صور الصفحة


Their sabres glitter'd o'er her little head,

Whence her fair hair rose twining with affright, Her hidden face was plunged amidst the dead :

When Juan caught a glimpse of this sad sight, I shall not say exactly what he said,

Because it might not solace “ears polite;"|
But what he did, was to lay on their backs,
The readiest way of reasoning with Cossacques.


One's hip he slash'd, and split the other's shoulder,

And drove them with their brutal yells to seek, If there might be chirurgeons who could solder

The wounds they richly merited 2, and shriek Their baffled rage and pain; while waxing colder

As he turn'd o'er each pale and gory cheek,
Don Juan raised his little captive from
The heap a moment more had made her tomb.

XCV. And she was chill as they, and on her face A slender streak of blood announced how near Her fate had been to that of all her race; For the same blow which laid her mother here Had scarr'd her brow, and left its crimson trace, As the last link with all she had held dear; * But else unhurt, she open'd her large eyes, And gazed on Juan with a wild surprise. XCVI. Just at this instant, while their eyes were fix'd Upon each other, with dilated glance, In Juan's look, pain, pleasure, hope, fear, mix'd With joy to save, and dread of some mischance Unto his protégée ; while hers, transfix’d With infant terrors, glared as from a trance, A pure, transparent, pale, yet radiant face, Like to a lighted alabaster vase ;XCVII. Up came John Johnson (I will not say “Jack," For that were vulgar, cold, and common-place On great occasions, such as an attack On cities, as hath been the present case): Up Johnson came, with hundreds at his back, Exclaiming : — “Juan 1 Juan . On, boy! brace Your arm, and I'll bet Moscow to a dollar, That you and I will win St. George's collar. * XCVIII. “The Seraskier is knock'd upon the head, But the stone bastion still remains, wherein The old Pacha sits among some hundreds dead, Smoking his pipe quite calmly midst the din Of our artillery and his own : 'tis said Our kill'd, already piled up to the chin, Lie round the battery ; but still it batters, And grape in volleys, like a vineyard, scatters. XCIX. “Then up with me !”— But Juan answer'd, “Look Upon this child – I saved her — must not leave Her life to chance ; but point me out some nook Of safety, where she less may shrink and grieve,

1 [" But never mention hell to ears polite.” – Pope.)

* (“Ce spectacle m'attira bientôt, et je n'hesitai nas, comme on peut le croire, a prentire entre mes bras cette infortunée, que les barbares voulaient y poursuivre encoro. J'eus bien de la peine à me retenir et à ne pas percer ces miserables du sabre que je tenais suspendu sur leur tete : —je me contental cependant de les cloigner, non sans leur prodiguer les coups et les injures qu'ils meritaient. . . .” – Richelieu.]

And I am with you." —Whereon Johnson took
A glance around — and shrugg’d—and twitch'd his
And black silk neckloth—and replied, “You're right;
Poor thing : what's to be done 7 I'm puzzled quite."
Said Juan – “Whatsoever is to be
Done, I'll not quit her till she seems secure
Of present life a good deal more than we." —
Quoth Johnson – “Neither will I quite ensure;
But at the least you may die gloriously."—
Juan replied – “At least I will endure
Whate'er is to be borne — but not resign
This child, who is parentless, and therefore mine."
Johnson said – “Juan, we've no time to lose ;
The child's a pretty child—a very pretty—
I never saw such eyes – but hark 1 now choose
Between your fame and feelings, pride and pity; —
Hark! how the roar encreases : — no excuse
Will serve when there is plunder in a city; —
I should be loath to march without you, but,
By God I we'll be too late for the first cut."
But Juan was immoveable; until
Johnson, who really loved him in his way,
Pick'd out amongst his followers with some skill
Such as he thought the least given up to prey ;
And swearing if the infant came to ill
That they should all be shot on the next day;
But if she were deliver'd safe and sound,
They should at least have fifty rubles round,
And all allowances besides of plunder
In fair proportion with their comrades; — then
Juan consented to march on through thunder,
Which thinn'd at every step their ranks of men :
And yet the rest rush'd eagerly — no wonder,
For they were heated by the hope of gain,
A thing which happens every where each day –
No hero trusteth wholly to half pay.
And such is victory, and such is man
At least nine tenths of what we call so ; – God
May have another name for half we scan
As human beings, or his ways are odd.
But to our subject : a brave Tartar khan —
Or “sultan,” as the author (to whose nod
In prose I bend my humble verse) doth call
This chieftain — somehow would not yield at all:


