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“The grand army of the Turks (in 1715), under the Prime Vizier, to open to themselves a way into the heart of the Morea, and to form the siege of Napoli di Romania, the most considerable place in all that country 3, thought it best in the first place to attack Corinth, upon which they made several storms. The garrison being weakened, and the governor seeing it was impossible to hold out against so mighty a force, thought it fit to beat a parley: but while they were treating about the articles, one of the magazines in the Turkish camp, wherein they had six hundred barrels of powder, blew up by accident, whereby six or seven hundred men were killed; which so enraged the infidels, that they would not grant any capitula
#. without any great detriment to the world – Bishop eben. Lara has some charms which the Corsair has not. It is more domestic ; it calls forth more sympathies with polished society; it is more intellectual, but much less passionate, less vigorous, and less brilliant ; it is sometimes even languid, at any rate, it is more diffuse. — SiR. E. BRY PG Es. Lara, obviously the sequel of “The Corsair," maintains in general the same tone of deep interest and lofty feeling ; – though the disappearance of Medora from the scene deprives it of the enchanting sweetness by which its terrors are there redeemed, and makes the hero, on the whole, less captivating. The character of Lara, too, is rather too elaborately finished", and his nocturnal encounter with the apparition is worked up too ostentatiously. There is infinite beauty in the sketch of the dark Page, and in many of the moral or general reflections which are interspersed with the narrative. — JEFF REY.] 1 [The “Siege of Corinth,” which appears, by the original MS., to have been begun in July, 1815, made its appearance in January, 1816. Mr. Murray having enclosed Lord Byron a thousand guineas for the copyright of this poem and of “Pa. risina,” he replied, – “Your offer is liberal in the extreme, and much more than the two poems can possibly be worth ; but I cannot accept it, nor will not. , You are most welcome to them as additions to the collected volumes; but I cannot consent to their separate publication. I do not like to risk any same (whether merited or not) which I have been favoured with upon compositions which I do not feel to be at all equal to my own notions of what they should be ; though they may do very well as things without pretension, to add to the publication with the lighter pieces. I have enclosed your draft torn, for fear of accidents by the way – I wish you would not throw temptation in mine. It is not from a disdain of the universal idol, nor from a present super o, of his treasures, I can assure you, that I refuse to worship him ; but what is right is right, and onust not yield to circumstances. I am very glad that the handwriting was a favourable omen of the morale of the piece; but you must not trust to that; for my copyist would write out any thing I desircd., in all the ignorance of innocence – I hope, however, in this instance, with no reat perit to either.” The copyist was Lady Byron. Lord yron gave Mr. Gifford carte-blanche to strike out or alter
• to what do the Reviewers mean by “elaborate 2". Lara I wrote while undressing, after coining home from balls and masquerades, in the year of revelry, 1814.”— I'yron Letters, 1822.]
tion, but stormed the place with so much fury, that they took it, and put most of the garrison, with Signior Minotti, the governor, to the sword. The rest, with Antonio Bembo, proveditor extraordinary, were made prisoners of war.”— History of the Turks, vol. iii. p. 151.
any thing at his plcasure in this poem, as it was passing through the press; and the reader will be amused with the tariae lectiones which had their origin in this extraordinar confidence. Mr. Gifford drew his pen, it will be seen, to: at least one of the most admired passages.] 2 Napoli di Romania is not now the most considerable place in the Morea, but Tripolitza, where the Pacha resides. and maintains his government. Napoli is near Argos. I visited all three in 1810–1] ; and, in the course of journeying through the country from my first arrival in 1809, I crossed the Isthmus eight times in my way from Attica to the Morea, over the mountains, or in the other direction, when passing from the Gulf of Athens to that of Lepanto. Both the routes are picturesque and beautiful. too, very different : that by sea has more sameness; but the voyage being always within sight of land, and often very near it, presents many attractive views of the islands Salamis, AEgina, Poro, &c. and the coast of the Continent. * [“With regard to the observations on carelessness, &c.," wrote Lord Byron to a friend, “I think, with all humility, that the gentle reader has considered a rather uncommon, and decidedly irregular, versification for haste and neghigence. The measure is not that of any of the other poems, which (I believe) were allowed to be tolerably correct, according to By she and the fingers – or ears—by which bards write, and readers reckon. Great part of the “Siege' is in (I think) what the learned call anapests, (though I am not sure, being heinously forgetful of my metres and my Gradus.) and many of the lines intentionally longer or shorter than its rhyming companion ; and the rhyme also occurring at greater or less intervals of caprice or convenience. I mean not to say that this is right or good, but mercly that I could have been smoother, had it appeared to me of advantage; and that I was not otherwise without being aware of the deviation, though I now feel sorry for it, as I would undoubtedly rather please than not. My wish has been to try at something different from my former efforts ; as I endeavoured to make them differ from each other. The versification of the Corsair' is not that of “Lara : ‘nor the Giaour that of the Bride: " " Childe Ilarold' is, again, varied from these ; and l strove to vary the last somewhat from all of the others. Excuse all this nonsense and egotism. The fact is, that I am rather trying to think on the subject of this note, than really thinking on it.”—Byron Letters, Feb. 1816.] * [On Christmas-day, 1815, Lord Byron, enclosing this fragment to Mr. Murray, says, –“ I send some lines, written some time ago, and intended as an opening to the “Siege of
We were a gallant company,
But some are dead, and some are gone,
But those hardy days flew cheerily,
Corinth.' I had forgotten them, and am not sure that they had not better be left out now ; – on that, you and your synod can determine.” – “ They are written,” says Moore, * in the loosest form of that rambling style of metre, which his admiration of Mr. Coleridge's ‘Christabel led him, at this time, to adopt.” It will be seen, hereafter, that the poet had never
read “Christabel ” at the time when he wrote these lines; — .
