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The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom
Whose fertile bounties here extend to all, Still springing o'er thy banks, though Empires near them fall.
But these recede. Above me are the Alps,
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls
The avalanche-the thunderbolt of snow !
Gather around these summits, as to show [below. How Earth may pierce to Heaven, yet leave vain man
But ere these matchless heights I dare to scan,
Nor blush for those who conquer'd on that plain;
Themselves their monument; -the Stygian coast Unsepulchred they roam'd, and shriek'd each wandering ghost.1
While Waterloo with Canna's carnage vies, Morat and Marathon twin names shall stand; They were true Glory's stainless victories, Won by the unambitious heart and hand Of a proud, brotherly, and civic band, All unbought champions in no princely cause Of vice-entail'd Corruption; they no land Doom'd to bewail the blasphemy of laws Making kings' rights divine, by some Draconic clause.
engagement, got to the brow of the hill, whence they had their first view of the Rhine. They instantly halted-not a gun was fired - not a voice heard: but they stood gazing on the river with those feelings which the events of the last fifteen years at once called up. Prince Schwartzenberg rode up to know the cause of this sudden stop; then they gave three cheers, rushed after the enemy, and drove them into the water.]
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 a 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.
Aventicum, near Morat, was the Roman capital of Helvetia, where Avenches now stands.
3 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: "Julia Alpinula: Ilic jaceo.
By a lone wall a lonelier column rears
A gray and grief-worn aspect of old days;
Yet still with consciousness; and there it stands
When the coeval pride of human hands, Levell'd Aventicum, hath strew'd her subject lands.
And there-oh! sweet and sacred be the name!— Julia the daughter, the devoted-gave
Her youth to heaven; her heart, beneath a claim Nearest to Heaven's, broke o'er a father's grave. Justice is sworn 'gainst tears, and hers would crave The life she lived in; but the judge was just, And then she died on him she could not save. Their tomb was simple, and without a bust, And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust. 9
But these are deeds which should not pass away,
In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow, 4
Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face, 5
Thoughts hid, but not less cherish'd than of old, Ere mingling with the herd had penn'd me in their
Infelicis patris infelix proles. De Aventiæ Sacerdos. Exorare patris necem non potui: Male mori in fatis ille erat. Vixi annos xxIII."-1 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.
4 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.
5 In the exquisite lines which the poet, at this time, addressed to his sister, there is the following touching
"I did remind thee of our own dear lake,
By the old hall which may be mine no more.
2 ["Mr. Hobhouse and myself are just returned from a journey of lakes and mountains. We have been to the Grindelwald, and the Jungfrau, and stood on the summit of the Wengen Alp; and seen torrents of 900 feet in fall, and glaciers of all dimensions; we have heard shepherds' pipes, and avalanches, and looked on the clouds foaming up from the valleys below us like the spray of the ocean of hell. Chamouni, and that which it inherits, we saw a month ago; but, though Mont Blanc is higher, it is not equal in wildness to the Jungfrau, the Eighers, the Shreckhorn, and the Rose Glaciers." B. Letters, Sept. 1816.]
With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring, Though young, yet waxing vigorous, as the blast Which it would cope with, on delighted wing, Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being cling.
And when, at length, the mind shall be all free
Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm? The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?
Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?
Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
Is not the love of these deep in my heart With a pure passion? should I not contemn All objects, if compared with these? and stem A tide of suffering, rather than forego Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm Of those whose eyes are only turn'd below, Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?
But this is not my theme; and I return To that which is immediate, and require Those who find contemplation in the urn, To look on One, whose dust was once all fire, A native of the land where I respire The clear air for a while-a passing guest, Where he became a being,-whose desire Was to be glorious; 't was a foolish quest, The which to gain and keep, he sacrificed all rest.
Here the self-torturing sophist, wild Rousseau, 3
O'er erring deeds and thoughts a heavenly hue
I have traversed all Rousseau's ground with the 'Héloïse' before me, and am struck to a degree that I cannot express with the force and accuracy of his descriptions, and the beauty of their reality. Meilleric, Clarens, and Vevay, and the Château de Chillon, are places of which I shall say little because all I could say must fall short of the impres sions they stamp."- B. Letters.]
