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fruit, and sweetmeats, twenty times a day. I then, after coffee and pipes retired.” – B. to his Mother.]
(1) [Mr. Hobhouse describes the vizier as “a short man, about five feet five inches in height, and very fat; possessing a very pleasing face, fair and round, with blue quick eyes, not at all settled into a Turkish gravity.” Dr. Holland happily compares the spirit which lurked under Ali's usual exterior, as “the fire of a stove, burning fiercely under a smooth and polished surface.” When the doctor returned from Albania, in 1813, he brought a letter from the Pacha to Lord Byron. “It is,” says the poet, “ in Latin, and begins “Excellentissime, necnon Carissime,” and ends about a gun he wants made for him. He tells me that, last spring, he took a town, a hostile town, where, forty-two years ago, his mother and sisters were treated as Miss Cunegunde was by the Bulgarian cavalry. He takes the town, selects all the survivors of the exploit—children, grandchildren, &c., to the tune of six hundred, and has them shot before his face. So much for “dearest friend.’” – E.]
(2) [The fate of Ali was precisely such as the poet anticipated. For a circumstantial account of his assassination, in February, 1822, see Walsh's Journey. His head was sent to Constantinople, and exhibited at the gates of the seraglio. As the name of Ali had made a considerable noise in England, in consequence of his negotiations with Sir Thomas Maitland, and still more, perhaps, these stanzas of Lord Byron, a merchant of Constantinople thought it would be no bad speculation to purchase the head and consign it to a London showman; but this scheme was defeated by the piety of an old servant of the Pacha, who bribed the executioner with a higher price, and bestowed decent sepulture on the relic.—E.]
LXIV. 'Mid many things most new to ear and eye The pilgrim rested here his weary feet, And gazed around on Moslem luxury, Till quickly wearied with that spacious seat Of Wealth and Wantonness, the choice retreat Of sated Grandeur from the city's noise: And were it humbler it in sooth were sweet; But Peace abhorreth artificial joys, [destroys. And Pleasure, leagued with Pomp, the zest of both LXV. Fierce are Albania's children, yet they lack Not virtues, were those virtues more mature. Where is the foe that ever saw their back? Who can so well the toil of war endure? Their native fastnesses not more secure Than they in doubtful time of troublous need: Their wrath how deadly! but their friendship sure, When Gratitude or Valour bids them bleed, Unshaken rushing on where'er their chief may lead. LXVI. Childe Harold saw them in their chieftain's tower Thronging to war in splendour and success; And after view'd them, when, within their power, Himself awhile the victim of distress; That saddening hour when bad men hotlier press: But these did shelter him beneath their roof, When less barbarians would have cheer'd him less, And fellow-countrymen have stood aloof–(!) In aught that tries the heart how few withstand the proof! (1) Alluding to the wreckers of Cornwall.
LXVII. It chanced that adverse winds once drove his bark Full on the coast of Suli's shaggy shore, When all around was desolate and dark; To land was perilous, to sojourn more; Yet for a while the mariners forbore, Dubious to trust where treachery might lurk: Atlength they ventured forth, though doubtingsore That those who loathe alike the Frank and Turk Might once again renew their ancient butcher-work. LXVIII. Vain fear! the Suliotes stretch'd the welcome hand, Led them o'errocks and past the dangerous swamp, Kinder than polish'd slaves though not so bland, And piled the hearth, and wrung their garments damp, And fill'd the bowl, and trimm'd the cheerful lamp, And spread their fare; though homely, all they had: Such conduct bears Philanthropy's rare stamp— To rest the weary and to soothe the sad, Doth lesson happier men, and shames atleast the bad LXIX. It came to pass, that when he did address Himself to quit at length this mountain-land, Combined marauders half-way barr'd egress, And wasted far and near with glaive and brand; And therefore did he take a trusty band To traverse Acarnania's forest wide, In war well season'd, and with labours tann'd, Till he did greet white Achelous' tide, And from his further bank Ætolia's wolds espied.
For many a joy could he from Night's soft presence
Yelling their uncouth dirge, long daunced the kirtled
(1) The Albanian Mussulmans do not abstain from wine, and, indeed very few of the others.
(2) Palikar, shortened when addressed to a single person, from II.xxixago, a general name for a soldier amongst the Greeks and Albanese who speak Romaic: it means, properly, “a lad.”
(3) [The following is Mr. Hobhouse's animated description of this scene: – “In the evening the gates were secured, and preparations were made for feeding our Albanians. A goat was killed and roasted whole, and four fires were kindled in the yard, round which the soldiers seated themselves in parties. After eating and drinking, the greatest part of
Childe Harold at a little distance stood
While thus in concert they this lay half sang, half
scream'd : — (1)
them assembled round the largest of the fires, and, whilst ourselves and the elders of the party were seated on the ground, danced round the blaze, to their own songs, with astonishing energy. All their songs were relations of some robbing exploits. One of them, which detained them more than an hour, began thus:– “When we set out from Parga, there were sixty of us:” then came the burden of the verse, –
and, as they roared out this stave, they whirled round the fire, dropped, and rebounded from their knees, and again whirled round, as the chorus was again repeated. The rippling of the waves upon the pebbly margin where we were seated, filled up the pauses of the song with a milder, and not more monotonous music. The night was very dark; but, by the flashes of the fires, we caught a glimpse of the woods, the rocks, and the lake, which, together with the wild appearance of the dancers, presented us with a scene that would have made a fine picture in the hands of such an artist as the author of the Mysteries of Udolpho. As we were acquainted with the character of the Albanians, it did not at all diminish our pleasure to know, that every one of our guard had been robbers, and some of them a very short time before. It was eleven o'clock before we had retired to our room, at which time the Albanians, wrapping themselves up in their capotes, went to sleep round the fires.”]
(1) [For a specimen of the Albanian or Arnaout dialect ef the Illyric, see Appendix to this Canto, Note [C].]