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Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? 1 Thy waters wasted them while they were free, And many a tyrant since; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts:—not so thou, Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure browSuch as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, Ocean 2! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy I wanton'd with thy breakers-they to me
1 [When Lord Byron wrote this stanza, he had, no doubt, the following passage in Boswell's Johnson floating on his mind: -" Dining one day with General Paoli, and talking of his projected journey to Italy, A man,' said Johnson, who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see. The grand object of all travelling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. All our religion, almost all our law, almost all our arts, almost all that sets us above savages, has come to us from the shores of the Mediterranean.' The General observed, that The Mediterranean' would be a noble subject for a poem."- Life of Johnson, vol. v. p. 145. ed. 1835.]
2["This passage would, perhaps, be read without emotion, if we did not know that Lord Byron was here describing his actual feelings and habits, and that this was an unaffected picture of his propensities and amusements even from childhood, when he listened to the roar, and watched the bursts of the northern ocean on the tempestuous shores of Aberdeenshire. It was a fearful and violent change at the age of ten years to be separated from this congenial solitude, - this independence so suited to his haughty and contemplative spirit, this rude grandeur of nature, and thrown among the mere worldly-minded and selfish ferocity, the affected polish and repelling coxcombry, of a great public school. How many thousand times did the moody, sullen, and indig. nant boy wish himself back to the keen air and boisterous billows that broke lonely upon the simple and soul-invigorating haunts of his childhood. How did he prefer some ghost-story; some tale of second-sight; some relation of Robin Hood's feats; some harrowing narrative of buccancerexploits, to all of Horace, and Virgil, and Homer, that was dinned into his repulsive spirit! To the shock of this change
is, I suspect, to be traced much of the eccentricity of Lord Byron's future life. This fourth Canto is the fruit of a mind which had stored itself with great care and toil, and had digested with profound reflection and intense vigour what it had learned: the sentiments are not such as lie on the surface, but could only be awakened by long meditation. Whoever reads it, and is not impressed with the many grand virtues as well as gigantic powers of the mind that wrote it, seems to me to afford a proof both of insensibility of heart, and great stupidity of intellect."-SIR E. BRYDGES.]
3 ["It was a thought worthy of the great spirit of Byron, after exhibiting to us his Pilgrim amidst all the most striking scenes of earthly grandeur and earthly decay, after teaching us, like him, to sicken over the mutability, and vanity, and emptiness of human greatness, to conduct him and us at last to the borders of "the Great Deep." It is there that we may perceive an image of the awful and unchangeable abyss of eternity, into whose bosom so much has sunk, and aif shall one day sink, of that eternity wherein the scorn and the contempt of man, and the melancholy of great, and the fretting of little minds, shall be at rest for ever. No one, but a true poet of man and of nature, would have dared to frame such a termination for such a Pilgrimage. The image of the wanderer may well be associated, for a time, with the rock of Calpe, the shattered temples of Athens, or the gigantic fragments of Rome; but when we wish to think of this dark personification as of a thing which is, where can we so well imagine him to have his daily haunt as by the roaring of the waves? It was thus that Homer represented Achilles in his moments of ungovernable and inconsolable grief for the loss of Patroclus. It was thus he chose to depict the paternal despair of Chriseus
Βῆ δ ̓ ἀκίων παρὰ θῖνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης."
THE tale which these disjointed fragments present, is founded upon circumstances now less common in the East than formerly; either because the ladies are more circumspect than in the "olden time," or because the Christians have better fortune, or less enterprise. The story, when entire, contained the adventures of a female slave, who was thrown, in the Mussulman manner, into the sea for infidelity, and avenged by a young Venetian, her lover, at the time the Seven Islands were possessed by the Republic of Venice, and soon after the Arnauts were beaten back from the Morea, which they had ravaged for some time subsequent to the Russian invasion. The desertion of the Mainotes, on being refused the plunder of Misitra, led to the abandonment of that enterprise, and to the desolation of the Morea, during which the cruelty exercised on all sides was unparalleled even in the annals of the faithful. 2
[The "Giaour" was published in May 1813, and abundantly sustained the impression created by the two first cantos of Childe Harold. It is obvious that in this, the first of his romantic narratives, Lord Byron's versification reflects the admiration he always avowed for Mr. Coleridge's "Christabel," the irregular rhythm of which had already been adopted in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel." The fragmentary style of the composition was suggested by the then new and popular" Columbus" of Mr. Rogers. As to the subject, it was not merely by recent travel that the author had familiarised himself with Turkish history. "Old Knolles," he said at Missolonghi, a few weeks before his death, "was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child; and I believe it had much influence on my future wishes to visit the Levant, and gave, perhaps, the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry." In the margin of his copy of Mr. D'Israeli's Essay on the Literary Character, we find the following note: "Knolles, Cantemir, De Tott, Lady M.W. Montague, Hawkins's translation from Mignot's History of the Turks, the Arabian Nights - all travels or histories, or books upon the East, I could meet with, I had read, as well as Ricaut, before I was ten years old."]'
[An event, in which Lord Byron was personally concerned, undoubtedly supplied the groundwork of this tale; but for the story, so circumstantially put forth, of his having himself been the lover of this female slave, there is no foundation. The girl whose life the poet saved at Athens was not,
No breath of air to break the wave
Fair clime! where every season smiles Benignant o'er those blessed isles, Which, seen from far Colonna's height, Make glad the heart that hails the sight, And lend to loneliness delight.
There mildly dimpling, Ocean's cheek Reflects the tints of many a peak Caught by the laughing tides that lave These Edens of the eastern wave:
we are assured by Sir John Hobhouse, an object of his Lordship's attachment, but of that of his Turkish servant. For the Marquis of Sligo's account of the affair, see Moore's Notices.]
