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nificent and fiery spirit of her sons, the beauty and perhaps — but no -I must admit Childe Harold to feeling of her daughters, may there be found ; and be a very repulsive personage; and as to his identity, Collins, when he denominated his Oriental his Irish those who like it must give him whatever "alias" Eclogues, was not aware how true, at least, was a they please. 2 part of his parallel. Your imagination will create If, however, it were worth while to remove the a warmer sun, and less clouded sky; but wildness, impression, it might be of some service to me, that tenderness, and originality, are part of your national the man who is alike the delight of his readers and claim of oriental descent, to which you have already his friends, the poet of all circles, and the idol of thus far proved your title more clearly than the his own, permits me here and elsewhere to submost zealous of your country's antiquarians.
scribe myself, May I add a few words on a subject on which all
Most truly, men are supposed to be fluent, and none agreeable ?
And affectionately, Self. I have written much, and published more
His obedient servant, than enough to demand a longer silence than I now
BYRON. meditate ; but, for some years to come, it is my in January 2. 1814. tention to tempt no further the award of “ Gods, men, nor columns.” In the present composition I have attempted not the most difficult, but, perhaps, the best adapted ineasure to our language, the good old and now neglected heroic couplet. The stanza
The Corsair. of Spenser is perhaps too slow and dignified for narrative; though, I confess, it is the measure most after my own heart: Scott alone', of the present
CANTO TIE FIRST. generation, has hitherto completely triumphed over the fatal facility of the octo-syllabic verse ; and this is not the least victory of his fertile and mighty
nessun maggior dolore,
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice genius : in blank verse, Milton, Thomson, and our
-DANTE dramatists, are the beacons that shine along the deep, but warn us from the rough and barren rock on which they are kindled. The heroic couplet is
I. not the most popular measure certainly; but as I “ O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sca, did not deviate into the other from a wish to flatter Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, what is called public opinion, I shall quit it without Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam, further apology, and take my chance once more Survey our empire, and behold our home! with that versification, in which I have hitherto These are our realms, no limits to their sway — published nothing but compositions whose former Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey. circulation is part of my present, and will be of my Ours the wild life in tumult still to range future, regret.
Froin toil to rest, and joy in every change. With regard to my story, and stories in gencral, Oh, who can tell ? not thou, luxurious slave ! I should have been glad to have rendered my per
Whose soul would sicken o'er the heaving wave; sonages more perfect and amiable, if possible, inas Not thou, vain lord of wantonness and ease ! much as I have been sometimes criticised,
Whom slumber soothes not-pleasure cannot pleaseconsidered no less responsible for their deeds and Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried, qualities than if all had been personal. Be it so —
And danced in triumph o'er the waters wide, if I have deviated into the gloomy vanity of “draw. The exulting sense — the pulse's maddening play, ing from self," the pictures are probably like, since
That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way ? they are unfavourable ; and if not, those who know That for itself can woo the approaching fight, me are undeceived, and those who do not, I have And turn what some deem danger to delight; little interest in undeceiving. I have no particular That seeks what cravens shun with more than zeal, desire that any but my acquaintance should think And where the feebler faint - can only feel the author better than the beings of his imagining; Feel — to the rising bosom's inmost core, but I cannot help a little surprise, and perhaps Its hope awaken and its spirit soar ? amusement, at some odd critical exceptions in the No dread of death - if with us die our foes present instance, when I see several bards (far more Save that it seems even duller than repose : deserving, I allow) in very reputable plight, and Come when it will — we snatch the life of life quite exempted from all participation in the faults When lost - what recks it — by disease or strife ? of those heroes, who, nevertheless, might be found Let him who crawls enamour'd of decay, with little more morality than “ The Giaour," and Cling to his couch, and sicken years away ;
and with my most hearty admiration of your talents, and
" BYROX."] [Aner the words “ Scott alone," Lord Byron had in. serted, in a parenthesis —" He will excuse the 'Jr.' - We do not say Mr. Cæsar."]
passage as an admission or a denial of the opinion to which it refers; but Lord Byron certainly did the public injustice, ir he supposed it imputed to him the criminal actions with which inany of his heroes were stained. Men no more ex. pected to meet in Lord Byron the Corsair, who knew him. self a villain," than they looked for the hypocrisy of Kehama on the shores of the Derwent Water, or the profligacy of Marmion on the banks of the Tweed. - Sir Walter Scotr.]
