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LXVIII, Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face, () The mirror where the stars and mountains view The stillness of their aspect in each trace Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue: There is too much of man here, to look through With a fit mind the might which I behold; But soon in me shall Loneliness renew Thoughts hid, but not less cherish'd than of old, Ere mingling with the herd had penn'd me in their fold. LXIX. To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind: All are not fit with them to stir and toil, Nor is it discontent to keep the mind Deep in its fountain, lest it overboil In the hot throng, where we become the spoil Of our infection, till too late and long We may deplore and struggle with the coil, In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong.
calm of the lake, which I was crossing in my boat; the distance of these mountains from their mirror is sixty miles. (1) In the exquisite lines which the poet, at this time, addressed to his sister, there is this touching stanza : — “I did remind thee of our own dear lake”, By the old hall which may be mine no more. Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore: Sad havoc Time must with my memory make Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before; Though, like all things which I have loved, they are Resign'd for ever, or divided far.”
* The lake of Newstead Abbey.
There, in a moment, we may plunge our years
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor’d neer)
LXXI. Is it not better, then, to be alone, And love Earth only for its earthly sake? By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone, () Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake, Which feeds it as a mother who doth make A fair but froward infant her own care, Kissing its cries away as these awake; — Is it not better thus our lives to wear, Than join the crushing crowd, doom'd to inflict or bear? (1) The colour of the Rhone at Geneva is blue, to a depth of tint which I have never seen equalled in water, salt or fresh, except in the Mediter
ranean and Archipelago. —LSee Don Juan, canto xiv. stanza 87. for a beautiful comparison:
“There was no great disparity of years,
Of ocean, or the stars, mingle, and not in vain.
And thus I am absorb'd, and this is life;
Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being
(1) [“Mr. Hobhouse and myself are just returned from a journey of lakes and mountains. We have been to the Grindelwald, and the Jungfrau, and stood on the summit of the Wengen Alp; and seen torrents of 900 feet in fall, and glaciers of all dimensions; we have heard shepherds' pipes, and avalanches, and looked on the clouds foaming up from the valleys below us like the spray of the ocean of hell. Chamouni, and that which it inherits, we saw a month ago; but, though Mont Blanc is higher, it is not equal in wildness to the Jungfrau, the Eighers, the Shreckhorn, and the Rose Glaciers. Besides this, I have been over all the Bernese Alps and their lakes, and think many of the scenes (some of which were not those usually frequented by the English) finer than Chamouni. I have been to Clarens again, and crossed the mountains behind it.”—B. Letters, Sept. 1816.]
LXXIV. And when, at length, the mind shall be all free From what it hates in this degraded form, Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be Existent happier in the fly and worm, When elements to elements conform, And dust is as it should be, shall I not Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm 2 The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot? o Of which, even now, Ishare at times the immortal lot?
LXXV. Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part Of me and of my soul, as I of them? Is not the love of these deep in my heart With a pure passion ? should I not contemn All objects, if compared with these? and stem A tide of suffering, rather than forego Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm Of those whose eyes are only turn'd below, Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow 2 I, XXVI. But this is not my theme; and I return To that which is immediate, and require Those who find contemplation in the urn, To look on One, whose dust was once all fire, A native of the land where I respire The clear air for a while—a passing guest, Where he became a being, whose desire Was to be glorious ; 'twas a foolish quest, The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
I, XXVII. *
The eyes, which o'er them shed tears feelingly and fast.
(1) [“I have traversed all Rousseau's ground with the “Héloïse” before me, and am struck to a degree that I cannot express with the force and accuracy of his descriptions, and the beauty of their reality. Meillerie, Clarens, and Vevay, and the Château de Chillon, are places of which I shall say little; because all I could say must fall short of the impressions they stamp.”— B. Letters.]
(2) [“It is evident that the impassioned parts of Rousseau's romance had made a deep impression upon the feelings of the noble poet. The enthusiasm expressed by Lord Byron is no small tribute to the power possessed by Jean Jacques over the passions: and, to say truth, we needed some such evidence; for, though almost ashamed to avow the truth, – still, like the barber of Midas, we must speak or die, – we have never been able to feel the interest or discover the merit of this far-famed performance. That there is much eloquence in the letters we readily admit: there lay Rousseau's strength. But his lovers, the celebrated St. Preux and Julie, have, from the earliest moment we have heard the tale (which we well remember), down to the present hour, totally failed to interest us. There might be some constitutional hardness of heart; but like Lance's pebble-hearted cur, Crab, we remained dry-eyed while all wept around us. And still, on resuming the volume, even now, we can see little in the loves of these two tiresome pedants to interest our feelings for either of them. To state our opinion in language * much better than our own, we are unfortunate enough to regard this far-famed history of philosophical gallantry as an “unfashioned, indelicate, sour, gloomy, ferocious medley of pedantry and lewdness; of metaphysical speculations, blended with the coarsest sensuality.’”—SIR WALTER Scott.]