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The Age of Bronze:
OR, CARMEN SECULARE ET ANNUS HAUD MIRABILIS.'
“ Impar Congressus Achilli."
I. THE “ good old times ".. all times when old are
goouAre gone; the present might be if they would ; Great things have been, and are, and greater still Want little of mere mortals but their will: A wider space, a greener field, is given To those who play their “ tricks before high heaven." I know not if the angels weep, but men Have wept enough — for what? to weep again !
Though Alexander's urn a show be grown,
II. AU is exploded - be it good or bad. Reader! remember when thou wert a lad, Then Pitt was all; or, if not all, so much, His very rival almost deem'd him such. 2 We, we have seen the intellectual race Of giants stand, like Titans, face to faceAthos and Ida, with a dashing sea Of eloquence between, which flow'd all free, As the deep billows of the Egean roar Betwixt the Hellenic and the Phrygian shore. But where are they — the rivals ! a few feet Of sullen earth divide each winding sheet. 3 How peaceful and how powerful is the grave, Which hushes all ! a calm, unstormy wave, Which oversweeps the world. The theme is old Of “ dust to dust; " but half its tale untold : Time tempers not its terrors — still the worm Winds its cold folds, the tomb preserves its form, Varied above, but still alike below; The urn may shine, the ashes will not glow, Though Cleopatra's mummy cross the sea O'er which from empire she lured Anthony ;
III. But where is he, the modern, mightier far, Who, born no king, made monarchs draw his car; The new Sesostris, whose unharness'd kings, 5 Freed from the bit, believe themselves with wings, And spurn the dust o'er which they crawl'd of late, Chain'd to the chariot of the chieftain's state ? Yes! where is he, the champion and the child Of all that's great or little, wise or wild ? (thrones? Whose game was empires, and whose stakes were Whose table earth - whose dice were human bones ? Behold the grand result in yon lone isle, And, as thy nature urges, weep or smile. Sigh to behold the eagle's lofty rage Reduced to nibble at his narrow cage ; Smile to survey the queller of the nations Now daily squabbling o'er disputed rations; Weep to perceive him mourning, as he dines, O'er curtail'd dishes and o'er stinted wines; O'er petty quarrels upon petty things. Is this the man who scourged or feasted kings ?
And few dogs have such opportunities had
Of knowing how lions behave - among friends. “ How that animal eats, how he moves, how he drinks,
Is all noted down by this Boswell so small; And 't is plain, from each sentence, the puppy-dog thinks
That the lion was no such great things after all. “ Though he roar'd pretty well – this the puppy allows
It was all, he says, borrow'd – all second-hand roar; And he vastly preiers his own little bow-wows
To the loftiest war-note the lion could pour. “'T
is, indeed, as good fun as a Cynic could ask,
To see how this cockney-bred setter of rabbits Takes gravely the lord of the forest to task,
And judges of lions by puppy-dog habits. « Xav, fed as he was (and this makes it a dark case)
With sops every day from the lion's own pan, He lifts up his leg at the noble beast's carcass,
And — does all a dog, so diminutive, can.
Examples and warnings to lions high-bred,
Who'll feed on them living, and fou them when dead.") 1 (This poem was written by Lord Byron at Genoa, in the early part of the year 1923; and published in London, by Mr. Joha Hunt. its authenticity was much disputed at the time.)
? (Mr. Fox used to say -" I never want a word, but Pitt never wants the word.")
3. [The grave of Mr. Fox, in Westminster Abbey, is within eighteen inches of that of Mr. Pitt,
" Where -- taming thought to human pride !
The mighty chief's sleep side by side.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.) * (A sarcophagus, of breccia, supposed to have contained the dust of Alexander, which came into the possession of the English army, in consequence of the capitulation of Alexandria, in February, 1802, was presented by George III, to the British Museum.]
5 [Sesostris is said, by Diodorus, to have had his chariot drawn by eight vanquished sovereigns :
“ High on his car Sesostris struck my riew,
Whom scepter'd slaves in golden harness drew ;
His giant limbs are armd in scales of gold."-POPE.) • (St. Helena.)
Behold the scales in which his fortune hangs,
That name shall hallow the igaoble shore,
IV. How, if that soaring spirit still retain A conscious twilight of his blazing reign, How must he smile, on looking down, to sce The little that he was and sought to be ! What though his name a wider empire found Than his ambition, though with scarce a bound; Though first in glory, deepest in reverse, He tasted empire's blessings and its curse; Though kings, rejoicing in their late escape From chains, would gladly be their tyrant's ape; How must he smile, and turn to yon lone grave, The proudest sea-mark that o'ertops the wave! What though his gaoler, duteous to the last, Scarce deem'd the coffin's lead could keep him fast, Refusing one poor line along the lid, To date the birth and death of all it hid;
V. Oh heaven! of which he was in power a feature; On earth ! of which he was a noble creature ; Thou isle ! to be remember'd long and well, That saw'st the unfledged eaglet chip his shell ! Ye Alps, which view'd him in his dawning flights Hover, the victor of a hundred fights ! Thou Rome, who saw'st thy Cæsar's deeds outdone ! Alas! why pass'd he too the Rubicon The Rubicon of man's awaken'd rights, To herd with vulgar kings and parasites ? Egypt ! from whose all dateless tombs arose Forgotten Pharaohs from their long repose, And shook within their pyramids to hear A new Cambyses thundering in their ear; While the dark shades of forty ages stood Like startled giants by Nile's famous flood; 10
2 (Earl Bathurst.) 3 (The bust of his son.] * (Sir Hudson Lowe.] $ (Captain Basil Hall's interesting account of his interview with the ex-emperor occurs in his “ Voyage to Loo-choo."]
6 (The circumstances under which Mr. O'Meara's dismissal from his Majesty's service took place will suffice to show how little " the stiff surgeon meríted the applause of Lord Byron. In a letter to the Admiralty Board by Mr. O'M., dated Oct. 28. 1818, there occurred the following paragraph :
"In the third interview which Sir Hudson Lowe had with Napoleon Buonaparte, in May, 1816, he proposed to the latter to send me away, and to replace me by Mr. Baxter, who had been several years surgeon in the Corsican Rangers. Failing in this attempt, he adopted the resolution of manifesting great confidence in me, by loading me with civilities, inviting me constantly to dine with him, conversing for hours together with me alone, both in his own house and grounds, and at Longwood, either in my own room, or under the trees and elsewhere. On some of these occasions he made to me observations upon the benefit which would result to Europe from the death of Napoleon Buonaparte ; of which event he spoke in a manner which, considering his situation and mine, was peculiarly distressing to me.” - The Secretary to the Admiralty was instructed to answer in these terms: -" It is impossible to doubt the meaning which this passage was intended to convey ; and my Lords can as little doubt that the insinuation is a calumnious falsehood: but if it were true, and if so horrible a suggestion were made to you, directly or indirectly, it was your bounden duty not to have lost a moment in communicating it to the Admiral on the spot, or to the
Secretary of State. or to their Lordships. An overture so monstrous in itself, and so deeply involving, not merely the personal character of the governor, but the honour of the nation, and the important interest committed to his charge, should not have been reserved in your own breast for iwo years, to be produced at last, not (as it would appear) from a sense of public duty, but in furtherance of your own personal hostility against the governor. Either the charge is in the last degree false and calumnious, or you can have no possible excuse for having hitherto suppressed it. In either case, and without adverting to the general tenour of your conduct, as stated in your letter, my Lords consider you to be an improper person to continue in his Majesty's service ; and they have directed your name to be erased from the list of naval surgeons accordingly.” O'Meara died in 1836.]
7 [Buonaparte died the 5th of May, 1821.)
A (Guesclin, constable of France, died in the midst of his triumphs, before Châteauneuf de Randon, in 1380. The English garrison, which had conditioned to surrender at a certain time, marched out the day after his death ; and the commander respectfully laid the keys of the fortress on the bier, so that it might appear to have surrendered to his ashes.)
9. [John Ziska - a distinguished leader of the Hussites. It is recorded of him, that, in dying, he orderod his skin to be made the covering of a drum. The Bohemians hold his memory in superstitious veneration.)
10 [At the battle of the pyramids, in July, 1799, Buonaparte said, " Soldiers ! from the summit oi yonder pyramids forty ages behold you."]