[It is difficult to say whether we are to receive this
3 The time in this woem may seem too short for the occur rences, but the whole of the Egean isles are within a few hours' sail of the a utinent, and the reader must be kind enough to take the wind as I have often found it.
How gloriously her gallant course she goes !
Heave his thick breath, and shake his palsied head;
IV. Hoarse o'er her side the rustling cable rings; The sails are furl'd; and anchoring round she swings: And gathering loiterers on the land discern Her boat descending from the latticed stern. 'Tis mann'd - the oars keep concert to the strand, Till grates her keel upon the shallow sand. Hail to the welcome shout !- the friendly speech ! When hand grasps hand uniting on the beach; The smile, the question, and the quick reply, And the heart's promise of festivity!
V. The tidings spread, and gathering grows the crowd : The hum of voices, and the laughter loud, And woman's gentler anxious tone is heard Friends'- husbands'- lovers' names in each dear
word : “ Oh! are they safe ? we ask not of success But shall we see them ? will their accents bless ? From where the battle roars — the billows chafe They doubtless boldly did — but who are safe ? Here let them haste to gladden and surprise, And kiss the doubt from these delighted eyes !”
IL Such were the notes that from the Pirate's isle, Around the kindling watch-fire rang the while : Such were the sounds that thrill'd the rocks along, And unto ears as rugged secm'd a song ! In scatter'd groups upon the golden sand, They game-carouse-converse-or whet the brand; Select the arms -- to each his blade assign, And careless eye the blood that dims its shine ; Repair the boat, replace the helm or oar, While others straggling muse along the shore ; For the wild bird the busy springes set, Or spread beneath the sun the dripping net ; Gaze where some distant sail a speck supplies, With all the thirsting eye of Enterprise ; Tell o'er the tales of many a night of toil, And marvel where they next shall seize a spoil: No matter where-their chief's allotment this ; Theirs, to believe no prey nor plan amiss. But who that CHIEF? his name on every shore Is famed and fear'd - they ask and know no more. With these he mingles not but to command ; Few are his words, but keen his eye and hand. Ne'er seasons he with mirth their jovial mess, But they forgive his silence for success. Ne'er for his lip the purpling cup they fill, That goblet passes him untasted still And for his fare - the rudest of his crew Would that, in turn, have pass'd untasted too ; Earth's coarsest bread, the garden's homeliest roots, And scarce the summer luxury of fruits, His short repast in humbleness supply With all a hermit's board would scarce deny. But while he shuns the grosser joys of sense, His mind seems nourished by that abstinencc. " Steer to that shore !” — they sail. “ Do this!"
- 't is done : * Now form and follow me !" — the spoil is won. Thus prompt his accents and his actions still, And all obey and few inquire his will; To such, brief answer and contemptuous eye Convey reproof, nor further deign reply.
VI. “ Where is our chief ? for him we bear report And doubt that joy—which hails our coming -short; Yet thus sincere - 't is cheering, though so brief; But, Juan ! instant guide us to our chief : Our greeting paid, we'll feast on our return, And all shall hear what each may wish to learn." Ascending slowly by the rock-hewn way, To where his watch-tower beetles o'er the bay, By busly brake, and wild flowers blossoming, And freshness breathing from each silver spring, Whose scatter'd streams from granite basins burst, Leap into life, and sparkling woo your thirst; From crag to cliff they mount - Near yonder cave, What lonely straggler looks along the wave ? In pensive posture leaning on the brand, Not oft a resting-staff to that red hand ? " 'Tis he —'tis Conrad - here - as wont - alone; On - Juan !-on- and make our purpose known. The bark he views — and tell him we would greet His ear with tidings he must quickly meet : We dare not yet approach - thou know'st his mood, When strange or uninvited steps intrude.”
III. A sail!- a sail !" — a promised prize to Hope ! Her nation - flag - how speaks the telescope ? No prize, alas !-- but yet a welcome sail : The blood-red signal glitters in the gale. Yes - she is ours-a home-returning bark Bow fair, thou breeze ! - she anchors ere the dark. Already doubled is the cape - our bay Receives that prow which proudly spurns the spray.
VII. Him Juan sought, and told of their intent; He spake not- but a sign express'd assent. These Juan calls - they come — to their salute He bends him slightly, but his lips are mute. “ These letters, Chief, are from the Greek — the spy, Who still proclaims our spoil or peril nigh: Whate'er his tidings, we can well report Much that" -“ Peace, peace!"- be cuts their
prating short. Wondering they turn, abash'd, while each to each Conjecture whispers in his muttering speech :
They watch his glance with many a stealing look, Oh! if he knew the weight of splendid chains,
How light the balance of his humbler pains !
Demons in act, but Gods at least in face,
Though his dark eyebrow shades a glance of fire : Back to your duty – for my course prepare :
Robust but not Herculean - to the sight Myself this enterprise to-night will share."
No giant frame sets forth his common height;
Yet, in the whole, who paused to look again, • To-night, Lord Conrad ?"
Saw more than marks the crowd of vulgar men;" “ Ay! at set of sun :
They gaze and marvel how — and still confess The breeze will freshen when the day is done.
That thus it is, but why they cannot guess. My corslet - cloak - one hour — and we are gone.
Sun-burnt his cheek, his forehead high and pale Sling on thy bugle — see that free from rust,
The sable curls in wild profusion veil; My carbine-lock springs worthy of my trust;
And oft perforce his rising lip reveals Be the edge sharpen'd of my boarding-brand,
The haughtier thought it curbs, but scarce conceals. And give its guard more room to fit my hand.
Though smooth his voice, and calm his general mien, This let the armourer with speed dispose ;
Still seems there something he would not have seen : Last time, it more fatigued my arm than foes :
His features' deepening lines and varying hue Mark that the signal-gun be duly fired,
At times attracted, yet perplex'd the view,
As if within that murkiness of mind
Work'd feelings fearful, and yet undefined ;
Such might it be — that none could truly tell — Too soon to seek again the watery waste :
Too close inquiry his stern glance would quell.
There breathe but few whose aspect might defy
He had the skill, when Cunning's gaze would seek
At once the observer's purpose to espy,
There was a laughing Devil in his sneer,
That raised emotions both of rage and fear;
Betray no further than the bitter smile;
(In the features of Conrad, those who have looked upon Lord Byron will recognise some likeness; and the ascetic regimen which the noble poet himself observed, was no less marked in the preceding description of Conrad's fare. To what are we to ascribe the singular peculiarity which induced an author of such talent, and so well skilled in tracing the darker impressions which guilt and remorse leave on the human character, so frequently to affix features peculiar to himself to the robbers and corsairs which he sketched with a pencil as forcible as that of Salvator? More than one answer may be returned to this question; nor do we pretend to say which is best warranted by the facts. The practice may arise from a temperament which radical and constitutional melan. choly had, as in the case of Hamlet, predisposed to identify its owner with scenes of that deep and amazing interest which arises from the stings of conscience contending with the stubborn energy of pride, and delighting to be placed in supposed situations of guilt and danger, as some men love in. stinctively to tread the giddy edge of a precipice, or, holding by some frail twig, to stoop forward over the abyss into which the dark torrent discharges itself. Or, it may be that these disguises were assumed capriciously, as a man might choose the cloak, poniard, and dark lantern of a bravo, for his disguise at a masquerade. Or, feeling his own powers in painting the sombre and the horrible, Lord Byron assumed in his fervour the very semblance of the characters he describes; like an actor who presents on the stage at once his own person and the tragic character with which for the time he is invested. Nor, is it altogether incompatible with his character to
believe that, in contempt of the criticisms which, on this
? That Conrad is a character not altogether out of nature,
" Eccelin, prisonnier," dit Rolandini, " s'enfermoit dans un silence menaçant ; il fixoit sur la terre son regard feroce, et ne donnoit point d'essur à sa profonde indignation. De toutes partes cependant les soldats et les peuples accouroient ; ils vouloient voir cet homme, jadis si puissant, et la joie universelle éclatoit de toutes partes.
* Eccelin étoit d'une tite taille ; mais tout l'aspect de sa personne, tous ses mouvemens, indiquoient un soldat. Son langage étoit amer, son déportement superbe - et par son seul regard, il faisoit trembler les plus hardis."-Sismondi, tome iii. p. 219.
