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But one sad losel soils a name for aye,
Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay,
This description is continued through eight more stanzas, for the purpose of exhibiting, at full length, this singular child of profligacy, who is drugged with pleasure,' and driven, at once by the fulness of satiety,' and by the pangs of unrequited passion, to seek relief from the intolerable tediousness and monotony of life, in voluntary exile. To quit the companions of his debaucheries required little effort; but he quitted with the same abruptness a mother and a sister, for whom he felt a sincere affection.
'Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel;
A few dear objects, will in sadness feel
Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to heal.'
These lines will probably recal to the memory of our readers the pathetic passage in Virgil where Euryalus makes mention of his mother.
Hanc ego nunc ignaram hujus quodcunque pericli est,
Dextera, quod nequeam lacrymas perferre parentis.
Childe Harold now embarks; and having soon lost sight of land, seizes his harp, and composes a lay of Good Night' to his native country. On the fifth day he reaches the mouth of the Tagus, and the city of Lisbon, whose 'image floating on that noble tide which poets vainly pave with sands of gold,' inspires him with delight, nearly equal to the disgust with which he afterwards contemplated the filth of its interior, and the character of its inhabitants; then degraded by a weak government, and evincing no symptoms of that noble energy, by which they have latterly been distinguished. But it is the glorious Eden' of Cintra which calls forth his warmest admiration.
"The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd,
The buildings that add splendour to this sylvan scenery are next described; and Childe Harold, who, like Voltaire's Pococurante, is often disposed to be sarcastic, takes care to remind us of the celebrated Cintra convention, and ascribes to a wicked fiend, inhabiting the castle of Marialva, the absurdities of that martial synod, who were so eager to throw away their hard-earned laurels for the purpose of hooding themselves in the 'fool's cap' of diplomacy.
After casting one look at the palace of Mafra, the restless Harold proceeds in his devious wanderings.
'Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chace,
And life, that bloated Ease can never hope to share!'
In passing from the Portugueze to the Spanish territory, he is somewhat disappointed, by the smallness of the stream which forms the boundary between two nations, so long disunited by their reciprocal animosity.
'But ere the mingling bounds have far been pass'd,
In sullen billows, murmuring and vast,
Of Moor and knight, in mailed splendour drest;
Mix'd on the bleeding stream, by floating hosts oppress'd.
Oh lovely Spain! renown'd, romantic land!
Red gleam'd the cross, and waned the crescent pale,
Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
'Count Julian's daughter, the Helen of Spain. Pelagius preserved his independence in the fastnesses of the Asturias, and the descendants of his followers, after some centuries, completed their struggle by the conquest of Grenada.'
Pride! bend thine eye from heaven to thine estate;
When Flattery sleeps with thee, and History does thee wrong?
Awake, ye sons of Spain! awake! advance!
These animated lines, and a most 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
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,
'Happier in this than mightiest bards have been,
Of thee hereafter.-Even amidst my strain
But ne'er didst thou, fair Mount! when Greece was young,
The Pythian hymn with more than mortal fire,
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!
Her vassals combat when their chieftains flee,
Fond of a land which gave them nought but life,
Back to the struggle, baffled in the strife,
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,
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
The poet is thus naturally led into a long train of reflections on the decay to which the noblest works of human 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