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XII. But soon he knew himself the most unfit Of men to herd with Man ; with whom he held Little in common; untaught to submit His thoughts to others, though his soul was quell'd In youth by his own thoughts; still uncompellid, He would not yield dominion of his mind To spirits against whom his own rebell’d;
Proud though in desolation ; which could find A life within itself, to breathe without mankind.
Where rose the mountains, there to him were
friends; Where roll’d the ocean, thereon was his home; Where a blue sky, and glowing clime, extends, He had the passion and the power to roam ; The desert, forest, cavern, breaker's foam, Were unto him companionship; they spake A mutual language, clearer than the tome
Of his land's tongue, which he would oft forsake For Nature's pages glass'd by sunbeams on the lake.
Like the Chaldean, he could watch the stars,
To which it mounts, as if to break the link [brink. That keeps us from yon heaven which woos us to its
But in Man's dwellings he became a thing
Till the blood tinge his plumage, so the heat
Self-exiled Harold (1) wanders forth again,
With draughts intemperate on the sinking deck,Did yet inspire a cheer, which he forebore to
(1) [" In the third canto of Childe Harold,” says Sir Egerton Brydges, " there is much inequality. The thoughts and images are sometimes laboured; but still they are a very great improvement upon the first two cantos. Lord Byron here speaks in his own language and character, not in the tone of others; – he is describing, not inventing; therefore he has not, and cannot have, the freedom with which fiction is composed. Sometimes he has a conciseness which is very powerful, but almost abrupt. From trusting himself alone, and working out his own deep-buried thoughts, he now, perhaps, fell into a habit of labouring, even where there was no occasion to labour. In the first sixteen stanzas there is yet a mighty but groaning burst of dark and appalling strength. It was unquestionably the unexaggerated picture of a most tempestuous and sombre, but magnificent soul!"]
(2) [These stanzas, - in which the author, adopting more distinctly the character of Childe Harold than in the original poem, assigns the cause why he has resumed his Pilgrim's staff when it was hoped he had sat down for life a denizen of his native country,— abound with much moral interest and poetical beauty. The comraentary through which the meaning of this
Stop ! - for thy tread is on an Empire's dust !
And is this all the world has gain'd by thee,
And Harold stands upon this place of skulls,
Ambition's life and labours all were vain; [chain.
melancholy tale is rendered obvious, is still in vivid remembrance; for the errors of those who excel their fellows in gifts and accomplishments are not soon forgotten. Those scenes, ever most painful to the bosom, were rendered yet more so by public discussion; and it is at least possible that amongst those who exclaimed most loudly on this unhappy occasion, were some in whose eyes literary superiority exaggerated Lord Byron's offence. The scene may be described in a few words :- the wise condemned - the good regretted — the multitude, idly or maliciously inquisitive, rushed from place to place, gathering gossip, which they mangled and exaggerated while they repeated it; and impudence, ever ready to hitch itself into notoriety, hooked on, as Falstaff enjoins Bardolph, blustered, bullied, and talked of“ pleading a cause,” and “taking a side." - SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
(1) “Pride of place” is a term of falconry, and means the highest pitch of flight. See Macbeth, &c.
“ An eagle towering in his pride of place," &c. (2) [In the original draught of this stanza (which, as well as the pre
Fit retribution ! Gaul may champ the bit
Pay the Wolf homage ? proffering lowly gaze
If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more!
Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword Such as Harmodius (1) drew on Athens' tyrant lord
ceding one, was written after a visit to the field of Waterloo), the lines stood
“ Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew,
Then tore with bloody beak the fatal plain,". On seeing these lines, Mr. Reinagle sketched a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons. The circumstance being mentioned to Lord Byron, he wrote thus to a friend at Brussels, -"Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am : eagles, and all birds of prey, attack with their talons, and not with their beaks ; and I have altered the line thus:
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain.'
(1) See the famous song on Harmodius and Aristogiton. The best English translation is in Bland's Anthology, by Mr. (Now Sir Thomas) Denman,
“ With myrtle my sword will I wreathe," &c.
There was a sound of revelry by night, (1)
And all went merry as a marriage-bell ;() But hush i harkl a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
XXII. Did not hear it ? No; 'twas but the wind Or the car rattling o'er the stony street ; On with the dance ! let joy be unconfined ; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet, To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet But, hark !-that heavy sound breaks in once more As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before ! Arm! Arm ! it is - it is — the cannon's opening
(1) [There can be no more remarkable proof of the greatness of Lord Byron's genius, than the spirit and interest he has contrived to communicate to his picture of the often-drawn and difficult scene of the breaking up from Brussels before the great Battle. It is a trite remark, that poets generally fail in the representation of great events, where the interest is recent, and the particulars are consequently clearly and commonly known. It required some courage to venture on a theme beset with so many dan. gers, and deformed with the wrecks of so many former adventurers. See, however, with what easy strength he enters upon it, and with how much grace he gradually finds his way back to his own peculiar vein of senti. ment and diction!-- JEFFREY.]
(2) On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball was given at Brussels. - [The popular error of the Duke of Wellington having been surprised, on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, at a ball given by the