Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

6.-Stanza xviii., line 5.

In "pride of placehere last the eagle flero, " Pride of place" is a term of falconry, and means the highest pitch of flight. See Macbeth, &c.:-

“ An eagle towering in his pride of place," &c. [In the original draught of this stanza the lines stood

"Here his last flight the hanghty eagle flew,

Then tore with bloody beak the fatal plain" Mr. Reinagle, the artist, sketched an eagle, grasping the earth with his talons, upon which Lord Byron remarked—"Reinagle is a better poet and a better ornithologist than I am: eagles, and all birds of prey, attack with their talons, and not with their beaks; and I have altered the line thus :

"Then tore with bloody talon the rent plain.' This is, I think, a better line, besides its poetical justice.")

7.-Stanza xx., line 9. Such as Harmodius drew on Athens' tyrant lord. See the famous song on Harmodius and Aristogiton. The best English translation is in Bland's Anthology, by Mr. (since Lord Chief Justice) Denman:

"With myrtle my sword will I wreathe," &c.

8.-Stanza xxi., line 8.

And all went merry as a marriage-bell ; On the night previous to the action, it is said that a ball was given at Brussels.-- The Duke of Wellington had at first intended that the ball should be put off, but thinking it important to keep the people of Brussels in ignorance, he allowed it to proceed, and ordered the general officers to appear there. At ten o'clock they slipped away quietly, and hastened after their respective divisions.)

9.--Stanza xxiii., line 9. He rush'd into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell. [The Duke of Brunswick fell at Quatre Bras; his father received his death-wound at Jena.)

10.-Stanza xxvi., line 2.

The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills (Lochiel is the chief of the Cameron clan. Albyn is the Gælic name for Scotland.)

11.-Stanza xxvi., line 9. And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears! Sir Evan Cameron, and his descendant Donald, the “gentle Lochiel" of the “ forty-five."

12.–Stanza xxvii, line 1. And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves, The wood of Soignies is supposed to be a remnant of the forest of Ardennes, famous in Boiardo's Orlando, and immortal in Shakspeare's "As you like it." It is also celebrated in Tacitus, as being the spot of successful defence by the Germans against the Roman encroachments. I have ventured to adopt the name connected with nobler associations than those of mere slaughter. [Shakspeare's forest of Arden was not the Ardennes of Belgium, but a woodland district of Warwickshire, of which several places, such as Henley-in-Arden, still retain the name.]

13.-Stanza xxviii., line 6.

The thunder-clouds close o'er il, which when rent (There was a thunder-storm on the morning of the battle.]

14.-Stanza xxix., line 4.

And partly that I did his sire some wrong, [The Earl of Carlisle, by satirising him in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.)

15.-Stanza xxix., line 9. They reach'd no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard ! {"In the late battles, like all the world, I have lost a connection-poor Frederick Howard, the best of his race. I had little intercourse of late years with his family; but I never saw or heard but good of him.”— Lord B. to Mr. Moore.

16.-Stanza xxx., line 9. I turn'd from all she brought to those she could not bring. My guide from Mount St. Jean over the field seemed intelligent and accurate. The place where Major Howard fell was not far from two tall and solitary trees (there was a third cut down, or shivered in the battle), which stand a few yards from each other at a pathway's side. Beneath these he died and was buried. The body has since been removed to England. A small hollow for the present marks where it lay, but will probably soon be effaced; the plongh has been upon it, and the grain is. After pointing out the different spots where Picton and other gallant men had perished; the guide said, “ Here Major IIoward lay: I was near him when wounded." I told him my relationship, and he seemed then still more anxious to point out the particular spot and circumstances.

Q?

The place is one of the most marked in the field, from the peculiarity of the two trees above mentioned. I went on horseback twice over the field, comparing it with my recollection of similar scenes. As a plain, Waterloo seems marked out for the scene of some great action, though this may be mere imagination: I have viewed with attention those of Platea, "Troy, Mantinea, Leuctra, Chæronea, and Marathon; and the field around Mount St. Jean and Hougoumont appears to want little but a better cause, and that undefinable but impressive halo which the lapse of ages throws around a celebrated spot, to vie in interest with any or all of these, except, perhaps, the last mentioned.

17.-Stanza xxxiv., line 6.

Like to the apples on the Dead Sea's shore, The (fabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltites were said to be fair without, and, within, ashes. Vide Tacitus, Histor. lib. v. 7.

18.-Stanza xli., line 9. For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den. The great error of Napoleon, "if we have writ our annals crue," was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling for or with them; perhaps more offensive to human vanity than the active cruelty of more trembling and suspicious tyranny. Such were his speeches to public assemblies as well as individuals; and the single expression which he is said to have used on returning to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing his hands over a fire, “This is pleasanter than Moscow," would probably alienate more favour from his cause than the destruction and reverses which led to the remark, (Lord Byron in conversation affected to praise Napoleon for that want of sympathy which is here condemned. He would then maintain that it showed a knowledge of human nature to despise mankind. A hard heart, however, suffices for the purpose without any aid from the head, while a deeper sagacity would have taught Napoleon the impolicy of his conduct, although it had not convinced him of its injustice.]

