« FöregåendeFortsätt »
and other eminent men, and its success might have incited him to seek political distinction, but for his far greater success as a poet, which immediately determined his subsequent career. Childe Harold was followed by The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, Lara, and The Siege of Corinth, in quick succession, and each added to his gigantic reputation. In January, 1815, Lord ByRoN was married to a daughter of Sir R Alph MiLBANKE. The union, it is well known, was not productive of happiness, and in the following year, after Lady By RoN had given birth to a daughter,” a separation took place. The public, with its customary impertinence, interfered, and it chose to side with the lady. Lord ByRoN was libelled, persecuted, and driven from society. No man was ever more grievously wronged. As Mr. MAcAulay well observes, first came the ex
ecution, then the investigation, and, last of all,
the accusation. There was a quarrel, but there has never been anything proved, or even alleged, to show that By RoN was more to blame than any other man who is on bad terms with his wife.
He again quitted England for the continent,
and with a determination never to return. Resuming his pen, he produced in the three succeeding years The Prisoner of Chillon, Manfred, The Lament of Tasso, Beppo, the last cantos of Childe Harold, and many shorter poems, which were received with almost universal applause. He fixed his home in Venice, and there
abandoned himself to every kind of pleasure.
Under the influence of excesses his health decayed, and his hair turned gray. His mind, too, suffered sensible injury. Don Juan and some of his dramatic pieces contain many passages which only ByRoN could have written, but his verse lost the energy for which it had been distinguished, and with his remarkable command of language passed away much of that delicate perception of the beautiful, which more than any thing else constitutes the poetical faculty. Among ByRoN's companions in Italy were She LLEY and Leigh HUNT, associated with whom he established a periodical paper called The Liberal; but after the publication of a few numbers, the plan was relinquished. The dead body of his friend Shelley he assisted in burning by the bay of Spezia; HUNT, with whom he had quarrelled, returned to England,
,” ADA By Rox, now Countess of Lovelace.
and he directed his own eyes toward Greece, in contemplation of the last and noblest effort of his life. Sated with literary fame, weary of inaction, and thirsting for honourable distinction in a new field, he entered the Grecian camp, where his reception was like that of Lafayette in America, though more enthusiastic, more triumphant. Had he lived, he might have become eminent as a soldier and statesman; but anxiety, action and exposure induced disease, and on the nineteenth of March, 1824, seven months after his arrival in Cephalonia, he died at Missolonghi, in the thirtyseventh year of his age. The admirable criticisms of MACAULAY and other late writers have placed By RoN in a more just position than could have been anticipated from the vague and partisan views that so long obtained respecting him. The world is fast learning to discriminate between his genius and character. The fervour of his poetry no longer blinds men to the fallacy of his moral code, nor is his life judged as formerly with heartless and intolerant severity. He had very many noble qualities; he was alive to tender and generous feelings, and performed numerous acts of disinterested liberality. His amours are the subject of the most melancholy chapter in his life, but they were
less numerous and less dishonourable than
has been supposed. His liaison with Madame Guicciola, though by the standard of morality established on the shores of the Adriatic it might be called virtuous, was criminal; yet it is not to be visited with the censure which such a connection would deserve in England. In ByRoN's early history, his unhappy education, his severe trials, and the capricious treatment he received from society, there is much to explain and to palliate his conduct. He knew the world, and his judgment of it was not very erroneous. He was indeed what almost any man of genius, exposed to such vicissitudes, might be expected to be, unless guided and restrained by religious principle. His writings present a variety of states of mind and conditions of feeling, and critics have pointed out in them what is respectively the offspring of blind passion and genuine sentiment. The descriptive portions of Childe Harold, the versification of the Corsair, and the pure melancholy of some of his occasional effusions, will always be warmly admired by many who can never sympathize with the misanthropic overflowings of a sceptical mind.