But flank'd by fire brave sons (such is polygamy,

That she spawns warriors by the score, where none Are prosecuted for that false crime bigamy),

He never would believe the city won While courage clung but to a single twig. — Am I

Describing Priam's, Peleus', or Jove's son 7 Neither — but a good, plain, old, temperate man, Who fought with his five children in the van. P

* [“... J'eus le plaisir d'appercevoir que ma petite prisonnière n'avait d'autre mal qu'une coupure legere que lui avait faite au visage le incine fer qui avait perce sa Intre."— Richelieu.]

* A Russian military order.

* [“. Lesultan perit dans l'action en brave homme, digne d'un meilleur destin ; ce fut lui qui rallia les Turcs lorslue l'ennemi penetra dans le place: ce sultan, d'une valeur éprouvée, surpassait en génerosité les plus civilisés de sa

- Y y 3

[ocr errors]

CVI. To take him was the point.—The truly brave, When they behold the brave oppress'd with odds, Are touch'd with a desire to shield and save; – A mixture of wild beasts and demi-gods Are they — now furious as the sweeping wave, Now moved with pity : even as sometimes nods The rugged tree unto the summer wind, Compassion breathes along the savage mind. CWII. But he would not be taken, and replied To all the propositions of surrender By mowing Christians down on every side, As obstimate as Swedish Charles at Bender. 1 His five brave boys no less the foe defied; Whereon the Russian pathos grew less tender, As being a virtue, like terrestrial patience, Apt to wear out on trifling provocations.


And spite of Johnson and of Juan, who

Expended all their Eastern phraseology
In begging him, for God's sake, just to show

So much less fight as might form an apology
For them in saving such a desperate foe —

He hew'd away, like doctors of theology When they dispute with sceptics; and with curses Struck at his friends, as babies beat their nurses.


Nay, he had wounded, though but slightly, both

Juan and Johnson ; whereupon they fell, The first with sighs, the second with an oath,

Upon his angry sultanship, pell-mell,
And all around were grown exceeding wroth

At such a pertinacious infidel,
And pour'd upon him and his sons like rain,
Which they resisted like a sandy plain


That drinks and still is dry. At last they perish’d—

His second son was levell'd by a shot ;
His third was sabred; and the fourth, most cherish'd

Of all the five, on bayonets met his lot ;
The fifth, who, by a Christian mother nourish'd,

Had been neglected, ill-used, and what not,
Because deform'd, yet dicd all game and bottom,
To save a sire who blush'd that he begot him.


The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar,

As great a scorner of the Nazarene
As ever Mahomet pick'd out for a martyr,

Who only saw the black-eyed girls in green,
Who make the beds of those who won't take quarter

On earth, in Paradise ; and when once seen,
Those houris, like all other pretty creatures,
Do just whate'er they please, by dint of features.

CXII. And what they pleased to do with the young khan In heaven I know not, nor pretend to guess ; But doubtless they prefer a fine young man To tough old heroes, and can do no less;

nation : cinq de ses fils combattaient à ses cétés, il les engo" par son exemple.” – Hist. de la N. R. tom. iii. p. 215. 1 [“. At Bender, after the fatal battle of Pultawa, Charles gave a proof of that unreasonable obstinacy, which occasioned all his misfortunes in Turkey. When advised to write to the grand vizier, according to the custom of the Turks, he said it was beneath his dignity. The same obstinacy placed him ne

[blocks in formation]

And that's the cause no doubt why, if we scan
A field of battle's ghastly wilderness,
For one rough, weather-beaten, veteran body,
You'll find ten thousand handsome coxcombs bloody.
Your houris also have a natural pleasure
In lopping off your lately married men,
Before the bridal hours have danced their measure,
And the sad, second moon grows dim again,
Or dull repentance hath had dreary leisure
To wish him back a bachelor now and then.
And thus your houri (it may be) disputes
Of these brief blossoms the immediate fruits.


Thus the young khan, with houris in his sight,

Thought not upon the charms of four young brides, But bravely rush'd on his first heavenly night.

In short, howe'er our better faith derides, These black-eyed virgins make the Moslems fight,

As though there were one heaven and none be

sides, –

Whereas, if all be true we hear of heaven
And hell, there must at least be six or seven.


So fully flash'd the phantom on his eyes,

That when the very lance was in his heart, He shouted “Allah : " and saw Paradise

With all its veil of mystery drawn apart, And bright eternity without disguise

On his soul, like a ceaseless sunrise, dart:With prophets, houris, angels, saints, descried In one voluptuous blaze, – and then he died:


But with a heavenly rapture on his face,

The good old khan, who long had ceased to see Houris, or aught except his florid race

Who grew like cedars round him gloriously— When he beheld his latest hero grace

The earth, which he became like a fell'd tree, Paused for a moment from the fight, and cast A glance on that slain son, his first and last.


The soldiers, who beheld him drop his point,

Stopp'd as if once more willing to concede Quarter, in case he bade them not “aroynt . "

As he before had done. He did not heed Their pause nor signs: his heart was out of joint,

And shook (till now unshaken) like a reed, As he look'd down upon his children gone, And felt—though done with life—he was alone. 2


But 'twas a transient tremor: — with a spring

Upon the Russian steel his breast he flung, As carelessly as hurls the moth her wing

Against the light wherein she dies: he clung Closer, that all the deadlier they might wring,

Unto the bayonets which had pierced his young; And throwing back a dim look on his sons, In one wide wound pour'd forth his soul at once.

cessarily at variance with all the ministers of the Porte.” – Voltai Re.]

2 [“Ces cinq fils furent tous tués sous ces yeux : il ne cessa point de se battre, répondit par des coups de sabre aux propositions de se rendre, et ne fut atteint du coup mortel qu'après avoir abattu de sa main beaucoup de Kozaks ties plus acharnés à sa prise; le reste de sa troupe fut massacre.” – Hist. de la N.R. p. 215.]

CXIX. 'T is strange enough—the rough, tough soldiers, who

Spared neither sex nor age in their career Of carnage, when this old man was pierced through,

And lay before them with his children near, Touch'd by the heroism of him they slew,

Were melted for a moment: though no tear Flow'd from their bloodshot eyes, all red with strife, They honour'd such determined scorn of life.


But the stone bastion still kept up its fire,

Where the chief pacha calmly held his post: Some twenty times he made the Russ retire,

And baffled the assaults of all their host:
At length he condescended to inquire

If yet the city's rest were won or lost;
And being told the latter, sent a bey
To answer Ribas' summons to give way. 1


In the mean time, cross-legg'd, with great sang-froid,

Among the scorching ruins he sat smoking Tobacco on a little carpet; —Troy

Saw nothing like the scene around; — yet looking With martial stoicism, nought seem'd to annoy

His stern philosophy; but gently stroking His beard, he puff'd his pipe's ambrosial gales, As if he had three lives, as well as tails. *


The town was taken–whether he might yield

Himself or bastion, little matter'd now : His stubborn valour was no future shield.

Ismail's no more : The crescent's silver bow Sunk, and the crimson cross glared o'er the field,

But red with no redeeming gore : the glow Of burning streets, like moonlight on the water, Was imaged back in blood, the sea of slaughter.


All that the mind would shrink from of excesses;

All that the body perpetrates of bad; All that we read, hear, dream, of man's distresses;

All that the devil would do if run stark mad; All that defies the worst which pen expresses;

All by which hell is peopled, or as sad As hell — mere mortals who their power abuse — Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose. *

1 [" Quoigue les Russes fussent répandus dans la ville, le bastion de pierre résistait encore : il etait défendu par un vieillard, pacha à trois queues, et commandant les forces réunies a Ismael. On lui proposa une capitulation : il demanda si le reste de la ville était conquis ; sur cette réponse, il autorisa quelques-uns de ces officiers à capituler avec M. de Ribas." — Hist. de la N. R. p. 215.]

* [“Pendant ce colloque, il resta étendu sur des tapis placés sur les ruines de la forteresse, fumant sa pipe avec la meme tranquillité et la meme indifference ques'il eut €té &tranger à tout ce qui se passait.”— Ibid. p. 215.]

* [No man could describe the horrors which ensued. The ferocious victors, instead of being struck with admiration or respect by the noble defence of the brave garrison, were so enraged at the great slaughter of their fellows which had taken place, that no bounds could be prescribed to the excess of their fury. All order and command seem to have been entirely at an end during the horrors of that terrible night: the officers could neither restrain the slaughter, nor prevent the general plunder, made by the lawless and ferocious soldiers. Thousands of the Turks, incapable of enduring the sight of the horrid scenes of destruction in which all that was dear to them was involved, rushed desperately upon the bayonets of the enemy, in order to shorten their misery;


If here and there some transient trait of pity

Was shown, and some more nobleheartbroke through Its bloody bond, and saved, perhaps, some pretty

Child, or an aged, helpless man or two — What's this in one annihilated city,

Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties grew 2 Cockneys of London 1 Muscadins of Paris : Just ponder what a pious pastime war is.


Think how the joys of reading a Gazette

Are purchased by all agonies and crimes: Or if these do not move you, don't forget

Such doom may be your own in after-times. Meantime the Taxes, Castlereagh, and Debt,

Are hints as good as sermons, or as rhymes. Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story, Then feed her famine fat with Wellesley's glory.

CXXVI. But still there is unto a patriot nation, Which loves so well its country and its king, A subject of sublimest exultation — Bear it, ye Muses, on your brightest wing iIowe'er the mighty locust, Desolation, Strip your green fields, and to your harvests cling, Gaunt famine never shall approach the throne— Though Ireland starve, great George weighs twenty Stone.


But let me put an end unto my theme:

There was an end of Ismail—hapless town : Far flash'd her burning towers o'er Danube's stream,

And redly ran his blushing waters down. The horrid war-whoop and the shriller scream

Rose still ; but fainter were the thunders grown: Of forty thousand who had mann'd the wall, Some hundreds breathed—the rest were silent all ! 4


In one thing ne'ertheless 'tis fit to praise

The Russian army upon this occasion, A virtue much in fashion now-a-days,

And therefore worthy of commemoration: The topic's tender, so shall be my phrase—

Perhaps the season's chill, and their long station In winter's depth, or want of rest and victual, Had made them chaste; — they ravish'd very little.

while those who could reach the Danube threw themselves headlong into it for the same purpose. The streets and passages were so choked by the heaps of dead and dying bodies which lay in them, as considerally to impede the progress of the victors in their eager search for plunder. — Da. LauRENce, in Ann Reg. for 1791.]

* [“On 6 gorgea indistincterment, on saccagea la place; et la rage du vainqueur se repandit comme un torrent furieux qui a renverse les digues qui le retenaient: personne obtint de j." et trente hunt mille huit cent soisante Turcs perirent iii ins o journée de sang.”— Hist. de la Nouv. Russie, tom.

... p. 214.

“Among those who fell were a number of the bravest, most experienced, and renowned commanders in the Turkish armies. Six or seven Tartar princes, of the illustrious line of Gherai, likewise perished with the rest. A few hundreds of prisoners were preserved, to serve as melancholy recorders and witnesses of the destruction which they had beheld. In consequence of an accurate inquiry set on foot by an Ottoman commander of rank, it appears that the whole number of Turks, who perished in the slaughter of Ismail, amounted to thirty-eight thousand eight hundred and sixteen.”—DR. Lau RENCE.)


Much did they slay, more plunder, and no less

Might here and there occur some violation In the other line; — but not to such excess

As when the French, that dissipated nation, Take towns by storm : no causes can I guess,

Except cold weather and commiseration; But all the ladies, save some twenty score, Were almost as much virgins as before.