Again, “ Gisericus Genseric, king of the Vandals, the con. queror of both Carthage and Rome), statura mediocris, et equi casu claudicans, animo profundus, sermone rarus, luxuriæ contemptor, irå turbidus, habendi cupidus, ad solicitandas gentes providentissimus," &c. &c. -- Jornandes de Rebus Geticis, c. 33.
I beg leave to quote these gloomy realities to keep in countenance my Giaour and Corsair.
Of deeper passions; and to judge their mien,
Unmoved by absence, firm in every clime,
XI. Yet was not Conrad thus by Nature sent To lead the guilty - guilt's worst instrument His soul was changel, before his deeds had driven Him forth to war with man and forfeit heaven. Warp'd by the world in Disappointment's school, In words too wise, in conduct there a fool; Too firm to yield, and far too proud to stoop, Doom'd by his very virtues for a dupe, He cursed those virtues as the cause of ill, And not the traitors who betray'd him still ; Nor deem'd that gifts bestow'd on better men Had left him joy, and means to give again. Feard - sbunnd belied - ere youth had lost her
force, He hated man too much to feel remorse, And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call, 'To pay the injuries of some on all. Ile knew himself a villain — but he deem'd The rest no better than the thing he seem'd; And scorn'd the best as hypocrites who hid Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. He knew himself detested, but he knew (too. The hearts that loath'd him, crouch'd and dreaded Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt From all affection and from all contempt : His name could sadden, and his acts surprise ; But they that fear'd him dared not to despise : Man spurns the worm, but pauses ere he wake The slumbering venom of the folded snake : The first may turn — but not avenge the blow; The last expires — but leaves no living foe; Fast to the doom'd offender's form it clings, And he may crush - not conquer - still it stings !
XIII. He paused a moment till his hastening men Pass'd the first winding downward to the glen. “ Strange tidings ! — many a peril have I past, Nor know I why this next appears the last ! Yet so my heart forebodes, but must not fear, Nor shall my followers find me falter here. 'Tis rash to meet, but surer death to wait Till here they hunt us to undoubted fate ; And, if my plan but hold, and Fortune smile, We'll furnish mourners for our funeral pile. Ay - let them slumber — peaceful be their dreams ! Morn ne'er awoke them with such brilliant beams As kindle high to-night (but blow, thou breeze !) To warm these slow avengers of the seas. Now to Medora Oh! my sinking heart, Long may her own be lighter than thou art ! Yet was I brave mean boast where all are brave ! Ev'n insects sting for aught they seek to save. This common courage which with brutes we share, That owes its deadliest efforts to despair, Small merit claims - but 't was my nobler hope To teach my few with numbers still to cope ; Long have I led them — not to vainly bleed : No medium now — we perish or succeed ! So let it be — it irks not me to die ; But thus to urge them whence they cannot fly. My lot hath long had little of my care, But chates my pride thus baffled in the snare : Is this my skill ? my craft ? to set at last Hope, power, and life upon a single cast ? Oh, Fate! - accuse thy folly, not thy fate She may redeem thee still nor yet too late."
XIV. Thus with himself communion held he, till He reach'd the summit of his tower-crown'd hill: There at the portal paused — for wild and soft He heard those accents never heard too oft ; Through the high lattice far yet sweet they rung, And these the notes the bird of beauty sung:
XII. None are all evil – quickening round his heart, One softer feeling would not yet depart ; Oft could he sneer at others as beguiled By passions worthy of a fool or child ; Yet 'gainst that passion vainly still he strove, And even in him it asks the name of Love ! Yes, it was love - unchangeable - unchanged, Felt but for one from whom he never ranged ; Though fairest captives daily met his eye, He shunn'd, nor sought, but coldly pass'd them by ; Though many a beauty droop'd in prison'd bower, None ever soothed his most unguarded hour. Yes - it was Love - if thoughts of tenderness, Tried in temptation, strengthend by distress,
1. “ Deep in my soul that tender secret dwells,
Lonely and lost to light for evermore, Save when to thine my heart responsive swells,
Then trembles into silence as before.
2. “ There, in its centre, a sepulchral lamp
Burns the slow flame, eternal — but unseen ; Which not the darkness of despair can damp,
Though vain its ray as it had never been.
