« AnteriorContinuar »
To aid thy mind's development,—to watch
Yet this was in my nature :-as it is,
Yet, though dull hate as duty should be taught,
And an attainment,--all would be in vain,
The child of love,—though born in bitterness,
Of thy sire
Fain would I waft such blessing upon thee,
NOTES TO CANTO III.
Note 1. Stanza xviii.
In “pride of place” here last the eagle flew. “ Pride of place" is a term of falconry, and means the highest pitch of flight See Macbeth, &c.
An eagle towering in his pride of place,
Note 2. Stanza xx.
Such as Harmodius drew on Athens' tyrant lord. See the famous song on Harmodius and Aristogiton.— The best English translation is in Bland's Anthology, by Mr. Denman :
“ With myrtle my sword will I wreathe," &c.
Note 3. Stanza xxi.
And all went merry as a marriage-bell. On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball was given at Brussels.
Notes 4 and 5. Stanza xxyi.
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears. Sir Evan Cameron and his descendant Donald, the “gentle Locbiel" of the “ forty-five.”
Note 6. Stanza xxvii.
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves. The wood of Soignies is supposed to be a remnant of the “ forest of Ardennes," famous in Boiardo's Orlanuo, and immortal in Shakspeare's “ As you like it.” It is also celebrated in Tacitus as being the spot of successful defence by the Germans against the Roman encroachments.- I have ventured to adopt the name connected with nobler associations than those of mere slaughter.
Note 7. Stanza xxx.
I turu'd from all she brought to those she could not bring. My guide from Mont St. Jean over the field seemed intelligent and accurate. The place where Major Howard fell was not far from two tall and solitary trees (there was a third cut down, or shivered in the battle) which stand a few yards from each other at a pathway's side.--Beneath these he died and was buried. The body has since been removed to England. A small hollow for the present marks where it lay, but will probably soon be effaced; the plough has been upon it, and the grain is.
After pointing out the different spots where Picton and other gallant men had perished, the guide said, “ Here Major Howard lay; I was near him when wounded.” I told him my relationship, and he seemed then still more anxious to point out the particular spot and circumstances. The place is one of the most marked in the field, from the peculiarity of the two trees above-mentioned.
I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my recollection of similar scenes.
As a plain, Waterloo seems marked out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere imagination : I have viewed with attention those Platæa, Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Chæronea, and Marathon ; and the field around Mont St. Jean and Hougoumont appears to want little but a better cause, and that indefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except perhaps the last mentioned.
Note 8. Stanza xxxiv.
Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore. The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltes were said to be fair without, and within asbes.--Vide Tacitus, Histor. I. v.7.
Note 9. Stanza xli.
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den. The great error of Napoleon, “ if we have writ our annals true,' was a continued obtrusion on mankind of bis want of all community of feeling for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more trembling and suspicious tyranny.
Such were his speeches to public assemblies as well as individuals : and the single expression which he is said to have used on returning to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing his hands over a fire, “ This is pleasanter than Moscow,” would probably alienate more favour from his cause than the destruction and reverses which led to the remark.
Note 10. Stanza xlviii.
* What wants that knave
That a king should have? was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and his followers in full accoutrements.-See the Ballad.
Note 11. Song, Stanza li.
The castled crag of Drachenfels. The castle of Drachenfels stands on the highest summit of “ the Seven Mountains," over the Rhine banks ; it is in ruins, and connected with some singular tra
it is the first in view on the road from Bonn, but on the opposite side of the river ; on this bank, nearly facing it, are the remains of another called the Jew's Castle, and a large cross commemorative of the murder of a chief by his brother. The number of castles and cities along the course of the Rhine on both sides is very great, and their situations remarkably beautiful.
Note 12. Stanza lvii.
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept. The monument of the young and lamented General Marceau (killed by a rifleball at Alterkirchen, on the last day of the fourth year of the French republic) still remains as described.
The inscriptions on his monument are rather too long, and not required : his name was enough ; France adored, and her enemies admired : both wept over him.-His funeral was attended by the generals and detachments from both armies. In the same grave General Hoche is interred, a gallant man also in every sense of the word ; but though he distinguished himself greatly in battle, he had not the good fortune to die there; his death was attended by suspicions of poison.
A separate monument (not over his body, which is buried by Marceau's) is raised for him near Andernach, opposite to which one of his most memorable exploits was performed, in throwing a bridge to an island on the Rhine. The shape and style are different from that of Marceau's, and the inscription more simple and pleasing :
“The Army of the Sambre and Meuse
HOCHE." This is all, and as it should be. Hoche was esteemed among the first of France's earlier generals before Buonaparte monopolized her triumphs. He was the destined commander of the invading army of Ireland.
Note 13. Stanza lviii.
Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shatter'd wall. Ehrenbreitstein, i. e. the broad Stone of Honour," one of the strongest
fortresses in Europe, was dismantled and blown up by the French at the truce of Leoben. It had been and could only be reduced by famine or treachery. It yielded to the former, aided by surprise. After having seen the fortifications of Gibraltar and Malta, it did not much strike by comparison, but the situation is commanding. General Marceau besieged it in vain for some time; and I slept in a room where I was shown a window at which he is said to have been standing, observing the progress of the siege by moonlight, when a ball struck immediately below it.