["It is evident that the impassioned parts of Rousseau's romance had made a deep impression upon the feelings of the noble poet. The enthusiasm expressed by Lord Byron is no small tribute to the power possessed by Jean Jacques over the passions: and, to say truth, we needed some such evidence; for, though almost ashamed to avow the truth,-still, like the barber of Midas, we must speak or die, we have never been able to feel the interest or discover the merit of this far-famed performance. That there is much eloquence in the letters we readily admit there lay Rousseau's strength. But his lovers, the celebrated St. Preux and Julie, have, from the earliest moment we have heard the tale (which we well remember), down to the present hour, totally failed to interest There might be some constitutional hardness of heart; but like Lance's pebble-hearted cur, Crab, we remained dryeyed while all wept around us. And still, on resuming the
2 ["Lord Byron's character of Rousseau is drawn with great force, great power of discrimination, and great eloquence. I know not that he says any thing which has not been said before; but what he says issues, apparently, from the recesses of his own mind. It is a little laboured, which, possibly, may be caused by the form of the stanza into which it was necessary to throw it; but it cannot be doubted that the poet felt a sympathy for the enthusiastic tenderness of Rousseau's genius, which he could not have recognised with such extreme fervour, except from a consciousness of having at least occasionally experienced similar emotions."- SIR E. BRYDGES.]
3 [During Lord Byron's stay in Switzerland, he took up his residence at the Campagne-Diodati, in the village of
Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven!
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state,
In us such love and reverence from afar, That fortune, fame, power, life, have named themselves a star.
All heaven and earth are still-though not in sleep,
Where not a beam, nor air, nor leaf is lost,
Coligny. It stands at the top of a rapidly descending vineyard; the windows commanding, one way, a noble view of the lake and of Geneva; the other, up the lake. Every evening, the poet embarked on the lake; and to the feelings created by these excursions we owe these delightful stanzas. Of his mode of passing a day, the following, from his Journal, is a pleasant specimen :
44 September 18. Called. Got up at five. Stopped at Vevay two hours. View from the churchyard superb; within it Ludlow (the regicide's) monument-black marble -long inscription; Latin, but simple. Near him Broughton (who read King Charles's sentence to Charles Stuart) is buried, with a queer and rather canting inscription. Ludlow's house shown. Walked down to the lake side; servants, carriages, saddle-horses, all set off, and left us plantés là, by some mistake. Hobhouse ran on before, and overtook them. Ar. rived at Clarens. Went to Chillon through scenery worthy of I know not whom; went over the castle again. Met an English party in a carriage, a lady in it fast asleep-fast asleep in the most anti-narcotic spot in the world,- excellent! After a slight and short dinner, visited the Château de Clarens. Saw all worth seeing, and then descended to the Bosquet de Julie,' &c. &c.: our guide full of Rousseau, whom he is eternally confounding with St. Preux, and mixing the man and the book. Went again as far as Chillon, to revisit the little
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud, But every mountain now hath found a tongue, And Jura answers, through her misty shroud, Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud!
XCIII. And this is in the night: Most glorious night! Thou wert not sent for slumber let me be A sharer in thy fierce and far delight, A portion of the tempest and of thee 12 How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea, And the big rain comes dancing to the earth! And now again 't is black, - and now, the glee Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth, As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth. S
Now, where the swift Rhone cleaves his way between
Of years all winters, -war within themselves to wage.
Now, where the quick Rhone thus hath cleft his way,
There the hot shaft should blast whatever therein lurk'd.
Sky, mountains, river, winds, lake, lightnings! ye!
Of what in me is sleepless, -if I rest. 4
torrent from the hill behind it. The corporal who showed the wonders of Chillon was as drunk as Blucher, and (to my mind) as great a man: he was deaf also; and, thinking every one else so, roared out the legends of the castle so fearfully, that Hobhouse got out of humour. However, we saw things, from the gallows to the dungeons. Sunset reflected in the lake. Nine o'clock going to bed. Have to get up at five to-morrow."]
