« PreviousContinue »
2 Atomaunt :
BY LORD BYRON.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY W DUGDAŁE
23, Russell Court, Drury Lane.
L'univers est une espece de livre, dont on n'a lu que la
page quand on n'a vu que son pays. J'en ai feuilleté un assez grand nombre, que j'ai trouvé également mauvaises. Cet examen ne m'a point été infructuex. Je haïsais ma patrie. Toutes les impertinences des peuples divers, parmi l'esquels j'ai vcéu, m'out reconcilé avec ulle. Qand je n'aurais tiré d'autre benefice de mes voyages que celui-là, je n'en regretterais ni les frais, ni les fatigues.
The following poem was written, for the most part amidst the scenes which it attempts to describe. It was begun in Albania; and the parts relative to Spain and Portugal were composed from the author's observations in those countries. Thus much it may be necessary to state for the correctness of the description. The scenes attempted to be sketched are in Spain, Portugal, Epirus, Acarnania, and Greece. There for the present the poem stops: its reception will determine whether the author may venture to conduct his readers to the capital of the East, through Ionia and Phrygia: these two cantos are merely experimental.
A fictitious character is introdaced for the sake of giving some connection to the piece; which, however, makes no pretension to regularity It has been suggested to me by friends, on whose opinions I set a high value that in this fictitious character, “Childe Harold," I may incur the suspicion of having intended some real personage : this I beg leave, once for all, to disclaim-Harold is the child of imagination, for the purpose I have stated. In some very trivial particulars, and those merely local, there might be grounds for such a notion but in the main points, I should hope, none whatever.
It is almost superfildous to mention that the appellation “ Childe," as “Childe Waters,” “ Childe Childers,” &c, is used as more consonant with the old structure of versification which I have adopted. The “ Good Night,” in the beginning of the first canto, was suggested by“ Lord Maxwell's Good Night,” in the Border Minstrelsy, edited by Mr, Scott.
With the different poems which have been published on Spanish subjects, there may be found some slight coin, cidence in the first part, which treats of the Peninsula, but it can only be casual; as, with the exception of a few concluding stanzas, the whole of this poem was written in the Levant.
The stanza of Spencer according to one of our most successful poets, admits of every variety. Dr. Beattie makes the following observation; “ Not long ago I began a poem in the style and stanza of Spencer, in which I pro. pose to give full scope to my inclination, and be either droll or pathetic, descriptive or sentimental, tender or satirical, as the humour strikes me ; for, if I mistake not,the measure wbich I have adopted admits equally of all these kinds of composition."*-Strengthened in my opinion by such authority, and by the example of some in the highest order of Italian poets, I shall make no apology for attempts at similar variations in the following composition ; satisfied that, if they are unsuccessful, their failure must be in the execution, rather than in the design sanctioned by the practice of Ariosto, Thomson, and Beattie,
* Beattie's Letters.
ADDITION TO THE
I have now waited till alınost all our periodical journals have distributed their usual portion of criticism. To the justice of the generality of their criticisms I have nothing to object; it would ill become me to quarrel with their slight degree of censure, when, perhaps, if they had been less kind they had been more candid. Returning therefore to all and each my best thanks for their liberality, on one point alone shall I venture an observation. Amongst the many objections justly urged to the very indifferent character of the “ vagrant Childe” (whom potwithstanding many hints to the contrary, I stilì maintain to be a fictitious personage,) it has been stąted, that besides the anachronism, he is very unknightly, as the times of the Knight were times of love, honour, and so forih. Now it so happens that the old times, when“ l'amour du bon vieux tems, l'amour antique" flourished, were the most profligate of all possible centuries. Those who bave any doubts on this subject may consult St. Palaye, passim, and more particularly vol. ii. page 69. The vuws of chivalry were no better kept than any other vows whatever, and the songs of the Troubadors were not more decent, and certaiuly were much less refined, than those of Ovid. The “ Cours d'amour, parlemens d'amour ou de courtesie et de gentilesse," bad much more of love than of courtesy or gentleness.-See Rolland on the same subject with St. Palaye.-Whatever other objection may be urged to that most unamiable personage Childe Harold, he was so far perfectly knightly in his attributes" No waiter, but a knight templar.”* By the by, I fear that Sir Tristram and Sir Lancelot were no better than they should be, although very poetical personages and true knights “sans peur," though
* The Rovers. Antijacobin.