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And Harold stands upon this place of skulls, The grave of France, the deadly Waterloo! How in an hour the power which gave annuls Its gifts, transferring fame as fleeting too! In " pride of place" here last the eagle flew, Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain,? Pierced by the shaft of banded nations through; Ambition's life and labours all were vain; [chain. He wears the shatter'd links of the world's broken
Fit retribution! Gaul may champ the bit And foam in fetters; - but is Earth more free? Did nations combat to make One submit ; Or league to teach all kings true sovereignty? What! shall reviving Thraldom again be The patch'd-up idol of enlighten'd days? Shall we, who struck the Lion down, shall we Pay the Wolf homage? proffering lowly gaze And servile knees to thrones? No; prove before ye praise!
If not, o'er one fallen despot boast no more! In vain fair cheeks were furrow'd with hot tears For Europe's flowers long rooted up before The trampler of her vineyards; in vain years Of death, depopulation, bondage, fears, Have all been borne, and broken by the accord Of roused-up millions: all that most endears Glory, is when the myrtle wreathes a sword Such as Harmodius 3 drew on Athens' tyrant lord.
There was a sound of revelry by night, 4
Soft eyes look'd love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell; 5 [knell! But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising
"Pride of place" is a term of falconry, and means the highest pitch of flight. See Macbeth, &c.
"An eagle towering in his pride of place," &c.
[In the original draught of this stanza (which, as well as the preceding one, was written after a visit to the field of Waterloo), the lines stood
"Here his last flight the haughty eagle flew, Then tore with bloody beak the fatal plain."
On seeing these lines, Mr. Reinagle sketched a spirited chained eagle, grasping the earth with his talons. The circumstance being mentioned to Lord Byron, he wrote thus to a friend at Brussels," Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am eagles, and all birds of prey, attack with their talons, and not with their beaks; and I have altered the line thus:
Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain.' This is, I think, a better line, besides its poetical justice."]
3 See the famous song on Harmodius and Aristogiton. The best English translation is in Bland's Anthology, by Mr. (now Lord Chief Justice) Denman,
"With myrtle my sword will I wreathe," &c.
4 [There can be no more remarkable proof of the greatness of Lord Byron's genius, than the spirit and interest he has contrived to communicate to his picture of the often-drawn and difficult scene of the breaking up from Brussels before the great Battle. It is a trite remark, that poets generally fail in the representation of great events, where the interest
Did ye not hear it? - No; 'twas but the wind,
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before! Arm! arm! it is-it is the cannon's opening roar !
Within a window'd niche of that high hall.
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And roused the vengeance blood alone could queli : He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell. 7
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro, And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress, And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago Blush'd at the praise of their own loveliness; And there were sudden partings, such as press The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs Which ne'er might be repeated; who could guess If ever more should meet those mutual eyes, Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed, The mustering squadron, and the clattering car, Went pouring forward with impetuous speed, And swiftly forming in the ranks of war; And the deep thunder peal on peal afar; And near, the beat of the alarming drum Roused up the soldier ere the morning star; While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb, Or whispering, with white lips-"The foe! They come! they come !"
is recent, and the particulars are consequently clearly and commonly known. It required some courage to venture on a theme beset with so many dangers, and deformed with the wrecks of so many former adventures. See, however, with what easy strength he enters upon it, and with how much grace he gradually finds his way back to his own peculiar vein of sentiment and diction!-JEFFREY.]
5 On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball was given at Brussels. [The popular error of the Duke of Wellington having been surprised, on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, at a ball given by the Duchess of Richmond at Brussels, was first corrected on authority, in the History of Napoleon Buonaparte, which forms a portion of the "Family Library." The Duke had received intelligence of Napoleon's decisive operations, and it was intended to put off the ball; but, on reflection, it seemed highly important that the people of Brussels should be kept in ignorance as to the course of events, and the Duke not only desired that the ball should proceed, but the general officers received his commands to appear at it-each taking care to quit the apartment as quietly as possible at ten o'clock, and proceed to join his respective division en route.]
6 [The father of the Duke of Brunswick, who fell at Quatre Bras, received his death-wound at Jena.]
