Sidor som bilder
PDF

XXXIV. There is a very life in our despair, Vitality of poison,-a quick root Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were As nothing did we die; but Life will suit Itself to Sorrow's most detested fruit, Like to the apples (*) on the Dead Sea's shore, All ashes to the taste: Did man compute Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er Such hours 'gainst years of life, say, would he name threescore ? XXXV. The Psalmist number'd out the years of man: They are enough; and if thy tale be true, Thou, who didstgrudge him eventhat fleetingspan, More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo ! Millions of tongues record thee, and anew Their children's lips shall echo them, and say— “Here, where the sword united nations drew, “Our countrymen were warring on that day !” And this is much, and all which will not pass away. xxxVI. There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men, Whose spirit antithetically mixt One moment of the mightiest, and again On little objects with like firmness fixt, Extreme in all things! hadst thou been betwixt, Thy throne had still been thine, or never been; For daring made thy rise as fall: thou seek'st Even now to re-assume the imperial mien, Andshakeagain the world, the Thundererofthescene!

(1) The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltes were said to be air without, and, within, ashes. Wide Tacitus, Histor. lib. v. 7.

[ocr errors]

XXXVII.
Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou!
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who woo'd thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same
To the astounded kingdoms all inert,

Who deem'd theefor a time whate'er thoudidstassert.

XXXVIII.
Oh, more or less than man—in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield:
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild.
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skill'd,
Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war,

Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.

XXXIX.
Yet well thy soul hath brook'd the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hastsmiled
With a sedate and all-enduring eye;—
When Fortune fled her spoil'd and favourite child,

He stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him piled.

XL. Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them Ambition steel'd thee on too far to show That just habitual scorn, which could contemn Men and their thoughts; 'twas wise to feel, not so To wear it ever on thy lip and brow, And spurn the instruments thou wert to use Till they were turn'd unto thine overthrow; 'Tis but a worthless world to win or lose; So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose. XLI. If, like a tower upon a headlong rock, Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone, Such scorn of man had help'd to brave the shock; But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy Their admiration thy best weapon shone; [throne, The part of Philip's son was thine, not then (Unless aside thy purple had been thrown) Like stern Diogenes to mock at men; For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den.() XLII. But quiet to quick bosoms is a hell, And there hath been thy bane; there is a fire And motion of the soul which will not dwell In its own marrow being, but aspire Beyond the fitting medium of desire; And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore, Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire Of aught but rest; a fever at the core, Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.

(1) The great error of Napoleon, “if we have writ our annals true,” was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling

[ocr errors]

XLIII. This makes the madmen who have made men mad By their contagion; Conquerors and Kings, Founders of sects and systems, to whom add Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquiet things Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs, And are themselves the fools to those they fool; Envied, yet how unenviable! what stings Are theirs! One breast laid open were a school Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or rule: XLIV. Their breath is agitation, and their life A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last, And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife, That should their days, surviving perils past, Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast With sorrow and supineness, and so die; Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste With its own flickering, or a sword laid by, Which eats into itself, and rusts ingloriously.

for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more trembling and suspicious tyranny. Such were his speeches to public assemblies as well as individuals; and the single expression which he is said to have used on returning to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing his hands over a fire, “This is pleasanter than Moscow,” would probably alienate more favour from his cause than the destruction and reverses which led to the remark.-[ Far from being deficient in that necessary branch of the politician's art which soothes the passions and conciliates the prejudices of those whom they wish to employ as instruments, Buonaparte possessed it in exquisite perfection. He seldom missed finding the very man that was fittest for his immediate purpose; and he had, in a peculiar degree, the art of moulding him to it. It was not, then, because he despised the means necessary to gain his end, that he finally fell short of attaining it, but because, confiding in his stars, his fortune, and his strength, the ends which he proposed were unattainable even by the gigantic means which he possessed. – SIR WALTER Scott.]

XLV.
He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow .
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
Contending tempests on his naked head, \

And thus reward the toils which to those summits

led. ()
XLVI.

Away with these I true Wisdom's world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal Nature! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine?
There Harold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties; streams and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine,
And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells

From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly

dwells.

(1) [This is certainly splendidly written, but we trust it is not true. From Macedonia’s madman to the Swede — from Nimrod to Buonaparte, – the hunters of men have pursued their sport with as much gaiety, and as little remorse, as the hunters of other animals; and have | lived as cheerily in their days of action, and as comfortably in their repose, as the followers of better pursuits. It would be strange, therefore, if the other active, but more innocent spirits, whom Lord Byron has here placed in the same predicament, and who share all their sources of enjoyment, without the guilt and the hardness which they cannot fail of contracting, should be more miserable or more unfriended than those splendid curses \ of their kind; and it would be passing strange, and pitiful, if the most precious gifts of Providence should produce only unhappiness, and mankind regard with hostility their greatest benefactors. —JEFFREY. I

« FöregåendeFortsätt »