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"THE grand army of the Turks (in 1715), under the Prime Vizier, to open to themselves a way into the heart of the Morea, and to form the siege of Napoli di Romania, the most considerable place in all that country, thought it best in the first place to attack Corinth, upon which they made several storms. The garrison being weakened, and the governor seeing it was impossible to hold out against so mighty a force, thought it fit to beat a parley: but while they were treating about the articles, one of the magazines in the Turkish camp, wherein they had six hundred barrels of powder, blew up by accident, whereby six or seven hundred men were killed; which so enraged the infidels, that they would not grant any capitula
spared, without any great detriment to the world. BISHOP HEBER.
Lara has some charms which the Corsair has not. It is more domestic; it calls forth more sympathies with polished society; it is more intellectual, but much less passionate, less vigorous, and less brilliant; it is sometimes even languid, — at any rate, it is more diffuse. SIR E. BRYDGES.
Lara, obviously the sequel of "The Corsair," maintains in general the same tone of deep interest and lofty feeling ; — though the disappearance of Medora from the scene deprives it of the enchanting sweetness by which its terrors are there redeemed, and makes the hero, on the whole, less captivating. The character of Lara, too, is rather too elaborately finished*, and his nocturnal encounter with the apparition is worked up too ostentatiously. There is infinite beauty in the sketch of the dark Page, and in many of the moral or general reflections which are interspersed with the narrative. — JEFFREY.]
[The "Siege of Corinth," which appears, by the original MS., to have been begun in July, 1815, made its appearance in January, 1816. Mr. Murray having enclosed Lord Byron a thousand guineas for the copyright of this poem and of "Pa. risina," he replied, "Your offer is liberal in the extreme, and much more than the two poems can possibly be worth; but I cannot accept it, nor will not. You are most welcome to them as additions to the collected volumes; but I cannot consent to their separate publication. I do not like to risk any fame (whether merited or not) which I have been favoured with upon compositions which I do not feel to be at all equal to my own notions of what they should be; though they may do very well as things without pretension, to add to the pub lication with the lighter pieces. I have enclosed your draft torn, for fear of accidents by the way I wish you would not throw temptation in mine. It is not from a disdain of the universal idol, nor from a present super fluity of his treasures, I can assure you, that I refuse to worship him; but what is right is right, and inust not yield to circumstances. I am very glad that the handwriting was a favourable omen of the morale of the piece; but you must not trust to that, for my copyist would write out any thing I desired, in all the ignorance of innocence-I hope, however, in this instance, with no great peril to either." The copyist was Lady Byron. Lord Byron gave Mr. Gifford carte-blanche to strike out or alter
["What do the Reviewers mean by 'elaborate?' Lara I wrote while undressing, after coming home from balls and masquerades, in the year of revelry, 1814."— Byron Letters, 1822.]
tion, but stormed the place with so much fury, that they took it, and put most of the garrison, with Signior Minotti, the governor, to the sword. The rest, with Antonio Bembo, proveditor extraordinary, were made prisoners of war."- History of the Turks, vol. iii. p. 151.
The Siege of Corinth.'
In the year since Jesus died for men, 4 Eighteen hundred years and ten,
any thing at his pleasure in this poem, as it was passing through the press; and the reader will be amused with the varie lectiones which had their origin in this extraordinary confidence. Mr. Gifford drew his pen, it will be seen, through at least one of the most admired passages.]
2 Napoli di Romania is not now the most considerable place in the Morea, but Tripolitza, where the Pacha resides, and maintains his government. Napoli is near Argos. I visited all three in 1810-11; and, in the course of journeying through the country from my first arrival in 1809, I crossed the Isthmus eight times in my way from Attica to the Morea, over the mountains, or in the other direction, when passing from the Gulf of Athens to that of Lepanto. Both the routes are picturesque and beautiful, though very different: that by sea has more sameness; but the voyage being always within sight of land, and often very near it, presents many attractive views of the islands Salamis, Egina, Poro, &c. and the coast of the Continent.