he had, however, the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.”. With regard to the character of the species of versification at this time so much in favour, it may be observed, that feeble imitations have since then vulgarised it a good deal to the general ear; but that, in the hands of Mr. Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, and Lord Byron himself, it has often been employed with the most happy effect. Its irregularity, when moulded under the guidance of a delicate taste, is more to the eye than to the ear, and in fact not greater than was admitted in some of the most delicious of the lyrical measures of the ancient Greeks.]
i o one of his sea excursions, Lord Byron was nearly lost in a Turkish ship of war, owing to the ignorance of the captain and crew. “Fletcher,” he says, “yelled ; the Greeks called on all the saints; the Mussulmans on Alla; while the captain burst into tears, and ran below deck. I did what I could to console Fletcher; but finding him incorrigible, I wrapped myself up in my Albanian capote, and lay down to wait the worst.” This striking instance of the poet's coolness and courage is thus confirmed by Mr. Hobhouse : —“Finding that, from his lameness, he was unable to be of any service in the exertions which our very serious danger called for, after a laugh or two at the panic of his valet, he not only wrapped himself up and lay down, in the manner he has described, but when our difficulties were terminated was found fast asleep.”]
Over the earth, and through the air,
I. Many a vanish'd year and age, And tempest's breath, and battle's rage, Have swept o'er Corinth ; yet she stands, A fortress form'd to Freedom's hands. 3 The whirlwind's wrath, the earthquake's shock, Have left untouch'd her hoary rock, The keystone of a land, which still, Though fall'n, looks proudly on that hill, The landmark to the double tide That purpling rolls on either side, As if their waters chafed to meet, Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet. But could the blood before her shed Since first Timoleon's brother bled, 4 Orbaffled Persia's despot fled, Arise from out the earth which drank The stream of slaughter as it sank, That sanguine ocean would o'erflow Her isthmus idly spread below: Or could the bones of all the slain, Who perish'd there, be piled again, That rival pyramid would rise More mountain-like, through those clear skies, Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis, Which seems the very clouds to kiss. 5
* [Timoleon, who had saved the life of his brother Timophanes in battle, afterwards killed him for aiming at the supreme power in Corinth, preferring his duty to his country to all the obligations of blood. Dr. Warton says, that Pope once intended to write an epic poem on the story, and that Dr. Akenside had the same design.]
* [The Giaour, the Bride of Abydos, the Corsair, Lara, the Siege of Corinth, followed each other with a celerity, which was only rivalled by their success ; and if at times the author seemed to pause in his poetic career, with the threat of forbearing further adventure for a time, the §: eagerly so the breach of a promise by keeping which they must
ave been sufferers. Exquisitely beautiful in themselves, these tales received a new charm from the romantic climes into which they introduced us, and from the oriental costume so *. preserved and so picturesquely exhibited. Greece, the cradle of the poetry with which our earliest studies are familiar, was presented to us among her ruins and her sorrows. Her delightful scenery, once dedicated to those deities who, though dethroned from their own Olympus, still preserve a poe. tical empire, was spread before usin Lord Byron's poetry, varied by all the moral effect derived from what Greece is and what she has been, while it was doubled by comparisons, perpetually excited, between the philosophers and heroes who formerly inhabited that romantic country, and their descendants, who either stoop to their Scythian conquerors, or maintain, among the recesses of their classical mountains, an independence as wild and savage as it is precarious. The oriental manners also and diction, so peculiar in their picturesque effect that they can cast a charm even over the absurdities of an eastern tale, had here the more honourable occupation of decorating that which in itself was beautiful, and enhancing . novelty what would have been captivating without its aid. The powerful impression produced by this peculiar species of poetry confirmed us in a principle, which, though it will hardly be challenged when stated as an axiom, is very rarely cont
licq with in practice. It is, that every author should, lii.e }. Byron, form to himself, and communicate to the reader, a precise, defined, and distinct view of the landscape, sentiment, or action which he intends to describe to the reader. – SiR Walter Scott.]