Long years!—it tries the thrilling frame to bear
And eagle-spirit of a Child of Song—
Long years of outrage, calumny, and wrong;
Imputed madness, prison'd solitude,
And the mind's canker in its savage mood,
When the impatient thirst of light and air
Parches the heart; and the abhorred grate,
Marring the sunbeams with its hideous shade,
Works through the throbbing eyeball to the brain
With a hot sense of heaviness and pain;
And bare, at once, Captivity display'd
Stands scoffing through the never-open'd gate,
Which nothing through its bars admits, save day
And tasteless food, which I have eat alone
Till its unsocial bitterness is gone;
And I can banquet like a beast of prey,
Sullen and lonely, couching in the cave
Which is my lair, and—it may be—my grave.
All this hath somewhat worn me, and may wear,
But must be borne. I stoop not to despair;
For I have battled with mine agony,
And made me wings wherewith to overfly
The narrow circus of my dungeon wall,
And freed the Holy Sepulchre from thrall;
And revell'd among men and things divine,
And pour'd my spirit over Palestine,
In honour of the sacred war for him,
The God who was on earth and is in heaven,
For he hath strengthen'd me in heart and limb.
That through this sufferance I might be forgiven,
I have employed my penance to record
How Salem's shrine was won, and how adored.
But this is o'er—my pleasant task is done:—
My long-sustaining friend of many years!
If I do blot thy final page with tears,
Know, that my sorrows have wrung from me none.
But thou, my young creation' my soul's child !
Which ever playing round me came and smiled,
And woo'd me from myself with thy sweet sight,
Thou too art gone—and so is my delight:
And therefore do I weep and inly bleed
With this last bruise upon a broken reed.
Thou too art ended—what is left me now?
For I have anguish yet to bear—and how !
I know not that—but in the innate force
Of my own spirit shall be found resource.
I have not sunk, for I had no remorse,
Nor cause for such: they call'd me mad—and why?
O Leonora! wilt not thou reply?
I was indeed delirious in my heart
To lift my love so lofty as thou art:
But still my frenzy was not of the mind;
I knew my fault, and feel my punishment
Not less because I suffer it unbent.
* At Ferrara (in the library) are preserved the original MSS. of TAsso's Gierusalemme and of GuariNI's Pastor Fido, with letters of TAsso, one from Titian to ARIosto; and the inkstand and chair, the tomb and the house of the latter. But as misfortune has a greater interest for pos. terity, and little or none for the contemporary, the cell where TAsso was confined in the hospital of St. ANNA attracts a more fixed attention than the residence or the monument of ARIosto—at least it had this effect on me.
That thou wert beautiful, and I not blind,
Hath been the sin which shuts me from mankind;
But let them go, or torture as they will,
My heart can multiply thine image still;
Successful love may sate itself away,
The wretched are the faithful; 'tis their fate
To have all feeling save the one decay,
And every passion into one dilate,
As rapid rivers into ocean pour;
But ours is fathomless, and hath no shore.
Above me, hark' the long and maniac cry
Of minds and bodies in captivity.
And hark' the lash and the increasing howl,
And the half-inarticulate blasphemy:
There be some here with worse than frenzy foul,
Some who do still goad on the o'er-labour'd mind,
And dim the little light that's left behind
With needless torture, as their tyrants will
Is wound up to the lust of doing ill;
With these and with their victims am I class'd,
Mid sounds and sights like these long years have
Mid sights and sounds like these my life may close:
So let it be—for then I shall repose.
I have been patient, let me be so yet;
I had forgotten half I would forget;
But it revives—oh would it were my lot
To be forgetful as I am forgot!—
Feel I not wroth with those who bade me dwell
In this vast lazar-house of many woes
Where laughter is not mirth, northought the mind,
Nor words a language, nor even men mankind;
Where cries reply to curses, shrieks to blows,
And each is tortured in his separate hell—
For we are crowded in our solitudes—
Many, but each divided by the wall,
Which echoes Madness in her babbling moods;–
While all can hear, none heeds his neighbour's
None ! save that One, the veriest wretch of all,
Who was not made to be the mate of these,
Nor bound between Distraction and Disease.
Feel I not wroth with those who placed me here?
