesuvius loaded, Besides its lava, with all sorts of shot And shells or hells, it could not more have goaded. Of officers a third fell on the spot, A thing which Victory by no means boded To gentlemen engaged in the assault: Hounds, when the huntsman tumbles, are at fault.


But here I leave the general concern To track our Hero on his path of Fame: He must his laurels separately earn— For fifty thousand heroes, name by name, Though all deserving equally to turn A couplet, or an elegy to claim, Would form a lengthy lexicon of Glory, And, what is worse still, a much longer story:


And therefore we must give the greater number To the Gazette—which doubtless fairly dealt By the deceased, who lie in famous slumber In ditches, fields, or wheresoe'er they felt Their clay for the last time their souls encumber;— Thrice happy he whose name has been well spelt In the despatch: I knew a man whose loss Was printed Grove, although his name was Grose.[422]


Juan and Johnson joined a certain corps, And fought away with might and main, not knowing The way which they had never trod before, And still less guessing where they might be going; But on they marched, dead bodies trampling o'er, Firing, and thrusting, slashing, sweating, glowing, But fighting thoughtlessly enough to win, To their two selves, one whole bright bulletin.


Thus on they wallowed in the bloody mire Of dead and dying thousands,—sometimes gaining A yard or two of ground, which brought them nigher To some odd angle for which all were straining; At other times, repulsed by the close fire, Which really poured as if all Hell were raining Instead of Heaven, they stumbled backwards o'er A wounded comrade, sprawling in his gore.


Though 't was Don Juan's first of fields, and though The nightly muster and the silent march In the chill dark, when Courage does not glow So much as under a triumphal arch, Perhaps might make him shiver, yawn, or throw A glance on the dull clouds (as thick as starch, Which stiffened Heaven) as if he wished for day;— Yet for all this he did not run away.


Indeed he could not. But what if he had? There have been and are heroes who begun With something not much better, or as bad: Frederick the Great from Molwitz[423] deigned to run, For the first and last time; for, like a pad, Or hawk, or bride, most mortals after one Warm bout are broken in to their new tricks, And fight like fiends for pay or politics.


He was what Erin calls, in her sublime Old Erse or Irish, or it may be Punic;— (The antiquarians[424]—who can settle Time, Which settles all things, Roman, Greek, or Runic— Swear that Pat's language sprung from the same clime With Hannibal, and wears the Tyrian tunic Of Dido's alphabet—and this is rational As any other notion, and not national;)—


But Juan was quite "a broth of a boy," A thing of impulse and a child of song; Now swimming in the sentiment of joy, Or the sensation (if that phrase seem wrong), And afterward, if he must needs destroy, In such good company as always throng To battles, sieges, and that kind of pleasure, No less delighted to employ his leisure;


But always without malice: if he warred Or loved, it was with what we call "the best Intentions," which form all Mankind's trump card, To be produced when brought up to the test. The statesman—hero—harlot—lawyer—ward Off each attack, when people are in quest Of their designs, by saying they meant well; 'T is pity "that such meaning should pave Hell."[425]


I almost lately have begun to doubt Whether Hell's pavement—if it be so paved— Must not have latterly been quite worn out, Not by the numbers good intent hath saved, But by the mass who go below without Those ancient good intentions, which once shaved And smoothed the brimstone of that street of Hell Which bears the greatest likeness to Pall Mall.[ib]


Juan, by some strange chance, which oft divides Warrior from warrior in their grim career, Like chastest wives from constant husbands' sides Just at the close of the first bridal year, By one of those odd turns of Fortune's tides, Was on a sudden rather puzzled here, When, after a good deal of heavy firing, He found himself alone, and friends retiring.


I don't know how the thing occurred—it might Be that the greater part were killed or wounded, And that the rest had faced unto the right About; a circumstance which has confounded Caesar himself, who, in the very sight Of his whole army, which so much abounded In courage, was obliged to snatch a shield, And rally back his Romans to the field.[426]


Juan, who had no shield to snatch, and was No Caesar, but a fine young lad, who fought He knew not why, arriving at this pass, Stopped for a minute, as perhaps he ought For a much longer time; then, like an ass (Start not, kind reader, since great Homer[427] thought This simile enough for Ajax, Juan Perhaps may find it better than a new one);


Then, like an ass, he went upon his way, And, what was stranger, never looked behind; But seeing, flashing forward, like the day Over the hills, a fire enough to blind Those who dislike to look upon a fray, He stumbled on, to try if he could find A path, to add his own slight arm and forces To corps, the greater part of which were corses.


Perceiving then no more the commandant Of his own corps, nor even the corps, which had Quite disappeared—the gods know how! (I can't Account for everything which may look bad In history; but we at least may grant It was not marvellous that a mere lad, In search of Glory, should look on before, Nor care a pinch of snuff about his corps:)—[ic]


Perceiving nor commander nor commanded, And left at large, like a young heir, to make His way to—where he knew not—single handed; As travellers follow over bog and brake An "ignis fatuus;" or as sailors stranded Unto the nearest hut themselves betake; So Juan, following Honour and his nose, Rushed where the thickest fire announced most foes.[428]


He knew not where he was, nor greatly cared, For he was dizzy, busy, and his veins Filled as with lightning—for his spirit shared The hour, as is the case with lively brains; And where the hottest fire was seen and heard, And the loud cannon pealed his hoarsest strains, He rushed, while earth and air were sadly shaken By thy humane discovery, Friar Bacon![id][429]


And as he rushed along, it came to pass he Fell in with what was late the second column, Under the orders of the General Lascy, But now reduced, as is a bulky volume Into an elegant extract (much less massy) Of heroism, and took his place with solemn Air 'midst the rest, who kept their valiant faces And levelled weapons still against the Glacis.[ie]


Just at this crisis up came Johnson too, Who had "retreated," as the phrase is when Men run away much rather than go through Destruction's jaws into the Devil's den; But Johnson was a clever fellow, who Knew when and how "to cut and come again," And never ran away, except when running Was nothing but a valorous kind of cunning.


And so, when all his corps were dead or dying, Except Don Juan, a mere novice, whose More virgin valour never dreamt of flying, From ignorance of danger, which indues Its votaries, like Innocence relying On its own strength, with careless nerves and thews,— Johnson retired a little, just to rally Those who catch cold in "shadows of Death's valley."


And there, a little sheltered from the shot, Which rained from bastion, battery, parapet, Rampart, wall, casement, house—for there was not In this extensive city, sore beset By Christian soldiery, a single spot Which did not combat like the Devil, as yet,— He found a number of Chasseurs, all scattered By the resistance of the chase they battered.


And these he called on; and, what 's strange, they came Unto his call, unlike "the spirits from The vasty deep," to whom you may exclaim, Says Hotspur, long ere they will leave their home:—[430] Their reasons were uncertainty, or shame At shrinking from a bullet or a bomb, And that odd impulse, which in wars or creeds[if] Makes men, like cattle, follow him who leads.


By Jove! he was a noble fellow, Johnson, And though his name, than Ajax or Achilles, Sounds less harmonious, underneath the sun soon We shall not see his likeness: he could kill his Man quite as quietly as blows the Monsoon Her steady breath (which some months the same still is): Seldom he varied feature, hue, or muscle, And could be very busy without bustle;


And therefore, when he ran away, he did so Upon reflection, knowing that behind He would find others who would fain be rid so Of idle apprehensions, which like wind Trouble heroic stomachs. Though their lids so Oft are soon closed, all heroes are not blind, But when they light upon immediate death, Retire a little, merely to take breath.


But Johnson only ran off, to return With many other warriors, as we said, Unto that rather somewhat misty bourne, Which Hamlet tells us is a pass of dread.[431] To Jack, howe'er, this gave but slight concern: His soul (like galvanism upon the dead) Acted upon the living as on wire, And led them back into the heaviest fire.


Egad! they found the second time what they The first time thought quite terrible enough To fly from, malgre all which people say Of Glory, and all that immortal stuff Which fills a regiment (besides their pay, That daily shilling which makes warriors tough)— They found on their return the self-same welcome, Which made some think, and others know, a hell come.


They fell as thick as harvests beneath hail, Grass before scythes, or corn below the sickle, Proving that trite old truth, that Life's as frail As any other boon for which men stickle. The Turkish batteries thrashed them like a flail, Or a good boxer, into a sad pickle Putting the very bravest, who were knocked Upon the head before their guns were cocked.