IL On dun Cithaeron's ridge appears The gleam of twice ten thousand spears; And downward to the Isthmian plain, From shore to shore of either main, The tent is pitch'd, the crescent shines Along the Moslem's leaguering lines; And the dusk Spahi's bands advance Beneath each bearded pacha's glance; And far and wide as eye can reach The turban'd cohorts throng the beach; And there the Arab's camel kneels, And there his steed the Tartar wheels; The Turcoman hath left his herd,” The sabre round his loins to gird; And there the volleying thunders pour, Till waves grow smoother to the roar. The trench is dug, the cannon's breath Wings the far hissing globe of death; Fast whirl the fragments from the wall, Which crumbles with the ponderous ball; And from that wall the foe replies, O'er dusty plain and smoky skies, With fires that answer fast and well The summons of the Infidel.
But near and nearest to the wall
IV. From Venice – once a race of worth His gentle sires — he drew his birth; But late an exile from her shore, Against his countrymen he bore The arms they taught to bear; and now The turban girt his shaven brow. Through many a change had Corinth pass'd With Greece to Venice' rule at last; And here, before her walls, with those To Greece and Venice equal foes,
! [Turkish holders of military fiefs, which oblige them to join the army, mounted at their own expense.]
* The life of the Turcomans is wandering and patriarchal: they dwell in tents.
> Ali Coumourgi, the favourite of three sultans, and Grand Vizier to Achmet III., after recovering Peloponnesus from the Venetians in one campaign, was mortally wounded in the next, against the Germans, at the battle of Peterwaradin (in
He stood a foe, with all the zeal
V. Coumourgis—he whose closing scene Adorn'd the triumph of Eugene, When on Carlowitz' bloody plain, The last and mightiest of the slain, He sank, regretting not to die, But cursed the Christian's victory — Coumourgi — can his glory cease, That latest conqueror of Greece, Till Christian hands to Greece restore The freedom Venice gave of yore ? A hundred years have roll'd away Since he refix'd the Moslem's sway, And now he led the Mussulman, And gave the guidance of the van To Alp, who well repaid the trust By cities levell'd with the dust; And proved, by many a deed of death, How firm his heart in novel faith.
WI. The walls grew weak; and fast and hot Against them pour'd the ceaseless shot, With unabating fury sent From battery to battlement; And thunder-like the pealing din Rose from each heated culverin: And here and there some crackling dome Was fired before the exploding bomb: And as the fabric sank beneath The shattering shell's volcanic breath, In red and wreathing columns flash'd The flame, as loud the ruin crash'd, Or into countless meteors driven, Its earth-stars melted into heaven; Whose clouds that day grew doubly dun, Impervious to the hidden sun, With volumed smoke that slowly grew To one wide sky of sulphurous hue.
The Moslem warriors sternly teach
VIII. And many deem'd her heart was won; For sought by numbers, given to none, Had young Francesca's hand remain'd Still by the church's bonds unchain'd : And when the Adriatic bore Lanciotto to the Paynim shore, Her wonted smiles were seen to fail, And pensive wax'd the maid and pale; More constant at confessional, More rare at masque and festival; Or seen at such, with downcast eyes, Which conquer'd hearts they ceased to prize: With listless look she seems to gaze; With humbler care her form arrays; Her voice less lively in the song; Her step, though light, less fleet among The pairs, on whom the Morning's glance Breaks, yet unsated with the dance.
IX. Sent by the state to guard the land, (which, wrested from the Moslem's hand, While Sobieski tamed his pride By Buda's wall and Danube's side, The chiefs of Venice wrung away From Patra to Euboea's bay,) Minotti held in Corinth's towers The Doge's delegated powers, While yet the pitying eye of Peace Smiled o'er her long forgotten Greece: And ere that faithless truce was broke Which freed her from the unchristian yoke. With him his gentle daughter came; Northere, since Menelaus' dame Forsook her lord and land, to prove What woes await on lawless love, Had fairer form adorn'd the shore Than she, the matchless stranger, bore.
The full of hope, misnamed “forlorn,”
XI. "T is midnight: on the mountains brown The cold, round moon shines deeply down; Blue roll the waters, blue the sky Spreads like an occan hung on high, Bespangled with those isles of light, So wildly, spiritually bright; Who ever gazed upon them shining And turn'd to earth without repining, Nor wish'd for wings to flee away, And mix with their eternal ray 7 The waves on either shore lay there Calm, clear, and azure as the air; And scarce their foam the pebbles shook, But murmur'd meekly as the brook. The winds were pillow'd on the waves; The banners droop'd along their staves, And, as they fell around them furling, Above them shone the crescent curling; And that deep silence was unbroke, Save where the watch his signal spoke, Save where the steed neigh’d oft and shrill, And echo answer'd from the hill, And the wide hum of that wild host Rustled like leaves from coast to coast, As rose the Muezzin's voice in air In midnight call to wonted prayer; It rose, that chanted mournful strain, Like some lone spirit's o'er the plain: 'Twas musical, but sadly sweet, Such as when winds and harp-strings meet, And take a long unmeasured tone, To mortal minstrelsy unknown. * It seem'd to those within the wall A cry prophetic of their fall: It struck even the besieger's ear - With something ominous and drear, An undefined and sudden thrill, Which makes the heart a moment still, Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed Of that strange sense its silence framed ; Such as a sudden passing-bell Wakes, though but for a stranger's knell. 3
XII. . The tent of Alp was on the shore; The sound was hush'd, the prayer was o'er; The watch was set, the night-round made, All mandates issued and obey'd : 'T is but another anxious night, His pains the morrow may requite With all revenge and love can pay, In guerdon for their long delay. Few hours remain, and he hath need Of rest, to nerve for many a deed Of slaughter: but within his soul The thoughts like troubled waters roll.
* [“Which rings a deep, internal knell, A visionary passing bell." — MS.]
He stood alone among the host;
XIII. His head grows fever'd, and his pulse The quick successive throbs convulse ; In vain from side to side he throws His form, in courtship of repose; * Or if he dozed, a sound, a start Awoke him with a sunken heart. The turban on his hot brow press'd, The mail weigh’d lead-like on his breast, Though oft and long beneath its weight Upon his eyes had slumber sate, Without or couch or canopy, Except a rougher field and sky Than now might yield a warrior's bed, Than now along the heaven was spread. He could not rest, he could not stay Within his tent to wait for day, But walk'd him forth along the sand, Where thousand sleepers strew'd the strand. What pillow'd them 2 and why should he More wakeful than the humblest be 2 Since more their peril, worse their toil, And yet they fearless dream of spoil ; While he alone, where thousands pass'd A night of sleep, perchance their last, In sickly vigil wander'd on, And cnvied all he gazed upon.
[" As lions o'er the jackal o
XIV. He felt his soul become more light Beneath the freshness of the night. Cool was the silent sky, though calm, And bathed his brow with airy balm : Behind, the camp — before him lay, In many a winding creek and bay, Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow, High and eternal, such as shone Through thousand summers brightly gone, Along the gulf, the mount, the clime; It will not melt, like man, to time: Tyrant and slave are swept away, Less form'd to wear before the ray; But that white veil, the lightest, frailest, Which on the mighty mount thou hailest, While tower and tree are torn and rent, Shines o'er its craggy battlement; In form a peak, in height a cloud, In texture like a hovering shroud, Thus high by parting Freedom spread, As from her fond abode she fled, And linger'd on the spot, where long Her prophet spirit spake in song. Oh still her step at moments falters O'er wither'd fields, and ruin’d altars, And fain would wake, in souls too broken, By pointing to each glorious token : But vain her voice, till better days Dawn in those yet remember'd rays, Which shone upon the Persian flying, And saw the Spartan smile in dying.
XV. Not mindless of these mighty times Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes; And through this night, as on he wander'd, And o'er the past and present ponder'd, And thought upon the glorious dead Who there in better cause had bled, He felt how faint and feebly dim The fame that could accrue to him, Who cheer'd the band, and waved the sword, A traitor in a turban'd horde; And led them to the lawless siege, Whose best success were sacrilege. Not so had those his fancy number'd, The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd ; Their phalanx marshall'd on the plain, Whose bulwarks were not then in vain. They fell devoted, but undying; The very gale their names seem'd sighing: The waters murmur'd of their name ; The woods were peopled with their fame; The silent pillar, lone and grey, Clainn'd kindred with their sacred clay; Their spirits wrapp'd the dusky mountain, Their memory sparkled o'er the fountain; The meanest rill, the mightiest river Roll'd mingling with their fame for ever. Despite of every joke she bears, That land is glory's still and theirs 3