Pride! bend thine eye from heaven to thine estate ;
See how the Mighty shrink into a song!
Can Volume, Pillar, Pile preserve the great?

Or must thou trust Tradition's simple tongue,
When Flattery sleeps with thee, and History does thee wrong?

Awake, ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!
Lo! Chivalry, your ancient goddess, cries,
But wields nut, as of old, her thirsty lance,
Nor shakes her crimson plumage in the skies ;
Now on the smoke of blazing bolts she flies,
And speaks in thunder through yon engine's roar :
In every peal she calls--- Awake! arise!

Say, is her voice more feeble than of yore, When her war-song was heard on Andalusia's shore?' These animated lines, and a mošt terrific description of the genius of battle which follows them, are naturally dictated by the arrival of the traveller at the camp of the allies, on the morning of the battle of Talavera ; and he pays a willing tribute of praise to the splendid and orderly array of the contending armies; but in his reflections on these sanguinary contests, the libertine Childe appears to be a true disciple of Falstaff; and speeds to Seville, where he finds the inhabitants rioting in pleasure, with as much security, as if the defeat of Dupont's army had crippled the French power, and rendered the Morena impervious to future invasion. “At Seville he beholds the illustrious maid of Saragoza. It certainly is one of the miracles produced by the Spanish revolution, that

She whom once the semblance of a scar
Appalld, an owlet's larum chill’d with dread,
Now views the column-scattering bay'net jar,

The falchion flash, and o'er the yet warm dead Stalks with Minerva's step where Mars might quake to tread:' and the miracle is, in this case, rendered much more impressive by the personal charms of the heroine. Childe Harold therefore surveys, with much complacency, her fairy form-her graceful stepher dazzling black eyes, and glowing complection; but having no predilection for Amazon beauties, is anxious to exculpate this paragon of Spain, as well as her countrywomen, from any deficiency in the witching arts of love,' observing that when they mix in the ruder scenes of war,

''Tis but the tender fierceness of the dove

Pecking the hand that hovers o'er her mate.' The fascinations of young females are, naturally enough, the favourite theme of young poets; but the minstrel of Childe Harold, aware that some of his readers may possibly be older than himself,

has very judiciously suspended his description of the 'dark glancing daughters' of Andalusia, for the purpose of saying a few words to Mount Parnassus, at whose foot (as we learn from a note at the bottom of the page) he was actually writing, and whom he consequently addressed as seen,

• Not in the fabled landscape of a lay,
But soaring snow-clad through his native sky,
In the wild pomp of mountain majesty.'

' Happier in this than mightiest bards have been,
Whose fate to distant homes confin’d their lot,
Shall I unmov'd behold the hallow'd scene,
Which others rave of, though they know it not?
'Though here no more Apollo haunts his grot,
And thou, the Muses' seat, art now their grave!
Some gentle spirit still pervades the spot,

Sighs in the gale, keeps silence in the cave,
And glides with glassy foot o'er yon melodious wave.

Of thce hereafter.-Even amidst my strain
I turn'd aside to pay my homage here;
Forgot the land, the sons, the maids of Spain;
Her fate, to every freeborn bosom dear,
And haild thee, not perchance without a tear.
Now to my theme-but from thy holy haunt
Let me some remnant, some memorial bear;

Yield me one leaf of Daphne's deathless plant,
Nor let thy votary's hope be deem'd an idle vaunt.

But ne'er didst thou, fair Mount! when Greece was young,
See round thy giant base a brighter choir,
Nor e'er did Delphi, when her priestess sung
The Pythian hymn with more than mortal fire,
Behold a train more fitting to inspire
The song of love, than Andalusia's maids,
Nurst in the glowing lap of soft desire :--

Ah! that to these were given such peaceful shades As Greece can still bestow, though glory fly her glades.'-p.40. It is impossible not to join in the prayers of the last couplet, if it. be true, as the poet proceeds to assure us, that Venus, since the decay of her Paphian temple, has taken possession of the city of Cadiz, where her votaries are at present very ill provided with those 'peaceful shades' which they would find by emigrating into Greece. They, therefore, amuse themselves as well as they can, with processions, and with bull-feasts, (in the poetical description of which we

have found more pleasure than we probably should have experienced in contemplating the reality ;) and they had the good fortune to find favour in the eyes of Childe Harold, who, though 'pleasure's palled victim,'on whose ' faded brow' was written, cursed Cain's unresting doom,' was induced to pour forth an unpremeditated lay,' of some length, in honour of a certain bewitching Inez. He then prepares to embark at Cadiz, and bids adieu to his favourite city, where

all were noble, save nobility,
None hugg'd a conqueror's chains, save fallen chivalry!

