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the midst of this tempest that I had confronted others, but that, when I traversed the ocean I was young, and that then dangers were pleasures to me. I considered myself, therefore, as very old when I sailed from the harbour of Trieste for Greece and Syria. Beneath what a heap of days am I then buried !
Lord Byron galloped along this solitary shore. What were his thoughts and his strains, his fears and his hopes ? Did he raise his voice to confide to the storm the inspirations of his genius? Was it amidst the murmur of those waves that he found these melancholy accents
fame should be, as my fortunes are,
Are honour'd by the nations—let it be ! Byron was sensible that his fortunes were “of hasty growth ;" in his moments of doubt respecting his glory, as he did not believe in any other immortality, he had no joy left him but annihilation. His disgust would have been less bitter, his flight here below less barren, had he changed his course : at the end of his exhausted passions, some generous effort would have enabled him to attain a new existence. We are unbelieving because we stop at the surface of the matter: dig deep enough, you will find heaven.
I had already returned from the forests of America, when, in the neighbourhood of London, beneath the elm of Childe Harold, then a boy, I planned the disappointinents, disgusts, and sorrows of René. I had seen the first traces of Byron's footsteps in the paths of Harrow Hill; I met with the last prints of them at one of the stations of his pilgrimage; no, I sought those prints in vain. Raised by the hurricane, the sand has covered the tracks of the steed left without a rider. “ Fisherman of Malainoco, hast thou ever heard of Lord Byron ?”_" Have I ? he rode here almost every day.”—“ Know'st thou whither he is
It was a stormy day: on the point of perishing between Malta and the Sirtes, I enclosed in an empty bottle a paper on which I wrote these words: “ F. A. de Chateaubriand, shipwrecked on the island of Lampedosa, the 26th of December, 1806, on his return from the Holy Land.” A frail bottle, a few lines, tossing over a bottomless abyss, were all that suited my fortune and my memory. The currents would perhaps have propelled my vagrant epitaph to the Lido, to the very spot which Byron had marked for his grave, as the waves of time have cast my wandering life upon that shore.
0 Venice! when I beheld thee for the first
time, thou wert under the dominion of the great man who was thy oppressor and mine.
An island awaited his grave; an island is thine. Ye both sleep immortal in your St. Helenas. O Venice ! our destinies have been alike : my dreams pass away as fast as thy palaces crumble into ruin. The hours of my spring are become black, like the arabesques which decorate the summit of thy buildings. But thou perishest, unknown to thyself; as for me, I am aware of my ruin. Thy delicious sky, the bright waves that wash thee, have found me, in these last days, as sensible to thy charms as ever I was. To no purpose I grow old. The energy of my nature has concentrated itself at the bottom of my heart; years have succeeded only in driving away my outward youth, in making it seek refuge in my bosom. But what to me are the breezes of the Lido, so dear to the poet of the Daughter of Ravenna ? The wind which blows on a half despoiled head does not come from any lucky shore.
* Here end the quotations from the Memoirs.
For the rest, the little squabble that I have had in my Posthumous Memoirs with the greatest poet that England has produced since Milton, only proves one thing—the high value which I should have attached to the most trifling memorial of his Muse. Now, readers, does it not seem to you that we are finishing a rapid excursion among ruins, like that which I formerly made upon the ruins of Athens, Jerusalem, Memphis, and Carthage? In passing from one renown to another, and seeing them all engulfed in their turn, is not a feeling of sadness excited within you?
Look behind you; ask what has become of those brilliant and tumultuous times, in which flourished Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, Shakspeare and Milton, Cromwell and William III., Pitt and Burke. All this is past. Superiority and mediocrity, hate and love, felicity and wretchedness, oppressor and oppressed, executioner and victim, kings and people, all sleep in the same silence, and in the same dust; and yet, what is it that has engaged our attention? The most living part of human nature, the genius which remains scarcely as the shadow of the old times among us, but no longer lives for itself, nay knows not if it ever existed.
How often, in this picture of ten centuries, has England been destroyed before our eyes! Through how many revolutions have we not passed to reach the brink of a still greater, still deeper, revolution, which will envelop posterity! I have seen that famous British parliament in all its power: what will become of it? I have seen England in its ancient manners and its ancient prosperity: every where the solitary church with its tower, Gray's country church-yard, narrow gravelled roads, valleys filled with cattle, commons dotted with sheep, parks, mansions, towns, few extensive woods, few birds, the sea-breeze. These were not those fields of Andalusia, where I found old Christians and young loves amid the ruins of the voluptuous palaces of the Moors, among aloes and palm trees; this was not the Campagna of Rome, the irresistible charm of which was incessantly recurring to me; those waves and that sun were not the same that bathe and light the promontory on which Plato taught his disciples, that Sunium on which I heard the chirp of the grasshopper inquiring in vain of Mi