3. “ Remember me-Oh! pass not thou my grave
Without one thought whose relics there recline : The only pang my bosom dare not brave
Must be to find forgetfulness in thine.
4. “ My fondest — faintest - latest accents hear:
Grief for the dead not Virtue can reprove ; Then give me all I ever aski-a tear,
The first — last — sole reward of so much love !"
He pass'd the portal — cross'd the corridore, And reach'd the chamber as the strain gave o'er : “ My own Medora ! sure thy song is sad —".
“ In Conrad's absence wouldst thou have it glad ? Without thine ear to listen to my lay, Still must my song my thoughts, my soul betray : Still must each accent to my bosom suit, My heart unhush'd - although my lips were mute ! Oh! many a night on this lone couch reclined, My dreaming fear with storms hath wing'd the wind, And deem'd the breath that faintly fann'd thy sail The murmuring prelude of the ruder gale ; Though soft, it seem'd the low prophetic dirge, That mourn'd thee floating on the savage surge : Still would I rise to rouse the beacon fire, Lest spies less true should let the blaze expire; And many a restless hour outwatch'd each star, And morning came - and still thou wert afar. Oh! how the chill blast on my bosom blew, And day broke dreary on my troubled view, And still I gazed and gazed — and not a prow Was granted to my tears -- my truth - my vow! At length - 't was noon - I hail'd and blest the mast That met my sight - it near'd — Alas! it passed ! Another came — Oh God ! 't was thine at last ! Would that those days were over! wilt thou ne'er, My Conrad ! learn the joys of peace to share ? Sure thou hast more than wealth, and many a nome As bright as this invites us not to roam : Thou know'st it is not peril that I fear, I only tremble when thou art not here; Then not for mine, but that far dearer life, Which flies from love and languishes for strife How strange that heart, to me so tender still, Should war with nature and its better will !" 1
“ This hour we part ! - my heart foreboded this : Thus ever fade my fairy dreams of bliss. This hour — it cannot be this hour away ! Yon bark hath hardly anchor'd in the bay; Her consort still is absent, and her crew Have need of rest before they toil anew : (steel My love ! thou mock'st my weakness; and wouldst My breast before the time when it must feel ; But trifle now no more with my distress, Such mirth hath less of play than bitterness. Be silent, Conrad !- dearest ! come and share The feast these hands delighted to prepare ; Light toil ! to cull and dress thy frugal fare ! See, I have pluck'd the fruit that promised best, And where not sure, perplex'd, but pleased, I guess'd At such as seem'd the fairest ; thrice the hill My steps have wound to try the coolest rill; Yes ! thy sherbet to-night will sweetly flow, See how it sparkles in its vase of snow ! The grapes' gay juice thy bosom never cheers ; Thou more than Moslem when the cup appears : Think not I mean to chide — for I rejoice What others deem a penance is thy choice. But come, the board is spread; our silver lamp Is trimm'd, and heeds not the sirocco's damp : Then shall my handmaids while the time along, And join with me the dance, or wake the song ; Or my guitar, which still thou lov'st to hear, Shall soothe or lull - or, should it vex thine ear, We 'll turn the tale, by Ariosto told, Of fair Olympia loved and left of old. Why — thou wert worse than he who broke his vcw To that lost damsel, shouldst thou leave me now; Or even that traitor chief - I've seen thee smile, When the clear sky show'd Ariadne's Isle, Which I have pointed from these cliffs the while : And thus, half sportive, half in fear, I said, Lest Time should raise that doubt to more than dread, Thus Conrad, too, will quit me for the main : And he deceived me — for — he came again!
“ Yea, strange indeed - that heart hath long been
“ Again - again — and oft again — my love !
She rose — she sprung she clung to his embrace,
(Lord Byron has made a fine use of the gentleness and submission oi the females of these regions, as contrasted with the lordly pride and martial ferocity of the men : and though we suspect he has lent them more soul than of right belongs to them, as well as more delicacy and reflection ; yet, there is something so true to female nature in general, in his repre.
sentations of this sort, and so much of the oriental softness and acquiescence in his particular delineations.that it is scarcely possible to refuse the picture the praise of being characteristic and harmonious, as well as eminently sweet and beautiful in itself. - JEFFREY.]
* Orlando Furioso, Canto x.