The Turks behind the traverses and flanks Of the next bastion, fired away like devils, And swept, as gales sweep foam away, whole ranks: However, Heaven knows how, the Fate who levels Towns—nations—worlds, in her revolving pranks, So ordered it, amidst these sulphury revels, That Johnson, and some few who had not scampered, Reached the interior "talus"[432] of the rampart.[433]


First one or two, then five, six, and a dozen Came mounting quickly up, for it was now All neck or nothing, as, like pitch or rosin, Flame was showered forth above, as well 's below, So that you scarce could say who best had chosen, The gentlemen that were the first to show Their martial faces on the parapet, Or those who thought it brave to wait as yet.


But those who scaled, found out that their advance Was favoured by an accident or blunder: The Greek or Turkish Cohorn's[434] ignorance Had pallisadoed in a way you'd wonder To see in forts of Netherlands or France— (Though these to our Gibraltar must knock under)— Right in the middle of the parapet Just named, these palisades were primly set:[435]


So that on either side some nine or ten Paces were left, whereon you could contrive To march; a great convenience to our men, At least to all those who were left alive, Who thus could form a line and fight again; And that which farther aided them to strive Was, that they could kick down the palisades, Which scarcely rose much higher than grass blades.[436]


Among the first,—I will not say the first, For such precedence upon such occasions Will oftentimes make deadly quarrels burst Out between friends as well as allied nations: The Briton must be bold who really durst Put to such trial John Bull's partial patience, As say that Wellington at Waterloo Was beaten,—though the Prussians say so too;—


And that if Blucher, Bulow, Gneisenau, And God knows who besides in "au" and "ow," Had not come up in time to cast an awe[437] Into the hearts of those who fought till now As tigers combat with an empty craw, The Duke of Wellington had ceased to show His Orders—also to receive his pensions, Which are the heaviest that our history mentions.


But never mind;—"God save the King!" and Kings! For if he don't, I doubt if men will longer— I think I hear a little bird, who sings The people by and by will be the stronger: The veriest jade will wince whose harness wrings So much into the raw as quite to wrong her Beyond the rules of posting,—and the mob At last fall sick of imitating Job.


At first it grumbles, then it swears, and then, Like David, flings smooth pebbles 'gainst a Giant; At last it takes to weapons such as men Snatch when Despair makes human hearts less pliant. Then comes "the tug of war;"—'t will come again, I rather doubt; and I would fain say "fie on 't," If I had not perceived that Revolution Alone can save the earth from Hell's pollution.


But to continue:—I say not the first, But of the first, our little friend Don Juan Walked o'er the walls of Ismail, as if nursed Amidst such scenes—though this was quite a new one To him, and I should hope to most. The thirst Of Glory, which so pierces through and through one, Pervaded him—although a generous creature, As warm in heart as feminine in feature.[ig]


And here he was—who upon Woman's breast, Even from a child, felt like a child; howe'er The Man in all the rest might be confessed, To him it was Elysium to be there; And he could even withstand that awkward test Which Rousseau points out to the dubious fair, "Observe your lover when he leaves your arms;" But Juan never left them—while they had charms,


Unless compelled by Fate, or wave, or wind, Or near relations—who are much the same. But here he was!—where each tie that can bind Humanity must yield to steel and flame: And he whose very body was all mind, Flung here by Fate or Circumstance, which tame The loftiest, hurried by the time and place, Dashed on like a spurred blood-horse in a race.


So was his blood stirred while he found resistance, As is the hunter's at the five-bar gate, Or double post and rail, where the existence Of Britain's youth depends upon their weight—The lightest being the safest: at a distance He hated cruelty, as all men hate Blood, until heated—and even then his own At times would curdle o'er some heavy groan.


The General Lascy, who had been hard pressed, Seeing arrive an aid so opportune As were some hundred youngsters all abreast, Who came as if just dropped down from the moon To Juan, who was nearest him, addressed His thanks, and hopes to take the city soon, Not reckoning him to be a "base Bezonian"[438] (As Pistol calls it), but a young Livonian.[439]


Juan, to whom he spoke in German, knew As much of German as of Sanscrit, and In answer made an inclination to The General who held him in command; For seeing one with ribands, black and blue, Stars, medals, and a bloody sword in hand, Addressing him in tones which seemed to thank, He recognised an officer of rank.


