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Such was the feeling of LORD BYRON towards America where his popularity has undergone no change since his brilliant genius first dawned upon the world. The critics for a while ceased writing of him, having perhaps exhausted the theme and needing new subjects ; but his fame has constantly been kept fresh in the popular circulation of bis Works. Byron is still the poet of youth and enthusiasm, of the natural emotions of the heart exhibited in that period of life which has more readers of poetry than the rest of the seven ages of man combined. As an artist his Poems challenge the admiration of all ages; his classic descriptions in Childe Harold find their way to the scholar's library; his Dramas and Tales of action and sentiment engage the attention of the most careless readers ; while the Horatian charm of his wit and sentiment is a constant delight to the accomplished student of the world and its affairs.
Of the merit and interest of the productions of the author of " Childe Harold,” “The Corsair," "Manfred,” “Don Juan," and a host of others, included in the series "familiar to our mouths as household words,” it is unnecessary at this day to speak. After the lapse of half a century, the extraordinary popularity of the writings of Byron in their own day is continued to new generations of readers, who delight to acknowledge his rare poetical powers, the fervour of his imagination, his kindling eloquence, bis portrayal of character, his animated description of natural scenery, his wit, humor, pathos, his varied pictures of human life in England, Italy and Greece, his unfailing sympathy with liberty and freedom.
The life of the Poet, accompanying this Edition, is abridged from the best account of Byron, the ample life by his friend and literary executor, Thomas MOORE. The Notes are mostly the Poet's own from the original Editions. The text is that of MURRAY'S Standard Edition.
L'univers est une espèce de livre, dont on n'a lu que la première page quand on n'a vu que son pays. J'en ai fouilleté un esgex grand nombre, que j'ai trouvé également manvaises. Cet examen ne m'a point été infructueux. Je haissais ma patrie. Toutes les Impertinences des peuples divers, parmi lesquels j'ai vécu, m'ont réconcilié avec elle. Quand je n'aurais tiré d'autre bénéfice de mes voyages que celui-là, je u'en regretterais ni les frais ni les fatigues.
gested by “Lord Maxwell's Good Night," in the Bor. [TO THE FIRST AND SECOND CANTOS.] der Minstrelsy, edited by Mr. Scott. THE following poem was written, for the most part,
With the different poems which have been published amidst the scenes which it attempts to describe. It
on Spanish subjects, there may be found some slight was begun in Albania ; and the parts relative to Spain coincidence in the first part, which treats of the Penin and Portugal were composed from the author's obser- sula, but it can only be casual ; as, with the exception vations in those countries. Thus much it may be ne
of a few concluding stanzas, the whole of this poem
was written in the Levant. cessary to state for the correctness of the descriptions. The scenes attempted to be sketched are in Spain, Por
The stanza of Spenser, according to one of our most tugal, Epirus, Acarnania, and Greece. There, for the successful poets, admits of every variety. Dr. Beattie present, the poem stops : its reception will determine makes the following observation :—“Not long ago, I whether the author may venture to conduct his read- began a poem in the style and stanza of Spenser, in ers to the capital of the East, through lonia and Phry- which I propose to give full scope to my inclination, gia : these two Cantos are merely experimental.
and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or senti A fictitious character is introduced for the sake of inental, tender or satirical, as the humor strikes me giving some connection to the piece ; which, however, for, if I mistake not, the measure which I have adopted makes no pretensions to regularity. It has been sug
admits equally of all these kinds of composition.”— gested to me by friends, on whose opinions I set a high strengthened in my opinion by such authority, and by value, that in this fictitious character, “Childe Harold;" the example of some in the highest order of Italian I may incur the suspicion of having intended some real poets, I shall make no apology for attempts at similar personage : this I beg leave, once for all, to disclaim- variations in the following composition ; satisfied that, Harold is the child of imagination, for the purpose I if they are unsuccessful, their failure must be in the have stated. In some very trivial particulars, and those execution rather than in the design, sanctioned by the merely local, there might be grounds for such a notion ; piactice of Ariosto, Thomson, and Beattie. but in the main points, I should hope, none whatever.
LONDON, February, 1812. It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation “Childe,” as “Childe Waters,” “Childe Childers,” etc., is used as more consonant with the old structure
ADDITION TO THE PREFACE. of versification which I have adopted. The “Good
I HAVE now waited till almost all our periodical Night” in the beginning of the first canto, was sug-journals have distributed their usual portion of criti1 Par M. de Montbron, Paris, 1798. Lord Byron somewhere
cism. To the justice of the generality of their crititalls it an amusing little volume, full of French flippancy." cisms I have nothing to object t would ill become
me to quarrel with their very slight degree of censure,
.! when, perhaps, if they had been less kind they had
Not in those climes where I have late been straying, been more candid. Returning, therefore, to all and
Though Beauty long hath there been matchless each my best thanks for their liberality, on one point
deem'd; alone shall I venture an observation. Amongst the
Not in those visions to the heart displaying many objections justly urged to the very indifferent character of the “vagrant Childe," (whom, notwith
Forms which it sighs but to have only dream'd, standing many hints to the contrary, I still maintain Hath aught like thee in truth or fancy seem'd: to be a fictitious personage,) it has been stated, that Nor, having seen thee, shall I vainly seek besides the anachronism, he is very unknightly, as the To paint those charms which varied as they times of the Knights were times of Love, Honor, and
beam'dso forth. Now, it so happens that the good old times, To such as see thee not my words were weak; when “l'amour du bon vieux temps, l'amour antique” | To those who gaze on thee what language could flourished, were the most profligate of all possible cen
they speak ? turies. Those who have any doubts on this subject may consult Sainte-Palaye, passim, and more particu- Ah! mayst thou ever be what now thou art, larly vol. ij., p. 69. The vows of chivalry were no bet- Nor unbeseem the promise of thy spring, ter kept than any other vows whatsoever; and the As fair in form, as warm yet pure in heart, songs of the Troubadours were not more decent, and Love's image upon earth without his wing, certainly were much less refined, than those of Ovid. And guileless beyond Hope's imagining! The “Cours d'amour, parlements d'amour, ou de cour- And surely she who now so fondly rears toisie et de gentilesse” had much more of love than of
Thy youth, in thee, thus hourly brightening, courtesy or gentleness. See Roland on the same sub- Beholds the rainbow of her future years, ject with Sainte-Palaye. Whatever other objection Before whose heavenly hues all sorrow disappears. may be urged to that most unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attri- Young Peri of the West !_tis well for me butes—“No waiter, but a knight templar.” By the by,
My years already doubly number thine; I fear that Sir Tristrem and Sir Lancelot were no bet- My loveless eye unmoved may gaze on thee, ter than they should be, although very poetical person
And safely view thy ripening beauties shine; ages and true knights "sans peur,” though not
Happy, I ne'er shall see them in decline; reproche.” If the story of the institution of the “Gar
Happier, that while all younger hearts shall bleed, ter” be not a fable, the knights of that order have for several centuries borne the badge of a Countess of
Mine shall escape the doom thine eyes assign
To those whose admiration shall succeed, Salisbury, of indifferent memory. So much for chivalry. Burke need not have regretted that its days are
But mix'd with pangs to Love's even loveliest hours
decreed. over, though Marie Antoinette was quite as chaste as most of those in whose honor lances were shivered,
Oh ! let that eye, which, wild as the Gazelle's, and knights unhorsed.
Now brightly bold or beautifully shy,
Wins as it wanders, dazzles where it dwells, cient and modern times,) few exceptions will be found
Glance o'er this page, nor to my verse deny to this statement; and I fear a little investigation will
That smile for which my breast might vainly sigh, teach us not to regret these monstrous mummeries of
Could I to thee be ever more than friend : the middle ages.
This much, dear maid, accord ; nor question why I now leave “Childe Harold" to live his day, such To one so young my strain I would commend, as he is; it had been more agreeable, and certainly But bid me with my wreath one matchless lily blend. more easy, to have drawn an amiable character. It had been easy to varnish over his faults, to make him
Such is thy name with this my verse intwined; do more and express less ; but he never was intended
And long as kinder eyes a look shall cast as an example, further than to show, that early perver
On Harold's page, Ianthe's here enshrined sion of mind and morals leads to satiety of past pleas
Shall thus be first beheld, forgotten last : ures and disappointment in new ones, and that even My days once number'd, should this homage past the beauties of nature, and the stimulus of travel, (ex- Attract thy fairy fingers near the lyre cept ambition, the most powerful of all excitements,) are Of him who hail'd thee, loveliest as thou wast, lost on a soul so constituted, or rather misdirected. Such is the most my memory may desire; Had I proceeded with the poem, this character would Though more than Hope can claim, could Friendship have deepened as he drew to the close ; for the out- less require ? line which I once meant to fill up for him was, with some exceptions, the sketch of a modern Timon, per- Earl of Oxford, (now Lady Charlotte Bacon,) in the autumn of
1 The Lady Charlotte Harley, second daughter of Edward, Fift haps a poetical Zeluco.
1812, when these lines were addressed to ber, had not completed LONDON, 1813.
her eleventh year.
Nor made atonement when he did amiss,
Had sigh'd to many though he loved but one,
And that loved one, alas ! could ne'er be his. I.
Ah, happy she! to 'scape from him whose kiss OH, thou ! in Hellas deem'd of heavenly birth,
Had been pollution unto aught so chaste;
Who soon had left her charms for vulgar bliss, Muse! form'd or fabled at the minstrel's will !
And spoil'd her goodly lands to gild his waste, Since shamed full oft by later lyres on earth,
Nor calm domestic peace had ever deign'd to Mine dares not call thee from thy sacred hill :
taste. Yet there I've wander'd by thy vaunted rill; Yes I sigh'd o'er Delphi's long-deserted shrine,
VI. Where, save that feeble fountain, all is still; And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart, Nor mote my shell awake the weary Nine
And from his fellow bacchanals would flee; To grace so plain a tale—this lowly lay of mine. 'Tis said, at times the sullen tear would start,
But Pride congeald the drop within his ee :
Apart he stalk'd in joyless revery,
And from his native land resolved to go, Who ne in virtue's way did take delight;
And visit scorching climes beyond the sea ; But spent his days in riot most uncouth,
With pleasure drugg'd, he almost long'd for wo, And vex'd with mirth the drowsy ear of Night.
And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades Ah, me! in south he was a shameless wight,
below. Sore given to revel and ungodly glee ; Few earthly things found favor in his sight
VII. Save concubines and carnal companie,
The Childe departed from his father's hall;
So old, it seemed only not to fall,
Yet strength was pillar'd in each massy aisle.
Where Superstition once had made her den Suffice it, that perchance they were of fame, Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile, And had been glorious in another day:
And monks might deem their time was come agen, But one sad losel soils a name for aye,
If ancient. tales say true, nor wrong these holy However mighty in the olden time; Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay, Nor florid prose, nor honey'd lies of rhyme,
VIII. Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
Yet oft-times in his maddest mirthful mood [brow,
Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's IV.
As if the memory of some daily feud Childe Harold basked him in the noontide sun, Or disappointed passion lurk'd below; Disporting there like any other fly,
But this none knew, nor haply cared to know; Nor deem'd before his little day was done
For his was not that open, artless soul One blast might chill him into misery.
That feels relief by bidding sorrow flow, But long ere scarce a third of his pass’d by, Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole, Worse than adversity the Childe befell;
Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not He felt the fullness of satiety :
control. Then loathed he in his native land to dwell, [cell.
IX. Which seem'd to him more lone than Eremite's sad
And none did love him—though to hall and bower 1 The little village of Castri stands partly on the site of Delphi. He gather'd revellers from far and near, Along the path of the mountain, from Chrysso, are the remains of sepulchres hewn in and from the rock. “One," said the guide,
He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour; “ of a king who broke his neck hunting." His majesty had cer The heartless parasites of present cheer. lainly chosen the fittest spot for such an achievement. A little Yea! none did love him-not his lemans dearabove Castri is a cave, supposed the Pythian, of immense depth; the upper part of it is paved, and now a cowhouse. On the other
But pomp and power alone are woman's care, side of Castri stands a Greek monastery; some way above which And where these are light Eros finds a feere; is tbe cleft in the rock, with a range of caverns difficult of ascent, Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare, and apparently leading to the interior of the mountain ; probably and Mammon wins his way where Seraphs might to the Corycian Cavern mentioned by Pausanias. From this part descend the fountain and the “Dewe of Castalie.”
XIII. But when the sun was sinking in the sea He seized his harp, which he at times could string, And strike, albeit with untaught melody, When deem'd he no strange ear was listening: And now his fingers o'er it he did fling, And tuned his farewell in the dim twilight, While flew the vessel on her snowy wing,
And fleeting shores receded from his sight, Thus to the elements he pour'd his last“ Good Night.”
“Come hither, hither, my stanch yeoman,
Why dost thou look so pale ? Or dost thou dread a French foeman ?
Or shiver at the gale ?”— 'Deem'st thou I tremble for my life?
Sir Childe, I'm not so weak; But thinking on an absent wife
Will blanch a faithful cheek.
“Adieu, adieu, my native shore
Fades o'er the waters blue; The Night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew. Yon Sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight; Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land-Good Night!
'My spouse and boys dwell near thy hall
Along the bordering lake,
What answer shall she make PP-
Thy grief let none gainsay; But I, who am of lighter mood,
Will laugh to flee away. “For who would trust the seeming sighs
Of wife or paramour ?
We late saw streaming o'er.
Nor perils gathering near;
No thing that claims a tear,
“ A few short hours and He will rise
To give the morrow birth; And I shall hail the main and skies,
But not my mother earth.