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(1) [" The seventh and eighth Cantos contain a full detail (like the storm in Canto second) of the siege and assault of Ismail, with much of sarcasm on those butchers in large business, your mercenary soldiers. With these things and these fellows it is necessary, in the present clash of philosophy and tyranny, to throw away the scabbard. I know it is against fearful odds; but the battle must be fought; and it will be eventually for the good of mankind, whatever it may be for the individual who risks him, self," — B. Letters, Aug. 8. 1822.]
DON JUA N.
CANTO THE SEVENTH.
Around us ever, rarely to alight ?
Of such transcendent and more fleeting flight. Chill, and chain'd to cold earth, we lift on high
Our eyes in search of either lovely light; A thousand and a thousand colours they Assume, then leave us on our freezing way.
And such as they are, such my present tale is,
A non-descript and ever-varying rhyme, A versified Aurora Borealis,
Which flashes o'er a waste and icy clime. When we know what all are, we must bewail us,
But ne'ertheless I hope it is no crime
III. They accuse me- -Me- the
present writer of The present poem- of — I know not what A tendency to under-rate and scoff
At human power and virtue, and all that; And this they say in language rather rough.
Good God! I wonder what they wouid be at ! I say no more than hath been said in Danté's Verse, and by Solomon and by Cervantes;
By Swift, by Machiavel, by Rochefoucault,
By Fénélon, by Luther, and by Plato; By Tillotson, and Wesley, and Rousseau,
Who knew this life was not worth a potato. 'Tis not their fault, nor mine, if this be so
For my part, I pretend not to be Cato,
Socrates said, our only knowledge was (')
“To know that nothing could be known;" a pleasant Science enough, which levels to an ass
Each man of wisdom, future, past, or present. Newton (that proverb of the mind), alas!
Declared, with all his grand discoveries recent,
(1) ["Scrawled this additional page of life's log-book. One day more is over of it, and of me;- but, 'which is best, life or death, the gods only know,' as Socrates said to his judges, on the breaking up of the tribunal. Two thousand years since that sage's declaration of ignorance have not enlightened us more upon this important point. - B. Diary, 1821.]
That he himself felt only “ like a youth
Most modern preachers say the same, or show it By their examples of true Christianity :
In short, all know, or very soon may know it; And in this scene of all-confess'd inanity,
By saint, by sage, by preacher, and by poet, Must I restrain me, through the fear of strife, From holding up the nothingness of life?
Dogs, or men !—for I flatter you (2) in saying
That ye are dogs- your betters far — ye may
are in every way. As little as the moon stops for the baying
Of wolves, will the bright muse withdraw one ray From out her skies-- then howl your idle wrath ! While she still silvers o'er your gloomy path.
(1) [A short time before his death, he uttered this memorable senti. ment:-“I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to mysel' I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
What a lesson to the vanity and presumption of philosophers; to those, especially, who have never even found the smoother pebble or the prettier shell! What a preparation for the latest enquiries, and the last views, of the decaying spirit, - for those inspired doctrines which alone can throw a light over the dark ocean of undiscovered truth!”-Sır David BREWSTER.]
(2) [See“ Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog," antè, VOL VII. p. 292. ]