Short speeches pass between two men who speak No common language; and besides, in time Of war and taking towns, when many a shriek Rings o'er the dialogue, and many a crime Is perpetrated ere a word can break Upon the ear, and sounds of horror chime In like church-bells, with sigh, howl, groan, yell, prayer, There cannot be much conversation there.


And therefore all we have related in Two long octaves, passed in a little minute; But in the same small minute, every sin Contrived to get itself comprised within it. The very cannon, deafened by the din, Grew dumb, for you might almost hear a linnet, As soon as thunder, 'midst the general noise Of Human Nature's agonizing voice!


The town was entered. Oh Eternity!— "God made the country, and man made the town," So Cowper says[440]—and I begin to be Of his opinion, when I see cast down Rome—Babylon-Tyre-Carthage—Nineveh— All walls men know, and many never known; And pondering on the present and the past, To deem the woods shall be our home at last:—


Of all men, saving Sylla,[441] the man-slayer, Who passes for in life and death most lucky, Of the great names which in our faces stare, The General Boon, back-woodsman of Kentucky,[442] Was happiest amongst mortals anywhere; For killing nothing but a bear or buck, he Enjoyed the lonely, vigorous, harmless days Of his old age in wilds of deepest maze.


Crime came not near him—she is not the child Of solitude; Health shrank not from him—for Her home is in the rarely trodden wild, Where if men seek her not, and death be more Their choice than life, forgive them, as beguiled By habit to what their own hearts abhor— In cities caged. The present case in point I Cite is, that Boon lived hunting up to ninety;


And, what's still stranger, left behind a name For which men vainly decimate the throng, Not only famous, but of that good fame, Without which Glory's but a tavern song— Simple, serene, the antipodes of Shame, Which Hate nor Envy e'er could tinge with wrong; An active hermit, even in age the child Of Nature—or the Man of Ross[443] run wild.


'T is true he shrank from men even of his nation, When they built up unto his darling trees,— He moved some hundred miles off, for a station Where there were fewer houses and more ease; The inconvenience of civilisation Is, that you neither can be pleased nor please; But where he met the individual man, He showed himself as kind as mortal can.


He was not all alone: around him grew A sylvan tribe of children of the chase, Whose young, unwakened world was ever new, Nor sword nor sorrow yet had left a trace On her unwrinkled brow, nor could you view A frown on Nature's or on human face; The free-born forest found and kept them free, And fresh as is a torrent or a tree.


And tall, and strong, and swift of foot were they, Beyond the dwarfing city's pale abortions, Because their thoughts had never been the prey Of care or gain: the green woods were their portions; No sinking spirits told them they grew grey, No fashion made them apes of her distortions; Simple they were, not savage—and their rifles, Though very true, were not yet used for trifles.


Motion was in their days, Rest in their slumbers, And Cheerfulness the handmaid of their toil; Nor yet too many nor too few their numbers; Corruption could not make their hearts her soil; The lust which stings, the splendour which encumbers, With the free foresters divide no spoil; Serene, not sullen, were the solitudes Of this unsighing people of the woods.


So much for Nature:—by way of variety, Now back to thy great joys, Civilisation! And the sweet consequence of large society, War—pestilence—the despot's desolation, The kingly scourge, the lust of notoriety, The millions slain by soldiers for their ration, The scenes like Catherine's boudoir at threescore,[444] With Ismail's storm to soften it the more.


The town was entered: first one column made Its sanguinary way good—then another; The reeking bayonet and the flashing blade Clashed 'gainst the scimitar, and babe and mother With distant shrieks were heard Heaven to upbraid:— Still closer sulphury clouds began to smother The breath of morn and man, where foot by foot The maddened Turks their city still dispute.


Koutousow,[445] he who afterwards beat back (With some assistance from the frost and snow) Napoleon on his bold and bloody track, It happened was himself beat back just now: He was a jolly fellow, and could crack His jest alike in face of friend or foe, Though Life, and Death, and Victory were at stake;[446] But here it seemed his jokes had ceased to take:


For having thrown himself into a ditch, Followed in haste by various grenadiers, Whose blood the puddle greatly did enrich, He climbed to where the parapet appears; But there his project reached its utmost pitch ('Mongst other deaths the General Ribaupierre's Was much regretted), for the Moslem men Threw them all down into the ditch again.[447]


And had it not been for some stray troops landing They knew not where, being carried by the stream To some spot, where they lost their understanding, And wandered up and down as in a dream, Until they reached, as daybreak was expanding, That which a portal to their eyes did seem,— The great and gay Koutousow might have lain Where three parts of his column yet remain.[448]


And scrambling round the rampart, these same troops, After the taking of the "Cavalier,"[449] Just as Koutousow's most "forlorn" of "hopes" Took, like chameleons, some slight tinge of fear, Opened the gate called "Kilia," to the groups[450] Of baffled heroes, who stood shyly near, Sliding knee-deep in lately frozen mud, Now thawed into a marsh of human blood.


The Kozacks, or, if so you please, Cossacques— (I don't much pique myself upon orthography, So that I do not grossly err in facts, Statistics, tactics, politics, and geography)— Having been used to serve on horses' backs, And no great dilettanti in topography Of fortresses, but fighting where it pleases Their chiefs to order,—were all cut to pieces.[451]


Their column, though the Turkish batteries thundered Upon them, ne'ertheless had reached the rampart,[452] And naturally thought they could have plundered The city, without being farther hampered; But as it happens to brave men, they blundered— The Turks at first pretended to have scampered, Only to draw them 'twixt two bastion corners,[453] From whence they sallied on those Christian scorners.


Then being taken by the tail—a taking Fatal to bishops as to soldiers—these[ih] Cossacques were all cut off as day was breaking, And found their lives were let at a short lease—But perished without shivering or shaking, Leaving as ladders their heaped carcasses, O'er which Lieutenant-Colonel Yesouskoi Marched with the brave battalion of Polouzki:—[454]


This valiant man killed all the Turks he met, But could not eat them, being in his turn Slain by some Mussulmans,[455] who would not yet, Without resistance, see their city burn. The walls were won, but 't was an even bet Which of the armies would have cause to mourn: 'T was blow for blow, disputing inch by inch, For one would not retreat, nor 't other flinch.


Another column also suffered much:— And here we may remark with the historian, You should but give few cartridges to such Troops as are meant to march with greatest glory on: When matters must be carried by the touch Of the bright bayonet, and they all should hurry on; They sometimes, with a hankering for existence, Keep merely firing at a foolish distance.[456]


A junction of the General Meknop's men (Without the General, who had fallen some time Before, being badly seconded just then) Was made at length with those who dared to climb The death-disgorging rampart once again; And, though the Turk's resistance was sublime, They took the bastion, which the Seraskier Defended at a price extremely dear.[457]


Juan and Johnson, and some volunteers, Among the foremost, offered him good quarter, A word which little suits with Seraskiers, Or at least suited not this valiant Tartar. He died, deserving well his country's tears, A savage sort of military martyr: An English naval officer, who wished To make him prisoner, was also dished:


For all the answer to his proposition Was from a pistol-shot that laid him dead;[458] On which the rest, without more intermission, Began to lay about with steel and lead— The pious metals most in requisition On such occasions: not a single head Was spared;—three thousand Moslems perished here, And sixteen bayonets pierced the Seraskier.[459]


The city's taken—only part by part— And Death is drunk with gore: there's not a street Where fights not to the last some desperate heart For those for whom it soon shall cease to beat.[460] Here War forgot his own destructive art In more destroying Nature; and the heat Of Carnage, like the Nile's sun-sodden slime, Engendered monstrous shapes of every crime.


A Russian officer, in martial tread Over a heap of bodies, felt his heel Seized fast, as if 't were by the serpent's head Whose fangs Eve taught her human seed to feel; In vain he kicked, and swore, and writhed, and bled, And howled for help as wolves do for a meal— The teeth still kept their gratifying hold, As do the subtle snakes described of old.[ii]


A dying Moslem, who had felt the foot Of a foe o'er him, snatched at it, and bit The very tendon which is most acute— (That which some ancient Muse or modern wit Named after thee, Achilles!) and quite through 't He made the teeth meet, nor relinquished it Even with his life—for (but they lie) 't is said To the live leg still clung the severed head.


However this may be, 't is pretty sure The Russian officer for life was lamed, For the Turk's teeth stuck faster than a skewer, And left him 'midst the invalid and maimed: The regimental surgeon could not cure His patient, and, perhaps, was to be blamed More than the head of the inveterate foe, Which was cut off, and scarce even then let go.


But then the fact's a fact—and 't is the part Of a true poet to escape from fiction Whene'er he can; for there is little art in leaving verse more free from the restriction Of Truth than prose, unless to suit the mart For what is sometimes called poetic diction, And that outrageous appetite for lies Which Satan angles with for souls, like flies.[ij]


The city's taken, but not rendered!—No! There's not a Moslem that hath yielded sword: The blood may gush out, as the Danube's flow Rolls by the city wall; but deed nor word Acknowledge aught of dread of Death or foe: In vain the yell of victory is roared By the advancing Muscovite—the groan Of the last foe is echoed by his own.


The bayonet pierces and the sabre cleaves, And human lives are lavished everywhere, As the year closing whirls the scarlet leaves[ik] When the stripped forest bows to the bleak air, And groans; and thus the peopled city grieves, Shorn of its best and loveliest, and left bare; But still it falls in vast and awful splinters, As oaks blown down with all their thousand winters.


It is an awful topic—but 't is not My cue for any time to be terrific: For checkered as is seen our human lot With good, and bad, and worse, alike prolific Of melancholy merriment, to quote Too much of one sort would be soporific;— Without, or with, offence to friends or foes, I sketch your world exactly as it goes.


And one good action in the midst of crimes Is "quite refreshing," in the affected phrase[461] Of these ambrosial, Pharisaic times, With all their pretty milk-and-water ways, And may serve therefore to bedew these rhymes, A little scorched at present with the blaze Of conquest and its consequences, which Make Epic poesy so rare and rich.


Upon a taken bastion, where there lay Thousands of slaughtered men, a yet warm group Of murdered women, who had found their way To this vain refuge, made the good heart droop And shudder;—while, as beautiful as May, A female child of ten years tried to stoop And hide her little palpitating breast Amidst the bodies lulled in bloody rest.[462]


Two villanous Cossacques pursued the child With flashing eyes and weapons: matched with them, The rudest brute that roams Siberia's wild Has feelings pure and polished as a gem,— The bear is civilised, the wolf is mild; And whom for this at last must we condemn? Their natures? or their sovereigns, who employ All arts to teach their subjects to destroy?


Their sabres glittered o'er her little head, Whence her fair hair rose twining with affright, Her hidden face was plunged amidst the dead: When Juan caught a glimpse of this sad sight, I shall not say exactly what he said, Because it might not solace "ears polite;"[463] But what he did, was to lay on their backs, The readiest way of reasoning with Cossacques.


One's hip he slashed, and split the other's shoulder, And drove them with their brutal yells to seek If there might be chirurgeons who could solder The wounds they richly merited,[464] and shriek Their baffled rage and pain; while waxing colder As he turned o'er each pale and gory cheek, Don Juan raised his little captive from The heap a moment more had made her tomb.


And she was chill as they, and on her face A slender streak of blood announced how near Her fate had been to that of all her race; For the same blow which laid her mother here Had scarred her brow, and left its crimson trace, As the last link with all she had held dear;[465] But else unhurt, she opened her large eyes, And gazed on Juan with a wild surprise.


Just at this instant, while their eyes were fixed Upon each other, with dilated glance, In Juan's look, pain, pleasure, hope, fear, mixed With joy to save, and dread of some mischance Unto his protegee; while hers, transfixed With infant terrors, glared as from a trance, A pure, transparent, pale, yet radiant face, Like to a lighted alabaster vase:—[466]


Up came John Johnson (I will not say "Jack," For that were vulgar, cold, and common-place On great occasions, such as an attack On cities, as hath been the present case): Up Johnson came, with hundreds at his back, Exclaiming—"Juan! Juan! On, boy! brace Your arm, and I'll bet Moscow to a dollar, That you and I will win St. George's collar.[467]


"The Seraskier is knocked upon the head, But the stone bastion still remains, wherein The old Pacha sits among some hundreds dead, Smoking his pipe quite calmly 'midst the din Of our artillery and his own: 't is said Our killed, already piled up to the chin, Lie round the battery; but still it batters, And grape in volleys, like a vineyard, scatters.


"Then up with me!"—But Juan answered, "Look Upon this child—I saved her—must not leave Her life to chance; but point me out some nook Of safety, where she less may shrink and grieve, And I am with you."—Whereon Johnson took A glance around—and shrugged—and twitched his sleeve And black silk neckcloth—and replied, "You're right; Poor thing! what's to be done? I'm puzzled quite."


Said Juan—"Whatsoever is to be Done, I'll not quit her till she seems secure Of present life a good deal more than we."— Quoth Johnson—"Neither will I quite insure; But at the least you may die gloriously."— Juan replied—" At least I will endure Whate'er is to be borne—but not resign This child, who is parentless, and therefore mine."


Johnson said—"Juan, we've no time to lose; The child's a pretty child—a very pretty— I never saw such eyes—but hark! now choose Between your fame and feelings, pride and pity:— Hark! how the roar increases!—no excuse Will serve when there is plunder in a city;— I should be loath to march without you, but, By God! we'll be too late for the first cut."


But Juan was immovable; until Johnson, who really loved him in his way, Picked out amongst his followers with some skill Such as he thought the least given up to prey, And, swearing, if the infant came to ill That they should all be shot on the next day,— But if she were delivered safe and sound, They should at least have fifty rubles round,


And all allowances besides of plunder In fair proportion with their comrades;—then Juan consented to march on through thunder, Which thinned at every step their ranks of men: And yet the rest rushed eagerly—no wonder, For they were heated by the hope of gain, A thing which happens everywhere each day— No hero trusteth wholly to half pay.


And such is Victory, and such is Man! At least nine tenths of what we call so:—God May have another name for half we scan As human beings, or his ways are odd. But to our subject: a brave Tartar Khan— Or "Sultan," as the author (to whose nod In prose I bend my humble verse) doth call This chieftain—somehow would not yield at all:


But flanked by five brave sons (such is polygamy, That she spawns warriors by the score, where none Are prosecuted for that false crime bigamy), He never would believe the city won While Courage clung but to a single twig.—Am I Describing Priam's, Peleus', or Jove's son? Neither—but a good, plain, old, temperate man, Who fought with his five children in the van.[468]


To take him was the point.—The truly brave, When they behold the brave oppressed with odds, Are touched with a desire to shield and save;— A mixture of wild beasts and demi-gods Are they—now furious as the sweeping wave, Now moved with pity: even as sometimes nods The rugged tree unto the summer wind, Compassion breathes along the savage mind.


But he would not be taken, and replied To all the propositions of surrender By mowing Christians down on every side, As obstinate as Swedish Charles at Bender.[469] His five brave boys no less the foe defied; Whereon the Russian pathos grew less tender As being a virtue, like terrestrial patience,[il] Apt to wear out on trifling provocations.


And spite of Johnson and of Juan, who Expended all their Eastern phraseology In begging him, for God's sake, just to show So much less fight as might form an apology For them in saving such a desperate foe— He hewed away, like Doctors of Theology When they dispute with sceptics; and with curses Struck at his friends, as babies beat their nurses.


Nay, he had wounded, though but slightly, both Juan and Johnson; whereupon they fell, The first with sighs, the second with an oath, Upon his angry Sultanship, pell-mell, And all around were grown exceeding wroth At such a pertinacious infidel, And poured upon him and his sons like rain, Which they resisted like a sandy plain


That drinks and still is dry. At last they perished— His second son was levelled by a shot; His third was sabred; and the fourth, most cherished Of all the five, on bayonets met his lot; The fifth, who, by a Christian mother nourished, Had been neglected, ill-used, and what not, Because deformed, yet died all game and bottom,[im] To save a Sire who blushed that he begot him.


The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar, As great a scorner of the Nazarene As ever Mahomet picked out for a martyr, Who only saw the black-eyed girls in green, Who make the beds of those who won't take quarter On earth, in Paradise; and when once seen, Those houris, like all other pretty creatures, Do just whate'er they please, by dint of features.