3" With regard to the observations on carelessness, &c.," wrote Lord Byron to a friend, "I think, with all humility, that the gentle reader has considered a rather uncommon, and decidedly irregular, versification for haste and negligence. The measure is not that of any of the other poems, which (I believe) were allowed to be tolerably correct, according to Byshe and the fingers-or ears by which bards write, and readers reckon. Great part of the Siege' is in (I think) what the learned call anapests, (though I am not sure, being heinously forgetful of my metres and my Gradus,) and many of the lines intentionally longer or shorter than its rnyming companion; and the rhyme also occurring at greater or less intervals of caprice or convenience. I mean not to say that this is right or good, but merely that I could have been smoother, had it appeared to me of advantage; and that I was not otherwise without being aware of the deviation, though I now feel sorry for it, as I would undoubtedly rather please than not. My wish has been to try at something different from my former efforts; as I endeavoured to make them differ from each other. The versification of the Corsair' is not that of Lara; 'nor the Giaour' that of the Bride: Childe Harold' is, again, varied from these; and I strove to vary the last somewhat from all of the others. Excuse all this nonsense and egotism. The fact is, that I am rather trying to think on the subject of this note, than really thinking on it."- Byron Letters, Feb. 1816.]
[On Christmas-day, 1815, Lord Byron, enclosing this fragment to Mr. Murray, says, "I send some lines, written some time ago, and intended as an opening to the Siege of
We were a gallant company,
We forded the river, and clomb the high hill,
All our thoughts and words had scope,
And some, or I mis-say, of neither;
But some are dead, and some are gone,
That look along Epirus' valleys, Where freedom still at moments rallies, And pays in blood oppression's ills;
And some are in a far countree, And some all restlessly at home;
But never more, oh! never, we Shall meet to revel and to roam.
But those hardy days flew cheerily,
And when they now fall drearily,
My thoughts, like swallows, skim the main, And bear my spirit back again
Corinth.' I had forgotten them, and am not sure that they had not better be left out now ;-on that, you and your synod can determine."-"They are written," says Moore," in the loosest form of that rambling style of metre, which his admi ration of Mr. Coleridge's Christabelled him, at this time, to adopt." It will be seen, hereafter, that the poet had never read Christabel " at the time when he wrote these lines; — he had, however, the Lay of the Last Minstrel." With regard to the character of the species of versification at this time so much in favour, it may be observed, that feeble imitations have since then vulgarised it a good deal to the general ear; but that, in the hands of Mr. Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, and Lord Byron himself, it has often been employed with the most happy effect. Its irregularity, when moulded under the guidance of a delicate taste, is more to the eye than to the ear, and in fact not greater than was admitted in some of the most delicious of the lyrical measures of the ancient Greeks.]
[In one of his sea excursions, Lord Byron was nearly lost in a Turkish ship of war, owing to the ignorance of the captain and crew. "Fletcher," he says, "yelled; the Greeks called on all the saints; the Mussulmans on Alla; while the captain burst into tears, and ran below deck. I did what I could to console Fletcher; but finding him incorrigible, I wrapped myself up in my Albanian capote, and lay down to wait the worst." This striking instance of the poet's coolness and courage is thus confirmed by Mr. Hobhouse: "Finding that, from his lameness, he was unable to be of any service in the exertions which our very serious danger called for, after a laugh or two at the panic of his valet, he not only wrapped himself up and lay down, in the manner he has described, but when our difficulties were terminated was found fast asleep."]
3 [In the original MS. —
? The last tidings recently heard of Dervish (one of the Arnaouts who followed me) state him to be in revolt upon the mountains, at the head of some of the bands common in that country in times of trouble.
"A marvel from her Moslem bands."]
Over the earth, and through the air,
And sit with me on Acro-Corinth's brow?
Many a vanish'd year and age,
And tempest's breath, and battle's rage,
Arise from out the earth which drank
Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis,
4 [Timoleon, who had saved the life of his brother Timophanes in battle, afterwards killed him for aiming at the supreme power in Corinth, preferring his duty to his country to all the obligations of blood. Dr. Warton says, that Pope once intended to write an epic poem on the story, and that Dr. Akenside had the same design.]