Note 14. Stanza lxii. Unsepulchred they roam'd, and shriek'd each wandering ghost. The chapel is destroyed, and the pyramid of bones diminished to a small number by the Burgundian legion in the service of France, who anxiously effaced this record of their ancestors' less successful invasions. A few still remain, notwithstanding the pains taken by the Burgundians for ages (all who passed that way removing a bone to their own country), and the less justifiable larcenies of the Swiss postilions, who carried them off to sell for knife-handles, a purpose for which the whiteness imbibed by the bleaching of years had rendered them in great request. Of these relics I ventured to bring away as much as may have made the quarter of a hero, for which the sole excuse is, that if I had not, the next passer-by might have perverted them to worse uses than the careful preservation which I intend for them.
Note 15. Stanza lxv.
Leveli'd Aventicum, hath strew'd her subject lands. Aventicum (near Morat) was the Roman capital of Helvetia, where Avenches now stands.
Note 16. Stanza lxvi.
And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust. Julia Alpinula, a young Aventian priestess, died soon after a vain endeavour to save her father, condemned to death as a traitor by Aulus Cæcina. Her epitaph was discovered many years ago ;-it is thus
Deæ Aventiæ sacerdos.
Vixi Annos XXIII.
I know of no human composition so affecting as this, nor a history of deeper interest. These are the names and actions which ought not to perish, and to which we turn with a true and healthy tenderness, from the wretched and glittering detail of a confused mass of conquests and battles, with which the mind is roused for a time to a false and feverish sympathy, from whence it recurs at length with all the nausea consequent on such intoxication.
Note 17. Stanza lxvii.
In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow. This is written in the eye of Mont Blanc (June 3d, 1816), which even at this distance dazzles mine.
(July 20th.) I this day observed for some time the distinct reflection of Mont Blanc and Mont Argentière in the calm of the lake, which I was crossing in my boat ; the distance of these mountains from their mirror is sixty miles,
Note 18. Stanza lxxi.
By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone. The colour of the Rhone at Geneva is blue, to a depth of tint which I have never seen equalled in water, salt or fresh, except in the Mediterranean and Archipelago.
Note 19. Stanza lxxix.
Than vulgar ininds may be with all they seek possest. This refers to the account in his “ Confessions," of his passion for the Comtesse d'Houdetot (the mistress of St. Lambert), and his long walk every morning for the
sake of the single kiss which was the common salutation of French acquaintance.Rousseau's description of his feelings on this occasion may be considered as the most passionate, yet not impure description and expression of love, that ever kindled into words; which after all must be felt, from their very force, to be inadequate to the delineation : a painting can give no sufficient idea of the ocean.
Note 20. Stanza xci.
Of earth o'ergazing mountains. It is to be recollected that the most beautiful and impressive doctrines of the divine founder of Christianity were delivered, not in the Temple, but on the Mount.
To wave the question of devotion, and turn to human eloquence, the most effectual and splendid specimens were not pronounced within walls. Demosthenes addressed the public and popular assemblies. Cicero spoke in the forum. That this added to their effect on the mind of both orator and hearers, may be conceived from the difference between what we read of the emotions then and there produced, and those we ourselves experience in the perusal in the closet. It is one thing to read the Iliad at Sigæum and on the tumuli, or by the springs with Mount Ida above, and the plains and rivers and Archipelago around you ; and another to trim your taper over it in a snug library—this I know.
Were the early and rapid progress of what is called Methodism to be attributed to any cause beyond the enthusiasm excited by its vehement faith and doctrines (the truth or error of which I presume neither to canvass nor to question), I should venture to ascribe it to the practice of preaching in the fields, and the unstudied and extemporaneous effusions of its teachers.
The Mussulmans, whose erroneous devotion (at least in the lower orders) is most sincere, and therefore impressive, are accustomed to repeat their prescribed orisons and prayers wherever they may be at the stated hours-of course frequently in the open air, kneeling upon a light mat (which they carry for the purpose of a bed or cushion, as required); the ceremony lasts some minutes, during which they are totally absorbed, and only living in their supplication ; nothing can disturb them. On me the simple and entire sincerity of these men, and the spirit which appeared to be within and upon them, made a far greater impression than any general rite which was ever performed in places of Worship, of which I have seen those of almost every persuasion under the sun : including most of our own sectaries, and the Greek, the Catholic, the Armenian, the Lutheran, the Jewish, and the Mahommedan. Many of the negroes, of whom there are numbers in the Turkish empire, are idolaters, and have free exercise of their belief and its rites ; some of these I had a distant view of at Patras, and from what I could make out of them, they appeared to be of a truly Pagan description, and not very agreeable to a spectator.
Note 21. Stanza xcii.
The sky is changed !--and such a change! Oh night. The thunder-storms to which these lines refer occurred on the 13th of June, 1816, at midnight. I have seen among the Acroceraunian mountains of Chinari several more terrible, but none more beautiful.
Note 22. Stanza xcix.
And sun-set into rose-hues sees them wrought. Rousseau's Héloïse, Letter 17, part 4, note.—• Ces montagnes sont si hautes, qu'une demi-heure après le soleil couché, leurs sommets sont encore éclairés de ses rayons ; dont le
rouge forme sur ces cimes blanches une belle couleur de rose qu'on aperçoit de fort loin.” This applies more particularly to the heights over Meillerie.
“ J'allai à Vevay loger à la Clef, et pendant deux jours que j'y restai sans voir personne, je pris pour cette ville un amour qui m'a suivi dans tous mes voyages, et qui m'y a fait établir enfin les héros de mon roman. Je dirois volontiers à ceux qui ont du goût et qui sont sensibles : Allez à Vevay-visitez le pays, examinez les sites, promenez-vous sur le lac, et dites si la nature n'a pas fait ce beau pays pour une Julie, pour une Claire, et pour un Saint Preux ; mais ne les y cherchez pas.” Les Confessions, livre iv, page 306. Lyon, 179€.