The Works of Lord Byron Volume III Part 59

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[ko] {355} _The Beauty--which the first success would s.n.a.t.c.h_.--[MS.]

[kp] {356} _A word's enough to rouse mankind to kill_ _Some factions phrase by cunning raised and spread_.--[MS.]

[kq] {357} ----_upon the battle slain_.--[Ed. 1831.]

[kr] {358} _But not endure the long protracted strife_.--[MS. erased.]

[ks] {360} _And raged the combat till_----.--[MS.]

[282] {361} [Stanza XV. was added after the completion of the first draft of the poem.]

[283] [Compare-- "Il s'excite, il s'empresse, il inspire aux soldats Cet espoir genereux que lui-meme il n'a pas."

Voltaire, _Henriade_, Chant. viii. lines 127, 128, _Oeuvres Completes_, Paris, 1837, ii. 325.]

[kt] {362} _The stiffening steed is on the dinted earth_.--[MS.]

[284] [Compare-- "There lay a horse, another through the field Ran masterless."

Ta.s.so's _Jerusalem_ (translated by Edward Fairfax), Bk. VII. stanza cvi. lines 3, 4.]

[ku] ----_that gla.s.sy river lie_.--[MS.]

[285] {364} [Stanza xix. was added after the completion of the poem. The MS. is extant.]

[kv] ----_white lips spoke_.--[MS.]

[kw] ----_pale--and pa.s.sionless_.--[MS.]

[kx] {365} _That Life--immortal--infinite secure_ _To All for whom that Cross hath made it sure_.-- [MS. First ed. 1814.]

or, _That life immortal, infinite and sure_ _To all whose faith the eternal boon secure_.--[MS.]

[ky] _But faint the dying Lara's accents grew_.--[MS.]


_He gazed as doubtful that the thing he saw_ _Had something more to ask from Lone or awe_.--[MS.]

[la] {367} _But all unknown the blood he lost or spilt_ _These only told his Glory or his Guilt_.--[MS.]

[286] The event in this section was suggested by the description of the death or rather burial of the Duke of Gandia. "The most interesting and particular account of it is given by Burchard, and is in substance as follows:--'On the eighth day of June, the Cardinal of Valenza and the Duke of Gandia, sons of the pope, supped with their mother, Vanozza, near the church of _S. Pietro ad vincula_: several other persons being present at the entertainment. A late hour approaching, and the cardinal having reminded his brother that it was time to return to the apostolic palace, they mounted their horses or mules, with only a few attendants, and proceeded together as far as the palace of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, when the duke informed the cardinal that, before he returned home, he had to pay a visit of pleasure. Dismissing therefore all his attendants, excepting his _staffiero_, or footman, and a person in a mask, who had paid him a visit whilst at supper, and who, during the s.p.a.ce of a month or thereabouts, previous to this time, had called upon him almost daily at the apostolic palace, he took this person behind him on his mule, and proceeded to the street of the Jews, where he quitted his servant, directing him to remain there until a certain hour; when, if he did not return, he might repair to the palace. The duke then seated the person in the mask behind him, and rode I know not whither; but in that night he was a.s.sa.s.sinated, and thrown into the river. The servant, after having been dismissed, was also a.s.saulted and mortally wounded; and although he was attended with great care, yet such was his situation, that he could give no intelligible account of what had befallen his master. In the morning, the duke not having returned to the palace, his servants began to be alarmed; and one of them informed the pontiff of the evening excursion of his sons, and that the duke had not yet made his appearance. This gave the pope no small anxiety; but he conjectured that the duke had been attracted by some courtesan to pa.s.s the night with her, and, not choosing to quit the house in open day, had waited till the following evening to return home. When, however, the evening arrived, and he found himself disappointed in his expectations, he became deeply afflicted, and began to make inquiries from different persons, whom he ordered to attend him for that purpose. Amongst these was a man named Giorgio Schiavoni, who, having discharged some timber from a bark in the river, had remained on board the vessel to watch it; and being interrogated whether he had seen any one thrown into the river on the night preceding, he replied, that he saw two men on foot, who came down the street, and looked diligently about to observe whether any person was pa.s.sing. That seeing no one, they returned, and a short time afterwards two others came, and looked around in the same manner as the former: no person still appearing, they gave a sign to their companions, when a man came, mounted on a white horse, having behind him a dead body, the head and arms of which hung on one side, and the feet on the other side of the horse; the two persons on foot supporting the body, to prevent its falling. They thus proceeded towards that part where the filth of the city is usually discharged into the river, and turning the horse, with his tail towards the water, the two persons took the dead body by the arms and feet, and with all their strength flung it into the river. The person on horseback then asked if they had thrown it in; to which they replied, _Signor, si_ (yes, Sir). He then looked towards the river, and seeing a mantle floating on the stream, he enquired what it was that appeared black, to which they answered, it was a mantle; and one of them threw stones upon it, in consequence of which it sunk. The attendants of the pontiff then enquired from Giorgio, why he had not revealed this to the governor of the city; to which he replied, that he had seen in his time a hundred dead bodies thrown into the river at the same place, without any inquiry being made respecting them; and that he had not, therefore, considered it as a matter of any importance. The fishermen and seamen were then collected, and ordered to search the river, where, on the following evening, they found the body of the duke, with his habit entire, and thirty ducats in his purse. He was pierced with nine wounds, one of which was in his throat, the others in his head, body, and limbs. No sooner was the pontiff informed of the death of his son, and that he had been thrown, like filth, into the river, than, giving way to his grief, he shut himself up in a chamber, and wept bitterly. The Cardinal of Segovia, and other attendants on the pope, went to the door, and after many hours spent in persuasions and exhortations, prevailed upon him to admit them. From the evening of Wednesday till the following Sat.u.r.day the pope took no food; nor did he sleep from Thursday morning till the same hour on the ensuing day. At length, however, giving way to the entreaties of his attendants, he began to restrain his sorrow, and to consider the injury which his own health might sustain by the further indulgence of his grief.'"--Roscoe's _Life and Pontificate of Leo Tenth_, 1805, i. 265. [See, too, for the original in _Burchard Diar_, in Gordon's _Life of Alex. VI., Append._, "De Caede Ducis Gandiae," _Append._ No. xlviii., _ib._, pp. 90, 91.]

[lb] {370} _A mighty pebble_----.--[MS.]

[lc] _That not unarmed in combat fair he fell_.--[MS. erased.]

[ld] {371} ----_some phantom wound_.--[MS.]



According to the "Advertis.e.m.e.nt" prefixed to Murray's First Edition of the _Hebrew Melodies_, London, 1815 (the date, January, 1815, was appended in 1832), the "poems were written at the request of the author's friend, the Hon. D. Kinnaird, for a selection of Hebrew Melodies, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr.

Braham and Mr. Nathan."

Byron's engagement to Miss Milbanke took place in September, 1814, and the remainder of the year was pa.s.sed in London, at his chambers in the Albany. The so-called _Hebrew Melodies_ were, probably, begun in the late autumn of that year, and were certainly finished at Seaham, after his marriage had taken place, in January-February, 1815. It is a natural and pardonable conjecture that Byron took to writing sacred or, at any rate, scriptural verses by way of giving pleasure and doing honour to his future wife, "the girl who gave to song What gold could never buy."

They were, so to speak, the first-fruits of a seemlier muse.

It is probable that the greater number of these poems were in MS. before it occurred to Byron's friend and banker, the Honble. Douglas James William Kinnaird (1788-1830), to make him known to Isaac Nathan (1792-1864), a youthful composer of "musical farces and operatic works,"

who had been destined by his parents for the Hebrew priesthood, but had broken away, and, after some struggles, succeeded in qualifying himself as a musician.

