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One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.
Tweed; to adorn it after his heart's desire with symbols of the chivalric past; and to live the life of a noble and hospitable country gentleman, among his dogs and horses, and with picturesque landscapes on
(86.) 4. glen or copse or forest dingle: Both glen and dingle are used for a narrow dale or valley, dingle for a small one especially. A copse is a grove of young trees.
THE EVE OF SAINT JOHN
Having become the most prominent poet in Britain, Scott was now eclipsed by the new luminary, Lord Byron. “He beat nee," says Scott, with an excess of both modesty and praise, “he beat me out of the field in descriptions of the stronger passions and in deep-seated knowledge of the human heart.” From the narrative poem, Scott now definitely turned to the prose romance. Adapting to his own needs the art of the eighteenth-century English novelists, he finished Waverley, which he had begun years before; and so inaugurated the long series of "Waverley Novels," upon which his fame was destined to more securely than upon his He wrote these novels with astonishing rapidity — a rapidity accelerated, in his last years, by the financial failure of his publishers and his voluntary effort to
a debt of £117,000. The effort shortened his life; but at his death half the sum had been earned, and
was made up by subsequent royalties.
In all his writings Scott was largely an improviser; he composed with amazing facility, and earned nearly a million dollars
at the dear expense of quality. Rarely did he have that facility which the highest genius often attains, facility in conjunction with intensity and penetration; though he approximated it in scattered scenes of his novels, and in some of the lyrics included in his narrative poems. And his work a whole, whatever its limitations, has that "health” "harmony” which his countryman Carlyle held to be his most notable quality. Neither saint nor seer, Scott was a large, wholesome man.
The following quatrain, used by Scott as a motto for a chapter of Old Mortality, would serve admirably as a motto for his poems as a whole: "Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
To all the sensual world proclaim,
1. Smaylhoʼme: Smallholm Tower, a romantic old castle in southern Scotland. It was familiar to Scott from childhood, and inspired this tale of the supernatural.
9. plate-jack: coat-armor.
10. vaunt-brace: armor protecting the arm from elbow to wrist.
Il. sperthe: battle-ax. (87.) 22. acton: jacket.
44. eiry: Scottish form of “eerie.”
79. rood-stone: in medieval churches a rood, or cross, stood at the entrance of the chancel, often with a figure of the Virgin Mary at one side and a figure of Saint John at the other. “By the rood" was a phrase used in swearing. (88.) 108. Eildon-tree: a tree of legendary fame on Eildon Hill, near Melrose.
123. Dryburgh bells ring: Dryburgh and Melrose are ruined abbeys not far apart in the Scott country. – This stanza repeats the plot-irony of lines 85-88.
127. bartizan-seat: a seat in an overhanging structure in the walls.
138. Southron: Scottish for Southerner, i.e., an Englishman.
141. The lady blushed red: For the reason, see the preceding stanza and lines 37-40.
by his pen
* Though Scott marked these lines “Anonymous,” it has until recently been supposed that he wrote them himself; but they are now claimed for a Major Mordaunt, the writer of a poem in which they appear, published in The Bee, an Edinburgh literary weekly, in October, 1791.
Scott substituted “To all” for the original "throughout” of the second line.
THOMAS MOORE (1779–1852)
(91.) 53. correi: corrie, a hollow in the side of a mountain.
54. cumber: defeat, disastrous overthrow. (92.) 65. thy wizard elm: alluding to the romantic scenery of “The Lady of the Lake," of which this lyric is the epilogue, and to the enchantment that the Muse of minstrel poetry exercised upon Scott; cf. “Enchantress” in the closing lines of the next two stanzas.
72-73. And little reck I idle lay: Scott will feel little concern if he is foolishly censured for composing a story for the sake of the story. He makes no pretence at profundity of meaning (see again his self-depreciation in comparison with Byron, in the biography, page 673), but frankly loves such tales of stirring action as he himself narrates. He has found them, as he tells in the succeeding lines, a solace for life's care and griefs.
