The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 49

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155-176. He gives (p. 174) a striking description of a _sunrise_ off the Cape of Sunium.]

[226] {271} Socrates drank the hemlock a short time before sunset (the hour of execution), notwithstanding the entreaties of his disciples to wait till the sun went down.

[227] The twilight in Greece is much shorter than in our own country: the days in winter are longer, but in summer of shorter duration.

[228] {272} The Kiosk is a Turkish summer house: the palm is without the present walls of Athens, not far from the temple of Theseus, between which and the tree, the wall intervenes.--Cephisus' stream is indeed scanty, and Ilissus has no stream at all.

[E. Dodwell (_Cla.s.sical Tour_, 1819, i. 371) speaks of "a magnificent palm tree, which shoots among the ruins of the Ptolemaion," a short distance to the east of the Theseion. There is an ill.u.s.tration in its honour. The Theseion--which was "within five minutes' walk" of Byron's lodgings (_Travels in Albania_, 1858, i. 259)--contains the remains of the scholar, John Tweddell, died 1793, "over which a stone was placed, owing to the exertions of Lord Byron" (Clarke's _Travels_, Part II.

sect. i. p. 534). When Byron died, Colonel Stanhope proposed, and the chief Odysseus decreed, that he should be buried in the same spot.--_Life_, p. 640.]

[229] {273} [After the battle of Salamis, B.C. 480, Paros fell under the dominion of Athens.]

[hw] {274} _They gather round and each his aid supplies_.--[MS.]

[hx] {275} _Within that cave Debate waxed warm and strange_.--[_MS_.]

_Loud in the cave Debate waxed warm and strange_.-- [_January_ 6, 1814.]

_In that dark Council words waxed warm and strange_.-- [_January_ 13, 1814.]

[230] [Lines 1299-1375 were written after the completion of the poem.

They were forwarded to the publisher in time for insertion in a revise dated January 6, 1814.]

[231] The comboloio, or Mahometan rosary; the beads are in number ninety-nine. [_Vide ante_, p. 181, _The Bride of Abydos_, Canto II. line 554.]

[hy] {276} _Methinks a short release by ransom wrought_ _Of all his treasures not too cheaply bought_.--[MS. erased.]

_Methinks a short release for ransom--gold_.--[MS.]

[hz] {277} _Of thine adds certainty to all I heard_.--[MS.]

[ia] {278} _When every coming hour might view him dead_.--[MS.]

[232] ["By the way--I have a charge against you. As the great Mr. Dennis roared out on a similar occasion--'By G-d, _that_ is _my_ thunder!' so do I exclaim, '_This_ is _my_ lightning!' I allude to a speech of Ivan's, in the scene with Petrowna and the Empress, where the thought and almost expression are similar to Conrad's in the 3d canto of _The Corsair_. I, however, do not say this to accuse you, but to exempt myself from suspicion, as there is a priority of six months'

publication, on my part, between the appearance of that composition and of your tragedies" (Letter to W. Sotheby, September 25, 1815, _Letters_, 1899, iii. 219). The following are the lines in question:--

"And I have leapt In transport from my flinty couch, to welcome The thunder as it burst upon my roof, And beckon'd to the lightning, as it flash'd And sparkled on these fetters."

Act iv. sc. 3 (_Ivan_, 1816, p. 64).

According to Moore, this pa.s.sage in _The Corsair_, as Byron seemed to fear, was included by "some scribblers"--i.e. the "lumbering Goth" (see John Bull's Letter), A. A. Watts, in the _Literary Gazette_, February and March, 1821--among his supposed plagiarisms. Sotheby informed Moore that his lines had been written, though not published, before the appearance of the _Corsair_. The _Confession_, and _Orestes_, reappeared with three hitherto unpublished tragedies, _Ivan_, _The Death of Darnley_, and _Zamorin and Zama_, under the general t.i.tle, _Five Unpublished Tragedies_, in 1814.

The story of the critic John Dennis (1657-1734) and the "thunder" is related in Cibber's _Lives_, iv. 234. Dennis was, or feigned to be, the inventor of a new method of producing stage-thunder, by troughs of wood and stops. Shortly after a play (_Appius and Virginia_) which he had put upon the stage had been withdrawn, he was present at a performance of _Macbeth_, at which the new "thunder" was inaugurated. "That is _my_ thunder, by G.o.d!" exclaimed Dennis. "The villains will play my thunder, but not my plays."--_Dict. Nat. Biog._, art. "Dennis."]