Byron took a fancy to Nathan, and presented him with the copyright of his "poetical effusions," on the understanding that they were to be set to music and sung in public by John Braham. "Professional occupations"

prevented Braham from fulfilling his part of the engagement, but a guinea folio (Part. I.) ("_Selections of Hebrew Melodies, Ancient and Modern_, with appropriate symphonies and accompaniments, by I. Braham and I. Nathan, the poetry written expressly for the work by the Right Honourable Lord Byron")--with an ornamental t.i.tle-page designed by the architect Edward Blore (1789-1879), and dedicated to the Princess Charlotte of Wales--was published in April, 1815. A second part was issued in 1816.

The preface, part of which was reprinted (p. vi.) by Nathan, in his _Fugitive Pieces and Reminiscences of Lord Byron_, London, 1829, is not without interest--

"The Hebrew Melodies are a selection from the favourite airs which are still sung in the religious ceremonies of the Jews. Some of these have, in common with all their Sacred airs, been preserved by memory and tradition alone, without the a.s.sistance of written characters. Their age and originality, therefore, must be left to conjecture. But the lat.i.tude given to the taste and genius of their performers has been the means of engrafting on the original Melodies a certain wildness and pathos, which have at length become the chief characteristics of the sacred songs of the Jews....

"Of the poetry it is necessary to speak, in order thus publicly to acknowledge the kindness with which Lord Byron has condescended to furnish the most valuable part of the work. It has been our endeavour to select such melodies as would best suit the style and sentiment of the poetry."

Moore, for whose benefit the Melodies had been rehea.r.s.ed, was by no means impressed by their "wildness and pathos," and seems to have twitted Byron on the subject, or, as he puts it (_Life_, p. 276), to have taken the liberty of "laughing a little at the manner in which some of the Hebrew Melodies had been set to music." The author of _Sacred Songs_ (1814) set to airs by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, etc., was a critic not to be gainsaid, but from the half-comical petulance with which he "curses" and "sun-burns" (Letters to Moore, February 22, March 8, 1815, _Letters_, 1899, iii. 179, 183) Nathan, and his "vile Ebrew nasalities," it is evident that Byron winced under Moore's "chaff."

Apart from the merits or demerits of the setting, the t.i.tle _Hebrew Melodies_ is somewhat misleading. Three love-songs, "She walks in Beauty like the Night," "Oh! s.n.a.t.c.hed away in Beauty's Bloom," and "I saw thee weep," still form part of the collection; and, in Nathan's folio (which does not contain "A spirit pa.s.sed before me"), two fragments, "It is the hour when from the boughs" and "Francesca walks in the shadow of night,"

which were afterwards incorporated in _Parisina_, were included. The _Fugitive Pieces_, 1829, retain the fragments from _Parisina_, and add the following hitherto unpublished poems: "I speak not, I trace not,"

etc., "They say that Hope is Happiness," and the genuine but rejected Hebrew Melody "In the valley of waters we wept on the day."

It is uncertain when Murray's first edition appeared. Byron wrote to Nathan with regard to the copyright in January, 1815 (_Letters_, 1899, iii. 167), but it is unlikely that the volume was put on the market before Nathan's folio, which was advertised for the first time in the _Morning Chronicle_, April 6, 1815; and it is possible that the first public announcement of the _Hebrew Melodies_, as a separate issue, was made in the _Courier_, June 22, 1815.

The _Hebrew Melodies_ were reviewed in the _Christian Observer_, August, 1815, vol. xiv. p. 542; in the _a.n.a.lectic Magazine_, October, 1815, vol.

vi. p. 292; and were noticed by Jeffrey [The _Hebrew Melodies_, though "obviously inferior" to Lord Byron's other works, "display a skill in versification and a mastery in diction which would have raised an inferior artist to the very summit of distinction"] in the _Edinburgh Review_, December, 1816, vol. xxvii. p. 291.


The subsequent poems were written at the request of my friend, the Hon.

Douglas Kinnaird, for a Selection of Hebrew Melodies, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr. Braham and Mr. Nathan.

_January_, 1815.


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