Some odd mistakes, too, happen'd in the dark,

Which show’d a want of lanterns, or of taste— Indeed the smoke was such they scarce could mark

Their friends from foes, – besides such things from Occur, though rarely, when there is a spark (haste

Of light to save the venerably chaste: But six old damsels, each of seventy years, Were all deflower'd by different grenadiers.


But on the whole their continence was great;

So that some disappointment there ensued To those who had felt the inconvenient state

Of “single blessedness,” and thought it good (Since it was not their fault, but only fate,

To bear these crosses) for each waning prude To make a Roman sort of Sabine wedding, Without the expense and the suspense of bedding.

CXXXII. Some voices of the buxom middle-aged Were also heard to wonder in the din (Widows of forty were these birds long caged) “Wherefore the ravishing did not begin . " But while the thirst for gore and plunder raged, There was small leisure for superfluous sin; But whether they escaped or no, lies hid In darkness—I can only hope they did. CXXXIII. Suwarrow now was conqueror—a match For Timour or for Zinghis in his trade. [thatch While mosques and streets, beneath his eyes, like Blazed, and the cannon's roar was scarce allay'd, With bloody hands he wrote his first despatch; And here exactly follows what he said: — “Glory to God and to the Empress : " (Powers Eternal / such names mingled !) “Ismail's ours.” " CXXXIV. Methinks these are the most tremendous words, Since “Mené, Memè, Tekel,” and “Upharsin,” Which hands or pens have ever traced of swords. Heaven help me ! I'm but little of a parson : What Daniel read was short-hand of the Lord's, Severe, sublime; the prophet wrote no farce on The fate of nations; — but this Russ so witty Could rhyme, like Nero, o'er a burning city. *

[ocr errors]

2 [Mr. Tweddell, who met with Suwarrow in the Ukraine, says – “He is a most extraordinary character. He dines every morning about nine. He sleeps almost naked ; he affects a perfect indifference to heat and cold; and quits his chamber, which approaches to suffocation, in order to review his troops, in a thin linen jacket, while the therinometer of Reaumur is at ten degrees below freezing. His manners correspond with his humours. I dined with him this morning. Ile cried to me across the table. — ‘Tweddell ' ' (he generally addressed me by my surname, without addition) * the French have taken Portsmouth — I have just received a

[ocr errors]


He wrote this Polar melody, and set it,

Duly accompanied by shrieks and groans,
Which few will sing, I trust, but none forget it—

For I will teach, if possible, the stones
To rise against earth's tyrants. Never let it

Be said that we still truckle unto thrones; —
But ye—our children's children I think how we
Show’d what things were before the world was free :


That hour is not for us, but 'tis for you:

And as, in the great joy of your millennium, You hardly will believe such things were true

As now occur, I thought that I would pen you "em; But may their very memory perish too !—

Yet if perchance remember'd, still disdain you 'em More than you scorn the savages of yore, Who painted their bare limbs, but not with gore.


And when you hear historians talk of thrones,

And those that sate upon them, let it be As we now gaze upon the mammoth's bones,

And wonder what old world such things could sce, Or hieroglyphics on Egyptian stones,

The pleasant riddles of futurity— Guessing at what shall happily be hid, As the real purpose of a pyramid.


Reader . I have kept my word, –at least so far

As the first Canto promised. You have now Had sketches of love, tempest, travel, war —

All very accurate, you must allow,
And epic, if plain truth should prove no bar;

For I have drawn much less with a long bow
Than my forerunners. Carelessly I sing,
But Phoebus lends me now and then a string,


With which I still can harp, and carp, and fiddle.

What farther hath befallen or may befall
The hero of this grand poetic riddle,

I by and by may tell you, if at all:
But now I choose to break off in the middle,

Worn out with battering Ismail's stubborn wall,
While Juan is sent off with the despatch,
For which all Petersburgh is on the watch. 5


This special honour was conferr'd, because

He had behaved with courage and humanity — Which last men like, when they have time to pause

From their ferocities produced by vanity. His little captive gain'd him some applause

For saving her amidst the wild insanity Of carnage, –and I think he was more glad in her Safety, than his new order of St. Vladimir.

courier from England. The King is in the Tower; and Sheridan, Protector.” A great deal of his whimsical manner is affected: he finds that it suits his troops, and the people he has to deal with. I asked him, if, after the massacre at Ismail, he was perfectly satisfied with the conduct of the day. He said he went home and wept in his tent.”— Remains, Fi 135.]