[ib] {282} _But speak not now--on thine and on my head_ _O'erhangs the sabre_----.--[MS.]

[ic] {284} _Night wears apace--and I have need of rest_.--[MS.]

[id] {286} A variant of lines 1596, 1597 first appeared in MS. in a revise numbering 1780 lines--

_Blood he had viewed, could view unmoved--but then_ _It reddened on the scarfs and swords of men._

In a later revise line 1597 was altered to--

_It flowed a token of the deeds of men._

[ie] {287} _His silent thoughts the present, past review._--[MS.


[if] _Fell quenched in tears of more than misery._--[MS.]

[ig] {288} _They count the Dragon-teeth around her tier_.--[MS.]

[233] ["Tier" must stand for "hold." The "cable-tier" is the place in the hold where the cable is stowed.]

[ih] {289} _Whom blood appalled not, their rude eyes perplex_.--[MS.


[234] [Compare--

"And I the cause--for whom were given Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven."

_Marmion_, Canto III. stanza xvii. lines 9, 10.]

[ii] {290} _"Gulnare"--she answered not again--"Gulnare"_ _She raised her glance--her sole reply was there_.--[M.S.]


_That sought from form so fair no more than this_ _That kiss--the first that Frailty wrung from Faith_ _That last--on lips so warm with rosy breath_.--[MS. erased.]

[ik] _As he had fanned them with his rosy wing_.--[MS.]

[il] {291} _Oh! none so prophesy the joys of home_ _As they who hail it from the Ocean-foam_.--[MS.]

_Oh--what can sanctify the joys of home_ _Like the first glance from Ocean's troubled foam_.--[Revise.]

[235] {292} In the Levant it is the custom to strew flowers on the bodies of the dead, and in the hands of young persons to place a nosegay.

[Compare--"There shut it inside the sweet cold hand." _Evelyn Hope_, by Robert Browning.]

[236] {293} [Compare--"And--but for that sad shrouded eye," etc. and the whole of the famous pa.s.sage in the _Giaour_ (line 68, sq., _vide ante_, p. 88), beginning--"He who hath bent him o'er the dead."]

[im] _Escaped the idle braid that could not bind_.--[MS.]

[in] _By the first glance on that cold soulless brow_.--[MS.]

[io] {294} _And the night cometh--'tis the same to him_.--[M.S.]

[237] [Stanza xxiii. is not in the MS. It was forwarded on a separate sheet, with the following directions:--(1814, January 10, 11.) "Let the following lines be sent immediately, and form the _last section_ (number it) _but one_ of the _3^rd^_ (last) Canto."]

[238] {295} [Byron had, perhaps, explored the famous stalact.i.te cavern in the island of Anti-Paros, which is described by Tournefort, Clarke, Choiseul-Gouffier, and other travellers.]