1 See Appendix, Note [F].
2 The thunder-storm to which these lines refer occurred on the 13th of June, 1816, at midnight. I have seen, among the Acroceraunian mountains of Chimari, several more terrible, but none more beautiful.
3" This is one of the most beautiful passages of the poem. The fierce and far delight' of a thunder-storm is here described in verse almost as vivid as its lightnings. The live thunder leaping among the rattling crags'-the voice of mountains, as if shouting to each other - the plashing of the big rain the gleaming of the wide lake, lighted like a phos. phoric sea-present a picture of sublime terror, yet of enjoyment, often attempted, but never so well. certainly never better, brought out in poetry."— SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
4 [The Journal of his Swiss tour, which Lord Byron kept
Could I embody and unbosom now That which is most within me, could I wreak My thoughts upon expression, and thus throw Soul, heart, mind, passions, feelings, strong or weak, All that I would have sought, and all I scek, Bear, know, feel, and yet breathe - into one word, And that one word were Lightning, I would speak; But as it is, I live and die unheard, With a most voiceless thought, sheathing it as a sword.
for his sister, closes with the following mournful passage:"In the weather, for this tour, of thirteen days, I have been very fortunate-fortunate in a companion" (Mr. Hobhouse) -fortunate in our prospects, and exempt from even the little petty accidents and delays which often render journeys in a less wild country disappointing. I was disposed to be pleased. I am a lover of nature, and an admirer of beauty. I can bear fatigue, and welcome privation, and have seen some of the noblest views in the world. But in all this, the recollection of bitterness, and more especially of recent and more home desolation, which must accompany me through life, has preyed upon me here; and neither the music of the shepherd, the crashing of the avalanche, nor the torrent, the mountain,
I the glacier, the forest, nor the cloud, have for one moment lightened the weight upon my heart, nor enabled me to lose my own wretched identity, in the majesty, and the power, a and the glory, around, above, and beneath me."]
[Stanzas xcix. to cxv. are exquisite. They have every thing which makes a poetical picture of local and particular
Kissing his feet with murmurs; and the wood, The covert of old trees, with trunks all hoar, But light leaves, young as joy, stands where it stood, Offering to him, and his, a populous solitude,
A populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy-formed and many-colour'd things,
Who worship him with notes more sweet than words,
And innocently open their glad wings,
Of stirring branches, and the bud which brings The swiftest thought of beauty, here extend, Mingling, and made by Love, unto one mighty end.
He who hath loved not, here would learn that lore,
For this is Love's recess, where vain men's woes,
those, For 'tis his nature to advance or die; He stands not still, but or decays, or grows Into a boundless blessing, which may vie With the immortal lights, in its eternity!
'T was not for fiction chose Rousseau this spot, Peopling it with affections; but he found It was the scene which passion must allot To the mind's purified beings; 'twas the ground Where early Love his Psyche's zone unbound, And hallow'd it with loveliness: 'tis lone, --And wonderful, and deep, and hath a sound, And sense, and sight of sweetness; here the Rhone Hath spread himself a couch, the Alps have rear'd a throne.
Lausanne! and Ferney! ye have been the abodes
They were gigantic minds, and their steep aim
Of Heaven, again assail'd, if Heaven the while On man and man's research could deign do more than smile.
scenery perfect. They exhibit a miraculous brilliancy and force of fancy; but the very fidelity causes a little constraint and labour of language. The poet seems to have been so engrossed by the attention to give vigour and fire to the imagery, that he both neglected and disdained to render himself more harmonious by diffuser words, which, while they might have improved the effect upon the ear, might have weakened the impression upon the mind. This mastery over new matter this supply of powers equal not only to an untouched subject, but that subject one of peculiar and unequalled grandeur and beauty was sufficient to occupy the strongest poetical faculties, young as the author was, without adding to it all the practical skill of the artist. The stanzas, too, on Voltaire and Gibbon are discriminative, sagacious, and just. They are among the proofs of that very great variety of talent which this Canto of Lord Byron exhibits.- SIR E. BRYDGES.] 2 See Appendix, Note [G].
3 Voltaire and Gibbon.