Intimate and afterwards biographer of Byron, Moore was almost as popular with contemporary readers. He too, as illustrated in these three poems, sang freedom, love, and sad memory:
He lacked his friend's power; but with a sweeter disposition, and an easier lyric tunefulness of style, he excelled as a writer of songs. As much musician as poet, he retouched the popular tunes of his native Ireland, and made verses for them. Of his Oriental tales, which are far less genuine, the most interesting is “Lalla Rookh" (1817).
THE HARP THAT ONCE
Tara, near Dublin, figures largely in Irish tale and verse as an ancient seat of kings.
her, and her son replied, “I know it"), ment entitled “Darkness” (page 128), alternately gave him caresses and blows "Prometheus” (page 127), and part of the and thus did her part to make him sensi dramatic poem “Manfred” (page 130). In tive, proud, rebellious, and hot-tempered. the autumn of the same year, 1816, he When only ten years old, he inherited the passed on to Italy, — the land of his exile titles and estates of his uncle at Newstead till shortly before his death. Italy became Abbey. At Harrow, where he received his the inspiration of the fourth canto of schooling from 1801 to 1805, he neglected “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage” (page 153); his studies, but read widely, formed many and here he wrote the extraordinary "Don friendships, and took part in athletic sports Juan" (page 160). After several years of despite his handicap of lameness a han- | residence at Venice, “the greenest island dicap of which he remained in after years of my imagination, - he removed to Ramorbidly conscious. Proceeding to Trinity venna in order to be close to the Countess College, Cambridge, he indulged his
his Guiccioli, a young girl who had married a "tumultuous passions in an irregular col widower of sixty. Later he "gave up to lege career, shooting, boxing, swimming, her his house at La Mira,” residing there gambling, falling in love, writing verse. with her. While at Cambridge he published a volume While living in Italy, Byron was actively of poems entitled Hours of Idleness, and, interested in the movement for her indeangered by a contemptuous criticism of the pendence; and at length a similar cause, a volume in the Edinburgh Review, he re the cause of Greece struggling for freetaliated two years later with his satire, dom, resolved him to dedicate himself to English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. Not its service. At the opening of the year long before it was published, he took his 1824 he reached Mesolonghi, worked ably seat in the House of Lords; and soon after and tirelessly in preparation for a military it was published he left England for a expedition against the Turks, and there he .» tour, lasting two years, in the Mediter died, of fever, to the great grief of the ranean lands.
Greek people and of his ardent admirers Returning from this “pilgrimage,” Byron everywhere. published, in 1812, two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. The effect was electric: "I awoke one morning,” he said,
STANZAS FOR MUSIC “and found myself famous." He was lion
(1815) ized, he was read by everybody, he was a center of public interest. Following up his Compare the melancholy of this and success, he wrote a series of Oriental tales various subsequent poems with the melanin verse that attained an even greater choly expressed by Coleridge in “Dejecpopularity. In 1815 he married Anne tion: An Ode,” having regard to the nature Milbanke; the next year, because of his of the “joy” viewed in retrospect and the irregularities, she left him, returning to cause of the melancholy mood. Compare her father's home; while he, ostracized by Byron's experience, also, with Wordsthe society that he had fascinated, aban worth's (“Tintern Abbey," "Intimations of doned the land of his birth and spent the Immortality,” “Ode to Duty,” etc.). rest of his years on the Continent.
