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Clarens ! by heavenly feet thy paths are trod,—
Passes the strength of storms in their most desolate
makes a poetical picture of local and particular scenery perfect. They exhibit a miraculous brilliancy and force of fancy; but the very fidelity causes a little constraint and labour of language. The poet seems to have been so engrossed by the attention to give vigour and fire to the imagery, that he both neglected and disdained to render himself more harmonious by diffuser words, which, while they might have improved the effect upon the ear, might have weakened the impression upon the mind. This mastery over new matter—this supply of powers equal not only to an untouched subject, but that subject one of peculiar and unequalled grandeur and beauty—was sufficient to occupy the strongest poetical faculties, young as the author was, without adding to it all the practical skill of the artist. The stanzas, too, on Voltaire and Gibbon are discriminative, sagacious, and just. They are among the proofs of that very great variety of talent which this Canto of Lord Byron exhibits. – SIR E. BRYDGEs.]
(1) Rousseau's Héloise, Lettre 17. part. 4. note. “Ces montagnes sont si hautes qu'une demi-heure après le soleil couche, leurs sommets sont éclairés de ses rayons; dont le rouge forme surces cimes blanches une belle couleur de rose, qu'on apperçoit de fort loin.” – This applies more particularly to the heights over Meillerie. — “J'allai à Vevayloger a la Clef, et pendant deux jours que j’y restai sans voir personne, je pris pour cette ville um amour qui m'a suivi dans tous mes voyages, et qui m'y a fait établir enfin les heros de mon roman, Je dirois volontiers à cetix qui ont du goût et qui sont sensibles: Allez à Vevay — visitez le pays, examinez les sites, promenez-vous sur le lac, et dites si la Nature n'a pas fait ce beau pays pour une Julie, pour une Claire, et pour un St. Preux; mais ne les y cherchez pas.”— Les Confessions, livre iv. p. 306. Lyons, ed. 1796. – In July, 1816, I made a voyage round the Lake of Geneva; and, as far as my own observations have led me in a not uninterested nor inattentive survey of all the scenes most celebrated by Rousseau in his “Héloise,” I can safely
CI. All things are here of him; from the black pines, Which are his shade on high, and the loud roar Of torrents, where he listeneth, to the vines Which slope his green pathdownward to the shore, Where the bow’d waters meet him, and adore, Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood, The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar, Butlight leaves, young as joy, stands whereit stood, Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude.
say, that in this there is no exaggeration. It would be difficult to see Clarens (with the scenes around it, Vevay, Chillon, Böveret, St. Gingo, Meillerie, Eivan, and the entrances of the Rhone) without being forcibly struck with its peculiar adaptation to the persons and events with which it has been peopled. But this is not all : the feeling with which all around Clarens, and the opposite rocks of Meillerie, is invested, is of a still higher and more comprehensive order than the mere sympathy with individual passion; it is a sense of the existence of love in its most extended and sublime capacity, and of our own participation of its good and of its glory: it is the great principle of the universe, which is there more condensed, but not less manifested; and of which, though knowing ourselves a part, we lose our individuality, and mingle in the beauty of the whole. – If Rousseau had never written, nor lived, the same associations would not less have belonged to such scenes. He has added to the interest of his works by their adoption; he has shown his sense of their beauty by the selection; but they have done that for him which no human being could do for them. – I had the fortune (good or evil as it might be) to sail from Meillerie (where we landed for some time) to St. Gingo during a lake storm, which added to the magnificence of all around, although occasionally accompanied by danger to the boat, which was small and overloaded. It was over this very part of the lake that Rousseau has driven the boat of St. Preux and Madame Wolmar to Meillerie for shelter during a tempest. On gaining the shore at St. Gingo, I found that the wind had been sufficiently strong to blow down some fine old chestnut trees on the lower part of the mountains. On the opposite height of Clarens is a château. The hills are covered with vineyards, and interspersed with some small but beautiful woods; one of these was named the “Bosquet de Julie;” and it is remarkable that, though long ago cut down by the brutal selfishness of the monks of St. Bernard (to whom the land appertained), that the ground might be enclosed into a vineyard for the miserable drones of an execrable superstition, the inhabitants of Clarens still point out the spot where its
CII. A populous solitude of bees and birds, And fairy-formed and many-colour'd things, Who worship him with notes more sweetthan words, And innocently open their glad wings, Fearless and full of life: the gush of springs, And fall of lofty fountains, and the bend Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend, Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.
CIII. He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore, And make his heart a spirit; he who knows That tender mystery, will love the more, For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes, And the world's waste, have driven him far from For ’tis his nature to advance or die; [those, He stands not still, but or decays, or grows Into a boundless blessing, which may vie
With the immortal lights, in its eternity
trees stood, calling it by the name which consecrated and survived them. Rousseau has not been particularly fortunate in the preservation of the “local habitations” he has given to “airy nothings.” The Prior of Great St. Bernard has cut down some of his woods for the sake of a few casks of wine, and Buonaparte has levelled part of the rocks of Meillerie in improving the road to the Simplon. The road is an excellent one, but I cannot quite agree with the remark which I heard made, that “La route vaut mieux que les souvenirs.” [During the squall off Meillerie, of which Lord Byron here makes mention, the danger of the party was considerable. At Ouchy, near Lausanne, he was detained two days, in a small inn, by the weather; and here it was that he wrote, in that short interval, the “Prisoner of Chillon; ” “adding,” says Moore, “one more deathless association to the already immortalised localities of the Lake.”— El
CIV. ' 'Twas not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot, Peopling it with affections; but he found It was the scene which passion must allot To the mind's purified beings; 't was the ground Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound, And hallow'd it with loveliness: 'tis lone, And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound, And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have rear'd a throne. CV. Lausannel and Ferney ! ye have been the abodes Of names which unto you bequeath'd a name;(1) Mortals, who sought and found, by dangerous roads A path to perpetuity of fame: They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim Was, Titan-like, on daring doubts to pile [flame Thoughts which should call down thunder, and the Of Heaven, again assail'd, if Heaven the while On man and man's research could deign do more than smile. CVI. The one was fire and fickleness, a child, Most mutable in wishes, but in mind, A wit as various, – gay, grave, sage, or wild,Historian, bard, philosopher, combined; He multiplied himself among mankind, The Proteus of their talents: But his own Breathed most in ridicule, – which, as the wind, Blew where it listed, laying all things prone, –
Now to o'erthrow a fool, and now to shake a throne (1) Voltaire and Gibbon. 4.
CVII. The other, deep and slow, exhausting thought, And hiving wisdom with each studious year, In meditation dwelt, with learning wrought, And shaped his weapon with an edge severe, Sapping a solemn creed with solemn sneer; The lord of irony, -that master-spell, Which stunghis foestowrath, which grew from fear, And doom'd him to the zealot's ready Hell, Which answers to all doubts so eloquently well.
CVIII. Yet, peace be with their ashes, – for by them, If merited, the penalty is paid; It is not ours to judge, – far less condemn; Thehour mustcome when such things shall be made Known unto all, - or hope and dread allay'd By slumber, on one pillow, -in the dust, Which, thus much we are sure, must lie decay’d; And when it shall revive, as is our trust, ‘T will be to be forgiven, or suffer what is just.
CIX. But let me quit man's works, again to read His Maker's, spread around me, and suspend This page, which from my reveries I feed, Until it seems prolonging without end The clouds above me to the white Alps tend, And I must pierce them, and survey whate'er May be permitted, as my steps I bend To their most great and growing region, where The earth to her embrace compels the powers of air.