A tomb above the rocks on the promontory, by some supposed the sepulchre of Themistocles. [ There are." says Cumberland, in his Observer, "a few lines by Plato, upon the tomb of Themistocles, which have a turn of elegant and pathetic simplicity in them, that deserves a better translation than I can give :
By the sea's margin, on the watery strand,
The merchant shall convey his freighted store;
"Of the beautiful flow of Byron's fancy," says Moore, "when its sources were once opened on any subject, the Giaour affords one of the most remarkable instances: this poem having accumulated under his hand, both in printing and through successive editious, till from four hundred lines, of which it consisted in its first copy, it at present amounts to fourteen hundred. The plan, indeed, which he had adopted, of a series of fragments, a set of orient pearls at random strung' left him free to introduce, without reference to more than the general complexion of his story, whatever sen
And if at times a transient breeze
The maid for whom his melody,
His thousand songs are heard on high,
Is heard, and seen the evening star;
And every charm and grace hath mix'd
There man, enamour'd of distress,
Nor claims the culture of his hand
timents or images his fancy, in its excursions, could collect; and, how little fettered he was by any regard to connection in these additions, appears from a note which accompanied his own copy of this paragraph, in which he says, 'I have not yet fixed the place of insertion for the following lines, but will, when I see you as I have no copy.' Even into this new passage, rich as it was at first, his fancy afterwards poured a fresh infusion."- The value of these after-touches of the master may be appreciated by comparing the following verses, from his original draft of this paragraph, with the form which they now wear :—
But springs as to preclude his care,
It is as though the fiends prevail'd Against the seraphs they assail'd
And, fix'd on heavenly thrones, should dwell The freed inheritors of hell;
So soft the scene, so form'd for joy, So curst the tyrants that destroy !
He who hath bent him o'er the dead Ere the first day of death is fled, The first dark day of nothingness, The last of danger and distress, (Before Decay's effacing fingers Have swept the lines where beauty lingers,)
And mark'd the mild angelic air,
The rapture of repose that's there, +
That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now,
The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon;
The first, last look by death reveal'd !6
'Tis Greece, but living Greece no more [7
2 The guitar is the constant amusement of the Greek sailor by night with a steady fair wind, and during a calm, it is accompanied always by the voice, and often by dancing.
3 [lf once the public notice is drawn to a poet, the talents he exhibits on a nearer view, the weight his mind carries with it in his every-day intercourse, somehow or other, are reflected around on his compositions, and co-operate in giving a collateral force to their impression on the public. To this we must assign some part of the impression made by the "Giaour." The thirty-five lines beginning "He who hath bent him o'er the dead" are so beautiful, so original, and so utterly beyond the reach of any one whose poetical genius was not very decided, and very rich, that they alone, under the circumstances explained, were sufficient to secure celebrity to this poem. SIR E. BRYDGES.]
6 I trust that few of my readers have ever had an oppor. tunity of witnessing what is here attempted in description; those who have will probably retain a painful remembrance of that singular beauty which pervades, with few exceptions, the features of the dead, a few hours, and but for a few hours, after "the spirit is not there." It is to be remarked in cases of violent death by gun-shot wounds, the expression is always that of languor, whatever the natural energy of the sufferer's character: but in death from a stab the countenance preserves its traits of feeling or ferocity, and the mind its bias, to the last.
[In Dallaway's Constantinople, a book which Lord Byron is not unlikely to have consulted, I find a passage quoted from Gillies's History of Greece, which contains, perhaps, the first seed of the thought thus expanded into full perfection by
Hers is the loveliness in death,
That hue which haunts it to the tomb,
A gilded halo hovering round decay,
Clime of the unforgotten brave ! 2 Whose land from plain to mountain-cave Was Freedom's home or Glory's grave! Shrine of the mighty! can it be, That this is all remains of thee? Approach, thou craven crouching slave. Say, is not this Thermopylæ ?
These waters blue that round you lave, Oh servile offspring of the freePronounce what sea, what shore is this? The gulf, the rock of Salamis ! These scenes, their story not unknown, Arise, and make again your own; Snatch from the ashes of your sires The embers of their former fires; . And he who in the strife expires Will add to theirs a name of fear That Tyranny shall quake to hear, And leave his sons a hope, a fame, They too will rather die than shame : For Freedom's battle once begun, Bequeath'd by bleeding Sire to Son, Though baffled oft is ever won. Bear witness, Greece, thy living page, Attest it many a deathless age! While kings, in dusty darkness hid, Have left a nameless pyramid,
When man was worthy of thy clime. The hearts within thy valleys bred, The fiery souls that, might have led Thy sons to deeds sublime,
Now crawl from cradle to the grave,
Stain'd with each evil that pollutes
And they who listen may believe,
Far, dark, along the blue sea glancing,
He shuns the near but doubtful creek:
Who thundering comes on blackest steed, 4
What time shall strengthen, not efface:
4 [The reciter of the tale is a Turkish fisherman, who has been employed during the day in the gulf of Egina, and in evening, apprehensive of the Mainote pirates who infest the coast of Attica, lands with his boat on the harbour of Port Leone, the ancient Piræus. He becomes the eye-witness of nearly all the incidents in the story, and in one of them is a principal agent. It is to his feelings, and particularly to his religious prejudices, that we are indebted for some of the most forcible and splendid parts of the poem. GEORGE ELLIS.]
5 [In Dr. Clarke's Travels, this word, which means Infidel, is always written according to its English pronunciation, Djour. Lord Byron adopted the Italian spelling usual among the Franks of the Levant.]