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77: lxxiv. There is a strain of Calvinism in Byron's belief. In this portion of the poem, as elsewhere, the idea of predestinate sin and fate is with him. In the spirit of mediæval asceticism he is for despising the carnal life in this degraded form. Here, of course, it is mainly the poetic yearning for union with the sublime and beautiful in Nature. Cf. Canto IV, st. xxxiv (on pre
destination). 77: lxxvi ff.
Rousseau was born at Geneva, 1712.
In spite of Byron's denial there were many points in common between himself and Rousseau. Byron too is a self-torturing apostle of Affliction. Both are in revolt and extreme advocates of individualism and of liberty. Their morbid vanity, mobility, and love of fame were in common. Rousseau's summary in his 'Confessions' of his own feminine and unstable character, "qui. m'a jusqu'au bout mis en contradiction avec moi-même, et a fait que l'abstinence et la jouissance, le plaisir et la sagesse, m'ont également échappé" might apply equally well to Byron, as Elze says ('Life of Byron,' p. 349). But Byron the poet was not in the least the sort of a sentimentalist that Rousseau, both the writer and the man, was. Cf. Schmidt, ‘Rousseau und Byron ' (Oppeln und Leipzig, 1890).
78: lxxix 1. Julie and St.-Preux are the two lovers whose story is related in Rousseau's novel of 'La Nouvelle Héloïse,' the scene of which is chiefly near Lake Geneva.
"This refers to the account in [Rousseau's] Confessions, of his passion for the Comtesse d'Houdelot (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 acquaint[Byron's note.
79: lxxxii, 2-3. The meaning is, the old opinions were things which had been growing up ever since the birth of Time, being received by men like the air they breathed.
81 lxxxvi-lxxxvii. A remarkable piece of idyllic descriptive poetry, quieter and finished with more perfection in the parts than is usual with Byron. It is harmonious throughout, and is worthy of lingering study. What elements in the description would the painter, trying to reproduce the scene, have to leave out? Might the musician more adequately reproduce the motive?
-For more of the poetry of the grasshopper, see the sonnets on
the Grasshopper and Cricket,' by Keats and Leigh Hunt; Lovelace's poem on The Grasshopper;' Meleager's 'To a Locust' (W. M. Hardinge's translation in Tomson s Selections from the Greek Anthology,' Canterbury Poets, p. 171); and Anacreon's Ode xxxiv (Moore's Translation).
Cf. Wordsworth's Sonnet, beginning:
"It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
Cf. Wordsworth's 'Excursion,' bk. IV:
"The Persian-zealous to reject
Altar and image, and the inclusive walls
And the whole circle of the heavens, for him
A sensitive existence and a god."
-Cf. Manfred 'III, ii. (above, p. 204).
This image is obviously borrowed from Coleridge's 'Christabel' ii, 408-426, a poem which Byron greatly admired: ·
"They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
A dreary sea now flows between;
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been."
This stanza is the climax towards which the preceding ones, descriptive of the storm, have been mounting. Without much paradox it may be called the most essentially Byronic thing in all Byron !
85: xcix. Part of the scene of Rousseau's 'La Nouvelle Héloise' is laid at Clarens and Vevey. In July 1816 Byron made a voyage around the Lake of Geneva in company with Shelley, whose influence he so deeply felt during this period of his career, as this and the following stanzas so unmistakably show. In a note to this passage Byron writes: "The feeling with which all
around Clarens, and the opposite rocks of Meillerie, is invested, is of a still higher and more comprehensive order than the mere sympathy with individual passion; it is a sense of the existence of love in its most extended and sublime capacity, and of our own participation of its good and of its glory: it is the great principle of the universe, which is there more condensed, but not less manifested; and of which, though knowing ourselves a part, we lose our individuality and mingle in the beauty of the whole."
