Page images


He leads them through the hall, and, without stopping,

On through a farther range of goodly rooms, Splendid but silent, save in one, where, dropping, (-)

A marble fountain echoes through the glooms Of night, which robe the chamber, or where popping

Some female head most curiously presumes To thrust its black eyes through the door or lattice, As wondering what the devil noise that is.


Some faint lamps gleaming from the lofty walls
Gave light enough to hint their farther

way, But not enough to show the imperial halls

In all the flashing of their full array;
Perhaps there's nothing—I'll not say appals,

But saddens more by night as well as day,
Than an enormous room without a soul
To break the lifeless splendour of the whole.


Two or three seem so little, one seems nothing :

In deserts, forests, crowds, or by the shore, There solitude, we know, has her full growth in

The spots which were her realms for evermore;

(1) A common furniture. I recollect being received by Ali Pacha, in a large room, paved with marble, containing a marble basin, and fountain playing in the centre, &c. &c. [See antè, Vol. VIII. p. 92.

“ In marble-paved pavilion, where a spring

Of living water from the centre rose,
Whose bubbling did a genial freshness fling,

And soft voluptuous couches breathed repose,
Ali reclined, a man of war and woes," &c.]

But in a mighty hall or gallery, both in

More modern buildings and those built of yore, A kind of death comes o'er us all alone, Seeing what's meant for many with but one.


A neat, snug study on a winter's night, ( )

A book, friend, single lady, or a glass Of claret, sandwich, and an appetite,

Are things which make an English evening pass ; Though certes by no means so grand a sight

As is a theatre lit up by gas.
I pass my evenings in long galleries solely,
And that's the reason I'm so melancholy.


Alas! man makes that great which makes him little:

I grant you in a church 'tis very well: What speaks of Heaven should by no means be brittle,

But strong and lasting, till no tongue can tell Their names who rear’d it; but huge houses fit ill

And huge tombsworse-mankind, since Adam fell: Methinks the story of the tower of Babel Might teach them this much better than I'm able.


Babel was Nimrod's hunting-box, and then

A town of gardens, walls, and wealth amazing, Where Nabuchadonosor, king of men,

Reign'd, till one summer's day he took to grazing, (1) [MS." A small, snug chamber on a winter's night,

Well furnish'd with a book, friend, girl, or glass,” &c.]

[blocks in formation]

And Daniel tamed the lions in their den,

The people's awe and admiration raising; 'Twas famous, too, for Thisbe and for Pyramus, (') And the calumniated queen Semiramis.—(2)


That injured Queen, by Chroniclers so coarse

Has been accused (I doubt not by conspiracy) Of an improper friendship for her horse

(Love, like religion, sometimes runs to heresy): This monstrous tale had probably its source

(For such exaggerations here and there I see) In writing “ Courser” by mistake for “ Courier :" I wish the case could come before a jury here. (3)


But to resume, — should there be (what may not

Be in these days ?) some infidels, who don't, Because they can't find out the very spot (4)

Of that same Babel, or because they won't

(1) [See Ovid's Metamorphoses, lib. iv.

“ In Babylon, where first her queen, for state,

Raised walls of brick magnificently great,
Lived Pyramus and Thisbe, lovely pair!
He found no Eastern youth his equal there,

And she beyond the fairest nymph was fair.” – GARTH.] (2) Babylon was enlarged by Nimrod, strengthened and beautified by Nabuchadonosor, and rebuilt by Semiramis.

(3) [At the time when Lord Byron was writing this Canto, the unfor. tunate affair of Queen Caroline, charged, among other offences, with ad. mitting her chamberlain, Bergami, originally a courier, to her bed, was occupying much attention in Italy, as in England. The allusions to the domestic troubles of George IV. in the text, are frequent. - E.]

(4) [Excepting the ruins of some large and lofty turrets, like that of Babel or Belus, the cities of Babylon and Nineveh are so completely

(Though Claudius Rich, Esquire, some bricks has got,

And written lately two memoirs upon 't) (1)
Believe the Jews, those unbelievers, who
Must be believed, though they believe not you.


Yet let them think that Horace has exprest

Shortly and sweetly the masonic folly
Of those, forgetting the great place of rest,

Who give themselves to architecture wholly; We know where things and men must end at best:

A moral (like all morals) melancholy, And “ Et sepulchri immemor struis domos" (2) Shows that we build when we should but entomb us.

crumbled into dust, as to be wholly undistinguishable but by a few in. equalities of the surface on which they once stood. The humble tent of the Arab now occupies the spot formerly adorned with the palaces of kings, and his flocks procure but a scanty pittance of food, amidst the fallen fragments of ancient magnificence. The banks of the Euphrates and Tigris, once so prolific, are now, for the most part, covered with impenetrable brushwood; and the interior of the province, which was traversed and fertilised with innumerable canals, is destitute of either inhabitants or vegetation. - MORIER.]

(1) [" Two Memoirs on the Ruins of Babylon, by Claudius James Rich, Esq., Resident for the East India Company at the Court of the Pasha of Bagdat.”] (2)

[“ Tu secanda marmora
Locas sub ipsum funus, et sepulchri

Immemor struis domos.” — Hor.
“ Day presses on the heels of day,

And moons increase to their decay;
But you, with thoughtless pride elate,
Unconscious of impending fate,
Command the pillar'd dome to rise,
When, lo! the tomb forgotten lies.” – FRANCIS.]


At last they reach'd a quarter most retired,

Where echo woke as if from a long slumber; Though full of all things which could be desired,

One wonder'd what to do with such a number
Of articles which nobody required;

Here wealth had done its utmost to encumber
With furniture an exquisite apartment,
Which puzzled Nature much to know what Art meant.


It seem'd, however, but to open on

A range or suite of further chambers, which Might lead to heaven knows where; but in this one

The moveables were prodigally rich:
Sofas 'twas half a sin to sit upon,

So costly were they ; carpets every stitch
Of workmanship so rare, they made you wish
You could glide o'er them like a golden fish.(')


The black, however, without hardly deigning

A glance at that which wrapt the slaves in wonder, Trampled what they scarce trod for fear of staining,

As if the milky way their feet was under
With all its stars; and with a stretch attaining

A certain press or cupboard niched in yonder-
In that remote recess which you may see-
Or if

don't the fault is not in me,

[ocr errors]

(1) [MS. — “That you could but glide o'er them like a fish.”]

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »