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'Tis said no one in hand “ can hold a fire
By thought of frosty Caucasus ;" () but few,
Here I might enter on a chaste description,
Having withstood temptation in my youth, (2) But hear that several people take exception
At the first two books having too much truth ; Therefore I 'll make Don Juan leave the ship soon,
Because the publisher declares, in sooth, Through needles' eyes it easier for the camel is To
pass, than those two cantos into families.
'Tis all the same to me; I'm fond of yielding,
And therefore leave them to the purer page Of Smollett, Prior, Ariosto, Fielding,
Who say strange things for so correct an age; I once had great alacrity in wielding
My pen, and liked poetic war to wage, And recollect the time when all this cant Would have provoked remarks which now it shan't. (3)
(1) [" Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand,
SAAKSPEARE's Richard II.] (2) [MS. — “ Having had some experience in my youth.”]
(3) [“ Don Juan will be known, by and by, for what it is intended — a satire on abuses in the present states of society, and not an eulogy of vice. It may be now and then voluptuous: - I can't help that. Ariosto is worse. Smollett (see Lord Strutwell in Roderick Random) ten times worse; and Fielding no better. No girl will ever be seduced by reading Don Juan: -No, no; she will go to Little's Poems, and Rousseau's Romans XCIX.
As boys love rows, my boyhood liked a squabble;
But at this hour I wish to part in peace, Leaving such to the literary rabble, Whether
verse’s fame be doom'd to cease, While the right hand which wrote it still is able,
Or of some centuries to take a lease; The grass upon my grave
grow as long, And sigh to midnight winds, but not to song.
Of poets who come down to us through distance
Of time and tongues, the foster-babes of Fame, Life seems the smallest portion of existence;
Where twenty ages gather o'er a name, 'Tis as a snowball which derives assistance From every and
rolls on the same, Even till an iceberg it may
chance to grow; But, after all, 'tis nothing but cold snow.
And so great names are nothing more than nominal,
And love of glory's but an airy lust, Too often in its fury overcoming all
Who would as 't were identify their dust
for that, or even to the immaculate De Staël. They will encourage her, and not the Don, who laughs at that, and- and - most other things. But never mind — Ça ira! "- Lord B. to Mr. Murray, 1822.]
From out the wide destruction, which, entombing all;
Leaves nothing till “ the coming of the just": Save change: I've stood upon Achilles' tomb,( ) And heard Troy doubted;() time will doubt of Rome.
The very generations of the dead
Are swept away, and tomb inherits tomb, Until the memory of an age is fled,
And, buried, sinks beneath its offspring's doom :
(1) [“ I have stood upon the plain of Troy daily, for more than a month, in 1810; and if any thing diminished my pleasure, it was that the black. guard Bryant had impugned its veracity." - B. Diary, 1821.]
(2) [It seems hardly to admit of doubt, that the plain of Anatolia, watered by the Mender, and backed by a mountainous ridge, of which Kazdaghy is the summit, offers the precise territory alluded to by Homer. The long controversy, excited by Mr. Bryant's publication, and since so vehemently agitated, would probably never have existed, had it not been for the erroneous maps of the country which, even to this hour, disgrace our geographical knowledge of that part of Asia. - DR. E. D. CLARKE.
“ Although a real poet is naturally anxious to avail himself of interesting and well-known scenery, and a story hallowed by tradition, yet it is only so far as they suit his purpose, that either tradition or topography will be adhered to: and it is surely preposterous to expect that in a poem, so long, so varied, and so busy as that of Homer, he should ex. actly conform to the sober rules of the annalist, or the land.surveyor. It was the general opinion of antiquity, that Homer had in many respects departed from the truth of history in the action of his poem. Nor can any reason be assigned why he should not, by an equal privilege, have omitted or softened, or altered, such features of the scenery as interfered, in his opinion, with the effect or coherence of his narration. But, while a poet himself is seldom thus particular, it is the privilege of poetry to bestow even on imaginary scenery, the minuteness and liveliness which convey the idea of accuracy, - and if only the general features of his picture are correct, the zeal of his admirers in after-ages will not fail to assign a local habitation to even the wildest of his features. The sexton of Melrose has already begun to point out the tomb of Michael Scott, as described in the Lay of the Last Minstrel; and though the main outlines of Homer's picture are probably copied from nature, yet we doubt not that many of those ohjects to which Strabo refers, instead of affording
Where are the epitaphs our fathers read ?
Save a few glean'd from the sepulchral gloom Which once-named myriads nameless lie beneath, And lose their own in universal death.(1)
I canter by the spot each afternoon
Where perish'd in his fame the hero-boy, Who lived too long for men, but died too soon For human vanity, the young
De Foix !
But which neglect is hastening to destroy,
subjects for the bard to describe, derived, in after-days, their name and
And call to count what is of them become,
Which of all wisdom knew the perfect sum ?
Where those great warriors which did overcome
-SPENSER.] (2) The pillar which records the battle of Ravenna is about two miles from the city, on the opposite side of the river to the road towards Forli. Gaston de Foix, who gained the battle, was killed in it: there fell on both sides twenty thousand men. The present state of the pillar and its site is described in the text. - [De Foix was Duke of Nemours, and nephew to Louis XII., who gave him the government of Milan, and made him general of his army in Italy. The young hero signalised his valour and abilities in various actions, which terminated in the battle of Ravenna, fought on Easter.day, 1512. After he had obtained the victory, he could not be dissuaded froin pursuing a body of Spanish infantry, which retreated in good order. Making a furious charge on this brave troop, he was thrown from his horse, and despatched by a thrust of a pike. He perished in his twenty-fourth year, and the king's affliction for his death embittered all the joy arising from his success. — MORERI.]
A little cupola, more neat than solemn,
column : The time must come, when both alike decay'd,
The chieftain's trophy, and the poet's volume, Will sink where lie the songs and wars of earth, Before Pelides' death, or Homer's birth.
With human blood that column was cemented,
With human filth that column is defiled, As if the peasant's coarse contempt were vented
To show his loathing of the spot he soild:(3) Thus is the trophy used, and thus lamented
Should ever be those blood-hounds, from whose wild Instinct of gore and glory earth has known Those sufferings Dante saw in hell alone.(4)
(1) [MS. — “ Protects his tomb, but greater care is paid."]
(2) [Dante was buried (“ in sacra minorum æde") at Ravenna, in a handsome tomb, which was erected by his protector, Guido da Polenta, restored by Bernardo Bembo in 1483, again restored by Cardinal Corsi, in 1692, and replaced by a more magnificent sepulchre in 1780, at the expense of the Cardinal Luigi Valent Gonzaga. The Florentines having in vain and frequently attempted to recover his body, crowned his image in a church, and his picture is still one of the idols of their cathedral, Hobhouse.] (3) [MS. – « With human ordure is it now defiled,
As if the peasant's scorn this mode invented
To show his loathing of the thing he soil'd."] (4) [MS. — “ Those sufferings once reserved for Hell alone." VOL. XVI.