« السابقةمتابعة »
known long, and accompanied far, whom I have found wakeful over my sickness and kind in my sorrow, glad in my prosperity and firm in my ad. versity, true in counsel and trusty in peril — to a friend often tried and never found wanting; - to yourself.
In so doing, I recur from fiction to truth; and in dedicating to you in its complete, or at last concluded state, a poetical work which is the lon. gest, the most thoughtful and comprehensive of my compositions, I wish to do honour to myself by the record of many years' intimacy with a man of learning, of talent, of steadiness, and of ho. nour. It is not for minds like ours to give or to receive flattery; yet the praises of sincerity have ever been permitted to the voice of friendship; and it is not for you, nor even for others, but to relieve a heart which has not elsewhere, or lately, been so much accustomed to the encounter of good. will as to withstand the shock firmly, that I thus attempt to commemorate your good qualities, or rather the advantages which I have derived from their exertion. Even the recurrence of the date of this letter, the anniversary of the most unfor. tunate day of my past existence, but which cannot poison my future while I retain the resource of your friendship, and of my own faculties, will henceforth have a more agreeable recollection for both, inasmuch as it will remind us of this my attempt to thank you for an indefatigable re. gard, such as few men have experienced, and no one could experience without thinking better of his species and of himself.
It has been our fortune to traverse together, at various periods, the countries of chivalry, history, and fable - Spain, Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy; and what Athens and Constantinople were to us a few years ago, l'enice and Rome have been more recently. The poem also, or the pilgrim, or both, have accompanied nie from first to last; and perhaps it may be a pardonable vanity which induces me to reflect with complacency on a composition which in some degree connects me with the spot where it was produced, and the objects it would fain describe; and however unworthy it may be deemed of those magical and memorable abodes, however short it may fall of our distant conceptions and immediate impressions, yet as a mark of respect for what is venerable, and of feeling for what is glorious, it has been to me a source of pleasure in the production, and I part with it with a kind of regret, which I hardly suspected that events could have left me for imaginary objects.
With regard to the conduct of the last canto, there will be found less of the pilgrim than in any of the preceding, and that little slightly, if at all, separated from the author speaking in his own person. The fact is, that I had become weary of drawing a line which every one seenied determined not to perceive: like the Chinese in Goldsmith's a Citizen of the World, » whom nobody would believe to be a Chinese, it was in vain that I asserted, and imagined that I had drawn, a di. stinction between the author and the pilgrim; and the very anxiety to preserve this difference, and disappointment at finding it unavailing, so far crushed my efforts in the composition, that I de. termined to abandon it altogether - and have done 80. The opinions which have been, or may be, formed on that subject, are now a matter of in. difference; the work is to depend on itself, and not on the writer; and the author, who has no resources in his own mind beyond the reputation, transient or permanent, which is to arise from his literary efforts, deserves the fate of authors.
In the course of the following canto it was my intention, either in the text or in the notes, to have touched upon the present state of Italian li. terature, and perhaps of manners. But the text, within the limits I proposed, I soon found hardly sufficient for the labyrinth of external objects and the consequent reflections; and for the whole of the notes, excepting a few of the shortest, I am indebted to yourself, and these were necessarily limited to the elucidation of the text.
It is also a delicate, and no very grateful task, to dissert upon the literature and manners of a nation so dissimilar; and requires an attention and impartiality which would induce us, - though perhaps inattentive observers, nor ignorant of the language or customs of the people amongst whom we have recently abode, - to distrust, or at least defer our jugdment, and more narrowly examine our information. The state of literary, as well as political party, appears to run, or to have run, so high, that for a stranger to steer impartially between them is next to impossible. It may be enough then, at least for my purpose, to quote from their own beautiful language — “Mi pare che
labourers' chorus, «Roma! Roma! Roma! Roma non è più conie era prima,» it was difficult not to contrast this melancholy dirge with the bacchanal roar of the songs of exultation still yelled from the London taverns, over the carnage of Mont St. Jean, and the betrayal of Genoa, of Italy, of France, and of the world, by men whose conduct you yourself have exposed in a work worthy of the better days of our history. For me,
« Non movero mai corda
Ove la turba di sue ciance assorda. » What Italy has gained by the late transfer of nations, it were useless for Englishmen to inquire, till it becomes ascertained that England has ac. quired something more than a permanent army and a suspended Habeas Corpus; it is enough for them to look at home. For what they have done abroad, and especially in the South, “Verily they will have their reward,» and at no very distan period.
Wishing you, my dear Hobhouse, a safe and agreeable return to that country whose real welfare can be dearer to none than to yourself, I dedicate to you this poeni in its completed state; and repeat once more how truly I am ever
And affectionate friend.