The conqueror's yet unbroken heart ! Again
Or from the pyramid's tall pinnacle
Oh ye ! and each, and all ! Oh France ! who found Thy long fair fields, plough'd up as hostile ground, Disputed foot by foot, till treason, still His only victor, from Montmartre's hill Look'd down o'er trampled Paris ! and thou Isle, ? Which see'st Etruria from thy ramparts smile, Thou momentary shelter of his pride, Till woo'd by danger, his yet weeping bride! Oh, France ! retaken by a single march, Whose path was through one long triumphal arch! Oh, bloody and most bootless Waterloo ! Which proves how fools may have their fortune too, Won half by blunder, half by treachery : Oh, dull Saint Helen! with thy gaoler nigh Hear I hear Prometheus 3 from his rock appeal To eirth, air, ocean, all that felt or feel His power and glory, all who yet shall bear A name eternal as the rolling year; He teaches them the lesson taught so long, So oft, so vainly - learn to do no wrong! A single step into the right had made This man the Washington of worlds betray'd : A single step into the wrong has given His name a doubt to all the winds of heaven; The reed of Fortune, and of thrones the rod, Of Fame the Moloch or the demigod ; His country's Cæsar, Europe's Hannibal, Without their decent dignity of fall. Yet Vanity herself had better taught A surer path even to the fame he sought, By pointing out on history's fruitless page Ten thousand conquerors for a single sage. While Franklin's quiet memory climbs to heaven, Calming the lightning which he thence hath riven, Or drawing from the no less kindled earth Freedom and peace to that which boasts his birth ; While Washington 's a watchword, such as neer Shall sink while there's an echo left to air: While even the Spaniard's thirst of gold and war Forgets Pizarro to shout Bolivar ! 6 Alas! why must the same Atlantic wave Which wafted freedom gird a tyrant's grave -
Thou other element ! as strong and stern, To teach a lesson conquerors will 1100 learn ! Whose icy wing flapp'd o'er the faltering foe, Till fell a hero with each flake of snow; How did thy numbing beak and silent fang Pierce, till hosts perish'd with a single pang! In vain shall Seine look up along his banks For the gay thousands of his dashing ranks ! In vain shall France recall beneath her vines Her youth - their blood flows faster than her wines; Or stagnant in their human ice remains In frozen mummies on the Polar plains. In vain will Italy's broad sun awaken Her offspring chill’d; its beams are now forsaken. Of all the trophies gather'd from the war, What shall return ? — the conqueror's broken car!
(Gustavus Adolphus fell at the great battle of Lutzen, in November, 1632.)
2 [The Isle of Elba.]
3 I refer the reader to the first address of Prometheus in Eschylus, when he is left alone by his attendants, and before the arrival of the Chorus of Sea-nymphs. [Thus translated by Potter :
“ Ethereal air, and ye swift-winged winds,
Ye rivers springing from fresh founts, ye waves,
I here must struggle ; such unseemly chains
For favours shown To mortal man bear this weight of woe !") · [The well-known motto on a French medal of Franklin
Eripuit cælo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."] $(" To be the first man (not the Dictator), not the Sylla, but the Washington, or Aristides, the leader in talent and truth, is to be next to the Divinity." -- Byron Diary.)
6 (Simon Bolirar, the liberator of Colombia and Peru, died at San Pedro, December, 1930, of an illness brought on by excessive fatigue and exertion. )
The king of kings, and yet of slaves the slave,
VI. But 't will not be — the spark 's vaken'd-lo: The swarthy Spaniard feels his former glow; The same high spirit which beat back the Moor Through eight long ages of alternate gore Revives — and where ? in that avenging clime Where Spain was once synonymous with crime, Where Cortes' and Pizarro's banner flew, The infant world redeems her name of “ New." 'Tis the old aspiration breathed afresh, To kindle souls within degraded flesh, Such as repulsed the Persian from the shore Where Greece was — - No ! she still is Greece once
more. One common cause makes myriads of one breast, Slaves of the east, or helots of the west; On Andes' and on Athos' peaks unfurl'd, The self-same standard streams o'er either world : The Athenian wears again Harmodius' sword; ! The Chili chief abjures his foreign lord ; The Spartan knows himself once more a Greek, Young Freedom plumes the crest of cach cacique; Debating despots, hemm'd on either shore, Shrink vainly from the roused Atlantic's roar; Through Calpe's strait the rolling tides advance, Sweep slightly by the half-tamed land of France, Dash o'er the old Spaniard's cradle, and would fain Unite Ausonia to the mighty main : But driven from thence awhile, yet not for aye, Break o'er th' Ægean, mindful of the day Of Salamis ! there, there the waves arise, Not to be lull'd by tyrant victories. Lone, lost, abandon'd in their utmost need By Christians, unto whom they gave their creed, The desolated lands, the ravaged isle, The foster'd feud encouraged to beguile, The aid evaded, and the cold delay, Prolong'd but in the hope to make a prey; These, these shall tell the tale, and Greece can show The false friend worsc than the infuriate foe. But this is well: Greeks only should free Greece, Not the barbarian, with his mask of peace. How should the autocrat of bondage be The king of serfs, and set the nations free? Better still serve the haughty Mussulman, Than swell the Cossaque's prowling caravan ; Better still toil for masters, than await, The slave of slaves, before a Russian gate, Number'd by hordes, a human capital, A live estate, existing but for thrall, Lotted by thousands, as a meet reward For the first courtier in the Czar's regard ; While their immediate owner never tastes His sleep, sans dreaming of Siberia's wastes; Better succumb even to their own despair, And drive the camel than purvey the bcar.