Who have debased me in the minds of men,
Debarring me the usage of my own,
Blighting my life in best of its career,
Branding my thoughts as things to shun and fear?
Would I not pay them back these pangs again,
And teach them inward sorrow's stifled groan?
The struggle to be calm, and cold distress,
Which undermines our stoical success!
No!—still too proud to be vindictive—I
Have pardon'd princes' insults, and would die.
Yes, sister of my sovereign for thy sake
I weed all bitterness from out my breast,
It hath no business where thou art a guest;
Thy brother hates—but I can not detest;
Thou pitiest not—but I can not forsake.
Look on a love which knows not to despair,
But all unquench'd is still my better part, t
Dwelling deep in my shut and silent heart t
As dwells the gather'd lightning in its cloud,
Encompass'd with its dark and rolling shroud, Till struck—forth flies the all-ethereal dart' And thus at the collision of thy name
The vivid thought still flashes through my frame,
And for a moment all things as they were
Flit by me;—they are gone—I am the same.
And yet my love without ambition grew;
I knew thy state, my station, and I knew
A princess was no love-mate for a bard;
I told it not, I breathed it not, it was
Sufficient to itself, its own reward;
And if my eyes reveal’d it, they, alas !
Were punish’d by the silentness of thine,
And yet I did not venture to repine.
Thou wert to me a crystal-girded shrine,
Worshipp'd at holy distance, and around
Hallow'd and meekly kiss'd the saintly ground;
Not for thou wert a princess, but that love
Hath robed thee with a glory, and array'd
Thy lineaments in beauty that dismay’d—
Oh! not dismay’d—but awed, like one above;
And in that sweet severity there was
A something which all softness did surpass—
I know not how—thy genius master'd mine—
My star stood still before thee;—if it were
Presumptuous thus to love without design,
That sad fatality hath cost me dear;
But thou art dearest still, and I should be
Fit for this cell, which wrongs me, but for thee.
The very love which lock'd me to my chain
Hath lighten’d half its weight; and for the rest,
Though heavy, lent me vigour to sustain,
And look to thee with undivided breast
And foil the ingenuity of pain.
It is no marvel—from my very birth
My soul was drunk with love, which did pervade
And mingle with whate'er I saw on earth;
Of objects all inanimate I made
Idols, and out of wild and lonely flowers,
And rocks, whereby they grew, a paradise,
Where I did lay me down within the shade
Of waving trees, and dream'd uncounted hours,
Though I was chid for wandering; and the wise
Shook their white, aged heads o'er me, and said
Of such materials wretched men were made,
And such a truant boy would end in wo,
And that the only lesson was a blow;
And then they smote me, and I did not weep,
But cursed them in my heart, and to my haunt
Return'd and wept alone, and dream'd again
The visions which arise without a sleep.
And with my years my soul began to pant
With feelings of strange tumult and soft pain,
And the whole heart exhaled into one want,
But undefined and wandering, till the day
I found the thing I sought, and that was thee;
And then I lost my being all to be
Absorb’d in thine—the world was past away—
Thou didst annihilate the earth to me !
I loved all solitude—but little thought
To spend I know not what of life, remote
From all communion with existence, save
The maniac and his tyrant; had I been
Their fellow, many years ere this had seen
My mind like theirs corrupted to its grave,
But who hath seen me writhe, or heard me rave?
Perchance in such a cell we suffer more
Than the wreck'd sailor on his desert shore;
The world is all before him—mine is here,
Scarce twice the space they must accord my bier.
What though he perish, he may lift his eye
And with a dying glance upbraid the sky—
I will not raise my own in such reproof,
Although 'tis clouded by my dungeon roof.
Yet do I feel at times my mind decline,
But with a sense of its decay:—I see
Unwonted lights along my prison shine,
And a strange demon, who is vexing me
With pilfering pranks and petty pains, below
The feeling of the healthful and the free;
But much to one, who long hath suffer'd so,
Sickness of heart, and narrowness of place,
And all that may be borne, or can debase.
I thought mine enemies had been but man,
But spirits may be leagued with them—all earth
Abandons—Heaven forgets me;—in the dearth
Of such defence the powers of evil can,
It may be, tempt me further, and prevail
Against the outworn creature they assail.
Why in this furnace is my spirit proved
Like steel in tempering fire because I loved 3
Because I loved what not to love, and see,
Was more or less than mortal, and than me.
I once was quick in feeling—that is o'er:-
My scars are callous, or I should have dash'd
My brain against these bars as the sun flash'd
In mockery through them;-if I bear and bore
The much I have recounted, and the more
Which hath no words, 'tis that I would not die
And sanction with self-slaughter the dull lie
Which snared me here, and with the brand of shame
Stamp madness deep into my memory,
And woo compassion to a blighted name,
Sealing the sentence which my foes proclaim.
No—it shall be immortal!—and I make
A future temple of my present cell,
Which nations yet shall visit for my sake.
While thou, Ferrara! when no longer dwell
The ducal chiefs within thee, shalt fall down,
And crumbling piecemeal view thy heartless halls,
A poet's wreath shall be thine only crown,
A poet's dungeon thy most far renown,
While strangers wonder o'er thy unpeopled walls!
And thou, Leonora! thou—who wert ashamed
That such as I could love—who blush'd to hear
To less than monarchs that thou couldst be dear,
Go! tell thy brother that my heart, untamed
By grief years, weariness—and it may be
A taint of that he would impute to me—
From long infection of a den like this,
Where the mind rots congenial with the abyss,
Adores thee still;—and add—that when the towers
And battlements which guard his joyous hours
Of banquet, dance, and revel, are forgot,
Or left untended in a dull repose,
This—this shall be a consecrated spot!
But thou—when all that birth and beauty throws
Of magic round thee is extinct—shall have
One half the laurel which o'ershades my grave.
No power in death can tear our names apart,
As none in life could rend thee from my heart.
Yes, Leonora ! it shall be our fate
To be entwined for ever—but too late :
Our life is twofold: sleep hath its own world, A boundary between the things misnamed Death and existence; sleep hath its own world, And a wide realm of wild reality, And dreams in their development have breath, And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy: They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts, They take a weight from off our waking toils, They do divide our being; they become A portion of ourselves as of our time, And look like heralds of eternity: They pass like spirits of the past,-they speak Like sybils of the future; they have power— The tyranny of pleasure and of pain; They make us what we were not—what they will, And shake us with the vision that's gone byThe dread of vanish’d shadows. Are they so? Is not the past all shadow ! What are they Creations of the mind The mind can make Substance, and people planets of its own With beings brighter than have been, and give A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh. I would recall a vision which I dream'd Perchance in sleep, for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity,+the last As 't were the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scatter'd at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs; the hill Was crown'd with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fix'd,— Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing; the one, on all that was beneath— Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her: And both were young, and one was beautiful; And both were young, yet not alike in youth. As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood;— The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years; and, to his eye, There was but one beloved face on earth— And that was shining on him: he had look'd Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice;—he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words: she was his sight, For his eye follow'd hers, and saw with hers, Which colour'd all his objects;–he had ceased To live within himself; she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all ! upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously;-his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony. But she in these fond feelings had no share:
Her sighs were not for him! to her he was
Even as a brother—but no more: 'twas much,
For brotherless she was, save in the name
Her infant friendship had bestow'd on him;
Herself the solitary scion left
Of a time-honour'd race. It was a name [why?
Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not.—and
Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved
Another' even now she loved another;
And on the summit of that hill she stood
Looking afar, if yet her lover's steed
Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before
Its walls there was a steed caparison'd:
Within an antique oratory stood
The boy of whom I spake;—he was alone,
And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon
He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced
Words which I could not guess of; then he lean'd
His bow'd head on his hands, and shook as 't were
With a convulsion,-then arose again,
And, with his teeth and quivering hands, did tear
What he had written; but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow
Into a kind of quiet: as he paused,
The lady of his love re-enter'd there;
She was serene and smiling then,_and yet
She knew she was by him beloved she knew,
For quickly comes such knowledge, that his heart
Was darken'd with her shadow; and she saw
That he was wretched,—but she saw not all.
He rose, and, with a cold and gentle grasp,
He took her hand; a moment o'er his face
A tablet of unutterable thoughts
Was traced,—and then it faded as it came:
He dropp'd the hand he held, and with slow steps
Retired,—but not as bidding her adieu:
For they did part with mutual smiles: he pass'd
From out the massy gate of that old hall,
And mounting on his steed he went his way,
And ne'er repass'd that hoary threshold more!
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds
Of fiery climes he made himself a home,
And his soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt
With strange and dusky aspects; he was not
Himself like what he had been: on the sea
And on the shore he was a wanderer!
There was a mass of many images
Crowded like waves upon me; but he was
A part of all,—and in the last he lay
Reposing from the noontide sultriness,
Couch'd among fallen columns, in the shade
Or ruin’d walls, that had survived the names
Of those who rear'd them: by his sleeping side
Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds
Were fasten’d near a fountain; and a man,
Clad in a flowing garb, did watch the while,
While many of his tribe slumber'd around;
And they were canopied by the blue sky—
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The lady of his love was wed with one
Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,-her native home, She dwelt begirt with growing infancy, Daughters and sons of beauty, but behold! Upon her face there was the tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears. What could her grief be 1–she had all she loved; And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill repress'd affliction, her pure thoughts. What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved; Nor could he be a part of that which prey'd Upon her mind.-a spectre of the past. A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The wanderer was return'd. I saw him stand Before an altar, with a gentle bride: Her face was fair—but was not that which made The starlight of his boyhood' as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then, As in that hour, a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced.—and then it faded as it came ; And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words; And all things reel'd around him " he could see | Not that which was, nor that which should have But the old mansion, and the accustom'd hall, [been; And the remember'd chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shadeAll things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back, And thrust themselves between him and the light: What business had they there at such a time ! . A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. The lady of his love, oh! she was changed As by the sickness of the soul: her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth: she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms—impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight—familiar were to hers, | And this the world calls frenzy! but the wise Have a far deeper madness; and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift: What is it but the telescope of truth! Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real A change came o'er the spirit of my dream. | The wanderer was alone as heretofore; The beings that surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him! he was a mark | For blight and desolation,-compass'd round | With hatred and contention: pain was mix'd In all which was served up to him, until, | Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, | He fed on poisons, and they had no power—
But were a kind of nutriment: he lived
Through that which had been death to many men,
And made him friends of mountains: with the stars
And the quick spirit of the universe
He held his dialogues; and they did teach
To him the magic of their mysteries:
To him the book of night was open'd wide,
And voices from the deep abyss reveal’d
A marvel and a secret—be it so.
My dream was past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom
Of these two creatures should be thus traced out
Almost like a reality—the one
To end in madness—both in misery.
Etenn Al spirit of the chainless mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty thou art,
For there thy habitation is the heart—
The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
And when thy sons to fetters are consign'd—
To fetters, and the damp vault's dayless gloom,
Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
And Freedom's fame finds wings on every wind.
Chillon thy prison is a holy place,
And thy sad floor an altar—for 't was trod,
Until his very steps have left a trace
Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
By Bonnivard'—May none those marks efface'
For they appeal from tyranny to God.
I. My hair is gray, but not with years, Nor grew it white In a single night, As men's have grown from sudden fears: My limbs are bow'd, though not with toil, But rusted with a vile repose, For they have been a dungeon's spoil, And mine has been the fate of those To whom the goodly earth and air Are bann’d and barr'd—forbidden fare; But this was for my father's faith I suffer'd chains and courted death; That father perish'd at the stake For tenets he would not forsake; And for the same his lineal race In darkness found a dwelling-place; We were seven—who now are one, Six in youth and one in age, Finish'd as they had begun, Proud of Persecution's rage; One in fire, and two in field, Their belief with blood have seal’d; Dying as their father died, For the God their foes denied ; Three were in a dungeon cast, Of whom this wreck is left the last.