[239] {296} That the point of honour which is represented in one instance of Conrad's character has not been carried beyond the bounds of probability, may perhaps be in some degree confirmed by the following anecdote of a brother buccaneer in the year 1814:--"Our readers have all seen the account of the enterprise against the pirates of Barataria; but few, we believe, were informed of the situation, history, or nature of that establishment. For the information of such as were unacquainted with it, we have procured from a friend the following interesting narrative of the main facts, of which he has personal knowledge, and which cannot fail to interest some of our readers:--Barataria is a bayou, or a narrow arm of the Gulf of Mexico; it runs through a rich but very flat country, until it reaches within a mile of the Mississippi river, fifteen miles below the city of New Orleans. This bayou has branches almost innumerable, in which persons can lie concealed from the severest scrutiny. It communicates with three lakes which lie on the south-west side, and these, with the lake of the same name, and which lies contiguous to the sea, where there is an island formed by the two arms of this lake and the sea. The east and west points of this island were fortified, in the year 1811, by a band of pirates, under the command of one Monsieur La Fitte. A large majority of these outlaws are of that cla.s.s of the population of the state of Louisiana who fled from the island of St. Domingo during the troubles there, and took refuge in the island of Cuba; and when the last war between France and Spain commenced, they were compelled to leave that island with the short notice of a few days. Without ceremony they entered the United States, the most of them the state of Louisiana, with all the negroes they had possessed in Cuba. They were notified by the Governor of that State of the clause in the const.i.tution which forbade the importation of slaves; but, at the same time, received the a.s.surance of the Governor that he would obtain, if possible, the approbation of the General Government for their retaining this property.--The island of Barataria is situated about lat. 29 deg. 15 min., lon. 92. 30.; and is as remarkable for its health as for the superior scale and sh.e.l.l fish with which its waters abound. The chief of this horde, like Charles de Moor, had, mixed with his many vices, some transcendant virtues. In the year 1813, this party had, from its turpitude and boldness, claimed the attention of the Governor of Louisiana; and to break up the establishment he thought proper to strike at the head. He therefore, offered a reward of 500 dollars for the head of Monsieur La Fitte, who was well known to the inhabitants of the city of New Orleans, from his immediate connection, and his once having been a fencing-master in that city of great reputation, which art he learnt in Buonaparte's army, where he was a captain. The reward which was offered by the Governor for the head of La Fitte was answered by the offer of a reward from the latter of 15,000 for the head of the Governor. The Governor ordered out a company to march from the city to La Fitte's island, and to burn and destroy all the property, and to bring to the city of New Orleans all his banditti.

This company, under the command of a man who had been the intimate a.s.sociate of this bold Captain, approached very near to the fortified island, before he saw a man, or heard a sound, until he heard a whistle, not unlike a boatswain's call. Then it was he found himself surrounded by armed men who had emerged from the secret avenues which led to this bayou. Here it was that this modern Charles de Moor developed his few n.o.ble traits; for to this man, who had come to destroy his life and all that was dear to him, he not only spared his life, but offered him that which would have made the honest soldier easy for the remainder of his days, which was indignantly refused. He then, with the approbation of his captor, returned to the city. This circ.u.mstance, and some concomitant events, proved that this band of pirates was not to be taken by land. Our naval force having always been small in that quarter, exertions for the destruction of this illicit establishment could not be expected from them until augmented; for an officer of the navy, with most of the gun-boats on that station, had to retreat from an overwhelming force of La Fitte's. So soon as the augmentation of the navy authorised an attack, one was made; the overthrow of this banditti has been the result: and now this almost invulnerable point and key to New Orleans is clear of an enemy, it is to be hoped the government will hold it by a strong military force."--American Newspaper.

[The story of the "Pirates of Barataria," which an American print, the _National Intelligencer_, was the first to make public, is quoted _in extenso_ by the _Weekly Messenger_ (published at Boston) of November 4, 1814. It is remarkable that a tale which was destined to pa.s.s into the domain of historical romance should have been instantly seized upon and turned to account by Byron, whilst it was as yet half-told, while the legend was still in the making. Jean Lafitte, the Franco-American Conrad, was born either at Bayonne or Bordeaux, circ. 1780, emigrated with his elder brother Pierre, and settled at New Orleans, in 1809, as a blacksmith. Legitimate trade was flat, but the delta of the Mississippi, with its labyrinth of creeks and islands and _bayous_, teemed with pirates or merchant-smugglers. Accordingly, under the nominal sanction of letters of marque from the Republic of Cartagena, and as belligerents of Spain, the brothers, who had taken up their quarters on Grande Terre, an island to the east of the "Grand Pa.s.s," or channel of the Bay of Barataria, swept the Gulph of Mexico with an organised flotilla of privateers, and acquired vast booty in the way of specie and living cargoes of claves. Hence the proclamation of the Governor of Louisiana, W. C. C. Claiborne, in which (November 24, 1813) he offered a sum of $500 for the capture of Jean Lafitte. For the sequel of this first act of the drama the "American newspaper" is the sole authority. The facts, however, if facts they be, which are pieced together by Charles etienne Arthur Gayarre, in the _History of Louisiana_ (1885, iv. 301, sq.), and in two articles contributed to the American _Magazine of History_, October and November, 1883, are as curious and romantic as the legend.

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The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 49 summary

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