[The Giaour, the Bride of Abydos, the Corsair, Lara, the Siege of Corinth, followed each other with a celerity, which was only rivalled by their success; and if at times the author seemed to pause in his poetic career, with the threat of forbearing further adventure for a time, the public eagerly pardoned the breach of a promise by keeping which they must have been sufferers. Exquisitely beautiful in themselves, these tales received a new charm from the romantic climes into which they introduced us, and from the oriental costume so strictly preserved and so picturesquely exhibited. Greece, the cradle of the poetry with which our earliest studies are familiar, was presented to us among her ruins and her sorrows. Her delightful scenery, once dedicated to those deities who, though dethroned from their own Olympus, still preservea poetical empire, was spread before us in Lord Byron's poetry, varied by all the moral effect derived from what Greece is and what she has been, while it was doubled by comparisons, perpetually excited, between the philosophers and heroes who formerly inhabited that romantic country, and their descendants, who either stoop to their Scythian conquerors, or maintain, among the recesses of their classical mountains, an independence as wild and savage as it is precarious. The oriental manners also and diction, so peculiar in their picturesque effect that they can cast a charm even over the absurdities of an eastern tale, had here the more honourable occupation of decorating that which in itself was beautiful, and enhancing by novelty what would have been captivating without its aid. The powerful impression produced by this peculiar species of poetry confirmed us in a principle, which, though it will hardly be challenged when stated as an axiom, is very rarely com plied with in practice. It is, that every author should, lile Lord Byron, form to himself, and communicate to the reader, a precise, defined, and distinct view of the landscape, sentiment, or action which he intends to describe to the reader. SIR WALTER SCOTT.]
On dun Citharon's ridge appears
But near and nearest to the wall
From Venice-once a race of worth
[Turkish holders of military fiefs, which oblige them to join the army, mounted at their own expense.]
2 The life of the Turcomans is wandering and patriarchal : they dwell in tents.
3 Ali Coumourgi, the favourite of three sultans, and Grand Vizier to Achmet III, after recovering Peloponnesus from the Venetians in one campaign, was mortally wounded in the next, against the Germans, at the battle of Peter waradin (in
He stood a foe, with all the zeal
Coumourgi 3-he whose closing scene
The walls grew weak; and fast and hot
And thunder-like the pealing din
VIL But not for vengeance, long delay'd, Alone, did Alp, the renegade,
the plain of Carlowitz), in Hungary, endeavouring to rally his guards. He died of his wounds next day. His last order was the decapitation of General Breuner, and some other German prisoners; and his last words, "Oh that I could thus serve all the Christian dogs!" a speech and act not unlike one of Caligula. He was a young man of great ambition and unbounded presumption: on being told that Prince Eugene, then opposed to him," was a great general," he said, "I shall become a greater, and at his expense."
The Moslem warriors sternly teach
Whose heart refused him in its ire,
He glitter'd through the Carnival;
And many deem'd her heart was won;
More rare at masque and festival;
Or seen at such, with downcast eyes,
Sent by the state to guard the land,
The full of hope, misnamed "forlorn,"
"T is midnight: on the mountains brown
And the wide hum of that wild host
To mortal minstrelsy unknown. 2
The tent of Alp was on the shore;
The sound was hush'd, the prayer was o'er;
3 ["Which rings a deep, internal knell, A visionary passing bell."- MS.]
He stood alone among the host; Not his the loud fanatic boast
To plant the crescent o'er the cross,
They did not know how pride can stoop,
His head grows fever'd, and his pulse
Than now might yield a warrior's bed,
["As lions o'er the jackal sway
By springing dauntless on the prey;
He felt his soul become more light Beneath the freshness of the night. Cool was the silent sky, though calm, And bathed his brow with airy balm: Behind, the camp - before him lay, In many a winding creek and bay, Lepanto's gulf; and, on the brow Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow, High and eternal, such as shone Through thousand summers brightly gone, Along the gulf, the mount, the clime; It will not melt, like man, to time: Tyrant and slave are swept away, Less form'd to wear before the ray; But that white veil, the lightest, frailest, Which on the mighty mount thou hailest, While tower and tree are torn and rent, Shines o'er its craggy battlement; In form a peak, in height a cloud, In texture like a hovering shroud, Thus high by parting Freedom spread, As from her fond abode she fled, And linger'd on the spot, where long Her prophet spirit spake in song. Oh! still her step at moments falters O'er wither'd fields, and ruin'd altars, And fain would wake, in souls too broken, By pointing to each glorious token: But vain her voice, till better days Dawn in those yet remember'd rays, Which shone upon the Persian flying, And saw the Spartan smile in dying.
Not mindless of these mighty times
led them to the lawless siege, Whose best success were sacrilege. Not so had those his fancy number'd,
The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd;
The very gale their names seem'd sighing: