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terals miles frais niles fatigues.
PREFACE [ro THE FIRST AND second cANTos].
THE following poem was written, for the most part, amidst the scenes which it attempts to describe. It was begun in Albania; and the parts relative to Spain and Portugal were composed from the author's observations in those countries. 3 Thus much it may be necessary to state for the correctness of the descriptions. The scenes attempted to be sketched are in Spain, Portugal, Epirus, Acarnania, and Greece. There, for the present, the poem stops: its reception will determine whether the author may venture to conduct his readers to the capital of the East, through Ionia and Phrygia: these two Cantos are Inerely experimental. A fictitious character is introduced for the sake of giving some connection to the piece; which, however, makes no pretensions to regularity. It has been suggested to me by friends, on whose opinions I set a high value, that in this fictitious character, “Childe Harold,” I may incur the suspicion of having intended some real personage : this I beg leave, once for ail, to disclaim—Harold is the child of imagination. for the purpose I have stated. In some very trivial particulars, and those merely local, there might be grounds for such a notion; but in the main points, I should hope, none whatever. It is almost superfluous to mention that the appellation “Childe," as “Childe Waters,” “Childe
L'univers est une espèce de livre, dont on n’alu que la première page quand on n’a vu que son pays, J'en ai feuilleté un assez grand nombre, que j'ai trouvé &galément mauvaises. infructueux. Je haissais ma patrie. Toutes les impertinences des peuples divers, parmi lesquels j'ai vécu, m’ont reconcilie avec elle Quand je n'aurais tiré d'autre benefico demes voyages que celui-lä, je n'en regret
Childers,” &c., is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted. The “Good Night,” in the beginning of the first canto, was suggested by “Lord Maxwell's Good Night,” in the Border Minstrelsy, edited by Mr. Scott.
With the different poems which have been published on Spanish subjects, there may be found some slight coincidence in the first part, which treats of the Peninsula, but it can only be casual ; as, with the exception of a few concluding stanzas, the whole of this poem was written in the Levant.
The stanza of Spenser, according to one of our most successful poets, admits of every variety. Dr. Beattie makes the following observation : — “ Not long ago, I began a poem in the style and stanza of Spenser, in which I propose to give full scope to my inclination, and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me; for, if I mistake not, the measure which I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition.”3 – Strengthened in my opinion by such authority, and by the example of some in the highest order of Italian poets, I shall make no apology for attempts at similar variations in the following composition; satisfied that, if they are unsuccessful, their failure must be in the execution, rather than in the design, sanctioned by the practice of Ariosto, Thomson, and Beattie.
2 BYRON's works.
ADDITION TO THE PREFACE.
I HAVE now waited till almost all our periodical journals have distributed their usual portion of criticism. To the justice of the generality of their criticisms I have nothing to object: it would ill become me to quarrel with their very slight degree of censure, when, perhaps, if they had been less kind they had been more candid. Returning, therefore, to all and each my best thanks for their liberality, on one point alone shall I venture an observation. Amongst the many objections justly urged to the very indifferent character of the “vagrant Childe” (whom, notwithstanding many hints to the contrary, I still maintain to be a fictitious personage), it has been stated, that, besides the anachronism, he is very unknightly, as the times of the Knights were times of Love, Honour, and so forth. Now, it so happens that the good old times, when “l'amour du bon vieux tems, l'amour antique” flourished, were the most profligate of all possible centuries. Those who have any doubts on this subject may consult Sainte-Palaye, passim, and more particularly vol. ii. p 69. 1 The vows of chivalry were no better kept than any other vows whatsoever; and the songs of the Troubadours were not more decent, and certainly were much less refined, than those of Ovid. The “Cours d'amour, parlemens d'amour, ou de countésie et de gentilesse” had much more of love than of courtesy or gentleness. See Roland on the same subject with Sainte-Palaye. Whatever other objection may be urged to that inost unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attributes — “No waiter, but a knight templar.”2 By the by, I fear that Sir Tristrem and Sir Lancelot were no better than they should be, although very poetical personages and true knights “sans peur,” though not “sans reproche.” If the story of the institution of the “Garter” be not a fable, the knights of that order have for several centuries borne the badge of a Countess of Salisbury, of indifferent memory. So much for chivalry. Burke need not have regretted that its days are over, though Marie-Antoinette was quite as chaste as most of those in whose honours lances were shivered, and knights unhorsed. Before the days of Bayard, and down to those of Sir Joseph Banks (the most chaste and celebrated of ancient and modern times), few exceptions will be found to this statement; and I fear a little investigation will teach us not to regret these monstrous mummeries of the middle ages. I now leave “Childe Harold" to live his day, such
! [“. Qu'on lise dans l'Auteur du roman de Gérard de Roussillon, en Provençal, les détails très-circonstancies dans lesquels il entre sur la réception faite par le Comte Gérard a l'ambassadeur du roi Charles; on y verra des particularités singulières, qui donnent une étrange idée des mocurs et de la politesse deces siècles aussi corrompus qu'ignorans.” — Memorres sur l'Ancienne Chevaleries par M. de la Curne de Sainte-Palaye, Paris, 1781, loc. cit...]
* The Rovers, or the Double Arrangement —s By Canning and Frere; first published in the Anti-jacobin, or Weekly Examiner.]
...' one of his early poems—“Childish Recollections,” Lord Byron compares himself to the Athenian misanthrope, of whose bitter apophthegins many are upon record, though no authentic particulars of his life have come down to us ; –
“Weary of love, of life, devoured with spleen, I rest a perfect Timon, not nineteen,” &c.]
as he is ; it had been more agreeable, and certainly more easy, to have drawn an amiable character. It had been easy to varnish over his faults, to make him do more and express less; but he never was intended as an example, further than to show, that early perversion of mind and morals leads to satiety of past pleasures and disappointment in new ones, and that even the beauties of nature, and the stimulus of travel (except ambition, the most powerful of all excitements), are lost on a soul so constituted, or rather misdirected. Had I proceeded with the poem, this character would have deepened as he drew to
* [A species of the antelope. “You have the eyes of a gazelle,” is considered all over the East as the greatest complinent that can be paid to a woman.]
* The little village of Castri stands partly on the site of Delphi. Along the path of the mountain, from Chrysso, are the remains of sepulchres hewn in and from the rock. “One,” said the guide, “of a o who broke his neck hunting.” His majesty had certainly chosen the fittest spot for such an achievement. A little above Castri is a cave, supposed the Pythian, of immense depth ; the upper part of it is paved, and now a cowhouse. On the other side of Castri stands a Greek monastery; some way above which is the cleft in the rock, with a range of caverns difficult of ascent, and apparently leading to the interior of the mountain : probably to the Corycian Cavern mentioned by Pausanias. From this part descend the fountain and the “Dews of Castalie.” – so. We were sprinkled.” says Mr. Hobhouse, “with the spray of the immortal rill, and here, if any where, should have felt the poetic inspiration : we drank deep, too, of the spring ; but – (I can answer for myself) — without feeling sensible of any extraordinary effect."]
III. Childe Harold * was he hight:-but whence his name And lineage long, it suits me not to say ; Suffice it, that perchance they were of fame, And had been glorious in another day: But one sad losel soils a name for aye, However mighty in the olden time; Nor all that heralds rake from coffin'd clay, Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme, Can blazon evil deeds, or consccrate a crime.
Which seem'd to him more lone than Eremite's sad cell.
V. For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run, 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. Ah, happy she to 'scape from him whose kiss Had been pollution unto aught so chaste; Who soon had left her charms for vulgar bliss, And spoil'd her goodly lands to gild his waste, Nor calm domestic peace had ever deign'd to taste.
VI. And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart, And from his fellow bacchanals would flee; 'Tis said, at times the sullen tear would start, But Pride congeal'd the drop within his ee: Apart he stalk'd in joyless reverie, And from his native land resolved to go, And visit scorching climes beyond the sea; With pleasure drugg'd, he almost long'd for woe, And e'en for change of scene would seek the shades below. 5 - VII. The Childe departed from his father's hall; It was a vast and venerable pile; So old, it seemed only not to fall, Yet strength was pillar'd in each massy aisle. Monastic dome ! condemn'd to uses vile ! Where Superstition once had made her den Now Paphian girls were known to sing and smile ; And monks might deem their time was come agen, If ancient tales say true, nor wrong these holy men.
* [In these stanzas, and indeed throughout his works, we must not accept too literally Lord Byron's testimony against himself — he took a morbid pleasure in darkening every shadow of his self-portraiture. His interior at Newstead had, no doubt, been, in some points, loose and irregular enough : but it certainly never exhibited any thing of the profuse and Satanic luxury which the language in the text might seem to indicate. In fact, the narrowness of his means at the time the verses refer to would alone have precluded this. His househoid economy, while he remained at the abbey, is known to have been conducted on a very moderate scale ; and, besides, his usual companions, though far from being averse to convivial indulgences, were not only, as Mr. Moore says, “of habits and tastes too intellectual for mere vulgar debauchery,” but assuredly, quite incapable of playing the parts of dattercrg and parasites.]
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.” +
“AnnEU, adieu ! my native shore
“A few short hours and He will rise
“Come hither, hither, my little page 1 >
“Let winds be shrill, let waves roll high,
“My father bless'd me fervently, Yet did not much complain ; But sorely will my mother sigh Till I come back again.'— “Enough, enough, my little lad 1 Such tears become thine eye; If I thy guileless bosom had, Mine own would not be dry. 9
Murray. “Pray," he says to his mother, “shew the lad every kindness, as he is my great favourite.” He also wrote a letter to the father of the boy, which leaves a most favourable impression of his thoughtfulness and kindliness. “I have,” he says, “sent Robert home, because the country which I am about to travel through is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. I allow you to deduct from your rent five and twenty pounds a year for his education, for three years, provided I do not return before that time, and I desire he may be considered as in my service. He has behaved extremely well."] * [Here follows in the MS.: — “My Mother is a high-born dame, And much misliketh me; She saith my riot bringeth shame On all my ancestry: I had a sister once I ween, Whose tears perhaps will flow ;
But her fair face I have not seen
from his parents, Lord Byron, on reaching Gibraltar, sent
him back to England under the care of his old servant Joe