7 [This stanza is very grand, even from its total unadornment. It is only a versification of the common narratives: but here may well be applied a position of Johnson, that "where truth is sufficient to fill the mind, fiction is worse than useless."-BRYDGES.]
And wild and high the "Cameron's gathering" rose! The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills, Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills Their mountain-pipe, so fill the mountaineers With the fierce native daring which instils The stirring memory of a thousand years, [ears! And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansinan's
And Ardennes 2 waves above them her green leaves,
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Of living valour, rolling on the foe, And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, -- Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay,
The midnight brought the signal-sound of strife, The morn the marshalling in arms,- the day Battle's magnificently-stern array !
The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent The earth is cover'd thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heap'd and pent, Rider and horse, friend, foe, in one red burial blent!"
Their praise is hymn'd by loftier harps than mine; Yet one I would select from that proud throng Partly because they blend me with his line, And partly that I did his sire some wrong,+ And partly that bright names will hallow song; And his was of the bravest, and when shower'd The death-bolts deadliest the thinn'd files along, Even where the thickest of war's tempest lower'd, They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard !5
! Sir Evan Cameron, and his descendant Donald, the "gentle Lochiel" of the "forty-five."
* The wood of Soignies is supposed to be a remnant of the forest of Ardennes, famous in Boiardo's Orlando, and immortal in Shakspeare's "As you like it." It is also celebrated in Tacitus, as being the spot of successful defence by the Germans against the Roman encroachments. I have ventured to adopt the name connected with nobler associations than those of mere slaughter.
[Childe Harold, though he shuns to celebrate the victory of Waterloo, gives us here a most beautiful description of the evening which preceded the battle of Quatre Bras, the alarm which called out the troops, and the hurry and confusion which preceded their march. I am not sure that any verses in our language surpass, in vigour and in feeling, this most beautiful description. -SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
[See post, note to English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.]
3 ["In the late battles, like all the world, I have lost a connection-poor Frederick Howard, the best of his race. I had httle intercourse of late years with his family; but I never saw or heard but good of him."— Lord B. to Mr. Moore.]
My guide from Mont St. Jean over the field seemed in telligent and accurate. The place where Major Howard fell was not far from two tall and solitary trees (there was a third, cut down, or shivered in the battle), which stand a few yards from each other at a pathway's side. Beneath these he died
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee,
I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring. 6
I turn'd to thee, to thousands, of whom cach
In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach
The Archangel's trump, not Glory's, must awake
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake
So honour'd but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling,
The tree will wither long before it fall;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn ; The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall In massy hoariness; the ruin'd wall Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone; The bars survive the captive they enthral; [sun; The day drags through though storms keep out the And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:
Even as a broken mirror, which the glass In every fragment multiplies; and makes A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks; And thus the heart will do which not forsakes, Living in shatter'd guise, and still, and cold, And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches, Yet withers on till all without is old, Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold. 7
and was buried. The body has since been removed to England. A small hollow for the present marks where it lay, but will probably soon be effaced; the plough has been upon it, and the grain is. After pointing out the different spots where Picton and other gallant men had perished, the guide said, "Here Major Howard lay: I was near him when wounded." I told him my relationship, and he seemed then still more anxious to point out the particular spot and cir. cumstances. The place is one of the most marked in the field, from the peculiarity of the two trees above mentioned. I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my recollection of similar scenes. As a plain, Waterloo seems marked out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere imagination: I have viewed with attention those of Platea, Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Chæronea, and Marathon; and the field around Mont St. Jean and Hougoumont appears to want little but a better cause, and that undefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except, perhaps, the last mentioned.
[This is certainly splendidly written, but we trust it is not true. From Macedonia's madman to the Swede- from Nimrod to Buonaparte, -the hunters of men have pursued their sport with as much gaiety, and as little remorse, as the hunters of other animals; and have lived as cheerily in their days of action, and as comfortably in their repose, as the followers of better pursuits. It would be strange, therefore, if the other active but more innocent spirits, whom Lord Byron has here placed in the same predicament, and who share all their sources of enjoyment, without the guilt and
Nor its fair promise from the surface mow With the sharp scythe of conflict, - - then to see Thy valley of sweet waters, were to know Earth paved like Heaven; and to seem such to me, Even now what wants thy stream? --that it should Lethe be.
A thousand battles have assail'd thy banks, But these and half their fame have pass'd away, And Slaughter heap'd on high his weltering ranks; Their very graves are gone, and what are they? Thy tide wash'd down the blood of yesterday, And ali was stainless, and on thy clear stream Glass'd with its dancing light the sunny ray; But o'er the blacken'd memory's blighting dream Thy waves would vainly roll, all sweeping as they
Thus Harold inly said, and pass'd along,
In glens which might have made even exile dear:
Joy was not always absent from his face, [trace. But o'er it in such scenes would steal with transient
Nor was all love shut from him, though his days
On such as smile upon us; the heart must Leap kindly back to kindness, though disgust Hath wean'd it from all worldlings: thus he felt, For there was soft remembrance, and sweet trust In one fond breast, to which his own would melt, And in its tenderer hour on that his bosom dwelt.
And he had learn'd to love, I know not why, For this in such as him seems strange of mood,— The helpless looks of blooming infancy, Even in its earliest nurture; what subdued, To change like this, a mind so far imbued With scorn of man, it little boots to know; But thus it was; and though in solitude Small power the nipp'd affections have to grow, In him this glow'd when all beside had ceased to glow.
And there was one soft breast, as hath been said,
By peril, dreaded most in female eyes;
the hardness which they cannot fail of contracting, should be more miserable or more unfriended than those splendid curses of their kind; and it would be passing strange, and pitiful, if the most precious gifts of Providence should produce only unhappiness, and mankind regard with hostility their greatest benefactors. JEFFREY.]
2 What wants that knave that a king should have?" was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and his followers in full accoutrements. See the Ballad.
The castled crag of Drachenfels !
And peasant girls, with deep blue eyes,
Look o'er this vale of vintage-bowers;
I send the lilies given to me;
The river nobly foams and flows,
By Coblentz, on a rise of gentle ground, There is a small and simple pyramid, Crowning the summit of the verdant mound; Beneath its base are heroes' ashes hid,
1 The castle of Drachenfels stands on the highest summit of "the Seven Mountains," over the Rhine banks; it is in ruins, and connected with some singular traditions: it is the first in view on the road from Bonn, but on the opposite side of the river; on this bank, nearly facing it, are the remains of another, called the Jew's Castle, and a large cross com. memorative of the murder of a chief by his brother. The number of castles and cities along the course of the Rhine on both sides is very great, and their situations remarkably beautiful. [These verses were written on the banks of the Rhine, in May. The original pencilling is before us. It is needless to observe that they were addressed to his Sister.]
The monument of the young and lamented General Marceau (killed by a rifle-ball at Alterkirchen, on the last day of the fourth year of the French republic) still remains as described. The inscriptions on his monument are rather too long, and not required: his name was enough; France adored, and her enemies admired; both wept over him. His funeral was attended by the generals and detachments from both armies. In the same grave General Hoche is interred, a gallant man also in every sense of the word; but though he distinguished himself greatly in battle, he had not the good fortune to die there: his death was attended by suspicions of
poison. A separate monument (not over his body, which is buried by Marceau's) is raised for him near Andernach, opposite to which one of his most memorable exploits was performed, in throwing a bridge to an island on the Rhine. The shape and style are different from that of Marceau's, and the inscription more simple and pleasing: -"The Army of the Sambre and Meuse to its Commander-in-Chief Hoche." This is all, and as it should be. Hoche was esteemed among the first of France's earlier generals, before Buonaparte monopolised her triumphs. He was the destined commander of the invading army of Ireland.
3 Ehrenbreitstein, i. e. " the broad stone of honour," one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, was dismantled and blown up by the French at the truce of Leoben. It had been, and could only be, reduced by famine or treachery. It yielded to the former, aided by surprise. After having seen the for. tifications of Gibraltar and Malta, it did not much strike by comparison; but the situation is commanding. General Marceau besieged it in vain for some time, and I slept in a room where I was shown a window at which he is said to have been standing observing the progress of the siege by moonlight, when a ball struck immediately below it.
4 [On taking Hockheim, the Austrians, in one part of the