87: cv, 2. Voltaire, who lived at Ferney; and Gibbon, who finished his famous history at Lausanne in 1787. "These verses of Byron are the quintessence of criticism on Gibbon and Voltaire." (Nichol.) 91: cxvii. "In accordance with the heartless and tyrannical directions of her grandmother, Ada was kept in entire ignorance of her father. By the direction of Lady Noel's will, Ada was not to see the portrait of her father till she had attained her twentyfirst year.. Till within a short period before her death she knew nothing of his works. Of the way in which Ada became acquainted with the poetry of her father, the Countess Guiccioli gives the following account, tinged, it must be admitted, with the hues of romance. Colonel Wildman [owner of Newstead], who had become acquainted with Lady Lovelace [Ada Byron married the Earl of Lovelace in 1835] in London, invited her to Newstead, an invitation which she accepted about a year and a quarter before her death. One day in the library of Newstead, the Colonel read to her some verses, with the beauty of which she was enchanted: when she asked him who was the author, the Colonel answered by pointing to the portrait of her father by Phillips, hanging on the wall. She was stunned by the discovery, and from that moment a revolution took place in her feelings towards her father. Shutting herself up in the rooms her father had occupied, she devoted herself to the study of his works, and learnt from them that love for herself which had hitherto been so carefully concealed from her. On her return to London she became seriously ill, and, feeling her end drawing near, she prayed the Colonel to allow her to be buried by her father's side in the church of HucknallTorkard, a request which was of course at once granted. died November 27, 1852." [Elze's 'Life of Byron,' 327-8.
Begun June 26, 1817; finished, in first draft of 126 stanzas, July 20, 1817. Other stanzas were added from time to time until the publication of the whole, April 28, 1818.
As the influence of Shelley's idealism and apotheosis of love, and of Wordsworth's feeling for nature, is traceable in Canto III, so in Canto IV the influence is felt of the artistic and historical studies of Byron's lifelong friend and present travelling companion, Hobhouse (afterwards Lord Broughton), who directly suggested the subjects of many of the stanzas to the poet, who wrote copious Historical Illustrations to accompany the first edition, and to whom the canto was dedicated. Of the canto Byron wrote to Murray that it differs from its predecessors in that "it treats more of works of art than of nature," and "there are no metaphysics in it-at least, I think not." "I have parted company with Shelley and Wordsworth. Subject-matter and treatment are alike new." And in the Dedication to Hobhouse he adds: "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 seemed determined not to perceive : like the Chinese in Goldsmith's '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 distinction 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 determined to abandon it altogether-and have done so."
92 i. The canto plunges in medias res with neither invocation nor personal introduction.
93 iii, 1-2. "The well-known song of the gondoliers, of alternate stanzas from Tasso's Jerusalem, has died with the independence of Venice" (Hobhouse).-Venice lost her independence in 1797, when, too, the office of Doge was abolished (st. iv, 1. 4).
On the subject of the departed glories of Venice, cf. Wordsworth's Sonnet on the Extinction of the Venetian Republic.'
Cf. also Spenser's sonnet 'The antique Babel, Empresse of the East,' with its exquisite line:
'Fayre Venice, flower of the last world's delight."
93 iv, 6-7. The allusions are to Shakspere's 'Merchant of Venice' and 'Othello,' and to Otway's 'Venice Preserved' (1682), in which Pierre is the chief character.
95: x, 5. The answer made by the mother of Brasidas, the Spartan general, to those who praised the memory of her son.
95 xi, 1-4. Alluding to the former annual custom at Venice for the Doge to go out to the Adriatic in the state galley Bucentaur,' and symbolically wed the sea by throwing into it a ring, in token of Venice's maritime supremacy.
5. The winged lion which stands on top of a column in the Piazzeta, transported to Paris by order of Napoleon, was afterwards restored.
7. Here in 1177 the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa ("the Suabian" of st. xii, l. 1.) after attempting to assert the rights of the empire as against the papacy, and being defeated in his invasion of Lombardy in 1176, made his submission to the Pope, Alexander III.
96: xii, 7. Lauwine, or Lawine, German for avalanche.
8. Henry Dandolo, Doge from 1192 to 1205, led the Venetians at the taking of Constantinople in 1204, being then aged 97 and blind!
96 : xiii, 3. The legend was that when the Venetians, overcome in war by the Genoese in 1379, begged for any terms saving their independence, Peter Doria answered that they should have no peace "until we have first put a rein upon those unbridled horses of yours."
5. The early history of Venice is involved in obscurity, but the city was founded probably in the fifth century.
96: xiv, 3. "That is, the Lion of St. Mark, the standard of the republic, which is the origin of the word Pantaloon- Piantaleone, Pantaleon, Pantaloon." [Byron's note.—The etymology, however, is said to be very doubtful. The nickname of "Pantaloni," generally applied to the Venetians, more probably comes from one of their patron saints, St. Pantaleon (Pavтeλeńμwv, the all-pitiful).—Sprung from Victory, alluding to the custom of