19.–Stanza xlviii., line 6.

What want these outlaws conquerors should have “What wants that knave that a king should have?" was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and his followers in full accoutrements.--See the Ballad.

20.- Page 147, line 19.

The castled crag of Drachenfels The castle of Drachenfels stands on the highest summit of " the Seven Mountains," over the Rhine banks; it is in ruins, and connected with some singular traditions. It is the first in view on the road from Bonn, but on the opposite side of the river; on this bank, nearly facing it, are the remains of another, called the Jew's Castle, and a large cross, com

memorative of the murder of a chief by his brother. The number of castles and cities along the course of the Rhine on both sides is very great, and their situations remarkably beautiful.

21.- Page 147, line 28.

With double joy wert thou with me. (These verses, addressed by the poet to his sister, were written on the banks of the Rhine, in May.]

22.-Stanza lvii., line 9. The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept. The monument of the young and lamented General Marceau (killed by a rifle-ball at Alterkirchen, on the last day of the fourth year of the French republic) still remains as described. The inscriptions on his monument are rather too long, and not required : his name was enough; France adored, and her enemies admired; both wept over him. His funeral was attended by the generals and detachments from both armies. In the same grave General Hoche is interred, a gallant man also in every sense of the word; but though he distinguished himself greatly in battle, he had not the good fortune to die there: his death was attended by suspicions of poison. A separate monument (not over his body, which is buried by Marcean's) is raised for him near Andernach, opposite to which one of his most memorable exploits was performed, in throwing a bridge to an island on the Rhine. The shape and style are different from that of Marceau's, and the inscription more simple and pleasing :* The Army of the Sambre and Meuse to its Commander-in-Chief Hoche." This is all, and as it should be. Hoche was esteemed among the first of France's earlier generals, before Buona parte monopolised her triumphs. He was the destined commander the invading army of Ireland.

23.-Stanza lviii., line 1.

Here Ehrenbreitstein, with her shatter'd wall Ehrenbreitstein, i.e." the broad stone of honour," one of the strongest fortresses in Europe, was dismantled and blown up by the French at the truce of Leoben. It had been, and could only be, reduced by famine or treachery. It yielded to the former, aided by surprise. After having seen the fortitications of Gibraltar and Malta, it did not much strike by comparison; but the situation is commanding. General Marceau bésieged it in vain for some time, and I slept in a room where I was shown & window at which he is said to have been standing observing the progress of the siege by moonlight, when a ball struck immediately below it

24.-Stanza lx., line 5.

Their cherish'd gaze upon thee, lovely Rhine! (On taking Hockheim, the Anstrians, in one part of the engagement, got to the brow of the hill, whence they had their first view of the Rhine.

They instantly halted—not a gun was fired-not a voice heard: but they stood gazing on the river with those feelings which the events of the last fifteen years at once called up. Then they gave three cheers, rushed after the enemy, and drove them into the water.]

25.-Stanza lxiii, line 9. Unsepulchred they roam'd, and shriek'd each wandering ghost. The chapel is destroyed, and the pyramid of bones diminished to a small number by the Burgundian legion in the service of France; who anxiously effaced this record of their ancestors' less successful invasions. A few still remain, notwithstanding the pains taken by the Burgundians for ages (all who passed that way removing a bone to their own country), and the less justifiable larcenies of the Swiss postilions, who carried them off to sell for knife-handles; a purpose for which the whiteness imbibed by the bleaching of years had rendered them in great request. Of these relics I ventured to bring away as much as may have made a quarter of a hero, for which the sole excuse is, that if I had not, the next passer by might have perverted them to worse uses than the careful preservation which I intend for them.

26.-Stanza lxv., line 9. Levell d Aventicum, hath strew'd her subject lands. Aventicum, near Morat, was the Roman capital of Helvetia, Fhere Avenches now stands.

27.-Stanza lxvi., line 9. And held within their urn one mind, one heart, one dust. Julia Alpinula, & young Aventian priestess, died soon after a vain endeavour to save her father, condemned to death as a traitor by Aulus Cecina. Her epitaph was discovered many years ago ;-it is thus :“Julia Alpinula: Hic jaceo. Infelicis patris, infelix proles. Dede Aventiæ Sacerdos. Exorare patris necem non potui : Male mori in fatis ille erat. Vixi annos xxII."- I know of no human composition so affecting as this, nor a history of deeper interest. These are the names and actions which ought not to perish, and to which we turn with a true and healthy tenderness, from the wretched and glittering detail of a confused mass of conquests and battles, with which the mind is mused for a time to a false and feverish sympathy, from whence it recurs at length with all the nausea consequent on such intoxication.

28.-Stanza lxvii., line 8.

In the sun's face, like yonder Alpine snow, This is written in the eye of Mont Blanc (June 3rd, 1816), which even at this distance dazzles mine.-(July 20th.) I this day observed for some time the distinct reflection of Mont Blanc and Mont Argentière in the calm of the lake, which I was crossing in my boat; the distance of these mountains from their mirror is sixty miles.

« ForrigeFortsett »