• Such be the sons of Spain, and strange her fate !
They fight for freedom who were never free;
A kingless people for a nerveless state,
Her vassals combat when their chieftains flee,
True to the veriest slaves of treachery :
Fond of a land which gave them nought but life,
Pride points the path that leads to liberty,

Back to the struggle, baffled in the strife, War, war is still the cry, “ War even to the knife !** The same train of reflections is pursued through a few more stanzas, and the first canto closes with a pathetic address to a young military friend, whose death was occasioned by a fever at Coimbra.

At the commencement of the second Canto, we find the following apostrophe, to the ruins of Athens :

* Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul?
Gone--glimmering through the dream of things that were,
First in the force that led to glory's goal,
They won, and pass'd away-is this the whole?
A school-boy's tale, the wonder of an hour!
The warrior's weapon, and the sophist's stole

Are sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower,

Dim with the mist of years, grey flits the shade of power.'--p. 62. The poet is thus naturally led into a long train of reflections on the decay to which the noblest works of hunian industry and genius, are necessarily exposed; and on the blindness, the arrogance, the perversity of conquerors, who so often anticipate the ravages of time, and doom these monuments to premature destruction. He then inveighs, with great vehemence, against the whole tribe of collectors, who having purchased from the stupid and sordid officers


*“War to the knife.” Palafox's answer to the French general at the siege of Sarayoza.


of the Turkish government, a general right of devastation, have proceeded to deface, and are daily defacing, the beautiful specimens of Grecian architecture, by removing and carrying off the bas-reliefs

and other ornaments, from the ruined temples of Athens. Amongst - these minor plunderers, the most prominent object of the poet's

sarcasms, is Lord Elgin, who is very plainly designated in the text, and actually named in the notes; and it is only when the shafts of his ridicule are exhausted, that Lord Byron is at leisure to think of bis imaginary pilgrim, who had embarked at Cadiz on board of a frigate, and whose voyage is described in the following spirited and beautiful stanzas.

• He that has sail'd upon the dark blue sea,
Has view'd at times, I ween, a full fair sight;
When the fresh breeze is fair as breeze may be,
The white sail set, the gallant frigate tight;
Masts, spires, and strand retiring to the right,
The glorious main expanding o'er the bow,
The convoy spread like wild swans in their flight,

The dullest sailer wearing bravely now,
So gaily curl the waves before each dashing prow.

And oh, the little warlike world within!
The well reev'd guns, the netted canopy,
The hoarse command, the busy humming din,
When, at a word, the tops are mann'd on high;
Hark to the boatswain's call, the cheering cry!
While through the seaman's hand the tackle glides;
Or school-boy midshipman that standing by,

Strains his shrill pipe as good or ill betides,
And well the docile crew that skilful urchin guides.

White is the glassy deck, without a stain,
Where on the watch the staid Lieutenant walks.
Look on that part which sacred doth remain
For the lone chieftain, who majestic stalks,
Silent and fear'd by all-not oft he talks
With aught beneath him, if he would preserve
That strict restraint, which broken, ever balks

Conquest and fame: but Britons rarely swerve
From law, however stern, which tends their strength to nerve.

Blow! swiftly blow, thou keel-compelling gale!
Till the broad sun withdraws his lessening ray;
Then must the penant-bearer slacken sail,
That lagging barks may make their lazy way.

• The netting to prevent blocks or splinters from falling on deck during action.'


Ah, grievance sore! and listless dull delay,
To waste on sluggish hulks the sweetest breeze!
What leagues are lost before the dawn of day,

Thus loitering pensive on the willing seas,
The flapping sail haul'd down to halt for logs like these !

Through Calpe's straits survey the steepy shore,
Europe and Afric on each other gaze!
Lands of the dark-ey'd Maid and dusky Moor,
Alike beheld beneath pale Hecate's blaze:
How softly on the Spanish shore she plays,
Disclosing rock, and slope, and forest brown,
Distinct though darkening with her waning phase ;

But Mauritania's giant shadows frown,
From mountain cliff to coast descending sombre down.

To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er, or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;

This is not solitude ; 'tis but to hold
Converse with nature's charms, and see her stores unrolled.

But midst the crowd, the hum, the shock of

To hear, to see, to feel, and to possess,
And roam along the world's tir'd denizen,
With none who bless us, none whom we can bless ;
Minions of splendour shrinking from distress!
None that, with kindred consciousness endued,
If we were not, would seem to smile the less

Of all that flatter'd, follow'd, sought, and sued;
This is to be alone; this, this is solitude!

Pass we the long unvarying course, the track
Oft trod, that never leaves a trace behind;
Pass we the calm, the gale, the change, the tack,
And each well known caprice of wave and wind;
Pass we the joys and sorrows sailors find,
Coop'd in their winged sea-girt citadel;
The foul, the fair, the contrary, the kind,

As breezes rise and fall, the billows swell,
Till on some jocund morn-lo, land! and all is well.'--p. 74.


« VorigeDoorgaan »