VII. But not alone within the hoariest clime Wherc Freedom dates her birth with that of Time, And not alone where, plunged in night, a crowd Of Incas darken to a dubious cloud, The dawn revives : renown'd, romantic Spain Holds back the invader from her soil again. Not now the Roman tribe nor Punic horde Demand her fields as lists to prove the sword; Not now the Vandal or the Visigoth Pollute the plains, alike abhorring both; Nor old Pelayo on his mountain rears The warlike fathers of a thousand years. That seed is sown and reap'd, as oft the Moor Sighs to remember on his dusky shore. Long in the peasant's song or poet's page Has dwelt the memory of Abencerrage ; The Zegri, and the captive victors, flung Back to the barbarous realm from whence they sprung. But these are gone — their faith, their swords, their
sway, Yet left more anti-christian foes than they : The bigot monarch and the butcher priest, The Inquisition, with her burning feast, The faith's red “ auto,” fed with human fuel, While sate the catholic Moloch, calmly cruel, Enjoying, with inexorable eye, That fiery festival of agony ! The stern or feeble sovereign, one or both By turns; the haughtiness whose pride was sloth : The long degenerate noble; the debased Hidalgo, and the peasant less disgraced, But more degraded ; the unpeopled realm; The once proud navy which forgot the helm; The once impervious phalanx disarray'd ; The idle forge that formd Toledo's blade; The foreign wealth that flow'd on ev'ry shore, Save hers who earn'd it with the natives' gore; The very language which might vie with Rome's, And once was known to nations like their homes, Neglected or forgotten :- such was Spain; But such she is not, nor shall be again. These worst, these home invaders, felt and feel The new Numantine soul of old Castile. Up! up again ! undaunted Tauridor ! The bull of Phalaris renews his roar; Mount, chivalrous Hidalgo ! not in vain Revive the cry -“ Iago ! and close Spain !”, Yes, close her with your armed bosoms round, And form the barrier which Napoleon found, The exterminating war, the desert plain, The streets without a tenant, save the slain ; The wild sierra, with its wilder troop Of vulture-plumed guerrillas, on the stoop For their incessant prey; the desperate wall Of Saragossa, mightiest in her fall ; The man nerved to a spirit, and the maid Waving her more than Amazonian blade ; 4 The knife of Arragon 5, Toledo's steel ; The famous lance of chivalrous Castile; The unerring rifle of the Catalan; The Andalusian courser in the van;
[The famous hymn, ascribed to Callistratus:-
Like brave Harmodius, and his patriot friend
The lyrant slew, and bade oppression end," &c. &c.) 3 [For the first authentic account of the Russian intrigues
in Greece, in the years alluded to, sem " Gordon's History of the Greek Revolution" (1432), vol. i.) 3 [" Santiago y serra España!" the old Spanish war-cry.)
See antè, p. 10.) 5 The Arragonians are peculiarly dexterous in the use of this weapon, and displayed it particularly in former French wars.
'The torch to make a Moscow of Madrid;
To these sublimer pugs? Thy poet too,
(The Congress of the Sovereigns of Russia, Austria, Prussia, &c. &c. &c. which assembled at Verona, in the autumn of 1832.]
(Patrick Henry, of Virginia, a leading member of the American Congress, died in June, 1797. Lord Byron alludes to his famous speech in 1763, in which, on saying, “ Cæsar had his Brutus - Charles the First had his Cromwell and George the Third -" Henry was interrupted with a shout of " Treason ! treason !!"- but coolly finished the sentence with —" George the Third may profit by their erample."]
3(" I have been over Verona. The amphitheatre is wonderful - beats even Greece. or the truth of Juliet's story, they seem tenacious to a degree, insisting on the fact --- givin a date (1303), and showing a tomb. It is a plain, open, and partly decayed sarcophagus, with withered leaves in it, in a wild and desolate conventual garden, once a cemetery, now ruined to the very graves. The situation struck me as very appropriate to the legend, being blighted as their love. I have brought away a few pieces of the granite, to give to my daughter and my nieces. The Gothic monuments of the Scaliger princes pleased me, but · a poor virtuoso am 1.'”Byron Letters, Nov. 1816.)
* (Cane I. Della Scala, surnamed the Great, died in 1329 : he was the protector of Dante, who celebrated him as “ il Gran Lombardo.")
? (Verona has been distinguished as the cradle of many illustrious men. There is one still living:
Per cui la fama in te chiara risuona
Egregia, eccelsa, alma Verona, I mean Ippolito Pindanonte, a poet who has caught a portion of that sun whose setting beams yet gild the horizon of Italy. His rural pieces, for their chasce style of colouring, their repose, and their keeping, may be said to be in poetry, what the landscapes of Claude Lorraine are in picture. – Rose.)
6 (Claudian's famous old man of Verona, “ qw suburbium nunquam egressus est." - The Latin verses are beautifully imitaced by Cowley:
Happy the man who his whole life doth bound
The change of seasons is his calendar," &c. &c.) ? (The Emperor Alexander ; who died in 1825.) 8 The dexterity of Catherine extricated Peter (called the