And what they pleased to do with the young Khan In Heaven I know not, nor pretend to guess; But doubtless they prefer a fine young man To tough old heroes, and can do no less;[in] And that's the cause no doubt why, if we scan A field of battle's ghastly wilderness, For one rough, weather-beaten, veteran body, You'll find ten thousand handsome coxcombs bloody.


Your houris also have a natural pleasure In lopping off your lately married men, Before the bridal hours have danced their measure And the sad, second moon grows dim again, Or dull Repentance hath had dreary leisure To wish him back a bachelor now and then: And thus your Houri (it may be) disputes Of these brief blossoms the immediate fruits.


Thus the young Khan, with Houris in his sight, Thought not upon the charms of four young brides, But bravely rushed on his first heavenly night. In short, howe'er our better faith derides, These black-eyed virgins make the Moslems fight, As though there were one Heaven and none besides— Whereas, if all be true we hear of Heaven And Hell, there must at least be six or seven.


So fully flashed the phantom on his eyes, That when the very lance was in his heart, He shouted "Allah!" and saw Paradise With all its veil of mystery drawn apart, And bright Eternity without disguise On his soul, like a ceaseless sunrise, dart:— With Prophets—Houris—Angels—Saints, descried In one voluptuous blaze,—and then he died,—[io]


But with a heavenly rapture on his face. The good old Khan, who long had ceased to see Houris, or aught except his florid race, Who grew like cedars round him gloriously— When he beheld his latest hero grace The earth, which he became like a felled tree, Paused for a moment from the fight, and cast A glance on that slain son, his first and last.


The soldiers, who beheld him drop his point, Stopped as if once more willing to concede Quarter, in case he bade them not "aroynt!" As he before had done. He did not heed Their pause nor signs: his heart was out of joint, And shook (till now unshaken) like a reed, As he looked down upon his children gone, And felt—though done with life—he was alone.[470]


But 't was a transient tremor:—with a spring Upon the Russian steel his breast he flung, As carelessly as hurls the moth her wing Against the light wherein she dies: he clung Closer, that all the deadlier they might wring, Unto the bayonets which had pierced his young; And throwing back a dim look on his sons, In one wide wound poured forth his soul at once.


'T is strange enough—the rough, tough soldiers, who Spared neither sex nor age in their career Of carnage, when this old man was pierced through, And lay before them with his children near, Touched by the heroism of him they slew, Were melted for a moment; though no tear Flowed from their bloodshot eyes, all red with strife, They honoured such determined scorn of Life.


But the stone bastion still kept up its fire, Where the chief Pacha calmly held his post: Some twenty times he made the Russ retire, And baffled the assaults of all their host; At length he condescended to inquire If yet the city's rest were won or lost; And being told the latter, sent a Bey To answer Ribas' summons to give way.[471]


In the mean time, cross-legged, with great sang-froid, Among the scorching ruins he sat smoking Tobacco on a little carpet;—Troy Saw nothing like the scene around;—yet looking With martial Stoicism, nought seemed to annoy His stern philosophy; but gently stroking His beard, he puffed his pipe's ambrosial gales, As if he had three lives, as well as tails.[472] CXXII.

The town was taken—whether he might yield Himself or bastion, little mattered now: His stubborn valour was no future shield. Ismail's no more! The Crescent's silver bow Sunk, and the crimson Cross glared o'er the field, But red with no redeeming gore: the glow Of burning streets, like moonlight on the water, Was imaged back in blood, the sea of slaughter.[ip]


All that the mind would shrink from of excesses— All that the body perpetrates of bad; All that we read—hear—dream, of man's distresses— All that the Devil would do if run stark mad; All that defies the worst which pen expresses,— All by which Hell is peopled, or as sad As Hell—mere mortals who their power abuse— Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose.


If here and there some transient trait of pity Was shown, and some more noble heart broke through Its bloody bond, and saved, perhaps, some pretty Child, or an aged, helpless man or two— What's this in one annihilated city, Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grew? Cockneys of London! Muscadins of Paris! Just ponder what a pious pastime War is.[iq]


Think how the joys of reading a Gazette Are purchased by all agonies and crimes: Or if these do not move you, don't forget Such doom may be your own in after-times. Meantime the Taxes, Castlereagh, and Debt, Are hints as good as sermons, or as rhymes. Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory.

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