3 [“ The ostentatious and fantastic display of the bloody trophies taken at Ismail, which were some time after exhibited at Petersburgh, was unworthy the greatness, the masnanimity, and the high character of the Empress Catherine. The tragedy should have closed at the conclusion of the last act on the spot. It was attributed more to a desire of gratifying the excessive vanity of Prince Potemkin, which was not easily satiated, than that of the empress herself.” – DR. LAURENce.]

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

(See ante, p. 22.]

a scanto v1., vii., and VIII., if we except some parts of the assault of Ismail, contain a considerably less proportion of the higher class of poetry, than was to be found in those which preceded them. But in the keen and o satire, the bitter and biting irony, which constitute the peculiar forte of Lord Byron, we perceive no falling off in these present cantos. Nor are they deficient in that vein of playful humour, and that felicitous transition " from grave to gay, from lively to severe,” so conspicuous, in their predecessors. The execution, on the whole, we think quite equal to that displayed in the earlier parts of the poem. — Campbell.]

a scantos IX., X., and XI, were written at Pisa, and

ublished in London, by Mr. John Hunt, in August, 1823. W. extract the following specimen of contemporary criti

1 :

cion That there is a great deal of what is objectionable in these three cantos, who can deny 2 What can be more so than to attack the King, with low, vile, personal buffooneries— bottomed in utter falsehood, and expressed in crawling malice 2 What can be more exquisitely worthy of contempt than the savage imbecility of these eternal tirades against the duke of Wellington? What more pitiable than the state of mind that can find any gratification in calling such a man as southey by nicknames that one would be ashamed of applying to a coal-heaver ? What can be so abject as this eternal trampling upon the dust of Castlereagh P. Lord Byron ought to know that all men, of all parties, unite in regarding all these things, but especially the first and the last, as insults to themselves, and as most miserable degradations of him.

“But still Don Juan is, without exception, the first of Lord Byron's works. It is by far the most original in point of conception. It is decidedly original in point of tone. It contains the finest specimens of serious poetry he has ever written: and it contains the finest specimens of ludicrous poetry that our age has witnessed. Frere may have written the stanza earlier; he may have written it more caroully, more musically, if you will; but what is he to Byron * Where is the sweep, the pith, the soaring pinion, the lavish luxury of genius revelling in strength. No : no : Don Juan, say the

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

* [The late Lord Kinnaird was received in Paris, in 1814, with great civility by the Duke of Wellington and the royal family of France, but he had himself presented to Buonaparte during the hundred days, and intrigued on with those of that faction, in spite of the Duke's remonstrances, until the rerestored government ordered him out of the French territory in 1816. In 1817, he became acquainted at Brussels with one Marinet, an adventurer mixed up in a conspiracy to assassinate the Duke in the streets of Paris. This fellow at first promised to discover the man who actually shot at his Grace, but, on reaching Paris, shuffled and would say nothing; and Lord Kinnaird's arowed cause of complaint against the Duke was, that he did not protect this creature from the French police, who, not doubting that he had been one of the conspirators against his Grace's life, arrested him accordingly. He was tried along with the actual assassin, and both were acquitted by the Parisian jury.]

7 [“. Thou art the best o' the cut-throats.” – Macbeth, actiii. sc. iii.)

* Wide Speeches in Parliament, after the battle of waterloo.

* “I at this time got a post, being for fatigue, with four others. We were sent to break biscuit, and make a mess for Lord Wellington's hounds. I was very hungry, and thought it a good job at the time, as we got our own till while we broke the biscuit, — a thing I had not got for some days. When thus engaged, the Prodigal Son was never once out of my mind; and 1 signed, as I fool the dogs, over my humble situation and my ruined hopes." —Journal of a solater of the 71st Itegiment during the War in Spain.

« السابقةمتابعة »