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and Belles Lettres; and in some the very highest— Europe—the World—has but one Canova.
It has been somewhere said by Alfieri, that “La pianta uomo nasce più robusta in Italia che in qualunque altra terra—e che glistessi atroci delitti che vi si commettono ne sono una prova.” Without subscribing to the latter part of his proposition, a dangerous doctrine, the truth of which may be disputed on better grounds, namely, that the Italians are in no respect more ferocious than their neighbours, that man must be wilfully blind, or ignorantly heedless, who is not struck with the extraordinary capacity of this people, or, if such a word be admissible, their capabilities, the facility of their acquisitions, the rapidity of their conceptions, the fire of their genius, their sense of beauty, and, amidstall the disadvantages of repeated revolutions, the desolation of battles, and the despair of ages, their still unquenched “longing after immortality,”—the immortality of independence. And when we ourselves, in riding round the walls of Rome, heard the simple lament of the labourers' chorus, “Roma Roma I Roma 1 Roma non è più come era prima,” it was difficult not to contrast this melancholy dirge with the bacchanal roar of the songs of exultation still yelled from the Uondon taverns, over the carnage of Mont St. Jean, and the betrayal of Genoa, of Italy, of France, and of the world, by men whose conduct you yourself have exposed in a work worthy of the better days of our history. For me, –
What Italy has gained by the late transfer of nations, it were useless for Englishmen to enquire, till it becomes ascertained that England has acquired something more than a permanent army and a suspended Habeas Corpus; it is enough for them to look at home. For what they have done abroad, and especially in the South, “Verily they will have their reward,” and at no very distant period.
Wishing you, my dear Hobhouse, a safe and agreeable return to that country whose real welfare can be dearer to none than to yourself, I dedicate to you this poem in its completed state; and repeat once more how truly I am ever,
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.
CANTO THE FOURTH.
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred
Monarchs partook, and deem'd their dignity increased.
(1) See “Historical Notes” at the end of this Canto, No. I.
above image, which would not be poetical were it not true. —“Quo fit ut qui superne urbem contempletur, turritam telluris imaginem medio Oceano figuratam seputet inspicere.”
III. In Venice Tasso's echoes are no more, (1) And silent rows the songless gondolier; Her palaces are crumbling to the shore, And music meets not always now the ear: Those days are gone — but Beauty still is here. States fall, arts fade —but Nature doth not die, Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear, The pleasant place of all festivity, The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy IV. But unto us she hath a spell beyond Her name in story, and her long array Of mighty shadows, whose dim forms despond Above the dogeless city's vanish'd sway; Ours is a trophy which will not decay With the Rialto; Shylock and the Moor, And Pierre, can not be swept or worn away — The keystones of the arch 1 though all were o'er, For us repeopled were the solitary shore. V. The beings of the mind are not of clay; Essentially immortal, they create And multiply in us a brighter ray And more beloved existence : that which Fate Prohibits to dull life, in this our state Of mortal bondage, by these spirits supplied First exiles, then replaces what we hate ; Watering the heart whose early flowers have died, And with a fresher growth replenishing the void.
(1) See “Historical Notes,” at the end of this Canto, No. II.
Such is the refuge of our youth and age,
O'er her wild universe is skilful to diffuse :
VII. I saw or dream'd of such, – but let them go, They came like truth, and disappear'd like dreams; And whatsoe'er they were — are now but so : I could replace them if I would; still teems My mind with many a form which aptly seems Such as I sought for, and at moments found; Let these too go — for waking Reason deems Such over-weening phantasies unsound, And other voices speak, and other sights surround.
VIII. I've taught meother tongues—and instrangeeyes Have made me not a stranger; to the mind Which is itself, no changes bring surprise; Nor is it harsh to make, nor hard to find A country with — ay, or without mankind; Yet was I born where men are proud to be, Not without cause ; and should I leave behind The inviolate island of the sage and free, And seek me out a home by a remoter sea.