Travelling in a large coach patterned on Napoleon's, Byron passed through Bel CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE gium, where he visited the field of Waterloo; and thence he proceeded up the Rhine As a narrative recounting the travels of to Lake Geneva, where he spent much time Childe Harold, this long poem has a with Shelley. While in Switzerland, he superficial unity. Fundamentally, howfinished the third canto of “Childe Har ever, it is a series of descriptive and old's Pilgrimage” (page 99), wrote “The reflective stanzas held together by the Prisoner of Chillon" (page 123), the dominant personality of the "hero," who "Epistle to Augusta” (page 121), the frag- | is, plainly, Byron himself. His Alamboyant
temperament oscillates restlessly between “Cameron's Gathering” was the rallying enthusiasm and satiety, rapture and melan song of the Scottish clan Cameron, played choly; and, turning in upon
itself, now on the bagpipes. The chief of the clan was honestly confronts itself and now indulges Donald Cameron of Lochiel, who had in theatrical poses. With some modifica- fought in "Albyn's hills” (Scotland) tion, we may say of him, as he said of against “her Saxon foes” (the English) in Burns: “What an antithetical mind! 1745. Evan Cameron, grandfather of tenderness, roughness, delicacy, coarseness, Donald, had fought against Cromwell. sentiment, sensuality, soaring and grovel- | The valor of such ancestors was not forling, dirt and deity, all mixed up in that gotten on the field of Waterloo. one compound of inspired clay.” It is this (106.) 353. too far to show: so far that it personality, coloring the scenes described, was unwise to show. permeating the memories of great historic (107.) 420. battles: battalions, armies. events, and expressing itself directly in (108.) 450. that it should Lethe be: In reflective passages and lyrical outbursts, the preceding lines, Byron, gazing upon the that engages our deepest interest in this lovely Rhine, feels that it would be beau"Pilgrimage," and indeed in virtually all of tiful "like Heaven” if man could but leave Byron's poetry.
it unsullied, as it had been created. Even The first two cantos contain the impres now, he adds, it lacks nothing if he can but sions made upon Byron in his tour through obliterate its conflicts, and his own, from Portugal, Spain, Albania, and Greece. his mind. But he cannot; he could not Although they established his fame (see the forget them unless it were not the Rhine biography, above), they are far inferior, in but Lethe, the river of oblivion; cf. lines brilliant creative energy, in vitalizing 458-459. imagination, to the two later cantos.
457. Glassed with its dancing light:
The rays of the sun, reflected by the water CANTO THIRD
as if by glass, conceal, rather than reveal,
the blood of battles long ago. The allusion of the motto “In order (109.) 476. one fond breast: referring to that this employment will force you to his sister Augusta. think of something else; there is in truth (111.) 601. Morat: scene of a Swiss vicno other remedy except this and time"
tory in 1476. is clear from lines 32-36.
604. Burgundy: Charles the Bold. (99.) 1-5. Is thy face like thy mother's: Duke of Burgundy. When Lady Byron left him, their daughter
607. Unse pulchred they roamed: was but a few weeks old, and Byron never “The chapel is destroyed, and the pyramid saw her again.
of bones diminished to a small number by (102.) 158. “Pride of place is a term of the Burgundian legion in the service of falconry, meaning the highest pitch of France, who anxiously effaced this record flight. See Macbeth: 'An eagle towering of their ancestors' less successful invain her pride of place ... (Byron's sions. ... (Byron's note.) note.)
608. Canna's carnage: At Cannx, (103.) 179-180. when the myrtle wreathes in Italy, the Romans suffered a disastrous a sword etc. Two noble Athenians, Har- defeat by Hannibal in 216 B.C. modius and Aristogiton, having hidden 616. some Draconic clause: The their daggers in branches of myrtle at the code of laws said to have been drawn up Festival of Athena, assassinated Hippar- | by the Athenian Draco about 621 B.C. was chus, brother of the tyrant Hippias, but stern and rigid. failed to slay Hippias himself. After the
625. Aventicum: “Aventicum, near expulsion of Hippias several years later, the Morat, was the Roman capital of Heltwo young conspirators, who had lost their vetia, where Avenches now stands” (Bylives in consequence of their deed, were ron's note). extolled as types of the patriot and martyr.
627. Julia, the daughter, the de(104.) 226-234. And wild and high etc.: voted: “Julia Alpinula, a young Aventian
priestess, died soon after a vain endeavor the beauty that he has just been describing, to save her father, condemned to death as has attained an elevated quiet. The remia traitor by Aulus Cæcina. ..." (Byron's niscent, speculative tone of the earlier note.)
stanzas has disappeared. — Compare the (111.) 644. Lake Leman: Lake Geneva. mystic climaxes in “Tintern Abbey," at (112.) 656. Deep in its fountain, lest it about es 45 and 95 (pages 7 and 8). overboil: For the image and idea, cf. lines What is the main difference between 55-60 (page 100); also line 383 (page 107). Wordsworth and Byron in respect to this
698-706. And when at length etc.: harmony with nature? Here the poet resumes and develops the (116.) 879-886. Heights which appear thought of lines 683-688; and, in the next etc.: Cf. “Christabel,” line 422 and context stanza, the thought of lines 680-683.
(page 69). (113.) 725. wild Rousseau: Jean Jacques 900. the knoll: archaic form of Rousseau (1712-1778), born at Geneva, "knell." was one of the chief forces in the transfor (117.) 923. sweet Clarens, birthplace of mation of the Europe of the eighteenth deep Love: a village on Lake Geneva used century into the Europe of the nineteenth by Rousseau in the setting of his New and twentieth centuries. For the essential Héloïse. One could not help being forfacts about Rousseau, consult a good ency cibly struck, says Byron in
note, "with its clopedia; for a sympathetic study of his peculiar adaptation to the persons and personality, see J. R. Lowell's essay in events with which it has been peopled.” Prose Works, vol. II. The reader who Love, he adds, "the great principle of the desires to make a more extended acquaint universe, is there more condensed;" ance with him may be referred to John so that, "though knowing ourselves a part, Morley's Rousseau, to Irving Babbitt's we lose our individuality, and mingle in the Rousseau and Romanticism, and to Rous beauty of the whole.” seau's chief works, Julie ou la Nouvelle (118.) 977. Lausanne! and Ferney!: Héloïse, Émile ou l'Éducation, Le Contrat abodes, respectively, of Gibbon and VolSocial, and the Confessions (most of these taire. Note that Byron characterizes the are to be had in translation).
two eighteenth-century giants in the re743. This breathed itself to life in verse order, "the one" in stanza cvi reJulie: Rousseau's Julie ou la Nouvelle ferring to Voltaire, "the other” in the folHéloïse, a novel in the form of letters tell- lowing stanza to Gibbon. ing of the love of Julie and Saint-Preux, 982. Titan-like: They were impious was the outcome of his
Titans, inviting—because of their skeptical munion with nature in her summer mood arrogance
thunderbolts from Zeus. Acin the woods of Montmorency, the long cording to myth, the Titans, warring hours and days of solitary expansion, the against Zeus, piled hill upon hill in their despairing passion for the too sage Julie of effort to ascend the sky. actual experience" (John Morley).
(120.) 1057. filed: defiled. Cf. “For Ban747. hers who but with friendship: quo's issue have I filed my mind” (MacThe passage "refers to the account in his beth). Confessions of his passion for the Comtesse d'Houdetot (the mistress of St. Lam
EPISTLE TO AUGUSTA bert), and his long walk every morning, for the sake of the single kiss which was See the preceding poem, stanzas LIV-LV the common salutation of French acquaint (page 109). But the dominant tone of the .." (Byron's note.)
present piece differs from that of “Childe (114.) 755. the kind: mankind.
Harold” – how? (115.) 848. Cytherea's zone: Venus's gir (121.) 38-48. Something – I know not dle. - In this stanza, the mystic harmony what etc.: Cf. the preceding poem, stanza with nature prepared for in stanzas XXXIV (page 105). LXXI-LXXV reaches its consummation. The (122.) 64. our own of old: the lake at poet's mood, through association with Newstead Abbey.