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For he through Sin's long labyrinth had run, Nor made atonement when he did amiss, Had sigh'd to many though he loved but one, (') And that loved one, alas! could ne'er be his. Ah, happy she! to 'scape from him whose kiss Had been pollution unto aught so chaste; Who soon had left her charms for vulgar bliss, And spoil'd her goodly lands to gild his waste, Nor calm domestic peace had ever deign'd to taste.
And now Childe Harold was sore sick at heart,
And from his native land resolved to go,
(1) [See Stanzas written to a Lady, antè, vol. vii. p. 302. — E.]
(2) [In these stanzas, and indeed throughout his works, we must not accept too literally Lord Byron's testimony against himself-he took a morbid pleasure in darkening every shadow of his self-portraiture. His interior at Newstead had, no doubt, been, in some points, loose and irregular enough; but it certainly never exhibited any thing of the profuse and Sultanic luxury which the language in the text might seem to indicate. In fact, the narrowness of his means at the time the verses refer to would alone have precluded this. His household economy, while he remained at the Abbey, is known to have been conducted on a very moderate scale; and, besides, his usual companions, though far from being averse to convivial indulgences, were not only, as Mr. Moore says, "of habits and tastes too intellectual for mere vulgar debauchery," but, assuredly, quite incapable of playing the parts of flatterers and parasites. - E.]
The Childe departed from his father's hall:
Yet strength was pillar'd in each massy aisle.
Yet oft-times in his maddest mirthful mood Strange pangs would flash along Childe Harold's As if the memory of some deadly feud
Or disappointed passion lurk'd below:
But this none knew, nor haply cared to know;
For his was not that open, artless soul
Nor sought he friend to counsel or condole, Whate'er this grief mote be, which he could not control.
And none did love him—though to hall and bower He gather'd revellers from far and near, He knew them flatt'rers of the festal hour; The heartless parasites of present cheer. Yea! none did love him—not his lemans dearBut pomp and power alone are woman's care, And where these are light Eros finds a feere; Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare, And Mammon wins his way where Seraphs might despair.
Childe Harold had a mother-not forgot, Though parting from that mother he did shun; A sister whom he loved, but saw her not Before his weary pilgrimage begun :
If friends he had, he bade adieu to none.
Yet deem not thence his breast a breast of steel. Ye, who have known what 'tis to dote upon
A few dear objects, will in sadness feel [heal Such partings break the heart they fondly hope to
His house, his home, his heritage, his lands,
Without a sigh he left, to cross the brine, [line. (1) And traverse Paynim shores, and pass Earth's central
The sails were fill'd, and fair the light winds blew,
As glad to waft him from his native home;
The silent thought, nor from his lips did come One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept, And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept.
(1) [Lord Byron originally intended to visit India.-E.]
But when the sun was sinking in the sea
He seized his harp, which he at times could string,
When deem'd he no strange ear was listening:
And tuned his farewell in the dim twilight.
“ADIEU, adieu ! my native shore
Fades o'er the waters blue;
The Night-winds sigh, the breakers roar
Yon Sun that sets upon the sea
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
"A few short hours and He will rise
But not my mother earth.
Its hearth is desolate;
Wild weeds are gathering on the wall;
My dog howls at the gate.
(1) [See Lord Maxwell's " Good Night," in Scott's Border Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. 297.
66 Adieu, madame, my mother dear," &c.—E]
"Come hither, hither, my little page! (1)
Or dost thou dread the billows' rage,
But dash the tear-drop from thine eye;
"Let winds be shrill, let waves roll high,
I fear not wave nor wind;
Yet marvel not, Sir Childe, that I
A mother whom I love,
And have no friend, save these alone,
But thee and one above.
(1) [This "little page" was Robert Rushton, the son of one of Lord Byron's tenants. "I take Robert with me," says the poet, in a letter to his mother; "I like him, because, like myself, he seems a friendless animal."- -E]
(2) [Seeing that the boy was "sorrowful" at the separation from his parents, Lord Byron, on reaching Gibraltar, sent him back to England under the care of his old servant Murray. " Pray," he says to his mother, "shew the lad every kindness, as he has behaved extremely well, and is a great favourite." He also wrote a letter to the father of the boy, which leaves a most favourable impression of his thoughtfulness and kindliness. "I have," he says, "sent Robert home, because the country which I am about to travel through is in a state which renders it unsafe, particularly for one so young. I allow you to deduct from your rent five and twenty pounds a year for the expense of his education, for three years, provided I do not return before that time, and I desire he may be considered as in my service."— E.]